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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. ~ells, Somerset. Tele :Priddy 369

LATE NEWS from Lionel's Hole

The new extension is now well over 700ft. long (some say nearly 1,000ft!).  Several new routes have been found within the extension. The 2nd Duck (Bird Bath) has been bypassed by a large high level rift - certainly the continuation of the Traverse in the 'old' cave.  A large, steeply ascending high level canyon has been followed to a point very near to the Surface (roots and live moths are to be found there).  A small upstream sump dried out in the summer and was passed via a boulder chamber giving access to the Labyrinth in 'old' Lionel's. Another high level connection above the Traverse seems imminent, possibly giving a dry way into the Extension.  The possibility of extensive upstream passages is now being considered.

Andy Sparrow


by Tim Large

New members:

941 John Sampson, 8 Hill Crest, Knowle, Bristol BS4 2UN

Changes of address:

Ross White, 9 Ellery Close, Lymington, Hants.
Jane Kirby, Basement Flat, 8 Dorchester Terrace, Clifton, Bristol
Bob Cork, 25 The Mead, Stoke St. Michael, Somerset.
Dave Hatherley, 6 Withiel Drive, Cannington, Bridgwater, Som.

BOOTS: There ore still some pairs of caving boots in stock - price £8.75.  These have commando soles and exterior steel toecaps.  Sizes left are 7, 8, 9 and one pair of 5's.

BELFRY: Some more work as been done on maintaining the Belfry. Whilst on holiday, Ross White and Jerry Crick have sanded and painted the windows and front door, amongst other jobs.

MEMBERSHIP of the club now stands at 200 - much the same as last year at this time.  Membership has hovered around this number for some years now - perhaps we have reached the optimum number?

MORE LATE NEW: We would like to offer our sympathies to Len Dawes who recently lost his son in a climbing accident in the Cuillins.  ‘Wig’



This month we have recorded in the column caving news from all parts of the world including a list of the longest and deepest to the downright macabre.

Berger driven in third place in world depth stakes

                                                                                                Depth in metres

1. Gouffre de Pierre St. Martin (France-Spain)

2. Reseau Jean-Bernard ( France)

3. Gouffre Berger ( France)

4. Reseau des jAiguilles ( France)

5. Ganna Ciaga ( Spain) ,

6. Lamprechtsofen ( Austria)

7. Kievskaya ( USSR)

8. Sima G.E.S.M. ( Spain)

9. Grotta di Monta Cucco (Italy)

10. Abisso Michele ( Italy)











United States hangs on to five of the world's first ten longest

1. Flint Mammoth Cave System ( USA)

307,000 metres long

2. Holloch ( Switzerland)

129,525 metres long

3. Optimisticeskaje ( USSR)

110,840 metres long

4. Ozernaja ( USSR)

102,840 metres long

5. Jewel Cave ( USA.)

96,6000 metres long

 6. Sistema Ojo Guarena ( Spain)

60,000 metres long

7. Organ Cave ( USA)

51,500 metres long

8. Wind Cave ( USA)

49,150 metres long

9. Cumberland Caverns ( USA)

43,768 metres long

10. Eisrieenwelt ( Austria)

42,000 metres long

New Books on the Caving Market - reviews will be found in British Caver No.70 in the Club Library at the Belfry.

Discovery of Luray Caverns, Virginia by Russell H. Gurnee.  104pp, illus.    £3.50

Chelsea Spel. Soc. Records Vol. 8.  Caves and Tunnels in SE England. 44p          £1.00

Speleology - The Study of Caves by Moore & Nicholas Sullivan, 150pp, illus           £5.00

Majorca by Hoftman, 160pp,maps and photos, pub. David & Charles.         £4.95

Caves of Hong Kong by Lo Ding. 75pp, 95 b&w plates, 12 maps. Text in Chinese. Pub. by Nam Zum Publishing Co. Hong Kong, 1973                                                                    £2.00

Cataleg Espeleologic de Catalunya, Vol.1, 166pp, plates, maps, surveys    £7.10

Dans Les Abimes de le Terre, by Michel Siffre, 300pp; illus.                                  £8.00

Caves of the Crimea by V.N. Dublyanski, pub. by Tavriya, 1977, 125pp       £4.00

Hydrologic Problems in Karst Regions ed. by Dilamarter & Csallany, 481pp plans, figs, maps etc. pub. 1977                                                                                                                        £10.00

Hohlenfuhrer Schwabische Alb by Binder, 200pp, 30plans, maps, pub.1977            £6.00

News in brief:


Pete lord and American cavers have connected two caves to form a 16km system in the Cuetzalan area.  What about some details for the BB, Pete?


French cavers have explored and surveyed La Grotte de Djebel Serdj which is said to be the most beautiful cave in that country.  It contains chambers up to 1,000ft long.

Rock & Fountain - South Wales

Fourth Boulder Choke pushed by digging near its base and over a mile of large passage found.  End of cave is Fifth Boulder Choke near Daren Cilau

Caving Oratorio - further details

It was recently reported that a Swiss composer, Klaus Cornell had written a work entitled "Oratorio Spelaeologico", sub-titled "Bericht von den Beatushhohlen" (Impressions of the Beatushohlen) in 1972 following a visit to the show cave.  The work is in five movements. 

1st: A passage in the mountain

2nd: The origin of the cave

3rd: A group of people viewing the cave

4th: The story of Beatus

5th: The exit.

The work is scored for two soloists; narrator, five instrumentalists, choir of 100 voices and Chamber Orchestra plus tape recordings inside and outside of the cave. The text was written by Kurt Weibel. A recording has been obtained of the work via the usual Mendip Grapevine network and is available, in Switzerland, on the Jecklin label - the record number is Jecklin 148 and costs 26 Swiss Francs (about £9.00).  For anyone interested in obtaining this recording, which incidentally is very good and well balanced and the surfaces are extremely quite, should write to Jecklin, Pianohaus + Disco-Centre, 8024 Zurich 1, Switzerland.  I'm not sure that the music will ever reach the Top Ten!  Incidentally, the record sleeve photograph is upside down!

Cuckoo Cleeves

Bob Dyke has recently retired and the farm been taken over by Mr. Masters of Easton.  The new owner is concerned at the damage done to gates and the stone walls by cavers en-route to the cave.  The CSCC Hon. Sec. Fred Davies has seen Mr. Masters and explained the situation to him. Whereupon Mr. Masters gave Fred the wherefore all and so two new styles have been cemented into position which now allows direct access to the entrance.  If cavers fail to use the stiles and continue to climb over walls and gates the cave will be permanently closed.  The cave is to be gated and, keys will be held locally at various club huts. It is to be hoped that BEC members will comply with the fanner's simple wishes and make it their business to inform any visitors at the Belfry.

Wales and the Marches

Ogof-y-Ci and Ogof Rd Sych are on the Cwm Glais Nature Reserve and due to the change of ownership access is as follows:

  1. Take the road from Cefn Coed, past Veynor Quarries, and turn left onto the Llwyn Clisanws farm road.
  2. Follow the road for about a mile to old farm buildings and park on waste ground on the right.
  3. Go over the gate and follow the field boundary to the reserve.
  4. When in the reserve, follow the stream bed to the caves, keeping off the vegetation wherever possible.  A path may be staked out in the near future.  Dan-yr-Ogof.  A party recently left the river entrance gate off in the path of a tourist party.  The management weren’t pleased.  Ensure that you are in the cave before 10.00am.  Old Hen Mine (R. Forest of Dean) a large boulder is on the move in Balcony Passage - take care.  Castlemartin Caves.  M.O. Defence has imposed restrictions to all parts of the range as there is a danger from military activities.

