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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.

News in brief

Congratulations to John and Sue Dukes who were married this month at the Shepton Mallet Registry Office. The formalities were followed by a 'Folk' evening at the Priddy Village Hall.

Descent - the next issue will see another price rise - it will cost you 75p…….

ADDRESS CHANGES: - Jim Watson, c/o 15 Farm Grove, Southfields, Rugby, Warwickshire.

New Member: - 971. Colin Houlden, c/o HM Prison, Shepton, Mallet, Somerset.

BCRA 1980 Symposium at the Renold Building, UMIST, Manchester - Subject SRT.  The symposium will consist of lectures all day Saturday in the Renold Building, followed by a practical session on Sunday in the University Gymnasium.

This will be held on March 8 and 9th.  Lecturers include: Dave Elliot, Andy Eavis, Daye Brook, Steve Foster, Brian Smith, Paul Ramsden and John Forder.  Application to the 'Bookings Manager’ Dr. R.G. Picknett, 28 Potters Way, Laverstock, Salisbury, Wilts, SP1 1PX – tickets are £1.50 each (non-members of BCRA) and £1.00 (members).  Members of member clubs are able to purchase tickets at member’s rates - BEC is a Member club.

Swildons Sump 1 is given as 5ft (Mendip Underground); 6ft 6ins ( Complete Caves) and now, under relatively dry conditions, 30 inches.  This length of 2½ft has been thought to be the general length of the sump.

Banwell Bone and Stalagmite Caves: - Key from Steve Redwood, 11 West St., Banwell.  Telephone: 823867.

Stop Press

Following the very successful weekend caving in Belgium all arrived back on Mendip very late on the Sunday night.

Next day Martin Bishop rang Stu McManus, “I did get my caving gear out of your car and leave it by the gate did I?”

“Yes,” said Mac. “Shit, the dustman’s taken it!”

Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List February 1980

828 Nicolette Abell               Michaelmas Cottage, Faulkland, Bath

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

392 L M. Baker                    10 Riverside Walk, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon

295 Arthur 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

860 Glenys Beszant             13 Granville Road, Luton, Bedfordshire

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 Neil Raynor Brown          25 Lingfield Park, Evesham, Worcs.

956 Ian Caldwell                   44 Strode Road, Clevedon, Avon.

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

965 Gary 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

827 Mike Cowlishaw             14 Plovers Down, Olivers Battery, Winchester

890 Jerry Crick                     Whitestones farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Nr. Bristol

680 Bob Cross                     42 Baynham Road, Knowle, Bristol

870 Gary 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.

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

830 John Dukes                   Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset

937 Sue Dukes                    Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset

847 Michael Durham             11 Catherine Place, Bath

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

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

947 Phil Ford                       CPO’s Mess, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset

404 L Albert Francis             22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset

569 Joyce Franklin               16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol

469 Pete Franklin                 16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol

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

648 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 Hassell                    Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset

935 Lynne Henley                 10 Silver Street, Wells, Somerset

917 Robin Hervin                  12 York Buildings, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

952 Robert Hill                     32 Ridings Mead, Chippenham, Wiltshire

905 Paul Hodgson                15 Cromwell Terrace, Chatham, Kent

793 Mike Hogg                     32 Birchley Heath, Nuneaton, Warks

898 Liz Hollis                       1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

899 Tony Hollis                    1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

920 Nick Holstead                Little Maplecroft, Bath Road, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

387 L George Honey             Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden

971 Colin Houlden                c/o HM Prison, Shepton Mallet, 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

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

969 Duncan Innes                 0

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

922 Tony Jarratt                   Alwyn Cottage, Station Road, Congressbury, Bristol

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

966 Pete Johnson                 R & IT Section, HMS Daedelus, Lee-on-Solent, Hants.

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

316 L Kangy 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

946 Alex Ragar Knutson       21 Milford Street, Southville, Bristol

874 Dave Lampard                Woodpeckers, 11 Springfield Park Road, Horsham, Sussex

667 L Tim Large                   53 Portway, Wells, Somerset

958 Fiona Lewis                   53 Portway,  Wells, Somerset

930 Stuart Lindsay               5 Laburnum Walk, Keynsham, Bristil

574 L Oliver Lloyd                 Withey House, Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

58 George 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            33 Welford Avenue, Wells, Somerset

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

957 Dave Morrison                27 Maurice Walk, London NW1

558 L Tony Meaden              Highcroft, Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset

963 Clare Merritt                   9 Pipsmore Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire

704 Dave Metcalfe                10 Troughton Crescent, Blackpool, Lancs.

308 Keith Murray                  17 Harrington Gardens, London  SW7

936 Dave Nichols                  2 Hartley Road, Exeter, Devon

880 Graham Nye                  7 Ramsey Road, Horsham, Surrey

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

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

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 Phinister                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 Steve Robins                 16 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

970 Trev Roberts                  67 Mendip Road, Yatton, Avon

921 Pete Rose                     2 The Beacon, Ilminster

832 Roger Sabido                 15 Concorde drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

941 John Sampson               8 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

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

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

760 Jen 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

915 Chris Smart                   10 Arnold Road, Woking, Surrey

851 Maurice 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 Roger Stenner             18 Stafford Place, Weston super Mare, Avon

865 Paul Stokes                   32 Manor Way, Bagshot, Surrey

968 James Tasker                281 Canford lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Brsitol

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

284 L Allan 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 Nick 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 J.M. Postle Thompsett     11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

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

381 L Daphne Towler            7 Ross Close, Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex

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

768 Tony Tucker                   75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon

769 Sue Tucker                    75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon

678 Dave Turner                   Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath

912 John Turner                    Orchard Cottage, 92 Church lane, Backwell, Avon

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

887 Greg Villis                     The Oaks, Round Oak Road, Cheddar, Somerset

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

949 John Watson                 113 Abbey Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

953 Jim Watson                   c/o 15 Farm Grove, Southfields, Rugby, Warks.

397 Mike Wheadon               91 The Oval, Bath

553 Bob White                     Cedar Hall, Henley Lane, Wookey, Wells, Somerset

878 Ross White                   PO38389Y, 5 Troop, B. Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, Northern Ireland, BFPO 802

939 Woly Wilkinson              17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire

940 Val Wilkinson                17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire

934 Colin Williams                Whitestones Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Bristol

885 Claire Williams               Whitestones Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Bristol

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

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

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

919 Tom Temple                   3 Larch Close, Lee-on-Solent, Hants.

284 L Allan 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 Nick Thorne                   20 Hawkers Lane, Wells, Somerset

699 Buckett Tilbury               256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                  256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks

692 Roger Toms                   18 Hoton Road, Wysemold, Leicester

803 R.S. Toms                     18 Hoton Road, Wysemold, Leicester

80 J.M. Postle Tompsett       11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

74 L M.J. Dizzie Tompsett     11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

381 L Daphne Towler            7 Ross Close, Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex

157 L Jill Tuck                      48 Wiston Path, Fairwater Way, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

328 Steve Tuck                    Colles Close, Wells, Somerset

768 Tony Tucker                   75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon

769 Sue Tucker                    75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon

678 Dave Turner                   Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath

912 John Turner                    Orchard Cottage, 92 Church lane, Backwell, Avon

635 L S. Tuttlebury               28 Butts Road, Alton, Hants.

887 Greg Villis                     The Oaks, Round Oak Road, Cheddar, Somerset

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

397 Mike Wheadon               91 The Oval, Bath

861 Maureen Wheadon         91 The Oval, Bath

553 Bob White                     Weavers Farm, Binegar

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



Trappiste As Newts - A tale of the B.E.C. in Belgium

Belgium was the January meet for the Belfry regulars….

