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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

Editor:   G. Wilton-Jones, 24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Telephone: Aylesbury (0296) 28270.

Yes, I know it is unprecedented to run the November and December B.B.’s in one issue.  By way of excuse, it was so I could get the Christmas issue out and delivered before the end of the year, and thereby catch up.

Hopefully the January 1981 B.B. will be produced IN January.

If you get your Lesotho Cave Art illustration loose it is because a well known national supermarket chain is reluctant to do this silly job for us in a hurry.

If you have not yet written anything for the B.B. this decade, remember that you have only nine years left, so why not start writing now and get it over with.  So far I have ONE article far 1981

News From Our Northern Correspondent

It is reported that northern cave diver, Ian Watson, has discovered another Boreham in Littondale. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, Boreham Cave is known particularly for two things; its long, clear sumps and its impressive array of straws hanging above a still pool. Nearby Stonelands Cave also contains a long, incompletely explored sump. Presumably the new cave is also notable for a long sump of clear water.  Watto is not saying anymore at present.

Unfortunately when the local farmer got to hear of the find he decided that the water supply had been polluted due to caving activities.  He got together with the three other farmer/landowners of Littondale and cavers have been banned from the whole valley.  Harry Long is trying to negotiate with the farmers, but until the valley is definitely open once more to cavers it would be wise to keep clear of the place, except of course to partake of ale at the "Queen's".

Hot off J-Rat's typewriter in Maseru, just over the border into Lesotho, comes this article on the decorated sandstone rock-shelters of the area.  This is J-Rat in his more serious mood, a rare moment, no doubt written while he thought he was dying of Histoplasmosis.

By the time you read this he should be back on Mendip suffering the more common ailments, related to Butcombe, Arkells, Badger, etc.


Caves And Cave Art Of Lesotho, Southern Africa.

Surrounded by the Republic of South Africa, Lesotho (formerly Basutoland) is a rugged, mountainous and harshly beautiful country.  It is about the same size as Belgium and is the only country in the world with all of its land over 1000 metres O.D.  Volcanic basalt forms the highest peaks of the Maluti Mountains and Drakensberg Range with horizontally bedded sandstones, shales and mudstones below. These layers are very photogenic, being alternate red, grey, white, orange and pink.  Despite the lack of limestone, some slight relief for the exiled cave fanatic can be found by studying one of these ubiquitous layers, the appropriately named Cave Sandstone.  Forming dramatic escarpment cliffs and spectacular river gorges, this rock is easily eroded by the elements to form huge, overhanging rock-shelters and the occasional deeper cave.  There are hundreds of these sites in all areas of the country and many have been occupies in the past by a variety of inhabitants.

At the present time, many of the drier and more accessible caves have drystone walled frontages converting them into dwellings, herd boys refuges and even missions for the local Basuto populace.  In the troubled times and famines of the 18th and 19th centuries the caves provided shelter and hiding places for Basuto clans escaping from Boer and Zulu oppression and also bases for roving bands of cannibals.  The Basuto, in their turn, had previously evicted from many sites the earlier settlers of these desolate hills - the San, Baroa or Bushmen.  This mysterious race (whose relationship with the original prehistoric inhabitants is unclear) were forced to dwell in the mountain regions by pressure from European settlers moving north from the Cape and by assorted Bantu races creeping steadily southwards from Central Africa.

Essentially a race of hunters, the Bushmen developed a strong artistic culture based on their lifestyle, especially in south-eastern Africa and Rhodesia.  Using natural pigments of ochre, clays, charcoal and animal fats they decorated the caves and rock shelters with superbly executed frescoes and murals of the animals on which they depended for food, clothing and implements. In the various sites can be seen paintings of eland, lion, baboon, fish, snakes, cattle, etc. Many human figures are depicted from short San bowmen and dancers to taller Bantu warriors and even the red-coated European soldiers.  Fishing, hunting scenes, battles, invading horsemen, village scenes and dances are also represented.  Like rock-art the world over, most animal pictures are depicted in silhouette and human figures are typically abstract.  They vary in size from 1m to 150m and the most recently (and last) painted are approximately 150 years old, though scattered remnants of the Bushman races still exist in this area, generally intermixed with the dominant Basuto people, whose own language bears traces of the earlier "clicking" speech of the San.

Although over 400 painted shelters are known, little information is available to the general public as originally published reports have led to desecration and vandalism. Another reason for lack of publicity is the unexcavated nature of most of the sites, though several have been investigated by P.L. Carter of Cambridge University and other professional archaeologists.  The most well known site is fenced off and operated by the Lesotho Government as a tourist attraction/conservation project.  Ha Baroana (or Ha Khotso) Cave is a huge, lengthy shelter with one of the finest friezes of rock-art in southern Africa. Animals portrayed include eland, hartebeest, lion, leopard, buck, blue crane and guinea fowl.  Intermixed with these are hunters, dancers and figures in huts. Flights of arrows are shown in mid air and striking various animals - all are portrayed in a beautiful polychrome style of red, white, black and mauve shades.  It is hoped that the other sites will be preserved in this way and that the work of discovering, photographing and recording these masterpieces of Bushman culture continues uninterrupted.

The following references were given for J-Rat's article on Lesotho:

MSS notes of Jim Smart.

The Lesotho Guide.  D. Ambrose.

Lesotho: Basutoland Notes and Records.  Vol. 6 1966-67.


Coniston Copper Mines

by Chris Batstone.

During the Club meet in the Lakes last February a visit was made to the old copper works above Coniston. It is hoped to return again this coming February.  This article should provide some background information.

The Coniston mines have provided approximately three quarters of the copper mined in the Lake District.  The workings are some of the oldest in the north of England and cover an area of approximately ten square miles of mountain country between Coniston Old Man, Carrs and Wetherlam. This area was extensively prospected during the 19th century but, due to the slump in copper prices, declined towards the latter half of the century, rather than because of dwindling deposits of ore.  Various unsuccessful attempts have been made to rework them since.


The copper veins are found in the volcanic Borrowdale Series.  They trend to the north-west and are cut by a number of north-south cross courses, some of which are very powerful.  The copper occurs mainly as chalcopyrite and more rarely as bornite. Quantities of iron pyrites, mispickel and blende also occur in some veins.  Large amounts of magnetite were also found in the Bonsor Mine deep levels.

The major veins were known as Bonsor, Paddy End Old and New, Triddle, North, Flemmings String, South, Belman Hole, Stephens, Gods Blessing and Brimfell.

The Mine.

The Bonsor vein was the major deposit of are, accounting for at least 50% of the are produced at Coniston. The vein was stoped out for a distance of nearly a quarter of a mile in depth of some 200 fathoms (1200 feet).

It was reckoned that the vein would carry a rib of solid chalcopyrite eight inches thick.  The great stapes on this vein were so vast that a large chasm was left called the "Cobblers Hole".  The price of copper had fallen beyond economic limits by 1895.  An increasing amount of magnetite was found in the area as the mine went deeper making gravity separation of the ore nearly impossible.  The pumps were stopped and the mine was allowed to flood.  Any payable pillars of ore were removed as the water rose.  Water finally reached the adit level in 1900.  Had modern methods of separation been available then (e.g. flotation) the vein left in the bottom would have been payable, but to un-water the mine now and reinstate the workings would be prohibitive.

An attempt was made in 1954 to re-open the Horse Level through to the Paddy End workings.  After clearing the level to the west of Old Engine Shaft it was found that the Cobblers Hole stope had collapsed.  A new bypass level was then made avoiding the collapse.

Previously work was done on Drygill vein, which runs through Old Engine Shaft at the Horse Level.  The old workings were reinstated and a level driven to connect with the northern crosscut, which was driven to the west of Cobblers Hole, in the hopes that the Horse Level would be clear to the New Engine Shaft.  A connection was made to find that the old stopes had collapsed.  The only way past would have been to drive a parallel level which was too costly, and the venture was abandoned.

In 1912 the Coniston Electrolytic Copper Co. Ltd. was formed to recover copper from the waste tips whilst the mine was cleared.  The machinery was installed on the site of the old Bonsor dressing floors.  The copper recovered turned out to be less than expected and the plant was closed down in 1915.  Work was not restarted and the plant was dismantled.

Paddy End Mine is probably the most ancient part of the mine.  The vein runs between cross courses on the southern side of the valley, and has produced some of the most valuable ore in the mines.  By the end of the 19th century all the available are pillars were removed.

In 1954 exploration was carried out at the Horse Level and efforts made to pump Hospital Shaft. These efforts seem to have failed. Whether or not payable veins exist in these workings is unknown.

Numerous other sites exist in the area - Triddle, Brimfell and Gods Blessing in particular, surrounding the Bonsor and Paddy End workings.

Other mines included in the Coniston mining field are to be found near Tilberthwaite and Greenburn Beck, although these do not warrant a description in this article.

Mining at Coniston has now ceased and cannot be expected to revive during the foreseeable future due to expense, and opposition by conservationist  This is also true of the majority of other mining areas in the lakes.

Stu Lindsey has sent in this brief account of a photographic session in Dan yr Ogof.  Incidentally this occasion was the only time I have ever been warned by the management about high water


Dan - Yr - Ogof

With the promise of an interesting trip across the fourth lake to commence proceedings, our 'expanded' party of eight set off.  On leaving the Show Cave water conditions proved to be quite high, a warning regarding a less than normal air-space in lake four proving correct - half of it was froth, hanging from the roof.  Seven of our intrepid explorers nonchalantly swam across leaving the rigid eighth, frozen almost to death (by fear) to inch his way across the exceptionally sparse ledges by his finger nails.

The first of two detours was to attempt to find the location of a 'Blue Stal'.  This was duly accomplished after a fifteen foot climb into a rifty chamber.  This amazing phenomenon, part of a small curtain, is worth seeing, if only for the effort put into getting there!  Pushing on we soon arrived at the start of the long crawl, marked at the entrance with an evil smelling pool, six feet long and three to four inches deep.  Detour 2, to a rift above the main route, Flabbergastery or something was to take photos a happy hour spent flashing away. To get up into this section necessitates a traverse around the wall.  This avoids disturbing the pool and the fish.  (Fish?!!)  Hardly the place to expect one of our number to commence training for the Olympic backstroke event.  A perfect take-off was achieved when the traverse line broke!  This poor unfortunate was also the focal point in the next scene.  Armed with a flash gun, he was requested to run ten feet, stop, flash, run ten feet, stop, flash, run ten feet…..A short distance away the second Lord 'Nevis' had someone doing pirouettes thirty feet below while he took his photo!

Luckily these diversifications ensured that we would be unable to complete the rest of the trip. However, five of our more masochistic entourage insisted upon swimming the Green Canal after a final piccy session.  This last episode was an attempt to record for posterity the playful frolicking of the Wycombe Wanzellor.

Speleo Teaser Answer

And now, the answer to last month's Speleo Teaser from Blitz.




























Free dives

Royal Oak





Free climbs




Vertical Caves

MORE NEWS extracted from BCRA Caves and Caving, No. 10, Nov.1980.

Eleven caves in the world have now passed the vertical kilometre - that is within the last 24 years, though half of these have been pushed to such spectacular depths within the last 3 years!  Reseau de Foillis, deepest at 1402m, is destined to go deeper yet this winter when the next shaft is descended.  In the PSM area the Sima di Ukendi (1185m) is still wide open, while in Arphielia the PSM streamway can be clearly heard; though the surveyed separation is 30m.  A connection would give about 1470m depth. A 1435m system would result from the connection of Schwyzer Schacht and the massive Holloch, making an epic through trip of over 1300m possible.

Dare I say it…..Bi-Monthly Notes

The Council of Southern Caving Clubs' Handbook and Access Guide 1980/81 has now been published.  A copy should be available from the club library or you can buy one for 50p if you must have it to yourself.

Apart from the two Phil Hendy cartoons and a couple of advertisements it is all fairly meaty stuff. The only criticism that seems to have been made (by several people, incidentally) is that the list of names, addresses and 'phone numbers of all MRO wardens has been included.

There has been much controversy on Mendip recently over whether MRO should be called out via official channels for every incident (e.g. "Can someone give a hand in Swildons to a bod who cannot climb back up the 20.)  If the call is official there is insurance cover.  However, the time may now come when someone just picks a warden from the list and 'phones them!

Hobb's have recently offered a planning application to turn Fairy Cave Quarry into a Leisure Centre. The intention is for Shatter and Withyhill to be made into show caves.  The formations would be protected behind glass screens.  The two caves would be connected to form an escape route in case of some emergency. Experienced cavers would assist with the creation of this show cave system. (see also note in 'Lifeline').

In the April/May B.B. Wig wrote about a postcard he had come across and he wanted to know which site in Cheddar it depicted.  He has at last come up with another card which reveals exactly the site of this ' Lost Cave'.  He promises more details of this in the new year.

Alison tells me that the dye test between Sludge Pit and Swildons yielded positive results.  Dye was recorded at the inlets in Swildons 6 and 7, and at points downstream from these sites, thus showing, as believed, that Sludge Pit water flows into Passchendaele.  Passchendaele is the passage that runs to the south of Pirate and Shatter Chambers.  The dye used was an optical brightening agent.

The U.S. Navy have been developing submarine communication using the sub-atomic particles known as neutrinos.  Although it is almost prohibitively expensive at present it may well be that radio communication through the earth (instead of round, via satellites) will ultimately be possible.  What potential for the caver!

O.C.L. was underground in Cuthbert’s very recently - in fact more recently than the Wig, who has not been near the place for a long time.  Please remember to write your trip up in the log, Oliver!

American scientists have been producing a new kind of light bulb in which excess heat is trapped within the bulb by reflection.  The light can then burn with the same intensity but using less power.  Such bulbs for domestic use should be on sale in Britain in 1981.  I wonder how long it will be before the technique is applied to small, low voltage bulbs, such as those in caving lights?

During the weekend of 29th/30th November there was a diving tragedy in Kingsdale. Details are sketchy at the moment, but the diver was a member of the Red Rose, though not a member of C.D.G.  He had dived through from Keld Head to one of the air-bells and said that he would not go back.  He was given morale and physical assistance and persuaded to make the dive back, but he died en route.  The cause of death is not yet known.

Re. the October B.B., sorry about the lack of cover.  This was not some snide way of emphasising my request for more covers, though this may be the effect that it had.  I simply forgot to bring the covers when we collated the B.B.

Erratum: page 3, para.3, line 4 should read: relative to the volume of passage…

The Lionels Hole survey is meant to be accompanied by an article on the cave by Andy Sparrow. A.S. please note, accept a reprimand and a smacked wrist, and send me the manuscript a.s.a.p., or sooner.


Marine Commando destroys British Warship with Thunder Flashes!  Naval officer runs amok with axe on ship!  Potholers in drunken orgy at sea! .....

Yes, Ross White, Tom Temple and Trev Hughes have been together, at sea, on the same ship, no doubt creating the same havoc and mayhem as at least two of them cause regularly at the Belfry.  They all had 'fun' ashore in Hamburg including the Rheeperbalm.  On the night of the B.E.C. Dinner they were all at sea again but I have it on good authority that the night did not pass soberly.

In between bouts of alcoholism Trev still managed to think of Mendip and has put together the following article.


Wigmore re-visited.  Some further thoughts.

Tony Jarratt's article in B.B. No. 371 marked the end of a lively series of articles about this interesting conglomerate cave.  This, I hope, will redress the situation and inspire some thoughts, and even probably some work underground.

At the time of Tony's article Wigmore was being dug virtually every day; I was on leave and Tony was on holiday.  The latest event in his article was the pushing on past the Smoke Room to where a large slab blocked the passage (30th Nov. '78).  What follows continues from there.

The weekend of 2nd/3rd December saw a large party of Belfryites attacking the offending slab by means of a rope winch.  This slab, the result of roof block fall, was removed and broken up by hammer and chisel. Approximately four feet of new passage leading to a choked right hand corner was entered.

An unreachable left hand bend, after a further two feet, could be seen.  A major setback occurred on that Saturday, the substantial mud and stone collapse from the Smoke Room.  This slump increased during the following days and completely blocked the way on.

Attention now turned to the large, black hole, through boulders, revealed by this collapse. Some stabilization was required but on 9th December '78 the upper section of the Smoke Room was entered. The chamber was found to consist of tiny rift inlets and wedged boulders.

On the following weekend a large B.E.C. team dug at the debris which blocked the way along the lower passage.  This flowing stream made spoil hauling a wet and miserable task.  It was decided to leave the dig until the following spring. The final comment in my caving log entry for that trip summed up the situation: "Much more work still to be done."

After this trip the cave appears to have been left alone - no entries were recorded in the hut log. I was at sea, enjoying only infrequent trips to Mendip; other digs found favour; the sun shone; the Hunter's was open; etc.  As a result, for twenty months Wheal Wigmore heard only the lonely knocker's chisel. No curse ridden digger’s breath nor shovel on rock.  Silence.

I could not allow this to continue.  A weekend on Mendip at the end of August this year found me with an itchy digging arm and two volunteers for their first ever trip down Wigmore; Ian (Wormhole) Caldwell and (Quiet) John Watson.  Deluded by promises of me digging in their recent extensions in the deepest reaches of Manor Farm Swallet they agreed on an exploratory trip.

The entrance pitch, Hesitation Chamber and the two climbs were unchanged apart from accumulations of vegetable debris and oddments of the capping formers.  However the winter streams of 78/79 and 79/80 had not been idle. The start of Christmas Crawl had been scoured out and now seems quite sizeable. The entry to Santa's Grotto had to be dug open - easily removable gravel choked the low section of passage to within four inches of the roof.

A large boulder and several smaller rocks had slumped into the entrance of Pinks and Posies.  These were moved or demolished and an entry made. The first section of Pinks and Posies was unchanged.  However the remains of the Smoke Room collapse and allowed gravel to accumulate behind it.  The last section of passage was fairly heavily choked to within six inches of the roof.  Ian's and John's moans of inactivity forced a retreat before I could come to grips with this choke.  The Smoke Room collapse, however, did seem to have largely vanished.

The next visit was a post AGM trip (good conglomerate mud is excellent for clearing the mind of such politics) by Chris Smart, 'Quackers', Nigel Dibben and 'Mac (I don't feel well) anus'.  Chris dug into the Smoke Room, passed the now non-existent collapse and reached a point some ten feet beyond the Smoke Room where a boulder obstructed the way.  The passage could be seen to continue.  This represents ⅔ of the original distance from the Smoke Room to the end of the cave as it stood on 2/12/78.

Inspired by the success of this trip Ross White and I ventured to the end on 11/10/80, armed with an array of digging gear.  A week of continuous rain had produced a fine stream flowing down the entrance shaft. This was diverted to a secondary sink in the clearing to the south-west of the entrance, where the water disappears through the Rhaetic Marl.  The cave remained very wet despite our efforts.  Ross put his talents to good use and rapidly moved aside the boulder that had stopped Chris.  The original end of the cave was quickly reached.  Loose gravel now chokes the passage at the left hand bend completely to the roof.  We both dug at this choke for a while.  However, having little convenient dumping space and no spoil hauling gear we decided to call it a day.  We returned, wet and filthy, to the surface.

On first glance at the terminal choke it is credible to suggest that the conglomerate passage bifurcates at this point, but this is not my belief.  Having viewed the end in December '78 when the present gravel choke was not there I wish to put forward the view that this choke is the result of stream deposition behind roof block fall, the material coming largely from the Smoke Room collapse.  Digging at the end is very feasible - the gravel is loose, mud free and easily dug. The most convenient way of removing the spoil would be in 'poly' sacks which could easily be hauled along the low passages.  A team of four or five diggers would be required.  The removal of the loose material will allow the block fall to be attacked either chemically of mechanically.  What could follow?  Open passage would most probably be of the same pattern as before: low bedding modified by block fall.  But what of the limestone?  Where is it? When will it be met?  Only by digging will the truth be known but here are the geomorphological details of the area: -

1)       All Eights Mineshaft (55965291) elevation 925 ft is only 1410ft north of Wigmore, the shaft cap being 45ft higher. Limestone is met at a depth of 80ft. The water in the shaft is said to emerge at Sherbourne Spring.

2)       The underlying limestone dips at 300 to the north-east - it is on NE slopes of the North Hill pericline.  The limestone surface can be assumed to rise in a SW direction.

3)       The unconforming conglomerate has in lower Wigmore, produced a bedding passage dipping to the south at 2-3O, most noticeably in Christmas Crawl.  (Incidentally, the average surface gradient between All Eights and Wigmore is 20 to the SSE).

4)       Wigmore Swallet is 78 ft deep at the end.

Personally I think the limestone is very close despite the fact that a groundwater divide separates the water flow routes of the two sites.

But what of Wigmore's subterranean flow to Cheddar?  I would like to propound that there exists an as yet unknown major drainage passage heading east-west that transits the Wigmore area.  The head of this catchment is the Tor Hole Swallet area.  This watershed is quite sizable and, as demonstrated by Tor Hole Swallet, bears little relation to the surface landform.

The passage of water through this system is extensively controlled by the layer of Harptree Beds, Marl and Rhaetic Shales which cover the area. Rainwater collects at discrete points on this impervious layer before flowing underground, giving rise to the large number of sinkholes in the area.  As the sinkholes develop they are choked by slumping bf the surface clays leading to slow flow rates by percolation action in the upper regions of these poorly developed caves.  The solutional power at depth is consequently proportionally greater due to the absence of calcareous matter in these clays. The amalgamation of water from these many, small, choked passages would lead to the formation of a master passage by preferential solution.  The depth of this initially phreatic passage would be just below the water table pertinent to the time of its formation.  This passage would be largely strike controlled, in the limestone, and would contour around the northern side of the North Hill pericline.

The major development of this passage would have begun at an elevation of about 650 ft a.o.d.  This development is supported by the existence of a large cavity, found by boring, at a depth of approximately 200ft in the fields immediately to the east of Wigmore Swallet.  A passage at this depth would correspond to a period when the water table was such that Great Oones Hole acted as the Cheddar resurgence, some 300ft higher than today.  This indicates the great age of the proposed passage.

The height of the lowest sinks (690ft) indicate that the large cavity most probably represents a fossil section of passage or even possible a chamber of a similar nature to those above the active streamway in Stoke II.

After the initial section of slow flow the flow in the main passage to Cheddar would be of a more rapid nature.  Examples of this flow structure are: -

1)                    Tor Hole, Long Wrangle and Minery Cottage Swallets, 1 mile to the east of Wigmore. Flow travel time to Cheddar: 72 - 87 hours.

2)                    Red Quar Swallet, ½ mile SSE of Wigmore.  Flow travel time: 5 days.

3)                    Bowery Corner Swallet, l½ miles west of Wigmore.  Flow time: 50 hrs.

Castle Farm Swallet, a B.E.C. dig in 1963/65, produced a draughting, choked passage at 20ft depth. This project has, I hear, been re-opened.  A dye test here would be of immense value.

The rapid travel time (11 hours) of the Wigmore water is highly significant.  I believe that it indicates the close proximity of the master passage and the relatively open nature of the passage to it.  The presence of the nearby cavity supports this proposition.

For Wigmore Swallet to reach the depth of the master passage a steeply descending passage is required. In the limestone a dip passage would rapidly reach the required depth.  Whether this passage is a low bedding or a vadose trench only direct exploration will tell.  The limestone passage may be well developed, of course, for the reasons stated earlier. I also predict that the Wigmore stream will be augmented at the obvious line of weakness - the conglomerate / limestone boundary.

Wigmore Swallet, with a length to date of 237 ft, is the only cave in the area whose underground course has been followed for any distance.  It must represent a potential key to this proposed system.  The terminal choke cannot be left alone. Digging there is not easy but the reward will surely repay the effort and could be of major significance.  The challenge should not be ignored.


Elm Cave Or Fordbury Bottom Cave, Murder Combe, EM 74644873

information compiled by Colin Houlden.

First found in 1956 by Dave Mitchell and Alan Cowley who reached the second boulder ruckle.

CDG newsletter series 50, 1979, January, page 14 reports dives by Pete Moody in May and June 1978 and states he could not find the way on.

In 1978 again, Dave and Dianne Walker, Alan Mills and Colin Brimstone blasted the passage in the dry section beyond the point where Pete Moody dived, as the water level had dropped.

Pete and Alison Moody reached the third chamber in dry passage, due to lowered water level. They saw a sump 20ft below but were unable to dive because of lack of tackle.

Sunday 14th September 1980: The sump beyond the third boulder ruckle was dived by Colin Houlden and Barry Wilkinson, with a back up team consisting of Marion Gay, Alan Mills and Glyn Bolt.

