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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Ted Humphreys

1990 - 1991 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Stuart McManus
B.B. Editor               Ted Humphreys
Hut Engineer            Nigel Taylor
Membership Sec.     John Watson
                               Ian Caldwell 


Please can I have more articles or anything to go in the BB.  I have nothing in reserve as usual!

Nothing sensational seems to have happened since Christmas, though lots of caving has been done.  I tell a lie!  There was one rescue in Eastwater.  A girl hurt her back in Dolphin Pot but was extricated successfully by the MRO.  The biggest casualty being Tony Boycott who crashed his car while on his way to attend the rescue and, I believe, damaged/broke some ribs.  I don’t seem to be very good at gathering the latest Mendip news so I've asked Jake if he'll write a synopsis for each BB - he's agreed! The first should appear in the next issue.

I have three letters in front of me from members whose addresses were incorrect (the corrected ones are on page 2).  The letters weren't specifically for publication in the BB but I'm sure they won't mind if I include some extracts from them here.

The first is from Clare Coase whose BB's have been sent to one of her neighbours for a long time and they're getting fed-up with running a delivery service - sorry Clare.  She would also like to say a big thank you to, and I quote “The Club members who were so super to us all, especially to those intrepid leaders of that caving trip with Damien and Nan".

The second is from Steve Milner, who says a largish article is almost ready for the BB and that he would give it to Tony & Trebor when they visited Oz after Christmas.  Where is it Steve?  Also how about an article from J'Rat or Trebor about their exploits?

The third is from Harry Stanbury and I shall quote the P.S. to the letter. "My wife does a very reasonable B & B for any BEC'ites who should happen to stray this far!!". That sounds like an offer too good to be missed if anyone gets to Bude!

Disco, Saturday 2nd March

This is the Battle of Britain, World War Two, Fancy Dress Disco at Priddy Village Hall.  Food and Bar provided.

Tickets are £3.00, available from Blitz, at the Belfry or at the door.

Belfry Working Day. Saturday. 16th March

A lot of jobs need doing, all volunteers welcome.  In the evening, a Barrel, a Belfry Binder and a show of 'Old' slides will be provided for the workers!

A list of the jobs to be done should soon be on display at the Belfry.

Matienzo Permits

Tony and Roz Williams have a contact is Spain, so if anyone needs a caving permit for Matienzo they will find it best to do it through them.  Their address is Leigh-on Mendip, BATH

Membership List Amendments

211L     Clare Coase, Berkley Vale, New South Wales, Australia
1132     Robert Bruce Crowe, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
1143     Jane L. Evans, Cork,  Eire
1142     Angela Garwood, Roath, Cardiff
1098     Brian Gilbert, Chingford, London
316L     Kangy King, Pucklechurch, Bristol
1116     Stuart Lain, Wells, Somerset
1053     Steve Milner, Australia
1046     Dave Shand, Thornhill, Cardiff
1L         Harry Stanbury, Bude, Cornwall

Excerpts from a Portuguese Show Cave Pamphlet

contributed by J'Rat

"The discovery of the Caves of Antonio was made by chance on June 2nd 1955, by two men. While looking for a bird they penetrated a large crack in the rock through which it sought refuse."

"The Caves of Alvados were discovered in 1964.  They prepared a descent into the caves with the aid of rapes and lanterns.  The caves consist in a succession with stalagmits and stalactites, all connected."


Jane, Spain, Plane

Kangy, Jan '91

Got invited to stay with Jane Clarke in Spain which included an irresistible offer of the use of her mountain bike.  As this turned out to be in a National Park thing where she lives when not teaching the locals how to talk inglish like what we do, it gradually dawned that this was PAY DIRT.  GOLD HAD BEEN STRUCK!

I still had to get there and half down the M4 to Heathrow in mid-November I couldn't find my passport. Frantic work at the post office got me a temporary one on my Visa card.  (Visa card?)  The adrenalin was still flowing when I came across Martin Grass who was in the departure lounge for a flight to Paris and I enjoyed really boring him with repetitions of my horrendous tale.  He was really cool about his beautiful friend.  Tell Zot.

A jumping. gesticulating Jane met me at Barthelona Airport.  I felt really glad I hadn't totally blown it by not turning up.

Oh. Happy Holidays, celebratory drinks, long chatty drive back to St. Llorenf Saval in her excellent 2CV, bed far too late.

But next morning! Views everywhere.  Beautiful traditional Catalan house properly constructed of woodworm and instinct.  Super weather, frosty and sunny.  Hills just outside of front door.  Ten minute stroll uphill got us to even more views with a well sculpted skyline full of deep canyons and steep rock walls.  We walked through woods and Jane oriented and informed me about the area. On the way back I became enamoured of a striking little mountain which the map called Castel del Pera and we worked out how I could climb it by bike.  Herself went off to work.  (How was it in the office today dear?) and I set out to tame my first mountain bike. Sore bum.

Cracked it next day. Saddle at right height, not too ambitious about riding up the really steep bits and YAHOO down.

Castel del Pera was elusive and hidden behind paths closed by barriers and big PRIVATE notices which I found intimidating.  I discussed the matter with a friendly shepherd.  We pointed to the map and he indicated that the route indeed went past the GO AWAY sign.  He also gave me an idea for an encore if I managed to climb the peak.  Less than confidently I cycled off.  Dirt road, overgrown track, single path through scrub, contouring up until the cap like summit was immediately above.  The silence was disturbed by distant shouting, the banging of a gun and the baying of dogs.  I found three distinctive trees which served as a landmark to leave the bike against and looked at the next problem in detail.  The summit was a couple of hundred feet above but immediately inaccessible because it was protected by a long contouring steep band of rock rounded and bulging with few gullies to exploit.  I scrambled to a corner where the cliff was more broken and found a way up.  This led as I'd hoped to a ridge which finished at the final rocks of the summit cap. I reckoned that a frontal assault would be the sporting finish but guessed that a way lay around the back. And it did, satisfyingly onto a small plateau with the remains of past fortification.  A real castle.  Good views all round, spectacular cloud and light effects and a glimpse of the way on. I suddenly realised that it was four o'clock and it would be dark at five thirty and decided to risk the route I didn't know about back to St. Llorenf Saval.  I climbed back down.  The Mad Hunter came into view shouting and bawling his head off.  The dogs howled, his gun bang, bang, banged.  Mendip was never like this.  Nervously beating off an inquiring hound and rushing for the bike I took off before having to exchange pleasantries with the awful senor.

The path from the col was indistinct but at least I had seen how the land lay and could follow that. A jeep track soon appeared and I trialed to the road to run down into St. Llorenf Saval arriving home a half an hour after leaving the summit.  Amazing.  I want a mountain bike of my own!  Want one.

I swanned about until Jane came home after a hard days night and we decided to go off early in the morning to visit the mystic Montserrat.  I'd seen the photographs in somebody's book of bumper fun for rock climbers and never forgotten them.  Astonishing - you'll have to see for yourself.

There was the embarrassing catastrophe of the denting of Jane's 2CV but she still talked to me and we drove to the Pyrenees at the weekend to climb Pic Carl it.  The journey took much longer than we thought. Probably because we didn't have much sense of urgency and ooed and aahed at superb mountain views enhanced by early snow.

Reality began on the hairpin bends which wound up to the Lac des Bouillouses where there are refuges which are not open in November.  But we intended to camp.  2CVs run out of puff if not nurtured.  It took several exciting charges at the steep icy road before we were prepared to admit that it would really be much more fun to backpack our gear instead of driving. The gallant 2CV was parked in a getaway mode and we continued the remaining kilometres up a snow packed road to the edge of the lake.  At least what we actually did as the wind was getting up was to pitch the tent in a hollow sheltered by trees.  Grub cooked and eaten, into pits just as it got too dark to see at 6 o'clock.

Increasingly long pauses in the conversation led to snooze.  Let's face it, camping is about endurance and after 9 hours in the sack (or 3 o'clock in the morning) thoughts turned to bladders and the realisation that the tent was being buried in powder snow.  A happy compromise allowed the snow to stay outside.  At first light, Jane emerged from her multilayered survival technology, shuddered at the ice-caked interior walls and amazingly cheerfully, cooked breakfast.  We packed up, beat the snow from the door and unzipped it to see the worst.

Beautiful, but useless. A thick snow covering made an igloo of the tent and hid the broken ground making walking difficult.  We were concerned about the possibility that the 2CV was buried but while behind us storm clouds threatened, the view in front was spectacular.  We dumped the rucsacs and sorted a route amongst fairy trees encrusted with Christmas snow sparkling in strong sunlight.  Climbing out onto a plateau which was sprinkled with little lakes the Carl it stood clearly before us.  Waiting for us.  It was only an illusion because we knew that the snow lay powdery on warm ground which is unhelpful.  And behind us leaden skies threatened further falls.  It was simply a beautiful spectacle and knowing this made it easier to turn our backs and think about rescuing the 2CV.

We made a warm meal in a mountain shelter.  Jane made a note of the Refuge custodian's address for future reference and we trudged off downhill.  A friendly Frenchman gave us a lift, we cleared the snow from the marvellous machine and he kindly hung around until Jane eventually fired up the mighty motor. More excitement as we attacked the slopes, vigorously rubbing the windscreen free from ice and shouting "go for it" until we could relax in a cafe with inordinately expensive coffee and cognacs.

Once again we ate well back at the village restaurant.

Jane was due to work next day so we sorted out an interesting climb during the mornings walk and full of enthusiasm I did it in good time in the afternoon, hot and sweaty but thoroughly enjoying the route finding through the forest, the climb up to the col, the stimulation of being defeated by an imposing rock tower and the added bonus of just enough time to get to the top before it was time to flee before nightfall.

When Jane got home from work bottle of fizz was ready and we got before I was roused at the crack of train to take me to the Airport and late that evening, the ever so slightly smashed dawn to be driven to the home.

Thanks Jane. Great!


Meets List 1991

Jeff Price

Please get in touch with Jeff or the leader as soon as possible if you want to go to these caves numbers are limited in some of them and the date of the 'Craig-a-Ffynnon' trip may be incorrect.

9th March.             DYO, South Wales.  Belfry or DYO car park 9.30 for 10 (limited numbers)
                            Leader: Time Large

23rd March.           Rock & Fountain, South Wales
                            Leader: Martin Grass

30th March.           Bleadon Cavern. Belfry at 2.00 pm.     

18th May.              Wookey Hole evening trip. Upper series etc .. Dry gear.
                            Leader: Martin Grass

15th June.             Penyghent Pot, Yorkshire.     

17th August.          Birks Fell Cave, Yorkshire. - Booked  

24th August.          Otter Hole, South Wales.      

21st September.    Lost John's, Yorkshire. - Booked        

16th November.      Juniper Gulf, Yorkshire.  - Booked      

8th December.       Peak Cavern, Derbyshire.


Atlas Aven

By Andy Sparrow

Most club members will be familiar with Thrupe Lane Swallet and in particular the head of Atlas Pot. Here the youthful and meandering Marble streamway cascades down into the spray filled gloom of the huge shaft.  The eye is drawn first to the gulf below and then into the greater blackness above; the magnificent, towering, Atlas Aven. Seventeen years have elapsed since the first cavers lights shone up, searching vainly for a roof.  It remains unclimbed.

The Marble streamway is only one (and the lowest) of three windows into Atlas Shaft.  By turning left at the start of the streamway a high rift (Bypass Aven) is entered followed by a boulder ruckle beyond which is the roomy Bypass Passage.  Bypass Passage emerges into Atlas about 30 feet above the stream inlet.  Easily missed is a hole in the roof leading up into Vengeance Passage and another, higher window into the shaft.  I first looked out from here on a trip last spring and noted a solid rock wall (ideal for bolting) bordering the left hand wall of the aven.

It was some months later that a friend, Steve Ellis, bought a cordless Bosch drill.  There are precious few unclimbed avens under Mendip to use such a tool; it had to be the big one - Atlas.  Before lugging the heavy drill and its waterproof carrying case down the cave we went to have a closer look at the view out from Vengeance Passage.  Two anchors were installed manually allowing me to tie on and lean out into the shaft and assess the potential.  Some 40 - 50 feet below the stream spewed noisily and endlessly into the void. Above, the Aven continued its unrelenting climb into darkness.  A detail 30 feet higher on the opposite wall caught my eye - the start of a tube? There was only one way to find out.

We took the drill down next time assisted by Steve's friend Pete and the process of bolting began. The route was dictated by the soundness of the rock and initially we worked horizontally along the wall to a small stance.  This was a perfect take-off for a descent of the huge shaft below and could not be resisted. On our next trip we placed two Petzl long life anchors for the big pitch, rigged the rope, and down I went. After a few feet the walls cut away leaving the rope in a huge void.  About 60 feet down a big ledge was reached below which the pitch became very wet; the end of the rope was clearly hanging some way off the floor.  Before prussiking back up I noticed a couple of 8mm anchors in the opposite wall that would provide a rebelay point, or perhaps with some care, a deviation.  The full length of the pitch is about 120 feet, making it the longest free hanging pitch on Mendip.  We called it 'The Space Walk'.

The next session on the 17th January coincided with the start of the Gulf War and inspired an appropriate name for the traverse out across the shaft - 'The Gulf Crisis'.  We began bolting upwards towards the tube. The drill made this a rapid and easy process and I was soon carefully free climbing the last few feet to our objective.  It was a goer.  Two anchors were placed in the roof of the tube and Steve joined me in 'The Vultures Nest' (situated 60 feet above a side passage called the Eagles Nest).

The muddy tube sloped down into an aven chamber with a floor of jammed boulders.  Between these rocks were ominous black holes which were soon confirmed to connect back to Atlas.  The Aven was climbed, past a mud choked tube, to where a small passage led off. Another way on from the chamber ascended a steep muddy slope into a distinctly phreatic area which looped back towards Atlas and entered a high narrow cross rift.  Time was short as our support team, Pete and Dave, were wet and cold (water levels in the cave were high and we all had a soaking; first at Cowsh Crawl and then under a torrential shower in Bypass Aven).  A couple of small leads were left for next time and we left the cave well pleased with about 60 feet/20 metres of new passage.

A week later we were back again.  The passage above the aven chamber was pushed for 15 feet before choking close to Atlas. The cross rift revealed a small, but perfectly formed, tube heading back towards Vengeance Passage.  This was too tight after 15 feet.  Our best find of the day was entered after a short dig from the chamber following the down dip continuation of the original tube.  Steve forced a tight section and followed an attractive 'Gothic' section tube steeply down for about 40 feet.  Hopes were high for a few minutes as the passage seemed to be leading us out of the known system into something older, but sadly the final choke was really final . We left the cave satisfied that reasonable conclusions had been reached with the remaining leads.  The Vultures Nest was finished with 100 feet + (30 metres +) of worthwhile passage.

But the project has hardly begun.  The finds so far are very encouraging; they represent old phreatic development predating Atlas and bisected by it.  The original Thrupe diggers speculated that an ancient route to Saint Andrew's Well could be found from the higher levels of Atlas; I hope by further work to prove them right.  Already we can see two more openings off the shaft that will be easily reached in the next month or so.

NOTE: For some months to come the traverse out across the shaft, the 'Gulf Crisis' will be permanently rigged.  This makes a descent of 'The Space Walk' very easy to rig; simply a case of clipping a rope into the two longlife hangers.  Be prepared to deviate or rebelay at the big ledge, halfway down.  Go for it - you will be impressed!


Some Climbing Snippets

John Watson

The B.E.C. conjures up many images; - crawling around in dark dank holes, never ending sessions at the Hunters Lodge, digging for that elusive 50' of a cave passage that will win the digging Barrel and many more.

The club's name however suggests, unlike most other caving clubs, a tradition in other fields of exploration, lost to all but a few older members.  Whilst looking through an old B.B. about the original exploration of Manor Farm.  I was surprised to see on the list of committee posts the words 'Climbing Sec'. This inspired me to write this article and perhaps rekindle an old tradition.

This year more than most, climbing has become a frequent topic of conversation in the Hunters - even the likes of Martin Grass has expressed an interest, a number of offers have been forthcoming, one from an ex-member related to the "Mallard" family but I fear for some ulterior motive.

Early this year (1990 - Ed.) at an all too infrequent barrel at the Wessex, silly games were the order of the night. Now as anyone who has been to the Wessex will know, they have some very fine climbing frames - roof supports in the main room.

A voice from the crowd suggests a race from one end of the beam to the other, a 'stranger' suddenly appears at one end and quickly demonstrates his prowess by falling off and upsetting my missus by landing in her knitting.  'Who is this bloke'?!  No challenger forthcoming I volunteer, 'Climber versus caver' suggests a voice. I lost but he cheated - well that’s my excuse.  Who is that bloke? “Oh that's Dick Broomhead", J'Rat says.

A few weeks later Dick suggests that Derek Targett myself go climbing in Cheddar Gorge one evening as Dick cleared some new lines above the reservoir area, just before you get to Pig's Hole.

The evening was fine, the climbs were fine, one Hard Very Severe 5a, the other Very Severe 5a, both about 70' high, well protected and excellent routes.  Another climb just to the right, an H.V.S., was climbed a week later by Dick and myself.  Snablet and I repeated the first climb several months later and judging by the other routes in this area is well worth a star.

Climbing these new routes reminded me of the potential of a small quarry behind the village of West Horrington.

Apart from the quarry there is a very fine lime kiln and number of interesting old mine workings, all explored.  I think, by B.E.C. members In the past.  The area is well worth a visit.

Back to the quarry, the main face is 45-50' high and 30' wide, vertical and featureless apart from a small overhang at 20'.  There are a number of other bays and interesting crack lines.  I remember looking at the main face thinking it would go at E5, too hard for me!

Two years later I found myself living in West Horrington and spent many hours bouldering in the quarry, but I was not alone.  One weekend I arrived at the quarry and was surprised to see Brian Prewer dangling on a piece of rope, practicing S.R.T. for the Berger.  He had placed a bolt at about 15' for a change-over manoeuvre; this was to come in useful a few years later.

The drawback of living on Mendip at the time was that nobody went climbing, apart from our feathered friend, a very elusive Duck when it came to arranging climbing, so I enlisted the help of Lavinia to top rope me up a number of lines.  Later Steve Milner, Snablet and a couple of local lads were to become climbing partners, it was time to divulge crag X, i.e. Horrington Quarry. So, one Saturday morning, Steve Milner, Snablet, Mike Macdonald and myself spent a couple of hours top roping up and down on the end of a rope, Snablet managing to invert himself at one point in the way only Snablet could do.

In all, three climbs have been led and one soloed.

The first a flared corner crack, 40' high, grade 5a with very sparse protection.  At the moment the crack is a bit dirty but cleaned out it would be an excellent route, if somewhat serious.

Later on in the year, Dick and I managed two new lines.

I led the main wall at the third attempt, 50' high, grade E2/3, 5c/6a, protection being a peg at 25' and Brian's bolt at 15’ which is the crux, the climbing is very fingery and sustained and probably at the higher grade.  Dick led the overhanging crack line in the next bay, after extensive gardening, the first 20' is very sustained at 5b, H.V.S./E1

Both climbs are short but very good.  There are at least 6 other routes to be done if anyone is interested but all of them will be extremes.

Next spring, I hope we can have a club climbing/caving meet.  If anyone is interested see either Dick or myself.  Hopefully 1991 will see even more members climbing above ground as well as below and perhaps even a climbing sec. post on the committee!  Any offers?

" Fantasy Island - The Dream Isle Called Sri Lanka"

Nigel Taylor

The night ended - as abruptly as it had begun - less than eight hours earlier somewhere over the Middle East.  At 37,000 feet or rather, "7 miles up", and now nearly 6,000 miles from LONDON GATWICK the sun, like an angry orange popped into view from behind the curvature of the earth, its rays burnishing the wings of AIR LANKA'S TRI-STAR flight inbound to KATUNAYAKA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, COLOMBO, SRI LANKA.

As the last few minutes of FLIGHT UL 516 fled away, the aircraft slipped neatly over the Indian Ocean, and crossed the coastline some nine miles from touchdown.

As the aircraft made its usual radar-identification turns prior to lining up on the COLOMBO I.L.S., our eyes saw their first and fleeting glimpses of steaming tropical vegetation, here and there the occasional clearing, in which stood tall and sinewy coconut palms adjacent to small clusters of local housing.  Peasant country folk could be seen attending to their daily rituals, of leading oxen to the paddy fields, and children on their way to a 7.0 am school start!

Away to the East, the magnificent sight of SRI LANKA'S famous 7,360 ft. mountain - "SRI PADRE" loomed out of the horizon.  Shaped like a pyramid, this mountain is also known as " ADAMS PEAK".  It is a HOLY MOUNTAIN, revered by most SRI LANKAN'S as either the place where the LORD BUDDHA first set foot on earth, or where ADAM set forth into the GARDEN OF EDEN.

Whichever notion you choose to accept, one point is indisputable, that SRI LANKA, or CEYLON as the British used to call it, is undeniably one of the most beautiful and fascinating places on this earth.  A veritable Garden of Eden.  It has been said by others more notable than I, that INDIA was the CROWN of the BRITISH EMPIRE, and SRI LANKA the JEWEL in that CROWN.

This magnificent pear or tear-drop shaped land is barely 220 miles in length from North to South and 115 miles East to West at its widest point.  It has a total area of some 25,000 square miles, which is roughly the size of IRELAND, and has a population of approximately 14,000,000 people.

The SRI LANKAN nation is composed of approximately 70% SINHALESE people originally from INDIA and 15% to 20% TAMIL, the remainder being either descendants of the Dutch and Portuguese traders and settlers these are called BURGHERS, and lastly a MUSLIM mixture of CEYLON MOORS, INDIAN MOORS and MALAYS.  More than three quarters of the country's population live and work in the rural areas of the land.

The sights that were to befall Viv and me over the next weeks were so incredible that I find great difficulty in expressing the enthralling nature of this 'Paradise Isle'. The SRI LANKAN people, like their country, are a beautiful smiling people.  Full of warmth, and gentility and when you have dealings with any of them you may sense an almost child-like innocence in them, that has long since disappeared in other areas of this planet.

The women are nothing short of beautiful, bronzed skin, brown eyed and slender with a serene air of grace about them, often this is enhanced by their saris of vivid and spellbinding colours.  It is a country where "National Dress", is in fact, just what is worn. My wife also notes that the men also have a certain "captivating charm"!!

We had visited SRI LANKA the previous year but alas only briefly, as a stopover point on a trip through South East Asia to THAILAND, HONG KONG and MACAO.  Our first impressions at that time had been very favourable, and we were both determined that we would visit SRI LANKA again as soon as we could.

