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


The BB is late again. This time it's my fault; I have several articles in hand at the moment (a rarity) and apologize to the authors whose contributions are not included in the present BB.  I'll make sure they're in the next one.

If you have any comments about, or additions to, Oliver’s cave diving article you may certainly send them to me.  I can either print them in the BB, if suitable, or forward them to N.Y. with Oliver's BB.

Please could those who have not already paid their subs, do so at once.  Club finances are very tight this year and late payers cost the club money! Those who do not pay will not get any more BB’s.

I've been asked to point out that the BEC is a member of the British Mountaineering Club which means that members can stay at any of the hundreds of BMC huts at rates similar to the Belfry.

Another date for your diaries: - The Cheddar May Fair and Folk Festival is on Saturday 12th May. One of the events is the world championship of Manx football.  Teams of 10 to make 5.  1(2) goalkeeper.  3 out and 1 reserve in fancy dress can enter for £5 and must get sponsorship towards Telethon.

HTV are filming this and Snablets aerial Morris Jig on High Rock.  Cheddar Gorge (to the tune of Coronation Street) on that day.  Also the MRO have been asked to do a display).

The winning football team will be invited to the live Telethon event two weeks later.


Membership Changes

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

620       Phil Coles.        Totterdown. Bristol
582       Chris Hall          Redhill. Bristol
570       Joy Scovell (nee Steadman).       Transvaal. South Africa.

We also welcome two new members who are: -

Sharon BeattIe.              Horfleld. Bristol
Roberst Bragg.              Odd Down. Bath

Eastwater Clean Up

It may nave escaped the notice of a lot or people that the BEC has, as of the early eighties, decided to adopt Eastwater Cavern under the ‘Descent adopt a cave scheme’, whereby the cave adopted is visited on a regular basis (it is, by the way). No clearing trips have been undertaken for a couple of years, however, though small amounts of crap are being carried out on various tourist - digging trips.  The amount of spent carbide and general rubbish in the cave is really quite amazing; three tackle bags full between the crossroads and the entrance, including two odd boots from Dolphin Chimney and unbroken lemonade bottles, several months ago on a tourist trip:  So what?

Well, we're having a clean up trip on Saturday morning the 7th of April.  Tackle bags provided free of charge.  It is time to start these clean up trips on a regular basis before the cave starts smelling and looking like many caves in Burrington.  So please make an effort to be there.

Graham Johnson



by Caving Sec

The party at the end of the universe was totally wicked!!  Also down Daren Scientists have discovered a hole in the Yohzone, the Rock Steady Crew will look into it next camp.  A date for your personal organizers. Saturday 31st March PRACTICE RESCUE.  Compulsory for all regular Daren visitors.  Also in Wales a discovery in Day-yr-Ogof by Rich Blake and Rob Harper of approx. 600ft. of passage ending in a sump.  Rob will be diving the sump on their return visit.

The BEC in Matienzo lived up to the motto, and also found 100m. of new passage (see the write-up by Blitz).

Lodmore Hole? an EMI (an electronics company - ed.) dig with some BEC helpers was looking very interesting with sightings of new passage but then unfortunately collapsed.  Bowery Corner has a new passage heading down dip called Dipso.  Survey work has been going on in Wookey by Trebor, Ross, Stumpy and Phil Churches and also by the choke busters in Welsh’s Green which is now complete.

Forget S.R.T. now there's T.R.T.  A breed of lemmings in the BEC have started practicing the sport of bridge jumping using the T.R.T. triple rope technique (jumping either backwards or head first off bridges attached to ropes.  Head first is the more advanced and shed spreading method).  Jumps have taken place throughout the country.  There has also been a lightning raid by the EMC/Steigl boot boys on the classic Bridge in the French Alps at Pont de la Caille, just north of Annecy on the main road to Geneva, known as the "Big Ride.

There have been some first Jumps on virgin bridges by BEC/EMC members in the local area. Unfortunately one of the bridges has become a bit dodgy to jump due to a local resident almost having a heart attack when looking out of her window to see what she thought was people committing suicide en mass.  The reason for three ropes is because it feels a lot safer than one and we can't afford ten.

Even while you read this the E.M.C. (myself Included) are mellowing out on a beach in the south of Spain after completing another classic Jump!


Bob Lawder

Sadly, we have to announce the death of Bob Lawder of the Wessex Cave Club.  Bob was one of the long standing Hunters characters and most of us have witnessed his fine renditions of the ‘Boatswine’, the "American Bum' and "Mrs O'Flaherty" at various New Year's Eve sessions and barrel nights.  Our condolences to his wife Anne.  Within the next few weeks there will be a memorial service for Bob at Priddy Church possibly followed by a barrel or two and a memorial "sing song' at the pub.

Tony Jarratt


New Cuthbert's Leader Form.

A new form for applying to become a Cuthbert’s leader has been issued, available at the Belfry. The qualifications are necessary (recommended by the St. Cuthbert’s leaders meeting and ratified by the BEC committee: -

a)                  It is considered that the applicant is unlikely sufficient knowledge of the cave system in less than 15 trips.

b)                  It is advisable that the applicant is shown around the cave system by as many different routes as is possible, and must cover all known areas of the cave. Particular emphasis be placed upon the forbidden routes to prevent damage to formations.

c)                  The applicant is encouraged to ensure that he or she is shown around the cave system by as many current leaders as is practicable.  This application is likely to be unsuccessful if most of the qualifying trips are signed by one leader.

d)                  Some of the qualifying trips shall be carried out in conjunction with ‘tourist trip parties’ as booked by the Caving Secretary of the Bristol Exploration club or guest leaders of other clubs.

e)                  The applicant must satisfy a nominated leader for his final qualifying trip before his application will considered.  The nominated leader will be selected by the Sec or Caving Sec of the Bristol Exploration Club.

f)                    The applicant must show their current third party liability Insurance certificate to the current Hon. Sec of the Bristol Exploration Club before the application will be considered.

The Good Old Days

From the Yorkshire Rambler's Club Journal Vol VII No 21 .1934.

"The Craven Pot-hole Club camp in 1932 covered the week-ends 24th and 31st July.  Number of descents. 79.  On 27th Fell Beck was in flood.  18 inches up the wench and again on the 29th."




The library is coming along slowly generally tidying up, cataloguing and finding out exactly what we've got, so that if they go missing we know about it.  I'm fed up with the books going walk-about.

I’ve assimilated all the BB's and thanks to certain people such as Joan Bennett, Les Peters etc. we've got a load of old BB's for our collection. Out or 450 odd issues I’m missing only 30 or so, which is not bad but if you have any spare copies of the following perhaps you could donate them to complete the set.



























(very manky)



(very manky)

















(very manky, trod on)


(photo copy only)

(no cover, worn)


( no cover)























(no cover)

I Know we’ve got an almost complete set of bound BB's but we were so close to another complete set.  I thought we might as well continue - also to help out with Alan's set in the archives.



Trebor also included a list of outstanding un-booked in books.  This is virtually identical to the list published last year so I haven't included it except to note that Henry Bennett is now banned from the library - he seems to still have seven books out (all since 1988!).

On second thoughts, I've printed the list on Page 29.  If these Books/Documents have still not been returned you should really try to do something about it.


Safety in Cave Diving

by Oliver Wells

The arrival of the Belfry Bulletin is always an agreeable moment and perhaps the efforts of the editor and of the regular contributors are too often taken for granted.  The happy feeling that this is really not my problem was ended rather abruptly in my case when I found myself talking to this hard-working gentleman in the Hunter's Lodge.  He reminded me that as a member of the BEC,  I was expected to put pen to paper and then send the results to him. So I was wondering whether some notes on safety in cave diving might be of interest.  Nothing that I shall say here is new, but I have a special reason for writing this article that I shall describe in a moment.

It has always seemed to me that there are two main schools of thought about training cave divers, depending upon the degree of mental strain that is put upon the trainee.  If you join the army, as many or us had to do in the 50’s, then you will find that the training is a rather 'heroic" process in which the finer sensitivities of the trainee are ignored.  In the same sort of way, when I signed up for an underwater course about ten years ago to see if I could still do it, I was dismayed to find that the instructor seemed to be a frustrated marine sergeant who scattered tanks across the bottom of a really quite deep indoor pool and then expected us to swim from one tank to the next, taking only one breath from a mouthpiece attached to each of them.  I have never been so close to drowning in by life.  I seem to remember that when I was taught to use an oxygen respirator by Jack Thompson and John Buxton in 1954 and 1955, the training was equally no-nonsense but was carried out in a more humane way (apart from the physiological tests, that is.  The dive store that I do business with these days follows the more humane approach also.

Possibly you may have realised by now that I do not like the “heroic” method for training divers, especially from the receiving end.  I prefer a more tranquil approach based on extended periods of time spent underwater gradually becoming acclimatised to the life below.  "Exercises" such as mask removal, mouthpiece exchange and so on can then be accomplished without any worry whatsoever (or can even become agreeable if you are on really good form).

An important question is how often you should practice your basic diving skills.  There are, it is true, certain individuals who have the unfair advantage over the rest of us in being able to perform underwater to perfection without regular practice.  But if you wish to be REALLY on form then you should go below the surface at least once a week.  In the 1950's I met this requirement by swimming in a flooded gravel pit while a helpful colleague rowed a boat from which a nylon rope came down from the sky, as it were.  Before my recent visit to England, I spent well over an hour following a thin nylon line laid between weights at a depth of about 9 feet in a lake behind a friend’s house.  Such has been the progress with diving equipment that neither a boat nor a safety line tied to the diver were needed.  While doing this, I deliberately stirred up the mud and very carefully kept in contact with the line at all times.  A colleague who tried to do this expressed surprise that the line could suddenly vanish completely, obviously you must concentrate your mind endlessly on this point.  After five dives at intervals of about a week I once again felt ready for a cave.  At the very least you should practice underwater within two weeks of diving in a cave.

Another important point is what I call the "safety reflex' of the diver.  If you are an open-water diver, then your idea of safety is the surface.  As a cave diver, your reactions must be totally different.  You should have two simultaneous responses if a sudden problem should arise.  Your first automatic reaction should be to check your back up mouthpiece.  Your second should be to check your contact with the line.  Then you can sort out your problem.

A friend who read the above paragraph points out that the more general idea is of "penetration diving" rather than cave diving if the above ideas are to apply.  His interest is diving on wrecks.  At one dive site, there is a wreck directly below the channel used by large oil tankers that sail by at regular intervals with their propellers churning and so on.  The divers lay lines from the side and employ all of the precautions described above.  (Wreck divers generally carry an independent aqualung supplied from a small "pony bottle' that does not have the duration of the backup system carried by a cave diver.)

Constant practice can pay dividends in many ways.  For example, during my recent swim back from Wookey Nineteen with Bob Drake, it seems that I did not tighten the belt that holds the cylinders around my middle to the degree that is required.  (That steep, restricted. muddy rock slope in Nineteen is not the most comfortable place for putting on cave diving equipment that I have ever been in.)  I knew that I was on good form when I went underwater and the lines appeared to be more "friendly" than the surface. About 15-20 feet along the line and while I was in a fairly compact section of the passage, the tube from the regulator on my right cylinder suddenly pulled tight so that the mouthpiece set off at a brisk speed in the direction of my lower right wisdom tooth (possibly the tube was too short).  It is amazing how fast the jaw muscles can tighten at a time like that. Unexpectedly perhaps.  I did not feel alarmed even slightly, and stopped swimming, checked the backup regulator, checked my contact with the line,  and THEN pulled the cylinder back to where it should have been (for the first of many times that I did so on what was really a very agreeable dive).

Of course, the episode described above was fairly trivial.  This sort of problem occurs to cave divers all the time.  I only mentioned it here to emphasise the need for constant underwater practice if you do not wish to be alarmed by such a thing. The final five chapters in Alan Thomas’ book "The Last Adventure" contain examples of happenings that were more dangerous than the above.  In my opinion and if you want to go cave diving, then you should read these chapters, think about these episodes and then practice underwater until you are confident that you can meet such crises in a totally calm way.  (And even then please do not be in too much of a hurry to “push the limits” until you have been doing it for some time.)

Crises that occur underwater can be all the more terrifying for being unexpected.  Tony Jarratt told me about a diver who was exploring in a mine working underwater, stirring up the mud as he swam along.  When it was time to return, he found that his line reel was jammed, and that he had been pulling the belay block along behind him. There was no line through the muddy water back to the air surface.  Tony tells me that he got out successfully.  It is a terrifying story, but is useful perhaps in emphasising that you cannot be too careful.

By “redundancy” we mean that if the respirator should suddenly stop working (or worst of all release its air) then you can change over to a second mouthpiece on a backup system and reach safety using your own resources alone.  Perhaps it should be emphasised that this is a MINIMUM requirement since such failures can and do happen.  For example, I had a friend In Pittsburgh who lost the O-ring between his cylinder and the regulator at a depth of 70 feet in open water.  In Hawaii.  I was in the boat when a diver emerged with a stream of bubbles coming from his pressure gauge.  About two weeks later, a diver right in front of me suffered a blow-out of some kind from the cylinder valve behind his head and then surfaced in a cloud of bubbles that was larger than any such cloud that I have ever seen.  One day when practicing in an indoor pool with a borrowed regulator, I was surprised when the rubber mouthpiece came off and I was connected directly to the water.  Oddly enough, in the 1950's we dived regularly in caves without any backup system apart from a second oxygen cylinder that fed into the same breathing circuit, and it is not clear to me looking back on it, how we could have felt so self-assured.  A totally independent backup system now appears to be absolutely essential, in my opinion.

In response to a question from a non-caving friend, cave divers nowadays wear a cylinder on each side ("side-mounts" in the current Jargon) with a pressure gauge and a regulator on each of them.  The idea is never to get yourself into a situation where you cannot get out with the backup system.

Head protection was neglected in the 1950's.  Bob Davies wore a beret over the very thin rubber hood on his dry suit with this idea in mind, but the rest of us did not even do that.  Nowadays cave divers always wear a helmet and with reason. The only question is how soon the use of helmets spread to open-water divers also, because even there the diver can (and sometimes does) knock his/her head.

Another question is whether it is safer to dive solo or whether you should maintain close and continuous contact with a second diver at all times.  Obviously it is a good idea to have a second diver not too far away, but it is a delusion to expect that he/she can help you if anything really serious should go wrong.  In fact, the chance of an accident underwater in a cave is probably increased if there is a second diver too closely in contact to delay you and generally cause confusion.  Solo diving can be very agreeable if you are on form (and yet I WAS very grateful to Bob Drake when he appeared out of the murk and unwound the guide wire from around my left regulator on the first of my two trips back from Nineteen --- although to be truthful about it, we were operating separately for all practical purposes until I was delayed at that point).

Here, the reviewer wrote: "All dive certification agencies emphasise the need to dive with a partner.  Your statement will be criticised ..."  Diving with a partner makes very good sense in a very large number of cases, but I still think that in cave diving the problems caused by a companion in continuous close contact in causing delays, stirring up mud and so on can outweigh the advantages.  Having a second diver not too far away can be very comforting, however.

Concerning deep diving when breathing air in caves.  I am against it.  In the late 1950's I went with John Buxton to HMS Vernon in Portsmouth where we went to the equivalent of 200 feet in a pressure chamber in company with some Naval Officers.  We sat on benches along the two sides of a horizontal cylindrical chamber of diameter about 5 feet while a naval gentleman at one end communicated with the world outside by hitting the wall with a noisy blunt object.  We stared at the needle on a depth gauge as it slowly rotated clockwise between us. There was nothing to report down to 170 feet, when nitrogen narcosis came on with about as much subtlety as being hit on the back of the head with a hammer.  It was a ghastly experience.  I felt as if I was being whirled in a centrifuge about ten times faster than I wished to go.  But the plan was to go to 200 feet, so on we went.  By this time the air was so dense that it was a major athletic enterprise to breathe either in or out, in addition to the narcosis.  The Naval Officer told us later about the incredibly stupid things that even experienced divers had done at such depths.  Cave diving, anyone?

(Generally, people who dive deeply in caves either practice endlessly to survive narcosis or use a different gas mixture to avoid its effects.  Dive certification agencies generally prohibit dives below 120 feet. In response to a question from the reviewer, the above took place entirely air.  Presumably it would have been worse underwater.)

Perhaps the final point that I shall make concerns the EXPECTATION of the diver.  Of course, all of us would like to be at the cutting edge of cave diving, and yet nowadays I have been forced by a certain feeling of reality to regard myself as being in the position of a tourist to the Alps who is conducted on an easy rock-climb by one of the local guides.  Of course, this does not excuse from the need to practice my skills, mental attitude and equipment (you cannot escape from this).  But in fact I find it not at all bad to restrict my ambitions in this way, and I find trips such as Three to Nine and the like to be enormous fun.

Oh yes, why did I write this article?  About six month ago I agreed to write a chapter on the history of cave diving (which is more difficult than giving a lecture because you cannot fluff over the difficult bits).  So this article is a partial dry run in an effort to de-confuse my mind on this subject. The style of my chapter will be somewhat different from the conversational tone I have used here.  So if the reader would like to help me by sending me any comments on the above (especially with reference to ORIGINS of these ideas or to alternative points of view) then I shall be very happy to acknowledge any such help in the final version.  Or perhaps the Editor might wish to receive such items directly – I know I would be very interested to read such things in the Bulletin myself.

Cave diving has a great future and it will be interesting to see how it is made safer as it continues to advance in all aspects of underwater exploration by human divers, by remotely controlled vehicles and finally by autonomous computerised devices that will explore and record data at distances, depths, temperatures, etc. that are far beyond anything that can be done now.




Chewton Mendip

15th January 1990

Dear Friends at the BEC,

A belated thank you for the Acetylene cap lamp presented to me on my recent retirement from the Police service.

The BEC has over the years been very kind and helpful to me and the police service in general - in addition to being very hospitable to me, the valuable service rendered at cave rescues has been appreciated.

This working cap lamp will constantly remind of your club and its members.  With every good wish to you all.

Yours sincerely,

Gerry Brice


Spanish For Beginners

by   Chris Smart

'Come to Spain Blitz". Rob said.  "It will take your mind off things”.   How little did Blitz realise the truth in that seemingly innocuous remark made over a couple of pints as plans were made for the expedition of the century on the back of a beer mat.

Indeed had Blitz thought back, he, and some of you, might nave remembered the famous (infamous?) Harper and Blitz offensive on the Dachstein in the winter of 1980/81, and things might have been different.  However memories and the Wessex are both short and the BEC Matienzo winter Expedition was born.

Deciding that people might talk if just the pair of our intrepid heroes set forth, to explore caverns measureless to man and to do battle with litres of Rioja, Harper decided to look round for suitable heroes in waiting, men eager for a challenge, the would be conquerors of the Stygian darkness and cavers of the calibre of Casteret, de Jolly and Wormhole.  After a long and fruitless search we had to make do with some of the hardest armchair cavers that the Belfry could muster ­Snablet, Rich Blake, Steve Redwood and that all American, clean living, crew- cut boy Chip Chapman.  They were all easily enticed with carefully edited highlights of previous summer expeditions, kilometres of virgin cave passage and quickly swallowed the bait.  The expedition was launched.

So it was that having played all the usual pre expedition games of; lets hunt for the BEC rope (most of it left in Rumania); lets hunt for the BEC hangers (found some or them); lets hunt for the BEC tackle sacs (succeeded); lets hunt for the BEC surveying kit (still held by the 1988 Black Holes expedition) and lets hunt for Snablets brain (failed); that Boxing Day 2300 hrs saw Rob and Blitz on board the Portsmouth - Le Havre ferry and Boxing Day 2301 hrs saw Rob and Blitz happily ensconced on the after deck clutching a carry out or three and, like two expectant penguins eagerly awaiting the forthcoming adventures.  The other four stalwarts of the team having promised faithfully to follow on the next day.

Midnight saw us pooping on the bivy deck (or something similar) and like two giant comatose slugs we dreamed sweet dreams before emerging butterfly like from our cocoons at six o clock the next morning.  You may be interested to learn that Blitz has lodged a reward with the ferry company in an attempt to find the sadist who seemingly took great delight in standing over his bivy bag at some unearthly hour announcing in a very load voice, and with sufficient volume to wake the dead, that "These two have picked a good spot to sleep in".  On a more serious note a word of warning, if you go to sleep on the Portsmouth - Le Havre cross channel ferry or even blink your eyes for an Instant then somebody will sneak up on you and alter your watch by exactly one hour, and the really odd thing is that they do the same on the way back across the channel.

I understand that 0630 is not the recommended guidebook time to see the sights and experience the delights of Le Havre but our thoughts were not on such tourist attractions but on more alarming necessities such as why wasn’t Matienzo on the signposts and you did bring the loose change for the French motorways tolls didn't you Blitz?

However we were soon on the way and within a few kilometres Dawn’s rosy red fingers were seductively caressing the early morning sky.  Its times like this that a young mans thoughts turn to love, poetry and the answer to life, the universe and Bowery Corner but it only takes a few bars of Meatloaf with “Hits out of Hell” to put the world to rights.  It seemed as it nothing could stop us.  Little did we know!

The morning quickly turned to the afternoon and the thoughts of our two heroes turned to the impending business of lunch.  Pausing only long enough to snatch a hurried three hour gastronomic extravaganza we were soon back on the wrong side of the road and the Pyrenees were looming large on the horizon.  France was soon behind us and Spain lay open and inviting before us.  Within what seemed to be an instant, but was actually a couple of hours in the all encompassing dark of the Spanish night we saw our first road sign for Matienzo.  Not even pausing for a brief smug self congratulatory smile we headed over the pass and drove down into the enclosed Matienzo depression.  The time was 9 pm and the advance guard of the expedition had arrived.

In good BEC tradition we stopped at the first bar and in halting Spanish ordered two beers.  The locals, who all appeared to be extras from a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western, took it in turns to stare at us.  Blitz had one of those rare and fleeting moments of pure genius and suggested to Rob that a) that if the Brits had been coming to Matienzo for 20 years then one might expect a least a photo or a surveyor some indication to be visible and b) that there might just be another bar further down the road.

Consequently three minutes later we were in the next bar down the road and were confronted with Tony and Roz Williams who had driven up from Portugal to see Pete and Carmen Smith, who have a house in Matienzo, and in order to greet us.  Blitz then had another one of those rare and fleeting moments of pure genius when he announced that this was obviously the correct bar!

Introductions were soon made, food ordered and the wine began to flow liberally.  All too soon with tiredness catching up on everyone we decided to call it a night (i.e. the dark time between successive days) and the final introduction was made.  To those of you who are ignorant of the magical and therapeutic properties of a Matienzo Sol y Sombre then what little we will say is that they consist of approximately equal measures of brandy and anise (Similar to Pernod).  For the sake of common decency and in case anyone of a nervous disposition is still reading this then a veil is probably best drawn over the next few hours.  Suffice to say that by 2am, yes, only five hours after our arrival Rob had been arrested by the local police for having borrowed a car from the roadside, conveniently with the keys left in it, driven in it for half a mile down the road, attempted to borrow another car, had a shotgun fired over his head by two understandably irate locals and had managed to demolish ten yards of barbed wire and several bramble bushes with his bare chest.

The memories that Blitz has add little to these incidents, he will admit that Rob did seem a little merry when they left the bar to go and bivy in the field behind it, but as the night-time stars seemed to want to go round and round in circles, at a breakneck speed, even when he closed his eyes, his memory can be considered a little hazy. The only one event that Rob is adamant that he can remember from the evenings proceedings is apparently being brought to the bar by the two Civil Guardsmen, of them hunting out Blitz cocooned in his bivybag, of them waking him and asking in Spanish "Is this your friend?"  To say that Rob's heart stopped when Blitz replied "Never seen him before in my life" would perhaps be an exaggeration but only a little one. Those of you who know Blitz well must consider carefully whether such a story is fact or Rob's imagination working overtime and Blitz is adamant that it never happened.  What he does remember is of Tony Williams and Pete Smith waking him at 3am giving him Rob's car keys and telling him some cock and bull story that Rob was in prison and we would sort things out in the morning.

The morning soon dawned and Blitz awoke to find himself clutching Rob's car keys and a growing realisation that maybe it hadn't all been a bad dream.  The remainder of the morning was taken up at the local police station where the local inspector, who bore an uncanny resemblance to a short slim Batstone, established the facts of the case.  As Rob had managed to choose the day when the entire Spanish legal system was in the process of change he was unable to be put before a judge and was returned to Laredo jail for a second night’s incarceration.

Blitz and Pete Smith returned to Matienzo and were met by the other four stalwarts of the expedition who viewed the proceedings with some incredulity.  After all weren't Blitz and Rob the two quiet ones - how could they hope to compete against such over the top behaviour?  Snablet was not to be daunted and asked as to what Rob had been drinking the previous evening, and then asked a pint of it!  Four Sol y Sombres later he was not sure what planet he was on, let alone where he was or who he was, (or to put it another way just like a Saturday night at the Hunters).   He found his tent but obviously experienced a little difficulty as the morning found him with his head inside the tent but his body lying in a discarded heap on the grass outside the tent.  His comment that it was a little cold and damp met with some sympathy as fellow sufferers attempted to count brain cells and found several million to be missing.

Rob was finally released on the following morning and approached Matlenzo with some concern. However he was greeted like a prodigal son by the landlady and was subjected to a rib breaking bear hug, the offer of alcoholic refreshment and a voluble torrent of Spanish welcoming him home. Pablo, the landlord greeted him in a similar manor and immediately exhausted his complete vocabulary of English with the classic comment 'No problemo".  It seemed as thought the BEC had arrived.

The expedition having spent a little time on the above soon decided that we should gain some credibility with the locals and that it was about time we put our heads underground. Blitz and Harper opted for Cueva de Lleuva and spent a pleasant three or four hours srt-ing the 10 metre pitch, looking for the ways on and finally wandering about in enormous horizontal passages floored with sand and breakdown blocks.

The hard men chose to visit Cueva Uzueka.  This is a name that is meaningless in Spanish but if pronounced in a Mancunian accent gives some indication as to its charms.  They returned to the camp site about six hours later with tales of needing 4 hours to find their way through the entrance passages (something that does only take 15 minutes when you know where you are going) of a horrendous squeeze, of Darren sized passages (both very large and very small, and of having dug into 200 metres of new passage which reminded them of West End series in Eastwater. The expedition had obviously arrived.

All six of us returned to Cueva Uzueka the following day and while the new passage was surveyed Rob. Blitz and Rich pushed on down the Gorilla Walk.  This is a real collector's item and a previous expedition report describes it as " ... of roughly stooping size in knee deep water, which sets the scene for the next kilometre and is fairly described by its name.  Any gorillas contemplating the trip should wear wetsuits, for in various parts the water occupies more of the available space than the air does".  Needless to say we were in furry suits!  We pushed on deeper into the cave, through the "Near Stomps", 500 metres of wide stream passage floored with huge sand banks and Blitz found the way on at "Obvious Junction", which wasn't, into "Cross Over Passage" and onto the easy walking passage of "Las Playas" (the Beach). Unfortunately the others missed the strongly draughting connecting crawl and continued for an extra half kilometre along 'Far Stomps" before reaching the sump.  However by a stroke of genius we all exited together and returned to base.

It began raining that night at 3am and managed to rain through to 3pm.  Having spent most of the day drinking coffee in the bar we struggled out onto the hill side mid afternoon to search out Cueva de los Emboscados.  This took ages to find but Blitz and Rich Blake finally decided that having looked in all the not a chance places it must be that obvious large entrance.  The cave is only 180 metres long and consists of a single railway sized tunnel passage but contains some prehistoric engravings of the body and heads of deer and horses.

Pablo and family put on a special meal for us to celebrate New Years Eve and it goes with no real exaggeration to say that stomachs were severely bloated by the onslaught or several courses of wonderful food.  I shall gloss over the fact that one member of the expedition chose to await the arrival of the first course before announcing that he did not share our omnivorous eating habits.  On a word of warning to other vegetarians you should be aware that the Spanish do not appear to indulge in eating vegetables and that the word for vegetarian in Spanish is "homothexually".

A day or so later saw the four hard men gong for gold.  Pete Smith has casually told us that, near to end of Cueva Uzueka was a passage called "Shrimp Bone Inlet" which, although 700 metres long, and ending in walking sized passage had not been pushed.  The two old men Harper and Blitz elected to act as selfless sherpas and plodded on in behind the young tigers carrying spare food and kgs of carbide so as to establish a dump.  They made their way into the 'Astradome' which is a magnificent circular aven 30 metres in diameter and in excess of 100 metres high where a single voice sounds like a cathedral choir".  It was a magical place for the sardines and chocolate supper before exiting, with rampant indigestion, after a nine hour caving trip.

Meanwhile "Shrimp Bone Inlet" had been reached, the end survey station found and exploration and surveying conducted into the unknown.  Five hundred metres of relatively easy going passage later they emerged into a chamber with the way on visible as a passage 10 metres up on one of the walls.  The other possibility, a draughting boulder choke, was investigated but found not to go. The four of them exited after 16 hours underground and returned to the camp site where they arrived at 7am to be met by a relieved Blitz and Harper.  Survey calculations show this passage to be heading into a blank area of the map.

All too soon the next day dawned and it was time to pack up and go home.  The nearest town suffered an onslaught of six BEC members all intent on purchasing their own DIY Sol y Sombre kit and stocking up on those little delicacies such as tinned squid and octopus in their own ink, very cheap olive oil and rough vino tinto.  One little gem was attempting to buy some flowers as a gift, for our hosts but I’ll gloss over that one.

In conclusion, and to be serious for a moment.  We can say that Matienzo is well worth a visit and is about a days drive on the motorways from Le Havre or Cherbourg.  You could either go in with the 40 or 50 British cavers who regularly visit every summer (See Blitz for details) or as a small group at any other time.  (There is currently some talk about a return about next New Year).  Indeed the area is worth seeing and although it is not spectacular mountain scenery the locals have that easy going friendly and relaxed approach to life that is found throughout the world in small rural communities and what’s more they appear to enjoy the antics or cavers, even the BEC.

A few facts:

A Matienzo box file will shortly appear in the Library giving the real truth behind the expedition. Our main source of reference was BCRA Transactions Vol 8 No 2 June 1981 Matilenzo, but we now know that we should have consulted the “Report of the 1975 British Expedition to the Matienzo Polje” (Private publication).

The caves are not particularly easy to find but generally allow relatively easy caving.  Permission should be sought from the authorities in both Santander and Barcelona.  This is very important as access is delicate.  No English is spoken in the area so a phrase book and dictionary are essential.  Camping is easily arranged at the back of the bar from which food and drink is available throughout the day.

The weather at New Year varied from two afternoons we were in T-shirts to one morning where there was a centimetre of ice on the tents.


Grateful thanks must go to Pete and Carmen Smith of Santander, Juan Corrin, Tony and Roz Williams and the people or Matienzo.  In particular Pablo, Anna, Cuca and Granddad who made us feel not only like honoured guests but treated us as if we were their family.