Eire: A new map of the Burren, Co. Clare has been published by the Irish Tourist Board.  Scale 1.8 inches to the mile.  Combined with Tratman's map in ‘Caves of Clare’ is said to be very useful.  Price unknown.

BEC was there before you! In the recent issue of Wessex Journal (173) Phil Hendy writes (in the WCC Caving Log) of a descent down! ‘Rabbit mine’ situated near the large collapse above GB.  The mine was descended soon after the July flood in 1968 by ‘Wig’ and Mike York (of WCC!) and the BB records details of this first descent - by cavers that is.

You never know what you’ll find next!

Two teenagers divers went to one of the many sinks interconnecting the underground route of the route of the Aucille River near Perry, Florida in the US of A searching for artefacts and Pleistocene remains.  Their searches revealed some remains that they hadn’t bargained for…three cement weighted corpses!  One of the bodies was examined and was found to have a 38-caliber pistol wound in the back of the head.  Police agents said that the slayings looked like mob-style murders.  This snippet of news was published in Underwater Speleology, February 1978.


Cambridge University Versus The Totes Gebirge

by our man on the spot Nick Thorne

This is the third episode in a potentially Coronation Street like saga.  In 1978 CUCC, tired of the Pyrenees, took Austria by storm for their summer expedition. Episode Two occurred last year and readers may remember the report I did for the B.B.  To recap, about a dozen of us spent between two and three weeks at at Alt Ausse, a small village about 80km east of Salzburg.  Most of our time was spent prospecting on the nearby Loser Plateau.  Loser is an extensive plain undulating between 1600 and 1700m above sea level.  The almost virgin lapiaz of the plateau is reached bye steeply ascending toll road from Alt Aussee and a brisk hour or so walk from the top.  Last year we found several promising caves:

97 Schneewindschacht - too tight at minus 265m.
82 - Brauninghohle - sumped (perched) at minus 220m.
106 - Eislufthohle - 150m deep and unfinished.
Plus various other 100m pots.

The greatest incentive to return in 1978 was the unfinished state of Eislufthohle.  Although not our deepest find in 1977, the shafts in Eislufthohle were of such a size and the draught in the cave so strong, that we felt that the pot ought to yield a few more secrets yet, there being 750m of depth potential still left.  And with this in mind, we found ourselves back on Loser in July/August of this year.

The expedition members fell into three categories

a)                    'Team Eislufthohle' - 5 strong team of SRT merchants, including Yours Truly.

b)                    'Team Ladders' - 3 man, 1 woman team spending their first year in Austria.

c)                    'Team Geriatric' - 4 cavers plus 'hangers-on'.  More interested in canoeing and haute cuisine, bless 'em; but as events showed, they can still deliver the goods when, needed.  Team Ladders, and later aided at depth by Team Geriatric, did a very creditable job of 107 - Gemsehohle - essentially a large draughting rift, choking at about minus 280m.

As for Team Eislufthohle, then I think our fortunes could best be described as mixed.  A slow rig in down last year's cave was due to the presence of a greater amount of snow and ice.  In the end, despite enormous ice boulders falling.  Plugged Shaft was rigged with a 300 foot length of rope with 5 belays and 1 rope protector.  This affords, some idea of the technical difficulties of rigging this large, spiralling broken, shafts.  In defence of SRT on a pitch like this one I most point out that we had comparable difficulties rigging and de-rigging the thing last year on ladders, and once rigged for ropes, then routine ascents and descents are not especially slow.

From the chamber at the bottom, round a corner, leads to Saved Shaft.  This 13m shaft defeated the ropes men and ladders ruled.  At the bottom is Boulder Chamber (no cave is a cave without one, you know!)  A crawl through boulders and a traverse over the first pitch of the Keg Series (no draught) leads to a free climb and & 30m pitch, split by a large ledge.  From the bottom a narrowish rift leads to a chamber with a heavy drip.  This was as far as we got last year and we called the chamber The Tap Room (What makes you think we drink beer?)

So off we were again at last, pioneering new ground.  The slow progress made during the rig is so far, and the prospect of a deep cave, now prompted an interesting change in policy - overnight trips.  The lapiaz on the plateau is impossible to negotiate after night fall, and so allowing for a margin of error, it seemed logical to walk to the cave in late afternoon, cave overnight and after 2 minimum trips of 10 hours, emerge into the morning light.  Good idea, we thought.

Indeed, the first overnight trip did pay dividends.  I had the privilege (or misfortune) to be half of this two man effort.  We timed things a little too close for comfort on the walk in.  We had to virtually run to the cave in failing light and found the entrance about ten minutes before darkness trapped us on the plateau.

Once underground things seemed pretty much the norm.  We soon reached the Tap Room.  We descended a rope assisted climb that had been rigged previously and followed an obvious traverse line to a small chamber, the water having sunk into the floor at the bottom of the climb.  The chamber had a nice big boulder poised in the roof and a large enticing slot in the floor.  A 10m pitch was rigged off a couple of bolts down to a micro-ledge where the rift narrowed. A bolt rebelay was placed and a fine, ever enlarging, 35m pitch was descended to a large ledge and a stream, inlet.  With the shaft being the 'best pitch 'O the pot' so far, spirits were high and we started putting in a couple more bolts.  These held a traverse line that protected a bold step over to a ledge on the opposite wall, and also the rope for the          next pitch.  This was 8m to a pool in a dribbly, dribbly streamway.

The stream trundled on down a trench in the floor and we traversed along again in a high rift about three or four feet wide.  We soon reached a fine rocking boulder perched squarely on the traverse ledges. We quickly realised that we were to break into something big.  A bend and upwards above a massive boulder jam was an immense blackness, impenetrable to a good NiFe beam.  Ahead and downwards lay a second impenetrable blackness.  We placed another couple of bolts.  This took some time as the bolter had to be life lined and rock anchor teeth kept breaking off, and anchors kept getting stuck, and…

Our sleepy beer starved brains were in need of a wake-up.  And how!  The next pitch turned out to be a magnificent 60m job.  Remember Juniper Gulf? - forget it!  This fine free hang down a sculptured corner of a much larger shaft was truly staggering.  It landed on a boulder ledge about 4m from the shaft floor.  We abseiled past this to reach the floor proper.

Downwards, the stream that had slithered down one wall of the shaft sank into a too low passage. Upwards led to a balcony, giving a fine view of the 'Hall of the Greene King'.  This is circular in plan and approximately 20m in diameter.  The height must be in the order of 100m.  At this impressive spot, having run out of rope, having made the deepest Cambridge find to date, feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, we turned back.

As we did do, we noted that the water level had risen and the big pitch landing was now being liberally showered.  This and certain difficulties for your humble, narrator when the rope got pulled up on the big pitch and lowered back down through the boulder ledge, meant a thorough soaking.  Without wetsuits, things were now getting chilly and prussiking was the only way to keep warm. This was only hampered by the fact that every time you stopped for a rest you fell asleep!  We eventually surfaced after a twelve hour trip only to dine on plastic ham and biscuits in the pouring rain.  We then left the plateau.  It has been a long time since I'd left a cave feeling this cold and tired.

