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Editorial

It is, as we had occasion to remark about this time last year, a custom for the serfs of the B.B. to endeavour to produce a larger than usual offering to mark what is known as the festive season.  The production of such a large version of the club magazine is, of course, rather beyond our capabilities and readers will not be surprised to find several “clangers” in this one.

The worst of these, for which we seriously apologize, is that the margins on pages 12 and 13 are on the wrong side (corrected in this version) and it is difficulty to read the words occurring inside of each page.  This occurred because the Christmas B.B. is typed all in pieces, from September onwards.  The fact that page 13 is not numbered is not due to any form of superstition amongst the board, but merely an oversight.

We have, this year, made an attempt to avoid wasting space in this Christmas B.B. and owing to popular demand (three people) we are not printing an index of the year’s B.B.’s at the back.  Again, we are concentrating on the lighter side but hope to include at least some serious articles.

On typing out the annual list of members, we noticed with regret that once again a few well known names are no longer present.  As “Pongo” said at the A.G.M., the B.B. is about the only link where many older members have with the club and we would like to remind them that we are always pleased to receive articles, letters or suggestions from them.

Finally, the Editor and all members of the Editorial Board would like to wish all readers of the B.B.: -

“A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS”

Personal

Congratulations to Alan and Carol Sandall on the birth of a son, John.  He was born at 9.45 pm on Monday, 17th November and weighed 6lbs 2 oz.

Odd Items;

The next G.B. guest day is during the weekend 20/21st December.  Please contract the Caving Sec. Roy Bennett.

A TIMEX WATCH has been left in the Belfry.  Will owner please contact Hut Warden?

Balch Memorial Fund

We have been asked, as a result of the recent meeting of caving organizations, at which the B.E.C. was represented, to circularise our members asking for individual donations to the fund which has been set up to provide a plaque to be erected on the Wells Museum.  This plaque will commemorate the work of the late Mr H.E. Balch, the pioneer of caving on Mendip.  All clubs are contributing, but without individual donations, the sum raised will not be adequate.  Donations should be sent to Hucker & Booker, Chartered Accountants, Penniless Porch, Wells and cheque made payable to the Balch Memorial Fund.

*****************************************

We are very pleased to be able to include the article which follows in our Christmas B.B.  This is the first account of the work in Swildons, which culminated in the discovery of Swildons VI, to appear in any caving magazine. We should like to thank the author for allowing us to print this account, and to congratulate all concerned for a very fine piece of successful exploration.

Swildon’s  VI

By Len Dawes

Diving operations were held in Swildons on the weekends of September 6/7 and 13/14 by the Cave Diving Group.  The first weekend was spent getting equipment into Swildons IV.  This mammoth task was completed by having a large number of Sherpas, divided into several parties.  One party ferried the equipment into Blue Pencil Passage, and this was chained down the passage into Swildons IV and passed to divers who carried it upstream and tested it.  Besides the C.D.G., cavers from the W.S.G., B.E.C, S.M.C.C. and the Wessex took part.

On the following weekend, the diving party set off at 11.30 and arrived in Swildons IV two and a half hours later having travelled slowly in exposure suits.  Then followed much time spent in dressing and assembling the diving gear.  While doing this, the streamway could not be trodden in as the stirring up of mud would reduce visibility when under the water.  The diving party consisted of Oliver Wells with John Buxton as second diver, supported by Eric Hensler, John Bevan, Jack Whaddon, Phil Davies, and myself. The party walked down the streamway after changing, with the divers in full kit except for weights.  At Sump IV, the wire was belayed to a flake of rock by the sump, the signal line plugged in, and the sump entered by Oliver Wells after his breathing drill had been carried out.  He returned after one minute to say that it was O.K., then re-dived the sump and disappeared.  After five minutes he returned to say that an airspace existed and estimated the sump to be about forty feet long, judging by the amount of line paid out.

The plan now was for John Buxton to put his equipment on and for the pair to explore again.  This was done, and after a short time, the telephone buzzer went and we had a brief description of Swildons V.  They had got to Buxton's Horror (at which John Buxton punctured his dress).  As, by C.R.G. procedure, this had to be repaired as soon as possible, they returned to Sump IV and asked for a repair outfit to be put onto the wire.  This was done, but they had no success in repairing the puncture, and John Buxton decided to push on as he was.  They returned to the phone and told us they intended to survey.  By tying a knot in the wire where the water meets the roof and then pulling the wire through, the sump was measured.  All were surprised to find that the sump was only fourteen feet.  The divers went on with the survey while we were left to ponder on the length of the sump.  We agreed that a fourteen foot sump, provided it had no hazards, was suitable for free diving.  No one, however, was anxious to try.  Eric Hensler said now was the time, while divers were on the far side.

While the discussion went on, the two divers returned.  Oliver agreed that now was the time for a free diver to have an attempt, and he would be happy to see anyone through.  I was persuaded to attempt it.  Then a discussion arose as to the best way to do it.  I had never attempted to dive a sump in an inflatable exposure suit and I was reluctant to try Sump IV in one.  John Buxton assured me that I would be O.K. if I used diver's weights which were available. Having agreed this would be the method, I was seized by the others, pushed into the first deep pool upstream, and sat on while they rubbed and poked at my arms and legs under the pretext of getting the air out of my exposure suit.  I was then taken downstream to Sump IV again, loaded with diver’s weights, and further pummelled to ensure the last remaining air was removed from my suit.  I then laid in the sump practising forced breathing.  There is little danger of overdoing this in Swildons IV owing to the oxygen deficiency in this part of the cave.  With a final large gulp of air I put my head under the water and pulled on the wire.  I went through the sump without difficulty and surfaced in a small airspace to find Oliver waiting about five feet further down the passage.  Oliver removed his breathing apparatus and we set off. Oliver showed me round Swildons V.

Immediately after Sump IV, the passage opens up to be narrow but high, with a tributary coming in through the roof.  Immediately beyond this point, the roof comes down to form a duck with about three inches of airspace.  The passage continues beyond with about, three to four feet of water and twelve to eighteen inches of air.  Then comes the second duck, Buxton’s Horror.  This is the place where there appears to be two distinct routes.  In actual fact, the correct one is the one that has the smallest airspace.  This duck is particularly nasty as the airspace does not extend for the full width of the passage, being triangular, about four inches wide at the water surface and three inches high at the top of the triangle.  The passage at this point is of unknown width and it is possible to miss the airspace on the other side altogether.  This may happen on either the outward or return journey.  The passage continued wet, murky, until another tributary comes in via twin avens.  The avens are too tight to enter.  Directly beyond this, sump V starts.  There is a duck immediately before Sump V which varies in length.  On this first trip, the duck was thirty feet with an airspace of two to three inches.  On the second (later) trip, this airspace disappeared entirely.

We then returned to Swildons IV and had hot drinks made by Chris Hawkes who had set up a kitchen. The divers took their kit off and packed it up.  It was then handed to the Tiger Sherpas who had carried it into Swildons IV.  We got out of the cave at 3 am.

As a result of this operation, it was decided to hold a second one on the 8th of November.  This time, divers would use a miniature breathing apparatus, the purpose of this being to ascertain that Sump IV was safe for free diving by cavers; to explore the tributaries coming into the newly entered part of the cave and for the divers to push on and explore Sump V and beyond.  The sherpas set off about 10 am carrying the equipment and the diving party set off about 1.30.  We all got down to Swildons IV and set off into Swildons V.  Derek Ford and Joe Candy started a detailed survey of Swildons V. Ken Daw, Mike Thompson and myself set off to explore the first tributary, just after Sump IV.  We hadn't enough maypole to get in.  We then set off downstream through the ducks to the point where the twin avens come in.  We found that they were too tight.  Then Oliver Wells donned his apparatus, belayed his wire, and dived into sump V and unknown ground.

Every so often there was a single buzz from the earphone at our end - a signal that all was well. After a time Oliver spoke into the earpiece and told us that he had come through an eighty foot sump and was standing in Swildons VI!  He elatedly described this as huge - high, wide and handsome - a stream passage twenty feet high and ten feet wide with the stream flowing downhill over pebbles and boulders.  Oliver said that he thought he could lower the sump to a negotiable duck by digging a channel in the streamway .  we sent an entrenching tool to him on the wire.  He said that he would dig the channel and then we could all join him in Swildons VI and asked us to tell Oliver Lloyd, who had set up a kitchen in Swildons IV, that the rest of the party would be back in about an hour. Mike Thompson and I set; off back to do this, leaving Ken Daw and Phil Davies.  Mike and I went through the first duck on the wav out without trouble. Then we reached Buxton's Horror. Then followed the most unpleasant experience I have ever had in a cave.  I attempted to dive through this duck, sumping fashion, expecting to reach the airspace about four feet on.  I travelled about five feet under water and still hadn't reached the airspace.  I then tried reversing back to the place I'd started from.  After reversing for five feet, I still hadn't cone into an airspace.  This left me no choice except to do a series of reverses, hoping to find one side or the other, during the course of which, Mike Thompson grabbed one of my feet, as I was on my last gasp of air, and dragged me back into the airspace I had started from.  After that, we went back towards Sump V, as we thought that the water might have risen and we would need Oliver and his diving apparatus.

In the meantime, Oliver had had no success in lowering the level of the water.  Phil Davies was supposed to go through and join him, but he was unable to do so as he was out of gas on one cylinder.  Oliver then returned and we all set off out of the cave. This time, we had no difficulty in getting through Buxton's Horror and Oliver lead with his breathing apparatus, showing us the way by his light.  We returned to Swildons IV, and after bread and cheese and hot drinks provided by Oliver Lloyd, we laboriously set off to the surface, arriving there at 3 am.

In conclusion, it should be said that Swildons V is a dreary dismal, unpleasant place and is extremely dangerous to anyone not aware of its hazards.  Sump IV can be free dived by really experienced, competent cavers with no qualms about diving sumps.  Surfacing in the immediate airspace beyond the sump is extremely difficult.  It was found that most people carried, straight on the extra five feet and surfaced in the chamber beyond - taking twenty feet in all. There is a tendency for projections of rock to catch on the clothing as you go through, but there is plenty of room to move about through the sump.  Swildons V should not be entered if there is any chance at all of the water level rising.

It is intended to hold the next operation early in the New Year, probably at the end of January and an attempt will be made by divers going through to Swildons VI, to lower the water level right through Swildons V.  For this operation, lots of assistants will be needed and all experienced and fit volunteers will be welcome.

Annual List of Club Member’s’ Names and Addresses for 1958

306

T Andrews

135 Danson Road, Bexley, Kent

412

T.O. Asquith

70 Albert Road, Pellon, Halifax

236

T. Attwood

4 Bridge Road, Shortwood, Nr. Mangotsfield, Bristol

20

R.J. Bagshaw

699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4

392

M.J. Baker

Morello, Ash Lane, Wells, Somerset

358

D.J. Balcombe

26 Bennett gardens, Norbury, London SW16

368

N. Barrington

53 St. George’s Drive, London SW1

290

R. Bater

2 Upper Perry Hill, Southville, Bristol 3

214

R. Bennett

37 Queens Road, Ashley Down, Bristol 7

390

J. Bennett

37 Queens Road, Ashley Down, Bristol 7

370

W.L. Beynon

Lower Lodge, Weston Park Road, Weston park, Bath, Somerset

364

P.M. Blogg

1 Ridgeway Park, Ridgeway, Glos

336

A. Bonner

45 St. Alban’s Road, Westbury Park, Bristol 6

401

Miss J. Boot

17 Beaufort Road, Clifton, Bristol 7

145

Miss S. Bowden-Lyle

51 Coronation Road, Bristol 3

36

R. Brain

4 Lees Hill, Kingswood, Bristol

320

F.R. Brown

13 Alexandra Road, Bath, Somerset

393

R.G. Brown

45 Blundell’s Road, Tilehurst, Reading, Berkshire

384

R.D. Brown

3 George Street, Taunton, Somerset

320

N Brooks

392 Victoria Road, Ruislip, Middlesex.

209

P. Burt

3 Manor House, Rothamsted, Harpendon, Herts

190

Mrs P. Burt

3 Manor House, Rothamsted, Harpendon, Herts

389

R. Burky

52 Sedgemore Road, Combe Down, Bath, Somerset

361

B. Busson

57 Southcote Rise, Ruislip, Middlesex

366

B.R. Chamberlain

102 Egerton Road, Bishopston, Bristol 7

231

N.D. Clark

3 St. John’s Crescent, Wainfelin, Ponytpool, Mon.

398

A.C. Coase

18 Headington Road, London SW18

211

Mrs C. Coase

P.O. Box 1510,m Ndola, Northern Rhodesia

89

S.J. Collins

33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8

395

Cochrane

23368196 L/Cpl, Gordon Barracks, Bulford, Wiltshire

377

D. Cooke-Yarborough.

The Beeches, St. Briavels, Lydney, Glos

71

A.J. Crawford

3 Hillside, Harefield, Uxbridge, Middlesex

401

M. Cunningham

103 Staplegrove Road, Taunton, Somerset

405

F.G. Darbon

43 Arthur Henderson House, Fulham Road, Fulham, London, S.W.6

350

Mrs A. Davies

New Bungalow, Hancot Lane, Pentre, Queensferry, Flintshire

226

I. Dear

76 Reforne, Portland, Dorset

164

K.C. Dobbs

85 Fox Road, Pinhoe, Exeter, Devon

325

A.J. Dunn

70 The Crescent, Henleze, Bristol

331

J.A. Etough

116 Newbridge Road, Brislington, Bristol

322

B.M. Ellis

Oakmead, Cher, Minehaed, Somerset

263

D. England

28 Mendip Road, Bedminster, Bristol 3

232

C. Falshaw

50 Rockside Drive, Henleaze, Bristol

371

A. Fincham

Leeds University Union, Leeds 2

269

T.E. Fletcher

The Old Mill House, Barnack, Stamford, Lincs

278

G.A. Fowler

77 Kingshill Road, Knowle, Bristol 4

385

R. Francis

91a Oxford Gardens, Kensington, London SW10

404

A. Francis

53 St. Thomas Street, Wells, Somerset

251

K.S. Gardner

10a Royal Park, Clifton, Bristol 8

388

J. Goodwin

11 Glanarm Walk, Brislington, Bristol 4

434

D.A. Greenwood

53 Lingwood Road, Clapton, London E5

346

G.H. Griffiths

164 St. Johns Lane, Bristol 3

239

D. Gwinnel

 

104

M. Hannam

15 The paragon, Clifton, Bristol 8

304

C.W. Harris

14 Market Place, Wells, Somerset

400

R. Hartley

19 Cowper Road, Redland, Bristol 6

4

D. Hassell

‘Hill House’, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset

372

M.J. Healey

24 Water Lane, Brislington, Bristol 4

373

S.M. Hobbs

135 Doncaster Road, Southmead, Bristol

387

G. Honey

Giddings Caravan Site, Hemingford Grey, Huntingdon

406

D. Hoskyns

128 Woodland Gardens, Isleworth, Middlesex

97

J. Ifold

Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Somerset.

150

P. Ifold

Sunnyside, Rectory Lane, Compton Martin, Somerset

363

M. Isles

33 Greenleaze, Knowle Park, Bristol 4

374

J.J. Jacobs

126 Bridge Lane, Golders Green, London NW11

279

J. Jenkins

251 Bishopsworth Road, Bedminster Down, Bristol 3

340

R.L. Jenkins

5 North Street, Downend, Bristol

225

M. Jones

389 Filton Avenue, Horfield, Bristol 7

267

Mrs M. Jones

389 Filton Avenue, Horfield, Bristol 7

285

U. Jones

3 Durham Street, Eslwich Road, Newcastle-on- Tyne.

289

D. Kemp

17 Becmead Avenue, Streatham, SW16

316

R.S. King

1 Lynmouth Road, Bristol 2

332

D.J. Lacy

31 Devon Grove, Whitehall, Bristol 5

260

J. Lamb

365 Filton Avenue, Horfield, Bristol 7

275

C.A. Marriott

718 Muller Road, Eastville, Bristol 5

414

T. Marston

54 Pear Street, Kingston, Halifax, Yorkshire

106

E.J. Mason

11 Kendon Drive Wellington Hill West, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

383

P.J. Miller

130 Longmead Avenue, Bishopston, Bristol 7

334

D.W. Mitchell

Swallow Cliffe, Stolford, Stogursey, Somerset

339

G. Mossman

5 Arlington Gardens, Arlington Villas, Clifton, Bristol 8

308

K. Murray

17 Harrington Gardens, South Kensington, London, S.W.7

386

A. Nash

60 Marmion Crescent, Henbury, Bristol

329

T.W. Neil

Bradley Cross, Cheddar, Somerset

330

Mrs T.W. Neil

Bradley Cross, Cheddar, Somerset

362

F. Nicholson

23526190, E Troop, Le Cateau Field battery, 25 Fd. Reg. R.A.  B.F.P.O. 53

396

M.A. Palmer

Cathedral Coffee Tavern, St. Thomas Street, Wells, Somerset

245

J.S. Pembury

Grove View, Hambrook, Bristol

327

J. Pengram

4 Moffats Lane, Brookman’s Park, Hatfield, Herts

22

L. Peters

21 Melbury Road, Knowle, Bristol 4

160

N. Petty

12 Bankside Road, Brislington, Bristol

146

T. Pink

53 Burnthwaite Road, Fulham, London SW6

56

G. Platten

‘Rutherfield’, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants.

