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List of Members 1949. No. 7.

Iain H.McFadyen,               Ravenswood, 161 Raleigh Rd Ashton Bristol.
Miss Mary Osborne,           27 Addison Grove, Taunton, Somt.
Ken C. Dobbs,                   55 Broadfield Road, Bristcl. 4.
Omar G. Taylor,                 124 Kennington Ave, Bristol. 7.
Derek Wood,                     113 Conygre Grove, Filton Bristol.
Tony Bamber,                    135 Hornby Road, Blackpool, Lancs.
Miss Margaret Pope,          47 Filton Grove, Horfield, Bristo1.7.
Mrs Elizabeth Shorthose,    26 Gateside Road, Upper, Tooting, London.SW 17, (BALham 545).
Bernard A. Walker,             76 Willoughby Road, Langley, Slough, Bucks.
Mrs. Joan, D. Collins,         58 Beaconsfield Road, Mottingham , London, SE 9.
Mrs. Betty Corpe,               Priddy Hill Farm, Priddy, Nr Wells, Somt.
Herman Tearks,                         Webbington House, Loxton, Somt.
Miss Daphne Weeks          164 Sylvia Ave., Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Jack Waddon                     7 Haydon Road, Taunton, Somt.

Mendip Rescue Organisation

We Call to The attention of members, the following extract from the M.R.O.

Procedure to adopt in the event of an accident underground.

1.                   A member of the party will go to the nearest call-box and ring WELLS 97 (Police). Give number of call box and name of cave in which the accident has occurred.  He must then wait at callbox until rung by the rescue warden.

2.                   The Police will ring Wardens in rotation to the first warden in touch; they will give the name of the cave and the number of callbox.

3.                   The warden will phone callbox and ascertain the exact location of the accident, what injuries are known, and how much in party.  He will call out other wardens and Squad Leaders as necessary.

4.                   At the scene of the accident, the senior warden will take Charge.  In the event of the senior warden not being a doctor, he will collaborate with the doctor called out and follow his instructions in so far as to the treatment and removal of the injured.

5.                   The Wells or Bristol Ambulance will called only on the instructions of the Doctor.

M.R.O. will not be responsible for any expenses incurred.

Bristol Exploration Club Dance

The Social Committee of the B.E.C. are pleased to announce that a Dance will be held in St. MATTHEW’s PARISH HALL, REDFIELD, BRISTOL, on FRIDAY, October 21st, from 7.30 to 10.30.  Tickets, price 2/6 are available from any Social Committee member or from the Hon. Sec.  We look to all members to make this dance a success, and remind YOU, gentle reader, that you must help too.  If successful other similar functions will, we hope, be undertaken from time to time.  All profits (if any), will be diverted to the Hut Fund.

The Hon. Sec. Has Received the following letter: -

23 Banner Road.
      Bristol.6.                 22.3.49.

Dear Sir,

I wish to convoy to the French contingent of the Bristol Exploration Club my thanks for the splendid gesture made to me regarding their material appreciation of my small efforts to ensure a pleasant holiday.  The gift was entirely unlooked for in as much as I got enjoyment out of it but I would like to state of my disappointment that it wasn’t perfect.  I of course refer to the car hire people and the homeward journey. I went to their establishment and made your views known to them.

Yours Faithfully

George Hale.


If we run a trip next year we shall call on your good offices again.  We should like you to accompany us too.

London Section News

The London Section paid a mass visit to the Belfry during the last week in July, and a really enjoyable time was had by all, as the local newspapers would say.  The caving was not as energetic as some of the eastern brethren had planed as they often found that in the prevailing weather conditions the water to be found in the Mineries was much preferable to that of Stoke Lane.  Nevertheless, the new survey of Stoke has been virtually completed as far as the sump, and some length of new passage has been opened and plotted.  There were a couple of visits to the top series of Swildon’s, and two to G.B., where the new route proved a source of great delight to those used to the rigours of the Devil’s Elbow.  There were a number of attempts at photographic record, which gave rise to some mirth when viewed from a reasonable distance, but which led to some caustic remarks about the ability of one member to ignite flash powder.  He has promised to do better next time.

The week was somewhat enlightened, and the nerves of the local inhabitants were shattered by a couple of impromptu flying displays staged especially for our benefit by a certain R.A.F. type, who added to his achievements by occasionally forgetting that Stinkwheels and Harvards have little in common except an internal combustion.  We are happy to report the major casualties of the week were one pair of handlebars and three clutches.  We regret that the road to Wells via Rookham didn’t always prove adequate to our needs and expect the Somerset County Council to have the corners properly widened and banked before our next visit.  Which reminds the writer that all those who were present seem to think that the invasion should become an annual affair.  We must have enjoyed ourselves, or something.


Cavers in the Classics.

By Pie bono BEC.

Question.         “What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth?”

Hamlet. – Shakespeare.

Command.       “Amongst horrid shapes and shrieks, and sights unholy; find out some uncouth call.”

L’Allegro. – Milton.

Answer.           “For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth.”

Endemion.- Keats.

Stoke Lane.     “His body was bent double, feet and head coming together in life's pilgrimage.”

The Leech Gatherer. - Wordsworth.

Purgatory.        “O limed soul, that struggling to be free, art more engaged! Help, angels! make assay!”

Hamlet. - Shakespeare

Drainpipe.        “His words came feebly.  Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach of ordinary men.

The Leech Gatherer. – Wordsworth

Female Speleos  1. She was a Phantom of delight
                        When first she gleamed upon my sight,
                        A lovely Apparation, sent
                        To be a moment’s ornament.


2. Then flashed the living lightning from her eyes,
And screams of horror rent the affrighted skies.
The Rape of the Lock,


Any Suggestions?    “l (Thou) pourest thy full heart in profuse strains of unpremeditated art!”

Hamlet. - Shakespeare

Acetylene gives out.    “It smells to Heaven; it hath the primal eldest curse upon it”.

Hamlet. - Shakespeare

The “Hunters”. “Then to the spicy Nut-Brown Ale, with stories told of many a feat”.

L’Allegro. – Milton.

Ditto.                “While we sit bousing at the nappy An’ getting fou and unco happy”.

Tam O’Shanter.- Burns,

B.E.C. Members.          “And three chance human wanderers, in calm thought reflected, it appeared to me the type of a majestic intellect”.

An Ascent of Snowdon- Wordsworth.

Despoilers of caves.     “ ‘Tis nature’s Law

That none, the meanest of created things,
Of forms created the most vile and brute,
The dullest or most noxious, should exist
Divorced from good”.

The old Cumberland Beggar -Wordsworth,

Coming Back.  “The song seraphically free of taint of personality, so pure”.

The Lark Ascending-Meredith.

At the Belfry.    “Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag to sleep”.

Bat- Lawrence.

Belfry Stew.     “Infinite numbers, delicacies, smells with hues on hues expression cannot paint”.

Spring- Thompson.

Llethrid Cave.

Coase has done it again.  The first to enter the Cave, a very short time ago, he led a party of B.E.C. on a Primary exploration there on the weekend of 24th. Sept., 1949.

This cave, which is situated about eight miles from Swansea and on the Gower peninsula, was opened by Don. Coase about a month before our trip took place.  The party for the weekend consisted of George Lucy, John Hay and Pat Ifold, Tony Setterington, Roger Cantle, Sybil Bowden-Lyle and Gwen Ifold.  The two ladies did not enter the cave.  The party met Don in Swansea and proceeded to Gower and changed at Llethrid Farm, from which the cave has taken its name.  We the approached the cave entrance which is situated in the stream bed at the top of the valley close by the far.