But the trip was a success. In one trip we added 120m of depth and despite the fact that it took a couple of days to recover, overnight trips seemed a good idea still.  The next day saw two more of ‘Team Ropes’ going underground.  They descended the 6m balcony pitch to the floor of the hall of the Green King.  Next came a very large passage with some proportionally huge hanging death, and this they followed to a short pitch.  This was descended 5m and several inlets and side passages noted.  The way on seemed less than obvious, but when the draught was detected (despite the large cross section of the passage) the way lay on down to a pitch of 25m.  All the next part of the cave seemed very old and contained a lot of dry powdery mud. Lack of tackle, time, energy etc., did not permit a descent of this pitch and so the intrepid heroes returned.

A couple of night later I was back on the scene again, this time as part of a three man team.  We descended the 25m pitch which went round the corner and had to be rebelayed twice.  It landed in a passage carrying a small stream, probably the same one that sank earlier.  From here, the stream passed into a very narrow vadose canyon and we traversed out. The passage, although very tight at stream level was three or more feet wide at traverse level.  The total passage height was beyond my NiFe beam. The streamway was a classic meandering vadose type, typical of many a Yorkshire pot.

After a rather committing free climb (at least at this sort of depth!) the traverse continued. Generally all the traversing was done on good, if not very continuous ledges.  After what seemed like several hundred feet we clambered over a big jammed boulder chaos and on to the head of another pitch.  A rope was belayed to a bolt and a chock-stone and a descent was made down 12m of muddy slope.  Up until now things had been just comfortably muddy with a mainly dry, powdery variety. This pitch however, later named ‘The Fiesta Run’, was a very glutinous affair.  This fact was later thought to be associated with a shaft noted entering the roof at this point.  The traverse ledges beyond seemed to clear a little.  We reached more chock-stones with a further pitch beyond.  Stones dropped directly below fell for about fifty feet.  Those that were lobbed outwards a little fell a great deal further.  We were running out of steam here and decided to turn back. To be honest, we were a little disappointed the horizontality Eisluftohle was adopting.  We had envisaged pitch followed immediately by pitch, followed by pitch, going down very deep and all very easy!  Instead, we had a steeply sloping streamway occasionally punctuated by short pitches.  Tackle carrying on the traverses would not be easy and the streamway could go on for miles. However, our depth we estimated, conservatively, at 350m.  Well satisfied with this we left the cave after another twelve hour trip.

With just over a week of the expedition left a couple more pushing trips could be had and even greater depth attained.  Just then however disaster struck.  We were driving down the toll road after the above described trip when one of the disadvantages of overnight trips was hammered home rather brutally.  With the front passenger asleep and me in the back still wide awake the driver decided to nod off at the wheel.  To his credit he could have chosen a section of road adjacent to a drop of several hundred feet, but instead settled for one of a mere thirty.  Without the slightest hint of last minute braking or swerving, we missed a telegraph pole and a tree by inches, went through a fence cum crash barrier and launched ourselves over the near vertical drop.  The next few seconds consisted of one of life’s great eternal moments. With broken glass flying and twisted, blood bespattered, metal all about, the car seemed to roll over and over before finally coming to rest, wheels down, in a river at the bottom of the drop.  The driver suffered cuts to face and hands, slight concussion and a fractured sternum. The front seat passenger suffered a bad gash in the head and was suspected of having a lightly fractured neck. The car was a write-off and your seemly invincible narrator, I'm almost ashamed to say it, had not a scratch (well, only one small one!)

You'll be pleased to know that both the injured people, after spending a week in hospital, and with one getting flown home, both made full recoveries.

Whilst being fortunate inasmuch as three of has had been spared the greater karts area in the sky, we (that is Team Eislufthohle) were now a little short of manpower.  Over the next week we realised de-rigging with so few people as were left could prove awkward.  We even started fondling insurance policies, wondering whether we could avoid de-rigging altogether!  We abandoned the grade 4 survey that had been started, half finished! Photographic trips were scrapped left, right and centre and now having given up overnight trips, one alpine start allowed the bottom couple of pitches to be de-rigged.  And then just what we didn’t need, the weather closed in.  With low cloud and rain, we couldn’t even see the plateau for several agonising days, let alone navigate across it.  We were forced to kick our heels at the camp site in Alt Ausee until, two days before departure, back came the sunshine. With a magnificent effort form Team Geriatric, bless ‘em again, and in the company of your long suffering narrator, the rest of the cave was cleared.  Phew!

And so back to good old British beer.  The return journey was noted only for a delightfully comfortable night spent on a bench in a lay-by of a German autobahn; also for being waved through Belgium customs by the cleaning lady!   As for Eislufthohle, then I think, judging by the large passage size at the bottom, and the drop test's performed there, not to mention the draught (or The War!) then to squeeze 400m out of the place would be a mere formality. Beyond that, who knows?  The local expert, Karl Gaisberger, to whom many thanks, inspected the mud on our gear from the Fiesta Run area and confirmed that is was quite old stuff, totally unlike that deposited a sump backing up. Therefore with a sump not being, imminent and with the passage seeming to enlarge all the time, Eislufthohle, already one of Loser’s most significant caves, should become one of Austria’s deepest.  It has to be said however, that the cave is no longer the easy series of shafts it was.  It is now quite a serious, undertaking.  Consequently for Cambridge to return there, despite the keenness of some of us, would be pointless unless we could put up a good crack team, numbering at least ten.  Don’t miss next year’s exciting episode; same time, same channel!

Many thanks to the Ian Dear Memorial Fund, without whose financial backing, I may have missed the magnificent abseil; into the Hall of the Greene King an experience to make life really worth living…..at least until the drive back!



Pate Hole

by Dave Metcalfe

Just to the south of the village of Great Asby, near Appleby in Westmorland, lie three caves; Pate Hole, West Pate Hole and Lower Pete Hole.  From the fork of the narrow lane heading south from the village to three farms a pleasant stroll down through a small field, which is in fact an ancient dry valley, leads to the bed of Asby Beck which meanders between small cliffs past the entrance of Pate and West Pate Holes.  The stream, except in flood, is barely a trickle sinking in shingle downstream of Pate Hole Mouth, to reappear in no larger quantity in the village.  Following the dry stream bed downstream it becomes apparent that the stream, sometime in the past, must have been of a considerable size.

The Great Kettle, an almost perfectly cylindrical milled pothole in the streambed, is some eight feet deep and provides an amusing climb up its smooth sides.  Just downstream of this, above the left bunk, is Lower Pate Hole - a low, wide, abandoned bedding cave about eighty feet long.

Back upstream on the west bank, below Beck level, is West Pate Hole.  The cave is a low, muddy grovel and, mercifully, the entrance is blocked with boulders!  The main entrance to Pate Hole lies in the opposite bank.

