Belfry Bulletin

Search Our Site

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone Wells  72126.

Editor: Robin Gray

From the Editor

Firstly many thanks for cave pamphlets someone sent me.  They were for Virginia's Shenandoah Caverns and Luray Caverns.  J,Rat hag put them in the library.

Response to my caption Comp was not forth coming or even fifth coming.  Only Jeremy H. sent in a caption.,.......... 'the Flat Earth Society were right after all'

I hear that Unit 2 have asked to take over our old dig at Toothache Pot, Longwood Valley.  This is still a possible goer so good luck to them

The next BB has a couple articles already but I could do with a few more!!  Next issue.......The Truth about the Sludge Pit Dig and the Discovery of the Dave’s Cave, What else?

The new lock is now on the Belfry Door so if you haven't got yours yet send £2 and Membership Number Now........

Please take note of Dany's Letter below.  That’s it, keep the articles coming in,

Good caving

Robin

Working Weekend

THIS LETTER IS MEANT FOR YOU.  PLEASE READ IT AND TAKE NOTE

This is your last chance to turn up for a working weekend.  There are a lot of jobs to be done inside and out.  We cannot afford to let the hut get any worse, so if we don't get a good turn out this time we will have to get subcontractors in to do the work. This will cost money so subs will have to go up.  The choice is yours.  Hopefully we'll see you on 12th May.  That gives you plenty of time to plan to be there!!

The following jobs need doing: - We must build a new carbide store to comply with new fire regulations. The windows, men's bunkroom door, fascia and soffit, window boards, all walls and the ceiling in the main room need cleaning and painting.  Also repairs to guttering and the main room ceiling need to be done, plus many more jobs.

So remember........YOUR CLUB NEEDS YOU.  AND WORKING WEEKENDS CAN BE FUN.  WILL WE SEE YOU ON THE 12th?

Dany Bradshaw.


 

The Pre-Austrian Expedition

This is just a short account of the trials and tribulations of the small party (to wit three of us) who went out early in the Summer (?) to put tackle into the Barengassewindschact in preparation for the main party.

Originally we were going to use the tackle coming back from the Mexico expedition but this did not materialise. So we thought, no problem, we belong to a caving club, the expedition is a club expedition, the club has tackle, we'll borrow that.  However the tackle ober gruppenfuhrer had other ideas and removed the tackle before it could be signed out.  Incidentally for the younger members of the club I can remember John Dukes when he was a caver, so don't believe all the rumours that you hear.  Thanks to the generosity of a number of individuals we managed to scrape up enough tackle to make it worthwhile setting out.

That ends the historical introductory session.

Trip Log:-

(There was a suggestion that as it was so small we call it a Trip Twig)

Thursday 9/6/83:-

The party, Trev Huges, Rachael Clarke and myself, assembled at the Biffoery in Wookey Hole and proceeded to pack kit into the car until it was sick and refused to take any more. By disguising several rucksacks as passengers and lying through our teeth by telling the car that we were going to leave Biffo at his parents' house.  We managed to persuade Eithne (the car) to take to the high road.  We should have been on the low road!  It was our first taste of Hughes' navigation, but more of this later.  A brief stop was made at the Kent Biffoery when our perfidy was made plain to Eithne then on to Dover and the midnight ferry.

Friday 10/6/83:-

After driving through the night and the day and a bit of the night again we reached Hallstatt.  Over a refreshing few litres of foaming Stiegal, those who've been there know all about Stiegal, those who haven't go on next year's trip, we met one of the local cave divers who seemed on his own admittance to be able to do most things short of walking on water.  He had also just become a father and forced us, well not exactly forced us, to drink champagne with him.  Overnight bivvi in the underground car park.

Saturday 11/6/83:-

Trevor's diary assures me that we staggered out of bed and fettled ten, possibly some Morris Dancing manoeuvre that I missed.  My recollection is of crawling out of sleeping bags and making tea.  Then around to the cable car when it was found that the top section did not open for a fortnight.  Nothing daunted I set off and found out that the man at the bottom had not been fibbing.  Then I was daunted.  However things were not that bad and an hour and a quarter’s walking saw me at the Wiesberghaus (hereinafter known as the WBH) having dumped a load of tackle at the entrance to Barengassewindschact (hereinafter known as BWS).  Biffo and Rach dumped the remainder of the kit at the goods cable car.  Several phone calls later and after much farting about two loads got up the mountain.  The remainder were left at the bottom to be hauled up next day and Trev and Rachael walked up.

Sunday 12/6/83:-

Underground at last. Biffo set off first and laddered the first two pitches and was in the process of tackling Aalenschact when Rach and I caught him up.  The cave and available tackle was then rigged down as far as the bottom of the Stairway Series, i.e. the start of the Vesta Run.  No great incidents.

Monday 13/6/83:-

I got up early to walk down the mountain and get supplies, chat to Eithne and check on the kit.  Kit was safely loaded on to the cable car and I pushed off into the teeming metropolis of Hallstatt.  Had a very pleasant day and walked back up in the afternoon, noting with satisfaction that the kit had indeed disappeared up the mountain. Upon arrival at the WBH, I found Trev and Rachael looking suspiciously as though they had not been caving. Apparently the kit had been taken off by a group of Austrian policemen and had only arrived late in the afternoon. The weather was threatening (quote from the Biffo memoirs) but the others had taken two loads of kit to the entrance of BWS.  Only one load had actually got there as Rach got lost on the way and had managed a round trip ending up back at WBH.

Shortly after I arrived back the rain started.

Tuesday 14/6/83:-

Fester day watching the rain.  Later, just as we were getting bored with simple transparent water drops, the weather got colder and it started to sleet/snow.

Rachael went off at 4p.m. so we decided not to cook her as neither Trev or myself are very partial to 'gamey' meat.

Seriously, Rachael set out on a solo trip to tidy up the rigging at the top of Aalenschact but failed to find the bolt placement so contented herself with transporting down some ladders.

Wednesday 15/6/83:-

A late start.  The snow had become real snow.  Trev and I went underground at 1.15 p.m. re-rigged the top of Aalenschact, Bolt Fracture Pitch and the Snack Pots and then pushed on and rigged Batchelorschect which was quite wet and needed a new bolt. Trev went down BS and I sent the tackle down to him.  Then suddenly my light went out completed.  Straddled over a 50m pitch is hardly the greatest of places to have that happen.  Never mind, I thought, Trev will be up in a minute and I can use his light to get back to my spares on the other side of the head of the pitch.  Well to cut a long story short (thank God!) Trev had his own major epic on the way up when the rope slipped and he found himself prusikking up a rope, in a stream, both of which were emerging from a 3” wide rift. Much shouting later we were reunited and made our way out.

Outside several inches of snow had fallen since we left the WBH.

The snowfall continued throughout the night.  Even the Hut guardian Fritz had left!!

Thursday 16/6/83:-

After a cold night a lazy day in the WBH looking out at the snow, mist etc.  Trev did his Capt Gates bit and announced that he was going to get some exercise by walking up to the Simony Hutte only to be defeated by the weather.

Friday 17/6/83:-

After much discussion it was decided to pack up and head for home.  Trev gallantly volunteered to take himself over to the BWS, to collect SRT kit from the head of Aalenschact entrance.

Then off the mountain.

The trip home was relatively uneventful apart from Trev's navigation.

I can see why they kept him down in the Engine Room in the Navy.  We played a form of motorised hopscotch with several European borders and the highlight was when finally asked where we were (since we were so obviously not on the autobahn as they do not normally have grass growing up the centre nor for that matter herds of cattle) he was heard to reply "Page 46".  As page 46 covered an area of country stretching from Poland to the Balearic Islands we were less than reassured.


 

And now: - Dear Diary.

by Bolt.

(not to be read by anyone with a serious BENT )

The planned early start had worked well and nearly everyone was ready by 12.30.  Soon we were strung out along the Cumbria Way, the fresh North Westerly scooting up our nostrils, forcing out last nights booze fumes, in some cases from the rear.  What a team!  Staunch, Resolute and Steady-eyed.  This was the BIG ONE.  In the lead was Tim L., the only one who seemed to have any idea where we were going (but he wanna gonna tell no one see!) followed by our Chris Bonnington clone---John T.  Then came Dave (what is your second name anyway) hereafter known as W.I.Y.S.N.A. and Bob (mine cost £85 (quid-)).  Protecting our rear were, or they would be when they caught up, Karen and Blitz, one of whom had trouble putting on his boots, his socks, his willie warmer, starting the car, and locking the car.

Time passed.

Tim was eventually forced to stop his aimless zig-zagging and head towards the target.  Once we saw the white peaks and gullies of Bow Fell, excitement ran high and the lead frequently changed.  Bob H, being lucky enough to find an area completely exposed to the icy wind, announced the place as our lunch break spot and then huddled down behind the one protective boulder.  Within 10 minutes the rest of us were eyeing that boulder with lust in our eyes and eventually could stand it no more.  Blitz and one who shall remain anonymous (O.W.S.R.A.) leapt on the offending item and with superhuman strength, hurled it down the mountain into the abyss.

Bob then said it was time to go.

We continued on our way with those carrying the 10ft. B.E.C. ice-axes looking like dodgem cars and in some cases acting like them as well.  I found myself casting surreptitious glances at the heavens for signs of thunderstorms, for surely if lightning was to strike, there would be among us a great smite!

The snow slopes were reached and crampons were fitted, re-fitted, and re-re-fitted.  The snow was very hard and well consolidated; good crampon material.  We stopped at the base of the main gully to await the arrival of our rear-guard. Karen was new to crampons and Blitz was messing around and making clucking noises.  Whilst excavating seats in the snow, it was noted that all loose objects (snow, ice, equipment) travelling down-slope, invariably ended up hitting or just missing these two - Good Game.  It was also noted that up to a certain size of object, Blitz would skilfully deflect, but above that (50 lbs say) he'd selflessly skip aside to let Karen have some fun.

We could put it off no longer.  Four of the magnificent 7 headed up the main gully, while Bob (may his beer taste of camel dung) H. said that he wanted to go up the steep, tight gully to the right. Tim and OWSRA followed as Bob was the only one with a rope and we didn't want to loose it.

Shortly afterwards we came to a vertical obstruction in the gully…………

Much discussion – the only gear we had was an ice-axe apiece and crampons, a piece of rope (30ft) and suddenly I noticed one set of footprints going up the right hand wall of the gully and followed.  At the top of the steep slope they turned and went back down.  The reason was obvious - the next move was vertica1, on rock and definitely not reversible. 

However, above this was a long ledge leading back to the gully, above the obstruction.  Tim and Bob were still deep in talk so, inserting my front points in a horizontal slit, I stepped up ignoring the small voice in my head that said 'sucker'.  The move was harder than expected and it took time before I could stand up and inspect the 1edge.  It was 1ft wide, ice -covered and the rock- face was leaning outwards – no chance of anyone making it along there.  The only way on was a rising traverse going away from the gully with no snow slopes below, just vertical drops.  I set off. The moves over the steep small snow pockets weren't so bad but the semi-iced rock gave me the shivers and I'd soon lost feeling in my left hand because I was using it to wedge between the rock face and the snow.  Eventually a reverse traverse was possible and shortly after that Bob hove into view, having left the security of the gully to make sure that in the event of the expected plummet he'd be able to reach the choci bar in my pocket before Tim. He patted me on my sweaty bald patch and said 'there there' as I told him what a terrible day I ' d had.  Back to the gully and a half frozen Tim who refrained from saying 'you stupid +J$?h!@$G;!  He even cracked a smile.

It had taken me an hour to regain the gully!

Roped up now, we set off and almost immediately my left crampon came off.  The thought of the possible outcome if that had happened a few minutes earlier sent a cold shiver down my back.  Tim and Bob were going like express trains and and I, feeling a bit shattered, had trouble keeping up.  Almost there now and we hit a wind funnel, with the upward wind so powerful that it felt as though we were being lifted up the slope. At last the top and the other four in various stages of boredom.  John was in the process of building a loo, while Blitz hadn’t been able to wait and excitedly told us how he'd snapped the lengths off as they came out.  On to Bow Fell with a quick eye-popping, at the steepness of the main gully that the other four had just climbed.  Well done Karen.  Off crampons just in time for Blitz to do a somersault on a nice sheet of ice.  Karen followed suit later.  We headed at speed for the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

Tues 21st Feb. Liquid sunshine pouring down.  My Koflachs had half eaten my feet so it seemed a good day not to go anywhere.  Drove to a survival aids centre near Penrith - they're making me a sleeping bag big enough to share with a Grizzly!  Spent a fascinating afternoon being shown things like how to catch a rabbit with a Bazooka. Tbe problem seemed to be finding it afterwards.

Arrived back at the cottage to find people giving the impression of drowned rats.  Apparently they'd spent the day swimming around the mountains, looking for a 756 metre monolith called Harrison Stickle that, dominates the skyline in Langdale.  And guess what dear readers, there it was, gone!!  Breathlessly they reported the sad news.

Wed 22nd Feb.  My Koflachs had been remoulded by a hot fire and now looked vaguely like Chris B’s face - yes - he of the speeky speeky through the air and permanent flat tyre.   Time to test them.  Went looking for Harrison’s Stickle and guess what dear reader, it had returned!

Breathlessly I reported the good news.

Arrived back at the cottage to find people giving me their impressions of drowned rats.

That evening at the Britania, Rachael, Jane, and Basset arrived from different directions. Replacement engines will be installed as soon as possible.  By the way, Bassett’s details are now a load of digits, sparks flashes and burps on the all-seeing police computer.  1984 strikes! Didn't recognise Rachael for the first hour.  She had a Bad cold and wasn't talking.

Thurs 23rd Feb. Chris Bonnington alias John T. was going to take us on a 20 mile walk across every damn peak he could find and we were actually ready by 0330 - still can't believe it.  After Blitz had sorted out his normal pre-start problems - you know - willie warmer, keys; etc, we set off up Wrynose Fell missing out Wrynose Bridge, Wrynose Pass, Wrynose Breast and Wrynose Bottom, - who is this guy? Then on to Pike of Blisco where we found a couple with no axe or crampons having trouble getting up a snow slope.  We then went up a short very steep slope and they came round and followed in our foot steps!!  Good cover of snow everywhere and the sun was shining unfortunately never on us.  Down to Red Tarn with John and Blitz walking straight across it and Karen and myself praying for their safety.  Then to Cold Pike where Blitz talked us into going up a collapsing and unstable snow slope and then came up last!!  Across to Crinkle Crags where we met W.I.Y.S.N.A. end the top and rapidly disappearing part of Bob H.  They were building an igloo with Bob inside, so we stopped to help or hinder as was our wont.  Eventually Bob was completely incarcerated and tempting though it was, we couldn't stand the thought of him having something real to gripe about, so we dug through the floor to retrieve him.

Everyone agreed that if we'd had our sleeping bags with us we'd have been quite happy to spend a night in the Old Dungeon Ghyll.  We then glissaded down a one in one right into the said pub.

Fri 24th Feb  People shot off in all directions.  However, compliments of Blitz, I was ill.  So was Rachael, so snuffling gently into our respective handkerchiefs, we went for a walk around Grassmere.  Between snuffles Rachael pointed out dippers swimming, diving mallards, sleeping mallards, poison fungus and the odd dead sheep or two. Al1 while the joys of creation shone out of her eyes beneath the soggy tea-cosy she was wearing.

That evening saw a determined assault on the cold I had to the tune of 9 whiskeys and a couple of pints.

To finish on a good note, the next day I went by myself - Grisedale, Dollywaggon Pike, Helvellyn and back via Striding Edge.  The snow was fabulous, the sun was shining and the trip included an 800ft grade I gully. It must class amongst the best of the day trips I've ever done.  Finally, the owner of the cottage allowed me to stay overnight free of charge!!!


 

Mendip Rescue Organization

Report by the Hon. Secretary and Treasurer for the Year ending 3lst December 1983

It is sad to start this report by recording the death of Dr. Bob Everton early in the year.   He was mainly interested in cave archaeology and, although we did not see him much on Mendip in recent years, he willingly and immediately responded to any cave rescue when we needed him.  His last two rescues were among the more noteworthy, being when Dudley Soffe was firmly stuck in Swildon's Hole in 1971 and when Richard Bainbridge was badly injured in Lamb Leer nearly ten years ago now.

Apart from the log of incidents that follows, there have been other events which seem to be a growing part of essential liaison work.  Wardens have attended British Cave Rescue Council and South West of England Rescue Association meetings as far a field as Ripley, Derbyshire, and Exeter.  More practically helpful was the successful BCRC weekend conference in Settle to which several wardens and our doctors went.  On our own account, we ran a day conference of lectures, films and demonstrations for the Central Electricity Board at Exeter.  Their emergency work on electricity supplies in open country during bad weather and in effluent pipes from power stations pose some common problems of interest.

Back on Mendip, we have given many illustrated lectures and demonstrations to groups such as the Mendip CB Club in Wells, the St. John's Ambulance members at Glutton and the District Fire Brigades at Glastonbury.  These local links produce much good will and a modest revenue through donations.  We were especially pleased to be invited to join the Police for their Weston-Super-Mare Division Open Essays in the summer.  Hundreds of visitors and tourists saw our exhibition of photographs prepared by Rich West and Phil Romford and, so, were able to gain some insight into the self-help nature of cave rescue work.  Further links with the Avon and Somerset Constabulary at their Bristol headquarters resulted in a visit to their Force Control and I am grateful for the active support of Chief Superintendent Wilson and Inspector H. Young there.  Support services keeps all divisions throughout both counties up to date with MRO callout details and this has proved to be very effective.  All our rescue work these days relies upon such co-operation through understanding what each can do to help.

The audited annual accounts show a close balance of income against expenditure during a year in which we have deliberately kept equipment purchases to a minimum.   The handsome surplus on hiring Nife cells through Brian Prewer deserves a special mention.  It has become one way for newer and more distant groups to make contact with MRO and so to fund cave rescue work through their own caving activities. There has been a much better response from rescued parties this year too.

Established local clubs are the backbone of the Organisation, as ever.  It is vital to have their support through rescue practices and pleasant fund raising occasions.  Here I must pay particular thanks to the Bristol Exploration Club for waiving the former share of the Belfry telephone bill paid by MRO since its installation.  Most of all, of course, we value the help of all experienced cavers on actual rescues. This report is written with them in mind.

J.D. Hanwell
Hon Secretary & Treasurer
Wookey Hole,
Wells,
Somerset


 

Mendip Rescue Organization

Cave Rescues and Incidents for the year ending 31st December 1983

There were 11 official call-outs through the Police during the year.  Five cavers required assistance owing to falls, being stuck or just exhausted.  A large proportion of the calls involved parties being simply overdue and so it is necessary to repeat previous pleas for all to leave clear instructions about their trips with responsible cavers on the surface.  Experience shows that it makes sense to allow a reasonable time to elapse before raising the alarm for overdue parties.  Messages left with people back at home well away from Mendip are often misunderstood.

