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Dates For Your Diary


N.B. – All Friday evening trips meet at cave 7.30 pm.

February 3rd

Friday.  Eastwater

February 15th

Wednesday.  Paul Esser Memorial Lecture – Trhe West Face of Changabang by Joe Tasker.  Lecture to be held in the Arthur Tyndall memorial Lecture Theatre in the Physics Dept., Tyndall Ave., (opposite the Senate House) University of Bristol at 8.15 pm.  Admission free.

February 17th

Friday, Cheddar

February 16th – 19th

Lake District – walking.  Travel Wednesday night.  Stay at cottage at Chapel Stile, Great Langdale, near Ambleside.  Everyone welcome.  Place name on list at Belfry or to Mike Palmer (telephone: Wells 74693).  Accommodation for 20 in the cottage.

March 3rd

Friday.  Thrupe Lane.

March 11th

BRCA Symposium – Cave photography. UMIST, Manchester.

March 17th

Friday niters trip to South Wales.  Phone Richard Kenny. Meare Heath 269.

Easter Weekend

Yorkshire. 8 bunks booked at the Bradford P.C. Cottage.  Hoping to get permission to do Mungo Gill and magnetometer Pot.  Other systems will be visited, hopefully including Tatum Wife Hole.  Will all those interested contact Paul Christie, 7 The Glen, London Road, Berks, before February 12th.  Paul says in his letter that he is hoping to arrange a trip to Birks Fell Cave.  Incidentally for those who can’t write, they can phone Paul at Ascot 25372.

June 10th or 17th

Symposium: Cave Exploration in Northern Spain at Bristol University.  Details later.

October 7th

B.E.C. A.G.M. and ANNUAL DINNER – advance details in the March or April B.B.

Library Additions

The following books have been purchased for the library:

Proceedings of the 7th International Congress.  Science of Speleology

Limestones and Caves of Derbyshire

Cave Exploration in Canada.

All of these volumes are expensive and it is to be hoped that members will treat them with great respect.

Kay Mansfield has very kindly offered to bind complete volumes of exchange publications.  Whilst on the subject of exchanges, the Committee has agreed to exchange the B.B. for Speleo Abstract (a Swiss publication) and an Italian journal.  Details later.


A note from the Hut Warden

Chris. Batsone

In recent years, the numbers of cavers visiting Mendip has multiplied out of all proportions.  Our caves are full to overflowing each weekend and not only our caves, our caving huts are also taking a hammering.

It seems that the 'in-thing' to do if you are a guest in someone's club hut is to roll-up uninvited with at least fifteen people in the party; take over the hut and act as if you own the place sloping off on 8unday leaving dirty plates and frying pans in the sink, fag ends on the floor and rubbish lying all over the hut.  No wonder our members get tired of coming to the hut.  They get crowded out by people who are not even members who they don't know from Adam and then end up doing their own and six other bxxxxxs cleaning up on Sunday.

I am not saying that all guests at the Belfry act in this manner, a large proportion of those who stay are very helpful, these we must encourage.

Many other clubs around the country are now bringing in much harsher controls on who stays at their huts. The Bradford P.C., I'm told require each guest to be accompanied by a member.  I'm not sure what  the position is over a party booking but I'm sure it must be something similar to that of the Craven P.C. at Ivy Cottage, Horton, who only allow clubs that can offer reciprocal facilities; that is to say ‘If you want to stay at our hut then you should be prepared to let us stay at yours at some other time’.  In Derbyshire, the Pegasus have stopped all college and university parties staying at their hut in Peak Forest as they have found that the major problems arise from these clubs.  It was felt that since the Eldon P.C. have been evicted from their 'hut' in Buxton, the Pegasus may have been landed with extra guests.

Unlike Yorkshire and Derbyshire, much of our caving traffic is centred on the three huts in Priddy:  B.E.C., W.C.C. and S.M.C.C.  I'm sure that the M.C.G. will soon find problems when they finish their new concrete palace at Nordrach.  It would seem that out of the Mendip clubs mentioned the Wessex and ourselves get most of the problems, the Shepton have always been reasonably trouble-free.

What has been done so far? A general tightening up of the hut booking procedure seems to have yielded some results.  The Hut Warden MUST have at least 3 - 4 weeks advance, written notice of booking (SAE for reply).  This will enable the Warden to plan weekends in advance and so hopefully avoid overcrowding.  It also gives time to reply and either confirm or cancel a booking.

The Belfry will sleep 36 people at a push but this is not an ideal number as the hut becomes cluttered with personal gear and the cooking facilities etc. then become overcrowded. If we discount the bunks in the women’s room we are left with 30 places.  It has been found in the past that the most economic and comfortable number is 24 in the main bunkroom.  Of these 24 bunks, I allow 12 for Club members and 12 for guests; obviously these numbers can be juggles slightly and we are still left with an extra 12 bunk spaces to cope with any crises.

It has also become more apparent that the Hut Warden has to take a harder line with people who turn up without booking.  These people are now finding that they are being turned away from huts.  I am told that the Wessex policy is no booking, no bunk.  A policy I am thinking of introducing at the Belfry - any comments?

Already this year I have had two weekends double-booked because Club members accepted hut bookings in my absence and forgot to tell until it was too late to do anything about it. Please, dear members, if you are asked to book the Belfry for someone, either tell them to write to me, c/o The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset., or write to me yourself.  A written note should ensure that your booking is not forgotten.

'What of the future?

As from January 1st, 1978, the B.E.C., along with the W.C.C. will be operating a three tier hut fee system as follows:

Members - 30p per night. Personal guests - 45p per night. Parties or Unaccompanied guests - £1.00 per night.  Camping members - 20p per night.  Camping, guests - 30p per night

The system will work in this sway, members will pay the normal rate and each member will be entitled to sponsor two non-members at the personal guest rate.  The personal guest rate will also be charged to those Clubs which have reciprocal arrangements with the B.E.C.  Parties and unaccompanied guests wishing to use the Belfry and its facilities will be charged £1.00 per man per night subject to the Hut Wardens discretion.  Parties wishing to book the Belfry will be charged a 20% non-returnable deposit in advance, party bookings will not be accepted until this deposit has been paid.

I am also prepared to arrange a couple of members weekends at the Belfry if there is enough support from the membership for this - hopefully this would not exclude members personal guests from attending.

It is hoped that this article has gone some way to explain the reasons behind the action taken by myself and the committee to alleviate the problems of overcrowding at the Belfry. Club members are always welcome at the. Belfry (that really goes without saying) so why not call in sometime. It’s always nicer to have a hut full of members and friends we know instead of guests we don’t know. Sensible criticism and any further ideas will be welcome.

Chris Batstone, Hut Warden.


The Belfry Boy

Tune: Sweet Lorraine

Well, I'm the Belfry Boy,
I’m every other buggers favourite toy,
Oh how it always seems to give them joy,
To put me in bloody pain.
Baroom Ba roomm etc.
Oh how they treat me hard,
Kick me all around the Belfry yard,
Lord, you aught to see how I am scarred,
From when they shoved me up the drain.
And when a member calls,
I dash inside so they can black my balls,
And splatter me around the Belfry walls,
Till I've nearly gone insane.          They sit me in a chair,
Rub jam and marmalade into my hair,
I sit and smile as if I couldn't care,
But later hang my head in shame

And then they all insist,
That I am something called a masochist.
Especially when they come back pissed,
And want to play their silly games.

But now I sit and wait,
Because I'm glad to know that some day Fate
Will bring along a brand new inmate


Iran 77

The recent spate of foreign material sent in by members continues with a brief account of the expedition to Iran

by John King

No sooner had I returned to the shores of England than I was jumped on by the B.B. press gang.  Well I suppose it is time I scribbled a volume or two.

A brief account of the recent British invasion of Asia.

The journey out took longer than expected due to constant maintenance stops.  Every other day myself and the driver of our Gardener coach could be seen wandering around covered in grease after yet another successful repair.  Two and half weeks of sporadic travelling, rain, hail, landslide, small whirlwinds and a small fire on board, brought us safely to Iran.

At our chosen base camp site an area search of the northern ridge of Khu-e-Sha Hu soon provided us with an advance base camp site.  This was to be eight miles walk from base, elevating some 6,000ft, and at first seemed to be a satisfactory residential bluff apart from being over populated with scorpions.

People soon changed their minds as one by one they succumbed to various ailments.  This probably due to contaminated snow being used for water. The immediate area did not yield much in the way of shafts.  Although resembling a huge quilted mattress like that found on Khu-e-Parau, this plateau inundated with shake holes revealed very little.  The camp came under question as to whether a more likely position might be chosen.  Clean snow plugs would be an absolute must and therefore dictating the position of camp two.

After further surface work, a large snow plug found above a remote village under the northwest ridge proved ideal and so Camp 2 was soon established a little way off from the cluster of stone enclosures with grass roofs.  Soon, after moving in, the small summer village evacuated almost overnight. The reason for this could have been the approach of winter, although it did coincide with the ending of the fasting of 'Ramadam', a religious ceremony lasting many weeks.

Now the village is deserted, and so we make use of a broad rock shelter, this being nearer the ice plug. From this third camp, many shafts were discovered, three miles North West under the towering peaks of the northwest ridge, dominated by the summit of Sha Hu.  Here there was to be a small advance camp for tackle and food.  Exploration and survey of the shafts took a long time, and produced dozens of pots with vertical ranges of 200ft to 1,000ft.  A classic pitch first thought to be in excess of 551ft turned out to be about 450ft, but remained the deepest single pitch found.

Due to the vertical development of the area, most shafts were either partially or completely blocked by plugged ice and boulders before reaching any great depth.

The hike from base to the third camp entailing a gruelling fifteen mile climb of 6,500ft., encountering several broad, boulder strewn valleys, their high cliff sides, severely frost shattered.  The lime being in unique disarray due to tremendous upheaval.  In places truncated passage and stalagmite were found on the surface and the dip of the strata seemed chaotic.

Base camp situated on a tributary of the main ‘Servan’ river gave easy access to superb gorges, sporting passages high up on both sides.  Most of these being close on a 1,000ft above the now dry floor of the gorge. Those within climbing distance revealed no more than a short passage, or a large solution pocket, a few containing stalagmites of bat guano.  Eight miles further down gorge the main rising of the Sha Hu, under high pressure, forces out an incredible flow of water from tight impenetrable bedding planes and fissures and even in the river bed.

Of the wildlife in Iran there seems to be no shortage.  Protected from mans destruction by barren wilderness, many beasts have the freedom of their environment.  Leopards were seen by myself and others on a few occasions. Higher up tracks and droppings were found.  These were thought to belong to bear although this was not confirmed.  What else leaves 5" x 9" tracks, 4ft. apart?  Could the abominable snowman survive in such a cruel climate?

Once again, our water supply began to present problems.  Strained and sterilized snowmelt produced technicolor dysentery and sickness giving our Doctor plenty of research material.  Although very busy, the Doctor made time to treat a number of cases from various mountain communities.  Treating cases ranging from sores and bites to severe scalding and infected broken limbs.

Supplies again had to be replenished and for that purpose a journey into Kermanshah with the coach, left base camp early one morning.  The track from the base camp to the nearest metalled road covered thirty miles of rough terrain resembling the track up to the UBBS hut in Burrington.  Unnoticed by ourselves and unrecorded by the temperature gauge a water leak caused by a damaged radiator proceeded to boil the system dry and the inevitable happened. Engine seized solid and we were rendered immobile with a ton of equipment still on the plateau!  A number of frantic telephone calls and a lot of help from English friends, who really saved the day, and it looked as though our troubles would diminish very quickly.  Soon all was in hand, an early return by two weeks allowed us to see the eastern cities.

To conclude this adventure, a successful episode in the discovery of this relatively unknown part of the world, as far as speleology is concerned.  Perhaps a little disappointing in view of the depth of the systems in relation to the depth of limestone.  Iran has fantastic potential but I doubt that it will disclose its inner secrets without much hard work and disappointment.

{mospagebreak title=Ian Dear Memorial Fund" /> 

Ian Dear Memorial Fund (I.D.M.F.)

Very soon, members of the club will be turning their thought away from Tyning's, Wigmore and the like and towards summer holidays and possible caving or climbing trips abroad. There is already one caving trip being planned to Austria to look at some relatively unexplored areas of limestone and there may yet be others.  Younger members will hopefully be interested in joining such an expedition but may be deterred by the cost.

The ID.M.F. was set up by a bequest the late Ian Dear, for the sole purpose of assisting younger members of the club to visiting and climbing areas abroad.  So, if you are joining an expedition or even going alone on essentially a caving/climbing holiday and you are very close to your financial target, where a reasonable grant of money from the fund could make the difference between participating staying at home, apply to the I.D.M.F. Committee and see if they can help.  I will stress that, although there is mixed feeling about how, much and in what may the fund resources should be used, it will not used as dole or beer money in the 'Costa Bomb'.

Please apply if you think you might qualify, by giving a brief description of the proposed trip, a breakdown of cost and the sun of money required indicating in particular where the fund money is to be used.

The application can be given to any of the following I.D.M.F. Committee who will then call a meeting to consider it.  Two months or more notice would be ideal but one months notice before the trip is the minimum time that can be tolerated.  It is normal for a member who receives a grant to write a full account of the expedition for submission via the I.D.M.F. to the Editor of the B.B. for publication in the B.B. or Caving Reprts.

I.D.M.F. Committee: -

Sett, Mike Plamer, Nigel Taylor, Russ Jenkins and Barrie Wilton.



Compiled by Niph

Rock & Fountain Cave.  Brynmawr, S, Wales.  For members wishing to visit this cave should contact any of the following:- Bill Gascoigne - Tel: Pontypool 4489

John Parker - Tel: Pontypool 57279

Jeff Hill - Tel: Ebbw Vale 304413

BEC Publications. John Dukes is to take on the job of publication sales.  If you have any ideas for new sales outlets for this material, please let him know.

CORRECTION to S. Wales BEC Leaders.  Andy MacGregor is an O.F.D. leader and D.Y.O. leader.  (For full list see December 1977 B.B.)

Notes from the North. Caves on Leck-Casterton is booked by clubs until July 1978 - anyone interested in visiting any caves of these Fells should book now for the Winter season!  Seems to be a simple case of cave over-population.  CNCC are negotiating with Lord Bolton on the possibility of re-opening Thrackthwaite Beck Cave.  Permission will not be given at Top Farm to cavers to descend Red Moss Pot.

Otter Hole, Chepstow. The Royal Forest cavers have gated Otter Hole from January 1st 1978.  Keys are available from John Court, Trenchard Cottage, Joyford, Coleford, Glos. Please enclose £2 deposit and two stamped, self addressed envelopes, one for Key and the other for return of the deposit.  Information on the cave and tidal predictions are also available from John.  With the winter coming, cavers should be careful particularly on the ‘over-tide’ trips.  The Forest cavers are still working hard and a number of dye tests which seems to have confirmed the existence of much more cave to be discovered.  The G.C.R.G. have set up the first of its emergency dumps.  This has cost £30 so please if you feel peckish take your own food not that in the food dumps.  The dump is at present situated above the fixed ladder, just beyond the tidal sump. The electron ladder is to be removed so parties should take their own ladder, rope and tethers.  Chepstow Police station appears to be helpful and will note details of your trip, particularly useful if you are visiting midweek.

Singing River Mine. A key for this mine is held at the Belfry.

Whose boob! One D. Ingle Smith (of Wessex or UBSS) is a contributor to the nearly £10 book "Mendip - A new Study".  He writes - you've guessed rightly - about Mendip caving.  In doing so he's unearthed a new Mendip Pioneer - Henry Ernest Balch!

O.F.D.  Permit Secretary is Miss Denise Samuel, 4 Brent Court, Church Road, Hanwell, Lndn, W7 3BZ

Mines of the Peak District.  The Peak National Park Study Centre are running a course from 31st March to 2nd April, 1978.  Further details from The Principal, Losehill Hall, Castleton, Sheffield S30 2VWB. Cost (full board) is £25.

Charterhouse Caving Areas.  Caves on the Bristol Waterworks land at Charterhouse, have been administered by the Charterhouse Caving Committee since the early 1960's.  For the last year or so the organisation has become lax and neglectful - locks are missing on Longwood and on occasions the gate at GB has been left open.  If the CCC has forgotten its responsibilities it’s pretty certain that the BWW has not. Will all members ensure that they have the required permits and observe the rules of access to the CCC caves.

The MCG Book Sale.  The following books are available from the MCG (Malcolm Cotter).  The two books marked (*) are listed at publisher's price, but purchase of these allows the buyer to obtain a special discount on other books.

Limestones & Caves of the Mendip Hills (Ed. Smith)                                            £3.75

Limestones & Caves of N.W. England (Ed. Waltham)                                           £3.75

The Mines of Mendip (J.W. Gough)                                                                     £2.95

*Mendip Underground (D.J. Irwin & A.J. Knibbs)                                                   £2.95

*Mendip: the Complete Caves and a view of the Hills. ( Barrington and Stanton)       £3.50

A climber in the West Country                                                                           £0.75

The Collector’s Guide to Fossils                                                                         £0.10

A Mendip tribute to the Hunters?  The Wessex Lane have written to the Mendip Clubs suggesting that each should present Roger Dors with their club that the trophy.  The idea is that the trophy should be hung in the new room in the Hunters. Anyone with any ideas should contact a committee member.

Constitutional Amendments.  The AGM recommended that the 1977/1978 Committee should look into apparent anomalies in the Club Constitution.  In order to do this a Sub-Committee has been set up under the Chairmanship of Martin Cavender (the Club Solicitor).  Members with any suggestions should contact Martin (The Old Rectory, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Near Wells Somerset.)

Addition to the Library.  Paul Christie has donated a copy of the Mersham Firestone Quarries - an interim account - by members of Croydon Caving Club to the club library.

Caving Reports available to members.

No. 1  Surveying in Redcliffe Caves, Bristol.


No. 3A  The Manufacture of Lightweight Caving Ladders


No. 5A Survey of Headwear and Lighting (2nd ed.)


No.10 The BEC Method of Ladder Construction


No.13 St. Cuthbert's Report:


Part E. Rabbit Warren


Part F. Gour Hall Area


Part H. Rabbit Warren Extension


No.14 "Balague 1910"


No.15 "Roman Mine", nr. Newport


No.16 "Mendip’s Vanishing Grottoes"


No.18 Cave Notes '74


No.19 Cave Notes '15-16


All reports are stocked at the Belfry.  Members should see Chris Batstone or John Dukes.  They are available through the post so please allow p & p 50p for 3 or more.

From the Gloucester SS Newsletter, No.5, is a note of three Forest of Dean digs.  Work on Seymour Swallet is to begin again, with improved drilling facilities for banging. On the other hand in P.C. Cave, although there is a good draught, and the way in is visible, there are no diggers.  The mysterious project 'X' has yielded 60+ ft. of passage, including a 25ft pitch half-way down a big aven.

C.S.C.C. has recently taken under its wing the Mendip Cave Registry.  At present the mammoth task of collating the information is undertaken by Ray and Kay Mansfield.  For those that have not looked at the Registry, it is recommended that you do so (copies are lodged in the Wells Library and Bristol Central Reference Library). It is the only complete set of references to any Mendip cave up to the date of the last century.  There is about 10 years or so work to be added to the Register.  And you can imagine, it involves much work and it is well known that Ray and Kay would welcome any help - particularly from typists.  Their address is Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, nr. Bath.

Those who did not bother to attend the B.C.R.A. winter Meeting at the Hunters missed a fine afternoon and evening’s entertainment.  John Parker outlined the discovery and exploration of the Rock and Fountain - a fine talk, illustrated by slides.  This was followed by Dave Manley on a new idea of discovering new cave passage by chemical means.  After the Buffet, Jerry Wooldridge gave a repeat showing of his sound/slide sequences of La Cigalaire and Fairy Cave Quarry.  The evening was wound up by Martin Farr and Pete Glanville giving a potted account of the Iran 77 trip including Pete's observations on the medical problems of caving visits to arid areas.

Sports Council Cuts BMC Grant.  Since the publication of the BMC ‘Hunt Report’ there has been a considerable rift in the Council.  A rift in, fact based on fundamentals - put very simply Hunt stated that training should be based within the Climbing Clubs and under the watchful eye of BMC and Longland wished for a separate organisation to control training within the climbing world.

Reported in the 'Times' newspaper the grant has been taken away from BMC and has left them in a situation where they are in a situation where they are in severe financial difficulties.  Mrs. Audrey Selkela, Hon. Chairman of the BMC South West and Southern Area stated in a letter to me…”Within the last few days (Oct. 28th) arbitrarily and without consultation, the Sports Council has cut-off the BMC Training Grant thus jeopardising the future of a well-proven and well run operation for over five years. Further more, it would appear that the Sports Council is proposing to transfer this money to a secessionist Mountain Leader Training Board, chaired by Sir Jack Longland…. The BMC considers that the Sports Council is wrong, ill-advised and destructive. It would be wrong and unsafe for a body, other than the BMC to attempt to set standards of competence in mountaineering since the BMC in its membership embraces some of the best climbers and climbing educationalists in the world.

We had always understood it to be a hallowed principle that the Sports Council did not seek to interfere in the internal policies and philosophies of any sports or recreation; supporting a secessionist body and withholding grant-aid can only be interpreted as interference.”

So there you have it… conform or otherwise.  It is to be hoped that the Southern Council will ensure that it does not receive grant-aid for its administrative costs without first ensuring that it can survive without it.  BEC representatives to the CSCC meetings should ensure that the council gets this message loud and clear.  (see also: B.M.C. Saga continues on page 12 for the Sports Council viewpoint)


Book Review

by Dave Metcalf.

"Northern Caves, Vol. 5.” ‘The Northern Dales’ - Revised Edition by D. Brook, G.M. Davies, M.H. Lone, P.F. Ryder.

Surely this must be a guidebook which contains the most varied selection of caves and potholes ever recorded.  Since the 1974 version came out passages have been pushed, digs have been dug and sumps have been dived.  A wave of discovery fever seems to have hit the Northern Dales.  In the 1977 edition there are no less than 100 new entries together with many important extensions to existing caves.

The total area map has been extended to include caves as far a field as the West Coast of Cambria to the North Northumberland Border; Flamborough Head to Nottinghamshire. There are caves in Sandstone, Chalk & Grit, with every subterranean hazard known to man - from creaking boulders to radioactive gas!  Of interest to the connoisseur of cave names we have Mitochondrion Pot, Diggle Wigglepit and next time you visit Dentdale how about 60ft of Bum Burner Breach! There are many more surveys in this edition but unfortunately omitted is one of Blea Gill Cave - a newly discovered complex system of come 1-2 miles.  However a description of the new cave does appear.

Perhaps the most important extensions recorded are those in Cliff Force Cave and the long overdue reopening of Lunehead Mine Caverns.  Much new ground has been covered by divers, with much activity in all areas particularly in the Rawthey Valley with the sump in Rawthey Cave being passed and two important risings explored - Uldale House Rising and, would you believe 'Lady Blues Underwater Fantasy'.  Also recorded are underwater extensions in Tutmans Hole, Ayleburn Mine Caverns, Tub Hole, Gods Bridge River Cave, Otters Cave and Pate Hole leaving plenty of scope for further exploration.

