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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset Telephone: Wells (0149) 72126

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Bassett’s Notes

COUNTY CLARE, EIRE, EASTER 1983.  This very successful meet is only just over.  Many members forsook South Wales to visit the land of Guinness at £l.00 per pint and petrol at £2.79 a gallon.  Even the falling Pund failed to cut the cost much, but a good time was had by all in spite of the cost.  Some stayed at Peg McCarthy's cottage (first used as a cavers' cottage back in 1962 when a mixed party of B.E.C., Wessex and Shepton stayed there) some went for the better endowed quarters at Kilshanny, and yet others braved the rain, hail, wind and snow (yes, SNOW) and camped by Doolin Strand. We were all received by the O'Connors as old friends.

Many pints were consumed (though Colin Dooley failed to beat his 1971 record of 24 pints in one day and 163 pints in a. week) and, believe it or riot, a great deal of caving was done.

Pete Glanvill & Co. discovered a rather fine extension to the little visited 'Cave of the Wild Horses' (no doubt an article will be forthcoming).  While Pollnagollum - Poulelva and St. Catherines - Fisherstreet saw the usual vast numbers of cavers.  Wormhole got lost again - but then so did most other people at one time or another.  Bolt discovered the joys of a peat fire, and Hannah the dog had the time of her life, plus a few of Mrs. McCarthy's chickens.

Gussie O'Connor has told everyone that there a big reunion next Easter - 72 hours of Guinness and plenty of floor space in the intervals – should there be any.

SIDCOT SWALLET. Andy Sparrow and his men are digging at the bottom of the cave, and have excavated into a phreatic tunnel.  Progress is slow but steady.  In usual sparrow-style, Andy says he won't write anything until there is more to write about (by which time it will not be news say I.)   Perhaps I can get someone to extract his notes from the Club log.


The Bec Get Everywhere - Mexico '82 Expedition

Now it can be told - where the Wart money went and why you all got conned into buying expensive car stickers, but first our thanks must go those who did contribute to the trip and our commiserations to those who didn't (the ancient Maya curse we discovered should strike you as these lines are read!).

For those not in the picture the Expedition consisted of cavers from essentially the Leeds/Bradford, Manchester/Stockport and Mendip areas plus a few odds and sods from foreign parts and Syd Perou's film crew of seven.  This made about thirty in all though with members arriving and leaving at different times this was fairly flexible.  The BEC contingent was made up of Dany Bradshaw, Bob Cork and Tony Jarratt, several hundred "Bertie" stickers and the Belfry Battle Flag.

The organisation of the trip had taken some two years with a large amount of fund raising, obtaining sponsorship from firms and writing for permission to work in our chosen area. The bulk of our caving and camping equipment was dispatched by sea in September of 1982.  The freight shipping firm of Schenkers did this (and much more) for us gratis.  Without their extremely generous aid and assistance it is doubtful if the Expedition would have succeeded.

Our chosen caving area was centred on the town of San Cristobal de las Casas in the forested highlands of Chiapas-Mexico's southern border state with Guatemala.  This is an area of hundreds of square miles of limestones and volcanic rocks reaching about 10,000 feet altitude and, in the San Cristobal area, giving a depth potential of some 5,000 feet.  This heavily forested area had been  previously looked at by only a handful of cavers - mainly American and Anglo - Canadian teams, though a couple of expeditions by Italians and Belgians had also taken place.   A half down large and generally very wet systems had been surveyed and the local show cave, Grutas de San Cristobal, was known to be over two miles long and with open passages leading on. Three of our original group had visited the area in 1981 on a reconnaissance trip and had been very impressed.

The main body of the team left England at the end of November planning to meet up with several lads who had left a couple of weeks earlier to bring down two vehicles from California.

A series of teething troubles occurred almost immediately starting with our discovery on arrival at Mexico City airport that one of the Mexican internal airlines had gone on strike (just like home).  The other airlines were unable to land at Tuxtla in Chaipas due to low cloud and British Airways had lost six of our personals rucksacks - not to appear until over three weeks later!  After a narrowly avoided international incident or two at the airport, two vehicles were hired and we set off on the 800 mile drive south. One of these left the airport late at night and after a FIVE hour drive through a surprisingly well populated Mexico its occupants were somewhat dismayed to arrive back at the airport! With a population of 14 million - most of whom seem to be trainee stock car racers - Mexico City is sporting to say the least.

Many tales could be told of the adventures of our two car loads in the next day or so but to save space a mere pint in the Hunter's will ensure that those interested get the full story.  Our arrival at San Cristobal revealed more stragglers lurking in a local bar.  Two Yanks, a Dutchman, a Kiwi and a couple of émigré English cavers had gathered together and taken over a local cheap hotel.  This was necessary as our camping gear was still in the hands of the Mexican customs and would be there for at least another week! We joined them and settled into an acclimatisation programme of drinking, eating and sight-seeing in the town - an incredibly colourful spot and the market place for several local Indian tribes.  It is possible to buy practically anything here (including Armadillo handbags) and much of our British purchased food, clothes and essentials could have been obtained much cheaper locally.  One of the team compared the town with Katmandu for its colourful local folk costumes and general atmosphere - and the inevitable American tourists.

Eventually our gear arrived and camp was established just outside the town in a field full of delightful hairy caterpillars.  They were our first encounter with Mexico's exciting fauna.  The charming little furry bastards gave a nasty acid burn when touched and were fond of down sleeping bags!  At last we could go caving.  This second nasty shock was accepted as inevitable and so off we trooped into the nearby show cave to get some idea of what we were in for.  We were pleasantly surprised.  Essentially a mile and half of huge dry passage and fantastically decorated chambers with a temperature of 20 C. (68 F.) made up for all those Eastwater trips last year.   We soon ditched our furry suits and nylon overalls and took to shirts and shorts for most trips here.  During the next two months many visits to this system were undertaken but only one minor extension was made despite a lot of searching in side passages and in the roof.  The big problem here was that the un-surveyed mile long extension to the cave lay beyond a long static sump that was only passable in drought.  Local weather conditions had changed somewhat since the recent eruption of the El Chicon volcano only thirty miles and the sump obstinately refused to drain.  Our lack of diving gear first made itself painfully obvious in this cave. 

Several of the team turned their attentions to the hills and plateau above the town - between the show cave and its presumed resurgence some 10 miles away and about 5,000 feet lower. About fifty caves and shafts were descended up to depths of 300 feet but rewarded us with nothing but a tarantula called Stanley and a story for John "Lugger" Thorpe to tell in the Craven Heifer.  While checking out a rock-shelter he came face to face with a mountain lion which luckily decided that Lugger would be a particularly small and unpleasant mouthful and ambled on.

Some of the others were not quite so fortunate.  A large cave had been found some miles away in the territory of a local Maya Indian tribe. Permission had been asked of the nearest local who had no objections.  It seems that the rest of the tribe did have and on their second visit the lads were taken prisoner by over fifty Indians armed with machetes and sticks and told that "two lives"and a heavy fine were required. Our brown trousered colleagues rapidly turned out their pockets and were only slightly relieved to realise that "two lives" was bad English for “two hostages".  After a long one-sided argument they were released and, like Lugger, escaped without being eaten.

With little materialising in our chosen area a breakaway team decided to follow up some rumours heard from a Mexican oil rig boss and did some prospecting in the Las Margaritas area some 70 miles south east and closer to the Guatemalan border.  This area was much lower than San Cristobal and gave no hope of a world depth record but had potential for long and interesting systems.

Many superb caves were explored over some four weeks of visits – almost all of these being shown to us by a young Mexican fanner - Oscar Jimenez.  Though not a caver Oscar invariably knew which holes were open, blocked, large or small and accompanied us underground on several surveying trips. With his permanent grin and one word of English -"sweat" - he was a great asset and was paid by us the going rate for a day's work (about 70p and as many fags as he could smoke).  On our first visit he even insisted that ten of us sleep in his house.  This was a wooden building about the same size as the East Somerset hut and also the home of a large turkey which Ian "Watto" Watsom unknowingly used as a pillow.  The local village dogs soon began to appreciate our presence.  Never before had they been stroked or given saucepans full of cremated curried rice.  Equally delighted were several small boys who became plastered in "Bertie" stickers and learnt several useful English phrases.  In return we got invited to the village New Year's piss up and discovered the art of distilling instant brain damage.  After a few glasses of "Traco" their arms curled up and became useless as total body failure set in.  Thank God they wouldn't serve us with it in the bar.

Back to the caves. This beautifully forested locality contained several fragments of an ancient drainage system.  All were large, fairly extensive and packed with superb but generally dead formations.  Broken Indian pottery was found in all of these and it would seem that they were once used as water collecting sites, though they are now very dry.  Vampire bats and hand-sized spiders inhabited these caves and a large wooden cross in a particularly eerie and not easily accessible chamber added to the spice of exploration.

Two completely unvisited swallet caves were pushed here and both were very spectacular.  The wetter of the two was extremely sporting and the other was notable for its steep water sculpted ramp passages and sticky white mud. Despite their initial promise both sumped after a few hundred feet and the huge resurgence 15 miles away was also a disappointment.  An entrance over 100ft wide and 60 ft high dropped instantly to a static sump.  The large river emerging from boulders a hundred yards below this cave must flow through a major system but again diving gear or a bit more luck with the sinks would be needed t o gain access.

Other large caves in the area were surveyed and a couple not visited due problems with permission to work in the area which caused us to reluctantly leave here.

A brief trip to the La Trinitaria area, a couple of hours drive from Las Margaritas provided us with one of the smallest but most novel caves visited.  A thirty foot pitch dropped into a 200 foot long low chamber the floor of which was strewn with over a hundred human skulls and many limb bones. A lack of smaller bones and the presence of many heaps of ashes indicated that before interment these bodies had been cremated.  Little could be found at the time to enlighten us as to the age and archaeological importance of these remains but a piece of skull was retrieved for Carbon 14 analysis.  Many photographs were taken of this strange and rather unnerving underground cemetery - including the inevitable "Alas poor Yorick" snaps!

While exploration in these areas continued to give us fairly moderately sized but worthwhile rewards another team had commenced work in the San Lucas/El Zapotal area at the foot of the massif below San Cristobal.  Resurgences were believed to drain the high plateau and several fine caves were discovered and explored.

The enormous entrance chamber of Borohuiz (Cave of the Jaguar) proved to be a religious site for the area's Indian population and had its own semi-pagan legend.  Anyone entering the right hand passage below the vast entrance would "speak with God".  Those daring to explore the dark left hand passage were therefore going to "speak with the Devil" and he who was rash enough to stand in the beam of sunlight boring into the entrance chamber would undoubtedly be struck down for his effrontery.  We laughed at this as well but anyone who has read the papers recently may have noticed the occasional item concerning Syd Perou and several other members laid up in a Mexican hospital with severe histoplasmosis!!

The cause of this dreaded disease lay, we suspect, in a different, nearby cave which contained vast heaps of dusty guano deposited by its resident vampire bat population. Giving the affected caver a really horrible dose of fever, dehydration, nausea, difficulty in breathing and general debility this occasionally fatal illness is a high risk possibility in caves of the tropical one.

(Doctor's note:  The organism causing the disease is a kind of fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum, which causes its symptoms after inhalation of its spores from infected guano.  Normally the illness presents as a form of chest infection but in a considerable percentage of individuals there may be no symptoms in the affected person.   The only way to diagnose exposure and infection then is to perform a simple skin test.)

Being under the protection of the Bat God the BEC contingent had been kept from visiting this cave and survived to carry on with the exploration of a neighbouring system  and the major find of the Expedition - Veshtucoc".

Following some heroic free-diving by Dave "Grotty" Gill a mega stream passage had been found with a couple of vast chambers comparable to those in the large French systems.  A series of visits had led to the exploration of a mile of passage, including a second free-diveable sump and terminating in a third, deep looking pool.  Our only diving equipment being one mask this was taken down and attached to Bob Cork who, after a very committing free dive of about 15 feet emerged to discover a major extension.  Further trips here gained almost another mile and a half of really impressive cave.  A section of inclined and heavily water sculpted stream passage over a thousand feet long was the highlight.  Time being short this system was surveyed and left with eleven possible ways on. Should those left ill in Mexico recover enough to continue exploration here it is almost certain that major extensions will be found.

Other caves visited included "El Chorricadero" - arguably the world's most sporting through trip.  This high and narrow river cave bores down through a mountain for a mile and a half and to a depth of 1400 feet.  Requiring only a hundred foot rope for half a dozen pitches the majority of the system is traversed right in the river.  Progress is generally made by leaping up to 15 feet into deep flooded potholes and by swimming along canals where a lifejacket is almost a necessity (at least for the non-swimmer).  Just to cap it all on emerging from the resurgence the knackered caver is greeted by a flock of optimistic vultures.

Fringe activities kept us amused when not caving though only a relatively small amount of boozing took place (honest).  Vicente Kramsky, pioneer local caver and professional photographer, gave us much assistance and a superb slide show.  Tourist attractions and shopping trips were enjoyed by all and a trickle of Mexican and foreign visitors added to the cosmopolitan flavour of the camp site. Much more could be written on the trip and everyone has their own favourite tales but no doubt these will be retold in the pub until you are all bored to tears.  An expedition report with surveys, photos etc. is planned and Syd Perou's film of the trip should be on Channel 4 by October.

As a conclusion I must say that everyone who went would return to Mexico.  Once there it is cheap to live and there's enough cave to be found to last for years. In my opinion the '82 Expedition was a great success and has paved the way for future British teams.  Don’t leave it all for the Yanks - start saving now!

Tony Jarratt  March 1983


Up The Wadi

This story begins 12 years ago two weeks after Wookey 22 was discovered.  If you look through the CDG N/L’s for this time you will find that John Parker, Tim Reynolds, and Bryan Woodward explored an Eastwater type ascending rift passage for 200 feet before getting fed up – not that the passage closed down or became too tight.  However, inexplicably, the passage was never re-examined and the rest of the work in 22 was dedicated to finding the way on underwater.  This was eventually achieved after another five years of effort.

When I started diving in Wookey I started to look through old CDC N/L/s and found the reference to this passage.  On my first trip to 22 I failed to spot it, and on subsequent trips I was usually on the way through to 24.  Even a photographic trip to 22 in October last year failed to turn up anything except a minor grotty loop passage.  However on a trip to 24 in December to retrieve gear from the push in 25, I happened to have a few minutes to spare whilst passing through.  I decided to take a look at water level at the far end of the 22 sump pool where this passage was reported to exist.  To my delight there was a passage hidden from casual gaze and from anybody looking across the 22 rift by a rock flake extending to only a few feet from the water.

I wrote to Trevor Hughes in January suggesting we dived to 22 and had a look at the passage. Unfortunately he couldn’t make it and I had to put off the trip.  In the meantime he and Rob Harper, the original acrobatic cave-diving team, were busy on a bolt climb up an aven in 22.  They had high hopes of linking it to Halloween Rift (see last N/L) but on a trip in late January found it closed down.  Feeling a little disappointed they decided to take a look at the 'passage’ on the way out.

The approach is entertaining because the rift slopes at thirty degrees and is covered by contoured mud which looks like rock.  Apart from the pseudo rock there are also some mud stals. which Trev found out about when he tried to pull himself out of the water on one.  After getting out of the sump pool our gallant explorers then scrambled up the slope for a hundred feet or so whilst carefully avoiding the loose boulders liberally scattered about the place.  At the top of the slope they entered an eighteen inch wide strike passage leading off in a northerly direction.  The roof of the passage was limestone and the floor dolomitic conglomerate.  It was muddy and awkward but not difficult sand after a hundred feet of progress they found a diver's knife.  The original explorer' footprints stopped soon after with the strike passage stretching away into the darkness.  However clever Trevor spotted a hole at the top of the passage at this point and disappeared up it like a rat up the proverbial drainpipe probably showering loose pebbles on Rob as he did so.  A short squeeze at the top led to a spot where Trev could stop and admire the view - the view being the limestone roof rearing vertically and butted against the horizontally bedded conglomerate.  Beyond this unconformity a low crawl in the conglomerate led off.  This was dubbed Cam Valley Crawl in deference to Trevor’s Morris Dancing interests.  C.V.C. winds for 100 feet through several low sections and muddy pools before ending abruptly in a cross rift.  The daring duo descended the rift - something of a wetsuit snagger - to reach another flat out crawl about 10 feet long.  This opened into a larger rift which dropped away into the darkness. A fairly easy free climb led to a two foot ledge scattered with more loose boulders which required some gardening before climbing could be continued.  Below the explorers a large passage could be seen and this was quickly reached by an exposed straddle and traverse along to an easy climb down a mud bank.  Rob did it without a light and only discovered the exposure on the way back! A quick examination of the passage at the bottom of the climb (about 60 feet vertically below CVC) and it was realised that CVC had linked 22 to the far end of 23.  Needless there was much jubilation.  In case you are wondering where the strike passage went it closed down after about 100 feet in stal. obstructions.  However its position suggest it may repay more attention.

Currently attention is being directed towards finding a by-pass to the 23-24 sumps because, at present, although CVC bypasses 300 feet of sump it is a preferable alternative to carrying a bottle through to do the short 25-24 sumps.  Incidentally, if you are not a confident climber I recommend you carry a ladder through the sumps to tackle the final 25 foot climb down into Wookey 23.  A rescue from here would be interesting from many points of view!

The extension was almost completely surveyed by Peter Glanvill and Jim Durston in late February and a few photographs have been taken.  The discrepancies thrown up by the survey meant that 22 probably needs to be re-surveyed!

Tips for future dives in the area

There are still two questions to be answered about 22.  The first is “Where does the Axe enter?" and the second is "Does Edmunds' rift exist?".  As regards the Axe, as far as the boulder pile at the bottom of 22 a current is detectable especially in high water conditions.  This is puzzling because Parker is supposed to have ruled out the sump pool as blind.  However he did make a mistake over the other sump pool so perhaps there are ways on. This is suggested by Colin Edmunds find in the early seventies when he dived to the left of the boulder pile and reported emerging in a rift which was not 22.  Like the passage leading to CVC this was never mentioned again in the CDG literature.

If such a rift exists it might provide a route further along the unconformity and might even provide a clue to what happens to the Axe between 24 and 21.


Why “Up the wadi"? Well, at the unconformity it has been suggested one is at the edge of a big fossil wadi (dry stream bed which was out through the limestone and later in filled by scree cemented into a conglomerate.  Geology lesson over.

Peter Glanvill

Donation                      Top Hut Fund from Brian Prewer   £10.00.

Quote Of The Issue

Brenda Wilton on awakening one morning in Ireland:-  "12 years wasted. I'm married to a pillock".


Letters To The Editor

Linton Falls,
N. Yorks.

Dear Ed.,

An insertion in the next B.B. would be appreciated, informing ANY B.E.C. members who are participating in the Yorkshire w/end on the 25.5.83, that we have arranged a party to coincide with this.  All are very welcome.  Please bring sleeping bags - beds are limited but floor space is not.  There is a field for camping, and a leaky caravan, (not to mention a large dog kennel!).  Some indication, from one of our contacts down your way, as to numbers, would help, as this will obviously affect the size of the barrel!!!


John and Sue Riley.

I presume John and Sue mean 21.5.83 - the Birks Fell & Roaring Hole w/end.


Dear Ed,

I enjoyed immensely the humorous recollections of an 'Incident at Lamb Leer' on page 4 of BB No 417. As I recall the incident is basically correct and I am very grateful to Martin for drawing my attention to the error.  At the time I was trying to do about six things at once to organise tackle at the head of the pitch.  So it just shows that however long you may have been using any item of equipment you can never relax your concentration.  What is it they say 'More haste less speed!; familiarity breeds contempt!’.  I am sure I will not be the only one in this situation and hope that this can act as a reminder to all members.

Happy Descending

Tom Big


The Boys Of The Hill

Sung to the tune of "Boys of Fairhill" (Irish Ballad)

Lads and lasses come with me
To the village of Priddy
In the heart of Mendips on top of the hill
Have a drink in the Hunters pub
There you'll meet the caving clubs
They're the ones that get called the Boys of the Hill

Cavers come from miles around
On Saturday nights they'll all be found
Raising their tankards and drinking their fill
The Shepton brood, the RSC
The Wessex and the MCG
They're the ones that get called the Boys of the Hill

Why not stop and have a jar
In that fine old flagstone bar
There's plenty of barrels of Roger's good ale
Why not try the Butcombe brew
That's the stuff for me end you
We'll all have a pint say the Boys of the Hill

In the back room you will find
Music there of every kind
New songs and old songs that they sing there still
Some's all right and some are good
Some are downright rude and crude
Cause we like they words say the Boys of the Hill

Bodhrans rattle singers sing
They fairly make the rafters ring
Squeeze boxes play and a whistle loud and shrill
Simon's on the Melodion
Aren't we all say the Boys of the Hill
Tony Jarratt’s drunk again

Lads and lasses come with me
To the village of Priddy
In the heart of Mendips on top of the hill
Had a drink in the Hunters pub
There they met the caving clubs
See you next week say the Boys of the Hill


Cam Valley Passage

The finding of this particular piece of Wookey Hole's open air-filled passage was really the combination of a couple of factors:-

( a ) Pete Glanvill mentioning an old diving log to Trevor Hughes,

( b ) OCL mentioning the same to me.

Now all should be made slightly less murky.

Trevor Hughes (hereinafter known as Biffo since his Austrian nickname of Der Grosse Dumkof, whilst more apt is a bit clumsy) and I had been prospecting in the Wookey 22 and 24 for high level passages for some time.  On the 18th November 1982 we were forced to halt a 24 trip in 22 for various logistic reasons.  Having time, as well as mud, on our hands we had a look at all the side passages that we could find.  The upshot of this was a couple of hundred feet of oxbow passage that had been found by Pete Glanvill a couple of weeks before and a pair of large avens above the sump at the far end of 22 just disappearing up off into the gloom, one of which was issuing a healthy trickle of water.  Do not rearrange these words, having seen the surface I would not like to hear it misquoted as a trickle of healthy water.

Excitement ran high and plans were hastily laid for a return trip.  I cannot remember which caving book I cribbed that phrase from (a pint for the first correct identification – Ed).  Thus on the 28th we dove back.  Biffo had a bit of a problem on the way in but we managed about 15' of the climb before the imminent arrival of the flickering lights syndrome at the forced a retreat to the Hunters

Sunday 23rd January after an unforgivably late start we trekked in, (actually we dived in but the word dive and its permutations will get a bit overworked in this article if I'm not careful).  The first and easier of the two avens was climbed using 4 or 5 bolts plus some epic free climbing at the top by Biffo and found to close down at about 110' above water level.  Not, in fact, heading straight for Halloween Rift in easy walking, sandy-floored passage as had been hoped.

Having been disappointed by this climb ("Genghis' Revenge") we then looked at the next one ("The Mongol Hordes Information Office") and look was all we did.  It's the sort of climb that keeps you awake at night just thinking about it.

Dry mouthed and suitably chastened we pushed on back from this merciless environment.

To digress slightly, casting back over 10 years to 1971, John Parker, Tim Reynolds and Brian Woodward during their second trip to the newly discovered Wookey 22, climbed out of the Northerly end of the sump pool to enter what they described as an Eastwater type passage which they followed for about 100' before getting "fed up".  It was obviously of no significance as the main way on appeared to be the large static pool at the far end of the enormous phreatic main passage.  Subsequent events are now part of caving history and folklore, the repeated dives by Parker, Farr, Edmunds, Stevenson and others with Colin Edmunds eventually finding a small ascending tube from the bottom of the static pool but running out of line before he could break surface.  Finally in 1976 Geoff Yeadon and Oliver 'Bear' Statham carrying on from the end to surface in 23 whence three short sumps led to the magnificent Wookey 24.

This small 'Eastwater-type' passage had fascinated OCL for a number of years and he had mentioned it to me a few days before this dive.  Also, possibly a case of great minds etc but probably just coincidence, Pete Glanvill had mentioned it to Biffo in one of his many letters.

Back to the 23rd Jan.

Just before we set off for home Biffo suggested that we go and have a look for this passage.  I had spotted what appeared to be the entrance on the 28/11/82 trip.  Accordingly we swam to the end of the pool (why do they always seem colder when you're swimming than when you're diving?) and slipped and slithered our way up about 60' from the water to the start of a passage that did indeed strongly resemble the Traverse in Eastwater.  At first we took different levels but were both soon forced into the bottom.  The total length of this passage was about 300' and it got gradually tighter and tighter, until even the Moodies would have had to turn back.  By the time that I had been as far as I could go and started to put helmet and cell back on (in this passage it's difficult to keep body and cell together) B had long since disappeared up a tightsih, trenchish passage to the roof.  I could hear shouts, screams, bangs etc so I knew that everything was O.K.  Moments later, an excited Biffo invited me to accompany him to the further regions of this particular section of merciless environment.  I have had more gracious invitations, QUOTE:-" For f***’s Rob. Come and have a look at this f****r. It’s still f*****g going!!" Who could resist such a blandishment? Slugging up the passage to the roof I found a low phreatic tube, and no sign of my erstwhile companion.  He had disappeared again; calling me after him (I was really quite lucky, he called his cat after someone called Nellie!).  A short section of easy crawling led to a tight vertical squeeze over and through mud at the bottom of a 6' long section of rift, then more low phreatic passage to the head of a pitch.  This pitch was a tight vertical rift very similar to the Cuthbert’s' Entrance Rift but in very sharp conglomerate.  Then 12' of bedding plane, 15 to 18' of pitch down to a ledge from which the exciting gleam of water could be seen.  A hairy traverse and another 15' free climb took us down into the 23 streamway.  A quick look up and down and then out to find that the Hunters last orders had been missed. However we managed to arrange a 'carry-out' so it was not an entirely wasted day.

Since then the passage has-been surveyed and further trips have been made and more are planned in order to see whether it will be possible to get a dry connection to 24 all the way. Signs are promising.

Further plans include a really thorough search of the known airspaces particularly 12 and 13.  We both feel that in the headlong rush to dive the terminal sumps, much may have been missed en route.  Also there is the tantalising prospect of where, if anywhere does Halloween Rift enter the system, or to be more correct as H.R. is thought to be an old outflow, where does the system enter Halloween Rift. Several possibilities have been tried but the most promising ones so far are:-

(i)                  "The Mongol Hordes Information Office" - Gulp!!!