Diver's report, by Colin Houlden:

I dived first upstream and found a submerged chamber about 8ft x 8ft with a 2" to 4" airspace situated centrally in the roof.  There was no obvious exit from this chamber other than the entrance.  I returned to base.   On the second dive I explored the downstream area and found no obvious way on.  I returned to base.

Upon first examination of the sump, the water was crystal clear and an obvious hole at the upstream end about 3ft round was visible.  This was the object of my third dive.  The visibility was now zero because of the previous two dives.  I therefore decided to enter feet first.  I descended through boulder obstacles to a depth of about 20ft I aborted the dive due to faulty equipment.  Upon my return to base Barry dived in order to confirm my three dives.



Cooper's Hole, Cheddar

by Chris Smart

On the 19th October an Afro styled golliwog (see the Rocksport price list for your inflatable model) set off a remarkably silly chain of events.  He informed the massed hordes (well, eight of us, anyway) at the Belfry that there was now a totally new through trip possible on Mendip!  The whole room immediately jumped into action and prepared for a long, hard trip.  Unfortunately we were then told the location of this new trip - Cooper's Hole in the gorge.  Chris Bradshaw then went on to explain that a top entrance had opened about 20 - 25 metres vertically above the old bottom entrance.  From those present John and Sue Dukes and Martin and Liz Bishop volunteered transport and the remaining five of us - Quackers, Jane Clarke, Ross, Bob Cork and Herr Blitz - were soon at the Cooper's Hole car park.

As if to assist us nature decided to lend a helping hand and it began to drizzle.  Undaunted but feeling sillier by the minute we began the climb up the footpath towards the reported location of the top entrance. We were soon thwarted in this as the footpath had disappeared leaving an overhanging, circular hole of about 4m diameter and 20 or so metres deep.  After various people had demonstrated how it was possible to make the world move simply by jumping up and down, the B.E.C. 'Make a Cave Safe' team of conservationists decided that it would be necessary to do something about this large and dangerous orifice.  We were lucky in having a digging rope and felling axe with us, and with only a minimum of effort (all of us for one hour) we managed to enlarge the hole to about 7m x 4m and succeeded in losing a large tree down the shaft.  This should now cushion your fall sufficiently so that you appreciate the remainder of it!

The drizzle was by now bucketing it down so we decided to mix business with pleasure and sampled the Grockle shops of Cheddar and a cream tea in Gough's restaurant before returning to the Belfry.

For obvious safety reasons the upper entrance to Cooper's has been surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. The edges of the hole are reported to be very unsafe.  Another tree recently fell into the shaft, closely followed by a felling axe and then a John Dukes, this last being on a life line, fortunately for himself.  Will the finder of the axe, and the B.E.C. digging rope that is also somewhere in the hole, please return same to the Belfry.

It would seem that no-one has yet had the nerve to find out if a through trip is actually possible. The squeeze above the pile of debris in the original part of Cooper's is almost certainly blocked with boulders at present.

G. W.-J.


These extracts taken from ' American Caves and Caving' by William R Halliday M.D. show the American impression of cave digging!

'When talus crawling fails or is too risky, the question of digging may arise.

Such digging runs the risk of dislodging natural keystones or additional sections of loosened ceiling. Long handled tools, and sometimes careful timbering supervised by mine rescue experts, are essential - but at this stage of development of North American Spelunking it usually isn’t worth it.'

'Much of America's (North) underground is still in the initial stages of near random exploration.  Here and there, cave digging - the next step beyond scientific exploration is underway.  The number of cavers engaged in this thankless and dangerous task, however, is so small, and the British Caving Literature thereon so excellent, that those interested should refer to the section on suggested additional reading. '

Among the books mentioned are 'The Manual of Caving Techniques' published by ERG.


Why not make one of your New Year resolutions 'to write at least one article for the B.B. in 1981'.

I’ve just read in the BCRA rag about an extension in Manor Farm.  Apparently they (BCRA Eds.) don't know who did it.  Shouldn't it have been in the B.B. first?


Portland (Assaulted)

by Steve Woolven.

The assault on Portland and the taking by storm happened on a quiet, but hot, summer's Bank Holiday, this August, by the arrival of six B.E.C. members and friends.

Sunday dawned a clear sky, and the arrival of Niki and I meeting up with Gary, Graham, Neil and Bruce. Having just missed breakfast we hurriedly cooked and ate our own before catching the rest up on the cliff's edge, Blacknor being the whole point of the exercise.

The next two hours passed with an array of abseiling gear laying around, bodies sunning themselves, admiring the view of the Southern coast line and generally festering by passing a 'Party Seven' around.  At this point, may I thank Gary Cullen for donating the beer, even though he was not around this weekend - much appreciated.

Anyway, after slinging the rope over and. rigging up Graham disappeared over the edge.  A third of the way down the cliff (about 40') with the remains of the beer swinging in gay abandon, three feet below his waist, Graham successfully swung into the hole without spilling a drop.  Phew!  A very tricky manoeuvre.  One by one went over leaving myself to bring up the rear.

As I was clipping onto the rope two very well-dressed gentlemen with broad American accents, looking rather religious, passed by.  They were seemingly confused as to my purpose of bailing off a cliff wearing a miner's lamp and helmet.

"Are you a climber'?" they asked.

I had great trouble in explaining that I was a caver, when to them it looked as if I was going down the cliff into the sea.  Even more confusing when the cliff appeared to shout: -

"What the bloody hell are you doing up there?  Hurry up! Get a flaming move on."  And other such words which are better off not printed.

Once inside (caving at last) and crawling along the passage negotiating the gull’s mess we soon reached a cross rift.  Stepping over and down we squeezed, crawled and climbed along a new thin, tall rift passage.  Around some boulders, past a small, pretty section (the only piece in the cave, but rather nice) it took on the rift shape once again.  This carried on the same way until it closed down and blocked.

Gary and I climbed high up the rift to try and force a way on, but it only went a little further and then closed down too tight.  On the way back we looked up some side crawls, one of which ran parallel to the entrance passage.  It came out a little further along the cliff's a back entrance.  There was a nest of young gulls here, looking at us as if we were nuts, so we left them alone rather quickly and headed back out.

All sitting huddled at the entrance, looking out and seeing nothing but sea, gave us a gull's eye view. The difference between them and us was the fact that we were finishing off a beer, which went down great after such a dry cave.  Abseiling out of here was more awkward than going over the top, because once on the rope you swung out and away from the rock.  Sixty feet to the bottom and then a refreshing, cool swim in the sea.

'Blacknor' seems to be the only cave worth going into on Portland.  It has now got two metal stakes on the cliff, marking where to put the rope over, but, it is still advisable to take your own and to check these just in case. 'Blacknor' is best attempted on a hot summer’s day, where it has an almost magical appeal to it.  With a cool swim afterwards.

Unless of course you cannot stand rifts', 'which most of Blacknor is!


B.C.R.A. Conference 1980

As the BEC pulled out of the club stand affair this year I was condemned to attendance at the lectures. As this was only the second conference I had attended I viewed the prospect of sitting through all that technical talk with a sinking heart.  However I put on a brave face, picked out a good novel, took charge of all our cheque books and left early on Friday for Nottingham.

We, that is Martin, Myself, G.W.J., and Chris Smart, arrived at the Sir John Barlace Warren earlier than expected which was just as well as closing time was 10.30.  Having decided that this was a highly uncivilised district I retired to the car for a sleep leaving the others to the serious drinking. Much later I was woken by various bodies smelling highly of curry demanding to be driven to our lodgings. I was rather incensed at having missed the meal and still being very tired managed only a small scold before dozing off again.  Graham drove in reckless abandon to Heeston where an unsuspecting Bradford member had offered to put us up for the weekend. Having arranged ourselves on the floor we fell promptly asleep with a view to the early morning next day.

Breakfast consisted of various bars of chocolate bought on the way to the University.  We eventually found the correct entrance despite the bad signposting, and had ample time to have a good look at the stands before the first lecture.  Although the hall was smaller than the previous year and the number of stands less, there were certainly more bargains in evidence.  New ideas were also present in the form of Brenden Brews new ascender/descender.

Having decided on which lecture to attend we all trooped upstairs and took our seats.  All four of us had decided to see Caves of Nottingham as it was the only lecture not repeated on Sunday.  Unfortunately, although it could have been a good lecture, it was delivered by a boring lecturer.  It wasn't a help to have to sit through it in the coffee break either. However, King Pot, by D. Crossland & T. Whittaker, which followed, was an excellent lecture and I began to think things were looking up.  Lunch at the pub followed but we had to go on foot because the car key had snapped in half in Martin’s pocket.

After lunch we attended a slide medley in 3D by J. Wooldridge which was very good and would have been even better if the special glasses which had to be worn worked for me. I think I was alone in this respect as everyone else seemed most impressed.  This was followed by the unedited version of Treviso 79, winner of the Mick Burke award for that year.  Tea followed and we rounded up the day with an interesting talk on Mexico by Jim Eyre.

We dined that night in a Turkish restaurant, together with J. Dukes, and Biffo from the Bradford, a concession to me due to missing the previous night.  Feeling pretty tired by now we decided against the Ceilid at the Uni and went to the Star instead.

Having sneaked John into our lodgings we got to sleep in preparation for next day.

Sunday started off with Poro de Xitu, rated quite good, followed by Mulu by Tony Waltham.  Very energetic but lost me in the technicalities.  Morocco by P. Glanville came next followed by an interesting session in the pub along with half the conference.

We trooped back to Solo Caving Techniques a treatise given with the appearance of trying to justify the speaker rather than convince the audience.  Sardinia I can’t comment on because I promptly fell asleep five minutes after the lecture began.  The grand finale of the lectures, and I was glad we saved it to last, was Accidents Happen to other people by Dr. J. Frankland.  This was probably the best lecture I have ever attended in my life being funny while still managing to get over a serious point. The photo awards followed which was the expected bun fight after which most people made a beeline for the door to start the journey home.

For those interested the venue for next year is to be the same, already booked in fact.

G. Grass


More News From Our Northern Correspondent

In one of Nidderdale's major river caves, New Goyden Pot, another half a mile of big stream passage has recently been found.

Geoff Crossley. B.P.C.

After heavy rains in the north Whernside Manor’s Ben Lyon took a party into Bar Pot only to find that South East passage was sumped.  Later a party of Craven P.C. members found that Gaping Ghyll Main Chamber was flooded to a depth of 35ft.

Apparently the last time this happened, many years ago, it took five years for the system to return to normal.

Fred Weeks.  V.C.C.

B.E.C. Lake District Meet, 1981

Once again the club is off to the Lake District this winter.  The dates are 21st February to 1st March 1981.

Those requiring to stay at the cottages at Langdale should write to : -

Mr Sanderson,
Fir Garth,
Great Langdale,
Nr. Ambleside,
LA22 9JL

Be sure to mention in the booking that you are part of the B.E.C. group, otherwise you could be told that that the cottages are already filled!

The cottages hold up to five bods and the approximate cost will be £30.00 per cottage + VAT and electricity.  Last year the club plus its friends filled all the cottages so we suggest you book early.

Club members looking to share accommodation or transport would do well to contact one of the following people, who are all going up for the week: -

Martin and Glenys Grass, John and Sue Dukes, Chris Batstone, Graham Wilton-Jones (all three of him), Sue Tucker, Jane Clarke, John and Gill Turner, Chris Smart, John Knops, Simon (Woody) Woodman, the Palmer entourage, Greg Villis and Hiss Piggy.

Martin Grass

Graham W-J


QUOTE: - by Mike Palmer, re the recent Peak cavern trip, when water levels seemed rather high, and he had not managed to get into the cave on his last three attempts: -

"Why don't we send someone in to see if it's flooded to save us getting changed!''



by Tim Large

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION:- Everyone is reminded that subs became due on the 1st October.  So far very few people have paid up.  Without your money the club cannot continue to function, pay bills or continuo to provide the facilities you have come to expect. The subscription rates are the same as last year: -

Junior - £6                     Full - £8                        Joint - £12

The last date for payment is 31-Decomber-1980.  After that date your BB will cease and you will have to reapply.  Please send your subs to Fiona Lewis, 53 Portway, Wells.

DINNER 1980: - From all reports everyone appeared to enjoy this event at the Caveman - being attended by 132 members; friends and guests.  Our guest of honour was Harry Bennett, the manager of Cheddar Caves.  The evening was rounded off by a trip around Gough's Cave thanks to the kindness of Mr. Bennett. 'King Solomon’s Temple' echoed to the sound of 'The Exploration Song'.  Pete Franklin said that the last time the club did this was 16 years ago.

CHARTERHOUSE CAVING PERMITS: - are available at the Belfry from either the Hut Warden or any committee member who might be there.  Please make sure yours is up to date.  These are free to members.  Any guests you may take down the Charterhouse Caves can obtain a temporary permit also from the Belfry at a cost of 25p.

FIREWORKS AT THE BELFRY: - Recently an incident at the Belfry involving fireworks caused some damage.  Some members will already know what I am talking about; I don't think I need go into detail.  The outcome of the incident is that besides the person involved being severely warned as to future action, no fireworks or similar devices will be allowed on the club premises.  This applies to possession whether or not they are intended for use.  Any member contravening this committee decision will be suspended from the Belfry immediately until the next committee meeting can decide on further action.

FAIRY CAVE QUARRY: - Notice has been posted in the local newspaper that Hobbs Quarry have applied for planning permission in respect of development of cave and recreation facilities for tourists at the Quarry including a children’s zoo.  Looks like there could soon be another show cave on Mendip!  Maybe that is the best way to preserve caves like Shatter and Withyhill.

AGM 1980:- Though club must have set a record this year in completing the AGM business by 1pm. That included our usual break for lunch and beer.  The meeting was chaired by Alan Thomas.  The voting for the committee produced a return of 80 ballot papers and one of the highest for many years.  In recognition for his services to the club, Martin Cavendar was granted an Honorary Life Membership by the meeting.  For those who may not know Martin, he is a Solicitor, who has over the years helped the club in legal matters.  He also convened the Constitution Sub-Committee in 1978 which resulted in our present constitution.

BREAFAST TIME ON MENDIP: - For those members visiting Mendip who cannot stand the thought of cooking The Red Lion at Green Ore has started providing cooked Breakfast at reasonable prices on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Why not give it a try I'm sure you'll find the food and service good.

NCA EQUIPMENT SUB-COMMITTEE: - I know many members prefer to ignore what they call 'cave politics'.  So go bury your heads in the sand if you must, but one day you will find it to late and your freedom as cavers restricted with no way of finding a remedy to the situation.  The equipment sub-committee caused a stir several years ago with its ideas on reports and how it should lay down the do's and don'ts with regards to equipment.  But we thought we had got over the problem and quelled the misguided individuals concerned.  No such luck.  We now have an equally misguided convenor in one D. Elliot whoever he might be.  I believe he works at that place known as Whernside where they produce 'pseudo cavers'.  Well I am now given to understand that the equipment committee has invited the main manufacturers and suppliers of caving gear to sit on the sub-committee.  They also appear uninterested in caver’s ideas or having regional representation on the committee.  Some snippets that have filtered out are that they are drawing up specifications for the 'ideal' helmet, krab or whatever.  Does this mean that they are dividing up the gear market?  Will we soon only be able to use a certain make of helmet or else risk our insurance void; condemnation from a Coroner or restricted access unless we use the recommended gear?  This sub-committee also appears reluctant to meet on Mendip I wonder why?  What with this and the farce at the last NCA AGM over the election of officers, I wonder what is becoming of our national representative.

Starlight Cave

by Annie Wilton-Jones.

I must admit that, when Ian suggested trip to Starlight cave, I wasn't too keen.  The weather had been bad for quite a while and road conditions were somewhat treacherous.  The snow was still lying in places and the freezing rain was making little impression on it.  A day in front of the fire with some home made wine and a murder mystery sounded infinitely more attractive than huddling in my duvet in a car with a faulty heater, struggling to the entrance and then grovelling around in the dark.  As usual, of course, I gave in and helped to got everything ready,  We'd been told where Starlight Cave was but weren't too sure how to get there, especially as some of the roads were likely to be impassable.  A study of the map showed possible alternatives but, as I'm a lousy navigator, I didn't look forward to trying to direct Ian along these lesser known roads.  Knowing that we would probably have to park at some distance from the entrance we made doubly sure that we knew the route that we would have to take so that we wouldn't have to use the map in the rain.  I honestly didn't believe that any trip would really be worth all this effort.

The journey was as bad as I expected and I wasn’t in the best of tempers as we neared our destination. We drove as close as possible before parking but even so we had some way to go.  I didn’t relish the half mile walk in the freezing rain but I kept telling myself that it would be worth it when we got there.  Knowing that it was a fairly short cave we were a bit taken aback by the 50p a head entrance fee but, having braved the elements thus far, we didn't feel like wasting the effort because of a bit of profiteering by the owner. Reluctantly we paid up, knowing there was no way we could sneak in.  No doubt everybody else feels the same way, thus ensuring that the owner can afford his Christmas drinks!

We had no trouble locating the entrance as it was large and exposed.  The gate was open and a party was leaving.  “Not bad,” said their leader.  "Better than I expected."  Thus encouraged we ventured in.  It was immediately obvious how the cave got its name; the walls were a mass of scintillations, rivalling St. Cuthbert’s Balcony.  I was surprised at the ease of progress it was like walking in Gough's, though everything was on a smaller scale than there.  The formations were very impressive, particularly a pure white curtain of such a delicate appearance that it could have been a real net curtain hanging at our kitchen window.  The crystal pool, inadequately taped, was a fine example of its kind, and the perfection was matched by the pink tinged columns.

So far we had seen no one since we had lost site of the entrance, but this isolation was not to continue.  A noisy party could be heard nearby and, not wishing to get involved with an obviously inexperienced bunch of youths we decided to explore a promising looking side passage. Unfortunately this did not go, ending in a blank wall just out of sight of the main passage.  Resisting the urge to relieve our frustration by putting a B.E.C. sticker on the offending slab, we retraced our steps and continued on our original direction.  While the cave was undoubtedly pretty it was hardly sporting.

A bend in the passage concealed the next formation, which I promptly christened 'Garden Gnome' as it looked just like one of those things you see fishing in the garden pond.

Something that struck us forcibly was the state of preservation of all the formations in view of the cave's obvious entrance and easy nature.  Presumably the strict control of access has a lot to do with it. The cave is only open for part of the year and then only for part of each day.  As this open season is during the winter, bad weather must deter some of the less dedicated but, even so, apparently towards the end of the season large numbers turn up for a trip before it is too late and queues like those at the top of Swildon's '20' are not uncommon.  Luckily, for our trip Ian had chosen a day when the weather was so awful that all a few other parties were around.

Anyway we left 'Garden Gnome' to his fishing and strolled on.  When the going is so easy you get cocksure, don't you?  There I was marching along 'the 'Passage of a Thousand Snowflakes' gazing in amazement at the wonderful, glittering walls and roof when -- crunch!  My boot made contact with a projecting piece of the wall and I crashed headfirst into a daintily decorated alcove.  To my shame I discovered that the decorations were not very dainty anymore.  As there was nothing I could do about it I quickly kicked the bits out of sight and hurried on to catch Ian up.  As usual he wasn't a bit bothered about me - just annoyed about the damage.  For once I saw his point.  How long had it taken to create what I had destroyed in less than a minute?

At last we had come to a bit of a climb which helped to relieve the monotony of the previously level cave.  It was a simple climb and the passage leading away from it was of the same character as that leading to it.  By now I was wondering what made this trip so popular as the formations alone didn't satisfy me and I knew that Ian was feeling the same way.  If it hadn't been for the 50p entrance fee I think we might have called it a day.  As it was we were determined to get our money's worth.

I was wishing that we had made this a photographic trip as the formations were worth recording.  I felt sure that they could not last for much longer in their superb condition.  I had already done my bit towards their destruction and I wouldn't be the last.  Ian though had been certain that there would be nothing worth filming and, as he prefers to cave empty-handed whenever possible, he had left his box at home.

We explored every side passage and one or two avens but found that nothing went anywhere when suddenly we came into a fairly large cavern.  From the appearance of the large white boss standing at the entrance to this cavern we deduced that we had reached Snowman's Grotto, the largest chamber in the cave and the end of the known system.  As Ian was convinced that there must be a way on, we started exploring all the likely spots even though, as I pointed out, everybody else must have done the same.

It was Ian who found the most promising place, a small, round passage, leading downwards, choked with sand.  I joined him on hearing his shout and reluctantly started to dig at the sand with my hands, as he was doing.  "If it seems worth it we can come back later with some digging gear."

"I can feel something solid," I said to Ian.

"Oh, yes?" said a strange voice, and I turned to see an oldish chap in a red and white goon suit.

"Well, the lucky dip' is for the under-thirteen’s so you'd better get your hands out of it. And don't be too long with your Christmas present list as it's time for my lunch break!"


Marlow 11mm Polyester SRT Rope

The production of Marlow 11mm polyester SRT rope was almost cancelled because of the small caving market potential.  But following the raid on the Iranian Embassy by the SAS on three strand hawser which had been taken straight out of store and thrown over the side of the building, and the result of one SAS man hung up on a kink they decided that they needed kermantle rope and so contacted Marlow.  Marlow sent a sample of the 11mm SRT rope for evaluation, a group of Saudi Arabian reps saw the rope and ordered it for use by their forces (in black!).  Later an order was placed by the British Army for the SAS and all helicopter - borne units, which now gives Marlow 11mm Polyester SRT Rope a much bigger market outside of caving!

NEWS extracted from BCRA Caves and Caving No. 10, Nov. 1980.

The new system in East Kingsdale discovered by the N.C.C. and mentioned briefly in last month's B.B. is confirmed as being a big extension to Brown Hill Pot.  Martin Bishop is visiting it this year and has all but promised an article on the place.

The lower entrance to King Pot is now closed up again, as agreed with the farmer, so don't go trying any rappelling through.  On the subject of rappel trips (where the rope is pulled on through and exit made at the bottom of the system) Stu Lindsey has written an article on this which will appear in the January B.B.

Sorry, Stu, but I just didn't have time to get it in this edition.

Before King Pot lower entrance was blocked Geoff Yeadon pushed the upstream sump and extended the system by around 1000 feet.

On the West side of the valley of Kingsdale avens under Jingling have been climbed with maypoles and bolts, but there seems to be little hope of a connection from Pot to Master Cave here.