The book is well laid out and very readable.  Additional Geological information is provided and there is also a comprehensive section covering caves in Magnesian Limestone.

This volume is understandably slightly fatter than other ' Northern Caves' editions but unfortunately so is the price.  However at £1.65p,  I still think it is good value.


Letter to the Editor.

Dear Dave,

I was extremely sorry to read the ungracious remarks made about Alfie at the last A.G.M.  As they seem to fall into the category of personal opinion, then perhaps my personal opinion might be heard.

Alfie’s efforts have provided me with a BB that has been my preferred reading amongst other journals, reports, papers and information sheets I read.  It has been largely successful in a humorous fashion.  It had style.  I hope its successor is as good.

I imagined that when Alfie ceased his association with the BB, a thankless task, would be treated with due honour for the considerable efforts he has made on our behalf over far too many years with too little help.  I'm ashamed that he has gone like this.  Is this the new BEC?

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Yours Regretfully,



Dear Sir,

May I be permitted to write a few words about the “Friday Night” Saturday trips to Wales.  As you probably know, the “Friday Night” trips that are run every fortnight are open to members of all Clubs, and despite our incredible difference we manage to cave quite happily as a group.  We also run about three or four trips a year to South Wales, these of course being on a Saturday.

The general system is that by mutual consent we fix the dates for a year in advance.  As a Welsh date approaches so people state their preferences and we select the cave.  Each cave has its own access rules and for clarity I will consider Ogof Ffynon Ddu only.

Approximately one month in advance one has to write to the Nature Conservancy Council, John Harvey, Clifford House, High Street, Newnham, Glos. GL14 1BB.  Newnham 376 for a permit to enter the cave.  One should state whether or not this is for OFD1, OFD2 or Cwm Dwr.  Each permit allows the leader to take six other cavers in the party.

Do avoid the 1st Saturday in the month as Penwyllt (South Wales Caving Club HQ) reserve their premises for Club members only on those dates.

I have never found it necessary to advise SWCC of our coming, but I always ensure that the Duty Warden is found, the nature of our visit explained, who we are, and a whip-round of say 5p or 10p each made to cover the use of their dining room, toilets etc.  The showers cost an extra 10p. per person.  It is essential that we make these gestures for we all use and appreciate their facilities.

As the trip date approaches so people wishing to come, contact me or other “Friday Nighters” and their names and locations are added to the list.  At this stage of the game we must consider the permit system, 1 leader +6, and usually we can enough Mendip OFD1 leaders or SWCC leaders to cover the size of the party (one only needs OFD1 leaders to pass through that part of the cave and this is a landowners request).  However, if this is not possible then we have to work on a 1st come 1st served system.  We pool our transport and this can involve a fair degree of planning and money on phone calls.

At long last we are over there, fed, and ready to go.  The permits are exchanged via the Duty Warden for a key, EVERY party members name is put in the HQ guest book together with the Club name and cave key number.  There is also a notice board made out for 24 hours, and all names are entered on cards against the expected 'out time'.  I usually add on two hours for contingencies. Make no mistake about it, if you are overdue then a search will be organised and at the least you would keep someone away from the pub on standby.  Remember that this cave has at least 25 miles of passages so the access arrangements have to be fairly rigid.

You may well ask, "What are the benefits of a trip like this?"  Well, the regulars amongst us enjoy caving as a group, so that's one answer.  Another is that we give anyone the chance to learn the basic routes so that they can then run their own trips.  The last one is that as an OFD1 leader, I must give people the opportunity of visiting that part of the cave.

On Saturday November 12th we had 18 in the party.  This is quite normal these days but it does mean that we have to be very conscious of our group responsibilities.  As happened on that occasion one must be ready to change the route if someone finds the 6 or 7 hour trip too tiring (often done by us without them necessarily being aware of the fact).

Unfortunately, on that date four people joined our party and I knew nothing about them until they overtook me in OFD2.  They failed to wait at an agreed place and we had occasional news of them from parties travelling in the opposite direction.  We had to change our plan and surface via Cwm Dwr instead of OFD1 and they were left on their own and had to return by their original route.  Had we stuck to our original plan of entering via OFD1, I would NOT have let them enter the cave, for our leader ration would have been invalid.

In conclusion may I stress that we WANT to help anyone interested, but common courtesy also helps us

Yours faithfully,

R.E. Kenney.


Dear Sir,

So the Tigers are on the prowl again and they have hit poor Wig 'straight between the eyes'.  We are being told once again that we ought not to like fixed tackle in St. Cuthbert's.  From anybody else I would take it as a mark of sheer arrogance to be told what kind of caving I ought to like.  But from Jim Durston I can't, because I know he's a bloody nice chap.  I can only assume that some bee has come untimely out of hibernation and is buzzing around his helmet.

The argument he leaves out altogether is that of cost effectiveness.  Electron ladders are expensive both in time and money and have only a few years useful life.  Fixed ladders are cheap and last for at least half a century.

It has been pointed out before, but I may as well say it again, that there is nothing to stop cavers from taking electron ladders down St. Cuthbert's and using them instead of the fixed ladders, if they prefer it that way.  (Jim knows as well as I do that he doesn't have to use the ladders on the Ledge Pitches, but can descend the crack at the back.)  His argument would be more convincing, if people did take down their own ladders.  Until they do so in preference to the fixed aids, it will be a fair assumption that cavers prefer the latter.  But who are we to tell cavers how to enjoy themselves?  After all that's all that counts.

All the best,

Oliver (Lloyd)


Cuthbert’s Revisited

I was privileged to go into Ease Gill Caverns fairly soon after their discovery and remember the breathtaking beauty of "Poetic Justice", a passage with thousands of straws, virtually wall to wall, floor to ceiling.  A few short years later I saw it again and scarcely recognised it; the damage done was so great that little remained to suggest anything of its former glory.

Earlier this year I revisited Cuthbert’s after a gap of some twenty years - give or take a year or two. Prior to this I had made only two or three trips into the system and my memories were somewhat hazy although I could recall some magnificent formations.  As I wrote off to arrange the trip, which was for the benefit of a party from the Derwent Mountaineering Club from Matlock; I wondered how many of those remembered formations would still be intact.

As we went our way through the cave under the watchful eye of Mike Palmer, there they all were - straws, stalagmites, curtains - all, unbelievably, in pristine condition, jogging my memory, looking as they had done when I last saw them, and indeed as they must have looked when the first explorers saw them close on thirty years ago. One curtain came so low it was necessary to duck your head in order to yet there it was, undamaged.

Over the years there has been a lot of criticism of the Cuthbert’s leader system the restriction on access it imposes.  In the past I've always been in favour of free and unrestricted access to caves, subject to the accepted ethics of discoverers being allowed to complete the exploration of their discovery first.  No-one can deny that it is far more enjoyable to be able to turn up in a caving region, set off do, the cave of your choice and find your own way through the system – no red tape, no restrictions, no finding someone to give permission; just pay the farmer his entry fee and off you go.  Without the bother of having to book a trip with a leader, I would have made many more trips down Cuthbert’s all those years ago.  But now I ask the question.  If there had been free, unrestricted access into Cuthbert’s from those years, would we now be able to go in and see these splendid formations? Would they now exist: for the new generation of cavers to enjoy as we who saw them back in the early fifties enjoyed them?  Regretfully, the answer is NO, they would not.  Most would be damaged if not destroyed completely.  The beautiful curtain I mentioned would have gone long ago. Would they still be intact if a less rigid system of control had been put into operation - say each of the Mendip Clubs being allocated duty club on a rota system and taking over responsibility for a set period?  I don’t think so.  I think the success of the Cuthbert’s leader system is that each individual leader accepts full responsibility.  On each occasion I have been down I have been impressed by the way the leader has ensured that every member of the party knew where the formations were and avoided any risk of damaging them.  If at any time there had a mishap it would have been known and the responsibility placed squarely on the shoulders of the leader at that time.  It is most unlikely that under any other system of control, any damage would have been traced back to any particular party, let at any individual and anonymity fosters carelessness.  It is an indisputable fact that the Cuthbert’s leader system has preserved the cave intact and although restricted access was irksome to my generation, it now gives me great pleasure to know that my sons will be able to see at least one cave in the condition in which their mother and I saw it long before they were born.

There have always been some individuals who believed they were justified in doing whatever was necessary to gain unauthorised access into caves, including using explosives, sawing off locks or merely sneaking in when no-one was looking.  It could not have been easy for the B.E.C. to keep control over the years.  In fact I remember many years ago when one young caver was caught making an unauthorised trip through Cuthbert’s; he was duly hauled before Sett and one or two other fearsome Godfather figures of the B.E.C. and given a right 'rollicking', threatened with excommunication, castration, or even being chucked out of the Club if he ever transgressed again.  It would have been all too easy to say "Oh, he's a competent and responsible caver, let the incident pass," a view some of us held at the time. But had that happened it would have been the thin edge of the wedge, others would have followed his lead, within a few years the leader system would have collapsed and the slow but inexorable desecration of the beauty that is Cuthbert’s would have begun.  Anyone who really wants to wander freely around Cuthbert’s can do so simply by taking the trouble to become a Cuthbert’s leader.

The caving fraternity and all who profess to support conservation owe a debt of gratitude to the B.E.C., and in particular to all Cuthbert’s leaders, for the time they have spent and the trouble they have taken to preserve the cave and its formations. This achievement is well worth the annoyance caused to me and my contemporaries when we had to go to the unheard of trouble of finding a leader and booking a trip down the cave; had we been given free and unrestricted access, the youngsters of to-day would have a very different cave there now.  And although they may moan as much as we did, the continuation of the leader system will mean that those who come after them will still be able to enjoy the magnificent formations which-abound in Cuthbert’s.  In fact, the success of the Cuthbert’s leader system prompts me to suggest that there must be a case for operating such a system in any new discovery that has a wealth of formation.


B.M.C. Saga Continues

In Jottings earlier, is an extract letter Audrey Selkeld of the SW Section of the B.M.C. gave the B.M.C. case over their current row with the Sports Council and the grant aid to the MLTB.  At the SW Sports Council Standing Conference held at Taunton in November they deplored the Sports Council action and wrote to the Director of the Sports Council - Walter Winterbottom (those of' you old enough to remember this name will know him as the manager of' the English Football team in the '50's).  Winterbottom replied to George Reynolds, Secretary of the SW Standing Conference deploring their action without 'the full facts'.  He then summarised the situation as viewed by the Sports Council and this follows in full:-

The BMC was set up in 1944 but it was not until 1964 that it begun to assume a more active role as a national governing body.  In that year as a member of the CCPR Outdoor Activities Committee, the BMC served on a working party which recommended the formation of the Mountain Leadership Training Board.  This Board was responsible to the CCPR Outdoor Activities Committee and was charged with the duty of prescribing the type of training and the form of representation from the user bodies.  It did, therefore, enjoy a great deal of independence within the limits of the expertise of its members, and the CCPR provided support services.

The Sports Council, which took over the staff and undertakings of the CCPR, continued to support the MLTB.  The Sports Council sought also to encourage the BMC to accept its responsibilities as a governing body and the Sports Council grant aided the appointment of a general secretary a national officer and back-up secretarial assistance, and assisted the Council in its move to Manchester headquarters.

In 1972, the BMC was beginning to obtain greater credence in the eyes of the member clubs through improved services and it was at this stage that the Sports Council with the agreement of the MLTB invited the BMC to administer the Mountain Leadership Training Scheme.  It was agreed at that time that the BMC should receive a 100% grant for this area of work so that there should be no burden on BMC finance obtained from club members.  At the same time it was agreed that the MLTB would have independence in policy matters and that the representation of the user bodies would be maintained.

There seemed to be a very happy relationship between the BMC and MLTB until 1973.  It was at this time that the President of BMC set up a committee to review the policy across the whole range of BMC activities.  A preliminary report was produced in 1974, the final report being presented to BMC Management Committee in 1976.

As a parallel exercise, the BMC Training Committee, chaired by Lord Hunt, considered the detailed policy on mountain training.  Inevitably the report made recommendations about the MLT Scheme, mainly questioning the name of the scheme and the value of the certificate.  The Hunt report emphasised the need for consultation and agreement with the MLTB about changes in the Leadership Scheme, and whilst suggesting larger membership for the BMC, stressed the independence of the Board.

In 1976 and '1977 there were several meetings of BMC/MLTB, some with the Sports Council, and the Sports Council was assured by the President of BMC in February 1977 that both parties were nearing settlement.  In mid 1977, the BMC unilaterally decided to abolish the Board and sack its Chairman.

Bearing in mind its undertaking to the MLTB, and the refusal of the BMC to service the Board and its activities, the Sports Council at its meeting in Glasgow, took the decision that the Sports Council should make every to bring about a settlement between the BMC and MLTB, but meanwhile the Sports Council should sustain the MLTB and withdraw that proportion of BMC grant attributable to the servicing of the MLTB which the BMC had repudiated.  As the normal machinery for talking to governing bodies was through the Sports Development Committee, it was agreed that the Committee should consider the matter and recommend a course of action to the Council.  It was further agreed that Mr. Atha should chair the separate meetings of members of the Sports Development Committee with representatives of the BMC and MLTB.

It should be noted that grant aid to the BMC was withdrawn only in respect of that element of grant which the BMC had applied for in respect of that element of grant which the BMC had applied for in respect of servicing the MLTB.  Grant for its normal administration and international events continue.  The BMC has not submitted any scheme of BMC training for consid6ration for grant aid.

After separate meetings with representatives of BMC and MLTB the Sports Development Committee has recommended to the Sports Council as follows: -

"It was agreed that the following recommendations should be considered by the Sports Council at its meeting on the 19th December: -

i.                    That the MLTB continues to be recognised as the autonomous body responsible for the MLTB schemes until such time as it appears that the Board no longer enjoys the support of the user bodies;

ii.                  That the Sports Council formally canvasses the views of the user bodies of the MLTB schemes;

iii.                 That the Sports Council recognises the contribution the BMC can make to the work of the MDTB and would wish it to take up its representation in the present constitution of the MLTB and be party to the election of a Chairman and officers of the Board;

iv.                 That the BMC be encouraged to put forward its training scheme for the sport of mountaineering to be considered for grant aid, and

v.                   That the BMC and the MLTB be asked to meet under an independent chairman to discuss the present situation with a view to the BMC resuming its servicing of the MLTB, and

vi.                 That the Sports Council should discuss with the BMC what grant aid is necessary to meet immediate staffing problems in its Manchester Office


Lead Sediments in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

by Roger Stenner

Many months ago the B.B. published a short paragraph concerning this topic, and it was hoped that someone properly qualified to comment on the possible dangers would have written a follow-up letter.  This has not happened, and several people asked me to elaborate on the original paragraph.  Readers should bear in mind that I am not qualified to make a judgement on medical dangers of lead and can only draw on the available literature, chiefly the report, “Lead in the environment and its significance to man,” published by the Department of 'the Environment as Pollution, Paper No. 2. (HMSO London 1974).

Lead mining and smelting had a very long history on Mendip, and Gough's "Mines of Mendip" refers to many aspects of lead contamination, some of them more than 400 years ago.  St. Cuthbert's Swallet drains a valley which was used for lead smelting for at least 1700 years, so it must he expected that the streamways have been contaminated. The question was - how extensive is the contamination, and how does it compare with natural contamination brought about by natural weathering of lead-bearing rock, and transportation by the surface stream? This was a question I was able to tackle and there were some surprises in the answers.  Briefly, all the stream passages in St. Cuthbert's Swallet have sediment containing 1½ - 3½% lead, but not every stream has been sampled. Surface streams going into the cave have sediments of 3 – 5% lead, and Wookey Hole sediments have about 0.6 - 1.5% lead.  Abandoned stream passages, and even in active stream passages, sediments about 3M above the stream bed have below 0.1%.  The analysis of sediments through the archaeological dig in Wookey 4 from 1974 – 1976 gave final proof that the contamination was un-natural.  In fact, analysis of sediments in St. Cuthbert’s will give a stack of information on chronology and changes in the cave since 250 A.D.  The analysis of sediments will not be as clear-cut as might seem at first sight because two samples of a clay like deposit from the cave proved to be very rich in lead - one in fact being over 70% cerrusite (lead carbonate) which were not stream borne pediments.  It is tempting to speculate whether Ochre Rift should have been called “Cerrusite Rift.”

The distribution of lead in St. Cuthbert's and Wookey is a fascinating subject, which is only really just starting to come to light.  Do the divers realise that they can follow the way to Cuthbert’s by following the lead and that any branching of the streams will be clearly shown by the sediment as well as by the water itself?  The amount of sediment needed for reliable analysis is tiny compared with a 50cc plastic water bottle.  However, the question of the possible dangers from the lead is likely to be of more immediate concern and this is where I have to leave my subject and refer to what others have written.

First, there is considerable controversy about the effects of small concentrations of lead, when blood levels are below the usually recognised level marking the onset of clinical lead poisoning.  Mental retardation, hyperactivity and behavioural problems have been reported with children being particularly susceptible.  In rats, similar low level exposures have been reported to shorten the lifespan by 30%.  Changes in the biochemistry in humans have been shown to be caused by very low exposures to lead.  It cannot yet be said that these changes have harmful effects such as the abnormalities just listed, but at the same time it cannot be said that the changes do not have harmful effects.  Why don't we know whether the changes affect our health?  Long-term epidemiological studies are needed to answer the question. Until then, one side says there is no proof that low levels are safe and point to disturbing signs.  Both sides are, of course, right but it is not, a very satisfactory state of affairs.

If we turn to higher levels of lead contamination, classical lead poisoning can develop.  Causes are many.  Pica or compulsive chewing (lead paints taste very sweet) inhaling dust from scraping lead paints or burnt paint from the blowlamp (old paints can be 40% lead) lead from old glazed ware or ware from amateur or "art-form" potters, especially used with acid foods, e.g. soused herring, working in lead using industries, drinking from pewter, especially mulled cider.  All of these can give massive lead intoxication. So where do Cuthbert’s sediments' corrie in the 'lead exposure league?'  What might it mean to you?  If you are 'normal' in not being exposed to abnormal lead contamination, probably not much. However, if you are in busy traffic a lot, or working in a lead using industry, any extra contamination should be avoided.  Always assuming low level contamination turns out to have no long-term effect. Personally, I don’t think it would be wise to allow children to breathe in dust that sometimes reduces visibility in the Belfry changing room to about six inches!  To be on the safe side, a rinse out in the drinking pool would have been a good of getting rid of St. Cuthbert's lead, and prolong the life of the boiler suit at the same time.  Perhaps it might be a good idea for lots of reasons, to reseal the stream-bed of Fair Lady Well Stream and reinstate the Drinking Pool as a permanent stream so this could once more be the normal practice.

Ed. note:            full account of the lead in the cave will be found in St. Cuthbert's Report, Part L which Roger is in the last throws of preparing.  If anyone would like prior access to the data then contact Roger.


Odds and Sods

Yeovil Caving Club member contracts Weil’s disease.  Following a trip down Stoke Lane Slocker on the 14th. October 1977 Benny Bainbridge had the symptoms of Weil’s disease.  Within two weeks he had lost the use of both of his kidneys and the liver was infected.  He was taken to the R.N. Hospital at Plymouth and subsequently moved to the R.A.F. Hospital at Halton.  He responded to treatment which involved the use of a Dialysis Machine and made a total recovery in about six weeks.  Bainbridge is reported to have drunk the waters of Stoke Lane and this in turn had been infected by Rats urine.  The case above is the second the first occurring some 10 years ago when Oliver Lloyd contracted this disease - again following a visit to Stoke Lane.  Be warned - do not drink water in any cave that flows near farm buildings or property where rats are likely to find a comfortable home.  This could apply to Cuthbert's where water from the small holding eventually drains into the cave - particularly in the Long Chamber Series and Coral Chamber area.

More on Gating of Otter Hole

The entrance to the cave is now gated by the Royal Forest cavers (see Jottings).  The gate has been installed at the entrance to the first crawl passage some 40ft. inside the entrance.

Swildon's Hole

The Wessex have obtained successes in Swildon's. First a breakthrough in the Sidcot Dig revealing about 500ft of passage.  The trend of this new section of cave appears to be towards Barnes Loop. The second is the discovery of about 100ft. of passage at Heaven and Hell.

Some Digging Possibilities in Manor Farm

by GRAHAM Wilton-Jones

When Manor Farm was opened up in September 1973 the water sank at point A, down a short choke in front of the large boulder before the final bend.  At this time the cave ended in a muddy choke at ‘F’.  Early in 1974 this choke was dug through revealing further passage.  Mr. ‘N’ banged in the sink and blocked it up.  It is now a deep pool of very liquid 'mud' and the water flows onwards, leaving the passage via a short sump to the left to re-appear and sink in the chamber at ‘B’ (this is the one reached normally through one of the holes on the final bend). The sink here is an obvious digging site.   The original roof tube from the main passage goes straight into

the chamber via the top hole.  A later rift tube joins the original hole, coming from a high inlet opposite.  The sink at ‘B’ is blocked by boulders collapsed from the roof of the chamber. It probably took water for a long time before this then flowed through the lower, terminal passages, as evidenced by the abrupt decrease in size of the main passage.

The sink at 'A' is probably relatively immature, considering how easily it was blocked (although Nigel did use a lot of bang).  The narrow, descending rift at ‘C’ is also probably immature, although it does draught gently.  At the very end of the final passage, at ‘E’ a steep slope can be climbed with the aid of an old, fixed rope belayed to a dubious looking boulder.  Above a boulder choke a short length of rift can be entered. Back from the steep slope, a low passage on the right leads to a tight rift.  Climbing up this reaches a small chamber, at 'D'.  The rift continues above and below a small, loose looking boulder collapse.  In the lower route a way on can be seen beyond some of the boulders, but the route through is tight and nasty.


Sketch Diagram showing lower end of Manor Farm Swallet.

Next month in the B.B.

An account of a recent visit to White Scar Cave (Yorks) and an account  of a visit to Belgium by - wait for it - 'Zot' as well as all the up to date news from a number of sources.  For the April and may BB’s there will be an account of the Discoveries of Wookey 20 - 25 and a new series of surveys, by Chris Howell, of the lesser caves of Mendip including sites such as Axbridge Ochre Mine and Loxton Cave.

Overheard at the Belfry

Club members are planning a trip to Austria this and JD and G. W-J are intending to go along.  Another member (MB) hearing this said, “Damned if I’m going along with these two – they take their caving too seriously.”



by Tim Large


The Committee, after taking legal advice, has appointed two new Trustees in a 'caretaker' arrangement to cover the Clubs interest until the situation can be discussed by you at the 1978 A.G.M.  They are Roy Bennett and Alan Thomas, who are both agreeable and happy to take up the position on the Clubs behalf.


The MRO have asked for extra space to store more equipment in the Stone Belfry.  The Committee agreed to extend the present store by a small amount, but at the same time increase the size of our tackle store to provide workshop facilities as well.  The cost of the change will be met by the MRO.

Bob Cross has obtained, for the Club, a fine workshop bench which sited in the improved tackle store. Many thanks Bob.