Thus it was that we arrived again in SRI LANKA and with two battered PENTAX M SUPERS and an assortment of thirty-nine reels of KODACOLOUR GOLD and KODACHROME 64.  And here is another regret - no black and white film!  This country lends itself well to this medium.

We had left the U.K. at 13.00 hrs. on the 17th September, and via Amsterdam and Dubai finally landed some 13 hours later at SRI LANKA's only International Airport, by G.M.T. it was only 2 a.m. and it was only the fact that this country is 5 hours ahead of G.M.T. that explained why a crowd of several hundred SRI LANKAN's were clustered around the wire airport fences outside the arrivals hall at two in the morning in brilliant sunlight!

A large migrant population are employed in the middle eastern oil fields and most incoming European flights transit via ABU DHABI, DUBAI, BAHRAIN, KUWAIT and MUSCAT (Prior to the Kuwait crisis of 1990).  In consequence it is often the case that whole families of forty or fifty persons will come to say farewell or to greet one returning "Ex-Pat".

After a brief stopover - in "NEGOMBO" a nearby beach resort, where the hotels are situated right on the foreshore, with large "open-to-the-sea" dining rooms and silver sandy beaches - we headed inland to the North East, through vast coconut plantations, spice farms and rice fields, great forests of teak and rubber trees.  All the time through lush green tropical vegetation, it is hard to convey the actual warm, lush smell of the greenery.  After several hours drive, our guide explained to us that we would shortly enter the "DRY ZONE" an arid but beautiful part of the country, where the scenery resembles a stage set for "OUT OF AFRICA" or "ZULU DAWN".  Within a few miles, the vista had changed completely; dense Brush and Jungle now lay just off the highway.  Deadly snakes like KING COBRAS and others abound in this area and the traveller when "taken-short" has to keep their eyes "well-peeled"!!

The wildlife also changes with the location, elephants and leopards can be found with no difficulty. But as for water? - The region had no precipitation for over six months, the ground was like concrete.

It was in this region that we stopped for the evening in the luxurious "SIGIRIYA VILLARIN HOTEL", a. short distance from the ancient ROCK FORTRESS of SIGIRIYA built in approximately 473 AD.

Imagine an enormous sheer-sided rock some 200 metres high rising out of a nearly flat jungle, and being about 4 acres in size.  Located in a natural gallery half way up this MONOLITH are the famous FRESCOES of the SIGIRIYA DAMSELS dating from the 5th century, these are nearly as beautiful as the SRI LANKAN women themselves.

The main idea of this holiday was to obtain a general insight into the delights this superb country has to offer the traveller, however I had a nagging thought in the recesses of my skull that the B.B. Editor would eventually call upon me to make some paltry contribution to the Belfry Bulletin, and therefore I had to keep a wary eye for any sight of caves or items of speleological nature!  So for "viewers at home only" I now will bore the pants off you in order to encourage at least one more B.E.C. member to head off to the Far East in search of a SRI LANKAN Cavern Measureless to Man!

The greater part of SRI LANKA consists of a solid mass of ancient crystalline rocks, known in Sinhalese as "KALUGAL".  A underlay of GNEISS is covered in the central and North-Eastern areas by thick metamorphosed sediments consisting of quartzite, crystalline limestone, granulite etc.  Most of these rocks are banded or have horizontal joint planes. often with many vertical cracks in each bed.

The crystalline limestone appears clearly in three regions of the country: -

1)       The most extensive lies to the east of PUTTALAM and goes towards KEGALLA, skirting the HILL COUNTRY, passing in front of ADAM'S PEAK to BALANGODA, WELLANAYA, and through the valleys of BADULLA OVA and MAHAWELI GANGA to TRINCOMALEE.

2)       MIHINTALE due south along the MATALE valley to WATTEGAMA and  HANGURANKETA, also with an area extending to KANDY and PERADENIYA.

3)       Between RATNAPURA curving toward HAMBANTOTA behind the RAKWANA HILL COUNTRY.

Limestone is quarried in all of these areas but the most numerous quarries are near to KANDY. MATALE and BADULLA, and evidence of KARST landforms with caverns is plentiful in these areas.

Anyone interested in a walking holiday would be well catered for in the area known as the "HILL COUNTRY".  There are over 150 mountains between 3.000 and 7.000 feet, together with twelve peaks ranging between 7,000 and 8,200 feet.  The highest mountain IS PIDURUTALAGALA at 8,292 feet, though since this is perched upon a 6,000 foot plateau it is "small-beer" when compared to the majestic ADAM'S PEAK (7,360 feet) .

If you plan to visit this area, ensure you trek across to "WORLDS END" on the HORTON PLAINS. The plateau is located south of NUWARA ELIYA and west of HAPUTALE.  It is a lofty plain set at around 7,000 feet with excellent walking.  The plains come to a dramatic end at WORLDS END dropping vertically 1,000 feet.

Such a name is a suitable end point for this narrative, yet I leave you with one thought quoting Fred Davis "caves be where you find them".  I should just add "and where in SRI LANKA you find the limestone too!!"  Above or below ground, SRI LANKA is a magnificent country.

References and Suggested Reading :-

" Sri Lanka” - A Travel Survival Kit Tony Wheeler.  Published by Lonely Planet ISBN 0908086 628

" Sri Lanka” - Berlitz Travel Guide.  Lib of Congress Catalog Number 81-67094

" Ceylon - Its Geography. Its Resources and its people"   by Elsie K. Cook FRGS - Published by McMillan. Lon. 1951

" Ceylon" - Nagels Encyclopaedia Guide - 1980 ISBN 2-8263-07047

" Sri Lanka" - Land. People and Economy - by B.L.C. Johnson and M.Le. Scrivenor - Heinmann. Lon. 1981 ISBN 0435-35489 2


The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Ted Humphreys

Cover Picture: The Balcony Formations, St. Cuthbert's Swallet
(Part of a photograph taken by Phil Romford )


1990 – 1991 Committee

Hon. Sec                 Martin Grass
Treasure                  Christ Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Stuart McManus
B.B. Editor               Ted Hunphreys
Hut Engineer            Nigel Taylor
Membership Sec.     John Watson
                               Ian Caldwell



This BB is not very Christmassy, I’m afraid.  Lost of people promised, articles and amusing snippets during autumn but few appeared. Things never change!  Anyway thanks to those who contributed and to Blitz who supplied me with Richard's ' Austria' article and the AGM minutes already on computer disk!

I suppose the biggest recent news is that we almost came close to winning the digging barrel this year. Richard Blake and Jake found 150' of new passage in St. Cuthbert’s leading from Marble Hall towards Lake Chamber.  They described it as loose and getting looser the further they went!  Unfortunately when Snablet went to investigate, the following Saturday, he had only penetrated about four feet into it when it all fell on him, smashing his hat, giving him some nasty bruises and leaving him shocked and mildly concussed.  He was lucky to get away that lightly!

I didn't get any serious volunteers to edit another BB Digest, ah well.

Other snippets of news (I might as well put them here as anywhere) are: -

Phil and Lil (Romford) are returning to the Mendips for good.  They should be here before Christmas.

December 30th is a clean up the Belfry day.  A working weekend will be held towards the end of January.

Another Disco is planned. I haven't got the details yet but think it's in late January or February.

If anyone finds any mistakes in the membership list, please let me know, especially if you know the addresses of non-life members where I've said 'address unknown'.

That's all for this year. I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year, or is that the other way round!

Annual Subs. - URGENT

As you will see from the AGM minutes the annual subscriptions were raised to £20 for single membership and £30 for joint membership.  However, only £16 and £24 respectively were due if paid before 31st of December.  The committee has extended the deadline for this rebate to 31st of January as some members won't know about the AGM until they receive this BB.


John Watson, Wells, Somerset


Caving Secretary's Report, 1990

Peter McNab

This year has been quite a good year for new finds (well aren't they all).  Unfortunately not many on Mendip, but it hasn't been for want of trying.


Eastwater has been a hive of activity - digging in the Southbank, Primrose Pot, Morton's Pot and Hard Rain.  As well as digging, a clear up operation has been progressing.  You will remember Eastwater is one of our "Adopt a Cave's", St. Cuthbert's is also our adopted cave.  Another attempt to pump sump 2 clear was made.  Unfortunately, the pump wasn't up to it.  Cheddar has been dived.  Welsh's Green is still being looked at.

Lots of work has also been done in caves such as Bowery Corner, Wigmore, Swildon's, Lodmore, Smitham's Hill Dig and Ridge Lane.  Unfortunately it doesn't look like we're going to win the digging barrel this year unless, of course, we can recruit the Oxford into the BEC (They've just found 200m. in Dallimore's), but we've still got Bowery up our sleeves!


Daren Cilau has been visited regularly this year, what with Xmas Parties and Rescue practices the Rock Steady Crew still found time to dig, resulting in 300m. of new passage heading in the general (ish) direction of Aggy.  D.Y.O. has been frequented by the BEC a few times this year, mainly by Rob Harper and Pat Cronin.  I don't know what or how much their respective digs have gone but I'm sure we will find out soon.  Pwll-Pen-y-Mynydd is being dug by Tav and co.  They've found about 90 ft.

Abroad.  (don't believe the place-name spellings - Ed.)

The BEC have been getting there again.  Bob and Dany have been caving into the 90's in Vietnam and found loads of caves.  BEC spent the New Year in Matienzo, explored a new bit of passage but had to leave it at the bottom of a climb.  Two small teams went to the Dachstein.  The BEC pushed 100m. on Magnum Holen and found a new cave called Blieshprital Holen with a huge, partly descended, shaft "Notzant in Mirror Shades".  The NCC also went and found another new cave, Hieldon Holen - 16 pitches - 2 km. long. A return visit is planned for Xmas. Jim Smart has been in the Philippines again. Jim and some Filipino mates found the fourth longest cave in the country.  The BEC have been in Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand and probably many more places I haven't heard about!



Puck Suds - The Saga Continues.

This is an updated report to follow that published BB 453 (February 1990).

1990 started well with January seeing 8 trips.  54 loads of spoil out and 4.75 lb. bang used.  The last week of the month was noticeable for the atrocious weather which meant that the dig was given a wide berth!

By the beginning of February "Dipso" had been extended to some 30 feet and had taken a turn to the left - back along the strike.  This passage had also taken on the typical characteristics of the cave - flat out and wet!  During the month there were 10 trips.  100 loads to surface and 6 lb. bang used.  A good draught helped clear fumes and the shale roof was easily brought down to give more working space.  The long haul back to the entrance was becoming something of a minor epic but several temporary stacking spaces along the passage helped to ease the situation.

March was spent banging our way through several limestone pillars in "Dipso".  These separated the tiny streamway from an equally tiny upper tube.  90 loads reached surface and 6 lbs bang was used during 13 trips.  Some landscaping of the spoil heap was undertaken.

On April Fool's Day a misfire and visit by Dave "The Boy" Yeandle both seemed appropriate. During this month 65 loads carne out and 6 lbs. bang used over 9 trips.  Half of the work was concentrated on the dig site at the first bend in the cave where Skid Row begins - now named the "Corner Dig".  This would seem to be the original main passage of the cave but became completely mud choked.  On the original breakthrough there was no sign of this passage so the next three years were spent blasting out Skid Row!  By the end of April we had gained some 8 feet of relatively spacious rift passage, half full of water and very "porridgey" once digging commenced.  It's only saving grace was the short distance to drag bags back to the surface.

There were 9 trips in May, 69 loads and one dead rabbit reaching the surface and 2 lbs. bang used. Work was concentrated on the Corner Dig and at the end of the month we had about 12 feet of passage - at least 6 feet high in places but not excessively wide.  One of the Club hand pumps was used to drain the dig so that the floor could be more easily cleared.  On the 30th Tony Blick (CPC) again dowsed the site and confirmed his previous results, also finding a supposed passage heading to the N.E. at about 50 feet depth.

Work continued at both Dipso and Corner Dig during June when 8 visits took place.  62 loads carne out and 5 lbs. bang was fired.  By the end of the month the Corner Dig was 15 feet long, big enough to stand up in and relatively easy to work. Pumping was still necessary.

July saw only 4 trips when 36 loads were removed and 5lbs. bang detonated.  Since then only one working trip by the "Wendy's" has taken place due mainly to other projects notably in Eastwater Cavern. The onset of the rainy season means that little will be done here until next year when pumping and blasting at Corner Dig will continue.

More Diggers

D. Turner, J. Henley (missed from previous list to the extreme sorrow and embarrassment of the compiler).  A. Wllliams. B. Johnson and friends, I. Gregory, R. Blake, D. Yeandle, M. Wilson, C. Batstone, L. Williams, S. Taylor,  A. Garwood, S. Crook, J. Evans (All BEC).   G. Douglas, N. Webb, G. Duncan (SMCC).   N. Hawkes (WCC).  A. Farrant, S. Cottle, A. Gerrard (UBSS).



Vandalism In St Cuthberts

Ted Humphreys

For the first time ever in St. Cuthbert’s there has been deliberate destruction.  Two stalagmites in Victory Passage were smashed sometime this autumn.  One at the upper end, near the column with the fracture in it, and the other in the crawl just before the big part.  I think the culprit may be identifiable from the log and/or my suspicions.  I was absolutely horrified when I found them and was filled with foreboding as to what I might find further in.  Most of the bits are still there and can possibly be rebuilt.  Access to this beautiful and vulnerable (to morons) area may have to be reassessed.


I received the following plea from the heart from Greame Johnson (Bolt) at the beginning of December. Ed.

At the Belfry 11/11/1990. Two Bat Products Chloride Lamps and belts.  J'Rat's passed the ‘Streets are flowing with blood' phase, and is now into heavy breathing on the end of the phone.  I can't take much more.  Ring J'Rat or myself (Bolt) on Leicester (0533)861441 - Reverse Charges.

Now Available!

BEC T-Shirts at £6.80

and         BEC Sweat Shirts at £14.50

White (round) motif on dark blue, obtainable from J'Rat at Bat Products.   All proceeds to the club!  I've bought myself one of the sweat shirts and it seems excellent quality. Much better than the last lot! Ed.


Austria 1990 - The BEC Return to the Dachstein

Richard Blake

Despite a large amount of enthusiasm for this trip (where have I heard that one before?) only Snablet and I were actually going. This left us with somewhat of a problem how to carryall the kit between the two of us?

All of the Friday morning was spent trying to cram far too much kit into my rucksack which soon became too heavy to lift.  Just for a laugh I also decided to take two less than light tackle sacks full of bolts, rope and assorted bits and bobs.  Eventually with everything packed it was time to start the long journey.  In true BEC style I had arranged to meet Snablet in a bar at Victoria Railway Station as he was coming straight from work.

The kit was already beginning to cause me a lot of problems as I found that it was taking me about 10 minutes each time to get it up onto my back, much to the amusement of my fellow passengers.  Luckily I found the bar with no trouble and sat down on my mountain of equipment to await Snablet who appeared after only a couple of beers.

We got on the next train to Dover and made the connection with the Ostend ferry, taking in a few more beers en route. From Ostend it was, in theory, a simple job of catching three more trains to Salzburg.  There is a direct train but because we were late leaving we had missed it.  The route we took was Ostend to Cologne, to Munich, to Salzburg and the journey took about 22 hours.

Getting the kit off and on the train was an ordeal requiring the use of siege tactics.  We had cleverly omitted to obtain any German currency so unfortunately had no food or drink for the entire journey.  Another problem was that the train from Cologne to Munich was a limited stop express which cost us extra money (which we had to pay in Austrian schillings!) and that we found that we were constantly being thrown out of other peoples reserved seats.

On arrival in Salzburg our task was to catch the bus to Bad Ischl. Snablet stood in the queue at the information desk for 15 minutes only to be told that the last bus had just left 5 minutes ago.  So our first night in Austria was spent in the company of the rats at Salzburg railway station.  I had checked with a taxi driver how much it would cost but he had quoted me £75 so I told him what to do with it!  Before we went to sleep we had a good look around Salzburg looking into bars that made two dirty and unkempt British cavers feel a little out of place - we couldn't find a dive of a bar anywhere so went back to the bar in the station which stayed open to 12.30 anyway.  After it had closed you could still buy beer from a bloke wandering around the station with a large trolley.

We got up early next morning only to find out that we had several hours wait for the bus to Bad Ischl. From there we intended to catch the train to Obertran, however we sat there waiting for a train that didn't exist because we had both read the bus timetable and not the train timetable! We eventually realised our mistake and after only a short bus ride and walk we were at the military seilbahn. For me it was my first ride in a cable car and I enjoyed it immensely, certainly better than walking up the mountains with all that kit.

After something to eat and a few beers which seemed to go straight to my head (I think that this was due to the altitude) it was time to carry the kit to the Wiesberghaus.  After only a few moments we realised that it was impossible to carry it all across, the effort being too much for us after the long journey.  Snablet then came up with two brilliant ideas for getting out of carrying the kit:

  1. Catch a plane from London to Salzburg. You arrive within a couple of hours and your kit arrives 20 hours later in Australia leaving you nothing to carry!
  2. Buy a helicopter!

We decided to hide half the kit and made two trips as we hadn't caught a plane to Salzburg and we hadn't purchased a helicopter. Snablet was gob smacked as to how spotless the Glocken was, but it was not to last long.  A good first night was had in the bar of the Wiesberghaus but there was no sign of Lyn or Tuppa from the NCC who had said that they would be there. We settled instead for a 12 hour sleep to recover from the effects of journey, carrying far too much kit and the hospitality of Wolfgang and Elfi, the hut guardians.

Monday August 20th

We woke up at the crack of lunch after the first full nights sleep since Thursday.  We were still tired from the journey but a goulash soup went a long way to reviving us.  We packed the caving kit and set off to find Magnum Hohle.  I was impressed by Snablets memory of where the entrance was since no one had been down the cave since '87.  We also found another small entrance near to Magnum Hohle which we thought might be worth a later look.

We quickly rigged to the '87 limits where I climbed up and over some loose boulders for ten metres and up a boulder slope for twenty metres.  In the left hand wall a small insignificant hole with a small draught led to approximately forty metres of crawling passage.  The up dip passage then lead to a fifteen metre pitch into a chamber where the sound of running water could be heard.  We were very pleased with ourselves but by now it was getting on a bit, so after nine and a half hours caving and walking we returned to the Glocken arriving at 2.30 in the morning.  The only problem being that it had just started raining as we left the cave.

Tuesday August 21st

After 12 hours of solid rain I was beginning to feel very pleased that we had left Magnum Hohle when we did.  In the event no caving took place today although we spent a couple of hours prospecting up towards the Simony Hutte but gave up after we had got soaked to the skin and were cold and miserable.  The wind continued to blow throughout the day and later that night we had to open all the doors and windows in the Wiesberghaus as it was blowing all the smoke from the stove back into the bar and disrupting our drinking.

Wednesday August 22nd

We woke up late again, although this time I think this was probably due to the excess of Steigl beer that night.  Snablet can not even remember going to bed.  The weather was still bad so we decided against caving as we realised that with only two of us, rescue would be impossible, so we decided on some more prospecting.

We were looking somewhere under Brennten Kogel about 1 kilometre north east of Barengasse.  We found several interesting sites but all of them appeared to be choked.  Looking for caves in this terrain is both slow and difficult and the awful weather was not helping.

Snablet and I became parted and after a long time looking and shouting for him I gave up and headed back to the Wiesberghaus.  By this time the weather was getting worse and I was soaked to the skin and freezing cold. Snablet returned about one hour later after doing the same as me and as it was getting dark.  We had spent most of the day walking round in the rain and mist getting lost.  Elfi cooked us an excellent Wiener Schnitzel that evening which was the first full meal we had eaten since leaving Bristol.  The rest of the night was spent drinking beer and playing cards.

Thursday August 23rd

Finally the weather cleared up and we awoke to a beautiful morning.  We entered Magnum Hohle at about 11 am with more rope and additional bolts.  The draught at the entrance wasn't so strong but the cave was obviously much wetter following the previous two days of rain.  We had to re-rig the bottom 70 metres of the bottom pitch further away from the water and the lake at the bottom had risen by one and a half metres. This was not good as we realised that if it rose by the same amount again then it would cut off the 10 metre climb.

We quickly rigged the pitch into the chamber I had found on Monday.  This had a large active stream inlet coming out of the roof and we followed this downstream until I needed to peg a traverse line out over some deep pools to stay dry.  Snablet was amused by my aerobatics and made the comment that I appeared to be more frightened about getting wet than falling down 100 metre pitches.  At the end of the passage the stream sank in boulders in the floor.  These boulders rose up to the roof as a huge unstable pile.  When the going gets tough, the BEC stop for lunch.  After lunch I pushed around in the boulder choke dislodging some alarmingly large boulders in the process and found a route up to a point where I could see into a large black void above.

After some entertaining boulder moving and dislodging falling rocks I managed to squeeze through into a large chamber only to realise that I had been there before!  I had just completed a round trip back to the bottom of the main pitch by the lake.  This concluded the cave.  Now all that was remained to do was to survey and detackle.  This involved us in some interesting pendulums due to the way in which we had rigged the rope away from the water.

We finally surfaced after many hours of hardship hauling three very heavy tackle bags between the two of us; we decided to leave most of the kit at the cave entrance to carry back another day.  The walk back to the Wiesberghaus seemed harder than usual, this was however compensated for when we got back because the Wiesberghaus was still open and Wolfgang prepared an excellent meal for us.

Friday August 24th

When I woke up I could hardly move because of my aching muscles.  The idea of a rest day crossed our minds so we decided it was time to get some food from Halstatt to last us the rest of trip.  (So far food hadn't featured prominently in our plans).  Six hours of solid walking and a quick beer in the Divers Bar and we were back with one tackle sac full of food, we also picked up another tackle sac from Magnum Hohle so it was 7 pm when we began our rest day!  All Snablet could do was moan - he had just used up his last remaining non rancid Tee shirt, but we then enjoyed another evening of Wolfgang and Elfi's hospitality.

Saturday August 25th

We spent today looking for new caves and shaft bashing in the area around Gjaid-Alm.  We found several new entrances that the Austrian cavers had marked which looked very good.  These were numbered 74+, 75+ and 30+.  Snablet checked out another cave but found it to be choked, but with a strong draught disappearing into the boulders.  This set the scene as everything else we found was choked.  We found that the problem with searching for new cave is in fact a lot of people have looked in the areas close to the Wiesberghaus, so we were looking in areas about two hours walk away, well off the few paths and well away from cairns. Snablet remarked that there were fewer snowplugs this year and we found that dehydration was a real problem today.  Wolfgang and Elfi told us that evening that they are keen for us to find a cave with water in it near to the Wiesberghaus so as to provide them with a reliable drinking water supply.  We also found that we were beginning to run low on money but Wolfgang and Elfi are continuing to provide us with lots of good grub.