We entered through a pile of loose boulders and crawled in around the roots of a tree growing above.  The entrance is very similar to that of Eastwater, although one tends to crawl along rather than down.  The cave carries a large amount of loose debris which is carried down each year when the cave floods.

This boulder maze was easily negotiated and several short cuts were discovered.  We progressed for a couple of hundred feet and encountered a very tight and awkward squeeze.  This was enlarged with the aid of hammer and chisel and we then proceeded along several parallel rifts in turn connected at right angles by small creeps.  After another hundred feet or as we came into a small boulder filled chamber.  This was the farthest point reached by Don in his exploration.  Here the party split.  Don, George and Pat descended into very small passages extending from the bottom of the chamber, until halted by a constriction.   This was obviously a water filled passage.  The other three led by John Ifold explored a rising passage which led into a mud coated boulder chamber.  From here a steep slope through boulders led into the 1argest chamber of the system.  The floor of which consisted of a mud ridge rising to thirty odd feet above the floor.  This chamber is about 50 feet from the entrance and is about 60ft. long by 25ft. wide, by 40ft. high.

Climbing over the ridge and down the other side we came upon a mud pot and here the party halted, twelve foot deep six in diameter.  As there was some doubt of its climbability without a rope, John Ifold slid to the bottom and engineered a return route by kicking steps in the mud wall.

The rest of the party joined him at the bottom where they found themselves in a large stream passage.

Taking the right hand route which was down a stream, this passage varied in size from three feet to ten feet in height and six feet in width.  We proceeded for about 150 feet along it and then encountered water.  Four members of the party, continued down this water filled section.  We encountered the first duck and proceeded to the second.  Here Don led the way, followed by Roger Cantle.  On reaching dry land on the other side Don made a quick recce of the next duck and found it to be sump of unknown length and considerable depth.  The rest of the party were told not to come through and we about turned, returning along the dry passage.  We the headed back, with George leading, the whole party being wet and cold.

   Note.  This cave is similar to Stoke Lane in that there are loose rocks in abundance, much mud, and septic water.  It is also liable to severe flooding to depths of 20 feet or more throughout the whole system in time of even normal rainfall.  The total distance from entrance to the sump is in the region of 1,000 ft. without counting the side passages.  Coase is going to turn out a survey which will be printed when it arrives.

R.W.G. Cantle
G.T. Lucy


The end of the year approaches once again.  This brings to mind the thoughts of Committee Elections, and the A.G.M.  The first, preliminary is the nomination of members for the new Committee not later than 1st. November 1949.  We remind you that at the end of each year ALL officers in the club automatically cease to hold office and need nominations to take their place on the committee.  The present committee consists of: -T.H. Stanbury Hon. Sec. & Treas., R.A. Setterington, Hut Warden; D.H. Hasell, Hon. Editor B.B.; J.C. Weeks; A.M. Innes, Hon. Librarian; with D.A. Coase and Miss P. Richards as co-opted members.

T.H. Stanbury


List of Members 1949, No.8.

John Mason                    77, Hamlins Lane, Exeter, Devon.
W.A. Montgomery           c/o W.J. Shorthose, (Can we have your home address please?)
Ron Gollen                      58, Harrowby Road, Grantham, Lincs.
F/O D.E. Chadwick          152, Earls Court Road, London, SW. 5.
C. MacKee                      70, Imperial Road, Nottingham, Notts.
Ken. Oxby                      c/o 19, Baker Street, Nottingham, Notts.
Miss Maureen Pillinger     36, Gathorne Rbad, Southville, Bristol. 3.
Mrs. Gwen Ifold               Leigh House, Nernpnett, Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Somt.
Miss Marie Williams        63, Ashburton Road, Southmead, Bristol. 7.
Clive H. Seward               25, Beaconsfiedl Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

Hints on the Edification of Young Cavers.

By Heddifier.

As one of the Subterranean species of cavers, I thought a few hints about their activities would be useful to future lambs led to the slaughter – the very first is, of course, to keep right away from all suggestions of such expeditions.  For their further information, I should like to state, without responsibility, that certain rumours have been circulated that a caver’s first interest is in the consumption of strong liquor, and that his supposed main preoccupation would come second third or even fourth, in order of preference.  Vile scandals have declared that they prefer Whiteways for warming up rather than the White Way, and that their ears prick up at the mention of ‘the Hunters’, rather than that of the ‘Elephant & Castle’.  Let them show whether or not this is true.

Undoubtedly, and absolute necessity, if the lambs really intend to descend to the depths, is several years in a circus.  I should advise them to first become a contortionist; expert in tying the body in knots, resting feet on the shoulders, or twisting the trunk backward.  It would be advantageous if they learnt to stand on the head, balance on the ears, and/or hang by the teeth or the whiskers.  A rubber constitution is most important, too; a body must be fat to wedge in a crack, but needs to be more drawn out in coming through a place like the Devil’s Elbow.  Most unfortunately, it has been found that there is no time for dieting between the two extremes.

We should next, advise the lambs to go into pantomime.  Here they should become flying fairies and save many a soaking because males in white ballet dresses drifting around in G.B. for instance, would give an attractive variety to the scenery.  After seeing some of the kicks which professional cavers of, although fortunately never having been at the receiving end, the writer has wondered if any of them ever played the back legs of a horse.  For the lamb’s benefit I should like to state that that also would be useful training.

For the next few years the lambs should become quite familiar with water.  Swimming and diving are convenient accomplishments, while they should not neglect the practice of washing the neck.  They need not to be afraid of loosing weight, as they will find plenty of mud in the various caverns to replace it.  Much adroitness in swimming could be gained by monkey-climbing on a greasy pole placed as a bridge over a convenient river.  This mention of climbing serves to remind me that the lambs must be expert mountaineers also.

After all these physical activities, the writer thinks it may desirable to bring to their notice that fact that some intelligence is part of a caver’s makeup.  That all B.E.C. members possess it, has not yet been proved, but it is generally supposed that they do have it in various quantities.

Most certainly have a tendency to linguist abilities, and since the introduction of female speleos tender-hearted males have been known to use only the mildest invective (although with considerable expression).  As English and French are so well known, we should like the lambs to know that T.H.M. intend to learn Arabic as having the largest vocabulary.  Any verbal contributions from visitors to Arabia will be gratefully received, carefully examined, and if strong enough, joyfully used.  When the lambs get tired of caving, those languages will get them a good job in the Civil Service, which is always glad of an Arabic speaker to send to the North Pole.  This is one – perhaps the single one – of the advantages of caving, and we can confidently inform the lambs that their ten or twelve years of training will be well and truly wasted.


Did you know that First Class Accommodation at very reasonable terms is available in Mendip?  If anyone is interested please contact: -

Mrs. Gwen Ifold,
   Leigh House,
      Nempnett Thrubwell, Chew Stoke,
         Nr Bristol.

Looking into the future.

It is proposed, if Stafford so wills, to run a trip to the south of next summer.  Although this is a very long way off, it is felt that a preliminary notice of this trip should be given now so that those who plan their holidays far ahead will be able, if they so wish, to make the necessary arrangements to go.  Although no details have yet been worked out, it is very probable that the Pyrenees will be area chosen, and that the cost will be between £20 & £25 each person.  A fortnight is the time tentatively mentioned.

