Belfry Bulletin

Search Our Site

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….

Sweatshirts

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


 

Belgium

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. 

"No."

"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,
U.S.A.


 

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.


 

Lifeline

By our own Hon. Secretary, Tim Large.

BELFRY

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.

LAKE DISTRICT

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.

SWILDONS SHATTER SERIES

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.

LAMB LEER

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.

ROCK AND FOUNTAIN

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

EASTER TRIP

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

BCRA SYMPOSIUM ON CAVES AND THE COMMUNITY

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.

W.C.

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.

Bunkroom

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.

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.


 

Lifeline

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.

Clog

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.

MOLE

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' .

Goretex

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!

Tents

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.

The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated.  The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be checked in the time at his disposal.

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

The Editor, The Belfry Collators, Sue, 'The Post' wish all our readers A Very Merry Christmas and A Prosperous New Year…

Swildon's 13 in 1980?

Cuthbert's 3 in 1980

Tyning's Extended in 1980?

Cuthbert's Survey in 1980?

READ THE BB AND FIND OUT.  Happy New Year!

*****************************************

Don't forget your subs. They are now due……

Full Members:   £8.00
Joint Members   £12.00
Junior Members £6.00

Pay up and look big!                   Merry Christmas, after you've paid your subs


 

The BEC Get Everywhere - Gibraltar

From the Belfry 'horror' (worse than Zot ever was!) Trev Hughes gives us an account of his recent visit to the world famous Rock of Gibraltar.  I'm led to understand that it is still standing……

By Trev Hughes

A three week working visit to the Rock of Gibraltar by HMS Bulwark over the period 22 Sept to 12 Oct provided plenty of spare time to plan and carry out a reasonable amount of dives, caving trips and walks/cycle rides about the upper Rock.

As most people won't have been to Gib I'll start off with a few historical and geographical details to help set the scene.  The earliest known inhabitants were Neanderthal Man and various stone age animals known, by their remains found in various caves, to have lived on the Rock up to 40,000 years ago.  The Romans called the Rock "Calpe" as one of the Pillars of Hercules, believing it to mark the edge of the world.  The next owners of the Rock were the Moors under Tark-ibn-Zeyad after whom the Rock was named: Gibel-Tarik (Tarik's Mountain). They held the Rock until 1462 when it was surrendered to the Spanish.  The British, under Admiral Rooke, captured the Rock in 1704. Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713 following the treaty of Utrecht and became a Crown Colony in 1830.  The work to turn it into a modern naval base began 1893, most of the subterranean fortress was dug during World War Two. Today about 31,000 people live on the Rock.

The Rock is basically a limestone peninsula lying N-S about 55km long by 1½km wide, the highest point being 424m above sea level.  The shape of the Rock, a sharp ridge, was determined by the near vertical dip and a major fault which caused the east of Gibraltar to slip into the sea, hence the steep eastern cliffs and water catchment.  The top outline was affected by frost shattering in the Ice Age which lowered the height of the Rock by several hundred feet. On the western side the land drops-down, in a series of levels, to the reclaimed land just above sea level.  On the rugged Upper Rock there are many wild flowers including the Gibraltar Candyfuff - a unique in Europe.  Lower, in pockets of ochreous soils grow pines, Eucalyptus, Hibiscus, Oleanders and other Mediterranean plants.

I'll go through each type of activity separately and what better to start with than caving.  Being a big ship Bulwark has its share of cavers and apart from myself onboard there are Geoff Ford (BEC and Ex HMS Daedalus) Len Tyler (ex HMS Daedalus) and Chris Waterworth (Manadon Caving Club) all known to Belfyites.  Of course there are the forty or so people prepared to "give it a go" for whom trips to lower St. Michael's cave (more correctly called New St. Michaels) were arranged.  By far the best cave visited was the lower series of Old St. Michael's Cave (the lower lower series).  Geoff, Len, Chris and myself with a local caver called Tits spent a most energetic 2½ hours in this cave.  It is not very extensive but has a vertical range of 240ft and is comparable to a Fairy Cave Quarry cave turned on its end.  It is a superbly decorated system whose chambers are joined by a collection of fine sporting squeezes and boulder ruckles, it also contains the finest tasting water on the Rock.  I must mention it is not a cave for the Chris Batstones of this world.  Apart from the St. Michael's caves other caves visited included Martin's Cave which is full of huge bats and, as Tony Jarratt will know, there is a fine engraving available to those who search - I bought a print in a local junk shop for a most reasonable sum.

Another interesting cave visited by Chris and myself was Fig Tree Cave No.2 (we couldn't find No.1) marked No.3 on map.  This cave has very good dig potential, a low sand and pebble choked crawl heads into the Rock.

Many smaller caves were visited while out walking and to this aim I recommend the Mediterranean steps which descend the steep Eastern Cliffs - rather like the path up to Crib Coch but with the additional hazard of huge cactus bushes at every corner.

There are many other caves worth a visit especially, so I hear Georges Bottom, not found this time but I have marked the location on the map (No.4).  It is said to be tight and sporting.

The best person to get in touch with reference to caving is a local shopkeeper and part-time soldier: Ernest (Tits) Serra

SPQR Tobacconists
146 Main Street,
Gibraltar            Tel.4395 (shop hours).

Its is a very helpful contact and will arrange trips for any visiting caver, most easily at weekends.

With so many cave sites on the Rock (about 170) a fair selection can: be found on the Upper Rock especially if the show cave bar is visited first where there is an excellent cave location map (1:5280).

Key to Cave Sites on Map

1.                  St. Michael’s Caves

2.                  Martin’s Cave

3.                   Figtree Cave No.2

4.                  George’s Bottom

5.                   South Cave.

6.                  Gorham's Cave

7.                   Boathoist Cave

8.                   Pocci Roca Cave

9.                   Haynes Cave

For the sub aqua enthusiast there is plenty of scope around the rock.  In general the underwater visibility is good (10-14m) and the water fairly warm, about 19OC at 10m. Even in the winter months the water never drops below 15°C.

The tidal range is about 1m and as a result, of this a moderate current sweeps round Gibraltar Bay just after the turn of the tide, the strongest currents are off Europa Point and at these times this area must be avoided.

The best diving is to be had off the Western side of the Rock and I'll go through the better sites visited.

At the Northern end of the detached mole are two wrecks (site A) - the "inner" and "outer".  The inner wreck may be located by swimming out about 25m from a green water tank on the mole.  The outer wreck is linked to the inner by a rope tied to both, it bears 290° magnetic from the inner wreck.  The depth of water is about 20m, vis. good, and the current negligible except at turn of tide springs.  Both wrecks are well shattered and much dived on.  A first world war Enfield machine gun has been recovered from this area.

Further down the remains of a gate across the mole gives the location of the SS Excellent (site B) about 25m out from the mole in 20m of water.  She is upside down the sandy bottom.  Both sites are good for octopus but beware of large conger eels.

By far the best wreck to be dived on is the SS Rosalyn on the Southern side of S mole (site C). She is very easily found by swimming out about 20m from the mole leaving it at the northern end of the central casemate. The wreck is largely intact, sits upright on the bottom in 21m of water.  I don't know her exact history but Rosalyn dates from about World War 1 and was sunk in World War 2.  Her stem and stern are complete but her centre castle has been demolished in recent years.  The wreck may be entered but extreme caution is required.  The engine room and holds are open but "finds' will be limited as she is dived on regularly,

Moving off wrecks and onto the delights of nature.  The Seven Sisters rock pillars in 10 - 22m of water are well worth a visit (site D). Many varieties of fish are to be found and all are so used to seeing divers that you will be treated with total disinterest.  The occasional octopus, some of a fair size, are to be had in deeper water.  They live in such things as old car tyres and the like. The occasional stone gin bottle may be found in deeper water (25 m +).

Further south at Camp Bay (site E) are two sunken barges in 10m of water.   This site is where the old Men-o-war used to anchor for victualling purposes.  In 15m of water many stone gin bottles and for the lucky, glass Hamiltons can be found.  Of our four dives in this area with about 25 man/dives we collected seven Hamiltons and 'enough' stone bottles.  This area is also good for fair sized octopus but in deeper water the current is N-S and fairly strong.

THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR

Scale 1:20,000

 

Further south Little Bay (site F) is an interesting dive site, shelving steeply to 23m, it is well worth a visit to study the marine life.  The current (N-S) is fairly strong here at times.

Further south there is a good reef dive to be had in 13m of water off Europa Point (site G).  A guide is needed here for location and for checking the current which runs up to 1½ knots here.  I have not dived on this site.

The Joint Services Sub Aqua club of Gibraltar containing a mix of service and civilian divers are the mainstay of resident diving on the Rock.  They are a very active and social bunch and meet on Monday evenings at their superbly equipped (also has a bar) hut on Coaling Island.  They may be contacted on Dockyard Phone No.4460 any day except Monday and Tuesday. They have charging facilities and plenty of gear and make visiting divers most welcome.

Points to note are that boat cover is needed at most sites for accessibility and safety, diving is not permitted in Rosia Bay and for diving off the moles the AQHM should be notified on Dockyard 5901.  The best way of diving in the area is with JSSAC and ask for their assistance for boats etc.

I hope all this has been some help to anybody thinking of visiting Gib.  As a postscript I must add that there are over 200 pubs and bars on the ROCK “Everything to Excess".


 

The Odd Note

Alderley Edge Mines by Chris J. Carlon.  Paperback book on these interesting mines 144pp, photographs, surveys and diagrams. Useful bibliography included. Published by John Sherratt and Son Ltd., Altringham.  Price £2.85.

It has been fairly well documented that Jerry Murland has dived to a depth of 160ft in the Magpie Mine Shaft, Derbyshire thus beating the 150ft depth record in the U. K. by Martyn Farr in Wookey 25.  With only 10ft in it one wonders how accurate the depth gauges are.

Cerberus break through in Maesbury Swallet.  First dug by BEG about 1969.  The CSS have re-opened the site and have discovered about 150m of passage.  This club is also at work attempting to connect Fairy Cave with the now blocked Fernhill Cave. Though they have not found Fernhill itself they appear to have found new cave over the position of Fernhill.

More new books of interest to members: Bath Stone - A Quarry History by J. Perkins, A. Brooks and A.McR Pearce.  Kingsmead Press 1979.  Price £1.25. The Situation Level and Future of caving in Wales – A Strategy for caving by Frank Baguley, 28pp.  Price 25p + 13½p postage, available form the author.

From the latest British Caver -

'Any caver who wants a rope for a climb I do without it is chicken.
Any caver who climbs a pitch that turns me back is reckless'

New Members

967 Mike Breakspeare, 7 Red Pit, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wilts.
968 James Tasker, 281 Canford Lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.
965 Gary Chubb, Wheels, Southwater St., Southwater, Nr. Horsham, Surrey.
691 Dudley Herbert, 20 Rundwick Rd., Brislington, Bristol.
964 Lawrie O’Neil (nee Hiscocks), joint with Kevin O’Neil, 99 Forest Rd., Melksham, Wilts.
969 Duncan Innes, 18 Davids Close, Alveston, Bristol.
966 Pete Johnson, R & IT Section, HMS Daedalus, Lee on Solent, Hants.

Address changes:

Martin Grass and Glyn, 13 Granville Rd., Luton, Beds. (Tel. Luton 35145)
Jim Smart, 73 Queen's Rd., Clifton, Bristol.

FRIDAY NIGHT TRIPS might fill the bill….

For those that want to get in that extra trip over the weekend then the

The programme for 1980 is given below…..only make a mental note where to find this programme as space in the B.B. may not be there to reproduce all tips in detail.