The following list brings the total number of incidents since 1951 to 230 with about 384 cavers being helped underground, excluding those involved in alerts.  The figures in brackets to the right show the numbers of people going underground on rescues but does not include any more who willingly stand-by and help out on the surface.  The extent of such help is evident in the accounts of each incident below.

9th January

21st February

28th May

22nd June

9th October

17th October

23rd October

23rd October

3lst October

12th November

13th November

Lamb Leer Cavern

Thrupe Lane Swallet

Rhino Rift

Swildon's Hole

Alert

Swildon's Hole

Frome Storm Drain

Sludge Pit

Abandoned Car

St. Dunstan's Cave

Swildon's Hole

2

7

4

1

?

8

2

1

1

1

?

Fall, bruises, rope burns

Overdue party

Overdue party

Exhaustion, unable to climb

Overdue party

Overdue party

Reported lost

Fall, bruises, broken toe

Search for missing person

Trapped, stuck

Overdue party

(6)

-

-

(4)

-

-

(5)

(9)

-

(15)

-

 

Sunday 9th January                   Lamb Leer Cavern

Fred Davies was contacted by Yeovil Police at 3.30pm.  They reported that a caver had fallen from the Main Pitch and was injured.  On reaching the informant at Beaconsfield Farm, it was found that Phillip Sutton and Malcolm Jackson of the Stroud Cave Rambling Club had entered the cave at about 11.30 a.m. but had been held up by a large party coming out.  Their own descent of the Main Pitch was delayed until about 1.30 p.m.  On returning, Phillip Sutton climbed first as the older and more experienced of the pair.  He was lifelining Malcolm Jackson when the climber fell from the bulge about 20 feet from the top.  In trying to lower him, Sutton sustained rope burns to his hands and was forced to leave his shaken colleague at the bobtom of the Main Chamber whilst summoning help.

The Belfry was informed of the situation.  Alan Butcher reached the cave by 3.45 p.m. followed five minutes later by Tim Large, Martin Grass, Edric Hobbs, Robin Gray and Howard Price with hauling gear and First Aid.  They entered the cave at 4.00 p.m. with Pete Hann in support.  In just 36 minutes they brought Jackson out unharmed.  Meanwhile, an ambulance called by the Police took Phillip Sutton to the Royal United Hospital, Bath, for treatment.

Monday 21st February                            Thrupe Swallet

Yeovil Police informed Brian Prewer in the early hours at 1.30 a.m. about an overdue party.  A wife from Salisbury had reported that her husband should have been home by 11. 00 p.m. on the Sunday following a trip with six other experienced cavers from Salisbury organised by Mr. and Mrs. Goodhead.  Brian went to the cave but could not find the car of the overdue cavers at the farm.  As there was a chance that they might have gone to Stoke Lane Slocker instead, Bob Cork checked for vehicles in Bector Lane.  His search also proved to be fruitless and so the Police were requested for more details from the informant.

At 2.50 a.m., news came that the party had returned home safely having stopped for coffee on the way back to Wiltshire.  Despite leaving late from Thrupe Farm well after midnight, they had thought it sufficient to "toot" their horn in the hope that Mrs. Butt would be aware of their departure.  No one thought it necessary to contact anyone in Salisbury to prevent the call-out.

Saturday 28th May                                 Rhino Rift

A party of four from Abson failed to report home at 2.00 p.m. after a trip down the cave during the morning.  One of the mothers alerted Yeovil Police at 5.50 p.m. and Brian Prewer was informed straightaway.  Chris Batstone stood by with a possible rescue party at the Belfry.  Shortly afterwards at 6.00 p.m. the party arrived home. They had not bothered to report having surfaced safely.

Wednesday 22nd June                           Swildon's Hole

Richard West was contacted by Yeovil Police at 9.50 p.m. with news that Gordon Lynch had phoned them from Priddy Green to say that someone could not climb the Twenty Foot pitch. The informant then left the call box and could not be reached there for further details.  So, Jeff Price was alerted at the Hunters' Lodge and asked to assess the situation at the cave.  Meanwhile, Glyn Bolt had chanced across Lynch at Priddy and organised a small hauling pasty from the Wessex Cave Club to help.

It was found that Karen Lynch, the sister of the informant had becomes tired and intimidated by the waterfall on returning from a trip to Sump 1.  There were three in the party led by her husband, all were well-equipped and the stream was low.  Inexplicably, a stronger party of five non-club cavers from Bath had passed by the incident at the Twenty but had merely put Karen in a poly bag to await other rescuers.  The four Wessex cavers went down and simply hauled Karen Lynch up the short climb.  She was then able to help herself and was out of the cave before 11.00 p.m.

Sunday 9th October                               Alert

A Mr. Drinkwater rang the Police at Yeovil as he was worried that his son had not returned home.  The son was on a caving trip with Long Levens Scout Group but the only other information was that the party was using a marked minibus.  After the Police had informed Brian Prewer at 8.33 p.m., John Turner went to look for the minibus around Priddy whilst Martin Bishop stood by to form a rescue team if required.  Shortly afterwards at 8.46 p.m., Mr. Drinkwater phoned again to say that he had been called by his son with news that the minibus had broken down on the motorway after leaving Mendip.

Monday 17th October                             Swildon's Hole

A party of eight girls with two teachers from Hayesfield School, Bath, was reported overdue by a Mr. Hughes at 9.20 p.m. After being contacted by Yeovil Police, Brian Frewer rang Mr. Hughes who told him that he had been called by the teachers concerned before they entered the cave at 6.20 p.m. and asked to raise the alarm if not contacted again by 9.00 p.m. when the party hoped to surface. He had done as he was told!  Brian suggested that the cavers had not given themselves enough time for their trip.

Jane Thorns at Priddy was asked to check whether the schoo1's minibus was still on Priddy Green. At 9.28 p.m., Mr. Pritchard, one of the teachers in the party, rang in to say that they had jus t surfaced having underestimated the length of time their trip would take and that the call box had been occupied earlier.  He was advised to allow longer for such contingencies in future.

Sunday 23rd October                             Storm Drain in Frome

Someone in Frome raised the alarm with Yeovil Police after seeing two young boys remove a drain cover and crawl into a three feet high culvert.  The informant was sure that they were still inside and said that voices could be heard.  After being contacted by the Police for assistance, Brian Prewer alerted the Wessex Cave Club and a search party left the investigate comprising Glyn Bolt, Julie Wootton, Pete Ham, Al Keen and Rich Worman.  Since there was a lot of water reported to be flowing into the culvert, Trevor Hughes was asked to stand by as a diver.  Glyn Bolt's party searched the drain but found no one.  It was concluded that the informant had failed to spot the boys leaving the site and no children had been reported as missing.

Sunday 23rd October                             Sludge Pit

A party of four cavers from Radstock went down the cave in the afternoon using their own tackle for the Twenty Foot pitch near the entrance.  After lifelining the first three down the ladder, Frank Norton, who was leading the trip, started his descent without a line.  Whilst still some way above the floor, his homemade wire tether broke so he fell and it was first thought that he had fractured a leg. The alarm was raised through the Police from Upper Pitts at 4.00 p.m.

Dany Bradshaw, Bob Cork, Al Keen, Pete Hanu, Mike Duck and Graham Bolt went down the cave with medical and hauling gear at 4.30 p.m.  They found the patient able to sit up and move his legs despite complaints of pains in the back and chest.  He was made comfortable and then hauled out within 45 minutes.  A Range Rover ambulance took the patient to the Royal United Hospital, Bath, at 6.25 p.m. where it was reported later that, apart from bruises, he had only broken a toe.

The wire tether belonging to Norton had single U-clamps fastening both C-links.  These had become loose but the danger had not spotted because had been covered by electrical tape.  Mr Norton was the heaviest member of his party!

Monday 31st October                             Abandoned Car

Mr. Mercan Jefferies at Manor Farm, Charterhouse, reported to Wells Police that a mini car belonging to a caver had been parked in nearby Velvet Bottom since the weekend.  He was concerned that the occupants might still be underground.  Brian Prewer and Jim Hanwell set out to make a check of the car and possible caves around 4.00p.m.  They were stood down after the Police contacted the car's owner in Wells. Apparently the mini had broken down and was left to be picked up later.

Saturday 12th November             St. Dunstan’s Cave

Yeovil Police alerted Brian Prewer at 8.06 p.m. because a caver had been reported as stuck in the squeeze before the sump.  He had been jammed for two hours by that time.  Four well equipped and wet-suited cavers associated with Aberystwyth University went down the cave at about 5.45 p.m.  In following the rest to the sump, 25-year old Howard Davies inadvertently strayed off the main route and became firmly stuck by his hips in a bypass.  He had attempted to descend a steeply inclined side rift head first.  Fortunately, he could be approached from either end but there was little room to help.  Myr Roberts left the cave to raise the alarm.

Tim Large and Fiona Lewis were alerted and reached the Cerberus Cottage within ten minutes of the call out.  Fred Davies arrived shortly afterwards.  Other rescuers stood by at Priddy whilst Brian Prewer and Chris Batstone set out to establish a telephone line down the cave and a radio relay via Beacon Hill.  Julie Wootton took messages near the entrance and Mike York was stationed on the road with a handset.  Tim Large, Pete and Alison Moody, Tony Jarrett, Pete Hann, Dean Fenton, Catherine Howard and Bill Haynes carried in comforts and hauling gear.  They were unable to free Davies after assisting for over an hour.  At 9.45 p.m. they requested hammers and chisels to open up the passage.  As the patient was now delirious and complaining of going numb, it was decided to call in Dr. Peter Glanvill who knew the cave well.  Dr Don Thompson was also informed and stood by on the surface. Additional kit was taken underground by Glyn Bolt with Bob Lewis, Al Keen and Sarah Bishop.  Fred Davies and others already underground set about clearing the gravel to enlarge the Domestos Bend squeeze.

At 11.00 p.m. after the patient had been firmly stuck for five hours and was distressed, a message came out that was interpreted as a warning that a carbon dioxide build-up could be a danger; also, that a rock drill would probably be necessary to open up the rift.  Jim Hanwell and Rich West took along heavy hauling gear and further medical supplies and it was decided to request a compressor from the Fire Service to clear the air and provide drilling power.  An appliance set out from Yeovil whilst Brian Workman and Dave Tuner collected high pressure hose from NHASA.  The rescuers underground continued chiselling and reached a point where the patient's belt could be cut away.

Dr. Peter Glanvill entered the cave at 11 30 p.m. followed by Kevin Clarke and Edric Hobbs with more medical supplies.  The persistence of those underground eventually paid off and Howard Davies was freed at 11.45 p.m.  He was able to help himself even though being stuck fast for nearly six hours and despite getting into quite a state.  All were out of the cave by 12.40 a.m.  Apart from rather ugly "instant bedsores" around his hips, Howard Davies was in surprisingly good spirits and much appreciated the help he had received.

Sunday 13th November                           Swildon's Hole

A party of Birmingham University Caving Club cavers used the Emergency Call-out procedure to stop their friends staying at the MCG Hut from calling out MRO because they were overdue and had run cut of petrol.  In fact, it was 6.10 p.m. and they were supposed to be back by 7.00 p.m.  All Brian Prewer had to do was to pass the message by telephoning the Stirrup Cup Café next door to the hut!

Other information

On Tuesday 9th August, Brian Prewer was alerted by the Police at 5.11 p.m. because the Cheddar Cliff Rescue Team was wanted to help a lad stuck on a ledge.  Apparently a tourist had slipped whilst scrambling.  In the event, two climbers in the vicinity at the time were able to solve the problem and the Cliff Rescue Team was stood down shortly afterwards.  The MRO Call-out is also used for cliff rescue calls to avoid confusion on such emergencies.  This incident, therefore, is not an official MRO cave rescue incident.

The following account summarises a report sent in by Ealing College Adventure Unit (St. Marys Underground Team) after an incident in Longwood Swallet on Sunday 13th March. This was a self-rescue and shows what can be done in contrast to some of the call outs on record.

A party of six people entered the cave at approximately 12 noon.  Party members were; D. Higginson, A. Melton. P. Dyment, P. Jochan, Miss D. Jackson and A. Barker.  The first three had considerable knowledge of the cave and had led parties in the cave on previous occasions.  Miss Jackson had also visited the cave previously.  Another party was in the cave at the time consisting of Mr. Chester and Mr. (Mike) Wigglesworth.

The incident occurred at about 1.00 p.m. at the bottom of the second pitch.  Shortly after Andrew Barker descended the pitch, a boulder fell and injured his right foot.  It was clear that the injuries were serious and assistance was offered by Mike Wigglesworth and his friend.  After weighing up the options, it was decided to move the patient out of the cave with those present and, if the situation deteriorated, to request cave rescuers. This self-rescue was accomplished in 2½ hours and the party surfaced at about 3.30 p.m.

Andrew Barker was taken immediately to Bristol Royal Infirmary.  Initial diagnosis indicated three broken bones, two crushed toes and a severe wound.  He was detained in hospital overnight for treatment.

Discussions following several of the bigger rescues in recent years have highlighted the need to have an obvious control point to which all cavers who are helping should report for information and instructions.  Circumstances at the time will dictate where this is best set up and it is likely that the cave entrance itself will not be suitable for certain communication needs and general crowd control.  In such cases, the Warden in charge of the Surface Control will carry a flashing yellow beacon and will probably be in close liaison with any Police vehicle in attendance.  Please remember that MRO is only officially in action when called by the Police.  All such calls require precise records of who is doing what and why.  On long rescues this can become a formidable task, especially when other services and the media turn up as well.  However well-intentioned, those who bypass the control will not get the full story and are unlikely to be helpful as a result.

Radio communications and the proximity of most Mendip caves to roads generally indicate that it is much better for those who are standing by to wait in comfort back at Priddy. With any luck, they might not be bothered further; however, it seems better to leave the celebrations until the rescue is well and truly over!

J.D. Hanwell,
Hon Secretary & Treasurer,
Mendip Rescue Organization,
Wookey Hole,
Wells,
Somerset

January 1984

 

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Rd. Priddy, Wells.  Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126

Editor: Robin Gray

From the Editor

Happy New Year...May I984 be a tremendous year for us all with successful trips, magnificent discoveries, and everyone getting their share of the action.

Well,here it is.  My first BB.  Firstly, many thanks to Bassett for the really superb job that he has done for so long and for making it easy for me to take over.  It will be a hard task for me to maintain his high standard.  At least my typing should improve!

Thanks to all of you who have provided material for this BB; I have some held over for next time, but don't let that put you off writing more.

I984 looks like being an exciting year for the B.E.C.  The new extensions to the Belfry should. make life easier but will take a lot of fund raising; something the B.E.C. have not been heavily involved in before, preferring to spend all their time caving.  That’s fine, but we can't complain if the living conditions become poor as a result.

Please have a go at my caption comp.  It seems like an easy way to raise a few pounds. Dany has asked me to draw your eye to his note about the next working weekend.....Page 3.  Many thanks to Fi for her help with the typing and please keep the articles coming in.

Cheers, good caving.

Robin.

Library Additions

Collieries of Kingswood & South Gloucestershire by John Cornwall

The Caves of India & Nepal by H.Daniel Gebaur (see review)

Bulletin of the S. African Speleo; Assn. 1956-1978 (Some missing)

Many thanks to Dr. Steve Craven of SASA/CPC for these.

Cango - The story of the Cango Caves of S. Africa by SASA

Scotland Underground by Alan (Goon) Jeffreys.

Thanks to C. Batstone Esq. for donation of Descent, BB’s ,Wessex Journals etc, and to Jonathon Roberts (MCG)for a similar heap of publications.


 

Caption Competition For Improvement Fund

PRIZE….A signed, framed copy of this REG cartoon with your caption.

Send your captions to the Editor together with 50p per caption.  No limit on entries.  Cheques/PO to BEC.


 

Mendip Notes

BROWNE - STUART SERIES FALLS IN.

Brian Prewer reports that on the evening of 5th Jan much of the unstable passage at the start of the Browne -Stewart series moved blocking the entire section.  Much work has gone on in this part of Reads over the last year as reported by Mark Lumley in BB420 and Descent 55.  Two cavers must count themselves lucky to be in the land of the living today as they were there when the big rocks were on the move.  It is unlikely that the series will be entered for a long time.

SWILDON’S HOLE

The farmer has requested that all cavers wishing to change before and after visiting the cave should use the barn as local residents and visitors have no wish to see your bum and various other bits and pieces.

He is aware that often large groups of novices visit the cave and this causes him some concern as he is well aware of the caves ability to flood and become dangerous.  He has no wish to put any limit on caving at present. Please shut all gates and stick to the path to and from the cave.  The Council of Southern Caving Clubs Suggests that the Burrington area is a more suitable training ground for novices and a note to this effect is to be found in the Belfry.

WORKING  WEEK END

Only a few members turned out to lend a hand at the last working week end but a fair amount of work was done non-the-less.  There is still a considerable amount of work to be done much of which is urgent.  The next working week end will be held on the 4th and 5th of February.  Please try to come and lend a hand and let’s hope for good weather.

D.B.


 

Job's For The Boy's

Digging Projects which NEED YOUR HELP.   Compiled by Tony Jarratt

A member recently told me that not enough information was printed in the BB about club digs.  He suggested that a list be compiled and published in the hope of maybe attracting some of the newer (and older) members into action.  All sites listed are either Official or Semi-Official Club Dig Sites and their respective FOREMEN would be pleased to see you turn out for YOUR shift!

EASTWATER (Westend Series)

A vast amount of work still needs to be done here.  A main line survey has so far been completed as far as the squeeze before Lolly Pot, there is still over 1,000 feet of side passages still to be done.  Much of this is in the first part of the extension and could be done on a midweek evening trip.  This area still has to be further explored and there is a chance of a connection to the Boulder Chamber or 380 Foot Way areas which would make the route a lot easier.

The very end of Greek Street still needs digging, but it is taking a rather large stream making progress difficult, unpleasant and potentially lethal.  With the next dry spell the dig should yield a lot more passage judging by the howling gale which is draughting out.  Water Tracing, further photography and Smoke Tests still have to be carried out. Interested parties should contact Tim Large or Tony Jarratt.

EASTWATER (Morton’s Pot)

Temporarily out of favour due to recent discoveries, work should hopefully restart soon with the help of NHASA's compressed air drilling rig.  A promising site with good potential.  Main contact Tim Large or Tony Jarratt for details.

TYNINGS BARROW (A-Day)

Digging and Blasting at the end of the cave making a nice change from Eastwater - some 20 feet of low bedding passage taking a stream can be seen ahead.  Some recent problems have been experienced with CO2 build up making digging trips short.  A good midweek digging project.  Contact Tim Large or Tony Jarratt for details.

MANOR FARM SWALLET

A very promising site at the very bottom of the cave, with lots of potential.  Due to ROMANCE digging has waned here in recent times so a new influx of blood is needed to keep this superb site going.  See John Watson for details.