Pate Hole in the main cave in the area and the entrance is obvious with its passage descending gently over scree involving a back breaking stoop until water is met where the way down continues over a series of fine gaur dams creating knee deep pools in places. The passage soon levels out into a larger canal passage running north/south.  A comfortable walk along the South Passage ends abruptly at a solid floored circular pool at a blank wall.  Up to the left is a muddy scramble up a cross rift to descend almost immediately to the deep sump pool.  Under normal conditions the crystal clear water laps gently over the lip of the pool and runs same 50 - 60 feet downstream to sink in four inches high bedding plane to the right.  This is the Main Stream Passage.  The water of the sump is so clear that details of underwater boulders and the submerged resurgence passage can be seen.

However, over the years, work in the sump has proved interesting.  On the original survey (1960) the sump was found to head horizontally upstream for about thirty feet to end suddenly at a deep flooded rift. Here the original divers, Phil Davies and Jack Whaddon, reported an airspace but B. Churcher, diving in 1975 - 1976, reported no such airspace and S. Pickersgill (1977) mentioned only small air pockets.  However, they all agreed there was a deep flooded shaft.  Churcher estimated it went some 120 feet but Pickersgill reached a boulder floored chamber at -75 feet and from there a wide, low elliptical passage, some 5 x 15 feet in cross section, continued uninterrupted.

On three dives during June 1977, Pickcrsgill laid 2 x 200ft lines in this lower passage and investigated eleven cross rifts mostly too tight to enter.  One of the cross rifts ascended for 30ft.  He reported that the passage continued horizontally at -75 feet and perfect visibility.  So where do we go from here?  The sump is still going – but where is its source?  The answer must lie in the vast limestone area of Great Asby Scar to the south-west with its magnificent limestone pavement and dry valleys - but there is a distinct luck of shake holes, sinks or shafts.  In times of flood, Pate Hole takes a large stream with which the bedding sink is unable to cope and eventually the whole cave fills with water and under extreme conditions it resurges through the main entrance.



Survey of Pate Hole by D. Wharburton, A.J. Surrall and J. Hanwell.

Journal of the Craven Pothole Club, Vol.5 No.5

C.D.G. Newsletters No.37 and 40

Northern Caves Vol.5




Preliminary report of Speleological Reconnaissance Expedition to the Dachstein, Austria

by Graham Wilton-Jones

The Dachstein massif is situated some 35 miles SE of Salzburg between the Tennengebirge and the Totes Gebirge.  It has previously been largely avoided for a number of reasons:

1)                  there are plenty of other more well known limestone areas

2)                  access with equipment is not straightforward

3)                  the local glacier has blocked many holes with moraine.

The glacier stretches from just below the Hoher Dachstein (3004m) down to the Ober Eissee (2100) a glacial lake in a huge, moraine filled depression.  The glacier is a complex of ice fields, all of poor quality, rapidly melting ice with few crevasses.  The melt waters sink at various points around the perimeter of the glacier directly into the moraine.  The underground drainage is complex, with conduits crossing each other, but basically there are three major risings:

1)                  Hinterer gesausse (1160m) 4½km WNW

2)                  Waldebach Ursprung (913m) 8km N

3)                  Kessel, Hallstatt (517m) 9km NNE

Midway between resurgences 2 and 3 is the Hirlatzhohle, some 9km of generally large passage with a lower series of intermittent, large sumps.  No other large caves are known in the vicinity.  In the winter-time, when everywhere is frozen, the Waldbach Ursprung can be entered for some distance to a more permanent sump.  The area we were to search lies between the glacier and the Waldbach resurgence, on the plateau, at a height of about 1800 to 2000m.

Ross White and Andy Sparrow decided to use their thumbs to travel across Europe; while Tony Jarrett, Stephen 'Throstle' Aldred, David Warren (Grampian) and Graham Wilton-Jones used the ever faithful VW and the Hovercraft.  The vagabonds have their own tale to tell, but we four arrived in Hallstatt after over 24 hours of almost continuous driving, with the beast rarely doing more than 50 mph with its badly loaded roof rack and 450kg of equipment and food.  There we met with Hermann Kirchmayer, head of the Austrian Cave Rescue Association.  He had originally invited us over there, being an old friend of the club.  Together we drove up the track to the lower station of the material seilbahn (cable hoist) which serves the Wiesberghaus, an Alpine hut belonging to the Friends of Nature, who are a big rambling club.  All our equipment went on this hoist and we were able to make our way up the mountain empty handed.

On the 26th of July, three of us walked over the area we were to prospect, while the others moved most of the remaining gear over to our camp site and set up camp.  The site was a large (150m x 50m) shallow depression filled with little hummocks of glacial debris and with a small 'dew-pond' to collect water from a marshy area near the centre.  We camped on the tops of the hummocks among the hundreds of bright, alpine flowers.  The pond water was used for washing and our drinking water was obtained from the hut, about five minutes away, where they collected rainwater from the roof.

Our prospecting area was mainly to the west and NW of the camp, although we did spend some time looking all around the site, even finding a Mendip style dig within 50m of the tents leading to a 40m deep pot.  Physically the western boundary of our area was the line of cliffs and screes forming the Niederer Ochenkogel, Hober Grunberg and Neiderer Grunberg, although we intend to thoroughly search the faces and tops next year.  Between the campsite and these cliffs, which rise to 2200m, is a region of strong NW-SE tectonic jointing which can be followed for about 10km and forms the cliffs themselves.  Even at this distance from the glacier (4km) there is still much moraine about and vegetation is plentiful, especially stunted, springy, bush-like pine-trees. There is no way through these but to walk over the tops.  The overall impression of the area is half vegetation and half rough, often steep lapiaz with screes and small snowfields.

The Austrians noted everything over 5m in depth or length and we therefore did the same.  In the total Dachstein plateau region, designated no.1543, they had found 58 significant sites.  These were mainly chance findings as no determined and systematic search had been made.  In our immediate area they knew of some half a dozen sites.  Many of their findings had only been noted, and not explored, let alone surveyed.  We concentrated on finding, exploring and surveying totally new sites although we did check out a couple of known caves.

In all, we found 35 significant sites.  On a rough analysis 10 sites were less than 10m in length or depth, 13 were between 10 and 20m, 8 were over 20m to 40m, 1 was 75m, 1 was 100m and our best find is over 500m long, more than 200m deep, and still going, both up and down.  One hole has yet to be entered and at least three still require further exploration.

The blockages at the bottom of the potholes did not fall into one or two major categories, and glacial moraine blockages did not play, a significant role; as might have been supposed. Perhaps more of the blockages were due to boulders than for any other reason; several shafts went down to snow plugs; others became too tight or had clay/mud or peat chokes.  Those blocked by boulders alone could well be easy digs, while the ones with snow plugs may have further, concealed passages enterable should the snow melt.  Indeed, at one point we had regularly crossed a snow field until one day this melted to reveal a 25m shaft right below our footprints!  In another place a snow plug in a 5m deep wide mouthed shaft melted sufficiently to gain access to a horizontal rift passage, as yet unexplored. In one ice cave, 40m deep and still going, a hole in the ice was only just large enough to get through and may well have been blocked entirely a week earlier.

We did take occasional days off from looking at holes, apart from the inevitable warm, sunny, I've had enough of caving, gear mending day, one day was spent in climbing the Dachstein and another on a 'tourist' trip to Hallstattand then up to the Dachstein show-caves - Rieseneishohle and Mammuthohle.  In all there were twelve caving/prospecting days.  The remaining days of the three weeks available were spent transporting equipment end travelling.

