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Starting Cave Photography

By D.A. Coase

This article is intended to help those members whose first attempts at Cave photography have not been too happy, and who may, perhaps, therefore have become discouraged, or blamed their cameras for the failure to get good photographs.  This is not usually justified, as any camera which will take good pictures out of doors (that means any camera, in fact) can be used for cave work.  Perhaps it should be explained here that the more expensive and more complicated cameras are designed to enable a wider range of subjects to be tackled than is possible with the simpler models, and for this reason are essential for some cave shots as they are for certain open air subjects.  In many cases cameras with expensive wide aperture lenses have to be ‘Stopped down’ to give the required depth of focus, which immediately puts them on an equal footing with the simpler cameras.  We shall therefore assume that you have one of these simpler cameras, and that you are sufficiently experienced in its use to turn out reasonably good photographs out of doors.  If you feel that you are not, then, then a few rolls of film used in getting to know your camera, and a shilling or two spent on one of the many excellent little books now available will be well worth while.  In going through this process you will almost certainly find that there are some things that just cannot be done with your camera, and the same limitations will, of course, apply with equal force underground.  Therefore don’t waste film or invite discouragement by trying to take photographs that just can’t be taken with you apparatus - keep within its limitations and it won’t let you down.  To sum up, any camera can be used for cave photography, provided you know how to use it, and exactly what it can’t be expected to do.

With regard to films, there is perhaps now even more choice than many of us were accustomed to before the War, but with this difference, that the brand one is used to can’t always be obtained.  It is therefore almost a counsel of perfection to suggest sticking to the film you always use, but if you can do so, it will be found well worth while.  If you haven’t a favourite film, either Verichrome or Selochrome will be found as good as any to start with, as they are specially made to cope with slight errors in exposure, and are quite ‘fast’ enough for most purposes.

For lighting there are several methods which have been used, but the commonest and one of the cheapest is undoubtedly flash-powder.  This can be bought in small quantities of ½ or 1 ounce, and should be mixed used carefully according to the instructions printed on the packet.  You must be particularly careful to keep both the powder and the touchpaper dry, and your own ingenuity will no doubt suggest a suitable method of doing this - you'll be wanting a container for the camera which can be relied on to keep water and mud out, in any case, and of course you’ll need something to light the touchpaper.

If you can carry it, (or, much better, persuade someone else to carry it) you will find a tripod very useful, as otherwise you may hay have some difficulty finding somewhere really suitable to put the camera for the shot you want to take.  A tripod also helps to keep the camera clean, as well as holding it quite steady during the actual exposure.

In taking a cave photograph, the usual sequence of operations is 1. Choose the Subject; 2.Put the camera in position; 3. Put the flash in Position; 4. Open the camera shutter; 5. Fire the flash; 6. Close the shutter; 7. Wind on the film; these are dealt with in order as follow: -

1. Choice of Subject.

This is obviously a matter of personal choice and can include formations, passages, chambers and cavers in action.  For a start you will be well advised to leave out people and concentrate on the smaller chambers – the ‘Old Grotto’ in Swildons is quite useful and to practise on anything much larger may introduce more complications than necessary, as also may mean anything much smaller.

2 .Choice of Camera Position.

This is one of the more difficult problems, as a cave floor is usually far from level, and almost invariably dirty; a tripod is a great help at this stage but an awful nuisance to carry around.  On the other hand, there are often ledges of rock or loose boulders which can be pressed into service.  Normally you will want the major object (or person) somewhere near the middle of your picture, and you will find that tilting the camera up or down to, secure this can give marked distortion which is rarely pleasant, as stalactites usually hang vertically and look better that way in a photograph.  Remember too, that unless you have a focussing adjustment on your camera, you should not put the camera nearer to the subject than about 12-14 feet, or the picture is sure to be ‘fuzzy’, and for the same reason try to avoid anything in your picture space much nearer than your main subject.  For cave work, the type of view finder usually fitted to cameras will be found of very little use: - you will be very fortunate if you have a direct vision frame type finder, or can get one fitted, as the only practicable method of working with the more usual ‘brilliant’ finder is to persuade a ‘stooge’ to wave a torch around so that you can judge where the edges of your picture will come.  If all else fails, simply point the camera in what you hope is the right direction and await results.  While setting up the camera be particularly careful not to put your hand too near the lens, nor to breathe on it, or it will be clouded over by a film of condensed water, which may take quite a long time to clear in the damp atmosphere of a cave.  To complete setting the camera, fit a lens-hood adjust the ‘stop’ or aperture of the lens.  On most box cameras and the simpler folding ones, this is already fixed by the maker, and may be taken as f/16, but if yours is variable, set it to the position marked f /l6 or ‘bright’.  The stop fixes the amount of light passed by the lens, and consequently the amount of flashpowder you will need to get a properly exposed picture.

