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A Happy New Year to all our readers and Good Caving in 1958

Editorial

We must, unfortunately, start 1958 with an apology from the Editor, who has been on the sick list for the last month.  As a result of this, the B.B. will be a week late this month and some of the letters about water Temperatures in Cuthbert's again cannot be published until he can return to work, where they have been left.  He hopes that he will be ‘back to normal’ by the time the February B.B. is due to to written.

As a result of several requests for a back cover, we have had the covers printed for this year to fold over and make a complete cover for the inside pages.  This should, again, improve the appearance of the magazine. We have retained the colour and design of last year.

We should like to take this opportunity to ask our contributors to indicate on their articles etc.; whether they are agreeable to having it condensed if necessary.  This has been done on some occasions in the past, so that it will fit into a particular issue of the magazine; and on most of these occasions, the author’s agreement has been given.  We should, however, like people to know that, where they consider this to be a bad thing, their wishes will be respected.

Finally, an appeal to vote for the 1958 committee.  There are plenty of names to choose from this year!  Make sure you get the people YOU want, and turn up in your thousands to the A.G.M. at Redcliffe Hall on Saturday afternoon, 25th January.  The Annual Dinner follows at Cheddar that evening.

 “Alfie”

December Committee Meeting

Two new decisions have been made concerning grades of club membership.  Joint membership is to be free if the husband is conscripted and would thus qualify for free membership.  This was passed Nem. Con. (5 for and 2 abstaining).  In addition, a new class of membership has been agreed to. This is Joint Life Membership and will cost 7 guineas.

The trees have been planted on the Belfry site and some of the fencing necessary is in position. The arrangements for the new Belfry, mains water, accumulator disposal etc., continue.

New Members

We should like to welcome John Cundy and James Goodwin, who have recently been elected to membership of the club.

Changes of Address and New Addresses.

For those who are determined to keep their annual list of addresses up to date, see the following: -

Delete the 5 from Bristol in Bryan Ellis’s address.

Add      389.  R. Burky, 52 Sedgemoor Road, Coombe Down, Bath, Somerset

G.B. Dates

The following Dates have recently been received form the U.B.S.S.: -

18th January; 1st March; 12th April; 31st May

Water Temperatures

December 15th, 1957.

Some more temperatures were taken in Cuthbert’s on December 7th by Norman Petty, Paul and Tessie Burt, together with a party of visitors from Leicester University led by Alan Coase.

To begin with, the party showed odd fluctuations in numbers and we were beginning to wonder whether we could ever count bods, let alone degrees; but it settled down at six and remained more or less so for the rest of the trip.

Surface water temperatures were taken in Cuthbert‘s pool and Plantation Stream.  At this stage, it was discovered that the party had no less than three thermometers for water temperature as well as a wet and dry bulb thermometer for humidity readings.  This seemed rather a lot, but the number was adjusted on the way down the entrance pitch, at the bottom of which, one was found to be broken.  This sacrifice must have placated St. Cuthbert, as all went smoothly afterwards.

Temperatures were taken at most of the places suggested by Don Coase (see B.B.118) and he saw to it that the temperature of the Wookey Rising was also taken (at 2.30 a.m.!)

All temperatures so far taken are summarized in the table in degrees Centigrade.  The thermometers used for water temp. could not be read accurately to better than 0.25OC, so that differences of less than half a degree must be disregarded.

“ Plantation” System

October 5th

December 7th

Plantation Stream at the surface

10.6

7.2

Rabbit Warren Extension

10.3

-

Plantation Stream at Junction

10.3

8.5

 

 

 

St. Cuthbert’s System

 

 

Pool at the surface

11.7

8.1

Pulpit

10.0

9.0

Showerbath

10.0

8.9

Dining Room

9.2

-

St. Cuthbert’s stream at junction

-

9.1

 

 

 

Combined Systems

 

 

Just below junction

-

8.4

Sump

-

8.6

Wookey Hole rising

-

10.0

 

 

 

Other Tributaries in Cave

 

 

Pool in Rabbit Warren

9.2

9.2

Maypole System stream

-

9.1

Great Gour

-

9.5

Air temperatures were also taken in December, in the same places as the water temperatures and they were consistently 10.1 to 10.2 except in two places, and the pools in the Rabbit Warren and on the Great Gour, where they were 10.5O

In December, the air temperature outside the cave had recently risen considerably, so that it was well above the temperature of the stream entering the cave.  Under these conditions, the larger the volume of the stream and the more rapid its flow, the lower would its temperature when it entered the cave.  Thus the Plantation stream entered around 0.9 degrees cooler than the slower, smaller St. Cuthbert’s stream.  As no other stream as large as these enters the ground in the area, it seems likely that any other water entering the St. Cuthbert’s system would be seepage water entering the ground at a temperature close to that of the St. Cuthbert’s stream or even higher.

From the table, it will be seen that the Cuthbert's stream had risen about one degree between the surface and Plantation Junction.  All other cave water tested, except the Plantation stream, was at about the same temperature (9.1 to 9.5) but the Plantation stream at Plantation Junction was nearly a degree cooler than the Cuthbert’s stream at the same place – about the same difference they showed on the surface.  This seems to support the view that the Plantation stream in the cave is correctly named, for had this stream been caused by seepage water, its temperature would have been at least a degree higher.

The situation in October is much harder to sort out, since a true air temperature is lacking.  It was assumed that this was 9.2 degrees, the temperature of the Cuthbert’s stream at the Dining Room, but it seems surprising that the cave air temperature should be lower in October than December. Perhaps drier air entered the cave and the stream cooled to below air temperature by evaporation?  If it is assumed that in October, the cave air temperature was between 9 and 10 degrees, then the fact that the Plantation stream changed less in temperature between the surface and Plantation Junction than did the Cuthbert's stream in reaching the Dining Room, is not surprising, since, although both streams ended up close to cave air temperature, Cuthbert's left the surface much further from it.

More readings are needed. The situation that would throw most light on the problem would be to have both plantation and Cuthbert’s streams entering the cave at the same temperature, this temperature being at least 3O different from cave air temperature.

Fortunately, it may be possible to get more direct evidence.  Water samples were taken from the two streams on the surface, and the Cuthbert’s stream was found to contain a great deal of chloride, the plantation stream little. It is hope to take water samples from the cave during the next temperature trip.

It is interesting that pools, such as the one in the Rabbit Warren and on the Great Gour, both very large compared with the volume of water entering them, should be able to remain up to 0.8O different from cave air temperature.  In December, their supply was cooler than cave air temperature, and it would be of interest to see if they maintain their temperature differential when the water supply is warmer than cave air temperature.  This seems unlikely.