By Tony Jarratt

The weekend of 18th - 20th of January heralded yet another historical assault on the continental mainland by the forces of British imperialism.  In the hirsute and motley forms of the Belfryites and the Geriatric Cave Club.  The advance party (with their uniforms and pennant bedecked staff car) of Macannus, Barry Wilton, Colin Dooley and Martin Bishop established themselves in various bars in the village of Hochefort on Friday evening.  Meeting up with Pieter Staal, and his Speleo Nederland irregulars, Edmond and Josh.  With fervent dedication to the cause, they all got swiftly arseholded.

The bright and calm morn that followed was marred for the inhabitants of the Ardennes by the arrival of another carload, fresh from the hill - Alan Thomas (straight out of retirement) Trefor Roberts and the Uglies (sometimes known as Dany and Bob).  Also, direct from a huge Belgian refrigerator, masquerading as a caving hut, came the remainder of the Expeditionary Forces:- Buckett Tilbury, Graham Wilton-Jones, Jeff Price, J'Rat and organiser of the whole issue Big John Watson.

After a series of cock-ups regarding rendezvous, Belgian cavers, etc., the team sample some local ale, got a cheap visit to the caving/archaeological museum at Han-Sur-Lene and eventually got underground.

Led by one Dominique, we were taken into the impressive Grotte de Pierre Noel for a two hour trip. Hydrologically part of the long and fascinating Grotte de Han system, the cave consists essentially of a roomy breakdown tunnel with white columns, bones and curtains - all on a grand scale and, in a reasonable state of repair considering the muddy path through the cave and grotty fingerprints on the lower pretties.  We were informed that a film was being made here in anticipation of the site becoming a show cave in the near future.

Barry, Buckett and Bassett photographed the place to death while the rest pottered about the place comparing it with Otter Hole, the Bergerete.  A short and easy cave but well worth a visit.

Intending to buy Dominique a beer for his troubles, all were prepared for an onslaught on the nearest bar. This became unnecessary when it was found that Trappiste (local nonentity brewed high Octane Newcastle Brown) and Stella Artois could be purchased cheap at Dominique’s club hut!

Refreshment was duly obtained, B.E.C. sticker emplaced and the entourage moved off for a vast meal of sauerkraut, mash and donkeys dickwurst provided by the Dutch lads at their cosy wooden hut (behind a caravan site and almost underneath a motorway!) Much of the rest of the evening has been pieced together from others memories.  Extreme field trials of various brews and-octane ratings washed down with Frog speleos wine have forever erased it from the writer’s memory. A packed bar in Hochofort emptied exceedingly fast on our arrival - as did the little bowls of peanuts provided by the landlord.  Two Belgian lorry drivers looked on bemused.  The local monks worked overtime on Sunday…..

Dawn - 10am. Those staying in the fridge (amidst bits of French carrot and tomato skins) were up early and across to the Dutch hut, where the others were still in their pits. What they did that day is doubtless another story but Graham Wilton-Jones, Jim Watson, Jeff Price, Buckett Tilbury and J'Rat managed a trip into the Grotte de Fontaine River with a mixed team of Belgians.  Again, a short and well decorated cave but very notable for its huge, deep lake at the end where the wet suited Englishmen played for some time, all but one oblivious to the fact that a Belgium caver they had rushed past when he fell in the water had a dislocated shoulder.  !Great fun.

Back to the Whiteman’s country - on the Sunday night boat - hangover, knackered and broke.  An excellent weekend.

Our thanks to Big Jim for arranging it all, to our Dutch colleagues for the grub and the hospitality, our drivers.  Belgium cavers and a bunch of monks somewhere who remain oblivious to the havoc and moral decline that they caused.



By Tim Large our Hon. Secretary

Everyone receiving this B.B. is now a paid up member.  There are 147 of us. Hopefully some of these who are perpetually late payers will pay their sub sometime in the near future.  It does make the Treasurer’s job more difficult as we cannot finally calculate haw much money is available for various needs.  This was part of the reason for altering the club year in the new constitution.  Perhaps another change in the constitution will encourage members to pay up earlier. Suppose we had a £5 joining fee besides an £8 subscription.  Then once the latest date for payment of subs had past, lapsed members would have to reapply and pay the £5 joining fee the same as new members.  This should also increase the clubs income - Any comments?

TACKLE: - As you all should know most of our ladders, lifelines etc., are stored in the new Tacklestore/Workshop.  Minimal tackle is kept in the wire basket in the showers for midweek caving by those who occasionally come to the Belfry.  Those caving on a frequent basis can apply for a tackle box key to enable access to the main supply.  Since the introduction of the system all seems to be working well, except that some members are taking tackle from the store, but on finishing their trip are leaving it in the showers.  It is important to put the tackle in the store even if you do find it in the showers. Only 1 ladder, 1 lifeline and 1 tether shall be kept in the showers also please complete the tackle book in order that we know where all our tackle is and what usage it gets.

SHATTER CAVE ACCESS:- In the January B.B. (The ODD NOTE) written by Wig he mistakenly published that we now have 2 leaders to Shatter Cave. This is incorrect.  At the present time Chris Batstone and myself are being assessed by the Cerberus S.S. along the same lines as to our leadership system for St Cuthbert’s.  Once this is completed we have to wait for the C.S.S. decision as to whether we qualify as leaders.

LIBRARY: - has recently purchased copies of the following: -

'Complete Caves of Mendip'

'Mendip Underground'

'Lead Mining in the Pea District'

The two Mendip Guidebooks are for reference at the Belfry only and on no account be taken away.

The Lead Mining book has been compiled by members of the Peak District Mines Historical Society, and makes very interesting reading.  It covers the history and geology of many mines.  Those of particular interest are Knotlow, Magpie, Hillocks and Odin Mines.


Camping Trades Exhibition 1979

To start the year Chris. Bradshaw, our friendly shopkeeper of Rocksport has sent in this report of the …

For those who are not familiar with this show, it is the event of the year where the camping, climbing and now the cave trade can see new wares displayed by manufacturer’s and wholesalers.  It is held at the exhibition centre in Harrogate, but is not open to the general public.

It would be impossible to review all the items on display (or even see them in the four days available) so I will give a brief description of a few of the items of interest. No attempt is made at evaluation and most items will not be available until 1980.

Bonatti Self Locking Descender.

This is based on the single Petzl type descender, but the lower roller is connected to an arm which rotates it by about 20% of its circumference.  This is then connected by an arm to a brake block acting against the fixed, upper roller.  The action of the rope on the rotating roller operates the brake unless a handle, which runs from it, is held against the body.

Down and Out Descender/Ascender.