3. Placing the Flash.

When placing the flash, quite, apart from any consideration of the amount you are going to use, which we’ll deal with later, you will need to take two things into account.  Firstly, make sure that there is no odd stalagmite or body which will cast an unwanted shadow on your subject, and secondly you will want the light from your flash to fall in the right direction to give the effect you are after. Volumes could be (and have been) written on this subject, but the old advice to have the flash slightly above and behind the camera, and a little to one side continues to hold good for all but the most ‘dramatic’ effects, and the time for ‘stunt’ lighting is after you have learnt to take reasonably consistent photographs with this well-tried set up.  Especially if you have no lens-hood, you should be especially careful that no light from the flash can reach you lens, either by placing a tin, or a small piece of rock or even; a colleague in the way.

When everything else is ready, measure out your flashpowder on to a spare tin lid which you have kept dry for the purpose.  The quantity of flashpowder depends on the film, the stop used, and the distance between the flash and the subject, and since the film is assumed to be Verichrorne or Selochrome, and the stop f/16, the amount to be used may be taken from the following table, and should be right for normal cave scenes, but if the walls are very dark, double the quantity, or halve it if they are very light, (i.e. covered with white stalagmite).

QUANTITY OF JOHNSON’S No. 2 .FLASHPOWDER REQUIRED IN GRAINS FOR ‘'CHROME FILL 3c’ Sch AT f/16.

DISTANCE FLASH TO SUBJECT (in Feet)

5

10

15

20

25

30

40

GRAINS OF FLASHPOWDER

12

30

56

80

110

150

220

Such a table can only serve as a rough guide, and if you find that your negatives are consistently too thin (under-exposed) you should use more than the amount of powder indicated, while if your negatives are too dark, decrease the quantity.  For measuring out the flashpowder, the makers used to issue small scoops holding 10 grains, and if you can scrounge one of these, your problems are solved, if not, you may be able to borrow one and copy it.  Failing this, you will find that 10 grains of flashpowder is just about the maximum quantity that you can pile on to a sixpence.

When you have measured the powder, insert the piece of touchpaper, which, of course, must also be kept perfectly dry.  Sprinkling a little powder part of the way up the folded touch paper makes the operation more certain, while drying the touch paper in front of the fire before the expedition may also help.  For the same reason, don’t put out the flashpowder until you are ready to use it, and always keep the tin tightly closed.

4. Open the shutter

after you have made quite sure that there are no lights in front of the camera.  Use the Time setting of the shutter (marked’T’).  Then

5. Light the Touch Paper

and wait for the flash to go off.  Be particularly careful only to light the touch paper and not the powder, and to keep your hands (and face) well away from the flash.  If the touch paper goes out, when you are quite certain that it really has gone out, try a fresh piece, which is much safer than trying to relight the old one.

6. Close the Shutter then,

7. Wind on the film,

 and you are ready to start all over again,

Now a few general points.  A cave is a wet place and very soon gets misty with water vapour.  If you are going to get wet, try to take your photographs before you do so, if this is at all possible.  Otherwise, work as quickly as possible without rushing things unduly, and avoid smoking until you’ve got your picture.  If the cave has a natural draught, try to arrange the order in which you take your shots, so that the draught blows the smoke away from your next subject.  Don’t forget that you are still caving, so must observe the usual safety precautions. You need at least one other person with you, and he is liable to get rather bored with the proceedings unless he also is a photographer.  In the latter case, it is quite possible to set up his camera at the same time as yours and take two views of the subject with the same flash.

Well, that is the story, so now it is up to you to have a go, I’d be interested to see any results you get, and if I can help with any advice, or by answering questions, then I’ll certainly do my best.

D.A. Coase

Photographic Competition.

It has been decided that as a year’s Belfry Subs. is not useful to all, an alternative lst. Prize of TWO years’ Annual Subscription would be offered.                      T.H.S.

Notice of London Section Meeting.

The next Meeting of the London Section will be held at 32. Montbelle Road, New Eltham, by invitation of Monty and his wife, on Sunday, September 24th.

Report on the London Section Mendip Meet. 1950.

The London Section again invaded the Belfry in force during the week or so that preceded the August Bank Holiday.  It had been hoped that the major item on the agenda would be to finish off the Stoke Lane survey, but in the event, the really keen types were not able to be there all at the same time, and the amount of rain which had been falling during the previous weeks had made Stoke even less inviting than usual.  In an admirable burst of enthusiasms, a load of gear, including the compass was taken to the sump early in the week, ready for the survey party, but was forced to remain there until the Saturday of the Bank Holiday weekend, when there was a dual purpose trip.  This did complete the data for a centre-line survey of the parts of the cave beyond the sump, and also one or two photographs which are worth seeing, apart from the usual proportion which art not.  D.A.C. chose this trip for some experiments with colour film, and it may be said that some of his transparencies have to be seen to be believed.  Not so the remainder.

The previous evening a small party of the L.S. was able to secure permission for a photographic trip into the upper series at Wookey Hole, and here again results were largely not up to standard owing to over optimistic views taken by certain flash-bulb manufacturers as to the light output of their products.