The air temperatures of the cave were remarkably constant.  The difference of 0.4OC between the air close to the stream and the situations of the roof of the cave was probably due to air cooled by the stream tending to underlie warmer, stagnant air above; the direction of the temperature gradient tending to make the conditions stable in a similar manner to ‘frost pockets’ on the surface.  Presumably when the stream is warmer than the air, convection would occur and the temperature differences would not be observed.

The temperature of the Wookey Rising agrees well with the St. Cuthbert’s air temperature, and is probably the temperature of the whole mass of Mendip at this depth.

The relative humidity of the cave was at all times above 99%, the instrument used being sufficiently accurate to distinguish humidity between 99% and 100%.  It seems that an instrument having a sensitivity of not less than 0.025OC would be necessary to record the very small differences from 100% humidity to be expected in caves.  December 7th was not a day when humidity’s of much lower than 100% could have been expected in the cave, as the surface humidity at the time was 100%.  (A typical Mendip mist, in fact! D.A.C.)

N. Petty and P. Burt

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

I hope that our Ed. will not think me derogative,
If I say that this space seems to be his prerogative.
So creating a precedent is now my intention
With this little rhyming of my own invention

Mervn Hannam

Answers to Problems in Christmas B.B.

Xmas Xword.  Across: - (1) and (6) Electrolysis.  (9) Fluorides.  (10) Ghana.  (11) Not Home.  (12) Whorled. (13) Inhales its smell.  (15) Climbing reports.  (18) Ensigns.  (19) Alpacas. (22) Viola.  (23) Overthrow.  (24) Reels. (25) Needler.  Down.  (1) Elfin. (2) E Boat.  (3) Turmoil.  (4) Old and Sandstone.  (14) Hailstone.  (15) Cleaver. (16) Bog Oaks.  (17) Pipette.  (20) Coral. (21) Sewer.

Puzzle Corner:  The normal argument runs as follows: - Calling the three men A, B and C; A says to himself. “My disc is either black or white.  Let me assume it to be white.  In that case, B can see a black disc on C and a white one on me.  He will know that his own cannot be white, for if it were, C would see both the white discs, and since there are only two white ones, would know his own was black and would speak up.  By this reasoning, B would thus be able, to deduce his own colour. But he has not done so.  Therefore my original assumption was incorrect, and my own disc must be black."

A much quicker solution has been received from Jill Rollason.  In this one, A argues that since the Governor sets Great store by intelligence, he is not likely to set a problem that gives any of the three men an unfair advantage.  There is thus only one way in which they can all have an equal chance.  Therefore they all have black discs.

Tankards Hole

A report on Tankard’s Hole will eventually appear in a B.E.C. Caving Report on work done in some of the smaller caves on Mendip, but as this is not due to appear for some months, here is a short article on ths wave.  It is situated ‘In a shakehole by the roadside not so far from the Hunter’s Pub’ – thank you Mr. Lawder! – and many people have heard rumours about its doubtful stability in places.  Now for some facts.  Although several boulders look unsafe, the direct route to the lowest Chamber is safe, provided reasonable care is taken and that the urge to wander off the beaten track is suppressed.  However, every exploration trip in which Tony Rich, Russell Jenkins and myself took part, has included some incident and we were all lucky many times to escape injury, even though we were not taking any rash chances.  There is every likelihood of this element of risk to exploration parties continuing, if not even increasing, for the way on from the lowest chamber is very unpleasant.

Briefly, the cave is about two hundred feet deep vertically, and most of it is contained in two vertical boulder ruckles.  It contains no large stream, but in wet weather there are many small streams and the cave shows signs of intense water action.  There is quite a bit of work to be done in this cave.   First of all, there is a way on at the present end which requires exploring.  The cave has not been surveyed, although this is hardly worth while at this stage.

In a couple of places, there are alternative routes between boulders, an obvious way and a short cut. In one such place, the short cut avoids a very awkward squeeze but the boulders are unstable to such a degree that Mr. Rich did not even think of using it,  in passing tackle through.

I know of no photography yet, but there is nothing, but the boulders to photograph.  It would have been useful to have been able to confirm with photographs that a big change did take place in a collapse triggered off, in all innocence, by Maurice Isles during an eventful trip in September 1956, and there are a couple of fossils that may be worth a photograph.

Roger Stenner.

Date For Your Diary

Thursday, 23rd January ’58 at 7.30PM St. Mary Redcliffe Church Hall.

“CLIMBING IN AUSTRIA”

Colour Transparencies by Ron King and Allan Bonner

A Trip to O.F.D.

Where’s my speaking trumpet? Ah!  Hello folks!  The B.E.C. go caving abroad.  I mean South Wales, in fact Ogof Ffynon Ddu.

Saturday morning dawned (at 11 0’clock) to see Norman Petty and myself bustling up the Gloucester Road.  We had made good time till we got just outside Monmouth where a bald front tyre and a slippery bend added up to two lads sliding off towards Monmouth minus one m/c.  The damaged was assessed and a motorcycle shop soon straightened things out and brazed pieces on and after an hour and a half, we were on our way.  Here I must boast to being the only B.E.C. member who has fallen off a motorbike with Norman Petty.  I believe this is his first accident since 1946, which only goes to show what a good driver he really is.  We arrived at the S.W.C.C. cottage at about 3.30pm and met Roger and Daphne.  We visited the resurgence of Dan-yr-Ogof and also the Gwyn Arms.  A pleasant warm night was passed at the spare cottage.

First thing next morning (about 11 o’clock again) we left for O.F.D., and after paying our 1/- entrance fee, disappeared into the bowels of the earth.  It is quite unlike any Mendip cave, for you can walk around for an hour without bending your back!  We visited the stream passage, the Wire Traverse, the Column Series, Crystal Pool Chamber, Rawl series and Low’s Passage all ably led by Bill Little.  We also saw some of the formations – such as the fingers – which appear as photos in ‘British Caving’.

We regained the surface at 4.15 and left for the cottage.  We were held up at the Patti Hospital where it was visiting day, and two really wet and dirty lads were surrounded by people dressed in their Sunday best.

Eventually we left, after enjoying the hospitality of the South Wales Caving Club, and after an inmensly cold journey back, arrived in Bristol some 3½ hours later.

I’ll put my speaking trumpet away for now.  That’s all folks!