(ii)                An aven just upstream of the static sump connecting 22 to 23 (there's a contradiction in terms for you) which we climbed to a height of about 70 to 80'.  At this point a tight squeeze gives access to the bottom of a boulder pile which will almost certainly need an application of Nobels Amazing Rock Remover if further progress is to be made.


CAVE DIVING GROUP Newsletter No. 66 - Jan 1983

CAVE DIVING GROUP Newsletter No. 19 - 1971

CAVE DIVING GROUP Newsletter No. 39 - 1976

B. Woodward - Pers. - 1983

R. Palmer - Sunday 10 – 1982


1.         Cave Diving Group for permission to reprint.

2.         All those who have helped either directly or indirectly by loaning their kit i.e.,

Martin Bishop

Bob Cork


3.         Wookey Hole Caves

4.         Chris Batstone for selfless heroism.  Despite never having been to Wookey 22, he stayed in the Hunters long after his-normal going home time on the night that we were late just in case we needed help.


Meets List, May To July

Date     Trip                               Details                                                             Contact


30.4.83             Devon                           Visits to all major caves plus some diving M. Grass



  6.5.83             Friday Niters’                 Mystery Tour (by the sound of it)             B. Prewer

20.5.83             Swildons                       Black Hole Friday Niters’                                    B. Prewer

21.5.83             Birks Fell Cave              Yorkshire w/end, staying at                                 M. Grass

22.5.83             Roaring Hole                  Bradford P.C. Hut

28.5.83             Pant Mawr                     Camping at Crickhowell                          M. Grass

29.5.83             Otter Hole                     Camping at Crickhowell

30.5.83             Agen Allwedd

  3.6.83             North Hill                       Friday Niters’                                                     B. Prewer

17.6.83             Burrington                     (barbeque)                                                         B. Prewer

18.6.83             O.F.D.                          Top Ent. - Smiths Armoury, out I.                        G.Wilton-Jones

25.6.83             Gingling Hole                 Yorkshire w/end, staying at                                 M. Grass

26.6.83 Dry Gill Cave                 Bradford P.C. hut

  1.7.83             Longwood                      Friday Niters’                                                     B. Prewer

15.7.83             G.B.                             Friday Niters’                                                     B. Prewer

16.7.83             O.F.D.                          Top Entrance to I                                               M. Grass

30.7.83             South Wales                 Friday Niters’ B. Prewer

Saturday trip, limited numbers

Martin's number is still Luton 35145 at present, though he and Glen should be moving 'ere long, so look out for the new number.

Brian's number is Wells 73757.

My number is Wedmore 712284.

Don't forget, if you want a trip in a C.N.C.C. controlled cave, you should normally go through Martin

Leaders for D.Y.O., O.F.D.1, Reservoir, Charterhouse, Cuthbert’s, etc. are listed in the B.B. and can be contacted direct.


Subscriptions and Membership

The following have NOT PAID their SUBSCRIPTIONS for 1982/3 if you see them then please give them a reminder!!

 959. Chris Bradshaw
  868. Dany Bradshaw
1004. Brendan Brew
1005. Jane Brew
  756. Tessie Burt
  956. Ian Caldwell
  862. Bob Cork
  890. Jerry Crick
  680. Bob Cross
  830. John Dukes
  937. Sue Dukes
  779. James Durston
  771. Pete Ekford
  997. Sandra Ekford
  769. Sue Tucker
  648. Dave Glover
1009. Robin Gray
1010, Sue Gray
1008. James Hamilton
  893. Dave Hatherley
  917. Robin Hervin
920. Nick Holstead
991. Julie Holstead
770. Chris Howell
969. Duncan Innes
930. Stuart Lindsay
980. Dr John Mathews
979. Richard Mathews
938. Kev O’Neil
964. Lawrie O'Neil
990. Jim Pogue
760. Jeni Sandercott
823. Andy Sparrow
772. Nigel Taylor
699. Buckett Tilbury
700. Ann Tilbury
678. Dave Turner
939. Woly Wilkinson
940. Val Wilkinson
916. Jane Wilson
1002. Alan Sutton

This list was correct at 20th March 1983 if you have paid please ignore this if not please send your subscription to:  Fi Lewis. 63 Portway. Wells, Somerset B85 2BQ.  £10 for Full Membership: £15 for Joint Membership.

New Members

We welcome the following new/re joining Members

 232. Dr Chris Falshaw, Fullwood, Sheffield.
1022. Kev Mackin, Yeovil.
  911. Jim Smart, Clifton, Bristol.
1023, Mathew Tuck, Coxley, Wells, Somerset.
1024. Miles Barrington, Cheddar, Somerset.

Address Changes

Brendan Brew, Hyde Park, Leeds
Keith Franklin, Redcliffe, Queensland 4020, Australia.
Re-joined Chris Falshaw, Fulwood, Shefield

For Sale

Badges Sweat Shirt Stickers

Enamel Pin Badges - Bertie with BEE across - £1.50 each.

BEC Get Everywhere Stickers – Sold in lots of 50 - £1 per lot.

We now have a new stock of Sweatshirts and T-Shirts.  The Sweatshirts are maroon with a yellow Bertie with BEC across in the area of the left nipple!! and the T-Shirts are white with the standard design as on previous sweatshirts in black.

Sizes: Medium, Large & X Large

Sweatshirts - £5.50

T-Shirts - £2.50

All these Sales are handled by Tim Large, Wells, Somerset

Stocks are available at the Belfry at Weekends.


N.C.A. Information Report 83/1

Andy Eavis

Grave Dangers of Rappel Racks

There is no doubt that the rappel rack is one of the best abseiling devices available to the modern caver.  Its principle advantage is on long drops over 75m where other devices require the caver to haul himself down.  Several recent accidents, including two British fatalities, point to potential dangers of this device.

Both fatal accidents appear to have been caused by the comparatively inexperienced users removing to many bars.  A minim of three bars is required to prevent the descent becoming a free fall.

There are several ways of minimising the dangers of misuse.  Racks must not be used underground or on very long pitches by the abseiler who has not extensively used this type of device before. Practice can be done on the surface using a short drop and a weighted rope to familiarise the caver with the descender;  changeovers, etc. can be completed and the variable friction properties of the rack mastered.  Shorter pitches underground, bolt changeovers etc. should be practised before longer drops are attempted.  Once the rack user is well experienced the potential dangers must still be remembered to prevent 'familiarity breeding contempt'.  Even very experienced cavers have threaded these devices the wrong way around or set off without securing the device to their harnesses

One possible solution to these problems is the modifications suggested by Keith Lewis in the November issue of ‘Caves &Caving'.  The second bar does not 'clip' onto the frame which should prevent cavers from inadvertently threading the rack back to front; the third bar has a grub screw through the end permanently holding it onto the frame to prevent its removal during a descent but still allowing the bar to move up and down.  The rack is a good abseiling device for large pitches. Practice, careful use and possibly the Lewis modifications should make its use as safe or safer than any other descending method.

Further reading: Available shortly, a more comprehensive article by Keith Lewis called 'A guide to the safe use of rack descenders'.

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

Editor : G-Wilton-Jones

Officers Of The Club

Hon Secretary: Tim Large

Hon. Treasurer: Jeremy Henley

Tacklemaster: John Dukes

Hut Warden: Phil Romford

Hut Engineer: Phil Romford

Caving Sec: Martin Grass

B.B. Editor: Graham Wilton-Jones, Trevor Hughes, Nigel Taylor

Membership Sec: Fi Lewis

Librarian:Chris Batstone

Ian Caldwell has had to resign from the post of Hut Engineer.  He is currently taking a course at Cardiff University and is finding the pressure of work there to great for him to devote adequate time to B.E.C. business.

Phil Romford is presently taking over the task of Hut Engineer, as he feels Hut Engineer and Hut Warden are more easily managed by one and the same person


FOR SALE: One pair Dolomite Guida Major mountaineering boots, size 9, full steel shank, Vibram Montana soles, high ankle giving good support for front pointing.  Little used.  In excellent condition. £40 o.n.o.   Phil Romford.  Wells 75407


Henry's Hole

by Andy Sparrow

This new find is about 200 yards from the Backdoor of Box Mines.  It was found at the end of a friend’s garden during the digging of new foundations for a shed.  It consists of a natural rift together with mine passage, and has a total length of about 400ft.

A dig has been stated to try to find a connection with Box Mines.

Sketch Plan   


Belfry Notes

Since the scare about possibly losing the Royal Navy for mid-week revenue I, with the help of a few others, have managed to raise the standards of our accommodation a little. By writing a grovelling letter to the R.N., apologising for last year's shambles and indicating where improvements were to be made, and with the help of Graham Johnson (Bolt) I have had a favourable response.  The R.N. have now booked for several weeks ahead.  This should amount to around £300 income.  However, we must not become lackadaisical in our attitude - we still have a long way to go to meet my goal.

Changing Room: A number of people are leaving odd items of tatty clothing lying around, some of it unmentionable.  If, at the end of a weekend, they are not claimed or given away, they go on the fire.

So the message is, if you value it, take it home!  If you must leave kit at the Belfry, see me and I will try to provide you with a locker, at a cost, of course.

Working Weekends: It has been suggested that we try for a few months to have one working day coinciding with committee meeting weekends, which are always the first weekend of the month, so do try and help. Just to confuse the issue, the next working day is Saturday 12th March.

Car Park:  To aid people in the dark areas we intend to fit an exterior halogen lamp to the south end of the Belfry.  To prevent parking on the lawn we intend to place some large limestone blocks, which will very definitely be car proof.

Front Door: The Belfry now has a new front door complete with a new lock and even brass knobs (The appointment of Hon. Knob Polisher to the B.E.C. has already been suggested.  Please don't write. Ed!)  A new lock means a new key.  These are available FREE from the Hut Warden.  You may contact me at any time at the Belfry or at home to obtain one. All new issue keys will be serial numbered so I know who has keys.  I must appeal to all key holders not to have copies made for their mates, etc., since the whole idea of having a lock is to provide a degree of security to our property.

Lockers:  I am trying to collect fees owing for lockers used by members.  £1.00 for large ones, 50p for small ones.  I feel sure that some are not used but are still locked.  If you do not use your locker will you please let me know, so that I can re-issue it to someone in need.

Library Keys: It is known that a few keys are in the hands of non-committee members.  If you have one, please return it in the interest of security.


Two night-store heaters for the bunk rooms

Lots of 2' 6” wide mattresses

Timber for making duck boarding, 2 x 1 for example.



Chris Batstone, overheard at the "Bassett's" housewarming recently:

"Oi ! Move yer fat gut.  I can't get by.


Austria 1983

by Phil Romford.

There has been some disjointed talk in the pub on going back to the Dachstein area of Austria to try once and for all to bottom the Barengassewindschact.

So far those interested are Trev Hughes, Tim Large, Rob Harper, John Dukes, Ross White and myself. However, to date there is no firm commitment from anyone to say that we can form an expedition.

I think it is well known that this is an S.R.T. expedition.  Therefore I am looking to pull together 10 – 12 strong cavers who are well practised in S.R.T. and, preferably B.E.C. members.  It is the opinion of some who have been to the area that if we do not bottom it this year we shall have to offer it to the Austrians. We can’t have that, can we!

So, you guys, let’s have some committed response from you.  I am prepared to coordinate the expedition if I get sufficient support. However, I must add that each person may be asked to pay deposit to the expedition, firstly to be a form of commitment – I know you lot, you say you’ll do one thing, then go off and do something else – ands secondly to help toward the purchase of expedition equipment.  At this early stage I do not know how much money we are looking for.

When I have had sufficient response to this plea, I shall call an expedition inaugural meeting to discuss finance, travel, equipment, accommodation, etc. and possibly form an expedition committee.

On small aside: I am hoping to have time to get to Chamonix for some mountaineering after the expedition.

The approximate timing of the whole affair will most likely be mid to late July 1983.

You may write to me at:  Coxley,Wells, Somerset.

Please consider this seriously and contact me with any queries as soon as possible.

Incident At Lamb Leer

Following a rescue call-out to Lamb Leer recently Martin Grass and "Tom Big", well known B.E.C. member, Club Secretary and M.R.O. WARDEN, rapidly kitted up in front of the Belfry stove and then dashed to the scene.

Some weegees were met at the top of the pitch.

" O.K.. lads," says our “Tom”.   “Make way for the M.R.O."  “ We'll soon have everything under control," he continues, as he ties off an S.R.T. rope and threads his rack.

"See you at the bottom," he calls to Martin , and is about to leap off the edge for a super-fast descent when he hears Martin musing -

"Shouldn't your rack be threaded the other way round, 'Tom'.”






A World First To Cap Them All

( Coal gold + base minerals of Southern Africa 1981)

This article written by C J Taylor A.R.I.C. Chlorides Technical Director takes an in-depth look at an important development in the cap lamp industry.  The article was sent to us by Colin Priddle (Pope) who lives in South Africa.

The South African mining industry is the largest user of cap lamps in the Western World.  Our mines requirements run to some 570,000 lamps - 3% of the western world total - while India is estimated to require 550,000 lamps and, there are some 850,000 in the other non-communist countries.  The Soviet Union and China between them are estimated to have some two million cap lamps in use.

The history of the cap lamp dates back to candles and subsequently the break-through of the Davy lamps which allowed naked flames for lighting without fear of methane fires. This was followed in the early 1930’s with the first electric miner’s lamp incorporating a battery encased in a metal cylinder worn on the miners belt.  It was not until 1950 that lead acid accumulators replaced the old alkaline battery and introduced for the first time the advantages of a self-service operation in the storage frames.

Since then, the mining industry has been growing at a fast clip world wide, but the miners cap lamp market has been relatively static.  Increased mechanisation and longer shifts offset what would otherwise have been a proportionate market growth.  This situation has now changed as the traditional miners cap lamp nears the end of its capacity for use in a rapidly changing mining industry.

Though the 1950-based cap lamps have served the industry well, certain disadvantages became of increasing importance in a rapidly developing mining industry which was gravitating towards longer shifts and deeper level mining.  These factors were particularly important in the South African mining sector following the boom in metal prices in the late seventies.  As new mining plans were announced the need for an advanced miners cap lamp led to a focus on the traditional products disadvantages. These were:

a)       Limited ampere-hour capacity which does not allow for longer shifts.

b)       Inadequate light output for industry’s future needs.

c)       The accumulators need constant topping up which means removing each filler plug for inspection.

d)       Charging time was considered too long as the industry moved towards longer shifts. A 1:1 charging to light availability ratio was regarded as Optimal.

e)       Liquid filled batteries incorporated a spill danger which caused minor accidents such as acid burns; and

f)        The mass of lamp unit was considered somewhat high in relation to output.

In order to meet the needs of the mining industry world wide and the South African market in particular, Chloride pursued the development of a new miners cap lamp and accumulator. The technological objectives of the research programme demanded a product that would incorporate:

a)       A maintenance free accumulator

b)       Shorter charging time.

c)       Higher ampere-hour capacity

d)       Improved light source and output!  and

e)       Reduced mass

Consequently, Chloride Technical in the UK, a subsidiary of the international Chloride Group, the worlds largest manufacturer of chargeable batteries, launched a two year development programme which resulted in the development of a maintenance-free accumulator and improved cap lamp.  In April 1980 the group placed some 200 of the new lighting units at Vaal Reefs and Doornfontein gold mines for testing which was monitored by the Chamber of Nines. The results surpassed the industry’s expectations and will result in full scale manufacture of the product later this year.

The new Chloride accumulator is the hub of the development.  Being maintenance free it should contribute to improved cost effectiveness while its power specification promises a much improved power: mass ratio, thereby fulfilling two of the major criticisms levelled at the traditional units.

In normal batteries oxygen and hydrogen are released from the electrolyte bring the charging process and this requires the units to be topped up with water.  However, Chlorides work on recombination technology has resulted in the manufacture of a battery which never needs to be refilled and thus can be completely sealed.  In fact though the battery is a lead acid type, the electrolyte is contained within the plates and the separators, so even in the event of damage to the battery case; there is no liquid to spill.  Thus, allied to maintenance free operation, Chlorides product should contribute to improved safety by avoiding minor accidents related to acid spilling.

Incorporated with the maintenance advantage the new mining accumulator is claimed to provide 61% more power, having a discharge cycle of 16 hours compared with 12 hours previously. At the same time the exterior casing has been cast in a plastic which showed nine times greater resistance to abrasion and impact than a hard rubber case.

This result should be particularly important in developing the export potential of the new miners lamp, as South African quartzites have in the past proved far more damaging to the battery cases than conditions pertaining in other parts of the world.






No. of Plates

Battery dimensions (mm)

Volume (m/)

Mass (filled with cover (kg)

Cycle Life


Container material


Duration (0.9A)

Operational voltage range (V)


3(2 negative 1 positive)

41 x 150 x 187



750 cycles (70% depth of discharge)

Resin Rubber


10 hours

4.00 to 3.70


3(3 negative 4 positive)

40 x 125 x 187



500-70 cycles (70% depth of discharge)

Abrasion resistant Rubber


16 hours

4.00 to 3.70

The, new accumulator is completely compatible with existing charging systems in the mining industry. But for full potential a new rack and charger has been developed which reduce the charge time through higher charge rating.  Incorporated in the accumulator is a fail safe feature in the form of an inner seal which allows gas to be released in the event of a serious over charge.

Though the significant breakthrough is in the development of. a maintenance free accumulator, Chloride has built into the unit certain other advances.  The plastic not only conforms to fire resistant specifications laid down by the mining industry, but is tamper proof and offers greater comfort to the user.  An integrated belt loop and the leak proof advantage make the unit more comfortable to wear, particularly in the narrow confines of a stope.  In addition the cable joining the accumulator and the battery has been redesigned with a new cable lock to prevent disconnection. Chlorides tests show that the cable lock can withstand forces of up to 670N at the headpiece and 1300N at the battery before becoming disengaged.

Allied to these efficiency and improved safety improvements the refined headpiece promises to fulfil the rest of the industry’s requirements.  In a mining environment the need for safety is paramount, and insufficient light at work stations contributes to minor accidents and a resulting fall in labour efficiency.  By incorporating a new-headpiece using a 4V 1A halogen bulb with a larger reflector, Chloride claims the new lamp boosts lumen output by six times.  (The introduction of a miniature halogen bulb is the result of extensive development by the major lighting companies in Europe and America).  Illumination at a distance of 2m is said to be 2klx, the greater energy needs being provided by the improved accumulator.

The impressive specifications of the new accumulator and headpiece have been sustained in local testing underground and have led to a very favourable reaction from a mining industry committed to enhanced safety and improved cost control.  In April last year 200 lamps were placed in both Vaal Reefs and Doornfontein and during the testing there was a notable decrease in the incidence of minor accidents.  In fact, the new product is probably technologically ahead of current mining industry needs, but should offer lighting to keep abreast of development in mining methods.

Though the maintenance free miners accumulator and improved cap lamp has a rival in new European nickel cadmium units, price and power capability suggest the lead acid system will be far more popular.  Not only does the maintenance free system offer significantly higher light availability, which makes it particularly suitable to South Africa’s longer shifts, but it is also priced some 7% lower.  This pricing difference stems from the cost of the metallic constituents in the NiCd Battery and the longer production runs possible in South Africa where 3% of the Free Worlds miners cap lamps are in use.


Not only will the launch of the maintenance free accumulator and improved headpiece be a world first for South Africa, but at the end of 1981 all components will be made locally. Initially the only imported component will be the halogen bulb, but plans are in hand to manufacture the item in South Africa.

In order to cater for local demands Chloride has invested some R1 million at its Benoni factory. Recently, Chloride SA managing director, Don Searle, said production would be geared to satisfying South African demand.  But as the South African Company will be the only Chloride operation worldwide manufacturing the new accumulator and headpiece export potential is huge.


The total cap lamp market outside the Soviet Union and China is estimated as 2 million units of which 570,000 – 30% are in South Africa and 550,000 in India.  This R50 million market includes export potential of around R35 million, in which the advantages of the long South African production runs and the manufacture of a product suited to arduous conditions locally should enhance sales potential of the Chloride development.  Thus, one local demand is satisfied the maintenance free development should allow South Africa its first major drive into a potentially huge export market.  Management is confident of success as the Chloride product is competitively priced.

The introduction of a world first maintenance free battery in the cap lamp market and the development of export potential could have far reaching effects in an industry constantly aware of the need for containing increases in mining costs.  Beyond that, the development could well pave the way to maintenance free, motive power batteries for underground and surface use which will help the industry in the constant battle to contain costs.


a)                  Completely sealed.

b)                  Maintenance free.

c)                  60% more capacity in accumulator.

d)                  Under test conditions battery case offered nine times more resistance to abrasion and impact than the old unit.

e)                  Fits all existing charging units but for complete technical compatibility the new charger and frame are recommended.

f)                    Extra burning time and even illumination.

g)                  Leak proof even if container is damaged.

h)                  Re-sealable safety - the inner seal allows gas to be released if battery is seriously over charged.

i)                    New cable lock which prevents cable from being pulled out of lamp or battery unless force exceeds 670N at the headpiece.

j)                    Flame resistant container for underground application.

k)                  Tamper proof - special tool needed to take off lid.

l)                    Stainless steel shoe available for hard-rock mines.

m)                New lamp fits onto any standard helmet.

n)                  Six times greater lamp output.

o)                  Charging rack designed to take 10 lamps or multiples thereof with features which make it easier to handle and offer longer life.

Colin Priddle’s note: "I’ve got two of them cost £16 each (R32) Charger (R30).  They are superb, Terrific beam, 16 hours light".


Bassett's Notes

EDITORIAL DISPLEASURE: Over the past few weeks there has been a distinct lack of articles. Therefore it’s a rather thin B.B. covering two months.  In future I shall number each B.B. according to issue, and not the months covered. Thus, this B.B. is not Vol. 37, Nos. 1 & 2.  The next issue will be no. 2 for the year, whether it comes out in March or December…and that depends upon you.  Put pen to paper now!

DEADLINE for next issue's articles is Monday March 21st.  Write or 'phone (Wedmore 712284) or give me your offering when you see me in the Hunters.

GAPING GHYLL - INGLEBOROUGH: I suggested a couple of issues ago that I might soon have a snippet about the G.G./Ingleboro' System.  After yet another dive by Geoff Crossley and Geoff Yeadon the two caves were finally linked, though only just.

A passage leads From Radergast’s Revenge, above the Ingleborough sumps, to a boulder choke. In Gaping Ghyll, beyond the Clay Cavern Orifice and below the Spirla Aven area, a small tube descends to a chamber ,in which the ceiling and three of the walls are very loose boulders (The "Boy" dug there for a time when he was a member of ULSA, while Jane Clake, "Bones” of the B.P.C. and I had another poke there last Whitsun.  The G.G. chamber was proven, by radio-location and an ultra accurate re-survey to lie very close to the choke off Radagast's.  On the connection trip a party was present in the chamber. Initially only a visual connection was made, but, at another point, through the boulders in the roof of the G.G. chamber, a foot/hand connection was possible.

Due to the instability of the G.G. chamber, digging the choke from this side has been rejected, and digging to make a through trip feasible will take place from the Ingleborough end.

I wonder if the newspapers have remembered their promise, made years ago, of £1,000 to people who manage to link the two caves.

SUBS:  Apologies from Fi if you have paid your subscription for 1983 (if you're reading this B.B. you should have by now) but have not yet had a receipt.  The late issue of receipts is due to Tim & Fi's move a few doors up the road.

CAVE SCIENCE: B.C.R.A. TRANSACTIONS:  These are quite often rather deep, very specialist papers, their subjects totally beyond the understanding of the average caver and far outside his or her interests.  However, all of Vol. 9, No. 4, Dec. 1982, should be essential reading for all active cavers.  Its title is "Techniques and Equipment".  You'll find it in our library.  Make good use of it.

AGEN ALLWEDD: Martyn Farr tells me that he has been along on some of the Chelsea S.S. digging sessions in Trident Passage (off the end of Main Passage) where a crawl now extends for over 1800 feet.  The new passage runs parallel to Southern Stream Passage.  It appears to be the upper fraction of a much larger passage. The infill starts as a fine grained deposit - typical Aggie Main Passage stuff, but gradually becomes coarser throughout the length of the extension.  Clearly the hope is that finally the fill will be cobbles, and then there will be the river....

There is an enticing draught at the digging face, and the very easy progress (tens of feet at a time) mean there is no shortage of diggers, in spite of the arduous hour of flat out crawling required.

Some of the Rock and Fountain Caving Group climbed into ''new" passage above Turkey sump, only to find that C.S.S. had been there before - a long ago unrecorded visit. However, there are good possibilities of extension.

C.S.S. have discovered that three times the volume of water upstream of the 4th boulder choke flows downstream to the 5th choke.   3 - 1 = 2. Therefore there must be another big streamway, somewhere behind the 5th choke, and a new dig is planned for the site.

MEXICO: Bob, Dany and J-Rat have returned to Mendip full of tales, and there has already been a slide show in the back-room at the Hunters.  We await their full, written report with eager anticipation.

DONATIONS:  Many thanks to Oliver Lloyd for a donation of £5 towards the Building Fund, and also to John King and J.R.S. Roberts for donations of £20 towards the same fund.  The fund is steadily growing.  What ideas have YOU had for raising more loot?

ADDRESS LIST:  Thanks are due to Dave Turner and one of his computers for the new, computerised address list.  Dave has created a suitable programme and we have just about completed the listing.  The system is easy to update and to alter, and has just about done away with one of my biggest chores - writing address labels.  Did you notice the label on your last B.B.?

WOOKEY HOLE:  Trev Hughes and Rob Harper have pushed a passage that bypasses Sump 23.  It may be that extensions to this passage will be made in the future, giving a dry route all the way from 20 to 24.  Some avens remain to be climbed.

This news is rather brief. Trev hopes to be able to put together an article for us, but it seems that C.D.G. have copyright on any writing about Wookey.  Funny, I thought there was no such thing as copyright in caving circles.  Anyway, Trev is trying to obtain permission from C.D.G. secretary.

PERU:  Jan Wilson has written something on her visit to South America, only it's in the B.C.R.A. bulletin.  How about something for the B.B., Jane?

Still on that area, Sue Jordan is recently returned, and dropped into the Belfry a while back.

TACKLE MAKING:  This takes place on several Tuesday evenings at the Belfry.  If you are available any Tuesday, give John a 'phone call to check if it's on, and go along to help make some ladder.

The tackle store is looking slightly healthier these days, but if you still have B.E.C. tackle out, please return it a.s.a..p.  There are one or two other active members in the Club!