If anyone has, or knows of, items of equipment or tools that may be of use to the Club – just give someone on the Committee a ring to check costs etc, and than the go-ahead can be given to obtain it.  Obviously, expensive items will first have to be agreed by the Committee at one of their meetings.

There is a possibility that the track leading to the Belfry will be tarmaced.  The Club has been approached, by letter (!) by our neighbour, Walt Foxwell, with a view to a joint effort towards work.  This should reduce the rate at which everyone replaces suspension units.  In the meantime it would be appreciated if everyone would drive slowly along the track to minimise the damage to the surface.  Farm animals regularly use the track, as you all know, and several have become lame due to the badly rutted surface.


Barry Wilton has given the Committee notice that he intends to resign as Hon. Treasurer at the end of the current financial year.  Barry has done a good stint and his work is very much appreciated by everyone.  So budding treasurer’s lets be hearing from you. As the Clubs financial year ends in July, there will be a few months for a caretaker arrangement to exist under Barrie's guidance.  Being a rather special post it is no good waiting until the A.G.M. election of the Committee.  I think you would all agree there is a need to find a reliable replacement as soon as possible whom the committee would support at election in October.  Contact any member if you are interested.


The election for the two vacancies on the committee took place at the January meetings.  Those people that expressed an interest were Colin Dooley, John Dukes, Bob Cross and Martin Grass.  The two elected by secret ballot were Martin and John.  Welcome to both of them and DON'T BE LATE!!


This year the Priddy villagers are holding an 'It’s a Knockout' competition at their Spring Bank Holiday festivities.  The Club intends to participate and help devise a suitable game.  Martin Bishop is arranging it and would be pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in helping.

Instead of the usual Midsummer Barbeque which has faded in recent years, the Committee has agreed to arrange a buffet instead.  If you like an official mid-year Club Dinner (buffet).  The Belfry would probably be restricted to members only for that. weekend and I hope we would see some of the older and less familiar faces on Mendip combining perhaps some caving/climbing etc. with a ‘do’ on the Saturday evening.  More details when available re costs etc.

In my mail bag this month has been a letter from John whom many of you will know as being the only members name in St. Cuthbert's - namely Stafford's Boulder Problem. I am sure many of you will recall the place with very choice remarks.  John living in Aberdeenshire and gives an open invitation for members visiting Scotland to drop in.   Address available on request.  Also the mail bag is a letter from Keith Murray who has just returned from a six month visit to Br. Honduras.  I am sure be must have many tales to relate.  What about some of them for the B.B.

Your membership subscription is now officially due and will be gratefully received now!  Remember to comply with the insurance requirements the Club has to submit membership numbers by April 30th.  Any member not renewing by that date will be deemed to have lapsed and a re-application will become necessary.  This also means that your B.B. would cease to arrive too.  So let's be having those lovely cheques - made payable to B.E.C., not myself.


The Young Mendip Caver

Tune: German Musicaner

Well I’ll sing you the sons of a young Mendip caver
And of the adventures that overfell 'e.
Though he'd led a good life, he was hardly a raver
Until he went caving with a girl called Betsy.
Sing fal da ra lal de ra lal de la lady
All kinds of holes this young' caver'd been through
But the ones he preferred, they were both wet and hairy
And his favourite trip was to do Swildons Two

Now these two went down Swildons, the boy and young Betsy
The bike of the Belfry , invariably free.
They slipped on their wet suits and went down together
There was no one else with 'em, there was just he and she.
Now he'd charged his nife cell and she took her stinky
As down to the dark this young couple did go
He thought he was hard and she thought he was kinky
And they both hoped the other one wouldn't be slow.
When the Forty was passed he led over the Twenty.
Down to the streamway past ruckle and squeeze
But he found the sump wider than he had expected
And very soon after he was down on his knees

Then it's.  Oh! she did cry. Well me lamp it has failed me
Have you got a pricker to bring back the flame?
So he pulled out his wire and he tackled her stinky
And very soon after, 'twas working again

But this trip down below, it got wetter and wetter
And time after time she cried 'Do it again!'
Till he'd tried every way and he could do no better
And then she did say 'Try the first way again.'

Now when they came out, they were both tired and weary
And the charge in his cell, well it almost was through.
And there's only the moral to tell of my story
Wet stinkys need pricking down in Swildons Two


Pippikin - The Entrance Series

By Dave Metcalf

Pippikin is situated in the large allotment on the south side of Easegill about 100yds north of the wall which runs down from Leck Fell House.  However, to reach it, it is probably better to walk across from Bull Pot Farm, down towards Pegley Pot and follow the path up the north side of the Gill to a broken stile, cross the Gill and climb up a rocky dry valley and head for the fence that surrounds Nippikin.  Follow the obvious dry valley for 20yds to a stream sink which is Pippikin. The larger of the two holes nearest to Nippikin (not the stream sink) is best laddered direct into the entrance chamber (30ft ladder and Belay).

The way out of the chamber is with the stream through a low, wide bedding plane to a small gap where the stream drops abruptly down Cellar Pot (40ft).  The first man should then traverse the slippery beams across the top of Cellar Pot (while lifelined) and then proceed feet first into squeeze using the rope as a hand line as he emerges in the roof of a 15ft pot, but can position himself on ledges about 7ft. down.  The rope can now be used to ferry tackle through the squeeze in small quantities a time.

The bottom of the 15ft pot is choked but an obvious window leads into rift passage narrowing to the second squeeze.  This is relatively straight forward and leads down a step on to a small platform above the second pitch.  ( Northern Caves, Vo1.4, and other reports I have read speak of two constrictions at this point, but, judging the amount of shattered debris here, one of these appears to have been ‘persuaded’).

A twenty foot ladder hung direct from a stemple drops into a small chamber with the third squeeze leading into a washed out shale band.  This squeeze is probably stiffer than the other two.  The third pitch follows with two bolt belays on the left hand wall (50ft ladder and small karabiner).

A comfortable climb down enters a high chamber with the inevitable tight rift passage leading into the fourth squeeze.  This emerges dramatically in the roof of a wider 18" rift' and the best way to tackle this is to look through and carefully note the position of a large expanding stemple jammed across the passage at the far end.  Belay a 30ft. handline to a boulder and enter the passage feet first, keeping the legs as high up possible.  When the wider section is detected, drop the feet downwards and inch backwards until you can stand on the stemple.  From here it is easy to climb down using the handline.

The next pitch follows immediately (25ft ladder and belay) and the junction with the streamway follows. This, however, should not raise hopes too much as it is some time before the streamway assumes any large proportions than the preceding passages!  Immediately after the junction, the stream cascades down the Fifth Pitch with a thread belay in the right hand wall (10ft wire belay, 15ft. ladder).  The ladder hangs awkwardly and swings into a jagged narrow section partway down.

The exit from the chamber deteriorates into a short muddy traverse to the top of the Sixth Pitch which should be laddered as far forward as possible to avoid a narrow section halfway down (20ft. ladder, 10ft. belay).

At the bottom, the streamway turns sharply left with a small cascade from Ratbag Inlet entering on the right.  The passage enlarges in size here, and it is now almost a comfortable sideways shuffle along a high, winding streamway.  The passage continues in an uninspiring manner for some distance, until, following a short dry section, the rift widens at the boulder choke below the Hall of Ten.

This is a fairly strenuous pot, believe me - the following day you will know you have done it!  A few hints follow to help overcome the problems. Firstly, keep tackle down to a minimum, it is time consuming ferrying one or two ladders at a time through the tight bits.  Excess personal equipment should also be kept to a minimum to avoid snagging, i.e., loose boiler suits; bulky waist lengths festooned with bunches of karabiners etc. A short travelling line is useful for pulling gear through the awkward sections, with a man at either end to pull the rope should anything get jammed.

The majority of the Entrance Series is totally dry, and even when stream is encountered it rarely comes over the boots.  None of the squeezes are any more difficult on the return journey, but the return up the 5ft drop can cause a large drain on the energy making the subsequent squeezes appear more intimidating to a tired party.  Taking all this into account it is probably fair to estimate a time of 2¾ - 3 hours for a small, fit party to reach the streamway choke on their first trip into the system.

Editor’s note: Another article describing a trip into Pippikin Pot can be found in BB No.344.

Useful addresses

Tim Large (Hon. Secretary) 72 Lower Whitelands, Tyning, Radstock, Avon.  (Tel: Radstock 4211)

Graham Wilton-Jones (Tackle Master) ‘Ileana’, Stenefield Rd., Nap hill, High Wycombe, Bucks.

Nigel Taylor (Caving Secretary) Widden Farm, Chilcote, Wells, Somerset.

Mike Palmer (B.B. Postal) Laurel Farm, Yarley Hill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset.  (Tele: Wells 74693)

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

March 3rd

Friday at 7.30.  Thrupe Lane.

March 11th

BRCA Symposium – Cave photography.  UMIST, Manchester.

March 17th

Friday niters trip to South Wales.  Phone Richard Kenny. Meare Heath 269.

Easter Weekend

Yorkshire.  Contact Paul Christie, 7 The Glen, London Road, Berks, or phone Ascot 25372.

April 14th

Cow Hole (Friday niters trip)

April 28th

Lionel’s Hole (Friday niters trip)

April 28th – 1st May

Agen Allwedd.  Otter Hole and hopefully Rock and Fountain.

April 29th

Otter Hole. - Contact ‘Zot’

April 30th

Rock and Fountain – limited numbers – contact Tim Large, Tele: Radstock 4211

May 1st

Agen Allwedd – contact Tim Large

May 12th

Dalimore’s  (Friday niters trip) 7.30 pm

June 10th

Symposium on Cave Exploration in Northern Spain at Bristol University.  Details later.

June 17th

B.E.C. Mid-Summer BUFFET – either at the Hunters or the Village Hall.  Price about £2.50

October 7th

B.E.C. A.G.M. and ANNUAL DINNER – advance details in the March or April B.B.

Don't forget - subscriptions are now due £3.00 full member, £4.50 joint membership.  Please send your subs now to Tim Large, 72 ~ Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon.  Tel: Radstock 4211.

WORKING WEEKEND AT THE BELFRY - APRIL 8th - 9th.  Come up and give a hand painting the outside of the Belfry among many other jobs.


Club Notes

The weekend of February 17th - 19th was a special occasion and the beer was swilling at the Belfry. "Goon" (Alan Jefferies) of the Grampian based in Edinburgh came down with several others to celebrate his 'Double Decadence'.  By popular demand he also brought a barrel of the local beer. Originally the celebrations were to be held at the Shepton but owing to popular demand the venue was changed, at the last moment, to the Belfry with, of course, the member’s permission - I mean to say, anyone bringing free beer to the Belfry needn't really ask!  During the beer swilling the heavens opened and the southern blizzard hit Mendip, cutting off all contact with the outside world - well nearly!  Roads were blocked with 10ft snow drifts and forcing the Belfry regulars to stay on the top of Mendip - there wasn't a disappointed face amongst them!  Though the snow fall was only some 6”, the gale force winds caused severe drifting during Sunday.

Not to miss the event at the Belfry, Martin Bishop and Liz took their car home at Priddy and walked back to the Belfry and on Sunday.  Backbone, Ross and Dave Walker with Pete Moody, Alison Hooper and other Wessex members took up Wigs offer of coffee at Townsend - much to his surprise.

Monday saw Bish, Sid Hobbs and others making a trip to Wells for supplies.  So too, did the Belfry bods.  In the mean time a well worn track was being carved through the drifts from the Belfry to the Hunters to feed on the faggots and peas as well as the quenching of the thirsts.

The Lake District trip, organised by Mike Palmer, saw Zot, Bob Cross John Dukes, Graham W-J., John Manchip (now living in Edinburgh) and others having a great time in the hills.  All went to programme until they returned to the Bristol area. The Palmers made it back to Paulton and kipped down with friends and on Monday they (minus kids) made back to Wells on foot.  Zot and John D. managed to find floor space in Radstock.

On the hill, the diggers went by the Belfry late Monday night and on Tuesday a reluctant bunch dug their way through to the road and Constable Taylor doing his thing by ringing all his copper friends to find out the road conditions to all parts of the country.

Still, this winter cannot rank as being as bad as the session in 1963 it certainly brought back memories.

Enough of my witterings lets get on with the news of the month from various authors that I hope will interest you.


Please note: Tim Large's regular feature has not arrived yet so other points of club news will be included on a convenient page.


Firstly to Len Dawes for not crediting him with the article “Cuthbert’s Revisited” in the February B.B.  When you mentioned Poetic Justice the Easegill Caverns I think you must have been thinking of Easter Grotto with its once superb straws.

Secondly to all readers for the typing errors that appear from time to time - Oliver having picked one up in his last letter - we shall attempt to do better.


Martin Grass has sent in details of some Yorkshire meets in May.  They are: -

May 14th - White Scar

27th & 28th. G.G.  ( Bradford winch meet)

29th - Gingling Hole

Further details will appear in the B.B.  But for those wishing to their names on the list earlier should contact Martin at 14 Westleigh Road, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts. Telephone HODDLESDON 66966.


Christmas At Wigmore

by J. Rat

To continue from the last report in B.B. No.357 (Jan '78, the Company undertook a considerable amount of Christmas overtime, resulting in the discovery of around 40ft. of new passage.

The gravel choke some 15ft. long the bedding crawl was cleared for 6ft to a blockage of fallen roof slabs with open passage visible beyond.   Alan Thomas granulated these on

18th December and on 24th December the way on was cleared into 6ft of low passage and a further boulder blockage.  Ross White spent a hectic session hurling himself at this until he squeezed through into a further 20ft of low, wide bedding plane crawl developed in what appears to be a band of mudstone.  There is a squeeze midway and a further roof slab collapse terminated this section, though an impressive draught whistled on into the unknown.  In honour of the date the passage was provisionally dubbed "Christmas Crawl" - not original but only to be thus named if we entered a Santa's Grotto beyond - very unlikely in such a restricted system of conglomerate/mudstone passages.

The festive grub, booze and television (!) at the Belfry destroy all enthusiasm for two days, but on the 27th we returned to apply size 9 boots to the offending blockage which yielded after a few strenuous minutes.  Tony Jarrett squeezed into the opening and removed the boulders from the far side to allow Chris Batstone and his last two days of gluttony into the new section.  They were relieved to find themselves a 15ft. square breakdown chamber with loose boulders walls, floor and ceiling.  This cavity was presumably caused by collapse into the original bedding plane below. No obvious way on was discernable but there was evidence of at least one sizable stream having sunk in the floor. The draught dispersed here as far as we could tell.

What pleased us most was the discovery of a well decorated anti-chamber containing several short but attractive straws, a pair of 9” stalactites, various small mud formations and two crystal floors formed over washed away mud deposits.  We now had our 'Santa's Grotto'.  The pretties have been photographed by the Surrey Heath contingent but would be welcome as any work in the chamber may affect them.  Anyone visiting please take great care not to touch them.

Digging has now been temporarily halted to allow stabilisation of the entrance shaft to be completed.  Some 30ft of ginging has been constructed on the far side of the shaft and work has also started the near side.  Stu Lindsey will be delighted to see anyone who wishes to help with this project or can supply sand, cement or gravel.  We hope to bring the stonework up to the level of the shaft lip and cover the opening with some form of iron grid and trapdoor.  The site has to be tidied up and made safe at the wishes of Lord Waldegrave. We hope to leave the cave unlocked, though a couple of nuts and bolts may be installed as children are known to play in the area.  A further report will follow when necessary.

Ed. Note: - An elevation of the cave appears on the following page.

Sketch survey of WIGMORE SWALLET


Elevation – BCRA Grade 1. Length about 150ft.  Depth about 75ft.


Constitutional Sub-Committee

Members wishing to send comments and suggestions to this Sub-Committee should do so by the end of March. Please send all your letters to the Chairman: -

Martin Cavender,
The Old Rectory,
Nr. Wells,

A full report of their findings will be published in the B.B.

Notes From The Caving Secretary:

Mr Nigel

Prospective Cuthbert's Leaders or members just keen on a trip down Cuthbert's may be interested in the following list of Cuthbert's Leaders as at February 1978:-

In the B.E.C. we have:-

Roy Bennett      Colin Clarke       Colin Dooley      Jim Durston       John Dukes

Pete Franklin     Ted Humphries  Dave Irwin          Kangy King       Tim Large

Oliver Lloyd (+)  Andy MacGregor            Tony Meadon     Mike Palmer      Brian Palmer

Andy Sparrow    Steve Tuck        Dave Turner       Mike Wheadon  Graham

Wilton-Jones     Nigel Taylor       and in the near future Martin Grass.

Wessex Cave Club: Paul Hadfield

The S.M.C.C.: Bob Craig, Mike Jordan, Gay Merrick, Bob Mehew & Martin Mills

U.B.S.S. Oliver Lloyd (+) and Ray Mansfield

Cerberus S.S.: Ken Gregory and Graham Price

Speleo Phal: Colin Salter

Other Cuthbert's Leaders who have not shown any interest in recent years; whereabouts not known; living abroad or are lapsed B.E.C. members and therefore no longer leaders:

Alan Coase       Alan Sandall      Dave Palmer      Doug. Stuckey   Jack Upsall

Phil Kingston     John Riley         Norman Petty    Colin Priddle      Pete Miller

John Cornwall    Dick Wickens    Tim Hodgson.

Further notes of interest:

St. Cuthbert's Swallet:  I have a ready supply of Application Forms for Prospective Leaders - vital, if only to learn the routes prior to application.

Charterhouse Permits: These are available free to members and are usually made out for 5 years.

(Ed. note:  If you lapse your membership of the B.E.C. in that time limit you automatically make your CCC permit invalid).  Nigel continues: - CCC permits are 15p to guests for a defined number of days, usually up to a maximum of 4 days. Indemnity forms must be filled in and returned to me for filing in the CCC records.  Please note that minors require parent/guardian signature and married minors are not allowed a permit all.  Apply to the Hutwarden, Chris Batstone, c/o The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, N. Wells, Somerset or Dave Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, WeIls, Somerset.

Club Meets for 1978. Neither Russ (Freddy) Jenkins or myself have received any requests for club meets as it would appear that regulars at the Belfry are 'doing their own thing'.  Please let me know of your arrangements so that there won't be any clash of dates. I shall be arranging trips to STEEP HOLM and the Cheddar caves later in year; details later.


Lifelining - a Safe Approach

If we assume that all of the equipment used on a pitch is in good condition then the only possible cause for concern must surely be lifeliner himself.  With conditions as they are underground anyone lifelining must be a considerable hazard particularly on a long and arduous trip.

So if we can take the holding and braking away from the lifeliner and use a Figure of 8 instead, the lifeliner can control the tension and hold the man easier if he falls off the ladder or limb.  Alternatively, if two karabiners and an ascender is used the lifeliner can haul the man up the pitch if necessary.  These two methods are described below.

Method 1.

From the 'Stance' belay attach the descendeur by a karabiner and pass the rope through in the normal mode for abseiling.  The lifeliner is now in a position where his only role is to keep the rope at the correct tension (see Fig. 1).

If the climber was to fall the friction of the descendeur would, in effect, take most of the shock leaving the lifeliner in a position to lower the climber down with safety and ease with no danger of rope burns to himself.

Method 2.

If a prussicking device is rigged below the descendeur ready to be attached to the rope the lifeliner is now in a position to haul the climber to the head of thee pitch.  A small pulley would make hauling easier but it is not necessary.  (Figure 2)



New Discoveries in the ANTRA del CORCHIA

a report from Scan Gee

Readers may remember that last year I wrote a short article on the Buca del Cacciatore (Abbisso Fighiera) and the work being done by Italian cavers to try for a connection into the into del Corchia and so establish a claim to deepest known cave in the world.

On the hot line from Italy via the magazine of the Club Alpino Italiano comes the news that the Antro del Corchia is now established as the deepest cave in Italy at - 950m.

This came about in rather a strange way.  It seems that a group of cavers from the Gruup Speleologico Bologna del C.A.I. were investigating a high level gallery with a view to a possible connection to the Cacciatore.  This gallery leads off from the Canyon near to Pozzo Bertarelli and just before the Pozzachione (Big Shaft 180ft.) and leads to a big chamber where another passage leads to the top of the Pozzachione Chamber.  From here they commenced an epic scaling operation using bolts and pegs and experienced a lot of difficulty with falling water.  This they called Pozza Netuno and it is 72m high or deep depending where you're standing.  Another big thrutch got them to the base of a shaft they call Pozzo Paradiso, 70m, and here they could see daylight.  Further climbing brought them to a window coming out on the face of Monte Corchia and further exploration both above and below ground revealed yet another entrance above this one.

Thus the Antro now has four entrances and they have, for convenience, been numbered from the bottom thus:-

Entrance 1        (Buca dei Serpente). This was the old lower found from the inside by D.C.G. in 1967 and opened by the Italians in 1970-71.  Altitude 950m.

Entrance 2        This is the original artificial entrance in the Marble at 100m.

Entrance 3        Is the entrance above the Pozzo del Paradiso at 1268m.

Entrance 4        This lies 35m above Entrance 3 at 1303m.

Thus from Entrance 4 to the bottom of the cave is -871m.  But read on.  Using, as they describe it; ‘an antique speleological technique’, a maypole, they were able to cross the shaft at the top and scale upwards for another 79m to a series of galleries.

It would seem that there is almost certainly another entrance still higher up the mountain and getting very close to the Cacciatore which is, at present, in the region of 850m deep and thus the hope for deepest cave may well become a reality before much longer.

The work continues in the Cacciatore by a number of small groups who have formed a sort of regional body. Unfortunately I have to report the death of one of the leading members of this organisation.  Antonio Lusa, aged 34, and one of the most respected cavers in the area, died in October shortly after staying with me for some of the International Speleological Conference activities.

His death comes as a bitter blow to all parties who go to the Apuan Aps particularly as he was a good negotiator and a sedative to hot tempers.  However, as a memorial, his friends from Aaenza (RA) are constructing a bivouac on the summit of the Corchia.  This should provide a very useful base for future expeditions to the Cacciatore.

Further north in Italy, some interesting discoveries have been made a little known caving area close to Verona.  The largely ignored area has been receiving attention from the G.S. Verona del C.A.I. and a report of their findings has recently been published.  The area covers Monte Lessini (Venetian Pre Alps) and a number of new caves have been discovered near to the village of Giazza, which is quite remote and where they still speak a strange language called Cimbro.  Most of the caves are of a horizontal nature and some are quite long, some being in excess of one mile.  However, near to the village of Selva di Progno they have found a cave of 261m depth. Not very deep you might think but wait. The cave is called the Abisso Angelo Pasa and it was found by following up an old shepherds legend of a 'Great Shaft'. I'm sure we're all had experience of these 'Great Shafts' but this one paid off.  The cave drops quickly through a series of short shafts and then nonchalantly bobs over into a shaft of 211m (685ft).  As you can imagine, the Italians description of this shaft is flowery, to say the least!

In all fairness it must have been a fantastic experience for them particularly as the area is partially explored.

From the Julian Alps comes news of the Spluga de la Preta.  This has been bought by an organisation that seems to be across between the Sports Council and a very rich Regional Association. Be that as it may the facts are that this cave is now controlled by that body.  Italian clubs who are not members of this ‘Big Brother’ organisation and bound be a considerable number of rules and regulations and are required to pay a fee that may be in excess of £100 per expedition.