HALLOWEEN RIFT

A nice cosy dry cave just five minutes walk from Biffo's teapot (and wine bottles) will hopefully be this years winters digging project.  An ideal midweek dig with a good chance of breaking into the further reaches of Wookey Hole.  Contact Trevor Hughes for details.

Gough's Cave

Visit Mendips most luxurious dig site.  Helmets, lamps and overalls provided most freshly laundered.  Warm sheltered changing facilities with running water and hand drier - what better way to spend and evening than building sand castles, and what about playing with a model railway!  Fancy an adventure caving trip (ITS HARD, ITS DIRTY, ITS FUN).  For those with an eye to becoming a television personality the possibility is there and especially for the ladies how about Page 3 of The Wells Journal.  The dig itself is a large black hole (don't all rush) heading out into the unknown. The HARD WORK takes place on a Thursday night 6.30-9pm followed by a well earned drink in the Cliff Hotel.  Contact Tim Large or Chris Bradshaw for details.

WIGMORE SWALLET

Another temporarily lapsed site best left for a dry spell.  Contact Tony Jarratt for details.

TWIN TITTIES DIG

Borrowed from NHASA a couple of years ago and now returned to them (in better condition).  Contact Brian Prewer far further details.

WEST COTTAGE DIG

A new site directly above the presumed route of Swildons.  No obvious surface indications but should be excavated just in case. The area to be covered is some 20x60 feet and grass seed will be provided for those with a conservationist outlook.  For details contact Jane Thomas.

ADDRESSES & TELEPHONE NUMBERS OF CONTACTS

TIM LARGE, Wells, Somerset,

TONY JARRATT & JANE THOMAS, Priddy Somerset. 

TREV HUGHES, Wookey Hole, Somerset

CHRIS BRADSHAW, C/O Cheddar Caves.

BRIAN PREWER, West Horrington, Nr Wells Somerset.


 

The 1983/4 Committee Of The Bristol Exploration Club

Hon. Secretary: Tim Large, Wells, Somerset

Hon. Treas: Jeremy Henley, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

Hut Warden: Phil Romford, Coxley, Somerset

BB Editor: Robin Gray, East Horrington, Nr Wells, Somerset

Caving Secretary:  Stu MacManus, Wells Road, Priddy Somerset. 

Hut Engineer: Dany Bradshaw, Wookey Hole, Somerset

TackleMaster: Bob Cork, Stoke St. Michael, Somerset.

Floating Member John Dukes, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Hut Warden Roster

As we have no full time hut warden a roster of members to do 2 weekends a year has been established. The following have agreed to help:-

Nick Holstead

John Dukes

John Turner

Ian Caldwell

John Watson

Paul Hodgson

Chris Castle

Robin Gray

Greg Villis

Mac

Brian Prewer

Dave Aubrey

Axel Knutson

Pete & Joyce Franklin

J Rat

Keith Gladman

Bucket Tilbury

Chris Smart

Jane Clarke

Trev Hughes

Nigel Taylor

Andy Lolly

Bassett

Bob Cork

Danny Bradshaw

Tim Large

Chris Batstone

 

If your name is not on the list and your conscience allows you to volunteer please do so a.s.a.p. to me. Keeping the hut in good order is a high priority on the administrative requirements of the Club so the more volunteers the better!

J.  Henley


 

Hut Wardens Report I982

It must be pointed out that I took this post by default, since no other person would take the responsibility.  I made it clear that that I would accept the post on my terms and that it would not be entirely satisfactory in that I was not regularly staying at the Belfry over Weekends.  However, I did set out to improve the declining services offered.  A major concern was that the Royal Navy may move to another club for their mid week activities, thereby depriving us of considerable income. After a lot of hard work with the help of a very few, the condition of the Belfry was considerably improved resulting in the RN coming to us again and regularly.

Early in the year I fitted a new front door and look which required issuing new keys on request, about 60 have been issued since.  During my term I went into business with my own caving shop.  Unfortunately this resulted in not being able to put in the effort that I should have over the last four months.  However, I have kept up to date with the Belfry accounts as the Treasurers report shows.

Bed nights.  During the year 82-83 there were 1547 members and guest nights and 693 Navy nights; in 61-82 there were 1866 ordinary nights and 621 Navy nights.  Thus we were down by 339 ordinary nights and up by 72 Navy nights, on balance there was less income this year than last.

It is my recommendation that the new Hut Warden should be both regularly staying at the Belfry and that he should have a well developed sense of responsibility.  Members should be strongly discouraged to not use the Belfry as a Pig Sty and giving guests the wrong impression.  My thanks go to those few who have helped me through this year.

P. J. Romford
Hut Warden

Would those who have lockers in the Belfry please let me know which they have and send me the fees due. Locks on lockers unidentified at the end of March 1984 will be removed and the lockers emptied and relocked with new locks.

Large lockers round Belfry Table - 50p.

Tall lockers - £1.00.

J. Henley
3-1-84


 

University Of Bristol Paul Esser Memorial Lecture 1984

Our Lecturer for 1984 will be the canoeist, Dave Manby.  He will be describing some of the white-water canoeing expeditions that he has made, under the general title of:

“SO YOU CAME ALL THIS WAY JUST TO GET WET.”

This was the conclusion arrived at by a Yorkshire man on a coach tour of Austria, when he saw the canoeing party climbing up the river bank into the car park in Landeck.

Dave Manby has been canoeing since 1968, has visited the Himalayas three times, the Orinoco Naipure Rapids, British Columbia, the U.S.A. and Alberta.  In 1982 he paddled the greater part of the Coruh River in N.E. Turkey.  His British Columbia expedition in 1979 included the first British descent of the Overlander Falls, an 8 metre vertical drop on the Fraser River!  His 1983 expedition is another attempt on the Braldu River of K.2. - solo - returning in November. 

The lecture will be given at 8.15 pm. on Wednesday, 15th February, 1984 in the large physics lecture theatre, Tyndall Avenue, University of Bristol.  The Vice-Chancellor will be in the chair.

If parties coming from a distance will let me know beforehand, I can have seats reserved for them. Admission is free.  Write to Dr. Oliver Lloyd, Withey House, Withey Close West, Bristol, BS9 3SX

1st November. 1983


 

Darfar Pot

As I read In a recent BB that I was soon to be supplying a write up on the above find in the Manifold Valley it looks as though I'll have to cough one up.  Although I have visited Derbyshire on relatively few occasions, the secretary of the Trent Valley caving Group, who made the find, is a patient of mine.

The TVCG consists of a small core of young caving enthusiasts whose keenness and methodical approach more than makes up for their lack of experience.  They have been digging in the Manifold Valley for about 4 years and the result of their work has been a significant contribution to the knowledge of the underground drainage of the Manifold, and the excavation of a very attractively decorated dry system at Darfar Ridge.  For those curious about this Tolkienesque name-it means badger.

For those who do not know the Manifold Valley, most of the river sinks in dry weather at Wetton Mill and resurges at Ilam 4 miles away and 160 feet 1ower.  During spring and summer, as the rainfall diminishes, the river is progressively captured by a series of swallets in the river bed further and further up the valley.  It is fascinating to watch these swallets in action because they behave like bath plugholes.  The river bed is dotted in some places with little gurgling whirlpools.  In wet weather or flood these swallets act as resurgences and in fact one or two finds have been made when concrete cappings placed optimistically over swallets to stop the river drying up have been blasted off by resurging flood water!  The best known cave sites in the valley are Redhurst Swallet and the severe Ladyside Pot, both thought to be part of the same drainage system.  The resurgences have also received the attentions of a number of cave divers but have both proved dangerous and impenetrable.

Despite the fact that the Orpheus had attacked the main sink at Wetton Mill on a number of occasions (one dig in the river bed went 5 metres through boulders), the TVCG were undaunted, and after some initial poking about in the valley, began a dig just below Wetton Mill at the base of Darfar Crag, on the river bank.  They received help and encouragement from Simon Amatt, an Opheus member.  A trial trench led to the excavation of a choked entrance at river 1evel.  This was found to happily take the entire river without backing up so the diggers pressed on.  As one would expect with a dig in such a location, wet weather digging was impossible so effort was sporadic.  However, in I986, a series of tight crawls and squeezes was entered and the river reached.  Unfortunately it rose and sank in boulders and in dry weather completely disappeared. Some avens off the second chamber were briefly examined before the weather deteriorated and the cave became un-enterable again.  The cave was not then accessible until mid 1981 when in the far chamber, a rift was extended to a point where through a cleft, the dull roar of the river could be heard again.  Again bad weather and other digs meant little progress until the drought this year when the breakthrough was made.

As is often the case, the breakthrough was unexpected.  The avens were being re-examined when a previously unnoticed hole in the wall of one of them was noticed to swallow stones.  It was opened up and progress was then swift.  I am a little hazy about the exact details but it appears that a series of rifts above the Manifold streamway were entered which give access to it at various points.  The initial section reached revealed the stream roaring down a tube with little airspace.  It was so intimidating that nobody pushed it, but fortunately a bypass soon found and a 25 metre section of streamway explored to a sump.  Although short, it is apparently impressive, being a steeply inclined 5 metre wide 1.5 metre high bedding cave with a meandering phreatic tube in the roof.  The water flows into the sump with incredible force – only suicidal cave divers need apply. A possible draughting bypass to the sump is in the process of being excavated - weather permitting.  Altogether Darfar is now about 1300 feet long and 135 feet deep - one of the longest: caves in the valley.

Current work is being directed; at finding a drier route into the system.  There are one or two potential sites nearby which have already been partially excavated and I am sure diggers will not be in short supply after the recent finds.  One curious feature of the discovery is that the cave is at present going up valley instead of in the direction of the risings!  If anybody wants to know more about the TVCW’s work at Wetton Mill, contact their secretary, Steve Johnson, who lives at 27 Bracken Way, Fernwood Estate, Rugeley, Staffs.

Peter Glanvill  Oct. 83


 

Review……The Caves Of India & Nepal.

H. Daniel Gebauer

Obtainable from Tony Oldham; Bat Products; etc; Price £5.00.

A new publication in the style of the old Britain Underground, listing all known cave sites in the two countries.  Surveys of the larger cave and a very compreh6nsive bibliography are included, as is a report on the Speleologische Südaisen Expedition 1981/82 of which the author was a member.

Written in both English and German with one or two entertaining translation errors: - . . . ‘of course there are hundreds of bats and- an abundance of porcupine’s pricks’.

Essential reading for those with an interest in the potentially very promising karst areas of the Indian Sud-continent.

J'Rat'

Discount Dying

In a recent article in a management journal, the Ilkestone Co-op (nr Nottingham) are giving 50% discounts on the price of a funeral if you arrange it before you die!   The offer apparently also gives the person preferential treatment and discounts at all its retail outlets.  This could mean up to 3 extra barrels at the wake!!!

Pegasus C.C. correspondent.


 

Merstham’s Underground Stone Quarriers

The firestone and hearthstone mines along Surrey's North Downs have, for a long time, been used as a training ground by the south east caving clubs. But it is only recently that the historical significance of the mines, or quarries as they are rightly called, has been appreciated.  The workings occur all along the base of the downs, where the narrow strip of upper greensand joins the chalk.  But it is at Kerstham where the most important in terms of industrial archaeology occur.

Most study of the industry has centred on an area known as Quarry Dean to the east of the A3. Quarry Dean lies in the small valley formed by the Downs to the north and the Rockshaw Ridge, lower down to the south.  The valley contains a series of depressions up to 30' in depth and as much as 100 yards long, lying in a fairly straight line running west to east.  These depressions are of course, the remains of old mine entrances, which have been back filled or blasted shut, and over the years have become overgrown and wooded.  Locals have little ideas of what lies below and that the south ridge is virtually hollow.

It was from those mines that much of the stone used for building London in medieval times was quarried, and for building such things as canal basins and bridges during the industrial revolution. The stone itself is a calcarcous sandstone which is found in a layer up to 40' thick at Quarry Dean.  The stone is found in varying qualities and it was known as 'Firestone', that was principally sought by the quarrymen.  The stone was largely used as a building stone, but some was used for lining furnaces and it is from this use that it gets its name of 'Firestone'.  The stone is nearest to the surface in the valley floor, and it dips away north and south under the chalk and greensand ridges.

The mines were dug along the valley at its lowest point, by sinking a sloping trench until the stone was struck.  The trench was then continued until there was a sufficient depth to enable tunnelling in the stone itself, similar to adit mining, where horizontal tunnels are driven into the hillside.

The stone was extracted on a 'broad face' and one contemporary reference of 1819 describes passages of 30' wide, though today’s explorers see little of this.  As the quarry men worked forward on their broad face they trimmed the blocks to size so that only usable stone needed to be moved.  This was known as 'scappling'.  The rubbish or 'deeds' were then stacked neatly along the walls leaving only a narrow access for hauling stone to the surface along the un-stacked wall.  In some mines, there is evidence of part finished blocks, and splitting wedges and spike hammers of varying length have been recovered.  These hammers or picks were called Maddocks or Jads or sometimes Jadders.

As the quarrymen advanced, they left pillars of rock to support the roof - a technique known as 'pillar and stall'.  In some places, deads can be found neatly stacked around these pillars giving the impression of pillars composed only of rubbish stone.  During the nineteenth century, continental miners were employed, and they insisted on using wooden props.  These had little strengthening effect and were often called 'wind ups' by local quarrymen.

The collapse of piles of deads into the passages in places gives the quarries the appearance of natural cave and this has been encouraged by low routes forced over deads by explorers. In addition to this stal formations abound in the oldest mines.  Many unspoilt areas still remain however, and there are passages which bear the foot prints of the old Quarrymen as yet untouched and it is hoped that they will continue to be preserved.  In one passage a pair of boots, left behind by a quarrier around 1750 still lie untouched, where they have collapsed but are still undisturbed.  A credit to the local cavers and historians who regularly visit the area.

The quarry's were all named and many of the original names are evocative of days gone by.  Names such as Quarry Banfield, Bedlam's Bank, and Stonefield bring pictures flooding into the imagination.  The entrances forced by today’s explorers have nothing of this magic in their names which help only to put them into order – i.e. No 3, plastic pipe or football field.

Quarry Dean is believed to date from Roman times and indeed a section of ‘Roman Arches' bears Roman characteristics in its stone brick lining.  This particular mine lies beneath 50' of tipped flyash and is now entered by concrete pipes which have an interesting deformation half way down. The bricks are in fact beautifully cut stone blocks fitting with hardly any mortar. The mine was entered by Mr Harrison who farmed at Quarry Dean.  He dug his way into the mine in 1960 and it was he who gave its contemporary name when he found the arched section.

The earliest mention so far found is a reference dated 1522 to Quarrepitden the farm house.  Since it has been known as Quarryhouse, Quarryclale, Quarrydene and Quarrydene Farm.   Merstham Manor was owned by the monks of Canterbury in 1018 but was reclaimed by Henry VIII in 1540 when he gave it to Robert Southwell.  This early church and state connection throws light on the fact that Merstham stone is to be found in Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle.  It can also be found in the Guildhall and was used in the construction of the medieval London Bridge.  Merstham stone was used again in the new London Bridge, as infilling which was then faced with Granite.

This stone came, in all probability from Lower Quarry which was sealed in 1911 and it has so far been impossible to find a way in again.  It is thought that stone used for the rebuilding of London after the great fire, came from the massive workings known as Bedlam's Bank and from here it is possible to get into much older workings known as Quarry Ockley.  It has been suggested that stone here may have been worked for the first 500 years of the Norman Conquest.  This old section has peculiar grooves in the floor, similar to those in Roman Mineral Mines on the continent and it has been suggested that Ponies or Oxen may have been used to haul stone from here.  In more modern times flat barrows (Circa 1750) and railways (Circa 19th Cent) were used.  In many places flagged plate rails may be found inside and hidden by undergrowth outside.

Much work has been done, in sorting out the history of the Merstham Stone Quarries and much still remains to be done.  Their full extent, for instance, is still not known.  Legend abound to tantalise the explorers.  The legend that I like best concerns an underground lake with a boat that was left by the Jollifes when they surveyed the workings prior to purchase in 1788.  It might be there:

It is hoped that a weekend trip can be arranged sometime in the summer for anyone interested when it should be possible to see a great proportion of the workings and their important remains.  Anyone interested should contact Mac or myself.

Ref:  Various papers produced by Unit 2, Croyden CC and Croyden Natural History and Archaeological Society.

P.S. The Fremlins Ale is superb!

Robin Gray
January 1984


 

Offensive In The Ardennes

A TALE OF THE BEC IN BELGIUM

Friday 2nd December saw the invasion of the continent, once again, by the BEC.  An initial team of fifteen had dwindled to a mere six due to the problems of legally obtaining a university minibus for the transportation of uneducated drunks.  Those with the willpower and cash who remained were Mac, J'Rat, Barrie Wilton, Matt Tuck, Bob Cork and Alan Thomas - divided into two car loads.  After crossing the channel at different times on Friday we eventually met up at the Speleo Nedarland hut at Bohon near Dubuy in the Belgium Ardennes.

Unable to gain access to the hut we headed for the bars of Borveausc – expecting to meet the Dutch lads in (at least) one of them.  Meanwhile the Dutch lads were in Dubuy 1ooking for us.  Late that night we returned to the hut - full of ale and "joi de vivre" and minus the usual carrots and tomato skins.  With no Dutchmen in sight we removed a wooden window pane and attempted to get some kip in the prevailing artic conditions - only to be disturbed soon after by an even more paralytic bunch of Nederlanders.

Late Saturday morning, with blazing international hangovers, the assembled planned the days caving. Alan accompanied Peter Staal and Co on a gentle fester to the Grotte de Bohon whilst the remainder were taken to the steep swallet cave of Laide Fosse (Ugly Shaft) near Rochefort.  This cave was initially dug open by Marc Jasiniki and his team in the fifties and consists of a few hundred feet of usually dry passage on two levels.  In our delicate state we only visited the fairly well decorated upper level where all are under the impression there is more to be found.  A couple of interesting climbs and an exposed traverse were not made easier by the general lack of balance of the party.  Despite this we moved a lot easier than the Belgium novice groups infesting the cave.  It was near the entrance to Laide Fosse that a small foreign field will remain forever polluted by Matt’s gastric juices.  Too bad the electric fence was turned off!

Consciences eased we descended upon Rochefort.  While John, Fransh and Josh returned to the hut for Laurens Smits and Peter (Speleo Limburg) the BEC found the roughest cafe in town where a homely lady (Sylvie Hobbs double) turned out to be the local brothel Madame.  Following a visit to several other cafes and fritteries we returned here to meet the Dutch.  By now a regular fight was in progress amongst the locals with Mademe well in the thick of it - having forgotten all about her offer of free young ladies for the English Speleos.

With little to keep us here we were forced to take up Laurens Smits offer of an overnight caving trip.  One pub and many drinks later we were all gathered in a field, at midnight near the Grotte Le Han.  One of Europe’s most renown show caves with some 3km of tourists trails it is difficult to obtain permission to visit the several kilometres of undeveloped system beyond.  This can be solved by enveloping Laurens and Bob Cork in neoprene and persuading them to swim a hundred metres or so up the river exit from where they are able to open the show cave door.  Meanwhile the dry clad must creep past the restaurant trying to keep quiet in the foot deep frozen grass, very difficult.  Once safe inside a whole underground world is yours to play in.