Warning to others here.. . . take these figures with a few grains of salt, or preferably flash-powder.  The chief protagonist of flash powder succeeded in burning his hand with some and a Johnson flash-gun in Bowne’s Hole, though the injury was unexpected rather than serious.  On the same afternoon a general tour of the known swallets of the Stoke Lane area was undertaken by six of the party under the general guidance of a certain ex-RAF type who now assists in the making of maps to mislead people who prefer to use this method of finding their way.  The gent's navigation on that afternoon is going to take some living down.

Other expeditions included a little Swildons, a G.B. (mainly photographic); an Ife Hole (mainly pornographic} and several Hunters (mainly paralytic).  Comments so far received from the now re-dispersed L.S. indicate that they, at least, had a very good time, and typical is the remark of one member who wrote that he had done more caving that week than during the whole of the rest of the year put together.  It looks as though we shall be coming down again next summer.

W.J.S.

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The editor has recently received several suggestions that the Belfry Bulletin should be enlarged. To enlarge the BB is not quite so simple as it sounds. Firstly more material is needed, and this is the chief editorial worry.  Secondly the production dept., who spend a lot of their spare time working on the BB would have one third more printing to do for each extra page.  The third factor, that of extra cost is for the time being a debatable one, but will shortly become less important as our expenditure in other directions grows less.  An interesting point is that some of those who have made this suggestion have never sent in a line of any sort for inclusion in the BB, but are always super - critical of those few who are pulling their weight.  If you want a bigger BB, and the production Dept. are willing to have a bash, it's up to you; send in more material and you will get one.

List of Members 1950. No. 6

Ken Dobbs,                     55 Broadfield Road, Bristcl. 4.
Omar Taylor,                   c/o Mrs. Lyon, Carmangary, Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire.
Derek Wood,                   113 Congre Grove, Filton Bristol.
Tony Bamber,                  135 Hornby Road, Blackpool, Lancs.
Miss Margaret Pope,        42 Filton Grove, Horfield, Bristo1.7.
Mrs Betty Shorthose,       26 Gateside Road, Upper, Tooting, London.SW 17, (BALham 545).
B.A. Walker,                   76 Willoughby Road, Langley, Slough, Bucks.
Mrs. Jean Collins,            c/o Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.
H. Tearks,                       Webbington House, Loxton, Somt.
Miss Daphne Weeks        164 Sylvia Ave., Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Jack Waddon                  7 Haydon Road, Taunton, Somt.
John Mason,                   77, Hamlins Lane, Exeter, Devon.
W.A. Montgomery,          32. Montbelle Road, New Eltham, London, S.E.9.
Ron Gollen,                     58, Harrowby Road, Grantham, Lincs.
Dennis Chadwick,            63, West Cromwell Road, London, S.W.5.

A Weekend in South Wales.

By John (Menace) Morris.

The other weekend Don Coase dragged me off to Craig-y-nos, and the Friday night found us at the S.W.C.C. cottage chasing the mice that had used Don’s sleeping bag as nesting material.  After a reasonably early breakfast neat morning we set off for Ffynnon Ddu.

I didn’t know quite what too expect, but I was really surprised at the size of the place.  To warm up, we did some delicate climbing up into some of the higher passages.  Then we went to attempt the ‘stream’ passage.  Stream!!!  I was horrified at the foaming torrent.  Don said it was impossible to try to go on.  However it thought it would be possible to get at some phreatic passages about 60 feet above the stream.  We had 120ft. of Alpine line with us, so we roped up and arranged a complicated system of fixed handline, belays and lifeline and organised ourselves into the firm of Ropework Colossal & Co. Ltd.

To my rock-climbing mind, struggling on dripping, rounded stalagmite bosses over a raging torrent seemed rather horrifying but Don seemed to enjoy it.

We eventually reached the higher system and commenced to crawl, squirm and curse our way through it; every now and again we had imposing views of the stream 60ft. below.

At one pointing a particular tight bit, there was a fierce and horrible torrent of oaths from Don, who had caught his hair on fire.  The smell was really grim, and Don seemed quite peeved that I should find it so funny.

Then while I was in the lead I found a muddy pipe which had never been tackled, so off I went with Don right behind.  Then came to the worst z-bend I had ever seen, lined with mud and half with water, and in which I had to revolve three times.  I could see the passage getting bigger beyond a boulder and after a terrific struggle I became badly stuck and also in a panic as I couldn’t breathe properly, so we had to retreat.  We eventually got back to the cottage, having had a wonderful day.

I would like to say how well the South Wales Caving Club entertained me and that I appreciate it very much.

J.V. Morris

The Magpie Mine, Nr. Bakewell, Derbyshire.

By Pong Wallis.