If you are interested in this trip drop a line to the Hon. Sec.  The fact that you name is on the list places you under no obligation to proceed with the plan if you would rather not.  The list being for the sole purpose of gauging the popularity of such a trip.



Thanks are due to the efforts of: - Miss Marie Williams, Frank Young, Miss Daphne Weeks and Tony Preston for the communal effort that now published the BB.  Thanks also to Tony Johnson who turned out the stencil for the dance.  (Ed.’s note.  There is now a dictionary for those who need it)!!!

Although the response to the appeal for articles has been very gratifying, member’s articles are still urgently required, as it is desirable to have sufficient material for several issues in hand, and not to live from hand to mouth.

The Belfry

Although there is a small trickle of work going forward on the new hut, members are reminded that there is an urgent need for volunteers to make the place as we have planned.  It is realised that the B.E.C. is a cave club and not a society of enthusiastic amateur builders, and those members who have toiled so often and well are to be congratulated for their efforts.  Never-the-less it is felt that some of those who fold their tents and steal away when work is mentioned should at least remember that it is the effort of all the members that count, and give a little of the that which other have so unselfishly given for their enjoyment.

T.H. Stanbury

A visit to Ceiriog Caves.

By Pongo Wallis.

In his ‘Netherworld of Mendip’, E.A. Baker tells us of the first exploration of the Ceiriog Caves.  A few days ago I followed in his footsteps.

Unfortunately his description of the site is vague, but we managed to locate them without too much difficulty.  They lie in the Ceiriog Valley, which is the Shropshire- Denbighshire border.  From Chirk one follows the valley for two miles to Castle Mill, and the cave lies on the right bank of the river, about 150 yards downstream from the bridge.  The entrance is about 20 feet from the river and at first sight is most imposing, but this is merely a façade and the real beginning is quite a small hole.

I won’t attempt a detailed description of the cave.  Baker measured it as being just over 500 feet long, and a more recent survey has confirmed this.  Most of the cave is dead, as there are few formations to be found there, barring one small but beautiful grotto containing a considerable number of pendants and one or two attempts at erratics.  Like all the best grottos it is very difficult of access.  In most places the water has deserted the cave for lower levels which cannot be reached.  In any case there are presumably flooded as the level of the river in only slightly below that of the cave.  The water does appear at one point however, in the shape of a low crawl where it is closely associated with a thin mud – a most unpleasant spot.  Luckily it can be bypassed if one spots the way.  After the first 100 feet or more the cave is generally low and one cannot stand up for more than a step or so at a time.  The muddy crawls, of which most of the cave consists, are very tiring, but at least the mud makes it easy on the knees but quite a lot of the way the passages are not even high enough to let one go on all fours.  It is therefore very hard work, and the whole party was exhausted on getting out, despite the fact than after many major caves taking much longer.

It is the sort of caves that books call ‘sporting’, I didn’t hear it described while we were actually in it – most of the adjectives were a good deal more forceful.  But I can recommend to anyone in the vicinity a visit to it and a good afternoon’s caving.

Baker also mentioned another cave in the vicinity, but we were unable to find this. The locals mentioned yet a third, but this had, unfortunately been covered with a landslide a few years before.

From the Hon. Sec’s Post bag.

From Geoff Ridyard.

We has a first class week at Priddy, and Don, Tom Ratcliffe and I polished off the Stoke Lane survey down to the sump.  We had intended going through the sump on Sunday but rain stopped play.  Anyhow on the Monday, Tom, Alfie and I went down and dug out a passage which needs further digging at the end.  It is off the Pebble Crawl and looks as though it will connect with the Tributary Passage which comes down to the beginning of Browne’s passage.

We all agreed that we had a wizard week and we certainly put in a few underground.  Personally, I did a G.B. a Top of Swildons, and four Stoke Lanes.  Altogether did about 18 hours of survey in Stoke and surveyed about 1,420 feet of passages including the bit we dug out on the Monday.

From John Hull at Mackinnon Road .

Last Sunday I had my first lessons in the art of mountaineering, given to me by a rather extraordinary chap called Hanson.  We went out into the bush to reach the climb and as we bumped along the truck in a 15 cwt. truck he would, every now and again shout to the driver to stop; raise one of his two guns and fire at what appeared to be nothing, then he would jump off and disappear behind a clump of trees returning after a few minutes sometimes empty handed, or sometimes wringing the neck of some bird or other.  Then he would murmur ‘Lesser Crested Bustard’ or some such name, and off we would start again.

We travelled in this way for some two hours before we reached the Pika-Pika Hills.  The hunk of rock that we were going to climb, from the distance looked like the wall of a house, and I began to wish that I’d stuck to caving.  The party by the way consisted of the expert, a semi-expert, myself and a chap who had never climbed anything but a flight of stairs.

We pushed off through the bush towards the base of the climb to the accompaniment of such remarks from our instructor as ‘You’ll love it!’ – ‘I smell Lion!’ – ‘Ah, Rhinos been here!’ – ‘I remember the last time I was charged!’ etc.  I became quite sure that I should have stuck to caving.

The rock face was some 150 feet high and after, we had been told how to tie ropes etc., we climbed up in turn.  The expert went first, stood on a ledge about an inch wide lit a cigarette, and from this vantage point some 70 feet from the ground shouted down words of wisdom to the novice and I.  The novice went next and managed to get some nine feet from the ground when he fell off, doing little to improve his or my peace of mind by this rash action.  He tried again and this time after much advice he reached the top.  Then it was my turn, and much to my surprise I found it a lot easier than some of the graunches done in the deep dark holes of .  The only disconcerting point of the affair occurred when I went to grab hold of a leaf of rock, which turned out to be a four foot long lizard; it stuck its tongue put at me and dashed off into the grass on the summit.

We climbed up and down several other pitches including a little back and foot work; and returned to the truck for beer and sandwiches.

My verdict: - Not so dusty, but give me caving any time!!

Talking of caving; next week I have a trip lined up to a coral cave on the coast, which has never been explored.  The snag to it is that, the entrance at any rate is reputed to have more bats to the square yard than any other known cave in the world, so ask our Bertie Bat if he wants me to take any message.

Suggested new Rule.  To be applied to motorcycling cavers.

‘The Bristol Exploration Club will not be held responsible for the fines incurred by members travelling through Cardiff in Convoy, when the said members all try to overtake the leading cycle to inform its driver that he is being followed by a police car.

Also, the B.E.C. cannot undertake to supply embrocation to be applied to the necks of pillion Passenger after being hauled up for being naughty.

Mens Bona Regnum Possidet.

(Ed.’s note.  This being freely translated means, ‘the cutest guy gets the kudos’.)


There is still ample opportunities for members so inclined to indulge in a spot of digging.  There are two or three holes that will repay a few weekends hard work spent on them.  So roll up in your thousands, if we haven’t a room in a hole for you, there is plenty to do at the Belfries.


We should like to remind members that we are still interested in their caving activities, and would like to receive reports to be included in the report book.  When it is considered that we are one of the most active clubs in , it is surprising that so few can be bothered to send in reports.  A few minutes work to turn out a note as to where the trip was, how many went and what happened, is surely a small thing to do in return for the facilities provided.