337

B. Prewer

14 Egerton Road, Bath, Somerset

342

R.J. Price

70 Somermead, Bedminster, Bristol 3

291

D. Radmore

2 Dunkeld Road, Filton, Bristol

258

C. Rees

2 Burghill Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

241

A.L.C. Rice

20 Filton Avenue, Horfield, Bristol

391

P.A. Richards

164 Eastcote Road, Ruislip, Middlesex

343

A. Rich

Frontier Geophysical, Party 8, 207, 61st Avenue, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

411

K. Robbins

82 Eaton Valley Road, Luton, Beds

157

Miss J.P. Rollason

157 Pen Park Road, Redland, Bristol 6

367

J. Rowley

52 Granby Hill, Clifton, Bristol 8

240

A. Sandall

35 Beauchamp Road, Bishopston, Bristol 7.

359

Mrs. A. Sandall

35 Beauchamp Road, Bishopston, Bristol 7.

237

B.M. Scott

39 Colbrook Avenue, Hayes, Middlesex

78

R. Setterington

4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset

356

Mrs R. Setterington

4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset

312

R. Setterington

86 Grand Drive, Raynes Park London SW20

 

A. Sidaw

143 Love Lane, Heaton Norris, Stockport, Cheshire

402

D.G. Soutar

12 Loring Road, Isleworth, Middlesex

276

J. Stafford

91 Hawthorne Street, Knowle, Bristol 4

38

Mrs. I. Stanbury

74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

1

T.H. Stanbury

48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol 4

365

R. Stenner

38 Paultow Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 4

381

Mrs. Stenner

New address to follow

60

P.A.E. Stewart

New address to follow

WE APOLOGISE to members whose names start with ‘T’ or ‘W’ for not having room to squeeze them in. They will appear in January’s B.B. along with any corrections which members send in to the above list. Please tell us if we have got YOUR address wrong as this is the one to which your B.B. is sent.

Beerwulf

Last year, at great expense, we printed some extracts of the works of the great Persian Poet, Omar Obbs. Although we have not been able to repeat this feat, we have, at even greater expense, translated from the crude Anglo-Saxon a portion of the great drinking saga: -

‘Mongst the high hills, neath the low clouds there the Belfry stands.
‘Tis a mead hall and a haven home of goodly bands.
Hearth companions, stout screech drinkers their weekends are free.
Long they wassail, loud they revel wights like you and me.

The Detailer's our outhouse stout call it Odin's seat
For he is the god of wisdom thus the title’s meet
Round about its sacred precincts spaewife casts the runes
Syb’s been at this pagan practice many weary moons.

An air of evil haunts the hall a subtle sense of slaughter
But tremble not, ‘tis caused not doubt by body in the water
Of dragon death to take no heed of him we have no fear
We’ll stand upon our man made strand and stave off thirst with beer.

The fire flames flickers neath the roof the ale bowl pours its streams
The hall doth quiver with glad sounds of song beneath its beams
A skilful scald sings, harp accomp’nied ballads new and old
And tales of battle, tales of drinking from each bench are told.

Bold built top the hill a sign of tribes gone long
Perchance in those dim distant days they too would sing a song.
As round their halls and o’r their huts the brisk breeze bravely blew
And storm wracked clouds and wind torn mists like wandering spirits flew.

The nights draw in and winter comes they drink the Bragi beaker
And boastful oaths and manly vows are sworn by many a speaker.
To brave the trolls in caverns dark to force a narrow squeeze,
Or swim the pool neath mellow noon while wandering watchers freeze.

There's a hall across the valley Shepton is the name
Neath its roof and under shelter stands the tea-boy thane.
It is strong built, it is stone built they've no linden wall,
In the evening, back from Hunter's shepherd Ken will crawl.
 
Within the hours allowed by tyrants fated feeble few.
At friendly bar they all forgather quaffing cheering brew.
They attack the cup and mead horn noble sights to see.
Like old Thor who drank an ocean they all fain would be.

Wass Habl

The Compleat Hut Warden

(with apologies to Isaak Walton, Stephen Potter and all readers.)

Important Note:  The following article is pure fiction and any resemblance to any person, either living of half-dead, or to any actions of such persons, is purely co-incidental.

There is more to Hut Wardening than at first meets the eye, and either for the benefit of any who may be thinking of taking it up either for the good of their health or their pocket, the only two specimens of Hut Wardeni who are normally resident on Mendip have put pens to paper to provide an introductory bit of gen. on the subject and to show some of the things that go on behind the scenes.  There follows thirteen points of interest (we hope!) on Hut Wardmanship.  This is, in the main, an extension of the principle of one-upmanship.

1. Correspondence.  It is inevitable that some of the members of the club will be able to read and write. This means that sooner or later they will write to book bunks for their bodies - which is all very tiresome of them. It is also very probable that they will try to be clever by asking for instance, for a bunk "facing the sea".  You have several ways to be one up here.  Write back pointing out that we live on an island and, therefore all bunks face the sea; have some replies ready for such an occasion such as "we have only bunks facing the engine left", or if caught with no reply, resort to one –downmanship and heave the thing into the waste paper basket.

Letters which commence with a greeting such as "Dear fellow felon" should be searched for money and then thrown away.  Practice a convincing denial of ever having received the letter throwing in a few remarks about the carelessness of the Post Office.

Another type of letter is from a conscientious Secretary and Treasurer suggesting a financial statement. Such letters are bound to arrive as no decent club will tolerate more than one rogue on its committee, and you will be too busy organising the hut to your own advantage to have remembered to send cash to the treasurer.

2. Rules and Regulations.  Every Hut must have a number of rules because if they exist, people will break them and this gives the Hut Warden a chance to be one generally. When such rules are drawn up it is imperative to have two things included.  These are that, while the Hut Warden’s decision may not be right or fair, it is final., and if there is any rule that you may wish to break at some time or other, get the words "or at the Hut Wardens discretion" added.

3. Tidiness.  This is a very sore point for all concerned, and a very difficult subject in which to be one up.  The situation is made easier if the Hut warden is bigger and uglier than the largest other member.  Failing this, a system of fines can be employed, although this brings us slap up against the difficulty of extracting payment (see section 9).  In extreme cases, the Hut Warden can resort to a ploy in Hogmanship (all right – live like pigs if you want to!) or one-downmanship, in which case he does all the work himself.

4. ??????????  & 5. ????????????  At a recent meeting of the “Hut Wardens’ Restrictive Practices and Closed Shop Council”, it was decided that these two items came under the Official Secrets Act and that it would be in the public interest to disclose them.  The have accordingly been removed.

6. Book Keeping.  Although this is your trump card in one-upmanship, the answer is extremely simple. All that is required is a very large book full of impressive figures, and a book keeping system that it is impossible for any one else to follow.  The system must be such that even when the Treasurer doubts your word (as he will if he has any common sense) then you can with an easy heart present him with the book saying "check them for yourself if you like!"  It is highly desirable to use an unusual ink so that if any clever person alters your figures to the correct ones, you can spot this error immediately.

7. Unwanted Visitors.  People who are polite enough to write are easily dealt with by a polite reply pointing out that you are fully booked.  If they just turn up, a sound ploy is to have a list in readiness showing that all bunks are booked by extremely large and aggressive types who are the moment in some pub drinking fluids which will render them even more large and aggressive on their return.

8.  Entry to Premises.  Presumably there will be a lock on the door of the Headquarters stolen from some somewhere or other and you can either give all members a key, or keep the only one yourself.  The former is the better ploy as the latter tends to make members feel that they are not wanted (their money is – by you!) and leads to illegal entry.

9.  Collection of Hut Fees.  The intending Hut Warden should first practice by squeezing small stones until he can wring out a decent quantity of blood every time.  He is then nearly ready for the job!  The collection of Hut Fees gives many opportunities for the one-upmanship so essential for the job.  One method successfully employed is to get up first and extract money from each member as he wakes and is too sleepy to realise the dirty trick you are playing.  In extreme cases, the money may be extracted from the victim before he wakes up.

10. Visitations by Custodians of the Law.  If the Custodian is a member of the club, perhaps he can be bribed by persuading him to buy you a pint of beer.  If not, then mention words like faulty exhaust system, three on a bike etc.  Should you be caught red handed by a strange Custodian, offer him a cup of tea (all decent clubs always have a pot on the go) or take him outside and show him two pounds of carbide “stored in a metal vessel or vessels, hermetically closed” and ask him if they are all right within the wording of the Statutory Rules and Orders (1929) No. 992.  While this is going on, an accomplice removes all signs etc.  If still caught out, tell him they were bought at a jumble sale.

11. Advertising or Blowing your own Trumpet.  This is found to be necessary, since it is essential to convince one and all that, under your regime the affairs of the club would, but for your skill at book keeping, have prospered.  Large graphs should be drawn, showing impressive progress each year.  These need bear no relation to the real figures.  You may wish to attract more people to your ho(t or v)el and this can be done by planting posters in rival establishments stating that you have running water (¼ mile up the road) that your premises are snow and frost proof, that every bunk has a view (of every ether bunk) and bracing fresh air, draughts, etc.

12. Provision of Warmth.  This is a debatable question, because if you provide too good a fire, you will not be able to get rid of parasites from other huts when the pubs have closed, also if no heating is provided, more work is done as people have to keep warm somehow.

13. Baker's Dozen.  An unlucky number, an:~ the number of pennies in a shilling when the Hut warden is collecting the cash.

Finally, remember that Hut Wardenmanship is a profession, and while not the oldest, is perhaps the most rewarding!

B.M. Ellis, Hut Warden, S.M.C.C.
S.J. Collins, Hut warden B.E.C.

The Great Gully of Craig-Yr-Isfa

Then there was the time when the two Johns, Attwood and Stafford, Russell Jenkins and I, made our way to Craig-Yr-Isfa.  Our intention was to try the Great Gully on that crag.  The day was fair, we had an extensive spell (two days) of dry weather, which meant the gully would be in good condition, and we felt fit.

My appetite had been whetted for this particular climb some years ago, when I first visited Craig-Yr-Isfa. The firm rock and enjoyable situations I had found on the Craig's classis Amphitheatre Buttress and Pinnacle Wall, together with enthusiastic accounts of the climb in several books, led me to believe the Great Gully had something special to offer.  It has certainly had a colourful history since it was first climbed by Archer Thompson in 1900, bad weather and short days conspiring to trap even experienced parties between its walls.  Now I was to see for myself.

Reluctantly we turned from the warm, bright May sun to the damp shadows of the Gully.  Only hard talking and sly salesmanship had persuaded the others from the delights of an open climb on rough, warm rock, and as they viewed the Gully, I thought my efforts had been for nothing. Fortunately the thought of grinding back round the scree seemed worse than continuing, and so we started.

Russell and I were on one rope and Stafford and Attwood on another.  The first few pitches scarcely needed a rope.  We scrambled up until we came to the "Door Jamb" which is a large chockstone, normally surmounted by climbing deep snow.  In summer the usual way on is a steep groove to the right, and then back into the Gully. The Gully continued looking like seaweed strewn rocks at low tide.  At this section a more pleasant, and certainly more dry alternative is up a chimney running parallel with the Gully for forty feet.  We found the chimney wet in its upper part but at least the rock was clean.

Above the chimney the gulley floor rose, steeply and roughly, until eighty feet or so on, it levelled and abutted against the dark, slimy rear wall.  On either side dank, dripping, green, moss-covered, overhanging walls presented a dismal picture and we were wrapped in gloom.  Russell looked at it, and without further consideration gave a quick précis of his thoughts - "No!” he said.  I felt inclined to agree, but experience has taught that things are often not what they seem, and many a seemingly impassable place has relented and revealed how it may be overcome if approached boldly.  (An invaluable guide in this sort of situation is a loquacious guide book!).  My first move after rejecting Russell's implied suggestion, was to walk into the fissure and to examine it with the guide book in mind.

The Chimney, 45 feet. This impressive pitch is climbed back and foot facing right, or by bridging.  The walls are set at the maximum distance for these techniques to be possible.

Very Cheering!  The lower part of the chimney was too wide for me, but twenty feet or so higher, the gap was narrower.  This led me to examine a second possibility.

A short man may have to climb the crack.  The crack in the right wall is still probably harder than the original, or not, according to technique.

I felt I was probably long enough in the leg to employ the bridging technique, and I hoped to be able to because the crack, presented as an alternative, looked hard.  At the crit¬ical part it was vertical and shallow, and although fairly clean, it was running with water.

At this stage, Stafford and Attwood joined me.  Russell had wasted no time and had retreated back down the gully, where he had used a break in the gully wall to climb out.  Stafford shared our distaste of the green slime, but loyally voiced a true second's opinion that perhaps we could "just look at it".  A.F. Mummery in "My climbs in the Alps and the Caucasus" tells a very revealing story about seconding. He was making a first ascent of the Auguille Verte by the Charpoua Glacier, with his guide Burgener (and his bottles of bouvier) and tackling a difficult section:-

 “I paid out my rope whilst Burgener traversed to the left in part along some slabby rocks, and in part on the upper edges of a more or less treacherous crust of ice abutting on them.  Eventually, we both had to be on the traverse together Burgener succeeded in hitching his rope over a big splinter above us.  As this operation seemed to afford him great pleasure, I thought it would be most cruel to object, though, as the splinter wobbled most ominously with the slightest pressure, I prudently unhitched the rope before venturing below it.”

Perfect seconding!

Stafford quietly took over the rope arrangements, and Attwood settled himself to view the proceedings.  I tentatively tried to bridge the lower part, but quickly abandoned this in favour of climbing the crack until it narrowed.  I tried bridging again and found it easier here until I worked up underneath a large chockstone.  The hard work lay ahead.  The walls continued at the same width, but were more or less holdless for about ten feet, after which one may balance across to a platform on the right wall. It seemed possible to use the crack to some extent with my feet, but the left hand wall, against which my back had to go, was smooth with damp moss. I retreated a few feet and placed a running belay in position below the chockstone.

Returning to the next stage, by stretching across the gap supported by my back and boots, and by pushing down with my hands and then wedging with my boots, I gained a few inches at a time.  Occasionally holds on the back wall were used.  Much struggling and then pauses to gasp air raised me to a point, where only a few feet to go, these methods no longer worked.  I gradually realised that, despite great exertion, no progress was being made.  Wedged firmly across the gap, with the two Johnnies looking very small immediately below, my hands were sliding off the slippery wall as I pushed down on them, and not having a great deal of energy left, I thought again.  Brute force and the other thing were ineffective here, so I tried taking things more gently.

My back and feet were jammed well, so I folded my hands in front of me and started wriggling my shoulder blades.

It worked!  Very soon my small back movements and then moving my feet up to keep me jammed, I had gained enough height to enable me to strain forward and reach a hold on the platform.  Balancing very delicately across, because there is a tendency to swing sideways and render the handhold ineffect¬ive, I slid my leg onto the platform. This left me with enough breath to exchange insults with Stafford.

About twenty to thirty feet of more orthodox climbing led to a large stance where the others joined me, though not without some delay, because my arms had not fully recovered and the rope felt amazingly heavy as I pulled it in.

A short rest did us good, but the sunshine called.

Some scrambling, a short stiff chimney, and then we could see far above our heads what must be the last vast chockstone.  At first glance it looked completely unapproachable.  Stafford’s blood was up, he approved of what promised to be a most interesting struggle, so he and I went on up the gully, while Russell and Attwood climbed a less intimidating variation.

A shoulder landed Stafford above a short undercut chimney.  I followed and then we were able to examine the Great Cave Pitch.  It was most unexpected.  A short scramble leads one to a floor which is surprisingly near the outer chockstone. Only a move of ten feet and then a short traverse is necessary to reach it.  We could see two possibilities, but neither seemed to tie up with what Archer Thompson had to say about his method of climbing onto the large chockstone jammed low above ones head.

By utilizing a small foothold on the right wall, the climber effects a lodgement on it, and then reaches its sharp upper edge by a struggle, in which he comes near to defying all the laws of anatomy.  A novel expedient is to lay the palm of the left and on the block, and using the arm as a pivot, perform a pirouette to the south; the climber thus lands in a sitting posture, with one leg thrust upwards to the roof to maintain equilibrium, any Gallio, however, will complacently demand a shoulder.

I buzzed happily and determinedly here and there, effecting lodgements in all the most likely places. None, however, scorned to demand the contortions described.  Meanwhile Stafford, who had wandered off into the darkness behind the low chockstone, called out that I could stop jumping around in that peculiar manner as he had found the place.  Confidently I effected the required lodgement - and found no further holds.  Stafford tried next, and because he doesn't care, launched himself at the chockstone.  To our delight he landed on his neck at my feet.  It was then I complacently demanded a shoulder.  The struggle was short and Stafford soon joined me.  The small ledge leading to the chockstone, twenty five feet horizontally, proved interesting but straightforward.