Russell Jenkins

Annual General Meeting

To be held at Redcliffe Community Centre at 2.15pm on sat. 25th January 1958

Agenda

1.                  ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN

2.                  COLLECTION OF BALLOT PAPERS

3.                  COLLECTION OF MEMBER’S RESOLUTIONS

4.                  ELECTION OF TELLERS FOR BALLOT

5.                  ADOPTION OF MINUTES OF LAST ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

6.                  HON. SECRETARY’S REPORT

7.                  HON. TREASURER’S REPORT

8.                  CAVING REPORT

9.                  CLIMBING REPORT

10.              TACKLE REPORT

11.              BELFRY REPORT

12.              LIBRARY REPORT

13.              MEBER’S RESOLUTIONS

14.              ANY OTHER BUSINESS

THE HON. SECRETARY HAS, SO FAR, RECEIVED NO RESOLUTIONS FROM MEMBERS FOR THE ABOVE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

 (Financial Statement follows on Page 6 overleaf)

Financial Statement For The Year To The Thirty First December 1957

Annual Subscriptions

 

 

£  56-16-0

Belfry:

Receipts

£69-  6-11

 

 

Less Expend

£67-  1-8

£    2- 5-3

Donations

 

 

£    4-10-0

Annual Dinner:

Receipts

£44- 15-  0

 

 

Less Cost

£41-   3-  0

£    3-12-0

Post Office Savings Bank Interest

 

 

£    2-12-5

Redcliffe Hall:

Levy

£  15-  1-1

 

 

Less Hire

£  10-  0-0

£    5- 1-1

Goods for Resale:

Sales

£    5-  5-2

 

 

Less purchase

£    4-  7-8

£    0-15-6

Caving Reports:

Sales

£    4- 12-0

 

Library Expenses

Les expense

£    0- 17-0

£    3-14-10

 

 

 

£    82- 7-1

 

 

 

 

Belfry Bulletin:

Stencils, paper

£  10- 17-8

 

 

Postages

£    8- 19-6

£  19- 17-2

Tackle:

Expenditure

£    9- 17-8

 

 

Less Levy

£    1- 15-0

£    8-  4- 8

Public Liability Insurance

 

 

£    7-   1- 1

Printing and Stationery

 

 

£    4- 10- 2

Postages and Telephones:

 

 

£    3- 19- 6

Donations and subscription to:

 

 

 

Cave Research Group

 

£    2- 10- 0

 

Mendip Cave Registry

 

£    2-  2- 0

 

Mendip Rescue Organisation

 

£    1-  1- 0

 

British Mountaineering Council

 

£    1-  0- 0

£    1-13- 2

Sundries

 

 

£    6-13- 0

Surplus For The Year

 

 

£   30- 6- 4

 

 

 

£  82-  7- 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Club monies @ 1st January, 1957

 

 

£  74- 1- 6

Plus Surplus as above

 

 

£  30- 6- 4

 

 

 

£104- 7-10

 

 

 

 

Post Office Savings Bank Account

 

 

£ 97- 0-11

Cash in hand

 

 

£   7- 6-11

TOTAL CLUB MONIES AT 31ST AUGUST 1965

 

 

£104-7-10

 

The Belfry Bulletin. No. 120.  January 1958.
Editor: S.J. Collins  , I Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8
Secretary: R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4

Caving in Derbyshire Part 1.

by  Stan Gee

As there appears to be a growing like of caving in Derbyshire, amongst B.E.C. members, I thought I would write, for the benefit of future visitors, a series of brief articles on Derbyshire and its caves.  So salvaging my pen from the dustbin, I commence my scrawl.

First, let me try to describe Derbyshire without sounding too much like a tourist’s guide book.

Derbyshire is a land of sudden contrasts, from the bleak, grit-stone mountains, to the equally bleak limestone moors.  It offers much scope for practically all outdoor activities, for instance: - in the summer there is mountaineering and rock-climbing, caving, canoeing etc., whilst the winter provides some fine skating and skiing.  Its mountains are high enough to provide the necessary thrill of mountaineering, but they are not high enough to be extremely strenuous.  The only exception to this is Kinder Scout, (2,080ft.) which is high and under winter conditions very dangerous to inexperienced climbers.

At the other extreme Derbyshire possesses caves that are extensive and deep, and which are often arduous.  The cave areas can be divided into a few main groups, though there are smaller areas surrounding them.  The main areas are: - Manifold and Dovedale area; Myam and Stony Middleton area; Matlock area, and, lastly, the main caving areas of Castleton and Bradwell Moor.

The types of caves differ greatly, from extensive horizontal caverns to deep vertical caves.  Derbyshire caves are rather singular in that though many of them possess deep drops, there are only three open potholes of any note.  These are Elden Hole, Nettle Pot and Mountbatten Hole.  I will deal with these in future articles.

Our ‘pot’ occurs underground, and the majority of our caves are entered by nine shafts and passages.  For instance, Oxlow Cavern has a mineshaft entrance of 55 feet, and a second shaft of 40 feet before the first natural cavern of 40ft.is reached.  Thus, many of our caves are if not approached with caution somewhat dangerous due to the age and sometimes loose condition of the mine workings.

Generally speaking however, an explorer entering the caves that I will mention need have no fear, as most of them are quite safe.

Again in contrast, Derbyshire has several fine horizontal caves, of both Debaucher and Engulfment types.

Unfortunately, though our caves possess some large and impressive caverns, they are singularly lacking in formation, and only a pitiful few can compare with the wonderful formations of both Yorkshire and the Mendips.

So much for Derbyshire in general.  In my next article I will attempt to describe some of the caves of the Manifold area and Dovedale area.

Stan Gee.

Notice

This is a final reminder that outstanding Annual Subscriptions are now very much overdue.  If these are not paid at once you will receive no further copies of reminders (in the shape of the BB).

The revised Subscriptions are as follows: -

Life Membership            £5/5/-
Joint (Man & Wife)          17/6
Full Membership             12/6
Junior Membership            7/6,

All subscriptions should be sent to Bob Bagshaw, Hon. Treas., 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4

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

In the Feb. B.B., C. Falshaw was stated as being Climbing Sec.  This is wrong.  It should read C. Falshaw Assistant Caving Sec. & Assistant Tackle Officer.

A. Sandall.

Changes of Address.

A. Thomas,
Kingsdon Manor School,
Kingsdon,
Somerton,
Somt.

Mr. & Mrs. Setterington,
????????????????
????????????????
Taunton,
Somt.

Mr. & Mrs. Cantle,
The Dower House,
Barrow Hill,
Wick,
Nr. Bristol.

Nr. A.J. Crawford.,
3, Hillside,
Harefield,
Nr. Uxbridge,
Middx.

Additions to Club Library.

Cave Science Vol.3. No 23.  Jan.1955,
Newsletter of W.C.C. No 49.  Feb.1955.
Newsletter of N.S.S. Vol.15. No. l. Jan. 1955.

J.Ifold.

Members are reminded that the Library is provided for their use.  It contains a vast amount of caving ‘Gen’ and is constantly, at considerable expense, being added to.  If you have any caving questions that want an answer, you will probably find it in the Library.

T.H.S.

‘Cloudy Skye’

By M. Hannam & I. Dear.