Important Notice to all Bristol Area Members

There will be NO MEETING at St. Matthew’s Hall on THURSDAY May 11th.  The hall is wanted for another purpose on that night.


We very much regret any inconvenience caused by the sudden cancellation of the two meetings at Easter.  The Hon. Sec. was not informed of this cancellation until it was too late to make an announcement in the ordinary way.

Spring Dance

The Spring Dance, held on April 14th. was a great success, although not so well attended as the Autumn one.  This was no doubt due to a combination of circumstances, not 1east of which was the fact that we had no Thursday Evening meetings for the two weeks previous to it.  Thanks are again due to Pam and her band of stalwarts who were responsible for the organisation of the Dance, and to the band of ladies who wrestled so ably with the refreshments.


Whilst we are in a thanking mood, thanks also to Ken Dobbs, who is making ladders for the club and has already completed a 35 foot length.  The need for extra tackle has been apparent for some time past, and  Ken's efforts will ensure that all those who want gear will be able to have it without ‘queuing’ for it.

Programme for June, July and August.

With this issue of the BB each member will receive his Programme for the next three months.  Trip 4, to and the Pyrenees, requires your name sent in before the last day of May if at all possible if you are interested.  Please let us know, 1, if you have transport, and if so what kind; 2. your starting place; 3. the amount of gear you are taking, and 4, if you wish to camp or sleep in hotels.  The sending in of your name entails no obligation on your part to finally go, but will give Sett, some idea as to how many to expect.  Trip 9, The Bude Camp is always a popular one.  The arrival date can depend on the person coming.  For the cave-minded there is plenty of digging in the Smuggler’s Hole and the exploration of the numerous caves in the cliffs; whilst there will be swimming and surfing to wash to mud off.  Diggers can find employment for then to their hearts content; they should contact Henry Shelton, who would be delighted to see them.

List of members.  1950.  No.2.

John Pain                            ‘Bibury’, Old West Town Lane, Brislington, Bristol. 4.
Don Coase                           18.  Headington Road, Wandsworth, London.  S.W.18.
G. Platten                            Rotherfield, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants.                       
Jim Steer                             23, Andover Road, Knowle Park, Bristol. 4.
George Lucy                        28, Bibury Cerscent, Henleaze, Bristol. 7.
Peter A.E. Stewart               11, Fairhaven Road, Redland, Bristol. 6.
Terry Reed                           53, Dongola Road, Bristol. 7.
Dick Belamy                        5, Heron Road, Easton, Bristol.
Tony Crawford                      10, Elm Close, Hendon, London, N.W. 4.
Angus Innes,                        246, Filton Ave., Horfield Bristol. 7.
Mrs. M (Dizzie) Thompsett    St. Faith’s Cottage, Hawkechurch, Nr. Axminster, Devon.
Roger Cantle                        46, Cherrinton Road, Henleaze, Bristol. 7.
Tony Setterington,                21, Priors Wood Road, Taunton, Somt.        
R.M. (Pongo) Wallis             Briarcroft, Marlborough Close, Latchford, W.O., Warrington, Lancs.
J.M. (Postle) Thompsett        St. Faith’s Cottage, Hawkechurch, Nr. Axminster, Devon.

Cave Research Group Transactions No.8, Vol.1, is just published.

It is entirely devoted to a description of Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, in the Tawe Valley by E.A. Glennie.  The text is illustrated by a large plan and 11 plates of original photographs.  Those who have visited Ffynnon Ddu will find it of great interest to them, whilst those who have not yet had the opportunity of visiting this very interesting welsh cave will find their appetite whetted.  The price is 4/- post free from:- P.B. Binns, 34, Alexandra Road, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, or via Hon. Sec.


Notes on a recent trip to South Devon

by R.W.G.C.

(These are the caving notes promised in the last BB.  Ed.)

The party drove to Buckfastleigh via Newton Abbot and Totnes.  Arriving at the cave, Bakers Pit, the party of ten changed in the cave entrance and descended with Johnny (Menace) Morris leading.  Bakers Pit lies just to the right of a church near Buckfastleigh, in a large copse filled with piles of rocks and dead trees.

The cave proved to be one of great interest, although not of the over-strenuous type.  The main point of interest of the cave is the Dutch Oven; this proved rather tight and one tended to slide out of control (please don’t anyone say ‘ Who ever slides under control’?).  The whole cave system is lined with a particularly tacky kind of mud, and the B.E.C. once again looked a little more natural. (Who believes in washing, anyway?) ,

The next day we visited Kents Cavern, which is situated in the Ilsham Valley.  We were shown round this very interesting show cave by a cordial guide.  This cave is well worth a visit by any caver, the museum, records and charts being exceptionally good.


R.H. Newman makes his debut in BB with a horrible line-shoot entitled

‘Dicing in N. Wales.’

Three of the more ambitious members of the B.E.C. to wit, messrs. Pat (Where did you get that hat.) Ifold, Roger (Rotten Guts) Cantle, and Ron (Holler in the night) Newman, nipped off smartly in the Newman buggy towards Capel Curig at 18.00hrs on Maundy Thursday.

Progress was rather slow, since a new engine was being run in, but the trip was far from uneventful.  We considerably shook the citizens of Tewkesbury en route with our climbing sets and Cantle’s anecdotes - hardly up to drawing-room standard - recounted in an alcoholic whisper audible several yards away.  As a result of our sojourn in Tewkesbury, and Cantle’s propensity to car-sickness, that gentleman blazed a trail of glory all across N. Wales, and delighted the rest of the party with his antics in the middle of the road with headlight illumination.  (For further gen on this, consult Cantle).

We arrived at the barn just after dawn, to be greeted there by Bob Crabtree grinning over the top of the half-door.  He provided us with a very welcome cup of char, after which we piled into fug-bags and kipped down until mid-day.  We then nipped into Capel for some Dutch courage and returned to have a crack at Y Gribbin via the Zig-Zag route.

This consisted of three pitches; the first about 20' up to an outward sloping ledge; the second up a crack in the face for about 15’ where the face sloped back into a slab, in which the crack continued for another 30'; and the third consisted of a crack in a vertical face, which proved to be a tight squeeze.

Roger led on the first pitch, and Bob on the other two, hotly pursued by Newman and Ifold, at third and fourth place respectively.  The climb was quite easy, although a very boisterous wind made it more difficult than it should have been; the Cantle hat was whisked off, but it was retrieved by a mob of hill-walkers below, who were eyeing our efforts with amazement, and it was returned to Pat, still waiting to come up the first pitch.  An easy scramble then brought us up to the top and we walked down by an easy way and adjourned to the Royal at Capel.

During our absence the barn had filled up with other climbing bods, and Newman was able to put in some extra-mural activity that night.  It may be added that this had nothing to do with the subsequent howls from the Newman quarter; they were the result, strangely enough, of a caving nightmare

The next day we intended to do Snowdon via a ridge walk, but the weather clamped down.  We sat in the car for a few hours waiting in vain for the torrential to blow over, teaching Bob to play bridge in the meantime.  The wind was so powerful that it was rocking the car all over the place, despite the ballast provided by four husky bodies and all our gear and provisions.  We finally abandoned the project and returned to Capel for tea, beer and more bridge.