On show as a prototype only, this is yet another self-braking descender.  This time working on an off-set cam trapping the rope when the 'deadman's handle' is released.  The really interesting feature, however, is that the device can be turned, upside-down, and the rope fed straight through to form an ascender.

CMI 'Shorti' Ascender.

From the same stable (Colorado Mountain Industries) as the '5000' Ascender, this is a non-handled jammer type ascender.  It is made from a super-strong extruded and machined body, but still has the very weak spring that has caused so much trouble on the '5000'.  When this problem is solved, it will be a useful tool, as it is easily chest mounted, and the cam can be removed for cleaning etc, and reversed if required to give either left or right hand operation.


In the same year that Bridon Ropes and Fibres have launched a direct copy of the Clog Fig. 8, marketed under their brand name of 'Viking', Clog have revamped the principle to bring out a simple descender that need not be unkrabbed to get on or off the rope. Comparable in cost to their Fig. 8, it usefully doubles a Knuckle-Duster when getting to the bar for that last drink!

They have also introduced a new lock for their spring gated krabs.  Available as a very expensive option, it is a pull and twist operation, which makes locking the gate fast and automatic.  Whether a good dose of mud will destroy it remains to be seen!

'Sprung-Rung' Ladder

At present the only commercially available ladder is either pin and araldite (which is expensive) or pressure bonded, which is finished so badly that it tears clothing to pieces. The new 'sprung-rung' ladder uses the well tried taper pin fixing, then the rung end is spun over to give a smooth finish.  Cost is similar to the pressure bonded ladder, with 25ft, 3mm wire with 10" rung spacing.

'High-Efficiency' Caving Lamp Bulbs.

As cavers generally tend to break, loose or otherwise destroy their bulbs before enjoying the 350 hours that should be expected from a mining lamp bulb, a new concept will be introduced to cavers.  This bulb is designed to give a life expectancy of 100 hours, and so can be burned with a proportionally higher efficiency.  Three versions will be available: 2.4v, .6amp and 4v, .6amp., which more or less retain the light output of the normal 1amp bulbs, but almost doubles the burning time of NiCads, 3 - cell Nifes, and Lead Acid batteries, and a 2.4v 1amp which burns brighter on NiCads.  They are sold, however, with the warning that they must be expected to occasionally 'blow' underground, so a spare must be carried or a pilot bulb relied upon.  Also, they should not be turned on within about six hours of the battery being charged, as the extra voltage will overload them too much.  The price is about 70p each.


Brendan Brew, who manufactures under the trade name of 'Mole’, is having his own specification polyester tape made.  Rumour has it that it is to be called ‘Mole-ester' .


The 8th November, saw the official launch in this country of Goretex Mk.II.  It is claimed that it requires a less rigid standard of cleanliness to keep it working - someone has heard of cavers?

Raw Material Prices

Leather is still increasing rapidly in price.  Italian boots more susceptible than others, but DOWN is DOWN.  February should see the first shipments of Chinese made Duvets (under £40) and vests (about £17.50) to join the already cheap sleeping bags on the market.  This makes them competitive with 'hollofil' which is up in price!


The usual people displayed their usual wares, the 'Hi.Pakker' and 'Mountain' from Saunders being of interest and obvious 'winners' to join their range.  The real stir of the show was not actually in the show itself, but tucked away in the basement of the Majestic Hotel.  This was the 'Hi-Tech' range of tents from a company called N.R. Components.  These are lightweight tents (from 4lb. 6oz for Z-man) which have hollow fibre glass poles permanently fixed to the outside of the tent.  The fixing is by a patented, hinged mounting, connected to a tough rubber tube which holds both fly-sheet and inner tent.  The tent is unrolled, pegged out around the edge, the half holes connected and then the tensioning straps at front and rear tightened. It takes 45 seconds.

There are three basic models, two man, large two man (90 seconds to erect) and a big rhomboid which will seat 10 to 12 people (120 seconds to erect!)  They are due to be in the shops from February 1980, at about the same time as a spot on the BBC TV programme 'Tomorrows World'

Shinabro Stoves

By sheer co-incidence, Blacks are importing these stoves from Korea, which have a remarkable resemblance to the Optimus 8R (petrol) and OO (paraffin).  The price is, about £10 cheaper in each case.


Survey Of Wookey Hole

Reproduced by kind permission of C.D.G.

Radio Location Of Wookey 24

A general article for the uninitiated!

The published surveys of the far reaches have been put to the test by 'Prews' transmitting equipment and found, in some instances to be up to 30 degrees in error.  After the valuable work in the cave by Bob Cork and Dany Bradshaw the story can now be told………..

by Bob Cork and Alan Thomas

The radio-location of Wookey Twenty Four was part of a continuous programme to fix a survey point in each dry section of the cave necessary because of the inaccuracy of underwater surveying.

In order to radio-locate an underground point the transmitter, with its coil or aerial and its batteries, must first be taken to that point.  The coil must be laid out in an approximate circle as horizontally as possible.  The point located will be the centre of the circle.  The surface apparatus consists of the receiver and a box aerial used in the vertical plane.  Once the signal is received this aerial is rotated until minimum strength is achieved. Two stakes mark its direction. The aerial is moved to another position, usually at 90 degrees, and another direction obtained.  Where they converge is an approximate fix.  The process is repeated.  This time a silent point is obtained which is the exact fix. This point is marked with a stake and the aerial carried, and slowly rotated in the vertical plane, until a second silent point is found; the distance between these two points is the depth of the location underground.

Our practical problem was the physical effort of two divers transporting the transmitting apparatus and sufficient air to get them to Wookey 24 and back safely.  There was no lack of willing helpers as far as Wookey 9!

Accordingly, Bob Cork and Dany Bradshaw took in the coil and set it up in Wookey 24 on 27th September 1979. This proved to be an all-day trip which they found very tiring and they were somewhat pleased to find that Alan Thomas, who had no knowledge of the time they had dived or how long they would be, arrived in Wookey 9 at the same time as they returned to help them out with their gear.  The advantage of setting the coil up in advance was that the surface workers knew where it was located and had a clue where to await the signal.  To further lighten their burden for Saturday they took two 50 cu.ft. air cylinders to Wookey 22 on Friday night.  This was only a forty minute trip, what you might call resting up for Saturday.

The next morning the intrepid divers met at Wookey Hole car park with the surface party which comprised such distinguished figures as Brian Prewer, Oliver Lloyd, Dan Hasell and Alan Thomas (?Ed) together with others no less distinguished but too numerous to mention. After much discussion, muttering, eating bacon butties, drinking coffee etc., the divers were persuaded to don their soggy wetsuits and sort out their equipment.

The usual rig for diving at Wookey seems to consist of individually valved, side mounted, twin air cylinders (usually 40, 45 or 50 cu.ft. capacity) a wetsuit and a helmet such as children wear skate boarding to which is attached a pair of aquaflash underwater torches and the business end of a NiFe cell.  No additional lead is needed by most people.  For this dive they had a total of 140 cu.ft. of air each including the bottles already in the cave, sufficient for the return journey and allowing the 100% safety margin demanded by good cave diving practice.