We followed the tourist trail to the underground river, pausing to admire the huge underground cafe with its helium balloons and locked booze cupboards and the enormous Salle du Dome – 154m long, 136m wide and 200m from the base to summit of its underground mountain.  At the river a plastic dinghy was acquired and, like Jules Verne heroes, we embarked on a subterranean voyage across the mighty Lene to the far bank where the entrance to the Resau Sud led off.  Several hundred feet of walking and crawling passage ended in a huge boulder strewn hall with some of the finest formations in the cave - mainly tall white columns and pillars.  After some three and a half hours we returned to the entrance via the Salle du Dome, where a quick burst on the show cave lights revealed this gigantic chamber in all its glory.

The hut was reached at 5am on Sunday and sleep indulged in.  By 1pm we were inspecting another cave.  The Grotte d'Alexandre must be one of the most ideally situated caves in the world.  Leading from the back room of a caving pub with a very friendly Belgian landlord (who was a soldier in Melton Mowbray 1945!).   As we had already planned to visit another cave we left this one for another time and concentrated on the front room and beer.

Our afternoon trip was perhaps the most novel yet.  The entrance to the Resurgence Lucianne consists of a small hole ten kilometres up the inside wall of an active railway tunnel!  Keeping an eye out for passing trains and the other for passing gendarmes a large team of BEC, Speleo Nederland and Speleo Limburg climbed up the electron ladder into the system.  A series of thrutchy tubes is followed by a maze of much larger passages, cascades and streamway with well decorated chambers.  Perhaps the most memorable part of the trip being the babble of French, Flemish, Dutch, German and English as various hordes of illegally exploring cavers attempted to converse with each other.  An excellent trip, marred only by the fact that Peter Staal was not carried off by the train which hurled past him as he was climbing down the ladder!

For some this superb weekend finished with a Chinese meal in Danant - for others another nights drinking had to be endured.  In conclusion, our thanks to Peter, Janet, John, John, Fransh, Josh (Speo Nederland) and Peter Goosens and Lauren (Speleo Limburg) and to Alan Thomas for looking after us.  Over eleven cafes, five caves, one railway tunnel and some superb scenery were visited.  Roll on the next trip.

Tony Jarratt
January 1984


 

Mendip's Oddest Cave Entrance

Although previously noticed by others it was only on a recent Swildons trip that the writer spotted a third potential way in, almost directly above the grilled 'flood entrance’. From inside the cave it is possible to look up an aven, 15 feet high approx: and circular in form, to daylight. Though slightly too small for human passage it could be widened using a carpenter's saw as the aven is straight through the trunk of the large old tree adjacent to the blockhouse.  If passed it would add a completely natural extra 15 feet of depth to the cave though the fine crop of toadstools growing from the underground roots would be somewhat upset.

J-Rat

Club Trips For I984

I initially thought of producing a 12 month trip list for 1984, but no sooner had I started, when I found other events on the caving and social scene clashed with my suggested trip dates.  Oh well! What made my task even harder was that except for a few suggestions by others, the trips were my own suggestions. This I thought is NOT what it's all about so come on you club members (young and old) give me your suggestions for caving trips; the ones you'd really like to go on.  Perhaps you could even lead one of them!!

I’ve decided therefore to produce a trip list for the next six months and as you can see, cover the major caving areas within the U.K. (and Eire).  Other trips are constantly to being arranged at the Belfry and the Hunters, and trips to OFD, DYO, Rock and Fountain can be arranged at short notice.

One final word - 'CLUB EXPEDITION' (OK I know that's two!).  Bob Cork and Dany Bradshaw are looking for people to join them on their trip to Austria to continue their success in the Barengassewindschact in June/July. Response at present is slow, so come on lads and lasses, see Bob or Dany if you're interested.

Mac.  3.1.84

P.S. If you have already arranged or are intending to arrange a trip and you have spare places to fill, you can always ring me at home on Wells 74061.


 

Sign Here Please

A large parcel from the USA was received recently by the Librarian.  Feverishly opening it, he found three American car licence plates ( Colorado, Virginia and Wyoming) and a metal sign advertising The Chinese Physical Culture Assn; in two languages!

Our thanks to Dave 'the Skunk' Newson for these Belfry trophies - and lets hope he doesn't want us to pay for the postage.

New Locks for the Belfry

At the AGM it was decided to fit new locks to the Belfry and tackle store.  A special security lock has been purchased and this will be fitted to the front door.  The key will also open the tackle store.  Paid up members may request a key on the form below.  £2 cheque or PO should be included with your request for the key.

NAME ................................................................................................... BEC Membership No……………

ADDRESS ....................................................................................................................................................

…………………………………………………………………….............................................

…………………………………............................................. POST CODE …………............

I enclose cheque/PO for £2 made payable to the B.E.C.

SIGNED ………………………………………………………………….............................

B E C Caving Trips for JAN - JUNE I984

DATE

 

CAVE

CONTACT

JAN 15th

 

JAN 28th/29th

 

FEB 10th-17th

 

FEB 12th

 

FEB 25th/26th

 

 

 

MARCH 24th/25th

 

 

APRIL 20th/23rd Easter

 

 

APRIL 20th/27th Easter week

 

MAY 5th

 

 

MAY 26th/28th.

 

 

JUNE 16th

Rock and Fountain

 

Derbyshire (Giants etc)

 

'A week in the Lakes'

 

Derbyshire (Peak Cavern)

 

Northern Dales (Alston)

Cliff force. Smelt Mill Beck

Caverns,& some very good mines

 

Yorkshire(Dowber Gill Passage, Goyden Pot (Nidderdale)

 

South Wales DYO, OFD, AGGIE, R&F etc

 

Co. Clare, Ireland

 

Otter Hole (Provisional).  Limited to 6 persons. 7.00 car park

 

Yorkshire. Various trips and show caves

 

Devon Prid: Bakers Pit, and Reads – hopefully

MAC

 

MAC

 

TIM LARGE

 

MAC

 

MAC

 

 

 

MAC

 

 

MAC

 

 

MAC

 

MAC

 

 

MAC

 

 

MAC

 

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Belfry Bulletin Editor's Report, 1983.

The year did not begin well, and with the chaos resulting from my move to Somerset the first issue was a four month job published in November.  The Christmas bulletin was hot on its heels, and was more like the size we ought to expect - 34 pages.

The remaining issues have all been bi-monthly, averaging only a dozen or so pages - recently it has been easier (almost) to get blood out of stones.  My hopes, expressed in my report last year, of producing a monthly B.B. have been thwarted largely due to lack of articles, in spite of the fact that caving activities by club members are thriving, particularly in the area of new exploration.

With some issues up to 30% has been written by me.  This is not the way for a decent B.B., which should be the result of contributions by all members.  I hope that next year's editor will have much greater success in persuading other people to write for the magazine, so that he is able to perform his allotted task, that of editing, instead of spending his time and energies space-filling.

My thanks are due to all those who have written for the B.B., not only during the last year but also over the three years of my editorship, and also to those who have assisted with publication, especially Jeremy Henley, for organising the printing; Dave Turner for the computerised address list and labelling facility; Trev Hughes for organising collation and distribution of the May/June issue while I was in India, and the few who have regularly assisted with collation around the Belfry table.

I wish the next editor well in his difficult task.  Relieved of the burden of responsibility I shall be on hand at times to assist where necessary, and even write the odd article.  After a suitable break I may even stand for re-election to the committee.

Graham Wilton-Jones.


 

Eastwater - West End Series.  The Log Book Entries.

8.5.83 Eastwater.

Keith and Andy. 5½ hours

Dolphin Pot, up Harris's Passage? to Ifold.

Had a frig in the boulders, then down to bottom.  .

5.6.83 Eastwater ( West End Extension).

J-Rat, Phil Romford + Q. John. 5½ hours

Met main party coming out of extension - the reason why we found it.

Had a good look around and were duly impressed.

The passage leading down from the high aven was followed until a local constriction was met.  ½ hours work with a lump hammer will remove this. In the meanwhile Phil went up a side passage, which was followed to a squeeze, which he couldn't pass.  Jarrat went through and reached a second squeeze, and I followed.  We then followed an inclined passage to the head of a 20 foot free climbable pot with another 40 (foot) narrow rift pitch at the bottom.  A climb over and continuing down the passage, ' GREEK STREET', led to a 60 foot (estimated) pitch.  The top needs enlarging to enter.  A very large stream could be heard at the bottom.  A tiring exit was made.  The flow of the water had increased considerably.

Eastwater. West End Series.

Keith Gladman + 8         5 hours.

Having found this lot the previous week-end, I had the dubious task of leading a motley crew of hung over cavers down to do a prov.(isional?) survey.  ("Where's the tape").  Enlarged entrance dig to enable the larger members to pass through. Everyone pushing every little hole. Those Buggers on the previous page (entry above), found a “bit” that we didn't find.  Retrieved digging gear.  Tim took bearing – the main rift runs 210'.  Returned to Ifold Series to find the previous page trying to find their way in.  Out same route, bumping into Jim Smart & Co., who didn't find their way in .

P.S. I have started something here.

p.p.s. THIS COULD BE THE BIG 'UN ! ! !

11/6/83 Eastwater - West End Series.

Keith Gladman, J-Rat, Andy Lolly, Quiet John Watson, Tim Large, MacAnus, Glyn Bolt(W.C.C.).     7½ hours

9.30 start!!! Keith, J-Rat, Andy & Q. John descended the 30' tight, vertical rift after a bit of hammering at the top.  This led to a larger section of rift with the world's nastiest squeeze inclined below it. J-Rat and Keith passed this (just!) to emerge 25' above the floor of the 60' pot from the impassable eyehole.  In the meantime the larger persons had been attacking the bedding plane where flood water sinks in the second rift.  No go.  They then carried on into the new stuff, and Tim and Glyn had a bash at the eyehole, showering J-Rat and Keith with stones, etc.

The latter two were now very committed - thinking that the inclined squeeze was irreversible!  They decided to explore onwards and found that the rift in the floor and halfway up was too tight.  Above this a wider section was blocked by a 2' stal column, beyond which a larger passage could be seen.  The column was duly sacrificed (and bloody tough it was too!) and the intrepid duo squeezed into 200' of large rift passage ending at another tight section. They were too knackered to push this. It should go easily with bang or hammer and chisel.  A couple of holes in the roof were not pushed.  This area is much bigger than the rest of West End Series and now gives us a total of about 1,000 feet.  We estimate the bottom to be c.150' below Dolphin Pot - roughly the same level as the Terminal Lift and bottom of Primrose Pot.  It is still heading off the survey.

Over the page is a sketch plan of the main part of WEST END EXTENSION, EASTWATER CAVERN.

This is a compilation sketch, several members having added bits as they have been discovered.

It is by no means either complete or relatively accurate.

Sketch map of area near Eastwater entrance showing Wardour Street radio-location point.

(see account of trip on 9/7/83)

Depth = 54m, 9m from wall opposite stile.  This puts the end about 4m the other side of the wall, depth 50m. 

Biffo

As the eyehole could not be hammered open (thoughts of using bang to extricate those below) - they were forced to return through the inclined squeeze.  Keith swore never to go through it again.  All then exited slowly and very tiredly after Tim and Glyn had fired 3 lb of bang at the eyehole.

The trip is now one of the hardest and most awkward under Mendip.  Highly recommended.  If it goes any further it'll be a right royal bastard.  No stream at all this week.  Where's the 360' Way water???

J-Rat.

12.6.83 West End Series, Eastwater.

Q. John and Darren        ½ hrs

The aim of the trip was to inspect Tim's banging of the eyehole above the pitch.  The eyehole had been completely demolished so ½ hour was spent clearing the bang debris to make the area safe.  A ladder was lowered and a wary descent made down a small rift. At 25' a ledge was reached with two alternative drops, the next part of the pitch being 50'.  On the way down the alternative descent which J-Rat and Keith had descended was noted.  After 300 or so feet the end was reached, the way on being narrow to continue.  The passage seems to enlarge about 10' beyond where it turns sharp left and drops at a small pool.  We then made a systematic search but nothing was found except a superb collection of helictites in the roof just before the end. We then made our way out, retrieving J-Rat's ladder on the way.  At the top of the pitch we heard voices and met up with Bassett, Jane, Blitz, Chris and Buckett.  On the way out we decided to look for any continuation.  One was found but needed digging.  Being tired we gave up.  So the passage noted on previous trips was entered without damage to the false floor. The walking passage lowered to a hands and knees crawl.  After 30' or so a boulder blockage was met and made safe.  An 8' high by 3' wide passage was entered - REGENT STREET. This was followed until we were soon in an 8'+ wide x 30' high passage.  We could not believe our eyes or luck.  The passage was totally different from any known Eastwater passage - 100' or so of walking.  The first of the formations were met - white stal bosses and small cave pearls on the floor. A climb up a stal flow led to a small chamber with crystal formations and helictites.  A few feet further on an unbelievable little chamber - CHYSTAL PALACE - with a white curtain and flowstone and fantastic termite type plinths made of delicate crystal flakes.  Here we stopped and went back up the pasage to a parallel passage, totally different in character.   A 20' climb was left and we returned to the main cave? 'Joke' Ha! Ha!  Here we met Blitz and Buckett on their way out.  We told them of the news.  They, of course, thought we were exaggerating, so we showed them.  We soon reached the previous limit and I carefully crossed the delicate crystal flakes with as little damage as I could to the formations.  The passage continued on the other side, past more formations to a beautiful, emerald green lake across the entire width of the passage - 3 ' wide x 30' long.  This was crossed.  A small hole, through stal. led to a further drop with a pool.  The passage closed after a few feet more.  We then made our way back to Crystal Palace and soon met Bassett and Jane who, hearing our excited yells, had followed.  We then made our way back to the pitch. This was descended carefully to a small phreatic tube, to a bend after a desperate squeeze.  An exit was made.

15.6.83 Eastwater - West End

Tim Large, Phil Romford, Andy Lolly, Keith Gladman.        6 hours.

Photographic trip to Regent Street.   A most amazing piece of passage, totally out of character with the rest of the cave. Also explored side rifts following an elusive but strong draught.  Passage running at 210'.  Side passage which leads up to boulder choke running north.  Looked at hole in floor at start of Regent Street - leads to a junction with tight 15' rift in floor.  Needs removal of fallen block at top and very thin person to push it.  Lake looks to be over 20' deep and belling out underwater.  Much need for extreme care and restraint on visitors to area or else many vulnerable formations will be damaged.

8.6.83 Eastwater - West End Series

Tim Large, Jayrat, Glyn Bolt, Andy Sparrow + Q. John

Explored rifts back from the passage with the huge flake.  Followed for 70' - 80' up and down rifts past superb helictites.  Was joined by Tim 'morale support' and continued to a passage blocked by boulders and a tight squeeze.  This was left for another day - good draught.  Climbed in passage noted by Andy Lolly.  Heading back up Regent Street.  This was followed for 50' - 60' to a local constriction which needs enlarging to get through to 15' of bigger seen passage.

While the others were pushing the rifts I was discovering a small round trip nearby!  We met up again and descended a tight hole in the floor at the start of Regent Street - this connects with Greek Street through a too tight hole.  We then made our way down Greek St. to the 70' pitch and thence to the rift beyond.

Tony quickly got to work with a hammer and in a short time he passed the previous limit by squeezing 4' above floor level.  20' beyond was a superb 50' pitch - a real classic, perfectly oval 20’ x 0’, cut in black rock.

Excitement was high! 2 ladders were retrieved from the 70’ and Tony, John and myself descended.  Below was a keyhole passage opening out at a 6’ pot after 30'.  Following this was 36’ of roomy phreatic tube running down dip and then turning on the strike where it became too low to follow. The passage draughted furiously but was liberally coated with flood debris.  We returned finding the 6' pot difficult to ascend.  Tim put a charge on the squeeze, then we de-laddered and made a long slow exit, with much moaning and cursing.  A bloody fine trip!

22.6.83.  Eastwater - West End Series.

Trev Hughes, Rob Harper, Darren Granfield, Edric Hobbs   3½ hours

Survey trip.

Underground at 7 pm, to start a grade 5 survey of this extension.  We started from the far side of the lake and worked our way back to the junction of the way in and Greek St., where our last survey station - no.17 -was marked. All side passages were left- but the locations plotted - and no ends were pushed.  We made the pub with about 5 minutes to spare.

From a diving viewpoint the lake is really worth a dive.  The pretties were left a bit muddles, I apologise.  I must hand t to Keith and Andy – it was a hell of a dig!

25.6.83  Eastwater - West End Series. 

Jayrat, Mac, Tim, Phi1 R, Q. John, Brian Prewer.

Whilst the others surveyed, we took a look at the end rift - needs banging.  We then climbed up in the roof of previous week and continued a further 25' and up 15' to a small grotto; squeezed through formations to enter passage - 2' high and 4' to 5’ wide.  We followed this for a further 15’, we could see 50'+ but turned back due to the fact I was on my own.  Tim and J-Rat surveyed Greek St. and put 1lb 10oz of bang on a draughty hole above squeeze leading to Lolly Pot.

Eastwater - West End Series.  26.6.83

Q. John + M. Brown.      4¼ hours

Trip to the pretties climbed up into passage entered on Saturday 100’ of passage found – entrenched bedding with nice red stal formations.  The passage follows the line of the large bouldery passage of Regent Street; the end being a few boulders blocking the passage from where 50’+ of passage can be seen. A slow exit was made.

26.6.83. Eastwater West End Series.

Trev Hughes + Rob Harper.         4½ hours

Continued the grade 5 survey of Regent Street and the side passages: especially the large ascending passage called Wardour St. (Rob says it’s where the blue movies are made).  Also tidied up various other bits.  Will someone please stop Quiet John discovering passage quicker than we can survey it!

29.6.83 Eastwater - West End Series.

Dave Turner, Paul Hodgson, Tim Large.    5 hours

Down to bottom of Greek St. - inspected bang - removed rock buttress to expose a small passage turning to the right. Brought Pegasus ladders out.  Had a quick look at Regent St. where Paul took a few photos.  Also noticed draught blowing from a passage at dogleg squeeze in Greek St.  Below 75' pitch just after squeezes, climbed in roof on left side of passage to find a bedding plane in roof - small drip descending into a steeply descending passage which appears to be upstream end of tributary aven, which joins main passage about 50' lower down  Missed the pub.

29.6.83. Eastwater - West End.

Darren and friends.         4 hours

Trip to the pretties, then explored the other end of flake rift.  Nice small rift passage, found some nice helictites and stal.  Also a good draught coming from an upward direction, but very small.  Couldn't go any further as light went out, so had to leave it.

2.7.83  Eastwater West End.

Darren, Quiet John, Drew ,Wormhole.      5 hours.