The trip up the Dachstein we understood to be a walk, which it was for the most part.  It begins as a well trodden path from the Wiesberghaus to the Simony Hutte, D climbers hut, followed by a walk over scree and moraine to the foot of the glacier.  Crampons were not necessary here though they were useful in patches.  Occasionally the snow: was thigh deep.  Finally, after 3½ hours of hard walking the near vertical began up the rock face to the peak.  There, used to be a ‘via ferrata’ (iron way) here, with big iron pegs and thick steel cables to aid the tourist up the otherwise exposed climb.  However, the winter snows had ripped out pegs and broken wires so that it was not often safe to use, though parts of I were very handy on some of the more difficult sections.  The peak was largely swathed in cloud while we stood on it, but naturally, this cleared as soon as we descended.

The descent of the glacier was fast - cagoules on and sit down and hope for no crevasses on the way!

The show caves above Obertraun were well worth the visit, particularly the Rieseneishohle, which I felt to be more spectacular than the much large Eisriesenwelt, which we visited on our way home.  This may have been due to the carefully placed electric lighting - though Eisriesenwelt depends on carbide (Turner of Hull, of course!) and magnesium ribbon. The show section of the Mammuthohle is basically a series of very large phreatic tunnels leading to one impressive, high rift.

We also had a look at a salt mine above Hallein, south of Salzburg.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about this is that we crossed the border into Germany and back again under the ground.

To return to the object of the expedition, we shall be returning next year, at about the same time (end July to the Middle of August) to complete exploration and surveys of the caves already found and to carry on prospecting higher up the cliffs and above the mountains of Ochsen Kogel and Grunberg and also further north towards the edge of the plateau.  Hopefully there will be more of us next year, because there is a LOT to be done.

Ed. note: Details of an earlier BEC visit to the Dachstein area will be found in B.B. No.214 December 1965.  Austria by D.J. Irwin and R.J Bennett


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Further Simple Thoughts?

By Dave Irwin

In the February 1977 B.B., I suggested that though the current stream in St. Cuthbert's 2 disappears into Sump 2, it previously flowed into Sump 1 and then rejoined the Gour-Lake Fault, ignoring the route along the 2 streamway which is I believe an oxbow, albeit, a long one!  I further suggested that the re-routing of this stream could have occurred during the great July 1968 Flood - that date makes one feel old, yes, it was ten years ago last July that it occurred!

The article also suggested that when the streamway below Stalagmite Pitch to Sump 1 was free of an active stream due to the choking of the cave passages up-cave of the pitch, well beyond the Everest Passage junction with the Main Stream, that what streams that were flowing into the cave entered the Cerberus Series and the lower part of the Rocky Boulder Series below Rocky Boulder Chamber.  Apart from the Dining Room Dig there are several sites worth probing in the area.  The problem is simply to locate the breach joints along the Gour Lake Rift.  The most northerly point known on the fault line is Marble Pot, a minor shift in the infilling has revealed a dip orientated rift with a bedding plane leading off it to yet another, lower, rift located beneath the main shaft.  Whether there is a breach of the fault in this area remains to be seen when work in the area is complete.

Similarly, the eastern side of the cave appears to be fault controlled but a recent discussion with Derek Ford suggested that little evidence of the fault remains to be seen because of the enormous collapse in September Chamber.  However, the evidence displayed on the survey strongly suggests that the development is fault controlled particularly when one inspects the top of Whitsun Passage and its alignment with Plantation Junction to Gour Hall, Tin Mine and Continuation Chamber.  In the Sump 2 area, the rock on the right hand wall (west) is typical of the well known Black Rock Limestone, where as the left hand wall displays the typical light grey and coarse textured limestone found throughout the Cuthbert's system.  As this condition extends throughout Cuthbert’s 2 (over 900ft) then the fault is a major one and could extend on up through the cave through the sites mentioned above and on up past the September Series.  North of the cave, heading towards the Foresters Cottage there is a line of shallow depressions coinciding nicely with the north-south line of the eastern      boundary of the cave.

Coupling this information with the water tracing results makes arm-chair speculation an interesting exercise.

That the water entering Cuthbert's resurges at Wookey Hole has been known with certainty since the 1860 s when straw chippings were thrown into the stream during the Ennor - Hodgekinson dispute.  The time of the water flowing from Cuthbert's to Wookey is said to be about 24 hours. The first real attempt to trace the water was in 1967 when, during the Mendip Karst Hydrology study carried out by the Geography Department of Bristol University and the Bristol Waterworks, lycopodium spores were thrown into the streams of the Central Mendip caves.  The water conditions at the time were near flood levels and the time recorded for St. Cuthbert’s (the spores having been placed in the Plantation Stream) was 11 hours. But the problem was that the spores reached Wookey Hole by the time of the first official net inspection at +11 hours after the spores had been placed in the stream.  Under similar conditions the stream entering Swildons Hole took 25 hours and that going into Eastwater was 16 hours.  (Full details may be found in (1) a copy of which is in the Club library).   The times for the lycopodium spores to reach Wookey will vary according to the water levels flowing into the cave systems.  Under drought conditions the flow times could be as long as 100 hours or more; under the conditions of the 1968 flood the time would be considerably shorter than the official time of 11 hours.

Until a large number of checks have been made, no-one will have any idea of the variation of time the water takes to flow to Wookey Hole.  A more recent check in November 1976 under low conditions gave an inconclusive result in the sense that we do not know whether the quantities of dye was too small or whether the stream took over the recorded 70 hours of monitoring the water at the rising.  A further check was carried out early in 1978 when under spate conditions the recorded time was 10 hours, but again this result was not recorded against water flow. Although these results tell us that the flow rates vary, they are quite useless when relating them to specific conditions i.e. volume of water entering the Cuthbert's system.  Further the checks were not exactly the same as the dye was placed in the slower stream by the cave entrance.  However, the, recorded times do allow for a certain amount of speculation and I would be grateful for any comment or criticism of the argument that follows.

By making use of the information published by the Mendip Karts Police of the water flow times from St. Cuthbert's to Wookey Hole and the times of flow through the known cave system, it is possible to calculate the maximum length of the unknown streamway and hence the general direction of the passage carrying the stream.  I’m curious to know why this slant on the results have been ignored by the water experts.

As I have said the calculation given below is the maximum length of the streamway because one is considering a constant flow of water through the cave passage and the figure used here was obtained in the Cuthbert’s 2 streamway which has a stream bed gradient similar to the hydrological gradient of Cuthbert’s to Wookey Hole.  The gradient is approx. 3 degrees.  The stream flowing through Cuthbert’s 2 is flat for the greater part of its length and sufficiently far from the steep sections of the cave in the upper reaches, to have lost a greater part of its momentum having been ‘slowed up’ by the level sections of passage in the Main Stream and Gour rift.  If we consider that all the sumps en-route are small except for the great ponding at Wookey itself and that the water velocity in Cuthbert’s 2 is typical for the remainder of the unknown cave (the vertical range of the end of Cuthbert’s to Wookey resurgence is approx. 135ft over about 1 mile as the crow flies).   There is now reason to believe that the character of the floor gradient will change over this distance.  Short sumps will not impede the water flow to any great degree and anyway the mechanism under consideration assumes that any water flowing into the sump will displace a similar amount at the downstream end immediately (frictional drag being ignored as the use of the recorded flow times will include this factor).  The Sum is simple:

(Time from Cuth. entr. to resur.) - (time through Cuth.) - (time through Wookey) = (time thro unknown cave)

This result is the ‘worst possible’ case, i.e. the longest possible passage length because the recorded times include the time a molecule of water to pass through obstacles such as sumps and deep pools.  The present argument does not consider a molecule of water but an instantaneous displacement of water from a sump, therefore the water entering a sump will displace the water at the downstream end and so ‘pass’ through the sump more quickly than a molecule passing through it at the water velocity, assuming no slowing up of the stream.  Increased gradients will have but little effect of the total stream flow rate and so can be ignored.