Bob and Dany enjoyed the walk to the cave for once someone else was carrying their gear.

Watches were synchronised in Wookey 9 and the two divers submerged at 10.45am, the arranged transmitting time was to be 12.30pm.  The dive from Wookey 9 to Wookey 20 is in a large submersed passage in the conglomerate for the first 250ft after which they are in limestone.  The total dive to Wookey 20 is about 500ft and going to depth of 75ft.  There are few constrictions, even a tight section of bedding about two-thirds of the way, known as the Slot, presenting little problem even with luggage if the bottles are held horizontally.  The passage continues uphill after The Slot to the Wookey 20 sump pool.  Here it is possible to transfer to the Wookey 22 line without surfacing, though on this occasion the divers surfaced under the Spiders Web, as the multiplicity of lines in Wookey 20 is affectionately known. They had felt under some pressure from the surface party and wanted a breather to sort themselves out.

From Wookey 20 to Wookey 22 the dive is about 600ft and goes to a depth of 70ft.  Leaving the Spiders Web they went down through boulders to a depth of 15ft, turning north into an open passage twenty to thirty feet wide. The divers line was followed along the right hand wall to a depth of about 60ft where the passage levels out and after some distance enters a large chamber where even in the conditions of perfect visibility that day, the side walls could not be seen.  At the far end of that chamber the passage ascends rapidly to the Wookey 22 sump pool.  Here the fun began because it is necessary to leave the water and start caving.

The sump pool is at the bottom of a conglomerate rift some sixty to eighty feet high; the way on is up a steep slippery slope and a traverse to the right where the floor levels out, where it is littered with very sharp debris and large boulders.  At the far end of this section a twenty-five foot descent through boulders leads to a muddy squeeze into a large chamber. A further difficult climb down over sharp boulders leads to the Wookey 22 sump pool which is static.  Here, there is a permanent iron ladder in the pool to facilitate the return journey; how the ladder was got there is a story in itself and perhaps in the distant future when the 'fixed aids' debate is again in full swing someone might bring it out through Cuthbert’s.  The Static Pool is smooth-sided and the water can be twenty feet down.  The divers, of course, were still carrying their equipment.  Before continuing from Wookey 22 they had changed their partly used 45’ for the dumped 50's.  At the Static Pool they kitted up again removing boots and replacing fins etc.

The dive from the Static Pool is 360ft long and 60ft deep descending rapidly from the surface to a silted-up passage which narrows to a slot which is passed on the left.  The passage then gradually rises to surface in a muddy pool in Wookey 23.  Like this one the following sumps are static under normal conditions but ripple marks in the mud suggest that it is an overflow in time of spate.  These static sumps hold silt in suspension for a long time so the return journey is like diving in cocoa and not very pleasant even if you like cocoa.

The divers clambered out of the mud-walled sump pool by kicking their toes into the soft mud and inching their way up the slope, pausing only occasionally to fall back in. Once out of the water in Wookey 23 they were in a wide muddy floored passage along which they stumbled and made their way to the 30ft diameter lake at the far end, where a duck led them into a small pool from which it was difficult to get out.  A lower passage brought them to Sump 23 which was only 15ft long and roomy.  Thus they surfaced in the large passage which is Wookey 24.

They de-kitted, emptied the water that had seeped into the transmitter box, fortunately doing no harm, and continued to the two connected chambers where they had laid out the coil on the previous Thursday.  It was now 12.25pm.  The apparatus was quickly assembled and the transmission began only a few minutes late. The arrangement was that they would transmit for one hour.  However, watching a small needle flip up and down can be very boring and as they had noted on a previous trip potential side passages they decided to go exploring. At the northern end of the second chamber the roar of water can be heard.  A 25ft climb over large boulders and a traverse along a narrow rift-like passage leads to a point above the foaming torrent of the River Axe which here disappears into a boulder choke.  Upstream the active streamway passage enlarges; traversing above the water becomes difficult and it becomes necessary to swim.  A line assists the caver from here to Sting Corner, the right-angle bend in the streamway, just beyond which it becomes possible to walk again. Their first attempt at climbing the wall opposite Sting Corner where a void could be seen at a height of about 30ft ended in double splash as a Bob and a Dany both plummeted back into the streamway.  They did not like this place!  And moved on.

Beyond Sting Corner the water is twelve to fifteen feet deep and about ten feet wide.  With a strong current, a hauling line is very useful. The whole passage is in conglomerate, with thick slippery manganese deposits on the walls.  Further on the passage becomes shallower and the water faster flowing, continuing eastwards to Sump 24.  The going now, becomes harder.  At one point along the streamway it is possible to climb up about 50ft on the left hand side and enter an oxbow, the other end of which is only a few hundred feet from Sump 24.

Here the two divers made their second attempt at finding new passage.  They entered a hole at the western end of the oxbow and followed a three foot wide fifteen foot high rift which became blocked with debris after 150ft. They managed to remove a boulder from the top of the blockage and thus get by.  The way on was no wider but increased in height.  After 200ft a climb over two large boulders brought them to the head of a rift about 50ft deep for which they would have needed tackle. Having none they then traversed along the rift for about another 50ft to where it became impassable.  The only way on would be below.  Stones dropped down the rift could be heard bouncing beyond the visible bottom.  As they returned it seemed obvious that the passage floor along which they had come was formed by boulders jammed in the rift.  They then carried a rough line and compass survey.

They returned to their radio location station without incident.  The transmitter had been transmitting for one and quarter hours and the meter was reading a low output.  It was nearly two o'clock so they turned off the transmitter and packed up.

The journey out was uneventful except for occasional problems such as Dany playing with the coil halfway through the static sump 22 in nil visibility on the pretext that it had come undone.  And Bob, having descended and entered the last twenty feet of the Wookey 22 dry slope faster than he intended and entered the water in a most inelegant manner midst a clatter of cylinders, was not amused to hear "that’s one way to do it youth" followed by a loud guffaw.

From Wookey 22 they could have had a relatively easy trip out carrying only the radio-location gear and leaving the spare (now empty) cylinders to be recovered later.  But with characteristic whole heartedness they decided to carry the lot and have done with it.  They had little trouble in the good visibility and the desire to get out overcame the drag caused by the extra gear.

They were relieved when they surfaced to find a fair number of the surface party waiting in Wookey 9, not only to carry the gear but to tell them of the success of the operation.

The story of the surface party is soon told.  Leaving the cave as soon as Dob and Dany had dived they returned to the car park to fetch the receiver equipment.  They assembled in a field to the west of Green Lane where the residents, mainly horses and cattle seemed to think that radio-location was the most interesting thing that had happened for a long time.  Naturally everyone confidently predicted where Wookey 24 would prove to be. Naturally all were wrong.  The signal was soon received very clearly and Brian Prewer, designer and builder of the apparatus led them eastwards towards Green Lane.  The point was finally found to be in a field belonging to Madame Tussauds on the other side of the lane.  The whole operation had taken place in very pleasant sunshine and when completed they adjourned to the Hunters before returning to the cave to meet the divers.