We emerged from the half light of the Great Cave into the welcome sunshine on top of the outer chockstone.  As our eyes became accustomed to the stronger light, they revealed that our situation was superb.  The chockstone is so placed that the gully drops away from it, so that one may see most of it from top to bottom looking almost vertically down for seven or eight hundred feet.  Behind us, nothing but scrambling between low walls and almost horizontally to the finish.

Feeling good inside, and pleasantly tired, with the long sporting climb behind us, and the prospect of a sunny walk with extensive views in front of us, we coiled the rope.  As we contentedly moved towards our friends lying in the sun, it was as though behind us lay another, newer, friend.  A good climb.

R.S. King.

Lady Chatterbox’s Cover

By Ann Gardner

A hundred and fifty years ago, Clifton was the home of the elite.  Ladies and gentlemen walked the terraces high above the Avon.  Slowly the standard declined, until of recent years it has risen sharply by the influx of new blue blood, as the village has again found favour with the elite of the 20th century.  Yes?  Clifton means the B.E.C., and naturally, their homes are amongst the best in the district.  A team of experts have been very recently, and, needless to say, without informing the owners beforehand, conducting an inspection and tour of these stately homes of the B.E.C.

Monday the 26th August, 1958 saw Mr & Mrs Y.B. Gardner arriving at the residence of Mr S. J. Collins, who has within the past few weeks, by devious means, provided himself with an apartment in a Georgian house of great character.  Although the neighbours and occupants of the same building state that they have never seen the gentleman in question, it can be definitely stated that he does sleep there, amongst other places of course.  The lounge of this palatial residence is large and exceptionally high ceilinged, the fireplace is a magnificent wooden affair with cut out hearts and pillars in a type of mahogany.  The carvings were brought to my attention by Miss J. Rollason, together with several comments of a dubious nature.  The copper whatnot over the actual hole where the smoke goes up, and it is to be presumed out, has a beaten bas-relief of either two tulips with drooping leaves or two stylised cats with toothache as opposed to cats on rooftops. The whole is set off by two smears or dribbles of green paint like mixture which has not yet been eradicated. The wall opposite the windows has a large alcove which has many possibilities.   The suggestion was made that a more than life sized statue of a popular personage in the club should be erected there but, on revision, no one seemed to fit.

The bedroom could be described as a ballroom or a garage for eight cars and in either case there would still be room for at least 40 people to sleep provided they took up only ten square yards each.  Mr Collins has offered British Railways a sub-tenancy of his hallway as a shunting yard. The view from the bedroom is of a well laid lawn with circular flowerbeds and borders and one very old man who is no doubt a fixture.

An extremely long kitchen has all the necessary fittings, a vast selection of beer mugs and the usual tin opener.  Off the kitchen is the bathroom from which the usual offices meander off into limbo.

From Mr Collins' home, the party of 4 persons toured the roads of Clifton peering in at all windows at odd bods watching T.V. and indulging in weird and wonderful sports.  Mr Hannam’s penthouse was the next port of call.  After climbing a long and superb staircase we reached a door. This was duly banged on and after a short while Mr Hannam descended and was prevailed upon to let us in.  We crawled the remaining two flights to the sixth floor and proceeded to poke around.  Mr Hannam's flat has a wonderful view of Bristol and the surrounding countryside and we were told that on a clear day, "You can see the masts on Blackdown".  This is only if the sun should inadvertently appear. Mr Hannam's main room is a rather odd shape with beams, copper kettles, old warming pans and french windows. There is a very interesting stone sticking out of one wall, but the company thought it might not be taken too kindly were it removed to test its antiquity.  The only drawback to the establishment is the shortage of ashtrays. Mr Hannam appears to be averse to having his shoes used as such.  Excellent coffee was provided and it was noted that only three saucers and one spoon were readily available.  The kitchen is tastefully decorated in primrose with red covered covers.  The bedroom is small, but very comfortable and has the same beautiful view as the main room.  Mr. Hannam has found that the strain of sleeping upright in order to enjoy this is somewhat beyond him.

We then proceeded to our respective homes.  A further edition in the “Stately Homes” series depends on whether the B.E.C. members will let us in or discover a pressing need to visit and old aunt in South Africa.

*****************************************

Readers may remember an article on “How to write an article for the B.B.” which appeared in July’s issue. In this article, a mythical character called Berty Bodge, writes a number of articles, starting with “My first caving trip.”  To our great surprise, shortly after this article appeared, we were sent the following: -

My First Caving Trip

A novice’s Impression of Swildons Hole

By Bert Bodge

I don’t usually talk about my caving experiences, but on reading in the July Belfry Bulletin how anxious you all are to hear about my adventures down Swildons Hole, I took my pencil in hand and decided to oblige.

I must say that before I begin that I think Alfie has got a bit in front with his dates, as I had ALREADY BEEN before in September.  I would like to say too that the programme he has drawn up for me is a bit too stiff for a novice (and only an amateur one at that).  Who the blankety-blank could write a poem, “When you are climbing up a ladder?”

Well, back to Swildons. I went to the cave with a party of five; myself, ‘rat’, the leader, Rosemary, Richard and Michael – all medical students (except me) and all new to caving except Rat.  We filled our lamps with water at a delightful stream and put on our helmets.  Mine is too big.  The only way I can get it to stay on is by wedging it sideways on my skull, a painful process.  Otherwise it just falls over my eyes and blacks everything out.  While I was fixing it on, my companions must have gone below.  When I looked up, I was alone.  A villainous looking grating lay open in the ground and voices issued forth – already “booming”.  My spirits fell.  I scribbled a short note saying where I had gone, and containing a few simple instructions for the disposal of my effects in case I did not return and hung it on a branch of a tree above the grating.  Regretfully, I lowered myself in.  It was dark and it was wet, at least I think so.  From round a bend in the passage the voice of ‘rat' came as he harangued me for five minutes, telling me to use a dry foothold, while I sat in the stream and tried to understand.  Eventually he realised that I was already sitting in the water and that it didn't matter. He was very put out.  Richard and Michael waited impatiently - quite dry. Rosemary had gone into sort private limbo of her own and was unheard, unseen, a muddy little ghost.  She said she was frightened.  I didn't say anything.

Rat was way ahead, shouting boisterously.  The chasm deepened; the torrent resounded; the rocks shone orange¬/pink in the fitful light.  (I remember thinking how horrible a colour it looked) I wasn’t too well disposed towards any old rocks, I spent so many minutes wondering how to get over then or, if they won the battle, whether I should slip.  Oh, Bodge!  I was fully occupied all the time except when my mind returned to the letter on the tree. Ghastly thought - ¬somebody might have read it - and my boot would tremble as it paused over a meagre crevice. (That Bert Bodge survived, readers, is yet another example of the triumph of mind over matter.  The letter was retrieved, torn into a thousand fragments, from the munching molars of a friendly cow.  Meanwhile behold him, still in peril, ignorant of this fortunate chance.)

A voice cried "We're lost!"  The party rushed right and left.  I stayed at my “Halt” sign, which was in the form of a large rounded rock situated on the edge of the stream passage which was exercising all my ingenuity to vanish, when “Back the other way!” – a splendid idea.  They all rushed off.  I was still on the rock being very careful, as I know how.  Lord, the strain on my bootlaces.

Eventually we stopped in a grotto.  Rat searched for an exit while we sat tight.  We knew what to do all right!  Then we walked a bit more back the way we had cone.  Caves are very boring.  Rat said we were now going out.  I could scarcely speak at all; my voice stuck in my throat, I felt so tense that when I came to do the last squeezy bit my emotions had taken all the strength away from my arms and legs.  I have not mentioned how I was allowed to climb on a faulty ladder because I have bean told to keep quiet about it.  I feel very strongly indeed about faulty ladders and will write a letter about them one day, as Alfie suggests.  I am not allowed to say how I hurt my feet - suffice to point out that I am now inconvenienced by having to wear my boots at night as I cannot get then off.  Well, cavers, that concludes my little jaunt and if you can help me out of my boots, you’re a better man than I am!  (Has anyone got a saw?)  In conclusion, I would like to state that I found my trip to Swildons a most interesting an instructive introduction to the art of caving and I strongly advise anyone who may be contemplating a descent to follow my example and act before they think – sorry, look before they leap – into this most enjoyable of sports.

Janet Boot.

*****************************************

We hope, as this bit of the B.B. is printed, that we will be able to include elsewhere in this number, some reference to the very stout effort recently put up by the diving party who managed to get a diver through an eighty foot sump and hence discover Swildons 6.  We hope they will forgive the bit of nonsense which follows: -

SONNET

A few years back, one did a Swildons Hole
By going from the entrance to the sump.
Or, if you wanted more, you made your goal
To enter Swildons II, and extra limp.
Then came Black Hole
And odd assorted Bells
St. Paul’s, Damascus and more
Till, hacking bits away for longish spells,
Some caving types discovered Swildons IV.
Another sump, and into Swildons V
They swam, and into Swildons V
They swam, and then went right ahead to fix
A trip in which some eighty feet of dive
Was mastered, thus revealing Swildons VI.
We’ll find, if divers progress at this rate
That Wookey IX is Swildons XXXVIII!

*****************************************

The Belfry Bulletin for Christmas 1958.  Editor, S.J. Collins

 

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Committee Members

Secretary:                       Vince Simmonds
Treasurers:                     Mike and Hilary Wilson
Membership Secretary:    Sean Howe
Editor:                            Greg Brock
Caving Secretary:            John Williams
Tackle Master:                Tyrone Bevan
Hut Warden:                   Roger Haskett
Hut Engineer:                  John Walsh
BEC Web Page Editor:    Estelle Sandford
Librarian:                        Graham Johnson
Hut Bookings:                 Fiona Sandford
Floating Member:            Bob Smith

Editorial

Welcome to the AGM edition of your Belfry Bulletin.  Within this BB you will find the committee member’s reports for the outgoing club year – I wish to thank all the committee member’s for their time and effort in getting me these reports as quickly as possible so as they could be published in this BB.  The vast number and quality of the reports within this BB demonstrates just how hard and determined the outgoing committee have been – for which we are all extremely grateful.

As you will have noticed the time between the publication of the last BB (Nr 519) and the publication of this BB is very short.  The reason for this is at the 2003 AGM the committee said that a BB would be published prior to the AGM and would contain the Committee Members Annual reports so as they could be read prior to the meeting.  The previous BB (Nr 519) could not wait any longer as we had lots of articles that were waiting to go to print.  Therefore, in order to meet the print deadlines we had to compile, edit, proof-read and print this BB (Nr 520) as quickly as possible so as you could have it before the AGM in October.

I’m sure a number of BEC members have been to nice exotic locations throughout the summer months. I therefore look forward to producing the next BB which will hopefully contain a number of articles, photos and surveys about overseas expeditions.

Recent Committee Business

I have included this section so as to keep the BEC membership updated with what the committee have been up to in the recent months:

  • Concrete will be ordered for the new extension – This will fulfil our planning obligations.  Many thanks to everyone who has helped out on this project through resources, time, materials etc.
 
  • A “mail shot” to all members has been sent re “Nominations for Committee” & Outstanding Caving Insurance Premiums.
  • A new flue pipe for the Belfry Stove is needed and also a new electric/gas heater for the kitchen.  These are currently being sourced for as cheaply (Free??) as possible.
  • Two BEC members, Nick Richards & Nick Harding, approached the committee regarding a request by Loxton Parish Council in respect of a Leadership System for Loxton Cave because of its Historical importance.  It was agreed that a system would be set up whereby each of the major Mendip clubs could have a leader.  In the short term the two Nicks would act as interim leaders.  A secure gate to include access for Bats would be arranged along with the leader system.
  • Mendip District Council will be putting a “Step Through” on each of the styles either side of Walts Track.  Also a Timber Crossing & Handrail would be built across the Gulley on the path up to The Mineries Pond.  This is following persistent complaints from Dog Walkers.

 

 


 

Hon. Secretary Report Oct 2003 – Sept 2004

There has been some small response to the request for nominations for election to the committee for the club year Oct. 2004 – Sept. 2005 and, at the time of writing (07.08.04), two people have come forward and offered their assistance for the coming club year.  Unless there is a mad rush in the time leading up to the AGM I cannot envisage a ballot being necessary considering there is provision for up to 12 committee members.

Here follows a brief summary of some of the issues dealt with by the committee in the past club year:

The main areas of business during the committee year have been the matters of insurance and the continuing work on the extension. 

Mike Wilson deserves a big pat on the back for his efforts in liasing with Nick Williams and finally securing a satisfactory outcome regarding the insurance.  There are, however, still some people who have asked for caving membership of the scheme and have not paid the required premium. It was necessary, in the first instance, for the club to pay all the money up front and it is not for the club to subsidise those members who have not paid.  We will add the money due plus a surcharge to the coming years subscription. I will take this opportunity to point out to those members of the club that are St. Cuthberts leaders that a valid insurance is a necessity of that leadership agreement and that the ‘green card’ is the only one that will be recognised.

Roger Haskett has continued with his sterling efforts to cajole and coerce various members of the caving community to contribute to the Belfry extension and his, and their, efforts are to be applauded.

Greg Brock has taken over from Adrian Hole as BB Editor and has published his first efforts maintaining the high standards we, as a club, have come to expect.

Fiona and Ivan Sandford have continued to put in a considerable amount of work regarding the hut, its bookings and maintenance, and assisting the efforts of the Hut Engineer, John Walsh.

During May there was a tree planting ceremony and barbecue to commemorate the memories of Jock Orr and Frank Jones organised by Nigel Taylor and Roger Haskett.

The BEC, as a result of a request from Loxton Parish Council, have agreed to administer the access to the recently re-discovered and historically important Loxton Cavern (not to be confused with Loxton Cave).  We are in the process of arranging access and leaders for the main caving clubs on Mendip.

Mendip District Council approached the club, following some complaint regarding the footpath access and they are to provide some step-overs to the stiles and some clearance work etc. along the path.  There will be no cost to the BEC.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those people who during the past year have made up the committee and the non-committee posts for volunteering their time and effort to the administration of the club.  They are Mike Wilson, Fiona Sandford, John Walsh, Roger Haskett, Greg Brock, Graham Johnson, Tyrone Bevan, Adrian Hole, John Williams, Sean Howe.  Thanks also to the small band of helpers who have endeavoured to work on the extension and many other tasks around the Belfry.

The Annual Dinner is at The Bath Arms Hotel, Cheddar on the evening of the 2nd October 2004.  There will be a coach from the Hunters/Belfry around 19:00 and returning from Cheddar at around midnight.

On a sadder note this year has seen the passing of another long time club member Alan Thomas, remembered by many as Big Al’, I’m sure his memory will linger long.

Vince Simmonds Hon. Sec. 2003 – 2004


 

Treasurer Report Oct 2003 – Sept 2004

This Year has been financially very stable for the club, we continue to reap the benefits of zero rating which has allowed us to concentrate on improving other areas in the club.

The extension has cost us very little financially, due to the generous donations of materials and time by various club members.  I would like to thank all those concerned with the project.

As you all well know the committee had to make some pretty swift decisions regarding the club insurance situation.  My hope is that the membership will agree to run a two tier subs system this coming year, in line with the system we cobbled together during 2003/4.

I feel that the subs should include the new insurance cost for those who wish to be insured by the BEC plus a parallel rate of subs for those who do not wish to be insured by the club [for whatever reason].

The uninsured rate should be close to the current subs paid per annum.  Hopefully this system will prove to be fair to all club members.  Please note that all Cuthbert Leaders must be insured!!

I am happy to continue as treasurer for another year.

Mike Wilson.  

BB Editor Report June 2004 – Sept 2004

I will keep this report brief as I have only held this position for four months and have therefore not got much to say.

Firstly, I will thank Adrian Hole for all his work in producing the BB’s over the past couple of years.  Only when you have done the job as BB editor do you realise how much work goes on behind the scenes to produce the end result that you all see.

I have noticed while compiling the BB’s that a number of the articles are coming from the same people. Obviously I still want to encourage these people to carry on producing articles for inclusion in the BB but it would also be nice to see some articles from other people.  With the vast and varied membership the BEC has throughout the world I’m sure there are plenty of members out there doing exciting things that other members would like to hear about.

The BB is our club journal and does not only need to contain articles relating to exploratory caving. I’m happy to receive articles about anything that club members are up to i.e. Caving, Mountaineering, Climbing, Canoeing, Walking, Running, Cycling etc.

I’m happy to stand as BB editor for another year should the club wish me to continue.

Please send in your articles – Contact details are at the front of the BB.