What information do we have?

1.                  Dave Drew told the author, some time ago, that the water flow time from Wookey 20 to the resurgence is about 1½ hours under high water conditions.

2.                  If 1 is correct, the flow rates from Wookey 25 to Wookey 20 will be similar as the length of the streamway is similar.

3.                  Flow time through Cuthbert’s under relatively high water conditions to sump 2 is about 1½ hours.

4.                  A recent check by Stanton gave a flow-through time of 10 hours using dye.  The lycopodium trace in 1967 officially recorded a time of 11 hours, again during high water conditions, but in this case, the spores had arrived at the resurgence catching nets before the first inspection at +11 hours.  Anyway, let’s take a mean time of 10½ hours.

Feeding these figures into the equation above we have:

10.5 - 3 hours (throu. W.H.) - 1½ hours (throu. S.C.) = 6.0 hours for the stream to travel through the unknown cave passage.  The water flow rate in the Cuthbert’s streamway averaged out at 19.6ft/minute, but for simplicity lets say 20ft/min.  Therefore the length of the unknown streamway is:

6.0 hours x 60 x 20 = 7, 200ft.

Inspecting the OS map ST. 54 (1:25,000) the distance from the known end of Cuthbert's to Wookey 25 is approximately 7,000ft.  If this is the case, it would appear that Cuthbert's unknown streamway has to be a straight line between the two end points, possibly following the fault line that controls Cuthbert's 2 streamway.  But what, of the southern over-thrust?  This has been suggested by Ford and others in the past that it is impenetrable consisting of impervious rocks.  As the faults predate the over-thrust there is no reason why the water could not penetrate, this barrier as a result of underground breakdown in the area.  Further geological map shows a sideways displacement of the adjacent rocks (the over-thrust being pushed upwards and sideways to the NNE) could explain why Wookey Hole resurgence lies in a steep sided ravine instead of a shallow river valley. In his thesis, Derek Ford assumed the over-thrust to be impermeable and that Cuthbert’s overflowed into the Wookey system (suggested to be a re-invaded Triassic system) by one of two routes - Ebbor Gorge or Rookham valleys.  Whilst it would seem certain that the water flowing from the Hillgrove area would run north of the Pen Hill Pericline and under the Rookharn volley there has always been doubt as to the route of the Cuthbert's stream except to say that the ‘Karst Police’ stated that they thought that the Swildons stream joined Cuthbert’s stream very close to the Wookey system.

It has been suggested by Stanton that the hose pipe theory is most likely solution for the rapid flow of the Cuthbert's stream.  This presupposes a small sectioned streamway between the cave and the resurgence filled with water under hydrostatic pressure.  The problem with this theory is a simple mechanical one simple of lack of hydrostatic head to cause the water to speed-up.  Speed-up it must if the assumption is that the stream flows under Rookhill giving a distance of over 3 miles (approx. 16,000ft) causing the water to more than double its speed!  Stanton has also backed this theory with his guess that the sumped passage beyond the known Wookey passage is three times that of the know cave.  This statement must raise the eyebrows a little. Assuming that the average size of the Wookey passage is 20ft in diameter (that's making it pretty big) and the passage length to Wookey 25 is about 3,500ft then the volume of the water filled passage equals something like 1.1 x 106 cu. ft.  If the storage is three times this value this will represent a flooded, or nearly so, passage of 10,500ft long by 20ft in diameter or as a chamber – well, that’s pretty big.

As a brief summary I can only conclude

a)                  the length of the unknown streamway is approx. and so must breach the over-thrust

b)                  that the conclusions of the 1967 water trace are in close alignment with my ‘armchair’ conclusions that the streamway between Cuthbert’s and Wookey is principally vadose with short sumps until very close to Wookey itself.

It cannot possibly be phreatic as the drag effect of water attempting to shear its way through the long sumps would reduce the water flow to a near static condition.


Notes On The Financial Statement

The Clubs Financial Statement of account for the year shows a deficit of £283-72, so I must point out that this is not quite as bad as it seems.

A purchase was made of £247-50 worth of caving boots and £121-00 worth of B.B. paper.  The boots are yet to be sold and the paper will keep the BB running for quite some time to come.

The Navy has a bill for £190-00 which is payable for the year covered by this statement.

So the year’s deficit of £283-72 would have shown a more realistic credit of some £274-00.

B. J. Wilton,
Hon. Treas.

Auditors statement:

I have examined the books of account of the club and agree that the statement shows a reasonable picture of the Club finances for the year.

Joan Bennett
Hon. Auditor

Financial Statement For The Year Ending 31st July 1978


















Water Rate












General expenses








Less cost



Car Badge Sales













Less cost







Buffet Collection




Deficit for the year

























Less contributions








Less fees



B.B. Expenditure




Spares & Carbide





Less sales







A.G.M. Refreshment:





Less contribution



Dinner Coach:





Less contribution



Public Liability Insurance




Battery Charger




Cave Lid




CSCC Subscription




BMC Subscription




CNCC Subscription








General accumulated account at 31-7-77



Interest from building society account






Less deficit for the year



General accumulated fund at 31-7-78



Ian Dear Memorial Fund at 31-7-78



Plus interest for the year 1977/78







Less grant




Totals as at 31-7-78




Lloyds Bank Ltd.




Cash in hand




Building Society account




Total club monies at 31-7-78





Ogof Craig Yr Ffynnon

the latest developments and details of the new extensions by IAN CALDER.

Following the BCRA Conference held in Manchester last September, various Belfryites came back mumbling and, muttering about the new extension in, the fantastic Rock and Fountain system near 'Aggy' -well the B.B. has now got the gen! Thanks to Ian Calder.  He writes however, “One of the hazards of going to the Annual Dinner is that you can get conned in to writing something for the B.B.' and guess what?  I was conned!

At the end of September I was lucky enough to get a trip into this cave to view and photograph the new extension.  Having dragged ourselves out of bed early on Saturday the four of us, Clive (Westlake), John, Mark and myself, met John Parker by the Rock and Fountain, unfortunately he was feeling rough that day so the four of us took ourselves into the cave without him.  The entrance is certainly small and I had read very unpleasant stories of this first section, however, it was, apparently, very dry, and did not go on for as long as I thought it might.  Then came the first Choke, short but loose, to emerge into a larger passage with some quite good straws and then the Second Choke.  This appears to be more stable than the first but is much longer and the way through is to take a devious upwards spiral - quite an energetic and clever route.  At the top of the Second Choke one emerges out into a large passage which continues to increase in size culminating in the Hall of the Mountain King with formations in abundance.  Not having been in the cave before I felt that the trip was already worth it.  This is an enormous place (about 100ft square in cross section) and the photographs of it do not do it justice.  The cave has some dramatic changes and at the end of the Hall of the Mountain King, perhaps the most dramatic change takes place, for one crawls through the Third Choke and on through a further 600ft. of low passage before coming to the 'Severn: Tunnel', a dead straight rift passage going for around 800ft, before leading into the Fourth Choke.  We noted the ways off to the Blaen Elin stream and the Lower Series.