The area surrounding the Preta is being turned into something of a tourist area, a typical Melonarium where the wee-gees can gape at the cavern going down.

I am informed, however, that these rules and the fee do not apply to foreign clubs and particularly British clubs, with who, it would appear, they wish to curry some sort of favour!

Stan Gee C.A.I.

The elevation of the Antro del Corchia shown on the next page is a very free adaptation of a small detailed copy he enclosed with the article.  For thus interested in finding out more of this system are referred to Sottoterra (G.S. Bologna) copies of which are in the Club Library.

Thanks Stan for the article it might even get some members travelling south from Austria later on this year.  I understand that you have another article on the stocks dealing with poisonous snakes of Europe, hints on First Aid for climbers, cavers and campers - this should prove of great interest - let's have as soon as you can.

BB359-ItalyAntroDelCorchia .jpg 

Sketch survey of ANTRO DEL CORCIA based on elevation by G.S.B. del C.A.I.



By Tim Large

New members - welcome

927 Richard Gough, 35 Gladstone Road, Ashstead, Surrey
928 Jennifer Hoyles, 35 Gladstone Road, Ashstead, Surrey
929 Jane Kirby, 8 Worcester Terrace, Bristol 8
930 Stuart Lindsey, 5 Laburnum Walk, Kenysham, Bristol

Lapsed members - rejoined

Eddie Welch, 18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol
John Hunt, 35 Conygre Road, Filton, Brisol.
Dany Bradshaw, 37 Cresvicke, Bristcl BS4 1UE

Changes of address:

Claire Williams (nee Chambers), Whitestown Farm, Cheddar X Roads, Compton Martin, Nr. Bristol.
901 Richard Barker, 40B, Croxeth Road, Liverpool 8
900 Christine Greenall, 13 Nerreys live., Oxford OX1 451
860 Glenys Bezant, 14 Westlee Road, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts.

Climbing Secretary. At the last Committee Meeting, Russ Jenkins tendered his resignation.  His reasons were that for some time now he has virtually been a one man climbing section - the Clubs climbing activities being nil.  Russ considers that the facilities available within the club for would be climbers are limited compared with 'proper' climbing clubs. He also has difficulty attending Committee Meetings due to shift work.  He is prepared to continue in. the post without attending meetings in order to deal with any correspondence and be our contact with B.M.C. which Russ arranged last year.  The Committee has agreed to this and does not propose any change unless there is a significant increase in interest in the climbing section.

By the constitution, we ere bound to have a climbing secretary, but this highlights the question as to whether we need to have a Committee member with this specific title. With the •Sub-Committee currently reviewing the constitution this is an obvious point for discussion at the A.G.M. What do you think?

SINGING RIVER MINE. Graham Price (C & A Officer, CSCC) tells me that lock went missing recently.  One of the main obligations on the key holders (B.E.C. included) is to keep the entrance locked.  Although the situation has now been remedied I ask everyone to ensure that the mine is locked after each visit.  If for any reason the entrance cannot be locked please contact Graham Price, 31 Waterford Park, Radstock, Avon.

Equipment Supplies. There is a possibility of arranging discount prices for members for the purchase of camping, climbing and caving gear. Several discounts are available depending on whether it is an individual or bulk purchase.  As soon as more details are available I will let you know. It would be helpful to have some idea of those interested.  So if' you are now contemplating buying some new gear contact me first, we may be able to let it cheaper!

John Riley has appeared at the Belfry during February - staying over for a few nights.  It appears that he is back in this country for good.  I hope that we shall be seeing him active on Mendip again soon.  I also had a letter from 'Pope' out in Rhodesia sending in his subscription.  It's good to hear from the 'Golden Oldies' again.

 (I don't know what ‘Pope’ would think of himself being called a 'Golden Oldie' - if I remember correctly he joined the club when Tim Large first appeared on the scene around 1967 – ‘Wig’)


Additions To The Library

Compiled by ‘Wig’

This list of items placed in the club library is additional to the Library List published in September 1972.

Members having material not listed below and would otherwise be destined for the dustbin or to collect dust on the book shelf, would they consider giving it to the Library.  The present collection is among the largest on Mendip, but there are a number of incomplete runs, particularly amongst the various club exchanges in the decades 1940's and 1950's.

During the past few years, Tim Large and myself have been collecting newspaper cuttings and magazines containing references to caving and climbing activities.  All of this material is being pasted up in a scrap book. In addition to this collection I've been given by Fred Stone, a retired designer at B.A.C. Filton, a valuable collection of cuttings, letters, Christmas Cards dating from about 1946 to the early 1950's - a very welcome addition to the Library.  Will members keep a sharp look out and send any useful references to either Tim or myself.

Axbridge Caving Group

Newsletter: June 1965, 1972 complete; 1974 April – December; Jan - Oct.; 1976 May – July; 1977 Jan-July.

Birmingham Univ. S.S. . Omnibus 5.

Bradford P.C.

Bulletin Vol. 3 Nos: 1 - 1C; Vol.5 Nos: 9~ Vol.6 Nos: 1~2.

History of Gaping Gill,

Bristol Exploration Club

After the Fire, compliled by S.J. Collins (collection of Comma Mins)

St. Cuthbert's Newssheets Nos: 2 .- 14

Mendip Songwriters & Composers - compiled by S.J. Collins

Belfry Book Nov 1969 - Dec 1970; Jan 1971 - Oct. 1971.

Belfry Specification (Collins and King), 1967

Caving Logs: 1943 - 1946; 1957 - 1958; 1958 - 1960; 1960 - 1961; 1961 - 1963; 1969 - 1971; 1971 –  1973; 1973;

St. Cuthbert’s Log 1970 – 1972, 1972.

St. Cuthbert’s Report (Caving Report No.2) manuscript (Coase & Falshaw)

St. Cuthbert’s Survey, 1958, Field notes & sketches for R.W. Extension

Caving Report No. 3a (2nd printing), 1973 reprint

   No. 11 (1973 reprint)

   No. 14 Balague, 1970

   No .17 Burrington Cave Atlas

   No. 18 Cave Notes, 1974

   No. 19 1975 Expedition to the P.S.M., 1976

   No. 21 Cave Notes 1975 - 1976

Belfry Bulletin, Vols: 27 & 23

Speleodes Pt.1, 1969

British Caver Nos: 60 - 63, 65 - 67

British Speleo. Association

Conference Programme, Sheffield, 1968

Cave Science Nos; 35 - 38

1967 Gouffre Berger Report

CAMBRIDGE U.C.C. Journal 1973 (un-numbered)

Cambrian Caving Council.  Journal (Red Dragon) Nos 1 & 3

Useful addresses

Barrie Wilton (Hon. Treasurer) 27 Valley View, Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol. (Tele: Temple Cloud 52072)

Martin Bishop (Hut Engineer) Bishop’s Cottage, The Batch, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  (Tele : Priddy 370.)

Dave Irwin (BB Editor & librarian) Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  (Tele: Priddy 369)

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.

A request from Neddy Jenkins and Nigel Taylor.

The Caving and Climbing Secretaries are shortly going to establish a meets programme for next year. Anyone with ideas for either specific caving, climbing, walking, canoeing etc., meets or general just away meets should send their ideas to either Russell Jenkins or Nigel Taylor as soon as possible for inclusion in a Diary of Events in time for very interested member to join in.  Please send all suggestions c/o The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Somerset.

Dates for your Diary:

November 12th. Priddy Niters trip to S. Wales

November 25th. St. Cuthbert's Swallet;

December 9th. Longwood. (Further details available from Richard Kenney, 'Yennek', St. Mary's Road, Meare, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9SS. Tel. Meare Heath 296.

December 10th. BORA  Winter Meeting.  Hunters Lodge (back room) 9-4p.m.  Provisional programme:

·        'Water Pollution' - Dave Maneley (SMOC)

·        ' Iran, 1977' - speaker to be announced;

These lectures will be followed by a Buffet Supper at 7 p.m.

Price (for meal only) £2.75.  Bookings to Bryan Ellis, 30 Main Road Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset, by December 3rd, 1977.

Following the meeting, at 8.30, Jerry Wooldridge will be showing his slide sequences of Fairy Cave Quarry and La Cigaliere.

March 11th 1978, BCRA Symposium - Cave Photography, UMIST, Manchester.

Further club meets:

Nov.19th. Oxlow - Giants - contact John Dukes for details.

Nov. 20th. Peak Cavern - details from Martin Grass

Nov. 26th. and Nov. 27th. North Wales - contact John Dukes or Graham Wilton-Jones.

Jan. 8th White Scar Cave - details from Martin Grass.

Next month in the BB:-

Juniper Gulf by Nick Thorne

New cave in South Wales

Diving in Pridhamsleigh, Devon - Jane Wilson

+ many other shorter features     .



- a Monthly Miscellany

compiled by Niph

OTTER HOLE is to be gated shortly.  Key and information from John Courte, Trenchard Cott., The Mire, Joyford, Nr. Coleford, Glos. Telephone: Coleford 2565. (6-7 p.m.) Surveyed length 8,000ft; total est. length 12,000ft.

You can't take them anywhere!  When Jane Wilson was window gazing in Buckfastleigh recently a local woman commented to her about JD and G.W-J "Wouldn't like to meet those two on a dark night."

TYNINGS BARROWS SWALLET.  This recently discovered cave is currently blocked 'by the' influx of more liquid mud below the 2nd. Pitch.  A further complication is that the farm has been sold.  Martin Bishop intends to visit the new owner and re-negotiate access and arrange digging parties to re-open the system.  Enthusiastic diggers urgently required – phone Martin for dates. Tel., Priddy 370.

SWILDONS HOLE. A recent trip through the Troubles by the Hon. Sec. proved wetter than usual.  Whereas the Mud Sump was virtually dry, Troubles passable without bailing, the squeeze into Doomed Grotto was nearly sumped making life very interesting.  Also the first wet dig from Glistening Gallery was a virtual sump, being a case of on your back with helmet off!

Another route from Vicarage Passage to the '2' streamway has been recently reopened by WOC. coming out into the streamway opposite the Landing.

S. Wales.  The Mendip grapevine is alive with news of a large cave system on the Aggie side of the Clydach Gorge near Brynmawr.  Opened apparently about March this year, the surveyed length is 4.75 miles, wet (floodable) entrance passage leading to a massive passage, with good formations. Reliable reports say that sections of the cave include the largest passage discovered in the UK.  More details in the December BB following a trip into it by a couple of local cavers on the 23rd. October.  Access notes will follow - at the moment as you will guess; access is very limited. Working parties only.

International Speleo. Congress - post congress caving camp.  The visit of a dozen foreign cavers to the Belfry enlisted support from many local cavers.  Included amongst them was ZOT who arrived minus gear, but in the usual Zottie manner managed to acquire a complete set of gear and accompanied our foreign friends down Cuthbert’s.  Thanks Zot, don’t let it happen too often or else you might set a bad image!  Full report will appear in the December BB.

LAMB LEER  It has recently become necessary to formulate a new agreement with Somerset County Council to secure access to this cave. Unfortunately the SCC require a large rental; initially £250 based on 500 cavers visiting the system per year at 5Op/head.  The matter was discussed by the member clubs of CSCC and they were prepared to let the cave be closed rather than pay such a large sum that would obviously set a precedent and sending caving costs sky-high.  Tim Reynolds and Oliver Lloyd met representatives of SCC and have now secured a rental of about £30 per year.  The final details of the agreement are not yet known, but it is hoped to inform members in the near future.

MIDWEEK CAVING. Many will remember the Tuesday Night Caving Group and its activities.  Tim Large regularly caves on Wednesday evenings and would like to hear from anyone interested in joining him.  Unlike the TNCG, it is hoped to visit a variety of caves, including digging at various sites.  If you are interested phone Tim (Radstock 4211) or meet at the Belfry, 7 pm.

AGGY - new survey published by BORA, 60p (available from Bryan Ellis). Surveyed length 15.5 miles and 490ft deep.  Applications for access permits and key from: P. Larbalestier, 46 Llanyravon Way, Cwymbran, Gwent. NP4 2HW.


Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,

May I take up some the B.B. space to reply to the points raised by Kangy about the Well article.

Kangy was right in thinking that we wanted to use S.R.T for its own sake, but he was wrong to assume that ladders were not considered.  Graham and I gave a great deal of thought to how we should tackle this job, and we came down on the side of ropes for the following reasons.

Firstly we were both very unwilling to attempt a 330ft. ladder pitch without some practice before hand. It is a long time since I did a big pitch and Graham has only done big pitches on ropes.

Bearing the above point in mind and the fact that there were only two of us who would do the lifelining? I had already been involved in a well rescue some time ago.  On this occasion I used ladders and the local fire brigade did the lifelining; trying to go down while they pulled up is not funny, likewise coming up while the rope went down does not instil confidence.  I did not fancy this sort of thing at 300ft.  I also knew that it would take two people at the bottom to retrieve the dog.  Therefore two lads on the bottom of the ladder with no experienced people at the top did not appear very safe.  We also thought that the ladder would need a belay half way down so one would have required an Acrow.

The last reason was purely financial, in that we only have 225ft. of ladder in Wycombe and did not fancy a trip to Mendip for the rest.

I would agree with Kangy that the ladder is an adaptable tool and should always be considered as it will be the best thing to use in some cases.

I have been down a number of wells in this area varying from 30 to 330ft.  They have all been dug by hand through the top soil and down into the rock chalk.  The diameters have all been approx. 5-6ft.  The reason for this diameter became clear when I was able to observe a local well being dug deeper because it dried up in last years draught.  The 5-6ft. dia. is just right to give comfortable working room without removing extra spoil.  It would seem that 2-3 ft depth could be gained each day through the rock chalk.  All the wells I have seen have the top section with brickwork or dry stone walls. The depth of this is dependant on the surrounding top soil; as soon as the well is in rock, chalk the walls become self supporting.

I have only one point to make.  Graham only handed in the article, I wrote it!

High Wycombe, 14 Sept.


Odds and Sods

The CNCC has negotiated a Personal accident Scheme for mem¬ber clubs of CNCC at £4.50 per head providing there are at least 2,500 people in the scheme.  Benefits include £5,000 for death, loss of limbs or sight and £50 per week for 1 year (excluding first 28 days) temporary total disability. They are hoping to extend the cover for overseas trips for an extra fee of a couple of pounds.  Details from J. J. Clegg; Whernsiide Manor, Dent, Sedburgh, Cumbria.

Films of Alum, White Scar, Pippikin, Prov-Dow and Lancaster- Easgill will be shown on BBC Television in the near future - watch the Radio Times.


Arctic Norway 1977.

by Graham Wilton-Jones.

This summer I forsook the Pyrenees, and the heat, dust and flies of the South of France, and headed North, for the Arctic.  Was it different?  Was there snow everywhere and were temperatures below freezing?  No!  We had heat, dust and flies, or at least, mosquitoes.  Really it was all a plot to keep an eye on the W.S.G. expedition to Norway, and to prove that the B.E.C. does, indeed, get everywhere.  It was good to be completely out of the organisation side, and be able to just concentrate on the caving.

It was decided to spend a couple of days getting to Newcastle, which proved a wise decision.  After a highly effervescent barrel on Friday July 29th. we packed the vehicles (W.S.G. minibus and one of their member's Cortina estate) on the Saturday morning.  The bus was loaded within limits, but the car's springs were bent the wrong way by the weight.  We stopped beside Ripon race¬course overnight.  On the way north in the morning the Cortina's clutch fell to bits. Fortunately we had two spare clutches with us ( Norway's minor roads have a certain notoriety) and a new one was on in two hours.

The ferry journey was notable for sleepy cavers being moved around from deck to deck in the middle of the night, and being thrown off (the decks, not the ferry) at five in the morning for the washing of decks.  We arrived in Bergen to rain.  I'm told it always rains in Bergen. Night was spent in a lay-by just short of Voss, and the following two days were mainly continuous travelling for thirty two hours.  Over the Sognefiord, deepest in Norway at 1244 metres, we headed across the Jotunheimen range to the E6. The twisting, mountain roads are largely un-metalled, and were quite a surprise for our poor old vehicles.  We reached the top of the Jotunheim just before a storm arrived, and managed to take a few photographs of its impressive ruggedness, emptiness and vastness.  The E6 is a good, fairly fast road, and we reached Mo-i-Rana, just outside the Arctic, late on Wednesday afternoon.  There we stayed in a small 'Rom' - sixteen of us in a place about the size of the old stone Belfry with an upstairs.  Some of us camped, and there was plenty of barn space for drying equipment.

Our first cave was Jordbrugrotten.  A good track led from the E6, close by our base, along the Plurdal (valley of the Plura River).  Some distance along this an underground river cascades from the middle of a cliff and flows into the Plura.  This is the Jordbrugrotten resurgence - the Sprutfossen.  Having found it, we spent much time clambering about through birch, alder and miscellaneous undergrowth to reach the belay directly above, at the cliff top.  We laddered or abseiled, according to choice, down to a wide shelf next to Sprutfossen, and swung into the cave.  Here and O.F.D. size stream flows along a large, whitish marble walled passage, down cascades and under great block and sheets of ice.  Frost shattering is very evident near the surface, close to the resurgence.  Here and there bands of insoluble mica-schist jut out from the walls, much like chert would in Britain.  The walls are mostly very smooth, and the off-white is broken by parallel bands of darker colouring.  A howling, icy draught blows through the system, so it was easy to find the bedding-plane crawl that by-passed the sump.  Beyond, the plunge pools were deeper, and we finally turned back at an awkward climb in a tributary streamway, just above an impressive 9m waterfall where the mainstream enters.  The exit was interesting, swinging off the ledge at Sprutfossen out into the void. Although we had been only a short time underground, by the time we were all back at the Rom it was dark.  It had been getting that way as people were climbing out of the cave, but dusk lasts a long time that far north.  On ladder was dropped off the top of the cliff, and was found some days later several hundred metres downstream, having been washed that distance, including through l00m of stream cave below Sprutfossen, by flooding.

Friday dawned (around 4 a.m.) fine and warm.  Much later we headed north along the Rovasdal for about 10 km.  From a vague point off the track we off-loaded the minibus and walked up a path through the steep forest slopes towards Reingardslivatn (vatn = lake).  Within sight of the lake is Lapphullet, a 1,000m long system on two, sometimes three levels.  The system is largely phreatic, with some areas of breakdown. In many places there are exposures of insoluble mica schist - differential erosion causing these to be left projecting as blades, girders and tubes on the roof or walls of the passage. We spent two hours looking at most of this system, including exploring some virgin territory of bedding planes and muddy passages around the middle of the system.  The ice marked on the survey at the end of Wilf's passage has now retreated leaving a few small icicles in a choke of pebbles and boulders.

Emerging from Lapphullet, we went off in search of its neighbour, Larshullet.  The forest here is of small, stunted or dead birch trees, the lumpy karst being overgrown with a riot of bright flowers, especially geraniums. Branches and twigs, both live and dead, lay haphazardly all over the ground making progress very awkward. There are numerous holes in the limestone, mainly small and inaccessible, or requiring digging.  A few of the caves in this region are gated and marked 'FREDET' - protected.  Having found the largest one of these, we confirmed that it was Larshullet using a photograph from the C.R.G. book.

This cave is considerably larger than the previous one, being 2½ km long and 326m deep.  Most of this depth is gained by a steady descent throughout the cave, only a 23m shaft near the bottom requiring tackle.  The entrance passages have impressive, sharply folded (ptygmatic) quartz veins from around which the marble has been corroded. At one point the entire passage is formed in a tube of quartz, from within which the marble has been dissolved, giving a very unnatural appearance.  Further down, where the passage takes on the dimensions of a motorway tunnel, the walls are lined with parallel intrusions of mica schist and quartz, looking remarkably as if someone has carefully lined the gallery with polished, straight grained wood.

While one group went to the head of the 23m shaft, another group took several photographs in the entrance series.  Near the entrance itself there are some ice formations, and a small stream of ice on the floor peters out when the temperature rises just above freezing, some 50m from the entrance.  300m in a small stream flows from the roof and on down to the bottom of the cave. Wet suits are not necessary, and dry grots were sufficient to keep us warm except when hanging around for photos. We were all out within two hours, which indicates how easy the cave is in spite of its considerable depth.

So as not to give us too much of a good thing it rained on Saturday, not too hard but consistently, out of a low cloud.  In the morning we drove out along some of the tracks towards Glomdalen, a major caving area, to make contact with David and Shirley St. Pierre and the Norwegian cavers. On the way the minibus decided to part company with the road (I was not driving at the time!).  Fortunately there were sixteen of us with it at the time, and the road was only soft sand and gravel, so we dug it up, made a ramp, drove the van completely down the bank onto the marsh below and back up the ramp. Apparently it happens all the time in Norway.

Later, much later, we arrived back at Gronligrotten, where it was still raining.  This cave is well known in the area, and is essentially a sporting show cave.  Visitors can either be guided through a small section of the cave by young, pretty Norwegian girls, or can make their own explorations (or maybe both!). Expeditions, like us, go without the guides, but it's free.  There is a dry, sand-floored upper series, joined at certain points by a rather fine, if small, streamway.  The tourist section has occasional gang-planks and short ladders, and some thin, fractured bedding in the roof is held up by ineffective iron girders and a lot of faith.  The way is lit by naked bulbs.

We, of course, explored virtually everywhere, especially the rushing stream¬way, which seemed a lot bigger once YOU were in it.  Differential erosion has produced many sharp shelves in the stream passages so it is fairly easy going.  Several of us finished our explorations long before the photographic team, so we returned to the van for a bite to eat.  There was still no sign of the others when the guides came down and headed for home, leaving an ominous notice (in Norwegian and English) ‘The cave is closed because it is overflowed!’  Later, the photographic team reported that it had been quite exciting in the stream. Anyway, we hadn't really been worried.

In the evening six of us moved up to Svartis Vatnet to camp there overnight.  The following morning we travelled by boat along the lake, saving several hours of difficult walking through steeply sloping birch woods by the side of the lake, and disembarked on the very bare rocks at the other end.  At the turn of the century the Svartisen glacier, second largest in Norway, used to reach right down into the lake, but has retreated well over a kilometre since that time.  The rate of retreat is very variable, but is at present about 30m per year. Paint marks on the rocks indicate the position of the snout of the glacier at different times, all measured in the summer months.  It was particularly interesting to see a paint mark made exactly one year previously. Changes in the shape and size of the glacier are so rapid now that it has been necessary to construct a mile long tunnel underneath the glacier, this tongue of which is called Austerdalsisen, to continually drain the lake beyond.  Some years, ago the glacial lake broke through an ice barrier and destroyed many houses miles away down the valley.  Hopefully, the threat of a recurrence of this has now been averted.

On the glacier crampons and ice axes were necessary.  The ice surface was pitted and broken with minute fissures, but was, nevertheless, hard and slippery, and well endowed with crevasses, up to about 25m depth and often too wide to jump.  There was no snow, so all the crevasses were visible from some distance and it was not necessary to rope up.  At first, on the edge of the glacier where the ice was thin, it was dirty with a veneer of mud, black and very wet, but higher up on the tongue the ice was a clean grey-blue.  A couple of heavy showers passed us by, except for a few drops, and most of the day was bright and warm.  The ice glared, reflecting most of the light and much of the heat, though it soon became chilly if clouds covered the sun.  Every¬where around us, and sometimes beneath us, the sound of streams echoed.  Many super-glacial streams ran for some distance before gurgling down into the deep blue-blackness of ice rifts and potholes, while others tumbled down crevasses, gradually enlarging them more and more.