The epic starts with the authors arriving at Kyle of Loch Alsh in moderate rain.  On crossing the oggin to Skye the change in weather was remarkable.  Moderate rain became p-p-pelting rain while the wind rose violently.  Some thirty miles of motoring in this weather took us to Sligahin, an hotel with a bar and therefore one of the most important places on the island.  From Sligahin to Glen Brittle the road steadily worsened until the last few miles were an apology for a cart track.  The bike carried us gallantly though the rain to the first house in Glen Brittle and then it grunted and gave up, the ghost.  Whilst the engineering half of the party preformed prodigious feats on the machine, the other half set out in the howling gale in search of accommodation and feeling very much like Captain Oakes at the South Pole.  However an hour or so later the bike was restored to health and we were soon drying and feeding our faces.  Perhaps Skye would not be so bad after all.

Next morning we rose brightly, looked out of the window and went back to bed again.  Rain and mist were everywhere.  After a long delay we walked to the Post Office to buy picture cards of the Coolins to see what they looked like.  Then a walk around the coast for some bracing (?) air.  Back at 6pm. For food and kip.  The following day: three cheers, no rain and visibility to 1,500 feet.  The expedition arose and after breakfasting on oats (Scotch variety) assaulted Corrie Lagen.  Weather continued to improve and we climbed Ogurr Pearg.  Good views and magnificent rock scenery were everywhere.  Skye seemed quite a pleasant place.  On the way down the long scree slopes Ian was suddenly and forcibly reminded of Newton’s First law and had to perform a frantic lowering of air flaps and such like things to decelerate before smearing himself on the floor of the corrie.  Monday: another fairly fine day so we joined a party travelling to Loch Coruish in a motor fishing boat.  The skipper was a very picturesque figure with a beard that could be classified as Belfry Grade A.

Soon a shower of walkers, climbers and scouts were landing at Coruish, also a photographer (not specially hired for the occasion.)  This area and the shores of nearby Loch Scavig is famous for its glaciated boulders scoured and grooved by the ice.  After examining some of these the B.E.C. expedition chose an easy way back to Glen Brittle over pass Banadich.  We climbed the long scree slopes to the col while the mist and rain obligingly came down to meet us.  Eventually we descended to glen Brittle in a steady downpour.  A misty and rainy Tuesday was spent touring the island, whilst on Wednesday a very wet ridge walk was carried out on Banadich.

The rest of this article is to be devoted to one of the skilful arts practiced on Skye.  After several days research on the subject we decided to call this the ‘Tourist Deceit Art’.  One of the minor points of this art is that all the locals are organised in a league to deceive tourists about the weather.  The idea is that when talking to a new tourist (sheltering from the rain in a pub or under a tree) remarks are passed on “what a nice day it was yesterday” or “What a nice day it will be tomorrow”.  The innocent is buoyed up day after day with this sort of talk until eventually he leaves the island thinking that he has been unlucky in choosing the only wet week of the year.  Fool!  Little does he know that he has had a sample of typical Skye weather and that it’s going to be exactly the same when he returns the following year.  The idea is carried to further lengths by the shops and Post Offices, which sell beautiful coloured postcards of the Coolins bathed in sunshine.  People buy these cards in dozens as it is often the only way in which people can gain an idea of what the hills should look like.  Fools again!  Since the rain and the mist is perpetual, nobody has ever seen what the Coolin's really look like and the photos are imported from Norway, Switzerland and such places.  Yes, the tourist deceit idea is carried to great lengths and if you don’t believe all this, go to Skye and find out.

Advice for the Motor-cycling fraternity.

Having decided to visit Skye on your motor-cycle - a trusted steed of many winters and not one of the shining new gadgets to be seen at the members’ car park – may we suggest that you a.) take a complete set of spares and tools with you and b.) remember to waterproof your ignition system.  No motor-cycle spares are available on the island, not even pumps.  Petrol is not sold on Sundays in Scotland, although petrol and oil of the Shell/B.P. Group is obtainable even Glen Brittle.

May we also remind you it’s a long way from Bristol to Skye.

M. Hannam.
I. Dear.

A letter to the Caving Sec.

The Castle,
    Priddy,
      Nr. Wells.

Dear Mr. Collins,

Following His Grace’s recent visit to his estates, he has, as usual, asked me to pass on to you a few observations.

In previous correspondence, His Grace stressed the desirability of hosing down the Club’s cave.  His recent visit indicated that this had been done, but I am desired to point out that the object of this operation was to remove the mud, and that the use of muddy water has merely aggravated the situation.  The fact that further liberal watering was in progress during His Grace’s exit from the cave was, we trust, entirely fortuitous.

The Hon. Secretary had clearly been warned of His Grace’s visit and had sent a written circular to all members appraising them of the occasion and requesting their absence on that weekend.  The crowded state of the Belfry and the unsullied coachwork of the Bentley clearly bears out your observation on the literacy of members.

His Grace understands that some unkempt fellow from foreign parts has been making quite unauthorised use of his name.  I am desired to make it plain that this practice is most undesirable and must cease forthwith.

                                                I remain, Sir,
                                                   Your obedient servant,
                                                      R.M. Wallis.
                                                Private Secretary
                                    To His Grace the Duke of Mendip,
                                                Baron Priddy, &c.

P.S.  His Grace wishes me to add that he understands the Club’s failure to lay out the red carpet on the occasion of his visit was due to lack of funds for its cleaning.  It is our desire to assist the Club in this matter, but His Grace is, at the moment, having difficulty with his own laundry bills and we must therefore regretfully withhold any direct financial grant.  We should, however be happy to provide a large bar of soap if this would be of assistance.

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

T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Editor. 48, Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R.J. Bagshaw Hon. Sec., 56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristo1. 4.
A. Sandall, Hon. Assist. Sec. 35, Beauchamp Road, Bishopston, Bristol. 7.

 

Steep Holme

By Keith Gardner.

On Saturday 23rd. April a small party including eight members of B.E.C. left Anchor Head jetty bound for Steep Holme.  A strong wing and a choppy sea caused large quantities of Bristol Channel to join us in the boat, forcing certain members out of sight beneath a large tarpaulin sheet, thus greatly enhancing the view for the rest of us.  After half an hour or so we reached the shingle beach, and, heavily laden with bedding and stores, we set off up the cliff path for the Victorian barrack block which was to be our home, looking like a cross between an Himalayan expedition and a band of buccaneers.