That night there was a hearty singsong in the Royal, during which the B.E.C. covered itself with glory and inspired all present with awe.  The singsong won for us many friends and much respect (one character was later heard boasting that he had an uncle in Bristol!!).  Most of the credit for this must go to Cantle, who seems to command an unlimited number of songs.

Sunday was the best day of all, despite the Welsh Sabbatarian outlook which forbids the sale of booze on that day.  There was no rain, but the wind was still blowing a gale, sending walls of spindrift scudding across Llyn Ogwen, and there was snow and ice on the mountains.  These weather conditions changed a ‘Difficult’ climb into a ‘Severe’ one.

We tackled the Milestone Buttress of Tryfan in two parties – Bob and myself in the first, Pat and Roger in the second.  It was our intention to take the Ordinary route, but it seemed that several hundred people had the same idea, so, not wishing to queue up, we decided on the Pulpit Route and Ivy Chimney.

This route took us right up the right-Hand edge of Milestone Buttress, with a wicked-looking gully just to the right, which made the climb very exposed.

Most of the climb consisted of slabs (The high wind upsetting the delicate balance required for slab climbing) except for the last two pitches - both very difficult and exposed where Bob led us all in one big party.  Roger and Pat were having difficulty with a new rope; on one occasion when I belayed above Bob and seeing him up, I could see the other two far below wrestling with stiff, unruly coils of rope strewn all over the mountainside.

The first of the two difficult pitches was Ivy Chimney itself.  Actually, the chimney was easy – bags of flakes and jammed feet and handholds - but getting out of it was a masterpiece of contortionism and sheer brute strength of arm that creased all of us.

Two big, long, tapering boulders blocked the chimney exit, and it was necessary to climb under them and out to the right, into an extremely exposed position over the gully, and then to wriggle up between the two boulders, which over-hung the gully.

The space between the boulders was V Shaped, with the open end of the V to the right, so that the further right one wriggled, the wider the space between the boulders.  In order to get a space wide enough to wriggle through, one had to move over a few hundred feet of nothingness, with only a friction hold over each boulder with each hand.  One then had to haul the body up between the boulders on hands only.  It was pretty murderous, especially with cold hands, too numb after a few minutes to feel the rock.  And the Tryfan guide book has the nerve to describe this manoeuvre as ‘amusing’!!

To crown everything, with Bob and myself on top and Roger halfway up, a wicked looking white curtain drifted lazily down the valley.  It hit us just as Roger was on the tricky section - hail, driven along by a gale-force wind.  Stuck between two difficult pitches, the three of us had to huddle up until it blew over; fortunately, it did so soon.  Meanwhile Pat was curled up snugly in the bottom of the chimney, well sheltered.  We could see all the people below lucky enough to be able to walk off, doing it at top speed. In answer to our query, Bob informed us that we too, could get down just as quickly – all we had to do was to close our eyes and walk around for a bit!

The next pitch was not so difficult as it appeared from below, but it was very exposed and Bob led us up very cautiously.  The rest of us with the added security of a top rope were able to fly up.  From here we coiled up our ropes and started the long grind to the summit, via the North ridge and the Cannon.  Halfway up we encountered two hill walkers, plus, of all things, two dogs one of which was a diminutive Yorkshire terrier, with legs only two inches long – completely useless for scrambling over boulders.  The B.E.C. lent a hand, and we rewarded with the incongruous spectacle of Pat plodding upwards with a pocket size pooch tucked under one arm!  We came down as before by an easy route with a pretty fair scree-slide thrown in.

One particular occasion we forgot our torch, and finding our way back to the barn in complete darkness proved to be the most dangerous part of a dicey weekend.  After several hair-raisers we finally made it, and spent the rest of the evening playing bridge and drawing on Roger’s inexhaustible fund of songs.

Next day – Monday – we intended to spend a morning on Idwal Slabs before returning to Bristol, but the weather beat us again, so we spent it instead on the Royal’s dartboard.  After lunch we bade Bob farewell and started back.  There is a certain rat in Capel which was probably very glad to see the last of us – Roger will tell you why.

On the whole the trip was quite successful and very enjoyable, despite the weather, and it convinced me that climbing is superior to caving.  If any of you think otherwise, then join the next trip to North Wales.


We are delighted to welcome back to the fold, after a lengthy sojourn in South Wales the master of Rasputin, to wit one Donald Coase.  He says that he found the state of both huts amazing and expresses his appreciation of the way that they are both kept spotless and tidy internally.


At the Belfry there was a large crowd down for Easter and a good time was had by all.  The electrical work is now complete except for the mains switch and some work has been done towards the levelling of the remainder of the site.  More lining board has been put up and the order has been placed for the Calor-gas equipment.  The ladies room was used as a complete unit for the first time at Easter, thus bringing the permanent sleeping accommodation in the new Belfry up to 21.  This together with the bunks in the old hut and available floor space compares very favourable with the accommodation offered at the Grand Hotel.  We are advertising for a bar-maid whose chief duties will be to summon the faithless to stew and to bring bowsers of booze from the Hunters.


T.H. Stanbury        Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4. (Bristol 77590)
F.W. Young,          Assist. Hon. Sec. The Barton, Stanton Drew, Nr. Bristol
W.J. Shorthose,     Hon. Sec. London Sect. B.E.C., 26. Gateshead Road, Upper Tooting, London, S.W. 17.
A.M. Innes,            Hon. Librarian.  246, Filton Ave., Horfield, Bristol. 7.

Spring Dance

The Social Committee of the B.E.C. announce that a Spring Dance will be held in ST. MATTHEW’S CHURCH HALL, REDFIELD, BRISTOL, on FRIDAY, APRIL 14th. from 7.30 to 16.30, Tickets, price 2/6 are obtainable from Hon. Sec., A.C. Johnson, Miss Pam Richards, Johnny Pain, and Johnny Bindon. The success of this dance depends on the efforts of ALL, and we ask all members to make an effort to sell tickets. Each member's efforts will be reflected in the result, so let us make an all-out effort.

There is one point of difference between this dance and the last one. There will be no re-admission for anyone after 9.45, even club members.

All profits will be devoted to the Hut Fund.


We are please top announce that two more Club members have taken the awful step!! Congratulations to Henry Shelton and to Bobbie Bagshaw who have both recently announced their engagements.


We are now in a position to supply members with carbide at 9d. a pound. Please bring your own tin. This cannot, of course, be sent by post. By the way, the prices quoted for lamps, etc., are ‘collect’ prices. Please add postage if delivery is wanted.


Anyone who wishes to fill in a Saturday on Mendip, get in touch with Hal Perry, who is always willing to organise a ‘last minute’ trip. You can contact him on Thursdays, or at 20, Northfield Ave., Hanham, Bristol

South Devon Episode.

Being a few brief notes culled from sundry sources on a trip to uncivilised parts on the last weekend in Feb.

Four M/Cs travelled down on Friday night together with John Pain and John (Menace) Morris in the latter’s car loaded with kit. They arrived at the ‘Jolly Sailor’ Teignmouth just before closing time, after a very wet journey. The sleeping arrangements were rather staggering to the usual Belfry Types. Through the kindness of Mrs. Morris four bods had the unusual luxury of sleeping between clean sheets for the weekend. The others were comfortably ensconced in fug-bags about the house. It is to be noted that Mr. Morris made sure that the Bar Door was securely locked before turning in. Breakfast was taken in style at a café across the road.