As we made our way towards the ice-fall crevasses became more and more frequent, and we were slowed down considerably, or headed off from our intended course.  Due to this, and to lack of time, we never reached any real seracs, having to turn back just below the main ice-fall.  We returned via the outfall edge of the glacier tongue, where there were some of the largest crevasses.  We had taken full S.R.T. gear and a length of blue water, and so were able to drop one of these.  The intense blue of the ice deep down, the wind scallops on the crevasse walls, and the patterns of little bubbles within the ice were all features new to me, and I found them fascinating.

Beyond the large crevasses the ice was so littered with moraine of all sizes, from fine gravel up to large boulders of various sorts that it was difficult to tell glacier from solid ground.  Here the ice was dirty all the way through, and looked like the surrounding rocks. Below us an impressive river roared out from beneath the glacier.  We eventually dropped off the glacier above an ice cave, which was filled with rushing waters and a deep blue light.  We did not stop long - the sound of ice cracking when you are underneath is not inspiring or inviting.  Returning to a wet camp, we packed up the tents and headed for Mo.

On Monday we loaded up the vehicles again, 100 lbs heavier now with fermenting beer, and headed up into the Arctic.  Around the Arctic Circle, well marked at the E6, with a cafe and souvenir shop, and even white lines across the road, the woods gave way to more tundra like scenery, such as we had seen in the Jotunheimen.  However, a little further north the woods took over once more on the hills, though the mountains looked more rugged and bleak, with larger patches of snow on lower slopes.  At about latitude 68o north we left the main road, to Drag, on the Tysfiord, and then drove up the fiord to Helland, where we bivouacked overnight. Just about everyone took photographs of the sky at midnight, with the sun just below the horizon.  There was a very heavy dew, but the sun rose early (2.30 a.m.) and my sleeping bag had dried off by 5 a.m.

The boat to take us further up the fiord, to Musken, without the vehicles, was due at 7.15, so we were all up at 6.00.  Thus chaos almost reigned when the boat turned up at 6.05 to leave in ten minutes. A very harassed and slightly impatient captain watched, rather helplessly, as we filled the deck of his boat with all manner of nameless and unidentifiable (to him and his fellows) equipment.  Needless to say, in all the rush, one or two things were forgotten.  On arrival in Husken, Big Jim (Cerberus) was dispatched on the returning ferry to collect this, gear. "He should be back on the afternoon ferry," we thought.  The ferry came very late in the evening.  Jim said nothing.

We had travelled this far north in order to do the deepest through trip in Northern Europe - Ragge Javre Raige.  The top entrances are near the top of Musken mountain, and the bottom entrances are down at or near fiord level.  Of the three lower entrances, one is a submerged resurgence, from which the cave's fresh water bubbles up into the salt water of the fiord; another, just above this resurgence, is a cleft which draughts very strongly with a freezing air that can be felt from a boat in the fiord, but a short distance inside the way on divides and becomes narrow; the third, the main exit from the system, is 114m above fiord level.  It emerges from an icy cleft onto a narrow shelf in a cliff face.

Kendal Caving Club did much of the original exploration of Ragge, and concluded by reaching the bottom entrance and making the survey.  Unfortunately they had to go all the way back up through the cave again, de-tackling en route.  Norwegian cavers, who are few but hard, did the first through trip in a time of 17 hours. When they reached the exit they climbed back up the outside of the mountain; which climb they said was considerably harder than the cave itself.  We intended to go one better, by abseiling through the cave and down at the bottom into a boat.  It was therefore fairly important that we locate the bottom exit before the trip, so that our boatman waited in the right place!

We had borrowed the S.W.C.C. rubber dinghy and an outboard, and spent most of the day transporting gear across the fiord to Segleneset, from which point the easiest route up Nusken mountain runs.  We also scrutinised the edge of the fiord.  The resurgence and the draughting hole were easy to find, but the main exit remained thoroughly concealed in the trees.  Ragge lies in a narrow belt of marble which dips at about 45°.  Bands of marble were sharply defined on the opposite wall of the fiord, but were difficult to spot on our side, from close to - all the rocks appeared very similar in colour.  Our boatman would just have to sit out in the fiord and wait until he saw light or heard our shouts from on high.

On Wednesday morning Paul, a boat owner we had befriended, took 12 of us, plus further equipment, plus the dinghy, over to Seglneset.  This saved at least two slow and overloaded journeys in the dinghy, and very soon we were scrambling our various routes up the steep, wooded mountainside.  500 - 600m up the woods finally gave way to rock with grassy and mossy patches, and over the final climb we looked down on the hanging valley where Ragge begins.  There were several melting snow patches feeding the little stream which trickled over the grassy floor before disappearing into Bumperhullet.  Memories of the photographs in Norsk Grotteblad I made the, location of Ragge a simple task, its two, strongly in-draughting entrances being up on the south east side of the valley.

We had divided into two teams - 7 of us to do the complete through trip and 5 to come as far as the top of the big pitch, de-tackle this and go back down the mountain.  After a brew up of soup we set off into the cave at about 2 p.m.  The floor is sandy and dry at first, and level, but soon drops away, down a series of parallel pitches, towards the stream.  One of these pitches was laddered initially but an awkward free climb was found to avoid this.  So far we had come down about 25m.  The next pitch, the Inclined Rift, dropped down to 102m., taking a large stream with it. We climbed down parallel to the stream and a few metres from it.  The climb was a little awkward at the bottom (we had belayed a rope at the top, but it just ran out at this point) though it was possible to stand up and reach out to the roof in order to traverse down the steep (70o – 80o) slope.  At the bottom we were into a low section with a 'Swildons' in spate' size stream, where we actually got our dry gear wet, up to the knees.  That was the wettest we got.  Round the corner the stream rushes down another inclined rift and into a vertical pot of nearly 150m full of rushing, white water.  We traversed over the top of this via the straight forward 'Wolf Walk', where a rope was handy for the gear, and climbed down a steep, muddy rift to the head of the Big Pitch - Storstupet ¬139m.  This is dry; sloping in several places, and descends next to the wet pot.  While the pitch was being rigged another brew was on the go - very welcome considering the low temperature of the cave (20 - 30 C).

The rigging was hopeless. Instead of someone descending with the main bulk of the rope in a bag, feeding it out as they went, part of it was coiled and then thrown over the edge of the pitch.  150m of rope is a lot and, quite naturally it tangled itself into intricate knots on the way down, and caught itself on just about every projection.  It took 2½ hours to clear this knitting, when the whole pitch should have taken seven of us no more than 15 minutes.  Fortunately we had a telephone with us, which helped morale a great deal during all the hanging about, and once the pitch was properly rigged it was invaluable in communicating from top to bottom.  The rope is rarely away from the wall, and abseiling basically involves walking or running down the wall.  For the first 50m there is a huge rock window through which the wet pitch can be seen. At the bottom the water from this appears again, briefly, but soon vanishes for good underneath the large boulders.  However, the base of the pitch is filled with the noise of water, with spray and with turbulent winds.

Two of us went on to rig the next pitch for rappel, but could find no convenient belay for this. The top section was easily free-climbable, being the sloping base of an enormous vertical aven, but the last section was awkward.  We all used the rope for this except the last man, who let down the rope and free-climbed the whole pitch, albeit gingerly.  The small trickle that had been with us since the base of Storstupet went down a hale in the floor the but, for the moment, we continued straight ahead along a passage with a virgin dusty-dry floor.  We arrived at the head of a l00+m pitch with an aven disappearing into the blackness above.  The passage we had 'explored' was, in fact on the survey.  I guess that in winter heavy drip obliterates any foot-prints up and in summer the cold, but powerful draught dries out the mud completely.  We found no drip anywhere in the cave.  We returned to the hole in the floor - Razor Passage.  This descends extremely steeply (I used a lifeline on one section) through the marble. Elsewhere in the cave the marble has been worn entirely away, but here the walls, roof and floor are of marble, and the walls consist of parallel lines of sharp, projecting bands where the layers of rock are of varying hardness and have been differentially eroded. We then reached the Litlstupet, which is the lower part of the l00+m. pitch mentioned above.  Norwegian tethers were still in place here, and were in good condition, so decided to use them for the rappel belays.  The first bit of this pitch is 13m to a broad, sloping ledge, and was soon over.  The second part, also with a Norwegian belay, is 39m and free-hanging - a really nice pitch. We should have taken more notice of the Norwegian comment, that it is difficult to retrieve the rope from this pitch after rappel, because it was.  Even with three of us hanging on one end it would not budge, and eventually someone had to prusik back up, sort out the jam, and descend keeping the two lines apart to prevent them from tangling.

The landing from this pitch is among large boulders, of the loose and the way on is following the draught down through a long, loose, but easy boulder choke.  Someone kicked some particularly large and vicious ones at me, but I escaped to tell you this thrilling tale.  The end of the cave became a little confusing.  It drops down to a final depth of 575m but the exit is a 523m.  We met with some large ice blocks (the first ice we have seen in the cave) which had fallen from an alcove where further ice blocks were precariously perched.  The draught seemed to be diminished, but I followed it on downwards until it blew up a smooth walled aven.  The route onwards was, in fact, up into the alcove and into a concealed passage behind or around an enormous block.  The ice formations increased with an ice floor and ice pillars, and suddenly we were out, seven of us perched on a narrow lodge overlooking the fiord.  It was half past midnight, and twilight, but becoming lighter, but becoming lighter all the time. Using trees as belays we rappelled down the fiord slope through the trees.  Soon after the dinghy arrived, but our boatman took a lot or persuading to keep away from the cliff, until boulders bounced down the slope into the depths of the fiord, all around him.  One of these boulders was a helmet and carbide light, while another was a knapsack full of fairly valuable equipment.  Though the former was recovered from an underwater shelf using a fishing line later that day, the knapsack must have gone to greater depths. Once we had all rappelled into the dinghy - very close to the resurgence and the draughting cleft as it so happened, we headed back to camp.  It had been a long day.

The rest of the day, after a short sleep, was spent exploring the locality.  The following day we fished in the fiord, unsuccessfully, and packed up the gear ready for the ferry in the evening.  Once back at Helland we quickly packed the vehicles and set off for Bodo, where we bivouacked in the Gildeskal ferry car-park.  We crossed to the islands of the Gildeskal area, just to the north of the Arctic Circle, in the morning, and drove to Inndyr where we met up with the Norwegian cavers, et al. We joined in their mini-symposium at the local school, and exchanged ideas and information.  We were to stay in the school overnight, so we opened up one of the five gallon containers of beer, but it still wasn't ready.  In the evening many of the locals turned up on invitation, to hear what caving was all about, and what was going on in the area. Good for public relations, thought I.

We moved out of the school in the morning, and set up a base camp a few kilometres away, not far from the road and beside a stream, below the Cave of the Lost Waters.  This is now known as Greftkjelen, since David Heap's name for it translated as cave of the loose waters.  The cave is near the end of a beautifully situated hanging valley, from the lip of which there are expansive views, even as far ss the Lofoten Islands, over 160km away.  Further up the same valley is Greftsprekl, while beyond this is a sink and then a substantial lake.  All these are hydrologically one system, but the mysteries thereof have not yet been unravelled.  Most of the Norwegians had set up their camp by the lake previously, and both caves were already partially rigged.  While one group set off to carry out some exploration of Greftkjelen, from which a link up with Greftsprekl is immanent, some of us decided to attack the resurgence. This, we were told, was obvious, it draughted strongly, and a way on could be seen through the boulders, which needed a little digging.  We found the resurgence by a scree slope of thousands of tons of various sizes and types of boulders, created by road¬ building works.  We easily moved a couple of boulders and were in, but among more loose boulders.  After much probing and prevaricating we began to wonder if these loose boulders were also the products of road making.  Investigating up above the road I found a small sink in the sands and gravels. Could this be the same water as our resurgence?  We searched further a field down below the road.  Sure enough, there was a second resurgence, and soon after we found yet a third.  Confused, we temporarily gave up.

Wandering back to camp we chanced upon one of our number coming down the hill, carrying lots of little bottles.  He was to take some samples from the resurgence when some dye came through from the sink, to be put there by one the Norwegians.  I hurried back to camp to check which was the correct resurgence. Much later, waiting for dye to emerge, I had a long chat with a local farmer.  At least, he spoke Norwegian and I spoke English, but we managed.  It transpired that, in his youth he used to fish for trout in the now non-existent pools of the resurgence, when the water was half a metre higher and a wind used to blow outwards.  It seems the road-building upset everything.

On Monday four of us climbed up to the hanging valley to do Greftkjelen, while another group went into Greftsprekl.  The Kendal C.C. survey of the former shows a long slope of snow stretching to nearly l00m deep into the cave.  However, this has been rapidly melting in recent years (perhaps, we thought, because of the stopping of the draught by the road-building) so that now there is a short, earthy slope, a snow slope where a hand line is useful, 25m pitch, a further short snow slope and a 30m pitch.  The passage then continues as a roomy, winding rift under a roof of snow, then down a short pitch into further, larger passage with a small stream. Where it becomes low we climbed out of the stream passage into a dry, often sandy-floored series.  Still the passages were large (Lapphullet was the only cave with a fair amount of hands-and-knees work, most of the others being dominated by at least walking size passage.  However, I think this was because we only did some of the larger systems) and the sandy floors are generally unspoilt by the passage of cavers. We were, in fact, only the third party to go to the bottom of Groftkjelen.  About half way down we negotiated the BOULDER CHOKE – a half a dozen boulders lodged in a rift which we descended.  In this region is a beautiful horizontal, but inclined in section, rift, with a hardly disturbed veneer of fine sand on the wall/floor.  Also here, and at the base of the final pitch, are some very fine stalactite formations, resembling a cross between helictites and splash globule formations, some looking like little trees and bushes. Near the present end of the cave the passage size diminishes a little, and there are even one or two roomy crawls. Big pools appear on the floor (we did not have wet-suits, and some of the pools were deep and difficult to avoid) a rushing inlet comes in from the roof, and the resultant stream disappears under a boulder choke.  A black space had been seen beyond this, and we were suitably armed with lump hammer and jemmy.  I sat back awhile for others to remove quantities of stones and boulders, and then forced one of the tightest squeezes I have ever been in.  Unfortunately, after only a further 30m, having joined up with the water once again, the passage narrowed and lowered, and the water disappeared down an impassable slot.  We estimated the total depth of the system to be in the region of 250m, rather than Heap's 300+m.  On the way out we met up with various other people, so together we photographed and de-tackled as far as the big pitches by the snow.  Various members of the party had been underground for between 10 and 12 hours.  The journey back down to camp, along a ridge and down through the now familiar scenery of birch scrub with bilberry and cloudberry undergrowth, took only 30 minutes, even though we went wrong in the dim light.

Tuesday saw a couple of us back at Greftkjelen to complete the de-tackling, while another party were doing the same job in Greftsprekl.  We had laddered and self-lifelined on all the pitches, so there was a large amount of tackle to be brought out, including some Norwegian tackle we had christened 'Elephant ladder' for obvious reasons.  One or two of the piton belays disarmingly almost fell out, but the 'dead-boy' back up in the snow slope had been excellent.  Working on the snow slope was hard, cold and tiring, and I was glad to be back on the surface after a couple of hours.

I thought it would be a good idea to lower the tackle from the top directly down to the woods just above the road, so we took a substantial amount of gear from the two cave entrances to the lip of the hanging valley, and I abseiled down a gulley in the cliffs.  A five minute scramble down through the woods and I was on the road.  I walked up to the camp, and drove the minibus down meet the others descending.  At camp the other five gallon container of beer had been opened, and it was good, and so was the evening that followed.

Round about midnight two people were dispatched to the top yet again, to gather up the rest of the gear from the cave entrances, bring it to the lip the valley, and lower it down. A little later on I went out with another group to show them where the end of the rope was.  Once there we waited and waited but there was no sign of the lowering party on the top, so I climbed up the cliffs (rather hairy) to find no people but lots of tackle.  Using the rope pulled up a telephone line and telephone, explained the situation, and re¬sited the rope to a better lowering position.  Meanwhile, back at the bottom the lowering party appeared.  They had met somebody coming down, they said, and there was no gear left on the top.  No, I thought, looking around me at the life-size images of 200m of ladder, 600m of rope, pitons, krabs, ammo boxes, etc., etc.  Nothing left at all!  Having lowered it all down, using the very useful telephone link with the bottom, I was informed that there was definitely nothing left at the cave entrances, so I went to have a look.  Hare life-size images - about as many as before, plus wet-suits and S.R.T. gear, and a HUGE tent.  I swore quietly, and began carting some of it to the edge.  I swore into the telephone and lowered the extra gear down.  I then rappelled down myself, my spirits slowly rising with the early morning sun.

It was not worth trying to get any sleep, as we had a series of ferries to catch through the islands and fiords down the coast.  We therefore began to pack up camp, waking everyone else up around six.  Travelling by ferry along the Norwegian coast is a beautiful way to spend the end of an expedition: relaxing among the magnificent scenery, and driving only short distances between boats.  We relaxed while we could.  Beyond the ferries we till had 1000 miles of driving to do.

Altogether it had been a very enjoyable and successful expedition.  Like most trips of this kind, plans had had to be altered, and we did not manage to do everything we might have hoped, but the main objectives were achieved.

The trips into Ragge Javre Raige and the Greftkjelen-Greftsprekl system been particularly noteworthy and memorable. I hope that, one say, shall be going there again.


1.         C.R.G.  Transactions, vol. 11, No. 1, March 1969, p. 57.

2.         C.R.G.  Transactions, vol. 11, No. 1, March 1969, p. 17 ff.

3.         C.R.G.  Transactions, vol. 11, No. 1, March 1969, p. 17 ff.

4.         C.R.G.  Transactions, vol. 11, No. 1, March 1969, p. 12 ff.

5.         Norsk Grotteblad 1, 1976.

Atlas des Grands Gouffres du Monde, P. Courbon, 1972

Descent No., 1

S.W.E.T.C.C.C. also have some excellent publications on caves of Norway.




Occasional Publication No. 4, 1977, Ed.  T. Faulkner & S. St. Pierre.

Published by SWETC Caving Club, North East London Polytechnic. £0.40.

Knowing the experience that SWETC Caving Club have of Norwegian caves, and the at publications and articles by various of their members, this sizable and meaty work comes as no surprise.  So much have SWETC C.C. become an authority on Norway that this publication, with their others, forms a standard reference work for anyon¬e contemplating visiting Norwegian caving regions.

Of the 70 pages of A4, no less than 41 are surveys and maps, and 31 are detailed descriptions of caves and caving areas.  There is also a brief supplement concerning the 1976 expedition.  In our copy at least, the quality of the printing does not always match the quality of the consents, one of the faults of farming out the production to different people over the space of three years. Occasional references within the text have been omitted or confused, for the same reason.

Considering that only ten days were spent in actual exploration, SWETC C.C. have managed to be commendably thorough.  All sites listed have grid reference locations (longitudes are measured from Oslo - see the important note on p. 4) altitudes, lengths and depths.  There are brief geological and geomorphological descriptions where these are relevant, together with general, put more thorough descriptions for the caver. Occasionally the description for finding a particular cave is under the heading for the previous cave, with which it may be associated, but if using this publication in the field one would no doubt read a whole section on one area together, thus avoiding this confusion. At the beginning of each section there is a description of the area involved, including geology, geomorphology and hydrology, where these are known.

The maps scattered throughout are invaluable.  Caves in Norway are equally well scattered, and could otherwise be impossible to locate – SWETC C.C. could not even re-find one of their own discoveries.

Having used the SWETC C.C. publications before in Norway, I shall not hesitate to add this to the list of essential books for any future expedition, if the Wig allows it out of the library!


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List November 1977

828 Nicolette Abell               Michaelmas Cottage, Faulkland, Bath

879 T. Andrews                    43 Portway, Wells, Somerset

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

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

913 Ken Baker                     36 Northumberland Road, Redland, Bristol

901 Richard Barker               6a Collingwood Drive, Redland, Bristol

295 Arthur Ball                     4 Charlotte Street, Cheadle, Cheshire

892 Marlon Barlow                93 Norton Drove, 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             190 Hinkler Road, Thornhill, Southampton.

731 Bob Bidmead                 63 Cassell Road, Fishponds, Bristol

720 Martin Bishop                Bishops Cottage, Priddy

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

336 L Alan Bonner                Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland

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

883 Brian Bowers                 44 Manor Way, Bagshot, Surrey

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

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

687 Viv Brown                      3 Cross Street, Kingswood, Bristol

756 Tessa Burt                     66 Roundwood Lane, Harpendon, Herts

849 Alan Butcher                  17 Cedar Grove, Pennfields, Wolverhampton

777 Ian Calder                      22 Greenways, Lydney, Gloucestershire

778 Penelope Calder             22 Greenways, Lydney, Gloucestershire

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

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

885 C. Chambers                 70 Rush Hill, Bath

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   Lot 11 McKay Crescent, Orange, New South Wales, Australia

862 Bob Cork                       22 Dennor Road, Hengrove, Bristol 4

585 Tony Corrigan                139 Stockwood Lane, Stockwood, Bristol

827 Mike Cowlishaw             14 Plovers Down, Olivers Battery, Winchester

890 Jerry Crick                     2 Coneacre, Chersey Road, Windlesham, Surrey

680 Bob Cross                     42 Bayham 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.

815 J. Dibben                       97 Worth Clough, Poynton, Cheshire

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                   55 Cowl Street, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

847 Michael Durham             11 Catherine Place, Bath

812 S. Durston                     Hill View, Old Beat, Maidentown, Nr. Burlescombe, Tiverton, Devon

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                19 Queens Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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

894 Phil Ford                       34 New Street, Deiniolen, Gwynedd, 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

759 Colleen Gage                 36 Woodland Road, Nailsea, Avon

765 Tom Gage                     36 Woodland Road, Nailsea, Avon

835 Leonard Gee                  15 Warren Close, Denton, Manchester

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

869 N. George                      Zapata Offshore Ltd., Crombie Road, Torry, Aberdeen

836 Bob Givens                    Newstead Lodge, 1 Fields Green, Crawley, Sussex

894 Bruce Glocking              213 St. Leonards, Horsham, Sussex

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

900 Christine Greenhall         13 Nooreys Avenue, Oxford

582 Chris Hall                      1 Chancellors Cottage, Long Lane, Redhill, Bristol

432 L Nigel Hallet                 62 Cranbrook Road, Bristol

910 Sandra Halliday              6A Collingwood Road, Redland, Bristol 6

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

304 L C.W. Harris                 The Diocesan Registry, Wells, Somerset

581 Chris Harvey                  Byways, Hanham Lane, Paulton, Somerset

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

893 Dave Hatherley               4 Spring Rise, Wells

917 Robin Hervin                  24 Ashton Street, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

873 A. Higginbottom             Warana, Hill Lea Gardens, Cheddar

863 John Hildrick                  Tarngulla, Old Bristol Road, Priddy

773 Rodney Hobbs               Rose Cottage, Nailsea

373 Sid Hobbs                     Hokestone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy

736 Sylvia Hobbs                  Hokestone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy

905 Paul Hodgson                11 Ockford Ridge, Godalming, Surrey

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                7 Sladebrook close, Bradfod-on-Avon, Wiltshire

387 L George Honey             Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden

855 Ted Humphreys              7 Mounters Close, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

363 Maurise Iles                   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

753 N. Jago                         27 Quantock Road, Windmill Hill, Bristol 3

792 Ken James                    Flat 2, Shrubbery Road, Weston-super-Mare

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                        Marsh Farm, Askem in Furness, Lancs.