Sunday August 26th

We got up late today and decided on a days prospecting over on the far side of Grun Kogel.  Just as the area started to look interesting we had to shelter from what we thought was going to be a passing shower. Unfortunately it didn't ease off and a thunder storm followed.  We started back towards the Wiesberghaus as we were about two hours walk away but our walk soon developed into a run as the lightning began landing all around us (Donner and Blitzen!).  We considered the idea of curling up into little balls and waiting for the storm to pass but decided firstly that we would feel like real prats, secondly that we would probably die of exposure if the storm lasted all night and thirdly that we didn't like the idea that we were the two most prominent features on the mountain and that we were carrying lots of lightening attracting metal objects in an area of nothing but limestone.  As we got closer to the Wiesberghaus our pace quickened again as the lightening was by now landing less than 100 metres away, close enough to see the explosion when it landed!.  Eventually we crashed through the door of the Glocken, exhausted and drenched.  The storm was magnificent to watch from the relative safety of the Wiesberghaus and we were advised not to go outside again. At the height of the hail storm the thunder and lightening strikes were averaging about one every three seconds.

Monday August 27th

We woke up this morning with a mega hangover due to our enforced stay the night before in the Wiesberghaus, and the fact that we were drinking all night with Wolfgang, Elfi and her father.  The weather forecast was again bad with more thunder and lightening promised.  We decided to take Wolfgang caving and afterwards we were invited in for a quiet drink which included a bottle of Schnaps. This wiped out the rest of the day and my few remaining brain cells.

Tuesday August 28th

Mozart in Mirrorshades - This is the name of the first pitch in the new cave that we found today.  We had gone back to the area we had been looking at on Monday and soon found a very promising entrance.  We called the cave Bleistiftspitzerschaft - Pencil Sharpener Shaft.

The cave has two entrances. One is a four metre climb down through the roof but the main entrance is a 3 metre by one and a half metre hole that descends at an angle of approximately 40 degrees for 100 metres to the first pitch.  Stones tossed down this were taking 14 seconds to land but were hitting several ledges.  One of the rocks that we dropped must have destroyed a ledge because it sounded as though the whole cave was collapsing.  Snablet was saying it was the biggest entrance that he had seen on the Dachstein plateau.  We marked the entrance and made our way back to the Wiesberghaus cairning the route as we went.

Back at the Wiesberghaus we had a quick Skiwasser and returned to Magnum Hohle to collect the rest of our kit.  That evening Elfi cooked us a wonderful meal of venison which we ate in the company of a botany student.  We had a few beers to celebrate our find although we were feeling a little apprehensive about rigging the pitch as it had the feeling of a deep one.  In Snablets immortal poetry "Its a shed spreader!"

Wednesday August 29th

We got up early today in preparation for a long day.  We had packed all the necessary equipment the night before so it was only after a short time that we set off with two very heavy tackle sacs.  The climb up the climb proved difficult with all the tackle and an additional complication was the heat.

On arrival at Bleistiftspitzerschaft we changed and surveyed down to the first pitch.  This was approximately 97 metres long with a depth of just over 55 metres.  I then began bolting the pitch.  We first rigged a handline at the pitch head as we knew that this would be invaluable in the event of a flood.  A traverse was rigged out on the left hand wall which proved most entertaining because a lot of loose rock kept falling off.  Indeed a lot of gardening was necessary but I had soon placed a couple of bolts and it was time for lunch.  When the going gets tough the BEC stop for lunch.

After lunch I descended for about 50 metres via a rebelay to a rock bridge.  I placed the sixth bolt and paused to look around.  In front of me was a very large empty space, I couldn't even begin to estimate its size as I couldn't see the walls.  I threw some rocks down below me and they took four seconds to land but I could also hear some of them rattling down another pitch for an unknown distance.  I then shouted to Snablet to come on down (What is this - some kind of quiz show?). He said that he was going to check the weather first. When he returned he told me that a thunderstorm was probably coming very shortly.  Needless to say I came back up the pitch de-rigging very quickly.  When we reached the surface the immensity of what we had found began to dawn on us.  We realised that we didn't have enough rope to get down the next pitch, that the weather was obviously looking very bad, that it was getting dark and that we had a two hours plus walk in front of us.  We decided to return to the Wiesberghaus.  The walk back was hell in the dark with route finding problems and very heavy tackle sacs.  However the path was regularly lit up by the lightning that was merrily striking all around.

Thursday August 30th

We decided that today was to be a rest day.  We also had to pack our kit as Wolfgang wanted to send it down on the Seilbahn for us to pick up tomorrow.  Consequently we took the opportunity to take Wolfgang caving again.  I took him as far as the first pitch in Magnum Hohle and he enjoyed the trip very much, he may even come with us next year.  Our last night in the Wiesberghaus was excellent with the accompaniment of live Austrian music and an excess of alcohol.  I had to help Elfi's father to bed as he was so drunk he could hardly walk.  Mind you neither could I.  And where was Snablet all this time.  When the going gets tough, Snablet goes to bed.

Friday & Saturday September 1st & 2nd

All that was left today was to say our goodbyes, to walk down and to pick up our kit.  Just before we left we were given a bottle of Schnaps to take with us.  While we were walking down we met Gofried, our friend the botanist and we walked down with him.  Wolfgang had given us two lock combinations so we able to get into the Seilbahn hut to get our kit and also so that we were able to get a beer out of the store room. Gofried proved to be a great help as he carried 200 metres of rope for us down to Halstatt.

At this point in time Snablet had only 14 schillings left (about 60 pence) and I only had enough to get us to Salzburg. Thankfully the journey to Salzburg was uneventful and we quickly spent our remaining Austrian money on Steigl beer in the station bar.  While we were there an Austrian caver recognised our caving kit and came into the bar to look for us.  He instantly recognised us as we were in the same state as he was!  We talked to him for some time and agreed to exchange caving literature with him.

was livened up at Munich when a group of heavy metal fans came into our carriage with a crate of beer.  We all got very drunk and when we woke up the carriage looked like the Belfry after a Saturday night session.  That is all I remember about Germany and the rest of the continent, although I do remember getting back to Bristol about 7.30 pm on the Saturday and heading out to the Hunters for a beer.

A very special thank you has to go to Wolfgang, Elfi and Guste because they treated us so very well. We were always made most welcome at all times and there is no way in which we can repay them for all the hospitality they extended to us.  Anyone, whether caving or not, will have an excellent time there.

Austria 1991

For anyone interested we will be returning next year in the last two weeks of August.  Blitz has already written seeking a Sports Council and Ghar Parau grant.  We have obviously found a large cave which will probably need a minimum of ten people to push.  As it is so far from the Wiesberghaus we will have to set up some form of camp/bivy near the cave.  So anybody interested contact me.


Public Notice.

This is a public notice regarding Mrs Grass and Blitz who are "Just Good Friends".

The "Belfry Underground" mission states that after a long and exhausting investigation, we would like to state that: -

Glenys does not drag Blitz up stairs by a boat hook locked into his nose, slash his clothes off with a Stanley knife and nail him to the bed with 6" nails (He has never been a missionary).

Furthermore, she does not stuff a dirty diaphragm into his mouth and shave off all the hairs on his body with a blunt cut-throat razor!!

And there is definitely no substance to the rumour that Blitz has been hospitalised for severe cigarette burns to his nipples and other private parts!!

The truth is - he had an operation on his back!!

Anyone who persists in spreading rumours may be subject to birth and libel pains, or the aforementioned method of torture. WOW!!*?

P.S. Zot states that he is conducting courses on the above methods in the library.

. . . . . . . . . .. by our own investigative reporter

 (you know who! - Ed.)


AGM Minutes

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Bristol Exploration Club held at the Belfry October 6th 1990

The meeting was convened by the Secretary, Martin Grass, there being a quorum at 10.35.


Martin Grass, Bob Hill, Chris Batstone, Nigel Taylor, Kangy King, Dave Turner, Dany Bradshaw, Bob Cork, Mr Wilson, Nick Gymer. Kev Gurner, Sharon Beattie, Chris Smart, Glenys Grass, Richard Payne, Babs Williams, Jeff Price, Arthur Griffin, Stewie Lain, John Turner, Brian Prewer, Trevor Hughes. Mhairi Rands, Axel Knutson, Dave Aubrey, Terry Earley, Snablet, Ted Humphreys, Paul Hodgson, John Watson, Dick Fred, Steve Redwood, Andy Cave, S J McManus, Andy Middleton, Tim Large, Graham Wilton-Jones, Nick Sprang, Ian Caldwell, Matt Tuck, Mike McDonald, Rob Harper, Chris Harvey.


Pat Cronin, Alan Butcher, Nigel Dibben, Blake, Richard Steve Tuck, Dave Lennard, Lisa Taylor, Andy Sparrow, Sparrow, Steve Milner, Barry Wilton, Lavina Watson, Jeremy Henley, Miles Barrington, Brian Van Luipen.


Nominations were requested for Chairman of the meeting.  Bob Cork was unanimously elected, there being no other candidates.

Minutes of the 1989 AGM

Previously published in the BB and were taken as read.

Matters arising from the minutes

1.                  The Roy Bennett Memorial plaque had not been installed.  Tim Large said it was to be placed in Cerberus Hall but he was awaiting Joan Bennett to approve the wording.

2.                  Life Membership - The 1989-90 Committee had looked at this and decided to take each application separately.  It was stated on behalf of the Committee that they would only have considered members living overseas.

For acceptance of the 1989 AGM minutes by the meeting.

Proposed: Dany Bradshaw
Seconded: Martin Grass
Carried unam.

Secretary's Report

Previously published in the BB.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Chris Smart
Seconded: Nigel Taylor
Carried unam.

Hon Treasurer's Report

Previously published in the BB.

Discussions on the Belfry account ended in Nigel Taylor proposing that the next Committee look raising hut subs

Seconded: Bob Hill. Carried unam.

Tim Large asked where the money to publish the St. Cuthbert’s Report would come from.  It was reported that an appeal for pledges had been made in the BB and that the club was looking for donations.

Andy Middleton asked how well the September disco had gone  Blitz replied that it would appear on next year accounts but that it had made a profit of approximately £450.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Dany Bradshaw
Seconded: Trevor Hughes
Carried with one abstention.
Nil against.

Auditor's Report

The Chairman read out the Auditor's Report at the meeting.   This stated that the Treasurers accounts were a true representation of the finances of the club. 

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Tim Large
Seconded: Dany Bradshaw
Carried with one abstention.
Nil against.

Caving Secretary's Report

Read at the meeting. To be published in the BB.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Rob Harper
Seconded: Dany Bradshaw
Carried unam.

Hut Warden's Report

Previously published in the BB.

Glenys Grass asked for a breakdown of bed nights by members and guests.  This was supplied by the Treasurer as 863 BEC, 54 Reciprocal, 575 Guest bed nights.  Blitz then proposed a vote of thanks to the Hut Warden for his hard work.  Seconded: Dany Bradshaw

It was stated however that the external hut site needs tidying up.

Carried unam.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Dany Bradshaw
Seconded: Stuart MacManus
Carried with two abstentions.
Nil against.

BB Editor's Report

Previously published in the BB

Mac then proposed a vote of thanks to the BB Editor for his hard work.

Seconded: Dany Bradshaw

Carried unam.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Dany Bradshaw
Seconded: Stuart MacManus
Carried unam.

Librarian's Report

Previously published In the BB

Books are still going missing, some are signed out and some are not.  Some considerable discussion ensued concerning access to the Library, which books could or could not be removed from the Library and the possible charging of deposits.

Nick Sprang then proposed the following: Any member failing to return Library items without good reason within a reasonable time will be subject to action by the Committee under section 3g of the Constitution.

Seconded: Dave Turner

An amendment was then made to the proposal to change "reasonable time" to two months.

Proposed: Nigel Taylor
Seconded: Bob Hill
Votes for the amendment.  For 28, Against 7, Abstentions 2
Votes for the amended proposal.  For 31, Against 3, Abstentions 1.

Trev Hughes then proposed that - Rare books may only be loaned out to members at the discretion of the Committee and that a deposit may be charged.

Votes for the proposal - For 8, Against 23, Abstentions 7

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Dany Bradshaw
Seconded: Stuart MacManus
Carried unam.

Ian Dear Memorial Fund Report

A verbal report had been given by Snablet in his Caving Secretary's Report.  He reminded the meeting that £70 had been given to Richard Blake this summer to attend the BEC Dachstein expedition.  The following polite thank you from Richard was then read out to the meeting by Sharon Beattie:-

"I must thank the committee of the BEC and the trustees of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund for their generous contribution towards my trip to Austria.  May the fund help many more young cavers who find themselves in the position of being short of funds."

A proposal was then made by Mac that the BEC do not transfer any money to the IDMF this year.

Seconded: Nigel Taylor

Votes for the proposal - Carried with one abstention.

Dany Bradshaw proposed that the club publish in the BB prior to Xmas the details of the fund and the names of the trustees.  The new Caving Secretary will contact the trustees to ensure that they are willing to continue in this role.

Seconded: Stuart MacManus

Carried unam.

Hut Engineer’s Report

Previously published in the BB

The Treasurer pointed out that an incorrect figure appears in the Hut Engineer's Report.  The cost of insulating the loft should have read £350.

Dany Bradshaw asked if the fire regulations had been complied with.  Nigel replied that they had.  Dany Bradshaw further asked if the new Committee could double check this as work recommended by a previous fire officer had not been undertaken.

For acceptance of the amended report by the meeting

Proposed: Paul Hodgeson
Seconded: Dick Fred
Carried unam.

Membership Secretary's Report

Previously published in the BB

The outgoing Committee then put the following proposal to the meeting - That the subscription be raised to £16 for single membership and £24 for Joint membership.

An amendment was then made to the proposal such that the subscription be raised to £20 (single membership) and £30 (joint membership) with a £4 (single membership) or £6 (Joint membership) discount for subscriptions paid by December 31st.

Proposed: Dave Turner
Seconded: Graham Wilton Jones
Votes for the amendment - Carried with one abstention
Votes for the amended proposal - Carried with one abstention

The Committee also proposed that members who can not pay their subscriptions in one lump sum may apply to the Committee for stage payments.

Carried with three against and one abstention

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: John Turner
Seconded: Rob Harper
Carried unam.

The meeting adjourned for lunch at 12.30 and resumed again at 13.10.

1990-91 Committee

As no proposals for Committee posts had been received the Chairman asked for nominations from the floor. Jeff Price was proposed by Nigel Taylor and seconded by Chris Smart. Possible commercial interests/conflicts of interest were then asked to be revealed.  Chris Smart declared that he was the Treasurer of the Council of Southern Caving Clubs.

The following were then voted onto the Committee.

Martin Grass            one against
Stuart MacManus     unam
Chris Smart             two against
Nigel Taylor              unam
Chris Harvey            unam
Ted Humphreys        unam
John Watson            unam
Ian Caldwell             unam
Jeff Price                 unam

The Chairman then asked for nominations for the Committee posts.

Secretary - Martin Grass            Pro Nigel Taylor Sec Dick Fred               Carried with one against

Treasurer - Chris Smart Pro Dave Turner             Sec Nigel Taylor            Carried with two against

Hut Warden ­ Chris Harvey          Pro Rob Harper Sec Ian Caldwell            Carried unam

Hut Engineer - Nigel Taylor         Pro Chris Batstone         Sec Stuart MacManus    Carried with two against

Caving Secretary - Jeff Price Pro Stuart McManus            Sec Ted Humphreys       Carried unam

BB Editor – Ted Humpreys         Pro Rob Harper              Sec Sharon Beatie         Carried unam

Membership Secretary - John Watson Smart        Pro Dick Fred                Sec Chris Smart             Carried unam

Carried Tackle Master - Stuart McManus             Pro Chris Batsone          Sec Bob Hill        Carried unam

Floating member – Ian Caldwell               Pro Martin Grass           Sec Graham Wilton Jones

Carried unam

Non Committee Posts

Librarian - Mike McDonald                      Pro Stuart McManus      Sec Snablet                  Carried unam

Auditor - Barrie Wilton                Pro Stuart McManus      Sec Joan Bennett          Carried unam

St. Cuthbert’s Report

Kangy King read the report (St. Cuthbert’s Swallet Report Progress) to the meeting.

Dave Turner proposed that the BEC underwrite the pledges of money from any member to pay for the report and to guarantee to pay it back within five years.

Seconded: Dany Bradshaw.

An amendment was then made to the proposal by Nigel Taylor that the time limit be two years.

Seconded: Dany Bradshaw
Votes for the amendment - 18 for, 8 against, 12 abstentions.
Votes for the amended proposal - 20 for, 5 against, 8 abstentions.

Mac proposed that the incoming Committee decide on a mechanism for how the money will be paid back.

Seconded: Dave Turner
Votes for the proposal - 22 for, 0 against, 2 abstentions.

The Chairman proposed a vote of thanks to the Cuthbert’s Report working party.

Seconded: Dick Fred
Carried unam

St. Cuthbert’s Lease

A verbal report was given by Nigel Taylor.  The lease is now all signed, sealed and delivered.  A letter was read to the meeting from Andrew Sparrow regarding the clubs relationship with Walt Foxwell (letter dated October 5th 1990).  Ian Caldwell recommended that any feuding or problems with Walt be forgotten as soon as possible and left for time to heal the scars.

Members Resolutions

None had been received

Any Other Business

a)       The meeting asked that the requirements for St. Cuthbert’s leadership be published in the BB in the immediate future. 

Carried unam

b)       Dick Fred proposed that a day fees box be put in the Changing Room. 

Seconded: Ian Caldwell. 
Carried with two against.

c)       Dick Fred proposed that the Committee look into the feasibility of installing an automatic fire extinguishing system for the Library.

Seconded: Glenys Grass. 
Votes for the proposal - 14 for, 12 against, 4 abstentions.

There being no other business the Chairman closed the meeting at 14.16.