Jan 4th - Manor                          Jan 18th Cuckoo Cleeves

Feb 1st - Lamb Leer                               Feb 15th Tyning's                                   29th - Swildon's (Black H)

Mar 14th - Fairy Cave Quarry                  Mar 28th S. Wales

Apr 11th – Reservoir                               April 25th St. Cuthbert's

May 9th – Stone Mines              May 23rd GB (Great Chamber)

June 6th - Longwood                              June 20th Barbeque - Candles in Burrington

July 4th Singing River                             July 18th Cow Hole

Aug 1st - Tyning's                                  Aug 15th Swildon’s Round. Trip   29th Pinetree

Sept 12th - S. Wales                              Sept 26th Thrupe Lane

Oct. 10th - Eastwater                             Oct 24th St. Cuthbert's

Nov 7th - Rods and Read's                      Nov 21st GB                                          and finally

Dec 5th - Longwood.

Meet at the cave at 7.30 p.m. or contact Brian Prewer, tel. Wells 73757


 

Letters To The Editor

Dear Dave,

I agree with Tim Large's comments in the October B.B. about Life Members.

It was because I considered the B.E.C. offered the finest value for money on Mendip that I became a Life Member.  The Life Membership fee seemed realistic at the time, but there is no doubt that soaring inflation has made it look silly.  I look forward to reading my copy of the Belfry Bulletin but have no wish to be subsidised by today's youngsters.  Why not work out the estimated cost per member per year and, at the same time as you ask for annual subs, you could ask for a magazine levy from long-time Life Members.  I for one would be quite content to pay up, and I reckon most of my contempories would too.

Yours sincerely,
Len Dawes
Matlock Derbyshire. 2
8th November 1979.

P.S. Please thank whoever it was who posted the sweatshirts to me.  They’re great – worth the 12 month wait!

Thanks Len for your letter.  Roy Bennett and myself have been preparing a letter to be sent to all Life Members suggesting the same idea and this should be in the post by the time this B. B. is published.

*****************************************

From Cross Bob.

Dear Dave,

By popular request, I have contacted our friend Mr. Sanderson at Chapel Stile in the Lake District with a view to renting his superior dwelling for our annual Lakeland Epic in February next year.  If for some reason he cannot accommodate us, I propose to try Yorkshire Mountaineering Club at Copper Mine Cottages at Coniston, or possible Fell and Rock at Solving House, Borrowdale – unless anyone has other suggestions.

The dates, by the way are February 14th - 18th inclusive, and the activities will no doubt take the same form as on previous winter meets so sharpen up your winter ice axes and crampons, and shake the mothballs out of your Duvets!

Let's try to arrive at some numbers etc., as soon us possible so we will not be disappointed.

Bob Cross, Mountaineering Sec.


 

Some Smaller Yorkshire Pots

From Derek Sanderson comes another of his interesting articles on the smaller caves and potholes of the Yorkshire Dales.

Often, the smaller caves and potholes can give as much fun as the more frequently visited deeper systems. They can also give much needed practice in use of ladders.  Here are three such caves.

HARDRAWKIN POT - Map Ref. SD 745 768 Length 780' Depth 200' Grade III

I first visited this cave two years ago.  We (Keith Sanderson and myself) parked the car just north of the Hill Inn and followed the footpath towards Ingleborough.  The entrance was soon reached at a loop in a drystone wall where stream rises from High Douk Holes and drops down a gulley into the cove mouth. The climb down can be slippery.

The cave is a simple one, being linear, yet there is considerable variety to be found.  The passage varies from narrow meanders to crawling over black cobbles in the streambed.  There are some remarkable 'cauliflower' deposits on the walls and whole streamway is clean.

After about 700', we arrived at the head of the first pitch of 90' where we found a choice between two bolts and a metal bar for belay points.  We chose one of the bolts for the abseil rope as it gave an almost free hang. The descent of the magnificent shaft was invigorating and wet.  The first 15' is not quite vertical, but below the descent is one of the best I have encountered.

The landing is a flat circular platform from where the stream drops into some narrow cascades. Beyond the cascades is the second pitch of 45'.  We belayed to a bolt on the right.  The takeoff point is an exposed little ledge.  The stream drops away to the left giving a fairly dry descent.

The chamber into which the pitch loads is a strange place.  It is formed in cross-rift with the stream falling directly into the sump pool at one end.  The sump itself is a flooded shaft of considerable depth.  The presence of the sump is unexpected because beyond it the stream drops over 150' in less than half a mile before it reappears in Hurtle Pot on its way to God's Bridge.

The climb back up the big pitch is wet but the ladder hangs perfectly against the smooth grey rock for a fairly easy ascent.

The cave is one of the best of the smaller ones we’ve done, though I have visited it when the pitches were impassable due to flooding.  The trip takes about 2 hours - which gives you ample time to get to the Hill Inn before closing time!

PENYGHENT LONG CHURN - Map Ref. SD 811 753 Length 1000' Depth 226' Grade III

Situated about half a mile north of Sell Gill Holes, a few yards off the Pennine Way.  We first visited this cave with Roger Wing in the hot summer of 1976.

The entrance is an impressive 75' shaft with an elliptical top about 15' by 10'.  A stream normally flows into the hole but on this occasion it was dry.  Establishing a belay point can be a bit difficult, and we experimented with some timber posts across the corner of the pot before we finally settled for an outcrop of rock 10' away in the dried-up river bed.  Roger is a bit sensitive about belay points, but eventually he accepted it.  We also had to protect the rope from abrasion on the lip of the pot.

Eventually, we all abseiled to the boulder floor below.  The shaft bells out slightly and the wall are smooth with occasional beds of coarse black limestone.  The view up to daylight is particularly pleasing and the climb back looks inviting.

From the base of the shaft the rest of the cave is governed by rift development.  Easy walking leads to a traverse on ledges over a deepening rift. The traverse develops into a passage about 3' square formed by the washing out of a decaying shale band - that white pasty stuff.  We dropped a 25' ladder down the rift just before this passage was reached.  Below, the rift continues to drop over a number of climbs, one of which, according to Northern Caves Vol.2, needs a 30' rope, though we didn't use one.

By now the rift is quite narrow with rough brown walls.  Beyond the rope pitch is a false floor of wedged boulders with numerous holes down. Ahead, the rift is choked and a tight 40' descent is necessary.  The first 25' we did on a ladder and then traversed onto a wedged boulder from where the last 15' was free-climbable.  The floor of the rift then becomes a painful crawl over pebbles until the way on is too tight.  A disappointing finish.

JINGLING POT - Map Ref. 699 784 Length 200' Depth 220' Grade III

If you need experience of long pitches, then this is where to start practicing.  It consists of a magnificent daylight shaft which gives a free-hanging pitch of 140'.  Once down, there's not much else to do except climb up again!

Roger and I first plucked up enough courage to do the pot about a year ago.  It is situated just off the Turbary Road, a short distance from Rowten Pot.  When we got to the entrance, I think we could easily have been persuaded to go somewhere else standing by the tree on the S.E. side and looking down the shaft we felt very exposed and vulnerable. However, we soon made the decision to go ahead with it, and with slightly wobbly knees we rigged the pot using the main stem of the tree as the belay point, the abseil rope being belayed about a foot above the ladder.  We had the rope protector with us, but this was not needed as the lie of the rope was completely free.

The abseil was a good one, but I was a bit too anxious to enjoy it very much!  For much of the 140' descent, the dark walls are out of reach. About 50' from the bottom, one of the walls leans towards the rope to form a sloping ledge which is not quite suitable as a resting place, and the last part of the pitch is a bit awkward due to swinging.  The rope creaked horribly, as is the habit of Marlow ropes when dry.

The base of the shaft is a narrow rift.  We dropped down the lower end to the deeper part of the rift and grovelled about in the blind pots at the bottom, but we were too preoccupied with the thought of climbing up the ladder to spend too long exploring.  The climb, however, turned out to be very enjoyable and not particularly difficult.

Roger climbed first. Silhouetted against the daylight, he would have made a good subject for a photograph.  When it was my turn to climb, I found the first few feet awkward, but once I'd got started I found the free-hanging ladder fairly easy to deal with, though I grabbed onto the rungs for a rest a few times towards the top. One such resting point was about 80' up, where I could still just see the foot of the ladder, and where the walls were at least 20' away - a position of exposure which I found very satisfying. The climb itself took us little more than ten minutes each.

Jingling Pot is only a small cave, yet it gives a good introduction to long pitches, and the trip is a memorable experience.

Subscriptions

The last date for payment of subs is 31st December 1979.  If you HAVE NOT PAID, PLEASE send yours to Sue Tucker, 75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon.  Those not paying by the above date will not receive their January B. B. and. will have to re-apply for membership.

Full Members £8.00; Joint Members £12.00 and Junior Members £6.00


 

Jottings

To catch up with the news over the last few months we present an extended version of

Compiled by ‘Wig’

B.C.R.A. Winter Meet, Wells on December 8th 1979.

About 100 cavers attended this mini-conference organised by Jim Hanwell for BCRA.  The programme was wide ranging and including last minute change of the programme with Bob Cork outlining recent events in Wookey.  Fred Davies gave his account of the marathon dig in Swildon’s Cowsh Aven that was eventually opened up to within 20ft of the surface.  ‘Prew’ demonstrating his radio location gear; Chris Hawkes summarising the work at Westbury Quarry and Willie Stanton propounding a theory of the increase in ground water flow on Eastern Mendip.  In an adjacent room an exhibition of old caving prints and postcards gave a new insight to armchair caving.  It looks as if a selection of those caving prints will be on display at the 1980 BCRA Conference to be held at Nottingham University next September.

BOOK OF 1980?  THE DARKNESS BECKONS by Martyn Farr.

Martyn Farr's first attempt at being an author will make its appearance early in 1980 in a 224 page book entitled 'The Darkness Beckons' - The History and Development of Cave Diving'. The Forward is by Mike Boon.  In addition to the 50,000 word text there are 60 black and white and 16 colour illustrations plus 20 maps and illustrations. Price £8.95.

BOOKS FOR THE CAVER

'Rocksport', the cavers shop in Wells, has entered the book market and books are changing hands at quite high prices.  This is not because of their individual pricing, but due to price changes in the book market generally.  Recent prices from various sources will give an idea of what the market rate is at the moment.

Wookey Hole, Its Cave and Cave Dwellers.  Balch, 1914

£40 - £45

The Mendip Caves.  Balch (Somerset Folk Series, 1927).

£10

Caves of Ireland. Coleman, 1965

£12

Mendip, Its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters.  Balch 1937 1st Edition.

£6

Mendip, Its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters.  Balch 1937 2nd Edition.

£2

Delineations of Northwest Somerset, Rutter, 1829

£40 -£50

Heart of Mendip, Knight.  1st Edition.

£10

Seaboard of Mendip, Knight.

£15

Cave Hunting, Boyd-Dawkins.

£40

Cave Hunting, Boyd-Dawkins (reprint)

£2 - £3

Caving. Baker

£30

Netherworld of Mendip.  Baker and Balch

£30

The Mysterious World of Caves, Bauer, 1971

£8

Subterranean Climbers, Chevalier, Dub.  Faber & Baker

£8

Mendip Caves, Balch (bound copies of the three books)

£10 -£12

Mines of Mendip, Gough (1st Edition)

£10

Casteret - various books and reprints

£5 - £8

Les Abimes, Martel

£140.00

Perhaps you should have a look at your old caving books and insure them


 

Yorkshire ‘79

From the pens of Martin Gross and Stu Lindsey comes a summary of their activities in Yorkshire since la Easter….

After many beers and a puncture, four B.E.C. members arrived at Brackenbottom during the early hours of Good Friday.  As Graham Price was sleeping like a babe, Graham W-J decided to abuse Liz, 'to help me sleep' as he stated in the morning.  Still, back to caving.  On Saturday Graham, Jim Watson and myself descended Birkwith Cave, Old Ing and Dismal Hill.  The intention had been to visit Red Moss Pot but when we arrived at the farm to obtain permission we were turned away by the fanner because he said that if he gave us per mission to cross his land he was legally responsible and we could sue him.  It looks as if insurance problems have reached the north as well as Mendip.