907 Karen Jones                  65 McDonald road, Lightwater, Surrey

567 L Alan Kennett               92 West Broadway, 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                  54 Leatherhead Road, Chessington, Surrey

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

667 L Tim Large                   72 Lower Whitesands, Radstock

795 Peter Leigh                    17 Northampton Road, Ecton, Northants.

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

871 S. Lord                          Greengates School, Apparto Postal 41-659, Mexico 10, DF

908 P. Lord                          Greengates School, Apparto Postal 41-659, Mexico 10, DF

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

722 A. McRory-Peace           5 Colmer Road, Yeovil Somerset

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

704 Dave Metcalfe                10 Troughton Crescent, Blackpool, Lancs.

308 Keith Murray                  17 Harrington Gardens, London SW7

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

880 Graham Nye                  7 Ramsey Road, Horsham, Surrey

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 Tony Philpott               3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon

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

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

886 Jeff Price                       18 Hurston Road, Inns Court, Bristol

622 Colin Priddle                  10 Franklyn Flats, Kopje Road, Gwelo, Rhodesia

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

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

682 John Riley                     Araluen, Linershwood Close, Bramley, Surrey

921 Pete Rose                     2 The Beacon, Ilminster

918 Richard Round               131 Middleton Road, Banbury, Oxfordshire

832 Roger Sabido                 163 Coldharbour Road, Bristol 6

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 Derek Sanderson           23 Penzeance Gardesn, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex.

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

482 Gordon Selby                 2 Dodd Avenue, Wells, Somerset

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

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

864 Chris Shaw                    7 Queens Head Walk, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts.

872 Mark Sherman               Wood View, Grey Field, High Litton

889 N. Shott                        Flat 15, assessment Centre, Kingswood Schools, Counterpool Road., Kingswood, Bristol

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

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

823 Andy Sparrow                2 Grosvenor Place, London Road, Bath

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

865 Paul Stokes                   32 Manor Way, Bagshot, Surrey

583 Derek Targett                 16 Phyllis Hill, Midsomer Norton

800 Mike Taylor                    39 Reedley road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

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

919 Tom Temple                   3 Larch Close, Lee-on-Solent, Hants.

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               256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                  256 Cressex Road, 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 Jill Tuck                      48 Wiston Path, Fairwater Way, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

328 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 Butts Road, Alton, Hants.

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

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

397 Mike Wheadon               91 The Oval, Bath

861 Maureen Wheadon         91 The Oval, Bath

553 Bob White                     Weavers Farm, Binegar

878 Ross White                   30 Curley Hill Road, Lightwater, Surrey.

916 Jane Wilson                   University Laboratory 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     Ileana, Stenfield Road, Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks

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

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

738 Roger Wing                   15 Penleaze Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex

877 Steve Woolven               21 Three Acres, Horsham, Sussex

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




Another year begins with the usual long committee meeting sorting out the directions of the A.G.M. The Dinner although not pleasing everybody did bring many old faces back to the fold.  Amongst those I noticed were Norman Petty, Jok and Judy, and Frank Darbon.  The pantomime was much enjoyed judging by the applause, particularly the performance of Alice.  Whilst everyone was at the Dinner the Belfry was broken into and vandalised.  I am sure many pints reward would be waiting for information leading to, as they say on the better side of the law.

The Belfry was a prominent topic at the October committee meeting much concern shown over its maintenance.  Martin Bishop plans to tackle the problem of the drains as top priority.  Other jobs include finishing the new bunks in the men’s room; waterproofing the troublesome window at the end of the men’s room and exterior painting particularly of the window sills using a wood preservative as so far paint has not successfully taken to it.  It should go without saying that much help is needed.

May I remind everyone of the Ian Dear Fund.  It is available to younger members to enable them to partake in expeditions abroad. It’s never too early to apply and all you have to do is find Mike Palmer, Sett or any committee member to make sure your application is considered.

Although the club has several leaders to D.Y.O. and O.F.D. there is always room for more.  Those interested should contact the caving sec. The Leaders system is somewhat like that for Cuthbert’s requiring the individual to acquaint him/herself with the various routes in the cave and show cave sense.

In order that the members address list can be updated please let me know of any changes.  This will ensure that your B.B. gets to the right address.  The members list appears in this issue so check your details.

Many thanks to Sett for the donation of duplicating ink and also to Jonah for a collection of BB's for the Library.  At the October meeting the Committee expressed the Clubs thanks to Brenda Wilton for the valuable service given in distributing the BB.  Mike Palmer has recently taken on this job in the new Club Year.  I am sure he would be pleased to hear from anyone with any bright ideas to improve the distribution - particularly in keeping postage costs as low as possible.

Tim Large.

Stop Press

Following the displeasure shown by many members regarding the Dinner, negotiations the Cliff Hotel have resulted in a, saving of £75 on the total bill.  What shall we do with it?  Any bright idea’s?

B.E.C. Dig - Wheal Wigmore

Even if you have only been to Mendip once in the past four months, you probably know all about Wigmore. J-Rat, Snab and many others have worked like Trojans hoping for another Tynings here (Wessex and MNRC have both tried, in pre war years) and are already deeper down than their forbears, and J-Rats Walls, with mining spoil rock gardens, vie with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

If the winch does not fall down the hole – it isn’t filled with autumn leaves, it’s bound to go. Come and have a look, or even a dig - 10p a go.  There will be an article, with survey and picture in a future B. B.

Austria 1977

A combined Grampian/B.E.C. trip is to be made to the Hollengebirge, east of Salzburg next year.  Provisional dates are 22nd July to 13th August, 1978.  Anyone interested should contact Wig or Snab.


Mendip Original Limestone Exploration Society - is an interclub organisation, whose aim is to provide transport for expeditions abroad.

Remember the green papers at the dinner.  Remember the raffle.

There is a raffle every Saturday night in the Hunters, so empty your pockets of all those silly 10p's and give them to the Moles dolly bird.  It is only £1 to join the society

Slit Sided Stals

The discovery of Roman Mine by Jill and Norman Tuck revealed a number of slit sided stals (see BEC Caving Report No. 15).  It was thought that they were unique to this mine.  On a recent trip into G.B., Wig noticed a number of similar formations in the roof.  They were about ½" long and were bell formed at the lower end.  Perhaps they are more common than previously thought.

A Severn Barrage is proposed.

A couple of years ago a serious proposal was made to HM government to construct a massive dam across the Severn estuary to provide hydro-electric power thus making use of the exceptionally high tides.  The quantity of aggregate required is enormous – about 4,000 million tonnes.  This material will be obtained from the Mendips and South Wales – both principal caving regions.  The Government is being pressurized to publish the preliminary report on the subject and alternative scheme including wave motion at Oban. The CSCC and CCC are keeping a close watch on the situation.


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.

The usual list of club officers etc., has been omitted from this B.B. owing to the proximity of publication to the A.G.M.  The new officers etc. will be printed in the November edition.



With the A.G.M. fast approaching, and bringing, no doubt, its usual crop of member’s resolutions and the like, it might be a good time to prevent any misunderstandings by setting the record straight on a small but important point recently raised by a member about the status of the current B.B. team.

In the interests of accuracy, his description of it as the 'Editorial Sub Committee' is not a correct description for two reasons.  Firstly, a sub committee is a body set up by a committee for some special purpose during the lifetime of that committee.  The B.B. team was set up by last years A.G.M and must therefore be considered (if it is necessary to label it at all) as a special committee; a working party or a standing committee.  In fact, when the club did a vaguely similar thing in 1957, they called it the B.B. Editorial Board.

But, coming to the second point, the present team is not an Editorial board.  The chairman of the A.G.M. made it clear that editorial responsibility – and, in fact, responsibility for the whole team remained within the present editor.

By defining what should be done and who should be doing it, the A.G.M. chairman was acting in accordance with traditional practice whereby the basic arrangements concerning the B.B. are laid down by the general membership of the club at General meetings. Thus, the B.B. is effectively managed directly by the club membership.  Further guidance may be found in the discussion non the constitution and the B.B. in the minutes of the 1970 A.G.M.

Growth Of The B.E.C.

In this issue, the series of articles lately running is completed.  It would be interesting to see if any members can draw different conclusions from those in this B.B.  As always, correspondence is welcome.


Fifth Column – A Birds’ Eye View of Mendip

As a complete change this month, and to convince our readers that we really are a group (and versatile at that!) we have exchanged our literary talents for artistic ones, and present our bird’s eye view of the present club committee.  The editor (that well know MCP) tells us that our cartoon will probably be too big for all of it to get printed.  We don’t understand why, as it all went on the stencil we were given, but conceded that he might just be right.  If so, we apologise for ‘doing it to excess.’


The Deepest Cave?

Stan Gee, who is well known to most older club members, sends us this interesting account of his work in Italy.

In response to numerous requests in the B.B. I have at last put pen to paper in effort to tell of some of the recent, and not so recent doings of a group of friends which includes several B.E.C. members.  For some years, from 1968 in fact, we have been very interested in the area of the Appian Alps in Italy wherein lies the Antro del Corchia which we have had high hopes that it might become the deep¬est cave known. These hopes are now all but realised, though we were 'pipped at the post' as it were.  However, we can take some consolation in the fact that it was our researches into the area which led to this happy state of affairs.

For those of you who like to mix mountaineering with caving, the Appian Alps are ideal.  Lying some 12 miles (19km) inland from Viareggio, they soar up to 7, 000ft (2,000 odd metres) in parts and provide some excellent climbing on limestone and marble with runs of 1,000 ft (300m) and more.  The area, though quite remote and wild, is well provided with good footpaths and several Rifugi of the Italian Alpine Club.  It abounds with wild life, including too many snakes for comfort and there are hundreds of caves of varying depths.  The nearest point of access is the village of Leviglian - a small semi-tourist village nestling beneath the bulk of Monte Corchia (5,470' - 1,677m).  From here, you must walk, though it is possible to use a recently constructed quarry road, to reach some parts of the mountain, but in the main you must be prepared to walk for a couple of hours or more.

I first became interested in the are in 1968 when I led an expedition of the Derbyshire Caving Club to the Antro del Corchia.  This was something of an epic adventure that resulted in the extent of the cave being more or less doubled.  A couple of years later, I made my first excursion into the mysterious area beyond the Corchia ridge and commenced the programme of research which is still continuing.

My companions on some of these ventures have been Arthur Ball and Nigel Dibben, both of whom are B.E.C. members, and after some years Arthur and myself were offered that rare distinction of full membership of the C.A.I.  A happy situation which has be of great assistance to our work.

The old entrance to the Antro del Corchia is at 3,600ft (1,100m) and in 1968 had attained a depth of 2,200ft (670m).  This seemed to be the downward limit though there was ample room for extension horizontally.  The Antro played tricks on us and did not resurge where we thought it would but, by a 'geological impossibility' it changed direction and resurged at La Pollacra - some two and a half miles (4km) in the opposite direction.  Thus it was that we went beyond the ridge and commenced working much higher up.

In 1972 I had heard of two caves situated near to the summit of Monte Corchia and as a consequence in 1973 I scoured the area of the summit with a small party where we found two fluted shafts approximately twenty feet deep (6m).  At the time we thought that that they were the two known caves and it wasn't until the next year that we found that they were two unknown caves - the known ones being a little further on.   Thus, in 1975 with a larger party and well armed with crowbars, hammers etc, we slogged up the mountain in temperatures of 80°F (27°C) to dong the caves. The geologists laughed.  It was impossible.  The caves were too old.  There was no water, too much frost shattering - in short, another geological impossibility.

Twenty minutes work on the first cave produced a shaft of a hundred feet (30m) and an eventual depth of 250ft (76m) to a boulder choke that even chemics failed to remove.  This cave was called Buca del Arturo (Arthur’s Hole). An hours work on the second cave and we had a similar situation but with an even worse boulder problem. This cave we called 'La buca dei massi dandelante' (the cave of the great hanging boulders).  The proximity of the two caves to each other led us to believe that there was something BIG beneath and 1,600ft (500m) above the Antro del Corchia, so were searched for and found the other two caves, the Buca del Gracchi (Cave of the Crows) which was an open shaft of 150ft (46m), and the Buca del Cacciatore (Hunters Hole).  Suitably impressed, we returned in 1976 to dong the Buca del Cacciatare only to find that an Italian group, who' had been following our progress, had donged it same months previously to a depth of 1600ft (500m) and a length of two and a half miles (4Km).  Being only a small exploration party, we did not have the necessary gear to attempt anything on this scale, so it was abandoned.

I have recently returned from Italy and am able to report that the Buca del Cacciatore - now renamed Abissa Fighiera is now at a depth af 2,700ft (820m) and heading away from the Antro del Corchia towards a cave called Tana dell Uomo Selvatico (The lair of the Primitive Man) which has a depth of -1,034ft(318m).  At the moment of writing, the Italians are being rather cagey about their finds but I was able to find out that at -2,700ft (820m) they have encountered a lot of water and two other galleries one of which is heading towards the Antro.  The Buca del Cacciatore is at an altitude of 5,360ft (1650m) which is approximately 1,788ft (550m) above the old entrance to the Antro which would give a total depth of 3,965ft (1,220m) to the present bottom.  It is known that a further 300ft (91m) is possible between the bottom and the resurgence, which would make 4,265ft (1,300m).  However, there is some evidence of a secondary and lower resurgence and this will be one of my future investigations.

In the early part of 1977, another group of Italian cavers did an epic pegging job from the 'Canyon' in the Antro and discovered two new entrances high up on Monte Corchia.  From the highest of these entrances, the Antro now has a depth of 2,616 feet (805m) to the bottom.  Access to the bottom is now quite easy, as our discovery in 1969 of the 'New Hope Series' culminated in the opening of a lower entran¬ce called the Buca dei Serpenti (Hole of Snakes) that is accessible by a rough road.  This route gives quick and easy access to the Stalactite Gallery which was adjacent to our camps in 1968.  Thus the bottom is now obtainable in a fifteen hour round trip and an interesting through trip can be made between the old entrance and the Buca dei Serpenti.

A combination of same of the Italian clubs have attempted to place same restrictions on access to the whole of the Corchia area and to the Cacciatore in particular.  In the case of the Corchia area, this is ridiculous and it is doubtful whether the restriction to the Cacciatore is legal.  At the moment, something of a battle is going on between the cavers and the local authority, which is a quarry workers co-operative. At present, if anyone is contemplating a trip to this area, they would be well advised to contact me beforehand so that I can let them have the up to date information.


Totes Girbirge 1977

There is, happily, no shortage of caving articles this month, and we go from the Appian Alps to an Austrian caving area, with this article sent in (and, of course, written) by Nick Thorne.

It is many years since Britain could offer open potholes for pioneers to explore, and now even Europe is fast running out of areas of genuinely virgin limestone.  One area where almost no work has been done however is the Totes Gibirge in Austria.  Cambridge University Caving Club had a short expedition to that area in 1966 and I went with them where they paid their second visit in the summer of 1977. Since, in their past, the B.E.C. have shown an active interest in Austria,  I thought that members might like to know how things went.

C.U.C.C. set up camp by a lake in Alt Aussee, a sleepy little village some 80Km (50 miles) east of Saltzburg.  The scenery is spectacular in the extreme.  On the opposite side of the lake to our camp stood the Trisselwand, a sheer rock wall six times taller than the Avon gorge!  Our interest was focussed on the nearby Loser Plateau, a sharply undulating plain nearly 2000m (6,600ft) above sea level.  Until recently the plateau was inaccessible to anyone with anything short of a helicopter.  However, a few years ago, a road up there was built for the skiers and the plateau is now a brisk three quarters of an hour’s walk along dubious tracks from where the road ends.  The road itself is no trifling effort but a great autobahn affair zigzagging its way up the hillside.  Near the top, it has a heart-stopping hang gliders' take-off ramp.  The road is a toll road, and a car plus four people would cost about £3.50 per trip.  Before we parted with cash, however, a curious aspect of local attitudes was utilised. Cavers in Austria, and I believe in other parts of the continent too, are regarded as real heroes.  The words "Hohlen Forscher" were all that we needed to gain us free tolls, reduced camping fees and even free beer!

Once on the plateau, we began prospecting.  The tens of miles of lapiaz have rather daunted Carl, the only local caver.  He welcomed our extra manpower, pointed us in the right direction and essentially said "Explore whatever takes your fancy!"  I found that after the British caving scene, some adjustment of scale was necessary, both above and below ground.  Looking across the plateau; the Schonberg looked to be within spitting distance, but in fact it would have been a long days very tough walking.  Crossing the lapiaz was a real headache.  Unlike Yorkshire, this stuff is faulted, folded, over folded and has patches of tough, hardy vegetation growing all over it.  The plateau can be a very unfriendly place with its abundance of snakes and its very changeable weather.  In two minutes, prospectors can have their sunbathing (Oh!, what a giveaway!) interrupted by some very spectacular thunder and lightning and be pummelled by hailstones as big as marbles.  The run-off from these thunderstorms is so fast as to be almost comforting.  I am sure that if one were caught underground in a floodable passage (of which there are thankfully very few!) and not be drowned instantly, one could almost hold ones breath until the flood subsided!

When it comes to the caves themselves, finding the deep ones requires a little thought and a lot of luck. At first we looked at big open shafts, and found many fine and un-descended examples.  Some were up to 40m (130ft) deep, but they were invariably choked or plugged with snow.  A much better type of entrance to look for is the horizontal type.  A short section of horizontal development is all that is needed to protect subsequent shafts from the debris that chokes the open pots.  An additional clue for a good site we learned was the presence of a draught.  So healthy an indication of good things is a draught that we even hammered out the entrance to one cave - a Yorkshire trick that leaves the continentals absolutely staggered!  The subsequent hole led to a fine series of shafts before becoming too tight at about 250m (820ft) depth.  Although deep, this is nothing to what Loser could produce with its maximum depth potential being in the order of 900m (2,950ft).

As an example of the type of caves that we were finding, I include a survey of one of the caves with which I was personally involved.  We are provisionally calling our find the Eisluft Hohle.  The official Austrian number designated to a cave initially is only worth superseding by a name when the cave reaches some 150m (490ft) depth. The cave draughts outwards.  This we find very puzzling as the cave temperature is considerably lower than that outside.  The draught varies with the temperature of the atmosphere - implying a convection draught as opposed to a stream driven one - and there are no higher entrances that draught in.  Indeed, no entrances on the plateau seem to take an in-blowing draught.  We are still thinking this one out and would welcome any suggestions.

The cave has three entrances that each shares the draught.  These soon unite above a snow slope.  A handline descent of this leads to the top of Plugged Shaft which is over two hundred feet deep and broken by numerous but very small ledges.  The icy draught is at its strongest at the top of the shaft and on a good day difficulty was found in keeping carbide lamps alight.  Sound natural belays are scarce as all good looking flakes and threads just come off in your hand, so bolting was the order of the day.  This was very slow as the limestone is very hard and rock anchors soon blunted.  Half an hour’s hammering in the cooling breeze and the snow at the top of Plugged Shaft was nothing if not soul-destroying.

The shaft descends through snow plugs to a very dubious platform of dirty snow.  It was while standing on this that we began to wonder about the degree by which the caver's presence alters the cave environment. (I don't want to worry you chaps - but it's melting!)  Further down, the shaft enlarges and a small rock bridge is met. Behind the bridge is some horizontal passage to a shaft.  As time was short, we left this un-descended and followed the draught down the main shaft. The shaft ends at a chamber and some short horizontal passage that thank¬fully marks the end of the snow. Saved Shaft was descended to a chamber and a fearful looking boulder choke.  The draught filtered enticingly through the ruckle and, prudence lost, we crawled through to a rift beyond.  We reached a pitch and descended 32m (105ft) and pushed on to the head of another shaft, when we realised that we had lost the draught.  We therefore left this next shaft un-descended and returned and traversed over the pitch head to another up which the faithful old draught was blowing.  We then descended 30m (98ft) down this one, past a ledge to a rift passage.  This enlarged to a reasonable sized chamber with, a choice of routes onwards.  We had just about run out of tackle and, with the expedition nearing its end, time was short too.  We started the awesome task of de-rigging. (Yes, we were on ladders!)

We've left the cave with enough promise and question marks that I am sure will drag us back to it next year.  If you think that I’ve been a little rash in telling you of this unfinished find, then I might warn the would-be pirate that the Loser plateau is very, very big and the Eisluft Hohle, like many of Loser's caves, cannot be seen from more than five yards away!  And, whilst on his wandering’s across the unexplored lapiaz, the pirate might just find something better than the Eisluft Hohle.  How about it?  "Noch ein Bier, bitte!"

References:       Cambridge Underground 1977 - for details of C.U.C.C, finds in 1976

Cambridge Underground 1978 - to be published next spring/summer for details of finds on the 1977 expedition.


The Growth Of The B.E.C.



The improve model representing the growth of the club over the years is shown above and compared with the actual figures.  As may be seen, the fit between the two is not bad.  The improved model is in three parts.  The first of these, from 1943 to 1951, has a slightly lower slope than reality over its earlier portion, but the actual point at 1951 is correct.  The second part, from 1951 to 1957 is pretty accurate throughout and needs no further comment.  The final part, from 1957 to 1975 is slightly too high in its later years but, for various reasons, it is very difficult to correct this in a meaningful manner, and – taken in all – the model is good enough to explain the main features of the club’s growth which have been described in detail earlier in this series.

The changes between the three portions of the improved model have been made just by changes in the decrement (which represents the amount of satisfaction that members have in their club at anyone time).  It is possible to base a number of scales on the value of the decrement, and the one used is one in which the figure of 100 would represent perfect satisfaction - a state of affairs which can be defined, one where nobody ever leaves the club once they have joined.  A figure of 0 would represent complete dissatisfaction - with no member ever renewing his or her subscription.

On this scale, we would naturally expect to see a figure of satisfaction nearer to 100 than to 0. For instance, a figure of 50, if applied to the B.E.C. would have produced a club which would have built up to about 60 members with about 25 of these leaving and another 25 joining each year. In fact, the simple model gives an average value for satisfaction of 77.

The improved model has, of course, three different levels of satisfaction.  From 1943 to 1951 it is 80.  From 1951 to 1957 it is 70 and from 1957 onwards it is 86, although there is some evidence for a very slight drop in the early 1960's to possibly 83 or 84, but this is too fine for the analysis to tackle.

With this recording of satisfaction, we have gone about as far as we can with the figures and from here, we must guess.  What we are looking for are two, preferably related events which took place in 1950/1 and in 1957 which could have led to the changes we have noted.