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List 16/12/90

828 Nicolette Abell                    Faukland, Bath
987 Dave Aubrey                       Salisbury, Wiltshire.
20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw               Knowle, Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker                    Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon
1150 David Ball                         Broadheath, Horsham, West Sussex
1024 Miles Barrington                Clutton, Avon
1145 Roz Bateman                    East Harptree, Bristol Avon.
818 Chris Batsone                     Tynings, radstock, Avon
1151 Diane Baxter                     Horsham, West Sussex.
1079 Henry Bennett                   London.
390 (L) Joan Bennett                 Draycott, Somerset
1122 Clive Betts                        Clapham, Bedfordshire.
769 Sue Bishop                        Tynings, Radstock.
1125(J) Rich Blake                    Lawrence Weston, Bristol
1152(J) Sue Beattie                   Lawrence Weston, Bristol
731 Bob Bidmead                      Leigh Woods, Bristol
364 (L) Pete Blogg                    Chaldon, Caterham, Surrey
1114 Pete Bolt                          Cardiff, S. Gamorgan
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle          Calne, Wiltshire
1104 Tony Boycott                    Westbury on Trim, Bristol, Avon
868 Dany Bradshaw                  Haybridge, Wells, Somerset
1137 Robert Bragg                    Odd Down, Bath, Avon
751 (L) T.A. Bookes                  London, SW2
1140 D Bromhead                     Worlse, Avon
1082 Robin Brown                     Woolavington, Bridgwater, Somerset
1108 Denis Bumford                  Westcombe, Shepton Mallet
1131 Steve Bury                        Worcester
924 (J) Aileen Butcher               Holt, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
849 (J) Alan Butcher                  Holt, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
956 (J) Ian Caldwell                   Clifton, Bristol
1036 (J) Nicola Caldwell             Clifton, Bristol
1091 William Curruthers             Holcombe Bath
1014 Chris Castle                      Axbridge, Somerset
1062 Andy Cave                        Old Mills, Paulton
902 (L) Martin Cavender             Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.
1135 Richard Chaddock             Butliegh, Wooton, Glastonbury
1048 Tom Chapman                  Cheddar, Somerset.
1003 Rachel Clarke                   Draycott, Nr. Cheddar, Somerset
1030 Richard Clarke                  Axbridge, Somerset
211 (L) Clare Coase                   Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia
620 Phil Coles                          Totterdown, Bristol
89 (L) Alfie Collins                     Litton, Somerset
377(L) Dick Cooke-Yarborough   Address unknown for some years
727 Bill Cooper                         Address unknown
862 Bob Cork                            Stoke St. Michael, Somerset
1121 Nicholas Cornwell-Smith    Oldham Common, Bristol
1042 Mick Corser                      Cringleford, Norwich, Norfolk
827 Mike Cowlishaw                  Winchester, Hants.
890 Jerry Crick                          Leighton Buzzard, Bucks
896 Pat Cronin                          Knowle, Bristol
1144 Sophie Crook                    Roath, Cardiff
680 Bob Cross                          Knowle, Bristol
1132 Robert Crowe                    London
405 (L) Frank Darbon                 Vernon, British Columbia, Canada
423 (L) Len Dawes                    Minster Matlock, Derbyshire
815 Nigel Dibden                       Holmes Chapel, Cheshire
164 (L) Ken Dobbs                    Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon
829 (J) Angie Dooley                 Harborne, Birmingham
710 (J) Colin Dooley                  Harborne, Birmingham
1000 (L) Roger Dors                  Priddy, Somerset
1038 Alan Downton                   Headingley, Leeds
830 John Dukes                        Street, Somerset
996 Terry Earley                        Wyle, Warmister, Wiltshire
322 (L) Bryan Ellis                     Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset
1133 Stephen Ettienne              Hayes, Middlesex
1143 Jane L. Evans                   Roath, Cardiff
232 Chris Falshaw                     Fulwood, Sheffield
1148 Roy Farmer                      Shepton Mallet, Somerset
269 (L) Tom Fletcher                 Bramcote, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
404 (L) Albert Francis                Wells, Somerset
569 (J) Joyce Franklin                Stone, Staffs
469 (J) Pete Franklin                 Stone, Staffs
897 Andrew Garwood                 Pulborough, West Sussex
1142 Angela Garwood                Roath, Cardiff
835 Len Gee                             St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
1098 Brian Gilbert                     Chingford, London
1069 (J) Angie Glanvill               Chard, Somerset
1017 (J) Peter Glanvill                Chard, Somerset
647 Dave Glover                        Pamber End, Basingstoke, Hampshire
1054 Tim Gould                         Newhaven, Edinburgh
860 (J) Glenys Grass                 Ridgewell, Essex
790 (J) Martin Grass                  Ridgewell, Essex
1009 Robin Gray                       St. Mary’s Road, Meare, Somerset
1123 Ian Gregory                       Clapham., Bedford
1124 Martin Gregory                  Clapham, Bedfordshire
1113 Arthur Griffin                     Alperton, Wembley
1089 Kevin Gurner                     Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
1088 Nick Gymer                      Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
582 Chris Hall                           Long Lane, Redhill, Bristol
432(L) Nigel Hallet                     Address unknown for some years
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam             St Annes, Lancashire
999 Rob Harper                         Somerset
581 Chris Harvey                       Paulton, Somerset
4 (L) Dan Hassell                      Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset
1078 Mike Hearn                       Compton Bishop, Axbridge, Somerset
1117 Pete Hellier                       Nempnet Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol
974 Jeremy Henley                    Shepton Mallet, Somerset
952 Bob Hill                              Sultanate of Oman
1105 Joanna Hills                      Billinshurst, W. Sussex
373 (J) Sid Hobbs                      Priddy, Wells Somerset
736 (J) Sylvia Hobbs                  Priddy, Wells Somerset
905 Paul Hodgson                     Burcott, Wells, Somerset
898 (J) Liz Hollis                       Batcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
899 (J) Tony Hollis                     Batcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1094 Peter Hopkins                   Keynsham, Bristol.
971 Colin Houlden                     Briston, London, SW2
923 Trevor Hughes                     Bleadney, Wells, Somerset
855 Ted Humphreys                  Wells, Somerset
73 Angus Innes                         Alveston, Bristol, Aven
540 (L) Dave Irwin                      Priddy, Somerset
1141 Gary Jago                         Farrington Guerney, Avon
922 Tony Jarratt                        Priddy, Somerset
668 Mike Jeanmaire                  Peak Forest, Buxton, Derbyshire
1026 Ian Jepson                        Beechen Cliff, Bath
51 (L) A Johnson                       Flax Bourton, Bristol
995 Brian Johnson                     Ottery St. Mary, Devon
1001 Graeme Johnson               Cosby, Leicester
1111 Graham Johnson               Wells, Somerset
560 (L) Frank Jones                   Priddy, Somerset
907 Karen Jones                       Stoke St. Michael, Somerset
567 (L) Alan Kennett                  Henleaze, Brsitol
884 John King                           Wisborough Green, West Sussex
316 (L) Kangy King                    Pucklechurch, Bristol, Aven
542 (L) Phil Kingston                 Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen                     Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon
946 Alex Ragnar Knutson          Bedminster, Bristol
1116 Stuart Lain                        Yeovil, Somerset
667 (L) Tim Large                      Shepton Mallet
1129 Dave Lennard                    Wells, Somerset
1015 Andrew Lolly                     Kingsdowm, Bristol
1065 Mark Lovell                       Brislington, Bristol
1043 Andy Lovell                       Templecloud, Bristol
1072 Clive Lovell                        Keynsham, Bristol
1057 Mark Lumley                     Stoke St. Michael, Somerset
1100 Sarah McDonald               London
1022 Kevin Macklin                   Clevedon, Avon
1149 Ian Marchant                     Hove, Sussex
106 (L) E.J. Mason                    Henleaze, Bristol
651 Pete MacNab (Sr)               Cheddar, Somerset
1052 (J) Pete MacNab (Jr)          Alexandra Park, Redland, Bristol
1071 Mike McDonald                 Knowle, Bristol, Avon
550 (L) R A MacGregor              Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus                 Priddy, Somerset
558 (L) Tony Meaden                 Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
704 Dave Metcalf                       Whitwick, Leics.
1044 Andrw Middleton               Earlsfield, London.
1053 Steve Milner                      S.A. 5051, Australia
936 Dave Nichols                      Praze, Camborne, Cornwall
1086 Richard Neville-Dove          Keynsham, Bristol
936 Dave Nicholls                      Praze, Camborne, Cornwall
852 John Noble                         Paulton, Bath
624 Jock Orr                             Sturton-by-Stowe, Lincoln
396 (L) Mike Palmer                  Yarley, Wells, Somerset
1045 Rich Payne                       Sidcup , Kent
22 (L) Les Peters                      Knowle Park, Bristol Avon
1134 Martin Peters                    Chew Stoke, Avon.
1107 Terry Phillips                     Denmead, Hants.
499 (L) A. Philpot                      Bishopston, Bristol, Avon
1037 Dave Pike                         High Littleton, Nr. Bristol, Avon
337 Brian Prewer                       Priddy, Wells, Somerset
1085 Duncan Price                    Exhall, Coventry
886 Jeff Price                            Knowle, Bristol, Avon
1109 Jim Rands                        Stonebridge Park, London NW10
481 (L) John Ransom                 Patchway, Bristol, Avon
1126 Steve Redwood                 Banwell, Nr. Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
343(L) Tony Rich                       Address unknown for some years
662 (J) John Riley                      Chapel le Dale, Ingleton, Via Carnforth, Lancs.
1033 (J) Sue Riley                     Chapel le Dale, Ingleton, Via Carnforth, Lancs
1070 Mary Robertson                Stonebridge Park, London, NW10
985 Phil Romford                       Address unknown yet!!
921 Pete Rose                          Crediton, Devon
832 Roger Sabido                      Lawrence Weston, Bristol
240 (L) Alan Sandall                  Nailsea, Avon
359 (L) Carol Sandall                 Nailsea, Avon
760 Jenny Sandercroft               c/o Barrie Wilton
237 (L) Bryan Scott                   Winchester Hnts
570 Joy Dcovell                         Transvaal, South Africa
78 (L) R Setterington                 Taunton, Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington            Harpendon, Herts
1046 Dave Shand                      Address unknown as yet
1128 Vince Simmonds               Eat Harptree, Avon
881 Alistair Simpson                 Yarley, Wells, Somerset
915 Chris Smart                        Nr. Bradford on Avon, Wilts
911 Jim Smart                          Bristol
1041 Laurence Smith                 West Horrington, Wells, Somerset
823 Andy Sparrow                     Priddy, Somerset
1063 Nicholas Sprang                Whittington Worcestershire
1 (L) Harry Stanbury                  Bude, Cornwall
38(L) Mrs I Stanbury                  Address unknown
1138 Jonathan Stanniland          Worlebury, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
575 (L) Dermot Statham             Westcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
365 (L) Roger Stenner                Weston super Mare, Avon
1084 Richard Stephens              Wells, Somerset
867 Rich Stevenson                   Street, Somerset
583 Derek Targett                      East Horrington, Wells Somerset
1115 Rob Taviner                       High Street, East Harptree
1039 Lisa Taylor                        Weston, Bath
772 Nigel Taylor                        Langford, Avon
1147 Simon Taylor                    Draycott, Cheddar, Somerset
1139 Fiona Teague                    Leeds
1035 John Theed                       Farmborough, Bath
284 (L) Alan Thomas                 Priddy, Somerset
348 (L) D Thomas                      Bartlestree, Hereford
571 (L) N Thomas                      Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.
1067 Fiona Thompson               Stoke Gifford, Bristol
699 (J) Buckett Tilbury               High Wycombe, Bucks
700 (J) Anne Tilbury                   High Wycombe, Bucks
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark    Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex
381 (L) Daphne Towler               Bognor Regis, Sussex
382 Steve Tuck                         Dousland, Yelverton, Devon
1023 Matt Tuck                         Dousland, Yelverton, Devon
1136 Hugh Tucker                     Westham, Wedmore, Somerset
1066 Alan Turner                       Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
678 Dave Turner                        Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
912 John Turner                        Tavistock, Devon.
1154 Karen Turvey                     Hemmock, Cullompton, Devon
635 (L) Stuart Tuttlebury            Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey
1096 Maurice van Luipen            Address unknown yet
887 Greg Villis                          Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
175 (L) Mrs. D. Whaddon           Taunton, Somerset
1077 Brian Wafer                      St. Pauls Cray, Orpington, Kent
949 (J) John Watson                  Somerset
1019 (J) Lavinia Watson             Somerset
973 James Wells                      Shelbyville, KY 40065, USA
1055 Oliver Wells                      Yorktown Heights, New York, USA
1032 Barry Wharton                  Yatton, Bristol
553 Bob White                          Bleadney, Nr. Wells, Somerset.
1118 Carol White                      Cheddar, Somerset
878 Ross White                        Cotham
1092 Babs Williams                  Knowle, Bristol, Avon
1068 John Whiteley                   Newton Abbot, S. Devon.
1061 Kerry Wiggins                   c/o Dave Glover.
1031 Mike Wigglesworth            Wells, Somerset.
1087 John Williams                   Clapham
1146 Les Williams                     Prestleigh, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1075 (J) Tony Williams              Leigh on Mendip, Bath
1076 (J) Roz Williams                Leigh on Mendip, Bath
1130 (J) Mike Wilson (snr)         Keynsham, Avon
1153 Mike Wilson (jnr)               Whitchurch, Bristol
559 (J) Barrie Wilton                  Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
568 (J) Brenda Wilton                Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
850 (J) Annie Wilton-Jones         Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
813 (J) Ian Wilton-Jones             Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
721 G Wilton-Jones                   Watton, Thetford, Norfolk
1112 Catherine Wood                Croyde Farm, Croyde, North Devon.
877 Steven Woolven                  West Chilington, West Sussex
914 Brian Workman                   Catcott, Bridgwater, Somerset
477 Ronald Wyncoll                  Holycroft, Hinkley, Leics.
683 Dave Yeandle                     Bristol.


CSCC Handbook and Box Mines

The CSCC handbook will shortly be published, however in the meantime Council would like to draw your attention to the request from the MOD regarding access to Box Stone Mine.


            Backdoor Entrance                    ST 8365 6930

            Lady Hamilton II Entrance           ST 8332 6874

            Jack's Workings Entrance          ST 8328 6862

This is the most extensive mine of its type and several rescues have been necessary in the past to find parties who had become lost.  Some areas of the mine are very unstable.  All the entrances are situated in woodland above and to the east of Box. There are no known access problems. Visitors are reminded that the entrances are all on private property and although there are no known requirements to gain permission, any requests by the landowner must be respected.  Some areas of the mine back onto MOD property and cavers are requested not to attempt to progress beyond the MOD barriers in the Wind Tunnel.  The MOD Police have requested that they are informed of any visits at least one hour in advance by a phone call to Copenacre Control Room on Hawthorn 810711

Membership Changes

We welcome six new members, who are: -

David Ball, Diana Ruth Baxter, Roy Farmer, Ian Marchant, Karen Turvey and Mr Wilson (Junior).

We also welcome two members who have rejoined the club.  These are: -

Rachel Clarke and Kevin Macklin.

All their addresses etc. are in the membership list.


Library News

Several developments - no messing - here they are, listed for idiots.

a)       New mega-survey of OFD purchased.  It's about 10ft long so too big to display anywhere. Trebor will photo-copy bits of it if anyone wants a certain section.

b)       After a few requests, I've asked our beloved Editor to publish a list of the Clubs and Groups we have reciprocal Newsletter exchanges with.  (See page 32. Ed.)

c)       The AGM decided that 2 months was the maximum time a book could be borrowed from the library.

d)       Guide books e.g. Mendip Underground, are not to be removed from the library.

e)       Pete Bolt has replaced one of the books he lost.  Hopefully we will get a cash donation for the second one which is probably irreplaceable.

f)        Stewi – where is ‘Darkness Beckons'?

g)       I’ve put on disc a list of all our principal books and a copy will be pinned to the back of the library door.  A printout sheet is available on request.  It will be added to as and if we get new books. I'll gradually put on other items such as Mountaineering books and Journals as and when I get time.

h)       Our collection of videos is increasing.  We now have the use of a second one, diving in Warbla Cave on the Nullarbor in Australia.  I will be purchasing some blank tapes in due course so we can copy existing caving/diving videos.  These will be rented out at competitive rates.



Caving Secretary's Update

Jeff Price

I am currently trying to arrange next year's BEC cave meets.  If anybody would like any particular caves booked, can they let me know as soon as possible.  In particular Yorkshire caves as some of them have to be booked and permits obtained.  I am going to try for one weekend away each month starting in December. You can ring me on; - 0272 724296.

The trips I am booking as yet are; - Penyghent Pot, Lost John's, Peak Cavern, Otter Hole and weekends in Devon, Derbyshire and Gower.

There are caving trips and/or digging trips every Wednesday, meeting at the Belfry at 7.30 pm. Leaders are always wanted for St. Cuthbert’s on Wednesday evenings!

We now have a new permit for OFD 2 and Cwm Dwr.  Just turn up at Penwyllt any time mid-week.  You need to pre-book by phone to arrange a key.

The St. Cuthbert’s keys will be changed in the near future, leaders will be notified.  (Not all key holders are leaders. Ed).  Also a St. Cuthbert’s leaders meeting is to be arranged.

There follows lists of members who are leaders for Mendip and/or S. Wales caves, the prospective expeditions in 1991 and the club meets so far arranged.  If any member's have been omitted from the leaders lists, can they please get in touch with me with their relevant details as soon as possible.


Expeditions - 1991

Crete (1 week)                                    Jeff Price

France PSM (2 weeks. June/July)        Jeff Price/Dany Bradshaw

Austria (last 2 weeks in August)           Richard Blake

Scotland (1 week)                               Tony Jarratt

Matienzo (Xmas - permit?)

Contact the leaders for more information.

Meets - 1991

Sat Jan 19th. Caves of Crook Peak.  Mendip. 9.30 am Belfry car park. Leader:- N. Taylor.

Sat Feb 9th. Rock & Fountain. Wales. From Belfry or R&F car park 10 o'clock (limited numbers). Leader: - M. Grass.

Sat March 9th. DYO. Wales. Belfry or DYO car park 9.30 for 10 (limited numbers). Leader: - Tim Large.

Sat May 18th. Wookey Hole evening trip.  B/suit, lamp/helmet etc.  A chance to poke around the upper series and general wander around.  Leader: - M. Grass.

June 15th Penyghent Pot

Many more to come when booked!

Mendip Cave Leaders


1.         Jeff Price
2.         Martin Grass
3.         Basset
4.         Dave Irwin


1.         Jeremy Henley
2.         Chris Smart
3.         Jeff Price



1.         Martin Grass
2.         Mike McDonald
3.         Basset
4.         Tim Large
5.         Richard Stevenson


1.         Martin Grass

O.F.D.  1

1.         Martin Grass
2.         Mike Palmer
3.         Richard Stevenson
4.         Basset
5.         Dave Irwin
6.         Brian Prewer
7.         Greg Villis

B.E.C. St. Cuthbert’s Leaders     December 1990

1          Chris Batstone
2          Chris Smart
3          Martin Grass
4          Andy Cave
5          Tim Large
6          Mike Palmer
7          Andy Sparrow
8          Greg Villis
9          Ian Caldwell
10         John Dukes
11         Ted Humphreys
12         Mike McDonald
13         Brian Prewer
14         Nigel Taylor
15         Basset
16         Chris Castle
17         Pete Glanville
18         Kangy King
19         Dave Turner
20         Brian Workman
21         Stuart McManus
22         Chris Harvey
23         Pete Hellier

If people want leaders for trips down St. Cuthbert’s they can either do it through me or contact one of the above leaders directly.

Jeff Price – Caving Sec.

St. Cuthbert’s Leaders Guest Leaders

1          John Beauchamp (MCG)
2          Alan Butcher (SMCC)
3          Tony Knibs (MCG)
4          Alison Moody (WCC)
5          Tony Boycott (UBSS)
6          Malcolm Cotter (MCG)
7          Ray Mansfield (UBSS)
8          Graham Price (CSS)
9          Miles Barrington (MEG)


Bristol Exploration Club - Exchange/Complimentary List 16/12/90

Axbridge Caving Group


BEC Library - 2 Copies

Biblioteca del Gruppo.  Speleogico Bolognese del CAI. Via Independenza 2.  40121 Bologna, Italy

Bradford Pothole Club

Cerberus SS

Chelsea SS

Croydon Caving Club


Devon SS

Dr. H. Trinwel., Obere Donaustrasse, Austria

Gloucester SS

Grampian SS

Grosvenor Caving Club

Hades Caving Club

Mendip Cave Registry

Mendip Caving Group

Northern Pennine Club

Plymouth Caving Group

Red Rose CPC


South African Spel. Assn., P.O. Box 6166, Johannesburg, South Africa



Wells Museum

Wessex Cave Club

West Virginia A.C.S.

Westminster SG

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Ted Humphreys

Cover Picture: The Balcony Formations, St. Cuthbert's Swallet

(Part of a photograph taken by Phil Romford )



Caving - not a lot. It’s been very quiet on the hill recently.  Digs are still being dug and caves are still being visited but nothing unusual has occurred. The imminent arrival of the Cuthbert's report must mean that the Cuthbert's West or East End Series is about to be discovered.  (I think I know where to look!)

The above is a bit out of date since the big push in Cuthbert's is now on, volunteers welcome! The power cable and telephone from the Belfry to Sump 2 are in place and the electric pump was taken down on the 24th of August.  Pumping proceeded over the bank holiday weekend.

New discoveries have been made in Daren, some hundreds of feet between Spaderunner and Aggie. Someone might even write it up for me!

Please could I have more contributions for the BB.  I’ve only received four since February!

Membership Changes

Three ex-members have rejoined the club.  They are:-

647       Dave Glover, Basingstoke, Hants.
1061     Kerry Wiggins, c/o Dave Glover (Please can you send me your address!)
683       Dave Yeandle, Bristol

We also welcome two new members, who are:-

Richard Alan Broomhead,           Cheddar, Somerset
Fiona Maria Teague,                   Leeds


High Flying Caver Drops A Bollock

At the solstice, amidst scenes of intense hilarity, a Hero slid to glory.

The Wee-sex challenge, the as-ever popular inter-club obstacle race, took place again at the Belfry. Old Time Served competitors were there in scores, the event being such that once is enough.  Your reporter had some difficulty as the BEC made communication impossible with constant explosions from their excessively disruptive cannon.  The theme "Civil War" had inspired the host club to concentrate its efforts into perfecting A Cannon.  Fevered creativity had evolved this remarkable device from something simple to an alarmingly effective weapon capable of delivering a smack in the ear'ole from a six inch inflated ball over a range of 150 metres.  Unreasonably excessive some were heard to say between blasts. Rumour has it that the teams were from the Axbridge, BEC, Shepton and UBSS.

The course was the usual circumnavigation of the St. Cuthbert’s depression.  This time, down the road with the gun carriages then past the Shepton.  Plunge into the Mineries, back towards the Belfry - BUT - not directly.  Zot's innovation was the Star Attraction! Imagine (if you can) the horror that gripped the competitors and the glee that seized the Old Time Servers as they saw yet more manifestations of the fevered mind.  A Death Slide!  Zot's innovation was stretched high from a tree and plunged steeply swooping into the depression towards the Shepton Hut.  It finished by unsubtly smashing heroes into a bank.  Not intentional perhaps but nevertheless full of potential pain.  Those that had tested the Aerial Way were of the opinion that it might be better to hit the bank with the back rather than risk broken ankles.  The Gun Carriages had of course to be transported the same way.  The pulley was returned by pulling it back up the slide with a long trailing rope.  (LONG TRAILING ROPE!).

Amazing.  Don't you wish you'd been there!

The teams leapt into action. Fighting their way through drunken spectators, eager to trip opposing teams, they raced to the Mineries.  The Baton was collected from the float by swimming and beating off tackles from rivals.  I have to report a wonderful fight which erupted here and wondered nostalgically if anyone could join in.  Still, I needed to report Zot's innovation.

This is where the game was won and lost.  Axbridge who had been heard to mutter "Don't win" were the first to cross and won.  The BEC set up their cannon and with smoke pouring from the muzzle bombarded those who chose glory.  The Ball was stuffed down the muzzle, the Breech was held shut with the foot, the Charge was dropped into the firing hole and the Ball was projected with gratifying velocity where it would.  It was retrieved by a wonderful young man who raced after it and brought it back time and time again to keep the cannon firing, giving us the joyful spectacle of Heroes Sliding to Glory Wreathed in Smoke with the Ball howling past their ear'oles. And Then!

A superhero, naked to the waist, dripping from his efforts in the Mineries, arrived.  He climbed the wire ladder to the pulley which was held back with the trail rope to allow him to place a strop over the hook of the pulley block.  He posed. He kicked his feet clear of the ladder and shot off into the void.  At full tilt - he stopped - abruptly - and he hung.  He hung, the trail rope between his legs tied off to a sapling by some over enthusiastic pleasure seeker.  He hung with the rope slicing his oh-be-joyfuls in twain.  He hung, transfixed, not able to move.  And then, once more, the cannon boomed . It missed.  He was not happy - But we were ecstatic!

Sitting in the Belfry afterwards, tenderly testing his tender bits whilst delicately dabbing Dettol onto his damaged dick, Jingles remarked wistfully, "If only I could catch the Bastard."

You know, this game is not about wining it’s about surviving.

Kangy, June 1990



Digs are proceeding at Morton's Pot and at the bottom end of the boulder chamber (dodgy!).  There may soon be new round trips in Eastwater as the digs are likely to connect straight to the Ifold series or to the West End.  I'll try to get an update for the next BB.

Highland Fling

For some time I had hankered after a trip to Sutherland, not only to visit some of the most remote caves in Britain but also take advantage of the excellent diving in this part of the world.  Late last year Brian Johnson (BEC and CDG) and I fixed a week in May 1990 for our proposed expedition.  At the last minute we were fortuitously joined by Tony Jarratt, a Grampian SG member and original explorer in the region.

The 650 mile drive was fairly painless and after leaving Chard at 9 am we reached the GSG hut around 10 pm at the tail end of a magnificent sunset in a cloudless sky. After dumping kit we nipped down the local equivalent of the Hunter's - the Inchanadamph Hotel.  "Nipped" is probably a misnomer in that the drive is about ten miles - but the "Inch" is virtually the only pub in the area!  The locals all greeted Tony as an old friend, which he was, and the pub's caver status was justified by the pictures on the walls and the fact that the landlord's son has seen some underground action.  A couple of pints of 80/- later and we were off back to the GSG hut for a decent night’s kip.

The next morning began like the next four - blue skies and not a cloud to be seen.  The boast by J-rat that the hut had the best caving hut view in Britain was no idle one; on our left was CuI Mor whilst in the middle distance Suilven reared dramatically above an otherwise level landscape.  The hut was surprisingly civilised apart from the notable absence of running water or toilet facilities.  The latter deficiency resulted in early morning treks up the hillside behind the hut to find suitable rabbit holes.