Derbyshire News in Brief

Miss Nellie Kirkhom, the well known mines historian, died in May 1979; Eldon PC are digging at the end of Pilgrims Way in Oxlow in the hope that it will lead them straight into Peak Cavern; Carlswark - Big Dig has gone and about 1,500ft of new stream passage discovered; Masson Complex, Matlock is to be closed for two years whilst blasting is carried out nearby.  They will be re-opened to cavers; Giants Hole - owner charging 45p per caver, call at farm. No access to cave during April and May during lambing season.

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.

News in Brief

BEC members working in Gough's Cave - work above and at the back of Solomon's Temple has revealed a rift containing some fine helictites.  Diving at the First Feeder by Martin Bishop et. a1. shows that under water removal of boulders feasible and way on can be seen.

BCRA and NCA merger - or to put it another way - Is the BCRA making a takeover bid?  At the recent NCA Annual Meeting the Treasurer's Report suggested that the NCA and BCRA should merge.  This produced an immediate joining of forces by the CCC, DCA and CSCC - with the CNCC notably sitting on the fence.  Dave Judson threatened to resign when Waltham was being opposed as Treasurer.  A full report will appear in the next BB.  CSCC has at last achieved some of its objectives - the C and A Convenor has no vote on the Executive and. the Constituent members of NCA may nominate their representative on the Executive.  There is one thing that IS clear of the fog and that is that the BCRA is no body fit to be the National representative of the caving population.  One wonders if the BCRA financial position is causing them to think of NCA takeover so that they have direct access to Sports Council grants….


Many of you will have seen the club sweatshirts that were obtained last year and many found them excellent value for money.  Well a second order for a further batch is being prepared and members wishing to obtain a sweatshirt should write to the Hut Warden - Garth Dell - NOW and give him details of size, numbers and CASH.  The price has gone up slightly but this should be no surprise to anyone but is still good value at £6.  The budget may change the VAT rate so this price could change according to that effect.

Send your order WITH CASH, POSTAL ORDER, CHEQUE or what have you to

Hut Warden, c/o The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.

Last orders will have to reach the Belfry by the end of April 1980



In February a number of regulars on Mendip went for a weekend caving in BELGIUM '80

by 'Bucket' Tilbury

Friday afternoon and evening saw various cars with cavers eagerly looking forward to a weekend in Belgium converging on Dover.  Our car started from High Wycombe with Graham W-J and Buckett and stopped in London to pick up Big Jim, J-Rat and Jeff.  This accomplished, a fight with the London rush hour traffic was undertaken.  While waiting at one of the innumerable sets of traffic light a little light relief was provided by a rather elderly gentleman. This old chap had walked up to a low metal fence by the back of the path and managed to lift one leg over the rail. He was about to take a short cut across a small park area.  We had all idly watched this when the fun started.  The leg on the path made the attempt to join the first on the other side of the fence, he nearly made it.  A number of energetic leg movements were made, all to no avail.  The car occupants by now had dissolved into laughter as it was obvious that he was stuck on his delicate parts.  As the lights changed and we moved off, he was trying to lift his leg over by hand.

Dover was reacted without further incident and a passage obtained to Ostend on the ferry which was supposed to be fully booked.  The crossing was very smooth and the time was spent dozing and nattering.

Off the ferry at Ostend and straight on to the motorway.  The next major decision was whether to go around Brussels on the ring road or through the middle.  Straight through was the choice, as the BEC never deviate from the straight and narrow.  Going through Brussels is quite entertaining as the road follows a series of over and under passes. Back on the motorway the passengers slept while the driver was kept on his toes by the occasional disappearance of steering capability due to ice on the road.  Eventually the motorway was left and normal roads towards our hut at Rochfort.

At the approach to Rochfort and as we were looking for the hut, a young lady standing by a mini waved us down.  The car stopped and the driver wound down the window and as it was 2.0 a.m., various rude comments were made by the passengers.  The girl jabbered away in French to be interpreted by the driver with a "Parlez-vous anglais” The girl replied "Yes''.  ''Where do you come from?''  '' England?” ‘‘Where the bloody hell do you think'' came from the driver. Other suggestions as to the driver’s origins came from the rear seats.  With cold air clearing away the cobwebs of the mind, the mini driver, a very earnest young chap told us that “The accumulator was dead".  A quick push down the road of the mini confirmed this and suggested something more serious.  Our mini magician, Graham, poked his head under the bonnet, fixed a loose wire to something or other and the mini burst into life.  The BEC departs leaving the mini occupants amazed but happy.

The search for the hut was resumed and Big Jim, who had been there before, finally found it.  The hut turned out to be a large run-down three storey building.  The caretaker was aroused and she showed us to a room with fifteen bunks.  She also explained that all the pipes were frozen, but we could collect water from her as she had many litres in buckets.  We were soon all in our pits trying to keep out the cold and sleep.  The thermometer by the door was showing -15oC.

Saturday morning was clear and sunny, but still very cold.  We explored our spartan abode and had breakfast.  The rest of the party were due to join us at 11 a.m. but they did not turn up.  So, we made our way to Hann which is near the Grotte Pierre Noel which was the cave we had arranged to descend.  While at Hann we met up with the rest of the party including the Dutch cavers who knew where the cave entrance was situated.

While waiting for the Belgium leader to arrive the whole party kept itself amused with such pastimes as climbing concrete telephone poles, tossing the caber with large fir logs and scavenging for bits of wet suits in the woods.  After waiting for 1½ hours for the leader to arrive the whole party became cheesed-off.

Everybody went back to Hann and paid a visit to the local museum.  While there the curator told us where the local club was.  The guide was finally located there at about 4.30 p.m. By 5 p.m. all were back at the meeting place and changing took place in double quick time.  The guide was a little apprehensive at a party of 13 but agreed to carry on.  We were all glad to be on our way as the Pierre Noel is reputed to be the best decorated in Belgium with large chambers.  The walk to the cave entrance is through scrubby woodland round the ridge of a steep escarpment with a panoramic view of the local countryside.

The entrance to the cave is a steep scramble down a large rift from which the roof has been removed by erosion to the inevitable gate at the bottom.  Through the gate leads to a low dug section of passage which drops steeply and emerges in the roof of a small chamber.  A short climb down from the floor of the chamber leads to the top of a descending passage that requires the aid of a lifeline.  At the sides of this passage are reasonable groups of stals and the passage widens and the roof gradually lifts to a floor of boulders at the top of a boulder pile.  Standing here one looks out on a very large ch8mber disappearing into the distance with the boulder floor sloping from a high point on the right to the wall on the left.  The boulder floor is dotted with small, uninteresting, stalagmites.  As the boulder floor is crossed the main features of the chamber become apparent.  The roof of the chamber changes from a rounded shape near the entrance passage to a massive flat section sloping right across the chamber at about 60o.  The colour is a sombre black and the whole area appears quite smooth.  This effect is relieved to some extent along the lower edge by the formation of some excellent curtains.  The boulder floor rises up a short climb leading to a ridge of boulders giving a fine view of the next chamber (this is really a continuation of the last chamber but the roof changes abruptly back to a more usual dome shape).  Immediately to the right of this point is a large fluted stalagmite column rising 30 - 40 ft. to end near the roof.  The roof overhead is now covered with a profusion of stalactites and curtains of all shapes and sizes and colours.  On the left and to the immediate front are groups of stalagmites up to 6ft high and from a ledge on the wall a stalagmite, about 6" diameter, rises to over 10ft and has a fine white crystal effect.  In front, down on the floor of the chamber, is a large stal which cascades down over the boulders to the right and on to an area covered with groups of stalagmites up to 6ft high and varying in colour from white to a soft brown.  The centre left is dominated by a large stalagmite column some 30ft high of an erratic shape, glistening white and reflecting the light of our lamps from the crystal facets on the surface.  In the far distance a huge stalagmite column rises from a 10ft diameter base in magnificent tiers to a height of 50ft.