The Belfry Improvements

by Tim Large

At the last AGM members asked for the latest information regarding the improvements following publication in the BB prior to that meeting of plans which had been put forward for Planning Permission approval.  Over the last few years I have attempted to keep members informed via the BB of the latest position.  To dispel any uncertainty I have set out in the following lines the history of the developments,

At the 1979 AGM a members resolution by Roy Bennett and Dave Irwin proposed the setting up of a Belfry Improvement Fund as it was felt the Belfry needed bringing up to date.  This was passed by the meeting. The Committee subsequently set about organising various fund raising schemes and a Lottery Licence was obtained from Mendip District Council.  The Hut Fees were raised (Members from 30p - 50p Guests from 50p - £1) the extra increase being devoted to the fund.  Also at the AGM the subscription was raised from £5 to £8, in its calculation every aspect of the clubs expenditure was analysed, it included £1 per member for the fund.  These amounts have been transferred to the fund every year since.

At the 1980 AGM progress on the fund raising was detailed by the Treasurer.  The Hut Engineer in his report detailed the developments regarding the plans.  A planning meeting had been held on 16th May 1980 attended by 14 members.  At that meeting various ideas were discussed along with sketch plans by individuals of what would be desirable.  The meeting recommended that an architect be consulted for the best advice and to draw up suitable plans for submitting to the planning authorities. The report was approved by the AGM.

During the following year discussions were held with John Gwyther of Priddy a professional architect. Several 'on site' meetings took place.  Nigel Taylor and myself also visited Mendip District Council Planning Department in Glastonbury to obtain the relevant forms and to seek advice.  At the 1961 AGM the Hut Engineer (Nigel Taylor) again updated members of the latest progress.  There was not much to show but the plans were slowly being drawn up.

Final plans were submitted to the Committee on 6th August 1982.  These were approved and it was decided to submit them for the relevant permission with Mendip District Council.  At present these plans are still being considered and several queries are still being ironed out.  The estimated cost of the project is £12,000 with work being done by builders.  It has been necessary to work on builder’s costs as it is proposed to apply for grants from the Sports Council etc.  Any grants given will be based on such estimates.

Much thought went into the final plans the considerations were:-

1.       The Library is only a box room and does not give ideal storage for books.

2.       The Kitchen facilities are not ideally sited in the main room.

3.       The Showers and Chancing Room are not ideally sited or adequate.  Also there design should make for easy maintenance and maximum hygiene.

4.       There are no drying facilities. 

In the new proposals as publicised in the BB:-

  1. The Library is a room which can be used as a proper Library with space for tables and chairs, it will have adequate and proper storage space for books, maps etc.  Ventilation will be much improved providing for a better environment for the books etc.
  2. It was felt that a self contained kitchen would improve hygiene and release much space in the main room for lockers etc.
  3. The Showers and Changing Rooms both male and female will be better sited for ventilation and provide more room.  The main changing room will incorporate a dirty area entering the Belfry via the present women’s room external door.  Once caving kit has been removed members can go to a cleaner changing area which will include washbasins, toilet and showers.  A similar system will exist in the women’s changing area as can be seen on the plan.  Ventilation will be aided by extractor fans and floor to ceiling tiling and better drains are to be provided so that the area can be hosed down and kept to the necessary hygienic standards.
  4. The provision of a drying room leading off the main changing area was decided to be of utmost importance.  Ventilation will be provided by an extractor fan ducted to the outside wall.  Heating could be provided by under floor electric elements linked to the off peak meter.  This system is used at the Bradford Pothole Club and works very well.
  5. The new female bunkroom will still only cater for 6.  The space on the plan is at present shown to be flexible, but once a suitable size has been decided on the room a stud wall partition will be erected and any space left will be used for storage for the time being.  The vacant space will give us room to expand should the need arise.  One possibility for the vacant space would be an extension to the Library.

So the overall intention of the proposals is to improve the club’s facilities based on more or less the sane usage as at present.  But should usage increase at some time in the future then we will have the space to expand into and facilities designed a higher throughput of people.  Of great importance is that the design incorporates features that ensure easy maintenance and a higher degree of sanitation. Those few left at the end of the weekend can much more easily clear up after everyone else’s mess!!!

For those of you interested a larger scale plan as presented to the Mendip District Council is on display at The Belfry.


Large Pot

by Rachel Clarke

Large Pot is the ‘new’ N.P.C. find, situated in a shakehole adjoining Little Pot.  Discovered in March 1982 the two distinct series of the cave have bean explored to a boulder collapse (Arcadia Series) and a perched sump (Red Herring Series).  The current N.P.C. journal gives a full, detailed account of the cave and a grade 4/5 survey.

The entrance pitch is 25 feet followed by a 15 foot free-climb to an awkward crawl (especially for tall people!) leading to the head of a 40 foot pitch.  The take-off of the pitch is tight, the belay - a wedge and chock stone in the rift.  The pitch widens out passing a bucket-shaped ledge at 30 feet to the bottom of the rift. A short climb is followed by a 20 foot pitch (thread belay above pitch) to Thornton Hall.  From the Hall, an obvious bedding with a double slotted floor goes to Pit Junction, where the two routes diverge.

To reach the 140 foot Colossus Pitch the left turn is made at the junction into the old Arcadia Series. At the Junction the downstream passage is the start of the Red Herring Series, the present drainage route.  We followed the Red Herring Series to the superb 80 foot pitch (thread belay in roof) which leads almost immediately to a 15 foot pitch (belay - spike on left).

At this point there is a choice of pitches - Flake Route (100 feet) or the Main Passage to a 40 foot pitch (bolt and chock stone belay), followed by a 23 foot free climb.  A small, twisting streamway emerges in Flake Aven, where the two routes converge at the head of a 23 foot pitch (flake belay). From the base of the pitch a grovelly crawl is compensated by good formations and small false floors.  At the end of the crawl the last ladder pitch (29 feet, thread belay) is followed by two short climbs (18 feet and 12 feet) to a boulder chamber; a wet crawl leads to the sump, which has been dived and is apparently 40 feet long, through two small air-bells, ending in a silt blockage.

De-tackling and tackle-hauling offers great entertainment, the entrance 40 foot pitch requiring military organisation and giving me a chance to improve my aim and practise shouting "Below!”

An excellent cave that warrants a second trip to visit Arcadia Series.


Letters to the editor.

Ref: Is Caving Hazardous to your Marriage?                5th January '83:

Dear Sir,

The article sent by Colin Priddle from R.S.A. (Rotten Statistical Articles?) is nonsense as it stands.   Perhaps there are chunks missing?

I'm sorry to see mathematics used in such a sloppy fashion.  It does not do us credit.  The analysis as presented is not logical.

Starting by assuming that the stated divorce rate of 2.4 means one couple in 2.4 are divorced in South Africa the author appears to ask the question 'is his group of 9 with 5 divorces amongst them typical of the population of South Africa or is it different?’ The 'rate' for the group as it stands is 1 in 9/5, or 1.8.

If another caver joined the group, they could be divorced or not.  If not, the rate is 1 in 10/5, or 2.0.

If divorced, the rate is 1 in 10/6, or 1.67

In other words, the group is so small that the addition of one more member would drastically alter the conclusions.  Beware of using statistics on small numbers.

We are invited to participate in some research because it is "important".  I can see that sampling a larger population would give more meaningful results if processed properly but why is it important?  What is important is that we should not be so egotistical that we neglect the marriages we've got.  Let's get priorities right.  It is easier to cave than to create a happy marriage.

Finally, I refuse to reveal the length of my marriage to Tim Large.  He and I are just good friends.




Dear M Editor,

A recent incident in Rhino Rift highlights the need to educate people - even Club members - in proper S.R.T. practices.  Prior to this event, which started an M.R.O. call-out, Tim Large and I were asked how the cave should be rigged, since it is fairly well known that Tim and I spent a lot of time putting in safe S.R.T. belays which provide free hangs and even knot protection.  I spent some time explaining to one of the errant Club members how to rig the pitches and what equipment to take for safe conduct.  However, after all this, he declared that our system was too complex and that he would do it his way!  We all know the result.  I must say that I find this cavalier attitude rather disturbing and express my displeasure.

This event prompts me to fully write up the Tim and I did for the benefit of all B.E.C. members indulging in S.R.T.

Yours sincerely,

Phil Romford.

Editor's note: For the benefit of those who know nothing about the Rhino Rift call-out, it occurred when two members were overdue from the cave.  One had little S.R.T. experience and had great difficulty ascending the second pitch.  This led to a delay well beyond their e.t.o.

It is Phil's belief that the difficulties experienced were essentially the result of poor rigging, indeed he believes that dangerous practices were employed which could have caused a serious accident.

He has promised to submit an article explaining what he and Tim have done to improve the rigging of ropes in Rhino Rift, and how we can make best use of the system.


New Members.

We welcome the following new members to the B.E.C.:

1014     Chris Castle, High Wycombe, Bucks

1015     Andrew Lolly, Kingsdown, Bristol.

1016     Darren Granfield, Nailsea, Bristol.

1017     Dr. Peter Glanville, Chard, Somerset.

1018     Richard Palmer, Weston-Super-Mare, Avon.

1019     Lavinia Mary Smith, Wells, Somerset.

1020     Robert John Bailey, Westbury-Sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.

1021     Edric Wayland Hobbs , Hokerstone Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.

Address changes.

Tim Large & Fi Lewis, Wells, Somerset. BA5

Ross White:  Arbroath, Angus, Scotland

Tong and Liz Hollis, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Jerry Crick, Bath, Avon.

Dave Nicholls, Kalgoorlie, W. Australia, 6430.

Brendan Brew, Leeds 8.

Meets List, March To May.






Manor Farm

Friday Niters

B. Prewer






Giants/Oxlow ?

Derbyshire w/end, staying at Pegasus Hut.




Giants/Oxlow connection is thought to be sumped at present.







Peak Cavern








South Wales

Saturday trip with Friday Niters

B. Prewer






County Pot/Link Pot

Yorkshire w/end staying at Bradford P.C. Hut, Brackenbottom

M. Grass


Simpson's Pot

As above

M. Grass






County Clare

Caving, Guinness, Walking, Guinness, Folk music, Guinness, Guinness, Gui...

M. Grass














Charterhouse Cave

Friday Niters.  Limited to THREE.  Alternative is Longwood.

B. Prewer






Lionels Hole

Friday Niters.





B. Prewer



Visits to all major caves plus some diving





M. Grass







Friday Niters Mystery Tour (by the sound of it )

B. Prewer






Swildons - Black Hole

Friday Niters

B. Prewer






Birks Fell Cave

Yorkshire w/end, staying at Bradford P.C. Hut

M. Grass


Roaring Hole








Pant Mawr

Camping at Crickhowell

M. Grass


Otter Hole




Agen Allwedd




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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Bet you thought I'd given up for good!  No such luck - you'll have to put up with my verbiage for another year yet, and, I threaten, more regularly than of late.  The move from Aylesbury is now complete and you'll see that I am now a local.

The printing machine has recently emerged from hibernation beneath cardboard boxes and packing cases, the file of B.B. articles has been found, and we've created enough floor space in one room of the house to sit down and type.  We're in business again, so send in your articles.  There's still time to catch the Christmas B.B.

At this year's A.G.M., which Alan Thomas did a remarkable job of managing, Trev Hughes and the Batswine proposed the creation of a diving section within the Club, together with the new committee post of Diving Secretary, rather like the old climbing section.  Chris kept quiet for most of the discussion and Trev did not argue his case particularly well.  The issue was, to say the least, contentious.  Trev would have done better had his 30 diving members of the B.E.C. all been at the A.G.M., and perhaps he should have published his thoughts in advance. The majority at the A.G.M. were for the proposal.  However, it failed because those at the A.G.M. who were for the proposal did not represent a great enough proportion of the Club membership.  In other words, there were not enough members present at the A.G.M.  Indeed, at one point some members left the room and the meeting became inquorate. That's apathy for you.

In next month's B.B. we have something from the Pope + a South African article on caving and marital breakdown, caving in Canada, by Bolt, (if I can find the article amongst all the chaos) together with some of his cartoons, 1981-82 Officers reports (caving sec., hut engineer, editor), a note about Tynings, more on Wookey, maybe a snippet about Gaping Gill/Ingleborough, a new show cave in Barbados, a list of jobs which YOU could do to help maintain the Belfry, all the latest news from Mendip, plus bits from those other, minor caving regions of Britain and the rest of the world, plus much more, I hope.


Quote of the whateveryoucallfourmonthsoneaftertheother:

by Biffo in Wookey 20.

“Is there any water in this cave?”


Fund Raising

The Belfry Extension will cost £5,600 for materials alone.  £2,000 is in the kitty.  £3,600 is needed.  Just £20 per member, including lifers.

Every member is asked to contribute at least £20 by straight contribution, bankers order, or by running some fund raising activity - a sponsored climb of the north face of Everest or steal a bell from the Mary Rose, or even a sponsored drive home with Alan Thomas after an evening at the Hunters.

Nigel Taylor proposes to con people into "buying blocks for the Belfry" and Trevor Hughes will be selling 7,600 raffle tickets to raise the whole damned lot himself.

Would members be prepared to "Buy a drink for the Belfry" each time they visit.  50p into a pot for the first round of the evening. Forty drinking evenings will raise everybody's £20.

Other ideas for raising money breathtakingly awaited.  The best suggestion will win one free ticket to next year's dinner.

Providers of £20 or more to the fund will have their names published in the B.B.

The best idea yet! Tip the Belfry as well as the barber every time you have a haircut.  The year 2000 will pass before we can afford the roof tiles but catch Trevor quick before he goes for his next interview.

Jeremy Henley.


Letter To The Editor

Dear Editor,

John Stafford and Kangy King have great satisfaction in reporting the successful completion of their journey over the Roof of Wales.  They climbed over 40 peaks and did 170 miles in 12 days.

Starting at the Roman road near Drum in the Carneidau, North Wales, they successively climbed Snowdon, the Moelwyns, the Rhinogs, Cader Idris, Plynlimon, The Welsh Wilderness, the Eppynt and finished on the Brecon Beacons, crossing the highest point of each range.


24th July to 5th August 1982.

In the last B.B. Kangy asked if any other B.E.C. members had done the full CUILLIN RIDGE.  In 1976 I did it during two glorious days one May, but I was a W.C.C. member then.  Does this count?

Martyn Farr dived in Wookey this weekend, attempting to pass Sump 25, which he had pushed to a depth of 125 feet or so, back in 1977.  On this occasion (29th. to 31st. October) he camped inside the cave in order to reduce the problems of decompression.  He reached a depth of 200 feet where the way on lay through a slot 6 ft. wide and one foot high - not a pleasant prospect at that depth.

He has left it for "the next generation".


Space Filler: When mending wet suits beat hell out of the glued joins whilst the adhesive is setting using a blunt instrument.  This helps to fuse the edges into the adhesive.

J. H.


Headquarters Notes

by Phil Romford.

As your new, democratically elected hut warden, I would like to make a few comments and observations which affect the year's running of the Belfry.

Firstly there is concern by myself and many other members who use the Belfry that squalor has set in. This, unfortunately, is a reflection of the general standards of cleanliness and discipline of a few people. I for one would like to see this change. Over the next few weeks this situation will change with the help of a responsible committee.  This applies not just to the Belfry interior but to the whole site which, frankly, is a tip.  It came to my notice over the A.G.M. weekend that the Royal Navy, who have been using our facilities for some time now and providing a large and welcome income to the club, are not happy.  Due to the normal squalor the R.N. officers are proposing to use the S.M.C.C. hut and have already taken schools there.  This, of course, results in a loss of income to us.  At this time, while we are building our funds for the Belfry extensions, we can ill afford this loss.  So, Belfryite, buck up your ideas or you will be disciplined!

The chief problems appear to be firstly in a lack of direction from a responsible warden; various members are not taking any part in Belfry cleaning and are leaving rubbish in any available free space within the Belfry; there seems to be a general lack of interest in Belfry maintenance; when there are working weekends little seems to be achieved, with many jobs being unfinished.

I have no doubt some people will argue that this is a caving club hut and not a bloody hotel.  While I agree that we are first and foremost a caving club, this provides no excuse or reason for turning it into a scrap yard.

Since I shall be essentially a non-resident warden, only being at the Belfry say on one day over a weekend, I shall enlist the help of resident members, i.e. Trevor Hughes and Nigel Taylor, who are committee members, and any other willing member I choose. However, I will expect my deputy to go along with my philosophy of general cleanliness.

Over the next few months there will be some working weekends where club members are expected to participate. It would also help if members would donate any spare materials they may have, such as paint, ceramic tiles and like materials; any spare plumbing bits and pieces would come in handy.

The next working weekend will be: Friday - Sunday 3rd - 5th December.


  • Working refrigerator in reasonable condition.  Needed at the Belfry. Price negotiable, however, a donation would be even better.
  • Usable single mattresses for Belfry bunkrooms.
  • Ceramic wall tiles.

If you have any spare, can you donate them to the Belfry?

For all of the above, contact the Hut Warden, either at the Belfry or on Wells 75407

Address Changes:

''Wormhole'' (alias Ian Caldwell), University College Cardiff.

Ian & Annie Wilton - Jones, Llanelly Hill, Gwent.

Graham Wilton - Jones & Jane Clarke, Wedmore, Somerset. DS 28 4AX


Austria 1981/82  

(The story they tried not to tell!!)

Since the expeditions of the summers of 1978, 79 & 80 there had been various plans, discussions, Ideas, thoughts, proposals and blueprints of another trip to Austria.  These were mostly conducted in the academic atmosphere of the Hunters, on the back of odd beermats and fuelled mainly on 2 star Badger Beer.  The discussion ran along the lines that the final shaft (Ben Dors Shaft) in the Barrengassewindeschact which was fairly wet in summer ought to be dry in the winter as all available surface water should be frozen.  And this is where the story really starts.

In November 1981 another odd beermat was found and accordingly plans were laid for a reconnaissance party to go out at Christmastide.  Despite several false starts and detours, and the odd misunderstanding or two, plus the Government’s movement of Boxing Day, a strong crack team consisting of Rob (Harpic) Harper and Chris (Blitz) Smart prepared themselves. The initial stages of the expedition i.e. the first four hours were spent repairing the brakes on R.H.’s Renault 5 (and all without any form of sponsorship) so that Joanna could drive back to Bristol. This was then followed by the two expedition superstars packing a 1arge amount of food, ropes and kit into the back of an elastic Renault 5 (another one) much to the amazement of the passers-by and the passengers of the local bus service - it was rumoured that they were infact running special coach tours.  We rushed to make up for lost time and no sooner had the feature film 'Close Encounters of the Turd Kind" finished, we leapt in what space was left in the car and drove like a snail out of hell for the coast and La belle France.  We caught the 3 am ferry from Dover to Boulogne, assumed funny accents and arrived in France at 5:30 having ceaselessly lost an hour somewhere in mid-channel.  (For those of you with a nervous disposition you will no doubt be glad to learn that we did infact find it again on the way back.)

A couple of hours of driving found us bleary-eyed and dangerous to the other road users, did you know they all drive on the wrong side of road!?, so we stopped for a few hours sleep in a 5 star luxury, rustic shelter.  (For the use of any interested parties it is on the V7 next to Windmill Cemetery at a town called Haucourt and is well worth a detour.  It has hot and cold running draughts in all its one rooms and a quite exquisite view of a dead tree.)  The rest of the day was spent motoring to Germany and 10 o'clock that night saw us halted in the Black Forest by frozen roads. During the resultant brew up the road was salted and our intrepid heroes managed to make another 5 miles to a Teutonic bus shelter.  It would be no exaggeration to say that the night was a little on the cold side.

It was the cold that forced us to an early breakfast of cheese and wine which was preceded by Rob entertaining the bus queue and an old lady who was passing on her bike with a traditional BEC dawn chorus six foot length of carpet being rent asunder.  We then continued onward through a Germany which was trying hard to do a series of Christmas car impersonations - and doing them very well!!  The remainder of that day was memorable for its monotony that was only relieved by our two heroes dropping the equivalent of about £10 in loose German coins onto the tiled floor of a Bank and Blitz managing to obtain a complete list of German Bank holidays without really trying.

We arrived in Halstatt in the early evening and began the serious business of the expedition, and this is where the story really starts.  Over a few beers we made the acquaintance of an attitude of mind that was soon to become all too familiar and was to turn up everywhere during our entire stay.  The Austrians are welded to a pair of ski-boots from the moment that the first small flake of snow gently drifts poetically down from the sky; although we did ponder whether they were actually born with a pair, and since we took every opportunity to change into smart but casual shoes for sitting in bars etc., each time we announced our plans and intentions there would be a stunned silence and then the bravest local present would exclaim…”IN THOSE SHOES?!!!”.  Sure enough 'after a couple' of beers and the establishment of language of communication (perm any four of four from English, French, German and Sign) the barman asked us what we were doing in Halstatt and what our plans were.  We said we were cavers and we intended to walk up to the Weisburghaus tomorrow; he seemed stunned and glancing at our footwear gave birth to the phrase. However our first priority was to find overnight accommodation i. e. the nearest bus shelter, but were waylaid by a phone box and a chance to report our progress so far to base camp Bristol.  Blitz then remembered the underground car park that he had used two years before & we thought the accommodation problem was solved.  Two minutes later we were engaged in answering a few Police questions who thought we were a pair of Polish refugees.  As there seemed to be a local panic on regarding these refugees we though tit would be wise to seek '1egal' accommodation and asked the Police about the local Youth Hostel.  N.B. There used to be one in Halstatt but not now and we spent an interesting time following the Police car round the town and watching as they would drive up to some unsuspecting late night reveller and then give him the third degree treatment about accommodation locally.  The Police had been drafted in from outside the area, for the refugee scare, so did not know the town and at one point we ended up backing up a one-way street. Eventually a man was found who admitted that accommodation did exist in Halstatt and he directed the convoy to a house use nearby.  The owner finally, surfaced and answered the door and admitted that he had accommodation available, but that he was going to Canada, the following morning by helicopter.  Now given our somewhat p*ss*d up state and the limitations of 'Teach Yourself German' we think that was his intentions, but any how he lead us around the back streets of Halstatt which consist mainly of wooden walkways apparently super glued to the cliffs, and battered on a door until it was opened to expose the witch from Hansel and Gretel.  She was obviously on holiday from molesting small children and offered us her spare room.  This turned out to be a fairy story eyrie at the top of the house, high overlooking the lake with an enormous double bed (I'm sorry Rob but the truth must be told).  We retired to the car to fetch our kit and returned to gaze at the seemingly vast acreage of the endless bed, before crawling into it and going straight to sleep with only a bolster between us to maintain moral standards.

Over breakfast even Granny, the friendly witch, chided us about our choice of footwear for the day ahead and ensured frequent and regular stops by insisting we both finish a litre of coffee each.  We drove up to the start of the Dachstein cable car to try to make contact with the show cave manager, to get in touch with the local cavers, but the ticket man, a mental defective, denied all knowledge of his employer so we decided to try and walk up to the Weisberghaus by the normal summer path which in winter is a cross country downhill ski-run.  So by 12 noon we were packed and ready to go, anticipating beer and schnapps in two or three hours, and were gratified to be told by a group of small admiring boys that the path was open but might take four or five hours.  Three and a half hours later battling with waist deep and deeper powder snow left us knackered, thirsty, hungry, very tired and with what can only be described as definitely homicidal feelings towards, the small boys.  Blitz managed to add to the atmosphere of the moment when his gloved hand slipped on a frozen pack strap smacking himself on the nose and we had a few panic stricken moments when we thought that he had lost a contact lens in the snow.  (The wound left him with a large black scab, the size of a sixpence, in the middle of his nose that was guaranteed to stop all conversation wherever we went).  At our highest point we were still less than half the way up to the hut and it took us two more hours to get off the mountain leaving nothing but a few footprints…..Blitz and Harpic body sized footprints in the ski-run to trap unwary Austrians.

….And this is where the story really starts….Granny agreed to have us back for the night but as it was New Year's Eve intimated that she would prefer us not to come back too p*ss*d up. She just had to be joking!!  We were so shattered it was unbelievable and only managed few beers each, mind you, had we discovered the special black label export brew before retiring to our bed.  The only good thing to come of the day was that news of our exploits was filtering down the mountainside, mostly from skiers caught in a series of 'mantraps' in their ski-run, and the, locals were immensely impressed with our performance considering we had neither skis nor snow shoes.  We were a force to be reckoned with, Mein Gott!

During the night we were woken regularly by the sound of fireworks, once by the noise of a massive avalanche far across the valley and once by Granny (could this be the answer to a thousand sexual fantasies) who gave Blitz who was snoring happily a thorough telling off for leaving the electric fire on.  (It didn't suit him anyway).

The morning of Few Year's Day dawned miserable and then proceeded to get worse, but Granny in a mood approaching that of humour served our breakfast and because of our success with the coffee the morning before, increased our coffee allocation to two litres each.  We were defeated but only just.  We then sauntered out to see the havoc wrought by the local population on the town - fair to good was the conclusion, and the remains of a once proud sofa would have added the finishing touches to make it indistinguishable from the Belfry on a Sunday morning.

Blitz had had a brainwave the night before over the beers and we struggled to remember it…..then it came again, what we needed were snow shoes…..and this is where the story really starts.  His German, it was thought, probably would not cope with such a request and we decided to call on one Herr Siegfried Mittendorfer, a local rambler who had caved once, who had been more than helpful in the past.  Initial reaction was good after we had managed to wake him, and he made us welcome, and insisted we welcome the New Year in with a couple of glasses of wine (at 9.30am!).  He made a few quick phone calls and tracked down the only pair of snowshoes in Halstatt (remember I said Austrians were born with skis on) and arranged for us to call in at the shop that morning.  We bought them and hurried off to the mountain path eager to try them out, with thoughts of lightly running across the snow.  We found that where there wasn’t any crust or marginal consolidation at all they worked extremely well but on unconsolidated powder snow there was little to choose between them and ordinary boots.  Blitz then had another brainwave and suggested that if we wove some pine twigs on and out of the bindings it might make a difference… did, it meant that you looked as if you had a bush growing out of each boot, and all this in a Nature Reserve, but that they were still not adequate.  We sought solace in a brew-up and were not amused after having spent half an hour melting and boiling snow when Blitz kicked pressure cooker of tea all over the ground.  The resultant yellow stain in the middle of our makeshift kitchen caused some consternation to a passing women skier that she almost lost balance, as she saw us preparing food next to what she assumed was the contents of a large urinal.  It was obvious that after this our reputation could only grow still bigger.