Although Birkwith was short, but interesting and the water bitterly cold.  By the time we came out poor Graham was near to exposure!  Dismal Hill starts with a series of interesting free climbs and a very tight bedding plane which Jim could not pass, ending in a large but short section of streamway.  We had the impression that the bedding plane flooded quickly and quite often.  Old Ing was stomping size in the streamway with an interesting inlet (Rough Hill Inlet) containing an interesting duck – quite pleasant.

That night we were joined in the Helwith Bridge by Stu Lindsey and Sue Jago inviting us down Link Pot the next day.  A very fine trip was had and a detailed report on the cave is given below.  Sue didn’t go down but went into Calf Holes and Browgill, her first caving trip in 11 years (and I didn't think she was old enough!)

Having separated Graham and Liz, given him a cold shower, a peaceful night was had by all!  Graham, refreshed, descended the Buttertubs to the great delight of the tourists who snapped away with their cameras at him in his bright orange suit.  When all the excitement was over, we went down Cliff Force Cave.  The entrance to the cave was completely blocked by snow and some time was spent making it large enough to emit Stu.  We found this site to be rarely visited and very dismal, everything being covered with a thick glutinous mud showing signs of complete flooding.  One very interesting part of the cave is Shower Chamber with fossils the size of side plates projecting from the walls and roof.

Monday saw us all off to Mongo Gill making a trip from Shockle Shaft to North Shaft.  This is a reasonably sporting trip taking about 1½ hours if the route is not known.  The cave has some good stal, but considerable quantities it was removed by the 19th century miners.  The route is not complicated but old mine workings tend to be confusing.

Link Pot - to find Serendipity (the Big Pitch) ....

The day began with the YES contingent set to clear a blocked cess pit!  So a slightly depleted group assembled at Bull Pot Farm, where the mud of two weeks hence had improved to become unpleasantly cold but firm.  Soon the intrepid quartet marched off across the moor, the old pores oozing sweat under the blistering midday sun but eventually this tract, from Lancaster to Link will become easier as a thousand feet blaze a new trail.

Again navigation was spot on and it wasn’t long before we set about tackling the entrance (which looked bigger! – 9 – 10”).  The beck was dry, and according to rumour even when in full spate, Link Pot remains free of water.  Soon, with Martin G and Steve Throstle, muted shrieks of delight was echoing form the depths. Stu L did a quick ‘free fall’ before landing again on the most trodden part of the cave.  Graham W-J brought up the rear as we headed down passage toward the boulder slope where we met NPC bods photographing in the chamber that leads to Lancaster.

The two chaps from NPC hinted that they would take us into China Dog Chamber and maybe beyond. Using the ½ tube route we gained the 'T' Junction and Rybers Bypass (this is only 30 feet from the entrance!). The way on is via Night Shift Chamber, through a black hole in the floor.  This awkward but short bouldery crawl leads, after a bit of stooping, to the aptly named 'China Dog'.  This is at floor level, so beware, do not step on it – it bites!  It was here that NPC Bod No.1 requested a ladder; No.2 Bod hung it exclaiming that it was too short, used another and descended. Meanwhile Graham and Throstle, much to consternation of Bod No.1, had traversed out along the very dangerous traverse route and back again while looking for 'this very dangerous traverse'! Back at the pitch Martin followed Stu L down the ladder and through the meandering traverse trench to the Chamber where the rest of the party were in the throes of ‘piccy’ taking - Graham and Throstle being the willing models.  The 'hard traverse' route is the best to follow bringing you out level with the fixed chain and the main way on.  If a ladder is necessary, a 20ft belayed to a dubious stall boss is sufficient as the pitch is not exposed.

At the bottom or the chain we were in a decidedly muddier section and with the departing words of 'turn right, up a passage' echoing in our ears we endeavoured to pick the right 'Right' from the three or four available.  The chosen passage, the most obvious, led into a superbly decorated mud floored passage, the ends of which appeared choked.  Entry into this panoramic vista was delayed as Stu modified the position of a jammed boulder.  After a brief exploration we disappeared down a 2ft diameter 'phreatic drain hole' which became bigger and bigger, and bigger, till we suddenly turned a corner and found a pile of maypoles - we had spent over ½ an hour going round in a circle, but it was worth it.

Venturing on up the passage, we left all the gear at a three-way junction.  Stu and Martin’s route led to a boulder choke and Stu was saved from a flat-out crawl in a wet, gravely 10ft wide bedding plane, by Throstle’s shouts.  Investigation found Graham and Throstle at another three-way junction, this one marked with a cairn.  Splitting up again, Martin and Stu’s exploration of yet another bedding plane was curtailed by the muffled shouts of the others.  Pursuit was in a low (8'' - 15" high) bedding, superbly decorated with stal pillars and miniature straws.  After what seemed like 1,000ft (more probably only 100ft) a 'T' Junction was reached.  The way to the left in a more spacious passage where eventually the roof began to rise and the passage became really big with the floor dropping down 25ft into a cross-rift.  Opposite, the passage carries a large stream which cascades down the rift and disappears off to the right.  Martin was first down and soon back again with the news that 20ft down the passage was the Big Pitch (65ft?).  We had only brought one ladder this far (the remainder was at 3 way junction) so we might go as far as the head of the pitch only.  A quick view of the pitch gave us the basic tackling requirements.  To belay the ladder a small natural bridge can be used.  The take-off is very exposed but the pitch is dry.  A lifeline is necessary - 80ft, doubled, for the return.  Time was running out and so a quick exit was made without fuss or mishap and we surfaced in 50 minutes after an interesting five hour trip.

Later in the year, Stu L journeyed north again, it being the epitome of his achievements in the Dales. Snugled down on the back seat of the car between two of my mates and buried under a massive framed rucksack, was a reel of 'Bluewater 3'.  Nearly 500ft of prime nylon, untested, and my passport to the spectacular confrontation with the beauty of the main chamber of Gaping Ghyll.

Next day we despondently left the Y.S.S. cottage at Helwith Bridge accompanied by a fine drizzle.  Would we be denied the Main Shaft?  Could the weather thwart an ambition I had nurtured for nearly two years since that fatal day when all my ideals had been smashed and I did my first SRT descent?  By the time we had reached the wild expanse of the Clapham 'Free' car park, the drizzle had lost its fizzle, but the sky was still heavily laden with black storm clouds.

Q.  Oi! What are you doing here?

A   Oi! What are you doing here?.

Q . Oi!  Oi! What are you doing here? – I thought you were doing Otter with Graham W-J et al.

A.  No! That’s next week wasn’t it?

Well, if his wasn’t is, or his is, wasn't, Bit Jim perpetrator of Eric Watson has dipped out of that one!

So began the sheer hell of trudging up the nature trail in sweaty wetsuits with sensitive shin being chaffed from sensitive parts, aching backs arched arc under bulging; rucksacks swollen with tackle, on we pound, on and on and on, leaving the hardcore roadway to crawl laboriously up Trow Gill to the slippery mud walkways that deposit us at the entrance to Bar Pot.  Making our way over to GG with the plateau hidden under a thick blanket of cloud and the air full of fine drizzle, it was trying so hared to rain – an hour, one hour is all we needed, no rain for an hour!  We closed in on the fenced in shaft, our haste leading us occasionally to peat bog mantraps.  The fence was reached and the view marvellous… the beck was quiet – it was a dribble, a big dribble flowing meekly into the abyss -- it looked really good.

Walking upstream we inspected a couiple of sinks taking water and were able to relieve their burden by clearing natural blockages in the stream bed, thus allowing a quicker flow. My heart began to beat faster, all systems go!  The ‘pit of the stomach’ feeling increased; it could rain now, I didn’t care.  The rope, belayed to a rather rusty looking angle iron bolt some three feet out over the drop, had been carefully fed down through the swishing waterfall after checking the back-up belays – a bolt on the left and a large boulder outside.  It was friendly in Jib Tunnel, its water hissing off into the spray filled void.  My anxieties eased, the first man was down; a few seconds to get off….pulling hard….oops, too early, an aggressive tug from below warns me he is not off yet.  I wait.  I held the rope – it jerks, it’s free.  Am on my way.

Checking, double checking my knots, my gear, my screw gates.  It's difficult to feed the rack, rope heavy, hands cold…..the last bar is on. I begin inching out, out towards that frail looking belay, forcing my rack higher up the rope and squirming towards the pitch head, searching forlornly for footholds on the slippery rock. My time had really come.  I was hanging on my rack, poised above an abyss of roaring spray.  The rope, a thin blue line disappeared into the quagmire of emptiness – there was no return, for me at least as I had never changed from abseil to prussic before, and not wanting to try it on this glorious free-hanging 340ft.

Four feet down.  The weight of the rope is difficult to feed, legs dangling helplessly in the torrent pouring from Jib Tunnel.  Eight feet down, still fighting to feed the rope. Now totally immersed in the water; fighting the rope, freezing water, heavy and cold, bouncing  - ‘Oh gosh’ I thought ‘The belays, the rope….’ 20ft, 40ft, 70ft, gentle bounces, cold icy fingers, now spinning gently, turning, the rope is easier now.

Oh!  How majestic are the waters of Fell beck as they cascade effortlessly into this spray filled void, now whispering peacefully and beauty in slow motion painted against the back-cloth of the fluted shaft.  Ten million diamonds were sparkling on their afternoon dance of delight.  A wall accelerates by – a wall – no resistance – wet rope – must brake – not too fast – easy.  I look still braking, a shout from below '30ft'.  Splash - bump - a bit fast - I'm down - it's over!

Pulls from above, the next man is waiting.  Time to get off the rope and into the warm - its cold standing under the 340ft waterfall and in the howling gale.  I want to do it again.

The last member of our party is descending.  A thin needle of light appears, very slow, seconds melt into minutes.  At last he is down.  We’re all down and did we enjoy it – thank you – YES!

Ed Note.  Next month Stu L will be reporting on a visit to October Grotto in the Kingsdale Master Cave; Tim Large on work in Marble Pot, Cuthbert’s and sometime in the future there promises to be articles on visits to Ireland and Florida.  Lastly though not least a Jottings column dealing with


 

Lifeline

from Tim Large

Club Sweat Shirts - As many of you will have already seen, the first order has now arrived. Those members wanting to order should contact John Dukes as soon as possible.

Carbide:   A new supply of carbide has been purchased. Price will be 45p a lb.

Digging Competition: This was eventually won by the Wessex with 700ft against our 400ft.  A celebration barrel was held at the Belfry on the 2nd of December.  The competition is being held again over the next 12 months.  All new cave gratefully received from all members!

Eastwater Cavern. The cave is now open again after a fine engineering job by the Wessex making a 15ft shaft.  It is about 3ft square and drops to a more stable section of the ruckle in the lower reaches.

C.S.C.C.  The Hon. Secretary, Dave Mockford has resigned. A meeting is to be held in January 1980 to elect a replacement.

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.

Bad News From Nordrach

The New Year celebrations were sadly marred by news that the recently completed H.Q. of M.C.G. had been destroyed in an explosion.          The sight of the ruin shocked all who saw it the next morning.  What remained of the building will have to be demolished and a complete rebuild undertaken.  Luckily it was insured and we all wish the MCG good fortune and every success in 1980.

Dates For Your Diary

April 5th NCA Symposium ‘Caves and Community’, Buxton.

September 22-28 European Regional Speleo Conference, Sofia, Bulgaria.

B.E.C. ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND ANNUAL DINNER …….. OCTOBER 4th 1980

Address Change

Phil Kingston, 9 Linfield Street, Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia

For older member the address of Bob Mayhew (of the Shepton) may be of interest:

40 Park Road, Southport, Merseyside.

The Odd Note

Charterhouse Caving Committee Permits

Members are reminded that permits are valid so long as you are a member of a CCC member club.  When your membership lapses or the permit is outdated are no longer covered by the insurance policies of both the CCC and the BEC. Secondly, only people over the 16 are allowed to descend the CCC controlled caves - this rule also applies to married minors.