While a small group of the party sat at this point the rest made their way forward lighting up the chamber for us.  The small black figures with their lights shining on the stals made a delightful sight. The path was followed through the stals until a climb down, round a large stale boss, landed one in a large rift passage with bare black walls and a glutinous mud floor.  One picked the way through the mud to the best of one's ability to the far end where a climb up and a short squeeze brought one to a small chamber with plenty of stal more to the size we are used to see in Britain. The right hand wall was covered with a huge area of flowstone disappearing up into the blackness.  Our guide halted here and informed us that this was as far as we were going, just as the cave was about to go big again.  We reluctantly turned around and made our way back to the entrance.  Various people took photos on the way back but were not allowed to spend much time over this.  We emerged into the cold clear night after 2 hours underground.

Speaking personally, I found the trip extremely frustrating as we had obviously done only a small section of the cave and I should imagine that the best formations were not seen.  Time was not even allowed to take good photographs.  To go to the trouble to go there and then only be shown a small section of the cave I find very galling.  The attitude of the guide was unhelpful to say the least, especially as we had plenty of time.  When we checked the survey later in the evening, it showed that we had done about one third of the cave and were about to enter the main chamber when we turned back.

Although the cave has been only open since '68 and trips are limited to one a month the areas of stal that had been damaged by hands and feet was inexcusable.

We all returned to the Speleo Holland Hut where a fine meal of sauerkraut and sausages was prepared for us all by the Dutch lads.  The rest of the evening was spent in a bar at Rochfort, where quantities of the local ale were consumed.  The beer is brewed by the local Trappist monks and is named after them.  It comes in three different strengths - medium, strong and blow your head off.  It makes one very unsteady when standing up after sitting down with no ill effects, a fact that can be confirmed by various members of the group.  The proprietors finally expelled us at 1.30 a.m. when we split up and made our ways to the respective huts.  When we arrived back at our hut we found that a large party of French people were in occupation and had obviously had a good evening.  People were lolling against cars; lying of the steps and stairs and sitting on the floor, all very much the worse for wear. A snack of beef burger sandwiches was cooked and bottles of the frenchies wine purloined to wash them down.

Sunday morning we were up and about by 8.30 a.m. to find that the French had cleaned up and were finishing breakfast.  We cooked the usual large English breakfast and were watched with amazement as we ate the lot by the French.  After recovering all our lost eating irons and cleared up we piled into the car and made our way to the Dutch Hut.  We were to collect the rest of the party and proceed to the cave we had booked for the day. We arrived at the Hut and found the whole lot of them still resting in their pits!  They decided that the cave would be given a miss as they wanted to catch an early boat. We said 'Cheerio' and made our way to the place where we were to meet our guide for the cave.  We arrived to find a large party of Belgium cavers changed and about to move off. This was the party we were with, so, a quick change into wet suits and we too, were off.         The cave we were to descend was the Grotto de la Fontaine du Rivire which ends in a large lake; the reason far our wetsuits.  The walk to the cave was very pleasant along the banks of a fast flowing river with tall outcrops of limestone all around.  The entrance is about 100ft above the valley floor at the bottom of one of the rock outcrops.  The entrance has a gate and is an awkward tight tube for about 10ft where it opens to a hands and knees crawl in a grotty muddy passage.  This emerged into a muddy chamber where a second gate is situated.  With this gate removed a squeeze leads to a walking size passage with some stal. Following along this the passage gradually rises and then gets smaller until a thrutchy section leads through stal to a climb, down into a larger section of the passage.  A short way forward and another climb down between stal. flows on the walls leads to a steeply descending route with lots of stalagmites and stalactites the passage becoming larger as it descends.  The stal here is light brown in colour and quite dead; large areas of formations have been spoiled.  The passage ends at yet another steep climb down over stal flows to the large lake.  While on this climb one of the Belgium’s had dislocated his shoulder although we did not realise it at the time.

We moved through to the lake and leapt into the water for a swim.  The lake is large and triangular in shape and about 30ft deep.  The water was really clear and the bottom could be seen in some places.   There is a traverse line bolted round one wall to allow access to a chamber and a climb to a dig on the far side of the Lake.  Some of us did the traverse and found it quite sporting. While we were engaged in this part of the Belgium party went out with the injured lad.  J-Rat who had no wetsuit went with them.  After further swimming in the lake we all made our way out, changed and joined J-Rat in a bar for coffee.  The trip took 2½ hours and was very enjoyable.  The journey home was uneventful and a good sleep was had by all on an almost empty ferryboat.


What makes you do it ?

A filler article has been submitted by Alan Thomas….

We were asked that question many years ago as we prepared to descend some blow holes on the Pembrokeshire coast. Kangy said "Because its fun."  The man said "But don't you feel an inner compunction driving you into the bowels of the earth?"  Kangy said "No."  The man was disappointed.  This is what I call the weegee attitude and since it is the attitude of 99.9% of the population I have always taken great pains to understand it and as a compulsive teacher to explain my attitude.  It is difficult as you will find if you try to make your colleagues understand why a dozen or so people who cave regularly on Mendip should travel 500 miles to the middle of Belgium for a weekend in January with snow forecast.

"Is it a special occasion?" they ask. 


"Is there something special about the caves?" 

'No. "

"It’s just because you haven't been down them before?"

"It’s not that."

"You go all that way just to go down a cave!"

"I'm not bothered if I don't go down a cave.”

"You must be."

"No, I went on a diving holiday for a fortnight last summer and didn't dive once."

"Suppose you can’t get back because of the snow?"

"Just suppose."

So we went 500 miles, we stayed at a hut like the Belfry, we did a bit of easy caving, we got legless on the Saturday night and, felt ill all day Sunday; as J-Rat said, it made a nice change.

The last word ………………

"Did you have a nice time last night?"

"Yes, I feel quite ill thank you."


8th International Congress Of Speleology

For those members intending to visit the U.S. of A next year to attend the Congress here is some details that may be of interest………….

The National Speleological Society (USA) in conjunction with the Western Kentucky University, Mammoth Cave National Park is sponsoring the 8th International Congress in Bowling Green, Kentucky from the 18th to 24th July 1981.

The First Circular has just been issued and some of the plans are outlined below: -

In addition to the usual list of lectures the evening sessions have already been outlined in some detail.  Sat, 18th: Plenary Lecture - Karst of the United States; Sun. 19th: Reception at Lost River Cave, films and slides; Mon 20th: Visit to Mammoth Caves; Tues 21st: Films, slides and social; Wed, 22nd Barbeque and Dance; Thurs 23rd: Special programme.