Went to pretty area and up to passage in roof passage went straight above passage below - could see through on various occasions.  The passage then split into two parallel passages, just above where Wardour turns to a boulder ruckle.  Left hand passage carried on for 50' and ended in unstable bou1ders.  Right hand passage was a very thin rift about 30' high and 53' long, ending with small boulder filled tubes.  Whole area is very unstable. Good fun trip.

7.7.83. Eastwater - West End.

Barry Wharton (prospective member ) + Rob Harper.         5 hours

Evening trip to"Serpentine" in Eastwater- fully examined with single diving kit - definitely no way on, maximum depth 4m.  Many thanks to Barry.

9.7.83. Eastwater - West End.

Quiet John, Tim, J- Rat, Dave " Wyoming Skunk" Neuson, Glyn Bolt, Julie, Pete Hann (WCC)          5½ hours

Radio location in Wardour Street, successfully picked up by Brian Prewer giving us a point near the old WCC hut. Q. John found 30' of tight phreatic Rift off Regent Street.  Tim and J-Rat pushed a bedding plane passage at the top of Soho which later gave us a physical connection into Ifold Series above the Magic Fountain.  This means that the new series has always been open but never been pushed!!!  This route, with a bit of work, could make an easier way in and a possible rescue route.  Large ascending bedding plane above here (in Ifold's) could provide a connection with the entrance series.  Glyn and Pete went in to Regent St. and Crystal Palace to take some snaps.  Useful trip, Skunk was duly impressed!

13.7.83 West End Series

A.+ P. Glanvill + Tony Boycott attempted to find the pretties .......

relying on a verbal description by Bassett.  Total failure.  The cave inflicted considerable G.B.H. on A.P.G. and A.P.G., failed to inflict similar damage on the cave

Pete Glanvill

25/7/83 Eastwater West End

Martin Grass, Chris Castle, Debbie Armstrong.

To Regent Street to photograph pretties.  Debbie's Petzl light was clapped - what a profane girl!

Chris Castle

23/7/83 Eastwater West End

J-Rat, Tin Large, Steve Lane, Chris Birkhead (ICCC), Mark Bound (ICCC).    6 hours.

To bottom (well nearly) where Tim laid 4lb of bang on the squeeze leading to Lolly Pot.  Satisfying crump.  Long, slow drag out as usual.  Also looked at passages above Ifold Series (Magic Fountain area).  Some promising draughting boulder choked holes in the roof need a poke.

J-Rat

6.8.83 Eastwater Cavern

Quiet John, Matt Tuck, Graham (UG) Summers (NCC).     4hrs 40mins.

To the bitter end to dig.  Q.J. and M.T. failed miserably at the last squeeze, so A.J. and 'UG' carried on to dig out 8 sandbags of wet gravel and mud.  More bags needed.  Hell of a strong inward draught.

J-Rat.

Thursday July 21st.      Eastwater

Jim Smart & Neil Scallon.  3 hours

Ferried all tackle required for West End.  Neil's lamp failed at Soho, so trip and tackle abandoned!

Friday July 22nd.         Eastwater

Jim & Neil return to West End.    5½ hours

The joys of Wardour St. & Regent St. consumed most of our attention.

Aug. 6th.          Eastwater

Mark Lumley, Jim & Neil.            3½ hours

Showed Mark the pretties. When we set off towards the pitches Mark & Neil's lamps started to give out; retreat.

27.8.83. Eastwater - West End

Tim, J-Rat, Pete Bolt; Debbie & Howard Limbert, Alan Box, Noddy (NCC)               7hrs 20mins

HORRIBLE dig at bottom eventually dug wide enough (in liquid mud) for J-Rat to squeeze through into 20' of ‘roomy’ phreatic passage with mudbanks.  THIS AREA COMPLETELY SUMPS!  There is a WAY ON but J-Rat was too knackered to push it.  It needs another trip.  1lb of bang laid on squeeze.  NCC 'impressed'.  Much light pox.

J-Rat

This is not a complete account of visits to West End Series, as some trips have yet to be written up into the Club log book, in particular the original breakthrough trip.

At least two articles have been promised for the B.B. but, as these are not forthcoming, I trust that a transcript of log entries will suffice as an interim measure.

Late News

Pierre's Pot – Burrington Coombe, very close to Goatchurch.

After banging the draughting entrance the WCC have entered 400' of walking sized phreatic passage. The present end is a boulder choke; further prospects will require extensive digging.


 

The Mint Imperials Go To France

by Debbie Armstrong & Steve Lane

Nine members of Imperial College Caving Club (including Steve Lane and Debbie Armstrong) visited the Vercor area of France for 3 weeks in July on a combined caving trip and end of year holiday.

We camped at the Municipal campsite in La Chapelle - en - Vercor for the first 2 weeks pad then moved on to a campsite near Autran for the last week.  It’s worth while noting that the cost of the first campsite was very reasonable and no one objected to us washing filthy ropes, S.R.T. gear and over suits in the campsite sinks and taking over the washing line for drying wet-suits, etc.!  Next door to the campsite we found a ‘Maison de Speleologie' who lent us guide books to the caves of the area and allowed us to photocopy the relevant surveys which was very helpful.

The first assault was on Fumant and Ramats.  Fumant proved to be a good practice S.R.T. trip with plenty of small pitches and lots of rebelays.  Ramats, however, was disappointing as the team spent 3 hours slogging through the forest (but if dropped off at the right place it is only 5 minutes from the road!) only to find the cave sumped after 200m due to heavy rainfall.

The second day saw the Ramats party going down Fumant and the others driving to the Grotte de la Luire to ask permission for a descent beyond the show cave entrance.  The guides at the cave were obviously French 'speleos' and were quite happy to let us go down.  After entering via the show cave a series of fixed iron ladders (-180m) lead to the master cave.  Time allowed only a limited exploration of this as we had to be out by 6pm when the show cave shut.

We decided to do the Grotte de Gournier next.  This involved getting across a deep entrance lake.  Unlike the French (who don't like getting their feet wet), we didn't have 'un bateau' and as a result Debbie ended up swimming across (several times due to the rope getting tangled) to get a boat moored on the other side for ferrying the rest across.  However, even with a boat crossing the lake wasn't easy as I.C.C.C. certainly doesn’t stand for Imperial College Canoe Club and it was pretty obvious by the way the boat went round in circles that our star team won't win the university boat race. Oh well, it did provide the French tourists with some amusement.  An interesting high level traverse lead from the lake into the lapin cave which contained some beautiful gour pools and stal formations near the entrance - lots of photos were taken.  The rest of the cave consisted of 2½km of collapsed passage with boulder slope after boulder slope - boring:

Next on the agenda was Tresou which proved to be a very sporting trip that combined lots of pitch work with some horizontal development, loads traverses and water (including a 50m waterfall pitch).

After all this caving we decided it was time to have a rest day (or two) and indulge in the locals favourite pass time - namely eating and drinking.  With the vino at 40p a bottle (including 10p deposit) who could refuse?

The next few days were spent doing Pot de Loupe (S.R.T.), Malaterre (S.R.T.) and St. Vincent (more S.R.T.) - all reasonable trips with St. Vincent going below the 400m mark.

It was now time for another rest day (or three) and we took this opportunity to change campsites. Once installed near Autran we drove up to the Berger area to do some of the nearby caves - Fromagere (also known as d’Engins) and Jean Noire.  Jean Noire is best described as shitty, horrible and not worth the effort especially as it took 6 hours and a French caver to find it.

Fromagere on the other hand proved to be well worth while.  The first team down met a group of French cavers coming up the first pitch and with their limited communications (none of us can speak French) ascertained that they were leaving the cave rigged for further exploration and that we could use their tackle (bloody good job as otherwise we wouldn't have got half as far as we did).  The first group made it to the sump by-pass via tight passage way and lots of pitches (including a 200m pitch broken by ledges).  Note the novel French rigging of pitches involving at least 5 bolts/10 metres (anything to keep their feet dry) plus a few deviations just to make it interesting.  The appetites having been wetted saw several other groups making the descent with one party succeeding in reaching the -535m mark (at which point an unrigged pitch was reached) on a 25 hour trip.  Fromagere is known to extend to -900 so a lot more is left to be done.

While pushing Fromagere other trips were made down Trou Qui Souffle which also proved to be a good cave.

With the three weeks drawing to an end we all went out for a slap-up meal and got drunk (again).  In conclusion Vercor is an area that is fairly easy to get to, with good facilities (i.e. relatively civilised) and is well worth a visit if you have some spare time in the summer.

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

Rachael Clarke spent part of this summer in the Vercours also, joining the Crewe Caving Club trip to the Gouffre Berger.  This expedition attracted cavers from a variety of cave clubs, so was quite a cosmopolitan affair.  Rachael went as far as the Salle de Treize (Hall of Thirteen).  She also visited the Bournillon, the Gournier and the Coufin-Chevaline system (Choranche show cave is a small part of the last mentioned cave).


 

Library Notes

The following are recent additions to the E.E.C. library:

Vols. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 & 15 of 'Mines and Miners of Cornwall', by A.K. Hamilton Jenkin.

1 - Around St. Ives;

2 - St. Agnes - Perranporth;

3 - Around Redruth

5 - Hayle, Gwinear & Gwithian

6 - Around Gwennapp

15 - Calstock, Callington & Launceston.

'Mongst Mines &' Miners (underground Cornish mining scenes - 1895).

The Great Western & Lewis Merthyr Collieries.  A 72 page photographic essay by John Cornwell (old B.E.C. member). - Anyone wanting their own copies see J-Rat or Roger Dors £5 each, signed!

Many thanks to Trevor Shaw for donations of six foreign club journals and some old Axbridge newsletters.

J-Rat.


 

Five Go In Search Of The Burrington Master Cave

Mark Lumley

EPISODE 1.

"I say chaps" said the Prof " I've done a few solution tests down at the old lab and it looks like there's a good chance of finding a big cavern down at Burrington", "WIZZO!" cried the lads, "where do we start digging?".

"The bottom of Reads looks like the best bet 'cos it takes the main stream down to the abandoned water table level, parallel with Avelines"  said Lummo, oversimplifying as usual. "Golly!" went the others.

So the famous five armed themselves with spades, crowbars, hammers and bottles of pop, and set off with their famous mascot Spunky the sleeping bog on the start of another adventure.

The bottom of the cave was a sinister place and apart from the occasional comic book and discarded Boy Scout’s toggle there were no signs that anyone had EVER been there before. The lads set about their task with square chinned determination, sinking shafts and pushing side passages away from the terminal chamber but results were not forthcoming.

"Dashed hard work this fellows" Uncle Jim said wryly out of the side of his mouth as he brewed up some tea on the team stove. "Lesgoforapint!!"

"WIZZO" cried the lads, pleased at hearing their secret codeword for the end of the days digging.  In the corner of their 'Hunters' H.Q. they planned the future of their dig over pints of foaming Batscum, keeping their voices low and looking out for enemy spies.

"If it's going to go we'll have to push the terminal choke at the bottom of that inclined passage" said Potto, his eyes glowing as he puffed on a strange looking cigarette and tried to stop himself floating up from his chair, "it takes all the stream man, and never backs up .....OH WOW!" he cried and passed out. The lads toiled on through the winter. Spring came and one Tuesday night upper lips stiffened resolutely, they pushed down on their twentieth trip. Halfway down the cave Lummo spotted a hole in the roof.  That’s not on the survey chaps" he shouted excitedly and putting a spare candle in his shorts he pushed on up through the hole into a very unstable ruckle amounting to about 150ft of horrendously unstable new find. "The Browne Stain Series, men!” Said Lummo” We’d better call Dr Glandspill in on this one to see if it reminds him of the Berger!"

"Glandspill!!" roared the others "forget him, he thinks Karst Hydrology is a German Poet" they hooted.  The main dig pushed on until, though an excavated fissure in a side wall the main stream could be heard disappearing into the distance.

"Gosh" said Scallywag, the slimmest of the famous five "it's too tight for me; we need Honest Pat Croney to sort this out for us!"  Honest Pat appeared, some days later, laden with pumps, hoses and intricate tackle far beyond the lads comprehension.  He surveyed the new find with a discerning eye.

"Ere lads" he remarked, hands on hips" what you need is a damn good bang!!  "The five shuffled around uncomfortably, miscomprehending the comment and hoping that Spunky wouldn't get jealous.  So Honest Pat had noticed their spotty complexions and put two and two together.  To hide their embarrassment they spent every night underground that week and were rewarded with a tight bypass to the constriction bringing them to a 40ft extension at one end of which lurked a deep sump pool.

"WIZZO" cried the lads “next stop Rickford".  The next night Lummo and the Prof slithered down the cave in some new fangled wet-suit things intent on free-diving the sump...  "Are you all right" yelled Lummo having watched his comrade disappear into the pool some half minute previously "Fgblumpffft" came the spluttered reply "Fukitlesgoforapint!"

Some time later the lads were still scratching their heads, bewildered about where to go next. "What we need is a Cave Diver" said Uncle Jim.  "That Liz Price is a pretty plucky diver for a girl" said the Prof "  Spiffing idea!" replied Scallywag" Let's give her a ring.. . . ."

That weekend, with excitement mounting the lads descended Reads on their thirty fourth trip, encumbered with bottles, goggles and all the rest of Liz's diving gear and eventually, worn out they reached the sump.  They were surprised to see that the water level had dropped about four feet.

"The water level's dropped about four feet chaps" said the Prof, stating the obvious. "WIZZO' said Liz.  The Lads exchanged glances. She spoke the banter - Fine girl.

Liz beckoned the Prof to the sump to help her tackle up. He followed sheepishly with cheeks flushed. The lads waited in the dark expectantly.

"Gosh Uncle Jim" said Lumo" I hope it goes: "The Comment was wasted; Jim had gone to the pub vowing to return in an hour.   "Here we go" said Liz and disappeared under the water.  The Prof looked on with fingers crossed, cursing the villain who maimed his hand that way in his last adventure.  Shortly, rising bubbles showed that Liz was coming to the surface....or was it the All Bran??

"It gets too tight further down chaps" she gasped, “BOTHER", "DRAT", "DAMNED SHAME" came the replies.  She valiantly tried again, there was a body sized passage down there but it proved to be impassable with bottles in the way.

"Fancy a pint" said Lummo who had messed his caving grots in the disappointment of the moment, 'come and meet our mascot''.  "Golly rather" Liz retorted.

And so the famous five, plus one set off for the surface and the sanctuary of the Plume of Feathers slightly dejected but resolved on finding another way down towards the Burrington Master Cave.  You know chaps" said the Prof swilling his Batscum "there's a phreatic tube about halfway down the Browne’s Stuart Series and its draughting heavily, heading right away from the known cave too.  If we start digging ...?”OH NAFF OFF" cried the lads in unison, but the spark of enthusiasm had been lit......

NEXT WEEK: Five push a draughting passage full of bat shit halfway down Reads.

Jim Smart writes that, only a week after Mark had written the above article, they found 300 feet of new passage in Reads.  A report and survey should be available for the next B.B.


 

Bassett's Notes

AUSTRIA 1983.  Rob, Rachel and Biffo returned from Austria full of tales of blizzard and storm, and the warmth and hospitality of the Wiesberghaus, Fritz and Greta.  In spite of the weather they managed to tackle up the first section of Zarengassewindschacht in preparation for the second group, comprising the 'Uglies' (Bob & Dany) and the N.C.C.

Bob & Dany report that Ben Dors Schacht was bottomed at nearly 600 feet.  After this a short passage with a few small drops quickly led to a 50 foot pitch to a ledge and then a 200 foot pitch.  Not far from the bottom this was a further pitch of about 250 feet, which was not descended due to lack of time and tackle.  A river could be heard at the bottom, which must be 1700 to 1800 feet below the surface.  Perhaps it could be the glacial river that feeds the Waldbach Ursprung.  Hopes are high and a return visit is already planned for next year.  A grade 5 survey was started and 'Lugger' (N.C.C.) is currently drawing this up. It seems to indicate that the cave has swung back underneath Barengasse, as we had originally supposed it would, Survey and article soon - I hope.

WOOKEY.  The 60' pot mentioned in the last issue proved to be blind, but another passage has been found leading back towards Wookey 20

AUSTRIA. P.S.  Members of the Club who have stayed at the Weisberghaus may be disappointed to learn that Pritz & Greta are moving out so that Fritz can take on his job as a butcher in Obertraun full time. Let us hope that the future manager of the hut will be as pro British cavers and drinkers as the last.

OGOF HESP ALYN.  Chris Milne (Wessx and C.D.G.) and Trev Hughes have passed two perched sumps near the bottom of Hesp Alyn, to enter large passage. The sumps are 5 feet long and 30 feet long, and Trev reckons they could both be baled.  The new passage is larger than the rest of Hesp Alyn and carries a stream.  So far the cave has been extended by over 2000 feet.  Down through boulders at one point a large river can be heard – almost certainly this is the Alyn River.

MANIFOLD VALLEY.  After the publication of a geological report, by someone who ought to know better, writing off the Manifold as a potential cave area, any other prospector might give up. However, digging there has paid off with the discovery of 1300 feet of passage.  Caves be where you find 'em.  Pete Glanvill should be writing us something about the find soon.

The following extract from 'The Vision of Glory', by J.S. Collis, and gleaned by Jane Thomas, must surely be referring to members of the B.E.C.

We were tempted to say, “There’s nothing left now for the iron-souled adventurers, the active visionaries, who; have sought to penetrate into uncharted places; with the possibility of irretrievable calamity facing them at every step.”  Yet…. There is spelaeology.  The spelaeologists.  They are not as other men: unexampled fortitude, steel-like patience, sublime audacity, the nerves of acrobats and the blood of fishes ....

BAT PRODUCTS.  Phil & Lil Romford have opened up their own caving/climbing/camping shop in Wells.  See next pages for ad. and map.  Phil often carries a number of items with him on his travels - look out for his red mini on Mendip.  I am sure we all wish Phil and Lil success in their venture.

EIRE.  During the dry summer Martyn Farr pushed beyond the own sumps in Fergus River Cave, Co. Clare, to discover yet another sump.  In Co. Kerry he found about half a mile of stream cave.

P.S.M.  Rumour has it that a new, higher entrance has been found to the Pierre making it, once gain, the deepest system in the world.  If the rumour is true, the cave must surely have passed the magic 1500 metre mark.

PICOS DE EUROPA.  The same little bird tells me that the deepest ever all British exploration has recently taken place in the Picos.  This record was previously by O.U.C.C. in Pozo del Xitu (1139m.), also in the Picos.

Bassett.


 

Members' Resolution For A Proposed Change To The Constitution.

Committees always have been, and probably always will be, targets for criticism from the very people who have elected them to office.  The B.E.C. committee seems to be no exception to rule.  However, committees in their turn are adept at both countering the criticisms and levelling some of their own at the club the membership.  No doubt one of the moans at this particular time of year is the lack of nominations for the new committee.  The obvious question is: "Why the lack of enthusiasm?"  Four of the retiring committee have held various offices for over 40 years between them.  Whilst this dedication is no doubt commendable, does it not make the club over-reliant up such people?  The following resolution is put forward in an attempt to rectify a situation of apparent apathy.