Puck Suds


"In Somerset you must be an expert with "Jelly" and spend your week-ends at the bottom of a sink-hole hopefully endeavouring to blow a way in somewhere."


At ST 53135254. Opposite the lay--by in Plummer’s Lane, is a swallet in Lower Limestone Shales which takes a considerable amount or road drainage and run-off from the NW slopes of North Hill.  Recorded in Barrington and Stanton (1) as Bowery Corner Swallet this site has recently been the scene or much digging activity, most of which is here documented.

In 1988 Bob Williams (2) traced the original name of the swallet as mentioned in a manuscript of 1768 and before this in a Judgement of the Chewton Mendip Minery Court dated 1661 (see appendix 1).  It is proposed to reinstate the name Puck Suds for this cave - a suitable addition to such attractive old names as Lamb Leer and Cuckoo Cleeves.

Cavers became interested in this swallet in 1937 when Hywell Murrell and friends looked at the site, though it is believed little work was done.

1960 saw Mike Thompson and Jim Hanwell of the Wessex Cave Club at work here but after digging a deep muddy pit they failed to reach solid rock and gave up.  This was before the main road was re-aligned and there was some confusion as to whether the BEC dig was in the same place.  This was recently confirmed on a visit with Jim.  (The old road still exists as the lay-by opposite).

In 1976 Willie Stanton (WCC) dye tested the stream in reasonably high water conditions using Rhodamine.  This followed an earlier and only partly successful attempt at Fluoresceine testing. The water was proved to feed Cheddar risings with a flow through time of 50 hours under the prevailing conditions.

Tony Jarratt.

The "Group Of Friends" Dig 1982-1986.

This site was visited during 1982 immediately after research brought it to light in Willie Stanton's Complete Caves of Mendip, 1977.  As fortune would have it I was employed by a National company. Whilst working locally I experienced a very heavy downpour of rain.  Looking to the north, thinking of the sink which had been dry earlier that day, I resolved to drive the 16 ton vehicle in my possession to the site.  On reaching the site some water was present in the ditch close to the road and also in the field ditch.  There was a steady stream coming out of the concrete pipe that drained part of the field.  The flow remained the same for half an hour after which it began to increase.  Within another hour the bowl shaped base of the site was under four feet or water.  Marking the levels of the various streams showed they were still increasing though the level above the base stayed at four feet depth.  Not believing my luck that a sink such as this could remain untouched I first went to the farmer, Mr Wesley Voke, and obtained his permission to dig there.  The only rider in the agreement was that the fence be kept in good order to protect his livestock, namely lambs.

Wesley’s farm became our secure materials yard where we stored all our equipment.  It was the first time that I had found that a genuine interest in caves existed in the people that live above them.  Much tea and cake later we realised that the reason he didn’t mind us digging there was because he didn't own it!  Still, as a neighbour he provided us with encouragement.

Further research began into the history of Bowery Corner, though alas some leads were not available to me.  However, Mike Thompson furnished me with first hand information.  When he had dug there (1960 I believe) it had been down through clay with no apparent way on.  It was also noted that some of his contemporaries believed that the Bowery site was not the one that they had dug.  This confusion dates from when the road was under alteration and repairs. Seeking information from the county Engineers Office provided no definite clear plans of “Before and After".  I was happy with what details I had and persuaded Ken James and John Widley to help me. Digging took place on Wednesdays and good progress was made until one wet evening when alighting from my Land Rover we could hear an almighty noise.  Looking over the grass verge we saw that the top of the shaft had a white crown surrounded by bits of vegetation.  The 12 foot shaft had filled completely.  Before we had had a stream almost permanently present but this was something else.  Stopping only to change underwear we went to the bar.

I now checked Willie Stanton's water tracing results of the area (1974) and found that he had received a doubtful trace at the first Cheddar rising after 72 hours.  Estimated flow at the time was 10 gallons per minute. The experiment was repeated in January 1977, using 100cc of Rhodamine W.T. in an approximate flow of 20 GPM, the result was positive at Cheddar.  Wookey, Rodney Stoke (Spring Head) and Rowpits all proved negative.  A rhine draining an apparently unpolluted area of moor gave a consistently high reading in the Rhodamine range.

The effect of the flood that we witnessed was all too apparent on the next visit.  The shaft was previously 12 feet deep and approximately 4 to 5 feet in diameter.  It was now 8 feet deep and 8 feet in diameter.  Both the walls of the shaft opposite the two main streams had been carved away leaving an unstable area.  Over the next month the debris was removed and work recommenced.  The main problem was that there was no limestone to be seen or any hard rock for that matter!  Again and again the sides of the dig collapsed causing great disappointment. We were fearful of Mr Voke or the council complaining that either road or field was fast disappearing.  The digging team’s numbers had now shrunk to one. This meant that progress was painfully slow.  Still working in the area I regularly hijacked the lorry I drove and utilized the road drill and pump to make digging more enjoyable. You haven’t lived until you’ve used a road breaker in a confined space.  Sometime later the company realized that the mileage I was achieving to and from Bristol and Frome was excessive, and on one occasion followed me to the site.  As my foreman made himself comfortable in the back of the lorry for the duration we were interrupted by the nice Inspector man who looked down the hole and asked what I was doing.  Digging was continued through my suspension.  I now had problems with the moving of spoil so the decision was made to involve others of like mind.  The site was offered to both the Severn Valley Caving Club and the Wessex Cave Club. No takers so the L.A.D.S. were shown the site.  Shortly afterwards they joined the B.E.C., where old diggers retire.  With this new blood the enthusiasm infected many.  Once again digging became regular and with this came the installation of concrete pipes for the entrance shaft along with excellent prospects.

Pat Cronin

The BEC Dig  1986-Date.

On 10th October 1986 AJ cleared washed in debris from the six foot long entrance passage which was occupied by a muddy pool.  There was no airspace or draught and there were obvious signs of backing up by floodwater. Other projects then took priority for the next few months.

A major clearing operation took place on 24th May 1987 when the floor of the collapsed depression was lowered and the entrance enlarged and made more "cave-like".  A very low, scalloped bedding passage led off with the stream running away beyond.  It was decided that the site was interesting enough to warrant the installation of concrete piping to prevent total collapse of the adjacent field and roadside edges and to enable the swallet to be used as a spoil dump.  Further clearing took place and on 30th and 31st May PC and ML began construction of a concrete block wall at the cave entrance.  Between the 5th and 7th June the piping of the swallet was completed with help from a large team, the pipes being brought over from the "cave entrance factory" at Mells by DB using a hired trailer. Three lengths of 30” x 36”pipe were lowered into the hole by Land Rover, positioned and backfilled (see appendix 2).

Digging along the stream way now took priority.  The low bedding in shale was enlarged to hands and knees dimensions and spoil hauled to surface by hand.  This necessitated the ejection of the old Tyning's Barrows sheer legs over the entrance on 4th August.  The stream sank in a small hole on the RH side of the passage but it was decided to try straight ahead and this was enlarged for some 15 feet before being abandoned in favour of the sink.

By the end of August there were small lenses of limestone appearing in the shale and chiselling through this was difficult and time consuming.  This problem was solved with the aid of a Kango drill and generator followed up by “banging”.  Fumes were encouraged to leave the cave with the help of a Camping Gaz stove lowered down the entrance shaft to act as a “Fire Bucket”.

By early September, after a lot of hard work, the descending sink passage had been pushed for some 15 feet to a rock pillar blocking the way on.  This was banged on 6th September and when AJ and NS returned to clear the rubble they were amazed to find an open rift passage leading on.  This was some 25 feet long and in one place was large enough to stand up in.  A choked bedding passage led onwards.  The cave now totalled some 50 feet and qualified for the 1987 digging competition.

The next distinct session of digging lasted until November and involved the clearing of the next 30 feet of flat out bedding passage - Skid Row.  This involved hand pumping of the first flooded section and considerable enlargement of the whole length of passage by chiselling out the roof and floor with the occasional bang for good measure.  Periodic flooding curtailed activities as the crawl is not a good place to be in wet weather.  Wet suits were generally worn by those at the face.  An alternating draught was sometimes noted and the stream could be heard running on ahead.  On 29th November another rock pillar was reached and CS and MG surveyed the cave at 80 feet length, the end being just under the main road near the lay-by.

On 30th November the pillar was instantaneously removed and the following day a further 10 foot section of roomier passage entered with a small muddy inlet coming in on the LH side. Unfortunately a deep puddle almost filled the main passage and the onset of winter made conditions here particularly unpleasant.  The site was subsequently temporarily left to its own devices and a concentrated effort put in on the Halloween Rift dig in a vain attempt to win the digging barrel. On very wet days during the winter the amount of water entering the cave was phenomenal - a roaring stream with few signs of backing up.

Work restarted on 6th May 1988 when pumping was attempted at the terminal pool but failed dismally due to blocked pumps and split hoses.  Another attempt on 12th and 13th May was slightly more successful - the pump actually working but being too difficult to operate for any length of time as it was situated at the face where there was little room to manoeuvre. A water valve was inserted on the surface to control stream flow.

Lethargy was about to set in when Tony Blick (Craven P.C.) appeared on the scene with his dowsing rods and promptly predicted that not far beyond the end of the dig would be a small chamber followed by more narrow passage and then an enormous void - some 150 feet across and at a depth of over 200 feet with at least one inlet of about 60 feet width.  Passing motorists over the next few days probably assumed that a mass breakout from Wells Hospital had occurred as hordes of bearded zombies clutching bent welding rods marched across the road in front of them.

On the first available dry weekend (when the stream entering the cave was almost non-existent) the pump was brought into action again and thanks to various refinements by PC (The Digging Plumber) it worked to perfection, the puddle being emptied within an hour after 150 gallons had been hauled to the surface in 5 gallon drums. It was a pity that much of this rapidly returned to the end due to a leaking reservoir.  This was resolved by storing water in a variety of buckets and pouring it away in the field next to the cave.  A little progress was made at the end but it was felt that life would be easier if some of the ceiling was removed.  On the following day, 26th June, a charge was fired to commence this operation and the debris was cleared on the following Wednesday.  It was found that the ceiling could be easily brought down by using a crowbar.

The following five months were taken up with regular weekend and Wednesday night clearing and banging trips, the latter courtesy of NT and AB.  Well over 250 skip loads of debris was removed and some 7 lbs. of explosives used during fifty visits.  Exciting interludes included the flooding of the cave on 9th October when the stream overflowed the spoil heap: the near permanent retirement of ML on 22nd October after he'd breathed in too many bang fumes: the detonation of 4 ozs. directly below the Mendip Farmer's Hunt: several visits by Yorkshire and Belgian cavers; a surface survey by TH and the fitting of a hinged steel manhole cover to the entrance pipe on 12th and 13th November '88.  The fifty feet or so of passage gained during this exercise was typical of the cave, low, wet and developed in shale with the occasional limestone intrusion.  On 27th November the diggers were somewhat put out to reach a minute sump.  Not deterred it was decided to bang over the top of this and on 3rd December the first charge was fired here - upsetting a large frog who had evaded capture!

On January 4th - nine trips, sixty five skip loads and 3lbs. bang later, the sump was bypassed following some eight to ten feet of digging and blasting a mud filled tube at a slightly higher level.  The sump itself proved to be some six feet long and has been preserved as a "feature'.  Beyond, a typical and partly choked streamway led on for at least, ten feet to a low archway. Once again we lost the digging barrel.

The rest of January (eleven trips, fifty skip loads and 4lbs. bang) saw the team some fifteen feet forwards and the inevitable sump 2.  During this episode the indestructible frog was at last captured and liberated.  It had survived six bangs!

February continued in the same manner with several clearing and banging trips until the second sump was turned into a pool and a small chamber created to give the team some working space.  Despite atrocious weather conditions there were six trips.  15 skip loads removed and 14 lbs. of bang laid.

The wet weather kept up throughout March '89 but this did not deter the diggers and the regular Wednesday night sessions continued.  Some fifteen feet beyond "Sump 2" a third sump was reached which in dry conditions dropped enough for a 2" airspace to appear with the sound of the stream running downhill beyond and a good draught.  Much banging and clearing in very wet and uncomfortable conditions was done in an attempt to pass this obstacle and this was eventually accomplished on Easter Monday.  Beyond lay another low, flooded section where more banging was necessary.  During the month there were 11 trips, 60 loads to surface and 2½ lbs. of bang used.

April saw the team continuing as before and it was noticeable that during the first weeks, three new diggers on three separate trips suffered from bouts of claustrophobia. By the 24th "Sump 4" had been reached with a couple of minor side passages nearby.  The noise of falling water had been merely a foot high step in the passage.  It was decided to bang over the top of the sump in a small, mud filled tube.  Over 100 loads removed. 3½ lbs. bang used and 12 trips this month.

Due to the breakthrough at Welsh's Green Swallet, there were fewer diggers available during May.  Even so, some 50 loads were removed and another 2½ lbs. bang vaporised in the course of 10 trips.  A heavy duty bang wire was installed., being pegged to the wall to avoid the sledge run. “Sump 4'”was eventually blown away, being some 5 feet long and running directly below an almost body sized, mud filled tube.  The tiny stream passage beyond this draughted and echoed well.

In June work continued in this tube despite problems with bad air which gave one or two diggers a nasty shock.  A brief pumping and digging session was had at the corner where Skid Row began.  This totally silted tube was opened up for 6 feet or so before enthusiasm waned, even though drain rods could be pushed forwards for a further 15 feet, 6 trips, 76 loads out and ½ lb. bang used this month.

In August the Romanian trip kept several of the team occupied and progress was measured by 3 loads out and 1 lb. bang used on 3 trips.

September saw the commencement of a dig in the right hand passage some 20 feet back from the end of the cave.  The main dig also continued, taking advantage of the exceptionally dry weather conditions. Over 5 trips, 3/4 lb. of bang was used, and 46 loads came out to a rapidly increasing spoil heap.

During 6 trips in October, 52 more loads were added to the pile and another l½ lbs. bang dematerialised. The good weather began to change and the cave got decidedly wetter.  By this time the dig extended to a point beyond the roadside at the edge of the lay-by opposite.

November '89 saw 28 loads out and 3/4 lb. of bang used over 6 trips.  It was obvious that the cave had recently completely filled with floodwater indicating another sump ahead.  Most of the work this month was concentrated on the right hand dig which was opened up for about 15 feet to where a low airspace over the rubble filling was encountered.

Digging here continued in December and on the 10th the writer, clearing spoil at the face broke into an open but small stream passage with a tiny inlet sump to the left connecting back to Skid Row.  To the right this passage continued for some 10 feet and appeared to open up into a larger, body sized tube.  2 lbs. of bang was used during the month with 70 loads to surface and 12 trips undertaken.

During the last three years of work there have been well over 153 digging and clearing trips during which about 900 skip loads of rock, sand, gravel and mud have been dragged out and used to backfill the entrance crater around the pipes.  Over 30 lbs. of assorted explosive has been used at great expense (don't forget the bang fund box in the Belfry!).  Over 60 BEC members were involved as were over 20 from other clubs - notably the SMCC.  A list of diggers to date follows.  Work is continuing in the right hand dig, now christened "Dipso" - it goes down-dip and you have to be a maniac to work there!  A further report will follow as and when the writer deems it worthwhile.

Tony Jarratt   9/2/90

The Diggers


H. Murrell (WCC) et al.


M. Thompson (WCC). J. Hanwell (WCC).

1982 - 1986

P. Cronin. K. James. J. Widley. N. Burns. A. Porter. B. Court(TGOF)

1986 – date

P Cronin. A Jarratt. M Lumley. R Brown. G Jago. D Bradshaw. R Neville-Dove. P Hopkins. C Smart. J Smart. K Jones. T Chapman. S. Macmanus. M. Grass. N Sprang. P McNab (Jnr). P Eckford. R McNair. R Stevens. S Mendes. J Williams. E Humphreys. T. Gould. M. Tuck. G Wilton-Jones. N Gymer. K Gurner. B Williams. J Watson. L Smith. C Harvey. A Sparrow. H Bennett. M van Luipen. S Milner. N Taylor. S MacDonald. A Middleton. R Payne. A.Cave. G Johnson. R Clarke. A Boycott. R Taviner. T Hughes. T Large. I Caldwell. D.Shand. S Lain. J Clarke. R Cork. A Carruthers. R Beharrel. P & S. Rose and kids. G.Timson. C White. P He1lier. A Hollis. T Phillips. R White. A Griffin. J Stanniland. S.Loader. V.  Simmonds. R. Chdddock. H. TuckeL A. Williams. M. MacDonald. (all BEC) T.Edwards (CCG). S Prince (CSS). J Shaw (OS). A Millett (CSS). S Tooms (CSS). S Brown. Wendy. J Thorpe. R North (NCC). J. London. F. Easer (GSAB). E. Bentham (EPC). A. Ward (NWCC). G Newton. M Knapp. K Savory (WCC). N Sims. I Hollis & dog. J Lister, P.Collett. A Edwards. A.& G. Taylor. M. Bareau. G. Douglas (all SMCC). S. Tomalin(GSS). Dave ?( MEG)


(1) Stanton - "Mendip - The Complete Caves ... ' 1977 p44

(2) Williams - "Axbridge Archaeological Society Newsletter 107 March/April 1988


Appendix 1


1. -- 'PUCK(S) SUDS'

In this and ensuing notes the writer enquires into a few of the many Mendip place-names which have faded from local memory. 'PUCK SUDS' was mentioned in a judgement of the Minery Court which sat at Chewton Mendip on the 10th February 1661, (SRO.DD/WG); published by Gough (1931,p.45).  In these proceedings the Grand Jury heard the complaint of a William Rudman ‘of great wrongs and abuses done unto him by several disorderly persons as touching a Washing Pond or Pool and another watering place for Cattell both lying and being adjoyning to a place commonly called by the Name of Puck Suds’.  The offenders were local lead miners who used the water for buddling.  The Grand Jury decided that such usage should henceforth only be allowed with the 'Special Licence and Consent of the said William Rudman' and harsh penalties were decreed for any abuses.  Although the place was obviously within the Chewton Mining Liberty, which is clearly defined, no clue was left as to the exact spot.  However, this can be determined by studying the unpublished 'Perambulation of the Royalty and Liberty of the Manor of East Harptree and Richmond, 10th June 1768'. (SRO.DD/WG, Box 14). In this "Froom Barrow" is mentioned and this is the prominent round barrow at the side of the road to the west of the Miners Arms (it is called Castle Barrow on a map of the Chewton Minery which abuts in this area).  The East Harptree Liberty bounds continue westwards ;- "to Toad Mead, the waste of the said ground near to the Swallet Hole called PUCKS SUDS--". This is clearly Bowery Corner Swallet recorded by Barrington and Stanton (1977, p.44) as being an intermittent stream which sinks close to the wall at ST 53135254. (see sketch plan below).

The Mendip miners were very suspicious so could well have believed in the mischievous sprite 'Puck' of English folklore and the word 'suds' was originally used for dregs or muddy water which would certainly suit this area of marshy ground.

Bob Williams.


Barrington, N. & Stanton, W.L 1977 Mendip the complete caves ---.3rd edn.

Gough, J.W. 1931. Mendip Mining Laws and Forest Bounds. Som. Rec. Soc, ‘45.


Appendix 2



Library - Books Overdue

Here is a list of outstanding un-booked-in books in the booking out book (if you get my drift). If you've still got them bring them back.  If you’ve returned them, you should have booked them in.


Booked Out



Tony Boycott







Howard Price


Tim Large



Alan Thomas



Tim Gould



Andy Sparrow








Henry Bennett








Dave Glover




Alan Griffin













































1975 P3M Report


Hants Basin Geology


Cerberus. Latest Bulletins

CRG Dio-supplement


Pegasus Club Berger Report


Cerberus Newsletter 55/56

UBSS Proceedings Vol. 17(2)


All Wessex Journals for binding

BB Vol (4)


Caves of Bristol region

Cave Explorers


Caves of Derbyshire



BB Vol 39 (6 )

Karst Geomorphology


West Virginian Caver


The Longest Cave

American Caves & Caving

Space Below My Feet


The Caves of Rouffiqnac

The Descent of PSM

Underground Adventure


The Caves Beyond


Descent '85


Surveying Caves


Darkness Beckons


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

1989 - 1990 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris (Blitz) Smart
Caving Sec.             Peter (Snablet) McNab
Hut Warden             Chris (Zot) Harvey
Tackle Master          Stuart McManus
B.B.Editor                Ted Humphreys
Hut Engineer            Nigel (Mr.N) Taylor
Membership Sec      John (Q.J.) Watson
                               Ian (Wormhole) Caldwell

1989 - 1990 Non-Committee Posts

Librarian                           Mike (Trebor) McDonald
Archivist                           Alan Thomas


We have several new members again.  This time I've listed them in the complete, current membership list (Page 15).  If anyone finds any mistakes or knows of any changes please let me know as soon as possible.

Annual subscriptions to the B.E.C. are now due.  If you haven't already paid, please do so promptly.  The club needs the money.  The amounts are £14 for ordinary membership and £21 for joint membership.   Payments by cheque (made out to the B.E.C.) are preferred and should be sent to the membership secretary, John Watson.

We have lots of members in the Club but only a tiny minority ever contribute anything to the BB. Please write something for the BB. It is the club journal, after all, and should be the medium through which members can find out what other members are up to!


Tackle Master's Report

On taking over the job of tackle master my first task was to find the tackle!  There wasn't a ladder in the store! and as usual not one ladder had been booked out!  I had to borrow a ladder from the Wessex to go caving and on returning it they informed me they had two of ours!

Eventually over two or three weeks I managed to ear-bend, grumble and cajole people into returning the ladders and we have ended up with 10.  This has become the basic number held in the store throughout the year. The funny thing is they are not the same 10 ladders! that I inspect regularly.

Quite a few ladders have also come back from Hunter's Hole, Eastwater and Daren after quite a few months/years in the caves and have basically been scrapped.  I am in full agreement with the leaving of tackle in caves like West End and Daren due to the basic difficulties and the frequent visits.  However, I would recommend that we construct/buy 100' of ladder with S/S wire to enable them to stand up to the effects of being left underground for months at a time.

The basic 10 ladders appear to cover the needs of most people for caves locally though we have sufficient rungs etc. to construct another 6 when the need arises.  Thanks to Zot we now have a jig capable of setting up a ladder completely.

Thanks also to Nigel Taylor for obtaining and installing a key cabinet to hold the tackle store key - members should be aware that their Belfry key will open it.

The SRT equipment has been used on a few times for away trips and the system is working well.  It would be nice to see this equipment being used more frequently by members.

Finally, reflecting back over the year the tackle is being signed out and back by members at last but I am still puzzled by the way our ladders are cycled.  We have a 12" spacing ladder at the moment, could somebody exchange it for a good 10" spacing!

Mac 07-10-89


Hut Warden's Report (as received)

i   Bed night       Yes

loads of members have been staying.  Not many groups of guests

ii  Fabric of Hut

Showers are not working

The problem is not with the coin meters but the showers themselves.

Fire - This has been damaged and will need repairs.  Is this central heating by the back door?

Ceiling - need a fireproof ceiling & there is still work to do on the fire reg's.

Drying room.  Some work has been but there is still work to do - a coin meter?

Loads of work to do.

The list Dany did years ago is still endless and little progress has been made.


Finally my grateful thanks to anyone who has helped me over the last year.  I will be standing for the Committee but hopefully not as H/Warden.



Secretary's Report

It's been quite a quiet year, Secretary-wise.  I've had a lot of written enquiries from various people about the Club, asking what the joining arrangements are, but as soon as I tell them it’s primarily a caving club they can't be seen for dust.  Our title as an "Exploration" club is obviously quite enticing but nobody seems to like the caving element.  I had one young lady who came down from Oxford by train via Weston to try her hand and she took one look at the Swildon's entrance and legged it back over the fields.  I don't know what people expect?  However, quite a few new members - mostly perhaps from other Mendip Clubs.

We've had some sad deaths, one of which is documented in the recent B.B.  Enough has been said and I feel and there is no need to expound it further here.  Bennett will be sorely missed.

The Poll Tax rears its ugly head in 1990 and I fear we may be hit very badly.  The Rating Department are unable to provide any figures or indications of the likely damage as even they don't know what they're doing, but I think it will be considerable.  This leads onto another point, that of charity status as a means of obtaining exemption from the Tax.  I've done some preliminary enquiries and am having discussions with the MNRC and Shepton who are charities I believe.  This can be taken on by the next committee.

Morale in the Club I sense has been a little down of late, for whatever reason.  It seems a lot more fragmented with small groups going separate ways at weekends and hut occupation down quite a bit.  There doesn't seem to be that active, busy and rowdy crowd around the hut at weekends.  I know Clubs all have little gangs that go off to do their own thing; ours just seems more pronounced and isolated to me.  Perhaps it's just a phase, with Mendip seeming a little quieter over the summer.

The Cuthbert's Lease is now close to completion and should be signed and sealed soon.  This will give us a 10 year tenancy of a roughly triangular piece of land between the Snake Pit and the Mineries pond closest to us. It obviously includes Cuthbert's Swallet itself.  Basically we are responsible for the well-being of this area.

Politics has thankfully laid low this year and the few CSCC meetings that I've attended have been quite tame compared to a few years ago at the height of the Nature Conservancy arguments. Long may this continue.  Down with politics, up with caving I say.



Caving Secretary’s Report

All in all 1988/89 has been a healthy year for the club on the caving front.  A lot of commitment has been put into the various digging projects.

Bowery corner has been extended by the Wednesday nighters for another 100 soul destroying feet, following the shale/limestone boundary horizontally and showing every sign of putting up a good fight.


Graham Johnson's dig (Welsh's Green) has a 400ft extension in an exquisitely distasteful, mud filled bedding in the blue lias and carries one of the most enticing draughts on Mendip.

A fresh assault is being carried out on Wigmore and hopes are high for an extension here (sounds familiar!) as we soon expect to break out of the Red Marl.

Zot, Trebor, Mac and Mike Wilson have put a great deal of effort into the building of another dam in Cuthbert's and Mac has set the wheels in motion for another push on the sump in October.  (This was cancelled - ed.)

In Wookey, Stumpy, Trebor et al have been resurveying the system with a view to a dry route from twenty to twenty four.

In Daren Cilau, the Rock Steady Crew have extended the system for a few hundred metres and are just 60 metres from Aged Allwedd.  The main dig is now directed towards the unknown region beyond the Aggy sumps and hopefully off into the system under Llangynydr.

In Austria. Snablet and Mongo took part in the pushing trip down Orkanhohle, finally bottoming the cave at -? metres (let's hope we get an expedition report this year?)

A good time was had by all in Transylvania and Loopy would like to thank Rohan for the contraceptive properties of their zips!

Various BEC members have got everywhere this year - The States, France, Ireland and Australia to mention but a few, but the award for the most notably excessive member must surely go to Jim Smart for his 'high profile' capture by communist guerrillas in the Philippines.

I shan't be standing for the committee this year as I have other commitments.  I would like to wish the best of luck to my successor.

Mark Lumley


Meets List  (Provisional)

This is a brief list given to me by Snablet.  More details can be found at The Belfry or direct from Snablet.

Xmas/New Year

Jan 27th

Jan 28th

Feb 10th

Feb 11th

Feb 24th



Mar 10th

Mar 11th

Mar 24th


King Pot



Little Neath River Cave

Gower - caving, digging, learning to surf, climbing, drinking (and apparently there's a high viaduct en route!)


Nick Pot





South Wales







Easter Apr 13-16 International Speleo-fest?  Caving in Belgium and the Ardenne?

Bits. Pieces and Snippets.

The author of "Mendip Fauna", in the August B.B., was Jingles.  This was not revealed at the time in case he might have to do a Salman Rushdie.  No death threats were received, however.  Jingles has, nevertheless, skipped the country and is, I believe, spending six months in Germany.

Alan Thomas, the club archivist is desperately in need of a filing cabinet and asks whether any member can lay his or her hands on a second-hand one really cheap (or free).

Clare Coase is coming to England at the end of March accompanied by her son Damien and his wife Nan.  Damien will be going down St. Cuthbert's to see Don's plaque.

Overheard in the Hunters:

            Stranger            How do you get to drink out of a pewter tankard?
            Local    Buy one.
            Stranger            How much are they?
            Local    They're all different prices.
            Stranger            Oh. Well how much is that one?

contributed by Alan Thomas

Working and Social work day at the Belfry second Saturday in March 1990

One and all are urged by Mr.N - hut engineer to descend upon the Belfry for a "Working Day" on the second Saturday in March.  Working members stopping overnight will not be charged hut fees.  Non-workers double!  A "Belfry Binder" will be cooked on the Saturday night and hopefully a "Star" personality will entertain us with a lively slide show, prior to the evening session at The Hunters, followed possibly by a barrel. For further details contact Mr. N or Zot.


Jamaica - "Boonoonoonoos"

(or in the local patois, "Something Special") .


Yet another Trebor/Stumpy wrecky/reccy extravaganza to Jamaica.  If you're off anywhere nice, seek out Trebor and Stumpy who'll recce it for you.

How nice to get away from Butcombe, sharky caving gear vendors and piddly Mendip caves.  Why waft across flat grass fields to Swildons when you can sweat through ganja-riddled, mongoose-ridden, rum-soaked jungle in the Cockpit Country of Western Jamaica?  Oh the joys of shorts and T-shirt caving amongst mountains of bat guano.

That's the silly bit over with.  Now some proper stuff.

China is not the only place with pinnacle or cone karst.  The Cockpit country is a quite outstandingly dramatic, beautiful and remote circular area of Western Jamaica, some 20 miles in diameter and about 15 to 20 miles inland.  Access into its heartland is very pedestrian - "Is this thing really a path?" Cockpit is a term used to describe a closed depression, perhaps on average ¼ mile across, with sides lobed convexly inwards making them almost star-shaped.  Numerous gullies run into the centre, usually dry but carrying streams after heavy rain.  The residual cones or pinnacles are rounded and quite evenly spaced giving a 'basket of eggs' appearance.  All of course is cloaked with thick matted jungle with the occasional clearing for sugar cane, pineapple or ganja.

The Cockpit or depression obviously provides a neat receptacle for water catchment and bedrock shafts at the lowest point of the depression are a feature.  Cockpits with steeper sides and a fair amount of exposed limestone resemble dolines.  Cockpit karst is generally found on pure, massive limestone.  Often a depression is linked at one point of its circumference with another depression, thus forming chains of 'glades'.  Annual rainfall in the area can reach about 250cms. so in the wet season flash flooding is a serious consideration.