Tim Large and Chris Batstone are the BEC leaders for the Cerberus controlled Shatter Cave.  Members wishing to descend this cave should contact either of these people.  Should you write direct to the CSS they will refuse to take you and point you into the direction of the BEC leaders.  This arrangement has been revived following protracted negotiations with the CSS and the club committee.

DYO - Graham Wilton-Jones is our leader into this cave.

In case you have not yet read the last page in this DB - this is your last BB until you pay the 1980 subscription.

Recalling orgies of the past Alan Thomas now has his story for the Absent Friends at the 1980 BEC Annual Dinner to be held on October 4th.  MAKE A NOTE.


 

Sludge Pit

Stu Lindsey notes the work carried out in Sludge Pit recently by club members…. 

Since the cave was first opened numerous persons have unsuccessfully pitted their wits against the very imposing sump, or the choked passage above (an exercise which never fails to fill the sump pool with an excess of un-required spoil!!!!)   It was over 2 years ago that Tom Temple and myself commenced our first digging trip, at the time it was a diversification from Wigmore, ‘the international one’!  During those winter months up until April, when most of our tools walked, we laid a pipeline between the dams to allow us to dump spoil in the streamway. Our efforts, with occasional assistance from others, soon showed a marked lowering of the sump pool area, about 2 ft. being attained, mainly by Tom's aggressive spade work after he had removed the greater part of his clothing?  Activities began to decline when Tom's “Exped” tour ended, and as previously mentioned the tools sprouting legs and walking.

However the turn of 1979 saw a new set of tools, a new digging team (at this time a bit conspicuous by their absence) and a renewed assault on the sump.  The area was cleared up, and prepared for some “MENDIP MAGIC”.  After three visits by the chemical activator, progress was determined at -3ft plus. This depth was however short lived, the Austrian Exped and holidays allowed vandals to kink, and thus block the pipe.  This resulted in water washing over the spoil heap, and the head of the water behind the dam finding a way through the shale bedding*!?*!

Two attempts were made to stabilize the site, with no success.  I have decided since that the only way to combat with the interference etc: is by removing the roof, thus handling only nice solid "BUILDING BRICKS'; at present Tim Large is giving occasional assistance; but anyone else who fancies themselves with a lump hammer would be welcome.

Stu L.


 

Austria - another view

By ERIC

Austria of course is not all drinking Stiegel, or trekking miles and miles - sorry kms and kms for the dubious pleasure of ripping to shreds an Enduro suit in less than 3 weeks.  For one the Exped does not finish until the reports, surveys and notes have been translated into a readable digest for the BB reader to gaze over. It is to this end this article has come about, for his tireless effort in this department, and for co-ordinating the social side of Austria '79, I would on behalf of all concerned like to thank, most profoundly Graham W-J for his effort ……thank you.

On the social side, one cold windy night Trev, Hand and Stu L were on the receiving end of a friendly German party.  PFIRSICHBRAND (Peach Brandy….it really works, and how) was the villain of the piece, they succeeded in relieving them of the greater part of the two bottles offered. Less than half an hour later on his way to bed, Trev managed to honk and dewater over the cars in the car park???? (Ed Note….the Weisberghaus is at about 6,000ft, the nearest road about 10kms!!!!!!!)  Stu managed to miss this, he was bedding down for the night in the KHAZI ….. apparently in preparation for his oncoming assault on the Glacier!

Amongst some of the funny looks often directed toward this motley crew, the one that surely sticks out must be that of Siegfried Gamsjager at the top of the 100m pitch in the Mammuthohle.  The source of his amusement….awe….was one the party nervously fondling a brand new, unused 6 bar GOLDBLOCK rack, complete with price label, its owner had never used one, lessons please-!?*?!  Whilst on about tackle wasn’t it the same person who had an experience with a French sounding expedition ascendeur……using it as a self lifelining device imagine the horror, sheer fright, the heart stopping, adrenalin generating situation wanting to stop……having to stop……but noticing how lucky - that the ROPE WAS HANGING FREE.  The why was because the spring loaded, two action cam was in the locked open position. (After this trip the device was shelved for a Gibbs…..well it worked pundits!) A separate article may be forth coming in regard to this device and how to try and combat its killer instinct!

On the return journey Jrat, Blitz, Big Jim and Stu L dawdled across Europe to visit the cave of Han-sur Lesse.  This superbly decorated show cave has been desecrated by a three tier cafe in its largest chamber.  It is well worth a visit and provided a little light relief on the journey home. In the town is a very interesting museum, it shows slides of the cave, its excavations etc…..an English spoken commentary accompanies it.

The final scene was a backstreet cafe, the town was Brussels, and the stage was set for the double DOUBLE “Rip Off”. We drank of the houses well watered, and very expensive vino, consumed an even more costly item 'pommes frites' at £3 per plate full, 11, and didn’t really enjoy the superb miniscule portion of steak (which was probably horse anyway).  So the ensuing argument was a reasonable diversion, especially when in the heat of it, the proprietors Parker Falcon got mixed up with the trips account book!?  Cheap meal for one of us anyway…scribble scribble…

The local bier, Stiegel cost about 23p at supermarket level to 85p at Simmonyhutte level, this is per 500m l/9 of a pint.


 

Viaduct Sink

Simon Meade-King continues his in depth account of the attack at……..

Part 3 – On the right track at last

After several promising leads got us nowhere, the dislodging of a huge slab from the right hand wall of the main passage revealed the mouth of a rift.  A squeeze, 10ft ahead, in the roof of the rift lead to a small enlargement. From beyond a barrier came the sound of falling water and through a slot in the roof we could see into a sizeable space.

Only one awkward jammed rock prevented us getting through into this space and this was soon removed. After a bit of thrutching, I squeezed up through the slot into a man sized rift petering out to the right, but running off, with the roof rising in the other direction.  It looked as if we were in - a stroll down and ever growing passage, with pitch following pitch, into the main drain.  In reality however, although the rift was standing height at one point, where an aven rose to 20ft, it came to an abrupt end after only 15ft. Here, a small stream of water fell through a narrow hole in the floor - the only way on.  But the sound of a larger stream wafted up from below, and we decided to face the hole the following Wednesday evening.

Before doing so the aven was climbed, but lead only to on horrendous boulder ruckle.  The alternative -proved more interesting with a 10ft deep, tights fissure dropping into a low descending crawl blocked after a few feet by a bank of mud.  The water disappeared to the left into a choked bedding - plane running across strike, and from which comes the roar of a stream.

Taking it in shifts, we cleared out enough of the choke to crawl in for 6 feet until a large flat slab prevented further progress.  After a short struggle this was roped, and gradually slid out.  We then had a clearer view ahead.  Across strike the bedding plane continued only inches high and falling at a steep angle from left to right to where there appeared to be a lip 4 or 5ft away over which stones rolled into a trench presumably carrying the stream.  A well placed charge on the following weekend and all would be revealed, and hopes again ran high for entry into the long awaited streamway.

The next Saturday April - 16th 1977 - was set aside for this operation, and it turned out to be a much harder task than expected.  The fumes from the bang failed to clear properly, and this coupled with the constricted access proved almost literally fatal.  But the day's objective was at least achieved, although the result was disappointing.  Richard Whitcombe disappeared down the bedding plane into the thick haze, only to return with the news that the roar came from a tiny stream.  This after emerging from a minute hole up dip crossed the bedding plane - itself only 6 inches high, and a hopeless prospect. All present suffered very unpleasant after effects from the bang fumes, end the return to the surface was something of an epic.

Only one real possibility now remained, the mud choked end of the passage off which the bedding plane had led, and there was evidence of 3 passages of varying sizes converging on this point.

We could see ahead along the limited airspace to where a mud slope rose into a boulder ruckle making it seem as if we were following an inlet back up to the ground level. However as we started clearing out the passage it was shown to be considerably deeper than the mouth of the bedding plane, and the floor gave no sign of rising towards the ruckle.  We were able for a short time to dump the spoil in the bedding plane, but it soon became obvious that we were going to have to take it to the surface.  The next 2 months were therefore spent in enlarging the approach fissure to take buckets.

When we finally resumed digging it was the middle of August, and progress was necessarily rather slow. The process of moving each bucketful of spoil from the face to its final resting place on the valley floor involved three separate sessions, and two intermediate dumps, including winching up the entrance shaft.   But there was no alternative in the absence of dumping space.  Vandalism to the surface works further delayed progress at this time.  The isolated nature of the site encouraging this - a contrast to the dig at Thrupe Lane where we never experienced this problem.  Several times we arrived to discover the wooden lid removed and almost everything moveable thrown down the shaft.  It was a depressing task clearing up each time and led to the unfortunate step of fitting a locked steel lid.

But to return to the digging - the easier disposal of the spoil with the improved access began to pay dividends as the true size of the passage emerged.  It was four feet high and clearly phreatic in origin.  Whilst the floor had been level with the ill-fated bedding plane, the water running into the dig had been able to escape down the bedding, but as we progressed and left the mouth of it high and dry flooding became a problem.  The resultant morass soon became christened the Grimpen Mine from the glutinous mixture left behind when the water subsided.

Despite this, by mid-September we had passed the lowest point beyond which the roof began to rise. If the floor rose with it, then prospects would be bleak, but this did not happen.  The solid floor remained level as the passage turned slightly to the right, and intersected at right angles a rift several feet wide.  This terminated quickly to the right, but to the left assumed an impressive size.  An aven in its roof had spewed tons of debris which now perched in a threatening mass on our left flank.

Before any further progress was possible, this danger had to be reduced, and this provided same exciting moments.  To try and bring clown the boulders by direct crow-barring would have been suicidal as there was no quick escape route.  Various methods were tried, including tying a rope to a bar and pulling from round the corner!  One particularly large slab with no obvious anchoring points was seemingly defying gravity, and clearly holding back a large quantity of material.  Richard started throwing stones at it, perhaps, in the hope that it might go a way.  Nothing stirred until we aimed our backs on it, when with an almighty crash the whole lot came down, fortunately without killing anyone.  Quite a close run thing.  On another occasion Bob Cottle had his Nife cell cable sliced through by a dislodged boulder.

A large black space view became visible and more material continued to be brought down and as soon as it looked safe enough we climbed up to investigate chimneying above the still unstable slope.  The roof of the aven was at least 20ft high and contained two inlets, both too risky to enter.  Down rift was a solid uninspiring choke.

We decided to ignore this rift, and with the resumed threat reduced and digging across its base into a choked continuation under the far wall with headroom reduced to a couple of feet.

The autumn and winter of 1977/8 brought unusually heavy rainfall, and as we probed further away from the rift, a second stream was heard from somewhere ahead, we redoubled our efforts.  A left bend followed a stal barrier and things looked exceedingly promising with the roar of the stream drifting up the meandering crawl towards us.  The passage turned to the right only to be cut in half by another stal barrier, requiring banging.  Beyond, perhaps 10ft away, we could see the main stream at last -

to be continued.


 

Lifeline

By Tim Large

Christmas at the Belfry was enjoyed by about a dozen regulars.  The shed was well appointed with colour TV, plenty of food and drink. With the films coming thick and fast on the TV everyone was reluctant to leave.  We received complaints from Roger Dors that we failed to report for duty one night.  Over the Christmas period we had visitors from Australia; a group with Julia James; Speleo Hollan who enjoyed a very wet trip down Swildons, and over the New Year the Pegasus joined us for the festivities.  The Australians were entertained at the Belfry with Belfry table cricket and sofa rugby – but much was to be learned from the B.E.C. team.

The club has now applied for a licence under the Lotteries Act in order that we can hold raffles to raise money for the Belfry improvements.  Other fund raising schemes are being considered and ideas from you would be welcome.