Recently a visit was arranged to explore the Magpie Mine nr. Bakewell. Geoff and Leslie Thompson, John & Michael Buxton & I met at the entrance at 10.30 to be confronted with a formidable barricade of timber and wire and a large notice ‘Danger – Trespassers will be prosecuted’.  Nothing daunted, we changed and set off up the tunnel, a drainage channel or ‘sough’.  For the first 20 yards we were able to keep clear of the water by walking on an old set of tram rails, but when these ended there was for it but to get in up to the waist.  The mass groans testified to the coldness of the water, but we continued up a fine tunnel about 8ft. high and wide and walking along a sandy floor beneath the water which was flowing strongly against us.  A strong draught blew in our faces.  We continued thus  for about ¾ of a mile, though for the latter half the water gradually got shallower and was no more than knee deep, but of course we were thoroughly chilled in our legs by this time, so its main effect was to make walking easier.  Towards the end, a path had been built up to one side of the tunnel and we were able to get out of the water completely.

We sat down thankfully in a small chamber and emptied our boots and wrung out our clothes and then set off to explore.  The first feature that struck us was the profusion of calcite crystals everywhere, and everyone collected some very fine samples of dog-tooth.  A large number of passages were explored, but all ended at a blank wall, so the water was followed for a further ¼ of a mile or so until a high narrow rift was reached.  Somewhere hereabouts is the bottom of a 600ft. shaft, but all the passages which seemed safe to explore again led to dead ends, so the search was abandoned and we returned to our depot and ate lunch before once more immersing ourselves in the water.  The trip back was much quicker as we now had the current with us, but we were very glad when the cry of ‘daylight’ was heard.

From the entrance to the foot of the shaft is about 1⅛ miles, but the passages did not go quite straight, so that all told we must have explored the best part of two miles of tunnel. There is very little crawling to be done as most of the passages are 6ft. or more in height; but one section of about ½ a mile involved bending over somewhat as the roof is about 5ft. it is rather tiring on the back.

There is very little dripstone to be seen, but the quantities of calcite crystals is very large and very good specimens can be found.

The mine is at present being re-opened for working and further passages may be made safe in the near future and more exploration becomes possible.

R.M.W.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

The editor has received a letter from J.M. Tompsett who asked that it should be printed in the BB.  This letter has been passed on to Ted Mason, but we have not yet received his reply.  The full text of the letter together with Ted’s reply will be printed in BB 40.

Club Annual Dinner.

We had hoped to include the final gen on the Dinner in this BB, but at the time of going to press this has not arrived.  We hope however to include and insert which will give you the details with this issue.  Failing this each member will be notified as soon as possible.

T.H. Stanbury

£££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££

T.H. Stanbury,            Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
W.J. Shorthose,          Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
H. Perry,                    Acting Librarian, 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol
R. Cantle,                   Leader, Climbing Sect., 46, Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol. 7.

Important Notice to all Bristol Area Members

As from Thursday September 7th. we shall be holding our weekly meeting at St. Mary Redcliffe Community  Centre.  This is situated in Guinea Street, and turning off Redcliffe Hill.  The Pets’ Paradise is on the corner of Guinea Street, and you will find that the Centre is about 25 yards down Guinea Street on the right.

The new meeting place is far superior to the old one and is far more central for all, although those few members in the Redfield area will have be wander further a field.

Don’t forget!  Until the end of August at St. Matthews Hall, and then, starting on Thursday September 7th. at St. Mary Redcliffe Community Centre.

T.H.S.

Gentle Dizzie

‘Dizzie is a gentle creature.  Anyone can sit on her back, and she does not worry.  Her keeper says that a man could put his head in her mouth with complete safety’.  Childrens Newspaper.

Upon reading the above we thought that Dizzie had turned cannibal, but found that the Dizzie mentioned above is a hippopotamus, and NOT our gentle Dizzie.

Hon. Sec. has received the following letters: -

June 17th.

Henry and Josephine (Shelton) wish to thank our friends in the B.E.C. for the lovely presents, and we appreciate very deeply the support given us at St. Nicholas Church on June 10th.

????????????????????????????????????????????

The Barton.
Stanton Drew.
Nr. Bristol.

28th.June 50.

Our Dear Friends,

May on behalf of Marie and myself, thank you from the bottom of our hearts, for the beautiful wedding presents that you have given us.  We did not give you much warning as to the date of our marriage, because we were both scared as to what reception would be waiting for us when we got out.  Now, we are sorry we did not tell you.  You would have had a laugh, and we would have had some unique photos.

Marie would have had the sympathy of all you unlucky (?) spinsters, whilst; I should have had those envious glances from all you unlucky (?) bachelors.

Never-the-less we shall tell you when we get married again, so you can all come up and see us,

Yours sincerely,

Mr. & Mrs. F.W. Young.

Sales Service

Owing to an increase in price from the wholesalers, we very much regret that the following goods are slightly increased in price: -

Premier Lamps from 8/6 to 9/3.

Bottom and caps for above from 2/3 to 2/5.