Climate and vegetation is a very significant factor in cockpit karst, as it no doubt is in all tropical karst forms.  The forest covering conceals the more pronounced relief and floor litter, humus, roots and talus can cover shafts, fissures and caves.  It also makes perambulating very difficult.  Exposed limestone can usually be seen         on overhangs, cliffs and cuttings and here there is usually a profusion of stal forming externally.  Bauxite is also found in depressions and in some places is mined commercially for aluminium production.

The theory of depression shafts went out the window when we had a gander around what is called Windsor Cave, on the northern edge of Cockpit Country in a remote spot taking some finding.  At the end of an endless track in mid-jungle next to a river, you shout at a hut for Rastaman Franklyn who stirs himself to show you where this place is.  A brief sweat into the undergrowth down an apology for a path you come across a small cliff face with a stooping entrance leading into a magnificent entrance hall dripping with speleotherms.  It's all very old fossil stuff but immense. Maximum passage width noted was 50yds and max height possibly 100 ft.  Bats and their heaped deposits are everywhere.  Our Rastaman had some novel illumination - a big bamboo pole filled with kerosene and a rag stuffed in the end.  When the light looked as though it might die he merely tips it up to rejuvenate the wick.  It looked like a mortar, probably potentially explosive and the spewing fumes and black smoke not only gave the bats something to think about but soon had us on the retreat.  But, as he said, it lasts for days and no bulbs to blow.  It also had the added advantage of incinerating the myriad guano eating flies that get in every orifice.  I'll stick to my clean, anti-polluting petzl zoom.  Apparently there's 14 miles of passage but we've not come across any surveyor detailed account of the place and we doubt that Rastaman has done all of it, so we took this measurement with a bag of salt. Very impressive nonetheless.  He told us of another large cave nearby, Bethany Cave, but our time in that area was up.

Snippet of useless info'

As a point of archaeological interest, on the way up to find this cave we passed through miles of cane plantation.  'Parked' on the side of the road was a wonderful old cane crusher a bit like an old washer woman’s clothes mangle.  Made in Glasgow of all places.  Elsewhere throughout our travels we found much evidence of old cane works, such as a very impressive wreck of an overshot water wheel between Montego Bay and Lucea and numerous stone cone buildings, the remnants of windmills, scattered about.

Local Waffle

The inhabitants of Cockpit Country are loosely called 'Maroons', who are supposed to be the interbred descendants of escaped sugar slaves used by the British.  They were slightly menacing at first and mesmerised by us whiteys, and Stumpy in particular, scooting around is a beat up car asking about holes in the ground.  They soon softened up with a huge however when confronted by Stumpy, hands on hips going" 'ere wang, where's t'caves, pal?” The locals exhibited a remarkable phenomenon though, a magical codeword in the local patois - 'jayratt', which when uttered raised the price of everything they were trying to sell you.

Ipswich Cave was a real day out crunching along unbelievable 'roads' literally miles from anywhere.  We winced at every bang, rattle and thump as it only needed a tyre to blow or an oil sump to rupture and we would really be in the bat guano.  We were heading for the metropolis of Ipswich, a village spread out through the jungle high up in the cockpit and one of the few places to have the luxury of a 'road'.  We suddenly broke out into a clearing with, would you believe it, a station in the middle.  Stand back in amazement.

Taken aback we sought a cold drink and asked a local where we were.  "Swich maan" he said, "no problem, want sum ganja?". The railway line is apparently the link between Kingston and Montego Bay and rumbles through the jungle at this point.  A great piece of engineering hacking it through this lot. The line had been 'broken' for 6 months or so and they hadn't seen a soul for some time.  Luckily a local lady wanted a lift home to the other end of the village 4 miles away so she agreed to show us the cave's whereabouts in return for a lift.  After more bumps and rattles, we stopped where the railway passes across the road and hoofed it up the railway track in a northerly direction for three-quarters of a mile or so.  At the base of a big cockpit depression was a small cliff face with the entrance in the side of it.  To get there, you walk along the line as far as a small platform just before a big tunnel and then follow the obvious path down to the right.  It's a 'show cave' of sorts meaning it’s got a gate on. Apparently you can take a train ride tour from Montego Bay, part of which passes this way.  You stop at the little platform, leap out and gander around the cave.  Since the railway is bust nobody comes anymore but you can get the key from the station master at Cadapuda nearby.  An impressive place.  Pat poked his nose into a shaft on the side of the path and a dropped stone indicated possibly 80 ft.  No tackle though?  There is also a cave entrance actually within the tunnel itself independent of the main Ipswich cave.  Our lady guide was Icella Thompson and she obviously knows the area well. She lives on the outskirts of the village right by the track where it leads onto the road junction with the village of Ginger Hill.  Ask and most people will know her.  A useful contact.

More Waffle

a)       Pat invented some new cocktails: 'Bovril Driller', 'Shirt Lifter' and 'Uphill Gardener'

b)       Take care not to succumb to the three G's  - ganga, grog and guano.

c)       The 'restaurant' at our hotel was called "The Seething Cauldron". All it seethed was Americans and cockroaches.

d)       Instant hair dryer - just stick your head out the car window.

e)       For a while we saw loads of ferrets leaping across the road in front of us.  Now Pat likes ferrets and was thus very disappointed when they turned out to be mongooses (or mongeese).  There are two types of snake; both very shy and you are very unlucky to come across them. So they say.  There's also an evil snake thing in the sea which bathers ran away from but in fact it's only a snake eel; blissfully happy, friendly, non-toxic and turns belly-up for a tickle when encountered.  Jamaica has no known sea snakes.

f)        We saw some limbo - a slip of a girl getting under 6".  A hell of a squeeze.  We'll recruit her for the next caving expedition.

g)       Bars had interesting names; one with a corrugated iron roof called 'Silver Thatch', another called 'The Hunters Bar' and another 'No Problem Cafe'.

h)       If you go to Negril on the west coast where we were, the best taxi chap is Leroy.  Ask anyone for him honest and reliable.  He has a brown car and is usually parked outside the Negril Beach Club.

Local Waffle

Whoever named many Jamaican villages was a real joker and obviously quite a lad.  What warped mind dreams up "Barbeque Bottom", "Good Design", "Maggotty", an area called "The district of Look Behind", "Sherwood Content", "Quick Step", "Big Bottom", "Gutters", "Alligator Pond" and "Wait a bit"?

Perhaps the most fascinating speleological/geological and hydrological bit we saw was the Roaring River area at Petersfield, not far from the largish town of Savanna-la-Mar on the south western coast.  To begin with, a stonking 8 ft. wide river, 2 ft. deep issues straight out of the side/base of a cockpit cone.  Too powerful a current to dive in against but a days digging could reap dividends.  The river then flows down a valley for ½ a mile until it widens into an area that can only be called an oasis - palms, trees, ferns etc.  Quite magnificent.  In the widened section, a hole in the river bed 10ft.       across literally churns with up-flowing water - obviously some sort of underground sump/passage.  Again too powerful to dive in against.  Immediately adjacent to this area, but apparently independent from, is a so-say 6 mile cave system which we had a quick shifty round.  Hydrologically and geologically we couldn't work the place out but then these subjects have never been our strong point.  Some local kids were messing around in the entrance chambers with illumination a bit like Franklyn's in Windsor Cave but these were milk bottles filled with kerosene, lit and held high to decimate the bats.  A Molotov cocktail if ever I saw one.  We again retreated.  An outstanding area though.

Little has been done in the cockpit except a good six week effort by Liverpool University speleos in 1977, based at Troy on the south eastern edge.  Their one main find was Still Waters Cave at 11,800 ft. mapped length. We feel the area is still wide open but would need 15 people minimum to cover the terrain.  Locals say lots of "scientists" have been over the years but not many speleos it seems.

Runaway Bay and Arawak caves, between Ocho Hios and Montego Bay on the northern coast were real collector’s pieces.  Not too far above sea level, they were of magnificent white limestone. Amazing passage configurations, possibly sea eroded at some time.  Runaway Bay Cave stretches inland for some distance, some say 14 miles but as usual we've learnt to take these distances with salt.  A feature is the profusion of tree roots which descend as far as 100 ft. underground like tentacles searching for moisture.  Quite bizarre.  Some as thick as your leg.

Arawak Cave was little more than a large single chamber, possibly sea eroded. The rastaman who lives in a hut outside and who is trying to make it into a show cave, has a party trick of leaping off a ledge 40 ft. up on some aerial roots which dingle-dangle to the floor. We found the large, resident white snowy owl more interesting.

The final gem we unearthed was, for want of a better word, a "blue hole" in the back garden of Hedonism II Hotel at Negril.  At first sight it's just a lily pond but on closer examination it has a limestone rim.  It's only 50-60 metres in from the shoreline.  We had minimal cave diving gear so Pat made a spectacle of himself by donning two 80 cu. ft bottles, borrowed hand torches and a water ski tow rope for a line.  He parted the lily's and descended into the crab-infested murk.  At 10 metres he returned when silt from the underside of the lily's blotted out visibility.  Worth another good look with proper gear.

There's a box file in the library containing all notes maps and other info we possessed.


a)       Karst Geomorphology by Jennings Jamaica Underground by Fincham

b)       LUSS expedition report by McFarlane

c)       Trebor July 1989


Daren Cilau - First Impressions

by Jingles

I first heard of "Daren" in February 1985, when, in Whitewallls, after having introduced me to Agen Allwed and listening to me moaning about having to crawl for what at the time had seemed ages.  Duncan Price told me that "If you think that was fun you should try a little hole further down the mountain called Daren Cilau!"  He then proceeded with a description of the entrance crawl that made me tired just hearing it.  I made up my mind there and then to avoid this at all costs, it did not sound like the sort of thing I saw myself doing at all.  Indeed, the more I heard about it from others over the next couple of years only served to ingrain my conviction even deeper.

It was only as I got to know the people "intimately involved" with the ongoing pushes in the further reaches of the cave that I came to realise the futility of my stance. Slowly but surely it became clear that sooner or later I would sample its delights first hand, although I continued to fight against it doggedly for some time.  Until a short while ago, when I realised that my time had come...... !

And so it was that one fine Saturday morning I found myself rising early (at 6.30 a.m. no less!) to set off for Crickhowell and my appointment with destiny.  (or is that Fear???)

It was fitting that I was accompanied by Stuart Lain, himself a recent addition to those "caving elite" the Rock Steady Crew, as he had done his first ever trip with me and for some strange reason I felt that today was my first trip!!

We arrived at Crickhowell just as the cafe opened and spent a convivial hour breakfasting, shopping and generally procrastinating before heading up to Whitewalls where we killed another hour chatting etc ... while waiting for Ted Humphreys who had said he may join us. (Hunter's talk - Ed.!)  At 11.00 we decided that Ted wasn't coming and so got changed and headed off for the cave, my head ringing with last minute excuses "not-to" and wondering if I'd ever see Mendip again.!

One has only to look at the entrance hole to Daren, to get a sense of what lies ahead, and indeed the amount of work that has gone into the place over the years.  "Christ Stu, they even had to dig out the bleedin' entrance!" I said incredulously.  "Yes mate" said Stuart with an evil grin!  Well he knew what we were in for didn't he.

Armed with a tackle bag and a couple of BDH's, just to make the trip a little more fun, we got down on our bellies and in the time honoured fashion, in we slithered!  Ten seconds, and less than three feet later, I was getting soaked - what a thoughtful place to put a puddle, right in the middle of the first crawl/squeeze. The first thing you notice is how much effort is involved in moving even the shortest distance, but you haven't got time to think about it 'cos your too busy with the bloody BDH's.

Two hundred feet and a whole lot of cursing later we arrived at "The Vice" and what fun it is too! Having been warned by Stu of the tackle eating hole half way through, I naturally saw to it that the BDH's found their way straight into the deepest part of it.  A happy few minutes were spent retrieving these and extricating myself from its calcite clutches.  I remember Hank telling me he'd had a whole bundle of fun with this as he's so thin he just slips right into the trench that runs along the bottom and gets stuck. I've never been so glad to have a bit of a beer gut as I was then I can tell you.

It was now that Stu decided to inform me that it’s at this point most people consider the true beginning of the crawl to be.  We'd taken nearly twenty minutes to get this far (200 ft or so) - I nearly cried!  A nifty bit of mental arithmetic revealed that at this rate it was gonna take nearly three hours to get through.  I quickly changed my line of thought.  On with the slog though as there really is little alternative than to keep plodding on.

It’s at about this point that you realise what people mean when they refer to Daren as "The Cave of a Thousand One Armed Press Ups!" Could this be why regular "Darenites" have bulging bicep muscles on one arm??? - and I always thought it was to do with the lack of female company on prolonged camps!!!  I must remember to go in on my other side next time, just to even things up a bit!

After what seemed like an eternity of endless twists and turns in the passage, which had by now "ballooned" to a majestic 18 inches or so across, Stu called back that we had reached the first Canal.  I didn't remember anyone saying anything about canals, I thought that was Dan Yr Ogof, but I was so hot that anything with water in it was fine by me.  Indeed my enthusiasm at this point was so great that I lost my balance and ended up face down in the water ..... still breathing in ... not too clever!  One coughing fit later, my breakfast decides that it wants a first hand look at what’s going on and hurtles up my oesophagus out of my mouth and into the canal.  (No bits of egg stuck in my nose this time though Stuart!!!)  You think that’s bad ... you should try lying in it when it’s still warm!!!!  The Henry Bennett school of caving ....

Once again the passage shrank and the roof dropped and it was over onto one side again for a few more press ups (in water).  I was nicely cooled by the other end of it.  Then, guess what, more crawling!

We'd been going about an hour when we reached the first inlet where we stopped for a rest and a gratefully received drink of Ribena.  Stu reckoned we were about a third of the way here, which was in keeping with my earlier estimate of three hours in total.  It’s not the sort of place you want to hang about in, so pretty soon we were off again.

There are three more canals in between the first and second inlets, each progressively more awkward than its predecessor.  The final one having a strategically placed "s" bend about half way through!! It’s quite low at this point which makes it difficult to manoeuvre but its not too bad, unless you happen to have long legs!  I'd heard some horror stories about this from taller cavers, one claiming to have been stuck there for half an hour before getting through, but was quite surprised at how easy it seemed to me.  Until I got stuck that is.  The trouble with lying flat out in freezing cold water in a confined space is that it makes you over eager to get out of it, a case of more haste less speed!  It took me a couple of minutes thrashing around and making sure that any part of me that was still dry wasn't for much longer, before I relaxed.  Then Hey Presto - I wasn't stuck any more.  (There's definitely a lesson in there somewhere I'm sure of it!!)

More crawling, more "s" - bends, though dry this time and bigger, even more crawling and then we were at the second inlet.  Apparently there is usually a small stream comes in here, from which we intended drinking, but alas zilcho!  This meant that the cave was quite dry - could've fooled me ¬there was enough water in those canals alright!!!  God, what's it like when it's been raining??? - Wet that's what!  So no drink available we once again set off on the last leg and me just about on my last legs (sic).

Something had changed - I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first, then it dawned on me - I could almost stand up.  The passage had become almost human sized - quite uncanny.  What a pleasure it is to be able to move at more than ten feet a minute, actual progress no less.  But - alas - it was not to last, pretty soon and it’s back to the more familiar "rock in face" type stuff.  I was quite happy until we got to " Play School!"  There I was thrutching along (not so) merrily in passage so small I wondered that I could move at all, when on rounding a bend I was faced with a circular squeeze so small all I could do was laugh!  "The Round Window" - kiddies!

Fortunately there is a sort of trench thingy in the bottom for the old "Malham" generator to go in - (as well as a goodly portion of the old "Nuts!!") - without which I wouldn't've stood a hope of getting past it.  So with a wiggle and a kick and a few choice phrases, through you go only to be confronted by the square window!!!  Again I nearly cried, I'd thought the round one was tight - bloody hell!  I had much more fun with this one what with getting my arms caught up, my helmet jammed; light failure etc etc et bloody cetera!

Eventually after a small eternity I emerged on the other side (I swear I heard a popping sound too) feeling as if I’d just been born ..... actually that would've been far less traumatic.

Great, only 200 feet to go I thought famous last words again!  Those last 200 feet are the worst of the lot what with bloody great rocks in the middle of the "passage".  The passage being no larger than it was before!!!!  Twenty minutes later, five of which were spent trying to dislodge my helmet yet again, we emerged into a very small chamber from where I managed to lead us the last six feet out of the crawl into a passage that we could actually walk in.

It took me a minute to realise that we'd actually made it and for the third time in as many hours - I nearly cried!



I received the following letter from Dizzie Tompsett-Clark earlier this year, addressed to J'Rat, the librarian at the time.  I mentioned it to Alfie and discovered that he used to get lifts from London in Postle's magnificent machine at that time.

Also enclosed with the letter was a generous donation to the B.E.C. - Thanks Dizzie!

Sept.8th 1989

Dear Tony,

I was so surprised at seeing my name in print in the recent B.B. (re additions to the Libraryvia the intrepid  Angus) that I have been inspired to send a few more booklets to you.

My memories go back to Main's Barn time around 1945, and Postle's triumphant arrivals from the Admiralty Establishment in Surrey in his fabulous sporty Lea Francis.  On high days and holidays (mostly Saturday nights) kind friends used to remove the distributor before a booze up, as otherwise Poth had a penchant for roaring around Priddy Green as a finale to the evening - an occupation looked on with some disfavour by local hard-working early-rising country folk.

Anyway all Good Wishes to the B.E.C. - long may it live!

Yours sincerely



The Voyage of "The Calypso" The Dordogne. France

So set sail the good van "Calypso", a monstrous vessel packed with a full hold of cargo - 12 * 80 cu.ft. 10 litre bottles, buoyancy jackets, line, grotts, compressors, lights and other bits and pieces.  She was on course for the Dordogne with a motley crew of two, Trebor McDonald and Nick Geh (S.W.C.C.)  The other scallywags, Pat Cronin (B.E.C.) and John Adams (S.W.C.C.), wisely went by separate means.

THE AIM:  To confirm the obviously erroneous and previously held view that French sumps were long. deep, and crystal clear.  We all know British sumps are the best in the world, with their tight and murky countenance.  We just had to find out about these pretentious French things.

The secondary aim was to increase our knowledge of these sumps and the diving potential generally, following good work by John Cordingly, Russell Carter, et al.

THE AREA:  The limestone plateau centred around the Padirac system, roughly between the Dordogne River and the Cele and Lot rivers further south.  Many of the dive sites and prospects involve the very influential Padirac system and its numerous resurgences.  The local base was Gramat.

Full marks to John for obtaining some good and useful sponsorship from Remar Diving in South Wales, in the form of bottles, valves, lights, jackets, compressors and decompression computers.  Also batteries, courtesy of Ever Ready.  The length and depth of the diving precluded usual British diving equipment, requiring bottles than the ubiquitous 45's and buoyancy jackets to maintain any one position in the huge passages.  Decompression computers allowed instant and trouble free indications of the stop times and decompression information rather than having to work out the dive profiles laboriously beforehand.  The use of back-mounted gear also became most viable, again due to the size of passageway.  Plenty of air could thus be carried if required, a maximum of 30 litres of air.

LE MANS.  Well worth a visit on the race south.  We got the fully laden Calypso up to 60 mph on the Mulsanne Straight, slightly less than the 220 mph some other vehicles reach at certain times of the year.  The pits, grandstands and motor museum can all be visited.

Assorted members of the team rumbled into Gramat over a two day period, Pat having a trip fraught with stops, courtesy of "le filth".  He couldn't face erecting his tent that night so booked into a local hostelry.  A leisurely fettle of all the gear and we were ready for a splash.

The first dive was to FONTAINE SAINT GEORGE, a very impressive, sun-soaked Wookey-like resurgence pool in the side of a hill below Montvalent.  It's one of the Padirac resurgences and most scenic.  After initial buoyancy problems and mis-understandings as to which flashgun was to go where, all four set off on a photographic excursion into the deep first sump to some -23m.  Although initially clear, the place soon silted up with all the thrashing around and it became reminiscent of Wookey, something we had come here to avoid. At a mud bank at -29m., photography was getting silly so three exited while Nick Geh proceeded to look around and on to rise to -8m. and still going.  All retired gracefully after this initial dive with Trebor nipping back to lay line as a parting shot for a possible repeat on the morrow.

Next day, Nick Geh and Trebor returned to go a little further and to get into the bigger, clearer passage we knew was further in.  Some way in Nick had an attack of the "Why the hell am I here's?" and beetled out, leaving Trebor rather lonely to continue for a bit. Line left in the entrance 200ft. or so, to connect up with the French line encountered just beyond the first elbow.

FONTAINE SAINT GEORGE, MONTVALENT, DORDOGNE.  IGN Blue Series map, 2136 East.  Grid Ref. 3910-3288.  Follow N.140 from Gramat northwards towards Martel and the Dordogne River itself.  Pass through Montvalent and after about 1 km downhill a track cuts back on the left, signed "Fne. St.  George" (the sign later nicked by 3 scallywags).  About 200m. down this track there's a barn on the left and the sump pool is obviously located set back in on the left just past the barn at the head of a small stream.  No permission required of which we are aware.  A dive at mid-day allows the sun to penetrate deep into Sump 1.

Upon exit after the first days dive in St. George, we met a young lady who approached us at the dive site introducing herself as Veronique Le Guin.  She and husband Francis were diving Fontaine du Finou just down the track a ways.  After pumping the bottles we went along to say hello. A quite remarkable duo who have done some incredible diving over the years, most recently reaching vast distances in Cocklebiddy in Australia and also in Finou.  More of them later.

The following day it was to FONT DEL TRUFFE, down near Lacave.  Another resurgence system spewing out into the Ouysse with entry via a most unlikely conical depression in the woods usually full of water but after the drought only partly full of rancid stuff.  "Truffe" means truffle, which abound in the woods apparently. In French, a truffle hunter is a "caveur".  Quite poignant I thought.  Whilst we were kitting down, an old chappie in a battered van came along.  Expecting a rollicking for trespass, he went round and opened up his van doors and, instead of the double barrelled shotgun, produced dirt cheap figs, grapes, peaches, doughnuts and other goodies - a big bagful for a £1.  He turned out to be the owner of the area.  With a "bon grotte" from us, he departed smiling and happy.

The entrance wriggle into Truffe, over a boulder and under a gravel squeeze, was quite hilarious under-weighted, with thrashing fins in thin air trying to propel the body downwards. However, once through, it was the proverbial 'wallop' - mega crystal clear passage some 5m x 5m at least in places. Further in, in Sump II, we met white limestone which made us feel like flying through marble halls.  Quite magnificent.  A load of photos were taken for the sponsors, with Pat the Page 3 model, Trebor as assistant deputy flash wallah, John Adams as Lichfield and Nick Geh as forward deputy back-lighting flasher.

No problems encountered on the way of any significance, although the rancid entrance pool obviously affected Trebor's deco computer which failed to work in Sump 1 and one or two high pressure leaks to Nick Geh had to be DIY'd.  We had a good look at getting out at the end of Sump II to do III and beyond, but the low water conditions and the awkward spot made exiting fully kitted a nightmare.

Now back to the Le Guen's. A most pleasant couple we met while we were down St.George and they were pushing Fontaine du Finou, more specifically Sump 5 which they finally passed during our stay by a further 200m. dive to make Sump 5 about 600m., very deep diving for sustained lengths with some constrictions and cold conditions.  They were diving with vast amounts of gear and were usually unable to kit up out of water due to the weight.  Mostly two back mounted 20 litre bottles with one or two bottles of tri-mix and a few tackle sax.

Francis has developed his own techniques for eating underwater, pumping in the nourishment to keep out the cold, keep the muscles going and to raise morale.  He said he eats peanuts by letting them go beneath him so they float up and at the propitious moment he whips out his gag and inhales deeply!  We still don't know whether he was joking.

Sump 5 in Finou was passed to a dry passage with a huge mud cone in it which he climbed to descend to another sump not entered.  On the return he slipped down the cone, tore his dry suit, injured a leg and lost his watch. Veronique lost a fin.  They had a long, slow, cold swim out!  Just as well he didn't injure himself more seriously as at that depth and length not many people would have been capable of rescuing him.

Veronique has also just spent 4 months underground doing Siffre-inspired experiments on deprivation, bio-rhythms and other such silly things, mainly to try and counter jet-leg. Francis is a professional film-maker and photographer, so we got some good tips on the subject.

FONT DEL TRUFFE, LAC AVE , DORDOGNE.   Leave Gramat on the Montvalent, Martel and Dordogne River road and head for Rocamadour.  There, follow the signs to Lacave.  Descend into Lacave with an impressive chateau on a rock bluff opposite.  Turn left at the junction in the valley floor and travel away from the village for ½ a mile.  Just round a left hand bend, right opposite the chateau and before a bridge, take the only track on the left.  Go up 300m. to a right fork and ignore the 'no entry' sign which only says "no access to river bank".  Pass through an archway where a farm building straddles the road and continue for 3 km. along the left bank of the Ouysse until you get to an obvious conical depression, on the left by the track, full of water.  Beware the odd "road train" which takes punters to see the sump pool as part of the Lacave show cave tour.

The following day, Trebor and Nick took a quick gander down St. George again to try and get a little further without the encumbrance of camera gear.  Pat and John went along to see Padirac to swan about in the very impressive show cave opened by Martel - one hell of a dig.  You can almost imagine where he started digging at the base of the huge entrance doline.  Later, Nick and Trebor accompanied Peter Harvey (SWCC and co-founder of OFD, Cuckoo Cleeves and Hunters Hole) down a 'dry' cave - Gouffre du Saut de la Pucelle, right by the road between Gramat and Montvalent.  A most impressive flood entrance, dry thankfully most of the time, leading to some very pleasant active streamway with plunge pools, cascades and, so they say, "fine situations".  In very low water a bit tame but in remotely moderate conditions quite an undertaking we imagined.  We encountered the French equivalent of Andy Sparrow, trailing a load of character-building businessmen wearing life jackets though the place. We quickly ran in the opposite direction.

GOUFFRE DU SAUT DE LA PUCELLE.   Leave Gramat on the N.140 towards Montvalent, Rocomadour and Martel.  After about 3-4 kms. on a long stretch of road there are two lay-by's on the right.  Pick the second one, nip over the wall and descend into the large and very obvious tree-lined depression.  The entrance in fact is almost directly under the road.  Walk into the railway like tunnel for 100m., pass through some static pools and ducks and then turn an obvious left into big stuff.  Walk along for 50m. and then duck left before a big mud bank into stooping passage.  Then just follow your nose as there's nowhere else to go but down.

Depending on the water flow, you can get away with one or two ladders, handlines and tapes, plus a few hangers and crabs.  Certainly a wet-suit job.  Nice formations.  Plaque at bottom to Martel who found the place 100 years ago.

Back to diving, with Trebor and Nick having a shufti at the Source de Moulin de Cacrey (Creysse, Lot) a quite spectacular dive site and as beautiful a place as you can imagine.  A 13th C. mill backs onto a lovely scenic sun-drenched pool fed by the massive Cacrey resurgence.  You merely kit up on the sluice gate wall. keel over into the water and paddle across to the large overhanging cliff base and descend into the crystal entrance with the sunlight following you in for quite a way.  Decompression is wonderfully relaxed - just perched on a boulder 3m. under in lovely sunlight watching the frogs frolic about.  A magnificent dive with two pots to descend, one 6m. deep and the other 9m. deep.  Mega passage with fine situations and as always crystal clear water. Trebor reached -26m. some 280m. in and Nick got to about -31m. some 300m. in.  The place continues on for frightening distances at silly depths, and is still going.

The most bizarre trip of the lot came next, the Emergence du Ressel at Marchilac sur Cele on the Cele river, south of Gramat and about a 25 min. laden van drive.  The resurgence is actually in the bed of the river Cele and in normal water conditions the crystal clear uprising water gives the entrance away.  In drought, however, the sump water is probably static so the murky river water predominates.  Great fun was had trying to find the entrance via a tatty minimal line tied onto a submerged tree root on the river bank.  A few seconds grope through zero vis river water and you break out into the magnificent crystal entrance door and arch.  From then on, a very pleasant photographic dive passing two junctions, both being the two ends of the same large loop.  Due to gymnastications whilst photographing Nick. John and Pat met thirds at or about the second junction 270m. in at -22m, whilst Trebor continued on to 300m.+ at -25m., just short of a magnificent pot which takes you down to -45m.!?  The vis on the return was horrible, only 25m. instead of 30m.!  All decompressed at -9m. and -3m., the latter stop being courtesy of a tree trunk wedged across the pot which you clung onto.  It could take 4 divers before starting to lift off the bottom if everybody breathed in at once. Dive time 64 mins.

Beware.  Silly photographers who fail to remove lens caps whilst carrying out well rehearsed action shots in the entrance pot.

Jochen Hasenmayer has dived silly lengths and depths in Ressel, without concluding the place, so it's still going after 2.5 kms.

Later that week, whilst returning from a dive elsewhere, we passed Ressel and saw the Le Guen's pantechnicon parked on the roadside.  They were just off into the cave to finish off filming some documentary or promotional shots with the help of a Cocklebiddy battery powered scooter.  It was quite bizarre to see them motor up the river like a WW2 limpet mine team, trim the guiding blades downwards and submerge into the entrance.

Visit Padirac. A very impressive place but spoilt by the tourist or rather, spoilt for the tourists. A feature is the ride by canoe/gondola/ barge along the river, piloted by very adept gondoliers.  You are well chaperoned so there's little scope for taking illegal photos or scything off from the crowd for an illegal look round. All French show caves seem pretty good.

Following a quick nip down Pucelle to take some photos it was back to our last dive dow Le Trou Madame at Ceneviere, Lot.  Pat and John had left early for home and to do some sightseeing on the way so it was down to Nick Geh and Trebor and also Dig Hastilow to go and have a look-see. Dig is a CDG member working in Switzerland so he came up for a few days for a swim or two.  His fancy car had tyres which were slick on the outside and treaded on the inner side to get the best of both worlds.

A very attractive resurgence entrance, dry at this time of year, with a 50m, stooping walk to the start of a long, crystal canal.  It's an easy swim but so as to save air you really need a snorkel until you reach the sump proper 100m. along the canal.  Presumably in normal wet weather, the canal shortens and Sump 1 lengthens. There's a good 2.8 km. of diving to be done, at unusually shallow depths with the roof often being no more than -3 or -4m's.  There are several sumps, interspersed with various air spaces and passages but due to the drought conditions we didn't have a clue which air space was which and which sump we were in at anyone time.  We think we got 50m. into Sump 4 but we can't be sure!  After a number of dives in mega crystal clear sumps we confess we were getting a little bored with the size of the stuff, so the return was livened up with Trebor visiting every little air space he could find in the roof and also changing gags every 10m. for something to do.  You really need a waterproof book and automatic paddle legs, or preferably a scooter.  Dive time 70 mins.  This vicinity was mind boggling for lepidoptera, damsel flies, hornets, purple emperors and other wildlife, some of which were very brave and had a good go at Trebor's armpits.