Day one was spent on an ambling drive up to Durness, frequent pauses being made to photograph the stunning scenery.  At Durness we drove over to Smoo cave.  This famous sea cave in limestone lies at the end of a long inlet.  Examination of the sea cliffs to the east with regard to possible "tartan" holes revealed a coastline very similar to Brixham with a long gear carry in prospect so we decided to abseil into Smoo. Putting on wet suits in the sweltering heat seemed decidedly unScottish!  The landward side of Smoo has several roof holes into which, normally, a substantial stream flows.  A bridge over one of the holes made a convenient belay point for a 20 metre free hang into a dark and gloomy pool.  An unspectacular trickle descended the shaft with us.  A short traverse around the pool led to a nice piece of stream passage which abruptly ended in an uninviting sump which has been dived to a semichoked area nine metres down.

Our walk out was enlivened by a meeting with Colin Coventry, his white dog and an inflatable dinghy. Colin ferries tourists across the pool to the stream passage.  After this diversion Brian and Tony sunned themselves whilst I tried to look for some submarine caves Steve Milner had reported seeing in Smoo inlet some years ago. I managed to get the car up a track to within a hundred metres of the entrance of the inlet and entered the water here.

The steep kelp clad limestone walls drop to a sandy bottom.  I swam over to the east side and inspected a hundred metre section to seaward at a depth of about 10 metres zilch!  I then swam slowly back up the inlet finding only one area of interest which was in fact a network of flooded sea caves.  The only other features of interest were some tiny resurgences in wading depth water on the west wall.  So, no evidence of tartan holes at present.

A short distance inland from Durness on the road back to Elphin we visited a small patch of limestone around a river.  Brian dived the river near some tiny resurgences but found nothing of interest. Tony and I visited a site he had made some finds at some years ago - two dry valleys parallel to each other with a resurgence at their base.  One short cave above the resurgence belted out a cold draught and presumably more passage lies behind the present end.  Ascending the left hand valley we passed two unpushed cave entrances one of which yielded the sound of running water.  The caves were fed by nearby sinks above the limestone.  Before you all rush up to Durness I should add that it was only five minutes scramble from rising to sink so the caves are going to be rather small!

Another boringly hot day saw us parked outside the fish farm at the bottom of the Allt nan Uamh (stream of the cave) valley.  Shouldering our packs we started the hour long trek to the caves.  "That's all the cave water" Tony remarked as we passed a particularly thunderous cascade near the start.  Ahead lay a huge dry stream bed, the river emerging from Fuaran Allt nan Uamh the resurgence for all the cave systems on the hillside ahead. Brian and I were rapidly becoming gob-smacked by the potential size of the cave system that must lie beneath our feet. Golden eagles soared above the crag to our south as we took a breather.  A hundred metres above us at the base of the crag were the dark circles of the bone caves while half way down the slope were two obvious fossil resurgences both of which, Tony informed us, issued powerful draughts but ended in hairy chokes.  After half a mile or so the valley bifurcated and we trudged right up a sort of stairway of peat hags before abruptly coming across the entrance to Uamh an Claonite. A rocky depression ends downvalley in a low cliff with a boulder pile at its base.  The boulder pile still has to be treated with respect and the squeeze into the streamway below proved to be more technical on the return than it appeared on the way in!

Claonite is a dramatic introduction to Scottish caving.  Now Scotland's longest system there is no doubt that its potential has scarcely been realised particularly since the discovery of an extensive fossil upper series a few years ago. 

We dropped into a roomy streamway, the stream issuing from a low choked bedding.  Despite the external air temperature we soon discovered that Scottish cave water is cold and plentiful.  Downstream the first cascade is an easy scramble before the first couple of chambers are reached, one of which was quite well decorated.  The roof lowers towards the first sump which we bypassed in a chilly wallow which can also sump in wet conditions; beyond this a traverse led round the edge of the deep Bottomless Pillar Pool before we entered Cavity Wall passage with its heavily fretted yellow and black limestone textures.  Two short attractive cascades followed before we reached the first Waterslide. Waterslides are a distinctive feature of Scottish caves, a consequence of the limestones faulting.  They resembled the Fault chamber passage in Longwood Swallet.  The first waterslide leads via a duck to the second and sump 2. However a climb above the sump leads to a bypass into much larger older boulder-strewn passage ending in sump 3.

The 30 metre stretch of passage between the two sumps had only been entered by J-rat on one memorable occasion.  The way in, the Hole in the Floor, turned out to have all the attributes of a lobster pot and combined tactics were needed to retrieve Tony.  He planned to get his revenge by blowing up the hole in the floor which layoff a rather grotty side passage from the above mentioned bouldery tunnel.  Brian and I discovered access was easier from the sump three side, which meant we ran out the bang wire from here.  We then discovered the route to the upper series lay in a direct line with our original route to the hole in the floor i.e. we ran out of bang wire rather close to the bang.

Scrambling up the ascending bedding plane leading to the upper series we fired the charge and left the fumes to clear.  At the head of the bedding plane is a squeeze, the Brandenburg Gate, into an uphill crawl ending in a standing height chamber.  Sandy crawls led through phreatic domes into large sand filled passage.  Tony pushed one side passage for another six metres through more domes.  The next bit was really spectacular being more Welsh in size - big bouldery tunnels 3 or 4 metres square ending in chokes.  This area has to be a diggers paradise but the question is where do you dig?

Having finished photography and sightseeing we made our way back to the streamway.  The ominous stench of bang fumes at the Brandenburg gate caused some bad moments but fortunately never got worse.  Once out of the cave we peeled off our gear, munched Angie Glanvill's apple cake, and returned to the car via the bone caves confidently leaving our caving kit in the Claonite shakehole.

Brian and I rounded the day off with a dive off the south ferry slip at Kylescu.  Tony reminisced about his surveying days while sinking pints from the convenient bar by the slip.  Two clam divers had just packed up for the day and several sacks full of scallops lay enticingly at the water's edge; unfortunately the tidal race precluded any forays into the deeper water where they existed so Brian and I spent a happy half hour rummaging around the car wrecks and other detritus under the slip.

The following morning saw us sweatily plodding up the Allt nan Uamh valley trying to find some shade. We soon cooled off in Claonite particularly as we were humping Brian's diving kit.  Tony had a return engagement with the hole in the floor whilst Brian dived upstream sump 3. In good visibility he negotiated the boulders at the start and 10 metres later became the second man into the area between the two sumps.  Leaving the line in situ but with the belay directly under the line of fire from Tony's bang, he then did 3 to 4 as an encore.

The bang successfully completed, we slowly set off out.  The relaxed atmosphere meant I was able to get several rather nice pictures of the streamway; photographs of Claonite being in rather short supply.

After Claonite we decided to visit Heidbanger Hole the new GSG find.  However on walking up the dry stream bed we found a possible hole which took up thirty minutes effort before being abandoned for future reference. Eventually it was time for Heidbanger. A loose sided shakehole dropped through a mucky little squeeze into a low scalloped streamway.  The cave is notable primarily for the peat it contains which varies in states of liquefaction from firm through mushy and thixotropic to liquid.  After inserting ourselves in all the visible orifices we oozed out and made straight for the nearest wee lochan.  Don't let them con you that all Scottish caves are clean!

In a slightly cleaner state we set off for a look at ANUS cave the next valley over.  Brian, who'd left his kneepads in Devon, opted out early on here.  The entrance is in the bank of a dry stream bed and has been ringed by a boulder dam to keep out debris.  The main cave consists of big roomy chambers and passages which criss cross in bewildering fashion.  Tony and I eventually found a route to the static sump extension dug out by Julian Walford and his slaves.  The amount of engineering here would have done credit to a Mendip dig and to see it here, miles from the nearest road, was incredible.  There were syphon systems, railways and pipework everywhere. As this may be the key to downstream ANUS (the main streamway seems to end in a choke) the means are justified by the potential end.  When we visited it the sump was dry ideal digging conditions if it hadn't been the third cave of the day.

Having virtually exhausted the caving potential of the Allt nan Uamh valley we set off into the sunset, the prospect of a few pints of 80/- beckoning.  After a morning's dive opposite a salmon farm on the road to Drumbeg, notable for the multicoloured feathers tars and a small docile angler fish we decided to do the Traligill valley.  The sky had become a little overcast as we drove up to Glenbain Cottage. We headed uphill to Knockers which can be seen from a fair distance away as a black triangle on the hillside.  The Cnoc nan Uamh system, as it is more properly known, has three entrances within a hundred metres of each other, and, in dry weather a through trip is possible.  The topmost entrance leads to a streamway and an upper series of passages and grottos.  All routes appear to unite at the impressively large Landslip Chamber dominated by a deep black pool.  On the far side a series of crawls led to a peat floored tube ending in the Boycott extensions.  There seems to be a permanent mass worm orgy in the mud by the belay bolt.

We went downstream through some nice cold ducks to a cascade.  Tony had descended and crossed the pool below when I came to look over.  Below me I seemed to see a projecting rock flake so I half stepped/half jumped on to it.  Two metres below the surface I realised I was wrong.  Brian felt my advice on emerging "Don't jump!" was superfluous.  All I can remember thinking as I was on dive mode was "Bugger, there go my specs again".  Just beyond the plunge pool the stream passes under a surface pot which Tony insisted I photograph because he said you didn't get many caves with banks of primroses in them - true.  The next bit is very photogenic if you have the right speed film; the stream rushes down through an arch and out into daylight again before plunging down the Waterslide.  This was really spectacular being a twenty foot wide ramp descending at 45 degrees carrying the whole stream, superb!  It ends in what we later learnt is not the sump which is up the slide and off the left. Many pictures were taken here although none capture the dramatic angle of the feature.

We left the waterslide under a grey drizzly sky and made our way downstream for a guided tour of the Traligill valley.  The first feature is the stream sink at Lower Traligill cave which consists of a low sloping decorated bedding passage leading to a sump of which more anon.  Downstream of this cave was a dry stream bed, all in limestone, bordered by the odd bedding cave and flanked in places by dramatically tilted limestone pavement. An abrupt step in the stream bed at a miniature gorge represents the main stream rising although further downstream by a waterfall there seemed to be another vigorous resurgence - again more anon.

Our final port of call was Firehose Cave - one of the more unlikely British entrances. At one side of a deep plunge pool a short traverse and stoop under reveals a streamway plunging down at over 45 degrees. Nowhere larger than a crawl it leads ever upwards through several purgatorial ducks and canals to suddenly break out into walking sized passage. Unfortunately this ends within 6 metres in a deep sump.  This bit of passage bears no resemblance to the streamway one struggles up, and suggests there may be more to be found.  In fact on the way out and only a couple of metres from the big stuff is a low choked horizontal tube which may repay a digging effort.  The end is quite pretty by the way!

The GSG in the shape of Pete Dowswell and others appeared that night and to welcome them the weather really began to deteriorate.  A damp night was followed by a wet day and everything seemed to go wrong. Brian and Pete tried to dive Lower Traligill sump (previously passed two years ago to open and going passage).  Pete kept up the Scottish hard man image by diving with a single bottle and sleeveless arms to his wet suit.  Bad vis and line problems led to the dive being aborted.  We left the kit in the cave for the next day - oops!

The rest of the afternoon was spent digging in the Waterfall Rising into which Brian was inserted.  He reports negotiable tunnel if half a day's underwater digging was undertaken.  This site takes water from Knockers so must be worth some effort particularly as it is so close to the track.

That night the weather reverted to normal i.e. it rained hard and constantly.  On returning to Lower Traligill we found it was acting as a rising i.e. our kit was 20 feet under.  We took a miner from Bannockburn into Knockers on his first caving trip and the waterslide was un-negotiable.  Brian tried diving the sump in Landslip Chamber and found blackout conditions.  The kit from Lower Traligill, at the time of writing, is still making its way south.

All in all it was an excellent week's caving.  I have left out the tales of Murdo Mcleod's hospitality, the delicatessen at Lochinver and the sound of the Battlefield Band at full tilt. You have to go there to experience these.

Peter Glanvill  June 90.


The Cuthbert's Report

The Cuthbert's Report is progressing slowly and proof copies have been seen.  The format is agreed upon and quotes have now been obtained from printers.  The total cost will be in the region of £5,000 - £6,000.  The committee has discussed this at length and has decided to throw itself on the generosity of the membership - five members have already pledged a loan to the club ranging between £100 and £250.  It would be nice to think that we could attract somewhere in the region of 20 - 30 members to pledge similar amounts.  Wig is promising the final production for this years dinner so you need to contact Blitz immediately with your pledges.  The alternative is a bank loan at frightening interest rates which will cripple the club.  We are obliged morally to produce this report and in some respects the club is becoming a laughing stock in some caving circles.


Obituary - Bob Drake

On Friday 1st of June Bob Drake suffered heart failure whilst diving at Brixham when on holiday with his family.

Although not a BEC member Bob was well known to most Mendip regulars especially the cave-divers in the club.

Bob did a wide range of things for Mendip caving.  He was secretary for the Cave Diving Group Somerest section, a warden for the Mendip Rescue Organisation and until recently Secretary of the Wessex Cave Club.

Bob was also senior caving instructor for Avonquay Outdoor Pursuit Centre run by Avon County Council in Bristol. He was also a midweek digger working at Hillgrove Swallet most Wednesday evenings.  He will be sadly missed by a great many people.

To his wife and two children we send our sympathies.

Jeff Price.


A.G.M and Dinner. 1990.

The Annual General Meeting of the BEC will be held at The Belfry on Saturday, 6th October at 10.30 a.m. prompt.

You are reminded that nominations for the 1990-91 committee must be submitted in writing to the Secretary no later than 8th September 1990.  However, this BB is going to be late in the case of those members who have it posted to them so I am sure that in such a case another week will be allowed. All nominations must have a proposer and seconder.  Present members of the committee are nominated automatically if they wish to stand for re-election.

The Annual Dinner of the BEC will also be on Saturday the 6th of October.

The venue this year is the "Webbington Hotel", Loxton.

The tickets are £13 per person and are available from Nigel Taylor.  With this BB you should get inserts detailing the arrangements that have been made for the evening, sample menus and an order form.  Please order as soon as possible, otherwise the 'dinner sub-committee' will be tearing their hair out, or something like that, anyway!

60's and 70's Disco

This is being held at Priddy Village Hall on Saturday 8th September, 1990 at 8 p.m.  Tickets are £3 and are available at The Belfry or can be obtained at thedoor for  £4.

On the tickets it says:-

"Bar, Burger and Boogie" and "Come dressed for the times"

It should be a good evening!


Cave Excursions on Cebu Island, Philippines.

Jim Smart

Of all foreign cavers who have visited the Philippines, only the Japanese appear to have looked at Cebu, the archipelago's ninth largest island centrally situated in the heart of the Visayas.  In 1982 Obi Shigeru from Tokyo recorded a few small caves here many of which he didn't even bother to enter.  My geological map indicated limestone at both the northern and southern thirds of the island, and when I arrived I was encouraged by the sight of high limestone mountains in the centre of the island too.

I fixed myself some lodging in Cebu City and took a day trip to Argao, a tourist beach resort a few miles to the south.  An informant in Manila had spent Christmas here and remembered his hosts, the Boltiador family, talking of caves in the hills nearby.  I found Carlito Boltiador servicing his fishing equipment on the beach. He confirmed the existence of a couple of large caves about two hours on foot inland at Lantoy.  He said it was too late to visit them today but if I wished to arrange a return trip he'd get the N.P.A. to act as my guides.

"The NPA!" I exclaimed

"Nice People of Argao" Carlito chuckled.

Like lots of the speleologically interesting parts of the Philippines, Cebu is a lively box of fireworks where New People's Army (NPA) insurgents and Philippine Army troops carry out a desultory shooting war with each other, and with bandits, mining companies, "lost commands", religious groups, illegal loggers and free-talking beer drinkers. I made arrangements to return to Argao the following week but, as things turned out, I never had the opportunity. Back in my lodgings I found a note waiting for me.  Some Filipino cavers, who'd been exploring the Lantoy Caves that very day, had heard I was in town and they wanted to meet me.

Yes. Filipino Cavers! The Cebu branch of the National Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines contains a small group of active cavers. A couple of weeks later at the NMFP Congress on Mt. Apo I was to discover that several groups include caving amongst their activities.  Unfortunately their findings go largely unrecorded.  I telephoned these Cebu cavers and invited them to meet me in the bar.  Over the next couple of hours more than half a dozen of these people drifted in with maps and photos and tales of exploration, and as the beer flowed so we made grandiose plans for a couple of excursions.  It was dawn when we finished drinking and, as might have been expected, our activities did not exactly match our plans.  Nevertheless I was provided with a good introduction to the potential on Cebu Island, and the two reports which follow are taken virtually direct from my log.

(Only the first appears in this BB, otherwise I’ll have nothing at all in hand for the next one! Ed.)

Wed March 22 & Thurs March 23, 1989


Cebu Mountaineering Partnership (Camp): Randy Su, Dindo Sugatan, Junks Muanto, Alex Gonzalve, Ahmed Lebumfacil, Edwin Mendoza, Bernard Pefta.

B.E.C. Jim Smart.

In the Philippines it is considered good manners to turn up late for an appointment.  Thus if someone invites you to dinner for 7 p.m. "Filipino time" this means you're expected to show up about 8.30.

We'd arranged to meet at 10 a.m.  I was the first to arrive, at 10.40 - and for a stupid moment I wondered whether they'd left without me - and it was not until 3 p.m. that the entire group had assembled and we climbed into Bernard's jeepney for the 44 km. drive to Cantobaco. As soon as we cleared the city limits and turned onto the steep dusty road that climbs inland we hit cave country. The road followed a frighteningly deep gorge for a while then plunged into the forest.  At forestry station Camp 8 we passed several large cave entrances in the high limestone cliffs.

The small village of Cantobaco is dominated by high white cliffs that rise up to 150 ft. or more in places on the far side of a river.  We obtained permission to camp down by the washing pool and set off immediately for the caves that we'd seen in these cliffs.  It was now getting on for dusk and we met families of guano miners, including little girls, making their way home after their day's work.

A bamboo bridge, constructed by the miners, gave us access to Cave 4.  Ahead the passage formed a simple loop back to daylight, but a squeeze up over a wooden guano shoot to the left led to about 250 ft. of walking passage often more than 30 ft. high and very well decorated.

Our poorly equipped team took a disproportionate amount of time exploring this cave, and once we regained the surface most were ready to return to camp.  But Ahmed and I went in search of a "sink hole" Ahmed told me he'd noticed on his last visit here.  We descended the cliffs to the river terrace and then climbed a steep and narrow dry valley.  The sink hole - a vertical pot - was located in bushes on the west side.

On his previous visit Ahmed had been fearful of entering this pot but it looked free climbable to me so I scrambled down. After about 30 ft. I ran out of holds but I was able to see the bottom and a second horizontal entrance. What a find!

Cave 5.  The walking-sized entrance passage had been substantially modified by guano miners - they had even had a tramway here at one time so the floor was nice and level.  Just inside the entrance a large maze-like series on the left only received a cursory glance before we returned to the main passage.  Here, after 200ft., a bamboo pole led to an upper series, again unexplored.  Formations along the main passage were profuse but rather dull.  After another 500 ft. we encountered a fork and, though the larger branch was to the right, we followed the left which was generally comfortably sized rift passage though occasionally we had to stoop.  At one point we passed an artificial square-sided well and shortly after we heard the distant sound of running water.  An area of intimidating quick sand had to be negotiated before we found the stream - an enchanting sight; clean passages, white flowstone, little cascades.

Time was against us. We had to leave.  The following day I retraced our footsteps in this cave and by pacing guessed that that we had explored about 300 m. of passage.

Back at camp we divided ourselves into two groups each taking a turn to guard the camp while the other went to the village for supper.  Then under a full moon we talked and joked and drank rum late into the night.

Day 2.

By 7 a.m. Edwin, Ahmed, Alex and I were at the entrance to Cave 3 which is located about 35 ft. up the rockface 300ft east of the washing pool.  A couple of rickety bamboo ladders facilitate the climb to the entrance which in turn leads to an awkward tight rift and a crawl over a bamboo bridge to a high daylight chamber (Cave 2).  A large passage to the right just before this chamber had previously been explored to conclusion by Ahmed.  A climb up the far side of Cave 2's daylight chamber leads to a high rift passage to an old bamboo ladder which can be ascended for 25 ft. to a large rift chamber 60 ft. high.  From here a passage can be followed north via a couple of difficult traverses around pots to some easy walking passage with fine formations.  Finally a crawl between stal brings one to a small terminal chamber blocked with mud and stal.

Back at the foot of the old bamboo ladder we explored a low passage to the head of a pitch overlooking a chamber.  A difficult climb down into this chamber brought us to a choice of two ways on. The northern passage terminated in a 60 ft. pitch (tackle required) while the eastern one returned us to the large passage explored by Ahmed on his previous visit.  From here we returned to the surface since we had still not breakfasted and it was already nine o'clock.

It was hard work ridding ourselves of the stench of guano in the washing pool before we could go to the village to eat, so it was midday before I was ready to go caving again. Since everyone had to be back in Cebu City that night in readiness for the Easter Weekend I only had a couple of hours so I decided to return to Cave 5 to explore the right branch and make a compass and pace survey.  The passage trended north-east, and the going was generally easy with just the occasional crawl or wriggle through smashed stal which - like the profuse graffiti - testified to earlier visitors.  Most of the formations were dull and the occasional picturesque ones damaged or graffiti'd.

Shortly after a 60 ft. aven, a gentle 20 ft. climb led to a chamber 70 ft. high by 40-50 ft. wide.  A low passage on the right here was left unexplored.  The main route continues in a north-westerly direction now and finally in an uncomfortable crawling section - the stream is heard again though it is necessary to continue into a silent zone for a while before the passage regains its walking size and the stream can again be heard and ultimately reached by scrambling 20 ft. down a trench in the floor.  Both upstream and down the stream passage continues large and inviting but I had no time left to continue my exploration.

Graffiti on the wall announces:   "27 Aug 76 F.G.M.C. Exploration"

Eight names are appended. None of my Filipino friends has any idea who these people are, though I later heard stories that the upstream section of this cave leads to waterfalls that no-one has ascended.  It would be interesting to return here and also to explore the plateau above.  There must surely be active swallets there.