Having once settled ourselves in the Sergeants’ mess we all left to explore the north side foreshore, the cliffs of which are vertical and in some places overhanging, thus making it very difficult to gain access except at low tide.  This afternoon however, we were very fortunate, conditions were excellent, and the spring tide aided by strong wind gave us an abnormally low water-level, so low in fact that we able to traverse the north-west cliffs and round the usually impassable Rudder Rock (The Port of Bristol’s Havenmaster’s Dept. states that no predicted tide this year will be as low as that on the day in question)  From here the bulk of the party returned to collect cameras and field glasses etc., jettisoned en route, but John Lamb and Sago proceeded along the more friendly southern shore to complete the island circuit, a feat which, if achieved before, has never been recorded to my knowledge.

The rest of the day was spent in exploring the top of the island, visiting various fortifications both ancient and modern, and of course, eating.  The far seeing boozers who brought their own wallop found that they were immensely popular during the evening until of course, the flagons were empty.

On the Sunday morning we had a long lie-in until seven o’clock, had breakfast and then went off in search of light entertainment which we found at the South Landing,  A small dingy was seen to be making for the shore; its two occupants clambered into a canvas covered collapsible coracle and started paddling furiously towards us against the current.  They were clad in a garb truly befitting the staff of the Duke of Mendip, and one, resplendent in a flying jacket, horn rimed spectacles and black, bowler hat hailed us with a lusty “Are you ornithological?”, to which a certain Rice A. returned “No, Church of England.”  These two were obviously heathen (Welsh, perhaps?) for at this they turned and made rapid movement to their dinghy, in which they departed towards the distant mainland at top speed.

The rest of the morning was spent in observing the nesting crags of cormorants and in cleaning certain deposits from a George III cannon which was then photographed by a battery of cameras, and by another contraption owned by Sago which he claims does take pictures of a sort.

In the afternoon we were joined by a party led by Ted and Dorian Mason with whom we left about six thirty.

The weather was very good and the undeveloped state of the Alexander plant allowed us to see more of the island than will be possible later in the summer.  What gulls have arrived have mostly laid their eggs and the young should be hatching in late May to middle June when it is hoped to run another trip.

Keith S. Gardner.

Letter to His Grace the Duke of Mendip, Baron Priddy &c, &c.

The Castle, Priddy, Somt.

Your Grace,

It was with great pleasure that I received the letter from your private secretary subsequent upon your recent visit to our caving headquarters.

I note your remarks with reference to the cave which the club opened for your Grace's benefit some two years ago,  Your private secretary - no doubt an able man and a trusted retainer - has conveyed the impression that this cave perhaps falls short in some respects of the high standard expected by your Grace.  In view of this we have at great expense, recently opened a new cave known as Hunter’s Hole which we trust you will find entirely to your satisfaction.  It is my pleasant duty to inform your Grace that not only is this cave free from water - to which we understand your constitution is not suited - but is situated right outside the hostelry whose name it bears.

We must apologise to your Grace for the overcrowded state of our headquarters at the time of your recent visit, but beg to inform you that this was entirely due to the loyal attitude of the local peasantry to whom a visit from such a personage as yourself constitutes a major social occasion.

It has been my painful but necessary duty to inform the unkempt fellow to whom your Grace refers, of the serious nature of his offence in using your Grace’s name, and we trust that your Grace will not prefer charges.

I remain,

Your obedient servant,

(signed) S.J.Collins,
Caving Secretary and Hut Warden,
Bristol Exploration Club

Caving in Derbyshire. Part 2.

by. Stan Gee.

To continue our caving in Derbyshire, we now travel south-east across the county and almost to the border of Staffordshire.  Here we find two great valleys known for their picturesque beauty, and a playground for cavers and archaeologists alike.  Though neither valley possesses any really extensive caves, both have provided a wealth of knowledge in the field of Archaeology, and are in fact, still doing so.

Generally speaking, Dovedale has nothing outstanding to offer the caver, but anyone visiting the area will find it both interesting and enjoyable.

The Manifold valley, on the other hand, has much to offer in the way of small caves, and possesses many fine speleologica1 and archaeological possibilities.  Let us, then, walk down this valley and examine the caves as we go.

We start our journey at the little village of Hulme End and proceed down a tarmac track that extends along the length of the valley bottom, and follows the course of the River Manifold.  Many years ago this track was a light railway that served tourists with transport through the valley.  Now, as a pathway it affords a more pleasant walk that the main road and winds among the hills.

Our first stop is Acton Village, some two miles down the valley, once the centre of the copper mining industry, but now a forgotten shell.  The miners themselves were once the richest in the country and many interesting hours can be spent exploring the many shafts and adits.

Now, as we pass on, the deserted mines, the rubble tips, and crumbling buildings add an air of quiet desolation to the village, and the hills seen to echo from the past, tales of the grandeur that was theirs.

On again, for a further 1½ miles to Whetton Mill.  It is here that our caves really begin, for here the river suddenly plunges underground and is not seen again for six miles.  The river vanishes at Whetton Mill Sink, and many attempts to force a way through have failed, even though the river can be heard in several of the swallets hereabouts.  At Whetton Mill are a number of small caves and swallets, but none extend for more than a few feet.

About half a mile down the valley, however, a small cave on the west side of the dale has suddenly become important.  This is Ossom’s Crag Cave and. it is an old inlet water swallet.  On its joint excavation by the Peakland Archaeological Society and the Orpheus Caving Club it has produced much to interest both parties.

Just down the valley from ‘Ossom’s’ and on the right, a small swallet entrance can be seen in the now dry river bed.  This is Redhurst Swallet and although not an extensive cave, the narrow, twisting passages may well hold the key to further discoveries.

If, at this point we look to the left, we will see a mighty buttress of limestone soaring upwards for 500 feet.  Set right at the top is the enormous entrance of Thor’s Cave.  It is not of any great speleological interest but the huge vaulted chamber is well worth a visit, and the view is superb.

To the right of ‘Thor’s’ are a number of small caves, these being known as Fissure Cave, Seven Ways Cave and Elderbush Cave.  Elderbush Cave is the most important of the three, and has rather good possibilities, though not for a large system.  It has two nice chambers that were, until vandals got in, artistically decorated with calcite formations.  The Peakland Archaeological Society have excavated here for a number of years, and an excellent display of their finds can be seen in Buxton Museum.

Our next and last point of call is Beeston Tor, some two miles further down the valley.  Here the old railway track swings right down a side dale to the village of waterhouses.  The main valley continues on to Ilam where the river eventually breaks surface.

Past ‘Beeston’ there is very little to interest us other than a few old mines, but at Beeston Tor itself there is a cave of exceptional interest.  This is situated at the foot of the Tor and is known as St. Bertram’s Cave.  Again, though not a large cave, it has many possibilities, and is at present under excavation by the Orpheus.  It was previously excavated by the Peakland who discovered a hoard of Saxon coins and jewellery, perhaps hidden from the Danish invaders of Mercia.  The total length of this cave is 600 feet and it is easy exploration.