Greg Brock

Hut Booking Report Oct 2003 – Sept 2004

There is really not very much to say where Hut Bookings are concerned.  Actual bookings remain at a very low level compared with before Foot & Mouth, we have a reliance on the same groups returning, of whom, many members of these groups, are now actually BEC members.  It must be a sign of how times have changed that what bookings we do get are now a very last minute affair and the majority of those booked on the Monday have very often been cancelled by the Thursday for no reason other than they have found something else to do!  It would be fair to say that the majority of people who now stay at The Belfry just turn up on spec or are directed to us through Bat Products. 

I am prepared to carry on taking the Hut Bookings for the forthcoming year should the club so wish me to do so.

Fiona Sandford
8th August 2004


 

Membership Secretary Report Oct 2003 – Sept 2004

BEC Membership Secretary’s Report for the Club Year
4 October 2003 to 1 October 2004

Membership Renewal

A principal responsibility of membership secretary is to hold an up to date record of member’s details. This has been my quest but it needs your co-operation.

To help you know what the club holds about you, each renewal form was personalised and contained your contact details (e.g. Name, address, telephone number(s), email, etc.). This gave you the opportunity to check your details, correct any errors or add additional information.

Included in the renewal form was a section for preferences. The purpose of the preference section in the renewal form was to select want you wanted to receive and reduce the work load. You could select by ticking the appropriate box to receive such items as a membership card, members address booklet (printed or electronic by email). Some of you failed completely and used a cross instead of a tick.

I must apologise for those that requested a Membership card as I have not been able to produce these this year due to a change in my circumstances which has affected the availability of resources.

Having an option to receive a printed version of the members address book reduced the number to be printed compared to the previous year by around fifty copies, obviously a saving.

In my continued quest of holding the correct information in the BEC member’s database I gave you a second opportunity to check and amend your contact details in your personal membership renewal acknowledgement letter.

I also asked all Life members to re-affirm their wish to receive Belfry Bulletins and correspondence for the club year. We do not want to send out correspondence to those that do not wish to receive it.

Generally I think this all worked quite well.

Members Updates

During the club year a few people made contact to inform of updates (e.g. changes of address and email) but I am sure this is not all of them. However, this was more than the previous year so may be you are becoming more organised.

I must stress it is essential that you keep the membership secretary up to date of any changes. For example, the address details are used in the distribution of the Belfry Bulletins and club correspondence.

Donations

There were a number of donations, in the main from the Life members, in the form of stamps and a total of £230 in money. Many thanks to those persons.

The Figures

92% of people, 107 out of 116 continuing paying members from 2002-03, renewed before the end of November and were eligible for the £5 discount off their membership fee. This compares with 101 for the previous year. So you are getting better, well done.

With the remaining 8%, one paid as late as May compared with February the previous year. Could do better.

Please pay promptly and before the end of November.

                                         Chart of Members Payment over the club year.

Just under twenty members declined to renew their membership. On the positive, a change from previous years with an increase in joint membership, ten out of eleven of last years probationers rejoined and are now full members, three members rejoined and we have eleven probationary members.

The paying membership has reduced by three and three Life members have been removed from the distribution list. Our total number of members is 160.

Membership

Class

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

Difference
(to 2002/3)

Single

102

101

86

-15

Joint

28

22

26

+4

Probationary

5

11

19

+8

 

 

 

 

 

Sub Total

135

134

131

-3

 

 

 

 

 

Life

35

32

29

-3

 

 

 

 

 

Total Members

170

166

160

-6

Membership Summary Table.

Figures correct as of 16 August 2004.

The following charts show the percentage of the membership class between the club years 2002-03 and 2003-04. It is clearly seen that the Single class percentage has decreased by 7% due to increases in both the Joint and Probationary classes.

 

 

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Mike and Hilary Wilson for their support of some Membership tasks, such as collecting and depositing the subscription and insurance monies.

Furthermore, thanks must go out to Tony Jarratt for his encouragement of new members to the club and the re-joining of lapsed members.

Farewell

I will be standing down from the role of BEC Membership Secretary and may I wish my successor well.

Sean Howe (16/08/2004)
BEC Membership Secretary 2002-04


 

BEC Web Page Editor Report Oct 2003 – Sept 2004

Editor – Due to Estelle’s other commitments this report has been a combined effort between both myself and Estelle.  The Statistics I have taken directly off the website to give you an idea of how many visits we get and where they are coming from.

Overview

Since the new website was uploaded in September 2003 The BEC’s presence on the internet has grown. For those of you that haven’t visited the site yet it can be found at: www.bec-cave.org.uk

Anything sent in has been uploaded as soon as possible, usually within a couple of days max.  The website could do with a bit more accuracy maybe on committee posts and contact details.  If any of the committee members want to write some detail on their jobs to freshen things up that would be great.  Any articles, pictures and related links always welcome.  Please send any articles you have to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Statistics

The BEC website is constantly monitored by a Web Analysing programme and has given us the following statistics:

As you will see from the graphs below there was an unusual number of hits on the website during the month of March – this was due to Hunters Lodge Inn Sink (HLIS) being on TV in during this month.

Generally speaking the website has about 550 visitors in the month, which on average is about 20 per day.

One of the most common routes of finding the website is people searching for the words “Club Songs”. Other commonly visited pages are the introduction page and the page about the belfry.

Summary by Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Month

Daily Avg

Monthly Totals

Hits

Files

Pages

Visits

Sites

KBytes

Visits

Pages

Files

Hits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 2004

268

247

60

20

248

32789

366

1091

4452

4825

Jul 2004

299

253

66

26

491

46917

818

2049

7843

9286

Jun 2004

248

213

60

19

334

41721

579

1822

6396

7464

May 2004

177

149

46

19

397

24711

594

1440

4620

5507

Apr 2004

263

227

40

16

394

35336

485

1223

6826

7895

Mar 2004

1085

951

161

34

958

237332

1080

5002

29494

33652

Feb 2004

249

212

48

14

305

42748

416

1413

6166

7245

Jan 2004

232

183

40

13

327

37091

418

1241

5697

7217

Dec 2003

185

152

30

8

260

31756

272

941

4722

5737

Nov 2003

258

206

31

14

341

41111

421

956

6183

7749

Oct 2003

305

230

44

15

341

41466

478

1383

7157

9462

Sep 2003

245

173

48

11

191

47786

359

1444

5213

7360

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

660764

6286

20005

94769

113399

 

 

 


Hut Engineer Report Oct 2003 – Sept 2004

Due to everyone’s diligence, maintenance was kept to the odd light bulb or handle, for which your engineer is extremely grateful.  Special mention to Ivan and Jake who do so many jobs around the place.  

Although perhaps not such a high achieving year as 2003, progress has been made.  The new extension is plodding onwards.  Thanks to everyone who worked on it, made tea or shouted encouragement. 

Recognition to all who helped this year.

As for next year, I feel I should stand aside and let someone else take on the role of Hut Engineer. I would also like to thank Vince who always gives advice and support where it is needed.

John Walsh

Tackle Master Report Oct 2003 – Sept 2004

This year in line with directions from the floor at the last AGM we have purchased three ropes.

They consist of a 20mtr, 30mtr and 40mtr lengths and are kept in the store for use by members. We have also replaced the St Cuthbert’s ladder and belay with a commercially purchased ladder and belay.

The club has condemned a number of old ladders and they have currently been destroyed. The plan is to replace all the ladders removed from service and the current old ladders with new over the next 18 to 24 months.

The end of 2003 introduced a new style of club tee shirt and tie. A large number of members are seen wearing the shirts with pride at the Hunters but would be nice to see more.

With regards to the equipment remember the kit is for to use of members and if they require the kit or think of any new kit we need just contact myself or any other committee member.

Tyrone Bevan

Hut Warden Report Oct 2003 – Sept 2004

Members and visitors nights are slightly up on last year (figures at AGM).  Thanks to John Walsh and Ivan Sandford for keeping the hut running.

We seem to have a problem with the water heater; I hope to solve that before the AGM.

I would stress the importance of keeping the hut clean and tidy at all times.  As first impressions often count for prospective members, and regular visitors (we need the money).  There are no excuses.

Roger Haskett
BEC Hut Warden

Caving Secretary Report Oct 2003 – Sept 2004

The Caving Sec. offers his apologies to the club for being absent from Mendip for very nearly the entire year due to unexpected overseas work commitments, and so has had very little to do in the way of club business.

In consequence the Caving Sec. regrettably has nothing to report, other than making the observation that the insurance difficulties experienced at the beginning of the year, limited caving activity somewhat.

Lastly the Caving Sec. feels it would be more appropriate for another person to take on this post, one who is more certain of being regularly out and about on the hill.

Yours sincerely,
John ‘Tangent’ Williams


 Mine sites on Churchill Knowle

By Nick Richards and Nick Harding

South-west of the village of Churchill is a wooded hill where a number of east-west veins have received the attention of miners. In one case a small natural rift was intersected.

Knowle Mine.

Half way down the north-east slope at NGR ST 4386 5928 is a mound bounded by low dry stonewalling. In the centre of the mound is a vertical mineshaft (1.4m by 0.9m in section) descending 6m through loose hillwash into the bedrock.  Here there is a small chamber with galleries leading east and west (at this point ochre deposits can be seen in the walls).

The roomy east gallery extends some 7m to a dead end where pick marks are much in evidence. The passage is over 2m high and 1.5m wide in places.

To the west a 45-degree slope down (for 4m) through a very tight squeeze in collapse debris (note the highly unstable roof) leads to another gallery at a lower level than the first. This passage is about 4m long, 2m high and a metre or so wide. It displays a small stack of ‘deads’ in an alcove and numerous phreatic solution hollows. A calcite vein is particularly prominent in the roof.

The calcite vein can be traced throughout the length of the working and it seems that the miners have followed this in search of ochre or lead; certainly there is plenty of ochre, which occurs as masses associated with the vein fissure.

The landowner told us that the shaft had been explored by the A.C.G. some years ago.

Knowle Cave.

Near the top of the wood at NGR ST 4390 5923 is a large pit some 6m by 4.2m and 1.8m deep at its north-east corner. A small phreatic arch here was dug out in the late 90s with a more concerted effort in 2002. An east-west rift was encountered running under the north wall of the pit. It measures 7m in length, up to 2m high and up to 0.7m wide.

A massive calcite vein follows the rift and quantities of ochre are present. This rift is separated from the pit proper by a thin skin of bedrock which has been breached in two places, evidently by ochre miners, for a couple of boulders were found with shotholes through them.

A dig in the pit itself revealed undisturbed sediments resting on a smooth ochreous bedrock surface funnelling in towards the centre. Therefore, the pit seems to be a wholly natural feature, which has been modified by ochre mining.

30m to the west and down the hillslope from Knowle cave is another pit- Calcite Shaft. It is an old mineshaft dug at the intersection of two massive calcite veins, probably in search of lead ore. The east-west element of the vein is directly in line with the vein seen in the upper pit  (Knowle cave) and minor collapse, animal burrows and calcite debris in the soil mark the line between the two.

The shaft is 2m by 2m in section and 4m deep when found. An excavation in the late 90s through miners spoil proved 6m depth before terminating at a dead end. The miners also followed part of the cross vein to the south for 2m.

The old miners knew that the intersection of two veins is generally a promising environment for ore, but no lead or ochre is present and the affair must have been given up.

At the extreme Southeast corner of the wood at NGR ST 4392 5907 are three or four infilled mineshafts, again aligned east-west and along a strike length of 15m. The westernmost pit is associated with a large spoil heap, which spills over into the adjacent field. Some specks of galena in calcite were found here.

Many thanks to the landowners for allowing us to explore these sites.


The Rediscovery of Loxton Cavern

By Nick Richards and Nick Harding

Photos By Martin Grass, the authors and…er…one taken by Tony J

Made weak by time and fate
But strong in will, to strive, to seek
To find and not to yield…

Ulysses.
Tennyson

“You buggers, I’ve been looking for
that cave for thirty years…”

D.Irwin.

SOMETHING OF A QUEST FULFILLED!

After a three and half year search – some may actually say “two hundred”, we would like to announce the rediscovery of Catcott’s Loxton Cavern and its welcome return to the collective consciousness that is Mendip Caving and indeed the world stage such is the importance to cave science that this system represents.

What follows is a condensed version of around eight months digging time that followed several years of false starts, the discovery of a small system and the location of various potential sites for further excavation (more about these at a later date). 

No longer lost.

Loxton Cavern was opened in 1757 by ochre miners and was visited not long after by Dr Alexander Catcott of Bristol who described the system in his diaries. C.J.Harford followed some years later and wrote about the cave for a gentleman’s periodical called The Gentleman’s Magazine (1794). The cave came to the attention of Cornish miners in the 1790’s where certain ‘green veins’ were tried for copper. These veins upon assay contained no copper and the whole affair was given up. The miners removed the best stalactites for sale or as gifts The cave was lost sight of in 1807 then in late 2003 was rediscovered by BEC 1st Formers Nick Harding and Nick Richards (Aka The Pair of Dirty Nicks)

Groundwork

Having scoured the hill above Loxton for a number of years we decided that our options had come down to one of two sites in which to dig and having tossed the proverbial coin chose an area that best seemed to fit the (reassessed) clues given in the descriptions by Catcott and Harford. In March 2003 the first sod was turned. At this stage let us just say that confidence was not high but well founded in that our searching had so far been in vain but not without discovery. We had found a few small systems (reports to be filed at a later date) but nothing that in any shape or form fitted the descriptions in Catcott’s report but our enthusiasm was little dented or expunged.

Immediately the top layer of soil was removed we found ourselves confronted with a draught seeping up through the boulder back fill and our wild, possibly even schoolboy enthusiasm was fired up. This was fuelled by tales from a Mr Raymond, a nearby resident who, when attending his pigeons could hear the ground boom like a drum as horses made their way up the track.  

Digging down over a number of weeks – using a bedrock wall for guidance we pursued the illusive cave. Then one afternoon Nick R moved a stone and saw a void beyond. We then back filled our progress to date and broached the ground further down slope to afford an easier access point to gain entry.

We had in fact found a small rift back filled with spoil that led to a low arch and then on into a small stal lined room and the first hints of the “Green veins” described by Catcott. Pausing at this stage to consider a route, we began digging downwards in this rift, fashioning, over a stepped structure, a slope of tin sheeting (discovered not far from the entrance - the area was an obvious dumping ground and tip for household waste) – facilitating an easy haul of bucket after relentless bucket to the surface.   

Over the next few months we extracted several tons of material (felt like about a hundred tons to be honest!) from the ever deepening rift to a point where the walls pinched in. Having, seemingly, exhausted this direction we moved our efforts back to where the rift widened and here a small arch was discovered and more importantly miners’ tally marks in a small phreatic hollow. This was indeed a major clue and a welcome sight after months of work. We felt now that we were on the right trail and that maybe, just maybe Loxton Cavern lay not far beyond.

At this stage we decided to abandon the small phreatic rift, back fill that, collapse the material down slope and start again from the top, shoring up the walls as we descended. Before we had had no real target to aim for and in a sense we were just fishing for some obvious way on but with the discovery of the arch and the tally marks we had, at last, a focus for our efforts.

Into the hill

This arch proved, after much work to be the roof of a chamber with a fine vein of green clay – indeed, more clues. Heading down and in, we removed more material (Lum!) – the small abandoned stal lined room being used as a spoil dump until that was replete with boulders.  Driving on down the slope of this new chamber we came across an arch at the bottom through which a heavy draught permeated – a cool strong wind that can only come from underground (or a group of hung over Eskimos). Our hopes were now high – the highest they had been throughout the entire search (nay, quest!). Pausing in the dig briefly for Mad Phil to entertain us with some blisteringly marvellous scaffolding work we then dug on and cleared out the arch that had, for a while been obscured due to the machinations of the impish deities of the ‘down hill dig’.

November 2nd 2003 – Mid-afternoon.

Barring the way on was a large boulder; a limestone Cerberus that had to be dealt with in a terse manner due to its objections about being moved. Lacking Dr Nobel’s remote shovel – perhaps a touch OTT on this instance (absolutely!) – it was disciplined with some rigorous and unsubtle hammer work. Then somewhere between 2 and 3 o’clock – the time and importance of the hour somehow lost in the excitement we slipped through and discovered that the arch opened onto a ledge with a deep rift below us. To the left, i.e. the West, there was a looming darkness that could mean only one thing – Cave! It was not quite Howard Carter and his famous phrase of “I see wonderful things” but we shared his sentiment. In the excitement Nick H uttered the immortal words “It’s somewhere to dump spoil at least” (about two hundred feet of dumping space!) having misread the geography (I assumed the way on was down the rift – honest!)  That’s one for the Big Bumper Book of Humorous Spelunking Quotes… along with “Mind that apple…”, “I strained myself blowing some moorhen’s eggs” and “Careful with that ferret, Savory!”

Anyway moving swiftly on…

The Cave.

There then followed an exploration of the system and all the time there was the growing realisation in the pair of us, to the accompaniment of plumber-style sharp intakes of breath that we had found the place that had so long been sought; that this was the very cave that Catcott and Harford had described two centuries before. It was an extremely emotive experience to say the least.