Back at camp armed, but un-uniformed, military men were expressing rather too much interest in our camping and climbing equipment (while I had been caving most of the group had been indulging in some serious artificial climbing on the cliffs). Knowing that we were in a Red Alert area we broke camp quickly, thanked the landowner and hit the road home.

Definitely an area to return to!

 (to be continued - Ed.)

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Ted Humphreys

Cover Picture: The Balcony Formations, St. Cuthbert's Swallet

(Part of a photograph taken by Phil Romford )


1989 – 1990 Committee

Hon. Sec                 Martin Grass
Treasure                  Christ Smart
Caving Sec.             Peter McNab
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Stuart McManus
B.B. Editor               Ted Hunphreys
Hut Engineer            Nigel Taylor
Membership Sec.     John Watson
                               Ian Caldwell



The big push in Cuthbert’s was a success in so far as the power cable and telephone from the Belfry to Sump 2 and the electric pump actually worked.  Unfortunately the pump could not handle the glutinous stuff at the bottom of the sump so the attempt was abandoned.  Plans are afoot, however, for further efforts.

The 60's/70's disco was a great success and enjoyed by all who came.  There was a report on a local radio station the following morning that an 'acid house' party on Mendip was raided by police but that no arrests were made. The BEC disco was visited by the constabulary but the suggestion that this was the party referred to is, of course, a wild exaggeration and totally untrue!

Last year I included the treasurer's report and club accounts in the BB and was told that this was wrong as these should be available only to members.  This year, therefore, they are produced separately. Those of the members who have their BB's posted to them will get their copy with it.  The rest can get them from any committee member.

In June 1959, the club published the Belfry Bulletin Digest Number One (price three and sixpence) edited, I believe, by Bryan Ellis.  This contained a selection of the better material that had appeared in the BB up to that time, I think it's time that Digest Number Two appeared with a selection from 1959 onwards and also, maybe, some of the items from the first digest. It makes fascinating reading the discovery of Stoke 2 - the discovery of the Ifold series - the ingredients for a Belfry Binder etc ... If there are any budding editors among you, step forward and be recognised!  I'd help out with the typing, to get it all on disc.  The club might even make a profit!

Please could I have contributions for the Christmas BB.

There are no articles whatsoever in hand and an attempt is always made to make the Christmas edition a special one. Anything would be welcome – articles, anecdotes, puzzles, games, cartoons, jokes, poems etc ..


B.E.C. Secretary's Report, 1990

Martin Grass

This year I honestly believe the club had one of its best committees for many years and much work has been started and more importantly completed.  The most important of these has been the signing of the St. Cuthbert's lease which now means we are responsible for a large area surrounding the cave.  This year should also see the publication of the long awaited St. Cuthbert's report. Everything is ready for the printers and it should be available for Christmas.  Thanks to everyone who has worked extremely hard on these two projects.

As can be seen from the Hut Engineer's report a lot of work has also been carried out on the Belfry, it is just a sad fact that work it is normally the same people doing all the work.

I have not found the post of secretary to be too taxing as most of the hard work has been handled by the other committee members (it's called delegation).  I have had the usual letters from prospective members etc. to deal with and the usual minute-writing which Glenys Grass has typed.  A big thank you to her for this.

Unfortunately this year has seen a deterioration of our relationship with our neighbour Walt. Mainly over his various tree felling activities in the Plantation. Hopefully our lease to this area will stop this type of destruction.

I have always maintained that continuity on a committee is very important and I am prepared to stand for secretary next year.  I also hope that the majority of my fellow committee members will stand and hopefully, some of the younger club members so we can get into a position of having new committee members each year but not having to change the whole line up which I believe adds to confusion.

Finally we have had a meeting every month this year and the attendance is as follows (10 meetings up to August)

Martin Grass                 8
Nigel Taylor                  8
Chris Smart                  10
Ian Caldwell                  8
Ted Humphreys             9
Chris Harvey                 9
Stuart McManus           8
John Watson                8
Peter McNab                5


Caving Secretary's Report, 1990

Peter McNab

This will be read out at the A.G.M.  Snablet has written it but keeps leaving it in Bristol or goes gallivanting all over the place doing silly things like caving!  I left this big space for it and now, since I need to get it to the printers as soon as possible, I haven't got anything that fits - Ed.

Tackle Master's Report. 1990


The tackle located within the Belfry store has been in constant use as usual.  The quality of the lifeline ropes has been reviewed with the outcome of two additional ropes (1 x 45m. and 1 x 20m.) being purchased, the existing ropes have either been scrapped or cut into shorter lengths. Tackle bags have also been provided to carry lifeline rope and so protect it from damage within the cave. Please remember to use these tackle bags.  Ideally I would have liked to have bought more life lining rope but due to club finances being low this will have to wait until the next financial year when additional ropes and tackle bags will be provided.

The only real complaint I have is that ropes and ladders are sometimes being left dirty and lying in the Belfry changing room.  I would appreciate if members would assist by either making the culprits see the errors of their ways or I would ask members if they see any tackle lying around the hut please would they clean it and hang it up to dry within the store, after all it is your tackle!

The SRT rope which is kept by the Tackle Master has not been used that much over the last year.  Their main use has been on expeditions abroad. (Matienzo at Xmas and Austria this summer).  Perhaps this reflects the lack of organised or other trips by club members to Yorkshire etc.  Remember the ropes can be used for trips on Mendip as well.  Newer members may not be aware of the SRT rope and so I have taken the opportunity to list it at the end of this report.

The club has bought four 10m. ladders during the year and these together with two ladders donated by a member of the club are also kept by the Tackle Master for use on home or away trips.  I would appreciate it if members borrow this ladder for away trips, to ensure that some tackle is left in the Belfry store for other members to use.

It would be appreciated if organisers of expeditions book tackle in advance so that rope and ladder can be made available to other members whilst you are away.

Members have been donating old rope for digging and it would be appreciated if these members would hand them to the Tackle Master, and not just put them in the store as, believe it or not, old SRT rope etc. sometimes finds its way onto the active lifelining hooks! I would therefore prefer to hold on to the digging rope myself and issue it to members who will know exactly what it is for rather than leave it in the store.  I do have quite a few 100 feet of rope available for digging purposes, so please diggers don't hesitate - come on down!

Equipment held by Tackle Master.

SRT Rope.

1.         54m. Blue Water
2.         18m.
3.         33m.
4.         40m.
5.         100m.
6.         40m. Edelrid
7.         Rope Protectors.
8.         Tackle Bags.
9.         Hangers and Maillons.


4 x 10m.  Ladders
2 x 25 ft.

Survey Equipment.

3 sets of Clino and Compasses.
1  30m. Survey tape.

Other Items

1 Cement Mixer
(For Hire on a day rate)

Please contact Tackle Master two weeks in advance of any trip to organise issue of tackle.



B.B. Editor's Report. 1990

Ted Humphreys

Only five BB's have been produced again this year.  I keep scratching my head for ways to attract more material!  We have currently about 225 members in the club but over the last year only 25 or so have contributed to the club journal (and this number includes all the committee members!).  To those 25 thank you very much your contributions were much appreciated by all. As for the other 200 members - how can I get you to put pen to paper?  Even if you no longer do mammoth super-severe trips, there must be some unrecorded caving exploit(s) that would interest members.  Everything ought to be recorded, even if it’s only for posterity!

Perhaps I should quote some statistics about the BB.  The current print run per copy is 250 (I always have a few left over).  I did try reducing the number to 240 once and some clubs on the exchange list missed out.  When the BB arrives from the printers, J'Rat kindly volunteers to hand out as many as possible before the remainder are posted (Thanks J'Rat!). The number posted is about 120. This is an important number - if it’s less than 120 I have to stick the stamps on and get very gluey - 120 or more and the Post Office franks them.  The number of pages per issue drops as the year progresses, from 33 at Xmas to 14 in August, being directly related to the amount of material available (perhaps the editor should hoard articles - were it only possible!).

Although being Editor involves many hours sitting at this keyboard, I have quite enjoyed the experience and would be prepared to continue next year if the club so desires.

Hut Warden's Report, 1990

Chris Harvey

The year started well with quite a few bookings from Clubs who normally stay.  During the second half of the year the bookings dropped off somewhat and seem to have levelled out on a low.  The reasons for the decline in bookings in my opinion are as follows:-

1)       The general condition of the Belfry leaves a lot to be desired.

2)       Working weekends must be more frequent as the place is deteriorating rapidly. 

3)       Only a small number of members are keeping the place clean and up together.

4)       Babs says members are nice.

We have had no service bed-nights again this year.  This is due to some of the points mentioned above in my opinion.  On a positive note, Roger has put his beer up again.    



B.E.C. Hut Engineer’s Report. 1990

Nigel Taylor

Since joining the B.E.C. nearly twenty years ago, I have undertaken three different committee posts. Hut Warden, Caving Sec, and Hut Engineer.  Though I cannot speak with any authority regarding the other committee posts.  I have always felt that the most challenging of all these positions is that of the 'Hut Engineer'.  So it was that I felt great trepidation in putting my head 'into the noose' for another year of Belfry maintenance and associated trauma!

Thus it is with great relief that I can report that, in my view, it has been a most rewarding year, made possible by both the firm support of this years committee and membership alike. Cries from the usual 'Doubting Thomas's' (Not Alan) to the effect of "It's no use having working weekends, no b----r will turn up for 'em" were definitely not true.

I decided that, in order to make a Belfry working-meet successful, certain basic criteria exist; to ensure sufficient tools and materials for the proposed tasks are assembled in time for the event (This is a prime requisite) to make a major event out of the meet and for it to last only one day of the weekend so that the keener cavers amongst us can get underground on the Sunday.  Further I reasoned that a 'Belfry Binder' of yester-year would round-off the working day, most especially if followed by some form of entertainment and perhaps a barrel!

So it was, that on Saturday 10th. March 1990, nearly twenty B.E.C. members, wives and girlfriends descended upon the Belfry and spent the rest or the day, in near perfect weather and harmony, completing the following jobs: -

Clear out of attic space, complete site clearance of waste and scrap and loading into two commercial waste skips and re-storage of useful items, full glass fibre insulation of loft space, insulation of water tanks and pipe work, repair of shower system and installation of thermostats and timers etc., replace broken sanitary-ware, cleanse toilets and shower areas in full, removal of old broken cattle-grid, refill with stone and build speed ramp and tarmac over, re-felt wood-store roof, re-point storm damaged main roof tiles and ridge, fix ridge tiles to carbide store, build carbide-store fire sand waterproof cover, general cleaning and much repainting of Belfry interior, clean-out Fair Lady Well stream and pond, fit new outside economy light switches, all of this and much, much more!

The end of the working day came at last, and a superb repast was prepared, cooked and served by Hon Sec's best, Glenys GRASS.  This was followed by ZOT's magnificent slides of pre-Argie Falklands.  Penguins etc. (With and without wrappers!). This in turn was followed by Chris SMART's "Antics on a Chinese bicycle" (I think that was the title), both slide shows accompanied by the usual banter!  The Belfry was packed.  After a brief respite at the Hunters, all returned to the hut and savoured barrels of further nectar.

The support for the event was excellent, though I have mentioned some names above I dare not mention more, for fear of ignoring someone from the list.  I was greatly impressed with the efforts made, especially by some of the ladies in cleaning the 'Bogs' etc.  Even flowers and a vase appeared in one!

As you will see from the Treasurer’s accounts, I had managed to inveigle from his clutches a very large sum of money for the hut and the basic necessary materials to effect certain non-recurring jobs.  The working weekend alone swallowed up in excess of £250, though the long overdue full insulation of the Belfry attic accounted for £144 of this sum.

Last October's A.G.M. directed a replacement fire to be installed, accordingly, in November we travelled to Wiltshire and purchased a fine new 'Arctic Stove’; this set the club back another £250+.  We then re-sited this in a far better position against the Library wall.  This not only gives more useable main room space but also adds heat through the wall to the library and books.  To offset an 'Anon member's' outstanding hut fees, a new wall surround was added.  The provision of a new chimney and flue to conform to new building regulations, as well as fire-safety risks, added nearly a further £300 to this expense.  I hope that the 1990 A.G.M. will agree however that this has proved to be monies well spent.

The A.G.M. may also care to note that the new stove and loft insulation partially negate any need for an expensive Central Heating system in the hut.  The night storage heaters combined with the extra insulation are now more efficient when allowed to work properly.  It is my personal view, based upon research into costing a system for the hut, that the expenditure is in excess of what this club can afford. Therefore, the proposal of last year's A.G.M. should, with this year's 1990 A.G.M., be voted to be held over for at least one further year, in order to monitor the revised state of the hut's heating and insulation system.  Regular Belfry stayer's have said to me that the hut can in fact be too warm on a weekend if the fire is going well.  I would welcome the direction of the A.G.M. upon this point, as I hope to stand again for Committee this October and should like to offer myself again for election to the post of Hut Engineer.

You may also have noted that new 'high-security' locks have been fitted to both the Library and changing room doors.  Your main Belfry key no longer fits the changing room door and I should like to explain the idea behind my thinking on this subject:- This ensures that guests given the special 'Guest Key' can enter the hut (via the changing room) but cannot gain access to the club's tackle.  The tackle-store key now being available to all members from the key box inside the front door, opened using your main Belfry key.

I should most especially like to thank Pat CRONIN and Stu (MAC) McMANUS, who have both worked hard, and freely given of their time, in installing the new 'Super-Shower' system.

Constant small jobs around the site have been tackled by members and myself this last year and the amount of time it involves cannot always be measured by outward appearances. For example, I have surprised myself in discovering that I have made over five dozen telephone calls to planning depts., rating depts., fire officers, lawyers, builders merchants etc., and driven over 720 miles upon Hut Engineer business this year.  If, as I suspect, these figures are matched by the other members of the outgoing committee.  I believe this is no mean feat and should be borne in mind by the very rare but sometimes vocal complainant within the club.  Usually this beast absents itself from any work or club effort!

I am indeed proud to have worked with a very active B.E.C. committee this year.  Much effort and work has been done and I believe this has most fittingly culminated in the signing this month (August 1990) of the "St. Cuthbert's Lease" after much effort by many past and present committee members.

I end in thanking you all, may the club continue to go from strength to strength, yours in caving and comradeship.

Mr. 'N'


Membership Secretary's Report. 1990

John Watson

This year will be my 4th year as membership secretary and each year late payment of subscriptions is a problem.  This year more than most!  The need for a new stove and other expenses has left the club extremely short of funds, especially at the start of the club year.  Prompt payment of subscriptions would alleviate this problem considerably. I would like to remind all members that subs. are due after the A.G.M. (1st weekend in October).  To avoid the unnecessary expense of sending B.B.'s to members who do not wish to rejoin this year, no one will receive a B.B. after the 1st of January (i.e. 2 months after the A.G.M.) if they have not paid their subs.

On a brighter note membership is up again on the previous year.  Although some have fallen by the wayside, a few older members have rejoined after a slight lapse.


Librarian's Report, 1990

Michael McDonald

Slowly progressing to some sort of order.  Various pictures are being prepared to go on the wall - Jill Tuck, Zot, J'Rat and his barrel in the Mineries plus cave photos and the odd decent survey of local prominent caves.  We are also at capacity so we need a few more units, especially to house Club Journals which in their own way are the most valuable source of reference material. Cataloguing is proving difficult as so much is missing and it's difficult to catalogue if you don't know what you're supposed to have in the first place.

BOOKS NOT BOOKED IN (as at 18th August)

Potholing by Heap.  Andy Sparrow since 20.4.89
Darkness Beckons by Farr (sic).  Stewi since 15.10.89
Mines of Mendip.  Pete Bolt since 9.12.89
Darkness under the Earth.  Jake since 21.1.90
Cheddar Climbs.  Brian Johnson since 1.3.90
Mendip Underground.  Pete Bolt since 3.3.90

I'm concerned at Darkness Beckons as it’s out of print and now a collector’s item, probably.  If we lose it getting another may be difficult. Return it please.  'Mendip Underground' is a guide reference book and should not have been removed anyway!

I might get rid of the photo-copier.  It's broken more often than not, is hardly ever used and takes up valuable space, which is at a premium.  Old Climbing etc. magazines are being stored in the attic for want of space.  Maps and surveys are now sorted and classified in the map chest.  Most of them are a little dated, so if anyone has any useful up-to-date material, maps, surveys etc. please let me have them.  Any other contributions also very appreciated.  'Expedition' box files have been made up ego Mexico, Jamaica, Perth, West Virginia etc. so if you have any snippets to add, or a load of bumff an anyone area, let me have it so I can add to the collection.  I feel much of our stuff is very dated, so we need constant modernisation of our collection and info.  We only have a limited budget for new books and this is usually spent replacing what is pinched or lost, so we need contributions from the membership to keep our library flourishing.  Has anyone got any spare plastic covers for the two library strip lights?  The two I got off the back of a lorry are just too small.


Membership Changes

We welcome seven new members, who are: -

1141       Gary Jago. Farrington Gurney
1142       Angela Garwood. Cathays. Cardiff
1143       Jane L. Evans. Roath. Cardiff
1144       Sophie Crook. Roath. Cardiff
1145       Roz Bateman, East Harptree. Bristol. Somerset
1146     Leslie Robert Williams, Prestleigh. Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1147      Simon Benedict Taylor, Draycott. Cheddar, Somerset


Nigel's Dirty Weekend?

(or, The BEC Cleanup)

A monologue by Mike Wilson

We set our alarm for 7.30 and climbed out of warm cozy bed
Quick scoff down snap and coffee, we're off up Mendip T/shed
We arrived at the shed fairly early, to find mates all sitting intsun
"Hey Up" has anyone seen Nigel? He's got list of work to be done!!
Nigel arrived at 10.30 and we all got stuck in reet good!!
Babs cleaned out "crap" in toilet. Whilst Blitz hung a new door of soft wood.
Zotty had a grand row with Walter, and we all took his side in some way
Don't let him get away with it Zotty, he ne-er gave us his timber I'd say.
Come tea time it were rock cakes and biccies. All cooked by the "Dragon's" fair mitt.
Snap tin were guarded reet close like, in case Hannah got paws into it.
By midday tasks were progressing.  Shed were real shiny and bright!!
We're all looking forward T/barrel and slide show with Zotty tonight.
First of all there's a grand feast by Glenys. "Wow" what a blow out that became!!
Gorging spuds, garlic bread and beef wellie. Hurrah for chef Glenys "What's her name?"
Well it's time to put tools away tidy and say well done lads  "Proper Job".  Reet sad
It's too bloody hot in the Belfry.  Some idiots lagged roof space, Real Bad.


The End is Nye or is it?

Steve Woolven

Having spent a week in the Dordogne in July we couldn't leave without visiting the Grottes de Saut de la Pucelle.  Echoing Vince Simmonds article: 'it's a superb fun trip' we also took 6 ladders, 1 rope and various slings, belays etc.  The problem we would like to clear up is the END???!

Graham Nye and myself entered and followed the main stream passage leaving ladders at every would-be pitch and jumping in and swimming the deep pools, even though there was some kind of drought on and only a trickle of water flowing through the cave.  After having laid out all the tackle, we passed a very large deep black pool by traversing to the right some way down the cave only to come up to a 30' pitch which definitely needed a ladder.  Rather than call it a day I back tracked to our last ladders and took them back down (Quite a few of the first pitches are easily free-climbable, so don't make our mistake of laddering everything that can be laddered).

From here we followed the streamway down quite a considerable distance, with very nice formations, till there was some breakdown and boulders, followed quickly by an insignificant pool of water.  Here we could find no way on?  After a good look around; there being a lot of writing in the mud on the walls where other people had stopped; one thing bothered us!!  Where is the Plaque to Martel?  We could not find it (Ref: Vince Simmonds article, May '90).  We concluded either: -

1)       Somehow we missed a small hole that passed this sump? or

2)       Some buggers nicked the Plaque as a souvenir?

Can anyone put us right?

I would like to thank Trebor and Steve Redwood who supplied us with literature on this area, which helped us tremendously.  Apart from the trout in Vince's article we found an evil looking lizard sitting static on a rock, about twice the size of the outdoor ones.  Black in colour with orange markings down its back; which I thought a fake rubber one until Graham gave it a prod (That's another beer I owe him).

I would also like to say hello to Peter and Maria from Speleo Netherland, who were caving on our ladders and left a note on the car, whom we never did meet.

U.B.S.S. - Sessional Meetings 1990-91

Members are invited to attend these illustrated talks, which will be held in the UBSS room on the 2nd floor of the Students Union, Queen's Road, Bristol between 8 pm and about 9.30 pm on Wednesday evenings.

31 October 1990.           "The Exploration of St Cuthbert's Swallet" by Dave Irwin.

5 December 1990.          " New Mexico 1988 including the Carlsbad Caverns" by Chris Howes

13 February 1991.          "Cave diving beneath Cheddar Gorge" by Rob Palmer


Cave Excursions on Cebu Island. Philippines (Part 2)

Jim Smart

Sat March 25 - Tues March 28, 1989.  Tabunan Talamban, Adlaon, CEBU CITY.

Roque Cuasito does not operate on Pilipino time.  He arrived at my lodging with his 6 year old son Brian at 6.30 while I was still breakfasting.  By 7.15 we were at the Jeepney terminus in downtown Cebu City fighting to cram three large backpacks plus a small one for Brian into an Adlaon-bound jeepney.  A short while later one of Roque's employees arrived to act as porter and cook during our excursion.

By 10.30 the jeepney had brought us to Adlaon, a ramshackle one-street village at the road head. Here we met Liam, a middle aged simple country boy, whom Roque knew from many previous explorations in the area. Liam was already half drunk and happily agreed to come along with us and carry a pack, for a few pesos.

Our route into the hills to Tabunan Talamban was mostly along steep, single-file tracks.  Six year old Brian slowed our progress somewhat as did the hundreds of people we met travelling in the opposite direction. It was market day.  We haggled over various items and though we couldn't get a good price on a live chicken we did buy a large joint of lechon (roast pork) to supplement our diet.  By midday we were far beyond the reach of wheeled transport, across two deep valleys; outcrops of limestone were to be seen everywhere on the rolling and grassy landscape. (A few days later, in Cebu City, I was shown a book recounting the exploits of the Philippine resistance movement in this area during WWII.  There were numerous references to caves but what struck me most, looking at the pictures, was that this entire area - as far as the eye could see - was forested.  Today trees, in isolated clumps, account for probably less than 2% of the surface area. All gone in 45 years).