The Digging Competition has started in earnest.  Pete and Alison have found 150' of passage at the upper end of Sarum Inlet in manor Farm. We are still busy at the lower end of NHASA Gallery, but are investigating sites in Tynings.  It looks like our major project this year is to dig the bottom of the cave.  All help will be gratefully received.  Happy New Year.


 

The Marble Pot Saga

By Tim Large

I first visited Marble Pot in November 1975 encouraged to this section of the cave, by the details in the Cuthbert’s Reports and the vivid descriptions of the vertical squeeze as discovered by Wig.

The trip to Marble Pot and Hall provides an interesting route off the beaten track.  There are three ways of approaching it:-

1.                  From Rocky Boulder to Coral Chamber, climb to top of chamber and through hole in southern wall which brings you to the start of a large rift.  At the far side of the rift a hole leads to a spiral climb down with squeezes into a small chamber.  To the north is Marble Pot.  To south under a large boulder is Marble Hall.

2.                  Via Boulder Chamber, Annexe Chamber, Fracture Rift, Coral Squeeze, Coral Chamber and then as route one.

3.                  Instead of descending halfway along Fracture Rift, climb up to a higher continuation of it. Here much evidence of fallen boulders is seen, the walls being heavily scarred - ignore this!  At far end is the obvious beginning of a boulder ruckle rising above you.  A short straddle climb to the right at this point and you gain the ruckle proper.  A meandering route upwards over large boulders brings you to Long Chamber Extensions.  To your left will lead back to Long Chamber.  High up in the roof is Straw Chamber.  By an indefinite route to the right amidst boulders and dropping to a slightly lower level is the northward continuation of Far Chamber. Just off this route is a hole in boulders, (sometimes difficult to find).  This is the start of Ruckle Passage.  A twisting route downwards, best tackled one at a time, eventually brings you out to the start of the large rift which marks the start of the route to Marble Pot as described in route 1.  I can recommend this route as providing the most interesting stimulus – Terror!

On the first visit with Bas Slade the bottom of the pot was examined, but also a hole was noticed 15' above the floor at a point usually passed on descending the pot.  This was found to be partially blocked with stal deposits and pebbles.  With a minimum of digging it was possible to descend another vertical squeeze of about 6' to a point where a rift opens up.  A further drop of 8' brings you to a sandy floor with a rift going off.  This is blocked with pebbles in the floor after 15' and has a too tight continuation in the roof.  A draught was felt and eventually located at the beginning of the rift immediately under the climb down.  At floor level there was a tight bedding plane partially blocked with sand and a cool draught blowing out.  On this trip nothing more was found.

A week later, with John Dukes, the bedding plain was attacked with hammer and chisel and by crawling backwards down it, using boots as a snowplough, the sand was excavated allowing entry via a 5' drop to the base of an aven.  It is about 35' high continuing in one direction upwards over a boulder and the other, a tight rift descending about 15'.

Nothing more was done until July 1977 when John Dukes and I dug in the first rift of the new extension filling the entrance to a small passage filled with large cobbles.  The possibilities at the northern end of the rift were examined and proved virtually impossible to dig in the space available.  By the way, if anyone finds a 4lb hammer buried in the rift its mine!

After the Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting on the 30th September 1977 Martin Grass, Kangy and myself visited the dreaded pot again.  This time the final aven was explored at the upper end and a vertical connection with the bottom of Marble Pot proved.

One year to the day later accompanied by Fred Davies, Al Mills and Ross White, more digging was undertaken in an attempt to remove the squeeze at the top of the descending tight rift.

As you can see from the accomplishers so far, very few people are keen on a return visit, even Fred and Al did not think much of it.

During February 1779 the Wesex digging team of Alison and Pete were recruited to visit the passage. Alison was encouraged into the hole but found it very tight and doubted whether the return through the squeeze would be possible.

So fast running out of time and support I spied 'Clever Trevor' in the pub late one Saturday night. Being a keen lad he agreed to visit the Pot - 'Stupid Boy' – more digging was done at the squeeze but still too tight for us.

On 20th May 19 I spied the Hunters once more for recruits and lo and behold one J'Rat.  Having nothing better to do he agreed to visit the site after being recounted the visions of caverns measureless----- After removing various items of apparel he managed to slip through and descend 15' to a U tube which he negotiated backwards to slight widening of the passage but to be narrowed down after 10'. Tony’s return was eventful to say the least, both of us with visions of Neil Moss.

So ends the Saga having found only about 70' of passage.  Highly recommended for a once only visit.  At least it proves the theories that passages exist below Marble Pot.

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

The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated.  The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be checked in the time at his disposal.

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

Paul Esser Memorial Lecture, 1980

Oliver Lloyd has sent the following notice:

MARTYN FARR on CAVE DIVING

The lecture is on Wednesday, 13th February, 1980, at 8.15 pm. in the Tyndall Memorial Theatre, Department of Physics, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol 8.

Martyn Farr, aged 28, is one of our Ace Cave Divers.  He started cave diving in 1970 and has done notable dives, extending to their utmost limits such caves as Wookey Hole, P8 in Derbyshire, Dan yr Ogof, Porth yr Ogof, Ogof Afon Hepste and all principal caves in Co. Fermanagh.

He has written a book about cave diving called 'The Darkness Beckons' which will be published in February 1980.

He is an experienced lecturer with a nice easy style and lots of beautiful photographs, including underwater shots, which he takes himself.

As usual admission will be free.  Those coming from a distance may have seats reserved for them, if they will write and give me the numbers in their party.

Oliver C. Lloyd, M.D., Trustee
Withey House,
Withey Close West,
Bristol, BS9 3SX


 

Notices

Next month in the B.B. Solutions to the X Word in August BB; articles by Derek Sanderson; Martin Grass, Trev Hughes and Stu Linsey among others …..this Xmas issue promises to be a good read….

*****************************************

BELFRY FEES – change of rates

Hut Fees:                               Members 50p       Guests £1.00

Camping:                                Members 50p       Guests £1.00

Day Fees:                              Members 25p       Guests £.0.50

CLUB OFFICERS FOR THE YEAR 1979/80 as elected at the Annual General meeting.

Hon. Secretary:

Tim Large

Wells 73960 (work)

Hon. Treasurer:

Sue Tucker

Radstock 35165 (home)

Hut Warden:

Garth Dell

Telford 6013 Ext 326

 

 

(work – ask for Garth)

Hut Engineer:

Nigel Taylor

Wells 72338

Tacklemaster:

John Dukes

Wells 75686 (work)

Caving Secretary:

Martin Grass

Luton 35145

B.B. Editor:

Dave Irwin

Priddy 369

Committee Members

Graham Wilton-Jones

Aylesbury 28270

 

(Committee Chairman)

 

 

Stuart Lindsey

(ex-directory)

 

Non-Committee Posts:

Librarian:

 

 

 

Sales Officer:

 

 

 

Publications Editor:

Tony Jarrett & Chris Batstone.

NB. All postal deliveries to be sent as usual to D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.

 

Surveys: Graham Wilton-Jones

Carbide: Hut Warden - Garth Dell

Boots: Hut Warden or Hon. Sec. - Tim Large.

 

To be announced.

 

More club notes:

Key holders for the tackle store and Library will be listed in the December B.B.

To ensure that accurate accounts of sales of carbide can be kept will members please let Garth Dell have as many Marvel tins or similar, as you can muster.  Members will remember that this is the way in which we sold carbide in the past.  Each type of container can be weighed and the amount of your sale recorded in the paying-in book.  Throw away your old bags but keep your tins!

A basic supply of tackle will be kept in the Belfry and the tackle store which will suffice for general needs.  Members requiring large quantities for away trips should apply to John Dukes in the first instance.  John is on the telephone or if that is not convenient then drop him a letter – giving him plenty of warning so that arrangements for the pick-up can be made. When returning the tackle make sure that it is clean and dry and make sure that it is returned to John in person. DO NOT LEAVE RETURNED TACKLE IN THE BELFRY OR ELSEWHERE ON SITE.


 

Lifeline

…..a regular column by our Hon. Secretary Tim Large….

The new Club year begins with 224 members in the Club.  Of those 76 voted in the committee elections.  The A.G.M. was poorly attended with only some 40 members being present.

A REMINDER…..SUBS ARE NOW DUE and should be paid by the 31st December 1978.  To enable the club to function various projects it would be appreciated if you could all pay your sub as soon as possible.  The new subscription rates below:

Full member      £8.00

Joint member     £12.00

Junior member   £6.00

The Committee has three main items to action from the A.G.M.:

1.                  Fund raising scheme for Belfry Improvements.

2.                  Insurance to cover all members and Cuthbert’s Leaders when caving.

3.                  Mike Wheadon submitted some criticisms of the Club Constitution.  A Sub-Committee is to be formed to consider it.

At the October Committee Meeting the Hut Fees were increased (the new rates are given on page 1). Over several years much has been said about arrears of Hut Fees by some people.  I can see no reason why anyone should be in this position.  You know what they are, so make sure you have got the money.  Everyone always seems to have enough for beer, but never for Hut Fees!

The Digging Competition between ourselves and the Wessex is being fiercely contested.  In recent weeks new passage has been found by one or both every weekend.  Pete and Alison Moody are working in Swildon’s Shatter Series with good results. We are relying on Manor Farm which has recently yielded 70ft of new passage at the lower end of NHASA Gallery. Also some new passage has been found in Long Chamber Extension, Cuthbert’s.

The Committee has been approached by the M.R.O. regarding installation of a radio transmitter/receiver at their depot in the Stone Belfry.  It is proposed to have a base station there with remote unit wire to a position by the telephone in the Belfry.  This was approved by the Committee.  Included with the equipment is a mobile radio for car installation and a portable personal unit.  This will greatly improve communication during rescue work and enable cavers and equipment to be summoned quicker.

ADDRESS CHANGE: Jim Smart, 73 Queen's Road, Clifton, Bristol.

*****************************************

BCA WINTER MEET in Teacher Training Centre, Wells.  DECEMBER 8th.

Lectures commence at 2.00 with William Stanton on new information gathered from new bore holes; Chris Hawkes talking on Westbury Quarry; Fred Davies on the epic Cowsh Aven dig ending with a discussion on recent radio locations at Wookey.  'Prew' will be giving a talk on the equipment used in Wookey.


 

Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List October 1979

828 Nicolette Abell               Michaelmas Cottage, Faulkland, Bath

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

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

901 Richard Barker               40b Croxteth Road, Liverpool 8

295 Arthur Ball                     4 Charlotte Street, Cheadle, Cheshire

892 Marlon Barlow                93 Norton drive, Norton tower, Halifax, West Yorkshire

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             14 Westlea Road, Warmley, Broxbourne, Herts.

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

720 Martin Bishop                Bishops Cottage, Priddy

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

883 B. Bowers                     44 Manor way, Bagshot, Surrey

959 Chris Bradshaw              9 Colles Road, Wells, Somerset

868 Dany Bradshaw              7 Creswicke, Bristol

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

891 Neil Raynor Brown          25 Lingfield Park, Evesham, Worcs.

687 V. Brown                       3 Cross Street, Kingswood, Bristol

756 Tessa Burt                     66 Roundwood Lane, Harpendon, Herts

777 Ian Calder                      22 Greenways, Lydney, Gloucestershire

778 Penelope Calder             22 Greenways, Lydney, Gloucestershire

956 Ian Caldwell                   44 Strode Road, Clevedon, Avon.

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

929 Jane Carson                  Basement Flat, 8 Worcester terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8

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

903 Francisca Cavendar        The Old Rectory, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset

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

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

655 Colin Clark                     186 Cranbrook Road, Redland, Bristol

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

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

377 L D. Cooke-Yarborough   No known address

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

585 Tony Corrigan                139 Stockwood Lane, Stockwood, Bristol

827 Mike Cowlishaw             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                      AI 5 Printing, HQNI, BFPO 825.