A member, having served on committee of the Club for any three consecutive years, at the end of their third term must resign their post.

They may not seek re-election, nor be co-opted, onto the committee for a period of two consecutive years from the time of resignation.

The numbers of years are arbitrary figures.   It is the principle of the proposal that is important.  If adopted, it would ensure a regular flow of new committee members, new ideas and different approaches to problems.  We are convinced that this would encourage more people to stand for the committee.

Under the present circumstances there can be nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Proposed by: Jane Clarke

Seconded by: Marin Grass

See you at the A.G.M. and Dinner.  By now you should have ordered your tickets from Trevor.  He is also arranging a coach: Hunters, & Belfry to Cheddar and return.  Contact Trev if you want seats.

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

That the following changes be made to section 5.  COMMITTEE.

Paragraph (a) line 1 to read; the number of members on the committee shall be five.

Delete whole of first sentence up to No non-member.

Paragraph (b)  line 6. word 1 to read "five" delete nine.

   line 9. word 8 to read "five" delete nine.

Paragraph (a) Delete lines 4 & 5 up to "No member shall” Substitute; Secretary, Treasurer, Hut Warden.

   line 5. word 11 to read "one" Delete two.

Proposed by Chris Batstone.

Seconded by Rachel Clarke.


 

Wedmore Mercury

issue no. 21, week-ending 3rd. September 1985.

"Big Find" expected.

Potholers hunting for a 'hidden cave' in Cheddar have started a railway system to remove the tons of sand and clay they are uncovering.  The railway, developed by a local firm and paid for by Lord Weymouth's Longleat Estate, started operating last week.

Potholers are working at night off one of the main Cheddar caves and are confident they will soon make a big find.  They believe they are heading towards an underground river and a huge cave could be their prize.  They have gone 80 yards and discovered several smaller passages in the six months they have been working.

Manager Harry Bennett said enthusiasts have been searching for new caves for years but the present lead was very promising.

Caving Secretary's Report 1983.

The club has been involved in many activities over the last year making it a very active one.  At Christmas three club members returned from the large Mexico Expedition where much new passage was found.  Easter saw approximately twenty members visit County Clare for a week and all went caving at least once.  Some were involved in exploring new passage in The Cave of Wild Horses and also helping with a climbing project in Clare's only show cave Ailwee.  Another notable event this year was the return to Austria this summer.  The first party did not have much success due to the appalling weather conditions, but a subsequent trip by a combined BEC/NCC party descended the large pitch in Barengasseivindschacht which defeated a party a couple of years ago and reached another large pot at the bottom of which a large river could be heard.

Nearer to home the major achievement on Mendip has been the extensions found in Eastwater off the old BEC discovery of The Ifold Series.  A series of strenuous crawls and two fine pitches along with some fine stal make this an excellent trip, with good prospects for further discovery.  Wookey Hole has also received a fair number of trips from club members and various dry extensions have been found.  Progress is also being made at the only new club dig site Halloween Rift which is situated above Wookey Hole.

Unfortunately the new Arête Ladder has not been installed in St. Cuthbert’s but it has been made and is awaiting transportation into the cave.  We currently have twenty eight Cuthbert’s Leaders (Twenty one, BEC and Seven Guests). This includes three new leaders Alison Moody, Pete Glanville and Tony Knibbs.

Most of Mendips systems have been visited including Tynings Barrow where the continual work at A Day is slow but steady.  Over the months numerous trips have been made to all other areas of the British Isles and the club appears to be very active on the caving front.

Martin Grass
3rd September 1993

B.E.C. Dinner 1983

The Annual Dinner of The Bristol Exploration Club is to be held at:  THE CLIFF HOTEL, CHEDDAR on SATURDAY 1st OCTOBER 1983 AT 7.30 FOR 8pm

CHOICE OF EITHER ROAST BEEF or ROAST PORK (STATE WHICH WHEN ORDERING TICKETS)

TICKETS £6.50 each exclusive of wine.  ORDER TICKETS FROM: Trevor Hughes, 8 West Bank, Wookey Hole, N r Wells, Somerset.

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Bassett’s Notes

B.B. EDITORSHIP: Robin Gray has now taken over the post of B.B. Editor, and this therefore the last Belfry Bulletin I shall be producing.  Thank you once again to all who have helped in this task, particularly those of you who have actually written for the magazine.

Articles should now be sent to:

Robin Gray, , Wells, Somerset.  Robin is on the telephone, on Wells (0749) xxxxx.

He has a couple of articles already, but he'll need lots more than that for the first B.B. of the new year, so get writing!!

BLACKMOOR FLOOD SWALLET: Rumour has it that 1300 feet of passage has been found there.

BOATCHURCH: This cave does not actually exist, and was just one of many typing errors. Sorry!

LIBRARY: There are two additions to our exchange list:

South African Spelaeological Association Bulletin;

Israel Cave Research Centre publications.

CUCKOO CLEEVES: The cave is now re-opened.  It will be permanently sealed if the landowner finds that the lock has gone missing again.  WE HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Personally, I am pessimistic about the cave's future.  Someone is bound to smash the lock off sooner or later, and Cuckoo will join places like Plantation Swallet, Hollowfield, Flowerpot and Tankards (to name but a few) in that great cave graveyard under tons of earth and rubbish.

ROCK AND FOUNTAIN: Not so long ago the gate was stolen, and even hung on the wall of the Craven Heifer for a time.  Very recently the new, reinforced gate was sawn off its hinges, again by cavers from the North of England.  O.K.  It was a joke and a laugh the first time, but it is now a police matter.  The landowner demands that the cave be gated or the (albeit slightly restricted) access will be denied to all cavers

A dig at the end of the North West inlet streamway, noted first by Martin Grass and lengthened somewhat during a B.E.C. trip, carries a howling Welsh draught and the potential is enormous.


 

The Severn Tunnel Great Spring

The Severn tunnel is four miles six hundred and twenty-four yards in length from portal to portal.  It runs between Pilning in Avon and Caldicot in Gwent.  The drawing below shows the course of the tunnel under the Severn estuary.

 

Work on the tunnel commenced in 1873.  A shaft was sunk on the west bank at Sudbrook (Old Shaft) around 200ft deep, and a heading driven east to test the ground under the river at a gradient of 1 in 500, to act as a drainage for the deepest part of the tunnel under the main  river channel.

By 1877, after four and a half years, very little more had been achieved.  The total came to 1,600yds of 7ft square drive, and a half completed second shaft which it was intended to use as a permanent pumping shaft.

The Great Western Railway Company put out two contracts; one was to sink a shaft on the east bank (Sea Wall Shaft) and to drive headings east and west from it.  The other was to sink two shafts (Marsh Shaft and Hill Shaft) and to drive the headings east and west from both these shafts.  The company continued to work the heading under the river, and later agreed to drive from Old Shaft westwards towards Marsh Shaft and east on the line of the tunnel.  The pump shaft was also completed and two 26" pumps installed.

By 1879, a considerable amount of work had been done.  The three new shafts had produced a good amount of heading under the land, and the headings under the river had approximately 130yds to go between them. None of the headings had given any large volume of water up to October 18th 1879.  In the heading being driven west from the old shaft along the tunnel formation a large amount of water broke into the workings.  Efforts to dam it back with timbers failed, and within 24 hours the works communicating with the heading were flooded to the level of the river water.  Fortunately no one was killed, as the men were warned as they changed shift.

The breaching of this spring seems to have had a dramatic effect on the hydrology of the area; T.A.Walker writing on the geography of the area, mentions the drying up of springs and wells at the time the spring was breached:-

"Where these tides flowed is now a rough piece of marshland, through which the little river Neddern passes to join the Severn.  The whole of the ground in the marsh is rotten, and before the tunnel was commenced there were enormous springs of bright clear water rising up in several places."

 

He goes on to describe briefly the formations of the sandstone and limestone hills around the site, and how:-

"all the water from the hills both from the mountain limestone and the old red sandstone, has found subterranean channels through this broken ground, and, before the tunnel was commenced, flowed out in the valley of the Neddern, and formed the great springs which have been before mentioned.

The Neddern, rising as a small brook in the hills above Llanvair Discoed, sometimes lost the whole of its water in the dry season near the foot of the hills, bursting out again near Caerwent, at a point called by the natives 'The Whirly Holes.'

When the tunnel was being made, and a fissure was unfortunately tapped in the rock between Sudbrook Camp and Portskewett village, all these underground channels poured their water into the tunnel itself, and almost every well and spring, and the little river itself for a distance of more than 5 miles from the tunnel, became dry."

After this event work more or less ground to a halt until in December 1879, a contract was awarded to Mr T.A. Walker to complete the project.  Work started on un-watering the workings shortly after the contract was signed.

New engines and pumps had been ordered, but these were not anticipated to be in operation until mid summer 1880.  It was therefore decided to try and seal the headings.  This involved using divers to fit and brace, two wooden "shields" over the entrances to the headings.  A number of diving operations followed.  One man, Alexander Lambert chief diver with Seibe Gorman, achieved much notoriety for his exploits.  On one occasion Lambert was inspecting the sump of a shaft, when he was drawn against the wind-bore of one of the pumps by the suction.  Three men were required to pull him free with a rope.  Most notable, was the attempt to close a water tight door in the long heading under the river.  The door was left open in the panic by the workmen, when the spring broke through.  The door was approx 1,000ft up the heading.  On reaching the door he would have to go through and close an 18" flap valve, then return through the door, remove two rails, close the door and then screw down a 12" sluice valve.  It was hoped this would close off a major section of flooded heading.

Lambert made the attempt with two other divers in attendance.  One diver would stop at the bottom of the shaft to feed the air hose down the level.  The other would accompany Lambert down the level to the half way point (500ft) to help ease the hose on down the level.  On the way up the level he would have to negotiate his way past the debris of upturned skips rubble and timbers, in total darkness.  Handicap enough without the added burden of wearing the old type "Brass Hat" or Standard diving dress.  Lambert managed to get to a distance of about 900ft but the exertion of dragging his floating air hose was too much.

A man named Fleuss had recently patented a diving dress that could be used without air hoses. Fleuss's equipment seems to have been a form of oxygen re-breather, from the description given by T.A. Walker in his account of the construction of the tunnel:-

"About this time I had heard of a diving-dress, patented by a Mr Fleuss, by the use of which the diver was able to dispense entirely with the use of the air hose, by carrying in a knapsack on his back a supply of compressed oxygen gas, which he was enabled to feed to his helmet as required."

Fleuss was sent for, and instructed what to do.  Lambert in standard dress descended with him.  After three attempts, it soon became Ccear that Fleuss was not sufficiently experienced as a working diver.  Lambert was then persuaded to try Fleuss's equipment, and after some experimentation was finally satisfied, that he could make another attempt at reaching the door.

Lambert succeeded in reaching the door, and managed to remove one of the rails.  Having been away for a considerable time, he returned without closing the door.  Two days later he went in again.  On reaching the door he passed through, closed the flap valve, pulled up the rail and closed the door.  Lambert had been instructed to screw round the sluice valve a specified number of turns. This he did, and returned in triumph.

Much disappointment, ensued when it was found that the water level was not dropping as quickly as anticipated.  The level would stand stationary at high water for some time.  Considerable trouble was given by the pumps, but this was overcome as the water level slowly dropped.  On December 7th 1880, the foreman of the pumps was able to walk up the heading to the door, which Lambert had closed.  He soon discovered the cause of the slow drop of water level.  The sluice valve had a left hand thread, and although Lambert had turned it the required number of turns, he had opened the valve, instead of closing it.

 

On December 13th 1880 the doors in the shield over the western heading were opened, and the heading inspected.  The next day the level was inspected by the contractors.  In the level they found a stream of water seven feet wide and a foot deep flowing in the level, along with a great quantity of debris brought in by the stream.  At around 600ft up the heading the debris reached a height of 3 to 4 feet.

Two head walls were constructed to keep out the water from the spring, these were completed and the spring was finally shut out on January 4th 1881.

In October 1883, the spring again broke through into the works during operations to complete the headings past the area of the spring.  Lamberts services were again used to close off the inflow of water.

The final stages of completion were under way during 1884.  It was known that most of the water in the spring came from the River Neddern.  A concrete invert was constructed for a distance of approx four miles, along the river bed.  With new pumps it was possible to reduce the head of water in the level, so that access could be gained to the point where the spring had broken in.  The water from the spring was diverted along a side heading to the pumps.

Having gained mastery of the water from the spring the full size tunnel was opened out, the fissure of the spring was described as following;

“A most erratic course.  In one place it passed directly across the tunnel from side to side, nearly at right angles to the centre line of the work.  At another place it passed from side to side in an oblique direction, running for some small distance directly under one of the side walls.  At another point where the tunnel had been perfectly dry, while the mining was done, the lifting of almost the last stone out of the invert set free an immense body of water which no pumps underground could cope with.  At another point the water boiled up from a hole l8ft in depth under the invert with such force that stones, the size of a mans fist, dropped into the water would descend about 10 feet, and then begin to flutter like a leaf in the wind, and be thrown out again by the water.”

The brickwork in the tunnel was finished in April 1885, and by August the spring had been sealed off except for a tapped supply to feed the pump engines etc.  A pressure gauge had been fixed to show the water pressure to keep a check on how it was rising.  By Sept 5th the water in the ground had risen to a height of approx 305 feet and was registering a pressure of 45ipsi.  This pressure of water was having an adverse effect on the brickwork, by finding its way through the mortar.  The pressure eventually reached 57% psi, at this pressure bricks were beginning to crack.

It was decided to sink a large diameter shaft and install enough pumps to pump away all the water from the great spring, so that the structure of the tunnel would not have to resist such high pressures.

The tunnel was finally opened to passenger traffic in December 1886.  Nearly 14 years after the G.W.R. had commenced the work.  The inspector for the Board of Trade quotes the following amounts of water pumped out of the Big Spring:-

Minimum - 23million gallons per day.

Maximum - 30million gallons per day.

Average - 24million gallons per day.

REFERENCES:

The Severn Tunnel - Its construction and difficulties.(1872 - 1887) T.A.Walker.

Wonders of Salvage - David Masters.


 

Ogof Hasp Alyn

by Trevor Hughes

Chris Milne (WCC) and fellow WCC/CDG divers have been doing well in this cave this summer. Following on from their success in passing the 10m long sump in Aug. '82, when 200m of new passage was discovered, this summer's diving has led to the passing of a second sump and more finds.

After the B.E.C. involvement in the discovery and surveying of this cave and the first dives at the terminal sump, all by our very own J-Rat, the WCC seem to have taken the initiative here.  I was therefore rather pleased when Chris suggested that I join him and others on a pushing trip on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Progress prior to the planned trip had been the passing of the 4m long second sump to an ascending passage leading to the base of a 12m free climb.  From the head of the climb a roomy horizontal passage ends after 30m in a large, 16m deep pot.  At the bottom of this a passage leads off to a 25m shaft which had not yet been bottomed.

A strong team gathered on the Saturday morning, heads slightly (or more so) awash from the previous evening's ale in the Loggerheads.  Mendip was represented by Chris Milne, Anne Lavender, Paul Whybro, Kev Clarke (both of Bath University C.C.) Rich Websall, Wormhole and myself, while the local talent included Phil the Miner (also B.E.C.) and three N.W.C.C. lads who provided valuable assistance carrying ladders down the cave.

Although in places very muddy the trip to the sump is quite sporting, involving a considerable amount of ladder work, not to mention numerous flat-out crawls, wallows and a chest deep canal interspaced with undulating, walking passage. Unfortunately the trip to the sump proved to be too much for Wormhole's diving kit (where have we heard that one before?) (in the pub, in the Belfry, in these pages - infamy is far flung. Ed.) and he retired from the trip and left with the N.W.C.C. back up team. This left me as the sole B.E.C. representative on the trip.

The first sump is a mostly spacious affair with crystal clear vis for the first diver (Anne had that privilege) and zero for the rest!  OHA II consists of a gently ascending walking passage with deep mud giving way to a harder clay or rock floor.  The second sump is perched and very shallow but the roof is festooned with large flakes that demand a cautious approach.  The underwater passage is adequately roomy.  The end of the known cave was reached with little or no incident, and it was rather pleasant to be free of the weight of diving gear.

The 23m shaft had some horribly loose rocks overhanging the drop and these were kicked down with a combination of Websall/Hughes/Whybro brawn.  Rob Harper would have hated this as in most cases the next rock to be loosened was the one sat on for the previous trundle!  Eventually the shaft was declared safe and rigged with a ladder and lifeline, but not before the initially chosen belay had fallen off the wall when tested.  Chris and Rich descended and disappointingly declared that our trundling, although essential, had blocked the way on from the bottom.  They commenced to dig away the offending debris.

Meanwhile, at the head of the pitch, Paul and Kev started to probe the roof.  Eventually, after an exposed and difficult 12m climb, they reached a low bedding passage.  I joined them and used their lifeline to haul up a spare ladder to enable Anne to follow. The low bedding went down dip to a sump and up dip after 15m to a large chamber, with the roof barely visible in one area.   Chris and Rich were called to leave their digging and, when we were all gathered in roughly the same area and a 7m drop from the chamber rigged, a free-for-all race along the large 'Aggie' sized passage beyond began.  The way on was obvious - just keep to the centre of the 10m wide passage and run (or climb) as fast as possible.  Several side passages were noticed but ignored.  The passage runs approximately due south (Rich carried a diving compass) and is a large, phreatic oval, modified in places by blockfall to give large, boulder-floored chambers.  A free climbable 12m pitch led to a sandy squeeze (which may have to be dug out after the winter floods) and a low, muddy area which is possible a perched sump in wetter weather.  The end of the main passage was a descending, boulder floored chamber, ending at its lowest point against a blank wall.  However, through the boulders and seemingly only a few metres away, came the sound of what can only be a large underground watercourse.  A very strong draught accompanied this noise.

Despite fatigue, failing lights and the protests of some (!?) a dig was started following the wall. The boulders here are generally of manageable size and a lot of smaller stones make up a large proportion of the fill. Initially, without tools, the digging progressed well and a 1m deep hole was soon formed.  A further 1m depth could be seen, but proper digging kit will be needed to progress further.

We retreated and made our rather weary way back to the surface.  The sumps on the way out are revolting affairs, with mud getting everywhere, but the original cave seems much shorter.

After a walk back along the dry river Bed and a wash in a pool we were all soon ready for the Loggerheads and some well earned beer.  It had been a fairly exciting ten hour trip.

The next day I had to return to Mendip, but Chris and Paul went back to back to the new find, pushed the side passages and discovered about another 1000m of new passage.  They still left open ends for another day, including a passage that may provide a bypass to the boulder choke and reach the unseen river beneath.