Then we tackled the Fourth Choke which led us into a large passage.  We were now in the new extension and it was obvious that few people had been there.  The floor has a covering of mud which is in pristine condition.  We tiptoed on, hardly daring to leave our inevitable mark. Shortly a junction appeared and we first followed a side passage to a large chamber.  Across this we passed some good formations before revealing the most fantastic sight I have ever seen.  The clusters of helictites at the end of this passage defy description as well as gravity.  They are so delicate, in some cases 'hair-like', and so interwoven that one can only talk in hushed tones, hardly daring to breath, and marvel at their existence.  I felt very privileged at being able to see them in this perfect condition.  We all just hoped that they would never be spoiled. This is going to be a real problem but let's hope that this passage decor will not be spoiled by careless intruders.

Back in the large chamber we explored the choke at the end and then returned to the junction to descend to the streamway which was dry.  We followed this large passage up for a few hundred feet until we found a trickle and stopped for a brew and a bite to eat.  Duly refreshed we continued to follow this passage for some considerable distance, probably about three quarters of a mile.  It is generally large and mainly phreatic except for an oxbow which requires a certain amount of crawling.  There are many good formations and plenty of selenite crystals on the walls.  Eventually the passage makes an abrupt right hand turn before finally closing down to the end crawl.  We found a way on; needless to say that John Parker has been there before us.  This way on emerged again into a large passage only to end shortly at the Fifth Choke and, at the moment, terminal choke.

Now to work with Clive photographing and the rest of us holding flashes in various strange positions. We made our way back to the brew spot. Clive was using two slave units for the two bulb guns and this was extremely effective.  Having packed up our work in the Hall of the Mountain King, we finally emerged from the cave ten hours after entering it.  It was a superb trip and a very fine discovery.  We met John Parker by the cars and adjourned to the Rock and Fountain pub where Clive photographed the survey.  It is clear from the survey that the cave travels along one main line of weakness on a bearing of 320 degrees, deviating from this in only one or two places - along oxbows and side passages.  At the end it does turn suddenly to a bearing of 060 degrees before coming to the final choke.  There must be a connection with the Llangattock caves somewhere.  Daren Cilau has been dye tested but the dye emerged in the Clydach sometime later and was not detected in Craig yr Ffynnon. Does the cave connect with ‘Aggy’? Much speculation seems to be afoot but if it did what a system there would be under Llangattock!  One thing’s for certain, the hydrology here is anything but simple and speculation will no doubt continue until further breakthroughs take place - which they certainly will.  This new extension has virtually doubled the length of the cave - it may not be long, before this cave becomes a very major system indeed.



By Tim Large.

A new Club year begins, they seem to come round all too quickly these days.

From the comments I've heard, the Dinner-was enjoyed by all.  The usual problem at the Caveman of crowding in the bar before the meal, but then who could cope with 134 people all clamouring for drinks inside 30 minutes. Your comments and complaints will be welcomed in the, hope that they will help iron out the problem in the future. Many faces not often seen on Mendip made a pleasant appearance at the Dinner.  At the Belfry I understand that ‘Jok’ was up to his usual standard of behaviour and had something to do with a case of burnt shoes – Mr. Nigel must have had cold feet.

The E.G.M. on the new Constitution went well; it was chaired by 'Sett' and some changes to the sub-committees proposal made.  The new constitution will be published with the B.B. as soon as possible.  The main changes involve the moving of the Club Year from January back to October; inclusion of the Trustees - to bring them within the control of the Club at a General Meeting; chances to the election of Club Officers; the B.B. Editor now becomes a club officer and the post of Climbing Secretary has been dropped.

The A.G.M., chaired by Alan Thomas, was conducted in record time.  The B.B. Editor, Hon. Treasurer and Hon Auditor’s reports for 1977 were formally adopted and a vote of thanks was given to 'Alfie' for his many years of service to the Club.  The question of tackle attracted a lengthy discussion as much has gone missing - both ropes and ladders.  The A.G.M. passed a resolution that the Committee exercise more control over the tackle at the same time maintaining reasonable access.  There was some concern over outstanding hut fees.  I suggest that people who owe money pay up quickly or you may find your name published on a Belfry debtors list!

At the October Committee meeting it was agreed, in accordance with the A.G.M. resolution regarding tackle to lock the tackle store, keys being available from Committee members only.  A small amount of tackle will be kept in the Belfry changing room or immediate use. Should anyone need large amounts of tackle then a Committee member can be arranged for access to the store.  The reserve tackle will be stored at Dave Irwin’s house.  In all cases the tackle book must be completed when taking any tackle out. Besides being a check on, who has what it also gives the tacklemaster an indication of the life and wear tackle is receiving an important point I think you would all agree.  At the time of the A.G.M. £600 worth of tackle was missing and accounted for in the tackle book.  Since then some has been returned but somebody must have the rest - please return it!  If tackle is needed for long term projects such as digs or caving holidays, arrangements must be made with the tackle master.  At the present time I would think such arrangements would not be available to members because we are so short of tackle.  One instance is of 100ft of lifeline that has gone missing from the library - whoever has it please bring it back.

A provisional booking has been made at the Caveman, Cheddar for next years Annual Dinner - make a point of the date now.

OCTOBER  6th 1979 - only 11 months to go!


New members -- welcome to the B.E.C.

942 Robin Hayler, 39 Ditching; Hill, Southgate West, Crawley, Sussex RH11 8QJ.
943 Simon Woodman, Link Batch, Burrington, Nr. Bristol BS18 7AU
944 Stephen Plumley, 4 Hickford Lane, Burrington, Nr. Bristol BS18 7AU

Change of address;

680 Bob Cross, 1st Helens Lane, Adel, Leeds 16, West Yorkshire.

SUBS FOR 1979... make ~ note of the change……

As your current sub takes you through to the end of January 1979 the SUB FOR 1979 WILL BE FOR EIGHT MONTHS UP TO THE START OF THE NEXT CLUB YEAR IN OCTOBER 1979.

An announcement giving subscription rates for next year will be in the DECEMBER 1978 'B.B. DON’T MISS IT!


Publicatiosn available from Bryan Ellis, 30 Mai Road, Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA7 0EB.

7th International Speleological Congress Proceedings

The main publication of the Congress with 444pp and over 190 papers from the sections on Geology & Mineralogy, Karts Morphology, Speleogenesis, Hydrogeology, Cave Chemistry & Physics, Speliobiology, Archaeology and Palaeontology, Documentation, Techniques & Equipment, Conservation & Tourism.  Price £13.20 including p & p.

Caves And Karst Of Ireland

The Congress Guidebook to Irish Speleology, written as a handbook for the excursions from the Congress.  27pp. Price £0.70p.