So endeth the trip, with a brief look at Lasceax on the way back - I thought it was much bigger - and a gander at the impressive Bayeux tapestry.  Some very good experience under the belt, very clear, scenic sumps we only dream about here, loads of potential for anyone that can dive 2.5 kms. plus at -45m. and a good chance to tryout gear we don't normally use in the U.K.  Some very good dry caving too with few access problems.  Roll on 1990.



The Berger, 1954

Whilst surveying a monstrous edifice in Bristol, Trebor had cause to crawl about in the roof space.  There he found a News Chronicle dated September 28th, 1954. One small snippet therein ran as follows:


For the first time in history, man has penetrated over half a mile below the Earth's crust.

A team of eight French cave explorers claimed the record yesterday.  They said they descended 2,962 ft in the Berger cave, near Grenoble.

"It was easy", said M. Fernand Petzl, who led the team.  "We passed through magnificent natural rooms on the way".

West Brecon Cave Rescue Team – Vehicle Appeal Fund

Halifax, W. Yorks,

Dear Secretary,

I am writing to you as Hon. Secretary of the above Appeal Fund in the knowledge that members of your club cave in our area from time to time.

The West Brecon Cave Rescue Team was formed in 1975 and as part of the SWCRO deals with all cave rescues in the western part of the South Wales caving region.  This role has made us one of the busier teams in the UK since the ever popular Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, the flood prone Little Neath, and the easy access Porth yr Ogof all lie on our 'patch'.  Since our formation we have relied on an ancient Land-Rover made available to us by the South Wales Caving Club.  This vehicle can no longer be relied on and we have set about raising funds to replace it.

We have an immediate target of £10000 and the caving community in South Wales has already contributed nearly £3000 towards this. Whilst we hope to raise much of the remainder from local industry, student rags and charitable trusts we are also extending our appeal to cavers and caving clubs from other areas.  I am therefore asking if you would be willing to bring this appeal to the notice of your members and also if you would raise with your club committee the possibility of your club making a donation to the fund direct.

Yours sincerely,

R. A. Hall
Fund Secretary.


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List 18/12/89

828 Nicolette Abell                    Faukland, Bath
987 Dave Aubrey                       Salisbury, Wiltshire.
20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw               Knowle, Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker                    Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon
818 Chris Batsone                     Radstock, Avon
1079 Henry Bennett                   London.
390 (L) Joan Bennett                 Newtownmore, Invernesshire
1122 Clive Betts                        Clapham, Bedfordshire.
769 Sue Bishop                        Tynings, Radstock.
1125 Rich Blake                        Horfield, Bristol
731 Bob Bidmead                      Leigh Woods, Bristol
364 (L) Pete Blogg                    Chaldon, Caterham, Surrey
1114 Pete Bolt                          Cardiff, S. Gamorgan
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle          Calne, Wiltshire
1104 Tony Boycott                    Westbury on Trim, Bristol, Avon
868 Dany Bradshaw                  Haybridge, Wells, Somerset
751 (L) T.A. Bookes                  London, SW2
1082 Robin Brown                     Cheddar, Somerset
1108 Denis Bumford                  Westcombe, Shepton Mallet
New Steve Bury                        Worcester
924 (J) Aileen Butcher               Holt, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
849 (J) Alan Butcher                  Holt, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
956 (J) Ian Caldwell                   Clifton, Bristol
1036 (J) Nicola Slann                 Clifton, Bristol
1091 William Curruthers             Holcombe Bath
1014 Chris Castle                      Axbridge, Somerset
1062 Andy Cave                        Lower Limpley Stoke, Nr. Bath
902 (L) Martin Cavender             Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.
New Richard Chaddock              Butleigh, Wooton, Glastonbury
1048 Tom Chapman                  Cheddar, Somerset.
1030 Richard Clarke                  Axbridge, Somerset
211 (L) Clare Coase                   Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia
89 (L) Alfie Collins                     Litton, Somerset
377(L) Dick Cooke-Yarborough   Address unknown for some years
862 Bob Cork                            Stoke St. Michael, Somerset
1121 Nicholas Cornwell-Smith    Oldham Common, Bristol
1042 Mick Corser                      Norwich, Norfolk
827 Mike Cowlishaw                  Winchester, Hants.
890 Jerry Crick                          Leighton Buzzard, Bucks
896 Pat Cronin                          Knowle, Bristol
680 Bob Cross                          Knowle, Bristol
1132 Robert Crowe                    London
405 (L) Frank Darbon                 Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. VIT 6M3
423 (L) Len Dawes                    Minster Matlock, Derbyshire
815 Nigel Dibden                       Holmes Chapel, Cheshire
164 (L) Ken Dobbs                    Exeter, Devon
829 (J) Angie Dooley                 Harborne, Birmingham
710 (J) Colin Dooley                  Harborne, Birmingham
1000 (L) Roger Dors                  Priddy, Somerset
830 John Dukes                        Street, Somerset
996 Terry Earley                        Wyle, Warmister, Wiltshire
322 (L) Bryan Ellis                     Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset
New Stephen Ettienne               Hayes, Middlesex
232 Chris Falshaw                     Fulwood, Sheffield
269 (L) Tom Fletcher                 Bramcote, Nottingham.
404 (L) Albert Francis                Wells, Somerset
569 (J) Joyce Franklin                Stone, Staffs
469 (J) Pete Franklin                 Stone, Staffs
897 Andrew Garwood                 Pulborough, West Sussex
835 Len Gee                             St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
1098 Brian Gilbert                     Chingford, London
1069 (J) Angie Glanvill               Chard, Somerset
1017 (J) Peter Glanvill                Chard, Somerset
1120 Alan Goodrich                   North Cray, Kent
1054 Tim Gould                         Newhaven, Edinburgh
860 (J) Glenys Grass                 Ridgewell, Essex
790 (J) Martin Grass                  Ridgewell, Essex
1009 Robin Gray                       East Horrington, Wells, Somerset
1123 Ian Gregory                       York, Yorkshire
1124 Martin Gregory                  Clapham, Bedfordshire
1113 Arthur Griffin                     Alperton, Wembley
1089 Kevin Gurner                     Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
1088 Nick Gymer                      Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
432(L) Nigel Hallet                     Address unknown for some years
1119 Barry Hanks                     Has moved – address unknown yet.  c/o Belfry
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam             St Annes, Lancashire
999 Rob Harper                         Wells, Somerset
581 Chris Harvey                       Paulton, Somerset
4 (L) Dan Hassell                      Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset
893 Dave Hatherley                   Cannington, Bridgwater, Somerset
1078 Mike Hearn                       Bagworth, Axbridge, Somerset
1117 Pete Hellier                       Nempnet Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol
974 Jeremy Henley                    Shepton Mallet, Somerset
952 Bob Hill                              Assen, Netherlands
1105 Joanna Hills                      Billinshurst, W. Sussex
373 (J) Sid Hobbs                      Priddy, Wells Somerset
736 (J) Sylvia Hobbs                  Priddy, Wells Somerset
905 Paul Hodgson                     Burcott, Wells, Somerset
898 (J) Liz Hollis                       Batcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
899 (J) Tony Hollis                     Batcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1094 Peter Hopkins                   Keynsham, Bristol.
971 Colin Houlden                     Briston, London, SW2
923 Trevor Hughes                     Bleadney, Wells, Somerset
855 Ted Humphreys                  Wells, Somerset
73 Angus Innes                         Alveston, Bristol, Aven
540 (L) Dave Irwin                      Priddy, Somerset
922 Tony Jarratt                        Priddy, Somerset
668 Mike Jeanmaire                  Peak Forest, Buxton, Derbyshire
1026 Ian Jepson                        Beechen Cliff, Bath
51 (L) A Johnson                       Flax Bourton, Bristol
995 Brian Johnson                     Ottery St. Mary, Devon
1001 Graeme Johnson               Cosby, Leicester
1111 Graham Johnson               Wells, Somerset
1127 Bruce Jones                     Northville, Bristol
560 (L) Frank Jones                   Priddy, Somerset
907 Karen Jones                       Marshfield, Chippenham, Wilts
567 (L) Alan Kennett                  Henleaze, Brsitol
884 John King                           Wisborough Green, West Sussex
316 (L) Kangy King                    Pucklechurch, Bristol, Aven
542 (L) Phil Kingston                 Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen                     Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon
946 Alex Ragnar Knutson          Bedminster, Bristol
1116 Stuart Lain                        Yeovil, Somerset
667 (L) Tim Large                      Shepton Mallet
1129 Dave Lennard                    Wells, Somerset
1015 Andrew Lolley                   Kingsdowm, Bristol
1043 Andy Lovell                       Keynsham, Bristol
1072 Clive Lovell                        Keynsham, Bristol
1057 Mark Lumley                     Englishcombe, Bath
1100 Sarah McDonald               London
106 (L) E.J. Mason                    Henleaze, Bristol
651 Pete MacNab (Sr)               Cheddar, Somerset
1052 (J) Pete MacNab (Jr)          Alexandra Park, Redland, Bristol
1071 Mike McDonald                 Knowle, Bristol, Avon
550 (L) R A MacGregor              Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus                 Priddy, Somerset
558 (L) Tony Meaden                 Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
1106 Simon Mendes                  Droitwtich, Worcestershire
704 Dave Metcalf                       Whitwick, Leics.
1044 Andrw Middleton               Earlsfield, London.
1053 Steve Milner                      Felixtow,  Australia
936 Dave Nichols                      Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
852 John Noble                         Paulton, Bath
624 Jock Orr                             Sturton-by-Stowe, Lincoln
396 (L) Mike Palmer                  Yarley, Wells, Somerset
1045 Rich Payne                       Sidcup , Kent
22 (L) Les Peters                      Knowle Park, Bristol Avon
New Martin Peters                     Chew Stoke, Avon.
1107 Terry Phillips                     Denmead, Hants.
499 (L) A. Philpot                      Bishopston, Bristol, Avon
1037 Dave Pike                         Yarley, Wells, Somerset
337 Brian Prewer                       Priddy, Wells, Somerset
1085 Duncan Price                    Earl Shilton, Leicestershire
886 Jeff Price                            Inns Court, Bristol.
1101 Christopher Proctor           Radstock, Bath
1109 Philip Provis                      Paulton, Bristol
1109 Jim Rands                        Stonebridge Park, London NW10
481 (L) John Ransom                 Patchway, Bristol, Avon
1126 Steve Redwood                 Banwell, Nr. Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
343(L) Tony Rich                       Address unknown for some years
662 (J) John Riley                      Chapel le Dale, Ingleton, Via Carnforth, Lancs.
1033 (J) Sue Riley                     Chapel le Dale, Ingleton, Via Carnforth, Lancs
1070 Mary Robertson                Stonebridge Park, London, NW10
986(J) Lil Romford                     Alcantarilha, 8300 SILVES
985(J) Phil Romford                   Portugal
921 Pete Rose                          Crediton, Devon
832 Roger Sabido                      Lawrence Weston, Bristol
240 (L) Alan Sandall                  Nailsea, Avon
359 (L) Carol Sandall                 Nailsea, Avon
760 Jenny Sandercroft               c/o Barrie Wilton
237 (L) Bryan Scott                   Winchester Hnts
78 (L) R Setterington                 Taunton, Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington            Harpendon, Herts
1046 Dave Shand                      Address unknown as yet c/o J’Rat
1128 Vince Simmonds               Eat Harptree, Avon
915 Chris Smart                        Nr. Bradford on Avon, Wilts
911 Jim Smart                          Has moved.  Address unknown yet.  c/o The Belfry
1041 Laurence Smith                 West Horrington, Wells, Somerset
823 Andy Sparrow                     Priddy, Somerset
1063 Nicholas Sprang                Leigh Sinton, Malvern, Worcestershire
1 (L) Harry Stanbury                  Bude, Cornwall
38(L) Mrs I Stanbury                  Knowle, Bristol
New Johnothon Stanniland         Worlebury, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
575 (L) Dermot Statham             Westcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
365 (L) Roger Stenner                Weston super Mare, Avon
1084 Richard Stephens              Address unknown.  c/o Trevor Hughes
867 Rich Stevenson                   Wookey, Wells, Somerset, Somerset
583 Derek Targett                      East Horrington, Wells Somerset
1115 Rob Taviner                       East Harptree
1039 Lisa Taylor                        Weston, Bath
772 Nigel Taylor                        Langford, Avon
1035 John Theed                       Farmborough, Bath
284 (L) Alan Thomas                 Priddy, Somerset
348 (L) D Thomas                      Bartlestree, Hereford
571 (L) N Thomas                      Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.
1067 Fiona Thompson               Fishponds, Bristol
699 (J) Buckett Tilbury               High Wycombe, Bucks
700 (J) Anne Tilbury                   High Wycombe, Bucks
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark    Chelmsford, Essex
381 (L) Daphne Towler               Bognor Regis, Sussex
382 Steve Tuck                         Coxley, Wells, Somerset
1023 Matt Tuck                         Coxley, Wells, Somerset
1136 Hugh Tucker                     Wedmore, Somerset
1066 Alan Turner                       Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
678 Dave Turner                        Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
912 John Turner                        Tavistock, Devon.
635 (L) Stuart Tuttlebury            Farnham, Surrey
1096 Maurice van Luipen            Hayes, Middlesex
887 Greg Villis                          Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
175 (L) Mrs. D. Whaddon           Taunton, Somerset
1077 Brian Wafer                      St. Pauls Cray, Orpington, Kent
949 (J) John Watson                  Somerset
1019 (J) Lavinia Watson             Somerset
973 James Wells                      Has moved.  Address unknown yet.  c/o Oliver Wells
1055 Oliver Wells                      New York, USA
1032 Barry Wharton                  Yatton, Bristol
553 Bob White                          Bleadney, Nr. Wells, Somerset.
1118 Carol White                      Cheddar, Somerset
878 Ross White                        Address unknown as yet c/o J’Rat
1092 Babs Williams                  Knowle, Bristol, Avon
1068 John Whiteley                   Newton Abbot, S. Devon.
1031 Mike Wigglesworth            Wells, Somerset.
1087 John Williams                   Address unknown as yet c/o The Belfry
1146 Les Williams                     Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1075 (J) Tony Williams              Soon moving to Portugal
1076 (J) Roz Williams                Leigh on Mendip, Bath
1130 (J) Mike Wilson                 Keynsham, Avon
559 (J) Barrie Wilton                  Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
568 (J) Brenda Wilton                Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
850 (J) Annie Wilton-Jones         Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
813 (J) Ian Wilton-Jones             Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
721 G Wilton-Jones                   Address unknown as yet c/o The Belfry
1112 Catherine Wood                Address unknown as yet c/o The Belfry.
877 Steven Woolven                  West Chilington, West Sussex
914 Brian Workman                   Bridgwater, Somerset
477 Ronald Wyncoll                  Hinkley, Leics.


Speleo Reconnaissance : Municipality of New Escalante, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

Jim Smart

Apart from all the usual hassles (the insurgency "problem", a new language to tangle with - there are over eighty distinct dialects in the Philippines and the difficulties of explaining the joys of caving to the local populace) my visit to New Escalante in the former province of Negros del Norte was hampered by unseasonally heavy rain.  I arrived on the day of a national holiday and, in the mayor's office, was able to meet many of the local barangay (village) Captains.  After some pretty standard cautionary advice the Mayor gave me a written letter of introduction granting me permission to travel at will within the Municipality.  By the time I had completed my work in this area I had made many good friends: it took me two days to recover from a beach party held in my honour on the day of my departure.

Baranqay Libertad

People spoke of "many caves" here including river caves.  A preliminary visit revealed limestone crags rising 200 ft. or more above the muddy cane fields.  But before I could reach them the rain started again and I took shelter under a banana leaf cut for me by a former guano miner, Dimitrio Dimitria.  Midday brought out the sun and a quick recce revealed vertical limestone cliffs, eroded pavements, small conical hills, enclosed depressions and a few small caves and pots.  Things looked promising and I arranged to lodge with Dimitrio's family at a later date.

My return trip was a disappointment.  I was shown only small fossil caves and many deep shafts that we could not descend de cause a promised rope did not materialize.  Dimitrio showed me the "best" caves first and as the day progressed and the quality declined I realized there were to be no tinkling river caves here.  So I curtailed my explorations and turned my attention across the Binaguiohan River to Bgy Binaguiohan.

The Caves of Bqy Libertad

All guano miners have to register their claim with the Philippine Bureau of Mines who then allocate a number to the site.  In the brief descriptions that follow I have listed the caves by these numbers except where a local name for the site was already in use.

JS ~ l.  A 35 ft. diameter shaft, 60 ft. deep, free climbable except for the last few feet.  Exploration incomplete.  Feb 27/89.

JS ~ 2.  A couple of 25 ft. vertical shafts located in a 200m. by 100m. polje.  Unexplored due to lack of equipment.  Feb 27/89.

BoM ~ 5.  Large rock shelter with two entrances & no dark zone. Mar 1/89.

BoM ~ 8.  Hidden in thick bush.  Spiralling entrance passage descends to main chamber 100 ft. long x 40 - 60 ft. wide and up to 60 ft. high.  Some short side passages and three alternative vertical entrances.

BoM ~ 12.  On summit of hill near old winding machinery used in guano extraction.  A deep vertical shaft reputed to lead to a chamber of two hectares area.  Feb 27/89 plus BoM ~ 8

BoM ~ 14.  A gaping hole in the side of a doline; unexplored. Mar 1/89

BoM ~ 30.  Shaft c. 75 ft. to unexplored cave.  Mar 1/89

Lapuz-lapuz Caves - A series of arches and short caves in an area of extreme limestone erosion and poison shrubs.   Feb 27/89.

Ome Cave A single chamber & alcove open to the elements.  The site of human habitation until just a few years ago.   Mar 1/89.

Pang pang Tuti - A 60 ft. long tunnel passage of spacious dimensions.  Almost entirely man-made (guano mine).  Mar 1/89

Siyawan Cave - Muddy cave about 220 ft. long; the home of cave swifts. Mar 1/89

Baranqay Binaquiohan

Disappointed with the Libertad caves and with four hours of daylight left I asked Dimitrio to show me the best cave in Bgy Binaguiohan.

Binaquiohan Cave ~2

Length c. 200 ft.  A muddy entrance chamber to walking-size passage with some small formations and alcoves.  While pretending to be impressed by one of these alcoves I heard the distant hammering of rock.  To my surprise guano miners miners were at work in the cave.  I'd always thought guano was mined with pick and shovel but it's not: it's hammer and chisel work and very hard work too.

Before I reached the working face I came upon a small boy about 10 years old - exiting the cave with two baskets of the stuff suspended from a pole over his shoulder.  Twelve men comprised the team working here, three of them sub-teenagers.  They each earn US $4 per ton delivered to the entrepreneur's truck a few km. away.  In the rainy season that truck can be a long, long way away.  On a good day the team will extract about half a ton.


"Langub" = "cave" in local dialect, so the place seemed worth a visit though I only expected a sea cave or two.  Langub is situated on the coastal plain near the sea 4 km. from the nearest "road".  My time was limited: the last jeepney home to Escalante passes Langub Crossing (= "junction") at 3 p.m. and my early start was delayed by torrential rain. It was gone noon when I arrived at the house of the Barrio Captain.  I had only two hours to locate and explore any caves, a pity cos I found a big-un.

Lanqub Cave

Situated about 2 km. from Langub, the enticing 15 ft. high x 30 ft. wide entrance opens onto a shallow valley.  Inside the large entrance chamber the cave was less enticing.  Despite the heavy rains of the previous few days the deep water that confronted me was stagnant and filthy and floating a asum of batshit. About twenty people had accompanied me to the cave whooping with delight at the fun of it all and never for a moment believing I'd venture inside.  Looking at that filthy water (and with one eye on the time) I was inclined to head back to Escalante but my audience were expecting a show so I changed into my swimming gear.  An old guy elbowed his way to the front of the crowd and volunteered himself as my guide.

The water turned out to be no more than waist deep; the slime and silt beneath the water was calf deep. I tried not to think of leeches and Weil's disease and followed my guide who was equipped with my only spare lamp. The entire cave was horizontally developed and ran very close to the surface.  After maybe 250m. we came to a collapse where we were able to climb out of the water and engage in some crouching and crawling until the passage regained its normal size.  A couple of man-made shafts here led to the surface about 20 ft. above.  I guess these shafts were constructed for guano miners. A little further on the passages became small, flat-out and very noisome.  We turned back, exploring several flooded side passages on out way out.

Back on the surface my audience was now filled with enthusiasm for cave exploration and miraculously remembered two more caves in the area.  Don't worry about the time, they said, we can arrange a boat to take you home.  So we went in search of these other caves, only one of which was located.

Buda de Franco Cave

When finally located this turned out to be a simple tunnel cave about 200 ft. long with a skylight entrance at the far end.  Lots of kids followed me into this cave, the tiny ones un-shyly holding on to my clothes and hands as we groped along with my one tiny lamp.  At the far end of the cave guano miners tallies are scratched onto the wall.

Cebu City.
March 1989

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


This Belfry Bulletin is a month late due to circumstances beyond my control but, strange to relate, for the first time I've got more material to print than can be put into one BB. (The postage per copy goes up if there are more than about 23 pages).

I've got another article from Jim Smart, who is alive and well and still in California, which will be in the next BB.  Aso an article from Jingles about his first (and last?) Daren Cilau trip, one from Trebor about Jamaica and one from Steve about the LADS in Ireland.

Talking about Daren Cilau, I had my first trip there in mid-August, the "Caves of South Wales" guide book describes it as 5+ but this probably means a trip to Spade-Runner. The inside information is that the entrance crawl, though long, is not difficult (just boring) and has only two bits that could be described as squeezes (if you weigh less than 14 stones, you should have no problems!).  We went to see "The White Company" in Apocalypse Way and it took us four hours, two hours in and out of the crawl, one and a half to and from the formation and half an hour getting lost.  The "White Company" you must see, I’ve never seen it's equal.  Anyway, the grading of a tourist trip in Daren is probably not more than VDC, if you've got the stamina.  As far as gear is concerned, wear knee and elbow pads!

Also in the next BB will be an appreciation of Roy Bennett who, as most of you will already know, died after a skiing accident this summer.  Joan asked that any donations members wished to make be made to the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue team.  These should be sent to Wig (Townsend Cottage, Priddy) who will forward them. The BEC has donated £25.

Trebor has a new load of Bertie Bat enamel badges at £2 each and J'Rat has some BEC T-shirts, the old design, which are for sale to club members at Bat Products (J'Rat is selling them at no profit so if you're not quick they'll all be gone!)

Alan Thomas has produced another book (he's the editor) called "The Last Adventure". This is a collection of seven articles by cave divers from the '30's onwards and makes fascinating reading. Each one describes the experiences of people who have gone to places where no-one had gone before.  Copies can be obtained from Alan at £10.50 (they're hard cover with colour photographs).


Bits & Pieces

This bit was sent in by Trebor:-

J'Rat has decided to decline continuing with the library due to Rat Product commitments.  Trebor has taken over the job and will soon be attempting to re-classify all we've got, try and retrieve missing books and tidy up the place generally.  Has anyone got any old, interesting photos of the club house, characters, personalities etc. which they don't want?  If so, I'll stick them up on the walls in frames for posterity, or at least put them in the scrapbook.  Members are asked to return all books as soon as possible and book them out every time. We must keep the library intact. If you want a book permanently go and buy one.  Don't pinch ours.  The Club has always prided itself on a good library and we want to keep it that way.


An appeal from Bassett:-

At some time during the last two years I have mislaid three nife cells.  They are in reasonable condition, giving 8-9 hours of light each. They are labelled with my initials on the cell top clamps, Thus: - G W J.  The numbers on the actual cell labels are: - 560, 588 and LANCSFB L6.

I may have left them in someone's car, at someone's house or in the Belfry.  I could have lent them to someone or they could even have been stolen.

If you have acquired a couple of nifes and wonder whose they are, please have a look - they could be mine.

Thanks, Bassett.


New Members

We seem to be doing well for new members this year!  Here are the details of the most recent ones.  Please let me know if I've got anything wrong!

1118     Carol Yvette White, Cheddar, Somerset
1119     Barry Hanks, North Cray, Kent
1120     Alan Goodrich, North Cray, Kent
1121     Nicholas Cornwell Smith, Oldland Common, Bristol
1122     Clive Betts, Clapham, Bedfordshire
1123     Ian Gregory, Clapham, Bedfordshire
1124     Martin Gregory, Clapham, Bedfordshire
1125     Richard Blake, Horsfield, Bristol
1126     Stephen Richard Redwood, Banwell, Nr. Weston-super-Mare
1127     Bruce Jones, Northville, Bristol

1989 A.G.M. & Club Dinner

Another year has passed and the AGM is once again nearly upon us; October 7th. 10.00 am. at the Belfry.

I do not intend to have a barrel at the meeting this year as the meeting invariably generates into a fiasco afterwards.  By starting half an hour earlier we should get done by the time the pubs open - if not, it will perhaps goad us into getting on with some sensible, concise debate which is meaningful, useful and well thought out.  None of this hurling abuse back and forth across the floor, personal slander and general gobbing off.

The Newsletter Editor hopes to get the next BB out for the 7th October to coincide with the AGM & Dinner so Committee Members are asked to prepare their Annual Reports for that issue.

Election forms will arrive with the next BB or hopefully well before the AGM if I can wangle free postage from work.

Committee Members Resigning.

Mike McDonald, Steve Milner
(and maybe, Snablet - Ed.)

The agenda will be on the normal format as in previous years and a sheet will be given out on the day.

Please hand in any resolutions to me at any time or on the day.  No resolutions have been received at the time this BB issue goes to press.

Trebor  (Secretary )

Other items concerning the AGM & Dinner.  (Ed.)

The dinner is again at The Star Hotel in Wells.  There will be a choice of four starters -  Soup, Melon, Egg Mayonnaise or Pate; four main courses - Roast Turkey, Roast Leg of Lamb, Roast Topside of Beef or Chicken Breast (with all the usual trimmings, of course) and a choice of sweets to follow.  The committee decided that the appropriate price per ticket should be £12, in order to recover costs and overheads (we do have them!).  Tickets will be available from Steve from the time this BB comes out.  Please try to buy your tickets in advance otherwise you may not get in!  Ticket sales will be closed after 30th September.

As you see from Trebor's bit (above), it looks as though we're going to be a bit short on the committee. We therefore will need nominations, proposers and seconders at the AGM.  If you think you can be useful - VOLUNTEER!

The club has four trustees at the moment.  These are: Bobby Bagshaw, Les Peters, Alan Thomas and Barry Wilton.

It seems that Bobby and Les may shortly request to resign from their positions.  I'm not exactly sure about the responsibilities of trustees except that they are legally responsible for the club.  I may have got the wrong end of the stick, so to speak, but if the above is true the AGM should consider replacements.


Cave Leaders

Saint Cuthbert’s Leaders Update from Martin Grass

A few months ago the Saint Cuthbert’s lock was changed.   I wrote to all known leaders (the list had been lost) asking them to supply me with an s.a.e. for a new key.  It was decided to do this as it was assumed that those not asking for a new key were no longer interested in being leaders.  The following list therefore should be considered as the current Cuthbert’s leaders as they are the only ones with access to the cave.

Chris Batstone

Andy Cave

Martin Grass

Tim Large

Mike Palmer

Andy Sparrow

Greg Villis

Ian Caldwell

John Dukes

Ted Humphreys

Mike McDonald

Brian Prewer

Nigel Taylor

Graham Wilton-Jones

Chris Castle

Pete Glanville

Kangy King

Stuart McManus

Chris Smart

Dave Turner

Brian Workman

Guest Leaders

John Beecham   M.C.G.

Alan Butcher     S.M.C.C.

Tony Knibbs      M.C.G.

Alison Moody    W.C.C

Tony Boycott     U.B.S.S.

Malcolm Cotter  M.C.G.

Ray Mansfield    U.B.S.S.

Graham Price    Cerberus

The only thing I have to add to this list is, has Wig retired?

The leaders we have for other caves are as follows: -


and Tunnel Cave



Ogof Ffynnon Ddu I





Reservoir Hole



Charterhouse Cave

Martin Grass

Mike McDonald

Graham Wilton-Jones


Martin Grass

Mike Palmer

Richard Stevenson

Graham Wilton-Jones


Martin Grass

Graham Wilton-Jones


Jeremy Henley

Tim Large

Richard Stevenson



Dave Irwin

Brian Prewer

Greg Villis



Dave Irwin



Chris Smart



Trebor received this letter and has sent Joy the membership list.  Presumably the girls she mentions are Brenda Wilton and Joyce Franklin?

Erasmia 0023
South Africa

The Secretary, B.E.C.

Some years ago I used to be a member of the BEC, as well as a regular caver.  However, I moved to South Africa and lost touch with everyone, and although I have made several efforts to get in touch with old caving friends I have not had much luck.

As I will be coming to England again sometime during the next 6-9 months I have decided to try once more to track these friends down as I would really like to meet up again. This being the case, it occurred to me that there is a slight chance of doing this through the BEC - especially if you still produce the magazine "The Belfry", - or any other publication you may now produce.  At the same time I would be very happy if you could forward a copy to me - for old times sake.

I used to cave with Roger Stenner mainly but other names were Gerald Neilson, Paul Morrell and two girls Joyce and Brenda (but I can't recall their surnames).  My name in those days was Joy Steadman (Mem. No.570, Joined 1964 - Ed.).

Apart from making contact with any of them, I am also keen to do some caving - so any help you can give me will be very much appreciated.


Joy Scovell (Mrs)


China, The BEC get Everywhere

by Chris Smart.

As many of you no doubt know by now, last year, two B.E.C. members, Chris Smart and Graham Wilton-Jones, participated in the 1988 British Speleological Expedition to South West Guizhou. ( Guizhou is a province in South West China about 1000 kms NW of Hong Kong).  Hoping to escape the ravages of a British winter and of Butcombe beer Blitz and Bassett joined the highly successful, and at (all?) times, distinctly odd "independent", Bob Lewis expedition to An Lung County.  This is a closed county (i.e. an area generally closed by the Chinese authorities to foreigners) that Bob and three other members of the Severn Valley Caving Club had obtained permission to visit on a reconnaissance a year or so previous to our expedition.

On his return Bob then set about organising a full scale expedition and if the full story of the pre-expedition meetings is ever told then a book will be needed to detail the intrigues, explain the voting procedures and produce a full cast list (or should that be karst list?).  It would make a John Le Carre novel look simple by comparison and suffice it to say that at times it seemed that the list of the sixteen personnel was changing almost daily.

China abounds with an over abundance of limestone and it has been estimated by the people that take delight in such statistics that there is more limestone in China than in the whole of Bowery Corner, Wigmore and Welsh's Green put together - Oops that there is more limestone in China than in the rest of the world put together.  It is a very sobering experience to be travelling, on what constitutes a Chinese express train, through an area of quite spectacular limestone as the sun sets slowly in the west and to then wake up the following morning still looking out at the by now monotonous limestone.  When expedition members are heard to remark "Oh No, not more cone karst" one begins to wonder about ones travelling companions.