Pre Congress events (preliminary costs only have been given).

Central Appalachian Karst (July 14-17th) $300; Hydrology of Central Kentucky (July 13-17th) $160; Northern Alabama (July 12-17th); $300; Southern Indiana (July 13-17th) $250; Flint Ridge (July 13-17th) $100; Florida Cave Diving (July 13-17th) $100; Greenbier Speleo Camp (West Virginia) (July 11-16th) $110; Northern Alabama (July 11-17th) $120 and Cave Management Symposium (July 12-15th) $90.

Cave Rescue (July 11-17th) $200.

Post Congress Camps: -

Carlsbad-Guadalupe, New Mexico (July 27-31st.) $250; Flint Ridge (July 25-30th) $70; Perry County, Missouri (July 25- 30th) $70 and Western Kentucky (July 25-28th) $40.

COST OF CONGRESS $106. All the figures given are provisional. Anyone interested in further details should write to the Congress Secretariat: -

Eighth International Congress of Speleology Secretariat,
Department of Geography and Geology,
Western Kentucky University,
Bowling Green,
Kentucky, 42101,


Devon Surveys

The following mine surveys are available from the Plymouth Caving Group, 7 Berrow Park Road; Peverell, Plymouth, Devon. (Tel. Plymouth 775362).

Latchley Consuls                       35p

Devon Great Consuls                  50p

Ding Dong                                 50p

There is no mention of postage and packing but about 20p should cover the cost


G.B. KEY - Will the person who last borrowed the GB key please return it to the Hut Warden - please.

Insurance for Cavers for Members of BCRA and Member Clubs

The BCRA are about to sign an insurance policy that will cover all members of the organisation when they are caving and also when they are participating in BCRA activities for public liability claims.  The policy also covers members carrying out activities on the surface and includes a member to member clause.

Individual members of the BCRA will automatically be covered as soon as the policy is signed (not later than the 1st April 1980) provided that they have 'Paid their subs for 1980. The maximum sum payable in respect for one claim is £500,000.

Member clubs of BCRA may participate in the scheme and will be required to pay an annual premium in the order of 15 to 25p per member and to submit a statement signed by the Chairman and Secretary concerning its membership.  There is no information available yet as to Landowner Indemnity such as we require for St. Cuthbert’s.

Expedition/Foreign Travel Insurance.

All members participating in the above scheme (whether directly as a member of BCRA or a member of a member club) will be able to obtain a special insurance cover which includes the usual clauses in addition, to a special clause of £4,000 in respect of cave or mountain rescue services.  Details of this scheme have to be finalised but the premium will be in the order of £1 for one week and £6 for 4 weeks.

Whole expedition or individual travel cover must be taken out through the BCRA's appointed insurance officer - it cannot be taken out directly with the insurance company direct. An insurance officer will be appointed soon.  Until that time all enquiries should be addressed to Dave Judson, Bethal Green, Calderbrook Road, Littleborough, Lancs. OL15 9ND.

At the moment the BEC are in the process of negotiating a policy with a firm in Southampton and also with Wells Brokers.   Whether the BCRA scheme has any advantage to us remains to be seen - it is assumed that the Club Secretary will be dealing with this matter.



By our own Hon. Secretary, Tim Large.


Throughout the winter the Belfry has seen increased usage both by members and guests – none put off by the rise in hut fees.  The bunk room exterior door has been replaced thanks to Dany Bradshaw, which should improve the weatherproofing at that end of the building.  Enclosed in this B.B. are the plans for Belfry improvements. Your suggestions and comments would be appreciated in order that this time any alterations are well planned for not only present use but the future for many years to come.  Hopefully the committee will be able to make a decision on what to do at the April or May meeting.  So please hurry your comments along to the Belfry as soon as possible.


The annual club trip to the Lake District was well attended with about 20 people.  Although the weather was not so good as it could be, some fine walks were achieved, including Scafell, Great Gable, Helvelyn, Pavis Arc and a trip around the Coniston Copper Mines.


Pete and Alison Moody helped by Brian Woodward, and Phil Dunk of the SMCC have extended the end of Shatter Chamber for about 800ft.  A boulder choke was pushed to a rift passage and an inlet stream which emitted from a sump. Pete dived this for about 200ft and explored about 60ft of passage on the other side which then becomes too tight. The passage is heading into unknown territory.  Some speculate the stream, which is quite big, comes from Sludge Pit and Nine Barrows. Water tracing is being arranged. This has spurred on our Stuart Lindsey who is at present digging in the Sludge Pit Sump.  I am sure he would appreciate any help he can get.


At a recent CSCC meeting fixed tackle in this cave was discussed following a letter from Somerset county Council who expressed concern over the safety of the entrance ladder.  The CSCC access agreement is with SCC.  The meeting decided to repair the entrance ladder.  Other reports were received regarding the platform at the top of the main pitch and the ladders up to the Cave of Falling Waters.  Both are said to be in a suspect condition.  The meeting decided that subject to survey the platform and winch be removed and rawl bolts installed for ladder belays.  Also the scaffolding and ladder on Cave of Falling waters be completely removed and substituted with a pulley and continuous line in order that tackle can be hauled up – as we do in maypole series in Cuthbert’s.  It is likely no action be taken before the CSCC AGM in order to gauge more widely caver’s views.


The first boulder choke has collapse completely blocking the way on.  No news yet as to when it will be open again.


To South Wales camping at Crickhowell with members of the Pegasus. Caves booked include Aggy, DYO, OFD. Contact Martin Grass for details.


To be held on Saturday 19th April at high Peak College, Harper Hill, Buxton.  Admission £3 including lunch and refreshments.


The Proposed Destruction Of The Capanina "Lusa" On Monte Corchia, Apuan Alps, Italy

I have recently received urgent communication from Italy requesting the intervention of British clubs to oppose the proposed destruction of the above mentioned Bivouac.

The Capanina "LUSA" was built 2yrs ago, with the full authority of the local government, by the Speleological group of FAENZA (RA) to commemorate the death of Antonio LUSA. Visitors to the 1978 B.C.R.A. Conference will remember Signorina Simoneke Alessandri from this group who gave a most interesting lecture on the Abisso Fighera or Boca del Caciatore.

The Capanina "LUSA" is a small cabin designed to accommodate about 12 people, it measures about 12' x 12' x 10' high and is situated about 100yds from the entrance to the Abisso Fighera at nearly 6,000' close to the summit of Monte Corchia.

It is open at all times and may be visited by anyone wishing to do so.  The Abisso Fighera comprises some 14kms of passages and, at present stands at -850m and there are several other deep caves nearby.  To expeditionaries, the advantages of having a small base in this area are obvious especially when one considers that the next nearest refuge is 2,000' below which necessitates a 2hr really hard slog with equipment.

Unfortunately the hut is situated just on the skyline but it is painted to match the colour of the rock and from below appears as such, even with binoculars it is barely discernable as a building.