After the usual M/C repair session the party started out for Bakers Pits at Buckfastleigh, where a happy and muddy time was had by all. (I am given to understand that the caving reports will be arriving in the form of another article in a few days. Ed.) George was the star performer of the day, winning a suitable prize for crawling backwards up a dirty 45 degree drainpipe.

The party then returned by ones and twos to T’mouth, some to fry eggs and sausages all over Mrs. Morris’ gas stove, others to advise. They found Pam Richards and Tony Johnson well entrenched in front of a roaring fire having had a very wet journey down by M/C. Tony reports that he acted as a human spark-plug most of the time, when his ht lead got wet. In the evening after the gathering of the clans, visits were paid to the local high spots. Many and various were the songs sung until a late hour, when all trooped off to get some shut-eye.

Next morning came too soon, but what a morning, just like summer. The most amazing part of the trip was that more than half of the party were to be seen walking along the beach soon after 9 o’clock. Unfortunately, a carefully laid plan to fetch Pam & Marlene (John Morris’ sister) out of bed at an unearthly hour ran adrift for we heard nothing of it; still, better luck next time.

After another filling breakfast a move was made towards Torquay. The convoy set off round the coast road, but a diversion up a precipice known as Squeeze Belly Lane caused a bit of excitement although John M. stalled the car’s engine.

After a short stop by the harbour during which some of our climbing brethren did some natty traverses round the end of the jetty on a two inch ledge. (Would they have been so keen if they knew there was a 30’ depth of water below them?). The next stop was on the marine drive from where the party walked to Anstey’s Cove. Here everyone tried to outdo each other in deft antics, some heavy waves adding to the fun. From here to ’s cavern and then a return to Teignmouth, from where a start home was made at about 6.00.

One member had a blow-out by Star Cross. Six stayed to cope with it and the others pressed on. After many mendings and pinchings they gave up and bought a new tube. Whilst this was going on, a fry of Bacon and Eggs and Sausages were made on the top of the petrol tanks of the local garage where operations were conducted.

All at various time had a most welcome cup of hot coffee at Sett's house in Taunton for it was a very cold night.

All members who went south are very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Morris for all the trouble they took to make our weekend so successful. Everyone who went agreed that is was as good as weekend as they had ever spent. One again, thank you ‘Jolly Sailor’. We all hope we shall see more of you.

List of Members 1950. No.1

T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Sec. 74. Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
D.H. Hassell, 1. Stoke Hill Cottage, Chew Stoke, Somt.
R. Wallace 32. Springleaze, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
J.V. Morris Ye Olde jolly Sailor Inn, Teigmouth, Devon
S.C.W. Herman 34. Jubilee Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R.J. Bagshaw 11. Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol. 4. (Life Member)
G.H. Fern 29. Kinsale Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
L. Peters 21. Melbury Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
J.C.W. Weekes 376. Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R. Woodbridge 384. Wells Road, Bristol. 4.
A.E. Baxter 92. Baywatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
E. Knight 48. Grafton Street, St. Philips Marsh, Bristol
R. Brain 10. Weston Ave., Cossham Road, St. George, Bristol. 5.
Mrs. I.M. Stanbury 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
C.H. Kenney 5. Vicars Close, Wells, Somt.
A.C. Johnson 48. The Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol. 66478

These list appear for the information of members, so that they can contact those who live near them.


Today we welcome an old friend, Andre Constantine Anastasiou better known as just, Andre, has sent us the following drawings. These reproduced are, of course, tracings, but they make a welcome change.

Thanks a lot Andre, lets be having some more. For the newcomers who have not had the pleasure of meeting Mad Andre, he is a bearded joyful type who has emigrated to the He is a fine cartoonist and several books of his drawings on caves exist. Some, alas have been Swiped by the unscrupulous, but several remain intact.

We still need articles for the BB, having received only ONE since the last issue. Come on chaps. Cough up! and so save the Editor going completely grey!

The Programme.

All members will, by now have received their Programme Cards for the coming Three Months; these are only a few of the trips to be undertaken by the club during that time. Other trips, organised by members or groups of members will take place almost every weekend, and it is to your advantage to attend the Thursday Meetings and also to go to the Belfry at weekends so that you may know of these trips. Members will appreciate the utter impossibility of running a three months programme where every weekend is filled, as although many members can guarantee to lead a trip once or twice during this period, they could not of course tell if circumstances would prevent them if they volunteered more often. We should be very pleased to hear from anyone who would care to lead parties during the three months of June, July and August. Just send in your name and date you can manage, the name of the Cave (or Climb) and the time to Frank Young, whose address you will find at the end of this BB.

Sales Service

We have been fortunate to obtain a small number of water-tight steel boxes size 9” x 4½” x 2½”. They have a carrying handle, and are rubber gasketted. They would be ideal for cameras, etc. and we are selling them at the colossal price of 1/6 each. First come, first served.

We also have for sale: -

Club Bats printed on calico, for caving Clothes, at 3d. each; Huwood Helmets, Cromwell Helmets, Premier Lamps and spare parts for same, Carbide containers for Premier Lamps complete with screw cap for carrying a spare charge of carbide easily; Prickers for Premier Lamps. We can also supply members camping and caving wants at reasonable prices, send in your ‘wants list’ to frank Young.


Visitors to London are ensured of a welcome at John Shorthose’s. Give him a ring; BALham 7545 is the number, the address is below.


Articles for the BB are still in urgent need. PLEASE tell us about your trips and excursions. The Hon. Sec. says that his well of effort is almost exhausted. (Loud cheers from all!!)


T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
F.W. Young, Hon. Assist. Sec., The Barton, Stanton drew, Nr. Bristol
W.J. Shorthose, Hon. Sec., L.S., 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
A.M. Innes, Hon. Librarian. 246, Filton Ave., Horfield, Bristol. 7.

The General meeting of the Cave Research Group of will be held in Geography Lecture Theatre of Bristol University on Saturday, 10th June at 5.30pm.  Tea may be obtained in the Museum refectory.

The programme for the meeting is not yet finalised, but Mrs. Winifred Hooper will be speaking on Batwork in the Devonshire caves.  A trip to G.B. is being arranged for Sunday 11th. June in connection with this meeting by the U.B.S.S.

We all members who can manage it to attend this meeting as Mrs. Hooper is an authority on bats and will have much interest to tell everyone, either those who already ‘bat’ or those who know very little about them.

It is unfortunate that several of us were committed elsewhere before the date for the meeting was announced, but that of course cannot be helped.

T.H. Stanbury


Owing to pressure of examinations Angus Innes has had to relinquish his job as Hon. Librarian.  Hal Perry has taken over from him and will be Acting Liberian until further notice.  His address is 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.  He will be very pleased to hear from those who wish to borrow books.


Ron Newman has followed up his climbing effort with the following: -

Snaffle-Plate Sonnet. 

By R.H.H. 
(Overheard in the Hunters by a Layman).

Bridge at Hunters Saturday Night
The boys are getting fairly tight
The bidding’s high the players too
There spades. Have you tried 42?

I have, but I’m not keen on it.
It overheats the doofer bit
And messes up the sprangle parts.
What’s that?  Oh yes – I’ll go four hearts.

A doofer bit that gets too hot
Will do no harm to my pot
It’s held down by the snaffle link.
Five clubs.  Whose turn to buy the drink?