It took us a short while and some considered debate as to the geography and the lay out of the cave from the description given but very soon all doubts were removed as we stared upwards in the Hall through which Catcott had descended from the original entrance over two centuries before; dribbling candle in hand and powdered wig in disarray. 

The exploration continued and it was soon obvious that the miners had done ‘great mischief ’ with most of the more prominent, colourful and well-formed stal formations being smashed and broken up. Corduroy impressions were found in mud (Corduroy Passage) as well as two clay pipes forcing us to feel that they had been dropped there only the day before. We found pick marks in the green veins of “marl” that had once confused the miners into thinking that they contained workable amounts of copper and hammer blows on numerous walls and formations. More oddly (is that correct grammar?) there were a few incidents of graffiti – including a series of birds and a group of triangles. The overriding impression though was a wonderful sense of time falling away and a powerful feeling that the miners had only just left, repairing to the nearest hostelry, falling under satiric observation, to replenish their animal moisture.  

    

Reluctantly leaving the cave that evening we were both in that euphoric reverie that grips you when the events of a unique day sink in, one later topped up and further fuelled by a few libations at a nearby hostelry. Not long after a swift phone call to the Hunters was made to inform Master Jarrett of the discovery. (There was a rumour that he was unable to come to the phone that evening due to his early entrapment in an awkward rift situated in a perilous wall of beer filled mugs, the MRO later being called out to rescue him)

Shortly afterwards (i.e. some days later, as the crow flies) we returned with Chris Richards (a relation) who could barely contain his excitement about the cave and he was given the grand tour and shown everything that we had learned about the place so far. Another spectacularly happy man left the system that afternoon but not before telling us that we were looking at the “Eighteenth Century mind”  (there’s probably a quip due here utilising the words empty, damp and grubby in places…) when we looked about us.

Still puzzling over the geography it became evident that the eastern half of the cave described by Catcott was missing. However, we pushed on down the rift which dominates the entire system and made the discovery of a lower chamber (Glisson’s Chamber) not described in any account of the cave. Our cup had begun to run over. In the floor by an enormous boulder that sported a shot hole we found a tight squeeze into what looked like another chamber below. This was not breached until Master Tony J, now the forth set of eyes to see the cave in two hundred years volunteered to push his frame down into further mysteries, in a visit not long after.  He found a lower chamber (Firmament Chamber), much choked and with marks on the walls suggesting a fluctuating water level. He then set off eastwards along about 7 metres of passage to have a sniff about. Disrobing down to a fetching pair of pale purple Y-fronts, he once again forced the squeeze back up to rejoin us and to crack open a bottle of Champers on the surface. (Good man!) 

Go East Young Men.

With the initial euphoria still washing about us we then realised that we would have to strike east and find the rest of the system  - starting, and according to Catcott, with an impressive cavern. But where was it? He described coming along the narrow passage and straight into it. We had the narrow passage but it ended in the entrance chamber we had dug out and descended. The dark shadow of a “downhill dig” with its attending gremlins loomed over us and our spirits soon started to scrape noisily along the floor. We had come so far only to be thwarted by another six months of digging and trying to find somewhere to dump the spoil. (I had a suggestion, remember? NH)

We agreed that if we were to go east we should go east – not as daft as it sounds (actually no, that does sound daft) as the entrance chamber is angled sharply down in northeasterly fashion. An initial play was made for the eastern wall but we then realised there was a mounting slope of spoil above our heads and that something would have to be done about it. After fashioning a balcony out of scaffolding and tin sheets we constructed a spoil dump and divided the entrance chamber in two. Then the hard work could begin again (damn!)

Joining the fray at that point were the redoubtable John “Tangent” Williams (with assorted non working Heath-Robinson-esque illumination devices) and Mark Ireland whose combined sterling work in the early days of December allowed us to crack on down slope and on the 10th December Tangent found himself staring into the void. The following day all four of us entered the large Eastern chamber (Catcott’s Chamber) that we thought would be out of our grasp until at least the New Year, (04 that is – anything later would have been mildly depressing).

We spent the next few hours exploring this chamber avoiding the dis-articulated bones of sheep (no! pigs as Dr Roger Jacobi of the British Museum reliably informs us) that had “fallen” down an upper eastern gallery that obviously connected with the surface. In amongst a talus of boulders there was much detritus in evidence including pottery, boot leather and a flask, while Mark, in a vigorous ferreting session found the remains of a frying pan or skillet. What he intended to do with it was anyone’s guess but he was happy, for a short while, to entertain us with a bad facsimile of the sound of frying eggs – this of course could well have been his hearing aid on the blink, as, like so many things in life no one can really be certain about the true nature of anything in the dark. 

At the base of the north wall of the chamber the rift was in evidence again and pushing on down we came to the room described by Catcott as ‘the Dungeon’ once more showing signs of human visitation – including boot marks - numerous in number and candle mark initials much in evidence on the walls, “JH” being much in evidence.

At the western end of the Dungeon, Tangent, intermittently illuminated, over squeezed himself through a number of orifices to find further ways on that, with some removal of material, may allow further exploration in those directions.

In the following weeks a number of visits were made this time with Mad Phil who sported various cunning and modern surveying devices around his neck with which he marked and measured his way around the system, the result of which accompanies this article. This alarmed Harding because he has successfully avoided anything to do with mathematics for a good many years and indeed took up caving to avoid long division.  Several trips were undertaken over the next few months in which various likely dig sites were pursued. This included a passage heading off from Harford’s Balcony, the ‘North West Passage’ which for a short while held great potential (as they always do!) but narrowed down to a too tight squeeze. But there may be something beyond…

And on….

At present we are looking for a twenty-foot crawl to an easternmost chamber described by Catcott. In short another 70 feet of cave has yet to be found.  We will of course keep you posted with any developments in that area. There are also a few places that might well offer up potential digging sites. One or two have been pushed but these have subsequently proven to be false leads (despite exhibiting powerful draughts). One ambitious idea is to try and link Loxton Cavern with Loxton Quarry cave – in reality they cannot be far apart, perhaps only a few metres at most and should that ever be achieved would undoubtedly put the wind up the Axbridge Johnnies (Hoorah!).

Coda

So there it is. Catcott’s cave rediscovered with the flag of the BEC, with its sable bat rampant guardant, waving proudly above its peaks (um?).   There’s still a bit of work to do in there but for now we are awaiting permission to dig in Hutton where another lost cave described by Catcott awaits rediscovery so further exploration in Loxton Cavern will have to wait for a later date.  We are also hunting the South Cavity said to be 30 yards south of Loxton Cavern.  

Vale! And remember: “BEC perveniunt ad loca omnia.”
                  Champers all round – Cheers Tony J!

The Pair of Dirty Nicks

Great blessings be upon the following:

Tony Jarratt
Mad Phil
John “Tangent” Williams
Mark Ireland
Martin Grass
Chris Richards
Keith “ Action-Jackson” Jackson.    
Adam “Adders” Whydle

 


BCRC Conference July 1st - 3rd 2005

British Cave Research Council
July 1st - 3rd 2005
Eastwater Farm. Priddy

Hosted in 2005 by the Mendip Rescue Organization the 2005 conference will look at various aspects of cave rescue, with demonstrations and talks from other cave rescue organizations from around the UK.  Recent developments, new techniques & equipment, rescue practices, workshops etc., together with the ever-popular Rescue Race!

Many activities will be hands-on, and underground where practical. Delegates are expected from overseas and interested parties are welcome from all caving clubs and further afield.

The venue will effectively be a 'tented village' with conference facilities, bar and food available.

There will be a live band/stomp on the Saturday night.

Access will be by ticket only. More information will be available shortly. For more details and advance bookings contact Bob Cork, MRO Secretary.

Mark Lumley

Congratulations

Pete and Annette McNab on the birth of their son, Peter Hugo, on the 15th August 2004.

________________________________________

Andy and Ange Cave on the birth of their daughter, Jasmine, on the 16th August 2004.

Dates for your Diary

25th & 26th September 2004        BEC Working Weekend
2nd October 2004                        BEC AGM & Annual Dinner
23rd October 2004                       Rescue Practise, Eastwater
5th November 2004                      20:30 – BEC Committee Meeting
3rd December 2004                     20:30 – BEC Committee Meeting

Annual Dinner

At The Bath Arms Hotel, Cheddar, Saturday 2nd October 2004 at 19:30 ‘til midnight.

Coach will depart Hunters/Belfry at 19:00   

Menu

(A) Thick Italian minestrone soup topped with Parmesan cheese

            or

(B) Prawns with Rose-Marie sauce served on a bed of salad

            -------

(C) Roast topside of beef with Yorkshire pudding, thick beef gravy

            or

(D) Breast of chicken wrapped in bacon served with a cider sauce

            or

(E) Vegetarian nut roast

            --------

All served with seasonal vegetables, new & roast potatoes

            --------

(F) Apple pie & cream

           

(G) Cheese board

Coffee and mints

COST: £15:00 each, COACH: £5:00 each

Return completed form with payment to: Fiona Sandford, Glen View, Priddy Rd., Priddy, Somerset, BA5 3AU.  The cut-off date will be the 17th September 2004.

Accommodation is available at a 20% discounted rate and should be arranged directly with The Bath Arms Hotel.  Telephone: 01934 742425

Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope for the return of dinner tickets

 

The ‘Vibram Question’ is very much in the news this month, some very interesting correspondence has been received and is listed below.

We are very pleased to welcome M. Robert de Joly the President of Societe Speleologique de France as a contributor to our pages.

*****************************************

Apropos de Semelles pour les Speleologues

On permettra peut-etre a un speleologue qui a trente and d’experience de donner son opinion sur les semelles des bottes d’ explorations.

Le semelle qui a le moins d’adherence sur le sola que nous trouvons sous terre ext certainement celle en corde que l’on’ trou ve sous les ‘espadrilles’ (d’origine espagnole). L’article enduit toute la surface et on a l’impression d’eter sur une patinoire.  Le crepe a pourtant une tenue remarquable sur la rocher sec!

Le VIBRAM tient un peu mieux que le cuir, trop lisse qui est en general garni de clous lourds et d’une adherence tres relative.  On a employe sous terre des chaussures de montagne avec be bord garni de clous TRICOUNIS. Elles tiennent un peu mieux que celles don’t on vient de parler. Mais ne conviennent pas sous terre, car la pression exercee sur chaque clou est beaucoup trop faible a cause de leur grande surface d’appui.

A notre avis, le srelle qui tient de beaucoup le mieux est cel le equipee comme nous le faisons depuis de numbreuscs anees.  En voi ci la description:  La semelle est en cuir, et sur elle visse avec des vis ‘Parker’ au nombre de 7, une bande d’actor de 2m/m, 5 d’epaisseur et de 3c/m de Largeur.  Cette bande porte 6 pointes d’acier nickel-chrome (alliage de 12/8) lengues de 3 centimetres bien acerees.  Ces pointes judicieusement reparties, sont rivees sur la bande.  Le talon de la botte est en ‘Vibram’, de maniere a amortir les chocs sur le roher.  Le talon est visse dans le cuir avec des ‘Parker’.

Lorsq’on est eqipoee de telles semelles on a une adherence remarquable sus tous les terrains, meme sur l’argile molle ou la glace et celui qui ne les pas essayees on ne peut se faire une idée de la securite qu’elles donnet.  Seoles ces semelles conviennent aux speleologues car elles sont particulierement adaptees a leur travail.  Elles ne glissent jamais sur les barreaux d’echelles.

R. de Joly.

Concerning Boot Soles for Speleologists

By – Robert de Joly.

A speleologist with thirty years experience may perhaps be permitted to give his opinion concerning boot soles for exploration.  The sole which has the least adhesion on the surfaces which one finds underground is certainly that of the crepe rubber.  This is almost dangerous as that of rope which one finds on espadrilles.  Clay affects the surface and one feels as though one is on a skating rink.  Despite this, crepe has the most remarkable adhesion to dry rock.

Vibram is a little better than smooth leather which is generally garnished with heavy nails and with a very variable adherence.  We have used underground climbing boots with the edges of the soles garnished with Tricounis nails.  These grip rather better than those of which we have previously spoken, but are not ideal underground because the pressure placed on such nails is much to small owing to their large surface areas.

In our experience the sole which gives much the best grip if that fitted as we have made it for many years. It may be described as follows: -

The sole is of leather and to it are screwed with No.7 Parker Screws a steel band some two millimetres thick and three centimetres wide.  This band carries six points of nickel chrome (12/8 alloy) three centimetres long, well sharpened.

These points judiciously spaced are riveted to the band.  The heel of the boot is Vibram so as to cushion shock, and is screwed to the leather with Parker Screws.

As long as one is fitted up with these soles, one has a remarkable adhesion on all ground, even on clay or ice, and those who have not tried, have no idea of the safety which they give.  Only these soles are suitable for speleologists, for they are particularly adapted to their work.  They never slip on ladder rungs.

*****************************************

I would like to comment on Dennis Kemp’s “Reply to Question in BB. 96” in the series “Can anyone tell me why?”

Dennis concludes his reply by saying that the older generation of climbers and the Mountaineering Association consider it unwise to learn to climb in anything except nails, and that this attitude is due to ‘erroneous, short-sighted, and prejudiced thinking’.

I don’t know whether of not I belong to Dennis’s ‘older generation’ but, I learned to climb in nail boots in pre-Vibram days.  Since then I have climbed in most footwear – nails (clinkers and ‘trikes’) rubbers, Vibrams, socks and even bare feet.  I believe each type of footwear suits particular sets of conditions, but no footwear yet invented is the best possible for all conditions.

I could go on and detail the conditions for which I believe each form of footwear as most suitable, but I will simple list those conditions in which I believe nails to be superior to Vibram.

(1)                Slimy, smooth rock, such as you find all over some British cliffs in winter, and in the damper places in summer.  Nails bite through the slime; Vibrams skid off.  Two such cliffs (among very many) are Lliwedd and Ben Nevis.

(2)                Stretches of mixed rocks and vegetation at a high angle in wet conditions.  This type of going is often met with ‘off the beaten track’ and frequently contaminates footwear with mud.  After moving from vegetation to rock, in Vibrams the adhesion is uncertain and treacherous, but again, nails cut through the ‘grease’.

(3)                Ice and snow on British mountains.  I know that in the Alps crampons are invariable used with Vibrams on hard snow and ice, but not everyone who climbs in Britain in winter owns a pair of crampons; anyway, they seem rather ponderous equipment for a weekend’s ice climbing in Britain, and they are not always too well suited to British ice, which is often more brittle than the Alpine kind.  Vibrams without crampons give poor security on an ice-step, but nailed boots (especially edge nailings) give good security, as the metal bites into the ice in a way which rubbers never can.

I would not claim that nailed boots are the best possible footwear in conditions (1) and (2), only that they are better than Vibrams; felt soles or woollen socks are best on slime.

For all dry rock and for clean rock it is true that Vibrams are better then nails.  The difference between the two seems to me to be that nails, while worse than Vibrams in the best conditions, deteriorate much less in poor conditions.

There is little variation in the security afforded by nails under all conditions, much more variation with Vibrams.  This scarcely makes nails safer footwear for beginners and justifies the M.A. in teaching people to climb in them?

The Exact technique required for placing nailed boots on the holds properly is surely an added recommendation.  Footwork is the more difficult thing for a beginner to learn for the use of the hands is instinctive.  Once a beginner has learned to place nailed boots correctly, he can use any other form of footwear to the best advantage.

Finally, I should point out that I have no connection with the M.A.  I simply feel that Dennis has been over-critical of nails.

Paul Burt.

G.B. Trips.

In order to avoid further disappointment by cancellation of G.B. trips, will members who wish to go on these please let Mr. A. Collins, Caving Section, 27 Gordon Road, Bristol. 5. have their names three (3) weeks before the date of the trip.

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Owing to the call-up of John Stafford to H.M.F.  Pat Ifold has been co-opted as climbing secretary.  His address is, Sunnyside, rectory lane, Compton Martin, Som.

Tackle Notice

It has come to the notice of the Tackle Officer that 25-ft. of dural ladder is missing.  If anybody knows of its whereabouts or has heard of people using tackle, please contact the Tackle Officer – Mr. I. Dear, 1 Fairfield Villas, Henrietta, Bath, Som.

Caving in Derbyshire – Part IV

By Stan Gee

Castleton – Bradwell Area.

So far, in our journey through Derbyshire we have not encountered any of the really large cave systems, that I mentioned in my first article.

However, we are now fast approaching North Derbyshire and the Major cave area.

Here is situated the vast bleak limestone moor of Bradwell, and it is on the moor or on the fringes of it that the large cave systems are found.

Obviously, to give details of all the caves in this area would be a job of gigantic proportions. I hope therefore, to mention as many as possible and to give details of the more important ones.

We commence out trip at the village of Sparrowpit and travel north along the Castleton Road.  From here, we get a wonderful view of the Peak Fault, the point where the limestone meets the shale.