We decided that our standing would only diminish if we sneaked back to Granny, and that we really should be getting rougher and tougher so we headed for the underground car park and a bivouac.  That night saw two foot of snow fall in the valley and it turned out that our ‘bedroom’ was the very place where they kept the spare blades for the snowplough.  If you don't know how much noise a gang of Austrian workmen can make with large sledgehammers changing snowploughs, then contact Harpic or Blitz in the pub some time.

Bad Ischal, being the nearest place of any size was elected as being the only place likely to have another pair of snowshoes, so waved goodbye to the Halstatt commuters who by now were starting their cars and driving them through our bedroom, brewed up (again!) and slid the Renault down the snowy (Where are you, snowy?) roads to the biggest metropolis this side of Priddy.  Blitz did at one stage suggest that we should buy a quantity of sausage while we were there just so that we could say we had gone to Bad for-Wurst, but the sausage shop was closed so the joke doesn't really count.  Buying snowshoes was not as easy as it might first appear and again we came up against the problem that all men, women, children, and probably cats and dogs in Austria are born with skis.  We were reduced to mimes using tennis rackets in one shop and in another the assistant didn't even know the word when shown it in a dictionary! Eventually another pair was purchased and plans were once more laid for storming the strongholds of the Gods and descending caverns measureless to man etc.  (I knew I could get a mention of Wigmore in here somewhere).

On the way back to the underground car park Blitz, he had all the good ideas, suggested we should try to contact the Dachstein Showcave manager, Herr Siegfried Gamsjaeger, at his home mentioning that even if he wasn't then his wife might be and that she was definitely worth seeing.  He wasn't and she was.  It turned out that he was away organizing a cavers cum local peoples type party for that evening at one of the nearby show caves…..but, and this is where the story really starts, were we interested in going to a caving club hut for the afternoon and then going on to the session in the evening.  Can a Duck swim?  At last this was what we had come to Austria to do.

After some complicated car manoeuvring later and a variation on the old phrase, what in those tyres! We found ourselves at an eighteenth century farmhouse on the shores of the lake, which the local cavers were in the process of renovating.  Not only was it incredibly picturesque but every room had a wood burning stove in it and for the first time in days we could be warm again.

We were introduced to the two cavers in residence in the bedroom             and Frau G. left us in their tender care.  We rapidly realized that it was the old one caver + girlfriend arrangement and that we had disturbed them at what I can only describe, with decorum, as a delicate and very intimate stage in their relationship (not to mince words, I think it is number 43 in the book).  However differences were soon put aside, and dress adjusted, as we joined them for some apple tea.  The subject of caving arose and after Rob's revelation that he had done some cave diving in Britain, and Chris's offhand remark that he had caved in the Himalayas they were left open mouthed with awe.  It was obvious that here were two cavers to be reckoned with, men who could stand alongside such superstars as Martel, Casteret, Eyre, Waltham and Wormhole (well after some discussion they decided perhaps not Wormhole).

Fitz's girlfriend Gabby, honest we didn't make these names up, could speak English fairly well and from her we gathered that the evenings festivities were a torchlight procession by the villagers to the show cave, the Koppenbrullerhohle, followed by songs in the snow with a traditional 'oompah' band, and then songs around a camp fire with lashings of 'tee-mit-rum.  Needless to say we couldn't wait to get started, and paused only to eat a tin or two of cold Irish Stew, which served to increase our reputation still further, and attempt to explain that ‘Yes, in those shoes/tyres.’  As with all well organised p*ss ups we had to do a check on a number of bars to find the other cavers and/or their girlfriends but things got underway at about 7:30.  The cave was quite uninteresting but, and this is where the story really starts, the band, the singing, and the witch like cauldron of 'tee-mit-.rum' more than made up for it, as did the cementing of relations with the local speleos. (And not to put too fine a point on it we now had accommodation.)

The following morning we woke late and abandoned all previous thoughts of going up the mountain, the rum had had its usual effect and we were savouring the delights of comfortable surroundings.  At one point the previous evening we had finally made contact with the elusive Herr G. and arranged to go into the Mammethohle which is the major cave of the Dachstein area, but that was for the day after tomorrow.  Blitz at this stage, I felt, disappointed the Austrians by declining to push some of the local risings, clad only in a dash of aftershave (without sponsorship) and a smile.  This was not the lack of activities that one expects from a Himalayan caver.

It was not until the next evening, after yet another day of ‘weather’ that Siggy turned up and confirmed our trip into the Mammethohle for the next day with a trio of Viennese cavers who were doing a photographic trip.  We also managed to discuss and begin to rectify some of the problems that had arisen from the surveys from the summer expeditions.  By 10:30 the next morning we were at the small hut (the Emma Hutte) which serves as a base for cavers going into the Mammethohle.  We were again lucky that all three of the Viennese spoke all too excellent English, which was a great help as Blitz's pocket dictionary had never really recovered from the snowshoes episode and was beginning to look a little the worse for wear and would probably would not have survived a long caving trip.  The trip itself was very good, if indeed a trifle slow by Mendip standards; we were gratified at one point to be asked breathlessly 'Do all English cavers cave so quickly?', actually we been going slowly so that they would keep up!! The cave posed no great technical difficulties or dangers apart from the horrendous fixed aids; it is painfully obvious that they haven’t heard of the words liability or insurance.  In all we spent about 6½ hours going in the main drag as far as the formation, yes that’s right, THE formation and also had a quick look at the head of the pitch into the furtherest reaches of the cave, the Krippensteingang.  If I have forgotten to mention the walk from the Emma Hutte to and from the Mammethohle it is because we are both still trying to erase the horror from our memory, suffice to say that the last 50 or so metres one has to scamper across a powder snow avalanche slope that is in constant use judging by the fact that there is a large accumulation of fresh snow boulders at the bottom, that there is a large unblunted break-off point 100 metres above and also that the locals who had quite happily negotiated previous sections that had reduced us to dry-mouthed whimpering, felt that this stretch was sufficiently serious to cross one at a time in complete silence.  That eve was spent in the hut with them, impressing them with the delights of pressure-cooked tea bags that produced a very thick strong black tea (who are you calling thick ?)

After catching the cable-car back down the next morning we watched the weather get worse and worse and worse and worse as we sat drinking in one of the bars at the foot of the mountain. We felt very depressed and were about to call it a day and go and cook some food (yes real hot food for a change!) when the door of the bar was flung open and, words were spoken that look simple enough on paper, but which struck terror into our hearts.  'Herr Blitz, Herr Bobby' we heard, and we knew the day of reckoning had come early.  The voice belonged to Fritz Platzl, the guardian of the Weisberghaus, our summer base and the object of winter desires, who, insisted we follow him home for a liquid supper just to round the days drinking off.  He and his wife, Mitzi then proceeded to insist that we come for lunch the next day… could we refuse?  Fritz had been impressed by the drinking of the English cavers on the summer trips and we struggled manfully at lunch the next day to maintain the BEC reputation.  He had bought two full crates of beer for us but we had to call a halt when the bootleg schnapps was produced and he suggested we corner the market on the produce within our own stomachs.  Blitz did make a brave attempt to save the day by downing a schnapps in one but was notably quiet for the next few minutes as he decided whether or not it was biologically possible to live without the use of his stomach.

Back at the caving hut, a rational discussion of the situation told us what we should have realised before, that namely we were really achieving very little by staying on. In almost record time the Renault was packed and we headed for the UK, stopping off en route to pay our hut fees to Herr Siegfried Gamsjeager, and to have and last look at wife (stop it! you'll go blind).  We then travelled literally non-stop back to Woking which took just on 24 hours, having managed to refind that missing hour in mid-Channel, but getting back from Woking to Bristol took nearly 2 days, Britain not being in quite the same league as the Continentals for road c1earing …..and this is where the story really starts.

Some Conclusions: - Reading back through this article there seems to be some considerable number of references to drinking in bars, and indeed drinking anywhere, and little on climbing and caving.  This in fact is a very fair representation of the time spent and highlights a problem that we as cavers found in mid-winter but which is familiar to climbers all year round.  The problem is basically that in the Alps or any high mountain range, unless the weather is good and stable there is virtually nothing to be done except sit and wait for a few days more.  On one occasion over a 15 minute period while waiting in one of the car parks we counted 8 major avalanches, and that was on a good day.

Also since we were in receipt of a I.D.M.F. grant, it is valid for the club to ask did we achieve anything; indeed was it worth our while going?  We believe the answer to be yes.

i)                    We ascertained beyond doubt that the tackling of the cave entrances on the plateau, unless one is an exceptionally gifted skier is impractical.  There is between 8 and 30 feet of unconsolidated powder snow making navigation hazardous both by obliterating landmarks and by covering some shafts with fragile snow plugs.  If this was the only positive result I should still maintain that the expedition was valid, at the very least it has ended considerable speculation.

ii)                  We disproved the theory that all the melt water would be frozen into ice, so the caves would be dry and noted that there was little perceptible difference between the risings in winter or summer.

iii)                 A presence was shown out in Austria and valuable contacts were made or extended. If nothing else we now know where the caving hut is!!

iv)                 We bought two pairs of snow shoes with £40 of the £60 of the I.D.M.F. grant, which have been donated to the BEC. The remaining £20 of the ' grant was returned to the fund.

v)                   'The local cavers are very keen to take on the Barrengassewindeschact (although it is not certain that they would find the entrance) and it is essential that the club, continue to show an interest in the area.  At the time of this trip we were pressed very hard by them as to a firm commitment for this summer.  The area is very well worth a visit and the locals are all extremely friendly, even to people in casual shoes; the caving potential is excellent and the Mammethohle, a few kilometres away from Barrengassewindeschact is a1ready the seventh deepest in the world with continuing potential.

vi)                 And this is where the story really starts……The End (until next time).

References to the previous expeditions can be found in the following copies of the BB

Oct 1978, vol 32 no 10 (366); Feb  1979, vol 33 no 2 (370); Nov 1979, vol 33 no 11 (379); Aug/Sept 1980, vol 34 nos 8 & 9 (388 & 389).


Thank you Chris and Rob, for the article, and particularly for having typed it onto a stencil. Typed articles, on stencils or on good quality white paper make my job so much easier.

Thanks also to Fi, who typed the next nine pages of the B.D. Bassett

FUND RAISING: Lil Romford and some of the other women members who regularly stay at The Belfry are planning a Christmas raffle to raise funds for the improvements planned for the hut.  Primarily they aim to raise money towards refitting the women’s room in the new extension, after which any surplus money will go towards the general building fund. There will be a wide variety of prizes which have been donated by other members so when the time comes please support generously. (If you don't then Lil will set about you!!)



By Tim Large

SUBSCRIPTIONS: It’s that time of year again folks. Subscriptions this year are as last £10 single, £15 joint.  Send your money to Fi Lewis, 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset BA5 2BQ by the 31st December 1982.  Those who have not paid by then will find themselves BB less!!

ROSS WHITE:  In recognition of his services to Queen and Country during the Falklands campaign it was decided to award Marine Ross White a years Hon. Membership.  Ross was one of the Marines captured on South Georgia when the Argentineans invaded, later he was amongst the Marines who retook the South Sandwich Islands.  Well done Ross.

BELFRY IMPROVEMENTS: The latest position is that John Gywther has drawn up the plans and these have now been presented for Planning Permission and Building Regulation Consent.  When this has been done an EGM will be called to give members a chance to express any views they may have on the next stage.  I have been in touch with Mendip District Council with regards a grant to help with the costs of building the extension, they have no money available.  The next move is for me to get in touch with Somerset Playing Fields Association and if they give no joy we lastly approach The Sports Council.

ST CUTHBERTS LEASE: Any delays we have recently been faced with in leasing have been caused by reorganisation at The Inveresk Paper Mill from whom we are getting the lease.  At present I am waiting for a date on which to walk the boundaries with a representative of the mill to assert the area of land the lease will cover. When this has been done the lease can then be drawn up.

CAVE DIGS:  The club has its fingers in many pies at the moment, with digs in Dan yr Ogof at the end of Dalis Delight led by Martin Grass, Tim Large, Graham Wilton-Jones and Jane Clarke who say that any help would be welcome.  Eastwater at the bottom of Mortons Pot a very promising dig with much potential here again it involves Tim Large, J'Rat, Graham Wilton-Jones, Jane Clarke, Stu McManus etc.  A’Day at the end of Tynings involving the above group, Wigmore led mainly by J'Rat, Twin Ts where much exploration worlds is still taking place, Trevor Hughes and Ross White have been playing with the boulder ruckle at the end of Swildons 12 and say that on the next visit they should break into new cave!  Finally the dig to crown all digs Goughs Cave, Cheddar, Tim Large, Chris Bradshaw etc assisted by various ex cave guides, electricians, are digging a passage off Heartbreak Hill. Some of the luxuries afforded by this dig include heated changing room with hot and cold running water, boiler suits and lamps curtsey of Longleat Estates laundered after use, electric lighting, power for Hilti drills etc, mobile spoil carrying machines (ex Cheshire Home electric wheelchairs) and access for cars(minivans) right up to the dig. What ever are we going to do if the dig goes!!

AGM AND DINNER: The AGM was well attended.  Alan Thomas chaired the meeting and the food was provided by Fi Lewis, beer by Alan Thomas.  It was a rather long drawn out meeting with several controversial issues discussed.  It is proposed that rather than pick things out and put them in this column that I will try and get the minutes typed up and put them in the next issue.  The Dinner was attended by approx 120 people who sat down to a splendid meal which was enjoyed by all.  As usual there were several presentations to make; Zot presented Graham Wilton-Jones and Jane Clark with a sign ‘The Bassets’ for their new house at Wedmore.  Pete Franklin presented Tony Jarrett with The Driver of The Year Award for writing off his Suzuki Van in Derbyshire, and Chris Batstone on behalf of Bob Hill who is working in Holland presented Trevor Hughes with The Bore of the Year Award.

The 1982/83 Committee

HON. SECRETARY                   Tim Large

HON. TREASURER                   Jeremy Henley

TACKLEMASTER                      John Dukes

HUT WARDEN                          Phil Romford

HUT ENGINEER                        Ian Caldwell

CAVING SECRETARY               Martin Grass

BB EDITOR                               Graham Wilton-Jones

MEMBERS                               Trevor Hughes, Nigel Taylor



LIBRARIAN                               Chris Batsone


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List October 1982

828 Nicolette Abell Faulkland, Bath 
20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw Knowle, Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon
818 Chris Batsone Bathford, Bath, Avon
390 (L) Joan Bennett Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol
214 (L) Roy Bennett Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol
731 Bob Bidmead Middle Street, East Harptree, Bristol
998 Crissie Bissett Exeter, Devon
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle Calne, Wiltshire
959 Chris Bradshaw Wells, Somerset
868 Dany Bradshaw Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset
967 Michael Brakespeare Dilton Marsh, Westbury. Wiltshire
1004 Brendan Brew Sutton-in-Craven, Keithley, West Yorkshire
751 (L) T.A. Bookes London, SW2
756 Tessie Burt Harpendon, Herts
956 Ian Caldwell Senngenydd House, University College, P.O. Box 8, Cardiff.
955 Jack Calvert Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire.
1062 Andy Cave Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset
902 (L) Martin Cavendar Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.
983 Jane Clarke Pilcorn Street, Wedmore, Somerset.
1003 Rachael Clarke Pilcorn Street, Wedmore, Somerset.
211 (L) Clare Coase Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia
89 (L) Alfie Collins Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset
862 Bob Cork Stoke St. Michael, Somerset
827 Mike Cowlishaw Cleveland Walk Bath, BA2 6JW.
890 Jerry Crick Address unknown
680 Bob Cross Knowle, Bristol
423 (L) Len Dawes Main Street, Minster Matlock, Derbyshire
815 Nigel Dibben Poynton, Cheshire
164 (L) Ken Dobbs Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon
1000 (L) Roger Dors Priddy, Somerset
972 Mike Duck Bishops Batch, Priddy, Nr Wells, Somerset
830 John Dukes Shepton Mallet, Somerset
937 Sue Dukes Shepton Mallet, Somerset
779 Jim Durston Chard, Somerset
996 Terry Earley Wyle, Warmister, Wiltshire
771 Pete Eckford Itchen, Suton
997 Sandra Eckford Itchen, Suton
322 (L) Bryan Ellis Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset
269 (L) Tom Fletcher Bramcote, Nottingham.
404 (L) Albert Francis Wells, Somerset
468 Keith Franklin Dandenong, Victoria 3175, Australia
569 Joyce Franklin Stoke Bishop, Bristol
469 Pete Franklin Stoke Bishop, Bristol
769 Sue Gazzard Tynings, Radstock, Nr Bath, Avon
835 Len Gee St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
459 Keith Gladman Holt, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
1069 Angie Glanville Chard, Somerset
1017 Peter Glanville Chard, Somerset
648 Dave Glover Pamber Green, Basingstoke, Hampshire
1006 Edward Gosden Brighton Hill, Basingstoke, Hants
860 Glenys Grass Luton, Beds
790 Martin Grass Luton, Beds
1009 Robin Gray Frome Somerset
1010 Sue Gray Frome Somerset
432 (L) Nigel Hallet Yate, Bristol
1008 James Hamilton Wells, Somerset
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam St Annes, Lancashire
999 Rob Harper Hanham, Bristol, Avon
4 (L) Dan Hassell Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset
893 Dave Hatherley Cannington, Bridgwater, Somerset
974 Jeremy Henley Leg Square, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
917 Robin Hervin Trowbridge, Wiltshire
952 Bob Hill Chippenham, Wiltshire
373 Sid Hobbs Priddy, Wells Somerset
736 Sylvia Hobbs Priddy, Wells Somerset
905 Paul Hodgson Nailsea, Avon
898 Liz Hollis Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset
899 Tony Hollis Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset
920 Nick Holstead Trowbridge, Wiltshire
991 Julie Holstead Trowbridge, Wiltshire
387 (L) George Honey Address not known
971 Colin Houlden Bruton, Somerset
770 Chris Howell Edgebaston, Birmingham
923 Trevor Hughes Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset
855 Ted Humphreys Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset
73 Angus Innes Alveston, Bristol, Aven
969 Duncan Innes Traherne Hall, Uywn Grant Road, Penlyn Hill, Cardiff
540 (L) Dave Irwin Townsend, Priddy, Somerset
922 Tony Jarratt Station Road, Congresbury, Bristol
51 (L) A Johnson Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol
995 Brian Johnson Ottery St. Mary, Devon
1001 Graeme Johnson East Park Road, Leicester
560 (L) Frank Jones Chilcote, Wells, Somerset
285 Urban Jones Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey
567 (L) Alan Kennett Henleaze, Brsitol
884 John King Cowfold, Sussex
316 (L) Kangy King Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon
1007 Jonathan King Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon
542 (L) Phil Kingston St. Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon
946 Alex Ragnar Knutson Bedminster, Bristol
874 Dave Lampard Horsham, Sussex
667 (L) Tim Large Wells, Somerset
958 Fi Lewis  Wells, Somerset
930 Stuart Lindsay Address unknown
574 (L) Oliver Lloyd Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trim, Brisatol
58 George Lucy Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks
550 (L) R A MacGregor Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus Wells Road, Priddy, Somerset
106 (L) E.J. Mason Henleaze, Bristol
980 J Matthews Clifton, Bristol
979 Richard Matthews Clifton, Bristol
558 (L) Tony Meaden Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
704 Dave Metcalf Long Eaton, Nottingham
957 Dave Maurison London NW11
1012 Al Mills Shepton Mallet, Somerset
989 A Nash Downend, Bristol
936 Dave Nichols Exeter, Devon
852 John Noble Tennis Courts Rod, Paulton, Bath
938 Kevin O’Neil Melksham, Wiltshire
964 Lawrie O’Neil Melksham, Wiltshire
396 (L) Mike Palmer YarleyHill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset
22 (L) Les Peters Knowle Park, Bristol Avon
499 (L) A. Philpott Bishopston, Bristol, Avon
990 Jem Pague Frogwell, Chippenham, Wiltshire
337 Brian Prewer West Horrington, Wells, Somerset
622 Colin Priddle Wadeville 1422, South Africa
481 (L) John Ransom Patchway, Bristol, Avon
682 John Riley Linton Falls, Skipton, North Yorkshire
945 Steve Robins Knowle, Bristol
1046 Gerard Robinson The Common, Patchway, Bristol
986 Lil Romford Coxley, Wells, Somerset
985 Phil Romford Coxley, Wells, Somerset 
921 Pete Rose Chandlers Ford, Hants
832 Roger Sabido Lawrence Weston, Bristol
941 John Sampson Knowle, Bristol
240 (L) Alan Sandall Nailsea, Avon
359 (L) Carol Sandall Nailsea, Avon
760 Jenny Sandercroft Victoria Park, Bristol
237 (L) Bryan Scott Havestock Road, Winchester Hants
482 Gordon Selby Wells, Somerset
78 (L) R Setterington Taunton, Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington Chiswick, London W4
915J Chris Smart Woking, Surrey
823 Andrew Sparrow Bath
984 Dave Speed Dinder, Nr Wells, Somerset
1 (L) Harry Stanbury Bude, Cornwall
38(L) Mrs I Stanbury Knowle, Bristol
575 (L) Dermot Statham Cole Road, Bruton, Somerset
365 (L) Roger Stenner Weston super Mare, Avon
1002 Alan Sutton Alveston, Bristol
284 (L) Alan Thomas Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset
348 (L) D Thomas Little Birch, Bartlestree, Hereford
1013 Gwyn Thomas Wells Road, Priddy, Nr Wells, Somerset
571 (L) N Thomas Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.
994 Martin Thompson Matson. Gloucester
699 Buckett Tilbury High Wycombe, Bucks
700 Anne Tilbury High Wycombe, Bucks
80 Postle Thompsett-Clark Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex
381 (L) Daphne Towler Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex
157 (L) Jill Tuck Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales
678 Dave Turner Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
912 John Turner Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.
925 Gill Turner Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.
635 (L) Stuart Tuttlebury Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey
887 Greg Villis Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
982 Christine Villis Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
175 (L) Mrs. D. Whaddon Taunton, Somerset
949 John Watson Bedminster, Bristol
553 R White Wells, Somerset
878 Marine Ross White RM Detachment, HMS Endurance, BFPO Ships, London
939 K Wilkinson Melksham, Wiltshire
940 V Wilkinson Melksham, Wiltshire
916 Jane Wilson Portswood, Southampton
568 Brenda Wilton Clutton, Bristol
850 Annie Wilton-Jones Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
813 Ian Wilton-Jones Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
943 Simon Woodman Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon
914 Brian Workman Little London, Oakhill,  Bath
1011 Lucy Workman Little London, Oakhill,  Bath

(L) = Lapsed 

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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

1983 B.E.C. Meets List

29.1.83 ROMAN MINE

One last look before this mine is sealed. (see Caving Report No. 15.)        M. GRASS


Rescue practice.            M. GRASS

5.2.83   WOOKEY HOLE

Evening trip to upper passages.   M. GRASS

19.2.83 DAN YR OGOF

Dali's Delight/Far North   T. LARGE, G. WILTON-JONES


Derbyshire w/end.  Staying at the Pegasus hut.    M. GRASS


Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut.           M. GRASS

1.4.83   CO. CLARE
10.4.83 CO. CLARE

Caving, drinking, and walking for three whole days.           M. GRASS, G. WILTON-JONES. P. ROMFORD for place on mini-bus

10.4.83 DEVON and
2.5.83   DEVON

Visits to all major caves plus some diving.            M. GRASS


Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut.           M. GRASS

28.5.83 PANT MAWR
29.5.83 OTTER HOLE

Camping at Crickhowell. M. GRASS


Top entrance to Smith's Armoury and out of One. G. WILTON-JONES.


Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut.           M. GRASS

17.7.83 to 29.8.83          NORTH WALES

Caving & walking.           M. GRASS


11.9.83  Through trip.      T. LARGE


Visit to Lower Series.     M. GRASS

1.10.83   B.E.C. A.G.M. & DINNER

Contact T. LARGE

22.10.83            SLEETS GILL
23.10.83            DOW/PROVIDENCE POT

Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut            M. GRASS


A trip to remember.

(For All The Wrong Reasons) 

by Bolt.





It had not been the most auspicious start to a trip, I pondered, staggering along at 8,000 feet under the weight of two fully laden rucksacks.  The four of us who were to attempt Yorkshire had arrived the night before to find the two tents already set up, my little solo tent having been erected on a small, grassy ledge with fabulous views, but which also contained, I later found out, an intrinsic convex curve that precluded sleep in any position!  Thank you lads!



The rain arrived shortly after us and we retired, the other group having an extra guest in the form of one of the Canadian Army boys who had arrived, begging to join us.

The following overcast and icy cold morning found us all looking decidedly rough, except me, who looked fabulous….well I couldn't see myself!  We broke camp and set off at 0900, feeling very weak and panting from unaccustomed altitude and arrived in the designated area half an hour later. It was a breakdown area with mounds of rubble everywhere and our search for the cave entrance slowly started spreading further afield as realisation hit us that no-one really knew where the opening was.  The first cave found was Mendip Cave ( ! ) closely followed by Derbyshire Pot, but eventually a voice from far away informed us that he had it and we set off to join him hence my two rucksacks.

Their weight hampered my progress and by the time kitting up was complete the rest had already entered the cave, so, squeezing down past the large snow plug in the entrance, I hurried after them.  Passing the medium sized boulder that represented my back up belay, I distinctly recall doubts at its ability to hold my weight and then, so help me, not even glancing at the main belay, but clipping on the rack I slid over the edge. Twenty feet down the 45 foot first pitch of Yorkshire Pot my main belay failed.  The sudden horrifying feeling of freefall was replaced almost immediately by the jerk of the rope as the back up held.  Musing on the feasibility of changing one's underpants came to an abrupt end as rumblings from above warned me of what was to come and I curled up into a ball on the rope.


What a stupid move that was! The chock-stone that has been the main belay subsequently hit the back of my neck sending my helmet spinning down the pitch.  Yells from below indicated that the helmet had caught the rest of the party up, even if its' owner hadn't.  Descending through waves of dizziness and nausea was fun but they passed and we carried on into the cave until shortly afterwards and not surprisingly, my carbide failed completely.