I'm sorry chum, I don’t agree.
If snaffle links are running free
Then slurges form in darned great lumps.
I say did you bid five no trumps?  If slurges mix with sump juice grime
Your snag bolt has had its time.
The snag bar shackle surclip locks
And messes up the sprog oil box.

That’s not true, the shackle bar pin
Runs in a shim of phosphor-tin.
The snatch plate therefore can’t come out.
Who trumped my ace?  You horrid lout.

I still maintain that I am right,
A slurge won’t form with snap nut tight.
You set it firm with feeler keys.
Look, here’s Ben.  ‘Time gentlemen Please!’


After one year in hiding at the belfry the H.A.U.H.W. announces that one gas cape; one Pr. yellow anti-gas trousers; one anti-gas hood.  These are believed to belong to a member of the London Section.  Would the owner please contact the Hon. Sec.


You are reminded of the trip to Coombe Down Freestone Workings on Sat. 17th. June.  It is not often that we have the opportunity of visiting these workings.  Of special interest is the immense number of Cave Pearls to be found there.  We have a ‘Test Nest’ of pearls in these workings, and the rate of deposit has so far been found to be very fast.

Don’t forget the full Stoke Lane on Sunday 25th. June.  This is being led by Don Coase, the original discoverer of Lower Stoke Lane, and should be a very fine trip.

The tip scheduled for Sunday 2nd July to August Hole, has been put forward one day to SATURDAY 1st July, as there were quire a number who couldn’t make Sunday.

The Belfry

Although fewer in numbers than usual (due to a large party being on a climbing trip in North Wales) and a good time was had at Whitsun by the dozen or so at the Belfry.  At least three trips were run, two to G.B. and one a full Swildons, and also other members apart from those at the Belfry went underground.

The first Calor-Gas cylinder has been purchased, and the weekend saw the gas stove in use for the first time.  Those who used it vote it far superior to the Primusses.


Even the Hon. Sec. went caving.  He, together with his two daughters, made a daring descent of Denny Hole.  There were no casualties.


There appears to be quite a few outstanding items of tackle, (Ropes, shovels, picks, hammers, chisels, bars, etc.) in circulation amongst members.  At least we hope that they are.  A check up of all gear is in progress and any member who has, or knows where there is and of the above, should return it (or them) to the Hon. Sec. or Tackle Officer forthwith.

The ladder situation has improved enormously and we hope that by the time this Bulletin is printed to have another 60 or so feet of ladder well on the way to completion.  The material has arrived for the alloy ladders and manufacture will be starting on them very soon

Lantern Slides.

As you, or most of you, know the collection of lantern slides owned by the club and used by the Hon. Sec. and others for lectures, was badly damaged at Christmas.  Amongst our members there are doubtless those who have suitable negatives that they would loan to the club for a short time to enable slides to be made from them.  Every care will be taken of any such negative loaned.  If anyone is willing please send them to Hon. Sec.


We should like to express our thanks to the Wessex Cave Club for their recent gift of a large slow-combustion stove for the Belfry.

List of Members 1950 No. 3.

Eddie Cole                           174, Baginton Road, Coventry, Warwickshier.
John Bindon                         19, Morse Road, Redfield, Bristol.
Alfie Collins                          58, Beaconsfield Road, Mottingham, London, S.E.9.
Pat Woodroffe                      192, Heythorpe St., Southfields, London, S.E.18.
John Hull                             P.O. Box 100, Mackinnon Farm, , Africa.
Sam Treasure                      Stoke Lane Poultry Farm, Stoke St. Michael, Nr Bath, Somt.
John Ifold                             Leigh House, Nempnett, Throbwell, Nr. Chew Stoke, Somt.
Tony Needs                         62, Callington Road, Brislington, Bristol.
Miss Madelaine Thomas       6, Hill Crest, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Roy Ifold                              32, Coburg Road, Montpelier, Bristol. 6.
Mervyn Hannam                   14, Vyvyan Terrace, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Ted Masom                          11, Kendon Drive, Westbury,-on-Trym, Bristol.
Geoff Ridyard                       Archaeology Branch, Ordnance Survey Office, Leatherhead Road, Chessington, Surrey.
Miss Pam Richards              The Cottage, Wellsway, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol.
Reg Hazell                           34, Jubilee Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

These lists are published each month, so that correspondence between members will be a simple matter.

Caving in the Cevennes. No.2 l’Aven d’Orgnac.

by T.H. Stanbury.

My Biggest caving thrill was experienced in l’Aven d’Orgnac.  Orgnac is situated in the Cevennes (the Borrow country) near the village of Orgnac l’Aven, and about 26km. from Pont St. Esprit.

This is true Maquis country, the hill tops being covered with stunted bushes, the original maquis from which the French Resistance movement took its name.  Dry watercourses abound, but as the whole area is limestone there is no surface water except possibly after heavy rain.

We arrived at a small café situated about 2/3’s of the way between the village and the cave at about 11.30am.  The café seemed to be well and truly in the wilds and the maquis bushes grow all around it except there was only bare rock and no place for it to root itself.  It was a blazing hot day and we all raided the café which dispensed warm drinks in all directions.  I may add that a warm drink is very unusual in , as even the poorest of cafes serve drinks ice-cold.

Our drinks finished, we proceeded to change into caving togs.  The rock was almost too hot to sit on and we sweltered in our gear which was far more than we had been wearing for some time.  A walk of 250 yards along the road brought us to its end.

Here was a modern dwelling house and the building that housed the cave entrance.  In this building was a stall selling postcards, ice refreshments and all the usual impedimenta of a show cave.  The gate was opened and we started down a long flight of steps in an artificial tunnel.

Orgnac is of course a show cave, but there were non-tourist sections that we hoped to visit as well.  Reaching the end of the staircase we saw a gloomy opening on the left, whilst to the right was a large pile of debris.  Over all was a greenish light.  Vertically above the debris pile was a large open shaft and the green light was daylight filtering down through the ferns and creepers that were growing on its side.  The pile of debris was of course the rubbish that had fallen down the shaft through the ages.

Leaving the debris on the right we followed the path into a huge chamber and then stopped spellbound.  Never before had we seen anything like it – huge stalagmites by the score reared themselves before us – and strange in shape they were too!    Like huge flowers and piles of immense washers they towered around us.   The chamber itself, of immense size, fell away beyond the debris pile which stood revealed as an oasis of infilling surrounded by the glories of the underworld.  In general however, wonderful as these formations were, they lacked the sparkle of life, and in only one or two places could we hear the drip of water.

Our host was M. Robert de Joly, and he led us along a path that took us to the lowest part of the show cave.  Here steps had been cut and rails erected and the tourists could descend for a considerable distance into the cave.  Around the side of the funnel were great formations, but of a more orthodox type than those in the chamber itself.

The tourist cave ended at a small observation platform and, climbing over the rails surrounding it we clambered down the slope to another chamber, a little smaller that that of the show cave.  Here was a miniature canyon system cut in the hard mud of the cave floor.  Like the Grand Canyon viewed through the wrong end of the telescope, it was perfect in all its details; there were tributary canyons and mesas, all caused by the flow of tiny streams, the whole area being only about 6ft. wide and 20 long.

Passing under another arch we entered the furthest chamber.  This, too, was very large, being comparable in size to Lamb Leer, and the walls made no impression on the senses.  This chamber contained a number of huge formations one of which had been shattered by an earthquake and had fallen.  On this broken remnant had grown another formation about ten feet long, which showed how long ago the column had fallen.