The first group of caves we encounter are situated one mile from Sparrowpit, and are the forerunners of a series of swallets approximately twelve in number, that extend along the Peak Fault almost to Castleton and are known as the Perry Foot Swallets.  The first three swallets are accessible for a considerable distance and though of a tight nature afford some good sport. These are known as Perryfoot Pot, Sheepwash Swallet and Gautries Hole, and are situated on the North-West side of the Castleton Road.  The remainder of the swallets although very active only extend for a short distance. The one exception is Giants Hole which is the Master System and this I will discuss later.

One mile further along the Castleton Road there is a large quarry, and half a mile South-East of this lies the gaping abyss of Eldon Hole.  This is Derbyshire’s most famous cave and also the most awe inspiring, its lengths history is steeped in mystery and folk lore and of course it is reputed to descend to the fires of hell itself.

The entrance is approximately 100ft. x 20ft. and is descends to a total depth of nearly 300ft.  The entrance pitch of 200ft. terminates on a scree slope, that leads through a tight squeeze into a large chamber some 90ft. high.  The hole was visited by the early lead miners, and it is reputed that a mine shaft buried underneath the scree leads to further chambers, there is however, no concrete evidence to substantiate this theory.

The Castleton Road continues from the quarry and half a mile further on a track on the left leads to Giants Hole.  This was once a cave of approximately 300ft. and for years it defied the attacks of certain parties, but late last year the nut was cracked and the result - 1½ miles of entirely new passages, with a strong possibility of further extension. More details I cannot give as I have not yet visited the new extension.

Back to the main road again, and on the East side there are two main systems, so close together that it would seem that must connect, and yet there is no obvious connection. These are the Oxlow-Marsh Hill System and Nettlepot.

The Oxlow-Marsh System is typical of the majority of main caves in this area, namely it is entered by old lead mine shafts and passages.  Oxlow Cavern consists of a series of large caverns linked together by shafts, it descends to a depth of approximately 500ft. and its chambers extend East and West.

Marsh Hill Mine is situated just above Oxlow and is again entered by a mine shaft.  It descends through a series of shafts both natural and mined and connects with Oxlow at the Waterfall Chamber; Oxlow then terminates at a siphon in what is known as Pool Chamber.

Not 200 yards South East of Oxlow is Nettlepot, Derbyshire’s deepest pothole and second only in the British Isles.  The first pitch of 60ft. is narrow and difficult, but the second pitch of 120ft. is fairly easy going.  This terminates on a wide ledge in a large cavern known as ‘The Grand Canyon’.  A further pitch of 40ft. leads to the bottom of the canyon and to the edge of ‘Elizabeth Shaft’.  From here canyon passages extend left and right, and in the right or ‘Stalactite passage’ is situated ‘Crumble Pot’

Elizabeth Shaft drops in two pitches of 100ft and 180ft. and terminates in a large cavern.  This was the end of the system until two years ago when the extreme dangers of Crumble Pot were braved, so making the total depth of 520ft.  There are numerous passages and shafts in this system and there is much room for extension.

Quite close to Nettlepot are two deep and relatively unknown shafts.  One of these, Mountbatten Hole lies approximately 400 yards South East of Nettlepot and has been excavated to a depth of 180ft., at present no other passages have been discovered.  The other one is known as Rowter Mine.  This lies some 800 yards North East of Nettlepot and is relatively unknown due to the landowners adversity to caving types.  However it is reported by the few who have made the descent, that the first shaft is 225ft. deep and mined, and that further natural shafts exist below.

We are now standing directly above the Winnats Pass, Derbyshire’s ‘Cheddar Gorge’, and though not as large as cheddar is quite impressive in its own way.  To the left is the massive bulk of Mam Tor, while in front the Hope Valley unrolls into a large plain, the horizon of which is capped by the pointed cave of Win Hill.  The village of Castleton nestles at the foot of the Winnats Pass, and a high ridge surmounted by the 20th Century Peveril Castle, covers the southern approach.

The Winnats Pass itself, contains several small caves and right at the bottom on the southern flank is the entrance to the impressive Speedwell Cavern. This is a show cave, but is outstanding in that the trip through is by a boat, along a mined canal.  It is possible to explore for a great distance past the tourist section, but the necessary permission is difficult to obtain.

Between Mam Tor and the Winnats pass lies a piece of high ground known as Treak Cliff, and it is here that the famous Blue John stone is found.  The actual Blue John Mine is situated at the foot of Mam Tor and is of course, a show cave.  The peculiar nature of this coloured Flour Spa has caused much controversy in Geological Circles in the past, but it is now generally accepted that the colouring is caused by deposits of petroleum oil seeping into the Spa.  It is also claimed that Treak Cliff is the only place in the world where Blue John is found.

Quite close to the Blue John Mine is the very ancient Adins Mine, reputed to be Saxon, it is mined along a natural fault, descends to a considerable depth and is extremely unsafe. Inside it is a maze of shafts and passages and its sough or drain level emerges at Castleton, over a mile away.

Also close to the Blue John, but on the Eastern flank of Treak Cliff, is another show cave known as Treak Cliff Cavern.  Discovered by the miners it contains several Blue John veins and an extremely fine array of calcite formations.

We are now nearing the end of our journey, but before creeping back to another 8 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 13 hours of Army life I should like to take you to the two main resurgences of this area, namely – Peak Cavern and Bagshawe Cavern.

Peak Cavern is situated in an impressive gorge directly below Peveril Castle, it is of vast proportions and is not yet fully explored.  A large section of it is commercialised but the greater part is a ‘types’ only, the way in being through a series of water traps. In wet weather water from Speedwell, over a mile away appears at peak, while the real Speedwell resurgence is outside Peak, at a spring called Russet Well.  I am given to understand that the cave divers have actually made contact through the two caves, but on this I can only quote hearsay.

Bagshawe cavern is situated two miles away at Bradwell Village, once a show cave it is now only open to cavers, on payment of a small fee. Mr. Revel, the owner – a lead miner and a caver himself is ever anxious to show off the wonders of his cave to genuine types, and he has an interesting stock of tales to tell.  The cave is entered by an old mine shaft, and after a series of mined passages reaches a natural pot known as The Dungeon.  Here a passage right leads to the upper series – ‘New Bagshawe’, ‘The Glory Hole’ and the River Bradwell.  The lower series is very extensive, and in parts arduous but the whole system is well worth a visit.

Well there it is, we have travelled through Derbyshire and touched on most of the major caves, there are of course, many others and I could write more.  However, if anyone is contemplating a trip to Derbyshire or would like further information, I would be only too pleased to help, I might even venture into a show cave myself.

Private Enterprise in East Africa

It was noted with interest that Tom Fletcher, well known visitor to Mendip recently advertised in a club circular that any member who ‘happened’ to be making a tour of East Africa would be welcome to join him in caving or climbing expeditions in the area. We suspect, however, that the invitation may involve a little manual labour in his grapefruit plantation or stuffing his big game trophies.

Mudlark

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One of J.B. Wright’s favourite stories is of a well known Lakeland character whose habit was to walk of an evening over to the ‘Scafell’ for a pint.  Returning home once at sunset, he imagined he heard steps behind him – looked round and was somewhat startled to observe a large bear at some distance to the rear. Fortunately he spotted a signpost ahead, climbed up and muttered “If only ‘e don’t look oop t’road which way t’goe”. His survival, presumably testifies to bear’s illiteracy.

Mudlark

With the alliance of fashion and commercialised Skiing, it is to be wondered whether we have long to wait for this sort of thing to appear in B.B.

“Grimpe et Apres-Grimpe”

Climbing news: Fashionable outfits previously stocked only by leading French and Austrian specialists are now available to all at Lawrie’s, Millet’s – Government Surplus Stores, and most junk shops which seem to be holding a Closing down sale for the last three years.  Remember, pants – unless black, must have matching tops, and too violent tapering may lead to disastrous consequences, unless you are the sort of girl who stays at the bottom of the cliff with a camera.  (N.B. the Snowdon railway, despite climbers’ protests, still does not run in winter, but there is a welcome rumour of a lift being installed in the Devil’s Kitchen).  Always keep your accessories highly polished – karabiners, pitons, ice-axes, and nails, whether you wear homely clinkers, or the more daring French Tricounis. Complete your ensemble with a sprinkling of artificial snow in your hair, and sew silver sequins on your anorak to look like stardust.  Reputation for elegance will be yours before you take your first fall on the Milestones (Ordinary).

Ultra-newest outfits are one-piece – if you can’t afford to buy yours at Lillywhites’. B.A.C. boiler-suits are easily adaptable.  Fur trimmings at neck and cuffs add extra chic.  The Cloche hat, essential counterpart to this outfit, is as popular as ever. If you are lucky enough to have picked one up in Skye, it will add an air of battered respectability essential to the well-dresses ‘grimpeuse’.

For evenings – a leopard skin chenille skirt received many admiring glances last time I was at Tyn y Shanty, and – Climbing News – the Michelin outfit, ideal for the evening stroll to Dungeon Ghyll or Capel Curig, (this is sometimes worn during the day too, as it is more shock-absorbent than the one-piece boiler-suit).  Simple to make from old coloured down sleeping bags. There can be nothing so attractive to the eye as a group of multi-coloured ‘Michelines’ sampling the frosty night air beside the moon-glittering expanse of Ogwen. Patterns available on request.

J.R.G.

Report of A.G.M.

by Ron Newman

Under the stern eye of its perennial chairman, before whom even the most aspiring filibuster wilts, the gate went up on the 1956 A.G.M. with just over thirty starters – the bare quorum.  Dan, the bit between his teeth and time spurring him on, galloped though the minutes of the 1955 A.G.M., jibing occasionally at the Hon. Sec’s bad writing. These were duly signed and, the straight over, the field thundered towards Valentine’s in the shape of the various officers’ report.

The Hon. Sec. reported that the vicissitudes of enrolment and departure boiled down to a total of plus six for the year’s membership strength.  The Hon. Treasurer, in the same person as the Hon. Sec. (Bob avoids becoming an Unholy Trinity by only one Hon. Office) embarked on the financial report. The incongruity of a mass of individuals, each tottering on the brink of insolvency, yet, collectively, able to show a credit balance of sixty-seven pounds, must have staggered many of us. This figure should be even greater next year, for the Hon. Sec./Hon. Treas. was heard to disclose privately that the cost of dinner tickets included ‘entertainment’: the only entertainment provided was by Alfie, and , presumably – gratis.  After referring to the somewhat precarious legal position of the Belfry, which it seems has infringed nearly all the local Town and Country Planning byelaws, the H.T. concluded with an appeal for prompt payment of the new year’s subscriptions.  This dreaded pronouncement, following the normal struggle for financial survival further aggravated by the seasonal expenses, must produce the same effect as Pharaoh’s decree about the same number of bricks, but without the provision of straw, upon the Israelites.

Caving, Climbing and St. Cuthbert’s reports all recorded good progress.  The Devil’s Punchbowl has yielded a new system.  The Climbing Section has been successfully tackling some of the most severe climbs in Wales and Skye; in the near future two parties are bound for skiing in Norway; and in Glen Coe one party took part in rescue operations, though the normal role was reversed to that of rescued. St. Cuthbert’s is now permanently laddered in many places and its formations are undamaged as yet, though care is still needed.  The same restrictions to visitors apply.

The Belfry claimed 911 bed-nights, and increase of 165.  Of these a hard nucleus of some 30 regulars contributed 546.  Not so strange to relate, up to Easter, bed-nights totalled only 70, at which some surprise was expressed.  One does not need surely to be statistically minded to work out the correlation between the number of bed-nights and the advent of Spring! There are some questions as to the suitability of Belfry water for human consumption, in view of the establishment of a pig farm in the precincts, but the squeamish were rapidly re-assured. After John Ifold’s delightful anecdote about pilgrimages to the Belfry water supply, those still thumbing through the ‘Home Doctor’ for the signs and symptoms of Dysentery, Typhoid, Paratyphoid and other water borne diseases might or might not derive comfort from the knowledge of the Belfry’s water alleged sanctity.

The legal beadles (the perverts who spend hours dissecting the Clubs’ constitution for possible loop-holes and then envisage highly improbably hypothesis of the required size and shape to slip through the loop holes) had so far lain low.  There was a little haggling over the Librarian’s report, but, fortunately, it did not develop into the usual time devouring straining at gnats.  The library now boasts 30 new editions, plus several years’ quarterly issues of ‘Mountain Craft’ shortly to be acquired from the Climbing Section.  Beware all members who do not return the books they borrow; their sins of omissions will shortly be followed by amerciament.  This arbitrary fine will be imposed after 4 free weeks allowed for reading, at the rate of 2d per book, per week.

The tackle report, in the absence of Ian Dear, the officer responsible, was not available, though the chairman thundered forth on the subject of damaged tackle, no matter how stupidly, for Heavens Sake tell the T.O; the B.E.C. is not interested in censuring anyone who damages tackle – however irresponsible – as ensuring that people’s lives and limbs are not endangered by using faulty tackle.

This concluded their reports.  The only member’s Resolution was that H. Balch be elected an Honorary Life Member. The only criticism this provoked was to the effect that it should have been done years before.  It was then pointed out that the B.E.C.’s 21st birthday will fall in May this year, and should be suitably celebrated.  After some pleasant bantering about the finer distinctions between various sorts of alcoholic celebrations it was decided tentatively, to put the matter before that august body – the Committee.  The question of address lists of members cropped up again; last year’s will appear shortly and will be followed up quickly by a revised list.

After a few false alarms and excursions, tea was ready at last.  Tea over, it was proposed to discuss Item 13 of the 1955 minutes. This ominous proposal, pregnant with promise of long verbal exercises, hair splitting and straining at gnats was quite sufficient to send the writer scurrying away for home, with many an ‘Om mane padme hum’ for the intrepid Dan!  If anyone cares about item 13 of the 1955 minutes perhaps the Hon. Sec./Treas. would like to add a sentence or two.

Additional Points from the A.G.M.

The total attendance was 36 members.

Hon. Sec’s report included reference to our 21st birthday, I mentioned that in May 1935 H. Stanbury and workmates went to Goatchurch and subsequently founded the B.E.C.  It is appropriate that our coming of age is celebrated by first of our ‘Reports’.  It was estimated that a 100 guests would be at the dinner (98 turned up).

The Treasurer’s report stressed necessity for minimum expenditure.  The purchase of the Belfry site will absorb surplus of £67 which of courses included £30 in Loans.  Any gifts would be welcomed.

After tea – sandwiches and cakes, the new Constitution and Rules were discussed.  The sub-committee had done their work very thoroughly and only a few minor amendments were made.  As soon as spare funds are available the new ‘Constitution’ and ‘Rules’ will be printed and circulated.

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An exhibition of cave photographs is being held by M.N.R.C. in Wells Museum at Whitsun 1956, from 19th – 22nd May inclusive.

It is open to any individual and we hope to have photographs submitted which are representative of all the caving and potholing areas of Britain.  It is not an inter-club competition in any way, and an exhibitor need not be a member of any club or society.  There is no entry fee.

Two Bronze Medals will be awarded.  Closing date for entries is 27th April, 1956.  Details and Entry Forms may be obtained upon application (enclosing a stamped addresses envelope from: - The Exhibition Committee, c/o The Museum, Wells, Somerset).

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A request for cave photographs has been received from Salvatore Dell’oca the Director of Rassegna Speleologica Italiana, and is appended below.  All replies to this request MUST be through Bob Bagshaw. –

I wish I could have some pictures of your caves, especially if concerning the most interesting carstic phenomena;  I need these pictures in order to draw a speleological publication with a large world wide documentation;  I ask the copyright for the pictures you will send me;  I will naturally mention the Author and his nationality.  I thank you in anticipation for everything you will be able to do; as for me I shall do my best to give all the Italian speleological news you require; in the meanwhile, accept my best greetings.

Salvatore Dell’oca

1956 Committee.

Hon. Sec. & Hon. Treas.,         B. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Rd, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Caving Sec. & Hut Warden,     A. Collins, 1 Kingston Place, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Assist. Hon. Sec. & B.B.  Publishing,      A.J. Sandall, 35 Beauchamp Road, Bishopston, Bristol. 7.
Chairman.                              T. Setterington, 87 Kingston Road, Taunton, Somerset.
Belfry Maintenance Eng.,         M. Jones, 12 Melton Crescent, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
Ladies Representative,            Miss J. Osborn, 389 Filton Avenue, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
Climbing Sec.                         P. Ifold, Sunnyside, Rectory lane, Compton Martin, Som.
Assit. Hut Warden,                 C. Rees, 2 Burghill Road, Westbury on Trim, Bristol.
Tackle Officer,                        N. Petty, 12 Bankside Road, Brislinton, Bristol. 4.

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Hon. Ed.                                H. Stanbury, 48 Novers park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

 

A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR READERS ALL OVER THE WORLD

The Cavers’ Calendar.

The following is reprinted from a calendar issued by G. Platten in 1947, and was written by P.E. Cleator.