Spare burners (Jets) for above from 4d. to 5d.

All other goods as before.

We supply:-

Helmets, caps, lamps and spares, and all caving and climbing and camping wants at the lowest possible costs to members.

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Next comes an account of a new cave system found by Roy Ifold and Co. very recently.  There is much work to be done there still, and we here take the opportunity to congratulate Roy and his stalwart band on their discovery.

The Discovery and exploration of Ife Hole, a new cave near Chewton Mendip

by Roy Ifold.

The new system was discovered during the course of a survey of interesting swallets by Mervyn Haman and myself.  We were wandering around the countryside asking 1ocal people for information when we met an elderly gentleman with a shot-gun.

He told us of a cave in a quarry, which he had been down when a boy.  Following his directions we found the entrance, and made a primary exploration.  The cave was found to consist of a large chamber with two entrances.  This chamber is, or was, roughly 40 feet long by 10 feet wide and the same high, with the floor sloping at angle of 45 degrees.

Since then we have dug in various directions with the assistance of Norman Petty, Jill Rollason and others.  First of all we attacked the bottom of the boulder slope.  This soon yielded to our efforts and revealed a small hole completely surrounded by loose rocks.  This hole led, by way of a small squeeze to a rift chamber 30 feet long by 10 feet wide by 40 feet high, the floor of which should to yield to digging.  This chamber is something like a wash-basin with the plughole blocked by boulders.  When these are moved the floor on the western side vibrates.  As these boulders require a lot of digging we are leaving them for the time being.

We next dug in the north side of the chamber.  This revealed a 35 foot chamber running at right angles to the other and ending in a choke.  This is the present scene of our labours, and so far have found two small chambers.  We have made a line survey of the system as it stands at present and a detailed plan will be completed later.

The cave appears to be of phreatic origin, with water rising from the lower tunnels.  The system then became silted up until it was re-opened by Vadose water, a process which appears to be still in progress at the present time.

The cave is inhabited by long-eared bats and numerous spiders, rabbits, etc.

We should be grateful if any members contemplating a visit to Ife Hole would let the writer know.  A club trip to the cave is being arranged in the feature.

R.A. Ifold.

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Gerry Orren is still shooting bananas in the Cameroons, he has taken enough time off to do a bit of climbing and has sent in the following: -

Up Mount Cameroon on Liquorice Allsorts

By ‘Orrible Orren

Having just finished eight weeks hard slogging in the bush, and having had six hectic nights training on gin and beer, I decided the time was ripe to climb Mount Cameroon.

So Easter Saturday found my room-mate Bob and I driving in a truck up to Buea, which is the British Admin. Centre on the lower slopes of the mountain.

After having contacted the guide and bearers and distributed the loads, we left Buea post office (3,600ft.) at 2.00pm.  First we climbed the hill and followed a narrow trail to hut 1.  (an old German wooden bungalow) at 6,000ft.  From here we pushed on up through the bush and finally emerged onto a steep grass slope at 4.15pm.  Up and up we slogged, over one false crest after another.  Looking back we were rewarded with a magnificent view from Victoria right round the coast and mangrove swamps and intersecting channels to the Cameroon River estuary and Douala and down south to Gaboon country beyond.  The plantations on Tiko plain were spread out below us like a map.  By now we had reached the very steep escarpment and had to pause more and more often to rest.  The wind blew quite coldly up there and going up the broad face of the mountain I felt like a fly crawling up a wall!  At last, at 6.15pm just as light was fading, we stumbled over the crest to hut 2.  (9,000ft.) a tin shack situated in a small gully.

As usual the primus refused to function so we so we resorted to warming tins on the fire the bearers built.  The first can of soup that I jabbed with the opener spurted all over me and covered my pull-over with ‘Oxtail’.  However, with some spam and bread inside of us, we lay down to sleep on a sloping board covered with straw.  A few minutes later a tornado hit us and we lay there all night shivering, waiting for the roof to blow off.  Luckily at about 6 the next morning the rain stopped and the roof was still with us leaking badly.

After a meal of beans and spaghetti (good old Heinz) we set out to reach the top.  At first our route lay up a ridge through a scattering of shrivelled moss-hung juniper trees and then up two long steep escarpments of grass and rock.  I found a lava-cave about here and it appeared to go back a long way.  The roof appeared to be rotten, and not having either time of lamps, we left it and climbed on.  Once over the top of the second ridge we caught the occasional glimpses of the summit up ahead, thro’ gaps in the racing cloud.  Now the terrain took on a night-marish aspect and we scrambled up through gulleys of black volcanic ash and yellowish moss.  The wind was terrific and the clouds were wet and clammy and we had to keep waiting for one of the boys who was feeling the altitude and the effects of the climb.  So, uttering foul oaths about mountains in general and with continues exhortations to ‘George’ to ‘Keep moving’, we scrambled up the last slope of black slag to hut 3, (12,500ft.).  This was a tin hut about 10 feet square.  Inside we lit a fire on the dirt floor and whilst chewing bread, beans and liquorice allsorts, we inspected the scribblings on the walls of earlier travellers, through smoke-bleared eyes.  In a wooden box we found the Log Book and a thermometer (Temp. 42F.)!!! and after entering our observations we prepared for the final assault.  By now the wind was phenomenal and at our first try we were forced to lie flat on a ridge between two craters to stop ourselves being blown off!!!.  Discretion being the better part of valour, we retreated back to the hut.  The wind showed no signs of abating however, so we tried again.  This time, by scrambling on all fours along the ridge, we made it to the top.  (13,360ft.)