There are, of course, many other small caves in the Manifold, but I have not space to mention them all, however should anyone wish to visit them they can mostly be found by ‘rooting’ methods and all provide a measure of interest.

Stan Gee

On being a Cadet

By Jacka

“When I say ‘Move’, I want you to move: Move!”  These were the first words of command ever uttered to me.  On looking back we can laugh at the terror it struck in our hearts, but at the time it just wasn’t funny.  Imagine a new adherent to martial law, straight from the warm comfort of civilian life, straight from the tender caresses of one’s girl friend or wife, straight from that wonderful sanity and quiet orderliness of one's own home to the cold hard realities of a fighting service.

Cardington hadn’t shown cadets the way of the service world.  We were just people to be kitted out in accordance with the official scale and passed on.  Cranwell, that centre of tradition in which is nurtured the seed of a future leader was intent on one or two things: to make the man or break him.

But a short journey from Cranwell is Kirton in Lindsay, No. 2.I.T.S., the centre of so many hopes, so much misery, joy, heartbreak, terror, pain and occasionally a little comfort.  It lies in the district of Lindsay in Lincolnshire; it boasts its own headsman, its own block and the ever present Sword of Damocles which descends at very frequent intervals to remove heads from the cadets who have failed to make the grade.  On the course it fell 158 times, and 158 human souls were consigned to perdition for the balance of their national service.  Many a difficult letter was written home; many a pillow was wet.  Exams, exercises, tests, drill, exams, exercises, tests, so it went on, until 32 lucky ones were told that they would be accepted as Acting Pilot Officers on probation.  Postings, leave and then over to the Emerald isle perchance to fly.

Jacka
(nearly as per the song but not quite)

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The one hundredth number of the Belfry Bulletin is not far away.  It would be very nice if we could make it a double size number.  Therefore I ask that all make special effort to send in suitable articles for it.  If you mark your Mss plainly that it is for the 100th issue, and of course subject to the usual standards of acceptability, it will appear when the time comes.

T.H.S.

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T.H. Stanbury Hon. Editor, 48, Novers Park Rod, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

 

Important Notice

The Club is purchasing the land on which the Belfry stands and the Hon. Treasurer will be pleased to receive donations towards the cost.  We have to raise about £50.

R.J.B.

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Anyone wishing to dispose of a leather bound copy of Balch’s Mendip Caves is asked to contact Bob Bagshaw.

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Mrs. Laura J. Hampton (nee Ford) of Gesling Hill, Thorner, nr. Leeds will be interested to know of any B.E.C. types thinking of caving in that district.  She may be able to supply tackle if required.  The only caving she has done this year is a descent of Gaping Ghyll.

Tom Pink of 53, Burnthwaite Road, Fulham, London, S.W.6., wants to contact other Londoners for discussions on caving and archaeology.  He has made several recent finds of flint tools etc. in Surrey.

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The Committee would like to draw attention of the Active caving members to Rule 15 so that more items of interest can be printed in the BB: -

‘Rule 15’.

‘A report of the Expedition to be written by the Leader of the Party in the Club Log Book’.

(The observance of this rule would mean that items of local interest would appear in the BB as abstracts from the Log book.  At present the almost total lack of caving news in the BB of a local nature is due to the complete lack not such news, not to any discrimination on the part of the Editorial Staff.  Ed.)

As there has been great controversy about the new Belfry Picture gallery, the Committee took it upon themselves to investigate the matter.  This being done it was decided that if better pictures, diagrams and photographs of climbing, caving and other subject could be found, the existing subjects would be replaced.

John Stafford reports that the climbing section is not so dead as most people think, and hope to publish an article in the near future.

Alfie Collins would be very grateful if those members with private caving logs from October 1953 would loan them to him in the near future.,

Tackle Notice.

From now on Club Tackle must not be left down any cave.  If special reasons obtain why tackle should remain underground for any length of time, Ian Dear, the Tackle Officer is to be consulted.

Over the Whitsun Holiday a party from the Orpheus Caving Club will be staying at the Belfry.

Club Trip.

There will be a Club Caving Trip to Lamb Leer on Whit-Saturday at 2.30.  The Blood Chit will be circulated on Club nights.  This trip has been arranged after great difficulty, so please make every effort to attend.

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Over Easter about 60 persons used the room that we use at the Hunters.  Most Mendip Clubs were represented.

A.S.

Editorial Note.

I am delighted in the large increase in the amount of news snippets being received.  The preceding two pages, although ‘bitty’ contain items of interest to all both active and otherwise.

There has been in the past long periods when month after month there has been literally nothing local to print, and for a club of our standing it seemed so strange that although all concerned know we are extremely active, though the eyes of our ‘Official’ organ we are stagnating in a morass of inactivity.

T.H.S.

Change of Address.

Members were no doubt intrigued by the address of Sett in the April BB.  I have no apologies to make.  Their address was again changed after the stencils were cut and so the simplest thing was to obliterate the address given rather than print a false one.  Here is the correct one: -

Mr. & Mrs. Setterington,
39. Kingston Road,
Taunton,
Somt.

Other changes.

Mr. K. Dobbs,
c/o Block &, Anderson Ltd,,
18. Sidwell Street,
Exeter,
Devon.

Mr. D. Radmore,
94. Maple Road,
Horfield, Bristol.

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In our recent list of Subscriptions no mention was made of the ‘Associate’ subscription.  This is of course, the same as that of ‘Junior’. i.e. 7/6.

Additions to Club Library.

Journal of Axbridge Caving Group. Vol. 1.  No.4.
Journal of Axbridge Caving Group. Vol. 2.  No.1.
Journal of Axbridge Caving Group. Vol. 2.  No.2.
Journal of Axbridge Caving Group. Vol. 2.  No.3.
Transactions of C.R.G. Vol. 3.  No.2. Dec. 1954.

Newsletters of : -

C.R.G. No. 51. Dec. 1954.
B.C.C.C. No. 2. Feb. 1955.
B.C.C.C. No. 2. Mch. 1955.
S.W.C.C. No. 11. Feb. 1955.
N.S.S. No. 11. Vol. 12.  Nov. 1954.
N.S.S. No. 2. Vol. 13.  Feb 1955.
N.S.S. No. 3. Vol. 13.  Mch. 1955.
W.S.G No. 53. April 1955.
W.C.C No. 50. April 1955.

Foreign Books.

            Italian

                    Carcolo Speologico Roman No.6 Dec. 1952.