Both OHA sumps, although not free diveable, are perched and as the known system remains completely stream free in the summer months both could be removed by siphoning or baling. The second sump could be bailed very easily, probably taking only a couple of hours but, once completed, would last the complete summer season.  The first sump would present a more involved problem, being longer and deeper, but as a six metre vertical climb is required to reach the sump, which is only approximately 5m deep, the problem is only one of plumbing and is not at all insurmountable.  This sump is, again, totally static and would require only one major attack at the start of the season.

Regretfully the inter-club squabbling and petty personal politics that abound in North Wales caving circles have so far prevented such work being attempted and I can foresee no changes taking place in the near future.

OHA is, without doubt, the most demanding and demanding challenge in North Wales, for approximately 600m of passage has now been found past the first sump, with a potential for much more.  Due to the indifference of the local cavers their role has been merely in the background.

A good survey of OHA I exists but has never been published (for reasons as above) and this is now causing delays in the exploration of this system, for it is possible that a bypass to the first sump may be found from OHA II.  This would open the flood-gates to the potential of a major river cave – the underground River Alyn.  It is time that the North Wales cavers buried the hatchet, settled their differences and started working together so that the full potential of OHA might be realised.

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

P.S. Further to the B.B. article Pete Appleton (N.W.C.C.) & Co. have siphoned both the sumps in OHA. They failed, however, to enter the new stuff found by the WCC/BEC/CUC; simply because they did not find it.

This does not, however, alter the gist of the latter part of the article about N.W. politics - this action in OHA came from our rather excited babblings in the pub straight after our discovery + a 'Phone call to P. Appleton from Tony Jarratt and NOT as a result of their general settling of inter-club differences.

Chris Milne is in North Wales this weekend (no date on note, Ed.) probing the ends we left.  He should do well.  The underground river Alyn should (!) be found before the winter rains close the cave.

Trev & J-Rat

Alan Coase

It is with regret that we hear of the untimely death of Alan Coase who died of a heart attack recently.  He was a member of the club in the 1960s and many members from that time will have known him well.  Our condolences to his relatives and friends.


 

South West Africa And The Fish River Canyon

by Colin Priddle.

In August this year I had the opportunity to visit South West Africa or, as some name it, Namibia.  The main reason for the visit was to hike the Fish River Canyon, which has the reputation of being one of the best hikes in Southern Africa.  As we were travelling some 800 miles just to get to the canyon from Johannesburg we decided to take another week's leave to see more of the South West and we ended up travelling some 3500 miles, of which at least half was on dirt roads.

South West is a vast country, some three times the size of West Germany, and it has a population of about 1.1 million. This gives it a population density of a little more than 1 person per square kilometre, one of the lowest in the world; indeed, on occasions whilst travelling, one went for over a hundred miles without seeing another person, car or house.

All parts of South West are very arid, except for the far north east, in particular the Namib region, which is a band of almost uninhabitable, sandy desert stretching the entire coastline.  In this area rain is almost unknown and it is common for five or even ten years to pass with no rain at all.  This area gradually gives way to higher land and a less harsh climate before, as you go further east, the country borders on the Kalahari Desert.

On our visit we first went to the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, which borders onto the southern part of Botswana.  The park, famous for its gemsbok and Kalahari lion, holds a surprising amount of game, most of which congregate in the beds of the rivers that converge in the park. One would not recognise these rivers as such: only very seldom does water run, and then only as a flash flood due to a storm, which could be miles away.  When we were there the river had not flooded for four years and, in fact, we drove in and out of the river bed for at least two hundred miles.  The rainfall is confined to the first four months of the year and, in a good year, may be some four inches or so.  Although we did not see lion we were lucky enough to see a cheetah, which I had never seen in a game reserve before.

From the Kalahari Gemsbok we entered the South West and drove to Windhoek the capital: a beautiful, small, modern town set among hills, and with its distinct German influence hosts a brewery brewing excellent beers.  Naturally this was visited.  Leaving Windhoek we arrived at Spitskoppe (meaning 'Pointed Hills') in the dark and camped out after walking through the rocks illuminated by a very bright moon.  Just before daylight two of us started up one of the peaks to watch the sun rise over a vast, flat, treeless desert which was interrupted by occasional jagged hills reaching out of the sand.  The visibility; appeared endless.  Later that day we carried on to the coast across the Namib desert, which at that point was totally flat with no vegetation, only mirages.  A very enjoyable beer was; consumed whilst just sitting in the desert listening to total quietness, seeing nothing except flat sand, and feeling the heat of the sun on us.  It was an uncanny experience.

The desert ends at the coast; that is it, desert, then sea, and a cold sea at that.  The coldness of the sea means that often a blanket of fog covers the coastline and, consequently, the little town of Swakopmund is fairly cold, although a few miles inland it is very hot again.  Swakopmund is an old German town and was originally the main port of entry into the German colony.  This role was taken over by Walvis Bay, thus leaving Swakopmund to be a busy holiday resort in the summer months.  Besides tourism, salt production is the only industry, although Walvis Bay, some twenty wiles down the coast, is the major fish processing centre of the country.  Walvis Bay is actually a South African enclave in South West.

From Walvis Bay we went inland through sand dunes, flat desert, lunar landscapes and endless, changing vistas of barren but colourful hills.  We even saw a few springbok, gemsbok, ostrich and mountain zebra; somehow they must live but n thing edible was in sight. We camped at a place called Sesriem (the place was one house with a petrol pump) and early the following morning drove some thirty miles to the Sossusvlei Reserve to watch the sun rise over the world's highest sand dunes.  The dunes are over 1000 feet high and are incredibly beautiful, with their curving, knife like ridges and red sand.  They are very arduous to climb, but we got to the top of a high one.  The sides in the lee of the wind repose at their critical angle and to climb them means very hard work; it seems like a dozen steps to move up a foot or so.  If you stop you slide back down with your legs buried in the sand about half way to your knees.  Sossusvlei was truly one of the most outstandingly scenic areas of this world which I have visited.

From Sesriem we went to Luderitz, a dying, uninspiring town set amongst rocks.  Its claim to fame was the diamond industry, which has now moved to Orangemund, further down the coast, and its cray fishing industry, which is still in existence.  The whole town feels as if it is thirty years behind the times and it hardly surprising that very few are attracted to the place as strong winds continually blow sand everywhere.  Nearby are two ghost mining towns whose houses are covered in sand.  It is truly an inhospitable town but worth a visit, if only to eat a few crayfish.  The area, for about fifty miles inland from the coast, in the southern part of the South West, is the Sperrgebiet or prohibited Diamond Areas which, unfortunately, one is unable to visit.  Incidentally, water for Luderitz is pumped from a borehole some thirty miles away and still about sixty miles of the main road serving the town is not tarred. Finally we drove to Ai Ais, a mineral spring resort on the Fish River which was the meeting point for our walk.

The Fish River Canyon is about a hundred miles long and attains a width of sixteen miles in places.  The depth ranges from 450m to 550m.  The view of the canyon is quite breathtaking: the area is completely barren of all vegetation and the course of the river can be seen meandering from side to side along the canyon.  As with most rocky areas in the South West the different rock colours are considerable. The Fish River is the only river in South West that has open water outside the rainy season. At the time of our visit no water was flowing but there were many pools along the canyon which supplied our drinking water and also catered for our aquatic pastimes along the length of our fifty mile hike.

Only one party a day is allowed on the trail and consequently one must book well in advance to do the hike.  In common with all South African countries bureaucracy is rife and a permit must be obtained from the Nature Conservation which necessitates a medical certificate. For a reasonably fit caver-hiker type like myself it is a bloody cheek but I suppose it does inhibit totally unsuitable types from doing the hike, which is arduous, and in the event of an accident, it would probably be at least 24 hours before help could be summoned. The funny thing was, I lost my medical certificate, but I still went.  Hiking is only allowed in winter from May to August inclusive and for good reason too.  For one, flash floods are liable which, if you were in many places in the canyon, would be disastrous, and two, the temperatures are often extreme.  In 1981 in July (winter) a temperature of 480C (1180F) was recorded there and even on our walk the last two days were pretty hot, probably about 320C (900F) during the day, and even at that temperature a couple of people in our party found it too hot.

There were eight of us hiking and for once the women in our party had to carry their own fair share for our intended four to five day hike.  The first hour or so was the drop into the canyon from the rim down a steep path. As our party was notoriously slow at getting ready we only left about midday and we had lunch in the canyon. The hiking was generally either through soft sand or over boulders ranging from football size upwards.  Not many would describe it as easy walking. The first two days were in the narrower part of the canyon, sometimes about 100m wide, then gradually the canyon became much wider.  The narrower parts were certainly the most scenic with no vegetation at all among the many sheer cliffs.  The first two nights were fairly cold, necessitating long trousers and pullover to keep warm.  No tents were carried as the chances of rain were nil and it is much nicer to sleep out anyway.  We slept out all through South West.  We were fortunate that we had a full moon during our hike which rose as soon as the sun disappeared and put another perspective onto the canyon.  The only drawback about the full moon is that the full beauty of the stars of the southern hemisphere is hidden.  Usually we started hiking as soon as possible after first light and a cup of coffee in order to get the most from the cooler temperatures and shade.  After an hour or so our party of eight would be well strung out along the river but it was general to stop around 11 o'clock or noon for lunch and a rest from the hottest part of the day. We would then continue at 3 or 4 o' clock and continue until dusk.  One of the highlights of the hike is the hot springs which flow into the river after about one third of the journey.  A couple of palm trees grow near the spring which were said to be the result of date pips left by a couple of German prisoners who escaped and hid in the canyon during the first world war.  It is said that game during that time was far more prolific than it is now so what with meat, and fish from the river, one could have survived quite easily.  It was most pleasant to laze in a pool formed from the hot spring and walk about two metres to dive into the much colder water of the river.  The only game in the canyon is said to be kudu (a large antelope), mountain zebra, Klipspringer (a small antelope), rock-rabbits, baboons and leopards.  Of these we saw baboons, klipspringer and rock rabbits, but many leopard tracks were also seen.  The bird life was not prolific but several fish eagles were seen. Trees, although virtually absent from the upper part of the canyon, made appearances more often further down in the more open areas; thickets of reeds and rushes sometimes appeared. Altogether we spent four days on the hike with three nights sleeping out, and the main reason for finishing a little faster than intended was the lure of those lovely cold beers at Ai Ais.

Needless to say the next day was spent lazing in the thermal bath eating in the restaurant and consuming beer at Ai Ais.  A short geological expedition was also undertaken to a nearby hill of rose quartz. Although some of cur party had a few blisters on their feet we were all in agreement - the Fish River Canyon was a fine walk.


 

Mining, A Century Ago

by Jill Tuck

Old statistical reports are especially interesting when they are about well known areas.  Looking at one of the Annual Reports of Inspectors of Mines for just an ordinary year, 1881, I found many familiar names.

Amongst the haematite mines of the Forest of Dean appeared Old Bow, owned by G. Atkinson; Clearwell and others, owned by H. Crawshay (one of the great iron families of South Wales); New Dun, W. Watkins; and Lambsquay,  W.H. Fryer.  In Somerset were listed East Harptree, owned by J. Nichols; Waldergrave, in the possession of Waldergrave Company; and several others in East Mendip.  In this year 26,405 tons of iron ore were sold from the Somerset mines.

Under Oolite mines we find Box Hill, Box Quarry, and many at Farleigh and Corsham, while the only lead mines listed are East Harptree, Ubley and Waldegrave. Their production of lead, however, was too small to be recorded.

The standard form of the report includes details of the miners, showing that in Somerset, underground, there were no boys of 12 - 13 years, 8 males (note: counted as mature at 13!) of 13 - 16, and 181 males above 16.  No females were employed underground anywhere in the South West, but 7 girls of 10 - 13 years, and many females (note change of description again!) from 13 - 18 and older, were employed in Cornwall and Devon.  Reading between the lines, one wonders how many illegally employed were smuggled out of sight when the inspector arrived, and how hard he tried to ensure compliance with the regulations knowing that some families desperately needed even a child's money.

Each mine accident during the year is tabled, more detailed accounts being given of the serious or unusual ones, especially if they could lead to improvements in the safety procedure. One little boy of three, named Howells, was killed while playing: he "crept under the fence around an old, disused pit at Ruardean ( Forest of Dean) and fell down the shaft."  A miner, Henry Martin, also killed, "appears to have the habit of looking up in the shaft after the kibble (i.e. bucket), and, whilst doing so, a stone must have fallen from the kibble and struck him on the head.  He had been previously cautioned by the agent not to look up the shaft.  From one hundred years on, Henry Martin sounds the sort of thicky who would look down the end of a firehose to see if the water was coming.

There is a report of an accident on 26th April at Malago Vale Colliery, Bristol.  Three men were to fire a shot in a fault which was running along one side of the coal face.  One lit the charge and all three retired to safety ten feet down a side passage and behind a gob wall.  When the explosion occurred, James Durbin, who was sitting between the others, said he was shot.  He was able to walk out but died of a fractured skull shortly afterwards.  To reach the man, the impelled stone had to travel six feet along one passage, turn a right angle into the side passage, travel up along that and then turn another angle to reach behind the gob wall. It must have resounded at least twice. A real case of miching malago as Shakespeare might have punned

Many mine owners were insuring against accidents.  The rate was 5/- every £100 paid in wages, for accidents when the employer would not be liable under the Act, and 12/6 for all accidents.  Some employers did not work their mines as laid down under the Metalliferous Mines Act or take the precautions legally necessary, in spite of chivvying by the Inspector of mines, so the difference in payment was not for trivial reasons.  The Inspector commented, however, that generally the managers met him in a friendly spirit to improve the safety or efficiency of their mines.  He added that "all communications, anonymous or otherwise, have had my careful attention.” He kept the letters secret, and took remedial action where possible.  There are details of prosecutions and fines of owners for not complying with the Acts.  The Inspector remarked that mining workers would rather run the risk of working in a dangerous place than spend the short time required to put up a prop.

The first telephone had been introduced, at Dolcoath, in Cornwall, 390 fathoms from the surface.  Nobel's patent had run out by this year, resulting in the price of dynamite falling from 2/- per pound to 1/7½.  As boring machines were now common, the drop in price plus use of machines enabled much ground to be opened which would have been impracticable a few years previously.  The number of man engines (for carrying men up and down the shafts) remained at seven, but cages (called gigs) had been installed at the first eight mines.  None of these were in Gloucestershire or Somerset, so we may visualise the local miners, labourers and youngsters laboriously climbing up and down the mines at each end of their hard working day. 


 

Bassett's Notes      Continued

CHARTERHOUSE CAVE:  In yet another case of deliberate vandalism the lock was broken from this cave.  The gate has been welded up for the present.

There are certain caves which are locked up and it is impossible for most of us to enter them. However, in the cases of Charterhouse, Rock and Fountain and Cuckoo Cleeves, there is no difficulty in booking a trip by going through the appropriate channels, and there can be no socially acceptable justification for the vandalism of their gates.  True, in Utopia, no caves are gated.  This is not Utopia.

WORKING WEEKEND - JANUARY 6th, 7th, 8th. 1984.

Yes, the first weekend of next year, so make a note of it NOW!  Some of the jobs outstanding at the Belfry are:

Weather board to fire exit door fascia and soffit to be painted (weather permitting)

All windows to be painted;

Shed to be re-covered with roofing felt;

Belfry grounds to be tidied (using skip or J-Rat ' 6 trailer)

New Carbide Store to be built;

Tackle Store roof to be waterproofed.

These are just a few of the jobs that must be done before the winter sets in.  Dany has organised a working weekend for JANUARY 6th, 7th & 8th.

After what was said at the A.C.M. we know that a lot of you will be coming down because you know about this well in advance.  If you can, please give Dany a 'phone call so that he can organise the weekend better.

Dany's 'phone number is Wells (0749) xxxxx.

Working Weekend - JANUARY 6th. 7th.  8th. 1984

LOST  Someone, somewhere has Andy Lolley's RED HOLDALL, which contains - a one-piece, double-lined, velcro-fastening wetsuit, plus a velcro-fastening jacket, plus boots, plus a pile of grots.

It has been missing from the Belfry since July.

Hopefully, someone is looking after it for Andy.

Give him a nice Christmas surprise, and let him know you have it

EAST TWIN SWALLETT: South Bristol S.S. have now linked this cave to SPAR POT, whose entrance lies buried, after it was filled in twelve years ago.  Their decision to gate the cave seems rather extreme (it is unstable!!). I think I'll gate Swildons Sump I - someone could drown in it.

BELGIUM: A minibus load of B.E.C. reprobates are off to cave in the Ardennes at the beginning of December.  They'll be back by the time you read this, with tales of Trou Bernard and other superb Belgian caves.

That's it!

Good luck to Robin with his new task.  Keep sending the articles, and lots of them.  Let's have no more of this quarterly and bi-monthly nonsense.

Happy Christmas

WANTED!! ONE HUT WARDEN - URGENT

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126

Editor: G. Wilton-Jonesz`

Bassett's Notes

EASTWATER CAVERN.  In 1951 John Ifold of the B.E.C. pushed through the boulder blocked bedding plane at the top end of Harris's Passage to discover a small network of unstable passages, lying almost below the entrance to the cave.  It is now known as the Ifold Series.  The survey shows two choked passages leading towards each other.  At the end of May, Andy Lolly and Keith Gladman investigated the area and found one the chokes to be draughting strongly.  After six hours of digging in two sessions they broke through into virgin cave, initially of typical Eastwater bedding planes and canyons, with plenty of wet, sandy fill and gravel, loose boulders and unusually sharp and friable rock.  Some of the older stal suggests that the passages are among the oldest in Eastwater, though perhaps I am sticking my neck out here.  An eighty foot high aven near the entrance seems to be under Morton’s Pot, and could well be the key to dig there.  At the end of nearly 300 feet of grovel some parallel pitches have been found.  The head of has been banged to allow normal sized people to reach the narrow 25 foot rift, below which is a further 50 foot pitch into a deep canyon with an, intermittent streamway - probably flood overflow.  A small tube 200 feet along this fault rift needs enlarging.  It blows a constant, cool draught.  After the opening nasty bits of the new series, the passages are unlike the rest of Eastwater, several being horizontal, albeit only occasionally.  There is some good Stal in places, though much of it is very vulnerable.

Several B.E.C. members have already visited the extension and new discoveries come thick and fast. A survey is underway, and it is already clear that West End Series is well to the west of anything else in the cave. Over 1000 feet of new cave has been explored so far, taking the total length of Eastwater to well over a mile. The prospects for further extension look very good.

AUSTRIA 1983. The advance guard is currently up on the Dachstein plateau (mid June), in the form of Rob Harper, Rachel Clarke and Trev 'Biffo' Hughes, together an enormous load of tackle.  They are staying at the Wiesberghaus for two weeks and intend to re-bolt and tackle Bartngassewindschacht for those who come out in July.  Hopefully we shall soon know the exact depth of the huge 'Ben Dors Scacht', thought to be around 200 metres, and learn what happens at the bottom.

Since the Wiesberghaus is now on the 'phone they will be able to let us know almost instantly!