Lying flat, we put our names in a bottle and replaced it in the cairn of stones.  I took a few snaps lying there, but they didn't come out clearly. Then began the long descent at 12.30pm., and going down proved to be far worse than climbing up.  In no time at all my legs felt like two sticks of rubber.  Arriving back at hut 2, at 2.15pm. we found another party in possession.  We had overtaken them the day previous in the forest and they had spent the night at Hut 1.)  So we pushed on down and struggling down the steep escarpments with the aid of two long sticks we reached Hut 1 at 5pm.  We decided to stay there the night as two carriers were lame and one had a fever.

So once again the old tin-opener went into action and with a bellyful of spam and beans we wedged ourselves on a narrow bedstead and lay there watching the rats run around the room in the lamplight.  That night we have another heavy storm and we lay awake and ate liquorice allsorts!!

The next morning the rain stopped and at 7.30am. we stumbled and slid our weary way down to Buea, reaching there at 9.15, exactly 43¼ hours after setting out.  Here we heard that the previous two nights’ storms had destroyed about a million stems of bananas on the plain and played havoc with telephone wires, roofs and trees all over the place.  Sitting here, typing this epistle my legs are one big ache, but it was worth it and I’d go up again tomorrow.------IN A BATH CHAIR!!!!!!!

Note: - Mt. Cameroon, an active volcano, 13,360 feet high, last erupted in 1922, when a huge stream of lava flowed down the south slope into the sea.  It is now two years overdue for its next blow-up.

G. Orren.

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It; is surprising how few members apparently can write.  I have heard various persons say that various other persons are coming to the Dinner, but have myself heard nothing from the persons concerned.  Will those members who are coming and who have not informed me PLEASE do so at once or else run the risk of being left out when the final arrangements are made.

T.H. Stanbury.

List of Members 1950.  No. 5

Keith (Snogger) Hawkins     9, Quarrington Road, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
Miss Sybil Bowden-Lyle      31, Highworth Road, St. Annes, Bristol.
Tom Pink                           53, Burnthwaite Road, Fulham, London S.W.6.
Assist/Insp. Brian Coase    B.G., N.R. Police, P.O. Box 17, Lusaka, N. Rhodesia
Hal Perry                           20, Northfield Ave., Hanham, Bristol.
Len Burroughs                   1, Ri hmond Park Road, Clifton, Bristol.
Pat Ifold                             32, Coburg Road, Montpellier, Bristol. 6. (58545).
J.E. Monson                      85, Warley Hill Brentwood, Essex..
Frank Young                      The Barton, Stanton drew, Nr. Bristol.
Cliff J. Brodie                     10, Whatley Road, Clifton, Bristol.8.
Colin Andrew                     170, Westbury Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.  65841.
Norman Fillmore                 14, Delving Road, Southmead, Bristol.
Miss Jill Rollason               157, Pen Park Road, Southmead, Bristol.
Maurice Brain                    22, Blaise Walk, Sea Mills, Bristol. 9.
Norman Petty                    12, Bankside Road, Brislington, Bristol. 4.
.

Dry Humour.

     How doth the little Stalagmite
Improve the shining hour,
     Whilst sitting on his cave bottom
And waiting for a shower?
     His pal, the Stalactite, doth hang
Above him in the posture
     And rations his all-patient friend
With monthly drops of moisture.
     How Thirsty then our lowly mite
Must get there in September,
     When whether he was wet last month
He really can’t remember.
     Just think how dry would you and I
And our friends at the Hunters
     Become, if we felt like a pint –
And had to wait for years, sir!

E. Vale

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We have a very cheap line in small pin badges in white metal; they 9d. each, first come first served.  These badges are good value for the small cost and have been made for use until the enamel ones turn up in the distant future.

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

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

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

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

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

T.H. Stanbury

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

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

Snaffle-Plate Sonnet. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programme.

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

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

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

The Belfry

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

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

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

Tackle

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

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

Lantern Slides.

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

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

List of Members 1950 No. 3.

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

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

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

by T.H. Stanbury.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apologies are offered to those few members who found last month’s page 4 printed upside down.  Also for the error on page 2.  The articles listed were found at the Belfry and claims are invited for them.  These errors were due to over-enthusiasm on part of the printing staff.