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List October 1980

828 Nicolette Abell               Michaelmas Cottage, Faulkland, Bath

20 L Bobby Bagshaw            699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol, Avon

392 L Mike Baker                 10 Riverside Walk, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon

295 A. Ball                           4 Charlotte Street, Cheadle, Cheshire

818 Chris Batstone               8 Prospect Place, Bathford, Bath, Avon

390 L Joan Bennett               8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

214 L Roy Bennett                8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

731 Bob Bidmead                 Valley Way, Middle Street, East Harptree, Bristol

364 L Pete Blogg                  5 Tyrolean Court, Cheviot Close, Avenue Rd., Banstead, Surrey

336 L A. Bonner                   Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland

145 L Sybil Bowden-Lyle       111 London Road, Calne, Wiltshire

959 Chris Bradshaw              9 Coles Road, Wells, Somerset

868 Dany Bradshaw              7 Creswicke, Bristol

967 Michael Brakespeare      7 Red Pit, Dilton Marsh, Westbury. Wiltshire

751 L T.A. Brookes               87 Wyatt Road, London, SW2

891 N.R. Brown                    The Barn, Lazy Lane, Fladbury, Pershore, Worcs.

756 T. Burt                           6 Roundwood Lane, Harpenden, Herts.

956 Ian Caldwell                   44 Strode Road, Clevedon, Avon.

977 Tony Callard                  75 Winter Road, Southsea, Hampshire

955 Jack Calvert                   4 The Hollow, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire.

902 L Martin Cavendar          The Old Rectory, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.

965 G. Childs                       Wheels, Southwater Street, Southwater, Nr. Horsham, Surrey

785 Paul Christie                  7 The Glen, London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

782 Pat Christie                   7 The Glen, London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

655 Colin Clark                     186 Cranbrook Road, Redland, Bristol

211 L Clare Coase                The Belfry, 10 Shannon Parade, Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia

89 L Alfie Collins                  Lavendar Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset

377 L D. Cooke-Yarborough   No known address

862 Bob Cork                       25 The Mead, Stoke St. Michael, Somerset

585 Tony Corrigan                139 Stockwood Lane, Stockwood, Bristol

827 Mike Cowlishaw             c/o Hilston, Cleveland Walk, Bath, Avon

890 Jerry Crick                     2 Coneacre, Chertsey Road, Windelsham, Surrey

680 Bob Cross                     42 Baynham Road, Knowle, Bristol

870 G. Cullen                       47 Eversfield Road, Horsham, Sussex

405 L Frank Darbon              PO Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada

423 L Len Dawes                  The Lodge, Main Street, Minster Matlock, Derbyshire

449 Garth Dell                      BLD 47 (Press), COD Donnington, Telford, Salop.

815 Nigel Dibben                  97 Worth Clough, Poynton, Cheshire

164 L Ken Dobbs                  85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon

972 Mike Duck                     c/o Wells Cathedral School, Wells, Somerset

830 John Dukes                   Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset

937 Sue Dukes                    Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset

847 Michael Durham             11 Catherine Place, Bath

779 Jim Durston                   Hill View, Old Beat, Maidendown, Nr. Burlescombe, Tiverton, Devon

322 L Bryan Ellis                  30 Main Road, Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset

269 L Tom Fletcher               11 Cow Lane, Bramcote, Nottingham.

894 P. Ford                          40 Station Road, Greenfield, Holywell, Clwyd, N. Wales

947 P. Ford                          CPO’s Mess, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset

404 L Albert Francis             22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset

468 Keith Franklin                42 Ann Street, Dandenong, Victoria 3175, Australia

569 Joyce Franklin               16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol

469 Pete Franklin                 16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol

978 Sheila Furley                 1 Lower Actis, Glastonbury, Somerset

835 Len Gee                        5 The Warren, Denton, Manchester

265 Stan Gee                       26 Parsonage Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport.

647 Dave Glover                   c/o Leisure, Green Lane, Pamber Green, Basingstoke, Hampshire

860 Glenys Grass                13 Granville Road, Luton, Beds

790 Martin Grass                  13 Granville Road, Luton, Beds

432 L Nigel Hallet                 62 Cranbrook Road, Bristol

104 L Mervyn Hannam          14 Inskip Place, St Annes, Lancashire

4 L Dan Hasel                      Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset

893 D. Hatherley                  6 Withiel Drive, Cannington, Bridgewater, Somerset

935 Lynne Henley                 10 Silver Street, Wells, Somerset

974 Jeremy Henley               Rogate, Leg Square, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

917 Robin Hervin                  12 York Buildings, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

952 Robert Hill                     32 Ridings Mead, Chippenham, Wiltshire

905 Paul Hodgson                47 Wylie Road, Hoo, Rochester, Kent

793 Mike Hogg                     32 Birchley Heath, Nuneaton, Warks

898 E. Hollis                        1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

899 A. Hollis                        1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

920 Nick Holstead                7 Wingfield Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

387 L George Honey             Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden

971 C. Houlden                    16 Brue Close, Bruton, Somerset

770 Chris Howell                  131 Sandon Road, Cadbsoton, Birmimgham

923 Trevor Hughes                Wardroom, HMS Bulwark, BFPO Ships, London

855 Ted Humphreys              Frekes Cottage, Moorsite, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

808 J. Hunt                          35 Congre Road, Filton, Bristol

73 Angus Innes                    18 David’s Close, Alveston, Bristol, Aven

969 Duncan Innes                 0

540 L Dave Irwin                   Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Somerset

792 Ken James                    20 Osprey Gardens, Worle, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

922 Tony Jarratt                   British High Commission, PO Box MS521, Maseru, Lothoso, S. Africa

51 L A Johnson                    Warren Cottage, Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol

560 L Frank Jones                103 Wookey Hole Road, Wells, Somerset

285 U. Jones                        Woking Grange, Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey

907 Karen Jones                  Room 63, New Ednd Nurses Home, New End Hospital, Hampstead, London NW3

567 L Alan Kennett               9 Hillburn, Henleaze, Brsitol

884 John King                      1 St. George Street, Partridge Green, Horsham, Sussex

316 L R.S. King                    22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon

542 L Phil Kingston              9 Lingfield, St. Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia

413 L R. Kitchen                  Overcombe, Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon

904 C. Knight                       Whitebrook Fisheries, Whitebrook, Llanuaches, Newport, Gwent

946 A. Knutson                    21 Milford Street, Southville, Bristol

874 D. Lampard                    Woodpeckers, 11 Springfield Park Road, Horsham, Sussex

667 L Tim Large                   53 Portway, Wells, Somerset

958 Fiona Lewis                   53 Portway,  Wells, Somerset

930 S. Lindsay                     5 Laburnum Walk, Keynsham, Bristil

574 L O.C. Lloyd                  Withey House, Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

58 G. Lucy                           Pike Croft, Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks

495 L Val Luckwill                8 Greenslade Road, Sedgeley hill, Dudley, Worcs.

550 L R A MacGregor           12 Douro Close, Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants

725 Stuart McManus            Greystones, Wells Road, Priddy, Somerset

106 L E.J. Mason                 33 Bradleys Avenue, Henleaze, Bristol

976 Mark Matthews              3 The Barton, Compton Martin, Bristol

957 Dave Maurison               27 Maurise Walk, London NW1

558 L A. Meaden                  Highcroft, Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset

963 Clare Merritt                   9 Pipsmore Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire

704 D. Metcalfe                    10 troughton Crescent, Blackpool, Lancs.

308 K. Murray                      17 Harrington Gardens, London  SW7

936 D. Nichols                     2 Hartley Road, Exeter, Devon

852 J. Noble                         18 Hope Place, Tennis Courts Rod, Paulton, Bath

880 G. Nye                          7 Ramsey Road, Horsham, Surrey

938 Kevin O’Neil                   99 Forest Road, Melksham, Wiltshire

964 Lawrie O’Neil                 99 Forest Road, Melksham, Wiltshire

624 J. Orr                            8 Wellington Terrace, Winklebury, Basingstoke, Hants.

396 L Mike Palmer               Laurel Farm, YarleyHill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset

22 L Les Peters                    21 Melbury Rd., Knowle Park, Bristol Avon

499 L A. Philpott                  3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon

961 Mick Phinster                4 Old Mill Lane, Inverness, Scotland

337 Brian Prewer                  East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset

622 Colin Priddle                  PO Box 14048, Wadeville 1422, South Africa

481 L John Ransom              21 Bradley Rd., Patchway, Bristol, Avon

452 L Pam Rees                  No Known Address

343 L A Rich                        Box 126, Basham, Alberta Canada

672 L R Richards                  PO Box 141, Jacobs, Natal, South Africa

945 S. Robins                      16 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

970 T. Roberts                     67 Mendip Road, Yatton, Avon

921 P. Rose                         18 Hocombe Drive, Chandlers Ford, Hants

832 R. Sabido                      15 Concorde drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

941 J. Sampson                   8 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

240 L A. Sandall                   43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon

359 L C. Sandall                   43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon

760 J. Sandercroft                5 Eastcroft, Henleaze, Bristol

237 L B. Scott                      Merrymead, Havestock Road, Winchester Hants

78 L R.A. Setterington          4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset

213 L R. Setterington            4 Cavendish Road, Chiswick, London W4

926 S. Short                        Flat 3, 1 South road, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

915 C. Smart                       10 Arnold Road, Woking, Surrey

823 A. Sparrow                    33 St. Thomas Street, Bath, Avon

851 M. Stafford                     28 Rowan Close, Sonning Common, Reading, Berks.

1 L Harry Stanbury               31 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Bristol

38L Mrs I Stanbury               74 Redcatch, Knowle, Bristol

575 L D. Statham                 The Bungallow, North Barrow, Yeovil, Somerset

365 L R. Stenner                  18 Stafford Place, Weston super Mare, Avon

865 P. Stokes                      32 Manor Way, Bagshot, Surrey

968 J. Tasker                       281 Canford lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Brsitol

772 Nigel Taylor                   Whidden Farm, Chilcote, Nr Wells, Somerset

919 T. Temple                      HMS Eskimo, BFPO Ships.

284 L A. Thomas                  Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset

348 L D Thomas                   Pendant, Little Birch, Bartlestree, Hereford

571 L N Thomas                   Holly Lodge, Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.

876 N. Thorne                      20 Hawkers Lane, Wells, Somerset

699 Buckett Tilbury               15 Fernie Fields, High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                  15 Fernie Fields, High Wycombe, Bucks

80 Postle Thompsett             11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

74 L Dizzie Thompsett          11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

381 L D. Towler                    7 Ross Close, Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex

157 L J. Tuck                       33 Crown Rise, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

382 S. Tuck                         Colles Close, Wells, Somerset

769 Sue Tucker                    Colles Close, Wells, Somerset

678 Dave Turner                   Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath

912 J. Turner                        Styles Weeks, Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.

635 L S. Tuttlebury               28 Beacon Close, Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey

887 G. Villis                         30 Knightcott Gardens, Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

175 L D. Waddon                 32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset

949 J. Watson                      113 Abbey Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

953 J. Watson                      15 Farm Grove, Southfields, Rugby, Warks.

973 J. Wells                         1324 Leyland Drive, Yorkyown, New York 10598

397 Mike Wheadon               91 The Oval, Bath

861 Maureen Wheedon         91 The Oval, Bath

553 R. White                        Cedar Hall, Henley Lane, Wookey, Wells, Somerset

975 M. White                       Garland House, Upton, Langport, Somerset

878 Ross White                   PO38389Y, 5 Troop, B. Company, 40 Comando Royal Marines, Seaton Barracks, Crown Hill, Plymouth, Devon

939 Woly Wilkinson              17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire

940 Val Wilkinson                17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire

934 Colin Williams                Address unknown

885 Claire Williams               Address unknown

559 Barry Wilton                  Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

568 Brenda Wilton                Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones     24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones        Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones            Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

943 Simon Woodman           Link Batch, Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon

877 Steve Woolven               21 Three Acres, Horsham, Sussex

914 Brian Workman              11 Moreland, 11 New Bath Road, Radstock, Bath

878 Ross White                   30 Curley Hill Road, Lightwater, Surrey.

916 Jane Wilson                   University Laboratory of Psychology, Park Road, Oxford

559 Barry Wilton                  Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

568 Brenda Wilton                Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones     Ileana, Stenfield Road, Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones        Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihull, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones            Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihull, West Midlands

738 Roger Wing                   15 Penleaze Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex

877 Steve Woolven               21 Three Acres, Horsham, Sussex

914 Brian Workman              11 Moreland, 11 New Bath Road, Radstock, Bath


The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones, 24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Telephone: Aylesbury (0296) 28270.

Club Officers for the year 1980/81 as elected at the Annual General Meeting: -

Hon. Secretary

Hon. Treasurer

Hut Warden

Hut Engineer


Caving Secretary

B.B. Editor

Committee Members

Tim Large

Sue Tucker

Dany Bradshaw

Nigel Taylor

John Dukes

Martin Grass

Graham Wilton-Jones

Sue Dukes

Stu Lindsay










(0749) 73960 (work)

(0761) 35165



(0749) 75686

(0582) 35145

(0296) 28270

(0749) 75686

With this, my first B.B., I have already managed to build up a small, relatively local editorial team who have assisted greatly in production.  I am still hoping to find more people able and willing to help with the initial copying of stencils.  Three people so far have offered photo-copying facilities, usually at their place of work. Are there any more offers, please. Let me know when you see me (I'll probably be nagging for articles at the time!) or drop me a line (with an article, of course).

It's a long time since we had decent photographs reproduced in a Belfry Bulletin.  If anyone has access to an electrostatic stencil cutter and can therefore copy photos onto Gestetner stencils please tell me a.s.a.p. Alternatively if you can reproduce slides or prints onto offset litho plates and can do the necessary printing, we need you.  At present we need about 220 copies of each B.B.  If you have to make a charge, let me know how much - it could still be worth it.

We will shortly run out of B.B. covers.  At current rates of production we need 5000 for two years.  Look at yours this month.  Can you make 5000?  For nothing, or very little?  Offers please.



Visit To October Grotto

Last year we read of Stu Lindsey dangling over the drop into G.G. in Yorkshire Now he relates his visit to Kingsdale Master Cave.

The day after the G.G. achievement saw me as the guests of Messrs Younitz, Hudson and Kinghorn in the Kingsdsle Master Cave.  These three intrepid Y.S.S. bods had spent the fast few weeks bolting an aven near Philosophers Crawl, initially with the aid of a maypole, and one more bolt should do it…. it did.  The honour of being first in was to be denied to Steve Y; constricted access and the low hang of the ladder required the efforts of the midget of the party. Access was gained to about 20ft of passage and the look of disappointment was paramount on the faces of the digging team.  But, they had found a superb, heavily decorated chamber - Helictite Grotto.

The obvious way on was blocked by a series of large, very solid stal flows, stalactites and stalagmites. The floor was also of stal. Turning around to descend, one cannot help but notice the straws in the solid roof opposite, they are in excess of 4ft (more probably 5ft.).  All possible ways on were investigated, except for the stal blockage.  There were none.

The name October Grotto was given by S.Y.  The maypole and other gear has been removed although a bolt has been left at the 30ft level.  A small, intermittent draught is present possibly caused through the volume of traffic relative to the volume of traffic - its one place that could challenge Swildon's for most people per minute, per passage!  The bottom of the aven is liquid mud, the top clean rock so it is probable the mud has been deposited by the stream 8ft lower.  The fluting of the wall provides reasonably conclusive evidence that the passage was once quite an active inlet.


Monthly Notes

Recently an ex-member of the club, Denis Read, turned up at the Hunter's (he left in 1952!!).  After donating some old copies of the B.B. his and Wessex Journal to the club library he invited any member round to house to help him get rid of 91.75 gallons of home-made wine that is cluttering up his living room.  Any takers!!

Denis's address is: 37, Broomground, Winsley, Bradford-on-Avon. tel. Bradford-an-Avon 6315.

On 26th Oct. Dave Morris, Rob Palmer and Martyn Farr dived the terminal sump of Agen Allwedd. Visibility was poor and much loose line had to be removed from the sump (4) before progress could be made. Eventually 300 feet of new line was laid in the sump and a line reel left in.  Exploration was terminated here.  The trip lasted 17 hours and was the first attempt on the sump since the tragic death of Roger Solari during June 1974.

A small expedition, mainly of S.W.C.C. members, left the U.K. last month for Ecuador.  Originally a much larger party should have gone in August but the main sponsors, British Caledonian Airways, withdrew and the trip had to be drastically reorganised.

Pages 8 and 9 of this issue show the long awaited survey of the Lionel's Hole extensions.  The end sump has recently been dived again, this time by Chris Milne (WCC) but again without success.  However two promising digging sites were noted near to the sump and it is hoped that these can be probed soon.  Lionel's is nowhere near finished yet.


Triple Troubles in the Double Troubles

The writer of this poem wishes to remain anon., but wonders if the characters portrayed recognise themselves!

We lay in 'The Hunters'
where we were in training,
and then we got worried
because it stopped raining.

We looked at each other
and let out a curse,
we would have to go caving
now what could be worse!

All three staggered out
feeling quite sick,
when some silly bugger
felt like a 'round trip'.

Frank was all keen
his mind must have blown,
for no word of a lie
he must weigh 18 stone.

Dave gave us a grin
and said he felt queer,
we all knew what that meant
as he brings up the rear.

Now I lit my pipe
and thought I would show 'em,
I'm the best of the lot
'cause I'm writing this poem.

So off to the green
and with lifeline and belay,
we got up the staircase
without too much delay.

On over the fields
it seemed like five miles,
and with Dave's half a pint limit
he soaked all the stiles.

Now into the blockhouse
and sit in the stream,
this just can't be true
it must be a bad dream.

Now trampling on cubs
and people in jeans,
we cleared out 'The Twenty'
with blasts of baked beans.

Up through the ' Temple'
and through the 'Mud Sump',
with Frank in the middle
the 'Incredible Lump'.

We pressed on with haste
and passed 'Shatter Pot',
falling into 'Blue Pencil'
a right shitty lot.

T'was at the first trouble
we got in a muddle,
it sumped off completely
when Dave pissed in a puddle.

He thought it quite funny
but soon lost his grin,
when 'we bailed with his helmet and left his head in.

So we pressed ever forwards
on sore hands and knees,
and Frank's moment of truth came at 'Birthday Squeeze'.

It took Dave ten minutes
and many a groan, 
Frank looked at his guts
and let out a moan.

He took off his helmet
and left off his light,
and shoved his head in
'till it fast stuck tight.

His bum seemed the problem
as his belly moved down,
it filled up his trousers
and they began to come down.

Dave pulled and I pushed
Frank let out a wheeze,
and said 'Deary me'
this is a tight squeeze.

He just couldn't get through
in his rubber suit,
even with help
from a size 14 boot.

So I pulled him back out
and he had an idea,
he said he would undress
I said 'That seems queer'.

He pulled off his jacket
and I said stop there,
'cause under his trousers
I know he was bare.

Some things are alright
and all this seemed fun,
but for one thousand quid
I won't look up his bum.

Dave said we need 'bang'
So I put in the boot,
and low  and behold
out did Frank shoot.

Now just at that moment
Dave was pulling him too, a
and he ended up
somewhere near 'Swildons Two'.

So next tine you're round there please give Frank a ring,
if you happen to find
a few layers of skin.

P.S. Now why do we do this
is it just for a lark,
or do we like groping
round holes in the dark

Couldn't we just turn the lights out!!


More Monthly Notes

Wig is now confirmed as an OFD I leader once more.  His phone no. is: Priddy 369.

Last month (October) the aven in Cooper's collapsed up to daylight.  Full details will appear in next month's B.B.

Pete and Alison (WCC) have, as usual, been active all over Mendip.  In Eastwater the rift at the bottom of Primrose Pot is now 50 feet long, draughting but very narrow.

At the end of October a dye test was conducted between Sludge Pit and Swildons.  If the results are positive I'll publish more details soon. In Longwood Pete and Alison are slowly but steadily pushing along the narrow, aqueous end of Reynolds’s Rift towards the sound of roaring streamway.

Still in Longwood, Speleo RHal have found over 200 feet of passage extending off the top of Waterfall Chamber.  It heads north and ends not far from the surface, near the present entrance. Radio location has shown inaccuracies in the original survey of up to 60 feet.

Tim Large reports that a well decorated chamber has been found at the very end of Goatchurch. Someone has dug under the 'impassable' rift beyond the Drainpipe and up through loose boulders to reach the chamber.

Thanks to Descent for the last two items of news.  It is good to see at least one of our national caving publications carrying up-to-date news.

In East Kingsdale, N.C.C. have done it again.  At the end of a previously known cave they have discovered a series of pitches, up to 90 feet deep for the largest.  The system is tight and strenuous.  That is a quote from Lugger and Geoff Yeadon who also say that at the bottom is an uninviting but promising sump.  "It'll be a long time before anyone dives that," one of them said.  More on East, and West, Kingsdale next month.

On the international scene, news has almost been flooding in during recent months of exceptionally deep caves, over 1000m in fact.  In May a connection between two of the Sistema Huautla caves in Mexico gave a depth of 1220 metres.

For some time now there have been rumours that Snieznaja Pieszcziera, at the eastern end of the Black Sea, was 1200m deep.  Confirmation comes through Descent once again that the 9 km system is 1280m deep.

Jean Pernette reports on a system 1195m deep in the lapiaz beyond Anialarra, in the P.S.M. area. The underground river is enormous and must be the St. Georges that resurges as the Cascade in the Kakoueta gorge. The cave has over 500m further depth potential.  The Cascade led to the original explorations of the area and the discovery of the P.S.M. The new, parallel system should be even bigger than the P.S.M.  Thus may end over 30 years of systematic prospecting.

One rumour - of a 500m deep shaft system ending only tens of metres from the highest part of Lamprechshofen, 1024m.


Annual Lake District Meet 1981


Saturday February 21st to March 1st  inclusive

Contact martin grass or Graham W-J for details and/or transport/accommodation   

Caving Secretary’s Report, 1980

Although no major finds have been made by the B.E.C. on Mendip, 1980 has been an active year for the Club.  Let's hope it continues throughout the decade.  During the year access was negotiated once again to the far reaches of Gough's Cave, and through the goodwill of the manager the Club has started two promising digs as well as diving a newly found sump.  Other caves in the Gorge which were previously 'out of bounds' have been visited and a dig started in Cooper's Hole in an attempt to link this with Gough’s.  In fact the management are so keen for this to happen that they reported that the connection had been made to H.T.V.!  Both sites are being dug regularly every Wednesday afternoon, by a small group of B.E.C. businessmen.

Other dig sites being actively pursued by Club members are Manor Farm and a new site in Dan yr Ogof.

As far as organised Club meets are concerned, these have been limited to caves where access is difficult, thus ensuring a good turnout of members Otter Hole, White Scar Cave and Dan yr Ogof have all seen at least one visit this year.  Club members again attended the Gaping Ghyll Whitsun winch meet and large group of B.E.C. and other clubs descended on Crickhowell for the Easter holiday.

The main Club expedition this year was back to Austria to continue the exploration of Barengassewindschacht.  Last year's limit was passed and exploration eventually ended at a pitch, thought to lead to a depth of about 400 metres.  A return this winter is planned to pass this obstacle.

Nearer home, in Cuthbert's, the Arête ladder has been removed to be strengthened and repaired but will be replaced in the near future.

(space for Editorial snigger)

Overall it has been a good, active year, with even a trip into Mossdale while it was raining!!

Martin Grass.


Letter to the Editor

Dear Graham,

A note for the B.B. if of any interest.

"Whilst on holiday at Erze-sur-mer, near Nice in the South of France, I visited the Club MarteI, 15, Av. Jean Medecin, Nice, 06000.  They meet every Thursday at 8.30 p.m. to discuss caving and the trips to be arranged for the following Sunday in the Alpes Maritime.

The president of the club is M. Greach, who speaks some English.

There are many caves in the region up to 5 km long, some with sumps for divers, and even with streams at temperatures up to 21°C though some are down to 2oC.

Anyone interested in joining them for a trip should call in to a Thursday meeting.

Obviously I gave them details of the B.E.C.

Yours sincerely, Jeremy Henley.


Many thanks to Tuska for donating his B.E.C. Dinner raffle prize, a copy of Martyn Farr's excellent book, 'The Darkness Beckons', to the Club library.


Lionel's Hole Extension Survey



The BEC Get Everywhere - Transvaal, South Africa

a letter from J - Rat.

Having a couple of weeks to spare the writer grabbed rucksack, aquaflash and borrowed diamond miner’s helmet and with thumb in the air tramped into the uninteresting prairies of the Orange Free State en route to the Rand goldfields and the Pope.  For newer members this particular Pope is not the one that Macanus tells jokes about, but an exiled Belfryite - Colin Priddle.  In true tradition the pair downed copious quantities of ale, retold the usual stories and then started thinking about caves.

A visit to the show cave of Sterkfontein, an hour’s drive from Johannesburg whetted their appetites.  Despite being situated in an almost desert like scrubland area of low hills - with no sign of karstic features - the cave was found to be an impressive phreatic network.  Several hundred feet of sculptured and well decorated passages were visited.  The rock formation here is Dolomite and bare rock walls resemble elephant skin - dark grey and beautifully eroded. Unfortunately many of the formations were vandalised, partly due to mining and quarrying operations and partly to an irate ex-leaseholder with a load of dynamite.  In the depths of this extensive cave lay a gloomy, placid lake which obviously stirred hidden desires in the Pope.  He was talked out of leaping in and removed from the cave to vent his passions on photographing the multi-coloured genitals of some local monkeys. A notable point of interest on this cave is that it is one of South Africa's most important archaeological sites - having yielded many remains of extinct fauna and several examples of early "ape-men".

A couple of days later the writer left the Pope to his gold analysing and caught an overnight train to Nelspruit in the E. Transvaal.   From here the monotonous landscape of the Veldt began to develop into picturesque hill country.  Some 20km from the town is the excellent show cave of Sudwala, again a phreatic system in Dolomite with both dead and growing formations. The "railway tunnel" entrance passages were once used by Sobhuz to hide from invading Zulus. Fierce battles took place here and in the valley below -  the Swazis only surviving with help from a BDoer commando camp.  Rider haggard also visited the cave, using it as a prop for his books "She" and "King Solomon’s Mines".  During the Boer War it was used as a Boer ammunition store for their "Long Tom" 94 pounder cannon.  The cave has over 4km of explored passage - much of the original exploration, survey and research having been undertaken by Derbyshire caver Harold Jackson and now in the hands of C.R.O.S.A. (Cave Research Organisation of South Africa - more of whom later).