A spare carbide got us going again but we found most pitches required replacement bolts and the going was very slow.  The lead changed several times and at one stage, after inserting a bolt and abseiling down, I found myself ahead of the main group with the Canadian behind me. A small hole, a short constriction and my head popped out above the next pitch.  Ooer!  Trying to back out soon confirmed that the body really won't bend in all directions and it took 15 minutes of shouted instructions from my sudden best friend in the whole wide world before a sweaty Bolt re-emerged literally standing on his head. The pitch was then rigged by entering the hole feet first!

At this point we were joined by an expatriate caver, a Brit named Chas Young - ex Sheffield University Caving Club.  Here was experience and expertise indeed; he'd actually been down the cave before, in 1973 as it turned out.  He confirmed that the top of the first pitch had definitely altered in shape somewhat and suggested the return journey was going to be interesting as the rope now ran up a very tight rift.  Chas was a whippet type and with a roar of afterburners soon disappeared into the gloom. Time passed.  Rounding a corner, I found we had a bottleneck consisting or a smooth and very tight rift suddenly opening out above a nasty looking drop and crossed by a manky and very greasy old rope.  The bottleneck looked forlornly at me as I arrived….damn! Minutes later, reaching the far side, my standby carbide dimmed to almost zero candle power and could not be resuscitated.  Carbide was in the bottlenecked group, so I waited patiently for them to arrive. Many grunts, groans and curses later, but no arrivals, boredom set in.  The same manky rope appeared in the dim light to be tied around the large boulder that was my resting place.  Peering over the top, the knot of the rope was hanging against the vertical face of the boulder below me and the ground appeared about 6 feet below that. Reaching down and grasping the knot I slid over the top.  Never will I complain at carbide again. The sudden movement produced a transient spurt of light which illuminated the sight of the penultimate pitch of 130 feet, dropping away below.  A split second later I was standing on the safe side of the rock again, panting heavily. Pure magic.  How did I get there?  Don't ask me.

The top of the final 50 foot pitch was a steep and highly unstable boulder ledge wedged between high walls.  There was no belay worth the name and not enough rope left to feed back to a suitable place. Problems!  We tried all combinations while every now and then rocks would whistle down from those still descending.  Eventually, all spare cows tails, krabs, slings etc. were passed down to us, clipped together and fed round a nasty, smooth looking outcrop. The only back-up available was one of the outer ledge boulders, but this, unfortunately involved a 12 foot drop before coming into action.  Chas went down followed by me, eyeballs out on stalks, willing the belay not to slip. The rest now arrived at the top and after deep consultation a voice pronounced us as mentally deficient. No-one else, it said, was coming down and what's more, we weren't going back up until they'd sorted out the safety aspect.  The bottoming kit was now two pitches back (130 feet and 93 feet) and two men set off for it while Chas and I ate all our food.  A more secure belay was found that left our end of the rope 15 feet above the ground, but when I attempted to free climb up to it, the holds proved brittle, one snapping off 10 feet up and despatched me at speed back to the bottom. The bolting kit was not forthcoming and eventually a system was worked out that involved two men at the top taking part of the strain off the belay and us two getting up there but fast!  This we did, the decision was made - we turn back. Rigging the pitches had taken far longer than expected.  We reached the surface after nine hours and staggered down the mountainside to the pickup truck.  Down the track to the camp.  NO CAMP, NO FOOD, NO AINYTHNG.  They'd moved to another position 17km away. *? !=£ ..


Hut Engineers Report

After having taken up the post of Hut Engineer eight months ago several attempts have been made to organise working weekends, most of which have failed due to lack of enthusiasm by Club members.

However, certain jobs have been carried out in the last eight months, including the long awaited repair of the tackle store roof (which, I must admit, I have not checked for any leaks yet), the leaking toilet pipe, and the gammy lock on the tackle store door, etc., etc.

There are many jobs of great importance that still require completion: these include the missing slates on the roof, for which we are still trying to find a source of materials (i.e. pinching them off someone else's roof) and the new carbide store. This needs to be built before the proposed Belfry extension can begin.  The Belfry also desperately needs painting.

I have made a full list of all the jobs that require doing and this will be pinned on the notice board. I would like to see at least one job done every weekend by the people staying at the Belfry.  This, I think, should include non-members as well, but I know we've got no chance of that!

As most of you have already seen, plans for the proposed Belfry extension and alterations have been drawn up by John Gwyther.  We shall, in the next couple of weeks, have these plans submitted to the council for planning permission and building regulations approval, for the latter of which I have produced structural design calculations.

By next summer I hope we will have this extension well under way, so everybody's help is required.

It must also be noted that the Club committee have issued me with a cheque for £50 for the purchase of building materials.  In recent weeks this has proved most useful to me and has enabled me to get on and do jobs with much more ease.

Ian Caldwell

Caving Secretary's Report

At last year’s A.G.M. it was suggested that a list of meets was drawn up and sent to members.  This was published in the October/November B.B. and various reminders appeared during the rest of the year.

The Cuthbert’s rescue practice attracted four Club leaders and one guest leader - not very promising. Some trips had to be cancelled during December and January due to bad weather but the Wookey dry trip had 16 members on it.  Trips to Bleadon Cavern, Peak Cavern and Devon were cancelled due to lack of support, but trips to South Wales have been well attended (although there is always plenty of room on the Dan-yr-Ogof working trips). These have been very regular this year and the Club has an official dig at the end of Dali's Delight.  All help is welcome.

There have been various comments this year on Club leaders for South Wales caves such as O.F.D., and I have contacted our leaders, who all wish to continue and say they never refuse trips for members.  The names of all leaders are regularly published in the B.B. and anyone requiring trips should contact them.  Brian Prewer has been nominated as an O.F.D. leader and Tim Large for Dan-yr-Ogof.

The Club has been very active on Mendip with digs at Cuthbert’s 2, the end of Tynings, Castle Farm, Manor Farm Swallet and Haydon Drove.  Help is always required, so contact the diggers if you feel like lending a hand.

Trips to all major caving areas have been made, including County Clare, and members turned out in force this year at the Bradford P.C. Gaping Ghyll winch meet, and helped with the radio-location carried out at the end of Ingleborough Cave.

Martin Grass.


Belfry Bulletin Editor's Report.

This has not been one of the best years for the B.B.

Partly due to the usual lack of response for articles from members, but mainly due to lack of editorial time, the majority of issues have been bi-monthly.  This latter fault should be eliminated now that I am living closer to Mendip.

Many members are not aware of the tasks performed by the Editor.   They are:

  • Possess space big enough to keep 100 or so reams of paper clean and dry;
  • Possess working space for a printing machine and its effects;
  • Ensure adequate stock;
  • Have about 20 hours spare time available per issue;
  • Cajole people into producing articles; (this includes being a regular, well known visitor to Mendip, and keeping in touch with the local, national and international caving scene);
  • Edit (correct and layout) articles and type onto printing stencils (typing skills are useful here);
  • Print 200 copies of each stencil;
  • Understand all the vagaries of the printing machine and be able to perform basic repairs;
  • Collate the B.B.;
  • Deliver to the distributors.

I owe many thanks to various people who have helped to relieve me of some of the burden:

The printing machine and paper will in future be housed in Trevor Hughes' house at Wookey Hole. Maybe he, or some other local person, might care to take over the printing.

Many people have helped with the typing, particularly Buckett, Jane, Blitz and Fi.  (Surely there must be other typists in the club).

Several regulars and weekend visitors to the Belfry, including guests, have assisted with or taken over collation around the Belfry table.

Jeremy Henley has organised the printing of diagrams, surveys, cartoons, and some typed work, at cost price.  I am sure everyone will have noticed the improvement in quality.  Although the cost by this process is doubled, I am sure that the quality of finish and the lack of hassle warrant the extra expense. I hope to 'use' Jeremy more next year.

Tim and Fi have handled distribution throughout the year, although Jane and I will probably take over this.

Dave Turner has offered to computer record and print the address list.  Labels can be made for B.B. envelopes.

The bi-monthly B.B. is only an interim measure.  I hope to return to producing monthly very soon.  I did hear Trevor complain that a 30 page B.B. is the maximum thickness for stapling!



Freke's Cottage Well

by Trev Hughes

Sunday 4th. July (American Independence Day) dawned at 10 a.m., sunny and clear.  I didn't feel very sunny or clear and the only thing I was independent of was a few more brain cells after the après pub barrel to celebrate Bolt's umpteenth birthday.  Eventually, after a 'Beans A la Hobbs' breakfast, Wormhole and I set off for the darker reaches of north Dorset. Wormhole's car was making some indefinable "oh,-it's-something-inside-the-engine" noises.  We nearly completed the journey without incident but, a couple of miles from Ted Humphries' superb, 300 year old house at Moorside, the car died on us, the battery totally flat.  Luckily the car started with a push and we eventually reached Ted's front drive.

Ted was on his front lawn clad only in shorts and sandals, leaping into the air emitting blood curdling curses amid a cloud of flying nastiness.  Ted, tired of mowing an already immaculate lawn, had decided to mow a wasps' nest, with the expected result.

We unloaded the long-suffering car of all the usual paraphernalia associated with a cave dive, and I started to get changed.  Wormhole, of course, had to tend to his car before anything else:

"Ted. Have you a battery charger I can use?"

I struggled into my wetsuit.

"Ted.  You don't happen to have a tyre pump, do you?"

Valve and bottle were readied.

"I'd better top up the radiator.  Ted, have you got a watering can?"

I made up a shot-line to plumb the well.

"It's a good job I had some 20/50 in the boot."

I honestly don't know how that car ever made it to Priddy, let alone round the north of France.

As I have mentioned Ted has quite a historical house: named Freke's Cottage after an MP sent to the Chiltern Hundreds for handing out boiled sweets to orphans, or after an unfrocked vicar, or somebody similar.  The house, and possibly the well, date from the 16th. century.  The well itself is about 3 feet diameter and stone lined.  It resurges, at ground level, at about 3 gallons per minute and the water forms a small stream at the garden edge.  A 1 foot high parapet surrounds the well.

Looking down the well into the crystal clear water it appeared that the stone ginging stopped at about 30 feet down and a roughly hewn, natural stone shaft of larger size could be seen.  We plumbed the well to 82 feet deep with the shotline.  I kitted up and, by weighting myself to be negatively buoyant, I went hand over hand down the line.  Natural light was lost at 30 feet and my newly converted nicad aquaflash proved its worth by providing a far stronger beam than is usual with such a torch.  By looking downwards I could see the stone ginging descending to the bottom - the appearance of an unlined shaft was an optical illusion.  The shaft bottom was covered with stones and thick, algal deposits.  Although the vis quickly dropped to zero I was able to see some modern oddments, including a short length of scaffold bar.

Wormhole dived next but, due to the poor vis, was unable to find anything of importance.  He recovered a paint tin and some milk bottles. Surprisingly, also, Wormhole managed to survive the dive without any of his kit falling apart, although he did manage to break some of mine.  (I had it welded up at work the next day!).

If the well is of a similar age to the house then excavation of the bottom may prove worthwhile from a historical viewpoint.  The local rock is a thickly bedded strata of oolite and is unlikely to contain natural, enterable passages.  Further dives using a wire shopping basket and hauling rope will be needed to remove debris from the bottom.

Ian's and my thanks must go to Ted's wife, who cooked us a superb, Sunday lunch, the timing of which was absolutely perfect for the completion of our diving activities.

And the drive back to Priddy.  Well, that's another story!


Monthly Notes

G.B. RESCUE. Since the 1968 floods and the collapse of the swallet above the head of the gorge, vast quantities of mud have been washed through G.B. to be deposited at the sump.  The water is liable to pond up more and more frequently as the deposits solidify and it is now often necessary to swim across to the climb to Ladder Dig.

On Sunday November 21st. three parties swam across the pool and visited the extensions.  There had been frequent, heavy rain and this continued while the parties were underground.  The pool rose and overflowed into Ladder Dig.  One party only just managed to scramble out as the passage sumped.  The other two parties were competently organised, experienced and well equipped.

Divers found the Ladder Dig to be sumped at three points, the third sump being choked with gravel as well, and not possible to clear in the confined space and zero viz. Fortunately, dye testing only three weeks previously had proved that nearby Charterhouse Cave water did not enter any of the known parts of G.B.  The Fire Service pumped vast amounts of water away into Charterhouse, and the Ladder Dig pool lowered unbelievably quickly.  It then became possible to bale the sumps and dig through the choked area.

The trapped cavers were none the worst for wear and what could have been a serious affair ended after only a few hours.

Dozens of cavers turned up, mostly on spec, having heard about the rescue from sources beyond/outside M.R.O., particularly radio and T.V., and many enjoyed a welcome beer back at the Belfry in the early hours of Monday morning.

WOOKEY HOLE. Having heard various conflicting reports on Martyn Farr's dive in Wookey, I have spoken with Martyn and I am now able to give a more detailed account of the push.

The sump descends steadily as a high rift, comfortable enough with side mounted bottles by descending slightly on one's side.  At about -150' the rift opens out to a 20' square tunnel, which continues a steady descent.  At about 450' from base, at a depth of -200', the roof begins to close down, eventually meeting the sandy floor as pendants.  The whole River Axe appears to flow through this gap.  Martyn is not sure of the width of the river at this point but he guessed at, at least 20'.  He investigated the left hand edge and reckoned that, in view of the sandy floor, a way could be forced through beneath/between the pendants.  Through a low, two foot wide gap there he could see the passage continuing its steady descent to at least -205'.

DAN YR OGOF. We are now banging the boulders at the top of an aven above Falklands Pot (at the end of Tubeways).  Scalloped flow markings indicate that Tubeways water came from this region, but the passages seem immature (although Windy Way and the Long Crawl are both immature i.e. small).  A survey and brief description of the Falklands Pot area will appear in the B.B. soon - when I give the rest of the figures to Phil Romford!


Charterhouse Caving Committee

The Bristol Waterworks Company are the owners of several square miles of land in the area surrounding Charterhouse-on-Mendip.  Numerous cave entrances and sites of speleological and archaeological interest are located on Company property.  During the latter 1950s the Company placed a restriction on caving and made a request that cavers who wished to visit sites on Company land should rationalise their activities under a corporate body with whom the Company could negotiate a set of conditions under which caving could be continued.  An agreement amongst Mendip caving clubs, the Charterhouse Caving Committee was formed.  It comprised representatives of eleven caving clubs and an Honorary Secretary/Chairman.

The Member Clubs are:-

·         Avon Scout Council

·        Axbridge Caving Group

·         Bristol Exploration Club

·        Cerberus Speleological Society

·        Charterhouse Outdoor Centre

·        Mendip Exploration Group

·        Mendip Caving Group

·        Mendip Nature Research Committee

·        Shepton Mallet Caving Club

·         University of Bristol Speleological Society

·         Wessex Cave Club

The Affiliated Clubs are:-

·         South Bristol Speleological Society

·        Toby Caving Club

·        Unit 2 Cave Research Group

The first meeting of the Committee took place in December 1959 and it set about the task of negotiating an acceptable access arrangement with the Bristol Waterworks Company based on three main requirements:-

a)                  That the Company should be indemnified against any claims arising out of caving or archaeological activities on its land.

b)                  That persons taking part in these activities should hold a permit to be shown on demand to a Company representative or tenant of the land involved.

c)                  That no fresh excavations should be made on, or under the surface of, Company land without written permission.

After protracted discussions, the Company granted the Committee a licence in 1963 giving it sole rights concerning caving and archaeological interest in the area; exploration, excavation, photography, publication and the issuing of permits. A sub-licence granted similar rights to the UBSS with respect to G.B. Cave.  The Licence requires the Committee to:-

a)                  Insure the Company against all possible claims.

b)                  Bear any expenses incurred, including the upkeep and repair of entrances and the proper legal expenses of the Company.

c)                  Maintain a register of permit holders and accept responsibility for compliance with the conditions stated on the permits and the regulations governing the use of the land. Member Clubs are required to return all used Permit Counterfoils to the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer.

Having due regard for its obligations, the Committee has made every effort to simplify access arrangements.  However it has not been possible to escape from adopting a certain amount of formalised procedure.


Permits may be issued by anyone of the eleven Member Clubs to their own club members and guests. Each club maintains its own public liability insurance which provides cover for members and guests.  Permits may also be issued by the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer to:-

a)                  Cavers wishing to visit the area as guests of the Committee, i.e. those who are unable to make a guest agreement with a club.

b)                  Members of caving clubs who choose to become affiliated to the Committee and maintain an insurance policy covering members and guests.

The Committee maintains a public liability insurance to indemnify both itself and Bristol Waterworks against claims arising out of caving activities.  This policy extends to cover guests.

Guests may obtain a Temporary Permit to cover a period of 14 days at a cost of 25p each.  Members of Affiliated clubs may obtain a Period Permit, valid for one year at a cost of 50p.  These charges provide a source of revenue which helps defray the costs of insurance and other expenses; the majority of such expenses are met by a subvention from the Member Clubs.  The Permit issuing system ensures that holders of either permit are covered by the necessary insurance.  Applications for permits from Minors (16-18 years) must be accompanied by an Indemnity Form signed by the Parent/Guardian, Member Clubs hold a supply of these.

Note: Members of the member clubs are entitled to 5 year permits which are free.  These are only valid whilst still a member of the issuing club and cannot be transferred.


To comply with the regulations under the licence and sub-licence, caves in the area are required to be gated.  However, there is no difficulty in obtaining a key for the caves concerned:- G.B. Cave, Longwood/August, and Rhino Rift.  A leadership system is in operation for Charterhouse Cave.  Other smaller gated sites include Timber Hole and Longwood Valley sink.  Reads Grotto Dig is not gated.  Although there is no formal booking system, cavers visiting the area as guests of the Committee are requested to write to the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer giving one months notice and stating the following, so that the necessary arrangements can be made:-

a)                  Full names, address's and ages of party

b)                  Cave

c)                  Date of proposed trip

d)                  Enclose £5 returnable deposit

e)                  25p each per permit

Address to which applications to be sent is 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset.


All Member Clubs hold a key for use by their members and guests.  Affiliated clubs and guests may also obtain their key from the Honorary Secretary/Treasure (see above section).

a)                  The Cave is to remain locked at all times and parties must lock the door both on entry to and departure from the cave.

b)                  It is the responsibility of the caver to satisfy himself with any tackle used in the cave; particularly the rawbolts placed to facilitate the club up into Ladder Dig Extension.

c)                  The use of acetylene (carbide) lamps is not permitted in the cave.

d)                  The Party is limited to SIX persons including the leader.

e)                  NOVICES and UNDER 16' s are NOT PERMITTED.

It must be noted that responsibility for G.B. Cave is held under sub-licence by UBSS.  Excavation, photography and publication are not permitted without authority from UBSS. Permits are countersigned for G.B. Cave by a UBSS signatory.


WARNING:        Under conditions of prolonged and/or heavy rainfall, some active sections of the cave (notably August Hole Streamway) are liable to become dangerous or impassable due to flooding.  Pumps that take water from the springs at Charterhouse will stop pumping automatically making the cave more prone to flooding.

RHINO RIFT    (As G.B. Gave).

WARNING:        The cave is almost entirely vertical in character and care must be taken when on pitches to avoid dislodging boulders. Do not wait unnecessarily at the foot of ladders/ropes and beware of falling debris.


This cave formally known as Reads Grotto Dig was discovered in April 1982.  This cave has many fine formations and in an effort to conserve this system in as good a condition as possible whilst still maintaining access the Committee has set the following rules:-

a)                  Access is available through approved leaders.  Each Member Club has two 

b)                  Each Member Club has one Key to be shared by the leaders.  Party size is restricted to 4 including Leader.

c)                  No Carbide

d)                  No Novices

Applications to visit this cave may be made either to the Hon. Secretary/Treasurer or a Member Club. At least SIX weeks notice is required. The BEC's two leaders are:-

Phil Romford, Coxley, Nr Wells, Somerset.

Jane Clarke, Wedmore, Somerset.


a)                  Applications to dig anywhere on Charterhouse controlled land or in any existing cave must be made to the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer who in turn will obtain permission from Bristol Waterworks Company.

b)                  If permission to dig a specific site is granted either above or below ground it is not transferable to another site.

c)                  Explosives are not permitted without specific permission of Bristol Waterworks Company.


The Committee is deeply concerned that maximum regard is given to cave conservation and the Bristol Waterworks Company insist that activities in and around the caves do not constitute a health hazard.  All cavers are required to: -

a)                  Do not leave any litter in or around the caves.

b)                  Do not damage or disfigure any part of the cave or calcite formations.

c)                  Do not urinate or defecate in the caves.

d)                  Do not commence any new digs (see section entitled DIGGING)

e)                  Be considerate towards others who may be using the cave or area especially in Longwood which is a nature reserve.

f)                    Do not install bolts or fixed aids in the caves without the express permission of the Committee.

The Committee exists to ensure the continued use of the Charterhouse caving area by all cavers and relies upon their cooperation.

Tim Large, Honorary Secretary/Treasurer Charterhouse Caving Committee October 1982


Monthly Notes (Continued)

TACKLE. Equipment is still going missing.

Until now the rule has been:-

When you borrow tackle, use the Tackle Book to list what is borrowed, name the cave, sign the entry and date it.  Tackle should be signed back in and this entry dated also.  Since this simple method is obviously failing - cavers are borrowing equipment without signing the book - a stricter system of control is to be introduced.

If you don't like stringent methods of keeping tabs on our tackle, yes OUR tackle, then stop borrowing it without signing it out…..and bring back the gear you left in your car boot, your garage, your cave dig, or wherever…..and don't leave it in the drinking pond and expect it to crawl back to the store of its own accord.

SNIEZNAJA PIESZCZIERA ( SNOWY CAVE). Moscow cavers and the U.S.S.R. academy of Sciences have pushed this system to a depth of -1335m ± 25m.  The present end is a boulder choke.

NAPRA.  A depth of -970m. has been reached here, and the potential depth is nearly 2,300m.

These two caves are in the Bzybskyi Range of the Caucuses.

Caving International No 14.

CAVING INTERNATIONAL. At last No. 14 is out, with some interesting news but a lot of it is rather dated.  There's an interview with Julia James (if you’ve never heard of her, let me just say that she could drink you under the table any time and probably cave harder than you any time too) two articles which are heavy on archaeology, more on equipment, yet another spiel about the Andros Blue Holes, the Toohey Ridge Cave System, near Flint Ridge-Mammoth, and a strip cartoon which is fun but rather a waste of space in an expensive, fairly serious magazine.

Wig is our Mendip agent for C.I. so, if you want a copy, ask him.  You'll find him under a pile of postcards at Townsend Cottage.

WELCOME IN THE HILLS. If you stand in the entrance to Rock and Fountain and look out across the Clydach Valley you see the village of Llanelly Hill.  Ian and Annie Wilton-Jones have now settled in to the village and anyone is welcome to drop in (phone call first, please - Gilwern 0873 831182 )

If you fancy breakfast there on your way to Dan-y, or wherever, they'll do it for a fraction of the cost of the little chef down the road, or if you want a bit of floor space for the night, or if you just want a natter - all cavers are welcome.

To find the house, just follow the signs for Llanelly Hill from the bottom of the Clydach, find the Jolly Collier and then ask (for the local wild-life park!!).

Ian & Annie, Llanelly Hill, Gwent.

CONCRETE MIXER. The Club now owns a concrete mixer (which broke during the capping of Charterhouse Cave but should soon be functional again).

It is available for hire, at rates well below the usual.  If you want to borrow it, apply to any member of the committee.

P .S.  Ian & Annie have camping Space available, they are three minutes walk from the pub, and can sometimes provide milk and eggs (straight from the pump!).


Wildlife And Countryside Act 1982

The Wildlife and Countryside Act received Royal Assent on the 30th October 1981.  Prior to this its passage through the House of Commons aroused considerable interest and in excess of 2000 amendments (a record number) were tabled to it.  It was considerably strengthened during this process, and although much of the interest, both in and outside Parliament, related to wildlife and habitat conservation it nevertheless could have considerable bearing on the future protection of caves and their environments.  For the purpose of this review comment will be confined to those parts of the Act that might have some direct bearing on caving activities.

The implementation of the Act will essentially fall to the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC), and generally strengthen the statutory provisions for nature conservation in Britain.  It also modifies the National Parks and Access to The Countryside Act 1949 which provided most of the NCC's original powers.  Particularly the Act increases the ability to safeguard sites from threats which do not constitute development as defined in planning law, for example agricultural improvement and afforestation.

The Act is split into four parts covering Wildlife (Part 1), Nature Conservation, Countryside and National Parks (Part 2), Public Rights of Way (Part 3), and Miscellaneous and General (Part 4).  A list of Schedules relating to the Act is also included and primarily consists of lists of species covered under Part 1.

Part 1 - Wildlife

The only, sections of this Part with bearing on caves are Sections 9-12 entitled 'Protection of other animals'.  In respect of, caves this includes bats.  Previously only the greater horseshoe and mouse-eared bats were offered any statutory protection, but the Act now gives full protection to all species.  The provisions of the Act make it illegal to intentionally kill, or injure or take any of the scheduled animals, or to be in possession or control of any whether live or dead.  Furthermore it is illegal to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place or structure which the animal uses for shelter or protection and/or to disturb any such animal while it is occupying a place or structure for that purpose.  Certain exceptions can be made to the above where the persons doing so are appropriately licensed.

Part 2 - Nature Conservation, Countryside and National Parks

The Town and Country Planning Act already gives some protection to SSSI's in that local authorities are required to inform the NEC of, and thereby give them opportunity to comment on, applications that might affect these sites.  The new Act however stipulates that the NCC must be consulted over activities that can be undertaken without planning consent where these activities have been specified as likely to affect the scientific interest. To enable compliance with this, Section 28 requires the NCC to re-notify all existing SSSI's, and to notify all new ones, to owners, occupiers, local planning authorities and the Secretary of State.  This notification must now define the reason for scheduling and provide a list of all activities likely to damage the scientific interest.

The owner/occupier is allowed a three month consultation period after notification and is then required to obtain NCC's agreement before undertaking any of the activities specified. Without this agreement the owner/occupier is legally prevented from carrying out these activities unless they form, part of an already, existing management agreement, or unless three months has elapsed without a formal management agreement being reached.  In the event of a dispute or the inability to reach agreement, the Secretary of State can make an order under Section 29 of the Act extending the negotiation period to twelve months and specifying the determination of compensation consequent to this.  Basically the new provisions allow early warning of any damaging activities and gives the NCC the opportunity to act.