January                  Overhaul all tackle in preparation for the coming season.  Throw out old rope, sandwiches, cigarette ends, etc.  Rather than waste any doubtful lumps of calcium carbide, thoroughly mix with your wife’s favourite bath salts.

February                Continue the overhauling process, polishing up boots, buttons, and cuss words.  Recapture your old form by assiduously practising striking of matches, the lighting of candles, the putting on of boots, taking of a bath, etc.

March                     Still in preparation for the strenuous days to come, place yourself on a strict diet of tallow and stale sandwiches containing genuine sand.  Consume no bread that has not been immersed three times in a convenient drain or gutter.

April                       Beg, borrow, steal or buy any remaining equipment which you have so far not been able to beg, borrow or steal.

May                        Ensure that dry batteries are not wet, or wet batteries dry, or alkaline batteries acid, or acid batteries alkaline.  Bear always in mind that primary batteries are of secondary importance, and that secondary batteries don’t matter a dam.

June                       Test all electric torch bulbs by dropping them on a tile floor of requisite hardness from a predetermined height of 7ft. 1in. Bulbs which fail to break should be tested again until success is achieved.

July                         Assure your suspicious spouse with glib, soothing, and convincing lies that nothing is further from your thoughts – so help you – than a dirty, filthy, low down, good-for-nothing caving trip with a lots of dirty, filthy, good-for-nothing cavers.

August                   Explain that you are gathering together and cleaning up all you tackle preparatory to selling it, that your dear, sweet, little wife may now buy that dress on which she has set her sweet little heart.

Draw £10 Stirling from the bank and replace as far as possible the equipment sold by your dear little wife to a passing peddler for the goodly sum of 6/3d.  Make a mental note to reduce the housekeeping allowance by 25% for the next ten years.

September            Increase the housekeeping allowance by 50% in the interests of world peace.  Solemnly promise across your black heart never again to deceive your poor neglected wife, who works her fingers to the bone whilst you gad about caving, boozing, swearing and generally having a helluva roaring time whilst your forgotten, neglected wife, who has devoted the best years of her life working her fingers to the bone, etc. 

October                  Stay at home washing dishes, peeling potatoes, scrubbing floors, and dusting shelves whilst your poor neglected wife works her fingers to the bone playing bridge, dancing and visiting the theatre.

November              Carefully place a .45 slug right into the centre of your dear little wife’s heart.

December             Make an early start for your long promised trip.  Approach the edge of the pot carefully, making sure that the noose is securely fastened.  Mind you don’t fall and break your neck.

Wedding Bells

The wedding took place at St. Mary’s Church, Great Sankey, on 15th October, between Francis M. Jackson and Raymond M. Wallis.  The bride wore a white dress of heavy brocade and was attended by two bridesmaids, one in pink and one in blue.

The bridegroom who, together with the principal male guests wore morning dress, was attended by his brother, Allan.

The reception took place at the Old Vicarage Hotel, Stretton, and the happy couple left later for a honeymoon touring the West Country.  Friends of the bridegroom, and there must be a few in the B.E.C., who do not know of ‘Pongo’, will be sorry to hear that a traditional B.E.C. send off, organised by your reporter and the best man was frustrated by the groom hiding his car and being driven from the reception in another car to pick it up.  He and his bride were well marked with confetti however.

Roving Reporter.

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Tony Johnson got married on the 19th November, to Miss Mary Edwards, at St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol.

Gone To The Dogs

Easter 1955 marked the tenth anniversary of my first visit to Priddy.  Sett, Pat Woodruff and I had gone down from Bristol University the previous summer and we wanted to break new ground in our caving.  We arranged to catch the 6.00pm train from Paddington for Westbury, change for Wells and push-bike up to Priddy.  When they opened the barrier at Paddington we rushed madly up the platform and bagged seats and flung our bikes in the luggage van.  In due course we found ourselves at Devizes, the end of the line, having got on the wrong half of the train.  We got as far as Frome and had to bike it from there.  Dead tired we eventually arrived at the barn about midnight. There was quite a crowd in the barn. I forget now who was there, but the Bridgwater Caving Club were more-or-less tenant in those days. Shorty, Fricca and Eame, Frank Seward, Ian Nixon are the names that come to mind – some now B.E.C. members, others now lost to caving.  Anyway, we were regaled with cups of tea and then dragged off down Swildons.  A full trip too, right down to the sump.  Of course, I fell in the double pot, but with a difference.  Those were the days of caving by candlelight.  I was totally immersed, barring one hand which held aloft a lighted candle rather like Excalibur.  It must have been 4 or 5 am, when we got out – to be reminded that the date was 1st April.

Sometime in the summer we joined the B.E.C., since when the club has of course been steadily going to the dogs!

The barn taught us the delights of hay as a mattress and blankets.  Normally it was the most comfortable couch one could want, but if Mr. Maine’s cows had been hungry lately, we shivered.  At all events, the advent of the first Belfry was not unwelcome. Relations with Mr. Maine were becoming a trifle strained and we were not too welcome with Tom Hulin at the ‘Vic’ after Campbell Mckee had words with Mrs. Weekes at closing time.  So instead we started to become civilised and after Easter 1947, we even had electricity due to the generosity of Uncle George giving us the generator and batteries via his nephews Pongo and Possle.  Really, things began to get disgusting and armchair caving set in.

For all the ‘good old days’ I cannot honestly regret the passing of the barn.  I think as much caving is still done and if we don’t now go round with hay in our hair we are none the worse off for it.  ‘Married Quarters’ are so much more respectable than rustlings in the hay.

Pongo

Notes on Cave Surveying – Part IV

By Alfie

The survey of the loop passage described in Part III is best tackled by a team of about 3.  Besides the compass, steel tape and clinometer, and a stout notebook and pencils will be required, and the party should be equipped with good lights.

Having reached the junction of the main loop passages it is found that, by standing on the floor of the main passage, it is impossible to see into the loop passage, owing to the height if this above the floor so a point is chosen in the main passage from which the corner and the bank are both visible.  A stalagmite on the floor marks the spot which is called Station 1. Station 2 is chosen on the top of the bank, where a line of sight down the loop passage may be taken, and a light set up at this point.

The compass is held at Station 1, and the reading of Station 2 is noted down -221o.  The distance is measured by means of the steel tape -8’ 5” and the clinometer reads +45o.  A light is now held at Station 1 and the bearing from 2 to 1 taken.  The compass now reads 40o.  This is known as the BACK BEARING of the reading from Station 1 to 2. Similarly a back reading on the clinometer can be taken from Station 2 to Station 1.  This reads -46o.  These back readings are taken as a check on the original readings from 1 to 2.

While still at Station 2 a third station is down in the loop passage on the corner, and is called Station 3, and the survey progresses in this manner.

A special arrangement is decided upon when the pot is reached and is shown in the sketch below.

 

From Station 5, the main passage can be seen again, and Station 6 can be seen from Stations 5 and 1. The circle is thus completed. Back bearings cannot be taken from Stations 4 and 5, owing to the impossibility of reading a compass from these positions backwards.

N.B.  It is very important, while on a magnetic survey to keep all iron and steel articles well away from the compass.  In this example, the steel tape must be kept well away.  A member of the party with a steel caving hat is a particular menace on a magnetic survey.

Alfie.

Caving in Derbyshire -  Part 3.

By Stan Gee.

The Mines and caverns of Matloch and Matloch Bath.

Matloch although quite large tourist centre, has only one commercialised cave.  This is known as the ‘Roman’ or ‘ Fern Cave’.  It is situated at the top of High Tor and is merely an open fissure with very passages.

It is interesting from a geological point of view, but otherwise it is not worth the hard climb up.

Another cavern of Matloch is Jugholes.  This is not commercialised but even so, is probably one of the most visited caves in Derbyshire.

Jugholes is situated on the Snitterton side of Masson Hill, and can be reached by taking the road from Matloch to Snitterton Village, and then taking the footpath through Leawood Farm direct to the entrance of Jugholes.

The caverns are divided into two sections, called for convenience, the upper and lower systems.

The lower system is entered by a long mine passage, after a journey through a number of mined and natural caverns, terminates in a shaft, that leads upwards for 20ft. to the entrance of the upper system.

These caverns while being devoid of formations are extensive and worth a visit.

The upper system is also entered by a series of mine passages, and an iron laddered shaft of 15ft., gives access to the cave section.

From the base of this ladder, the way on is through an amazing boulder choke.  This descends at a steep angle, to the cave proper.  This choke terminates in the main cavern which is some 100 yards long and has a small stream running along the bottom. There are several passages off the various sections, bearing such names as ‘Rocky Mountains’, ‘ Suez Canal’, and the Cellars.  The latter is the most interesting, and in the passage to the ‘Cellars’ are many fine formations.

When exploring these systems, care should be taken as they are extremely complicated.  It is also desirable to obtain permission to explore, from either the Derbyshire Stone Co., or from Operation Mole Speleological Group, the latter being something of an authority on the caves and are very co-operative.

Matloch Bath.  Is situated some 1¾ miles from Matloch and is a great tourist centre.

Here one can spend vast sums of money doing nothing at all.  Here everything to delight the tourist can be found, from medicinal waters, lovers walks, and boating on the Derwent, to ‘Exploring’ the mysterious caverns underground.  There are also, the famous petrifying wells, each one with its assortment of boots, bird’s nests, and pay boxes.

There are three commercial caves, now open, though there used to be as many as nine.

The present caves are, The Royal Cumberland Cavern, The Rutland Cavern, and the Great Masson Cavern. I do not think we need to dwell to long on these as they all possess the usual characteristics of a commercial cavern. i.e., a wishing well (guaranteed) and fabulous formations, each with a fantastic name.  There are, however of some interest and can be found in close proximity to one another on the heights of Abraham.

There are many other caves close by, which though not of large dimensions possesses some very nice formations.

One of these is the Devonshire Cavern.  This is situated on the north end of Upper Wood Rd., on a footpath to Bonsall.  It is one of the old show caves, and its passages, mostly mined, extend for a considerable distance, are extremely complicated.

This cave is in danger of collapse and great care should be exercised.

The Ball Eye Mine is another cavern that was discovered by mining operations.

It is situated on the road from Bonsall to Cromford and lies opposite the ‘Via Gellia’ Dale.  Although I have not personally visited this cave, it is reputed to be fairly extensive and to have a large amount of Calcite decoration.

Even though Matloch’s area is vastly commercialised, there is still much exploratory work to be done, and it is possible that entirely new systems will be found in the future.

Therefore may I raise my hat to those intrepid ‘Trogs’ who are prepared to brave the horrors of a tourist centre in the name of Speleology.

Stanley Gee.

Society News

The Duke of Mendip.

On 15th October last, His Grace was concerned in scenes of considerable rejoicing among the tenantry on his northern estates when he joined in matrimony to Frances, Lady Jackson. The ceremony was performed among much pomp and splendour at the cathedral of Great Sankey.  The tenants, peasantry and serfs were accommodated in the gallery, along with representatives of the press, etc., and were thereby restrained from mixing with the numerous representatives of the peerage, nobility etc., who crowded the pews reserved for their lordly persons.

His Grace was dressed with his customary elegance, the cut-away coat being of the very latest mode and was admirably set off by his exquisite carnation.  Only by the lack of his nailed boots and fisherman’s hat would his Mendip serfs have failed to recognise their Lord.

After the ceremony Their Graces left on a tour of the West Country and have now taken up residence in their new seat.

Wansdyke

by Keith Gardner.

Whenever the Bath or Bristol member goes to the Belfry he crosses, knowingly or otherwise, one of our greatest national antiquities – Wansdyke, a linear earthwork starting at Inkpen Beacon near Hungerford and ending in Gordano country over seventy miles to the west.  At some points en route it is an impressive monument rising high above its ditch (which is on its north side) while at other places the progress of agriculture has reduced it to a ‘ghost’ visible only from the air, under certain conditions.

For centuries the question of its age and purpose remained a mystery, answered only by legend and folklore, and even early Archaeologists such as Colt-Hoare and the Rev. Smith interpreted the evidence available in such a way that it was ‘proved’ to be pre-Roman.  More recent work however, initially by General Pitt-Rivers has revealed that it has actually been built in places on top of the Roman road from Bath to London.  A study of similar earthworks such as Offa’s Dyke which formed the boundary between Wales and Mercia, stretching from the Dee to Beachley, suggests that they were kingdom boundaries of the Dark Ages, i.e., that period between the collapse of the Roman economic civilisation and the final ascendancy of the Anglo-Saxon invaders.

This is the period when Artorious, the locally ordained Comes Brittaniarum was suppressing the bands of pirate invaders and generally organising military resistance in the absence of imperial legions.  He, being presumably well versed in Roman fighting technique, probably organised his ‘home-guard’ on Roman lines, using frontier walls and employing heavy cavalry units against the lightly armed footmen form the Elbe.  We are told of the many great victories which his superior methods produced and at the famous Battle of Mons Badonicus his men alone were responsible for the death of 960 invaders – a considerable number in those days. He became a legendary hero and gradually many stories of valour grew around him as the great King Arthur, gaining the tint of mediaeval chivalry though the imaginative pen of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

It is conceivable that Arthur or a person of similar office caused these boundary lines to be constructed all over the country, as he was not advisor to any one ruler but ‘fought with the Kings of Britain, being himself dux bellorum’.

For those who are interested in the itinerary of the dyke from Bath westwards it is roughly as follows.  From Odd Down it runs via English Combe along Stanton Prior Hill, to Stantonbury Camp, a fine but overgrown example of a hill fort, and then down the north-west slope to Wansdyke House, where the Keynsham road meets the Bath-Wells road.  Passing Compton Dando it goes to Maesknoll, crossing the A37 near the railway bridge south of Hursley Hill, and then to Dundry where it turns north to Long Ashton and over Failand to a point near Portbury Priory where it appears to end in flat alluvial moors.

Although for long distances it is merely a single ditch and bank there are numerous enclosures and other remains attached to it, which might possibly be vestiges of the occupation sites of the persons engaged on the construction.  Much field work needs to be carried out on these monuments and indeed the Society of Antiquaries are treating it as a prime research project and require assistance from local societies wherever these sites exist.

A Trip to Spitsbergen

by Thomas E. Fletcher.

It was through a chance remark In the ‘Tivoli’ in the Strand that I heard in May that a vacancy had suddenly arisen in the expedition to Spitsbergen, that a geologist climbing friend of mine has started to plan last Christmas.  Ever since I first heard of the idea I was keen to go, but doubted whether time would allow, as I was due to take up an appointment in Tanganyika in the middle of the year.  To add further difficulties there was the question of finance for a pure chemist can hardly make a case for financial support for vital research in the artic.  But now I made a quick decision to go and for the next 6 weeks there was one mad rush to finish off a thesis, arrange with the Colonial Office to postpone my date of appointment, pack up my flat in London, and prepare for the trip.  However, as always when one is presented with a dead-line everything gets done and falls into place and on the 30th July I sailed out of Newcastle bound for Bergen with the three other members of the expedition and some 10cwt. of equipment.

The party consisted of Jerry, a soil scientist who originated the idea; Fitz, a lecturer in Soil Chemistry at Aberdeen University on whom fell much of the organising, and Alan, a lecturer in Botany at Glasgow University.  It was up the Norwegian coast that we picked up Ola our last member – a Norwegian soil scientist.  The four days spent on the coastal steamer sailing north along the coast to Tromso were a sheer delight.  We called in for an hour or two at numerous ports at all hours of the day and almost the non-existent night.  The scenery is no doubt some of the finest in the world and the evening and night we sailed through the Lofoten Isles it was just too good to go to bed and miss. Much time was spent sunbathing and shutter clicking while some members of the party devoted a great deal of time furthering Anglo-Norwegian relations in a style that would be appreciated by any male member of the Club.  It was all rather sad when the coastal express pulled away from the quay at Tromso and left for the North Cape taking with it so many happy friendly faces.

We had three days to spend before the ‘Lyngen’ sailed on its 600 mile trip across the Artic Ocean to Spitsbergen, or Svalbard as the Norwegians call it.  Jerry and I had made plans to climb a mountain or two as near as Lyngen as possible the Lyngen peninsula itself being a mountaineers’ paradise but just too far away for us to tackle in such a short time.

We got off to a flying start in the morning and within four hours of getting up we had packed, eaten, bought food, hitched 25 miles, walked 2 or 3 miles to a base camp and were ready to start climbing.  Although on the 70th parallel it was as hot as if we were in Northern Italy, we had an excellent day climbing on a very fine 5000’ peak and traversing a most interesting ridge complete with abseils before we dropped down to the glacier again. The next day was just as good and the views of Lyngen were so splendid that I have resolved to go back to that part of Norway on my first leave.  We returned to Tromso in very fine form having had an excellent ‘aperitif’ for whatever was held in store for us further North.