Having done the tourist trip, admired the pretties and affixed "Bertie Stickers", the writer enquired about trips beyond the show cave and was told to try the following weekend.  He then headed off for the next cave, 100km north, spending the night at one of S.A.'s only decent pubs in the old mining village of Pilgrim’s Rest.

Two days later Echo Cave was reached.  A tatty museum in Bushman's Rock Shelter was looked at on the road to the cave - notable mainly for the impressive digging derrick which resembled a Medieval Catapult. This was duly photographed in order that Dark Satanic can weld one up for us.  On arrival at Echo Cave itself the writer was taken through the show cave by a Basuto Small Boy called "Boy", a sort of 10 year old black Dave Yeandle.  The tourist route is not over impressive.  Loads of dry broken stal litter and conspicuous electric cables with bare light bulbs were the main impression.  At one point Boy beat frantically on a stale with a rubber mallet to show off the echo from which the cave gets its name.  Beyond the lights several dark passages lurked - prompting the writer to ask about trips beyond.  He was instantly sent back into the cave with Boy (clutching a Tilley lamp) for a swift through trip via the Western Series to exit from a shaft further round the hill.  Huge, gloomy phreatic tunnels and a 300ft long by 100ft high chamber proved more spectacular than the tourist route.

Deciding to camp at the cave and explore further the following day, your scribe later met Steve Sehoombe - Afrikaner ex-pro boxer and new cave owner.  Steve had a survey of the system but having little knowledge of caves he wanted the place explored to confirm the existence of a supposed passage leading to another exit 16km away.  In payment for this, free luxury - accommodation and meals were offered!! Never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth (and despite having to go UNDERGROUND) the writer accepted this generous offer and promptly got rigid with Steve and his mates to celebrate - swapping English jokes for Afrikaner tales of one "Van de Murver" (a S.A. version of "Murphy").

The following day, Friday, a phone call to the Pope elicited a quick response.  He immediately took the afternoon off and drove the 360km to the cave.  During the next couple of days the B.E.C. Africa Section explored practically every passage, including several not on the survey, for a total extent of less than 2km. The fabled 16km passage did not exist but much of interest was found in the system.  A high level grotto contained a superb old false floor.  A 15 ft wide gap was crossed by a 6 inch diameter tree root which bored off down a side passage, dropped 12 ft vertically and - like a water main or grotesque fossilised snake - continued off down another gallery for several hundred feet.  The Pope’s fascination for monkeys was again demonstrated when he was photographed hanging from the root where it bridged the false floor.  Other finds of note were three ancient beer cans left by previous explorers and some fine quartz "Boxworks" formations. Two Afrikaner lads and a girl hitch-hiker were also shown round the cave.

One of the systems most impressive sights was unwittingly found by the writer on a solo evening trip - or rather they found him.  Several horseshoe bats had been noticed hanging in ceiling pockets or occasionally flying about but just before 6 p.m. a marked increase in activity was observed. Suffering from loneliness, severe hangover and a scalpel-like gash in the leg, the writer was not amused when he was suddenly surrounded by scores of dive bombing bats.  With nerves on edge and thoughts of rabies and histoplasmosis - and not helped by skeletal remains of 6" centipedes littering the place - he crept bravely across the floor of the huge chamber with the increasing bat population whistling round his ears.  Realisation dawned that it was time for the nightly bat flight and the writer and several hundred Berties shot out of the shaft entrance in disarray.  Although only a few bats were seen underground, a visit to the entrance the following evening showed that at least 2,500 were in residence. They were coming out at about a hundred a minute and after half an hour we gave up watching them.  It is to be hoped that Pope's photos of the flight came out - and also an interesting snap of a Zulu night watchman with Bertie stickers on both his overalls and his knob kerrie!

Having wrapped up our exploration we bid a fond farewell to Steve and family and headed south in Pope's car, pausing to look at the spectacular Blyde River Canyon and some superb sandstone potholes in the river bed en route.  On Sunday evening we were back at Sudvala Cave. The tent was erected and some local cavers winkled out.  An evening of dedicated alcohol consumption proved most entertaining when the cave owner, Phillip Owen, turned up.  Within twenty minutes it was obvious that this as Africa's answer to Trevor Hughes.  Standing on a table in the cave restaurant he executed two superb striptease acts and then proceeded to do a "Ginger Baker" act on the crockery - drumming several plates, cups etc. into millions of fragments.  The rest of the evening is just a blurred haze!

Our Feelings and language can thus be appreciated when at 7 a.m. next morning a hairy faced Afrikaner dragged us out of our pits for a trip to Crystal Chamber - beyond the show cave. Pikkie, a C.R.O.S.A. member, sometimes takes parties of up to thirty novices through this muddy, boulder-filled crawl.  The fine crystals and helictites made the trip worthwhile though, and rounded off an excellent few days of caving and boozing.  Our thanks to Steve, C.R.O.S.A. and the S.A. Brewery Company for making the visit so pleasant.

Anyone interested in further information on the above caves can obtain this from the writer (who is writing this from his pit in a mountain chalet and worrying even more about Histoplasmosis!)

A.R. Jarratt.
Sept. '80


Speleo Teaser

by Chris (Blitz) Smart.

The following is a variation of an old puzzle which consists of a basic sixteen facts - your problem is simply to determine who drinks cider and who caves in Rhino.  I wish you the best of luck.  The answer will be published next month.

1.                  There are five clubs which, due to rebuilding, are now all next to each other in a row.

2.                  The Southerner is a member of the B.E.C.

3.                  The Northerner caves in Swildons.

4.                  Badger is drunk by the Wessex.

5.                  The Welshman drinks Arkells.

6.                  The Wessex is situated immediately to the right of the U.B.S.S.

7.                  The caver who uses SRT does so in Cuthbert’s.

8.                  Ladder is used by the M.C.G.

9.                  Butcombe is drunk in the middle club hut.

10.              The Irish caver stays in the first club hut.

11.              The speleologist who crawls stays in the hut that is next door to that of the Caver who visits Longwood.

12.              Ladder is used by the club next to the club who cave in Stoke.

13.              The free-diver drinks Royal Oak.

14.              The Scottish caver free-climbs.

15.              The Irish spelunker belongs to the club next to the Shepton.

16.              In each club one technique only is used, in just one cave, by one regional caver who only drinks one particular brew.

In next month's B.B. articles on South African caves and cave art, by J-Rat, some thoughts on Wigmore from Trev Hughes, Elm Cave exploration by Colin Houlden, more details about Coopers Hole,compiled by Chris Smart, and MANY OTHERS, I hope!

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

Editor: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

Drinking At The Hunters

Fault Finding Chart (Reprinted from Surrey University Rag Mag. 1978).




Action to take







Drinking fails to give satisfaction and taste, shirt front wet.



Feet warm and wet


Mouth not open while drinking, or glass being applied to wrong part of face.


Incorrect bladder control

Buy another pint and practice in front of mirror.  Drink as many as necessary until technique perfect.


Stand next to nearest dog - after a while complain to owner about lack of house training.  Demand pint as compen­sation.

to be continued….


Martin Grass has sent in the following notes:

St. Cuthbert's: The Arête Ladder has been removed from the cave for repair.  The bolts are safe and all leaders will need to take a lifeline and ladder plus a short tether.  The ladder will be replaced as soon as it has been overhauled.

O.F.D.  As stated in the May BB, the Columns have been gated and will only be opened on 6 weekends every year.  ALL parties must be accompanied by a leader from the Nature Conservancy.  Dates will be published in future BB's.

Otter Hole has been booked for the BEC on September 6th 1980.  Anyone interested should contact Martin either at the Belfry or telephone (0582-35145).

Peak Cavern: Anyone interested in a trip should contact Martin NOW and he will arrange some dates.

BEC Leaders:

            DYO & Tunnel -             Graham Wilton-Jones (Te1:0296-28270)
                                                Martin Grass (Tel:0582-35145)

            OFD -                           G. Wilton-Jones
                                                Mike Palmer (Tel:0749-74-393)
                                                M. Grass

            Reservoir Hole:              D. Irwin (Tel: 074-987-369)
                                                M. Grass

Anyone who thinks that they are still leaders for OFD or DYO should contact Martin as the SWCC have no record of them.

A note to George from the ‘Wig’.  In response to your letter to the BB some 12 months or so ago, a short series of articles 'A Brief History of Mendip Caving, 1960 - 1980' will be published in the BB shortly.  This will cover all new caves and their locations and extensions to the then existing caves.


Italian News

From Stan Gee we have the latest news from the Italian Scene……….

It is a bit sickening but whilst the BEC and others thrutch, strain and heave for a few yards of new passage, we receive .the following information, via C.A.I. Magazine of recent discoveries (1979) in Italy.

At the Cacciatore, a fourth 'bottom' has been found at -715m and a total distance surveyed now comprising 8 kilometres.  Not satisfied with this, a dye test has proved a positive connection to the Corchia, though the way through has yet to be discovered.

About 300m from the Cacciatore, a cave called the Abisso Bader Meinhof, referred to as ‘BM’ has been discovered and a depth of -450m with the exploration not yet complete.

Still in Tuscany, at a cave called Abisso Roversi, a huge shaft of 310m has been found and a total depth of -755m reached whilst on Monte Sumbra, a swine of a mountain for access.  Abisso del Draghi Volante (Abisso of the Flying Dragon) has popped down for -500m.  The report doesn't say but in this cave a bad accident took place and the poor sod was stuck below for about 3 days.

Piemonte Exploration has been proceeding in Gache and Piaggiabella, but also a new hole has been found with a depth of -180m whilst on Monte Mondole, Abisso reached a depth of -320m.

Lornbardia. Passing of a siphon in the caves of Tacchi and Zelbio has produced some 3,000m of passage, making a total of 5,900m discovered since 1978.

Liguria.  1,300m discovered in the fossil gallery of the Grotta Rugli.

Friuli.  In Abisso Roversi a new galleria has reached a new depth of -585m and another new discovery has reached -650m in the Gortani.  Another cave noted as M21, they dismissed as chicken feed, has reached minus 399m with a total distance of 4 kilometres!

Veneto.  Abisso Malga Fossetta – down to -455m and at Vicenza, the Buso del la Rapa has been explored and surveyed for 15 kilometres!

Calabria.  Exploration in the cave of Angelo has produced 2,560m.  At this place there are 3 caves very close together but no connection between them has yet been found.

Sicilia. This must be the cavers dream discovery at the cave of Cucchiari where a 100m shaft leads to caves which, due to hydro thermic phenomena have draughts of air at 39 - 40 centigrade!  Yes, that’s what the book says, 39 -40 degrees centigrade!  Sort of like, 102 degrees in the shade.  Sounds just the place for an aging caver to retire to, it could easily become the Cheltenham of the caving world!

Cheerio for now, see you boys at Cucchiara

Stan Gee

PS: The strangely garbed characters seen busking at Laycock Folk Festival, with a BEC sticker on his melodeon and attracting the amused attention of two BEC ladies was me, I admit it. As the label said “The BEG get everywhere”.

Many thanks Stan hope to hear from you again later in the year.

A Note From The Tacklemaster

John Dukes

Will all members please note that they should use spreaders on ladders to prevent unnecessary strain on the cable at the top rung.

Quote of the MONTH

A Special Constable talking to PC Plod (Nigel Taylor) "Didn't you use to go caving?"



by Tim Large

1.                  Dinner 1980. It will be held at the Caveman Restaurant, Cheddar on Saturday 4th October 1980 7.30pm for 8pm.  The menu will be very similar to last year with Roast Beef as the main course.  Wine will be included in the price and also a drink before the meal.  Price £5.

2.                  Recently a meeting was held at the Belfry to discuss any improvements to the club H.Q. Previously to this plans had been published in the B.B. and those interested submitted their comments. It has been decided to consult an architect to see what is possible with regard building regulations etc. Once this has been done we will know exactly what we can do.

3.                  The Committee has decided that due to lack of material for the B.B. that a large version of the B.B. will be produced quarterly - as you received for your April/May version. This will include the main articles about club caving activities etc.  In future editions it will have a different cover, possibly with a photograph on it.  In between the quarterly issue there will be published a B.B. News-Sheet containing only day to, day club business and notice of events.  This will only be issued to Club Members.  Any clubs with whom we exchange will only receive the quarterly Journal.

4.                  Recently there have been thefts from cars parked at G.B., Cuckoo Cleeves and Pinetree Pot. Members are advised to leave no valuables in their cars whilst they go caving.  Also thieves are not very particular about how they break in - Cuckoo Cleeves a crow bar was used to lever the boot open.  At G.B. the dash board of a Ford Capri was wrenched out in order to remove a radio.  You have been warned!!

5.                  The committee has noticed that there must now be quite a number of lapsed members who still have keys to the Belfry and St Cuthbert’s.  It would be appreciated that if any members know the existence of such keys, they could be returned for re-issue to, new members etc.  This would help keep ever rising costs down.

6.                  A slide show by Paul Deakin will be held at the Hunters on Saturday 20th September 1980 at 8pm.

7.                  There is still a vacancy for a non-committee post of Publications Officer.  This entails editing and arranging the printing of our special publications such as Burrington Atlas, Cuthbert’s Reports etc. Several sections of the Cuthbert’s Reports are ready for publication, but until we find someone willing to do the work they will unfortunately remain unpublished.  Anyone interested?

8.                  The Somerset Trust for Nature Conservation is about to take over the Mineries Area as they have done with Longwood Valley.  We have established close contacts with the Trust as our H.Q.'s is close to the area and members have quietly enjoyed this stretch of countryside for many years. The two main objectives appear to fall in line with BEC views.  That is to stop the Hippies from camping and to stop the motorcyclists who have recently increased in number and have been defacing the area.  Volunteer wardens are needed - anyone interested contact Tim Large, Nigel Taylor or Brian Prewer.

9.                  Sue Tucker has recently expressed her concern over the ever increasing work of the Treasurer. This year the amounts of money involved are quite staggering hence the paperwork to keep pace with it also increases. Sue would like assistance in the form of a membership Secretary - as we had some years ago.  This persons role would be to collect membership fees - keep the address list up to date and submit figures to the Treasurer and send out the B.B.  Anyone interested should contact any committee member as soon as possible.

10.              Ian Dear Memorial Fund.  A reminder that this fund is available to younger members who’s financial state is perhaps not so rosy, particularly those still in full time education, university, etc.  Grants can be given to enable members to undertake caving expeditions, projects etc, Anyone give a grant is expected to write a report for the B.B.  If any members are interested they should contact either Tim Large, Sue Tucker, Mike Palmer, Sett or Martin Grass.


1980 Annual General Meeting

Election of Club Officers

Nominations are now requested for the Committee Election.  These must be seconded in writing and be sent to the Hon. Secretary by the 6th September 1980 at:

Tim Large,
Hon. Secretary, B.E.C
53 Portway,

Annual Dinner

at the Caveman Restaurant, Goughs Caves, Cheddar.

Nigel Taylor is prepared to arrange a coach to run from the Belfry to the Caveman and back to the Belfry after the dining and wining.  Those who want to take advantage of this facility should contact Nigel (at the Belfry or write c/o The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset, as soon as possible to ensure that the right size coach is booked.  A charge will be made to cover the hiring costs.

Resignations from the Committee:

Garth Dell and Dave Irwin will not be standing again this year for election to the Committee.  The remaining seven members of the Committee will be standing again but to ensure an election there needs to be at least three new nominations.  Garth is currently the Hut Warden and Dave Irwin, the B.B. Editor.


I’m afraid that this issue of the B. B. has had to be spread over two months again simply because NO new material has been sent in for publication.  On a matter of principle I'm not intending to fill the pages of the B.B. with padding written by myself.  Neither has it been a lack of effort on my part in trying to get members to put pen to paper but the common replies are "I haven't the time" or "Yes, I'll get something to you in the next few days" (which, needless to say never arrives).  As a talking point for the AGM, members will have to think very carefully before demanding a Monthly B. B. from the new Editor UNLESS THEY are prepared to supply material for publication on a regular basis.  To publish a monthly BB is a responsibility that ALL members must shoulder and ensure that they send at least one article a year.  Just ponder on this little fact: To fill a 14 page B.B. (that is so often demanded by the Belfry regular) requires SEVEN articles a month if each spreads over two pages.



Belfry Alterations

a note on a recent meeting between interested parties at the Belfry.

Following the publication of the suggested alterations to the Belfry, published in the March BB a meeting between the Committee and about 10 members took place on a hot, sunny morning at the Belfry.  The published plans were discussed in detail and criticisms and alternative proposals were discussed in detail.  Buckett Tilbury sent his comments via Graham Wilton Jones and Pete and Joyce Franklin brought up their suggestions in the form of plans based on those published in the BB.  The meeting agreed that they strive for the ideal plan without, at this point in time, any consideration to the final cost.  It was appreciated that whatever was decided upon at this meeting could well be pruned accordingly when some professional estimates were obtained.  It was generally agreed that the staircase to the loft could not be installed in the main living room and the proposed position for them would be inside the main entrance.  An alternative layout proposed by Pete and Joyce put the men's dorm up in the loft and building in a long dormer window.  The existing men's room would be divided into a women's room (at the far end of the building) and the Library (adjoining the main living room). The Changing area and shower cubicles were also revised giving a better 'flow' of people through the area.  Plans will be drawn up and professional advice sought.  A sum of £50 - £100 was allocated for arch. and surveyors fees in the first instance. The revised plans will be published in the BB hopefully before the next AGM.  A further point was agreed upon that the project should be split into a phased programme to be carried out over a number of years ensuring an easy running of the Belfry during the alterations.  More details later.


Minutes of the 1979 Annual General Meeting of the Bristol Exploration Club.

The meeting was held at the Belfry on Saturday 6th October 1979 being convened by the Hon. Secretary Tim Large.  A quorum being present the meeting was opened at 10.40am.  The Hon. Secretary asked for nominations for a Chairman Alan Thomas and Sett were nominated from, the floor.  A vote was taken and Alan Thomas elected.  In his opening remarks the Chairman reminded those present that the A.G.M. was the right and proper place to air any grievances or dissatisfaction with the club.  'Members therefore speak up now or forever hold thy peace'.  Outstanding Ballot Papers were called for and three Tellers elected.  Apologies for absence were received from O.C.L., Steve Tuck, Chris Smart and Stuart McManus.

The minutes of the Extraordinary General Meeting held on 7th October 1978 had been published in the B.B. - The meeting approved these with comment.  No matters were arising.

The minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on the 7th October 1978 had been published in the B:B. - The meeting approved these.


1.                  A letter of thanks to Alfie Collins had been sent by the Hon. Secretary on the 30th October 1978.

2.                  B.B. Printing Machine.  The one which had been available via Sett had been acquired.  Bob Cross seconded by Nigel Taylor proposed a vote of thanks to Sett for his efforts in securing the machine- The meeting agreed unanimously.

3.                  The new Trustees have been elected and the necessary documentation completed.

4.                  Re A.O.B. The meeting agreed that the first motion be deleted regarding Garth Dell as it contradicted the second motion.

Hon. Secretary’s Report.  Already published in the B.B.  Adopted by the meeting following proposal by Jerry Crick seconded by Martin Bishop.

Hon. Treasurer’s Report.  Already published in the B.B.  Joan Bennett expressed concern over outstanding hut fees involving 5 people with the largest sum being £8.  Martin Grass proposed, seconded by Tony Jarratt that the meeting be informed of the debtor’s names.  FOR 21 AGAINST 8.  Bob Cross expressed concern over the names being made public.  Brian Prewer suggested that credit should never have been allowed in the first place.  Brian Prewer proposed, seconded by Sue Tucker that no credit be allowed in future.  FOR 6 AGAINST 20.  Dave Turner, seconded by Garth Dell proposed that credit be allowed for one month or until the next visit to the Belfry, whichever is the least. FOR 23 AGAINST 8 - Motion carried. Nigel Taylor, seconded by Jerry Crick proposed that the Hon. Treasurer's report be adopted - carried unanimously.

Hon. Caving Secretary’s Report.  The report had already been published in the B.B.  Bob Cross expressed concern over the fact that cave keys were not often available to members as they had already been loaned to guests.  He went on to propose, seconded by Martin Grass that the club has available at the Belfry two keys to each cave, one being exclusively for members the other for guests.  This was carried unanimously.  Nigel Taylor proposed, seconded by Dave Irwin that the report be adopted - carried unanimously.

Hon. Hut Warden’s Report.  Chris Batstone read his report to the meeting.  No comments were forthcoming.  A vote of thanks was proposed by Martin Grass, seconded by Nigel Taylor - carried unanimously.  Jerry Crick seconded by Mike Wheadon proposed that the report be adopted – carried.

Hon. Hut Engineer's Report.  Already published in the B.B.  Sett commented on the Belfry not having adequate ventilation.  This was previously recommended at the 1977 A.G.M. by Ginger Thomas.  Bob Cross endorsed this opinion.  Tim Large pointed out that the materials had been obtained for the work to be done. Chris Batstone, seconded by jerry Crick proposed that the report be adopted – carried.

Hon. Tacklemaster's Report.  Already published in the B.B.  John Dukes commented that the ladder taken for the Austrian Expedition had not yet been returned.  Martin Bishop said that he had the ladder at home for safe keeping as it had been left in the Belfry.  The meeting agreed on a vote of thanks to Martin Bishop for looking after it. Brian Prewer suggested that it was the responsibility of the signing tackle out if it became lost or mislaid. Dave Irwin, seconded by Chris Batstone proposed the report be adopted - carried.

Hon. B.B. Editor's Report.  Published in the B.B.  Adoption proposed by Garth Dell and seconded by Nigel Taylor - carried.

Hon. Librarian's Report.  Dave Irwin reported that there were some books missing.  One long outstanding book - 'Limestone and Caves of Derbyshire' had recently been located in the possession of Stuart McManus.  The meeting endorsed the Librarian's request that members borrowing books must enter details in the Library register. Concern was expressed by the meeting regarding the safety of the clubs rare books.  Sett, seconded by Garth Dell proposed that a suitable lockable box be obtained in which to keep these books motion carried unanimously. Jerry Crick proposed, seconded by John Turner that the report be adopted - carried unanimously.

I.D.M.F. Report. There being no report the Hon. Secretary said there had been one application during the year from Nick Thorne who was granted £40.  The fund still stands at about £300.  The meeting expressed the need to adhere to Ian Dear's original wishes, even though it meant the fund not being used as mush as in recent years.  Tony Jarratt proposed, seconded by Martin Bishop that the report be adopted - carried.

The Chairman announced the result of the Committee Election.  Those elected were as follows:- Dave Irwin, Sue Tucker, Tim Large, Nigel Taylor, Martin Grass, Graham Wilton-Jones, John Dukes, Stuart Lindsay and Garth Dell.  A vote was taken on the officer's posts with the results as follows:-

Hon. Secretary - Tim Large
Hon. Treasurer - Sue Tucker
Hon. Caving Secretary - Martin Grass
Hon. Hut Warden - Garth Dell
Hon. Hut Engineer - Nigel Taylor
Hon. Tacklemaster - John Dukes
Hon. B.B. Editor - Dave Irwin
Joan Bennett was unanimously elected by the meeting as Hon. Auditor.

Annual Subscription. The Chairman outlined the method by which the proposed subscription of £7.50 had been arrived at details of this had previously been published in the B.B.  Joan Bennett pointed out that in the last two years the club's capital had dropped from £1300 to £680.  Sett pointed out that all sections of the club should be self supporting i.e. Belfry rates and insurance should come from Belfry income.  Martin Grass and John Dukes expressed opposition to this stating that all members should contribute to the club facilities.  Dave Irwin suggested that by cutting the B.B. to six issues a year, and cutting expenditure slightly in other areas the club could raise £600 towards Belfry improvements during the next year.  The Chairman suggested that to supplement this, a donation of £2 per member or a standing order of £1 per month should be considered.