            Spanish

Speleon Vol. 1 No.1. June 1950
Speleon Vol. 1 No.2. Sept. 1950
Speleon Vol. 1 No.3/4. Dec. 1950
Speleon Vol. 2 No.1. Mch. 1951
Speleon Vol. 2 No.2. Sept. 1951
Speleon Vol. 2 No.4. Dec. 1951
Speleon Vol. 3 No.1/2. Apr. 1952
Speleon Vol. 3 No.3. Sept. 1952
Speleon Vol. 3 No.4. Dec. 1952
Speleon Vol. 4 No.1. Mch. 1953
Speleon Vol. 4 No.2. June 1953
Speleon Vol. 4 No.4. Sept. 1953

There are now 140 books and over 200 newsletters in the club library & Mike Jones has claimed to have read them all.  Who is going to be the next to do so?

As you all know our librarian is John Ifold; His address is Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol and his phone number is Blagdon 432.

What the Well-dressed caver should wear.

By Pongo Wallis.

This article was written several years ago, but I only found it recently on looking though my cave library.  It is taken from ‘Comment on descend sous Teric’ – a manual of Speleology – by Robert de Joly.  Although many of his recommendations sound strange to us – and many would be quite unsuited to our conditions – it must be remembered that he has a very wide experience of caving and it may be assumed that under French conditions they would be suitable.

Clothes.

Over all should be worn a boiler-suit made of sail cloth as it is tough and ‘retains a certain suppleness even when wet.

The more protuberant parts of the body such as knees and elbows should be protected by a second layer of even tougher material as well as ½” of soft rubber.  Twelve (!) pockets should be provided as follow:

Outside.  Two on the chest for note-book and cigarette tin (if one is a smoker); a small one on the stomach for a watch.  Two on the thighs for a small pair of pliers and a scout s knife and one or two pitons,.  One placed high on each buttock for 100ft.of cord, some thin paper and a lighter; one along each thigh for a marking crayon (in a wooden tube) a whistle, a fat candle, a lighter running on butane and so on.  He doesn’t say where the kitchen sink goes.

If anyone tries to go caving on Mendip taking all this stuff with them, I’m going home so that I won’t be called out when they get stuck.  It seems to me that if the cave is big enough to get through wearing this lot one could take a small rucsac down with it all in.

Next to the skin wool should be worn as even if it gets wet there is not the very unpleasant wet sensation that cotton gives.  This I entirely agree with.

Shoes.

Only a good calf length boot is of any use.  The sole should be thick leather, with a rubber heal in the shape of a square-base pyramid.  This grips well on dry rock (but what about wet rock?) and absorbs a lot of jar in walking.  The nailing is most important, but mountaineering types are useless, merely serving to weight the boot (of the old adage “When you can scarcely lift the feet, the nailing mat be deemed complete”).  The ‘approved’ system is as follows:

On a piece of stainless steel an inch wide by 1/8” thick (drilled for lightness) are fixed 6 points of nickel chrome steel 1¼” long, well sharpened at the end.  These will grip in any small cracks in the rock and also grip well in mud etc.  On ladders the rungs go between the spikes, so it is impossible to slip.  (I am keeping well clear of anyone wearing these).  A metal toe-cap is also advisable and leather laces are the only reliable ones.

Hat.

A steel helmet is dangerous and tiring because of its weight.  If it should fall off down a pitch it could easily hurt anyone beneath very badly.  A beret is likewise useless as it is not suitable for carrying a lamp.  Only a rubber helmet should be used.  It should be 1½” thick of soft rubber on the top and about 12 thick on the sides.  It is light (½lb.) and it can also act as a buoy in case of immersion (?).  Although it stays on the head well, two straps should be used, one under the chin and the other round the back of the head.

Gloves.

For visiting some caves it is very important to have the hands covered with gloves of thick soft leather.  This is to keep the hands from contact with ropes which have touched decomposing bodies or even from touching the bodies themselves.  One must avoid cutting oneself and the calcite crystals are very sharp and rocks in stream beds can become like razors.

Pocket Accessories.

We won't speak of matches underground.  Lighters are much better.  One should always have two or three.  Two are petrol ones and the third a butane one.  They should have good big reservoirs to last a long time and should be in good working condition.  One should be waterproof and one should be permanently attached to the person.

A very useful tool is a small pair of pliers.  Also a knife with several blades is essential.

A watch should also be taken; not a ‘turnip’ not a wristwatch as this is too venerable.  A small pocket watch is best, but it should be shock and water proof.

De Joly’s book is very much of a manual and give instructions on all types of caving from sea caves to cave diving.  As I observed at the beginning not every thing is applicable to British conditions but even reading about the wrong things to wear makes one realise that caving clothes are things that require thought and that last year’s cast-offs -- or all too often one’s sister’s fashions of umpteen years back really just aren’t good enough.  I have remarked before in the BB that a cold caver is a bad caver, apart from which he won’t enjoy caving.  Of course, I know no caver is opposed to caving but it is merely an obtuse way of mortifying the flesh, but at least there is no need to make it even worse than it might be.

R.M.W.

 

Notes on Cave Surveying Part 3.

by  S.J. ‘Alfie’ Collins.

The instruments described in Part 2, and the method of surveying which uses them, may be used on surveys raging from a simple surveyed sketch to an accurate and detailed survey.  The C.R.G. gradings for magnetic surveys are as follows:-

GRADE 3.

Bearings: Pocket compass graduated to 10 degrees.

Distances: Marked string or stick.

Elevations: Not measured.

This will produce a rough plan, a little more accurate than a guesswork drawing of Grade 2 standard.

GRADE 4.

Bearings: Prismatic compass reading to 1 degree.

Distances: Measuring tape or marked cord.

Elevations: Not measured.

This will produce a better job than Grade 3.  Again only a plan can be drawn.

GRADE 5.

Bearings: Calibrated prismatic compass.

Distances: Metallic or Steel Tape.

Elevations: Clinometer.

Complete plans and elevations may be drawn from data compiled by this method.

GRADE 6.

Bearings: Calibrated prismatic compass on tripod.

Distances: Steel tape or Chain.

Elevations: Clinometer on Tripod.

The maximum accuracy attainable from a magnetic survey may be reached by this method.

 

A Magnetic Survey.

Returning now to the use of these instruments in a magnetic survey, let us imagine that a small portion of a cave is required to be surveyed, consisting of a passage which forms a small loop in the side of a main passage.

A good plan is to draw a preliminary plane to C.R.G. Grade 2 before starting the survey proper.  Taking a note book down the cave, the rough plan shown is drawn on the next page.

A centre line is to be carried out on this passage, by methods described in Part 2 to the standard of Grade 5.  A portion of a survey such as this is called a TRAVERSE.  In this case, since the traverse forms a continuous loop, it is known as a CLOSED traverse.  The next part of these notes will describe the surveying operations.

‘Alfie’

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How are the mighty fallen!!!  A little bird whispered that Pongo now prefers Courting to Caving!  A gun is ready to shoot the little bird if the rumour is not factual.)