The trains were an education into the Chinese way of life.  I would not have thought it possible for a train floor to change from being pristinely clean to being totally lost under an inch thick layer of peanut shells and husks, sugar cane bark, sweet wrappers, old newspapers, polystyrene food containers, discarded chopsticks and spittle within seconds of the Chinese getting on to it.  They seem to be able to have the same effect that a couple of barrels after the Hunters back at the Belfry have, but in an infinitesimal fraction of the time.

Their spitting habit leaves nothing to the imagination and people of a nervous disposition should stop reading at this point.  They will spend 30 or so seconds hawking and clearing their throats before leaning forward, and with a sly grin, let the spittle slowly dribble from the corner of their mouths onto the floor of the railway carriage or bus or pavement etc. I saw one very near miss when two Chinese were both dribbling and staring at us while cycling on a collision course towards each other (unfortunately one of them realised in time). It is a very definite turnoff when ogling a piece of the local crumpet, purely in the interests of science you understand, to see her lean forward and seductively dribble a seemingly never ending stream of spittle onto the ground only inches from your feet.

Transport within China is actually pretty good considering the problems of terrain, third-world technology, and the fact that there are over a billion people who are not going to spend their lives standing still.  I do however subscribe to the belief that it was a trifle unfair that the entire Chinese population should always want to use the same train/bus/ferry/ticket office/toilet etc that I wanted to and always at exactly the same time. It's probably a good idea that I spent as long as I did in training sessions at the bar of the Hunters.

There is a reasonable network of railways, most of the roads are sealed, and the rivers are used by all manner of traffic.  Costings for internal travel are as cheap as to be ridiculous, as is the internal airline. However tickets for this are a little more difficult to obtain.  Few travellers speak well of the airline and we were told the story that when a stewardess was asked why no safety instructions are given she replied "Not necessary, we crash, you die!!!"

I would however warn you that having obtained your ticket then not only will the entire population of China accompany you on your train/bus/ferry boat/aircraft but that they will be carrying all their worldly goods and possessions with them.  I'm told it's somewhat odd to look under the seat of the bus to see what is causing that odd wet sensation on the back of your leg and find a small pig happily ensconced there.  Certainly I can vouch for having travelled on a train in the company of several live chickens, a duck and a little boy whose mother let him happily piss in the aisle next to my rucksac - and I used to wonder why no one used to help me on with my rucksac ... then my best friend told me.

Enough of this local colour, I hear you say.  We’ve been to China town in Soho. We've all seen The Last Emperor on video.  We've all had a Sweet and Sour from the Wells takeaway.  What about the caverns measureless to man?  Well, and this is where the story really starts.

The first wave of our ten intrepid explorers (including Blitz), nine good men and true and Sara (OVCC), a gynaecologist, left Gatwick and flew to Hong Kong, pausing only to take advantage of the free booze (Everything to Excess) provided on the excellent Cathay Pacific flight and for a quick Rabies inoculation at the Bahrain stopover.  People may be interested to know that no body took the slightest interest in Sara giving us the vaccinations on board the plane and that the cabin crew were happy about disposing of the needles and syringes afterwards.  We stocked up on a few items in Hong Kong, attempted to shake off the jet lag and wondered how we could have been so careless as to lose eight hours and set sail up the Pearl River to Guangzhou (or more commonly, Canton) and our entry into the People's Republic of China.

This was easily done and the Passport and Customs officials expressed no surprise at the fact that we were all visiting China as tourists or at the 28 items of tourist luggage, including a kilometre of rope, gas cylinders, SRT bolts, life-jackets, wet suits and goodness knows what besides that we were carrying between the 10 of us. We had arrived and Martin, another member of the Severn Valley Caving Club, expressed our sentiments in a loud voice when he said “We're here to do the Business!!  We are the Business!!

A week later the expedition arrived at Guiyang, a city about the size of Bristol, the capital of Guizhou province and the location of the University that Bob Lewis had established contact with.  It is easy to write now - "A week later the expedition arrived at Guiyang" but that simple phrase glosses over so many hassles.  In that week we had split into two separate groups, travelled by widely different routes and modes of transport, discovered Chinese alcohol, got drunk, regained consciousness, rejoined the human race, discovered Chinese food with such culinary delights on the menu as "A sort of fish", "Goose intestines in a special sauce", and "Web and Wing", discovered one member of the expedition didn't know how to use chopsticks and more alarmingly didn't like Chinese food, discovered Chinese fireworks (nothing pretty just a big bang - now who did I hear that about?) and had nearly been arrested for smuggling!!  Quite a week and the smuggling was a mistake, honest your honour. How were we to know that it was an offence to transport camping gas cylinders by train?

From Guiyang it was just a short 12 hour bus ride to An Lung.  I was the coldest I think I've ever been in that bus with windows that wouldn't shut and with the temperature just above freezing outside.  Sara gave a couple of us a cuddle at one of the roadside stops but Bob told her off - we don't want to upset the natives, do we?  A 2 hour truck ride the next day and we had reached Do Shan, the end of the road, our nearest village and only a two hour walk from our caving area.  The next day we arranged porters at the princely sum of 50 pence a day and the set off into the unknown, our hearts beating proudly in our chests and our bowels well modesty prevents me from telling you about that.

Bassett had similar problems with transportation when he arrived a month later.  He took fifteen days to reach the caving area near Do Shan. Although six of those days were spent waiting in Guiyang for the other members of the second part of the expedition.  As he says ... "On day two I was within five miles of the rest of the expedition, which had already been in the field for a month. Unfortunately that was thirty thousand feet up in a 747, and the next stop was Hong Kong."  Honestly, don't some people moan, just bad planning that's what I'd call it.

When you finally get there, An Lung County is a magnificent area with cone karst and open inviting cave entrances where ever you looked for as far as the eye can see.  The area is very primitive and from what I have read appears to have changed very little in centuries.  At one house built into a cave entrance we were offered bowls of hot water to drink, the owner being to poor to afford tea.

Over the next two months all the usual superlatives, ego it must be the deepest, longest, biggest, widest, highest, tallest etc. were heard to issue forth as the usual countless virgin caves were explored and surveyed.

The major find, Ban Dong, which was connected to another two cave systems Chu Yan Dong and Xi Nu is potentially the longest cave in China, with over 17 km. of passages surveyed so far, many passages looked at but not surveyed, and several going leads.  There are, for example, another two caves both over 5 kms in length just awaiting connection.  Included in the system are a sloping chamber over 300 metres long and more than 200 metres wide which was surveyed at 1.6 km in circumference, a 200 metre pitch, a collapse doline 400 metres across with 270 metre deep, overhanging walls and an entrance passage that contained a bank of clouds from wall to wall that forced us to stoop underneath it in order to see where we were going.  Mike (SVCC) carne in for some gentle leg pulling after an episode where he managed to do a 180 degree turn on his way in through the entrance passage and managed to find himself shamefaced back at the entrance.  Chu Yan Dong (Smoking Hole) gets its name from the fact that a constant cloud issues forth from the entrance shaft, like steam from a kettle, visible over 100 metres away.

The caving itself was remarkably easy and all too often we would discover evidence that we were not the first intrepid explorers that we thought we were.  In the main the caving consisted of walking through enormous passages often floored with a crazy paving of dried mud or covered in a shimmering red flowstone but occasionally with cave pearls up to the size of golf balls. I also remember several very black and very crunchy areas of flowstone that were quite painful to walk on in the condom thin rubber that the Chinese use to manufacture welly boots.  There were a few climbs and some large pitches but the overwhelming memory is one of gigantic passage widths - I'm sure that you really don't want to know about Dau Dong (Big Cave) where we found it easier to survey along the two walls rather than the more conventional approach of a centre line with passage widths - measuring a cross-section gets difficult when passage is 150 metres wide.  Our longest centre line survey leg was 160 metres and to be honest, that could have been longer still.  Oh yes there was one short length of crawling and one squeeze which gave us a    very uncharacteristic survey leg length of one metre.  It is all too easy to become very blasé about the passage dimensions and to make comments such as "That's not worth looking at its far too small to go" - that was a passage that was about 2 metres across but there again there were passages 20 metres across waiting.

However the expedition was an outstanding success, maybe because of, or maybe in spite of minor set-backs, Bob lost his passport and the expedition funds, Blitz lost 10 kg. while on a diet of rubbery rice-strips, dog and rape, (this is the green vegetable and should not be taken to indicate a 10 Kg weight loss due to frenzied sexual activity!!!) and many expedition members lost their dignity on potent rice spirit and beer at 10p a pint.  Indeed on one occasion not only did Sara have to be carried out from the banquet, she had to be carried into it first!  Yet another victim of the white spirit.

Supplies of most things were readily available once we had organised the locals and they had organised us. However the first few days at our base camp, lovingly known as Camp Squalor, pushed our resources to the limits.  (The Government says ... No camping in China, so we bivouacked at the back of a large cave entrance - it just meant we had a permanent daylight squad of up to 70 locals who would stand and stare at the crazy foreigners for hours)

For the first week we could only obtain, or so it seemed at the time, a few onions, some rape and eggs, eggs, and more eggs.  It was, to say the least, a monotonous diet.  Later in the expedition we went into the livestock business and become the proud owners of four chickens all destined for the pot.  Fresh pork was available once every six days at Do Shan market but as this would only keep till the next day it meant a binge followed by a frugal four days.  The porters were excellent and were happy to have their wickerwork back packs loaded to over full with pork, beer, and white spirit etc before being dispatched to one of the three or four outlying camps.

We had a post graduate student from the university attached to us, so for most of the time translation was not a problem.  To write that sounds almost as if we had a Government minder with us, but in the event Tan Ming proved to be a good caver and was quite happy to let us get on with the caving where and whenever.  For example Tim (SVCC) and I lodged with a farmer for a week about 5 miles away from the others while exploring a river sink, Lu Shui Dong, about the size of the River Axe at Wookey.  Indeed I remain very impressed with the almost complete lack of bureaucracy and the fact that we could go where and do what we wanted.

What more can I tell you - I could tell you of buying carbide in lumps the size of a sugar bag and how Blitz dropped one of these in a village water supply tank, of the ever present money changers, I could tell you of our journey home taking in the tourist sites of the Stone Forest, an area of phenomenal pinnacle karst and of our boat ride down the Liang river with its fantastic tower karst near Guilin, I could tell you of a local woman who on hearing our plans remarked of her friends "They will laugh so much that their teeth will drop out", I could tell you of our being arrested for cycling into a closed area (but all the signs were in Chinese), I could tell you of our 24 hour ferry ride (we travelled 5th class in a dormitory of 50 beds) across the South China Sea back to Hong Kong blissfully ignorant of 60 Chinese and Vietnamese warships about to commence battle but what more can I write?  You would never believe me.

Blitz  July 1989


Mrs. P. A. Dors

On July 19th. a large number of members of Caving Clubs from all over the country joined the Dors family and other friends at Priddy Church to attend the funeral of Mrs. "Ben" Dors.

It is sad to think we shall no longer see her sitting at the end of the bar talking cheerfully to old friends and new.

We have to thank her for the kindness and tolerance she has shown to us all during her long life.  We shall remember her with gratitude and affection.

Dan Hasell

1989 New Year Expedition to Bulmer Cavern Mount Owen, New Zealand.

The Air New Zealand ticket and baggage clerk looked at the three rucksacks on the scales, then back at the digital display - an indisputable eighty one and a half kilograms. She studied my ticket carefully once more, and asked;

"It is only the one passenger, sir'?"

"That's correct", I smiled, hopefully.

I was on my way to North-West Nelson to join one of the annual summer expeditions in the marble mountains.

The Area.

Currently this corner of New Zealand's South Island holds three significant areas of marble of interest to the caver;

In the north is Takaka Hill, the most easily accessible since a major road runs right over the top of it.  The limestone is a hard, clean, pale grey, and contains such systems as Greenlink whose furthest reaches still defy determined exploration, and Harwoods Hole, with its 200 metre entrance shaft dropping into a sporting streamway exit. The surface is grassland and patches of regenerating scrub through which project "Henry Moore" shapes of smooth-faced marble.*

South from here is Mount Arthur, whose marble top squats above the bush-line.  The major system here is Nettlebed.  Explored from the bottom, an entrance close to the Pearse resurgence, it now offers an 800 metre plus through trip, after Blizzard Pot was connected in 1987.

From the top of Mount Arthur, on a clear day, there are magnificent views of thousands of kilometres of bush-covered hills and rocky summits.  Southwards, beyond karst basins, marble outcrops and peaks, is Mount Owen, beneath whose southern slopes stretches the recently discovered Bulmer cave system.

Getting there.

The nearest main road to Mount Owen runs from Nelson down to the west coast at Westport, and the one decent ale-house en route happens to be the Owen River Tavern.  From this convenient rendezvous at the confluence of the Buller River and the Owen a gravel road leads northwards through the wide paddocks for several kilometres.

* Matt Tuck (+ Nick Hawkes) spent part of the summer here and could be persuaded to put pen to paper, I suspect.

At the last level paddock, just before to climb amongst cobbly hills of glacial moraine, on an afternoon of sunshine and showers in late December, twenty members of the expedition met up and began to stack the mass of gear into helicopter-lifting sized heaps.  While the helicopter would take up most of the food, general equipment and vertical caving gear, we would walk the track begins up carrying all personal kit.

The tops of the mountain were hidden above low cloud when the helicopter arrived, but the camp-site at Bulmer Lake, just above the bush-line, proved to be just below this layer of summer thunder showers.  Unfortunately Poverty Basin, where we intended to have a secondary expedition base, was mist enshrouded and therefore too risky for air-transport.

While the helicopter took only about ten minutes carrying up each load and then returning, we had an ascending walk of several hours to look forward to.

The logic behind not taking a whirlybird ride was that in the event of bad weather precluding aerial assistance at the end of the expedition, or at any other time, by making our own way up we would all be thoroughly familiar with the route.

As the last load disappeared into the sky we set off up the valley and were soon into the shade of the bush.  The variety of trees is mixed at first, but rapidly the southern beech dominated. Initially the path follows an old logging track, and very gently rises along the true left bank of the river. The path dropped at one point to a slippery little traverse above a deep river-edge pool, quite awkward with a heavy, unbalanced pack, but was otherwise straight-forward until we crossed the Owen and started up Bulmer Creek.  This required numerous crossings and whereas the Owen was floored with coarse gravels and small cobbles, Bulmer Creek was generally steeper, and the waters left a slick, brown slime on the much larger, rounded boulders.  For a time we left the stream altogether, where the stream tumbles through a gorge, and climbed up on the true right to follow an indistinct path in the thick beech forest.  The trees are stunted and gnarled  - most are several centuries old - and their roots, half hidden beneath years of leaves and mould, twist over the forest floor, ready to trip the unwary.

After half an hour among beech trees we emerged onto the level cobble floor of the stream, now waterless after weeks of little rain.  In low water conditions the creek trickles beneath the limestone cobbles to emerge further down-valley.  We made our way across the cobbles and among some enormous blocks, fallen from the cliffs that now enclosed us in a huge amphitheatre, and arrived at the edge of a small pool into which dropped a cascade of clear water.  This water, which resurges from the base of the cliffs only a few hundred metres away, is undoubtedly from Bulmer Cave Bulmer Lake water, marked on the map as the main source of the creek, is actually only a small fraction of this stream.

More of the resurgence later.  We climbed north westwards, through quite dense scrub which cloaked old avalanche debris. The ascent steepened, across an open grassy slope and up a little rivulet in a gully, to reach the foot of the cliffs. A substantial ledge led back east, climbing across the face for some distance until it reached a short vertical section negotiated with the aid of a piece of fencing wire and a long, tape sling. Above this the slope lessened as we followed a shallow valley, with a trickle of a stream, through more beech forest.

After a further half an hour the beech forest cleared as we reached the bush-line.   Ahead lay a long, narrow cirque containing the shallow Bulmer Lake, three quarters encircled by steep marble cliffs and screes lowering to tussocky slopes. Earlier arrivals had already pitched their tents among the trees, but most of the group with whom I walked up opted for the open, grassy flat between the forest and the lake.  We ignored the hoots of derision from those who expected the water level to rise in the next rain storm and wash us away down the hill, though I did perch my Space packer tent on the top of a little hummock.

Our kitchen and eating area was created under the slight overhang of a huge boulder, long ago tumbled from the cliffs far above.  Although this only afforded minimal shelter from the rain and none from the wind the area soon came to be used for all communal functions, survey transcriptions and creations, possum hunting, radio-communications room, etc.

The Cave.

The cave system of Bulmer presently has five known entrances: the first to be found, and the largest, is situated in the centre of the system, and is about twenty minutes walk east of the camp-site.  It is a semicircular roofed entrance dropping down a bouldery scree slope to a thirty metre pitch.  At the base of this is a long, sloping scree-floored cavern.  Up cave from here, to the north, via essentially horizontal fossil passages, leads to the vertical series up to Replica Spectacular and the closely connected Castle Keep, highest entrance to the system.  Down cave, southwards, continuing abandoned passages ultimately emerge as holes high in the cliffs above the resurgence, Eye in the Sky and Panorama Ledge Entrance.

First Trip.

My first trip into Bulmer was via Panorama.  Trevor Worthy (N.Z.), Danielle Gemenis (Aussie), Tom Miller ( U.S.) and I climbed through the bush east of the camp to emerge onto wide, smooth, sloping sheets of lapiaz.

We struck out on a more or less level route across this glacially scoured landscape, skirting between the bush below and lines of bluffs above.  The route had been previously marked with streamers of red plastic tape (a route to the toilet, some 200 metres from the camp site, had been similarly marked, explaining the discovery of an anguished, cross-legged Don Fraser being discovered half way up the hillside, crying, "Where the hell's the bog?").  Having passed below Bulmer entrance we dropped into bush and traversed to a drop to a little ledge - Panorama.  A five metre handline made the descent safer, as there is a substantial drop below. Views out across the valley are excellent, the panorama being 180 degrees from west through south to east, where distant snowy peaks of Nelson Lakes National Park complete the horizon.

Turning our backs on the wide, green landscape we crawled into a small passage in the cliff, against a cold, damp draught that is a feature of the cave system.  The low, narrow passage soon enlarged and dropped into a wide chamber, the floor of which was composed of blockfall.  At the far side the chamber gradually diminished to become discrete passage, still with fallen boulders, and the walls covered in large botryoids (botryoids and rockfall are other features of the cave). Part way along a low bedding arch leads down to the right, dropping ultimately via a complex little route to Eye in the Sky, of which more later.  The Panorama route continues north-westwards, roughly paralleling the bluffs and a major fault, and develops into a high, narrow rift.  Fixed ropes enabled us to negotiate the ups and downs of Eurus Rift, and we climbed out into larger passages that heralded the approach of Bulmer Main Entrance.  However, we spent some time "lost" in this area, searching up several avens and rifts for the route onwards.  Some quite large passage did not seem to be on the survey, and a long piece of tape had to be left behind to cope with the retreat down one climb.  Eventually we opted for a route that continued north-west around an exposed but easy traverse to enter Medusa Passage.  Here the route is smothered with huge clusters of helictites up to one centimetre wide and several tens of centimetres in length. From here we quickly reached vague daylight filtering through to the huge scree slope that is the floor of the large Bulmer Entrance chamber.  The thirty five metre pitch proved an easy, free-hanging ascent to a rock bridge, and a wide rocky ledge led round to the entrance.

The food organisers for our trip had definite vegetarian leanings, and each meal was a variation based on one kind of bean or another.  A couple of sacks of cabbages and a huge box of cucumbers slowly diminished throughout our stay, with coleslaw constantly available.  There was some confusion over the original ordering resulting in the purchase of enough tins of fish for one each every day of the expedition.  The menu was a well organised affair and, in spite of the fact that no-one was detailed for "cook of the day", food was always ready when teams emerged from the cave, often at ridiculous times.

Second Trip.

My second trip was to survey a couple of kilometres of passage found the previous day.  Trevor and I. along with Paul Wopereis and Kieran Mackay (both NZ), entered Panorama and thence dropped down to Eye in the Sky.  Turning away from the exit, which I never did get to see, we reached a wide area of breakdown where the passage floor dropped abruptly into a large shaft, the Lion's Den.  Fifty metres of slopes,       ledges and short drops led to the head of a forty metre shaft.  Kiwis tend to use chocks, pitons and natural belays wherever possible, but bolts were placed here in the absence of anything more suitable. Across the base another forty metre shaft led on down, damp and windy, and with a series of re-directional belays to create the best hang and avoid possible deluges of flood water.  Following a muddy traverse and a fifteen metre pitch we entered a high, narrow streamway that twisted awkwardly, dropping two further short pitches including Roaring Lion, before entering much more spacious older passage.

This area is only a hundred metres above the main stream, but we climbed away from this into a phreatic maze and the Speedway. A strong draught through a low section off to one side indicated the extent and significance of the passages we were to survey.  So many of the passages in Bulmer trend north-west to south-east, and these new ones were no exception.  For most of its length we mapped in a single passage, 88-not-out, with junctions turning out to be the beginnings of oxbows.  Everything about it felt old the breakdown, the abundance and sizeable growth of botryoidal stal, the totally fractured stal sheets over the floor, and the section of passage whose floor was covered in a thick layer of white powder, hydromagnesite.  (Higher levels of the cave have been dated to at least 350,000 years).  Our survey ended at a draughting choke, which could be easily dug.  A quick computation of the survey figures and drawing of the map the following day revealed this choke as being close to the Blowhole, a huge phreatic segment in the bluffs.

We emerged after dark, and took ages searching about the bush and lapiaz for red tape, which does not show up much at night.  Eventually we were guided down to the camp by the noise of the Australian Whistling Frogs, who inhabit the lake and keep unhappy cavers awake all night with their din. Tonight, however, we were to be spared this joy, and reminded instead that we were camped at 1300 metres in latitude 40 south.  The wind rapidly increased and torrents of rain swept over the cliffs and into our cwm. Hoop tents wobbled like demented jellies and Tom's U.S. wonder-dome flattened itself into the grass, while Tom himself shivered the night through in a pool of soggy down.


The cold, damp air, the hard, sharp marble, and frequent changes of carbide which penetrated and infected every little cut, combined to shred the skin off my hands and give me an excuse to go prospecting on the surface.  Bulmer resurgence had been discovered in the 70's, along with the huge phreatic passage of Whalesmouth Cavern, next to Blowhole.  Bulmer Main Entrance was found on the first day of 1985 and. since most subsequent work has been towards extending and surveying this, surface work has been limited and sporadic.  Gormenghast, a shaft system north of Bulmer Main Entrance, may well link onto the system.  North-east of the Bulmer Basin cwm, just at the edge of the bluff, lies the Amphitheatre, a deep cliff-fringed pit 150 metres in diameter, that has to be a collapsed cavern.

Oz Patterson. Greg ...... and I worked over the karst between the camp site and the Blowhole, mostly among the beech, where we found a number of shafts, but these did not extend more than a few tens of metres.  Our main objective was to attempt to find a short route into the 88-not-out area, or into the short section between there and Blowhole.  It cannot be claimed that the karst has been thoroughly prospected - in the forest it is easy to miss even quite large holes, while many of the narrower shafts are covered over at the top with fallen trees, mosses and the prolific growth of this rainforest floor.  Much could lie hidden for decades here.

We came out in the drizzle the next day, joined by Kip, but significant new cave remained elusive. The others went into Blowhole to search in the draughting rockfall and to "take the airs" - a team had simultaneously made their way to the end of 88-not-out and were burning kerosene soaked cloth at the terminal choke.  No fumes were detected and the location of this obvious connection is a mystery.  Meanwhile, returning via a higher route to the camp, I found more deep shafts, but their exploration is yet to come.

One of the significant landmarks of the area is the Bulmer Buttress, which resembles a giant, pale tuatara (a long-lived dragon-like reptile, from the age of dinosaurs). This pale limestone outcrop catches the light rather spectacularly at sunset and dusk, changing from grey, to pink or orange.  At night its dark, huddled shape often acted as a guiding beacon to cavers astray on the bare lapiaz.  Just beyond the Buttress is Gormenghast, which was slowly being pushed deeper in the hopes of creating a link with the Bulmer system.  North from here soon drops into the long closed depression of Castle Basin.  Another route into Castle Basin is from Bulmer Lake cwm, via the Amphitheatre and a nearby col.

We chose one of the really good days to carry equipment up to Poverty Basin, ready for a small camp so that this area could be prospected further. With seven of us, the loads were fairly light and we quickly reached Castle Basin, whose grassy floor was speckled with bright upland flowers of yellow and white.  Climbing the steep headwall of the Basin brought us to a rocky outcrop, containing the phreatic segment of Castle Keep - Replica Spectacular.  We traversed through this short section of cave and dumped our loads at the Replica end.  Ahead, separating us from the contorted strata of Replica Hill, was the broad Poverty Basin, grass floored except for a distinctive orange gash in the glacial debris.

Three of the team set off across the Basin to have a look at an obvious cave high in the south face of Replica Hill, and to search for Owen Ice Cave, one of the few caves in New Zealand with permanent ice formations.  With the other three I headed up eastwards, climbing rapidly to the summit of Mount Owen.  Although a few clouds had crept across the sky, and Mount Arthur, far to the north, was obscured, the three hundred and sixty degree panorama of peaks and bush was spectacular, and the limestone country within it every bit as inspiring as European Alpine karst.  To the south the mountain dropped steeply into a chaos of sharp fluted stone blind valleys, vertical sided ridges and deep, narrow shafts floored with loose rocks. Although we searched into various holes none seemed of any spelaeological significance.

Into Whalesmouth.

Chris Pugsley, Joe Arts, Paul and I headed across to Whalesmouth the next day, and surveyed down to the resurgence entrance.  A chill draught spills out of the huge Whalesmouth entrance and funnels down the scree valley below.  We mapped down this slope, and then into dense bush, where the tangle of plants made surveying well nigh impossible.  To reach the entrance involved a climb up a cliff, with shrubs, mud and loose boulders for holds (a hundred kilo block nearly demolished Chris, and much native bush had to be destroyed in order to recover the compass, dropped from the ledge), and then a slippery, exposed but well protected traverse on a narrow ledge twenty metres above the resurging stream.

The ledge ends at a gnarled tree, and a short climb up between the tree and the rock reaches a more substantial ledge, overhung by a huge flake of rock.  Resembling an enormous up-and-over door, only just open, this overhangs the cave entrance.  A short scramble leads through to another big rift, parallel to the cliff edge, and an easy climb up the inner wall of this arrives at horizontal passage and the sound of rushing water.  After a short distance we were in a chamber, with water from the five metre waterfall at one corner running amongst the cobbles of the floor and disappearing into a narrow slot on its way to the resurgence below.  The lowest section of the fall was easily avoided by crawling up through some tubes in• semi-consolidated pebbly fill, and thence an easy climb through the icy water reached horizontal stream passage.  This eventually breaks into numerous routes of a phreatic nature, and the sumps have yet to be passed.

Up above the resurgence entrance is Snarler, a flood resurgence found at the beginning of the expedition.  The current end to this is a boulder choke, which could well deserve further attention, since it may bypass the resurgence streamway sumps and quickly connect into Tropicana, the very lowest section of streamway in Bulmer itself.  Numerous other holes are visible in the cliffs around the resurgence and, looking way across the valley from here, another large entrance can be seen in a cliff in thick bush.  Some thought this could be a continuation of the Whalesmouth/Blowhole phreatic tube, pre-dating the glacial incision of Bulmer Creek valley, while others were certain it had already been checked out.  One fine day I managed to persuade Danielle to join me and check out these holes, and the following, very wet day Kieran joined us.  Two days of thrashing through bush, hanging from branches and vines, climbing up and down cliffs, streams and boulders, made us very familiar with the area but also proved that all these enticing looking entrances were but rock-shelters.

Back to Bulmer.

In Bulmer extensions were continuing to be made faster than they could be surveyed.  The complex area at the of the Lion's Den was developing into a series of roughly parallel passages beneath and to the west of Panorama/Eye In the Sky.  Although the Labyrinth streamway explorations seemed to have fizzled out somewhere beneath Bulmer Lake, the "Main" Streamway upstream waterfalls were bypassed in a huge old breakdown passage beyond Dead Coral Sea.

Survey figures were being calculated daily, with the map being added to immediately after.  A chart of our progress revealed, one evening, that the length so far surveyed had reached 25 km eclipsing Nettlebed, though this latter can still claim the NZ depth record.  Our daily radio schedule with the pair prospecting out at Poverty Basin must have revealed our excitement throughout the mountain radio band.

Some of the best formations in the cave are nearest to the main entrance, and accessible within half an hour.  A large group of us went into the Road to Nowhere towards the end of the expedition to goggle at, and to photograph, the impressive arrays of helictites and anthodite clusters.  They are confined to one short section of this abandoned stream passage, and are quite difficult to capture of film because of the narrowness of the passage. They are particularly vulnerable and it is fortunate that the passage, true to its name, is a cul-de-sac, although Gormenghast is not so very far from this region and a link is not out of the question.

Last Trip.

My last trip into the system was to survey the upstream, left-hand branch above the waterfalls. The right hand branch had been explored and surveyed to sumps, and no route had been found beyond as yet. Tom, Danielle and I made our way over to Panorama yet again and thence along the now familiar Lion's Den pitches.  Some of the ropes here were beginning to show signs of severe wear, either because of bad rub points or because of rockfall - the top series of little climbs was particularly prone to this latter.  Both the solid rock and the ubiquitous grit are extremely abrasive, and the Lion's Den pitches had seen a disproportionately large number of descents and ascents, since they provide the only access to the Main Stream and all its extensions.  The sheath had worn completely through on one of the forty metre drops, and another sheath severed on the de-rigging party.

Chris Pugsley had found the left hand upstream branch, along with another kilometre of passages, and had carefully marked the route to it with cairns and copious quantities of red tape.  Having followed mainly huge breakdown passage, often walking in the roof on enormous boulders that appeared to be the floor until we came unexpectedly to sheer drops of many metres, we entered a more confined zone of short crawls and climbs in collapse.  As the passage enlarged we were confronted by Chris's bunting and soon found the route to the streamway.  A climb down on and under a loosely consolidated pile of boulders revealed the water rushing along several metres below us, but the final descent did not look very easy.  While Danielle went off exploring a high level route above the right hand stream, Tom disappeared to retrieve a rope from a now bypassed climb.  Re-united we discovered that the descent was, in fact, very straightforward, but then confusion set in.  We were not certain which streamway we had entered, so we explored downstream shortly to a waterfall.  We had been told that both branches dropped down waterfalls and immediately linked.  Further, we understood that it was possible to climb around the head of one waterfall directly to the head of the other.  None of this fitted the facts as we saw them - no second stream or waterfall was visible from here.  Much time was wasted searching for an easy link to the other stream, until we decided to link our survey into Chris's cairns.