Section 34 is the next of interest and allows for the .protection of limestone pavements. Previously the extraction of limestone for agricultural use, for example building walls etc, was permitted, whereas commercial extraction, including taking stone for rockeries or other ornamental purposes, required planning permission.  The Act now offers total protection to Limestone pavements which have been notified to the local council.  Limestone Pavement Orders can be made either by the Secretary of State or the local planning authority, and once in effect extraction of stone for any purpose will be illegal.

Section 38 is of particular note.  This supersedes Section 3 of the NCC Act 1973 and enables the Council to give a grant or loan towards projects "conductive to nature conservation or fostering the understanding of nature conservation".  Such grants or loans are subject to approval by the Treasury, and certain conditions may be imposed.

Part 3 - Public Rights of Way

This section covers a number of minor aspects referring to public rights of way.  It states a duty to keep definitive maps and statements under continuous review, refers to making changes, additions and updating public rights of way 1 and requires reclassification of roads used as public footpaths.  Also included is a section prohibiting the keeping of bulls on land crossed by public footpaths, but excluding those bulls under ten months old and those of a recognised dairy breed kept with a herd of cows or heifers.

Part 4 Miscellaneous and General

This final section covers minor items such as definitions and minor amendments to various previous Acts. It contains nothing of relevance.

Graham Price
Conservation & Access Officer (CSCC)


Monthly Notes (Continued)


Down to a Sunless Sea – Mike Boon
Caving and Potholing – Dave Judson & Arthur Champion
The Caves Beyond – Joe Lawrence & Roger Brucker
Caves of South Wales – Tim Stratford
Discovering Caves (new edition) – Tony Oldham
Ghar Parau – Dave Judson

plus all the latest Mendip club newsletters and old and new publications from other clubs.

Donations still most welcome.


T-SHIRTS. There: is just one small B.E.C. T-shirt left.  Contact Trev Hughes, 8, West Bank, Wookey Hole, or at the Belfry.

WANTED (it's very late and I'm tired but that is meant to say "WANTED".  Storage Heaters for the Belfry.  The old ones have had it.

SOUTH WALES LEADERS. Tim Large is now a Dan yr Ogof leader and Brian Prewer is an O.F.D. I leader.

CLUB LOGS. Been caving recently?  Don't forget to write up your trip in the log. Our log books go right back to the very early trips made by club members, and these books are kept in the Club library.

MORE RUSSIAN CAVES.  In Soviet Weekly, Apr. 18th '81, is a report on the cave TOR LIANI (W. Georgia/Soviet Trans Caucasia) which is claimed to be the third deepest in the world, with a depth of just under 4000’.  Is this just another name for SNOWY CAVE, perhaps?

It contains a 545' waterfall, and has a constant entrance temperature of 0° C, rising to 60 C at -3200'. There are now 500 known caves in Georgia, including Tsonskaya, 7000' asl and the highest site of prehistoric human habitation in Europe.

SHEPTON BUFFET. As usual this was an excellent affair, differing mainly from previous years by having a disco instead of 'The Band'.

In the competition Trev Hughes and Hartin Grass put all their pennies in the cups, and Edrich, son of Sid, exceeded all the opposition's expectations by consuming three shredded wheats, dry, quicker than anybody else.  We won, but of course, S.M.C.C. did as well.  The food was superb value, the wine and beer flowed freely food flowed (and some freely over certain people's heads), and every other person spent the evening firing aerosols of plastic spiders' webs at everyone else.

Many thanks to all the organisers.

SHORT GILL RISING Barbondale, Cumbria.  The sump here was blocked with lots of loose boulders, but these have been removed, particularly by pushing them down the underwater boulder slope.  A much larger passage has been revealed.  Prospects sound good, in spite of only 10 m progress into the sump after several dives.          C.D.G. Newsletter No. 65 (Oct '82)

STOKE LANE SLOCKER. Wormhole, Pete Moody, Chris Milne et al eventually pushed their way to Stoke 8, and when the water levels are lower, sometime next year, it is hoped that they will have a go at the very end. Wormhole will be made to promise to write an article.

STENKRITH PARK.  Northern Dales.  Earlier this year Martin Grass, Geoff Crossley, Jane and I looked at the short, but aqueous and sporting Devil's Grinding Milll, not knowing that M.S.G. had discovered a similar cave, the 1400 foot Angel's Drainpipe, in the same outcrop of Brockram, only a few months earlier.       Caves and Caving. No 18 (Nov ’82).

LUNEHEAD MINE CAVERNS. The entrance to these is totally blocked by a landslip of many tons of large boulders, which will take a lot of shifting.

BOGG HALL CAVE.  Kirbymoorside, North York Moors. Scunthorpe Caving Club have extended this through two short sumps to over 600 feet.  At the end the River Dove emerges from a flooded rift at least 40 feet deep.

Caves and Caving No 18.

Also in the same issue of Caves and Caving are reports of expeditions to Norway (Glomdal), Austria (Totes Gebirge), Spain (Picos de Cornion and Matienzo), and Andros.  Other interesting international news includes a note about St. Pauls Cave, Palawan, Philippines, where a 4¼km river passage, tidal throughout its length and often over 10 m. wide, can be traversed entirely by canoe!

EAST TWIN. South Bristol S.S. are continuing their work here, and the dig from the Third Chamber now extends over 65 feet. Digging is assisted by a monorail.

Descent No 52.

Not a bad copy of Descent this time around, with articles on Russet Well, Aude Gorge, S.R.T., S.R.T., S.R.T. etc.

The PAUL ESSER MEMORIAL LECTURE for 1983 will be delivered by Dick Renshaw on Wednesday, 2nd February, at 8.15 pm. in the Physics Lecture Theatre, University of Bristol.

Here is the Lecturer's summary.

In March this year, a team of six led by Chris Bonnington set off for China to attempt the unclimbed East-North-East ridge of Everest.  The team consisted of four climbers - Chris Bonnington, Joe Tasker, Pete Boardman and Dick Renshaw, with Charlie Clarke and Adrian Gordon as their support team.

It marked the return after an absence of forty years of British Mountaineering to the north side of Everest.  The objective was a very challenging ridge, the crux of which was just below 27,500 feet, where it joins the North-East Ridge, the line taken by the earliest British expeditions, including the attempt by Mallory and Irvine in 1924.

The idea was to climb without oxygen and without high altitude porters.  After reaching a high point of 26,700 feet, Dick Renshaw had a mild stroke and had to return home.  As Chris was exhausted, Pete and Joe decided to go for a summit attempt after a short rest at Base Camp.  On 17th May they were at a height of 27,100 feet, and were last seen at 9.00 pm., still climbing and presumably looking for a place to pitch their tent.  They were never seen again.

Dick Renshaw tells, with slides, the story of this expedition and of their journey through Tibet.

Admission is free, but parties coming from some distance may reserve seats by writing to the Trustee, Dr. Oliver Lloyd, Bristol, BS9.


An Obituary To Stan Gee (1933 - 1982)

Members present at the Annual Dinner this year will remember hearing the news that Stan Gee died on September 11th at a Ceilidh in Stockport.  He had a severe heart attack at the end of a particularly vigorous dance.

Stan Gee, BEC member No 265 since 17th August 1952 (although his membership did lapse for a while) was born in about 1933 and has always lived in the Stockport area.  His caving started around 1948/49 and he was associated with the Orpheus Caving Club (Northern Section) at the time and continued caving with the Derbyshire Caving Club in 1959 when it was formed as a splinter group of the OCC.  There is a description of Stans work in Oxlow and Maskhill mines in BB No 72/August 1953.

Most of his caving was in and around Derbyshire as travelling in the 1940's early 50's posed considerable problems.  Stan used to tell of an early trip to Alum Pot when the expedition left Stockport for Manchester Victoria Station riding on the back of a coalman's horse drawn cart.  He did his National Service in the Fire Service at Aldershot and it is probably at this time that he first visited Mendip.

After the formation of the DCC, expeditions started to go to the Cordina area in Italy and Stan soon became a regular participant. Within a few years he had taken over the organisation of the expeditions and continued to go to Italy every year thereafter making many close friends.  This led to reciprocal visits by the Italian Cavers and Stan's house was often home from home for itinerant cavers.

Throughout this time Stan kept two other outdoor activities going, rambling especially in Derbyshire and archaeology at places such as Elder Bush Cave and Fox Holes as a member of the Peakland Archaeological Society. The Latter activity continued until very recently when Stan was digging at Pooles Cavern in Buxton.

Stan was never happy if he wasn’t organising something and the range of his activities was wide, from black magic to New Year Parties, stunts like the creation of the English Republican Army (raiding Welsh Castles on St Davids Day) to the reopening of Alderley Edge Copper Mines at Alderley Edge and non-caving activities in Sutherland.

For many years Stan combined his caving and rambling activities with folk singing and playing. He played the guitar, accordion and harmonium and was part of a jigband called Slipper Alley Sidewalk Stompers in the 1960' s.  This band became the Bullock Smithy Folk Group which gained local and national fame with appearances on radio and northwest TV programmes.

His latest venture after Bullock Smithy, packed in were with folk dancing and. the formation of a women's Morris Dancing team called Fiddler's Fancy.

Stan was married for a while but for many years shared a home with Ethel Burton.

Nigel Dibden   23rd October 1982


British Spelaeological Expedition To Mexico

J-Rat, Bob and Dany are currently with the expedition, near San Cristobal in Chiapas.  In a four day recce several caves have been found, including one of 2000 feet (length?) and rumour has it that some members were captured by Indians and ransomed: for several thousand pesos!!  Full report on progress next month.


Alan Thomas was knock down by a vehicle in Wells on Saturday (18th.) and is presently in Bristol Royal Infirmary.   We wish him a speedy recovery.

Hallowe'en Rift

by Trev Hughes

It seems that so far this year new caves on Mendip have been found by chance or fairly easily, viz Hole in the Road and the extension of Reads Grotto Dig, now called Charterhouse Cave. Little did I know that what I initially labelled simply 'Unnamed Dig' in my caving log was to follow a similar pattern.

I came across the site while studying the wooded slopes in the area above the village, three fields away from the bottom of my garden.

Initially all that was visible was a moss-lined, widened joint, hidden under brambles and hawthorn, in a low outcrop of dolomitic conglomerate.  Spotting a spider's egg cocoon similar to those found in many caves I decided to return the next day to investigate the area with suitable digging equipment.

Saturday October 30th saw the start of work.  The first job was to remove the dense brambles covering the area.  Suspecting that any cave passage might follow the joint roughly northwards I started digging a hole at the edge of the outcrop to give space to allow progress to be made horizontally.  Very quickly it became apparent that I was digging in a rectangular shaft filled with jumbled rocks and sandy subsoil.  By the end of the day's work I had a 1 x 1.3 m shaft, 1.5 m deep, which I suspected could be a mine shaft, although there was no evidence to support this, such as shot-holes, etc.

I worked solo on Sunday morning but after lunch J-Rat and the Hut Warden's husband, Phil, came along to help.  We worked steadily throughout the afternoon and as the sky was darkening Phil opened up a clean walled rift in the northern part of the shaft.  This was narrow at the northern end but widened to 0.3 m towards the still covered southern end.  The rift walls were lined with old stal/flowstone and the deepest point appeared to be about 4 m below surface level.  As it was Hallowe'en the name of our embryonic rift cave was easily chosen.

My next visit (solo again) was on November 3rd.  I spent the afternoon digging out the infill from the southern side of the shaft and opened up a widening rift.  I was able to clear away the overburden without too much of it falling down the rift, which is about 0.4 m wide as it undercuts the southern wall of the shaft. After three hours work I was able to descend this rift to a small, stony-floored chamber, the walls and roof of which were thickly covered with massive (but mostly shattered) stal, not to mention some huge spiders.  By rearranging the stones on the floor I was able to peer into a larger, low chamber to the east of the entrance rift.  Due to problems with my nife cell I decided to finish for the day.  Open cave passage had been entered after only 17½ man hours of work - quite reasonable progress.

Earlier in the week I had been to see Dr. Frank McBratney, the manager of Wookey Hole Cave on whose land this cave lies.  He voiced no objections to the dig although he wished to consult that other Wookey Hole resident, Jim Hanwell, on the whys and wherefores before giving the full go-ahead.  (This has now been done and permission given).

J-Rat and I next marked at the site on l Nov. 5th and, with Tony heaving up buckets of stones and me loading them, we lowered th floor of the first chamber by some 0.6 m.  Not surprisingly, the inevitable J-Rat dry stone wall appeared!

With the floor of the chamber lowered I was able to determine that the opening on the eastern side, first noticed two days before, was only an alcove measuring 2 m. x 3.m., but away to the west a low passage (a half tube in the roof of a low bedding plane) could be seen.

After about 3 m. this passage appeared to open up.  The floor was composed of uncompacted sandy mud and broken pieces of calcite floor. By wriggling into this passage, pushing the mud to the sides and then reversing out with as many lumps of calcite as possible, progress was quickly made.  Three such operations opened the end up to passable size.  After hauling out the last of these blocks Tony joined me at the bottom of the rift.  Once into the half tube a noticeable outward draught could be felt.

With Tony hot on my heels I squeezed into the larger bedding passage beyond.  To the left the passage sloped away down dip and straight ahead the low bedding, now 4 - 5m. wide, continued.  The floor is mostly sandy mud and the roof generally 0.5m high.  This area of the cave was christened Guy Fawkes Chamber for obvious reasons.


From the survey it can be seen that the passages are joint controlled and the bedding continues to the east although it is filled to the roof with mud.  At this stage we estimated that we had 30m of passage with two obvious dig sites.  The total digging time to date: 24½ man hours.

The next day Tony and were joined by Chris Batstone who, unfortunately, decided that the narrow entrance was not for him.  His part in the day's proceedings was to haul spoil up the entrance rift while I cleared out the bottom. J-Rat and I started digging at the two sites within the cave; both are low beddings and work is tiring on the arms.

Jane Clarke, Bassett and I completed a Grade 3 survey on Nov. 7th.  With a strong pencil beam light the dig nearer the entrance can be seen to open up after 6 - 7m.  Beneath the 0.2m space soft mud overlays a calcite floor resting on more mud.  A crowbar can be used to open up a trench in this to give a workable roof height.

On Nov 10th. Quackers and I did some more work clearing out the entrance rift floor and the choked northern side - it may well continue northwards at passable size.  It is far larger than the other rifts in the bedding roof (on 3150) within the cave and is therefore well worth clearing out.

The latest trip at the time of writing was on Nov. 16th. when, again solo, I continued working at the eastern dig site.  By blocking the edges of the bedding with spoil I revealed that a draught, roughly comparable with that leaving the entrance crawl, comes from the low arch now only a couple of metres away.  The calcite blocks extracted from this dig are hampering further work and must now be properly removed.  The low roof makes this vital.  Work continues and more discoveries may have been made by the time this article appears in print.  All help is most welcome.

Finally, what of the other, more well known, cave in this area?  Well, does the idea of a dry grots trip to Wookey 22 appeal to anyone?


Tourist Caving Abroad

from Bryan Scott

The two articles reproduced below were sent in by Bryan, who has visited Harrison's Cave and thoroughly recommends it.  If you should be lucky enough to travel to Barbados, take a few B.E.C. stickers with you - Bryan didn't have any!

He also says that the caves on the island of Rodriges (east of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean) are well worth a visit, and adds:

The B.E.C. get everywhere - OK!

For those who would rather not trek to the back of beyond merely to "get away from it all," but who still want to have an exciting and educational experience, some memorable vacations are to be had right here in Western Canada.

Discover Canada April ’81

by Joanne Macdonald

Take caving, for example. Uncommon, true, yet it can be ideal for everyone from families to special interest groups.  Paul Griffiths, president of the B.C. Speleological Federation, a public interest group involved in cave conservation and cave-related resources, says that public tours offered in various locales over the past few years have been hugely successful, largely because often they can be geared to the groups' specific interests.  Accompanying guides advise on caving techniques and the cultural and geological points of interest, as well as such areas as underground photography. Such tours, while sponsored by the BCSF, are actually organized by other groups around the province.

The Regional District of Mount Waddington is one.  From May to September (high season for caving), Mount Waddington arranges tours four days per week.  Specialized caving equipment is provided, and participants bring their own sturdy work boots, gloves, pants and a warm sweater.  Last year's cost was a mere $5 per day, and may be slightly higher now. Cavers are expected to find their own accommodation.

As an offshoot of the BCSF, Speleolectours, a company catering to the public interest in caving, has been operating since May, 1980. According to Griffiths, who advises the company, Speleolectours is the headquarters for weekend speleologists, providing information on cave tours on a year-round basis.  For more information on recreational caving, contact Speleolectours' Karen Bischoff at 283-2691, Gold River, B.C.

Barbados 1982, Canadian Travel Press.  Timothy Baxter (Editor)

For years visitors to Barbados have been captivated by quiet beaches and abundant sunshine.  Now they can also plunge below the surface into a world of darkness, cascading waterfalls, pools of clear, cold water, and cream coloured caverns that glisten with thousands of stalagmites and stalactites.

The Government of Barbados officially opened Harrison's Cave here recently, after spending vast sums of money and five years preparing it for visitors.  The opening was festive, with Prime Minister I.M.G.M. "Tom" Adams officiating.

The tour of Harrison's Cave is unique in the Caribbean.  It begins at the Visitors Centre, with a short colour slide show that will prepare the visitors for the journey into their cavern experience.  Also in the Centre are some fascinating artefacts of the island's first inhabitants: the Arawak Indians.

Visitors then board a 36 passenger electric tram that transports them down into the cool earth and away from the hot, bright sun.  Indirect lighting has been installed in the cave to enhance the magnificent scenes as well as for safety reasons.

Sights on the tour, which lasts about an hour, include the 150 foot long Great Hall, with a 50 foot view downward, full of stalagmites and stalactites; the Explorers Pool, a long passage leading to the Twin Falls, two glistening water cascades which plunge to the cave’s floor and then disappear from sight.  As the tram crawls further into the caverns, winding along streams, pools, and waterfalls, it reaches the deepest point of the journey; Mirror Lake, a clear and still pool which reflects the detailed formations on the cave's ceiling.

Then the tram halts, allowing visitors to walk around and explore the cavern.  For the daring, walks under the 40 foot high waterfalls are possible, while for the less adventurous; strolls by the greenish-blue pools are encouraged.  Visitors then proceed to the highlight of the tour; The Rotunda Room.  This is a stunning chamber 250 feet long, 100 feet high and wide - composed of white and cream coloured formations that glitter like crystal.

Harrison's Cave was known to exist in the parish of St. Thomas for hundreds of years, and was charted in a document dating from 1760 by a group of English travellers.  It was only in 1970 however, when Ole Sorensen discovered the beautiful Rotunda Room after a series of heavy rains opened a passage to it.  It is now believed that this may be the only cave in the world where running water is found in connection with clear crystal-like formations.

In 1971, Sorensen suggested that the cave be developed as a tourist attraction.  The Barbados Government began the project in 1976 under his direction.

Tours of Harrison's Cave are given daily on the half hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Entrance fees to this national treasure are about $3.50 ($7 Bds) for adults, and $1.50 ($3 Bds) for children.


The Conversion of Aquaflashes to take Nicad Rechargeable Batteries.

by Trev Hughes.

A standard aquaflash, using three cells, gives a light output of 1.35W when using a standard bulb but, if converted to take rechargeable nicad batteries the light output is increased to 3.6W.  I have a catalogue advertising 4 Ah cells for about £4.50.  A normal dry cell costs about 35p so the increased light output is not the only advantage.

The actual conversion process is quite simple and can be done on the kitchen table (if you're a bachelor, Ed:).  The only tools required are a saw (for cutting plastic), a small rat-tail file and a craft knife, plus a sheet of sandpaper.  The operations are as follows:

1)         Mounting the Bulb

A pre-focus/screw thread bulb converter is required (I have plenty to spare) and a metal washer cut as shown in fig la.  These allow a 3.6V 1 A bulb to be fitted to the standard reflector.  The plastic bulb holders must be adapted to fit into the reflector's back.  The inner hole is enlarged to the external diameter of the bulb converter and, to allow for the extra thickness of the washer an equal amount must be removed from the end of both pieces (fig 2).

2)         Fitting the converted Reflector

When mounted in the reflector the bulb protrudes past the edge.  A spacer must be made to ensure that the bulb clears the screw down torch lens. A piece of plastic drainpipe or similar to the sizes shown in fig lb is used.  It is most easily made by sanding down the rough sawn annulus on a sheet of sandpaper resting on a hard, flat surface.  To compensate for this spacer the torch body must be shortened by a similar amount to ensure that the "0" seal does not leak.  To complete the job the brass contact strip is shortened by the same distance.

I have tested my converted torches in Wookey Hole and Freke's Cottage well to 80 feet, and to 110 feet in the sea off Poole with no leaks.

If anybody requires 4Ah nicad batteries (U2 size) I have the details.  If a large order can be sent then the unit cost is reduced.



Bonfire Night.


(With apologies to Phil Hendy, manufacturer of fireworks & sometime member of the Wessex.)

Come 'itherall you Belfryites,
I pray you lend an ear.
This tale I shall relate to you
Will bring forth mirth and cheer.

'Tis of the Wessex cattle grid
The truth I shall unfold.
So them with guilty consciences,
Turn over - or be bold.

'T'was on one dark November's night
(Most nights are dark y'know.)
When the Mendip rain did rain quite wet
And the Mendip wind did blow.

The 'Hunters', having served its' last
Cast out a merry rabble,
Who made their way to the Wessex hut
For fireworks and a barrel.

The Wessex, being the folk they are,
Hid their barrel well and good.
So everyone went back outside
And round the bonfire stood.

The blaze it was a goodly one.
The flames they were quite wild.
Apart from the wind and the wet all about,
I suppose you could say it was mild.

Suddenly there was a blinding flash,
As the sky turned from crimson to gold!
The crowd cast their eyes to the heavens
And forgot about beer and the cold.
Our appetites whetted, we all leaned forward
And eagerly looked for another.
But "Hendy" made fireworks being what they are,
Had to rapidly look for some cover.

The "bought ones" went off with a hell of a zip
And erupted with colour up high.
But poor Phil's bangers, rockets and whizzers
When lit, would just smoulder and die.

Now in order to be fair to the lad
And give praise where praise is due,
At least ONE of his fireworks actually went off
And being generous, perhaps even two !

The display being over, the fire almost out,
We all went inside for refreshment;
Jacket potatoes and hot apple pies
And of course, brown liquid contentment.
Amidst the laughter and sociable chat,
There was some rebellious talk
And a group all wearing Bertie Bat badges,
Disappeared off for a walk.

What happened next I'll leave up to you,
But suffice it just to say;
A hole appeared in the Wessex track
Where the cattle grid used to lay.

An older group of Wessex men
Soon left the hut for their cars
And groping their way down the darkened track,
Were met by a hole without bars.

Said one, a loyal Wessex chap,
“It's the B.E.C. doing, I can smell 'em.”
Said another, “Lets not be hasty now.
Our Committee 's inside, let's tell them.”

When the news was told, great clamour broke out!
Someone called an Emergency Meeting:
And all agreed that the terrible deed
Was beastly, unfair and unsporting.

"The grid must be restored at once!"
There were volunteers aplenty.
One man offered to lead the troops;
The gentleman's name was Hendy.

They made their way to the edge of the pit.
"Do you think if we dig, it might go?"
They peered down over the 18 inch drop
And told Pete Moody "NO!"
"Come on. Let's shift this damn grid back."
And they grunted, heaved and they strained.
Ten minutes later, all thirty sat down,
Decidedly weakened and drained.

"There must be something we can do to outwit them!
Let's see what we've got in our pockets."
So they all rummaged deep, then Phil Hendy cried;
"I've just found my last home-made rocket!"

They looked at each other with vacant expressions
And some scratched their heads quite a bit.
Some staggered off to fill up their glasses
And some disappeared to their pits.
"Don’t worry 'bout them." said one lone voice,
But Phil, he'd not noticed a thing.
He was too busy tying the stick of his rocket
Round the end of the grid with some string.
All thought, "Gosh! What a grand ideal"
And were just going to let out a cheer,
When a few remembered the display they'd just seen
And yet more disappeared for some beer.
"Now come on lads" said Phil commanding,
"Come 'ere and give us some light."
One bent down and struck a match
And the touch paper glowed livid white.

The rocket, being shocked by its' untimely launching,
Began to smoulder and splutter
And those that were left still stood round the hole,
Began to giggle and mutter.

"Don't worry!" said Phil, "This is one of my specials!"
"You're in for a big surprise!"
And as he spoke the rocket shuddered
And the cattle grid started to rise.

The rocket roared and the string it strained
‘Till it looked nearly fit to bust.
Then the cattle grid raced off up into space,
Leaving only a cloud of dust.

Then Phil sat down, his head in his hands
And wailed, "Oh woe is me."
"This is the end now.  I'll be banned
Can I join the B.E.C.?"

And what of the Wessex cattle grid?
Now it's only seen at night.
It's taken a place in history,
As the first Mendip satellite!

by A.N any-Mouse.


Rumblings In Tynnings Barrow Swallet

by Phil Romford

It was all Biffo's fault! After a digging trip to 'a day' he took it into his head to poke this enormous boulder with a short stick.  I expect you know the one, just down from the Aardvaark Trap.  He prodded while I held him by his belt ready to pull him clear.  It fell, but gently and all too easily, all twenty tons of it. The route was under that!

Since Biiffo's joyous day Tim and I have been back to stabilise the remaining loose bits in the roof. Hairy stuff this, prising off lumps we had blasted while sitting under them.  It seems that, upon reaching 40, one gets sillier - my wife agrees.  On Saturday (before August Bank holiday) Tim, Andy Lolly (who is joining the B.E.C.) Fish and I went back to finish removing loose stuff and blast a new, safe route through.  To make sure the way over the dropped boulder was not passable we slid a large slab over the hole and prised some more slabs from the roof. This caused major heart attacks for all, as we thought the whole roof was going to drop on us.  It's true, adrenalin is brown!

Fish decided to take over the banging exercise from Tim.  He placed ¼lb on a thin slab to knock a corner off, we fired it, and went straight back for a look.  Much to Fish's embarrassment it had only blown the dust off the surface.  He is now known as ‘The Expert’.  ½lb later the offending corner was removed. *

With a little more work the cave should be safe again.  Beware, however, in the meantime.

* Since this event Tim and I have prodded the loose wall above Pyramid Pot.  One prod from Tim is as good as a couple of pounds of bang. Now that is all about to fall down too!