710 Colin Dooley                  51 Osmaston Road, Harbourne, Birmingham 7

829 Angela Dooley               51 Osmaston Road, Harbourne, Birmingham 7

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

830 John Dukes                   Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset

847 Michael Durham             11 Catherine Place, Bath

925 Gillian Durrant                14 St. Andrews road, Broadstone, Dorset

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

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

232 Chris Falshaw                23 hallam Grange Crescent, Sheffield

909 Helen Fielding                175 Bramley lane, Hipperholme, Halifax, West Yorkshire

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

894 Phil Ford                       40 Station Road, Greenfield, Holywell, Clwyd, North Wales

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

835 Leonard Gee                  15 warren Close, Denton, Manchester

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

752 M. Glanville                    Jocelyn House Mews, 18a High street, Chard

894 Bruce Glocking              213 St. Leonards, Horsham, Sussex

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

927 Richard Gough               35 Gladstone Road, Ashstead, Surrey

928 Jenny Gough                 35 Gladstone Road, Ashstead, Surrey

790 Martin Grass                  14 Westlea Road, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts

432 L Nigel Hallet                 62 Cranbrook Road, Bristol

910 Sandra Halliday              22 Whitcocks Road, Hanham, Bristol

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

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

893 Dave Hatherley               6 Withiel Drive, Cannington, Bridgewater, Somerset

942 Robin Hayler                  39 Ditching Hill, Southgate, West Crawley, Sussex

935 Lynne Hendy                 10 Silver Street, Wells, Somerset

691 Dudley Herbert               20 Runswick Road, Brislington, Bristol

917 Robin Hervin                  12 York Buildings, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

863 John Hildrick                  Tarngulla, Old Bristol Road, Priddy

952 Robert Hill                     32 Ridings Mead, Chippenham, Wiltshire

773 Rodney Hobbs               Rose Cottage, Nailsea

373 Sid Hobbs                     Hokestone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy

736 Sylvia Hobbs                  Hokestone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy

905 Paul Hodgson                15 Cromwell Terrace, Chatham, Kent

960 Alicia 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

808 John Hunt                      35 Congre Road, Filton, Bristol

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

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

363 Maurise Isles                 50 Warman, Stockwood, Bristol

954 Elaine Isles                    50 Warman, Stockwood, Bristol

906 Annette Ingleton             Seymour Cottage, Hinton St. Mary, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

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

168 Margaret Innes               18 David’s Close, Alveston, Bristol, Aven

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

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

340 Russ Jenkins                 10, Amberley Close, Downend, Bristol

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

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

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

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

567 L Alan Kennett               9 Hillburn, Henleaze, Bristol

884 John King                      4 Nightingale Road, Langley Green, Crawley, Sussex

316 L Kangy King                 22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon

542 L Phil Kingston              257 Pemona Street, Invercargill, New Zealand

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

904 Calvin Knight                  Crossways. Hillesley, Wootton under Edge, Gloucestershire

 John Knops                         IDA Cottage, 235 Englishcombe Lane, Bath

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

795 Peter Leigh                    5 Armoured Workshops, BFPO 126, Enkessen

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.

931 Warren Miner-Williams   5 Somerset Crescent, Stoke Gifford, Bristol

308 Keith Murray                  17 Harrington Gardens, London SW7

936 Dave Nicholls                 2 Hartley Road, Exeter, Devon

852 John Noble                    18 Hope Place, Tennis Court Road, Paulton

880 Graham Nye                  7 Ramsey Road, Horsham, Surrey

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

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

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

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

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

961 Mick Phinister                4 Old Mill Lane, Inverness, Scotland

724 Graham Phippen            Rock Cottage, Rock Road, Wick, Bristol

944 Steve Plumley                4 Rickford, Lane, Burrington, Nr. Bristol

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

940 Chris Richards               11 Highland Close, Worley, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

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

945 Steve Robins                 16 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

921 Pete Rose                     2 The Beacon, Ilminster

918 Richard Round               131 Middleton Road, Banbury, Oxfordshire

932 Theresa Rumble             29 Cotham Road, Cotham, Bristol

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 Jenny Sandercroft          5 Eastcroft, Henleaze, Bristol

747 D.R. Sanderson             2 Drake Close, Poulder, Ringwood, Hants.

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

872 Mark Sherman               Wood View, Grey Field, High Litton

926 Steve Short                    Flat 6, 68 Upper Church road, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

915 Chris Smart                   15 Timor Close, Popley Islands, Basingstoke, Hants

911 James Smart                 c/o 72 Winchester Road, Brislington, Bristol

950 Steve Smith                   39 Tintagel Road, Keynsham, Bristol

951 Roger Smith                  39 Tintagel Road, Keynsham, Bristol

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

840 G. Standring                  71 Vienna Road, Edgeley, Stockport, Chester

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

365 L Roger Stenner             18 Stafford Place, Weston super Mare, Avon

837 Richard Stevenson         Greystones, Priddy

962 Christine Stewart            15 Ashford Road, Portsmouth, Hants.

865 Paul Stokes                   32 Manor Way, Bagshot, Surrey

583 Derek Targett                 North Hall Cottage, Chilcompton

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

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 J. Tuck                       3 Crown Rise, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

382 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 Beacon Close, Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey

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

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

933 Dianne Walker               8 New Buildings, frome

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

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

592 Eddie Welch                  18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol

397 Mike Wheadon               91 The Oval, Bath

861 Maureen 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 Wally 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

916 Jane Wilson                   University lab 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     24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Bucks

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

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

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

877 Steve Woolven               21 Three Acres, Horsham, Sussex

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

937 Sue Yea                        Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Somerset

 

Please inform the Secretary of any changes of address anbs soon as possible so this list can be amended and to make sure of receiving your B.B.

Many thanks to Fiona for typing the members list.

Remember:  send any address changes or corrections to Tim Large, the Hon. Secretary.


 

Dachstein 1979

by Graham Wilton-Jones.

The results of last year's expedition were published in the BB, vol.32, no.10, Oct. '78, no.366, and vol.33, no.2, Feb '79, no.370.

This year there were'" fourteen of us on the plateau, including eleven cavers - Throstle, Mervyn and Dave of Valley Caving Club, Buckett, Ann and Tina, Stu Lindsay, Chris Smart, Big Jim Watson, Andy Sparrow and friend Dave, Trev Hughes, J-Rat and G. W-J. The main batch of us left Britain on July 20th, Trev on his bike and five of us in Stu's car, loaded with roof rack and trailer.  In the Autobahn traffic jams we amused ourselves cadging beer from passing American servicemen, Stu taking a thousand photographs through the windscreen, and J-Rat, now on the bike, showing off by simultaneously smoking beer swilling and running over a beautiful pair of sunglasses.  On the open road I amused myself by trying to burn out Stu’s gear box - I got it to the clouds of white smoke stage.  Three days later we were firmly installed in Der Glocken, field H.Q. of the B.E.C in Austria a small, comfortable hut next to the Wiesberghaus.  The three V.C.C members were already there, along with an edible dormouse who raided the larder frequently.  Rat and I sensibly ate in the Wiesberghaus.

During the previous five weeks the region had suffered rain almost every day and the plateau was very wet, but it did mean that there was much less snow than last year.  Our first task was to continue the exploration of C19, Maulwurfhohle, below the 10m shaft discovered last year.  Early on Monday Thros, Dave and Merv set off to rig down to and re-bolt Dorisschacht, using the Hilti gear we had acquired from the Himalayan expedition.  To their dismay they found that the threaded portion of the eyebolts was too long. J-Rat and Big Jim entered the cave a little later but Jim found the squeeze in Gargantuagang a little difficult to negotiate and backed out, minus parts of his Enduro suit.  J-Rat went on to the head of Dorisschacht and. dropped 100' of ladder - to the bottom.  Things were not starting out too well, it seemed.

Chris and I rigged a telephone line across 1500m of lapiaz to C19 entrance, and returned to the hut for some more wire (where did Buzby's profits go?) where we met Siegfried Gamsjager. Siegfried is the manager of the Dachstein show cave, an excellent friend and a useful contact.  He came back with us into C19 as we rigged more line through the narrow, twisting Gargantuagang to the head of the first pitch, Platzlschacht.

Stu and Trev spent the beginning of this first full day on the plateau in finding and levelling a place to pitch their tent.  Throughout the expedition, come rain, wind, storm and tempest, their tent stood firm, and empty!  During their search for a suitable, site they had been diverted somewhat upon finding three holes - C33, C34 and C35.  The last two were short shafts but the first went in 63m to a shaft about 10m deep, for which they decided a ladder was required.  Much was their disappointment the following day when they descended the shaft to find a chamber with a cairn.  Underneath was a note indicating that one Siegfried Mittendorfer had explored the cave in 1961.  To cap it all S.M. turned up at the Weisberghous later in the week with his nine year old daughter, and together they descended the cave and both free-climbed down the shaft!

Tuesday was met with low cloud initially but this cleared a little towards the end of the day.  Merv, J-rat and Jim descended C19 and dropped TTFN shaft, left from last year.  The passage continued, high but not wide, to a very narrow and damp 6m pitch almost immediately followed by a bigger pitch.  They returned after a nine hour trip to make their way back across the lapiaz in the dark. This latter became a commonplace occurrence, poor weather keeping us in the hut until late, and lone trips meaning we came out at midnight or after as often as not.

We had been lucky to find a good file among the tools at the Wiesberghaus and were able to cut the bolts shorter, but we then found trouble removing the spent cones from the bolting tool. Clearly we were going to be beset with troubles.  Chris and I descended Platzlschacht with the telephone line but I dropped a bag of gear, including precious and fragile jumars, all the way to the bottom. Thereafter began an inventory of dropped equipment, and it grew impressively long.

Chris and I came out and joined Stu and Trev in a search along the base of Niederer Grunberg near the region of an avalanche of huge, fallen blocks, which we nicknamed the 'Titans'. Stu climbed about on the cliff face and discovered C36, an enlarging bedding plane high up in the cliffs, and C37, a 7m snow plugged shaft, concealed from below by debris.  Down below we found C38, a deep, angled shaft; C39, a horizontal tunnel in the west side of the valley and close to C38; C48, a  m. shaft next to a 3m horizontal hole south of the Titans; and C49, a slope on snow, following the bedding, 100m north west of the Titans. Towards the end of the expedition Stu returned to C38 for a more detailed look and found the shaft to be at least 2 m deep and possibly wet.

Last year we had noticed a large hole in though south east face of the Niederer Grunberg about 100m from the summit and some 250m above the Schladmingerloch.  We considered the possibility of abseiling to the hole from the top of the cliff.  We felt that there was every likelihood that the hole would lead to the top of C19, perhaps into the big aven, Aufartz, above Platzlschacht.  Early on the Wednesday, in beautiful weather, we climbed up through Schladmingerloch and on to the summit of Niederer Grunberg. After admiring and photographing the impressive views, we climbed down an obvious chute between the two summits and, directed by Thros and Chris we were on the scree slopes of Ochsen Kogel opposite, we attempted to reach the hole.  We had tried this communication using walkie-talkies but found that shouting was clearer - we were 600m apart and the acoustics would have blown Wig’s mind. Finding a distinct lack of belays, a lot of very sharp rock ideal for destroying SRT rope and those hanging thereon, and many loose boulders, Stu tried to sweep us all from the face with one the size of the Belfry stove, causing incredible echoes around the Schladmingerloch, I chickened out of the abseil.  Everyone gave sighs of relief and we headed back to the top.