List of members 1950   No.4

Gerry Orren                c/o Elder & Fyffes Ltd., Likomba Plantation, Tike Post Office, British Cameroons. B.W.A.
Miss Doreen Vickery   Seaton Lodge, Station Road, Staple Hill, Bristol.
Harry Shelton             18, Walsh Avenue, Hengrove, Bristol. 4.
Tony Preston              43, West Town Lane, Brislington, Bristol. 4.
Fred Shorland             P.O. Box 37, Causeway, Southern Rhodesia.
Ron Newman              77, Beaufort Road, St. George, Bristol. 6.
John Adams               27, Granby Hill, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Ray Wade                  101, Princess Victoria Street, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Michael Farr               1, Sion lane, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
David Williams            Arch house, Victoria Square, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Tim Kendrick              Cherry Street, Bingham, Notts.
John Shorthose           Hon. Sec. B.E.C. London Section, 26 Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, London, S.W.17.
Miss Vi iNseal            35, Pesherton Roiad, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Tom Ratcliffe              12, Mayfield Road, Dagenham, Essex.
G.S. Rendall               10, Hillaries Road, Erdington, Birmingham 23.

Climbing Section Report No.2.

Whitsun Meet, 27th. – 29th. May 1950.
Place:-Blynant Farm. Idwal. N. Wales.

There were present at this meet ten B.E.C. members and one non-member.

Although inclement weather threatened, two parties climbed Seniors Climb (or Two Tree Climb) on Y Gribbin.  One of the parties headed by L. Davis then tackled Home Climb.  Rain then prevented further comfortable climbing and a general withdrawal down to Capel was made successfully.

Sunday 28th.  A glorious day.  Three parties climbing.  Sun Wall Climb on the Slabs led by J.H. Crabtree.  North Buttress and Grove direct lead by J. Morris on Tryfan and Chasm route on Glyder Fach.  A couple other climbs were done on Fach but were not recorded.

Sunday 29th.  Several of the party returned home, but some remained and Silvern Traverse on the Mile Stone was climbed.  The weather was not so good on Monday although luckily it remained dry.  This climb proved both interesting and spectacular not only to the types partaking of it, but also to the trippers on the road.  A part of Rowan Tree Slabs are crossed in the Traverse and the point of note is the crossing of ‘Soap Gut’.  The meet finished with a pint at the Royal, Cape Curig, where many farewells were made with promises to return.

The main lessons of the meet to be borne in mind are as follows,

1.                   Indiscriminate drinking of water is not a good thing.  Several members of the party suffering from Stomach complaints.

2.                   The old rhyme about Skye is just as applicable to North Wales.  ‘If of a wetting you are shy, you had better not go to Skye’.

3.                   When a time is given to return from a climb always stick to it, it save unnecessary worry and wasted effort.

To sum up:- The meet proved most successful and much climbing was done.  The Section is now getting on a firm footing and is gaining in experience.

R.W.G.C.

Report on the Exploration of Crystal Pot.  July 1949.

By P.M. Browne

Information reached us that a deep gulf had recently been opened in a quarry at Mells.  No time was lost in testing this statement and it was found to be correct.

An opening some 200 feet above the floor of the Quarry entered the top of a vertical shaft. A lantern lowered into the pot came to rest about 35 feet down on a narrow ledge, the place was quite spacious.

A hurried journey was made to fetch 40ft. of ladder and a long tether.  At the cave entrance belays were very scanty, but a short metal ladder, spanning the gap, helped considerably.

With ladder fixed and self leading, the pitch was passed without much difficulty by a party of four, Mr.  & Mrs. L.M. Browne, Mr. Evemy, the quarry owner, Mr. J. Broadley and the writer.

The cave was found to consist of the 40ft. pot, at the bottom of which a rock bridge led to a small cavern the walls of which were entirely of calcite crystals, as was the ‘Bridge’ itself.  It was on account of these glittering walls that we gave the name’ Crystal Pot’ to the series.

Two good photographs were taken of the entrance and one, rather dark but clear, of the ‘Bridge’.

Please note that the crystals referred to above bear no formational relationship to stalagmites or stalactites, but seem to be the result of total submersion under high pressure.

The whole cave has since been completely obliterated by the progress of the quarry.

P.M. Browne.  Frome.  Nov 23rd 1949.

Personal

Congratulations to Dizzie and Postle (Mr. & Mrs. J.M. Tompsett) on the birth of a daughter (Marilyn Brenda).  Both mother and daughter are doing well.  May she turn out as good a sport as her parents.

The marriage between Henry Shelton and Miss Jo Gill took place on Saturday, 10th. June at St. Nicholas Church, Whitchurch, Bristol.  The club turned out on force and the happy pair were presented with an old horse-shoe tastefully decorated with a bit of old rope, by the Hon. Sec.  The church Gateway was festooned with ladders and ropes, and a mounted escort in caving clothes and helmets was provided.  Good luck to you both, Henry and Jo.

Photographic Competition.