Congratulations to Tony Johnson on his engagement to Miss Mary Edwards of Plymton.

And also to John (Menace) Morris whose wife presented him with a son/daughter (???) about four months ago.

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It has been suggested that a ‘Can anyone tell me’ series be started in the BB.  I feel that this is an excellent idea and will do a lot to spread the specialised lore of individual members amongst the rest.  Therefore, anyone with queries under the above heading is asked to send then to the Editor.  Questions can be on anything connected with caving, climbing, archaeology etc., or to do with the club itself; names of those submitting the questions must be included, but will not be printed unless the person submitting the question so wishes.

T.H.S.

To start the series here is a question submitted by the originator of the idea: -

“Can anybody tell me why: -

Priddy Barrows are built in two groups of eight (I know there are only seven on one side now but one has obviously been flattened), and, if they were burial mounds, where was the settlement, or whatever it was called, that they served?”

“Why are the above called ‘Priddy Nine Barrows’ seeing that there are only eight?"

“Why are there no ‘Long Barrows’ in the area?”

“The Priddy Barrows are not the normal ‘hump’ type.  I believe that there are several types of Round Barrow, Disc, Bowl, and mound to name three.  What determined the selection of barrow type?”

Here is a final question for this month:-

“Why are so many Roman (& other) coins found?  Were the Romans (& Romano - Brits) so well off that they could scatter their wealth all over the country or did coinage mean so little to them that they very seldom retrieved that which they dropped?”

Over to the experts.  All answers to these questions, either theoretical or factual will be printed in subsequent issues.  I  propose to divided the questions into groups so that the subject matter is similar for all questions on any particular month, Ed.

Sonnets

By ‘Alfie’

Observe the latest electronic dodge
Resulting from the onward march of Science
As demonstrated at the Hunters’ Lodge.
The portable recorder - Brooks Appliance;
While cavers sing a thread of stainless steel
Is passing through the guts of this machine
Recording many verses of ‘Mobile’,
‘The Farmer’s Boy’ or ‘Little Angeline’.
Next morning, at the turning of a switch,
The singing and the jokes again you’ll hear
The merry clinking of the glasses which
Are gathered for another round of beer,
No use asserting ‘On my honour bright
I was sober as a judge last night!’

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Quite motionless he is in armchair deep
No honest beer could deal him such a blow.
Enfolded in a stupefying sleep
The demon ‘Triple Vintage’ laid him low,
What is this brew that incapacitates,
Sends stalwart cavers early to their beds
To slumber till its grim effect abates,
Upsets the tum and turns blue litmus red?
A bottleful you safely may imbibe
And still remain to drink a bottle more
Three bottles you probably survive
No caver yet, has got away with four,
One thing is sure - four bottles and I am
Quite liable to be as bad as Lamb.

4th. June 1955.

In which Eric (Doc) Houghton and Ron Newman lose a large Mountain for three hours, and having found it, are blasted off it again.

Cloud base was almost down to road level when we set off for Glyder Fach, and it took us three hours to find it.  The inevitable wind and rain were putting on their usual performance, but we were comforted in the knowledge that in about an hour we should be enjoying that comparative shelter of Chasm Route.

Following the stream up to Llyn Bochlwyd, we turned off to the left to ensure that we should strike the base of Glyder Fach well to the left, so that all we than had to do was to skirt its base to the right until we came across the Alphabet Slab, which I would readily recognise as soon as it loomed out of the mist.

Sure enough, in its due season, the base of a mountain appeared, so we turned to the right and followed it round.  After what appeared to be a longer walk than usual, the clouds suddenly dispersed for a very brief interval, just sufficient to reveal three amazing things: firstly, the ground ahead fell away instead of continuing to rise; secondly, there was no sign of Llyn Bochlwyd! and thirdly, there was a road ahead and below.  We were really gazing at the main Holyhead road from the upper part of Heather Terrace, having wandered around Tryfan for some considerable distance.  Without a second thought I concluded that we had followed the base of Glyder Fach right over the Col, and were now heading down towards Llanberis:  We had either struck Glyder Fach too far to the right originally, or else we had passed the Alphabet Slab unknowingly in the mist.  (Non-climbing section members should consult O/S map of Snowdonia, otherwise they miss all the funny part of this episode).

So!  The solution was easy – just turn around and retrace our steps, keeping our eyes open for the Alphabet Slab.  As we proceeded, part of a mountain face appeared occasionally through the mist on our left.  I remember remarking that it looked familiar, and concluded that is was Gribin Ridge, being just where it should be according to my calculations.  It was, of course, our lost mountain.  After some time on our new course, it became apparent that all was not correct: we were on gently sloping pastures instead of steep scree slopes. Our true position now was getting on towards Wrinkled Slabs on the west face of Tryfan.

In despair, we retired to the shores of Llyn Bochlwyd and ate a dismal snack, while I glared balefully across at the ‘Gribin’.  Suddenly the penny dropped: just above the scree slopes of my Gribin, and just below the cloud was a large triangular slab, Eureka!  The lost was found!  It was the Alphabet Slab of Glyder Fach, looking completely different from a slightly different angle and without its usual visible background of cliffs.  We set off towards it hurriedly, fearful lest our elusive goal vanish again.

We led through up a very soggy, streaming Alphabet Slab via Beta and pressed on up an equally soggy and streaming Chasm.  However, the going was strenuous, especially one diabolical variation devised by Eric, and we soon warmed up.

On the seventh pitch, which I had just led, the blasting occurred.  There was absolutely no warning; no tense feeling in the air, no bristling of hairs on back of neck.  I was in the act of belaying when there was a most appalling flash and a deafening crack simultaneously.  This was followed immediately by booming roars reverberating all around, a definite smell of burning, rather like the smell of burnt cordite on a rifle range, and the hum and clatter of falling rock.  Eric, belayed in the gully below, had disappeared behind a large boulder, and I joined him in a split second later by whipping the round a knob of rock and free-wheeling on my stomach down the pitch I had just climbed, braking on the rope.  As we huddled together there, stones continued to fall, some of them bouncing on top of our boulder.

A few seconds later a ferocious hail-storm began; fortunately its ferocity was matched only by its brevity.  Having had previous experience of electrical storms on mountains, I urged rapid retreat as soon as possible, and Eric did not appear inclined to argue.  As soon as the hail had stopped, we began to beat the record for rapid descent.  But even this consolation prize was denied us, for Eric got the rope stuck roping down a steep bit, and the time taken to climb up and recover it delayed us considerably.  We got very wet coming down.

Back on the road again, drinking tea, the sun shone, the birds gang, our sodden clothes steamed on up, and all the mountains, devoid of clouds, glistened in the still air.  Every feature of Glyder Fach was clearly visible.  We concluded that fate had not been on our side today.

Ron Newman.