Stu had found an 8m shaft a little below the summit, C40, just too narrow to enter because of boulders at the head.  We descended the hill via the north-west slopes, having to search among the cliffs for a safe route down.  Here we came upon C41, a shaft over 10 m. deep, and a little bellow this was C42, a series of deep rifts curving in under the hill  Halfway between here and the Titans, in the same valley we had been in the previous day, J-Rat found a shaft blocked with boulders at the top.  Using another boulder he demolished this obstruction to reveal a deep, widish rift, C43.  Five other sites had been found or looked at today; C44 is a 10m long 30O slope under a dead tree (there are not many of these) in the valley near the Titans. Its small entrance will probably be difficult to locate in the future; C45, found by Throstle, is a bell shaped 20 m shaft close to the edge of Herrengasse; half way along the north-west face of Ochsem Kogl a 2m by 1.5m entrance leads to 15m of passage heading 45O to the cliff face.  This is C46; C47 close is by.  A 5m high by 3m wide entrance leads past a waterfall to 12m of passage; Trev and Merv had a look at the obvious, large square alcove in the cliffs of Hoher Grunberg, behind Schladmingerloch, but it was snow blocked after only 6m.  It was designated C50.

  On Thursday we were to meet Siegfried for a trip into the further reaches of the Dachsteinmammuthohle.  Once again it was a beautiful day and we set off for the Gjaidalm (ski school and alpine hut) where we sipped beer or tee-mit-citron while we waited for Merv, who had mistakenly headed towards the Simonyhutte. There are two cable cars form near the Gjaidalm – the military seilbahn goes down direct to Obertraun (near Hallsatt lake) while the Dachstein seilbahn goes via Krippenstein and the Dachstaein show caves (our destination).  Taking time over his tea and not knowing the geography of the area, Big Jim got split up from us and went to the military seilbahn.  We would have not worried unduly only he had the 100 m rope required for a big shaft in the Mammuthohle (no-one else wanted to carry it).  He finally arrived in the correct place about an hour late and we set off into the cave.  Most of the section of the Mammuthohle that we traversed consisted of large phreatic tunnels (up to 10 m in diameter) floored with extensive mud fill. Passing through the show cave we followed the draught to the head of Theseusschacht, for which we used the 100m rope.  We climbed out of the shaft just above the bottom, into a tube that is more than half filled with a dry and dusty clay.  Here, on carbide blackened tablets of clay we found signatures, and occasional artistry, of the famous, the not so famous and the infamous.  We added our own and Seigfried wrote his for the nth time - he leaves his mark every time he passes that way.  We now followed the Minotaurusgang, the floor of which is completely covered in mud cracks.  At one point the clay rises nearly to the roof and the wind whips up disturbed dust into one's face.  Beyond the site of a small bivouac a few, ancient, dry stalactites and curtains wriggle down the sloping roof of a phreatic loop and some lumpy stal clings to the walls. Siegfried is of the opinion that many stals may be hidden beneath the mud.  Finally we reached the 'Bock Stalagmit'.  In 1913 Hermann Bock did a solo trip along Minotaurusgang and discovered a solitary stalagmite in a small chamber at one extremity.  Choosing this sole stal, bless his soul, he put his signature and the date at the top - the vandal!  Back at the base of Theseusschacht we made our way up an alternative route Edelweissgang. This is more homely, English passage with easily traversable and climbable rifts, followed by a long, steeply ascending bedding plane, coated with wet mud and peppered with 30 m deep holes to trap the unwary.  Retrieving the rope from the top of the shaft we made our way to the west entrance, just for a look as Sigfried had no key for the gate there.  At the junction between the main cave and the west entrance passage there is an ice lake, overhung by ice drapery.  At the west entrance itself is an icy draught. Returning and passing underneath a roof of loosely packed pebble fill, no doubt thinking about becoming a conglomerate, we quickly made our way out to the East entrance.  Unfortunately the restaurant had closed two hours previously, but when you are guests of the manager…. After a good meal, many beers and a slide show we left six hours after closing time to stay in a hut nearby.

 

In the morning most people wanted to visit the ice cave.  This done we made our way back up to the plateau, taking care not to lose Jim near the military seilbahn again.  In Barengass (Bear Alloy) Stu and I had a look at some of the more obvious holes. Emerging from one I noticed some others that could not be seen from the valley pathway below.  Climbing up an obvious gully I found one entrance, but it seemed a little narrow.  Traversing round a ledge in the cliff, some 25m above the valley floor, I found two more entrances, and asked Stu to bring up a torch for them.  One, running parallel with the cliff, became rather narrow after a short distance, but the other, Stu observed, had a draught strong enough to blow dust out of the entrance.  It was designated C51 and the name is Barengassewindschacht. Collecting some gear from the Weisberghaus, only half an hour away, we returned with Trev and Jim.  The entrance was rather low but the floor was only loose rocks and boulders.  I kicked down some of the smaller ones into the shaft below and then the other three descended the first 6m shaft.  Two ways down followed, joining via a chamber.  Trev descended a further 8m to find a short climb down to the head of another 8m shaft.  On the way out, knowing what a passion Trev has for breaking things, I persuaded him to push the remaining huge boulders down the first shaft.  He was reluctant to do this as they formed the floor on which he lay.  I told him to come out and I would do it.  Actually I had no intention of doing it – I’m not that stupid – but it did the trick. A few Hughesian blows and down plunged half a ton of floor, accompanied by screams.

Silence.

"Are you all right, Trev?"

Silence.

"Trev?"

"Yeeeusss", replied with a mixture of tremble, whisper and wail.

"Well push the others down then.”

Two more tons and one hell of a din were accompanied by banshee howling.  Trevor does not like boulders.  He received no sympathy or concern over this time.  We all retreated to the Weisberghaus for well deserved refreshment.

Saturday dawned wet, with more rain after a night of rain and storms.  Added to yesterday’s showers the plateau was very wet once again. Occasional rumbles of thunder could have easily put us all off caving for the day and sent us scuttling inside for numerous beers and peach cakes but we foolishly steeled ourselves against the elements.  The first group set off into C19 to push the next pitch.  They were followed around midday by another group, whose intention was to re-bolt Dorisschacht, again, but once more they were dogged by bolting tool trouble - the cones could not be removed once used.  Several rungs slipped on the 100 foot ladder being used on part of Dorisschacht just to add to our difficulties.  Chris and I rigged the telephone and line down to the head of the as yet un-named pitch in Many Meetings.  Meanwhile the pushers had found the next pitch, Valley Schacht, to be 1 m to a ledge followed by an 18m drop into a, big, winding rift.  They began to make their way out.  Stu was the first of the expedition to reach the surface, just as a big thunderstorm was brewing.  J-Rat 'phoned Chris at the entrance at the same moment as the lightning struck.  Stu thought there was an avalanche off the big overhang of Grunberg and flattened himself against the cliff.  There was a flash and an instantaneous explosion. Chris and J-Rat, the latter deep underground, were both knocked unconscious.  Thros and I, fettling my carbide at the top of Platzlschacht, saw and heard an explosion beneath our feet (the wire was above our heads) and assumed it to have been a carbide explosion.  We were somewhat surprised at the echoing rumbles from the passages below. Throstle's hand was scorched. Dave, halfway up the rope on Dorisschacht, saw an enormous flash below him but heard no explosion.  Merv at the bottom saw and heard nothing.  Trev, on the ladder below J-Rat and Jim, a little further into the cave, saw and heard nothing but reached the top to find J-Rat in a heap asking what happened and saying, “I know you but I don't know your names.”  Chris and J-Rat's telephone hands were numb for several days afterwards and their ears stung for a long time.  Exit was made successfully, the un-named pitch was christened Blitzschaeht, and Chris was thereafter known as Herr Blitz at the Weisbergerhaus.  Although we had telephone communication from Blitzschacht to the entrance immediately after the incident we never again managed from the Weisbergerhaus to the cave.  When the wire was being cleared from the plateau later Merv discovered a melted and broken section only 300m from the Weisbergerhaus.  Well, Buzby.  How do you avoid that?

The next day was really beautiful, the way it should be after a storm, and we lazed the morning away, sorting and mending gear, refreshing ourselves in the way the B.E C. knows best, and even having a midday meal in the Wissbergerhaus.  In the afternoon Throstle wandered aimlessly and chased Gemsen (chamois) J-Rat continued to read his book, and Merv and Dave ascended both Niederer and Mittlerer Ochsen Kogel, finding a cave near the summit of one of them.  They returned via the Simonyhutte.  The rest of us went over to Barengassewindschscht where we found the first pitch to be an easy free climb now.  We laddered down the second pitch, neither entrance of which had been obstructed by all the boulders thrown down, and I rigged and descended the third pitch. 10m along a narrow rift I came to a small hole at the top of a wide, 27m pitch.  The rift continued, narrow and low, for a further 5m to curve round to the right to the head of a pitch, possibly part of the 27m.  Jim and Trev prepared for the rigging of the 27m shaft while I made my way out.  Part way down the valley side from the entrance of C51, I had a closer look at an entrance noted previously.  A large boulder blocked the entrance but by removing the scree from around and underneath it I was able to push it to the bottom.  The cave, C52, sloped downwards at 45O but unfortunately it was filled with boulders after only 4m.  Hopes of another entrance to C51 were dashed though no doubt it could be dug at the point where the draught comes up through the boulders. We searched further along the cliffs of Barengasse, but found nothing else of note.

BARRENGASSENWINDSCHACHT (C51) 1543/6

Extended elevation. Sketch Survey BEC 1979     Scale 1:1000

 

The Valley lads went down to Hallstatt on Monday morning, partly to replenish essential supplies - the dormouse had consumed more than its fair share, even having tried human being, until human being tried it!  Their other job was to meet and direct Buckett and family.  Meanwhile, on the hill the rest of us were off into C19 again. Jim and J-Rat went to the big rift at the bottom, Bang Gang.  The climbed up to reach a phreatic bore tube some 30m above the floor.  After 100m, this ended at a pitch, Eric Schacht, which was free climbable to within 6m of the floor.  There was no sign of the stream which had started at TTFN Schacht. At stream level the passage soon became rather narrow so they traversing along the middle level.  The sound of the stream seemed to disappear after about 30m suggesting either that the rift was closed or blocked below, or that the stream had turned into another course, away from Gang Bang.  Up above, Trev and I put in a bolt at the head of the Valley Schacht, solving the problem of removing spent cones by heating the end over a carbide flame.  We returned to Gang bang with Jim later, following the middle level, finding several wider spots in the traverse below us, but decided that tackle was required to descend these.  This would hopefully bypass the narrow section in the streamway.  On the way out we measured, by constant estimation, both the length and the amount of descent of Belfry Avenue.  The length was reckoned to be 150m and the total drop from the bottom of Blitzschacht to the top of the little chock stone ladder above TTFN was 50m.

 

Buckett and Merv were the only two prepared to go down C19 on the Tuesday, the last day of July. Maulwurfhohle was becoming a very wearing trip, much harder than the Berger, for example, according to J-Rat, in spite of its comparative shallowness.  Buckett pushed on at streamway level in Gang Bang and it was still going after 45 to 50m, much in the style of the entrance passage, Gargantuagang.  Buckett objected to being told that he looked like a caver of the 1930’s, with his black fibre helmet and his jumper stretched to around his knees – “But I am a caver of the 30’s” he replied.  (Actually he started caving before Merv was thought of).

Trev and Stu headed for the top of the Dachstein.  Unlike us last year; they had a rope and were able to lifeline up the non-existent ‘via ferrata’ and abseil back down.  The top of the mountains were clear early on but rain showers and mist came along in the late morning, and clouds filled up the valleys.  This did not clear until the evening.  Chris and I set off up the Niederer Ochsen Kogel, finding several holes near the eastern corner.  Just as I reached the summit, getting a brief glimpse of the Weisbergerhaus far below, the mist shrouded us.  We gave up the idea of going to the schacht, or schlund, that is marked on the map, and instead turned our attention to some of the holes nearer at hand.  Close to the summit of Niederer Ochsen Kogel there is a large depression at the centre of which there is a snow patch on scree and a couple of deep rifts.  We found another deep, snowy rift on the traverse route that we made down the south west face.  Crossing the cliffs towards Wildkar Kogel the obvious, large, dark hole proved to be only a fairly shallow collapse.  Below Wildkar Kogel there were several holes.  One was a cave at the end of a large snow field, which I followed down as far as I could without a light.  Nearby were deep shafts with snow at the bottom, and above those a phreatic tube, almost filled to the roof with cobbles, C57.  To the east and south of Wildkar Kogel were many other tunnels, shafts and rifts worthy of further investigation.