Now the hard work began: in many parts of the cave thirty metre leg lengths are easily possible; our average must have been three or four; the passage was narrow, it twisted and turned, the water, bitterly cold, could not always be avoided, and occasionally cascades attacked us from above.  Before long Tom and Danielle were chilled (in my Troll oversuit I was smugly snug) and we stopped surveying at a short cascade, beyond which I explored infuriatingly easy, straight passage, with slowly lowering roof, for a couple of hundred metres.  This soon sumps but there are many high level holes which could afford a bypass (see Post-script).

We had a steady Journey out, and emerged just before dawn after seventeen hours underground.  We dawdled through the bush and across the lapiaz, stopping occasionally to watch the sky lighten and to listen to the morning chorus of bell-birds tuning up, their single fluting notes echoing in the still, clear air.  Bulmer was now surveyed to twenty seven and a half kilometres and still going - probably the longest in Australasia.

Bassett, Auckland, N.Z., March 1989.


This sump, at the end of International Streamway, has been passed via the high level holes, and at least a kilometre of passages have been surveyed beyond.  These include numerous small phreatic tubes and the huge "Awesome Avens", whose floor area is several hundred square metres, and whose height is too great to see or even guess.  Perhaps their tops are accessible through as yet undiscovered entrances in Poverty Basin, beneath which the avens climb.

Bulmer is now surveyed to 150 metres short of 30 kilometres, and should be well in excess of this figure by the time you read this article.


A Summary of fauna found inhabiting the Belfry region of Mendip


This elusive animal may be easily identified by its short cropped hair, facial growth and generously proportioned snout!

Although it periodically migrates to South Wales to indulge in its ritual digging frenzies, it may often be found in the Priddy area working hard to convert "Butcombe" (its staple diet) into more organic compounds. (Quote ... "P*ss, Sh*t and pjh*gm!" .. unquote!).


The SNABLET is a strange little creature.  Slightly built yet possessed of strength far beyond its apparent capabilities with a thirst and capacity for liquid refreshment that can only be described as legendary.  It has been said that it can actually lift a pint glass and drain it without any outside assistance, although personally I find this rather hard to believe.

Although small this animal can make a remarkable amount of noise for its size, characterised by its cries of "AAARRRGGGHHH YOU BAAASTAAARDSS" heard on Saturday nights after closing time.  (Usually because the other critters have decided to tie it up again!)

However its size enables it to "Boldly cave where no man has caved before!"  It gets its Latin name from its ability to vanish into the smallest of spaces underground.  (Many wish it would just plain vanish!!!!!)


Probably one of the more dedicated creatures of the area, the TREBOR spends most of its time underground building dams.  When not involved in this activity it may be found cleaning various bits of limestone with an array of collected implements, or busily foraging for scraps of paper and discarded kit that it then transports to the surface and ejects! When above ground it is constantly painting, brushing and cleaning the immediate vicinity in between helping out other local creatures with a variety of tasks.  It is largely due to this animal that the area is as clean as it is.


Genetically ingrained in the Dani is the urge to build.  Thus it may often be found on Mendip erecting structures for other creatures.

At night however its habits change and it may be found anyone of a number of watering holes.  It is easily identifiable by its characteristic headdress ( a piece of checked cloth) as well as its mating calls .... "eeee-hawwww" and "I F*ckin' spect!"


Contrary to popular opinion this is not a member of the Weasel family (That's just a vicious rumour.) although it may be related to the house marten as it keeps getting bigger ones!

Interestingly, it is accompanied by its mate almost everywhere, except on its underground forays when it is usually accompanied by the pseudo mole the SMART.   The GRASS-MARTEN is a natural administrator and is fond of forming committees and attending meetings which it does with a certain flair when allowed to do so.


Not to be confused with the SMART, the JIM SMART is an entirely different animal.  Instantly identifiable by its crowning ring of red fur and freckled features it also has a distinctive odour not unlike that of burning hemp!!

This is another creature prone to bouts of disappearance and indeed has not been spotted in the area for some time now.


Rumoured to originate from Wales this mammal has been resident in the area for some time now.  It may often be seen travelling at great speed (and in considerable style) around the streets of Wells and the outlying area. Like the TREBOR it spends much of its life underground and indeed has been known to lure other creatures into its favoured sub-terranium  haunts.


Until recently this rodent was only to be found in the area at weekends as the earlier part of its life is spent mapping known routes for no good reason I can see.  However now that it has reached maturity (comparatively anyway) it will reside almost exclusively in the Mendip locale.  It may often be found in the Belfry on Saturday nights and is quite friendly, often trying to communicate with other creatures with its cries of "Mineshapintpleesshhhhhhhh!" and "Who' ad-th'f'ckin'barrell".  It will also "sing" on a good night, before slipping into unconsciousness on the floor.


This is probably the most ferocious and unpredictable of all "Belfryites".  It is recognisable by the mass of wiry hair where its head should be (about eight feet above the ground!)

Due to its extreme size and strength there are not many of the local creatures that will cross this ones path.  Impossible to tame or train the BIFFO is a law unto itself and has a penchant for pyrotechnics on its doorstep regardless of its own safety or popularity.

It does have some interesting habits such as rising at dawn to dance on Glastonbury Tor covered in bells and waving bits of cloth, although no-one is quite sure why it does this.

**N.B.**  It is best observed from a safe distance and left well alone.


A relative newcomer to the area the MONGO is nonetheless an integral part of local ecology.  An extremely fair complexion and almost white fur mean that it stands out quite vividly and is not difficult to spot.  It lives on pretty much anything out of a bottle and is very partial to certain 'Erbs of ethnic origin.  It has an interesting habit of screeching "MELLOOOOOOOOW" whilst mating.


This animal is rarely seen as it is usually stuck underground somewhere.


Marked by a striking red mane, (unusual for a female bird) green rubber feet and a green waxy outer skin the BABZ can often be seen roaring around the area in its mate's Land-Rover.  Until recently it was to be exclusively found at the Belfry but has of late transferred its nest to a grotty little hole the other side of Eastwater Cavern.

Living almost entirely on Cider, Consulate and Beefsteak it is an extremely dangerous bird to get on the wrong side of and, knowing no fear, is one of the few creatures known to have tackled an enraged BIFFO


As mentioned above the SMART spends much of its time with the GRASS-MARTEN.  Indeed they may often be seen together, along with their mates, in the deeper recesses of the Hunters Lodge Inn.

The SMART has an uncanny ability to pass on knowledge to the offspring of other creatures (hence 'academica') and spends much of its time doing this.  Periodically however this animal disappears for long periods, it has been hypothesised that it migrates to China during these times, although this has been the subject of fierce debate.

ROMFORD (PHILISOPHICUS - as in 'Phil is off - icus')

Sadly we are down to our last mating pair of these, and they too will soon disappear as the mid-life urge to migrate to sunnier climes takes a hold.

The male Romford is distinguishable by the luxuriant growth of silver fur, almost hair like in quality, around its face and head as well as its unparalleled talent for business ventures. Indeed they have been known to inhabit the same nesting site for years at a time, usually only vacating it when threatened by rodents such as the J-RAT!!

The female of the species, though not similar in appearance, has the same characteristic air of calm and serenity which is only disturbed by the intake of large amounts of alcohol - a pastime both male and female seem to be fairly adept at!!

In later life the Romford will suddenly decide to up roots and quite literally sail off into the sunset in search of a new life, such as property speculation or even electronics.


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


Well, I seem to have messed it up again!  In the last B.B.  I put in the names and addresses of several new members.  I got their names right but got Richard Blake's and Nicholas Cornwell-Smith's addresses and telephone numbers wrong!  These will be in the next B.B. (in the complete address list!). The worst offence of all, however, was to leave Vincent Simmonds out altogether, sorry Vince!  Vince's membership number is 1128, his complete address etc. will be in the next B.B., due out in time for Christmas.

Unlike Alfie, who used to produce B.B.’s every month, I have only managed five this year.  This one, however, is only a month after the last one. I can thus give what I know of the recent news.

The latest from Daren is that digs are still draughting, Spade Runner, at the very end, looks promising but needs large amounts of BANG before significant progress is made. Other digs in the loop passage (near Spade Runner) also look promising with healthy draughts.  The crew are having a party at Milliway's on the 2nd. of December, I'd love to go but suspect that I'm not fit enough to make it!

Mendip has been fairly quiet recently though attacks are due in Cuthbert's and in Cheddar.

Alan Thomas had a dinner party recently for those who contributed to 'The Last Adventure'.  I happened to be at the Hunter's at the time (how strange I hear you say!) and have never met so many famous cavers in one go before.  My copy of the book is now personally signed by most of the authors (could this become a collector’s item?).

This seems to be a fairly sparse amount of news!  What I need is some club reporters.  How about it. all you out there!


Editor's Report

This is the end of my year as Editor of the Belfry Bulletin.  As usual, the major problem has been the shortage of material.  Now, however, for the first time, I find myself with one or two articles in hand.  Is this a ploy, I ask?

As I mentioned above, I have only produced five B.B.’s this year.  In the old days this would have been unacceptable.  If there are any volunteers to produce more, apply here!

If, however, the club accepts the situation, I am prepared to continue for another year.  You never know, I may get articles, anecdotes and news items by the dozen!

Ted Humphreys

University of Bristol Spelaeological Society Sessional Meetings 1989/90

I received the following letter ages ago, requesting that be published in the B.B., and produce it as it came:-

I would be grateful if you could publish the following illustrated talks in your newsletter or periodical with an invitation to members/readers to attend.  The meetings will be in the UBSS Spelio Rooms at the Students Union (2nd floor), Queen’s Road, Bristol between 8pm and about 9.30pm on Wednesday evenings.

1 November 1989.  “The History of Cave Photography" by Chris Howes.

6 December 1989.  "Caving in Australasia" by Dick Willis.

14 February 1990. "The Black Holes of Mexico" by Mark Lumley.

9 May 1990.   "Recent research into Calamine mining and some by-ways in Cave Archaeology in Western Mendip” by Chris Richards

Your co-operation is much appreciated.

Yours sincerely,  Bob Williams


The LADS in Ireland 1984-1986

This article by Steve Milner and Pat Cronin was submitted to the Editor of the BB way back in 1986, unfortunately it was lost for many years but here it is at long last!

The LADS were active in Ireland digging around poking their noses here there and everywhere.  They were Pat Cronin, Trebor McDonald, Mark Lumley and Steve Milner.  Their discoveries are as follows: -

Pool an Tobar
Grid ref: Clare 4 79.9E/42.9N
(Cave of the Holy Well)
Length: 96m
Altitude: 280m

Poll an Tobar was discovered on the 17th April 1984, close to the depression of E1.  The water from E1 joins the cave briefly at the most westerly point of the cave, not to be seen again until Pollapooka 1.

The cave, with evidence of much flooding has a few flowstone formations in low canyon passage.  From within the cave five holes to the surface were found, one of which was impassable.  At the most easterly part of the cave the bottom of the well Tobar an Athar Calbhach was discovered.  Many religious articles were found as well as many coins that date between 1913 and 1949. These relics should not be disturbed. There is no evidence of the well from the surface.  SJM.

Grid ref: Clare 4 50.7E/20.4N
(Hole of the LADS)
Length: Approx 80m
Altitude: 230m

Pollnagarsuin, found by Gonzo on the 13th April 1985 is a cave similar in nature to others in the Ballynahown Townland.  It is 405m north of the Townland boundary which crosses the road at the cattle pen. The initial exploration was halted by a formidable oxbow squeeze 70m into the cave.  This was passed in 1986 by Steve after digging the Yoga Bend.  A few meters further on another yoga bend prevents further access to the cave.  SJM.

Milner's Brown Holes
Grid ref: Clare 8a 2.3W/34.5N
Length: Approx 60m
Altitude: 0m

I didn't name them, honest. They are situated north of the Green Holes and west of Pollcraveen.  The caves were found during a rising tide and the original exploration was carried out as the caves were flooding with sea water, perhaps this is where the name came from.  The interconnecting phreatic tubes are extensive and are full of marine life. More passages can be seen past boulders and the careful use of a crowbar would extend the caves.  SJM.

Grid ref: Clare 4 20.5E/9.3N
Length: Approx 50m
Altitude: 3m

This cave is longer than described in Caves of County Clare.  The total length is approx 50m; there are two holes to the surface: one after 8m and the second after 36m.  The cave trends in a NNW direction.  SJM.

Poll an Phuca (Ai)

In April 1984 our attention was drawn to this shaft.   Situated on the north side of Slieve Elva, the cave consisted of an impressive 26m shaft to a floor of boulders.  With no apparent way on and no draught anywhere, what impressed the LADS at the time was the colossal amount of water being swallowed by the boulders.  In April 1986 we decided to allow two days work at this site.  We were rewarded within half an hour by exposing a tremendous draught between the boulders.  Work continued to a depth of 4m where a streamway could be seen.  At this point we had the risk of undermining the boulder pile. This subsequently collapsed.  We had run out of time so we prepared the site for future work and will come back next year.  Pat Cronin.

We never went back, so this exiting lead still remains for future explorers.  SJM.

Curtin's Cave

Curtin's cave is in a small depression at the end of a shallow dry valley.  This hole takes the overflow water from the upper stream. The sink is situated in the garden next to Mr Curtin's cottage.  Permission was granted to the LADS to dig the hole but no work has yet been done. Access is very sensitive hence the vague location.  Pat Cronin.

The Green Holes

Divers: Pat Cronin, Steve Milner, Mark Lumley, Mike McDonald.

With the discovery of the Milner's Brown Holes, one mile north along the coast we decided to investigate the similarities between the two sites.  Though short of air there was enough time to satisfy ourselves of the relevance of one to the other.  This was the first dive for MM and ML.  Pat Cronin.


Many of the above discoveries and efforts by the LADS have been written into the UBSS Cave Notes, County Clare 1986.  This is the second supplement to the book: Caves of County Clare (Self 1981).

Boycott, A. Soc., 1986, and Wilson, L.J., Proc. Univ. Bristol Spelaeol. 17(3), 343-354.

Steve Milner.
July 1989.


Royston Henry Bennett

Having taken early retirement last year he, with Joan, sold their house in Bristol and moved to Newtonmore, in Strathspey, to be close to the hills and ski resorts they both loved.  Tragedy struck when he met with a skiing accident on 22nd June this year.

Roy had such a rich and varied life that we decided to combine our memories of him.  The result is that this account is in three parts, recollections of early activities, hang gliding and his latest climbing and skiing interests.

Kangy starts

I can't remember when I first met Roy.  I think I knew him at school.  He was a few years ahead of me, one of the big boys at Cotham Grammer School, Bristol Roy was a contemporary of Archie Milton (who was our School Captain), Dave Allen and John Mortimer.  Remarkably all three played cricket for England and even more remarkably Archie Milton got an England cap at Soccer as well.  And I would rate Roy with them.  All were fine sportsmen.

We often climbed and caved together and he consented be godfather to one of my sons.

My first caving trip with Roy was by happy chance.  I was with another party, we intended to do a quick Eastwater, we went to the Hunters and met Roy and Don Coase having a drink and looking for help to put a permanent ladder on Arête pitch in Cuthbert’s.  The result was the epic described at a later date in the BB for August 1967.

Another unforgettable experience shared with Roy was in Eastwater.  We had bottomed Primrose Pot and Mo Marriott was stuck in the steep tight Primrose Path.  Roy's technical abilities were demonstrated. He flashed up and down the constriction as if it wasn't there.  He was calm, he invented, he placed knobbly dogs and foot loops, all the time keeping up a steady sensible stream of encouraging commentary.  (Mo made it in the end by stripping to his skin.)


Roy joined the Club in 1949.  He was not a committee man, nor indeed was he a man who wrote much.  But when he was persuaded to do a job he did it conscientiously.  Within the Club he held the positions of Caving Secretary, Climbing Secretary, was a member of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee and was a Club Trustee.  He was also a MRO Warden for many years.  The only political controversy that he was ever involved with was the expansion of the Cuthbert's Leader system to members of other clubs at a Club AGM in 1967. Despite strong opposition the motion was eventually carried and has remained ever since.  Besides St. Cuthbert's, Roy knew Mendip intimately.  Having been a member of the Club for over 40 years he was one of the few who has remained consistently active during that period of time. He was caving before joining the BEC and I remember he told me that his first cave was Goatchurch, after cycling out from Bristol, and it took him three trips before finding the way to the bottom!


One of Roy's outstanding contributions to an early BEC Dinner was a sketch entitled 'Through the Stalagtite Barrier' - or something; the story varies in detail because those who were there had taken the precaution of topping up at The Hatchet under the impression that there would be no drinking licence whereas in fact there was.  Using his chemical experience (he was an Associate of the Royal Institute of Chemistry) he experimented to find a way of producing a civilised bang. One that could be used in the Whiteladies Restaurant with its Cinema in Bristol.  The intrepid explorers having mimed a tortuous way through a make believe cave reached the make believe stal which barred their path.  The climax of the show arrived as the explosive device was brought up to blast the barrier.  The resulting B-A-N-G was not make believe, dimmed the lights, halted the Dinner and emptied the adjoining Cinema.  "The management were not very keen on having us back!"

His career as a motor cyclist was legendary.  In the late forties he wore a sort of rubberised yellow overall and was known as the Yellow Peril.  Alfie remembers being given a lift back to Bristol by Roy after one weekend on Mendip.  The next Thursday at the Waggon and Horses Alfie was asked how he got on.  “Well” said Alfie, “We carne off twice in Burrington”.  “Ah”, said the inquirer, “That would be at the top two bends, he always comes off there!”  And in the days before the Wells road was tidied up and when the BEC would compete to reduce the Belfry to Bristol time, a notorious curve was known as "Bennett's Bend" because Roy went straight through the Whitchurch sign, taking it with him. He never seemed to hurt himself (He once broke his arm - Joan).


In 1964 a trip into Cuthbert's was arranged to sort out what was known of the Long Chamber area. Quite a lot of work had been carried out already.  Having reached Long Chamber to continue upwards to look at the newly discovered Chandelier Passage the party paused for a few moments.  Someone said "Where are we?"  "Annexe Chamber" said Wig.  "No, it's Long Chamber" said Roy.  Wig retorted, "John Cornwell assures me that this is Annexe Chamber". "Well he's wrong" said Roy, "It's Long Chamber.  I ought to know, I found it!"  Roy was one of the few who knew St. Cuthbert's intimately and was involved in all its important exploration phases since the opening of the cave.  He was the prime mover to restart the digging at the cliff face above the Old Entrance in 1952 and when Coase joined the diggers with his wealth of experience, success was eventually met.  Roy was the first to descend the Entrance Rift in 1953.  In conversation with him later Roy reminisced on the day that the exploration took them up into Boulder Chamber and Railway Tunnel where they first saw The Cascade.  "It was an incredible sight.  Nothing like this had ever been found on Mendip before." He initially opened up Long Chamber area; jointly organised the 1967 Sump I digging weekend; dug regularly at the Dining Room Dig; opened up Mud Ball Dig and discovered the Long Chamber Extension area with John Attwood in 1962.  He stirred up interest to dig Sump I in 1969 when it effectively dried up and was on the party that finally broke through into St. Cuthbert's II.  For many months through 1970 and 1971 he and the Tuesday Night Digging Team looked at every nook and cranny to find a way around Sump II.  No way-on was found and long trips were made attacking Sump II by building a series of dams and using the Bennett bailing device.  Progress was slow and interest eventually waned.


On one occasion, he was showing me the newly entered Cuthbert's Two.  There had been one or two incidents and we were very anxious not to be trapped.  The stream was dammed, we went rapidly through the drying sump and I peered earnestly at sump two and looked about while Roy kept a watch on the 'dry' sump one.  As I arrived back we dived into the narrow crawl. We both heard the rumble of water on the move and went like scalded cats racing up the passage and flinging ourselves over the Gour Passage dam.  Such was the tension that once safe we became hysterical with laughter as we realised that our panic stricken flight was caused by the echoing noise of our bodies scraping over wet gravel.


Digging was one of Roy's pastimes.  It was always taken very seriously.  Areas where few people had looked was always the sites he chose. The Mouton Brook near Chepstow was one particularly interesting series of small cave entrances that were thoroughly investigated and later the resurgence at the foot of Piercefield Cliffs north of Chepstow.  He dug here for several months mainly with Phil Kingston fully convinced of the existence of a tidal cave lying beyond the statagmite choke that he was blasting. Unknown to him the Royal Forest of Dean cavers had also spotted the site and dug in a lower passage and broke into what is now Otter Hole.  Grievances overcome Roy joined the RFD cavers and jointly explored the system with them.

During the mid-1960's and 1970's he caved in the Raucherkarhohle ( Austria) and in Co. Mayo and Co. Clare in the Republic of Ireland.  When visiting Ireland he read Coleman's Caves of Ireland and came to the conclusion that the Aille River sink near Westport. Co. Mayo had to be a good bet to look at. Though unknown to us (Roy, Joan and the writer) the Craven PC had looked at the site earlier that year but were stopped by flooding.  On the occasion of our visit over 2,000 ft. of very enjoyable and very wet passages were explored and surveyed.

The Yorkshire pots always held a great attraction to him and many of the classic trips were done including bottoming the GG main shaft by ladder in 1966.  South Wales too was regularly visited and on a trip from Top Entrance of OFD to OFDIII his sense of humour showed itself.  I was crossing the first section of the Traverses which requires edging oneself along one wall over an 80 ft. drop just before the long straddling rift.  Finger-tip holds were the order of the day.  There was silence as I traversed towards Bucket Tilbury, the first man across, when Roy shouted "Don't bite your fingernails now Wig, you'll fall off!"  After the Traverses, is the only squeeze in this area of the cave, and again his fruity comment was, "In a cave of this size this damn thing ought not to be here!"


The 1970 BEC Balague expedition was to a little caved area of the Ariege in France Roy's report covers the action but misses his determination and drive to do a good job.

The climax of the trip was laddering a 200-odd metre shaft.  French teams had used a powered winch, it was at the end of the ladder era and we did the pitch with only a pulley powered safety rope.  Roy and several others bottomed the shaft by ladder, explored, and later learnt that we had gone further than previous parties.

Roy loved rock climbing and instigated a Thursday evening meet in the Avon Gorge before we went to the Wagon and Horses to shout noisily to the caving crews about the weekend.  We climbed what we could there, went to North Wales as often as we could and went to places like the Dewerstone.  I have a cine film of Roy taken there which shows his rapid but sure technique well.  He would comment endlessly on the task.  It was just Roy thinking aloud and as difficulties increased the more active he got and the faster he chattered.

On one climbing holiday in the Austrian Alps, Roy was equipped with the latest technology, a pair of massively ferocious front pointed crampons.  He fitted them at the start of a coulour and led out and diagonally up.  He failed to find a good stance and so Joan followed him up, still no suitable stance so Ann moved on up after Joan.  I fed out the rope seeing Roy getting higher and almost across the slope and still no stance.  We had to do something.  Everyone got their axes in while I moved out onto the slope to make more rope available. Then I slipped slightly and tugged Ann off.  Ann tugged Joan off and Joan tugged Roy off.  I had enough time to get my axe in and whipped the rope round it as first Roy then Joan then Ann shot past me down the steepening snow.  Mercifully they were stopped.  The only damage was to Roy who gashed his calf with the front point of a crampon. He said nothing.  Later, one winter in Wales I noticed that Roy had sawn off the front points.

Roy did the British mountaineering classics in his own time.  He eventually did the Cuillin Ridge with Alan Bonner and while he rated it highly he reckoned that he had a harder time on the Fourteen Welsh Three Thousands.  Alan said about the traverse that they had attempted it in 1980 from the Slicachan end but had to abandon after Alan found he had left his boots behind!  All went well at Whitsun 1982.  They bivouacked in Coire na Banachdich and Ivy and Joan collected their gear later. At five thirty in the morning they joined a queue at the Tearlach Dubh Gap but enjoyed a "nice sunny day". The ridge is sharp and as they came to a wider flatter bit Alan remembers Roy bursting out with "Bloody Hell! That’s the first time today that I could have strolled along with my hands in my pockets and not fallen three thousand feet if I'd slipped!"

John Hunt gives this account of Roy's Hang Gliding days:-

During the BEC dinner of 1975 at the Blue School, Wells, Roy and myself started to talk to Pete Sutton and Derek Targett.  As my main interest was caving and Pete and Derek were climbers I had not met them before. However they were both now very interested in the very new sport of Hang Gliding.  So it was that on the Sunday, Roy, Joan and myself set off to see this sport in action.  Following a false start, in which we set off for Mere in Somerset instead of Mere, Wiltshire, we eventually arrived.

Pete and Derek were already there with a glider belonging to a syndicate of BEC members.  This machine had been built at the Belfry and in various members’ homes.  Jenny Sandicott and Graham Phippen were also present.  One or two people could actually soar back and forth along the ridge and I believe that there were even a few top landings.  Pete and Derek were not quite up to this standard yet but demonstrated firstly the art of chain smoking, followed by the take-off technique and landing.

Roy was keen to have a go and so an area was chosen for his initiation into the commitment of aviation.  No matter how hard he ran or how much he pushed the result was always a total inability to leave the ground.  After some 3 to 4 attempts, each of which ended in a dive headlong into the ground, Derek decided to try from the same spot.  His success was no greater.  Looking back on that day with hindsight it is obvious that it was a totally unsuitable area, being very shallow in slope and right behind tall trees. Roy and myself started to attend meetings of the Avon Hang Gliding Club and shortly after this Roy bought a 17 ft. Argus Hang Glider.  I remember many Saturdays and Sundays spent helping and teaching Roy to fly at such places as Hinton, Cam Long Down, Dundry and Mere.  I had previously bought into a syndicate of 12 and had semi taught myself to fly.

This would have been early 1976.

Although I don't remember all the dates there many fragmented memories of days spent flying with Roy.

A Friday afternoon on the Garth, near Cardiff, Roy was a little light for the Argus and flew twice as far as everyone else that afternoon.  That meant he had to walk twice as far to get back to the top of the hill.  He also ended up perilously close to a row of high trees on several occasions.  Many hours were spent discussing the weather conditions early on weekend mornings before deciding the best place to go.  There were many long days spent flying the Malverns and trips to Hatterall Hill in the Black Mountains.

Roy later sold the Argus and progressed to a McBroom Lynx.  He then proceeded to sit on top of everyone else at Bossington and North Hill.  On this he taught himself to fly prone and progressed to longer flights and thermal flying.

Roy always wanted to climb bigger hills and fly and enthusiasm this led him to climb Skiddaw.

Joan reckoned that one of the highlights of Roy's hang gliding days was when he launched himself off the top of Skiddaw.  Roy saw the possibilities of hang gliding as a means of extending his mountaineering passion.  He had the idea of carrying his machine to the top of a mountain and proceeding across country in a series of climbs and glides.  No one else was much interested in that much effort but he had the loyal support of his best friend Joan.  They got permissions from the local farmers and motored round the back of Skiddaw on a beautiful clear still day.  Roy carried seventy pounds of hang glider and Joan followed up with the 'bits and pieces'.  It might have been possible to ridge soar but Roy wasn't very experienced at that.  He assembled the machine, chattering more and more rapidly, then gulped, "It's a long way" and at four o'clock launched himself into the unknown.  Amazingly he flew down in about ten minutes and like a true pioneer was instantly surrounded by small boys who seemed to appear from nowhere.

Others were not so keen to join these types of adventures due to the enormous exertion required and I think this probably led to Roy drifting away from the becoming a little disenchanted and drifting away from the sport and back to climbing.

I believe that a second factor was the very nature of hang gliding is such that decisions on the correct site are left until the last minute.  Roy was very methodical and liked to have all details sorted out well in advance in his other interests.  In caving, trips were always planned carefully days before, equipment checked and ready.  Hang gliding also involves many hours of wasted time and this probably was also a deciding factor.

One of the last places that I flew with Roy was from the hill overlooking Shute Shelve.  Roy and myself were both Sites officers for the Avon Hang Gliding Club and as such spent a lot of time looking for new sites.  Roy thought that this would make an excellent new South West site and cleared permission from the landowner at the bottom for a landing field.  So we set out one weekday evening and climbed to the top of the hill along the Public Footpath which led to the take off area. Conditions were not good but we both flew down making several beats of the ridge as we went.

As we derigged we both agreed that the site had some limited potential and were quite pleased.  Then the "commoners chairman" arrived. He taught us language that even Roy hadn't heard before and insisted that we would adversely effect his Riding business.  We never did return there again, mainly because we discovered that this gent had stood trial for attempted manslaughter on a past trespasser.

I do remember well the last time that Roy flew. Strictly speaking it was not hang gliding but Microlight flying.  Roy had long since sold all his equipment and I rang him and asked if he would like to try my Trike.  We went to a small strip near Shepton Mallet and after a few initial problems taxiing the Trike, due to his short legs not reaching the steering properly, he took off.  Roy flew around for some 20 minutes and came in executing a hard landing which damaged one wheel.  I don't suppose he was that impressed because that was his one dalliance with the sport.

I suppose that hang gliding started with long climbs up hills for often short ground skimming flights down.  It was almost as much a sport of walking as flying.  When it lost the walking element something was lost for Roy.  The latest sport of Parapente flying has, for the moment, regained that walking element without the encumbrance of 75 lbs.  I suspect that this would have been another sport that would have appealed to Roy and believe that he even possibly tried it. I shall always remember Roy as a great sport who was always willing to try something new.  (Yes, Roy did a course - Joan).

Paul Newman (Avon M.C.) remembers Roy as one of the great characters of the Avon Mountaineering Club.  He first appeared in the club in September 1982. For several club members, their first memory of the famous van, of Joan, and of the two dogs, comes from Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, in May 1982.  The van and its occupants clearly made a lasting impression on all concerned.  And it started to appear regularly at club meets, always parked for the night in some favoured spot a little way away, where the dogs could not upset the campsite; but always re-appearing next morning to take a larger-than-life part in the weekend's activities.

Roy was keen.  By the end of a year he had already been on several club trips to Wasdale, Tremadog, Cwm Cowarch, Snowdonia, Cornwall, and other climbing haunts.  One of his most regular climbing partners, Pete Hudd, recalls;

'It would appear that Roy and myself rapidly assumed the reputation of arriving back after dark, sometimes as a result of some minor epic.  One such incident was during the Lake District meet of August 1984, when we only just made it back to the campsite before midnight, after under-estimating the time required to complete a route on Pillar Rock.'

A very famous escapade occurred in the Avon Gorge on a drab autumn evening in October 1986.  Roy and myself had been so-called "pioneering" on the Giant's Cave Buttress area.  It had already got dark (that was not unusual for Roy and myself) and it was one of those cold, damp autumn evenings.  We eventually found ourselves abseiling off from the cave, but as luck would have it the ropes would not pull through.