Nothing can be found in the way of external events, such as the advent of the five day week or the end of petrol rationing.  Caving has already been eliminated, as have any changes in life at the Belfry.  The only thing which seems to fit is the B.B. itself.

In 1951, Harry Stanbury - the founder of the B.E.C. and currently Hon. Secretary, Hon. Treasurer and Editor of the B.B., resigned from the club committee and all his offices. Reading the B.B. before this date will show that it contained a great deal of news of club members and of social and other events on Mendip as well as caving news.  In other words, the B.B. formed a strong link between the club on Mendip and in Bristol and those members who could only appear at infrequent intervals.  Members thus tended to hang on to their membership so that they could find out what their friends were doing and what was going on 'on the hill'.

After Harry's resignation, his posts as Hon. Sec. and Hon. Treasurer were ably filled by the (then) young Bob Bagshaw.  The B.B. proved more difficult to get anyone to take on and for a year or so it was actually run from London by Don Coase and John Shorthose.  Even when Harry was persuaded to come back and edit it again, it was not the same. As Secretary, he had previously run features like 'From the Hon. Sec's Postbag' - which he could no longer write. Even members addresses were not published over most of the period 1951 to 1957.

In 1957, the B.B. was handed over by the A.G.M. to a group of active club members who produced most of the 'chat' which members said they missed and also gave the B.B. a facelift. It is interesting to note that the even more bigger and better B.B. produced under the editorship of Dave Irwin did not have a corresponding change in satisfaction.  It seems that while the club demands a minimum standard from its magazine, a great increase on this has no proportionate effect.

If any reader wonders why the portions of the curve flatten out when there has been no change in the figure of satisfaction, this is a natural function of this type of curve and does not actually mean that the club is doing any worse.

It only remains to explain the two 'frighteners'. The second of these obviously reflects the sudden doubling of the annual subscription in 1974.  The first can be associated with the opening of the campaign to collect money for a new Belfry.

Thus, in 1975 when the survey ended, the club still appeared to be 'on course' with its satisfaction at a high level.  It would seem that as long as its B.B. continues to give its members the sort of information they basically want and the club avoids sudden financial shocks to its members, there is little cause for concern.

What we cannot forecast is any change in the number of new members arriving each year.  The figure just announced by the Hon. Sec. is one of the lowest in the club's entire history.  It was worse in 1957 and, like then, the low figure this year may be an isolated case.  If it is a trend, then it will have to be watched and acted upon, but here we must be very careful.  At 34 effective years of age, the club has reached a stage where exactly half its members may be considered as 'permanent' and this percentage will rise so that it will become more and more important not to drive these members away.

What, then, can we do in the future?  It may well be that we live in times that are changing too rapidly for the type of analysis talked about in this series to be any of further use.  However, if this exercise has taught its author anything – it is that guesswork must be reduced to an absolute minimum if we are to take sensible decisions about anything which may affect the growth of the B.E.C.



Monthly Crossword Number 79


























































































































Across (Passages)

1. 14-18 vadose cave features?  (6)
4. Commercial concern as requirement for belays perhaps? (4)
7. London street in September.  (6)
8. Strongly assert topless speleologist. (4)
10. Serve rat going across. (8)
13. Cry a mixture of salts deposited in caves. (8)
16. Smirk – presumably at young sheep on Mendip. (4)
17. Will keep a climber as warm as anything in Oban or a kilt.  (6)
18. You might need a rope to this a 10 across if handholds are scarce. (4)
19.  Determines metallic content of ore. (6)

Down (Pitches)

1. It is cricket to make sure a belay is sound, for instance?  (4)
2. E.G. location of Pollnagollum. (4)
3. Large number on Mediterranean island for possible entrance shaft material. (8)
5. Turn upside down in vertical cave descent. (6)
6. Alcoholic French pioneer? (6)
11. Untidy leaves in autumn may blow into this cave. (8)
12. Laughable old Mendip inhabitant. (5)
14. The Hundred Acre field describes its this. (4)
15. Form of winter mountaineering transport? (4)

Solution to No. 78




























































































































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:

December 9th

Longwood - contact Richard Kenney, Tel. Meare Heath 296

December 10th

B.C.R.A. Winter Meeting, Hunters Lodge (new room) 4p.m.

Programme:      Water Pollution - Dave Maneley

                        Rock and Fountain Cave - John Parker.

The lectures will be followed by a buffet supper at 7 p.m.  Price (for meal only) £2.75, Bookings to Bryan Ellis, 30 Main Road, Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset, by 3rd.December 3rd. 1977.  Following the meal, at 8.30p.m. Jerry Wooldridge will be showing his slide sequences of Fairy Cave Quarry and La Cigaliere.

December 17th

Brecon Beacons - walking.  Bring pack lunch, waterproofs, boots, transport will be shared. Leave Belfry 8a.m. sharp. All interested contact Bob Cross, address in Nov B.B.

January 8th 1978

White Scar Cave - details from Martin Grass.

March 11th

BCRA Symposium - Cave Photograph, UMIST, Manchester.

Russ Jenkins writes:

The B.E.C. are now members of British Mountaineering Council and as such are able to avail themselves of the facilities of Club Huts in the following areas.  Lakes, 17 huts; others at Lancaster, Derbyshire, Swanage and Cornwall: 30 huts in North Wales and 17 in Scotland and Isle of Skye.

Climbers Insurance

It is now certain that climbers are NOT covered by BEC Insurance.  However, insurance may be obtained through the B.M.C. via the Club.  It is not cheap however and varies between £8.00 per person contemplating climbing in U.K. and the Alps or £6.00 restricted to U.K.  This does not include damage or loss to equipment, money, ropes, etc.  To cover those items a further increase takes the price up to £9 (first £20 of any claim is void) so it would appear the £6.00 would be in most demand for U.K. climbers.  These prices are only approximate and fuller details are available from me.  There is a BMC administration fee which reduces pro-rata.  It is a block policy which has to be submitted in one go, so I'm thinking of getting all applications to be submitted on Jan. 1st or so.  Money to be paid at time of application.


Alfie resigns from the BEC

It is with regret that we have to announce that Alfie has resigned from the club committee.  He tendered his resignation at the November Committee meeting without giving any reason.  At the same time he also handed in his resignation as Trustee for the Club. Most members will be now aware that several changes took place at the Annual Meeting held back in October.  But there are many who did not attend either the meeting or the dinner and may not know the situation.  The best way of explaining the position as it stands is by publishing an extract from the official minutes, compiled by Alfie:-

The Belfry Bulletin Report followed.  It had been published and the chairman asked the editor if he had anything to add to his published report.  Alfie replied that he had not, but that he would be pleased to answer any points which might arise during any discussion of the report.  Mike Palmer then reminded the meeting that he had acquired a reputation for outspoken comment and assured the meeting that he would not disappoint it on this occasion.  He said that the content of the B.B. was the major grouse and proposed that Dave Irwin be appointed to take over the Belfry Bulletin forthwith.  This was seconded by Martin Grass.  The Chairman said that he would take note of this resolution but felt that some discussion ought first to take place.  Colin Dooley said that he felt the existing B.B. was right for its purpose.  Some years ago, the club had decided to separate its more serious work from the B.B. in the form of the Caving Reports and more recently 'Cave Notes'.  If it was felt that the B.B. was not tbe right publication to exchange with other clubs, then Caving Reports and Cave Notes could be substituted.  Dave Turner said that he would like to recommend Dave Irwin to the meeting on the basis that he would have more time to devote to the B.B.  Nigel Taylor suggested that perhaps Alfie could be asked to provide a regular feature in a B.B. otherwise run by Dave.  Mike Palmer said that this was not an occasion for compromise of any sort.  Alfie's B.B. had let down the image of the Club and was a laughing stock amongst other clubs.  A far as B.E.C. members were concerned they were fed up with reading the thoughts of Chairman Alfie in his so-called editorials.  Colin Dooley said that it was therefore a question of style and the choice was not between two people as between two contrasting outlooks.  Tony Corrigan queried this and said that any editor prints what members send in.  Dave Turner said that this was only partly true.  For example, the B.B. could easily carry more caving news and news of other clubs etc. if the editor wished to include it.  Pete Franklin made the point that the content of the B.B. was aimed at club, members who rarely visited Mendip and should not therefore be judged by a meeting which was not representative of the readership being aimed at.  Bob Cross said that the B.B. as a rather poor newsletter and social sheet masquerading as journal.  Tony Corrigan said that a properly produced journal would be expensive.  Roy Bennett said that when Dave Irwin produced the B.B., its sales to people outside the club paid for only additional production costs. Nobody would buy Alfie's B.B. because it was not good enough.  The Chairman then invited Dave Irwin to explain what he would do if he were appointed as editor.  Dave said that he would make no radical changes but would increase the topicality with much more up to date information.  He said that he did not disapprove of features like 'Fifth Column' but that a proper balance between such features and more serious matter would be achieved under his direction.  The B.B. would remain as a monthly publication and retain its present format but would be about 50% larger in pages.  The Chairmen then thanked Dave Irwin and put the resolution to the vote. The meeting appointed Dave Irwin as Editor of the Belfry Bulletin by 27 votes in favour two 6 against.

Alfie has added a footnote to the minutes end is as follows: -

According to the authority I have consulted, the Chairman had a number of possible courses of action open to him when Mike Palmer proposed his resolution. He acted quite correctly by choosing one of the possibilities (i.e. taking the resolution to discussion, putting it to the vote and declaring it carried without first taking the report) but this particular course of action means that the 1977 B.B. Report had not been adopted by the A.G.M. and it is thus important to make this clear to members as otherwise a precedent will have been set which could have awkward repercussions in future.  Therefore, as the report in question has been published in the B.B. a disclaimer should now be published as soon as possible to the effect that this report was rejected by the AGM and has thus no official standing.  Members of the club who did not attend the A.G.M. will otherwise have no means of knowing that this report does not now define policy.


An up to date report of the situation regarding the Club Trustees will be given in the next issue of the B.B.


Note from the Hut Warden

The Hut Warden wishes to announce that all utensils and cutlery has been removed and both members and guests will have to bring their own.  For several months now, the various items cooking equipment has been left in a pretty tatty condition and until people can do their own washing up and general tidying up, cooking at the Belfry will be with your own personal equipment.

Guests staying at the Belfry have been turning up on spec and causing the Hut Warden quite a headache. Will all guests please note that at least SIX WEEKS NOTICE is required thus allowing Chris Batstone to allocate bunks fairly between members and guests.

Note from the Tackle Master.

On the weekend of the 11-13th November a member wanted to use some tackle for an away trip.  There was no rope in the store, and there were only four lengths of ladder.  No equipment was signed out in the tackle log.  Please fill out the required details in the log such as: item of tackle, using code; cave or area; name of member; dates out and in etc.  As a reminder, ladder codes are now on top and bottom rungs.  Rope codes await a cheap supply of shrink-on numbers (as used in the electrical trade). Of these are not forthcoming (they were promised) we shall use copper ferrules.  Tethers have aluminium tags.  Many people are not bothering to wash tackle, especially rope.  I found one hanging up stiff' with mud a while ago. So the Drinking Pool has dried up - use the sink or the showers!


P. S. Where are all these donations of old SRT rope for digging????


ALL SUBS PLEASE TO Tim Large, 72, Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon.  They are due in January.

NOTES IN BRIEF: £75 rebate from Cliff Hotel for poor service at Club Annual Dinner; John Dukes has been appointed publication Sales Officer; ADDRESS CORRECTION: Barrie Wilton, 27 Valley View, Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol, Avon.  Tele: Temple Cloud 52072.

A Headache For M.R.O.?

Reports have been coming in of a Mendip caver working with the social services is taking 11 and 12 year olds caving.  Nothing wrong with that you may think.  But taking them to Swildons 4 may give you food for thought!  In addition he takes them on his own with no other adult in the party.  The Wells Scouts have now crossed him off their list but your correspondent is informed that he is a free agent for other organisations.  However good a caver he might think himself there can be no excuse for taking such young people so far into a system that can be so treacherous at all times of the year.  In fact, a serious accident in Swildons 4 would give MRO a considerable headache because of the well known squeeze at the lower end of Blue Pencil Passage.

There is little that MRO can do about it, nor indeed, want to do about it - in other words MRO would not wish to be put into a position of being a judge.  The Council of Southern Caving Clubs will feel there is nothing that they can do except perhaps to contact the club to which this character belongs and offer some legal advice regarding the position of a minor.  I feel sure that such activities will be deplored by responsible cavers on Mendip and elsewhere.  This stupid action should be given the widest publicity in the caving press to ensure that to warn responsible clubs that such activity is taking place.



CARBIDE and CARBIDE LAMP SPARES are available at the Belfry - ask the Hut Warden - the prices are the cheapest you’ll find anywhere!


DON'T FORGET THOSE CAVING REPORTS - the latest is Number 19.  Those members who are not up to date with their collection should send off to John Dukes at the Belfry for copies.  A full list will appear in the January B.B.


Ogof Graig & Ffynnon

(Rock and Fountain Cave)

By Irwin

On the old Clydach Gorge Road lies a pub well known to cavers in the area.  For several years a dig has been worked above the pub, slightly to the west. In September 1976 the diggers broke into a large cave system over five miles in length.  23rd October 1977 the author and Fred Davies were lucky enough to pay a visit to it and take in its underground splendour.

The layout of the Agen Allwedd system, the 15 mile long system, is well known to cavers, with its rambling passages stretching across the top of Llangatock Mountain near Brynmawr.  Since its discovery several relatively small sites have been explored, a few end in fragments of very large passageways.  The water flowing through the 'Aggy' system resurges near the upper end of the Clydach Gorge, but a small rising higher up intrigued cavers and so the Rock and Fountain dig commenced, some 100 yds from the rising itself.  In September 1976 the diggers decided to bang a small hole above their main site in the hope to reach the underground streamway.

After a combination of digging and banging a passageway was soon opened up leading to a squeeze into a 15ft long duck and on to a very unstable boulder choke.  Initially this was climbed with the aid of 20 ft ladder but shortly after the cave was opened the boulder walls decided to reorganise itself thus blocking the route through.  However, once opened the Second Boulder Choke could be worked on. Attacking this required a really determined effort on the part of the diggers to blast their way through a torturous route some 120ft long to emerge in a series of very large passages separated by a tedious crawl, mainly flat out for some 800ft to end in two enormous chambers.  To date some five miles of passage has been surveyed - in fact there are still nine boulder chokes to be pushed - each one breathing the famous South Wales draught.

The cave can be divided into three sections - the entrance series to the 2nd Boulder Choke (ruckle, if you are a confirmed Mendipian) followed by a single large passage, beautifully decorated, extending for, perhaps 3,000ft.  This continues to the long crawl passing en-route to a superb phreatic rift passage ending in the two enormous chambers.  Below the chambers a lower stream series is being explored and a comment from John Parker was 'you know you've been on a caving trip after going down there!  Again there are fine formations to be seen there.

After only having been in the cave once it is quite impossible to accurate locating the smaller but fascinating features; so a summary of the highlights in the entrance series may be slightly (even grossly) out of order between the main features.

From the entrance a 150ft flat-out crawl leads to a squeeze through boulders into a small, 20ft diameter chamber at the opposite end of which lies an uninviting hole some 2ft wide and perhaps 10" high - this is the start of the 15ft long duck. Normally it has some 4 - 5" of airspace but this is considerably reduced in the winter months, usually about 2" which must be quite off-putting to say the least.  The duck widens along its length and narrows again at the downstream end. From the far side of the duck a stooping passage leads to the First Boulder Choke after a series of grovelling crawls and squeezes.  As many will know, boulder chokes in South Wales tend to consist of small boulders and numerous pebbles tending to make them very unstable.  With great care, a 20ft. climb (watching a dangerously poised boulder at the top!) gives way to a long hands and knees, very gravely, very straight, crawl giving way at the end to a low roofed pool.  The passages here display fine formations that are typical of the area - grey and slightly muddy.  The explorers have laid red and white plastic tape forming pathways between the formations from the area extending throughout the remainder of the main cave.

Soon the 2nd Boulder Choke is reached and is considered by many that it’s a bit of a 'pig'. Initially, a 20ft ladder gains a narrow ledge above which a series of short steps and a 15ft ladder gives access to the base of the choke itself.  A very narrow passage through the boulder opened up by blasting; ascends in series of short steps, some very tight, to emerge at the head of a stalagmited boulder slope leading downwards to a 15ft wide passage.  From here the passage gradually widens until it reaches huge proportions – some 60ft across and at the far end the passage widens again to 80ft and up to 60ft high.  Formations abound and can be related to DYO in character, though some considerably finer. As I have mentioned before, tapes have been laid throughout the length of this section forming a meandering pathway to get the visitor close to the finest formations.  At the far end, on the right, a low hole leads into the 800ft long crawl passing under the 3rd boulder choke en-route.  This is a rather tedious affair generally flat out and very hard on the arms and knees!  General relief is felt when the high passage is reached.  Over 1,000ft long and about 40ft high the passage as straight as a die throughout its length.  On the sides of the walls are great areas of selenite crystals, some examples being up to 3” long.   The way splits at the far end; to the left a series of smaller passageways but to the right is the first of two very large chambers.  On entering this one is immediately taken aback by its size.  The huge wall at the far side is immense, perhaps 250ft long and up to 30ft high.  The floor spreads cut before you like a great off-white sheet dotted with mud stalagmites. To the left a scramble up over boulders enables the second large chamber to be reached – this is roughly circular and per-haps 200ft in diameter and up to 60ft high.  Opposite the entry point is one of nine boulder chokes - all draughting - that is being worked at the moment.  This point is some two miles from the entrance.  Below this area is a lower stream series entered via fine 50ft pothole which we did not enter.  After a session of throwing a grappling iron up into a high level hole in the first chamber, John prussiked up to it, only to find that the thing was locked amongst some stalagmite and not by the hooks but the back of it.  A few choice Welsh words followed but eventually he made it only to find that it continued as an aven that would require more climbing gear. Following food and coffee (coffee bags at that!) a short digging operation and banging operation followed in the choke.

From dye tests to date, the stream that resurges by the roadside does not come from the Aggy System and the new cave is thought to be quite separate and not a fossil part of Aggy. Only when the 800ft crawl is reached does the cave rise up into the Oolite beds in which Aggy is formed.  The sections of the cave in which formations are found lie in Dolomitic and because of its hardness, passages tend to be smaller than except where large collapses have occurred.  The survey is well advanced and is being drawn up by John Parker and some 5 miles of passage has been explored.  At the moment all trips are of a working nature and it will be some time before the cave is fully pushed and open to cavers in general. When they do it is to be hoped that cavers will respect the enormous amount of work that has taken place to open the cave and that they will keep to the pathways laid through the cave.  The cave is gated and one should remember that the cave lies under nature conservancy land.  Now, a final warning.  The entrance crawls, the 15ft duck and beyond to the 1st Boulder Choke is subject to flash flooding quite without warning.  It is not yet known under what weather conditions cause this, so take great care.  Not only does the water flow out of the entrance sump but wells up throughout the passage in the entrance series.  The 15ft. duck has been known to fill up in just a few seconds.  This cave might be considered a more serious proposition than the tidal sump in Otter Hole.


Letter To The Editor

Dear Wig,

The Severn Barrage mentioned in last months B.B. is unfortunately for Mendip, a necessary evil in the future and will be built.  The Severn Estuary is the best location in the world for such a scheme, i.e. generating electricity using tidal flow, as the largest tidal range exists on this part of the coast.  Once the problems of silting have been overcome the scheme, I think, will go ahead.

Instead of forming pressure groups to try and prevent this scheme a few suggestions on alternative materials to Mendip/South Wales limestone be more profitable.  Coal tip heaps have been suggested but a means of binding them is needed.  I am sure many people in the B.E.C. have suggestions as to what could be used, some sensible ones I hope, so how about a few letters to the B.B. and a few to the odd M.P.?

John Turner.





Juniper Gulf

Looking over past BB's there's been lamentably little written about actual caving, so this article is an attempt to put things right.  Juniper Gulf is one of Yorkshire's classics and here I describe a trip down it that I made with a Cambridge University party.  We tackled the pot on ropes, which I think, adds to the skill and spectacle of it all, and at the same time, it removes a lot of the sweat.

We walked up to the Allotment from Crummack Dale on a dull, overcast Yorkshire day in autumn.  The wind howled through those embarrassing holes in the wet suit that you wished you'd stuck the night before!  After a mile or so we reached the fairly unmistakable entrance.  A large stream pours over steep cascades at one end of a large rift.  The entrance rift is perhaps a hundred feet long, up to seventy feet deep and the width is jumpable.  (More easily done in some places than others; and the stakes are high!)  We rigged it with a hundred foot rope and abseiled down. A fine free hang can be obtained using the stake belays on the east side of the shaft.

From the bottom an easy climb down leads to an obvious traverse line.  Not only are the ledges mega sized, but also the stream runs in a pretty narrow slot in the floor.  The stream trench starts off at about ankle snapping depth and then it drops away. Soon the passage widens, the ledges peter out and we realised that this was the second pitch.  This we rigged with a twenty five foot ladder.  The third pitch follows immediately and another twenty five foot ladder was used.  These two pitches were lifelined as one.  The third pitch dents Juniper's all weather image a little.  In general, most of Juniper's horizontal passages are traversed above stream level, and its pitches are rigged far enough out to be dry. The third is perhaps the exception to this.  It was a little wet near the bottom.

We traversed on again and the stream dropped away again.  The traverse became low and developed into a crawling traverse.  And then we reached the infamous 'Bad Step'. The passage became wide, ledges rather sparse, and the walls covered with a thin layer of slippery, clay like mud. I took a run at it, 'wall of death' fashion, made an horrific leap through space and grasped a micro flake on the other side with my clawing fingers.  No I didn't.  I had been led to believe that that may be the necessary technique, but in truth it was a non too desperate straddle that was further eased by our placing of a traverse line.  The traverse line was mainly for getting the tackle bags across but I was quite thankful of it when my super 'go faster' wellies began to struggle for a purchase on the muddy walls.

Almost immediately afterwards the fourth pitch occurs.  This drops some ninety feet or so back to stream level.  There are two ways to rig the pitch, the original way, and an alternative way.  After a lot of wittering, we saw that the alternative would have a nasty rub about twenty feet down, so we searched for the original.  This we found harder to locate than the alternative.  We couldn’t see the ale for the barrels.  There it was right in the floor!  We belayed our rope to a bombproof flake and backed it up to the end of our traverse line from the Bad Step.

The fourth is a pitch of contrast.  It starts in the floor of a small muddy bedding and ends in a spacious clean washed rift.  Like the entrance pitch, the fourth is a complete free hang, displaying again Juniper's eminent suitability for SRT.  The book of words reckons that the landing is 'spray lashed', but we found it dry all the way, with the main force of the water being about ten feet away at the bottom.

We approached the final. Again this pitch too has an original and an alternative hang and again the alternative, if anything, we found the easier to find.  The original, being wet was of little interest to us, so we followed a climb up through boulders and went across a traverse to what was obviously the head of the alternative final.  So this was it.  The magnificent final shaft of Juniper Gulf, the finest picture of which is reproduced on the cover of Bedford's 'Challenge Underground'.  (What? Well get it from the library then!) We easily found a couple of likely looking boulder belays.  'Biggles; the Bluewater!'