John Turner suggested that a sub of £10 per year was not unreasonable, which would give us enough money to project further into the future and consider better improvements. John Dukes suggested that other fund raising schemes should be tried such as lotteries and Jumble Sales. Brian Prewer pointed out that it could be dangerous to raise the sub too much as the club may lose too many fringe members and therefore still not increase its income.  Tim Large suggested splitting the B.B. away from the sub with the B.B. optional at say £2.50 and subs at £5.  Garth Dell asked what advantage this would give.  Tim Large explained that it would keep the actual sub lower and those members requiring the B.B. including Life Members would have to pay the £2.50 subscription.  Dave Irwin supported the idea.  He also said that much work needed to be done on the Belfry.   Money for this was needed quickly.  Tim Large proposed, seconded by Brian Prewer that annual sub be separated from the B.B. costs FOR 18 AGAINST 19 - motion failed.  Maureen Wheadon proposed, seconded by Dave Irwin that the annual sub be £8 FOR 24 AGAINST 7 - motion carried.  An amendment motion was proposed by Martin Grass, seconded by Nigel Taylor that the annual sub be £9 FOR 12 AGAINST 20 - motion failed.


1. Para 2a - delete 'in any way whatsoever'.

2. Para 4a line 2 delete 'full details' substitute 'Notice'.

3. Para 5b line 5 delete August substitute September.

4. Para 5h line 4 delete from 'or if that is beyond' to end of paragraph.

All these amendments were passed with a large majority.  Mike Wheadon expressed concern over various ambiguities within the new constitution. He proposed, seconded by Dave Irwin that the committee be instructed to consider his points and report back to the 1980 A.G.M. - motion carried with a large majority.


1.                  Proposed by Tony Tucker, seconded by Bob Cross that the B.B. become a bi-monthly journal in order to limit expenditure in this direction.  Bob Cross explained that he considered too much money was spent on the B.B. He would prefer that the £2.50 per head costs were spent on the Belfry improvements.  Nigel Taylor emphasised the cheapness of the B.B. by comparing it to 5 pints of beer.  Jok Orr expressed support for a monthly B.B. as a way of keeping members not on Mendip regularly in touch with the club.  Graham Wilton-Jones said that the B.B. was always up to date with news due to its monthly publication and therefore good value for money.  A vote was taken and the large majority voted against the motion.

2.                  Proposed by Roy Bennett, seconded by Dave Irwin.  That the Committee set up a Belfry Improvements Fund and solicit donations from members by any means they think fit.  Passed by a large majority.

3.                  Proposed by Tim Large on behalf of that Committee, seconded by Cuthbert’s Leaders that the club should look into obtaining comprehensive insurance cover for all members including Cuthbert’s Leaders.  Passed with large majority.

4.                  Proposed by Roy Bennett, seconded by Dave Irwin. That the Committee be instructed to investigate the question of comprehensive insurance for Cuthbert’s Leaders and obtain such if they consider the club can afford the premium.  Motion carried.


Mike Wheadon drew the meetings attention of the donation to the club by John Ifold of his collection of B.B.'s.  John suggested that it might be worth a Life Membership.  The meeting did not think it worth a Life Membership but accepted his donation.  Sett agreed to have a word with John Ifold on the subject.

Dave Turner expressed concern over reliance on a proposed wood burning stove for the Belfry.  He considered that it may present problems if wood supplies became scarce or expensive.  Various members from the floor said that there was no chance of wood becoming that scarce in the foreseeable future.

There being no other business the meeting closed at 3pm


Earlier this year, Roy Bennett and 'Wig' sent out a letter to all Life Members - the response has been such that most have contributed a sum of money to cover the cost of their BB's - one member gave in kind sufficient to produce at least six small size BB's.  Sue will be contacting these members in the near future but in the meantime Roy and 'Wig' offer their thanks to all who have contributed.  One who sent a letter to Sue was George Honey and he writes "I've got a letter signed Roy and Dave and I do realise that prices have increased.  I do look forward to receiving my BB which is now read to me.  You see, my 'candles' have gone out (I've lost my matches)."  Britt, his wife, added a postscript, asking that if any of the 'old friends', or for that matter any younger caver, have a few minutes to spare, would they write to George.  Any letter that's received will get a reply if they carry the correct address. So, come you oldies!


IMPORTANT DATE TO REMEMBER : - The 1980 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB will be held at the BELFRY at 10.30am prompt on SATURDAY 4th OCTOBER 1980. Don't forget to be there.

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

Editor: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

SWEAT SHIRTS:  The second order has at long last arrived and those who ordered should receive them shortly.  There are a few spares and anyone wishing to obtain one should contact John Dukes.

Cave surveys:  Graham Wilton-Jones holds the club stock and anyone should contact for details of the latest stock.  Remember that they are considerably cheaper than those available from commercial sources.

Reports have been coming in of a new chamber discovered in Goatchurch.  Apparently it is off the tight upper passage at the end of the Drainpipe.  About 100ft. of passage is reported.  The diggers are unknown.

Browne's Folly Mine and Swan Mine:  Arrangements for CSCC control of access is nearing completion - details will be published as soon as available.  In the meantime telephone Sir Charles Hobhouse for permission to descend.

Guy de Block, of Belgium collects insignias from caving associations, grottoes, national meetings and congresses and his collection, started in 1950, will be on display at the 8th International Speleo. Congress, Kentucky in 1980.  Anyone having anything of this nature that they do not want should send it to him at Rootstraat 54, B 1981 Vossen, Belgium.  He is not interested in commercial material.

The Odd Note

Deepest Cave in the world: Gouffre Jean Bernard at 1402m

BCRA Winter meeting is at Crickhowell - subject 'Cave Diving'

Bruce Bedford is hoping to organise a charter flight to the USA for the 8th International Congress (July 19th - 24th 198.)  Anyone interested should contact Bruce.

British Caver has published and article 'Hints for Caving in Austria'.  The content was approved by the AGM of the Federation of Austrian Cavers on 26th October 1979.  The copy of the BC may be found in the club library.  (British Cave No 78, p23)

Derbyshire Sump Index, 3rd Edition is now available from Oliver Lloyd.  Price 50p.

A new mining book: Metal Mines of North Wales by J.C. Williams - picture book with 80 photos. Published by Charter Publications, April 1980.  Price £2.75.

A new booklet from Mike Boon.  The Great San Agustin Rescue.  The booklet records Mike's involvement on the February 1980 rescue when a polish caver broke his back some 2,000ft below the surface.  Price £1.50 + 25p postage from Tony Oldham.

A new cave at Batts Combe Quarry – Whopper Cave.  The cave, in the upper level of the quarry, 23ft wide at the entrance drops 60ft down a shaft into a massive chamber up to 30ft wide and 100ft long and roof up to 85ft high.  The survey figures give the cave as having a length of 390ft and 100ft deep.  The cave has now been blocked.

Maesbury Swallet – Alan Thomas’s old dig of 10 years ago has been turned into a 450ft long cave by the Cerberus S.S.  Apparently not very inspiring stuff and is halfway between Lionel’s Hole and Windsor Hill Swallet.


Hon. Secretary's Report 1980

The year started rather apprehensively following decisions taken at the AGM regarding the substantial increase in the annual subscriptions and the 'project' to improve Belfry Facilities. Despite the increase our membership stands at 180.  Our losses over the last year would therefore appear to be minimal.  This has enabled the club finances to recoup heavy expenditure on a tight budget of the previous two years.  Now we have put ourselves into a position where we can project into the future and carry out urgently needed work together with restocking our caving equipment such as ropes and ladders.

The day to day running of the club has kept the committee busy for much of the year, but in some areas we have little to actually show for it.  Much of the work fall on the same few individuals.  Perhaps in future more members would volunteer to help with the various jobs and so spread the load and enable work to be completed much earlier.

As of to date (1st August 1980) the committee has met on 12 occasions include a special meeting to discuss the proposed Belfry improvements.  To date the attendance of individual committee members is as follows:-

Tim Largo

Nigel Taylor

Martin Grass

John Dukes

Graham Wilton-Jones

Sue Tucker

Garth Dell

Dave Irwin

Stuart Lindsay










This year Garth and Dave have decided to stand down.  I feel sure everyone will wish to think them for the service they give to the club whether it be on or off the committee.

This leaves us with two holes to fill in the committee as BB Editor and Hut Warden.  In particular it may prove difficult to find another Editor. Already you will have heard about a slight change in the BB format whereby we now produce a quarterly BB and in between a newsletter type publication only covering basic club information.  This was brought about by the increasing workload on the Editor and the lack of material.  Although the club has fiercely objected to reducing the frequency of the BB it may well be time to reconsider.  When the cost of production is considered as a percentage of income it looks as though the club is a Publication Club instead of a Caving Club.

The Secretarial paperwork has maintained a steady flow from answering enquire to the usual rounds of CSCC meetings.  Many may scoff at such regional councils, but I consider that it is necessary for us to be represented wherever caving maybe threatened by whatever influences. Otherwise you may come up to the Belfry and find one day that you cannot enjoy the club's activities in the manner to which you are accustomed.

Close liaison has been established with the Somerset Trust for Nature Conservation who has recently taken a lease on the Mineries.  As far as I can see the club benefit from the Trust's activities who intend to maintain the Mineries much as we have always known them.

This year having put the club back in a strong financial position I hope we can go forward and complete the various projects and so improve our facilities which will also encourage our caving activities.  Not that these have been inactive by any means this year.  Many digs have been undertaken, besides the usual tourist trips. A group have again visited the club’s discoveries in Austria hoping to find caverns measureless.  All in all a very successful year with better things to come in the future.


BB Editor’s Report 1980

The past year has been a mixed one for the BB.  Up to April material came at a reasonable rate but after that it dried up completely – no one had anything to write; consequently a run of bi-monthly BB's. This was in no way due to lack of effort on the part of your Editor who constantly badgered members and non-members to put pen to paper but no material appeared even though several members including committee members promised to supply articles.  It is not the first time during its long run that the BB has been short of material or has been issued in a bi-monthly form but on many occasions the Editor has padded the publication to get out a monthly issue. This caused the Belfryites to moan and finally rightly or wrongly, to spark off action at the 1977 AGM.  I for one had no intention of writing material for the BB just to fill up a few pages - even if I had the time, which I did not. The AGM has regularly demanded a monthly BB - even last year the subject was raised again and the members kept up their requirement.  Members may easily pass resolutions at the AGM but it's simply no good raising the voting hand and doing nothing about it during the rest of the year.  Neither I believe, is it any good proposing a bi-monthly BB as there will be occasions when the Editor has too much material (this does happen from time to time) and would require a monthly issue to use it all up in a reasonable time.

Because of the erratic nature of receipt of material for publication I proposed the creation of the Belfry Journal (see June/July BB) though there have been critics of this. This I expected.  I strongly urge the meeting to accept in principle the Belfry Journal and a freer rule regarding the issuing interval of the BB to members only.

Whether the Belfry Journal will be issued in September as planned is at the moment unknown but material has been promised and I'll make every effort to get this trial issue produced.

As many of you will know I've always been a strong believer in short terms in any particular office as a certain amount of boredom and lack of ideas is bound to creep into one's thinking and so I've tendered my resignation as BB Editor and as a Committee Member.  I've spent the last three years as BB Editor, and three enjoyable years they have been in addition to the many posts I have held for the club since first being elected to the committee in 1964.

Finally, I would like to thank all members who have contributed to the BB over the last year and particularly to Fiona for typing many of the stencils without whose help the BB’s would have been much later than they were.  I would also like to wish my successor well whoever he or she may be, good luck in the job.

Dave Irwin


Hut Engineer’s Report

All too quickly another club year has shot by and I find that at the time of writing this report that we are only eight weeks away from the dinner.

Though on the face of it, it appears that little has been done on the site, a large amount of routine maintenance has been carried out on the hut and site.  Exterior painting, construction of a new fire door for the men’s bunkroom, erection of a stone stile on our boundary fence, cutting of grass and repair of fencing, tarmacing of the track from road to cattle grid. Those and many other little niggling time consuming jobs have been effectively carried out in the main by the usual Belfry regulars, of special assistance have been Tim Large & Fiona, Dany Bradshaw, John Dukes, Garth Dell and others who I hope will excuse me in not recording names.  I feel that greater support by some members of the committee would be welcome though I realise some people have enough other work to keep them busy or find themselves otherwise occupied at weekends when on Mendip.

The main talking point is probably the proposed Belfry Improvements Scheme, as most members probably realise a Planning Meeting was held on the 18th at the Belfry where some detailed and not so detailed plans were presented.  The outcome of this meeting was primarily to approach an architect to visit the Belfry and comment on the feasibility of the plans.

During the week of the 16th June Tim Large and myself were staying on a working holiday at the Belfry and meetings were held with John Gwyther – a local architect, the result of which brought to light serious problems regarding the strength of the Belfry roof and the discovery of the fact that none of the internal walls were load bearing.  It was decided by us that we contact the local government building inspector and a site inspection is due shortly, at which we hope the full facts will become known and possibly I can inform the club of the findings at the AGM in October.

On the fuel and heating side - I believe I have restored our plentiful supply of wood by arrangement with the amenable forester Mr Liddell.  No moves have been made therefore with regards to the feasibility of a wood burning stove as any such system would have to be reviewed with an eye to any future development on the Belfry or site.  In May I organised a wood hauling weekend and we have adequate fuel supplies for the forthcoming winter.

A large amount of external work has still to be carried out, i.e. construction of a new gas storage bunker and re-siting the carbide store, more ridge roof tiles have to be re-cemented and many more minor jobs are envisaged.

I am standing again for re-election to the committee and hope again to be elected Hut Engineer as we have a bright future ahead of us for the hut and perhaps consistency in the committee next year would also imply consistent decisions in all matters.

I have found no problems in committee attendance this year, and hope that change in my job role which I am expecting to undergo will not give rise to any problems in the forthcoming year – though once again I stand with this in mind.

Nigel Taylor

Hut Warden's Report

As some members may recall the 1979 AGM directed that the Belfry should be self-sufficient financially to help acquire monies for the Building Fund.  The means of accomplishing this objective were left in the hands of the 1979/80 Committee.  It was resolved by the Committee to increase the "Hut Fees" and "Camping Fees" by an average of about 52%, i.e. 60% for members and 44% for non-members.  Since the 19th October 1979 this increase has realised the sum of about £482.80, to be made available for the Building Fund.

The Hut Warden also received various donations including the proceeds from numerous raffles totalling about £200.00 for the Building Fund.

During the past year the Belfry has paid its own way with regard to gas, fuel for the fire and maintenance of the Belfry, including the improved Belfry track.

Attendances at the Belfry have been satisfactory (in my opinion) with a total of 2,379 bed nights. If this trend is maintained I think it probable that we will have a "Belfry to be proud of" by our Golden Jubilee in 1985.

Finally I would like to thank various members of the Committee for their very able assistance to me in the past year.

Garth T Dell


Annual General Meeting - Saturday October 4th, at the Belfry, 10.30am .

ANNUAL DINNER - OCTOBER. 4th 1980 at the Caveman Restaurant, 7.30 for 8pm.   TICKETS FROM SUE TUCKER at £5 each, cash with order please.


Cooper's Hole ( Cheddar Gorge)

from an article by FIONA LEWIS

Cooper's Hole is the great recess on the right hand side of the Gorge about 200 yards above Gough's Show Cave.  Often is asked about Cooper's Hole its connection with Cheddar Hole, the cave or place of which Henry of Huntingdon wrote in 'Historia Anglorum' (1125-1130) when he described it as the third of the four wonders of England Huntingdon wrote: -

'Cheddar Hole, where is a cavity under the earth, which, though many have often entered and there traversed great spaces of land, and rivers, they could never yet come to the end'

Later John Hooker 1568 also wrote of Cheddar Hole in Holinshed's 'Description of Britaine' Chapter 24 'Marvels of England'.  He said: -

'Carcer Aeoli (Cheddar Hole), where into many men have entered and walked verrie farre.  Howbeit as the passage is large and nothing noisome, so divers that have ventured to go into the same could never yet find the end of that waie, neither see anie other thing than pretie riverets and streams which they often crossed as they went from place to place'.

'This Cheddar Hole or Cheddar Rocks is in Summersetshire and thence the said waters run till they meet with the second Axe that riseth in Owkie Hole'.

Other major openings now hidden by flood debris and road making may well have been accessible at that time.  We do know that flood water did run down the Gorge and into Cooper's Hole, from thence it was free to escape to the lower levels.  It does seem strange that such writers as Henry of Huntingdon and John Hooker should write about Cheddar Hole and not Cheddar Gorge.  Is it possible that the Gorge at that time was roofed over; this would then explain the 'pretie riverets and streams' which don't give the impression of being the great subterranean river which has defied all attempts of revelation.  It must be considered the awe and fear with which caves were regarded such caves as Gough's, Cox's or any other cave known today could well have been described as 'Large and nothing noisome' by those whom 'entered and there traversed great spaces of land and rivers' though 'they never could yet arrive at any end'. Taking these factors into consideration it must be assumed that either Cooper's Hole had a vast extensive entrance with only small streams or that the search for Cheddar Hole should be directed else where.

H.E. Balch in 'Mendip - Cheddar - its Gorge and Caves, suggests that Cooper's Hole in view of its size and position should be looked upon as the most likely approach to the hidden subterranean river of Cheddar.  When in 1931/2, R.F. Parry conducted an archaeological dig for the Marquis of Bath it was discovered that the floor contained much flood borne material, the removal of which would leave an imposing arch with dimensions at least 20' high by 30' long.  Excavations revealed that when lead was being mined at Charterhouse upon Mendip, and open heath smelting in operation, occasionally heavy floods would sweep down the Gorge, bringing slime, sand and charcoal in quantity from these works. This debris flooded into Cooper's Hole which at that time was thought to be an open and steeply descending cavity which reached the underground river.  When the accumulating debris had blocked the way on, the debris increased until the great archway was filled, always though it must be noted that the stratification of clay and charcoal indicates the bedding to be dipping inwards. Victor Painter a guide for many years at Gough's Cave told Balch that during the early 1920's before the road was tarred at times of heavy rainfall white limestone dust would be picked up by the running flood water and washed into Cooper's Hole, later reappearing at the resurgence near to Gough's Show Cave.

Parry's excavations showed that approximately 1'5" of recent debris layover the floor beneath which was a layer of 3'10" of yellow stratified clay containing Charcoal. Below this again was a layer of unstratified scree with a bluish matrix, this is thought to represent the long period when there was continual rock falls in the Gorge, scattered within this layer was remains of early Iron Age pottery and bones.  A layer of 5' 6" homogeneous reddish clay containing no animal or human bones or any signs of mans workman-ship lay beneath.  No rock floor has ever been reached and it is thought that beneath this last layer must lie somewhere bones of mammals from the Pleistocene Period of some 40,000 years ago, like those previously discovered in other pares of the Gorge.


After R.F. Parry little work appears to have been carried out in Cooper's Hole until the summer of 1959 when the Mendip Caving Group sought and were granted permission to dig by Lord Bath.  Much of the work was carried out in the lower dig where the water sank, but this dig was abandoned in 1962 at a point approximately 5' above the level of Cheddar rising, due to continual flooding.  A chance arose with the removal of spoil and the building of the car park retaining wall to probe around in the left hand corner at a. point where there was an indication of a shelving roof at floor level.  A very fast breakthrough was made through a tight upward sloping squeeze with a rock roof and loose mud floor.  Once through a clean cut rift was encountered with a stairway cut into the stal floor, this was climbed in the hope it led to something big, but alas, it stopped at a narrow bedding plane which was choked.  Much work was carried out and a breakthrough made, the bedding plane came out over a 6' drop into a chamber which a cracked mud floor covered in claw marks, the walls were draped in soft red stal and a pile of bones lay in one corner.  These bones were later identified by Dr Tratman as those of Artic Fox and the claw marks indicated that the chamber was at one time open, the entrance probably being through the bedding plane.  On the 18th August 1962 Lord Bath and the press visited Cooper's Hole and were encouraged to pass through the bedding plane hence its name 'Thynne Squeeze'.

Work ceased after about 1965 and nothing further appears to have taken place until now.  Following the report of a bang let off in Gough's being heard by Thynne Squeeze an exploratory visit took place on the 4th April 1980 and a choked aven observed just before Thynne Squeeze.  A further exploratory visit on 10th May 1980 resulted in the aven first being climbed by Tim Large.  A small hole was encountered which when cleared of debris revealed a ledge some 20' above floor level.  Much digging then took place led by Chris Bradshaw, Tony Atkinson, Tim Large and Myself. A boulder constriction was then encountered which had to be blasted after which a quick prod with the crow bar and it would rain boulders for as long a 5-10 minutes at a time, which we had to fend of from the ledge.  This is still happening today and what used to be a gentle sloping climb up to Thynne Squeeze is now a scramble up about 50 tons of loose scree deposited from the raining aven which is now about 60' high and heading we hope both for the surface and back into the hill towards Gough's.  At this point in time we have decided to remove the scree slope before we become in danger of losing the entrance.  We have estimated that at our present rate of progress what took about 10 hours in total to fall will take about a year to clear, so any help would be very welcome.


St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – the Arête Ladder is still out of the cave and a 25ft ladder together with a short belay to the rawlbolt is still required.

Dave Irwin is at the moment compiling a Catalogue of the postcards of the Mendip caves.  Anyone with any postcard, old or new, it doesn't matter, could they let him have a view of them so that they can be recorded. The whole manuscript is now approaching 120 page recording cards from all the show caves and also from other caves on Mendip including Cuthbert’s!

Allan Thomas adventure for his summer holiday was to cycle a round trip of 1000 miles up into northern Germany and according to all medical experts that he has talked to he has transferred all his arm muscles into his legs.  A good stabilising feature to the Belfry barrels no doubt with the new season soon to start!

A short, new cave discovered by quarrying was recently inspected by ‘Prew’ somewhere on Eastern Mendip.  The cave is now blocked.

Dates for your diaries:

NCA Meeting - October 12th - Derbyshire.

NCA Meeting - January 18th - Mendip

NCA AGM March 21st 1981 - Derbyshire.

For those teachers in the club interested in lecturing on caving at school may be interested to know that a number of film strips are available.  Full details are to be found in Caves and Caving No.8, May 1980 (BCRA Bulletin) and is in the club library.

Don't forget that a number of BEC Caving Reports are available at the Belfry if you want any see the Hut Warden or Graham Wilton Jones.


Dachstein Expedition, 1980,

Two previous expeditions to Austria have seen the discovery, exploration and. surveying of some sixty caves and potholes, the most significant sites being C19 - Maulwurfhohle, with a depth of over 200m, and C51 - Barengassewindschach whose exploration had been terminated at -132m.  Both of these shaft systems continued beyond the limit of exploration, and plans for this year were to work in C51, where it was presumed that the cave followed the line of the major fault Barengasse/Herrengasse, towards the main rising for the area, Waldbach Ursprung, 950m lower down and nearly 4 km to the north west.

With sponsorship from Batchelors Foods, in the form of a variety of dehydrated meals and soups particularly for underground use, and from Marlow Ropes, to the tune of several hundred metres of their very recently developed SRT rope, we set out for Austria in dribs and drabs around the middle of July.  Stu Lindsey and Trev Hughes were first to arrive, having carted out the majority of the food and equipment.   They made their way onto the plateau to be greeted by vast areas of newly fallen snow.  We had already been warned that snowfall was heavier than usual this year and was staying in the hollows much longer, making access to the caves difficult.  Trev and Stu were soon joined by Rob Harper, on the start of his tour of Europe, and he stayed for the whole of the expedition.

Having cleared, cleaned, repaired and prepared the Glocken, our very own hut in the Dachstein, almost, they began the unenviable task of transporting gear through the snows into the valley of Barengasse.  The cave is situated high in the south-west cliff of Barengasse, and great snow banks lay plastered up the sides of the valley, one beside the cave leading right up to the top of the cliff.  Once a hand line had been rigged up to the entrance ledge the serious business that of rigging the cave began.  Trev soon found something for his specialist, destructive urges and he considerably enlarged the small hole leading into the top of Eel shaft.  The rope on Eel shaft was re-bolted in a couple of places to make it safe and it became the accepted policy to re-bolt wherever necessary and only to use rope protectors immediately underneath hangers.

The series of shafts at the end of Totpapageigang, now collectively known as the Marlow Staircase, needed extensive re-bolting - last year I had done the whole series on one bolt, not the safest of techniques.   Rob had quite a bit of trouble with Petzl bolts shattering on the second 18m pitch, Bolt Fracture Pitch Eventually he managed to put in a neat row of three bolts, all within a space of 20cm and all useless.  Well, everyone has to learn sometime.  Below this pitch the soup kitchen was set up in an alcove that forms part of the Snack Pots, and this became a welcome resting place for cold and weary underground travellers.  On from here, down a short pitch, Trev traversed out on exposed ledges above my final shaft (after Rob had helped on their way a few boulders that looked dangerous, as he said to find a dry hang down to last year's termination.