We decided to drive up to the top of the Gorge and abseil over.  Darkness was well and truly upon us, but as we neared the Observatory lookout a plan evolved.  We would climb up the scaffolding that was temporarily erected around the Observatory, climb down the other side, and enter the tunnel that lead to the cave lookout.  Roy was in his element, groping his way along the dark and meandering passage (we had no torches).  All seemed to go well; the ropes were retrieved, and we made our way back up the tunnel towards the confines of the Observatory.

However, unbeknown to us, we had been spotted climbing over the scaffolding by the tollgate keeper on the bridge.  Fearing the worst, he immediately contacted the police.  Just as we were about to climb back up the scaffolding on the inside, the squad car arrived, his blue flashing light working overtime.  Roy and I crouched low on the scaffolding as they shone their torches all around, the beam just missing us on each occasion.

Not content with this, the two policemen started to make a closer inspection, and it would have been only a matter of time before we were seen.  Fearing this would raise undue suspicion, we gave ourselves up and climbed down the other side.

It would be an understatement to say that the two officers concerned were not amused.  We eventually convinced them of our story (it was too hideous not to be true) but this did not save us from a severe telling-off, of which I think Roy took the brunt, purely from the fact that he was the first to climb down and reach the waiting policemen.  Not too often was Roy lost for words, but on this occasion he reminded me of a naughty schoolboy being told to stand in the corner.  Apart from recording our names and addresses we were free to go.

 Another much-loved side of Roy's character was that he could talk.  But not, it seems, in a way that annoyed people Ross Barber put it like this;

One characteristic of Roy's was that he talked, particularly in the mountains.  I talked too; I've got my ideas and notice things here and there, but as a talker Roy left me way behind.  He talked about everything; the view, the weather, trends in skiing, climbing, politics, and most characteristically about the latest modification he had made to his equipment.  I could hold my own on most of these, but on equipment he was out on his own.  When he got launched into the latest strap adaptation my role was reduced to the occasional grunt of agreement. This often suited me well because I used to wonder where he found all the energy to walk, talk and think about all these things at the same time.  I was generally quite happy to be able to concentrate on keeping up.  I remember one occasion when we were nearly benighted on the top of the Cairngorm plateau at the end of a twelve-hour day and Roy still had the energy to think about the modifications he was going to make to his bindings next time.  I was getting really worried and didn't know if there was going to be a next time for either of us.

The list of places he visited around the British Isles with the club is considerable.  The Lake District and North Wales figure prominently. So do the "local" crags of the Wye valley, and he was frequently to be seen at sea-cliff venues such as Cornwall, Baggy Point, the Gower, and Anglesey.

Another passion of Roy's, equal if not greater than his climbing, was ski mountaineering.  Of course he loved the wilds, and cross-country skiing gave him access to wonderful places in marvellous winter conditions. In common with some of his closest friends he shared a distaste for the noisier elements in mountaineering. Ross said;

Only occasionally would we join the brightly dressed crowds on the chairlift and the piste; we preferred the secluded valleys beyond the (Cairngorm) plateau or above Glen Einich. We would spend hours plodding uphill, chatting away ( Roy particularly) for the possible reward of a short downhill run.  From the outside it is difficult to understand the attractions of these days. For each hour of uphill trudging we probably enjoyed a mere five minutes or so of downhill running, and sometimes in the most dismal conditions.  Yet I never felt discontent at the end of the day.

Snow forecasting was one of Roy's strengths. From an old copy of "Slessor", and from personal examination, he had acquired a very extensive knowledge of which Cairngorm slopes had snow in various weather conditions.  Over time I'd learnt to trust his judgement and we'd often set out across most unpromising acres of heather and bog, carrying skis, to find snow high up more or less where he had said it would be, and more or less in the condition he had anticipated.  I enjoyed many fine slopes on Braeriach, Carn Ban Mor, and Craig Mheagaidh which I would never have found without his knowledge.

Another feature of ski mountaineering with Roy was the dogs.  He was always keen to take one or both of them and, indeed, they are very handsome animals, Norwegian sheepdogs, and look well in the hills.  I wasn't always so keen though; there could be disadvantages. The main drawback was that one or the other of them would almost invariably disappear on the scent of deer, or hares, or practically anything on four legs.  So, in calculating time and distance, you could allow twenty minutes or half an hour's rest while Roy rushed about searching for them.  On occasions I must admit that I was grateful to the dogs for the enforced pause, for Roy, though small, was very energetic, and at the end of a long day I was quite happy to have stored up some remnant of energy to be able to keep up with him.

Finally, in this brief account of some of the characteristics for which Roy was known in the club, there is his interest in things technical.

I suspect that my indifference to the possibilities of the latest gadgetry must have irritated Roy.  To his more active imagination it was a niggling irritant to be using a strap or a binding which could be replaced by a more efficient one.  So, underlying our companionship lay a kind of subdued competition in which my objective was to display the practical usefulness of tried traditional equipment and techniques, in resistance to the pressure applied by Roy upon me to update.

Towards the end of 1988 Roy and Joan moved from Bristol to Newtonmore, among the Scottish Highlands that they both loved so much.  It was by no means the end of their association with the Avon Mountaineering Club. Several people have received a warm welcome at their new house, and in February 1989 a large party stayed close by at Alvie House for a week of walking, climbing and skiing.  By a lucky chance this week produced the first real snow of the winter and everyone had a fine old time.  Roy and Joan joined in the activities with their own inimitable enthusiasm.

Joan wrote;

June 22nd may seem an odd time to be involved in skiing in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, Roy had managed some ski-mountaineering each month since October, and it is a custom for Scottish skiers to try to find some snow to ski on at the solstice.  Although the- winter had not been good for the downhill skiing, it produced some good spring snow for late skiing (spring snow is snow which has melted, and refrozen into a granular construction.)

Roy had done most of his late skiing on wraithes of snow on convex slopes, on fairly narrow, not too steep gullies, like the Red Burn on Ben Nevis.  The snow on Braeriach was in the form of patches high up on the steep Coire slopes.  Roy was skiing down one of these patches, and his tracks showed he had negotiated most of the slope, when he lost control, and was not able to recover before he slid into the rocks at the bottom of the slope.

Roy was a man who knew where the limits were better than most and lived right up to them.  He was a joy to be with.  It was a privilege to have shared life with Roy and he will be greatly missed by many friends.  To Joan we offer our continued friendship and love.


This is a list of items that Roy had printed in the BB or elsewhere for the BEC.

In the BB (sole author)

1962 (Dec)        Weekend in North Wales 16(178)14-16
1963 (Nov)         Climbing 18(189)2-3
1964 (Apr)         Easter in Cornwall 18(194)5-6
1964 (Aug)        Climbing News 18(198)8-9
1965 (Oct)         On crossing the Gour Hall Fault 19(212)11
1966 (Nov)         Four to Gaping Gill 20(225)8-9
1968 (May)        Easter - caving in S. Wales 22(242)64
1968 (Dec)        Synthetic Ropes 22(249)184-187
1969 (Jun)         Cavers Bookshelf [Caves of NW Clare] 25(255)82-83
1969 (Dec)        Ireland 1969 23(261)211-213
1969 (Dec)        The discovery of St. Cuthbert's 2. 23(261)224-227
1970 (Jul)          Swinsto/Kingsdale 24(275)82
1974 (Dec)        Otter Hole - a note 28(326)253-254
1977 (Aug)        Some peaks in the north-west highlands 31(352)70-72
1981 (May)        Static in the Cairngorms 35(397)2

In the BB (joint Author)

1963 (Dec)        & J.A. Eatough. Report on a new discovery in Cuthbert's 16(178)11-13
1965 (Dec)        et al. Skiing on Blackdown 17(190)25-26
1967 (Jul)          & J. Bennett & D.J. Irwin. Austria, 1965 19(214)13-28
1962 (Dec)        & D.J. Irwin. Ireland - June 1967 [ Aille River Cave] 21(232)44-52

BEC Caving Reports

Nos. 2, 7, 13F and 13G et al.  All on St. Cuthbert's Swallet
No. 14 Balague '70


A.G.M. Minutes 1988

Those Present :-

P. Cronin,  M. McDonald,  Snablet,  Bob Cork, Steve Milner, M. Lumley, Mr Nigel, C. Smart, B. Hill, A. Jarratt,  B. Wilton, C. Dooley,  D. Turner,  B. Workman, Laurence,  Lavinia , J. Watson,  A. Knutsen, A. Thomas,  A. Sparrow,  S. Mendes,  N. Gymer,   J. Smart,   S. McManus,  N. Sprang,   T. Humphreys,   H. Bennett, Bassett, Sarah, D. Bradshaw, R. Stephens, B. Luipen, T. Hughes, Jingles, S. Lain, B. Williams, J. Dukes, J. Turner, M. Grass, G. Grass.

Election of Chairman

D. Turner was asked to take the chair.

Proposed Bob Cork
Seconded M. Lumley
Carried Unan.

Appointment of Tellers :-

Alan Thomas, Steve Buri and Jane Russel were appointed.

Apoloqies for Absence :-

C. Batstone, Brian Prewer, R. Bennett , Mongo, Wormhole, K. Smart, P. Romford, R. Brown, R. Clarke, A. Butcher, J. Bennett, B. Tilbury, A. Boycott, A. Tilbury,

Matters Arising from Minutes of 1987 A.G.M.

(i)                  It was agreed that a copy of the mining log should be made.

(ii)                Martin Grass has obtained a new lock for St. Cuthbert's and will fit it in the near future. The Caving Sec. was asked to publish a list of leaders in the B.B. and investigate the necessity for third party insurance for leaders.

(iii)               The new secretary was asked to write to Tim Gould, expressing to him the concerns of the meeting reference the monies owed to the club.

1. Secretary's Report

This was presented to the meeting and accepted.

Proposed N. Taylor
Seconded S. McManus
Carried Unan.

2. Treasurer's Report

Report published in B.B. and was taken as read.

2.1 A discussion arising from the treasurer's report brought the following motions : -

The new committee to investigate methods of rationalising electricity usage.

Proposed T. Hughes
Seconded Chris Smart
Carried Unan.

New committee to investigate losses on telephone.

Proposed S. McManus
Seconded N. Taylor
Carried Unan.

Acceptance of the report was proposed by D. Bradshaw, seconded by M. Grass and carried with a vote of thanks, unan.

3. Auditor's Report

Pre-published and taken as read.


Proposed D. Bradshaw
Seconded A. Jarratt
Carried Unan.

4. Caving Secretary's Report.

Read to meeting.

Acceptance with a vote of thanks was proposed by A. Jarratt, seconded by N. Taylor and carried unan.

4.1 A vote of thanks was also proposed to Mike McDonald for his work in cleaning up St. Cuthbert's

Carried Unan.

5. Hut Warden's Report ;-

Pre-published in B.B. and taken as read.


Proposed A. Jarratt
Seconded N. Taylor
Carried Unan.

6. Tacklemaster's Report ;-

Published and taken as read.

6.1 A vote of thanks was proposed to Tom Chapman for his efforts during the tacklemaster's absence.

6.2 A. Sparrow was asked to return the club’s battery charger.


Proposed D. Bradshaw
Seconded M. Lumley
Carried Unan.

7. Hon. Editor's Report :-

Published and taken as read. Acceptance with vote of thanks

Proposed T. Hughes
Seconded S. McManus
Carried Unan.

8. Hut Enqineer's Report :-

Dany pretended to read his report to the meeting, but was rudely interrupted by M. Grass who remarked on his Bristol accent.  This caused a chuckle coming from a man who does voice-overs for 'Eastenders'.  When Dany regained his composure he went on to explain the ever growing list of jobs to be done and his plans for the drying room and shower benches.  He also explained that these would be his last projects as he was not standing for re-election and he wished his successor 'The best of luck'.

Acceptance with a vote of thanks was proposed by B.Cork. seconded by S.McManus and carried unan.

9. Librarian's Report

The librarian gave a brief resume on the state of the library.  The following motion was tabled: -

The last signatory in the loan book shall be responsible for the said book until it is returned and signed in.

Proposed N. Taylor
Seconded C. Smart
Carried Unan.

Acceptance of report was proposed by D. Bradshaw, seconded by S. Milner and carried unan.

10. Membership Secretary's Report :-

The new secretary was asked to investigate 'Direct Debit' as a method of payment of subscriptions.

Proposed N. Taylor
Seconded S. Milner
Voting: For - 39. Against 2. Motion Carried

It was suggested that other clubs be advised of non-members so that such persons do not receive benefits afforded to club members.

11. I.D.M.F. Report ;-

The committee had nothing to report.

12. Results of Ballot for Committee ;-

The tellers returned the results as follows, in order of votes cast;-



A. Jarratt

T. Humphreys

M. Lumley

M. McDonald

S. Milner

S. McManus

Votes Cast










D. Turner

P. McNab

J. Watson

P. Romford

N. Sprang  

R. Stevens

Votes Cast








Therefore Messr's Jarratt, Humphreys, Lumley, McDonald, Milner, McManus, Turner, McNab and Watson were duly elected to the committee.

13. Election of Committee Posts ;-













Caving Sec.

Hut Warden

Hut Engineer

Membership Sec.

Hon. Editor


M. McDonald

S, Milner

M. Lumley

P. McNab

A. Jarratt

J. Watson

T. Humphreys

S. McManus

M. Lumley

A. Jarratt

A. Jarratt

P. Cronnin

M. Grass

L. Smith

A. Jarratt

L. Smith

P. Cronnin

P. Cronnin

P. Cronnin

A. Jarratt

D. Bradshaw

N. Sprang

S. McManus

T. Hughes









Committee Member – D. Turner

*    There were two nominations for the post of Membership Sec.









John Watson

Dave Turner

L. Smith

Rob Harper

N. Sprang

A. Turner



ABS. 3

Therefore John Watson was elected.

13.1 The meeting instructed the new committee to co-opt N. Sprang at their first meeting.

14. Appointment of Hon Auditor ;-

Mr. B. Wilton was proposed as Hon Auditor.

Proposed N. Taylor
Seconded D. Bradshaw
Carried Unan.

15. Club Trustees

Due to the resignation of Roy Bennett as a trustee of the club, Barry Wilton was asked to take up the position.

Proposed Bob Cork
Seconded N. Taylor
Carried Unan.

A vote of thanks was recorded to Roy Bennett for his dedication and work on behalf of the club over many years.

16. Life Membership

A long discussion took place on the subject, from which the following motion was put to the floor: -

The new committee be asked to formulate a constitutional amendment enabling absent members to gain 'overseas life membership’.

Proposed T.Hughes
Seconded Chris Smart
Voting  For - 11, Against - 4, ABS. – 10.  Motion Carried.

17. Members Resolutions.

Committee Resolution to the A.G.M.

That St. Cuthbert's Swallet may not be used by any body for the purpose of any activities from which there may be any direct or indirect financial or material gain, without the written permission of the committee; who will not normally grant such permissions except in exceptional circumstances where due consideration has been given to any legal implications associated with the granting of such permissions.

Proposed          Bob Cork (Hon. Sec. for the committee)
Seconded          T.Hughes
Voting   For - 20, Against - 2, Motion Carried

18. A.O.B.

18.1 St. Cuthbert's Report ;-

D. Turner read D. Irwin's report to the meeting.  D. Turner was asked to progress the report as quickly as possible.

18.2 Commercial Caving ;-

P. Cronin made his views on the subject clear to the meeting, pointing out the effects such activities may have on the club and caving in general.  A. Sparrow replied, explaining the difference between commercial caving and professional caving.  He also advised the meeting that the problems were particular to Goatchurch and Swildon's hole.

18.3 Appointment of Librarian: -

T. Jarratt was asked to continue in the position, he agreed.

Proposed S.McManus
Seconded B.Cork
Carried Unan.

18.4 Cave Keys ;-

M. Lumley brought to the notice of the meeting the fact that cave keys controlled by the club may be used for commercial purposes.  Further discussion on the matter suggested that such use would be frowned upon should it occur.

There being no other business the chairman closed the meeting at 14.30 hours.


Anecdote from Bassett

While staying at Awatiro, the Auckland Speleological Group hut at Waitomo, for a search and rescue seminar last weekend, I heard the following tale:

A member of the Cerberus was visiting New Zealand, and he spent a week down at Waitomo doing a spot of caving. He stayed with A.S.G. at Waitomo, which is an old farmhouse occupying a windswept spot right on the top of the Waitomo limestone block.  There are magnificent views from the hut, particularly to the south, where the volcanoes of Tongariro are visible on clear days, and to the east, where the village of Waitomo nestles in the valley far below.

Now Kiwi tramping huts often have a loo with a view, and Awatiro is no exception.  A large ceramic pipe is set in concrete above a deep-dug pit, and this is topped off with standard loo-seat and cover.  A brightly-painted, wooden sentry-box affair, open to a somewhat lesser view to the north, but thus sheltering the user from prevailing winds and frequent rain, completes this dunny.

The Cerberus bod arrived at the hut in the dark, wind howling bitterly across the open plateau, and rain driving horizontally.  Very soon he asked directions for the toilet:

"Just follow that little path there - you can't miss it."

A few minutes later he returned. soaked and dishevelled, and proclaimed: -

"I'd heard you Kiwi cavers were tough, but that bog some takes beating."

The locals were a little puzzled by the remark, but thought little of it except, perhaps, to take him for another whingeing porn - until the morning, that is.  In the calm after the storm, morning light revealed all. At the edge of the paddock a ceramic pipe emerged from a concrete plinth in the grass.  The strong winds had ripped the sentry-box from its mountings and had blown it, along with the seat and cover, away down the hill.  Hard Kiwi cavers indeed!


Caving Songs

I received the following plea from Nick (see Editorial)

Oldland Common

I am interested in hearing from any member who has details or copies of caving songs.  The aim is to collect together as many as possible from all over the country to form the basis of a national caving song collection. Eventually I hope to be able to arrange for them to be published with the profits going back into caving in some way, and not for personal gain.  To date I have approximately 170 songs and thanks must go to those who have helped me so far.  I am looking for any song that concerns caving, cavers, caves or clubs. If anyone has details, please contact me either at home, The Hunters or The Belfry. Thanks.

Nick Cornwell-Smith


BEC Accounts for the Year Ending 31-08-89.

This year has been fairly quiet from a financial point of view. All of the financial priorities for 1988/9 have been completed. The only major expenditure has been the installation of the dehumidifier and the purchase of a two more library units. The IDMF is growing steadily and the Cuthbert’s Report Pre-sales account is quite healthy.

Notes on Expenditure.

General Account.

1)       The Belfry Bulletin printing, postage and stationary costs have been much the same as last year, with five issues being produced in this financial year.

2)       The BCRA insurance was much the same as the previous year.  The Belfry insurance was twice as much; this was due to the payment of an outstanding bill for the 1987/8 year.

3)       Very little has been spent of caving equipment this year!

4)       The telephone charges are absolutely correct; it is very expensive to rent a payphone.  The returns are also correct, so no one is fiddling the machine.  In view of the high costs of renting this essential piece of equipment the committee are currently costing the purchase of a coin operated telephone.

Sales Account.

5)       The loss is due to the purchase of a load of stickers and metal badges.  They should last for a year or two, so we can recoup the costs over this period.

Belfry Account.

6)       The electricity has been overpaid this year, this has been going on since late 87 and it has at last been rectified.  We are now £229 in credit.

7)       The insurance was high this year, see note 2 above.

8)       The repairs and improvements this year include the fitting of the dehumidifier (£438) in the drying room and tidying of the changing room.  The Belfry has been painted and some work has been done to the car park.

9)       Two library units have been purchased; the library is now nearly complete.

10)   The Belfry account has broken even this year, any deficit can be accounted for in the credit with the Electricity Board.

Notes on Income.

General Account.

1)       The subscriptions have been paid a little more promptly this year.  The higher income is due to the late payment of the subs of 26 individuals (£312) from the 1987/8 year!  The total income due to subscriptions is £2251 compared with £1678 from the previous year.  Please pay your subs as soon as possible in October 1989.

2)       Donations are higher this year.  The greatest part of this sum is from anonymous individuals staying at the Belfry.

Belfry Account.

3)       The income from the bednights this year is £1890 from 48 hutsheets.  The 4 hutsheets from August 1989 had not been submitted in time for the close of accounts. Overall the income would be up on last years' and the account would be in credit.

4)       The income from the Cuthbert’s Fees was £9.25. Did only 31 people go down St Cuthbert’s this year?  Come on you leaders, get your money heads on!

General Savings Fund.

This fund now stands at £859.

Ian Dear Memorial Fund.

As there was no income from the 1987/8 year, £200 was added to the account in 1988/9 and the balance now stands at £538.  No requests for grants were received this year.

St Cuthbert’s Report Pre-Sales Account.

There has been a little injection into this account over the year and the balance is currently £828.  If the club is to fund the entire cost of the publication then a considerable input into this account has to be made before the book goes to print.  The club may need to borrow a sum of money to bring the project to fruition.


I feel that the financial priorities for the coming year are: -

The publication of the St Cuthbert’s Report.

The replacement of old worn-out caving tackle.

Further improvements to the BEC library.

Further improvements to the car park.

A long term project to be considered is the possible installation of central heating and instant showers, this will be expensive and a proper evaluation of this should be made.

The expenditure of the club has now exceeded the income for two years running and it may be time to consider either increasing the subs or the hut fees for 1990/1.  Certainly, if we are to continue with the hut improvements and maintain the quality and quantity of the BB we would need to increase the income.  This should be discussed at the AGM (7/10/89).

So long as there is no major expenditure in 1989/90 the BEC accounts should tick over nicely for the year. There will be extra income from the Wessex Challenge but this cannot be counted upon. The publication of the St Cuthbert’s Report is a special case and an alternative method of funding is required.

The BEC accounts are now whoever it may be.  I am live in Adelaide. So, to you are in my part of the ready to hand over to my successor, resigning my post as I am going to all you BEC who get everywhere, if world, pop in and say hello.

Steve Milner. 12-09-89.

BEC Accounts for the Year Ending 31-08-89.





General (Current) Account - INCOME












Gain from Dinner/AGM



Gain from Wessex Challenge






Building Society Interest









General (Current) Account - EXPENDITURE






BB Printing



BB Stationery and Postage



Public Liability Insurance



BCRA Insurance



Belfry Insurance (50%)



Rates – General & Water (50%)



Tackle, Cave Keys, Permits (CCC) Purchased



Less Tackle Fees & CCC Permits Sold



Other Subscriptions and Donations



IDMF Transfer



Carbide Licence



Library Purchases



Misc Postage and Stationery



Telephone Charges



Less receipts






Net Sales Loss/(Profit)



Transfer to Cuthbert’s Account



Net Belfry Account Loss/(Profit)


















General (Savings) Account – Nationwide Building Society.






Opening Balance



Interest                                                                                     (Approx.)



Closing Balance.









Sales Account
















Sweat & T-Shirts





Badges & Stickers








Net Profit/(Loss)















Belfry Account - INCOME






Bednights (not including August)



Other Receipts



Special Item (Insurance for Tackle Store)









Belfry Account - EXPENDITURE















Household Goods & Miscellaneous



Belfry Insurance (50%)



Rates – General & Water (50%)



Repairs and Improvements



Fixtures and Fittings



Purchases of Library Units









Net Profit/(Loss)









St. Cuthbert’s Report – Bristol & West Building Society






Opening Balance



Pre-Sales Income



BEC Contribution






Less Expenditure



Closing balance.












Ian Dear memorial Fund – Guardian Building Society






Opening balance



Transfer from General Fund









Closing Balance









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


This Belfry Bulletin is late again because it can only be produced when the number of contributions received makes it worthwhile.  If you want to have a regular BB then you have to contribute.  It does, however, include the second article from Jim Smart in the Philippines, about his adventures on Negros.  I haven't heard from him since his capture by communist guerrillas on Mindanao, except what was in the press at the time (see the news clippings on page eight).

A lot of caving is being done by the Club.  The Aswan Dam in Cuthbert's II is coming along nicely and another attack on sump 2 will be mounted shortly. Bowery Corner is progressing slowly but a lot of hard work is still to be done.  The big news, however, is that Kangaroo Swallet (Welsh's Green) has 'gone'.  I hope to have a full report for the next BB.  All I have from Graham at the moment is as follows :- "It's gone, 350' to 400' ish, biggish & shitty but probably the longest cave (in the world?) in Blue Lias Limestone".

Tony and Jane Jarratt have taken over Bat Products from Phil and Lil Romford (who are shortly leaving for sunnier climes - Portugal!).  The new management took over on 1st. of May, though Phil and Lil are staying on for the time being to show J'rat the ropes (and the krabs and wetsuits and all that). Steve Milner is also preparing to leave the country, and travelling even further (Oz) (cheap foreign accommodation for wandering members?)

Alan Thomas's book 'The Story of Priddy' is finally in print and contains quite a bit about the local caves including some previously unpublished stuff.  Copies can be obtained from Alan.  It was only a small print run so copies could become collector’s items.

Another example of things not mentioned in the guide books that people may not have noticed: -

When going down Longwood Swallet you descend the two ten foot drops, turn left to the Showerbath and then right down the narrow rift.  When you get to the approach passage to Longwood main chamber (on the left) a narrow passage goes straight on and turns to the right to the bottom of a high aven.  This is the furthest the cave goes down the Longwood Valley. The aven is free-climbable, with care, and ends at chokes.  The question is, are these choked inlet passages from a now abandoned swallet, or if dug, would they lead to old passages leading further down the valley? I don't know but wonder if anyone has ever tried.


Library Notes

Dizzie Thompsett-Clark has very kindly donated the following books to the Club library.  They were personally delivered by motor cycle despatch rider Angus Innes!

10 Years under the Earth (1940)
Gough's Caves - early guidebook
My Caves (1947)
Underground Adventure (1952)

Jock Orr visited recently and gave the Club a pile of Smithsonian magazines.  One of these has an article on Lechuguilla Cave and will be in the library.

The library is being regularly used these days and providing a useful service to Belfryites.  Please do not forget to return books A.S.A.P.

Other additions to the library are: -

Deep in Blue Holes - Palmer
Legal Aspects of Access Underground - N.C.A.
The Story of Priddy - Alan Thomas

Tony Jarratt


Speleo Reconnaissance, Negros Occidental, Negros Island, Philippines

I arrived in Negros with no cave expectations.  I planned to visit maybe two or three tourist sites and to be off the island within five days.  I have now been here 20 eventful and unhurried days and have not even visited the alleged cave country of Negros del Norte.  If I haven't exactly found any earth shattering caves I've had fun looking for them and the two caves at Km 107 (Ilog) Tubig Cave and the resurgence cave would make the Philippines top ten for depth and length respectively if surveyed.  This is not particularly clever; there are hundreds of known caves in this category. What is needed is the tools and the time to make the survey.

Most of Negros Occidental comprises a wide coastal plain a few metres above sea level, largely given over to sugar and rice cultivation.  But in the south, beyond Ilog, this plain becomes quite narrow, virtually non-existent in places, and inland the terrain rises in a series of sierras to maybe 4,000 or more feet.  I have been unable to locate any maps or find out if any name exists for these highlands.  Similarly many times I enquired after the name of a cave or a creek or a prominent hill I was told that there is no name.

Due to various interesting hassles itemised in the following report my explorations were limited to the first (coastal) range of sierras where the maximum elevation was probably no more than about 300 ft.   Without exception, all the caves I visited had been previously fully explored by the local people.

Log, Monday Jan 30 to Feb 14, 1989.

Day 1.

The 7.30 a.m. arrival in Vallidolid was not very inspiring.  The three hour crossing had been cold (COLD!) and wet and in choppy seas. Under the heavy skies the beach and sea and tatty food stalls all looked miserable and dirty.  Worse; the boat was overloaded and grounded before we reached the jetty.  We waded ashore.  All the public transport was packed with Monday-morning commuters and this was no weather to ride on the roof, so I took coffee and waited for a jeepney with a spare seat.

Although it rained almost incessantly for the next 48 hours things began to look up as soon as I arrived in Bacolod City (BC).  By 10 a.m. I'd located clean lodgings, and by noon I had enough cave-leads to keep me busy for a fortnight.  At 4 p.m. I was being interviewed by the local press and this was followed by an invite to a local bar.  Midnight found a bunch of us nightclubbing and I went merrily to bed at 4 a.m.; an eventful 24 hours.

Day 2.

Prepare to go south and look for caves.

Day 3.

Arrive at Ilog, settle in, and meet local officials.

Reasons for not caving:  Part 314

You can’t just breeze into an area and set off in search of caves. People are curious/suspicious of you and your motives particularly in view of the current political situation (see below).  Anyway a guide will take time to locate but he will save time in the long run.  Also courtesy demands that certain bigwigs must be visited and that can lead to long, long chats in this leisurely country. Typically, in a 12 hour daylight period you will be lucky to get in three hours field reconnaissance.  No problem though: plenty of booze and good vibes.

Day 4.

Local transport in this area is mostly by tricycle - i.e. a Kawasaki 125 equipped with sidecar and capable of carrying an unbelievable amount of luggage, livestock and people who cling on like a circus acrobatic act. I once counted 19 uniformed high school girls floating down the palm-lined road on one of these contraptions: lucky driver.

I'd rented a tricycle for the day and was waiting for it to arrive when I heard " ... Bristol Exploration Club sa England ... " on the seven o'clock news.  I didn't understand what bull they were putting out but the publicity was to prove useful.  With local man Ramon Laforteza and by driver we set off at 7.30 intending to visit a cave at Bgy Delicioso and some others at Sitio (So.) Km 107.  At the local army HQ permission to visit KM 107 was withheld.

Reasons for not caving:  Part 793.

Government confesses it has an "insurgency situation". I would describe it more as a cross between Civil War and Anarchy.  The New Peoples Army (i.e. communist guerrillas) are fighting to overthrow the Government.  The civilians are trapped in the middle and both sides commit what we would call terrible atrocities.  But the Army's hands are tied by the International League for Human Rights.

So "private armies" are encouraged to protect large businesses and plantations, and vigilante groups protect local communities from any outside interference.  There are a lot of guns here.  You have to tread gently.

We headed off in search of the cave at Delicioso.  Leaving the tricycle in the sugar cane we set off on foot up the high sierra and within an hour we had located a guide who in turn had located the cave for us.  The ILAG SHAFT turned out to be a vertical pot located in a pleasing patch of bare and nicely weathered limestone.  Descent was impossible without at least a lifeline.

With Km 107 closed to us we adjourned to a bar to discuss tactics: it was still only 11 o'clock. Somebody recognised me as the face in the paper, somebody else had heard the 7 o'clock news and soon the bar, and then the village, was abuzz.  Cave information came too quick and too fast to assimilate I don't speak Ilong-go.  I decided to buy extra fuel for the tricycle and investigate as many villages as possible along the foothills.  We ended up travelling 50 km. as far as Caliling, picking up information all along the way, and exploring a couple of uninspiring small caves at Tuod and partially exploring Cave 1 at Caliling.  My guide at Caliling spoke of many caves and offered his services as a guide.  I arranged to meet him in three days time at his house.  So concluded an interesting 10 hour field trip.