As stated previously the cabin was built with the full approval of both the local authority and the villagers, who in fact, assisted in its construction.  However, strong pressures are being bought to bear from the section of the C.A.I. at Lucca some 40 miles away, who claim the hut is detrimental to the natural beauty of the area.  The natural beauty in Question consists of several large marble quarries and their appropriate roads and other works which bite relentlessly into the lower and middle section of the Monte Corchia.  It is now apparent that unless strong pressure is bought to bear from outside then the chances of losing the bivouac are very high.

The Italian clubs would like interested British clubs and individuals to write letters opposing the destruction of the Capanina "LUSA" and pointing out the usefulness of this building particularly to foreign groups.  The letters can be written in English and sent to: -

IL Segretario, Commissione Centrale Protezione Natura Alpina, Sede Centrale del C.I.A., Via Vgo Foscolo N 3, MILANO, Italia.

A photocopy of the letter should be sent to either myself or to: -

Sig. Guido Rossi, Via San Marco 41, 37100, VERONA, Italia, who, with the FAENZA group is fighting the situation at local level.

It doesn’t matter if you have never caved in this part of Italy this is an international problem and could be only the thin end of the wedge.  The losing of this fight could result in other restrictions being imposed on cavers in this area, which enjoys freedom of movement and exploration without restriction.  A situation which both British and Italian cavers would like to see continue.

Stan Gee, 26. Parsonage Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport, Cheshire. SK4 1HZ.


Proposed Changes To The Belfry

by John Dukes.

On the next two pages are outline plans of the proposed alterations to the Belfry, both downstairs and up in the attic.

All the dotted lines indicate walls to be removed.



General notes:

Door 1

At present the door into the Bunk Room.  This is to be blocked as stairs to the attic will block this access point.

Door 2

Currently door to the Library.  Will be door to the Bunkroom.

Door 3

New access door from modified changing room

Door 4

This is the door to the women’s room.  To be blocked up.

Door 5

New door into changing room.


2m x 1m with small corner hand basin.

Showers (1)

2m x 1.8m with 4 shower heads.  Tiled throughout.

Showers (2)

2m x 1.5m with 3 shower heads.  Tiled throughout.

Drying Room

2m x 2m.  Means of heating not yet decided.  Ventilated by extract fan controlled by time clock.  Tiled throughout.

Changing Room

Ventilated by extract fan controlled by time clock; this is separate from drying room.

All access to drying room and showers from changing room.  Floor to be tiled and to incorporate drainage gullies and cleaning hoses.


To retain the alpine bunk and remove the bunks in the alcove.  Net loss of two bunk spaces.

All comments to these proposals should be sent to: -

John Dukes, c/o The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells Somerset.

Address change

Arthur Ball, 11 Brooklyn Road, Cheadle, Cheshire, SK8 1BS

Next month in the BB

Link Pot; Diving in Florida; MRO Report and Easter Grotto


"About the Constitution"

At the last AGM, Mike Wheadon submitted various changes to the Club Constitution for consideration by the 1980 Committee.  Kangy King, a member of the Sub Committee that formulated the present constitution writes…

I apologise in advance for the following screed which I hope will be taken as practical politics, intended to help the Club function more easily and not to teach grandmothers how to suck eggs.  It concerns our new constitution which like the last one looks like the sort of document which could usefully be used for almost anything other than reading.  It was the Club's decision to accept this sort of constitution and we should be aware of its limitations.

A "watertight" specification or constitution is a very difficult or even impossible thing to achieve because of the difficulty of putting practices or feelings into words so that there is no ambiguity (or even bad grammar!)  The consequence of this is that there is an almost irresistible temptation to try to perfect it.  This might be a proper reaction but it is, in my view, a waste of valuable drinking time.

Another approach to the difficulty of precision is to not even try, and, instead have a creed which crystallises an attitude or spirit.

"We are the Exploration Club,
We roam around from pub to pub!"

The actions of the Club are reviewed annually by the A.G.M.

The most important part of our Constitution is then that which sets out the conduct of the A.G.M. At each A.G.M. the Club is born again. We can kill it, or change it, or continue it.  We are the club.  The Club is NOT the Constitution.  We should, however, remind ourselves when discussion is heated and factions threaten to tear us apart, of the Spirit of the Club.  Why are we a club?  We are a club because we have members with similar interests or objectives combining together.  Set out the interests or objectives and then state what a reasonable man would require for a valid A.G.M.  Ideally this would be every member of the Club meeting together but as this is not practical then the constitution tells you what is.  Decisions are made by the Club acting together at the A.G.M.

A practical way of organising the day-to-day business of the Club is to elect some of our fellows to do it for us in Committee.  If we don't like what they are doing we can call an Emergency General Meeting and sort it out or wait until the A.G.M. and kick them out!

A good example of what is meant by the Spirit of the Club came when a draft constitution was (very correctly) being given the hatchet treatment by the AGM.  Now hatchet jobs are performed on completed piece of work to make it fit.  Regardless of the somewhat disfigured final appearance the important thing is that it now fits.  In this case logic dictated that the lower age for membership should be 18 years for some very sound reasons.  The feeling of the club was tested by proposing that there should be no lower age limit.  This was firmly rejected.  We felt there should be a lower limit but lower than 18 years and we voted to accept the risks involved in having 16 year old members as we had always done.  This was the Spirit of the Club.  To hell with insurance, we want young people in our Club!

As a club we are confused about a number of things.  We like being The Exploration Club and sometimes this means caving but we are not sure whether we mean as a sport or a science.  We don’t Mountaineer but we do Rock Climb and Hill Walk (whether scientifically or not is not stated!) and we have 'like pursuits' and this apparently can include PU’s both scientifically or otherwise.  But we know what we mean.  We can recognise our sort of bod easily.

We are confused about 'Probationary Members'.  We should think carefully about them.  Do we need them?  Should they vote?  Can they serve on the Committee?  Does this matter?  How does the Constitution Guide us here?  It doesn't; but the Spirit of the Club does.  If the Probationary Member wants to be of use - let him.  If he's useless don't let him.  How do you put that succinctly into words?

The Committee is the Club or it is until we can get at it and box its ears at the AGM.  It is an elected body and normally knows that is going on.  It should be quite capable of resolving a difficult decision by feeling for the Spirit or best interests of the Club.  This isn't new.  We hang together as a Nation by considering what a "reasonable" man would do and not by fear of getting our feet wet.  Boundaries or Rules don't make a group, Spirit does.  It cannot do this if the Constitution is precise but out of date. We have nothing to fear from a woolly or imprecise Constitution.  The Club can take care of that at the next AGM.

We might well consider when we compare the regulations governing the conduct of the AGM (which is fundamental to the survival of the Club) with those concerning the Committee whether we have our priorities right.  Do we really need so many rules to regulate our Committee?  On the other hand the Committee has a traditional method of working and it may be as well to enshrine this in the Constitution.

The Club feels it needs a Constitution.  I feel that we need one only in order to say "this is what we do if we think we should."

We can live with an imprecise, woolly, and eccentric Constitution because our first priority is to have a large and vigorous AGM with enough time to thrash things out under a find and respected Chairman.

I think we have always managed rather well in this respect and it is up to us to continue to have a lively AGM which asks a confident set of bods to act for us.

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.

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.





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.