This year J-Rat had escaped to Lesotholand to avoid being zapped but he did kindly lend us his field telephones so someone else could receive the pleasure of Thor's ill humour. Once again an anonymous donor had supplied us with miles of telephone cable and this was carefully laid out between the Glocken and the cave for communication using the BEC field telephones. Further wire was laid in the cave and connected to J-Rat's 'phones at strategic points - one phone was even given its own bolt.  Unfortunately good underground communication was rarely established for long, as the wire was very vulnerable at some points, particularly around the head of Eel Shaft.

Soon the rest of us arrived; Chris (Herr Blitz) Smart, Graham Nye, Karen Jones, Brice Glockling, Gary Childs, Dave Murrell, Gary Cullen, Judy Jenkinson and me.  Having Herr Blitz with us meant thunder and lightning and, sure enough, he had arranged it for our first night on the plateau. High winds and snow followed and this continued during the next day.  Since Rob, Stu and Trev had done so much work in preparing for the assault on C51, we gave them a day’s grace in which to explore the next part of the system. Blitz and I went walking in the blizzards while our three intrepids began the exploration of the Vesta Run.

The 4m pitch I had looked down last year was, in fact, free-climbable and the passage from there continued as a high rift, negotiable mainly by traversing.  Progress was possible along the base of the rift, which carried a small stream, but it is very narrow there.  Near its end the Vesta Run enters a bedding area of breakdown and soon, 130m from its beginning, it opens out over Batchelorschacht, a 45m pitch.

Next day it was still snowing hard though it abated around midday, when Gary Childs, Graham and I went into C51 to bolt, rig and descend the new shaft.  During the afternoon the temperature rose and the snow began to thaw, making the cave wet and rather cold.  Gary and Graham descended the shaft and found only an extremely narrow continuation at the bottom - very disappointing and frustrating news.  When we were at the entrance, Trev phoned some good news - there: had been an unbelievably beautiful sunset, boding well for the morrow.

The colours in the sky were right - there was not a cloud in the morning.  Most of us went off walking, Chris, Stu and I to Schladmingerloch and Grunkogel in the blistering ultra-violet.  Nearly everywhere lay under vast, smooth, deep blankets of drifted snow.  Lines of ice draped the cliffs while the cliff tops were overhung with huge, ready-to-avalanche cornices.  Nearly all the sites discovered during the previous two years were buried, some under several metres of snow.  Cliffs, holes and narrow passageway through the lapiaz were all concealed unless some quirk of the wind had blown the drifts clear.  At one such clear area Stu managed to find C38, his deep, but unexplored find near the Titans.  Attempting a mega-trundle Stu managed to block this effectively so we need not bother with it for another year!  We watched chamois, enjoyed the magnificent views and got horribly sunburned.

Meanwhile the dedicated pair of Rob and Trev had gone back into Barengasse to check the base of Batchelorschacht.  Climbing up 6m they found the continuation of the cave, once again a traverse part way up a large rift.  The walls were covered with white, cotton wool-like tufa which fell off at the merest touch.  The name Erasmic Chasmic was coined.  The passage zig-zagged and two prominent inlets entered near the beginning.  After about 90m they reached the head of a pitch. Trev picked up the only available rock and carefully dropped it over the edge.

"Crash! .... Bonk ..Bonk."

"We've got a pitch here, Rob.  It seems to be about 70 feet.  We'll have to go back and get some more rope."


"Booooom. "

"Bloody hell!"

Thus the major task for the next day was decided to transport a 200m length of rope to Barengasse and into the cave.  Bruce, Graham and the two Garys began with this irksome burden, and were later helped by Stu and Trev.  Somewhere deep down it was decided to cut the rope in two to make it more manageable, into lengths of 120m and 80m.  The longer one continued down the cave.  Chris and I began the survey using a Silva compass and fibron tape, the compass doubling as a clinometer.  The cave was shown to be heading directly along the fault, as I had suspected.  The following day was beautiful so Stu, Chris and I began a surface survey of Barengasse in order to draw the cave system related to surface features.  Little did we know….Trev and Rob went into the cave to push the bottom, but a rather large 'Enry at the head of the pitch delayed them.  They decided that it had to go, both to make the shaft safe and accessible.  However it would not budge despite Trevor's super-anthropoidal boulder destructive powers, and the pair returned, dispirited.  On Saturday Trev, Rob and Stu decided they deserved a day off. Gary Cullen, Bruce, Grabam and Karen went into C51 to take photos while Gary Childs, Chris and I did some more surface surveying of Barengasse and then went underground for a stint in the cold and wet.  Sunday saw Chris and I, assisted by Dave, who did not stop laughing, and abetted by Rob, who told jokes at the rate of five per survey station, completing the surface survey of Barengasse and smugly predicting under which doline the final shaft lay.  Chris decided to have a bit of a blitz at the end of it all and caught himself out in the ensuing rain.  Meanwhile, down in the hole, Trev, unperturbed by our throwing boulders down every clint in sight, rigged the end shaft and descended 45m to a sloping ledge and crossed onto a rock bridge 9m lower down.  From here stones, now in abundant supply, dropped free for a good five seconds, making the total depth so far -400m, even if only descended by rocks.

Rob went in the next day, put in a bolt by the rock bridge and descended the rope to the knot.  From that point, dangling in the void, using a nife cell with a 50m beam he was unable to make out the floor or the fourth wall of the shaft.  Otherwise the rope hung 2m from one wall and about 6m from the other two walls.  With water at about 0OC splashing all over him he was extremely cold - "nearest to death I've ever come," he later recounted.  Perhaps it was fortunate for him that the rope had been too short to roach the bottom. Chris and I had continued the survey along to Batchelorschacht.  In the Vesta Run we met a white faced Rob who said he did not want to speak about the pitch yet.  However, he had managed to take some bearings in Erasmic Chasmic.  These, together with the Vesta Run survey information, showed that the cave had left the fault at the bottom of the Marlow Staircase and had begun to trend down dip, to the south.  About half of Erasmic lies parallel to the fault and the final shaft, now named Ben Dors Schacht, appears to be a huge rift, also parallel with the Barengasse fault.



As the Horsham contingent and Trev were due to leave in a few days the de-rigging of C51 began immediately.  This took three trips into the cave, but was all completed fairly easily, except for the interruption of a little Schnaps, which put most people out of action for 24 hours. If rumours of what happened on the night of the Schnaps have leaked back to Mendip then believe me, they are all true (haven't I said that somewhere before?).

The main obstacle to exploration this year was the weather.  Unusually large amounts of snow followed by much sunshine, and the occasional storm, meant that even heavy drip in the cave was a force to be reckoned with. Further exploration, going beyond Ben Dors Schacht, may possible require dry conditions (cries of Nein, zwei, Dumbkopf!) such as obtain in the winter, when all precipitation is frozen.  Plans for a winter expedition are currently being considered.  The summer situation on the Dachstein plateau is presently worsening.  The glacier, unlike those in other parts of Europe, is advancing, and it may be that snow will tend to lie about until later into the summer in future years, meaning more melt water underground.

Explorations into Barengasse this year, though limited, can certainly be reckoned as successful with the passing of 1000 feet, the proof that the cave is at least 400 metres deep and the evidence that it is part of a big system hopefully destined to go yet deeper and much further.  The potential is over 900m.  It may be that one day it will be found to lead to the glacial melt water river, although the chances of negotiating a passage containing such a maelstrom of water as resurges at Waldbach Ursprung seem remote.

Other sites

While walking up the large scree slopes to the north of Taubon Kogel, a big entrance was noted at the top of the slope in the base of a high, sheer, westward facing cliff on the north face. However, it is a long slog to reach it and there are plenty of other unexplored, more accessible sites.

C38 is now blocked a couple of metres down and some kind of hauling arrangement will have to be made before it can be explored.  It is perhaps significant that the entrance was open, though a 3m snow bank towered above it.  There must be a reasonable outward draught.  Stu had already measured this shaft last year and found it to be at least 25m deep.

A little to the west of the NW end of the Grosse Schmalzgrube doline is a much smaller, elongated doline, also aligned with the faults.  Towards the SE end of this, at the NE edge, is C65, a low bedding with a cool outward draught.  (This was found on a very hot day - the draught may be less noticeable in cooler conditions).

Some previously discovered sites needed relocating on the master map of the area.  C58 and C59 had been marked in Schladrningerloch instead of in Grosse Schmalzgrube, due to some shorthand confusion last year.  The error was found when the sites were rediscovered during a climbing/trundling session one evening.  Two other 'new' sites turned out to be caves discovered in 1979, and after some careful surface measurements C9, C10 and C11 were all relocated much closer to Ochsenwiesalm.  C9 caused much confusion as one entrance had become completely blocked while the two others had merged into one due to rock fall; furthermore it was much deeper than the previously estimated depth of 18m.  C10 was also deeper than originally calculated, being 12m at its deepest accessible point.

Several sites were noted during our frequent walks through Barengasse.  Those on the NE side, where there is not much promise as the dip is towards the valley, proved to be only rock shelters.  The SW edge of the valley is a cliff and the sites there will only be reached by climbing or abseiling.  However, these latter are marc likely to lead into something significant.

South of Wildkar Kogel and not far from the Simony Hutte seilbahn shed is C69.  A small entrance at the base of a low cliff leads to a boulder-floored chamber.  The cave is about 7m long, 4m wide at the most and rises at the back to about 4m high. West from here was C68, a shaft dropping to a snow pile and slope after 10m, followed by a further shaft which has not been explored.

200m ESE of the Wicsberghaus Chris found a small doline with a narrow rift winding across the bottom to disappear into a crevice with a chamber beyond.  After much work Stu enlarged the crevice.  The floor of the chamber was boulders poised above a pitch. The route down the pitch is presently rather narrow, and a large key boulder needs removing.  The site is designated C66.

Fredi, from the Wiesberghaus, showed us a site within 100m of the hut, high in the SW cliff of Berrengasse.  C67 is also a rift, almost filled with snow except at its western end.  At this point it is roofed over and is 2m wide, 4m high and 10m below the surface.  It quickly narrows, lowers and bends to the left, beyond which point it has not been pushed.


Manor Farm Dig

an article by John Watson

Manor Farm is still going strong after nine months of digging.   The way on is in a semi choked passage which emits a slight draught. Situated at the far end of the cave just before the climb up to the final aven, a choked pit was excavated to a depth of 12ft to breakthrough into a horizontal passage which, although open has been too small to omit anything of human proportions.  The initial digging team consisted of Ian (Wormhole) Caldwell, Trefor Roberts, Bob Cross, Bob Hill, Tim Large and L.S. of the Pegasus, who was persuaded on one of his less frequent visits to Mendip to miss the lunchtime session at the Hunters for a more worthwhile cause.

The passage although small is potentially of very acceptable proportions but a wormhole policy was adopted in the hope of a quick breakthrough. (NB. Ian Caldwell has been renamed Wormhole by Trevor Hughes because of the nature of the dig). Within a few weekends the first bend was reached, excitement grew as an enlargement could be seen and was entered the following weekend.  The passage was a disappointing 15' flat out crawl sloping down to a semi-choked hole. The dig now seemed very long term mainly because of the lack of room for dumping spoil and attention was reluctantly turned away from the terminal choke in order to enlarge the existing passage. With this done the choke was again attacked with renewed enthusiasm until the way on became barred by a calcite squeeze which thwarted all attempts at demolition by conventional methods. However by squeezing a head through a continuation could be seen with no end in sight, Dr Nobel’s Linctus would clearly be needed if any progress was to be made.  Here we turned to Tim Large for help and after an inspection he deemed it a worthwhile cause.  A midweek trip was made, the party consisting of Tim Large, Ian Caldwell, Trefor Roberts, Axel Knutson, Quackers and myself.  A careful descent was made Trefor continually cringing at the slightest bang of an ammo can.  Tim placed the explosives and the rest of us retired to a safe distance.  After a successful detonation a quick exit was made and at the request of the farmer the cave closed until the weekend.

The following Saturday the damage was inspected and after an hour’s digging the squeeze was demolished and the roof made safe by the application of the boot.  An upwards sloping squeeze led to 10' of passage to end in the inevitable choke, the way on being blocked by boulders, extraction of which would cause major problems.

Digging faded – but after a break of a few months a renewed attack has been made.  The choke has been removed and 10ft of semi choked passage can now be seen.  The initial passage has now been enlarged to allow room for digging spoil.  The total length of the extension is about 50ft+ thus every fact gained from here on is a foot towards the digging barrel.  We need all the help we can muster so if you've a spare few hours’s come along and help.

More Notices

Annual general meeting – the ballot forms for the new Committee election will have already been put into the post when this BB arrives through the letterbox.  Pleas make sure that your form is correctly filled in with your name and number.  Send them back to Tim Large as soon a possible at 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset.

A novice caver on the return trip form GB collapsed and died at the foot of the upper of the two climbs in Mud Passage recently.  He was from Bristol and suffered a heart attack; he was 33 years old.

Tratman Award. The Tratman Award is funded from the surplus which was left over after the 7th international Speleo Congress in 1977. The aim of the award is to encourage higher standards in the literature of British Speleology.  Any published material is eligible and will be judges by the Awards Committee of the Ghar Parau Foundation.  The subject material is of no importance and therefore very wide ranging.

Ghar Perau Foundation Awards.  The closing date for the 1981 award claims is 1st February 1981.  Details and application forms may be obtained from Dave Judson, Bethel Green, Calderbrook, Littleborough, Lancs., OL15 9ND.

Pant Mawr Pot - records this year show that the water during last winter rose up to 70ft above the normal sump level.


Vercours, South West France

by Graham Wilton-Jones and Chris Smart

After leaving the Dachstein Stu, Rob, Chris and Graham travelled via the spectacular limestone scenery of the Dolomites and Gran Paradiso to join the WCC in the Vercours.  Many thanks to all those who allowed us to horn in on their trips, their meals, their wine and their camp-site.

Our first trip was into the show cave of Choranche.  This is but a small piece of the extensive Coufin-Chevaline system, and is one of the most beautiful show caves we have visited.  Its chief feature is the entrance chamber, shaped like the inside of a huge flying saucer, with much of the floor occupied by a lake and the roof covered with thousands of densely packed, white straws, in places obscuring the roof.

In the evening we joined Pete and Alison, Chris Milne and Annie, and. Al Keen for a trip into the Bournillon.  Inside the enormous entrance, 100m high, which features in Waltham’s books, the way divides.  The main passage is straight ahead, traversing along screes and then across a small footbridge.  The upper passage is reached by climbing up the boulder slope inside the entrance arch to a smaller entrance beyond which darkness is finally gained. The bore passage gradually degenerates to a well marked route, reminiscent of Goatchurch, down through boulders into a wide bedding, with pools on the floor.  Straight forward into a narrow rift and then up led us into the huge, main passage.  First we went further into the cave as far as the lake/sump, which you could easily stumble into, the water is so clear and still.  Returning, the passage took us by great, black stals (the Black Village) over clean washed boulders, some bigger than trucks, and into a stal-ed area of pebbles and pools at the main entrance.  The cave takes water from some 30km away and must be an impressive resurgence in time of flood, particularly as large sections of the cave flood in less than five minutes.  Fortunately for us Herr Blitz did not put on his show until the night, when he succeeded in creating heavy rain and thunderstorms over most of Europe.

When things began to dry out the following day we all drove off into the woods to find the Scialet (pothole) de Malaterre.  The 50m daylight shaft has a bridge across the top for tourists to gawp and for cavers to throw dangerous boulders from or to use as a belay.  Five of us descended to the ledge, comparing Bluewater with the new Marlow SRT rope, and Graham went off to explore some side passages.  For some reason none of us would go down the next 50m from the ledge, and we satisfied ourselves with races back to the top.

On our final day we went into the Gournier, just around the cliff from Coufin-Chevaline and also overlooking the village of Choranche, where we were staying.  The cave begins as a 70m long lake.  Half way along this it is possible to climb out of the water and traverse along and upwards to the start of the upper passage.  A ladder was hung from here so that most of us could avoid the traverse.  All of us wore wet suits to swim across the lake except Blitz, who put his dry grots into a sealed poly-sack and braved the cold with little but a smile.

The Gournier is noted for its gours, and these begin straight away at the top of the ladder. The passage quickly enlarges into a square section tunnel, tens of metres high and wide.  In some places there are almost level sections with gours formed right across the width of the passage, while in other places there is extensive rock-fall, including some huge blocks.  It is easy to miss some of the large stalagmites, so vast is the passage and so often does the way thread low down among enormous boulders. Gradually the passage rises as it heads steadily into the massif, and at four points there is access to the lower, streamway passage.  We took the second access to this and made our way upstream.  After an initial low, sumpy looking area the stream comes down in a series of beautiful cascades in a high rift, averaging 2m wide with roof frequently out of sight.  In many places there are deep pools to be passed and the French have rigged numerous traverse lines of thick, galvanised wire above these.  Some distance up the stream a high waterfall is reached and the right hand wall is bedecked with traverse wires and ropes for a very exposed route to the top.  Not far beyond we came to a region of inlets and an enormous aven whose top could not even be guessed with two mega carbides on super-burn.  Apparently the inlets give access to passage at the top of aven and this continues on into the massif for the same distance again, via a number of sumps.  Clearly it is an exacting trip to the far reaches, and the porterage of diving and scaling equipment beyond where we had gone made the traverse lines essential. As mere tourists we were able to swim back through some of the pools as we pleased, and made fairly rapid progress back to the exit, the sunshine, the bar and the horse stew.

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

Editor: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

Editorial Notes

……changes to B. B. & changes to club exchange copies.

Following discussions with the Committee a small, but significant, change will be taking place in the B.B. contents from the June 1980 issue.  Over the years the Club has always re-affirmed that members want the B.B. published monthly even though there has been a strong case for a bi-monthly or quarterly publication.  This policy remains unaltered, members will still get a monthly B.B.  The proposed change will be experimental until the A.G.M. in October enabling members to have their say and to make any necessary changes.

Basically the change is this.  The Belfry Bulletin is a newsletter for members and so each month a bulletin of some 4 to 6 pages will be published with considerably more club news and information and less actual caving articles except for the usual club trip reports and news in brief notes.  The longer and more serious caving material will be kept back for a quarterly issue of the 'BB' so that a larger issue, hopefully, of between 20-30 pages can be produced known as the 'Belfry Journal' but subtitled 'Belfry Bulletin'.  The 'Belfry Journal' will have its own numbering system but will also retain the sequential numbering of the 'Belfry Bulletin' (do I hear the bibliophiles moaning!?)  Further, the Belfry Journal will be the ONLY publication produced by the Club for exchange with other clubs so enabling the B. B. to be for 'internal consumption' only allowing a greater concentration on club affairs and, if necessary, the full airing of controversial views to a greater degree than has been possible in the past.  The changes will also allow a better presentation in the Journal than has been possible in the past as there will be more time to concentrate on its preparation and it will, hopefully include photographs and off-set surveys to make it a more saleable product in line with other clubs.  Apart from essential Club notices and other news the Journal will be exactly what it claims to be - a Journal.

The Editor will retain the right of selection of the material submitted but obviously any important news will find its way into the general issue of the B.B. in précis form with the fully detailed article eventually published in the Journal itself.

There are times when material runs short and issues have to be produced in a bi-monthly form (as with this issue) as has happened, so often in the past when material has just not been sent in for publication.  A quarterly publication primarily for caving material gives time for an accumulation of material to be gathered and allows the Editor to give a better balance. Further, it will save the Club about £20 a year on postage on the Club exchanges with other organisations we rarely get monthly exchanges - and those that issue on a monthly basis tend to send out their copies on a quarterly basis to save postal expenses.  If you have any views on the change then come along to the AGM and air them or send a letter top the Editor for publication.

For the first time since becoming Editor of the B.B., I have to say there is no material in the stockpile - so get your pens to paper and send in your trip reports; surveys; reports on digs; holidays; technical notes; the Bulletin/Journal combination allows a greater flexibility for material of all kinds.



The B.E.C. Get Everywhere Part II - Florida

Continuing his tales of his world travels with the Royal Navy, Trev Hughes in addition to being a keen caver, smasher of the Belfry (1) and a well oiled beer drinker at the Hunters Lodge is also a keen sub-aqua man

Having enjoyed a rather alcoholic and gastronomic Christmas at the Belfry, HSM Bulwark's remaining few days in Pompey Harbour quickly passed.  Two weeks at sea chasing submarines came and went and the 18th January, saw us tie up alongside Mayport Naval Base, N.E. Florida.

I don't know how well the average BB reader knows Florida but about 2/3 of the State is swampy woodland and the remainder low, sandy, wooded farmland.  The highest point in the state is 345ft above sea level, located in the north of the "Panhandle" - the most north-westerly part of the state.

Being there for five weeks I was keen to try to dive in some of the large springs I knew existed there. A trip to one of the local dive shops produced Ned Deloach's "Diving Guide to Underwater Florida." This is an excellent book listing hundreds of spring, reef and wreck dives.  Nearly half the book's 160 pages contain spring diving information.  I therefore had a start but the next stage prior to diving so fell into my lap it didn't seem true but the story goes like this:

The scene: The Naval Base Officers' Club, an official reception.

The author: Full of rum, in his best blue suit, rather bored.

My boss (a BSAC 1st class diver) comes up to me and says:

"Here’s somebody you'd like to meet"

"Oh?" I thought, doubtfully.

But he was right, it was Commander B.J. McGee the base supply officer and a member of the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI).  After an introduction B.J.'s opening remark was "What are you doing this Saturday, do you fancy a dive?"  ''Where?'' I replied with cautious optimism, for the sea temperature was about 48°F.  "Troy Spring, Branford.  Bring some buddies; I've room for four extra in my minibus."  "This mans really talking" I thought, to myself. "I'll be there" I replied.  So came about me first of my all too few trips to the Branford area to dive in the springs that abound in Florida.

My first visit to Troy, on the west bank of the Suwannee River, was on 26.1.80.  A very rainy day but the vis. in this large 15 x 20 m pool was excellent. A vertical descent to -16m is hollowed by a slope under the overhanging roof to -23m.  The strong water flow issues from 3 low passages and many small holes.  A brief look inside one of these passages at -23m confirmed a way on approximately 1x3m.

We returned to Troy on 29.1.80 with a line, extra lights and backup bottles to investigate further the passage looked at on 26.1.80.  After two days of heavy rain the peaty Suwannee River had backed up into the spring causing the vis. to be reduced to 2m on the surface.  However, my buddy and I descended a shot line to -16m where it was pitch dark and our 10 watt torches gave only a 0.5m long cone of brown light.  We swam on a compass bearing to the cave entrance and eventually found it after many painful encounters with the tree trunks on .the bottom of the spring.  At -19m the vis had suddenly and totally cleared as we met the clear cave water pushing out the dirty river water.  In the low passage we only progressed about 10m to a 5m diameter chamber of -23m as the outward flow was very strong and we wished to avoid decompression, having wasted a lot of bottom time finding the entrance.

A group of four Bulwark divers including myself returned to the area on 7.2 .80 and our first visit was to Orange Grove Sink, a large open sink covered with duckweed.  A class of trainee divers from a nearby dive school had beaten us there and reduced the vis in the daylight area to 6m.  We descended in daylight to -18m and entered the 5x2m bedding which sloped down to -20m and entered into the roof of the "Coliseum".  The Coliseum is a huge underwater chamber 20 x 25m with depths to 30m.  We descended to -26m and explored the boulder floor and walls of this impressive chamber.  The visibility was only limited by the walls of the chamber lit by our torch beams.  We ended up over our no stop time and decompressed in the vertical walled daylight sink.

Limited to -9m to avoid lengthy decompression we turned our attentions to Pencock Spring where a superb cave is entered at -5.5m through a 3m x 1.5m bedding.  This quickly opened up into a large chamber called "The Blue Room" 15m across and filled with a pale blue glow from the sunlight streaming through the slot.  Depths reach -18m where a passage leads to Pothole Sink after 125m and to Olson sink after a further 370m.  However we quickly spotted the large horizontal passage running westwards at -8m: just right for us.  In crystal clear vis we swam westwards for 70m until the first of us reached his air margin, the passage continued for as far as our 10 watt torches could illuminate. We returned slowly looking for fossils in the hard sand bottom and just looking up the beauty, of the Blue Room.

That's the limit, of my dives in the area, I wish I could have done many more, however I'll now attempt to give the reader some ideas of the caves and the local divers.