At last we arrived at the place Roque had planned for us to camp.  We waded our final river and, before we could unpack, received an invitation to crash out in the house of Alfredo Arcayan.  We readily accepted the invitation as storm clouds were rapidly gathering.  We'd no sooner charged up Roque's primus stove on the verandah of Alfredo's thatch and wood home (pigs occupy the ground floor) than the storm broke in a deluge that left market returnees stranded on the far side of the river and us assured that there would be no caving today.  Delighted, Liam held a whip-round (my money) and danced into the storm in search of a gallon of tuba, the local hooch.  We had a lot of visitors that night.

Day 2. Easter Sunday. March 26, 89.

The usual train of men and small boys followed us to the caves.  A man by the name of Perfecto was our guide: a wonderful, knowledgeable, shy man with no English whom I'd have liked to know better.  We followed him down river for an hour and a half, sometimes scrambling over boulders or walking along gravel banks and sometimes pushing through damp scrub: the sun was not yet high enough to dry the aftermath of the storm.

At last Perfecto led us along a trail rising high above the river's left bank, into some thorny secondary vegetation, to the entrance of the cave known as MIT-OL.  We were about 200 ft. above the river.  The climb over the entrance ledge was guarded by thousands of little stinging ants.  Mit-ol was a focal point of resistance against the Japanese in World War Two.  It had been a hard hike and we posed proudly for photographs.

It took quite a while for our team to negotiate the short climb down into Mit-ol 's main passage. Only about half of them were affluent enough to have their own flashlights and batteries though one enterprising fellow carried the standard domestic illumination: an old whisky bottle filled with kerosene with a corn-cob for a wick.

A few minutes along the Main Passage and Perfecto led us up a short climb to the left where we gained a narrow rift passage which in turn led to larger passage until we were halted by a couple of pitches above an enormous chamber about 100 ft. high containing some magnificent formations.  Even a veteran B.E.C. man would need a rope to continue here so we made a slow retreat while I sketched a survey.

Back in the Main Passage we continued away from the entrance until some extremely dodgy caving amongst some very loose boulders brought us up to a second entrance.  Jungle bashing brought us back to the Main Entrance about 100m. away.

Sadly most of the team surfaced with bats or speleothems as souvenirs.  Several of the boys had taken catapults into the cave and, though their hunting had mostly resulted in broken stal, enough bats - each about the size of a Greater Horseshoe - had been killed to provide a small feast.  A small stick fire was quickly prepared and the dead bats - fur and wings and all - were flung onto the embers.  One nimble bloke had even caught a couple of swifts but these were far too decorative to be eaten.  I saw them the next day in his house, tethered by their legs to his door frame.

In a nearby pasture we cooked rice and opened tins of fish which we ate with our fingers off a communal banana-leaf plate.  Then we turned our attention to Cathedral Cave.

An exposed and bouldery entrance chamber leads to large walking passage on the left.  A fire was lit in anticipation of the bats to be eaten later.  A notice in carbide smoke on the wall of the Main Passage warns guano collectors to keep out "signed Barrio Captain".  While most of the team remained in the Main Passage playing with their catapults I followed Perfecto past a Crossroads to a T-junction.  To the right the passage soon petered out in a couple of ascending calcited rifts, but left led to about 100m. of comfortable walking passage until a sharp left turn into a tunnel passage 20ft. high x 30 wide led to a definite conclusion.  I grovelled around in some painfully sharp alcoves here without success. A nearby high level passage was not explored.

Retracing our steps towards the T-junction we explored a passage on the right which returned us to the crossroads in the Main Passage.  A tricky climb on the far side of the Main Passage that only Perfecto and myself were able to negotiate brought us after a short while to three alternative entrances - 2 vertical and one horizontal.

After a short rest for cooked bats and cigarettes we headed for base arriving there about 4 p.m.  We cracked open the tuba and as the glass was passed round - the custom here is to have only one glass and wait your turn - so the tales of our activities expanded and improved.  Liam decided there wasn't going to be enough tuba to get us through the evening so he held another whip-round (my money again). Roque and I accompanied him to the store - about 20 minutes walk away where we found the majority of the villagers roaring drunk.  While Liam haggled over the price of tuba, Roque and I spent about 60 pesos (US $3) on a mountain of food and that night about a dozen people ate and drank to their heart's content on the veranda while another storm lashed its way up the valley.

Easter Monday. March 27.

Everybody very hungover. Reluctantly about five of us got ourselves to the store by noon where we employed an old guy to lead us to some springs about 45 minutes away upstream.  The associated cave passage was disappointingly small but they did provide the Filipinos with some more bats which they cooked while we sheltered from another passing storm.

After lunch we decided to call it a day.  We were too hungover to care much about caving.  On our way back to base Brian and I stopped for a swim in the river until an agitated cry from the bank caught my attention.  Looking upstream I saw a flood pulse bearing down on us. Within two minutes the river which was about 35 ft. wide at this point turned muddy and threatening and the water level rose about 18 ins.   Fortunately we managed to get ourselves stranded on the right side.

Tuesday. March 28.

We started the long hike back to the road head unaware that it was local government election day and all public transport had been granted a holiday.  Worse, there was a 24 hour ban on liquor sales.

At the first store we came to the owner agreed to let us drink beer in her private kitchen since she didn't think the law applied to foreigners and their friends.  She also cooked us an excellent breakfast.  We then continued our way on foot towards Cebu City in search of the elusive transport. Every liquor store we passed agreed to serve us beer and we were quite drunk when, way after dark, we cadged a dangerous ride into town in the company of the electoral ballot boxes and a dozen heavily armed and equally drunk members of the Philippine constabulary.

Jim Smart. Sept 1989. California.


The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Ted Humphreys


I made a bad mistake in the last BB saying that I had some articles in hand.  Not one has come in since!  Please can I have some!

There's nothing much to report on the digging front, just lots of hard work with little to show for it. J'Rat has reopened the corner dig in Puck Suds and has found a mud filled tube going in the opposite direction to Skid Row.  Graham tells me that Spade Runner in Daren is being awkward and they are thinking of revisiting Twelve O’clock High which was banged just before the Micron was discovered but has not been looked at since.  Graham and Richard (Blake) have finished the survey of Welsh's Green so a report should soon appear.

Now to bridge jumping. I tried this for the first time the other Sunday!  The theory of bridge jumping is as follows.  If you tie a rope, securely, to one parapet of a bridge, pass it under the arch of the bridge and up to the opposite parapet, then anything tied onto the rope and dropped from the second parapet will swing under the bridge like a pendulum provided that the distance from parapet to parapet under the arch is shorter than the distance from the parapet to the ground (otherwise the dropped item hits the ground very hard and very fast, as proved by Newton!).

My first jump was at Windsor Hill viaduct on Mendip.  The distance from parapet to the ground looks to be 60 to 70 feet and from parapet to parapet under the arch about 50 feet so it’s quite safe to jump!  However, jumping into 70 feet of nothing is a bit daunting and although one rope would probably be quite sufficient to take the strain three were actually used  (We can't afford ten - Snablet).  The next nerve-racking thing is waiting for the ropes to be properly tensioned while standing on a tiny ledge hanging onto the parapet for dear life.  Of course, you know its perfectly safe as you've seen others doing it before you but actually pushing off when told that the ropes are ready is something else!  Hesitation makes things far worse as you start questioning your own sanity and wouldn't it be better to go home and have a nice cup of tea!

The most courageous jumper was J'Rat who hesitated for several minutes but still jumped.

When you've actually jumped your life doesn't flash before your eyes, after all, if it wasn't for the ropes you'd hit the ground at about 45 mph in about 2 seconds.  I can't remember the free-fall stage (about 15 feet) at all, the first memory being of the tug of the ropes under the bridge. Then it starts to get really exhilarating as you zoom up the other side, almost to the height at which you started, and then proceed to pendulum on a 50 foot arc.  My verdict was that it was tremendous fun but probably not for the faint-hearted!  We offered jumps to passing Sunday-afternoon walkers and although some showed lots of interest and stayed awhile to watch, there were no takers!  Zot wouldn't jump in spite of the fact that everyone who did was saying how great it was.  Jingles jumped twice (he's now an addict) and the rest of the first-time jumpers would have liked to as well except that the Hunter's was, about to open!

A word of caution! Bridge jumping is completely banned in many countries and at many sites in this one.  The reason is obvious!  In caving you can go without all the proper gear or use equipment incorrectly and nine times out of ten you would get away with it (for the tenth occasions - see the M.R.O. incident reports).  In bridge jumping these odds are reversed (and the reports would be obituaries!). It is essential to have all the proper equipment (which is expensive!) and to use it correctly.  Also the jump must be tested with, say, a tackle bag full of rocks, with observers posted, to ensure that neither the ropes or the bag come anywhere near any obstacle along their flight paths!

Back to club matters. Alfie has presented me with a large box-full of old B.B.'s in response to Trebor's plea.  Thanks Alfie!  With my collection as backup we should be able to produce all the missing ones from about number 80 onwards.

Chris Falshaw has sent us a generous donation and, in his words, would be very pleased if it could be applied to help any "Sump Passing Efforts" in Cuthbert’s during 1990.  Thanks Chris, we'll see what we can do!  The Aswan Dam, below the ten foot drop in two, is complete (with steps on both sides so that one just walks over it) and I believe fire hoses are being organised to go from the surface to sump 2.

Clare Coase, Damien and Nan duly arrived on Mendip (Damien and Nan were on their honeymoon - so they travelled 12,000 miles and then went down a hole in the ground, they must be prospective BEC members!) and a large party visited Cerberus Hall. Unfortunately I could not accompany them as I was down to take another party to Straw Chamber, Pearl Passage and Canyon Series on the same day.  I will put in the account of their trip and other extracts from the caving logs in the next BB.

As a very early warning, it looks as though the B.E.C. dinner this year will be at the "WEBBINGTON COUNTRY CLUB" and will be on Saturday 6th October.  This will be a bit plusher than recent venues and the cost of tickets will be a bit dearer.  However, our club dinner sub-committee, Mr. N and Wormhole, are recommending it.  (Most other possible venues were already booked anyway!)


A General Run Down on the Caves of Western Australia.

Mike Wilson

During a recent holiday in Western Australia I managed to do some walking and caving.  The best walking by far are the Kalbarri Gorges - north of Perth.  They are well mapped and documented.  The ideal base for these routes is the town of Kalbarri situated on the coast.  Plenty of good camp sites.

Most of the well-known caves, including the show caves, are situated in the in the Margaret River - Albany area south of Perth.  Obviously Mammoth, Jewel and Lake are the three most well known tourist caves and well worth a visit.

In fact many caves are open for caving but are quite difficult to find in the bush.  The five I visited were Devils Lair, Strongs, Moondyne including the snowflake extensions (very eerie and beautiful), Golgotha an old show cave and Giants Cave which is a nice 1½ hour through trip. There are three others worth a visit; - Block, Crystal and Dingo's. All about 45 minutes duration.  Fairly short by English standards.

There are longer caves in the area, Easter being one, but they are all locked and controlled by the W.A.S.S., limited numbers allowed on trips, and you have to sort out trips in advance (not possible on a short holiday).  Many other caves abound in this area, 170 have so far been mapped and logged by "one man".

Although there appears to be great potential I wonder if any new finds will exceed the standard depth and short length!!  The average depth appears to be about 60', usually in pothole form, and the caves are all well decorated.  The floors tend to be flat or level.

I had a lengthy discussion with a geologist (female) and was told that the limestone is a capping of approximately 60' to 70' and the rock is a sandstone-limestone mix.  This accounts for the odd flooring and ease of caving.

In the north and east of Perth there are the Nullabor Caves (east) and the Oscar, Cape, Windjana and Geike Ranges (north).  The Nullabor caves are the deepest and longest caves.  The longest being Mullan Ulang with 11 km. of passages. Wee Bubbie is 120 m. deep, and the other big cave is Cocklebiddy.  I have no information on the latter.  The W.A.S.S. have made several trips to the Nullabor and are, therefore, the best people to contact for information.

North of Perth is the most interesting area!!  No-one appears to have made much effort into exploring the various limestone regions. This is probably due to the vast distances involved.  I feel the best way would be to use a 4x4 vehicle and go with the intention of carrying everything one needs "including water".  The WA park rangers would be a great help I am sure (don't bother with the rangers at Yanchep, they were very unhelpful).

Anyone who wishes to follow up this article will find maps, guides and national park info. in the library at the Belfry.


Sandstone Mines, Broomers Hill Lane, Pulborough, W. Sussex


I don't know if anybody will find this of major interest.  Not exactly earth shattering news that will warrant a stampede of thousands of cavers clutching BA's, harnesses, miles of rope and Elsan's, but it is a hole or rather several holes in the ground and I suppose, as J'Rat suggested to me, it does warrant a mention.

I carried out a survey trip on these mines on Sunday the 18th November 1989, with the help of a friend, Rod Donaldson.  The only reason I asked him was because he is an architect and the proud possessor of an electronic digital measuring thingy, which he forgot to bring, along with the torch! So the survey was carried out with a 3M tape and a cigarette lighter.

Rod found that even with the lighter it was very difficult to see, until he realised that he was still wearing his dark glasses a half hour after we'd started!  Still it was at the crack of 10am on a Sunday morning.

However we did manage to measure up all the passages theand  result is the attached plan (see next page).

Research has brought very little information to light save for two mentions.  One in Sussex Industrial Architecture a field guide. "Sand mining in Pulborough. Deserted for many years, overgrown, a series of shafts driven horizontally 25m. into hillside".

The other, a mention in the history of Pulborough by J. Pedley.  "Mr. Perrier dug sand (moulding sand) in Adits in small ravine at Broomers Hill till 1890".

The mine is a series of 6 adits (one now partially blocked) driven into sandstone and the system covers a mined area of approx. 340 2/M, Pillar and Stall. (612 3/M).

Apart from the above information local legend abounds with tales of tunnels connecting to houses in the village, much used by smugglers.  Also a local farmer unearthed two Roman lead "pigs" (now in Chichester museum), at the entrance.  Certainly there is much evidence of Roman habitation very near to the site.  Pulborough is situated on " Stane Street", and nearby Hardham, on the River Arun, was an important Roman river garrison.  However, there is no evidence to suggest Roman working of the mines and it remains open to speculation.

If anyone is in Sussex at any time and fancies a visit, contact me on 07982 5257 and I'll be happy to conduct a guided tour.  Rod has also asked me to mention that he and his wife Kay do own the local hotel and offer very reasonable rates as well as serving excellent ales. Brakspears, King and Barns and Marstons. (This mention is his "Architects fee" for, as he puts it, "crawling around in the dark and muck by the light of a flickering Zippo".)

Andy Garrod



Dordogne 1989

By Vince Simmonds


Brian Murlis, Steve Redwood and I met at Steve's at about 5.30 pm and set off for Weymouth at about 6.00 pm.  We arrived at Weymouth nice and early for our 10.00 pm sailing only to discover it had been delayed for 6 hours.  So we had a wonderful meal of cod and chips and imbibed 'fizzy' ale in some local hostelries - Hunters was sorely missed already!  We returned to the ferry port and tried to catch some kip under the stars in the car park.  We eventually boarded the ferry at 6.00 am.


11.00 am saw us arriving in Cherbourg harbour and going straight through customs and immediately taking a wrong turn. When we sorted this small problem out we set off, a happy little bunch, not quite realising we had 12 hours solid driving ahead of us.  We discovered after several towns and several errors that the easiest way through a French town is to head straight for the 'Centre Ville' and then picking up the required road.  After nearly running out of fuel and tempers getting a touch frayed we eventually arrived in Gramat about midnight only to find the directions to the camp site vague to say the least.  Luckily there was someone in the station to give us directions.  Amazingly when we arrived at the site we managed to locate Nick Geh and his diving party and by about 1.00 am we were nicely tucked up in our tents after having hysterics watching Steve erect his one-man tent for the first time.


We arose to a marvellous morning so we proceeded to have a quick recce of the camp site.  This site proved to have quite excellent facilities, as with most French camp sites, hot showers, toilets, electricity points and running water.  The next task was to go to Gramat to buy the days supplies bread, cheese and Salame and the liquid refreshment necessary in this heat - good excuse that.  'Digger' Hastilow had also arrived the same evening as us so four of us set off to explore the River Dordogne planning to go swimming, however the low water levels (the area also experiencing a drought) put paid to this idea so we went back to Fontain St.Georges a very cold resurgence pool which proved excellent for swimming and diving though the water was extremely cold after having been underground for months.  A small cave above the resurgence was explored but was only about 40 feet in length if you're caving in swimming shorts and a zoom. We spent the evening, as most evenings would be spent eating bread, cheese and meats and drinking beer and talking with the divers who had reports of quite stupendous 'vis' and large swimming passage, so much that they were becoming quite blasé about it.


Today was to be the first day of serious caving since our arrival so we chose two relatively close caves, Reveillon and Roque du Cor.  We had located the entrance to Reveillon yesterday, to say it's impressive would be an understatement.  The huge entrance porch which measures approx. 150 feet by 150 feet leads down to a passage 30 x 30 feet with some fine gour pools.  There are a few pitches which we managed to negotiate with a 50' handline or free climbable using combined tactics.  Some side passages were explored, Steve leading us into one particularly interesting muddy one with a rope climb that proved a little awkward to get out of.  An interesting thing at the bottom was that the sump had dried out and some passage beyond was explored, this was to prove uninspiring being jammed with flood debris and mud.  On the way out we noticed a good few large toads in the muddy sections that were the sumps.

So then on to Roque du Cor, just a few kilometers away.  This cave also had an impressive entrance, a huge doline with a path leading to the bottom where the cave entrance was a low but fairly wide arch leading after about 75 feet to larger passage, perhaps about 1500 feet in total.  There were some quite nice decorations.

After the caving we stopped off in the 'Supermarche' for supplies and the evening was spent reflecting the days adventures before retiring to our respective pits.


Another lovely morning! Today's mission was to locate 3 caves, the first of them was Les Vitcirelles which proved to be just a stream sink with no known cave - (when we returned to England we discovered that Les Vitcirelles is an impressive river cave located in the centre of a nearby army camp and access is, as far as we know, virtually impossible).  Lots of caves seem to have the same name.  The next cave we visited was Pert du Themines which proved to be an excellent cave.  Situated in a blind gully the entrance is right under a pile of flood debris as was the whole cave, evidence of flooding was everywhere.  The cave needed just one 20' ladder near the entrance, we were later to regret not carrying the 50' handline.  The walls of this cave were superbly scalloped, leaving rocks like Thomas Moore sculptures, and coloured orange and browns.  From the pitch an obvious passage leads to the streamway, with a little wading this can be followed for about 100' until a sump is reached.  A tube just back from the sump can easily be climbed to a large fossil passage.  To the left, a slope down to a large chamber and the stream rejoined.  The chamber is about 50' high and flood debris can be seen jammed in the roof. The stream meanders to a second sump. A clamber up a muddy, gravel slope leads to another fossil passage.  To the right, an extremely muddy passage can be followed past some fine gours for 200'. To the left, the passage leads on to a decorated chamber and gour pools deep enough to swim through.  Returning to the first fossil passage and turning right we followed a small series of passages and by a process of elimination we eventually found ourselves in a clean washed passage full of gours which went on for several thousand feet through to a beautifully decorated chamber approx. 150' high.  Continuing along the passage, mainly by swimming, led to a 30'- 40' drop, which would have required the handline, to another section of streamway.  We believed this streamway to be a continuation beyond the sump. After these passages we made our way out.

The third cave we planned to visit was Theminette's in a village of the same name, as was Themines. The cave was very similar to the previous cave except that the entrance was completely blocked and exploration was impossible.


We had decided that today's cave was to be the Igue de St. Sol, part of the Lacave system.  On the way to the Igue we stopped and had a quick look at Lacave Show Cave natural entrance.

The Igue de St.Sol is located at the top of a track next to a cemetery just beyond Lacave.  The walk of about 1 km. is not difficult and the entrance is found in a fenced area just to the right of the main track.

The entrance shaft requires about 250' of rope. We started with a back-up to a fence post, down a slope and belayed from a tree for a drop of about 60’ to a muddy ledge with a rebelay just below the edge.  This gives a further 80' drop to another rebelay about 60' from the bottom.

The Igue intersects an old fossil passage about 40'x 40' and about 2000' long.  To the right are some old parachute cases left over from the war. Also to the right are the best of the formations, huge bosses, columns 30' to 40' high, flows and grottoes.  At the end of this passage is an old dig face in mud which has various sculptures littered around, these are made from mud. From the left of Igue the passage is muddier and has fewer formations and soon closes down.

On the way back down the hill we had a quick look at the Grotte de Combe-Culier, a small active dig that is well worth the look.


We deliberately left the Grottes de Saut de la Pucelle to be our last cave because of the reports we had of it being a good fun trip, this was proved to be the case.  We took 6 x 25' ladders, 50' handline and various tapes and slings.  The advice we had was to check which was a pitch and which was not, as some were easy to go over but not quite so easy to get back out again.  On the way down we met a couple of French caving parties who let us pass them, one party using S.R.T. in a cave with the biggest pitch being 30' and avoiding the water.  Although this active 3 km. streamway was relatively low whilst we were there it must really be impressive with a bit more water.  At the sump there is a plaque to the memory of Martel who was instrumental in the discovery of the cave 100 years ago (1889 - 1989).  Other points of interest were a rather smelly dead trout in one passage; a pool halfway into the cave had a resident white fish (trout like) and the first leech we had seen had taken up residency on one slippery climb.

All in all we had a fantastic week in an area well worth a visit.  It also has to be said that there is enormous potential in the area for new caves.  Also anyone with time on their hands might also like to visit one of the many show caves in the area - with time being so short we did not get around to seeing any.

We would also like to thank Rob Taviner (BEC & Wessex) who supplied us with much information on the area visited.


Daren Cilau.

12.8.89. Vince Simmonds, Rob Taviner, Steve Redwood and Pete Bolt.

The aim of this trip was for Pete to attempt a dive in Duke Sump just beyond St. David’s.  We left Pete disappearing into the sump then made our way back to Hard Rock Cafe to brew up and wait.  We had a look round for some food and managed to find some rice and a 'boi l-in-the-bag, - Pete had already claimed this as his.  We had only just started cooking when Pete arrived complaining of 'no vis', he was however still hungry so we continued cooking. 25 minutes later the rice was ready and so was the 'boil-in-a-bag.  The rice was dished out and the 'boil-in-a-bag' opened to reveal ...... a whistle, matches and two bars of chocolate - a very tasty Survival Kit.  The rice ended up very bland!



St Cuthbert and the Yorkies


By Mike Wilson

They were a greet bunch of lads were t'Yorkies
And theyd coom down t'Mendip for cave
We've heard of a saint called Cuthbert!!
And quite fancy a visit t'grave.
Having "tanked up" in Hunters till closing
They arrived at t'shed for the trip
Their outfits were many and varied
With overalls straight down from the tip.