M. de Joly lit up these formations with red Bengal Fire, and very splendid they looked in the flickering crimson light.  Feeling very impressed with our morning underground we retraced our steps to the show cave, and thence to the surface, where we stood helpless in the dazzling sunshine.  It was quite a few minutes before I could open my eyes so intense was the glare reflected from the white limestone.

After a hurried meal de Joly picked up a small party which he was going to take around the ‘plus dangerous’ parts of the cave, and I was lucky enough to be included.  We returned down the steps to the show cave and skirted around the debris pile, commenced to descend the funnel.

Ducking under a guard rail we left the path and traversing across a stalagmite slope put a barrier of stalagmites between ourselves and the show cave itself.  A rigid dural ladder was produced and carried along with us and in a few moments we came to a halt at the bottom of an encrusted chimney.  Our leader climbed up, using the ladder as a ‘stepping stone’ and soon vanished from sight.  After a considerable wait a dural and wire caving ladder came snaking down to us, and we ascended the chimney one by one.  The top of the climb brought us out on to a gallery running at a very high level over the funnel in the floor of the show cave and from various vantage points we could look down and see the show cave lights shining below us.

Our way led through a number of connecting tunnels all encrusted with formation, which here took the form of erratics that looked as if thousands of well-browned chips had been thrown against the walls.  In one place a black hole about 5ft. high and 2ft. wide gave access to a chamber that we were told was even larger than the main one, and was separated by only a thin wall of rock from it.  We had no ladders to tackle such a place, however, as the only way into the place was via the small hole which was set up near the apex of the roof in a similar manner to that of the entrance to the main chamber by which we had ascended and de Joly pointed out to us how some of the formations were had being rotted away by the action of bat’s urine.

With increasing frequency we were becoming aware of the nearness of the show cave as little galleries gave access to grottoes perched on the edge of the drop into it.  Our guide became narrower and narrower and soon consisted of only a wide ledge with a protecting ‘rail’ of stalactite pillars between ourselves and the ever increasing drop to the chamber below.   Our way lay over the ‘funnel’ and soon the ledge narrowed still further and the stalactites ended so that we were traversing a ledge no more than a foot wide and in places much less, that was over hanging a drop in the region of 230-300 feet high.  We were still following de Joly, but I for one way feeling far from happy with exposure of that magnitude.   He was carrying a light line over his shoulder and was followed by his head guide, and vanishing around a corner shouted for us to stop.   We stopped!!  Clinging to the walls by means of the projecting formations, I looked down at my feet, and noticed that the ledge on which we stood was overhanging and that there was a distinct gap between the ledge and the face.  In other words the ledge was peeling from the face.   I hoped that our combined weight wouldn’t finish it off, pushing the matter to the back of my mind, looked down into the show cave. The rest of the party  (those who were not lucky enough to be with us)  were down there and we could see their lights like glow-worms far below us.  There too, were the great floodlights used to illuminate the cave and these too, despite their size seemed tiny and remote from us.

De Joly had by this time completed his task, and called for us to come on.  One by one we approached the corner and vanished around it.  The remarks, in French and English that floated back to us were far from encouraging and we waited in a state of over-increasing apprehension for our turns to come.

At last it was my turn.  The man in front vanished around the corner and I stepped up to take his place.  I peered round the corner and wished I was home with mother – at the corner the ledge ended; there was a gap of about four feet and then there was a small hole about the size of the Drain Pipe in Goatchurch.  In the centre of this gap, which dropped sheer into the funnel, 300 feet below, was a small sliver of rock about as big as my hand and about the same shape.  This I found, upon touching it, to be loose.  Through the hole and across to where I stood ran the line, but except for psychological purposes it was useless.  At the most it gave an ‘Outside edge’ to the drop, and no-one on Mendip would have dreamed of crossing it without a lifeline.  However, for the glory of England, and because I couldn’t go back anyway, I lowered myself very carefully on to all fours and scuttled across the gap, throwing myself like a terrified rabbit into the hole on the other side. 

Breathing again, I joined the others who were in various stages of amazement at having reached the other side in one piece.  It was very amusing, after we regained the surface, to recall how our interest in formations had mysteriously evaporated from that time.

From the gap our way lay along a broadening gallery into a grotto that ran back at right angles to the main cave wall.  This we thought was the end, but de Joly had another shock in store for us.  Strolling out to the spot where the grotto mouth overhung the main chamber, he swung himself up by some sleight of hand, down over the overhang and up again intop another grotto running parallel to the one we were in.  I must here put on record the cool courage of Frank Frost of the W.C.C. who was the leader of the English section.  Without hesitation he followed de Joly and swung himself down and then up and reached the second grotto safely.  Following was a Swiss who took one look, and said ‘mon Dieu’ and came back; after that no one else would attempt it.

We found an alternative route between the grottoes and arrived at last beside the two human flies in the terminal chamber.  This was noted for the white formations there and also the strange shape of the gours on the floor.  These, instead of being more or less smooth were like tiny reproductions of the ‘flower like’ stalagmites in the show cave.  Here de Joly broke off some of these and gave us one ach as a memento.  On the return journey we all used the ‘safe’ route between the grottoes and then set off back towards the gap.  Hoping that there was an alternative route we found ourselves getting nearer and nearer to it.  In one place there was a small boulder, and de Joly told us that it were moved we could get back to the chimney that way, but as he much preferred the other route and that he had no intention of moving it, and that anyway we were the first, besides himself and the guides that had ever been there.

On reaching the Gap, it appeared to be even more impassable than from the other side.  The hole sloped downwards to the drop and the main difficulty was that one was apt to slip right through the hole which was really a small tunnel, and go sailing off into space, and the only means of braking was to spread ones feet and

Hope.  Another trouble was that it was impossible to see the end of the ledge from this hole as it was around the corner, and so out of sight.

When my turn came I slid into the hole with my heart in my mouth, and reaching out put both hands on to the loose rock.  Transferring my weight to my hands, I balanced on them and then brought my feet across so that I was balanced on all fours, or rather on all threes, as the rock was not wide enough to rest both feet.  I felt like a bird on a perch and had a horrible feeling that the rock would pull away from the face, and then by some means threw myself outwards and around the corner to the ledge, where I scrabbled frantically for a couple of seconds before finding a hold.

From here to the entrance was just routine, and we emerged again into daylight feeling very proud of ourselves.  The others that had been in the show cave said that they were amazed when they saw us crawling about so high up the wall, and were astounded when we told them that there were no safety lines used there.  To them it seemed that we were like flies crawling on the ceiling.

The fragment from the gour given to me by de Joly is now one of my most treasured possessions, a memento of the most exciting caving trip that I have ever had.

You lucky people. Fancy a whole double page extra.  And all because the Editor couldn’t edit properly.  Although this extra page has paid havoc with the paper quote, the next BB will be of the standard size.


Any offers from members to lead trips during September, October and November would be appreciated.  Send in names to Frank Young.


T.H. Stanbury             Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4. (Bristol 77590)
F.W. Young,               Assist. Hon. Sec. The Barton, Stanton Drew, Nr. Bristol
W.J. Shorthose,          Hon. Sec. London Sect. B.E.C., 26. Gateshead Road, Upper Tooting, London, S.W. 17.
Hal Perry,                   Acting Librarian.  20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.