Cave diving in Florida is practiced by possibly thousands of divers, the prerequisite being a competent open water diver and not, as the CDG, a caver.  The warm water (22°C) large open passages and generally crystal clear vis provide an obvious and sometimes fatal attraction.  The real experts are the Cave Diving section of the National Speleological Society (USS) who run training courses in cave diving (total time approx. 8 days giving 10 divers in 5 different sites).  At the other end of the scale are totally untrained novices or inexperienced open water divers who are tempted into caves and disregard one or both of the two basic cave diving rules, i.e. a continuous guideline and the ⅓ air rule or go deeper than the maximum recommended 130 ft.

The accident figures for Florida Cave Diving are somewhat alarming; since 1960 more than 150 cave divers have drowned, 1974 was a particularly black year with 26 deaths. Thanks to the efforts of the NSS these figures have now reduced to about 8 per year despite increased activity in this sport.  During our stay there has been one death, on 27 January, when a diver drowned in the 12 m tunnel between Pencock Spring and Pothole Sink.

Enough about accidents and onto the gear used by the American cave divers.  A normal 80cuft bottle back packed with either a Y shaped pillar valve and two regulators or a normal pillar valve and octopus rig are most commonly used for shorter dives.  One valve has a longer hose for ease of air sharing in emergency.  Very- deep and/or very long dives mean more air and twin 100cuft cylinders are often used.  With a twinset a dual valve manifold is used - this configuration enables 2 independent 1st stage reducers to be used supplied from either or both bottles.

Buoyancy Compensators are universally used and enable a diver to keep in mid or upper water in a passage to avoid stirring up any silt from the bottom.  The designs used allow a head down, feet up position for ease of motion.

The standard diver’s line used in Florida is white braided nylon of about 1/16-1/8" diameter.  This size of line has sufficient strength and is the most easily seen.  The line reels used in the area make some English reels look positively archaic. They are not made commercially but by private individuals and can cost up to 50 dollars in dive shops.  The design of line reel handles is such that the primary light and the reel can be held and controlled with one hand.  I have made an excellent prototype copy for approximately 50p in about 3 hours using simple workshop tools.  This reel holds more than 500 ft of 3/32" braided nylon and works well. Normally one “team” reel is used by the team leader; every diver, however, carries an emergency backup "splic reel".

Although the primary guidance system is the line the correct type of lighting is essential.  The standard primary light is a rechargeable, waist mounted NiCad pack connected to a hand held 30 watt lamp.  For backup lighting at least two other lights should be carried. The first (and last) appearance of my twin helmet mounted aquaflushes brought on some very amused looks from a pair of local cave divers.

Florida accounts for 17 of the 75 1st magnitude (i.e. 100cuft/sec) springs in the USA and 49 springs of the 2nd magnitude (i.e. 10-100cuft/see).  One of the largest in the world, Silver Springs, has a mean flow of some 500 million galls/day.  Most have extensively developed wave systems feeding them. Depths in excess of 250ft occur in some springs; e.g. Eagles Nest Spring, the distance record is held by Sheck Exley and another diver who started at -90ft in Hornby Spring and surfaces after a mile underwater - at depths of 120ft, in a sink.  The story of this epic reads very similar to our own KMC/Kelch Head dive.

Virtually all the springs and sinks are in very picturesque settings, access is fairly easy and free camping is allowed at a lot of sites - mostly in woodland.  These sites rarely have any facilities apart from a lot of very clear water.  The springs all have a natural channel called a run leading to the river they feed, some are only a few yards long but others some miles (i.e. the Ichetucknee River).  The run at Troy spring is about 150m long and deeper than most at 2-3 m.  It also has the remains of an 1863 steamboat called the Mackson and some huge Alligator Garfish up to 1.5m long (and they will bite!)

There are many dive shops in the area but certification (e.g. BSAC membership) is required to purchase air.  Most have a good range of gear for sale or hire but the specialist cave diving gear e.g. reels and lights are pricy, its far better to design and make your own!

American cave divers are a helpful and friendly bunch; the ones that I met always had time for a yarn or were willing to offer advice.  Despite what might think, holidaying in the states is not that expensive. My own personal feelings are that I can't wait to get back to the area.

Trev Hughes


A Lost Cave Site At Cheddar Caves?


I’ve recently acquired a bromide (real photograph) picture postcard dated 1911 depicting a cave archaeological dig entitled on the picture "DISCY. OF ROMAN COINS ETC. GOUGH’S CAVES CHEDDAR 1911".  The picture is a sepia print and on the back the imprint is 'C.H. Collard, Photo, Cheddar'.

The photograph shows a steeply sloping ground surface with a large rock outcrop on the left.  At the top right there appears to be the lower right corner of a walled enclosure.  At the foot of the slope is an enormous rock arch some 10 - 12 feet wide by some 3ft high. The floor of the excavation shows bones and a skull together with a sieve of shards.  There are seven people in the photo, one lying inside the hole holding a shovel or pack (this appears to be Troup).  Standing above the hole and against the rock outcrop is William Gough and seated above is Herbert Balch with a four or five year old boy sitting on his knee (Stanley Balch?)  The other men in the picture cannot be identified.

Chris Hawkes and I walked the Cliffs between Jacob's Ladder and Great Oone's Hole keeping high up the cliff but could find nothing like the outcrop in the photograph and so a search will be made down the middle and lower reaches in the near future.  The only written record we've been able to find is a single sentence in the Somerset Archaeological Transactions for 1911 recording the fact that coins had been found at Gough's Cave, Cheddar.

Has anyone seen this card, or heard any details of this site, was it located at the bottom of the Slitter to the west of Gough's Old Cave and the site destroyed when the new buildings were built in 1934?  I'd be grateful to hear from anyone who has a similar card or has any information that might lead to the rediscovery of the site for it looks like a potential cave dig!


Link Pot; Easegill; Casterton Fell

by Dave Metcalfe

For the first trip of 1980, we decided to visit Link Pot, not as a back door to Pippikin or as a side door to Lancaster Hole but as a pot in its own right.

From Lancaster Hole the way is now well trodden through the heather down to the steep sides of Easegill. The excavated entrance can hardly be missed and the ladder can be belayed directly to a scaffold pole to hang down a narrow parallel, fluted shaft.  There is no wide part or easy way down.  All but fatties or well endowed ladies should have little trouble here. After about 20' the shaft widens to more convenient proportions and the landing is made in a rift only a step away from an impressive square section passage - Hilton Hall.

The main way on from here is a less than obvious narrow rift downstream the left hand wall.  An easy squeeze through this and upwards leads into the Bypass Route, a muddy passage (it should be said at this point that anyone with a morbid fear of mud should turn back here as there is no shortage of the stuff until the main streamway is reached).  The passage continues at stooping or crawling height past an obvious branch to the left which leads through various stages of purgatory to Pippikin. Shortly after this, Night Shift Chamber is reached, with the exit down to the main route.  Down the slope to the left and under a trickle of water into a crawl, which quickly enlarges into a walking passage involving some traversing over a dry muddy trench in the floor.  The tunnel gradually enlarges until China Dog Chamber is reached. Hopefully the delightful stalagmite which gives this chamber its name will withstand the passage of clumsy cavers. Incidentally I would like to point out to anyone following this route through the pot using the survey from the NPC Journal 1979 should not take it too literally - it contains some notable inaccuracies.

A pitch out of China Dog Chamber reaches the canyon after a 25' climb. A small stream emits from Tigers Inlet, which cannot be free climbed from below.  So this passage must be reached by a slippery traverse directly out of China Dog Chamber, above the Canyon.  At the end of the traverse, a handy chain is in position to assist the awkward little drop into Tigers Inlet.  The Inlet meanders upstream until a complex little chamber is reached (not shown on survey).  From here several routes radiate, one leading back to Tigers Inlet, while another leads via a twisting passage to Handpump Mall.  The main way is gained by following the left hand wall of the chamber, to an obvious passage quickly leading to a junction with a small cairn. This however is not Cairn Junction, and turning right here soon leads to a diversification of routes at a large cairn. This is Cairn Junction where the right hand route should be followed down Death Row past four small stalagmites. Shortly after these the left branch of the passages leads torturously over large muddy cobbles in a low bedding plain, eventually emerging in a crawl to a junction.  Bearing right here the main route is easily followed finally emerging in a large bedding passage where, to the right, the tantalising roar of a large stream can be heard.

The bedding plane emerges abruptly at the lip of a wide pit, intersected on the far side by a clean washed stream trench with plenty of nice clean cool water cascading 20' into a pool. At this point personnel and tackle will all be well plastered with that wonderful reddish brown substance - not for long!  An easy traverse around the right hand lip of the pit crosses the stream trench and gains an easy climb down to the bottom of the waterfall.  (The survey pitch lengths should be ignored here).  A rope is useful for this climb but is not essential. Downstream the water plunges on into a big shaft, where the furthest of two bolt belays provides the best hang for the 70' pitch.  It is an exhilarating climb as the ladder hangs down the full force of the fall for the first 20’ with a sharp pinnacle hidden underwater to trap the unwary. The fall then strikes a ledge and diffuses into a larger rift.  An almost dry hang is possible by positioning the ladder over a projection.  At the bottom the rift is well lashed with spray, and it is not a place to hang about for long.  The last pitch follows immediately - an easy 20' scramble down a cascade where a ladder is probable more useful than a rope.  The landing is a wide pool with a spout entering about 25' up.

Now begins the low march down stream passing several good formations until Cobble Inlet enters on the right.  From here boulder obstacles become more frequent until the stream disappears completely for a short section.  Soon after this the roof begins to lower and crawling over shingle and in the stream leads to the sump.

Tackle: - Entrance: - 50' Ladder, Sling belay

Mainstream Passage :-1st - 30' Rope;   2nd - 70' Ladder, Krab Belay;   3rd - 25' Ladder, Sling Belay



by Hon Secretary Tim Large

April already - soon be the dinner again.  This year we shall be back at the Caveman in Cheddar.  Within the next couple of months we should be able to publish a menu. Don't be surprised if the price goes up compared with last year.  Besides the naturally rising prices we have also used up any dinner reserves that have subsidised it for the past couple of years.  Do you want any entertainment? - if so any suggestions would be mush appreciated.

A new supply of sweat-shirts is being ordered similar to the previous issue.  If you would like one or maybe even two send money with order to John Dukes, 'Bridge Farm' Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Somerset.  Price £6 each.  Don't forget to state chest size.

Recently a group of lads were given permission to stay at the Belfry.  But they were unsupervised and no members were present.  If you do invite guests to the Belfry please ensure that at least one member is present particularly if they are youngsters. This of course does not apply to our regular visitors whom we know well.

On Mendip recently has been Colin Priddle (The Pope) and his wife Jan.  Colin went down Cuthbert’s for the first time in six years.  Let’s hope its not six years before we see them again.

Last month the Belfry improvement plans were published.  It is hoped to finalise these early in May and modify the ground floor area before the winter.  Even though we have allocated money towards this and raised funds by raffles, the finances will be tight.  I expect many of you may have odd things lying around in the attic or garden shed not doing anything.  Any donations would be much appreciated.  Such items that spring to mind are - shower taps etc, timber, floor tiles etc, paint. In fact anything you consider might be useful bearing in mind the work involved.


Manor Farm: - Ian (Wormhole) Caldwell and (Quiet) John Watson are renewing work in the rift near the end of NHASA Gallery.  Progress is good in soft mud.  The only problem is removing it along the passage.

Tyning’s Barrow Swallet:- Some work has been done at several points:-

1.                  'Shit in the eye' Inlet: -  So called from its muddy aspect and the fact that Tony Jarratt suffered with the said eye problem.  At the end of this passage were several large boulders together with an abundance of liquid mud.  The boulders were removed to reveal a 10' aven only to be stopped again by more precariously perched rocks.

2.                  Berties Paradise: - Has received attention at two points.  One is a very tight tube with an S bend which may produce something if enlarged.  The other is a rift in the roof of the chamber from which issues a heavy drip. This was climbed by Quackers and followed for about 50' and is still going.  Another visit is planned.  The end of the cave is also planned to be attacked in the near future.

Cuthbert’s: - Always a good place for finding new passage.  If the weather holds this summer sump 2 will be persuaded to reveal its secrets.

Sludge Pit: - Stu Lindsay is digging the sump.  At present shot holes are being drilled with a kango, hoping to raise the roof of the sump.

Nine Barrows: - The choke at the end of Crystal Chamber is being dug and looks promising.

Wigmore: - Our official club dig - not receiving as much attention as it deserves - but well worth a visit (dig) if you have a spare few hours - go see what you can find.

Some members have recently started climbing.  If you are interested contact Quackers alias Michael Duck at the Belfry.



Bigger Better Enormous Extensions in Cheddar Caves

An article by Chris Bradshaw

As has already been reported in the B.B., Cheddar Caves in general and Gough's in particular, are being attacked by a motley crew of Belfryites and assorted foreigners. Access is restricted to the times the cave is open to the public, and is limited to working parties only (definitely no tourist trips!) and enquiries should be directed to Martin Bishop.

Work started some months ago, but has gained momentum through March, April and May, with groups going in both at weekends and alternate Wednesday afternoons.  The first site, in Gough's, was at the back of 'King Solomon’s Temple', where a small rift, about 15' deep to a hard mud floor was found.  Digging was firstly halted by some helictites, and has now been abandoned for the moment, as there seems to be a good chance that the rift is only an oxbow back into another part of the same chamber.

After this episode, the diggers found themselves following two separate interests.  One group, the ones who like to get themselves wet and soggy on the outside, are digging the resurgence pool.  They have so far only managed to discover the interesting principal that the law of gravity still applies to large boulders underwater, and when one removes what is supporting them, they have a nasty habit of dropping on the next diver along!  Their excavation is about 15' deep at the beginning of May.

The other group is comprised of those who believe they should only get their necks wet on the inside, and then not with water.  At an early stage it was thought that the most promising passage was that to the north of 'Sand Chamber', ending in a precarious boulder choke.  In fact the first time we visited it, an anvil shaped "enrie" of several hundredweight "spoke" to Quackers while he was under it!  This gave us considerable incentive to find somewhere else, but after a number of trial ‘prods’ in other parts of the cave, we had to accept the inevitable and start on the boulders.

The choke can be entered by an awkward chamber on the left of the passage, leading to a chamber about 20' x 15', with some good curtains and other stal.  Overhanging is a wedged boulder, about 15' x 8' x 8'!  The thin man team could then go past the "Speaking Enrie", through a horizontal slot between two boulders at a high level.  The upper one appearing to have no means of support on one side, and weighing rather a lot, did not exactly inspire confidence!  However several sessions were given to digging under boulders beyond, by three intrepid cowards in the group, which gave access to a gruesome right-angled squeeze.  Tim Large was pushed through this, to find two alternate high level dig sites, draughting and with clean washed rocks.  As all looked good we left Tim to play and went for a wander and a quick fag. When we came back a couple of hours later, we found Tim still in the boulders, sounding very excited.  He had been prodding in the roof when there was a sudden shower of sh__ which filled the squeeze with him on the other side, and the passage was too tight for him to turn and dig it out!  Fiona, who had been in the adjoining chamber listening for any problem, had decided that a walk through the cave with Martin Grass held far more attractions than getting muddy with Tim.  A unanimous decision was made that Chris Bradshaw was the only skinny one (and one mug enough) to dig out the squeeze for a second time, so after a 'dead man's footshake', the only part of Tim’s anatomy that could get through the remaining gap, he was dug out in another hour.

After this episode it was obvious that no one wanted to continue to dig this way, and that there was increasing instability in the boulders.  After much debate it was decided by majority, that the best way to continue would be to bang out the talking "Enrie" and its adjacent squeeze.  This should give a safer means of access to space against the (assumed) roof and a passage blasted over the top of the boulders by banging from above to drop them. This would gain access to Tim’s two dig sites.  Well, that's the theory!

On Wednesday 7th May the approach passage and chamber in the boulders was resurveyed, and it was found that the side walls of the latter were in fact pointing 40 degrees further west than is shown on the Stanton 1965 survey.  This places it aiming directly at, and 500' from Cooper's Hole, and on the same line as 'Far Rift' in Gough's.  When the first 1lb charge was set off that day, it was clearly heard in Coopers, and fumes disappeared into the boulders.  Further bangs will be required to regain the 30' of passage we have now lost! We hope that the next time Tim examines the rock after banging they don't take revenge and jump at his right ear.

On Saturday 10th May, Tim climbed the aven just before 'Thynne Squeeze' in Coopers, to find that it had apparently not been looked at before, and an open passage can be seen, through easy digging up a 30 degree slope.  That's the other theory!

POSTSCRIPT: Sunday 11th May, a digging trip in Coopers aven was aided by a 20' ladder borrowed from Gough's Cave.  The fill at the top is comprised of stal covered pebbles & grit, with moonmilk & tuffa. This was dug out to get at a small cavity surrounded by stal covered rocks, at the start of what is apparently a draughting boulder ruckle, 30' above 'Thynne Squeeze', and 110' below Soldiers Hole.


Work continues………..all over the place, so bring your buckets and spades to the dinner this year!


Mendip Rescue Organisation

Report by Hon. Secretary and Treasure for the year ending 31st January 1980

Last summer, Mr. Kenneth Steele, the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset retired after many years in the region.  We remember him in particular when he was in charge of the old Somerset Police Force as the caving community owes him much for his personal interest and support of the MRO over the past 25 years.  He was one of three Chief Constables who met to further the links among Police, Mountain and Cave Rescue groups throughout the country.  MRO was one of the first to receive insurance cover whilst underground on rescues as a. result of his foresight.  This model is now used by all Search and Rescue Teams associated with the Mountain Rescue Committee. We thank Mr. Steele for all this and wish him well.

The new Chief Constable, Mr. Brian Weigh, has already been extremely helpful to us and so the welcome tradition of close support between the Police and MRO continues.  On Mendip, this is reflected by the interest taken in cave rescue work by those at divisional control to the patrols at the scene. Superintendent John Lee at Frome has given us much advise and practical help over the years for which I am very grateful.  When the call-out system transfers to Yeovil shortly, we hope that his particular help over communications will continue.  One of the last activities of the year was to show Inspector Rod Deane and five of his colleagues from Wells around top Swildons.  And they want to go again!

Another stalwart to leave the area was Tim Reynolds.  Apart from influencing the many sides of caving here and throughout the country over several years, whilst an MRO warden Tim did much where it matters at some very serious incident - so he was always a great help to me as a neighbour here in Wookey Hole.  Dr. Tim Lyons also left the area to take a new hospital post and we thank him, too, for making himself available for calls whilst on Mendip.

New automatic pumps installed by Bristol Waterworks upstream of Longwood and Swildons Hole led to most wardens being taken on a guided tour of the former by Paul Hodge, Sources Engineer. He has taken a keen interest in the work of local caver and we thank him for contingency plans to reduce stream flows at both sites when necessary.  These have already proved to be effective on actual callouts.  Another get together of wardens and other MRO cavers was in Manor Farm Swallet when a useful practice with David Mager's improved stretcher was held hauling out Albert Francis from the bottom of Curtain Chamber to the surface. Albert has now been our standard patient on several practices.  He tells us what to do!

The Mager stretcher, as we now call it, also impressed delegates at the Annual Conference of the South West England Rescue Association in November.  This regional Mountain Rescue Committee includes the RAF, Coastguards and the Police as well as moor, mine, cliff and cave rescuers.  So, it is a good one to exchange ideas, especially on equipment.  It is fortunate to be informally organised with good sense and humour by Fred Barlow from Okehampton.  Apart from seeming to be a chunk of Dartmoor, Fred is a 'Devon Speleo' and claims to have been won to caving from climbing by Oliver Lloyd here on Mendip.

We continue to be fortunate in supplies of equipment from interested cavers.  These range from specially designed carrying bags made-up by David Mager, a wind fall of Nife cells from the Avon County Fire Brigade with help from Adrian Vanderplank, bronze descendeurs donated by Bob Drake and a couple of semi-water-proof polythene suits from Tim Large.  Also we are very fortunate in the generous and prompt help always given by Rocksport in supplying MRO with a variety of equipment and ropes in particular.

Brian Prewer as Equipment Officer keeps all this up-to-scratch and has also worked hard to secure both the instruments and information for MRO to operate a private radio service during rescues.  A basic system has been installed and sanctioned by the Home Office.  It will be available for use as soon as we receive the official licence from London.  In developing and installing this equipment, we are most fortunate for practical encouragement by John Eley, local representative for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and, especially, for the expert work and support given by Eric Dunford.  He has acquired much of the equipment for us, installed it and advised us on the procedures to be followed.  Alan Mills provided and helped to fix the base station mast from which the MRO will be able to go on the air.

All this has led to the greatest volume of correspondence ever.  None would be possible without the practical and financial help for MRO is entirely a voluntary body which relies upon donations.  On the practical side we must thank Charles Bryant for his hard work and unique information about old mines in the Brendon Hills which will be published elsewhere.  The record income from donations is shown on the accounts which accompany this report. It should be added that two-thirds of this handsome income has come through appropriate fund raising by wardens including the raffling of a rucksack donated following a rescue.  Also, the caving community through MRO received a bequest which has both its poignant and propitious sides to us on Mendip.

This report should highlight the principle of voluntary self-help that is the tradition of cave rescue work on Mendip. Our preparations are best judged by practice, of course, which was no better evident than at the difficult Thrupe Lane Swallet rescue in November.  Perhaps Nigel Kermode who was so badly hurt there will allow me to end this report to fellow cavers on Mendip with his appreciation of their efforts.  “Since my life was dependant on the rescue operation, my thanks cannot express fully the gratitude I feel for those who saved me.”

J.D. Hanwell, Secretary & Treasurer MRO.


Cave Rescues and Incidents for the year ending 31st January 1980

There were eight calls during the year.  Six were potentially serious which is more than in any other year throughout the seventies.  A general observation must be that several involved parties made up of relatively experienced and well equipped cavers with comparative beginners who were less suitably clad for the trip undertaken.  This works on many occasions; but, should conditions take an unanticipated turn for the worse underground, the beginners need extra help which has not been expected.

The danger has been spelt out by an experienced caver whose club relies on grant support for its activities.  He says that such clubs "have a problem that they do not have much time to introduce people to caving but giving total novices a chance to cave is one of the main ways we justify our existence to granting bodies!"  Please note that the exclamation is his.

The following accounts which are based upon the reports written at the time by wardens concerned will tell their own stories.

Thursday 8th March 1979  Swildons Hole

An outdoors activities group from a large government establishment in Taunton went, down the cave in the evening led by Graham Burgess and Robert Morgan.  Several members of the party were inexperienced and lightly clad but no lifeline was used on the 20' pot.  As a result, Mrs. Penny Baily, aged 30 from Chard fell from the top of the pitch and injured her back.

The alarm was given to Mrs. H. Main at Soloman Combe Farm.  She alerted the Police and then informed Alan Thomas nearby at 2100 hours. Whilst Alan made his way to Priddy Green to organise the first party of rescuers, the Police contacted Brian Prewer who informed Dr. Don Thompson.  Dany Bradshaw and Bob Cork went to assess the situation and encouraging news soon returned that Mrs. Baily would be able to help herself.  Trevor Hughes and a fellow Royal Navy Instructor took down the hauling rope whilst Fred Davies carried a goon suit with some dry clothes and Martin Bishop organised a support party of five.  With their help Mrs. Baily climbed the pitch and was assisted out of the cave by 2300 hours.

As some back injury was suspected, she was advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible once home.  Later, it was diagnosed that she had sustained a crushed vertebrae and needed hospital treatment.  In the circumstances, therefore, Mrs. Baily did particularly well to help herself once the rescuers had arrived.

Sunday 22nd April 1979  Longwood Swallet

Miss Julie Smith, aged 18 from Keysham, went down the cave with seven others and Alan Mills.  On reaching 'Great Chamber', she became faint and fitfully passed out.  Alan Mills speedily left the cave to summon help through the Police.

William Stanton was alerted at 1605 pours and advised Alan to return underground to keep the girl as warm as possible until others arrived.  He then raised a party from the Belfry with comforts and hauling gear led by Tim Large.  Dr. Don Thompson was informed and he stood by the Reviva in case of hypothermia. Bristol Water Works Company was advised of the incident although there was no immediate danger from the stream. The Police sent a patrol car to Lower Farm to relay messages and Mr. and Mrs. R.S. Trim there kindly provided hospitality to everybody.