On Wednesday August 1st we left Buckett and family in peace and headed down to the valley via Herrengasse and the Tiergartenhutte.  Some went to have a quick look at the Waldbach Ursprung, the big resurgence for the area, and then we crossed over the bridge over the Wildbach and walked through the forest to the old salt mines at Salzberg.  The oldest know Celtic community originated here, 4500 years ago, salt being immensely valuable in those far off days.  A very rich, bronze age burial ground has been excavated here.  Hallsatatt is also reckoned to have its origins in the third millennium B.C.  The salt mines themselves, which are still worked today, consist of a complex of adits leading to, via short slopes off to the sides, to large wash out chambers.  The chambers are filled with water and the salt gradually dissolves out of the rock.  The brine is then drawn off, the chamber re-filled with water, and the process starts again.  Highlights of the trip are a slide, as on a banister, down a special wooden slope which the miners seem to use as a quick way down, and a ride on an open train, heads brushing the adit shuttering if you lean too far to one side.  It was too late to look for the Koppenbrullerhohle show cave afterwards, so we spent the late afternoon viewing the village of Hallststt, and unspoilt Cheddar of the Alps.  In the evening we met Hermann and his friend Norbert, who later proved that Austrian cavers get just as legless and stupid as their British counterparts.  If you hear any rumours of that evening’s activities, they are probably true. Trevor in particular, excelled himself.

Early on the morning, after the never to be forgotten night before, we were up, having stayed in an Alpine Club hostel.  The previous afternoon Thros and Trev had dived off the balcony into the lake for a swim, and they chose to do this again to waken themselves.  Ere long we were climbing up the steep slopes of the Achern-Tal, above the Waldbach, to the entrance of the Hirlatzhohle.  This is situated at the base of the 1200m high Hirlatz-Wand and has some 9km of passages.  There are many fixed aids throughout the cave, including wood and wire ladders in various states of decrepitude, and wires for traverses.  A very strong wind howls through the blasted entrance, and makes it very easy to find one’s way through the entrance series, especially in the labyrinth.  Immediately after the entrance the passage spirals up a canyon with potholes in the floor, some of then filled with clear bluish water.  Since one ladder was damaged we took a lower route through the labyrinth which included a damp grovel through a bedding plane, one of the few places where we were not able to stand up.  Eventually we ascended a widened tectonic joint using a ladder, then down the beautifully shaped, phreatic, Gothic Passage and further ladders to enter the main system.  At this point it is a huge, boulder floored, dry streamway.  In one direction we were shown some superb limestone fluting – the Organ Pipes, but were unable to go further as a ladder was required for a 60m pitch.  In the other direction we dropped fairly rapidly down the boulder floor top reach a dark, winding lake with a waterfall entering one end.  Traversing above the lake we soon entered wide, sandy chambers and the site of a bivouac, complete with ancient, rotting bell tent.  From here we began a long but gentle climb, passing at one stage through the Black Chamber, where all the yellow-grey sand is covered under a layer of fine soot.  This is believed to have been caused by a forest fire on the hill above. Further on the passage was nearly filled to the roof with clay, which stopped abruptly forming a wall.  A narrow, vadose rift had been cut through the clay but the sides were too fragile to allow a safe traverse of the rift. Instead we had to climb up the wall using a fixed ladder.  Finally the clay infilling met the roof, and a narrow, vadose canyon brought in an inlet from one side.  We had taken four hours to reach this extremity of the cave, a very good time apparently.  To make the exit we took a mere two hours, but we left Erica behind.  She is a life size, and life like, image of Eric’s sister, or mistress, created in the sand beside the bivouac tent, much to the amazement and amusement of the Austrians.  We did not see much of Eric after that.  Dashing down the hill and round to the Dachstein seilbahn we managed to catch the last cable car back to the Gjaidalm.  After a meal in the hut there we made the Weisbergerhaus in about an hour.

Andy and Dave had arrived on the plateau and spent some time with Buckett looking around Schladmingerloch. Hidden behind a shoulder of rock on the northern slopes of Ochsen Kogel they found a small rift from which issued a cold draught, strong enough to chill the air several metres from the entrance. The entrance passage of Andy’s Roaring gale Hole, C55, led, after a short distance, to a pitch, which was not descended. They also managed to reach the hole in the south east face of Niederer Grunbereg by traversing around ledges and then doing a short abseil, C60 quickly led to a pitch with a draught. Above it and to the right a small, C19 type rift, designated C61, was followed for a few metres but was thought to lead into C60.

Siegfried arrived on the plateau again in the morning and six of us made our way up into the Schladmingerloch, where we spent some time watching a herd of chamois.  These animals seem to feed out on the open screes when there is no-one about, and also play on the snow, making slides. They are very wary, however, and quickly disappear onto the grassy ledges of the cliffs with amazing agility. We could do with a few chamois to reach some of the caves.  I put in a bolt at the head of the pitch in C55, the Gale hole, and Siegfried and I descended it to a depth of about 30m, passing some massive jammed boulders on the way.  The shaft appears to be a widened section of a deep, winding rift.  Over the floor of boulders I squeezed and traversed down a narrow gap to a final choke of gravel and peat with no sign of the draught.  A little way up, though, the rift continued, too narrow, running parallel with the face of Ochsen Kogel.  I climbed straight upwards for about 10m and came upon a widening of the rift through which most of the wind came and beyond which I could see an inviting, black space.  Unfortunately the route is very narrow and I did not like the look of it.  About 8m below the head of the pitch a passage seems to lead over the top of the black space, but an unprotected traverse is required to reach it, perhaps requiring a couple of bolts to negotiate.  Opposite where the entrance passage opens onto the head of the pitch is yet another passage, T-shaped and similar in size to the entrance passage that is about 2m high and varying in width from 30cm to over 1m. In the entrance passage there were some very largo calcite crystals which had grown in layers that had subsequently broken.  The individual crystals were up to 10cm long and several had a hole down the centre. Siegfried said that these were very rare, being known at only three other sites in Austria.

J-Rat, meanwhile, had climbed the cliff ledges across to C60.  A few metres inside he climbed down the pitch and followed about 50m of narrow passage, gradually descending, and suddenly emerged on the cliff face again, some 30m lower down and to the left.  A great disappointment, dashing our hopes of a higher entrance to C19. In the grassy slope above C60, near the abseil point, a tight bedding plane entrance, C54, led to a roomy chamber with two ways on but both were boulder blocked, making the total length about 15m.  Buckett and Andy looked at various holes below Ochsen Kogel.  One of these, C53, has a large entrance but the two ways on inside both lead to crawls, one of them flat out.  There are at least 50m of passage but no draught in either branch.

On our way back from the Schladmingerloch Andy and I had a look at C20, a left over from last year. This year the snow was well clear of the entrance, Andy found that it was possible to squeeze and free climb down, especially with the help of a rope, while I climbed down the 5m pitch where it was wide enough to require a desperate straddle.  Another drop led to the choked bottom of an inclined rift but straight ahead was a fine, cylindrical, phreatic tube, about 70m in diameter.  After about 10m a large chamber with an aven was reached, a rift with breakdown leading straight onwards, while below was a climb down to a short pitch.  Things looked promising, and it was particularly disappointing to find, later on, that all ways soon stopped.

Merv and Dave had gone to the top of the Dachstein for the day, and the remainder of the expedition went to push Darengassewindschacht.  They descended the 27m pitch to find what they described as a 'Swildon's type streamway dropping in steps for 16 or 17m to the head of a very large pitch.  The exaggerated claims of stones dropping free for six seconds (170m) were gradually whittled down to a more reasonable ‘two seconds free followed by several seconds of clattering', which later proved to be correct.

We prepared to do C19 the next day but, after a clear early morning, cloud and mist came up, followed by rain accompanied by occasional thunder.  The rain continued until three in the afternoon so we occupied ourselves in the Weisbergerhaus, gradually become more and more crushed by ill equipped hordes from a church youth club, who arrived through the chill drizzle in various states of exposure and exhaustion.  By 1630 the skies had cleared but C19 was out of the question so Stu, Trev, Thros, Buckett and I went over to Barengasse and C51.  I put in a bolt at the head of the next pitch, after many problems and descended, feeding the 100m rope from the bag as I did so. Having passed several ledges, two of them substantial, without using rope protectors (very bad practice, but then so is abseiling of one bolt) I asked Buckett to join me, and I continued down a slope and a further pitch, using 63m of rope from the bolt.  The rope now hung over some particularly vicious flakes, some of which had been broken by the rope.  I felt the rope bag and there seemed to be little rope left (in fact there was still 37m) and I could not be sure if the last person to use it had put a knot in the end (as it turned out they had not).  I was becoming wet and cold from the constant drip in this pot, and quickly decided to forego the pleasures of the next, inviting looking pitch and make for the surface.  In short, I chickened out.  We de-tackled the whole system and made exit in about five and a half hours.

Our final push into C19 began early on Sunday.  As the youth club gathered together for an outside mass, Merv, J-Rat, Jim and Andy set off to the cave to push beyond the bottom of Eric Schacht, survey out and begin de-tackling'.  Merv turned back after a short while as he did not feel up to the trip, so he busied himself clearing telephone line from the plateau.  The other three reached the bottom without difficulty and descended Eric Schacht to find a boulder floor with no sign or sound of the stream. High up on the far side of the phreatic tube could be seen continuing, but a hairy, exposed and difficult climb or a bolt traverse are the only means of reaching it.  The rift continues, tight and awkward.  They decided to finish exploration at that point and began to survey out along Bang Gang.  Buckett and I set off down the cave in the afternoon, having said our fond farewells to Trevor, and we all met up at the top of TTFN Schacht.  We chain ganged the tackle, enormous amounts of it, along Belfry Avenue, surprising ourselves at the number of ledges available for stacking the gear. Also, surprisingly, we lost none of it down deep rifts, from which retrieval would have proved impossible. At Many Meetings the three pushers, very tired, rather dispirited at not finding an easier route to deep cave, but very relieved about not having to negotiate the avenue again, made their way out after thirteen hours or so of particularly gruelling caving.   Buckett and I stayed to raise the tackle up Dorisschacht and to de-tackle this.  We finally emerged around 2am and made our way back to the hut across the now very familiar terrain.  Thanks to Stu for cooking us a spag. bol., to Jim for staying up to keep it hot, and to J-Rat, whose Irish Cream we half-inched.  Needless to say we did absolutely nothing on Monday.

Sparrow and Co and the Valley lads had returned home leaving six of us to remove the remainder of the gear from C19, which we did early on Tuesday.  The expedition was over.  As I write this, early September, the temperature at the Weisbergerhaus has dropped to -3OC and the snow is already down to 300m below the hut.  We have not achieved what we had expected or hoped for this year, although we still have good cause to return in 1980. Barengassewindschacht (C51) has better potential for striking an old, horizontal system of large phreatic tunnels than anything else discovered, and is the most likely possibility so far of reaching the main drain.  Maulwurfhohle (C19) is most certainly not played out and a hard, super enthusiastic team including a good climber could do something with it yet.  Most of the new sites found were not explored this year due to lack of time, and there are still some holes left unexplored from last year.  C29, an ice cave, is one of these.  It lies in an ideal position to enter C19 beyond Eric Schacht.

Insofar as we enjoyed ourselves this year the expedition was a success - we do after all do it for fun, or so I am led to believe.  Much greater success in terns of length or depth could well be in the offing for next year.