With the pitch rigged, we began to descend.  And yes, it surely is a very fine shaft.  The best I've ever seen.  A breathtaking descent of two hundred feet is made, hanging free in the middle of a massive, finely fluted and sculptured shaft.  The pitch is thankfully clear yet enticingly close to the roaring Juniper water. I landed and marched off downstream.

The route goes on down several climbs, through some deep pools to a sump.  I paid my respects to this real Guinness special and was about to borrow a carbide lamp in order to smoke on the wall a quick 'Gets everywhere', when I noticed that they where covered in flood debris, right up to the roof! 'Hmmmm, not worth the effort,'  I thought,  'Soon get washed off.'  And so I left it, and made my way back up to the foot of the final.

Soon it was my turn to prusik, and off I set.  My light was doing a bit of a glow-worm special, so to save it I prusiked some part of the pitch in darkness.  Dangling on a rope in free space, in darkness, listening to the continual roar of a waterfall is an object lesson in sensory depravation.  Mind blowing!  I reached the top and we de-rigged.

I climbed over the boulders and was on my way back to the fourth when suddenly; 'Clatter, clatter, clatter.'  'Oh, no!' I'd not done up the screw gate on the krab carrying my descender.  It had twisted open and my precious rack had fallen off and dropped down through the boulders.  Had I lost it?  Not quite. I could see it perched precariously on a boulder a few feet down.  I stripped off my chest harness and squeezed down.  At the third attempt, at full stretch, I got a finger around the top of it, and so back came the rack. Phew!

We plodded on out, up the fourth across the Bad Step (possibly worse in this direction), up the ladders, and so to the entrance.  We prusiked up the entrance pitch with me doing it by the light of the moon.  And so ended our trip.  Juniper is a fine pot, so short yet so deep, and it culminates so magnificently with that final shaft.  A great cave!


Thanks Nick for the article on Juniper and I understand that there is another on its way dealing with 'Floating Cams' which should be good for a series of letters from our rope experts.



Red Rose Cave and pothole Club Journal No.7

This edition of the R.R.C.P.C. Journal is up to standard that is expected from the northern clubs on the production and printing side.  The front cover has a good photograph and the plastic spine holds the 66 pages together without the worry of the odd page falling out.  The sketches and surveys are clear and understandable.

The contents however, are not as substantial as expected since this journal covers four years. The last one appeared in 1973 and this edition has rather a lot of, what could be termed padding.  It would seem that Red Rose are going through the doldrums with regard to work on Leck Fell and other areas, with only the Maracaibo extensions in Lancaster Hole reported as a significant find, and this took place in 1973!  The journal also suffers from lack of authors as 50% of the articles were written by three people.

There are some articles I did enjoy reading, one by Jim Eyre although based on an old event, is written in a very humorous way and along with his cartoons bring a touch of light hearted relief to this journal.

The article on last years Los Tayos Expedition to Ecuador runs to five pages but I was left feeling that a lot had been left out as this would appear to have been a rather unusual caving trip.

To sum up this journal, I think that it would be a useful addition to a club library, but is not worth buying to add to a personal collection.



Wigmore Swallet Dig

Provisional Report - The Story So Far:

By Tony Jarratt

Inspired by visits to the Windsor Hill and Viaduct dig sites in June of 1977, several B.E.C. members decided to begin a surface dig to last them through the pleasantly festerous summer months till once again they could adjourn to the Hunter's fireside, and with beer fuddled minds dream and talk of things they had done in ages past.  So various sites were investigated, including the old Bucket Hole site of Jok Orr's (Who?) and Wigmore Swallet.    The latter showed most promise, and the day after our

first visit, on June 21st, Tony Jarratt and Nig Taylor negotiated preliminary permission, digging starting a mere ten minutes later!

The dig is situated in a pleasantly tree-shaded depression in the coppice adjacent to the Old Wigmore Farm barn, roughly a mile north of the B3135 Frome to Cheddar road (NGR: 55715256 , Sheet ST55SE.)  An obvious dry stream-bed leads into the depression which, at the time of our first visit, was full to some six feet below the lip of the shaft.

The site was originally dug from 1934-37 by M.N.R.C. and in 1938 by the W.C.C.  At thirty feet the shaft was abandoned for no obvious reason, though the war may have caused this.  It is a six feet wide by "N" feet long in-filled rift in rock of County type, Sandstone/Conglomerate nature.  Large amounts of ochreous material and poor quality iron ores are present in the spoils.

THE PRESENT DIG: During the first few weekends the depression was cleared of nettles, scrub and general farm waste, and a cableway, hauling bucket (Ex Plantation Swallet) and a hand winch (generously loaned by the Al Mills Foundation) were installed.  An overhanging boulder was soon removed from the top of the shaft by the Mendip Chip Bang and Chisel Company's last Survivor, Mr. 'N', and Stu Lindsey erected what appeared to be a squirrel box on a nearby tree!

With a variety of diggers, mainly B.E.C. but also C.C.G., G.S.G., W.C.C. and, of course, the M.C.G., work began in earnest.  The infill included many old, but worthless bottles, dead sheep and even deader dogs, rotten shoring, etc.  Soon the hand of 'J. Arthur Rat' was to be seen erecting craftsman like walls around the spoil heaps (all above three feet so as to be put onto the next O.S. maps). At shaft bottom Ross White re-enacted his ancestors by smashing up boulders!

By the end of July we were twenty feet down, into a six by eight feet shaft.  Minor events kept the diggers entertained, a full spoil bucket missing Trevor Hughes by ¼", and the incessant inane bickering of the infamous duo, Bob Cross and Mr. N.

More unsuspecting diggers were press-ganged during the following months including Milch, and the Pitten Street team, and the M.C.G. Showband, who supplied the dig with a Villiers 250 c.c. Motor winch.  To house this mechanical marvel our resident craftsmen (?) Chris Batstone and Bob Cross constructed what at first appeared to be a sixth rate brothel in Vietnam, but later emerged to be an engine house, the seed from which grew the Wigmore Mining Company.

Now boasting the name 'Wheal Wigmore' and resplendent with tea-pot, and garden furniture erected somewhat uselessly by an equally useless Dig Carpenter the dig lowered to thirty feet.

In early August the team, and Mendip Folklore; were enriched by the addition of Snab, family and dog. The former promptly wrote two songs on the spot, whilst the latter commenced his own dig in a nearby rabbit hole. The site was now becoming somewhat of a social centre with visits from the usual Mendip horde, and fellow cavers from further a field: Ian Lewis from Australia; Linda Hastie from Canada; Mario Vitale from Italy; Stephen Kemp et al from Germany; and Jeff Philips from the Irish Caving Club (?).

More recently, latest work has concentrated on trundling vast boulders into the dig purely for the benefit of Alan Thomas who then casts spells on them for the rest of us to remove again as gravel or even bigger boulders!  Because at the depth, it became necessary to shore the sides of the excavation.  This later proved much to the disgust of Phil Ford 'The Miner' when he graced us with his presence in the late summer.

Prospective timber men, face workers stopers and grovers are requested to contact the adventurers and Old Men at the Myne.  They will be dealt with in strict rotation!!  Apologies to all not mentioned in this article, Captain J. Rat, Overseer and Maister, Wheal Wigmore, for the Wigmore Mining Company.

Access: The site is on Lord Waldegrave's land, and we are privileged to have his permission for the dig. Vehicles can cause disturbance to cattle and farm traffic.  Park on the main public road only, and walk up the farm track past the dairy to the old barn.  Only use the gates and stiles, leaving them as you found them.  Do not climb over any fences.  Also, bring 10p each for the dig fund!  It's expensive these days.


Acknowledgements:To Lord Waldegrave for permission to excavate the site, and; to Messrs. Majors and Thompson, and Mr. Booth for materials, assistance and bewildered understanding!

References, compiled by Nigel Taylor:

1.                  Ms. Diary, H. Murrell, 2 49 (1934) Start of old dig.

2.                  MNRC Diary/Report (27) 65 (1934) Note on dig.

3.                  Ms. Diary, H. Murrell, 131 (1935) History of dig.

4.                  MNRC Report    (28) 42 (1935) Brief excavation notes.

5.                  Thornber, Stride, Meyers, Britain Underground (1953) p.203.

6.                  7 & 8. Barrington, Caves of Mendip (1957), (1962), (1964).

7.                  10 & 11. Barrington & Stanton, Complete Caves of Mendip.  (197l), (1972), (1977).

8.                   Mendip Cave Register.

9.                  Dig Log.

10.              Gough, Hines of Mendip.

11.              Ms. Diary, A. Jarratt (1977).

12.              Ms. Diary, N. Taylor (1977).

On the facing page we are pleased to publish one of Jayrat's sketches - this one of Wigmore Entrance.



compiled by Niph

Book News - Until recently Thrum’s S.R.T. book (American) has been the rope mans bible.  Now a second book on S.R.T. is on the market, this time by Montgomery (Australian) published by the Sydney Speleological Society, at £4.50 (Rocksport).  Opinions vary, but some cavers feel it is more thorough and more up to date than Thrun.

A note inside refers to a new American S. R.T. rope.  Called Pigeon Mountain Rope, it has lower stretch and higher abrasion resistance than Bluewater, but as yet no cost is available.  With so many S.R.T. ropes to choose from, it will be interesting to see if this one catches on in Britain.

Clearwell Caves, Forest of Dean.  These ancient iron mines, open to visitors are currently being re-opened on a commercial scale.  The iron ore is said to be purer than Swedish ore.  The owners are not really worried if the project is unsuccessful.  Tourists pay more than enough for the company to keep going.

N.C.A. Equipment Information.  October Extracts. 

a)       Five failures of fixed aids in caves are cited. There is little doubt that the Tyning's Barrows Swallet entrance ladders would have failed had they received much more use.  Several people are presently concerned about the state of fixed tackle in St. Cuthbert's particularly Arête ladder.  How many cavers do check fixed underground tackle before or while using it, e.g. bolts, ladders, ropes, chains, handlines, traverse lines?

b)       Rope shrinkage.  Nylon contracts with wetting and usage, up to about 15%.  All ropes, for S.R.T. particularly, should be soaked, both before initial use, and frequently thereafter, and measured carefully before a trip where exact length may be critical.

c)       Several people have been concerned over flaws, or apparent flaws, in new rope.  These show as lumps, little knots or ends, and there is no cause for concern. Bluewater, it should be noted, has no core splices, and sheath splices are only necessary in lengths of over 300ft.

d)       There may eventually be a British Standard for caving ropes.

e)       If you buy 'Marlow' rope for S.R.T., specify 'Marlow 16 plait caving rope'.  Otherwise the rope is not straight cored.

f)        A list of recent British articles on caving equipment and techniques is now available from the library.

C.S.C.C.  The new agreement on Lamb Leer has now been passed, arrangements to be organised by the SCC Co. Ltd Secretary - Tim Reynolds.

Baker's Pit, Devon may be re-opened soon, but who will dare to brave the nasty fumes and pollutants seeping in from the ever-growing dump above.

Hermann Kirchmayer, one of the Austrian visitors at the ISO Mendip Meet and known to club members who went on the international Raucher meet in 1967 said of Swildons Hole, “That’s no cave - it’s a wet and muddy mouse hole.”  He’d just been on a Troubles Round trip.

Loxton Cave:  Wells Scouts have sent their midgets into the Morgan Chambers of Loxton Cave and surveyed them.  This survey will be attached to that made by Chris Howell and will appear in a later B.B in the New Year.


Proping Prid

by Jane Wilson

I think we first started talking about pushing the sump in Prid. in February.  By the end of July we had run out of excuses and delaying tactics so one early morning saw a motley assortment of not so enthusiastic Speleo's looking un-longingly at the sea of cowsh at the entrance of Pridharnsleigh Cavern in Devon.

Rumour has it that Prid 2 had been dived to 130ft but had not been bottomed.  I had already blown my mind on the 'tourist trip' into the Prid 2 airbell and naively thought that an afternoons diving would sort out these confused rumours of great depth.  I persuaded Richard to keep me company so I led the dive from the rear.

It is surprising just how much gear is needed for a trip like this.  Rich decided that clad in his soopa new Unisuit he would superheat and explode if he carried much so we were delighted to find two errant Plymouth Caving Group members lurking in the bushes near the entrance.  We did not have to make too many threats before they offered to help move some of the equipment to the Lake. "But we only wanted a quite trip into Dog Hole" they pleaded a so we struggled and slithered in, with 30lb of lead (to sink the S.S. Stevenswine) fins, masks, valves, gauges, line, lights; the problems we should have had transporting Big Bertha (Siamese 60 cu. ft bottles) were solved by the amazing subhuman strength of one of the sherpas.

Having rendered 50% of cur assorted gauges and meters useless by breaking their straps and making sure that Bishop’s beam gun was not working, we plummeted down the submerged rift of Prid 1.  The vis (=visibility) dropped to about twelve inches as we churned up the mud from the walls and inch diameter white limestone chips floated past reminiscent of giant snowflakes.  Eighty feet down the line goes through a window into the vast underwater chamber of Prid 2 where the vis can be as much as 28ft and everything looks clear, clean and blue.

Rich tied on to one of the permanently fixed lines and disappeared into clouds of red brown mud. Following in the 6" vis I soon bumped into a soft red object that gesticulated in an incoherent manner. "Start again" he seemed to be trying to tell me.  We finned back to the 'base' line and repeated the performance swim - thud - confused gesticulations - back.  Silly!

Richard raised two fingers - a signal that I instantly recognised as meaning "Well if you don’t mind, I think we should be thinking about going to the pub now." He zoomed off along the fixed line, homewards.

We surfaced back in the lake again where we discovered that we had not been under long enough or deep enough to worry about decompressing.  I had plenty of air left in my 60 cu. ft bottle plus a full 40 so borrowed Richard's line.  While he looked around at the bottom of Prid 1, I went back into Two.  To my surprise, I managed to tie a bowline first time (something I cannot usually manage on the surface, un-narced) and returned to the swim - thud – routine, thus I banged into the hard white limestone. I chuntered around the wall of the chamber for a while – hand stretched out to feel the way – then paused to try to work out how much air I had left in which bottle.  I meditated on my excellent bowline coming untied and losing the way back to air, while I attempted to swim up and out of the mud.  It did not take long to realise that exploring the bottom of Prid Two was going to take more organised and concerted effort.  The deepest we had been able to get was a little over 110 ft but in such poor vis we could have easily missed a deep pot in the floor or a way though a hole in the wall.

I surfaced in the air bell of Prid Two and looked around with my failing light.  The intricately folded curtain that perhaps due to the nitrogen narcosis, I had imagined as a giant jelly fish, on the exploratory trip the day before, was not there and everything looked unfamiliar.  Was this a new section?  Feeling lonely, un-intrepid and a long way from home a cruise along the steep walled chamber, much too steep to climb out of the water.  I spotted the electron ladder leading up to the emergency supplies left in Prid Two - so I was not the intrepid cave explorer "boldly going where no man had gone before."  Rats!  I passed some time neatly crocheting the line around my aqua lungs, gags and assorted dangles but decided that there was no future in it and that it was time to go home. Returning to the fixed line, I untied and came back through the "window" and rumbled and crashed my way back up the rift.

Richard, snug and warm in his Unisuit, was already de-kitting so it was not long before I was shivering beside him, wondering why I had not invested in a new wet suit years ago. But the struggle to get the gear back to the surface through the good quality Devonian mud soon warmed us up and we all enjoyed a good cold bath in the stream before we headed home.

Conclusions - Prid One bottoms at about 100ft, not 120ft and we did not get much deeper than 110ft at the bottom of Prid Two - take a spade if you want a deeper dive.  But the sump has possibilities.

Many thanks to the sherpas. Those present: John Dukes (BEC), Geoff Lloyd (POG), Steve Mayers (POG), Phil Sadler (XPPS), Richard (as seen on TV) Stevenson (WCC & BEC), Graham Wilton-Jones (BEC) and Jane Wilson (XPPS, BEC).



International Speleological Congress 1977

The Mendip Caving Camp.


Following the 'core' conference at Sheffield University the 500 visitors went their various ways some home, but many, on the organised excursions and caving camps held in the caving regions.  The caving camp is a new innovation at the International meetings in the hope that the 'ordinary' caver will get involved rather than the academics.

Here on Mendip there were two excursions, hydrological and archeologically and a caving camp.  The two excursions were organised by Tim Atkinson, Pete Smart and 'Trat', aided and abetted by Chris Hawkes.  Both excursions were based at the University in Bristol and apart from laboratory demonstrations there were daily trips to places of interest on and around Mendip including a novel meal for both the hydrologists and archaeologists in the 3rd.  Chamber of Wookey Hole.  The meal was designed around a mediaeval banquet complete with hunting knives and drinking horns.  The event paid for by the show cave management and organised by Nick Barrington.

The caving camp, on the other hand was based at the Belfry, an honour indeed for the club.  As organiser for the Mendip camp the author would like to thank all those cavers who gave up their own time to take the foreign guests underground and help in the background.  Many thanks then to Martin Bishop, Chris Batstone, John Dukes Graham Wilton-Jones, Tim Large, Chris Smart, Brian Prewer, Mike Palmer, Chris (Zot) Harvey, Ross White; while from other clubs are John Letheron, Fred Davies, Don Thomson, Ian Jepson, Phil Hendy, Liz and Graham Price and last but not least Jim Hanwell and Wookey Hole Caves Management.

Cavers from West Germany, Switzerland, Austria, USA and Hungary 12 in number arrived at the Belfry during Saturday 17th September having found their way from Sheffield.  The Austrians arrived by their own transport having first gaining a glimpse of Weston-super-Mud, so did the West Germans.  The Swiss congregated at Rocksport and the Hungarians were picked up by the camp hired mini-bus doing it the hard way, walking along the Priddy straight.

Later that evening a short slide show and discussion was held the Wessex Library where Jim Hanwell gave an outline talk on the structure of Mendip and its relationship with the caves. This was followed by the necessary 'jar' in the back room of the Hunters which went very well in spite of the 'foreign wog' comment by a then principal officer of the BEC who promptly left for the main bar.

Sunday saw the visitors at Fairy Gave Quarry.  After taking three trips into Withyhill Graham Price was heard flatly refusing to take a fourth into the cave consisting of BEC members tagging along for a trip!  At the same time, Graham's wife, Liz, was trotting through Shatter Cave with the other members of the party.  The visitors were so impressed by the formations that they requested a return trip during the week, but this was not to be due to lack of FCQ leaders and time.  Sunday evening was filled in with a walk down Longwood Valley where they could see typical Mendip swallets and dig sites.  Having been picked up at Black Rock a quick run through Cheddar Gorge followed and on to Wookey Hole where Martin Bishop and Chris Batstone demonstrated the MRO Sump Rescue gear.  Inside the cave, Jim Hanwell gave a conducted tour of the show cave demonstrating his intimate knowledge of the structure of the system. Chris and Martin then demonstrated the diving equipment and dived from 3 to 9 watched by the visitors from the bridges over the 7th and 8th Chambers.  Following the inevitable visit to the Hunters a slide show was given at the Belfry from the slide collections of Brian Prewer, Don Thomson and yours truly.

During the next three days the guests were taken into GB, Longwood Swallet, Swildons , the Troubles Round Trip and Black Hole, Sludge Pit and, of course St. Cuthbert’s Swallet - Pulpit/Maypole and various photographic trips.  Hermann Kirchmayer and Helmut Planer both took a look at the Cuthbert’s sump and decided to give it a miss though they did the Round Trip in Swildons - perhaps it was a case of Hobson's after going through the wettish sections of the Swildons Upper Series.

During the evenings the events ranged from the 'serious' to the truly social.  The MRO equipment was demonstrated by various Wardens and a further visit to Cheddar Gorge having first paid a visit to the Cathedral in Wells. The grand finale was at the Hunters, in the new room where the cavers and hydrologists got together for a buffet and final beer-up.  So magnificent was the meal that the bar didn't do much trade!  In fact, there was so much food that nearly everyone took it away with them in 'piggy bags supplied by Roger and Jackie - certainly an evening to remember.

I can't end without a personal note to say how delighted I was to welcome Helmut and Helene Planer and the comedian of the camp, Hermann Kirchmayer - all three of whom are well known to BEC cavers who went to Austria in the middle 1960's on the Raucher and Ahnenschacht trips.  The next International get-together in Kentucky will be held in 1981 so start saving your new 1d's (sorry p’s) now!



by Tim Large

Unfortunately this month I start with the news that Alfie has resigned from the Committee and as a Trustee of the Club.  I am sure everyone will echo my sentiments of regret at his action.  As a result there is now a vacancy on the Club Committee. But in fact the Committee has decided to advertise for two more posts.  Therefore you could deduce that one Alfie equals two of anyone else. The reason for the second post is because Russ Jenkins is not able to attend committee meetings on a regular basis because of his shift working, but he is still prepared to continue as Climbing Sec.  Members are formally asked to contact myself or any committee member if they are interested in serving.

The Club welcomes four new members this month:

Gill Durrant, 14 St. Andrews Rd. 9 Broadstone, Dorset.
Stephen Short, 78 Greenwood Ave., Laverstock, Salisbury.
Dany Bradshaw, 37 Creswicke, Bristo1, BS4 1UF.

and last, but no means least, being a very infamous Mendip caver of many years standing: -

Stuart McManus, 33 Welsford Ave., Wells, Somerset.

The St. Cuthbert's Leaders met on 31st October at the novel venue of Cerberus Hall!  Fifteen leaders were present and the main topic discus was the question of insurance cover.  The opinion of leaders was that they are required by a committee ruling (1976) to obtain insurance cover at their own expense.  Thereby, they are subsidising the Clubs access arrangements which they consider to be somewhat unfair.  The Committee has agreed to look into the situation, but no change can be contemplated until the 1978 Club Annual Meeting.  Ted Humphries has been accepted as a Cuthbert's Leader bringing the active total to about 27, which includes 9 guest leaders from other clubs. It is hoped to publish a list in the near future.

The Club has some leaders for other controlled access caves who are: -

O.F.D.: Mike Palmer, Graham Wilton-Jones, Rich Stevenson, Andy Macgregor, Dave Irwin, Roy Bennett and Tony Meaden.

D.Y.O.: Graham Wilton-Jones and Rich Stevenson.

Fairy Cave Quarry: Mike Palmer and Dave Irwin.

NCA Matters:  On November 19th there is a meeting of CSCC when a decision will be made on proposals to be put to the NCA Annual Meeting to alter its constitution to ensure the rights of the grass roots caver and individual groups.  One particular point of contention will be the insistence of the inclusion of the veto at NCA General Meetings.  It is felt that is necessary to protect individuals and groups.  On Mendip this is particularly important where, for instance, access arrangements are negotiated by clubs with much success; training schemes are arranged locally e.g. CSCC scheme with Somerset LEA. Under no circumstances should a far removed National Body pass judgement or otherwise interfere with such local arrangements.  The local cavers are the ones to decide and nobody else.  Perhaps the NCA would do well to adopt the CSCC  motto "Live and let live."


From the Editorial Staffffffffffffff !!!