Day 5.

The tricycle is late (puncture) and the priest happens by, sees me, and invites me to lunch.  Thus is a planned 10 hr trip reduced to 3½. It's pouring with rain.  The army has now cleared Km 107 of landmines and combed the area for insurgents.  Furthermore, they have a civilian guide waiting for me there.  We set off into the dripping forest and soon find a shaft, impossible without gear, but it turns out to be an alternative entrance to walk-in Tubiq Cave.  We explore as far as a pitch. "Many caves here", says our guide.  The nearby "creek" is about the size of the Little Neath River.  It disappears merrily below ground.  Across the valley I can see another large cave entrance.  But it's already 11 and my lunch date is for noon: exploration postponed.

Day 6.


Day 7.

Today is the day I have arranged to meet Angelico de la Cruz in Caliling.

Reasons for not caving:  Part 794.

Public Transport in the Philippines is never boring.  Breakdowns, punctures, missed connexions, amended "schedules" and the total lack of movement after dark can turn a 100 km. trip over indifferent roads into a two day adventure.  No problem, there's always somewhere for a beer and a chat, we'll get someone to fix that flat.

It took me four rides and four fours to cover the 50 km. to Caliling, the last section spent desperately clinging to the side of the bus (the side with the cliff below) this being the Filipino response to the new military ruling that riding on the roof is henceforth forbidden due to a few unfortunate encounters with NPA snipers. Angelico had given up waiting for me and was somewhere working in the forest.  He returned at four but there was only time for me to complete my exploration of Cave I, Caliling.  A relaxed evening of rumcola followed in this electricity-free village by the sea.

Day 8.

It transpires that Angelico can only show me three caves as the others are too far away (more than 1 km.) and in NPA country.  We travelled through some pleasing limestone valleys and plateau and carried out complete explorations of BAHAY CAVE, Caliling Cave II (for which I have lost my notes) and Caliling Cave III.  By 9 a.m. the day's work was done.  Angelico announced that he had to go to work now, but tomorrow morning he would show me two more caves at a nearby village.  This was not very cost-effective for me.  It would be nice travelling slowly from village to village, exploring a few caves each morning, but my time was limited.  Besides I had to be in BC the following evening and that meant an early start.  I had a date with a gorgeous slender chinky-eyed chick and I didn't want to disappoint her.  I said goodbye to the de la Cruz family and took the first bus north.

Note: "Chick" is the Filipino word for "young woman".  It is not offensive, on the contrary it is the polite expression.

Days 9 & 10.

The little bitch stood me up.  I spend my time preparing a return trip to the Ilag Shaft and the caves of Km 107.

Reasons for not caving:  Part 943

The Filipinos are very gregarious: invite one out for the evening and chances are the best friends or family will show up also.  Invite a couple of members of the "climbing club" and the whole defunct organisation will want to come along with maybe a dozen "prospective members".  I sit in the bar with a crate of beer and 16 would-be cave explorers. The beer has been flowing freely, I still don't speak llong-go and everywhere there is chaos.  I slap the table and try to explain that they're all welcome but this is a serious project and there is a schedule to keep: 10 people take longer to descend a pitch than two.  I will cave with just one or two companions: the others must find a different cave to play in.  Mayo Monteza, a veteran of overseas climbing expeditions, understands the logistics and says he will take charge of everything.  Unfortunately he is critically injured in a shooting incident the next day and is unable to join us.

Day 11.

Set off for Candoni in the heart of the high sierras.  Miss bus connexion and spend the night in Kabankalan.

Day 12.

The bus travels the long dusty road to Candoni very laboriously and cave potential is everywhere. Unfortunately so is the insurgency as the frequent belligerent military checks testify.  In Candoni the Police Station Commander hails me as I get off the bus.  He knows who I am and he's friendly enough but he cannot let me travel anywhere outside "town" (about the size of Priddy).  Furthermore after dark I find I am confined to my lodgings.  It's Fiesta Day and guns + booze = trouble. I'd be an understandable target,

Day 13.

Return to Ilog and await climbing club.  By nightfall they've still not arrived; buses have long since ceased running so I crack open the rum.  I'm half pissed when a posse of school kids arrive at my gate.  With them is a jeep and a motor cycle and a dozen pissed-up climbers.  It's just like Saturday night in England.

Day 14.

We lose three hours over a welding job for the jeep and then find the army major is at Mass so are further delayed before security clearance is given for us to visit Km 107.  We have only 5 hours to complete our (my) project. With my friend Ramon Laforteza, the guide and his son we are 14 people in the Jeep.  Never mind, it's a nice day.  The Negros Mountaineering Group possess only one rope.   I send everyone down Tubig Cave to look at the pitch while Agnes (Anec) Montano and I set off to explore the exciting looking swallet.  Anec can't swim but I assure her there will be no deep water.  I climb down the first simple cascade still in daylight and fall into a six foot pool.  No problem though: Anec turns out to be a superb climber.  (Later in the day she led me on some climbs that I only completed to protect my dignity.)

In the cave a couple of short climbs brought us to the head of a pitch after only a few metres.  The water cascaded merrily down, but without at least a lifeline we could not follow.  We surfaced and headed down the dry valley in search of the resurgence.

And a fine resurgence it was too.  Beyond a walk-in entrance we found about 350 metres of fine river cave, lofty and wide, the water generally about knee deep but occasionally five feet or so. Unfortunately it terminated in a silted sump and we could find no by-pass.

We return to Tubig Cave and find the others have still not surfaced.  Underground we find that they have all successfully descended the pitch (lifelined) including our guide and 61 year old Ramon. Descending from the pitch led to a third (high level) entrance and a fourth walk-in one not far from the resurgence. In the opposite direction I explored alone into some enormous chambers 60 ft or more in height and found a spectacular fifth entrance more than 100 foot up to daylight the shaft opening in the centre of the dome-shaped roof of a particularly large chamber.  I stupidly tried to climb to some high level leads picked out by my penlight torch (my only light at the time) and prayed a lot on the retreat.

Back at the resurgence Anec led everyone while I volunteered to look after our gear.  I foolishly forgot I was employing a guide for these menial chores.  Anec and I had taken about 20 minutes to explore the resurgence.  It was more than an hour before people started re-emerging with feeble flashlights and tales of caverns measureless to man.  A flat-out crawl at the top of a mud bank near the sump had led to enormous fossil passage.  I set off for a look meeting the stragglers on their way out and picking up Anec to show me the way.  The fossil stuff was truly enormous with railway tunnel side passages left unexplored. Anec reckons she showed me about half the stuff they'd explored and we used a length of rope to measure the distance on the way out: 700 metres.  There was no time left; we had done nothing I'd planned, but smiles abounded.

Day 15.

Moved south to Hinoba-an. The bus was packed and my view was limited but the country around Sipalay looks particularly interesting (plenty of large scarp-foot springs).

Day 16.

My contact in Hinoba-an is out of the area for a few days.  Tired of travel I visit Ubong Cave and Secret Cave and take the bus back to BC.  Time to look for another area.

Caves of Neqros Occidental

The caves are listed under the name of the municipal town in approximate north to south order.  Bgy - barangay (village)  So. = sitio (a more precise location).


Reported to be an area of many beautiful caves and waterfalls.  Visit impossible at the moment due to heavy military action.


Frequent reports of caves here as follows:

1.                  Bgy Buenavista Himanaylan. So. Kamlented Detachment.  A cave mined for guano by the Lopez family.

2.                  Bgy Delicioso. ILAG SHAFT  Depth 70 ft. Alt c. 300 ft. Visited Feb 2 '89  Un-descended.

3.                  Bgy Magballo. Many caves in this area including one named Molobolo.  Security clearance refused Feb '89.

4.                  Bgy Tampalon. 6 km from Candoni; reputed to have many caves especially at So. Lordes Hornada.


Bgy Dancalan.  Said to have seven caves (a common tale in the Philippines).  There are certainly more than seven caves here including:

  1. Tubig Cave.  Length c. 1,500 ft. depth 120 ft.  A cave with three vertical entrances and 2 walk-in ones.  The through-trip is interrupted by a 25 ft. pitch; one of the vertical entrances is more than 100 ft. deep.  Visited February 1989.  (Sketch survey, J.S. Log)
  2. Swallet Cave.  Length 50+ ft. Depth 30+ ft.  In creek near Tubig Cave.  Terminates in an un-descended wet pitch. Visited Feb 1989.
  3. Resurgence Cave.  Length c. 1 km. Depth (i.e. vertical range) c. 30 m.  A large river passage giving access to aven loftier fossil passage.  Visited Feb '89.
  4. Cave.  A large entrance is seen on the far side of the valley opposite the upper entrance of Tubig Cave.


  1. Bgy ANGA.  Reported to have river cave with fish and eels:  took 4 hours to explore.
  2. Bgy Caliling.  Many caves here usually mined for guano (a government permit is required for this: their register might prove a useful source of reference).

a)       Bahay Cave. So. Bahay.  Length c. 400 ft.  A simple large passage up to 100 ft. wide and 60 ft. high which soon closes down to become too tight.  Visit Feb '89; sketch survey in J.S. Log.

b)       Cave I.  Length c. 200 ft.  Located behind MEG rice mill.  A large entrance leads to crawling passage and becomes too tight. Sketch survey J.S. Log.

c)       Cave 3.  So. Bahay.  Length c. 130 ft. Depth 20.  Located on ptateau above Caliling.  A 20 ft. shaft opens onto a small chamber.  Westwards a stooping passage chokes after 80 ft. while eastwards a crawling passage with a fine false floor ends in a choke.  Sketch survey J.S. Log.

  1. Bgy Danawan.  A deep cave reported here.
  2. Bgy Isio So. Tuod.  SALACAY CAVES.  In prominent limestone outcrop about 250 ft. above Tuod are two small caves.

a)       A single breakdown chamber L. 60 ft.

b)       A winding body-size phreatic tube c. 70 ft. long. Visited Feb '89.

  1. Bgy Masaling.  Fine exposed white limestone noted here Feb '89.


a)       Two big guano caves have been reported here: Camp Valdez and Tagnoc.

b)       Bgy Maracalom.  Reported to have many caves.


Bgy Bacuyangan.  Two large caves here on the coast; scene of action in WW2: Ubong Cave and Secret Cave.  Visit Feb '89.


Another area reported to have "seven caves", including Mainit Cave and Konog-Konog

James Smart   Feb. 20, 1989.

Philippine newspaper cuttings

Mountain rebels free explorer held as 'spy'

WEST explorer James Smart was yesterday released after being held for a week by Communist guerrillas in the Philippines on sus­picion of being a spy.

Bachelor Mr Smart, who left home in Queen's Road, Clifton, Bristol, in December on a world tour, escaped death when shells ex­ploded near him while in captivity.

He was one of three detained from a party of 300 climbers on their way to Mount Apo, the country's highest peak, 615 miles South-east of Manila.


By Vikki Orvice

day, when they heard shelling near the rebel cam.

"Every time we heard a bang, we dived into the foxhole, maybe seven times," he said.

Last night Mr Smart's mother who lives in Buttles Plantation, Hatch Beauchamp, near Taunton, said: "I spoke to him this afternoon and he said the captors treated him very well "They could go where they wanted and in fact were treated like royalty.  It took so long to release him because the captors did not want others to know where they were hiding in the moun­tains.

They were taking part in the annual convention of the National Mountain­eering Federation of the Philippines.

The rebels ann­ounced earlier their prisoners and a local interpreter would be freed on Wednesday, but delayed for a day when they saw soldiers on the mountain slopes and heard a 105-millimetre howitzer fired.

"Investigations so far have shown that these three climbers are innocent. Thus we are releasing them," they said in a statement

Haggard looking and unshaven Mr Smart, aged 40, said he was not happy to hear he was suspected of being a spy, but added he hoped to return to Mount Apo next year.

Fellow prisoner, Irish chemistry graduate Gerald Ken­nedy, 22, said: ''They treated us very well.  It would take me a long time to describe my experience."

The third freed climber Trevor Anderson, 35, from New Zealand, said they felt safe with the New People's Army guerrillas until Wednes-





Smiling through ... Explorer James Smart, centre, is attended to by a nurse after his ordeal


West man in spy drama

WEST explorer James Smart plans to continue his round-the-world trip - undeterred after being held hostage by Communist guerrillas on suspicion of spying.

Bachelor Mr Smart, aged 40, who left home in Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol in December, was released on Wednesday after being held in a Philippine mountain hide-out.

A keen caver, he was one of three detained from a group of 300 climbers on their way to Mount Apo, 615 miles south-east of Manila.

But his mother, who lives in Buttle Plantation, Hatch Beauchamp, near Taunton, said he plans to stay in the Philippines until April 25 - before heading off to America.

"He was not scared and if he can afford it would like to go back"


Progress In The Far Reaches Of Daren Cilau

by Mark Lumley

Another Daren camp took place from Friday 10th February to Sunday 19th.  Andy Cave and Jake (Graham Johnson) were fortunate enough to be able to stay down for the duration while many others (somewhere in the teens) stayed for between one and five days.

A great deal of important equipment was ferried to the Restaurant at the end of the Universe, including four scaffolding bars with couplings, more sleeping kit, sixteen litres of liqueurs and an inflatable flamingo.  The 'Best Dressed Caver' award went to Snablet who sported a pinstripe suit, trilby hat, tie and sunglasses!

Whilst left to their own devices midweek, Jake and Andy cleared the bang debris in Friday 13th Boulder Choke, moved up, lost the draught and found it again emitting from a tube half way up the choke.  This had been observed and discounted over a year ago.  A day and a half of digging saw them past a rocky squeeze (Another Bloody Valentine) and into 'Payoff Passage' a few hundred metres of crawling and walking passage resembling the Inca Trail.  This led to another constriction.

Next day, the dig was passed with a few hours of digging into 'Still Warthogs after all these Years' - several hundred metres heading south (see survey for details).  This ended in a large rift passage severely choked with roof collapse.  The ensuing dig was named 'Dig of a Thousand Pricks' due to the abundance of those all too familiar selenite needles which permeate those all important places that only your next of kin and the Au Pair are familiar with.

The most significant find for those interested in a connection with Agen Allwedd is a large (5m by 5m) inlet on the western side of 'Warthogs' which ends in a large, impressive 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' boulder choke.

With the arrival of reinforcements on Thursday night a lot of effort was put into pushing various leads both old and new.  A compass and tape survey was carried out as well.  The survey shows the extension to be about 2000 ft. mostly heading south towards 'Against all Odds' and 'Twelve O'clock High' while the 'Electric Sheep' choke is just 60m. From 'Birthday Surprise' in the Priory Road.

As usual the work was done in 8 hour shifts, but this time we were fortunate to have enough people for a night shift as well.

Two weeks later Jake, Gonzo and Mongo just happened to find themselves in Priory Road!  An arch was found 6 metres to the left of the main dig in Birthday Surprise.  This appeared to take all the draught. Back at Severn Beach a small passage was pushed for 20 ft. low on the edge of the boulders and a bottle of champagne was left for the connection.

The next Daren camp began on March 31st.  Dalek soloed in on Thursday expecting to meet up with us at the Restaurant. Unfortunately we were not able to arrive until 24 hours later, over laden with two large tackle bags each, to find the campsite looking like a rubbish tip courtesy of previous, uninvited guests who will be hearing from us soon.




April the first saw an intensive effort on the 'Electric Sheep' choke.  Dalek set the standard with some certifiable crow bar work, 15 character building tons and 30 feet later we reached a small chamber in the boulders.  Dalek and Gonzo continued to push this while Jake and Inspector Gadget (Peter Bolt) went to dig 'Thousand Pricks'.  Andy and White Meg (Carol White) worked on the Bad Bat dig.  During the course of the day several sites were banged and a radio link up from 'Electric Sheep' to Birthday Surprise was tried to no avail.

On Sunday, Dalek and White Meg left for the surface.  While Jake went off to start digging 'Stingray' (close to 'Electric Sheep', draughting and heading west).  Andy, Inspector Gadget and Gonzo put a few hours of intensive tunnelling into Bad Bat. This broke out into 50 ft. of Westerly, low, wide bedding sloping upwards and ending in an airbell and low, draughting arch.

A weary of limb team headed up the extensions again on Monday.  Andy and Jake continued digging 'Stingray' and then discovered another dig (Hot Dog), sloping steeply upwards on the Eastern side of 'Still Warthogs after all these Years'.  Meanwhile Gonzo and Inspector Gadget pushed the dig of a thousand pricks and broke into 'Spaderunner' - 70 metres of draughting passage beginning as a boulder chamber, degenerating from walking to crawling passage and ending in a tight rift. This was given some chemical persuasion and then we left for a celebratory party.

Gonzo and Andy left on Tuesday, reaching the surface ln five hours to find that Clive had laid on a snowstorm for us (the people he knows!)

Inspector Gadget and Jake stayed down for a further two days, putting in more work on Spaderunner and pushing a draughting section of the Electric Sheep boulder choke for a further 12 ft.

The connection with Aggy is an interesting prospect, but more exciting by far is the possibility of reaching the main stream lower down than its current limit at Against all Odds. This would enable us to establish camp 3 (The Last Resort) thereby cutting out the 3-4 hours of dry commuting that is necessary every day to get between the Restaurant and the digs. From the position now, with draughting Southerly and Westerly leads the idea of a link to the Clydach gorge or of going straight over the main streamway and off under Llangynidr no longer lies in the realms of fantasy.


"Diving to Excess"

by Tim Large

Its Friday night again - 9pm - and yes, as usual, Tony Jarratt's Land Rover pulls up at the Hunters - just popped in for a pint.  The BEC commandeer the long table and comfy pew and discuss caves, beer, latest scandals and gossip.  The Wessex haven't arrived yet - still in their hut making tea.  Zot arrives - a relieved grin on his face - Dan-yr-Ogof is cancelled - cave flooded - Mendip's awash - but we must do something.  Lets have more beer.  Tony suggests a Swildons trip to blow up Snablet's dig in Shatter Series - aptly named many moons ago - BAT DIG.  Interest in the site has risen recently since yours truly placed a 3lb. charge in the small sump at the end Snablet was quite impressed by the noise and pebble-dashing only had about 40' of wire.  Ross was in Swildons 7 at the time and heard it - 650' away!

"OK Tone, we do it - Swildons will be nice and wet.  See you for breakfast about 10 am".  More beer!!  Saturday morning dawned - TL rose early and cycled cross country over to Priddy arriving at West Cottage to the welcome smell of a fried breakfast.  The bang was packed another 31b. bomb - Wig arrives - latest postcard in hand  "What the f*** are you going to do with that lot" - "Oh just a little digging Wig".

Its raining still and very cold.  Time to go. Arrive at entrance - water level about 2" below overflow pipe - should be interesting.  Quick dash down short dry way - no hold ups on 20, only had to walk over one party just before the Double Pots.  Reach Barnes Loop where TL has severe cramps in both legs.  Jump up and down a bit, tell legs to behave and on we go.  Engage auto pilot for dash through St. Pauls - stop for a fag at the Mud Sump.  Met two guys just after First Mud Sump disappearing up side passage to Damascus.  One guy stepped aside to let us pass.  On enquiring they thought that was the route for Short Round Trip - they followed us to Mud Sump.  "It's a bit wet Tone".  All the dams were full and the soakaway back up the passage was overflowing back into the Mud Sump.  We waded in to where roof met water at which point we were standing in 5' of water. Tony succinctly expressed his intention of not going any further.  TL being one not to be beaten and forgetting the topography of mud sump decided it would only be a short dip, took a quick breath and disappeared - down – down, down to 6' - eventually found the slot with the familiar nose groove in roof. Too late to turn back - might as well keep going - not very big in here – Ah, through the small bit, now where's the bloody airspace - roof is rising but no sign - getting a bit short of breath - up up - must be there somewhere - it's a bit different doing a sump without a line.  Phew, at last I can breathe panting heavily TL makes for yonder mud bank to recover. That was a long way and I've got to get back.  No bailing buckets on this side not much good anyway when the squeeze is 6' underwater. I wonder how long I would have to sit here before Tony went out to get a bottle and valve.  No, can't do that, it would be too embarrassing - remember the Club motto.  Well got my breath back - better have a look at that murky lake waded in - shoulder deep - waved my legs about - could not find the squeeze - oh well, it's down there somewhere!  Deep breath and duck dive - mm, don't seem to be going down very well - too buoyant - break surface again - no lead weights here.  Could put some rocks inside my wet suit - mm - not a good idea - might cause me to get stuck in the squeeze.  Oh well, nothing for it, just have to have a more determined effort.  Deep breath and go for it, Down, Down, Down, clawing at walls and roof - ah the floor, now where's that squeeze no not there and I crashed into wall - bit more to the right perhaps ah yes, this feels like it - getting short of breath again - through small bit, thank goodness for that now starting to rise, head banging on roof, still rising how much further to air - must be here somewhere - At last oh no - more cramp in the legs - panting for breath lying in water like a drowned whale - "give me fag Tone I don't think we'll be going to Shatter today".  Ten minutes later cramps easing - lighter won't work.  "Lets go home".  Back in streamway find another party who eventually get their lighter going - relax over a fag at last.  Still very wet in here - ah the entrance - no longer, the water level has risen 6" now flowing into overflow pipe.  Tone reflects - "Every time you and I go caving together we have some sort of epic!!!"  "Not really Tone - just living up to the club motto - 'Everything to Excess'''.  "Right" says Tone - "let's go down Bowery Corner now - it must be in flood" - "OK - should be interesting".

On checking the survey, looks like the length of the sump was 30' to 35’.

Cautionary Note: -  It is not recommended that this dive be contemplated.  It comes into the well known Willie Stanton grading of 'Foolhardy and Dangerous' .

Sketch Plan of Mud Sump in Flood.



Caving Choice - Amateur or Professional

Having just recently returned to caving regularly on Mendip after a short sabbatical, I was interested to hear of the debate and objection to commercial caving enterprises which Mendip has recently had to adjust to.   Much of the argument appears to be directed at particular organisations on Mendip.

Cavers have always had an attitude of a God given right of access to caves.  Now, some appear to be taking the same attitude with caving activities outside the caving club environment.

Caving has gone through a revolution in the last 20 years.  When many of us started there was no commercial caving, no caving shops - apart from Tony Oldham's front room.  The most specialised caving shop was the local WD store and cave training was only to be found within caving clubs on a very informal basis.  We could get away with it then when the only technical equipment was ladders, Krabs and lifelines. Now, we benefit from all sorts of sophisticated hardware and protective clothing.  Therefore people need more specialised and formal training. If this can be supplied within the club environment, all well and good.

But we must not forget that these days there are people who are not interested in caving via a traditional caving club.  They prefer a week or day course visiting specific caves or undergoing specific skills training.  Next week, those same people will probably be canoeing, windsurfing, mountaineering or whatever, again on a "professional" course.  There is nothing, as I see it, that the traditional caving club can do about this type of leisure person or should want to do. As long as there is a demand for courses then someone will supply that demand.  The only angle we can be involved in is to influence these caving professionals in their approach to caving with their clients and the skills techniques taught.  Our main concern is always the conservation of caves followed by adherence to a safe caving code.  It is essential that newcomers to caving are acquainted with the basic information about caves - their formation, history, both geologically and exploration - to fully appreciate both the vulnerable environment they are entering and the traditions of cave exploration.  As we all know, many hours have been spent with landowners and others to foster good relations and permanent access arrangements.  These can easily be ruined by ill-informed people.

The second category of professional caving is within the ever increasing number of management training centres who use caves and mountains etc. as learning and management assessment aids.  Again, we cannot stop this kind of activity.  They are financially well backed organisations who are here to stay as long as there is a demand for this type of training.  Again, all we can do is influence them as far as attitudes to caves go and safe caving practice.  Nobody should be forced underground against their will.  Basic information about caves, as I said earlier, must be given to the clients to ensure the right attitudes to conservation and safe caving codes.  In any management training, caving trips should firstly be undertaken to familiarise personnel with the cave environment and basic skills of moving in a cave. Only once this has been accomplished should clients progress to specialised activities such as surveying, ladder-work, SRT or whatever.  Good relations with these training centres should be fostered as they have much to offer traditional cavers if suitable liaisons can be arranged.  Such centres will naturally hold large amounts of equipment, which is well maintained and could be useful in the event of a major rescue requiring extra equipment and facilities.

It is a great shame that cave training ventures proposed within the cream of Mendip caving circles have been shelved because of ill-informed and unjustified criticism by local cavers.  If "professional" cave training is demanded then it is far better to do it from within local caving circles by respected cavers of proven knowledge and experience.

I suggest all those reading this - particularly those doing all the shouting, think again, you could lose more than you gain by further unjustified and unreasonable public denouncements.


Tim Large



Missing Library Books

I received the following note and list from Blitz who has been checking things up :-

I've gone through the Library booking out book and checked the shelves (not thoroughly).  This is a list of the missing books.  It may be that some of these have been returned But they are not signed back in!  If all of these are missing, it would be £150 worth at least, but some are irreplaceable.

Signed Out


Signed out to


1975 PSM BEC Report

Tony Boycott


CCG Famous Wilts. Quarrymen

Chris Batstone


Cotham Box Reports



SMRG Publications

Ian Caldwell



Mark Brown


Skiing '85

G. Wilton-Jones


Sept '84 Climber & Rambler

G. Wilton-Jones


Pegasus Berger Reprint

Howard Price


Cerberus Newsletters 55 & 56

Tim Large


Mendip Hills Local Plan & Maps

Tim Large



Tim Large


The Darkness Beckons (Farr)

Andy Lovell


Caving International (1-14)

Dave Turner


Netherworld of Mendip

Andy Sparrow


Cave Explorers

Tim Gould


Caves of Derbyshire

Andy Sparrow


Pocket book of Photography



Observers book of Geology



The Longest Cave



Down to a Sunless Sea



Darkness under the Earth






West Virginian Caver



The Caves Beyond

Dave Glover


American Caves & Caving



Caves of Rouffignac



Descent of PSM



Niwgini Caver Vol.3 & Vol.4



Excerpt from A.C.G. Magazine.

(with permission)

Ian Mildon and myself (Kevin Wills) took our lives in our hands and paid £10 pounds each for a place on the B.E.C. mini-bus .... !! (to the B.C.R.A. Conference, 1988) What an experience!  Ian's report follows :-

We travelled up with 7 or 8 B.E.C. members and discovered that they had planned to do at least two things during their trip to Manchester for the conference: one was to drink the barrel of Butcombe Bitter they had brought in the van; the other was to steal the sign from a pub near Derby called 'The Belfry' . Fortunately, success in achieving the first objective denied them the inclination to achieve the second i.e. a mega-hangover.

They started drinking on the way up and arrived tanked-up at a local pub near to the hut we were to stay in that night.  The next day we attended the lectures and anticipated the evening’s revelry.  The B.E.C. lot got tanked up again at the stomp at the uni., and we discovered that they didn't intend going back to the hut, only to sleep where they fell.

We dossed down across the seats of the van at about 11.30, only to be woken at 12.00 by the B.E.C., after the remainder of the beer.  Unfortunately, we were disturbed again at 3.00am by the van shaking ... a car had reversed into us, and had run a sleeping B.E.C. body over.  "You've f****** killed him", somebody shouted. However he was unharmed and didn't remember a thing the next morning ....

The next day there were bodies everywhere.  We attended the Sunday morning lectures and travelled home with a van full of subdued B.E.C. members.


More News Of "The Deepest Hole On Earth"

Daniel Gebauer has kindly sent the latest information on this Indian cave.

It seems the B.E.C. have really started something here and though not able to actually go there have indirectly managed to persuade someone else to "Get Everywhere"! Perhaps now that Professor Smart has been released he might like to take up the challenge.

Tony Jarratt

The letters from Daniel Gebaur and Narayana Reddy are on the following page.  The sketch, however, I just glues below on this one.  I hope it’s decipherable!




Correspondent for India & Nepal
H. Daniel Gebauer / Marktplatz 32 / D-7070 S. Gmund / F.R. Germany

Tony JARRAT Prlddy
Wells Somerset

Schwabisch GmUnd, den 13.4.1969

Dear Tony,

About a year ago you have sent me a newspaper cutting (seen by Matt TUCK at Abu Bai in a "Khalees-" or Khaleesi Times") concerning a "Deepest Hole on Earth found in Madhya Pradesh".

I traced down the address of the widow of Dr. Vakankar whom the newspaper report appealed to and got no reply.  And I told an Indian friend of mine, M. Narayana Reddy, a former Police Superintendent, of the story and lately he travelled the 873km from Hyderabad, where he stays, to Dewas and traced the "hole" down.

Enclosed you find a transcript of his letter and copy of his sketches.

There actually is a pit, 16m deep and so far the fourth deepest of India.  And it actually is of unknown origin being developed in the multiple layered "nappes" of the area, not in limestone.

Reddy's description sounds like a subsidence sinkhole, but into which void has it subsided?  I'd really like to go there and have a closer look!

Well, if I can ever help you in questions in questions on India I'll gladly try to solve riddles


Schwabisch GmUnd, den 13.4.1969, Pushkar ( North India).

... I left Hyderabad on 2Jrd and was at the said “Hole”, called KATHAR KUVA (= layer's well), at 7pm on 25th and again at 2pm on 26th.  It is at a distance of 873km from Hyderabad by rail, plus 92km from Dewas by road plus 20km by Jeep through a chick Jungle.  The Supdt. of Police of Dewas was very kind and helpful.  On 25th he himself dropped me in his jeep at Kantaphode, the nearest Police Station.  The Sub inspector from there took me in a jeep to the spot by 7pm, since it was dark we returned to the P.S. and the next day went to the spot by 2pm and measured the pit in daylight.

Location: 77oE/23oN, altitude 328m.  Kathar Kuva lies 6km from Surmanya village (130 houses, mostly hill tribes and labourers), Kannoud (taluk), Dewas (District), Madhya Pradesh (State).  It lies in a plateau land covered with black soil on top of thin shale layers of igneous rocks.

Description: The left rim (as shown in the cross-section) is higher than the right, lower one, since it is situated on the slope of a hillock.  For about 2m the top is inclined due to weathering and covered with dust etc.  From there the rocky phase begins with irregular edges as shown in the sketch. The bottom of the pit consists of flat silt with rocks. There is a small pool of water at the bottom of one wall.

From the inner edge (lower edge) of the slope I measured 31m width and a depth of 76m.  The pit is not known to anybody, not even the S.I.  Luckily the Dist. Forest Officer at Dewas, who visited it, could tell me its location when I met him at Dewas. Sorry, for this is not the deepest pit on earth.  In Tennessee, USA, I bottomed a 500’ pit,

M. Narayana Reddy