WOOKEY. Rob Harper continues his high level exploration here. Following up where Bob Cork and Dany Bradsaw left off in Wookey 24, he has reached the head of a bell shaped pitch 60' deep, somewhere off Sting Corner.  Dany has threatened to put a ladder down it while Rob is in Austria - just to keep the poor lad biting his fingernails.

OGOF CARREG LEM.  Sam (S.W.C.C. & U.B.S.S.) & Co. have now extended this cave to 1500 feet.

EDITORSHIP.  A new editor will be required for the B.B. as from October, as I shall be resigning from the post at the A.G.M.  Over the three years I have been Editor I have managed to reduce the work-load considerably, so it is no longer such an onerous task as it once was.  If you think you fancy the post, have a word with me sometime and I'll let you know what this entails.

New and Rejoined Members

Ian Jepson, Beechen Cliff, Bath.
Jok Orr, Sturton by Stow, Linceln
Rich Stevenson, Wookey, Wells, Somerset.

Quote Of The Issue 

From a member who has never written a single word for the Bulletin, on receiving his latest copy:

 “This is a bit thin, isn’t it.”


 

Kangy's Doggerel Irish Easter

Beneath the Belfry table, lying there in state, With thoughts of Irish Guinness and the Doolin Cave in spate,
O'Connor's Bar and Food Store, the day of "The Big Drink",
And hazy days in County Clare, of forging deep the link,
With Mendip men and Guinness, caves measureless to man,
In one pot and another out (according to the plan!)

This Easter we were organised and went in different cars,
And stayed in different places but only used one bar.
O'Connor's was the rendezvous down by the Doolin Strand,
Amongst the pints of Guinness, the cavers fought to stand,
And shout their cries of welcome and stirring stories tell,
Of climbing out of Fisherstreet by way of Catherine’s Well.
How the catchment karst is vast and the water exits few,
And a feature of the landscape is turloughs in a queue.

Down below it's slightly morbid, to think, stuck in a fix,
How they hook the drownded caver out with sharp and pointed sticks
At McCarthy’s country cottage nine of the elite
Suffered suffocation from a fire built of peat.
The only consolation for a caver back from op's
Was that peaty smoke annihilates the stink of vap'rous plops.

We went to Kilfenora and and Bunratty Folk Park too.
We went to Craggaunowen, saw the Crannog there on view.
We saw dolmen, we saw ring forts, we found a souterrain.
We enjoyed the Burren Centre, a good shelter from the rain.
At the Cave of the Wild Horses (look for Kilcorney One)
We nearly found new passages but U.B.S.S. won.

Another nine, a wealthy lot, were bedded down in style.
They lay in utter comfort in a warm and cosy pile.
They caved most every morning, and drank every afternoon.
They queued up for the evening, O'Conrior's shut too soon.
We thought hard how to best them, to beat them in their home.
We gave a glass of fizzy coke a head of Irish foam.
We got a few refusals until someone, in their need,
Gulped at it, then gagged at it, and spat it out at speed.

There were four deep frozen campers and two lodgers in a van
And, like them, all the rest of us developed Irish tan.
We were muddy on the outside with our insides pickled brown,
And hilarious on the last night when free drinks were handed round.

So twenty four in all of us in the land of Guinness
And that's my chance to make a rhyme for Mrs. Grass or Glenys

Kangy April 1983

Illustrations by Philip King


 

Bath Stone Mines

Brown's Folly Mine/Swan Mine Access

Visitors to brown’s folly Mine should note that the entrances to this mine have been locked with agreement with the landowner and CSCC.  The keys are available from the Belfry or from other CSCC shareholding clubs i.e. Wessex, Shepton MCG etc.  In order to avoid a long disappointing journey don’t forget to pick up a key as these readily available locally.  The new entrance to Brown’s Folly has temporarily been bolted up as some inconsiderate person smashed the lock off in January.  It is hoped a new lock will be fitted soon as possible but, in the meantime, a adjustable wrench will be handy for a through trip.

Box Mines

A climb-proof fence has now been erected around the Kingston Minerals, Hazelbury Opencast Quarry, thus cutting off access to the quarry entrance.  This is probably to avoid the company being clobbered by an insurance claim if some idiot falls over the edge and hurts themselves.

Bear in mind that if you exit via the quarry entrance you may have problems getting off the site. The quarry is intermittently being used to tip waste stone from Kingston’s other workings and consequently the entrance may soon be blocked anyway.

On the subject of blocked entrances, tipping still continues in Box Woods, thus endangering those few remaining entrances.  Perhaps it is drawing near the time to get a few interested parties together to try to protect access to these mines!

The Backdoor Entrance

This is on private land and it is diplomatic to ask permission of the landowner before crashing around in the undergrowth.  The owner is a Mr. Price who lives at the large posh house with the tennis court – “Tanglewood”.  He is usually quite agreeable if approached in the right way.  That is, politely.

A.O. route has suffered a major collapse at its start just inside and to the right as you enter through the Backdoor.  It is advisable to use the “O” route and work your way round via Cathedral and link to A.O.

A word of warning! Fresh roof falls have occurred recently in many parts of Box.  If in doubt, avoid the suspect area.  Large blocks of stone can suddenly and silently fall if disturbed so don't muck around with the supporting walls or timbers, however much they seem to be doing no supporting job, as you might end up under several tons of Bath stone.

Cranes should not be tampered with as the bearing blocks are often rotten.  This could result in the crane falling over and crushing someone. Leave them alone for others to see and please don't write all over the walls.

Chris Batstone


 

Halloween Rift – Further Work

By   Trev Hughes

After a layoff over Christmas, work in and around Halloween Rift has recommenced with greater enthusiasm than before, with more club members getting involved and seeing the first non-BEC members down the cave.  Here is a summary of events to date (end of February).  It is hoped that more discoveries will be made before this article appears in print.

The surface work has involved erecting a barbed wire fence around the entrance and a compass and inclinometer traverse of the area to establish the exact location and altitude of the entrance.

I started the traverse at the 9:2 top entrance of Wookey Hole Cave.  My closed loop took in the 22 Radio Location Point the Halloween Rift survey datum and so back to the 9:2 entrance via the lower field.  By taking fore and back sights, keeping my leg lengths as long as possible and using the two short ranging rods as survey stations quite good results were achieved, despite the windy conditions.  The traverse length was just over 814m.  My vertical mis-closure was 1.20m and the (magnetic) x and y mis-closures both less than 3m.  If the opportunity arises I will repeat this exercise using a theodolite and ranging staff which will give far better results.  Halloween Rift has a map reference of ST53534809 and given that the ground level at the 9:2 entrance is 108.09m OD the survey datum at the rift top is at 133.81m OD (approx. 439ft).

The work underground has proceeded well.  I reached a particularly solid section of calcite blocking progress in the dig on 28 Nov 82, the trench being about 1.5m long (see BB No. 416 p20).  The offending calcite was broken up by Tim Large on 7 Jan using only 150gm of ‘wonder hammer' and on my next two (solo) trips in mid January about 1.3m of progress was made.  The bang, although not displacing the rock, had set up a large number of readily useable cracks.  A hammer, chisel and crowbar were all that were needed to remove the rock.  On the latter of these trips I installed a 25l drum, cut in half, as a spoil hauling sledge for the entrance crawl.

A large BEC team comprising 'Quiet' John Watson, Blitz, Rachel Clarke, Rob Harper and myself carried out a major spoil removing exercise on 22 Jan.  Rob aid Blitz, despite coming out with some sickeningly weak jokes also enlarged the end of the trench considerably.

The next trip was nearly a month later on Sat 19th February when J-Rat fresh from his Latin American exploits, returned to the fray.  On this trip we were joined by Andy Satfford – the Grampian Wonder Boy and Phil ‘Tour de France’ Romford.  To the Grampian Wonder Boy went the dubious honour of being the first non-BEC member down the cave.  Progress was slow and tiring as a large slab of calcite blocked the way on, but by clearing away the mud cover, the open section of passage, first fleetingly noticed on Nov 7 ‘82, could be clearly seen.

The GWB was despatched to find the Moody Sisters (WCC) and suitable quantities of boulder laxative for the metre square calcite block.  A hearty ‘crump’ ended the day’s events all was set for the morrow and my thanks to Pete and Alison for turning out at such short notice.

J-Rat, Mac, the GWB and myself returned the next day.  Pete's bang had totally demolished the block and the debris was quickly removed from cave. Mac had a look round while Tony and I started chiselling away at the hard strata originally under the calcite slab. This sloped up and away from the trench bottom to leave a 0.2m high slot approximately 0.5m away.  This low section continued for about 0.5m and then opened up slightly.  I worked on after the others had left until my light gave out.  I had opened the squeeze somewhat but it was still too small to pass.  About 4m of low passage could be seen.

Not wishing to leave longer than possible I returned in the week and spent a further 3 hours working away at the squeeze.  Luckily the calcite gave way before my aching arm muscles and I was able to pass the squeeze into the low bedding passage beyond.  By shoving stones, mud and a section of shattered calcite floor aside I was able to progress for 5m in an elliptical passage some 2m wide.  I built a small cairn to mark my progress and returned to the entrance end of the trench to pick up the club’s Sunto compass and a tape.  I surveyed the trench and extension at the end of a tiring afternoon.

I returned the next afternoon with only a limited time to spare and dug my way along an additional 3m of passage visible from the day before in less than 2 hours.  The end is still open and is a low arch floored with jumbled rocks and is draughting healthily out of the dig.  The limited stacking space will mean that spoil will have to be removed back past the squeeze. The dig also has a slight downhill gradient - Blitz to take note!

Although only 8m of new passage has been entered it is of a passage form very similar to the Cam Valley Crawl recently discovered by Rob and myself connecting 22 to 23.  My surface survey work and recently acquired large scale plans of Wookey Hole Cave show that the present end of Halloween Rift is, with a generous error margin of ±2m, only 81m from the nearest point of Wookey 22.  Rob and myself are working on a dry connection between Wookey 23 and 24, we have already bypassed the first of the 23 sumps and are confident of eventual success.  I need say no more.

Postscript

Since writing the above article Rob and I have spent another couple of hours working at the dig.  We have added another 0.7 metres of passage, dragged back a considerable quantity of spoil, enlarged the entrance squeeze and can now look along 3m more of low passage, the dig is still draughting.  A further solo trip on the 1st March gained another 0.3 m and a clearer view of the continuing passage which widens out after the narrow section marking the dig face at the moment.  The draught on this trip seemed the strongest ever.

Mark – Bristol Poly.


 

Bat Poo

Jill Tuck recently sent in the following to provoke our imaginations:

Have you ever wondered (well, one does) how bats avoid showering themselves with their own excreta when they spend so much time hanging upside down?

The New Scientist (9.6.85) found the solution when one of their staff, who had never even thought about the subject, had the answer hit him in the eye, or nearly.  In London Zoo he saw a urinating bat clasp a ceiling support with the vestigial claws on its wings and swing down to face him, right side up.  He said that the urination that followed was long and luxurious and he was only saved by a sheet of glass!  The best description of the bat's expression while this was going on was, apparently, enigmatic.

It left the man very impressed, but now his conjecture has moved on to bats' sex life!

Meets List, July & August 1983

July 1st.           - -

July 15th.         - -

July 16th.         - -

July 30th.         - -

Aug. 12th.        - -

Aug. 26th.        - -

 

Aug 27th-29th

Longwood (Friday Niters)

G.B.

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu (Top Ent. To I)

South Wales (F.N. – Saturday)

Lamb Leer (Friday Niters)

Charterhouse (Friday Niters 3 only)

                     Alternative – Manor Farm

North Wales.  Caving and Walking

B. Prewer

B. Prewer

M. Grass

B. Prewer

B. Prewer

B. Prewer

 

M. Grass

Brian's number to telephone re Friday Nit trips is Wells 73757.

Martin's number is currently Luton 33145, but this may change in the very near future.

Contact me (Wedmore 712284) if there's any problem.


 

Down The Thurlogh

By Peter Glanvill

It's not often one walks into 300m of new passage without some considerable effort - even in County Clare nowadays.  Even less does one expect to do it in a well known and documented cave system as K1 or The Cave of the Wild Horses at Kilcorney.  It becomes even more satisfying when one discovers that Jayrat has looked at the relevant passage five years previously – and left it alone! Now all can be told….

A group of UBSS/CDG/CSS/BEC/SWCC/DSS/BPC cavers were staying at Kilshanny over the Easter period. - I shall henceforth call them the Kilshanny Irregulars (K.I.’s).  Three of us visited the Cave of the Wild Horses on the first day because it was wet, the cave was dry (or supposed to be) Charlie Self hadn’t been there and the Poly C.C. were digging in a depression.

K1 lies at the base of a cliff in a corner of the large closed Kilcorney Depression.  It is unique in being a cave associated with a turlough or vanishing lake and can act as both a sink and very rarely a rising. It has been known for several hundred years and has the legend of the wild horses attached to it - these are supposed to emerge when the cave floods – I didn’t see any (but then the cave didn't flood).  The turlough can flood to a considerable depth and can empty after a minor flood in twenty minutes.  We were reliably informed that drilling in the depression revealed 400 feet of earth – quite a staggering fact and rather puzzling too.

To cut a long story short the three of us descended the cave to the pitch where its awkwardness cut the party down to Charlie and myself.  We wandered through the lower series which seemed gloomy muddy and uninspiring until Gour Passage was found.  This contains some rather nice mini gours and has a false floor of considerable thickness - it may be as much as 8m.  A tiny inlet stream feeds the gours which terminate in a series of deep gour pools in a narrow rift.  The description of the cave stated that these gour pools could be followed for 25m. Being the man with the wet suit and rather liking water I jumped into the first gour which rapidly became 2m deep - a sort of swim cum traverse led to a climb over a gour dam into the next and the next and the next... The displaced water splashed on in front of me in a very tantalising way, and, as the rift became constricted, I became aware of a strong inward draught.  The passage ended soon after I had passed a couple of constrictions.  It ended in a pitch which I was sure shouldn’t have been there.  Charlie took a quick look and we headed out.  The next day two more K.I.’s came with me, Tony Boycott hammered in a bolt and a fine 8m pitch down the side of the final gour was descended.  The subsequent rift passage dropped steeply past some fine fluting on the left wall to what looked at a brief glance like a static gour pool sump.  Two days later all 7 of the K.I.’s returned apart from Angie Glanvill who didn’t start speaking to me until the day after the trip.  While Ted Popham, Charlie Self and myself climbed into another 30m of passage (4m x 10m – 3 leads – strong outward draught) in another part of the lower series, the diving contingent discovered the “sump” was a pool bypassed by a squeeze.  All the K.I.’s battered the squeeze until Tony and the two girls were able to pass it (hence its name – 36B Squeeze).  The rest of us had to bludgeon away for a bit longer to see the Promised Land. Once through they entered a meandering 1.5m diameter tube (very like the canal in Aillwee Cave) which took several dry inlets and one small inlet stream.  The tube continued to a collapsed area with a high cross rift above it.  The stream flowed down a hole in a stal blockage.  A crawl to the right of the stream led to some wallowy ducks in another tube and at last a junction with a much larger (3m x 5m) passage at a boulder pile.

All were sworn to secrecy and it was not for a few days that another trip was made into the cave at the instigation of the original explorer who was getting impatient!  The big passage was entered via a 2m drop (belay point detached itself from the mud on our second visit!)  It was a pretty dismal place.  One end led into the choke mentioned earlier whilst the opposite direction the passage continued as a rift lined with thick sticky mud banks and boulder obstructions until it ended in an evil looking “minimal airspace” duck.  At the duck a large proportion of the party got very frightened for some reason and hurried out surveying as they went and vowing never to return.  They encountered a BEC party at the top of the main pitch and successfully managed to transmit their anxieties to them before making their exit.

A few days later Julian Walford, Ted Popham, Angie Glanvill and myself returned to take photos and chase up loose ends.  None of us got “bad vibes” from the cave and I managed to pass the terminal duck. This led after a miserable 3 metres to a very definite (diveable if you are a masochist or mud freak) sump. There are still point to examine in the whole of K1 and one or two places in the extension.  It’s worth extra effort because there must be something quite big down there to create such a powerful draught.  K1 occupies an interesting position to, on the presumed drainage route between the Western Burren and the Fergus River Cave complex.  By the way the photographs came out – Julian in Sludge Creek in particular, look quite dramatic.

Finally if anybody wants to know what Pollballiny is like – read the Cerberus Journal!


 

Bassett's Notes Continued

TACKLE MAKING. If you are one of the hundred or so members who did not get round to helping the tackle-master during the last session, why not give John a ring now on Shepton 4815. He has some new work needing doing. Remember, the tackle-master's job is to organise the construction and maintenance of tackle, not to make it and repair it all himself

LIBRARY.  Many thanks to old member P. Wilkins for ten year's worth of back-issues of the B.B.  Any others will be most gratefully received (even new ones!)

J-Rat .

BELFRY IMPROVEMENTS. The E.G.M. was only just quorate, and then after we had waited for half an hour.  A majority of those present voted against continuing with the existing plans, and a sub-committee is investigating a cheaper alternative

GAPING GHYLL - INGLEBOROUGH LINK UP.

These two caves are now most definitely one, a filmed through trip having been made during the Spring Bank Holiday.  While 'Mendip' Jim Abbott (ex B.P.C.) and Julian Griffiths traversed from the lower end, Geoff Yeadon and Geoff Crossley entered G.G. accompanied by Sid Perou et al., including Bassett and Jane.  Carrying movie cameras underground no longer appeals to me.  An historic trip to have been involved in, but I certainly would not do it again.

There cannot be many non-divers who have seen Radagast's Revenge.  The stal is good and the chamber quite impressive, but most of us were too shattered to notice it.

The section is dangerously unstable and will probably need to be dug out every time it is visited.

Thank goodness for the B.P.C. winch.  I think we would still be in G.G. otherwise.

Thank you, Geoff, for the invitation to join you on an epic.

CHARTERHOUSE CENTRE. Tom Elkin is retiring as warden of this Somerset Education Committee Centre.  The new warden is to be one Terry Matthews, an ex-marine who is currently working at Taunton Tech.  It is strongly rumoured that Tom is to be the first Countryside Warden for Mendip, and he will be based at Charterhouse.

BELFRY BUNKS.  Thanks due to Lil Romford and Brenda Prewer for supplying and fitting washable covers for many of the mattresses.  Very professional they all look, too.

PARTY

Grand Birthday P.U. - Sat. 9th July

Come and celebrate the birthdays of Phil Romford, Brenda Wilton, Mary Gwyther, Jane Thomas and Annie West at 1 Vicarage Close, Coxley.

Everyone welcome............. especially if you bring a bottle.

JULY/AUGUST B.B.  I have one possible article for the next BB. Unless I receive further material very shortly, then the rest if the July/August issue will consists of transcripts of Club Log entries on the recent finds in Eastwater and Wookey.

Thanks to Robin Gray for a piccy of me to head one of my pages.

Perhaps if a You write enough You can have your own caricature to head the page!

Bassett