Jobs To Be Done On The Belfry

In spite of a limited turn out for the latest working weekend much valuable work was done, particularly by the regulars.  Many thanks to all who turned up to improve/repair/maintain OUR hut.

Much still remains to be dealt with.  Why wait for the next working weekend. T ake your pick from the following list, and try and do at least one job next time you're at the Belfry.

1. )       Repair or replace men's bunkroom door-frame;

2. )       Treat men's bunkroom ceiling with fungicide;

3. )       Paint men's bunkroom doers;

4. )       Fit envelope box to hut fees box;

5. )       Fit fire extinguisher in kitchen;

6. )       Make duck boarding for shower-room and changing room;

7. )       Paint female toilet;

8. )       Board up window partition by female quarters;

9. )       Re-fit ceiling light cover in female bunkroom;

10. )      Fill in gaps around ceiling in female bunkroom and re-paint;

11. )      Re-felt roof of wooden shed;

12. )      Check and repair plumbing in loft;

13. )      Lag all plumbing an~ check water tank;

14. )      Fit new tiles (2) on Belfry roof;

15. )      Make and fit shower 'curtain to female shower;

16. )      Wire in extension to M.R.O. radio to library;

17. )      Install coin slot meter in ladies shower;

18. )      Completely service all gas fittings;

19. )      Paint floors with appropriate floor paint;

20. )      Clear out and rearrange tackle store;

21. )      Expose, lag and re-cover rising main;

22. )      Replace damaged chimney pipes;

23. )      Mend joints in chimney with fire clay.

If you have a locker at the Belfry and wish to keep it for next year then please let me know (at the Belfry or on Wells 75407) and also pay for it (50p/small locker, £l.00/large locker).

In January unclaimed lockers will be opened, emptied and reallocated.

Many thanks to Andy Nash for the donation of a 'fridge'.

WANTED: Usable single (2' 6" wile) mattresses for Belfry bunkrooms.

Phil Romford, Hut Warden.



Full Membership - £10                            Joint Membership - £15

Sent now to: Fi Lewis (or complete standing order and present to your bank)

Before  31st  Jaunary 1983


Letters To The Editor

Wookey Hole,

16th Nov  ‘82

Dear Editor,

I would like to comment on some editorial misinterpretations appearing in the last B.B.  Firstly, I have never quoted a figure of "30 diving members" of the B.E.C.  I believe an accurate figure to be 19 or 20 (of whom only 12 were at the A.G.M.). Secondly, the motion to set up a diving section only failed because of the constitutional requirement to have a 75% majority of those present to change the constitution.  The meeting was quorate and it is interesting to note that the greater proportion of those for the motion were non-divers.

The setting up of an independent diving group is progressing.  At the moment Chris is waiting to hear from the S.A.A.

To change tack, the Cave Digs section of Lifeline in the same E.B., especially as it covers work for one third of the year, is somewhat partial in its approach, not to say flippant in its attitude!

Reading this article it would seem that there are only half a dozen active diggers/pushers in the B.E.C. and those a very select closed shop.  Apart from the erroneous inclusion of Twin T's and Wigmore an update on Castle Farm Swallet could have been included.

A few other sites worth mentioning that I have worked on this year are as follows:

1)       St. Cuthbert’s:  Rob Harper and I were never given credit in the B.B. for the Jerusalem Oxbow bolt climb;

2)       G.B.: Rob, Quackers and I carried out a desperately thin three hour aid climb into a well decorated roof passage named Salisbury Hill;

3)       Wookey Hole:  Rob and I are again working here.  So far we have forced a squeeze by digging at the top of Wookey 20 to give a round trip in the upper section, discovered what might prove to be an important side passage off Coase's Loop Extension (although bad vis of late has prevented any accurate survey work), and, for our latest project, have started work un a major bolt/free climb at the far end of 24.  Rob has been very tied up with work lately and this has delayed progress here. Maybe the local divers can find the way on in Wookey where others have failed;

4)       Hallowe'en Rift:  This latest B.E.C. find has, of course, taken up a lot of my time lately and a full discovery report and survey will be published as soon as possible, hopefully in this issue of the B.B.

5)       Swildons 12,  Triple Aven:  It is a bit unjust and unnecessarily flippant to describe this dig as 'playing with a boulder ruckle'.  The trip to 12 and back is a reasonable undertaking on its own - about a five hour journey.  To work at the bottom of a boulder ruckle at the far end of Desolation Row does require a greater expenditure of energy and adrenalin.  I consider that Ross and I did quite enough to open up a metre square hole into open passage on our last visit.  As we found sandstone cobbles and are only 60 metres below the surface the importance of this dig should not be underestimated. Ross is very busy with his promotion course.  Would any other B.E.C. members care to lend a hand.

In between these and other underground forays, plus, of course, most of those mentioned in the Cave Digs article, I have still found time to squeeze in a fair amount of ale, sea-diving weekends and even a couple of morris tours.  So come, Tim, on behalf of those missed from your article, there are a lot more diggers active than your article seemed to indicate.

Yours, for impartiality,

Trev Hughes.



Japanese Spelaeological Reconnaissance of England,
Gatwick Airport, London

Honourable Editor,
Banzi Exploration Club, Tokyo,

10th November, 1982.

Most Honoured Master,

Be pleased to receive most worthless despatch flom humble self on last day of vely interlesting Nippon spelaeologioal reconnaissance of Ingerand.

Last night I blivvy at Wookey Hole Clave entlance having had velly interlesting time with pair of Ingerish clave dlivers.  Ah! Dlivers most supplised to find me sitting on rucksack slipping olange squash by light of candle at clave door.

So! Dlivers carry plenty equlipment and dressed in wetsuit - not like pearl dliver at home; lot less pletty as well!  Wun dliver, him called Ar Pic and fellow, him called Blif Oh.  Me thought all Ingerish called Smlith or Bloggs, most strange

As there no clave dlivers in Japan me ask to join such noble company.  "Please to come claving with you,” I say.  "Of course" say dlivers and we glow to chamber tree to see clockodile.  Ah so!! Blitish clave dlivers vely blave! Not only witches in clave but clockodiles in sump!  Next we glow to chamber nine to where rest of kit put on and then to nine wun, where dlivers enter water.  Most cold, but where is blass monkey they speak of?

Dlivers say they look for passage off Cloases Loop Extension but 'vlis' bad and they not find it for sure. What of most noble Master is a 'vlis'?

Dliver Ar Pic him glow to nine wun and. black and then to tree flom wun in nine but Blif Oh him glow to tu in nine flom wn in nine but then glow off again flom wun in nine to search for plassage but only flind offerings to clockodile to spend on saki. Ah, all this most confusing but glad to slay dlivers not join honourable ancestors.

Blif Oh him say real Glod of Wookey Hole, him 'Welshman called Flarr' and him bloldly glow where no man glow before - maybe him another shark or clockodile or even, but me not see him.  I offer yen to water to please this Glod.

Ar Pic and Blif Oh take me black to entlance and they say gloodbye.  They go for saki in ghiesha house at Pliddy.  Ah sol At least in some ways mad Ingerish claver same as noble speleo of Japan.

Your humble servant,

Wun Hung Lo.

(See, I said that I’d print anything! Surely YOU can better this rubbish article.  Well, its Christmas isn't it!" - Ed.)


Is Caving Hazardous To Your Marriage?

What prompted lie to write this article?  My own marriage being on the rocks and caving being mentioned prominently in the list of complaints, it made me wonder whether caving is perhaps a cause of the break-up of marriages.

To answer this we need to look at sate statistics.  Unfortunately my sample is very small and consists of only nine couples or ex-couples. The reason is that these are the really hardcore cavers - people who have been at it for many years.  I could not count those ex-cavers who were with us for a few months and then decided to do something else (and in any case I have lost track of most of them).

Of these nine couples, five are ex-couples.  This sounds very high.  Well, lets have a closer look at these figures.

From the South African Statistical Year Book.  (1980) I calculate the average divorce rate as 2,4 for the period 1973 to 1978.  This means that roughly two in five marriages will fail and end in divorce.  From the sane book I compiled a graph (Figure 1) indicating the duration of broken marriages. This shoes that the probability of divorce is highest between the second and the fourth year.


This allows us to calculate the probability of divorce for a couple during tenth year e.g. the probability of divorce in their tenth year of marriage is: -


Figure 2 shows the accumulative distribution, which allows us to calculate the probability of a couple getting divorced before they are together for ten years.  This is :

2,41-1 x 0,68 = 0,28

Using this method of calculation I could get to work on the sample and calculate the expected number of divorces.  Naturally I have to withhold the names of the couples so I call them A, B, C etc.


Years Married

Probability of Divorce





























This means we could have expected 2,4 divorces in the sample but, in fact, we had five.

Before we go further, let us test whether this is a significant difference or whether it could have arisen by chance.  We do this by testing the hypothesis with a one-tailed test at the 0,05 level of significance.  If the absolute value of 2 is larger than 1,645 we accept the hypothesis that 5 divorces in our sample is significantly different from the 2,4 expected.

Z =                                 =         = 1,33

Z =        = 1,95

We therefore conclude that five divorces is significantly above expectation and it appears that caving is hazardous to your marriage!

From here on I can only speculate.  Why should caving be bad for your marriage?  What about other sports and hobbies such as golf, deep sea fishing, Scuba diving, etc.  They also take hubby away from the family.  Or is there perhaps something special about the psychological make-up of cavers which makes them difficult spouses?  I don't know.

H O Miller

(Taken from "FREE CAVER" No. 11 ( South Africa)

Colin Priddle who sent this article suggests that as Mr. Miller got only a small sample from his own club that be would be pleased to receive a larger sample from a bigger club - B.E.C.!  Please help this important spelaeological research all you divorced Belfryites and send details, date married, length of marriage to Tim Large (divorced once) at the Belfry.


Friday Night Trips, 1983





































































































































































































Nine Barrows/Sludge


Tynings Barrow


St. Cuthbert’s


Charterhouse Cave


Manor Farm


South Wales


Charterhouse Cave


Lionel’s Hole


to: be arranged!!


Swildons - Black Hole


North Hill


Burrington (barbeque)






South Wales


Lamb Leer


Charterhouse Cave


to be arranged!!


St. Cuthbert’s


Reservoir Hole


South Wales


Fairy Cave






















































3 only






3 only – alt. Longwood




















3 only – alt. Manor Farm






4 only



(L) = a number limit

If you are interested, then ring B.E. Prewer (Wells 73757) or G. Villis (W-S-M 412770 - work).  It is advisable to ring on the THURSDAY before a trip to confirm that the trip will take place.  Meet at the cave at 7.30 p.m.  Three trips to the new Charterhouse Cave are provisionally planned.  Each trip will consist of a leader plus three. Preference will be given to regular Friday Night Trippers.



(where we hope you're discovering caverns measureless)

Payment Of Subscription By Standing Order

Your 1982/83 subscription became due at the A.G.M.

The rates are unchanged –

Membership £10.00

Joint Membership £15.00

You may now pay your sub by standing order by using the form below.  Enter the name of your own bank and account number, the amount of the sub, * the date of the first payment (day, month and year) and of any subsequent payments (day and month only), sign and date.

Then present the form to your own bank.

* in figures and words inside the brackets,

Tear off hear

TO………………………………………………..BANK PIc     Date……………………………

Please pay to Lloyds Bank Plc Shepton Mallet xx.xx.xx for the credit of Bristol Exploration Club Account No. xxxxxxxx the sun of £

(                                  ) .


Commencing………………………………………and thereafter every………………………………..

annually until further notice from me in writing.




A/c No…………………………………

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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Shortly after buying himself one motorbike, Wig has replaced it with another.  It has an engine bigger than that on Jane's car, and has already taken the Wig to Austria and back.  Wig is a little new to motor-biking, hence the cartoon on p.14.


Wig met up with Helmut, et al, and did a number of caving trips in Austria and Germany.  Articles will be forthcoming.

Bristol Exploration Club Annual General Meeting.


This is a meeting for all members of the Club.  Yes, ALL members.  If you have any Views on Club business or policies, this is the time to air them. If you know that you will be unable to attend but you have some point to be raised, then please forward this, preferably in writing, to a member of the committee.

Nominations For The 1982 - 1983 Committee

Your nominations are now requested for the new committee.  If you know of someone who wishes to stand for the new committee, they must be proposed and seconded by paid up members of the club.  Please send your nomination/s, in writing, as soon as possible, to our Club Secretary, Tim Large.

A JOKE:  Wormhole has taken Nicola to the South of France IN HIS CAR!


Stretching Time In County Clare

by Jane Clarke

After three days of good caving and general mirth and merriment the South Wale Easter meet was brought to a close.  The B.E.C. still had its white ensign, the Beaufort Arms still had beer in their barrels, the Boy Scouts had retrieved their latrine tent, and Gooff Crossley's tent resembled a chicken's latrine.

A small group of us (Martin & Glenys, G.W-J. and myself) had decided to extend the Easter holiday and so arrangements were made to visit County Clare. With visions of Guinness and Bailey's Irish Cream before us we left Crickhowell camp-site heading towards Fishguard.  As we were travelling on a middle of the night ferry there was plenty of time to visit a few sites on the way.

The first stop was Carreg Cennan Castle, a superb ruin set up high from the surrounding countryside on a large limestone outcrop.  A short drive from the castle we reached Llygad Llychwr, having planned to do a hasty en-route caving trip.  Eventually we found all four of the river chambers after plenty of swimming and wading in quite a strong current.  I kept an eye out for the Lewd Letcher but was disappointed.

The ferry arrived in Rosslare and a few hours later we were brewing up and cooking breakfast by the roadside.  Sometime later, having visited Kilkenny Castle on the way, we pitched tents in a field on the outskirts of Doolin and spent the evening foot-tapping and glass raising in O'Connor's Bar.

The first cave we visited was just up the road from the campsite; the Doolin Cave System.  St. Catherine's 1, the entrance, to Fisherstreet Pot, the exit, is a 3 km long through trip, and is considered to be a County Clare classic.  Having first tackled Fisherstreet Pot, we were then driven by Glenys to St.  Catherine's 1.   After a partly wet crawl we dropped into the stream way,  where there very good examples of limestone shelving. Climbing up into the Beautiful Grotto we stopped for some good photo's of straws and stal.  I was very impressed by the Main Streamway, named the Great Canyon, and described by the guide book as being “high, wide and handsome.”  The stream covered the floor of the passage and, in some places, was quite deep.  Apart from the cave entrance and a short distance in bedding cave much of the trip is in large walking passage.  Although there do not seem to be many decorations the passage shapes and rock sculpturing definitely make this a worthwhile photographic trip. Another point in its favour is that the trip begins in a field in the middle of nowhere and comes out not so far from O' Connors Bar.  Who is to say that the first visitor to Doolin Cave was not a Burren peat-digger escaping from his nagging wife to O'Connor's for a quick Guinness.  Cunning folk.  Wednesday evening saw us foot-tapping and glass raising yet again, this time in the company of a mixed bunch of D.B.S.S. and Cerberus.

On Thursday we drove the short distance from the campsite to see the Cliffs of Moher which, in some places are up to 700 feet high and face straight out into the Atlantic.  It seemed that every horizontal surface was occupied by some type of nesting bird. Kittiwakes, gulls, fulmars, cormorants, shags, sea-duck and puffins were either bobbing below us on the water or flying aimlessly around the cliffs.  Wandering aimlessly with both feet firmly on the ground was yet another familiar face - Mike Cowlishaw.

Sitting in the nearby information centre, writing postcards and drinking coffee, we chatted to Mike Russell, a well known figure in Irish folk music.  At the mention of caving he told us all about a concert tour made by himself and his late brothers.  This tour included meeting with Durdy and playing at the Pegasus dinner, which he had obviously enjoyed.

Driving east from Lisdoonvarna, which was our main food-shopping town, we spent some time at the Kilfenora Burren Centre.  Various displays showed the flora, fauna, geology and archaeology of the area - well worth a visit.

As the weather was so good, with not a cloud in sight, it seemed a good opportunity to visit the most flood-prone of County Clare's caves - the Coolagh River System.  The flood warning in the guide book was enough to keep the adrenalin flowing in my system for the whole trip:

"The Coolagh River Cave has a very large catchment area (approximately 6 sq. kms) and responds both quickly and violently to rainfall.  During a major flood the cave fills to the roof and water fountains out of the surface holes around the and of the cave under a 40 metre head of water."

We entered the system via Polldonough South, following the stream into the low entrance.  Crawling over pebbles we soon passed daylight - the small B 9a entrance.  The stream soon cuts a channel in the floor and the passage takes on he appearance of an hourglass.  Traversing along the top section  of Double  Passage,  as it is known,  we soon reached an ugly  flowstone column after a rather slippery climb down.  There appeared to be lots of vegetation stal-ed into the column, presumably flood debris.  Another short crawl leads into Gour Passage, particularly notable for a series of cabite dams, remnants of an old false-floor.  A 6m pitch drops down into the Lower Main Drain, where we met with the Main Stream and continued to follow it downstream over several cascades. Looking up some 20m. to the roof of the high, sheer-walled, scalloped canyon we were constantly reminded of the flood potential of the cave by the debris draped around the ends of stal and the foam way above our heads.  The Terminal Bedding Cave, with its walls covered in slimy sump mud, was our downstream limit.  Back upstream, just beyond the Gour Passage climb, we stopped for a few photographs of Balcombe's Pot, a 5 m. deep pool.  To avoid the cobbly, wet entrance crawl we exited via the B 9a entrance, amidst brambles, and walked back to the car.  As the weather was still good we crossed the road and went for a short romp into the beginning of Polldonough.  After passing a couple of very dead farm animals, definitely not smelling their best, we returned to the sunshine.

Our days were beginning to take on a pattern of sight-seeing in the morning and early afternoon followed by caving.  Evening meals were, on occasions, early breakfasts.

On Friday morning we followed the coast north towards Black Head, and then on to Ballyvaughan.  The countryside was very rugged and barren, most of the hillsides being bare limestone an with the occasional glacial erratic.  The edge of the sea cliffs were littered with dead sea urchins and, nearer to the road, spring gentians grew from seemingly bare rock.  Having stopped to look at a well preserved 16th century castle, Gleninagh Castle, and a roadside Pinnacle Well, we drove through Ballyvaughan to see a turlough, the Irish equivalent of a polje.  Two miles from Ballyvaughan is Ailwee show cave, discovered by Dave Drew and opened to the public in 1976; the entrance buildings well deserved their architectural award and could certainly teach Cheddar Caves a thing or two.  Aillwee is famous for its bear hibernation pits.  Driving across country, away from the coast, we passed many archaeological remnants, particularly stone ring forts and the odd dolmen.

As we had spent much of the day sight-seeing we decided to do a few, short caving trips that evening. Pol-an-Ionain seemed a good idea as a first trip.  Having heard all kinds of tales of farmers dumping animal carcases and rubbish down the hole I was not looking forward to the crawling sections, anticipating oozing bags of giblets and mammoth sized maggots, none of which we found. However, there were some very suspicious looking black poly sacks, tied up with string.  I was very careful not to trend on any.  The Main Chamber, one of County Clare's biggest, was quite unexpected after the grovelly and uninspiring entrance. In fact, the only justification for doing the trip at all, in my opinion, is to see the very impressive Pol-an-Ionain stal.

Emerging hot and sweaty from the cave, we set off to find Faunarouska, carefully following the guide book.  After some time wandering over the moor land ferreting down many other holes we returned to the car and to a rather bewildered Glenys who, having seen us set off, then watched as helmets bobbed up and down and dark figures hovered on the skyline. We did not find the cave.

The campsite had all that we heeded in terms of loos and water supply.  The only thing missing was a shower.  Although it bore no resemblance to Chamonix in summer the cold water stand pipe that stood, caressed by Atlantic gales breezes, in the corner of the field served its purpose.  Not only were we much cleaner and less smelly but Martin had a batch of action-packed, good entertainment value slides.  (For the information of those of you privy to Mr. Grass's slide show, I was grabbing for Graham's towel).

On Saturday we crammed in yet more sight-seeing.  The Craggaunowen Centre has some excellent reconstructions of an Iron Age lake village and ring fort.  Quin Abbey is a well preserved monastic building with a ruined village clustered round its walls and now buried by grass.

To get to Cullaun 5, our first caving trip of the day entailed a drive across peat land and through coniferous forest.  The entrance was in a small collapse on the forest boundary.  Memories of this trip are of stooping, crawling and black, sticky mud.  On reaching the final bedding crawl of 80 metres there were plenty of pine needles in the roof, indicating that these sections must flood right up.  It is not often that I have come eye to eye with a frog but in part of the cave we met four.

In Cullaun 2 we followed the main streamway to the sump.  Although not as large as some of the caves we had visited Cullaun 2 still had a canyon-like main passage.  Chert bands and nodules were in abundance, as was iron staining in the stal, one of which was called The Bloody Guts.

Our last day, Sunday, was to have been a gentle drive back to Rosslare for the evening ferry. However, Graham in particular was very disappointed at not finding Faunarouska, and so we decided to visit the cave and then hurtle for the ferry.  It did not take long to find the entrance, going on directions from Tony Boycott, whom we had met earlier in O'Connor's Bar.  After ¾ mile walk we came to the large entrance.  Once again the passage was canyon like, but very narrow, twisting and turning for much of the way.  There are a few crawls and ducks under flowstone, with some quite pretty decoration.  The stream has exposed ledges and nodules of chert which, in a few places, have formed small cascades.  Eventually the cave changes to being phreatic.  Having reached the Letterbox we turned back and made a rapid exit, saving the rest of the cave for our next visit to County Clare.

A speedy change and an even speedier, but pleasant, drive across Ireland, squeezing in a visit to Dunratty Castle and Folk Park on the way, got us to the ferry just on time, which, in turn, got us back to England just in time for work on Monday morning.

We had been absolutely exhausted by five days of intensive caving, touring and pubbing.  As a first time visitor to County Clare I was very impressed by the scenery, the caves and the friendliness and generosity if the people, particular Gussie O'Connor and his wife, and Arthur the fisherman.

County Clare -  Easter 1983

We are currently planning a trip to Ireland for next year, visiting over the whole of the Easter weekend as well as the week after.

We are considering staying in a cottage, perhaps McCarthy's Cottage, although the campsite by the strand is perfectly good, provided that the weather is reasonable.

If you are interested in coming along - perhaps you have not yet visited County Clare or maybe you would like a change from Crickhowell at Easter, then contact Martin Grass ( Luton 35145).


Mendip Rescue Organization

Cave Rescues and Incidents for the Year ending 31st December. 1981

This account covers the calendar year 1981 and so starts by repeating the note on the lengthy rescue in Agen Allwedd, South Wales, ending my last report. The list below continues the format of the thirty year record also published last year.  It shows that we have now passed 200 incidents over half of which have occurred during the past decade.  I have not listed an incident in which some boys were lost in the so-called Devil’s Hole Stone Mine, Bathampton, last July because they were found by the local Police.  Nor have I included two call-outs of the Cheddar Cliff Rescue Team to Salthouse Cliffs, Clevedon, on 27th June and to High Rock, Cheddar Gorge, on 3rd October for these reports are best left to our climbing colleagues.  They have been to three cliff rescue calls in as many years.

The fourteen cave rescue call-outs during 1981 were as follows:-

l7/l9th Jan

14th Feb

15th Feb

5th Mar

13th Mar

6th June

11th July

28th July

1st Sept

13th Sept

20th Sept

14th Nov

14th Nov

29th Nov

Agen Allwedd, South Wales Longwood Swallet

Swildon's Hole

Swildon's Hole

Read's Cavern

St. Cuthbert's Minery

Swildon's Hole

Box Stone Mines, Wiltshire

 G.B. Cavern

Singing River Mine

Swildon's Hole

Goatchurch Cavern

Wookey Hole Cave

Swildon's Hole















Boulder fall, broken leg

Fall, badly bruised



Lost, lights f.

Presumed missing person

Fall, broken leg

Lost, lights f.




Fall, broken ankle

Diving fatality


The details of each rescue given below are based upon the field reports prepared by Wardens during incidents.

Weekend l7-l9th January            Agen Allwedd

Three dozen Mendip rescuers went to help cavers in South Wales who were bringing out a patient with a broken leg from Southern Stream Passage. Another two dozen stood by.  The full report of this mammoth operation belongs to the South Wales Cave Rescue Organisation, of course.  However, we may record that the controller, Brian Joplin, found our radios a great help and the Little Dragon warm air breather proved invaluable.  We are especially grateful to the Warden of Crickhowell Youth Hostel for his hospitality to all from Mendip.

Saturday 14th February             Longwood Swallet

MRO was alerted to standby when an Oxford Polytechnic caver in a Wessex Cave Club party fell from an aven in the Upstream Galleries of the August Series.  It appears that unsound rock gave way when she was climbing.  In falling about 6 metres she was lucky not to be badly hurt and then plucky to get out with assistance from the Wessex party.  On being advised of the incident by Yeovil Police at 4.30 pm.  Brian Prewer stoodby parties at the Belfry and Upper Pitts by radio. Dr. Don Thomson was contacted and remained available until the underground party surfaced safely at 5.30 p.m. An examination at Wells Hospital revealed bruising to head, hip and foot.

Sunday 15th February                Swildon's Hole

A call was received concerning a party overdue.  It was not necessary for a rescue party to go underground.  No further details are available.

Friday 5th March                        Swildon's Hole

A call was received from Yeovil Police about midnight.  They had been contacted by a Mr. Pearse from the New Inn, Priddy, concerning a party of Venture Scouts who should have been out of the cave much earlier.  Brian Prewer telephoned the informant at Priddy and, during his conversation, the scouts appeared having under-estimated the time that their trip would take.

Saturday 13th    March               Read’s Cavern

Alan Dougherty from Wrington and Alan Hutchinson from Southville Bristol, went down the cave early in the evening expecting to return home by 8.30 p.m.  Both were experienced cavers.  They left their car off the track approaching the cave.  When they had not returned by 9.45 p.m., Mrs. Dougherty informed the Police at Weston-s-Mare, but their patrol was unable to locate the car in Burrington Combe.  A neighbour drove her to the area and she found her husband's Mini Clubman near the U.B.S.S. Hut.  She contacted the Police again at 11.15 p.m. to alert MHO.

Brian Prewer received the call from Yeovil Police at 11.20 p.m. and raised search parties from the Belfry and Upper Pitts by radio.  Bob Hill and Mike Duck took a quick look around the cave whilst Ken Daws and Chris Batstone checked out Rod's Pot and Drunkard' s Hole nearby.  These initial searches proved negative and so specific routes were followed.  Tim Large led a group to Z- Alley whilst Alison and Pete Moody covered the Browne-Stewart Series.  Radio links were set up on the surface.