We toddled on down to the entrance
And Yorkies jaws opened reet wide
"By heck" its locked and gated
Theer moost be t'crown jewels inside.
Having turned of tap at the entrance
And stopped village water at source
They all slid down rift by the ladder
And locked gate behind them of course.

Well the trip to Sump II in general
Was just like most tourist trips go
With cries of this reminds me of Knacker Cracker
And look out your lamp's a bit low.

At last stopped for a breather
And passed the Mars bars to hand
Wot no bloody mint cake
Theers nowt like it throughout the land.

We decided to return to the surface
By various devious ways
Make haste and dont miss Hunters opening
Faggots peas and Butcombe on trays.

That trip were cracking said Yorkies
As we shut the lid on the way
Saying crown jewels were left theer by queenie
She'll be back for t'divi one day.


Blitz's  Bitz

British Mountaineering Council Huts

In keeping with the idea of the club being an exploration club with interests other than caving (and drinking!) the committee have this year rejoined the British Mountaineering Council.  This allows us access to all huts maintained by BMC and the Mountaineering Club of Scotland. The BMC has sent us a 19 page list, covering over 80 huts throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.  In some instances bookings need to be for a party only or need to be made by club secretary to club secretary but these are exceptions rather than the rule.  The full list will be housed in the library but there now follow a few examples to set you thinking.

Yorkshire Mountaineering Club Hut, 3 Irish Row, Coppermines, Coniston, Cumbria.  NGR 293985

18 male, 12 female, drying room, cutlery, crockery, hot water, showers, electric and gas cooking, coal fires, flush toilets, mattresses, access by car, £2.00 per night

George Starkey Hut, Patterdale, Cumbria.  NGR 396160

20 places for men and women, drying room, bedding, cutlery, crockery, fridge, hot water, showers, flush toilets, slot meters, access by car, electric light, cooking and heating by gas and electricity.  £2.75 per night.  Payment in advance.  Club or group bookings only. (min 8)

Climbers Club Hut, Bosigran Count House, Pendeen, Cornwall.  NGR 422365 .

18 places mixed, cutlery, crockery, £3.00 per night

University of London Graduate Mountaineering Club Hut, Fallcliffe Cottage, Grindleford, Derbyshire

NGR SK240771

15 places mixed, electric lighting and cooking, living room, 3 bedroom with alpine bunk beds, kitchen, washroom with shower and flush toilets.  Access from road, car park.  £2.50 per night.

Mynydd Climbing Club Hut, Blaen y Nant, Llanrwst. NGR 738603

30 places mixed, cutlery, crockery, hot water, electric shower, flush toilets, access by car, electric light, gas cooking. £2.00 per night.

Junior Mountaineering Club of Scotland Hut, The Smithy at Little Loch Broom.  NGR 095877

10 places, cutlery, crockery, slot meter, access by car, no bedding, full cooking facilities.  50p required for electricity meter.  £1.50 per night.

Irish Mountaineering Club Hut, The Bloat House, Annalong.

NGR J 38 20  24 places mixed, bedding, cutlery, crockery, access by car, gas lighting and cooking, 4 weeks notice of booking required.



A news flash just in from the Netherlands ......

Born on Sunday 18th March 1990 a daughter and sister, Jennifer Carmen to Bob, Marijke and Angela Hill.


Some quotes from Lisa Taylor who is currently working in South Africa

"Managed to write off a company car the first week I was here!"   "Christmas Day, we all went water skiing and we also managed to pack in a little wind surfing, barbecuing and playing on a giant water slide"

"Did I tell you I went caving with Colin Priddle down a hole called The Knocking Shop.  What a hole.  Porcupine quills in the entrance that was a tight wriggle.  It then opened up into the most beautifully decorated cave I've ever seen."

The Working Saturday

The committee would like to record their very grateful thanks to the people who turned up and participated so fully in the recent working Saturday.  It was a small but very select bunch of friends who managed to transform the Belfry into something not resembling its usual slum appearance. It is wrong to single people out for special attention but would you have spent 3 hours cleaning, disinfecting and painting the small toilet as Babs did?  Would you have had the nerve to paint the large bunkroom that oh so subtle shade of blue that Lavina chose?  Would you have had the civil engineering expertise to build the speed bump, where the cattle grid used to be, quite so high.  Would you have slaved over a hot stove for days before, as Hilary did, to provide the working Belfryites with a never ending supply of cakes and biscuits? Similarly the food in the evening, with just the merest hint of 5 garlic bulbs, provided by Glenys was especially welcome as were the slide shows by Zot  (The Antarctic and Penguins I have loved), Blitz (Oh No, not more cone karst!) and Skippy, (Why are all my bridge jumping slides upside down?) with his show after the pub.

Indeed we liked it so much that we are going to do it all again this summer and combine as a barbecue and exterior painting session.  Lets hope we see a few more faces this time.  Grateful thanks to:

Mike and Hilary Wilson, Martin and Glenys Grass, Lavinia and Quiet John, Blitz, Nigel Taylor, Zot, Mac, AlanThomas, Stuart, Graham Johnson, Dick Fred, Nick Gymer, Kevin Gurmer, Carol White, Jeff and Babs, Slug and finally last but not least Arthur.


CSCC AGM May 12th, 1990

The CSCC AGM this year was a fairly quiet affair with little of note.  However the subject of training reared its (ugly?) head again and member clubs are being asked to consult their members as to their needs and requirements. Currently the NCA has in the region of £2000 to be spent on caver training and the CSCC is considering holding a weekend in the autumn covering topics such as cave photography, SRT, An aspect of practical First Aid awareness. etc .....  But I hasten to say these are only suggestions.  The CSCC needs to now as to the extent of demand, if any and for what.


The CSCC were informed the both Cow Hole and Ubley Hill Pot are no longer accessible as the entrance depressions have been filled in.  This has been going on for some months but has only just been noticed - an indication of the popularity of the two sites?

Wessex Challenge 1990

The Wessex challenge is to be at The Belfry this year and will be on Saturday, June 23rd at 7.30 pm.  The fancy dress theme is - Civil Wars.

Tickets are £4.00 and are available fromany committee member.  Zot says that the pig is organised!


M.R.O. Incident Reports. 1989

These are descriptions of the nine cave rescue call-outs that occurred during the year.  They (the descriptions) were abstracted from the annual report of the Mendip Rescue Organization for 1989 in which further details, statistics and letters from the grateful rescued may be found.

Sunday 29th January Swildon's Hole

Brian Prewer was alerted by Yeovil Police at 4.05 p.m.  They reported that a 16-year old caver, Lee Parker, had fallen down a 12 ft drop in the Wet Way and broken his leg.  The injured caver's brother had left to raise the alarm whilst another brother had stayed to help.  A Westminster Speleological Group party in the cave chanced across the incident and assisted.

A rescue party comprising of Tony Jarratt, Geoff Price, Pete McNab, Mark Lumley, Duncan Prew, Pete Hann, Mike Duck, A. Taylor, Pete Moody and Babs Williams entered the cave at about 4.20 p.m. with First Aid and hauling equipment.  The patient was given two Temgesic tablets and the broken leg immobilised in neoprene splints.  He was then hauled up the pitch in a "baby-bouncer" and brought out within the hour, including being carried across the muddy fields in the Paraguard stretcher.  The ambulance left for Bristol Royal Infirmary at 5.45 p.m.

The three Parker brothers had been caving before, but Lee wore trainers which probably explains why he slipped.  They also misinformed MRO that they were members of a club in the Hampshire area, which was officially refuted shortly afterwards.

Thursday 2nd February Swildon's Hole

Fred Davies was contacted at Bruton by Yeovil Police at 5.45 p.m.  An army party had been reported as missing.  He requested Stuart McManus, Dave Pike and Dave Turner to form a search party and obtain further details.  Barely 15 minutes later, HTV gave a news flash that a "major search" was under way on Mendip.  How they came by this and who confirmed the story is a mystery!

Nineteen Junior Leaders from RCT/RAOC, Azimghur Barracks, Colerne, Wiltshire, were led down the cave at about mid-day by corporals Ward and Bruce; the former being the most experienced caver.  A third staff member who would normally have been with such a large party was ill. They went as one group to Sump One without incident, but, on the return above the Twenty Foot Pot, Corporal Bruce and nine others strayed off ahead of the rest and became lost in the Dry Ways. Unaware of this, Corporal Ward's party surfaced at about 4.30 p.m. having come out via the Wet Way.  After waiting an hour, he raised the alarm.

When Stuart McManus and Fred Davies arrived at about 6.10 p.m. there was some uncertainty as to how many were still underground.  Meanwhile, the lost party was chanced upon in the Water Chamber by two other cavers from Dorset and escorted out safely.  "Major Search" McManus thus called a parade on the Green and carried out a complete count to find all present and correct!

Sunday 26th March Charterhouse-on-Mendip

Mrs Fry was exercising her Labrador dog over the mineries when it crawled under the grill protecting the entrance of Rakes Shaft No. 14 and fell about 20 feet.  She went to the Mendip Caving Group hut at Nordrach for assistance and Jonathan Roberts alerted Martin Bishop and Chris Batstone, who were already changed for a trip, at the Belfry.  Brian Prewer was also informed and all went to the site with ropes.  The large dog was neatly trussed up, hauled out and returned uninjured to its grateful owner.

Tuesday 28th March Swildon's Hole

Ruth McBride suffered a bad asthma attack at the Double Pots whilst caving with Ravenskaff Venture Scouts from Clevedon.  One of the scouts left the cave to raise the alarm and the police contacted MRO through the Hunters' Lodge Inn at 9.57 p.m.  A dinner party at Upper Pitts was informed and those not indisposed turned out to assist; namely, Fred Davies, Brian Prewer, Tony Jarratt, Steve Pickersgill, Mark Foyle, M. Heard, Graham Johnson, Ric and Pat Halliwell.  On arrival at Priddy Green, they found that the patient had surfaced safely with assistance from her own party.  A convenient stand down at 10.20 p.m. followed.

Saturday 8th April G.B. Cavern

Graham Heriot of the Victoria Caving Group fell about 25 feet from the top of the Ladder Dig pitch early in the afternoon and sustained a badly fractured jaw with lacerations and severe bruising to his head, legs and arms.  He was wearing slip-on type Rigger Boots and the single band chin strap of his helmet broke at some stage during the fall.  He was lucky to get away so lightly in the circumstances and to have the support of two nurses, Sue Grimstead and Nickie Trill, who happened to be in the cave.  Another party in the cave was also able to assist for they raised the alarm when the Victoria Caving Group member hurrying from the cave for help slipped and badly twisted his own leg.

Brian Prewer received the call from Yeovil Police at 3.10 p.m. and was told that the fallen caver had "multiple injuries".  A major call-out followed.  Rescuers were raised from Upper Pitts through Murray Knapp and Dave Pike, whilst Trevor Hughes and Dave Lennard were encountered en route for Swildons in full kit and diverted to G.B.  Dr. Tony Boycott was called from a meeting at the Hunters' Lodge Inn.  The first MRO party, Trevor Hughes and Dave Lennard, went underground at 3.28 p.m., just 18 minutes after receiving the call-out. Stuart McManus organised the underground teams and Tim Large established the surface control.

Murray Knapp and Alison Hutchings took down medical supplies at 3.36 p.m.  Others followed in succession with necessary kit: Nick Pollard, Rob Taviner and Dave Pike took down the Mager stretcher frame and hauling ropes at 3.39 p.m; Tony Boycott and Stuart McManus ferried in the carrying sheet at 3.45 p.m; Brian Prewer went in with a bag of splints at 4.03 p.m; Pat Cronin and Ken James took down further medical supplies, and Nigel Edwards and Tim Hall of the Border Caving Group set up radio contact at the entrance. Communications with those underground were made when Stuart Lain and Jim Rands took down the Grunterphone at 4.40 p.m. Alan Butcher, Jeff Smith, Keith Capper, Linda Wilson and Graham Mullen entered the cave to support at 4.41 p.m. Heat packs and the hot air breather were taken down by Nick Sprang and Richard Payne just before 5 p.m.

Good progress was made underground and Tony Jarratt, John Beecham, Barry Hanks, Mark Lumley with two others went down to give a hand on the final stretch of the haul out.  The patient was safely out of the cave by 6 p.m. and taken to Weston-s-Mare General Hospital.  This incident involved over 25 people underground with additional cavers standing by on the surface.

Saturday 6th May Drunkard's Hole

Yeovil Police called Brian Prewer at 7.15 p.m. with news that someone was stuck down the cave.  No further details were available.  It was subsequently found that Mr. G. Townsend from Bridgwater YMCA had been leading a group of novices comprising of one other adult and four 12-year olds when it was decided to turn back.  Being now in the rear, he experienced difficulty in keeping up with his retreating party and exhausted himself in a tight passage. The youngsters immediately ahead could not help.  A rescue team consisting of Tony Jarratt and Andy Sparrow went to assist with Brian Prewer, Pete Hann, Nigel Graham, Dave Pike, Jim Rands, Pete and Alison Moody in support.  Tony and Andy had the stuck caver out by 8 p.m. none the worse for his ordeal.

Thursday 18th May General Search

Brian Prewer was contacted direct by a Mrs Ferguson from Bath 30 minutes after midnight.  She said that her husband had gone caving straight from work the previous evening and had not returned.  He had been expected back at 11 p.m.  The informant had no further details of the cave or the other members of the party, except that they could be driving a green and white Citroen 2CV.

Yeovil Police were contacted to formalise the incident and they offered help with a patrol car to search likely sites.  Nigel Taylor was alerted to check the popular places in Burrington and John Beecham did likewise at Charterhouse. Brian himself did a tour of Priddy.  Twenty minutes later, Mrs Ferguson rang again to say that her husband Toby had returned.  He had been down Manor Farm Swallet and taken longer than expected because of another slow party in the cave.  On surfacing late, he had tried to contact his wife but the pay phones he found only took 999 calls.  Cavers relying upon remote telephones must beware of this situation.

Thursday 6th June Swildon's Hole

Roger Dors received a call from Yeovil Police at 9.20 p.m. with a report that a caver in another party had fallen somewhere beyond Sump One and sustained serious injuries.  No further details were known.  A major operation followed during which it became apparent that two experienced Bath University cavers had been on a trip to the bottom of the Black Hole but had belayed their ladder to an unsound boulder.  Douglas Gauld, aged 23, was the first to descend, but tried this unprotected and so fell about 35 feet with all the tackle when the boulder pulled out.  His distraught partner, Kevin Martin, was unable to go to his assistance and, whilst hearing moans from below and even seeing his friend crawling round, he clearly expected the worse.  There was nothing for it but to leave the scene and call for help.

Upstream of Sump One, he met a party with two army instructors from Colerne.  Arrangements were made to alert MRO and Kevin was accompanied back to the Black Hole.  To his relief, they discovered that the fallen caver appeared to be remarkably composed and able to assess his injuries coherently.  For some reason, the long rope available to the cavers on the spot remained in its tackle bag in the streamway.

The university students had gone down the cave at 7.15 p.m. and the fall occurred at about 8.30 p.m. So, the injured caver was stranded and unattended for about 90 minutes until Jonathan Swift, who headed the first MRO team, arrived at the Black Hole about 10.10 p.m.  The rope was put to good use at last when Jonathan belayed it and did a classic abseil to reach Douglas Gauld.  He was closely followed to the pitch by Graham Price, Mike Breakspeare, Keith Savory and Stuart McManus.  By now, Richard West had set up a control on Priddy Green and many other teams were called and stood by.  It promised to be an all night job at least.

Graham Johnson acted as an effective runner until full communications were established; Tony Jarratt carried in the neoprene splints and Dany Bradshaw the hot air kit.  Nick Pollard took down extra heat packs and Andy Sparrow hauling ropes and a harness.  At 10.26 p.m. Bob Cork and Dr. Tony Boycott went underground with the Mager stretcher.  Shortly afterwards, Jonathan Swift surfaced with first hand news that the patient had wrist and back injuries, but seemed to have had a remarkable escape from such a fall.  Dave Pike brought the Sump Rescue apparatus along and several cave divers were alerted. Although there was a possibility that Douglas Gauld might be willing and able to be pulled through whilst holding his breath, this could not be guaranteed, of course.  So, the bulky equipment was taken underground to Sump One by Martin Bishop, Chris Batstone, Pat Cronin, Ian Brown, Ashley Houlton, Aubrey Newport, Robin Brown, Pete McNab, Max Milden and Steve Redwood.

More hauling and medical equipment was taken into the cave by Nigel Graham, Rob Taviner and Dave Grieves whilst the Grunterphone and sump telephone went down at 11.30 p.m. with Nigel Taylor, Phil Romford and Trevor Hughes.  Ted Humphreys followed in support.  By midnight, a surface team comprising Brian Prewer, Brian Workman, Jim Hanwell and Nick Barrington were listening in above Sump One and Dave Pike maintained a radio link at the entrance.  Good three-way communications with control were established at 1.14 a.m. The hauling party was reported as approaching the downstream side of Sump One.  Hot air spares and a dry furry suit were requested and taken down by Fred Davies and Alan Mills.  The patient agreed to be towed through the sump without using breathing apparatus.

Throughout the night, the long haul continued: 1.22 a.m. through the Sump; 2.53 a.m. at Barnes' Loop; 4 a.m. at the Twenty Foot; 4.25 a.m. at the Eight Foot; 4.53 a.m. in the Water Chamber, and 5.23 a.m. at Jacob's Ladder. The patient was brought out of the cave to the awaiting ambulance and press at 6.03 a.m., over nine hours after falling so badly.  He was taken to the Royal United Hospital at Bath.

This was the longest distance that MRO has had to carry someone injured out of a Mendip cave.  It is a tribute to all concerned that it ran so smoothly and relatively quickly in the event.  The inevitable media reports were also reasonable and we are learning how to deal with this side of things too.  Thirty cavers were involved underground and ten more directly on the surface.  Many others stood by in case they were needed later in the day.

Saturday 2nd December General Alert

Brian Prewer was called by the Police at 50 minutes past midnight because someone from Bristol had been reported as overdue following a trip with a party of scouts to a Priddy cave the previous evening.  He stood by Dave Turner and Brian Workman, then went to check both the Green and Eastwater Lane.  On returning home, he was contacted again to say that the caver concerned had just turned up at 1.35 a.m.

Saturday 23rd December Goatchurch Cavern

The Police called at 6.50 p.m. to report that a 15-year old scout had slipped and dislocated his right knee.  Nigel Taylor was alerted and at the cave to help within ten minutes of the call-out. He found that a party of four adults and nine teenagers, all members of the 21st Swindon Scouts, had been coming out of the cave when Paul Bannister slipped on the polished rock below the cut steps in the main entrance passage.  His knee was badly dislocated and he was in great pain.  The fall occurred at about 6.30 p.m.  The scouts rigged a handline to the surface whilst waiting for MRO.

After assessing the injuries, Nigel called for a stretcher.  This was brought to the cave by Tim Large, Fred Davies, Tony Jarratt and Dany Bradshaw at 7.25 p.m.  The patient was soon evacuated and carried to the roadside to await the arrival of an ambulance.  This was delayed until 8.15 p.m. owing to industrial action.  A paramedic in the ambulance crew administered Entonox and relocated the injured knee.  The patient was then taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary for further treatment.

What's In A Name?

(Any errors or omissions in the following? See Alan - Ed.!)

Alan Thomas

When I was first asked to compile this list I thought it was because members would be interested to know how others came by their nicknames.  I have since found that many members are interested to know the real names of people they only know by their nicknames.

Ian Caldwell was given the name Wormhole by Trevor Hughes because he had a propensity for digging small holes and because he was a womaniser (which I suppose is another way of digging small holes).

S.J. Collins is called Alfie for a reason that I have already adequately explained in "The Story of Priddy".

Pat Cronin is called Stumpy for obvious reasons.

Chris Hall was known as Snogger Hall as a description of his behaviour.  On joining the police force he became known as "Evening all".

Chris Harvey became known as Zott because when he was first seen on Mendip he had a puke-coloured (and occasionally puke-covered) Consul with a mascot suspended from a spring which he was in the habit of pulling.  As it flew up to the roof he exclaimed: Zott.

Colin Houlden became known as Colin the Screw when he worked at Shepton Mallet Prison.  I last saw him last November when I was making my way to Guernsey on Channel Island Ferries, but Tony Jarratt (pronounced J'Rat) tells me that he is still about.

Trevor Hughes is called Biffo

Dave Irwin is called The Wig, which is (strangely enough) short for a corruption of Irwin.

When I was staying at the Hill Inn in February the Landlord (Pissy Riley by name) reminded me that in the late 1960's the definite article was put in front of names and nicknames. For instance, when he was in Australia he went call on Phil Kingston and was greeted with:  "Ah! It’s the Riley".  I have never had a nickname but in the 60's was sometimes called the Thomas.  John Riley, by the way, was called Pissy Riley because on one occasion he objected to someone passing his cigarettes round the Hunters.

Mike Jeanmaire is called Fish because he was declared by the D.H.S.S. to be temperamentally unsuitable for anything except diving.

Greame Johnson (as opposed to Graham) was given the name Bolt because he resembled Frankenstein's monster.

Ron King is known as Kangy which, when we were young, we meant to be a corruption of King.

Mark Lumley is called Gonzo after one of the Muppets, whom he resembles.

Stuart McManus is known as Mac usually but occasionally Mac Anus for obvious reasons.

Peter McNab is known as Snab. When he was in the R.A.F. there were so many Peters that every Peter had to have a nickname.  He called himself Snab to avoid being called Macscab.  It is obvious that his son would be called Snablet.

When we were staying at the Hill Inn in February he was heard to say wistfully:  "Peter used to be known as my son; now I am known as his father".

Mike Macdonald is called Trebor after an impersonation of a newsreader done by Lennie Henry.  The newsreader is called Trebor Macdoughnut.

Richard Neville-Dove is called Mongo because he resembles a character in "Blazing Saddles".

Dave Shand is known as Wobbly, for reasons that become obvious on Saturday night.

Chris Smart is known as Blitz because he was struck by lightning in Austria.

Nigel Taylor was given the name Mr. Nigel by Gordon Tilly because when he first became a member he called everybody Mr.  In fact he called me Alan long before he called my wife Hilary.

Brian Van Luipen is called Loopy for obvious reasons.

Graham Wilton-Jones is called Bassett because his surname is said to resemble Wootton Bassett.