However, little did we think that the ‘Hors d’Oeuvres’ was to follow so quickly.  As soon as we had left the sheltered waters of the coast and headed out towards Bear island the weather deteriorated and we had three days of hell, rather like doing Stoke Lane to the sun and back for 72 hours.  However, the fog lifted and the heavy seas subsided as we reached the sheltered waters of Isfiord on the west coast of Svalbard.  What a feast we had in store – first of all views of splendid mountains separated by gigantic glaciers coming down to the sea, and secondly breakfast the first meal we could eat for three days.  What an orgy!

The expedition was interested mainly in studying soil formations in a periglacial climate to see if any light could be thrown on certain phenomena occurring in Scottish soils. This did not necessitate travelling far from Longearbyen – the Norwegian administrative and coal mining centre – before setting up base camp.  So we crossed Advent fiord to where there were some old disused huts of a derelict coal working.  Within a day we had fitted up the old Directors office log cabin into a dining – sleeping room, kitchen, soils lab., and a botanical lab., and work started in earnest. At base I was chief cook and odd job man and turned my hand to a little soil chemistry.  However, of the four weeks we were in Svalbard I spent about three-quarters of the time away on three main trips into the interior.

The country around us was carved into mountains some 3000’ feet high with the snow line at about 1500’ and all the mountain valleys and corries holding glaciers.

It was superb country for snow and ice mountaineering.  The rock was sandstone and so severely frost shattered that climbing was out of the question, but there was so much general exploration to be done that, that did not worry me.  Within a couple of days or so I was off with Fitz on a five day 55 mile round trip. The area we were interested in from the scientific angle consisted of a mountain massif probably 25 miles by 15 miles surrounded by the sea on the North and West and separated from the rest of the mainland by two major valleys – Sassendalen and Adventdalen on the remaining two sides.  The massif itself was roughly bisected by a valley running due North and South.  Fitz and I set off with six days of food to circumnavigate the furthest half of our area.  We had perfect weather and at one time there was not a cloud in the sky for 48 hours so we had continuous sunshine.  We slept at trapper’s huts and one day while Fitz dug holes down to the perma-frost I went off on a solitary mission to an attractive peak at the head of a rather inviting glacier.  The views were splendid – ice and snow clad peaks in every direction as far as the eye could see.  To the North one could see the blue waters of Sassenfiord with its little ice floes and beyond the high ground where a Cambridge and another British party were operating.  The beauty was beyond description and the thought of those panoramic views still makes me forget all my trivial every day troubles. A highlight on the following day was when we put up on the coast a flock of some 100 -150 pink footed geese – a very fine sight indeed.  They had only just got their flight feathers again though some could not raise themselves from the water they were still able to flap along a great speed.

Within two days of our return to base, I was off again – this time with Jerry.  He wanted to camp in a certain valley in which he wanted to make a detailed study, and from a recce, he had decided that the glacier itself was the best camp site.  Luckily, I found an almost ideal site about 100 yards before we reached the ice.  It was about the only flat piece of ground in the whole valley and happened to be covered in moss, but was situated on the edge of a steep and very loose bank of moraine above the glacial torrent.  While the sun was on the tent it was heaven, but as soon as the cool air of the evening started to avalanche off the glacier it was a different matter.  However, Black’s Icelandic sleeping bags kept us warm.  While Jerry did his work, I had several days solid mountaineering – days of peak bagging in a sea of glaciers.  I justified my existence scientifically, though I financed myself and was thus responsible to no grant making authority, by collecting the highest flowering plants, mosses and lichens that I could find for the botanist – Alan.  Apparently new species and several new altitude records were established.

Within a couple of days of returning to base I was off on my last major journey, this time by myself. I wanted to look at the land to the south of us – to penetrate the Reindalen 25 miles away.  So at 9pm one evening, I set off across the fiord and reached my first trappers hut at 11.30pm.  The next day was the longest of the whole expedition; I was up at 7am and by 4pm I had reached the next hut several miles away, investigated several minor valleys on the way.  This was a high hut and after a meal I shot up to the ridge 1000’ above me with my collecting tins and bags, and a day’s emergency food.  The weather was still perfect, but it was obviously going to break as heavy clouds were forming in the mountains 40-50 miles away to the south. So I decide to make the trip to Reindalen there and then, along the 10 mile ridge before me.  It was a ridge I shall always remember – again the views of hanging glaciers, icefalls, superb peaks as well as of huge snow and ice fields were beyond description.  Being alone always enhances beauty to me, and certainly makes the memories more vivid. I reached the main valley of Reindalen at midnight and after wading a glacial river in which I almost became stuck, I made for an old trappers hut marked on the map.  When I came across a cache of food on the far bank left by a Cambridge – Sherbourne party I felt this was a bad omen.  Why did they not leave it in the hut?  Within the hour I knew the answer – an avalanche had destroyed the hut! Here I was at 1am with no shelter for the night, for I had left my sleeping bag at the previous hut, so I could not bivouac comfortably.  So I nibbled some food and pressed back towards the north after taking a few photographs, with 10 miles between me and bed.  I had intended returning via another ridge walk, but the clouds were beginning to form on the peaks nearby so I took the valley route (as if I wouldn’t at that time of night anyway!).  At 2am I came across a reindeer round a boulder at 5 yards range. I still don’t know who was the more startled.  We just stood and looked at each other, but by the time I was ready with the camera she had decided to make a retreat.  At 5am I reached the hut that I had left 12 hours previously and after a meal sank into bed after a 23 hour day.  3 days later I was back again at base.

The weather was more than kind to us in Svalbard, but it had a treat in store for us on return. The trip south to Tromso was two stages worse than that going north, but it relented as soon as we travelled further south and we had another excellent trip going down the Norwegian coast.  We disembarked at Tronheim and went to Oslo by train and then to Bergen and so back to England.

In Svalbard it was quite warm, rather like the high Alps – very warm in the day with coolish nights when the sun was low in the northern sky.  At night it never froze a sea level, but probably at 1000’ or a little lower in the shade.  However, it was getting decidedly nippy when we left at the end of August.  The miners were beginning to talk of a long winter and the joys of skiing as soon as the light came again in late February.  Flowers abound at the lower altitudes – the dominant vegetation being the white petalled flower Dryas Octapetalus, while the yellow bloom of the artic poppy occurred up to about 3000’.  We saw several specimens of musk-ox – a large shaggy sheep-like animal, artic fox and reindeer, but no polar bears.  The birds were varied, but not so plentiful and interesting as the veritable feast I had in Iceland the previous summer.  However, we had a pair of Artic Skuas, not above a mile from base. Every time we penetrated their territory we were duly dive-bombed, and a frightened experience it was at first, as these large birds dived within an inch or two of ones head and the draught of their wings beat into ones face.

The only caving I did was to look into an adit of one of the two major coal mines that the Norwegians run in the valley behind Longearbyen.  The mines, which of course, are in permanently frozen rock, produce some very fine coal – the only coal Norway has in her own territories.  The 2000 Norwegians are not the only miners up there, for there are a similar number of Russians in two other major mining areas.

Although Spitsbergen is only some 600 miles from the North Pole, it is quite easy of access.  A daily coastal steamer sails from Bergen to Tromso and on to the Russian frontier and returns every day taking twelve days for the round trip.  From Tromso ‘Lyngen’ makes four to five round trips northwards each summer, while coal boats ply between Svalbard and Norway as long as the ice will allow.  The cost of the whole trip was just under £80, of which £50 was travelling expenses.  However, the cost would have been up to the £100 mark if British industry had not played trumps and made us handsome gifts of watches and Weston meters to milk powder and salted peanuts.  However, it is not an inaccessible country.  With £80 and six or seven weeks to spare and the co-operation of the industrial world, a trip could be organised by a small group of keen types with relative ease.  If anyone wants any advice just buy an airmail letter and send it to me please at Amani, Tanga, Tanganyika and I will be only too pleased to put them in the picture. And of course, if time is no object, then the journey to and from Tromso could be arranged easily by trawler and so £30 could be saved.  What about a B.E.C. Svalbard Expedition soon…Why not?     

Thomas E. Fletcher

The Belfry Bulletin

This is the 100th issue of the B.B.  For this reason it is a bumper issue

Since its inception in 1947, the B.B. has been a link between the active and non-active, the ‘Home’ and ‘Away’ Club members – copies have been sent regularly to other societies both in this country and abroad.  Except on the odd occasions when circumstances beyond our control prevented it, the B.B. has appeared regularly each month.

We started by publishing two foolscap pages, but found that three of quarto size were more acceptable. It is my ambition to have eventually a monthly issue with more pages than the ‘normal’ issue, but this of course depends on the inflow of material, especially of a caving nature – although active, there is a strange reluctance to put this activity on paper – when this is overcome the B.B. will become larger.

Finally, I would like to thank all those contributors who over the years have helped to make the B.B. a success.

T.H. Stanbury.
Hon. Editor.

Personal

To Clare wife of Don Coase – a son – Jonathan.

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R.J. Bagshaw; Hon. Sec. & Hon. Treas.  56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol.4.

T.H. Stanbury; Hon. Editor. BB 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

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No resolutions for A.G.M. have yet been received.

The final date for the handing in of resolutions will be Friday January 20th 1956.  These should be sent to the Hon. Sec. at the address as above.  Any resolution received after thus date will have to be raised under A.O.B. at the A.G.M.

Caving Reports

A series of Caving Reports will be published from time to time.  The first will be ready shortly.  The title is the ‘Survey of Redcliffe Caves’.

The price of each report will be 2/6d.

 

The second report which is being prepared will be on St. Cuthberts Swallet.

Members wishing to receive these report regularly, can be placed on a circulation list.

Please send your names and addresses to the Hon. Sec.  Copies will be available to members and persons not on the circulation list.

Reports.

The first ‘Report’ (on Survey of Redcliffe Caves) is now available price 2/6d. If there is sufficient demand – Line Die, copies of the Survey (about 20”” x 30”) will be produced – so – write to the Hon. Sec. if you would like one.

Annual Subscriptions

Annual Subscriptions are now overdue, so will those members whose subscriptions are still unpaid please remit to Hon. Sec. as soon as possible.

Funds are still needed for the purchase of the Belfry Site and for a new tackle store – any donations for the above would be gratefully received. Please enclose any such sums with your annual subscriptions.

Clanger Dept.

The Editor has received the following letter: -

Dear Harry,

In my last ‘Derbyshire’ article, printed in the recent B.B. I noticed a few place misprints, most likely due to my rotten writing.  However, I think it would be most misleading to anyone contemplating a Derbyshire trip this year, therefore I hope you won’t mind me taking a liberty, and quoting corrections just for reference.

Cheerio for now and all the best.

Stan Gee.

Oxlow-Marsh Hill-system should read Oxlow-Maskhill system.

Cave of Win Hill should read Cone of Win Hill.

Adins Mine should read Odins Mine.

+  + +  +  + +  +  + +  +  + +  +  +

Sorry Stan,

I should have known better – the mistakes were due to lack of concentration when proof reading.

T.H.S.

21st Year Festivities

Beginning Whitsun 1956 The Club’s 21st Year Festivities Saturday 21st May

2.30pm  - 5.00pm  -  HUNT THE BOOZE
This will take place in Goatchurch Cave, Burrington.

5,00pm  - 6.00pm  -  Wash & Brush Up

6.00pm  - 11.00pm  informal buffet & party in Wells

Sunday 22nd May

Serious caving trips will be undertaken down most major cave systems.

Sunday Night - Bonfire

Monday 23rd May

Day of Rest & Recovery

6.00PM  - 11.00PM  -  At The Hunters Lodge Inn.

It is up to you the members of the club to make this a success by turning up on time and joining in!

Change of Address.

A. Collins  - ‘Alfie’                  1, Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol. 8.

Dennis Kemp.                         c/o Photographic Dept., Brampton Hospital, London, S.W.3.

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LABOUR is urgently needed for work on the Belfry Site and for the transport of various materials from various places – so roll up in your thousands there is (I hope) work for all!.

Additions to the Library

The following have been added recently to the Club Library: -

The Geology of Bristol & its Adjoining Counties.
The London Caver.
The News N.S.S. Vol. 13 No. 10  October 1955
The News N.S.S. Vol. 14 No. 1  January 1956
The News N.S.S. Vol. 14 No. 2  February 1956
The News N.S.S. Vol. 14 No. 3 March 1956
Cave and Crag Club Vol. 4  No. 9 October 1955.
Cave and Crag Club Vol. 4  No. 10 November 1955
Cave and Crag Club Vol. 5  No. 1 January 1956.
Orpheus Caving Club Vol. 1  No. 1 November 1954.
The Descent of Pierre Saint-Martin. – N. Casteret.
Cave Science No. 24 April 1955.
C.R.G. Newsletter No. 52 November 1955
C.R.G. Newsletter No. 53-54 December 1955.
C.R.G. Newsletter No. 55 January/February 1956.
C.R.G. Biological Supplement December 1955.
W.C.C. Journal No. 54 January 1956.
B.C.C.C. Newsletter No. 11 December 1955.
N.S.S. Newsletter No. 11 November 1955.
N.S.S. Newsletter No. 12 December 1955.
S.W.C.C. Newsletter No. 14 March 1956.
W.S.G. Newsletter Vol. 2  No. 12 March 1956.
Mendip Cave Group Newsletter No. 9 March 1956.
Brirish Caver Vol. 26 – 1955.
Devon Speleological Soc. Newsletter No. 41 November 1954.

Your Librarian is still Johnny Ifold at Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr, Bristol.

List of Members.

Once again the Editor apologises for the delay in publishing this list – pressure of work has again made it impossible this month, but don’t despair – it is in the forefront of his mind but not yet on paper.

Notice.

Will all Climbing Section Members especially those who instruct new members and the area as a training ground, please note the following: -

Tyro’s Crack, Churchill Rocks.

Whilst climbing here recently, it was noticed that the pitons which were formerly at the end of the first and second pitches had been removed.

There is now no belay on this climb until the trees at the top are reached, and since this is about 140ft. in rope distance from the start of the climb, is of no use when using normal length climbing rope.

Perhaps the next time the ‘Rock engineers’ visit the place, the pitons could be replaced.

Jack Waddon.

Can Anyone Tell Me Why?

More Answers By?

The reason for the continued existence of large fossils after their smaller counterparts in the surrounding matrix have been eroded away is surely due to the fact that large bodies erode or dissolve at a slower rate than smaller bodies of the same material, provided the physical and chemical conditions do not vary greatly.

Imagining the fossils as spheres with an occasional very large sphere (large fossil) imbedded in them, it is easily shown that the surface area, and therefore, the rate of erosion, at the surface of a large fossil, is proportionately much smaller than the area, and erosion rate of a small fossil.  Hence, the larger the fossil, the longer it will continue to exists.

Important Research Work at Priddy

By Brian M. Ellis.

Several weeks ago, on a fine Sunday morning, four cavers made an expedition into the depths of darkest Priddy with the intent on making a very important scientific experiment.  With this end in view, and no other was present in our minds at the time we assure you, the four of us crossed the sacred precincts of the ‘New Inn’ sometime within the legally permitted period of twelve till two in the afternoon. Because it was necessary for the success of the experiment that we had in mind, four pints of ‘rough’ are ordered and in the usual manner of speed by both name and picture we had to wait fifteen minutes for these to be placed on the table in front of us.  At last there were there; three-quarters of each pint were downed and then to work.  The apparatus was assembled and everything prepared, even Mr. Speed sensed the electrified atmosphere – shuffling over to the other side of the table, the better to see what strange going on within his Public House.  Dead silence and the experimenter performed the first highly complex test.  Then a worried look crossed his brow and he consulted his book of pictures (he cannot read) and then went into consultation with his three assistants.  After a very long time it was not agreement but compromise that was reached, the answer lay somewhere between, ‘two and seven’; whatever that might mean.  Undeterred by this lack of correlation the experimenter prepared to make a second and more specific test.  Breathing ceased temporarily in excitement. The apparatus was again set up and the test made.  Another result obtained, the book was again consulted and a conference of expedition’s members called.  Meanwhile, the interested (?) spectators waited impatiently for the result which they were sure would startle the world; would the result be as high as expected? This question, I can assure you, was absent from all minds present – they were all too busy wondering who was going to pay for the next round.

At long last he leaned back with a half-satisfied look on his face and the silence was only broken by the sound of four mugs being drained.  The moment had arrived and he spoke, “The pH of Sylvester’s ‘rough’ is 3.5”.  No one but he even knew what pH meant or did - but what did it matter, it had been a novel excuse for a drink and it might interest someone or other.

Acknowledgements are recorded to the three assistants, Miss A. George, and Mr. and Mrs. T. Neil and whichever one of them it was who paid for the drinks. Thanks also go to the person, unknown, who made the experiment possible, the person who left the set of wide and narrow range ‘Indicator Papers’ lying around in the ‘Belfry’.

Despite everything, the result of pH 3.5 was genuinely obtained; if that means anything to you. In case you don’t know what pH is, it is the logarithm to the base 10 of the reciprocal of the hydrogen concentration.  Better?

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R.J. Bagshaw,     Hon. Sec. 56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol.4.
T.H. Stanbury      Hon. Editor. 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.