The missing pair were found at the lower end of Z-Alley and brought safely to the surface at 2.25am on the Sunday.  It appears that they had lost the way when lights gave trouble and then failed. They huddled together in a polythene bag to keep warm and this appeared to be effective in the circumstances. All search parties returned by 3.00am.

Saturday 6th June          St. Cuthbert's Minery

Wells Police called Brian Prewer at 3.30pm concerning a report of an abandoned tent and sleeping bag on Mr. M. Cotter's property bordering the minery.  Mr. W. Foxwell suggested that it had been there for about a week and so the Police were concerned that the missing occupant may have gone caving and failed to return.

Tim Large was contacted at the Belfry.  He inspected the site for signs of caving equipment and made further enquiries from local residents and cavers.  This investigation indicated that the camping gear was unlikely to belong to a caver and no one had been reported overdue from a caving trip.  The Police were advised of this at 4.30 pm and no further action was taken.

Saturday 11th July         Swildon's Hole

Phillip Casemore, aged 37, from Crawley, Surrey was returning from Sump I on his first caving trip when, on approaching the Old Grotto, he stumbled and fell headlong. He sustained a fracture to his right leg below the knee and was in considerable pain.

Dave Irwin received the alarm through the Police at 2.15pm and alerted Stewart McManus, Chris Batstone and Alan Thomas to organise rescuers at the Hunters' Lodge.  Since the informant was unsure exactly where the incident had occurred in the Upper Series, Alan and Trevor Hughes searched the Dry Ways and reported the site to a team consisting of Martin Bishop, Mike Duck, Ross White, Tony Jarratt, Roger Gosling and Phil Hendy.  Dr. Stewart Parker was called from Bristol and arrived at 4.15 p.m.  Meanwhile, Martin Bishop had plastered the leg and a routine haul out was in progress.  A relief team of Wessex cavers was organised by Glyn Bolt.

The patient reached the surface at 4.35 p.m. and was met by the ambulance that had been guided across the fields by Jim Hanwell and Oliver Wells.  He was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary for treatment.

Tuesday 28th July                      Box Stone Mines, Wiltshire

Brian Prewer received a call from Yeovil Police at 6.21pm.  They had a request from Devizes Police for assistance in finding three boys missing down the mines.  Apparently, the mother of a 13 year old had reported that her son had gone with two friends, aged 13 and 11, to find the Cathedral via the Back Door.  They had failed to return and only had one torch.

Bob Scammell and Chris Batstone were alerted to organise search Parties.  Several members of the Oolite Mines Exploration Group took part, their knowledge of the area being invaluable.  A radio link between the Quarryman's Arms and the Belfry was established and Alan Butcher and Dave Irwin were asked to standby.

At 7.30 p.m. it was reported that a search to the Cathedral had been negative and so two parties had set out to cover the B12 and Jack Workings respectively.  The missing boys were eventually discovered by Bob Scammell’s Party at the Four Ways Junction.  They were lost and their torch had all but faded.  By 7.55pm that had been brought to the surface unharmed but, we must hope, rather wiser.

Tuesday 1st September              G.B. Cavern

At 2.30 p.m. Brian Prewer was told by Weston-s-Mare Police that a party of four cavers had been reported overdue from a trip down G.B.  Six members of the 1st Greenford Scout Troop, London, aged between 15 and 17 had entered the cave about 11.30am with M. Day and R. Wheatley as leaders.  They split into two groups to follow the Mud Passage and Devil's Elbow routes.  When the Devil's Elbow party failed to make the rendezvous in the Gorge, Day left the cave, telephoned the Police and then returned underground.  This meant that MHO had no details to help in alerting rescuers.  Tim Large went to the cave followed by Brian Prewer and Jim Hanwell.

Apparently, the Devil's Elbow party had traversed across the top of the pitch because they thought the chain was too short and did not indicate the way on.  They retreated on being unable to continue and met Day on his way back after raising the alarm.  All were safely out of the cave at 5.00pm to explain what had happened to Tim large.  He was told that the trip had been arranged by the London Ambulance Service Caving Club.

Sunday 13th September.            Singing River Mine

Paul Sutton and Graham Sweeper collected the key to the mine from the Belfry at about 4.00pm.  As they were camping in the area, they left details of their trip on the Belfry board and estimated that they would be back by 7.30pm.  When they had not returned by 10.00pm, Chris Batstone and Bob Hill went to Shipham and found that their car was there and the entrance shaft was still laddered. They alerted the Belfry and search parties with equipment set off at about 10.30pm.  Jim Hanwell informed the Police of' the incident and Dr. Don Thomson was asked to stand by.

The missing pair were found on the route to the Stinking Gulf and all were safely out of the mine by 11.10 pm.  It appears that they had not been down the system before and had failed to find their way back from the Gulf.

Sunday 20th September             Swildon' s Hole

Brian Prewer received a call from Yeovil Police at 2.54pm that a Mr. Wick at Bath had reported his Son overdue from a trip by about 2 hours.  No further details were known.  However, when Brian telephoned the informant, he discovered that the son had already rung home to say that his party was out of the cave.

Saturday 14th November             Goatchurch Cavern

Richard Wright, a Scout aged 33 from Hove, Sussex, led a party of' four novice and one caver with some experience down the cave at about 2.30pm.  On his way to the Boulder Chamber, the leader mistook the route avoiding the Coal Chute.  Instead, he found it and fell off the climb into the Upper Chamber sustaining a Potts fracture to his left ankle.

Dave Irwin was alerted of the call-out by Brenda Prewer at about 3.15pm.  He immediately contacted Chris Batstone at the Belfry and a party led by Tony Jarrett left with medical and hauling equipment.  A radio relay was set up from the cave entrance to the Belfry. The patient was strapped up by Bob Hill and carried out to the awaiting ambulance in about 45 minutes.  He was taken to Weston-s-Mare General Hospital for treatment straight away.

In a letter of thanks, Richard Wright compliments those who helped him and and recalls the morals: “never treat familiar cave with the familiarity that breeds contempt; always look before you leap, and always obey the rules you teach others”.

Saturday 14th November             Wookey Hole Cave

Keith Potter, aged 22, from nearby Wedmore and a medical student at Exeter College, Oxford, drowned when diving to Wookey 20 during the afternoon.  He was a member of the Cave Diving Group and, apparently, had done the route once before.

Martyn Farr, Ray Stead and Keith Potter arranged to dive to Wookey 24 whilst other divers were training with Doctors Peter Glanvill and Tony Boycott in the Show Cave.  Keith was given the benefit of the clear water and chose the Deep Route from Wookey 9 to 20.  Martyn followed along the Shallow Route and found Keith without his gag about 4 metres below the sump pool entering the chamber.  He brought him out and immediately started resuscitation.  Ray then arrived to help but they were unable to revive Keith over a period of about two hours.  Eventually, they returned to Wookey 9 with Keith and were assisted by the two doctors in alerting those concerned. Peter Glanvill retrieved equipment left behind in Wookey 20 the next day.

At the Inquest, Mr. Fenton Rutter, the East Somerset Coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death although exactly what went wrong remains a mystery.  In giving this conclusion, the Coroner noted that explorers throughout history had taken risks, and that the world would be a poorer place without them.

Sunday 29th November   Swildon's Hole

At about 2.30 a.m. a Police Patrol car arrived at the Belfry.  Someone in Bristol had reported that a Mr. R. Lewis had gone caving on Mendip with three young ladies and had not returned when expected.  The Police had apparently driven from Bristol to search for Mr. Lewis' white Marina car. Fiona Lewis from the Belfry (no relation) accompanied the patrol on a search of cave sites visiting Eastwater and Upper Pitts before finding the car on Priddy Green.

Pete and Alison Moody were aroused to start a search of Swildons for the overdue party.  Before this got underway, however, Lewis' party returned safely having spent a lot of time lost in the Upper Series.  It must be noted that the correct call-out procedure through Yeovil Police Was not used by those concerned, nor had Lewis left word of the cave being visited.  Such time wasting would be serious in other circumstances.

Calling out Cave and Cliff Rescuers through M.R.O.

Visitors to caves and mines in Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire should note the following procedures for calling out MRO. Climbers in Cheddar Gorge use the same system to alert cliff rescuers.

In the event of an emergency, go to the nearest telephone, dial 999 and ask for the Police.  When in contact with the Police, request that the Mendip Rescue Organisation is called and give them EXACT DETAILS OF THE INCIDENT, ITS LOCATION AND THE TELEPHONE NUMBER FROM WHICH THE CALL IS MADE. INFORMANTS MUST THEN STAY AT THAT PHONE UNTIL CONTACTED BY A WARDEN OF MRO FOR FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED.  Whilst a few minutes may seem an age at the time, there must be a short delay before being contacted by a Warden and this is a vital step in initiating a successful call-out.  Please resist the understandable desire to leave the phone after alerting the Police because your personal knowledge gives MRO a better opportunity to organise a speedier response with appropriate rescuers and equipment.  Time must not be wasted.  In almost all cases rescuers will arrive within the hour.

Please note that 999 calls in the region are routed to Police Division Headquarters at Yeovil (Priddy-Wells-Frome), Taunton (Axbridge Cheddar-Charterhouse), Weston-s-Mare (Burrington-Blagdon-Banwell), Bath (Harptree-Bath) and Devizes (Box-Corsham).  All have details of MRO and switch emergency calls for cave and cliff rescues to Yeovil.


Hanging Chamber - Again

by "Kangy"

The esteemed Alfie Collins could never understand a lack of articles.  He reckoned that if one could be written then that formed the basis for three:

1) "St. Cuthbert’s - A trip into a Supersystem"

2) "St. Cuthbert’s – revisited";

3) "Caves I have known – St. Cuthbert’s".

This may be my second comment on Hanging Chamber.  I cannot remember my first.  It was probably something like, "Coo! Lummy! Gosh!" or maybe we had simply had too much beer - that at least cannot have changed.

Hanging Chamber has changed; at least, it has in the imagination.  When we first violated it with a maypole it seemed vast and mysterious. It was always a damp and chilly trip, time consuming and difficult.  We persevered because it seemed the best hope to extend the Maypole Series.  Always, away up in the darkness beyond our acetylene flames, were the dim promises of high holes to climb into and, seemingly, a huge aven poised so high and so far above that we, with our limited resources, were content just to dream about it.  This is the stuff of Romance!

Jonathan and I were at the Belfry early in the year waiting to take some Boy Scouts or Wessex or something on a tourist trip.  They did not turn up.  With a low profile we hurriedly took the opportunity to join Bassett and Jane.  They intended to recover the gear from the oxbow passage which had been climbed into from Hanging Chamber.  Intriguingly this was that "inaccessible aven" which had haunted my imagination for years.  By all accounts it was an opening which formed a high level loop back into Maypole Series.  Yet another oxbow to tick off from possible extensions to St. Cuthbert’s.   We eagerly seized the chance to see the area again.  I hope to read about it too! (see previous B.B., Ed.)

The huge canyon which is the start to Maypole has retained its impressive character and the same draughty dampness.  From the bottom of Maypole Pitch the dark wall climbs in two large steps to the curved lip of Hanging Chamber about sixty feet above.  Previously we had left a wire hanging off a bolt for use as a pulley. This had been replaced by a wire ladder which we climbed easily to Hanging Chamber.

By the excellent light given by my Nife Cell the wall looked free climbable.  I enjoyed taking my time and looking around.  Everything looked amazingly near.  Graham got on with the job of Prusikking, Jumarring, Clogging, Gibbing, or whatever it is, up the hanging access rope and rapidly climbed the thirty feet to the hole.  This was our mysterious hole, now easily seen in the sum of four powerful electrics. Its position was now seen to be vertically above the landing ledge of Hanging Chamber.  Certainly it was too far to maypole but it is much nearer than we had thought.  Just opposite was the "ledge" where Pete Hiller and Fred Davies had hung off slings managing the bottom of the maypole.  It was scarcely a ledge, more a mud slide and tremendously exposed. Bloody optimists, I thought.

Snug in my furry suit, enjoying the well lit spectacle, I suddenly remembered how it was when Fred Davies and I stood looking for a way on.  Two skinny, shivering blokes in wet, floppy, muddy boiler suits, peering short-sightedly into the gloom cast by fitful acetylene flames.  We could not see the "aven" from the landing of Hanging Chamber and from the next level up it seemed to be far away over the gut-gripping drop into Maypole Pitch.  To get where we had had meant exceeding the current technology of Maypoling. This had been a consequence of failing to free climb to Hanging Chamber.

I had managed to free climb to within 2 few feet of the lip but the crux quite put me off.  It was a long way up un-roped.  It was wet and I kept wondering what the hell I would do if a drip extinguished my light.

We were obliged to find a way to avoid this climb.  We succeeded by maypoling from the ledge opposite but, once in the chamber, we simply could not see any way of using one to get into the "aven", even if we could see it.  We speculated about hydrogen balloons and went home.

S.R.T. is neat and powerful and, with good, warm clothing has opened out a lot more cave.

The moral must be - keep up with progress!


Charterhouse Cave

by Graham Wilton-Jones

Sixty years ago U.B.S.S. first paid attention to the swallets and shakeholes around G.B. and one of their first successes came with a breakthrough in the easterly, active swallet. This was Read's Grotto, named after the same Reginald Read of Read's Cavern.  The grotto itself, several tens of feet in through a restricted entrance passage, marked the end of the cave - the boulder chokes were considered a waste of time.  Twenty years ago the entrance fell in and an undisturbed chaos of brambles and weeds conceals the shakehole.  Only a few feet away from Read's is an outcrop of limestone split by a wide cleft. Boys from Sidcot School dug here for some time, revealing a number of narrow passages, small chambeers and loose boulders.  In 1976 the last digging trips were made and interest waned - the loosest of the boulders had won.

Earlier this year Pete and Alison Moody had a look at the abandoned digging site and Alison pushed on down a narrow rift below loose boulders to arrive at a three inch wide slot through which the draught blew.  Two bangs and they were into another rift from where the way to the present end of the cave was wide open.

After the squeeze, which is now gated, the rift drops gently as walking height passage until stals and some false floors in the roof force you to crawl beneath.  Already much of the stal is becoming muddied as it is very vulnerable and great care is needed in this and several other sections of the cave. The discoverers have put in protection tapes in a number of places and have also taken in water containers and scrubbing brushes to use as necessary.  Beyond the crawls it is possible to stand again for a while.  The rift passes a smaller rift on the right through which a beautiful white stalactite is visible - the main route passes this a little more closely later on.  A second passage on the right is the way on but when Jane and I visited the cave we continued straight ahead and thence up through a dig in gravel and false floor deposits to enter a much larger passage.  This has only recently been found.  It is thought to be the old entrance passage to the system, deriving from a glacially obliterated swallet.  It is well decorated and ends in breakdown and stal having headed out towards Longwood.  The passage can be seen from further down the cave but cannot be entered from there. Back at the way on it is necessary to grovel through a shallow pool and then pass underneath the beautiful white stalactite.  After another rift with a pool is a drop into a larger rift leading down cave, and there are now no complications in the route.  The passage gradually enlarges and soon enters a big chamber about half way between the floor and the roof.  The chamber is about 80 feet high and 40 feet long.  On the right is a near vertical well of mud, boulders and stal, beneath which the floor slopes steeply away over mud and large boulders.  Clearly there has been a monumental collapse in the not too distant past.  On the left hand overhanging wall, some twenty feet down from the roof, perches a precarious pile of mud and boulders.  On the right water running down the wall is just be beginning to wash off the mud and gravel to reveal clean white stal underneath.  There are passages at the top which could prove quite awkward to reach.  At the bottom of the chamber the main passage continues to drop quickly, often over boulders, sometimes across small potholes, and after a short distance there is a slight, left hand bend.  Climbing up here leads to the top of the main chamber and the route to Pearl Passage. Carrying on downwards shortly drops to the base of the Main Chamber underneath a G.B. type bridge of large boulders.  The roof quickly comes down to form the end wall of the chamber but a crawl among stal leads to the final chokes, which seem to lie under the edge of the Great Swallet.  It may be that a way around these chokes can be found and dye tests have been carried out to determine whether this would lead back to G.B. or into the great unknown.

The climb up into the top section of Main Chamber is a slightly awkward overhang - at present many of the holds here and elsewhere in the cave are liable to drop off at the mere mention of their presence.  Above the climb a passage leads past good mud formations to an excellent view of the Main Chamber.  This has been estimated to be about three quarters the size of G.B. Main Chamber.  There is a good vantage point for viewing the chamber and its very good stal.  This is at the end of a mud and rock floor close to the edge of the lower passage. A path has been made through the floor formations but most of the other stal will remain inviolate, being high up in the roof.  One of the alcoves has been reached high up at the south-western end.  Other passages at roof level remain to be entered.  At the beginning of the chamber, up in the right hand wall, is Pearl Passage.  The pearls and the passage in which they lie are to be taped off, but an aven beyond leads to passages that lie within a few feet of Devil's Elbow in G.B.

Like all the caves in the G.B. area Charterhouse Cave is on Bristol Water Works land and is controlled on their behalf by the Charterhouse Caving Committee.  Our rep on this committee is Tim Large who is also C.C.C. secretary.  C.C.C. have decided that, in view of the vulnerability of the formations in the cave, the site shall be gated (this has already been done) and that each member club of C.C.C. shall hold a key.  Each member club shall supply two leaders for the cave, presumably for their own club and for trips requested by non C.C.C. clubs.

All trips at the moment are working trips - exploration, taping, surveying, etc. and tourist trips are not yet possible.

Congratulations to Pete and Alison on this fine discovery.  They surely deserve something like this as a result of their efforts instead of those tight, muddy grovels in that love of their life, Swildons.

At the risk of putting a bat among the stalactites, condolences to Sidcot schoolboys (who should really be spending time on their studies, anyway!).


Bi-Monthly Notes

THE BELFRY. Various members have spent some time tidying between the Belfry and Walt's track.  It has been raked free of stones and has been mown.  If you fancy a mow when you are visiting, bring a pint of petrol.  Please do not park your ten-ton trucks on the lawns.

There is talk of acquiring a Belfry croquet set!

The Drinking Pond has been enlarged, presumably to accommodate those larger or wilder members who have occasion to be thrown therein.

Walt Foxwell has replaced his old man-hole cover near the Pond with a new one, and has autographed the cement surround.  He said something on the lines of, “Oi maynt remember you buggers, but youm buggers 'll remember Oi”  He has also agreed to act as the Club marriage guidance councillor.

Don't forget to make a few newspaper pulp bricks for the stove using our Brick-making Machine, next time you’re at the shed, and keep bringing those newspapers.

Members: Bolt celebrated his birthday at the Belfry recently with a Barrel but, the highlight of the evening was surely watching him try to blow out his own trick candles - they light up again immediately of their own accord.

Fi did a special cake for the event, and she also made one for Tim's birthday, a few weeks later.

Trev Hughes is now permanently on Mendip (heaven help us all) and is living at Wookey Hole (in a house).

Brian and Lucy Workman have now moved onto Mendip and are living at Oakhill.  So that should be two good house-warnings soon.

Several members gave caving and digging a miss recently (so what's new) to help Mac build an enormous set of concrete steps concealing the front of his house.  Each step is individually sized to accommodate all states of inebriation in his visitors.

CLUB LIBRARY:  This is being 'fettled' and many gaps in series of journals; newsletters, etc. have been noticed.  The Librarians would be most grateful for any old caving books or publications by any clubs.  Spring clean your bookshelves, my pretties, and help fill up the Belfry shelves.

Any duplicates are passed on to W.C.C., M.C.G., S.M.C.C. and M.N.R.C. to ensure that all the Mendip Clubs' libraries are up to date.

Many thanks in anticipation,


N.B. Collection can be arranged - just phone the Belfry

B.B.'s - vol's 3, 9, 19, 20, 21, 24, 29 & 30 are missing from the library.  W.C.C. journals nos. 43 - 59 are also missing.

Many thanks to all those who have donated old publications already.


Golden Oldies On The Isle Of Skye!

from Kangy.

The Black Cuillin Ridge is the finest and most difficult mountaineering expedition in the British Isles.  It stretches for six miles, has climbs on it graded V. Diff. which are not easy to avoid, takes anything from a record 4 hrs. 9 mins. to two days, and is succinctly described in "Classic Rock."

To their credit, Roy Bennet and Alan Bonner have just completed it in sixteen hours.  They went from Gars Bheinn to Sgurr nan Gillean in good weather on the 3 rd. June 1982.  They share over one hundred years of age between them!  They reckoned the hard part was the continuous concentration required to avoid falling off the extremely exposed ridge.

John Stafford and John Attwood did the ridge in May 1956.  Stafford wonders if anyone from the Club has done it in between times.

T.G.O.F. Finds In County Galway.

Around Easter time this year Ken Jones and Pat Cronin, both of T.G.O.F., were in Western Ireland, caving in County Clare and doing some exploratory work near the Galway - Clare border.

They explored and surveyed five sites altogether:

Poul a Crab;

Poll behan;

John Quin's Cave;

Poll blath Gairdin;

Poll E Puthe Kittleon.

Pat tells me he has been dying to use this last name on an Irish site for ages. 

The deep pool in Poll behan remains to be explored.

The caves vary in character from a small solution hole, 4 m. deep, which is John Quin's Cave, to the vertical depression of Poll behan which is 28 m. deep to water level, and the 23 m. deep Poll E Puthe Kittleon, with its 4 m. x 4 m. 450 passage ending in a suicidal ruckle and the sound of a stream beyond.  Pat and Ken both plan to return to the area around the first week in November.


Long Chamber Extension

- an extract from the Cuthbert’s log, 18th April

Pushed bedding plane of chamber 47* (above Long Chamber Extension).  A low trench with many fine formations leads up to a slot on the left onto more confined passage.  This was followed for 40 feet to a 20 foot wide chamber.  This chamber is very well decorated. The flow being white stal with many crystal pools.  Beyond this chamber is a 20 foot climb up a decorated rift, ending in stal chokes or an upward crawl and a tight squeeze into a final bedding plane.

Andy Sparrow and Andy Cave


* ref. Wig’s Long Chamber Extension Preliminary report for numbering system of chambers.


Bi-Monthly Notes, continued.

LARGE POT: While N.C.C. were digging the old N.P.C. dig of Little Pot, near the bend in the Turbary Road, N.P.C. attacked Large Pot (within spitting distance) and broke through to a series of shafts leading down several hundred feet.  This is of particular interest because it is directly above the drainage route from Marble Steps to Keld Head, so its potential must be considerable.

GAVEL: Ian "Watto" Watson has dived the sump here towards Pippikin and Beck Deck Head for 1,500 feet, at an average depth of 20 feet, apparently without breaking air-surface.

HURTLE POT: Geoff Crossley hoped to lay lots more line in the sump here, but the route dropped through a slot from its average depth of 90 feet and has now reached a depth of 115 feet.  It now has the deepest average  depth of any sump in Britain.

GOUGHS CAVE: Chris Bradshaw & Co. are digging here, and its about time Chris had written something about it for the B.B.

DRAYCOTT CAVE: The Army have been digging here, but I cannot imagine what for!

CASTLE FARM DIG: Work continues here on sunny, summer weekends.  Glenys was struck by flying debris the other month, and proudly showed her bruise to all.  How about a note from the diggers, on progress and potential?

DAN YR OGOF: The 40 foot pot, banged into at the end of Tubeways, has been called Falklands Pot. The narrow streamway at the bottom, Exocet Passage, had to be banged a second time to allow the passage of bigger-than-Jane sized cavers.  At first it headed a short distance southwards, but then curved around and dropped down two pitches, 10 feet and then 15 feet.  At the bottom is a static sump and the stream gurgles away in a low passage which has yet to be pushed.  Disappointingly, it seems to be heading north, away from Mazeways.



Entered by two tight squeezes over a static sump, the passage enlarges to join a large rift. Downstream there is a short distance to a choke.  Upstream, awkward traversing in a large rift, is followed by steep ascents to a 40 foot aven, which is stal choked at the top.  A very tight side passage goes to another aven where a twig was found. Other side passages are being banged. There is, apparently, an old swallet passage terminating below Swildons dry valley, with the possibility of a new entrance.


The Diggers' Song

(Dedicated to a rare body of men and, in particular, to the stalwarts of St Cuthbert’s by KANGY)

I wanted to go down a cave
And now my ambitions I've got 'em,
In Cuthbert’s I'm all the rave
At the dig in the hole in the bottom.

Digging away, digging all day, dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,.

I only went out on a spree,
Thinking to sup and be off, when
I encountered a crowd, BEC
All lewd and licentious and tough men.

Digging etc"

They said - -Young man it will go
If you carry these ladders and drop 'em
Into a hole that we know,
That's not really too much of a problem.

Digging etc"

Now the entrance pitch is divine
So long as you're skinny and narrow,
The walls are all covered in slime
From the drippings of Walt's old wheelbarrow.

Digging etc"

We continued on down the Arête
The shaky old ladders appalling,
But, as the other bloke said
“Its a ruddy sight better than falling”


Two ladders and then the Wire Rift
Were next on the menu they brought me,
To traverse I needed the gift
That my ape-like ancestors had taught me.

Digging etc"

Mud Hall and Sta1 Chamber too
And Boulder with boulders abundant,
My mates disappeared from my view
As they hurried to show me what fun meant

Digging etc"

A hole at the end gave the clue
Leading to Everest and gravel.
We slid down the scree in a queue
More or less in the right line of travel.

Digging etc.
I staggered along in a daze
Dimly noting the Sewer in passing
They'd knotted me up in a maze
When I suddenly noticed the splashing.

Digging etc ••

A wall immense and quite tall
Traversed the passage we trod in.
Blocking the flow in the Hall
And changing the level of Oggin.

Digging etc ••

At the side stood a large bucket wheel
Fixed in it’s bearings by packing.
This fiendish device seemed to deal
With the drive of a pump double-acting.

Digging etc ••

So sloshing the water about
It pumped from one place to another.
A muddy great hole was washed out
Without any effort or bother.

Digging etc ••

A spade all corroded and rough
I was given to my consternation.
They invited me kindly enough
To get digging and start exploration.

Digging etc ••

So now I'm a digger of note.
To be found at my post every Tuesday.
On cave exploration I dote -
I'm sure I'll be digging till Domesday.

Digging away. digging all day. dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.