It is a long time ago that the club held a competition.  This is something new and we hope that those ‘camera-minded’ members whose efforts in the past have been so much admired and criticised will show us their mettle.  The rules are very simple, and are as below:-

1.                   Only members of the Bristol Exploration Club are eligible to enter.

2.                   Entries will be divided into 2 classes,

a.       Photographs of Caves,

b.       Photographs showing some activity of the Club or individual members apart from anything which falls in Class a.

3.                   Entries must not be smaller than post-card size, mounted for preference, but may be larger.  There is no limit to the number of entries any member can submit.

4.                   Each entry must be accompanied by an entry form and must be lettered for identification, i.e., a, b, c, etc. to correspond with the form.  The form must have the following particulars- Name & address, make and type of camera and lens if known.  Whether developed and/or printed commercially or by the competitor himself.  If possible all technical data should be given.

5.                   Each entry must be accompanied by a 6d. postal order.

6.                   Entries must reach the Hon. Sec. by Nov. 30th. 1950.

7.                   Due allowance will be made in the judging for the type of camera used.

8.                   The 1st., 2nd., and 3rd. in each class will, be announced at the next A.G.M.  The prize will be 1st. 1 year’s Annual Belfry Subs., value £2/2/-; 2nd. 1. year’s Annual Subscription, value 10/-; 3rd, 1 week (7 nights) at Belfry, value 8/9.  In each class a special prize of photographic materials to the value of 10/- for the best photo in either class taken with a camera of present day value of less than £5.

9.                   The best entries will be exhibited at the next A.G.M.

10.               The judges will endeavour to criticise in writing each print submitted.

11.               The committee of the B.E.C. reserve the right to borrow any negative for the purpose of making a lantern slide from it to add to the club collection.  Whilst taking every care, they will not be responsible for any loss or damage to the negative whilst in the club’s possession.

12.               No person can win, more than one prize.

13.               The judge’s decision is final.

14.               The judge for this competition shall be Mr. Don Coase and Mr. John Shorthose, who are barred from submitting an entry.

$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$£$

We hope to include the entry form with this issue of the BB, but if not it will be in the next.  Further forms can be obtained from Hon. Sec.  Members may ask why a form?  This is so that Hon. Sec. can separate names and addresses from prints.  Each competitor will receive a number so that judges will have no idea who submitted any particular print, although they will have the technical data at their disposal.

T.H.S.

Notice

On Tuesday June 6th. certain members of the Club visited the Mineries for a swim, afterwards visiting the Belfry and partaking of stew.  When a small party of members, including the undersigned visited the Belfry the following evening, both Belfry doors were wide open and the remains of the stew were festering on the plates.  This is disgusting behaviour and if in future any such occurrence is noted, I shall be forced to take suitable action.

(signed) D.H. Hasell, Chairman.

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Owing to the curtailment of his spare time Jimmy Weekes has had to resign from the Committee.  It has been decided to co-opt to the committee in his place Ken Dobbs, who is one of the most active cavers in the club.  At the same meeting it was decided to co-opt Roger Cantle to the committee to represent the climbing section that has been going great guns recently.

Annual Dinner

We are hoping to hold the Club Annual Dinner in September or October.  This is a date that we hope all members both young and old will make a point of keeping.  The venue is not yet finalised, but it will not be in a pub.  So the younger members need have no qualms about attending.  The price will, we hope be in the region of 7/- a head.  Please let the Hon. Sec. Know if you are contemplating coming to this dinner so he may have an idea how many to cater for.  There is of course no objection to any member bringing his or her girl/boy friend.

By the way, ‘letting the Hon. Sec. know’ doesn’t mean writing to him in about 6 or 7 weeks time.  Pick up your pen and paper now; if you can’t write ask Mum or Dad to do it for you.

T.H.S.

Club Library

There are still quite an astonishing number of books still not accounted for.  Will any member with club books in his possession PLEASE either send it/them back or, drop Hal Perry a line to tell him where it/they are.

Programme

To remind you that there are trips to: -

August Hole July 1st.; Trip to Pyrenees July 8th. - 23rd.; Lamb Leer, 15th. July; London Section Mendip meet July 25th. -  August 8th; G.B. Beginners trip 30th. July.  For details see your programme card.

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Leaders are still need for trips for September, October and November, and articles are still needed for the BB.

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Thanks to Fred Targett for providing a lorry and lots of cheerful assistance to move tons of slag for the car park.

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T.H. Stanbury,            Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
F.W. Young,               Hon. Assist. Sec., The Barton, Stanton drew, Nr. Bristol
W.J. Shorthose,          Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
H. Perry,                    Acting Librarian, 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.

Important Notice to all Bristol Area Members

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

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

Spring Dance

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

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

Programme for June, July and August.

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

List of members.  1950.  No.2.

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

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

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

T.H.S.

Notes on a recent trip to South Devon

by R.W.G.C.

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

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

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

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

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

‘Dicing in N. Wales.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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