Tim Large's party was able to give Alan Mills assistance in helping the girl after she had been refreshed with hot soup.  It appears that she may have exhausted herself due to lack of food before going underground.  The rescue finished at about 1700hors.

Monday 2nd July 1972    Combe Down Stone Mines

Brian Prewer was contacted by Bath Police via Frome at 1015 hours with news of a missing person down the mines.  Mr. Bernard, Landlord of the Hadley Arms, had raised the alarm.  Apparently, he and five others had gone down the mines with hand torches about midnight starting Monday 2nd July.  They had lost contact with one of the party, Nicholas Champion, aged 23.  A search later in the morning had been fruitless.

Brian Prewer alerted a party comprising Bob Scammel, Keith Newberry, Alison Hooper, Dave Turner, Rex Emery and John Richardson.  They went down the mine about 1115 hours with Dave Walker standing-by at the surface. Meanwhile, Brian with Tim Large and Jim Hanwell made their way to Bath with full MRO equipment.  They alerted Don Thompson and Mike Palmer agreed to raise a party in Wells if needed later.  Brian Woodward was contacted in Bath and all met at the site about 1230 hours with the Police.

Champion was fortuitously found and brought to the surface by 1310 hours after some 13 hours alone. He was cold, tired and only had a feeble glow left from his torch; otherwise he was in good shape.  It is tempting to regard this as a fair case of being stoned-out in a mine!

Sunday 16th September 1979      Swildons Hole

Brian Prewer was contacted by Frome Police at 1600 hours.  A girl was reported stuck in the entrance series at the bottom of Kenny's Dig with a dislocated knee.  Martin Rowe, the informant at Priddy, could not give any further details so Brian alerted Tim Large at the Belfry to form a small rescue party.

At 1638 hours, the Frome Police reported that all were safely out of the cave and that the girl's injuries were minor.  The rescuers met the party concerned just inside the entrance.  The cavers concerned were given as members of Kingston Polytechnic Caving Club.

Sunday 17th November 1979    Thrupe Lane Swallet

Three friends, Colin Gibson, Kevin Senior and Nigel Kermode, who had graduated from Southampton University the previous summer and had been members of its caving club, re-met for a private trip down the cave.  Fortunately, all three were well equipped and fit.  They entered the cave at 1320 hours and took two hours to reach Atlas Pot.  Here, they tackled the longer wet pitch by mistake and, owing to the noise and some confusion over life-line signals, Nigel Kermode the first man down fell the last 20' of the climb from the bottom of the ladder.  Senior descended to find Kermode in great distress and Gibson left the cave to call the MRO.  The accident happened at about 1530 hours and it was subsequently found that Nigel Kermode had sustained a fractured skull and pelvis with broken wrist and bone in palm of one hand.

William Stanton was the first warden contacted by the Police at 1610 hours.  He got in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Butt at Thrupe Farm and was told that Simon Meade King who was digging near-by would go down to give assistance. By 1615 hours, Brian Prewer had been alerted and a full scale callout was initiated.  Dave Irwin and Chris Batstone organised the surface arrangements and equipment from the store.  Alan Mills and Graham Nye hurried after Simon Meade-King as runners and were followed by Dr. Don Thompson, Fred Davies and Ray Mansfield with medical equipment. Meanwhile, calls were made to assemble three separate carrying parties with Martin Bishop, Tim Large and Brian Woodman respectively.  These parties eventually included Ken James, Ian Caldwell, Graham Wilton-Jones, Martin Grass, John Dukes, D. Horsewell, T. Mintram, Chris Bradshaw, Bruce Bedford, Steve Gough, Richard West, Phil Romford, Steve Tuck.  Brian Prewer and Albert Hill laid a telephone line from the farm as far as 'Marble Chamber'.

Ray Mansfield soon came out to advise on the seriousness of the injuries and the need to enlarge the crawls if possible.  He returned underground with Dave Turner and Brian Workman whilst Gary Cullen and, Richard Whitcombe went to dig open the crawls and Colin and Clare Williams cleared stones to stabilize the slopes of the entrance rifts.  The Reviva was taken down by Chris Foster and John Kettle. Martin Bishop followed with a party of five to undertake hauling on Atlas Pot.

Jim Hanwell brought MRO emergency foods from the Belfry which Mr. and Mrs. Butt and family kindly agreed to prepare.  Indeed their home was a most welcome and friendly open door throughout the night, for which all concerned are very grateful.  Hanwell returned, to Priddy later to stand-by cavers there as it seemed likely, that the operation would continue well into Monday.  Offers of help were kindly given by a number of local people who had done little caving on Mendip.

At 2018 hours, Martin Grass surfaced with Kevin Senior of the original Southampton trio who seemed to be in reasonable shape.  The former then returned underground with Steve Woolven carrying comforts requested by the hauling parties.  Reports came out that Nigel Kermode was being hauled up Atlas Pot at about 2200 hours and a lengthy carry into Monday was confirmed.  At this point Tim Large's team entered the cave to take over from Martin Bishop's party where appropriate.  Brian Woodwards group followed about an hour later to do the hauling on Perseverance Pot.  In view of the injuries and length of carry anticipated, it was agreed to request medical back-up from Doctor's Michael Glanville and Nigel Mizrahi.  Both responded and arrived at 2343 and 0135 hours respectively.

Michael Glanville was accompanied underground by Pauline Gough just after midnight.  About then, it was reported that the patient had arrived in Marble Chamber and had been given warm air from the Reviva.  Further soda lime was requested and taken down by Dave Walker.  Nigel Taylor who had just joined the rescuers from work, agreed to drive to Priddy for a CO2 adaptor.  At 0200 hours, Nigel Mizrahi went underground to relieve Don Thompson and Michael Glanville when it was reported that the casualty was nearing the bottom of Perseverance Pot.  When Dr. Thompson arrived at the surface at 0217 hours, he telephoned the hospital in Bath to advise them of the patient’s injuries and condition.  The local ambulance was then alerted.  At 0415 hours Nigel Kermode was brought to the surface and left for hospital by about 0430 hours, some 13 hours after the accident happened.

This was the most serious and prolonged rescue dealt with by the MRO for many years.  It was made the more difficult because it was the first incident in the awkward Thrupe Lane system.  It is, therefore, worth recording the carrying times for the various stages of the hauling started from the bottom of Atlas Pot: to Marble Chamber, about 3 hours; then to the top of Perseverance Pot; about 2 hours and, lastly, to the entrance another 12 hours.  In addition to a carry lasting over 6 hours, another problem in such constricted system is to plan the exchange of essential relief parties when it is difficult for one to pass the other.  As hauling up Perseverance Pot is best done from the bottom of the pitch, for example, unless an exchange occurs below, the relieved party is effectively blocked from overtaking and unable to get out for another hour or so, behind everyone else.

Apart from hearing that Nigel Kermode was making good progress from his injuries, perhaps the most rewarding feature for the many Mendip cavers wholeheartedly involved throughout the night was to be so warmly; thanked by all concerned, particularly his parents and fellow cavers at Southampton University.  Nigel himself has also written later to say that he is now well enough to be back at work. He is full of praise for the rescuers efforts made on his behalf and wishes to thank all concerned.

Saturday 24th November 1979    Manor Farm Swallet

A Cambridge University Caving Club party consisting of Jeremy Drummond, Hibbert, David Flatt, Robert Kingston, Duncan Howslay and Heather Wall were on the way out from a trip to the bottom of the cave.  Heather Wall was particularly tired and, on climbing the ladder up the entrance shaft, she fell off from about 25 - 30 feet up.  No life-line was available.  Another member of the party standing at the bottom of the shaft was able to break her fall without further injury occurring to either one.  This is a rare case of two wrongs turning into a right!  Apart from a cut chin and feeling very shaken, Heather was otherwise not badly hurt.

Members of the party already up the pitch raised the alarm to Frome Police.  Dave Irwin was alerted and contacted a rescue group from the Belfry at about 1755 hours led by Chris Batstone and Tim Large.  This team included Trevor Hughes, Ross White, Tony Jarratt, Dave Glover, Simon Woodman and Garth Dell.

The injured student was strapped into a Whillians Sit Harness and quickly hauled up the shaft by 1840 hours.  A Police patrol car then took her to the Cottage Hospital, Wells, for a check-up and stitches for the cut chin.  After an overnight stay for observation, she was discharged on Sunday morning.

This incident could so easily have been prevented had a lifeline been used.  Those concerned admitted that they had not even bothered to take one along.

9th December 1979    Swildon's Hole

An Oxford University Cave Club party with several beginners went down the cave about 1430 hours.  One of the novices without good protective clothing for a very wet trip was 19 year old Martin John Vickers from Birkenhead.  Although the stream was running quite high and the weather turned in rather wet later, the party went beyond the 20' pot.  When the water began to rise following heavy rain, they started to retreat but Vickers Got into difficulty at the pitch as he was very wet and cold by then.  Other members then surfaced to call MRO out, via Frome Police.  Dave Irwin was informed and organised a rescue team with hauling gear, hot soups and medical equipment if needed.  As Dr. Don Thompson was unavailable, Dr. Michael Glanville was contacted and he made his way to Priddy.  Bristol Waterworks Company was advised of the incident and the flooding risk in view of the continuing rain.  They quickly responded by turning on their pumps upstream and the effect on the water going into the cave was soon noticed.

The rescue party was led by Tim Large and was able to assist Martin Vickers out of the cave by 2045 hours. He was examined by Dr. Michael Glanville and it was found that he was a known sufferer from asthma.  However, this was not known by his fellow cavers beforehand and may help to explain the distress he experienced when the conditions worsened underground.

Cavers with such disabilities that might flair up underground ought to their colleagues know, especially in the event of a rescue which may require use of emergency medication.

Thursday 27th December 1979    Swildons Hole

Four former pupils of St. Edwards School, Oxford, went down the cave about 1730 hours intending to visit the Black Hole.  They had travelled to Mendip earlier in the day; hoped to be out of the cave by about 2300 hours and had arranged to stay at the Mendip Caving Group Hut, Nordrach, afterwards.  However, none of this was known to anyone on Mendip at the time for they had left word with someone in Oxford that they would telephone them on getting out of the cave.

The party consisted of Edward Taylor, aged 25 from Leicester, Adam and Ben Williams, aged 19 and 18 from Oxford and Philip Cash aged 18, from Daventry.  All were ell equipped and apparently experienced but they were not members of a caving club.

Heavy rain followed by quickly melting snow set in during the evening.  At about 2030 hours, Tim Large and a group from the Belfry went to the entrance and found water flowing into the blockhouse.  The stream was still rising.  Noting a blue Ford Cortina parked at Manor Farm, they alerted Brian Prewer about ten minutes later.  It was agreed that Tim would make a quick search of the streamway before the water became too high if no one surfaced earlier.  Brian Prewer informed the Police then stood by Jim Hanwell and Dave Irwin.  Other local cavers were asked to be ready if called out later.  Bristol Water Works were contacted and Paul Hodge, Sources Engineer, came to Priddy.  Unfortunately, however, their pump-house was flooded and the pumps were out of action. By this time, the worst of the storm had passed so Tim Large, Dany Bradshaw, Bob Cork and Michael Duck entered the cave about 2230 hours with comforts and basic hauling Gear.

The search party found the missing four making their way up the 8' in good shape.  All were safely out of the cave by 2330 hours. Apparently they had become aware of rising water beyond sump 1 and so had turned back.  On reaching the waterfall at the 8' they found it impassable and so had waited about 2 hours below for the flood to pass.  As it abated the search party arrived.

With the increase in the number of cavers making flying visits to Mendip from far a field, yet not making contact with locally based clubs, the problem of leaving information about trips with the appropriate people becomes more acute.  In this case, for instance, one wonders what the contact in Oxford would have done had the party not phoned by about midnight, one hour after the estimated time out.  This is the worst time to raise a rescue party quickly of course.

Another problem of the flying visit is to get a picture of what the weather is and has been doing on Mendip compared with other areas of the country.  By 27th December 1979, the ground was fully saturated and it had already been the wettest December since 1965 owing to very wet days on 5th, 9th, 13th, 14th and 18th.  On 27th in fact, a 100 millimetre storm caused serious flooding in south east Somerset and 51mm fell at Priddy.  Just as the party went underground the rain became particularly intense.  The storm has claimed to be the heaviest of the decade over the area as a whole. Thus, it is of interest that cavers in Swildon's Hole were able to detect rising water beyond Sump 1 and were capable of sitting out the event for the critical 2 hours that it took for the flood peak to pass.

All cavers are urged to note that, after 1st April 1980, re-organisation of the Police Divisions in Avon and Somerset will mean that Emergency 999 calls for Cave Rescue and Cliff Rescue will go to Yeovil rather than Frome as at present.  Ordinary calls should be made to Yeovil 5291 asking for the Control Room. From some locations on western Mendip, such calls may also go to Bristol and Taunton.  The same procedures must be used to alert MRO.

In these circumstances it is even more important that everyone contacting MRO through the Police must:-

  1. Give precise information about an incident.
  2. Give exact instructions of where they can be contacted by telephone and
  3. Remain at that telephone until spoken to directly by an MRO warden.

The last point is particularly important, of course, for a rescue action to be successful.

J. D. Hanwell
Hon. Secretary & Treasurer MRO
1st March 1980


Just a reminder to everyone

M.R.O.   IN THE EVENT OF AN ACCIDENT  DIAL 999.  ASK FOR POLICE.  THE REQUEST POLICE FOR CAVE RESCUE.  Give details and stay at phone until contacted by Mendip Rescue Organisation

The above information is posted by the entrances to all major cave systems in the area.  The same Emergency Call procedure should also be used for CLIFF RESCUE and all incidents underground in Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire.

In the event of an Emergency Call for both Cave and Cliff rescue services, the Police will contact the first MRO Warden available in the order on their list.  The Warden will call others as required.  Informants must give instructions to the Police on where they can be contacted by telephone and stay there until called by an MRO Warden for all details.

The appropriate Police authority decides jointly with the MRO Wardens alerted what course of action to take.  All helpers should report to the warden in charge so that a full record of the rescue can be compiled.  MRO reports are published annually.

MRO is entirely a voluntary service organised by the Wardens listed below.  All are cavers who live in the area and are members of Mendip clubs. The support of experienced club members and any rescue teams they form important to the work of MRO.  Funds are solely from donations and used only for providing equipment and rescue facilities.

J.D. Hanwell Hon. Sec. MRO

MRO Wardens in order of call: B.E .Prewer, D.J. Irwin, A.R. Thomas, F.J. Davies, T.E. Large, M. Palmer, M.Bishop, J. Dukes, J.D, Hanwell, B. Woodward, N. Taylor, C. Batstone, A. Butcher, R.D. Craig, S. McManus, W.Stanton, P. Franklin, P. Davies, O.C. Lloyd, F. Frost.

Medical Wardens: Dr. D.M.M. Thomson, Dr. P. Glanville, Dr. M. Glanvile, Dr. S. Parker, Dr. R. Everton & Dr. N.Mizrahi


The Odd Note

……..Club and general news…….

Charterhouse Caving Committee.

Tim Large is now Hon, Sec. of the C.C.C.  Permits are available at the Belfry.  These are free to members for a three year period and the Temporary Permits now costs 25p each.

Otter Hole

Any member wishing to visit this cave should contact the Caving Sec. Martin Grass.  The RP of DCC have requested that all applications from the Club must be via the Caving Secretary and not direct to them when applying for keys.

Belfry Bookings

In addition to Tim’s note in lifeline the Committee have stated that only known bone fide groups may stay at the Belfry un-attended during the week.

Slide Show

On the 20th September 1980 in the Hunter's Long Room, Paul Deakin will be showing a section of his superb slides.  Members not acquainted with Paul's work should come along to see the show as he's one of the current masters of cave photography.

New Caving Guide

Guide with a difference! 'Speleo Stamps' by J & V Cullen is a catalogue of over 1,000 stamps depicting cave scenes, bats, paintings etc. A 6pp, A4.  Available from Tony Oldham. Price about £2.

Ogof Dydd Byref

N. Wales.  After a decade of negotiations with Tarmac the cave conservationists have finally lost the day and the cave had been capped.

Lionel’s Hole

Diggers have made an 80ft extension above the downstream sump.  Aindy Sparrow will be giving an overall account of the cave, together with a new survey, in the near future.


Following the inquest on the drowning of the two cavers in December last year the OFD Management Committee have decided to install marker posts at the Confluence, Marble Showers and Maypole Inlet (places where one can leave the streamway) indicating the water flow rates as a guide to cavers on the stream condition.  Secondly they have ruled that all cavers will be kitted in a wet-suit before entering the streamway and there will be no novices.

As many will know, the Columns have been closed to cavers and may only be viewed under strict control. Dates will be published when cavers wishing to see the Columns may join to form a party.

Read’s Grotto

In February Stanton carried out a dye check to establish whether the waster from Read’s entered GB or went its separate way.  Samples taken from the flooded bottom of the cave proved negative.  It would appear that the water from Read’s goes its own way for the time being – there’s plenty of time for it to join GB yet!

Shatter Cave

The terminal choke in Shatter Cave is to be attacked by the CSS and Graham one man band.  Price is to co-ordinate the work

BRCA Meetings

AGM.  Ingleton Community Centre, June 21st.

Annual Conference: Nottingham University, September 20th

Afton Red Rift

Devon.  Access to this cave is now controlled by Pengelly

Box Mines

The owner has complained about the attitude of various cavers crossing his land to the Backdoor Entrance.  Remember courtesy costs nothing, lack of it could mean loss of access.

Lamb Leer

The ladder to Beaumont’s Drive is to replaced with a rope to be used for hauling up individual ropes or ladders


The Scilly Isles

The Scilly Isles are not renowned for their large caves but Piper's Hole has been the interest of many cavers for several years for archaeological remains since the land mass there was only flooded a few hundred years ago …..

Piper’s Hole

Tresco ~ Isles of Scilly

Length 270ft.  Vertical Range, 20ft.

Piper’s hole is a sea cave at the north-east corner of the island of Tresco. When approached, the site, at first, appears to be a sea worn inlet in the granite coastline measuring some 20 ft in width and partly filled with boulders.

Climbing down into this inlet, a 5ft drop with a fixed handline, the cave entrance is seen at the top and is roughly 6ft high by 12ft wide.  The height decreases to about 4ft just inside as the boulders in the inlet slope upwards.  For the first 40ft or so the roof is composed of cemented boulders and steadily increases in height.  For the first 25ft the boulder floor also rises, after which it drops by about 6ft so that 40ft into the cave the passage is 14ft high by about 5ft wide.

At it this point the roof becomes solid rock and increases in height quite sharply with one more patch of cemented boulders where it reaches its maximum height.  The floor at this point is fairly level though still consisting of boulders.  It seems as though the water level in the cave may have reached this section at one time and moved the boulders about a bit.

Sixty feet in, the passage reaches a height of about 20ft, begins to veer to the right and starts descending so that daylight penetrates no further.  After another25 ft the "fresh water lake" is reached. There is a metal ring fixed to a boulder by the edge of the water, probably dating from pre-war days when daring tourists were given BDI boat trips across the lake.

As the water is reached the 4ft wide passage suddenly broadens out into a 15ft side by 30ft long and 25ft high chamber.  At the far end of the chamber is an archway, about 15ft high, through which the water continues.  The roof of the chamber has white shiny marks on it which could be either salt or calcite deposits.  The water in the lake is clear although there are numerous pieces of flotsam floating in it and it proves to be brackish, though less salty than sea-water.

Keeping to the right hand side where there is an underwater ledge it is possible to wade across the lake. The deepest point us under the archway where the depth is about 5ft.  Beyond this, the cave widens into another chamber about 40ft long by 20ft wide. The floor is now composed of fine mud or sand and rises so that halfway along the chamber; the lake comes to an end. The fine gravel beach rises steeply for a fee feet and then levels off as it comes to the end of the chamber. Another archway about 5ft high leads on into a third chamber.  Looking back into the second chamber a white deposit can be seen along the walls about 6ft above the water level.  This seems to be at the same level as the flat section of passage near the entrance and possible represents a maximum water level reached in the past.

In the third chamber is another steep (raised?) beach with ripple marks at its top right hand. Water may flow here in winter!  At this point, the walls, roof and floor begin to change their character.

From close to the entrance the walls and certainly the archways, if not the roof, are composed of solid rock but from the third chamber to the end of the cave no slid rock is seen.  The walls and roof now consisting of cemented gravel and the floor of coarse gravel probably broken down from the walls.

At the end of the third chamber another archway leads to a fourth chamber which is hardly more than a passage.  This passage continues for a further 80ft or so, gradually decreasing in size until the end of the cave is reached at about 270ft from the entrance and aboutv20ft above the high tide level.


The following is a theory of the possible origins of Piper’s Hole: -

Piper’s Hole probably began as a fault in the granite which, with, changes in sea level, was expanded to form a series of sea arches.  The sea level then changed drastically causing the fault, sea arches and all, to be filled with gravel.

When glaciation occurred, rocks were deposited on the gravels, and became cemented together to form the old beach.  After the ice age, when the seas were at a higher level that at present, the gravels began to erode away.  When the cave had been eroded to its present depth, part of the beach collapsed forming the present storm beach in the inlet.

The level of water in the cave was then 6 or 7ft above its present position.  The sea level then gradually fell to its present level and the water in the cave followed suit but in a spasmodic fashion as holes occasionally created, by storms, in the storm beach.

Ted Humphreys
1 May 1 980


Notes from the CSCC:

SSSI Revision. Work on this has continued throughout the year.  All the major cave surveys have been transferred, in outline, to 1:10,000 OS maps; however further work on these, including the drawing up of boundaries, is awaiting guidance from the working group convenor.  Most of the write-ups have been completed but some will need further work to a standardised format.  Only the Banwell and Pinetree Pot descriptions are outstanding.  The Nature Conservancy requires the work to be completed by September 1981.

CAVE CONSERVATION FILM.  Sid Perou has now completed filming work, a certain amount of which was done on Mendip. Wookey Hole and Shatter Cave were filmed.  The film grant aided by the Nature Conservancy through the NCA has been shown in a rough-cut black and white version and David Attenborough has agreed to record the commentary.

CAVE CONSERVATION FUND. At NCA Meetings there has been extensive discussion on the use and administration of this fund being set up with the proceeds of the SSSI Revision. No final decision has been made but certain funds have been made available for the Cave Conservation Film.

SINGING RIVER MINE. A problem existed with this site when three houses were being built in the field and 'No Trespassing' notices put up. However, after discussions with the landowner it was agreed that a pathway would be kept allowing access to the mine.  It is vitally important that the mine entrance gate be locked at all times.

CSCC ACCESS BOOKLET. Chris Hannam has completed the text and publication of the booklet is underway.

BROWN'S FOLLY AND SWAN MINES.  All entrances are being gated and an access agreement is being negotiated with Sir Charles Hobhouse through the Southern Cave Club Company Ltd.  Surveys of these mines have been prepared by 'Wig' and will be published when the agreement is finalised.

CUCKOO CLEEVES. The gate to this cave is closed with 1¼AF bolts which should be tightened down when leaving.  On several occasions they have been only finger tight - please ensure that they are locked tight with a suitable spanner.


Access to Surrey Mines

Notes on access to the mines in Surrey…….from the Chelsea Newsletter………..

CARTHOUSE - Access denied by the owners.

MARDEN - Access via 72ft. shaft.  Permanent entrance being constructed, time make sure that the entrance is well hidden from children.

QUARRY HANGERS MINE. Dig in progress

MERSHAM (East of Bellum' s Bank).  Access via 35ft shaft in private grounds.  Access by Unit Two members only.  For information about keys phone 0342-26444.

QUARRY DOWNFARM - Contact Unit Two.

BEDLUM'S BANK No.3. Maybe made a National Monument by D.O.E. Contact Unit Two.

GODSTONE - Arch. Entrance locked.  Contact Unit Two.

GODSTONE - MAIN.  A22 entrance locked by police and Surrey C.C. due to cover being left off.  Key held by Unit Two.  Roman Road Entrance filled in due to vandalism.

Odd Notes

OFD II Piccadilly Chamber was flooded to a depth of 20ft during the Christmas flood.

CHECK all fixed aids in caves for security.

Aggy - reports state that a boulder has moved at the top of the 4th boulder choke and may have blocked the way through.  If you are intending to do the Grand Circle, be prepared to come out the same way.  The report also states that there is bad air at the upper end of Biza Passage.

OFD - Column Hall now gated. Opened six times a year only.

IMPORTANT CLUB NOTICE from John Dukes, the tacklemaster.