Caves And Karst Of Southern England And South Wales

The Congress Guidebook to Mendip, Devon, the Cotswolds and South Wales.  83pp. Price £0.95p.

Caves And Karst Of The Yorkshire Dales

The Congress Guidebook to the Dales area.  37pp. Price £0.80p.

Bibliography Of British Karst

Prepared as an introduction to Britsh Karst geomorphology, the bibliography covers the period 1960 – 1977.  32pp. Price £0.80p

N.B. – All prices include p & p

Cuthbert's Leaders Insurance

Although some leaders have given conformation of an appropriate insurance policy to cover their caving activities, the Committee has decided that it must see each leader’s policy.  Therefore the lock on the cave will be changed on January 1st 1979, and keys only issued to leaders who produce a suitable insurance cover in respect of Third Party Liability.  If the policy is a householders policy, for example, the leader must produce written evidence from his insurance company or broker that the policy covers his caving activity.  Each leader will be receiving a letter to this effect in the near future.  I wonder how many leaders we shall be left with? (Does this mean that you haven't got one Tim? Ed.)  Are we one step from caving permits - watch it or you may be endorsed!

N.C.A News:

The NCA. AGM will soon be with us and this year it is being held on Mendip.  It is now two years since the Working Party Report was published. If you remember it sought out the views of the ‘grass roots’ caver in the various regions.  The general feeling was that individual cavers were as important as any of the large national organisations; that the regional bodies should appoint their own representatives to the NCA Executive Council; that the regional bodies should have some form of protection when actions were being proposed that that may be against their interests and so on.  So far this report has not been implemented and we hear that the Cambrian Caving Council are opposed to the resolution's proposed by CSCC and the BCRA yet again.  I cannot believe that the Cambrian policy reflects the views of their ‘grass roots’ cavers.  DCA are suggestiong that the Working Party report should be implemented at the 1980 NCA AGM which would mean that three years will have elapsed without any action. What to they – the NCA – DCA et al plan to do in the next 12 months that we cavers ought to know about?  (It can only be a stalling action on the part of DCA - Ed.)

The various posts on NCA Executive also come up for re-election at the AGM.  At present Ric Halliwell is the Hon. Sec of NCA. and appears to be approaching things on the right lines and will be resigning at the next meeting after a three year stint.   What will happen if we get a 'non-caver' in this important post as it has been suggested in the grapevine – it could totally alter the face of NCA by making it a 'Yes-man' to the Sports Council.  It is vitally important that the NCA is organised such that it cannot take important policy decisions without first referring the matter to the Regional Council for discussion at the ground level, so to speak.



B.M.C. Rope Offer

The BMC has recently concluded an agreement with Ibex ropes.  These are of kernmantel construction and '……we judge as of good a reliability and performance as the continental products retailed in the UK.'  The ropes are available by mail order or direct sale to BMC members at a really competitive price.

Prices for the ropes are as follows:-

45 metres x 9mm £23.50 plus £1 post and packing

45 metres x 11mm £28.50 plus £1 post and packing

The ropes are fully guaranteed by the BMC and the profits will be ploughed back into BMC.  Colours available are white (with coloured flecks) blue, gold and green - state alternative colour when ordering.

As the BEC is a member of the BMC members can take advantage of the offer.  The BMC is prepared to make special arrangements with its member organisations for delivery and payment.  For instance, if a club wishes to make a bulk purchase on behalf of its members (6 ropes or more) delivery will be free.

BMC address: M.M.C., Crawford House, Precinct Centre, Booth Street East, Manchester, M13 9RZ (telephone 061 273 5835).

Lionel's Hole

Its amazing how a cave can be ignored for several years and suddenly several clubs become interested in the hope of extending it.  Lionel's is no exception.  A week before our intrepid crew went down to look for the stream the Bracknell District Caving Club had paid a visit; descended the end complex and passed the first duck which leads to the new extensions.  They have written a short report of their activities which is printed here in full:

Trip to Lionel's Hole on April 1st 1978.  Party consisted of Peter Ashton, Richard and Helen Woodson.

On a previous trip to Lionel's we had noticed a small tube leading off from the bottom of a rift beyond the Traverse, so we returned to investigate it.  The tube was about 2 - 3ft wide, silted up and half full of water but we could see through a few inches of airspace that the tube did not seem to close down.  We spent about ¾hr digging out silt end passing it back until we had lowered the floor level by about six inches and made just enough room to force away trough the duck on our backs.  Immediately beyond the duck the passage widened just enough for us to twist round for a right hand bend and then a squeeze.  This led to a large rift passage-cum-chamber sloping upwards to the right.  We explored a couple of passages at the top of this but did not push them to any great distance.  The slope and passages were coated with mud and there no signs of hand or foot-prints anywhere.

We found an active stream on the left flowing quite fast.  Upstream, a squeeze and a flat out crawl down a narrow tube led to a dead end where the water seemed to be emerging from a horizontal crack. Downstream, the rock dropped to within about a foot of the water and we crawled in the stream beneath this until we came to a sump.  Although we felt that the roof rose again quite rapidly we did not take the risk of free-diving it and the water was flowing too fast to dam it.

We returned to the rift and after looking around a while longer we went out.  We reckoned that we had covered about 250ft - 300ft of passageway. We blocked up the entrance to the tube with stones and mud, fully intending to return in the hope that the water level in the sump would drop.  It was a very wet day as half the road through Burrington Combe was flooded. Unfortunately we did not get a change to return.


December’s BB will include a report on Mendip’s best kept secret – ROCKET DROP and a ‘stereo’ survey of part of Swildon’s survey.  Make you red and green glasses now!

Small extension made in Wigmore – about 30ft.


A Draft Specification For Caving Ropes

Mike Cowlishaw

For several years the Equipment Special Committee of NCA have been preparing a specification for caving ropes.  The draft has been sent to the BB for members comment.  If you have anything useful to add to Mike Cowlishaw's notes send them to MIKE AND the B.B.!

In July the NCA Equipment Committee set to produce the draft specification whose main points are listed below.  It is hoped that this will eventually form the basis of a British Standard.

The draft is mainly a working document on methods of testing caving ropes (for SRT and/or lifelining), but suggests the following tentative minimum values for rope characteristics:

Shrinkage: 'preferably less than 10%' when washed for the first time.  This washing would form the conditioning required before any of the follow parameters are measured.

Diameter: 12mm maximum, 9mm minimum.

Weight Dry: Maximum 100g/m.              Weight Wet: Maximum 125g/m

Abrasion: A test that can be shown to be repeatable has not yet been defined.  Vertical and Horizontal abrasion tests may need to be used, although it is hoped that Vertical abrasion alone will prove sufficient.

Energy Absorption; Peak force in a 'small' fall should be tested.  The simplest method was felt to be a straight drop test with 80kga8t fall factor 0.75.  The peak force measured should not exceed 12kN (1200kgf).

Strength: Minimum breaking force 24kN (2400kgf). c.f. 12kN peak force in Drop Test.

Temperature: The finished rope should lose no more than 20% of its strength at 150 degrees Celsius.

Handling/Flexibility: The UIAA/ISC knotability test would seem to cover this parameter. Insufficient figures available to enable a value to be suggested yet.

Spin: No test necessary - 'Non Spin construction preferred'.

Stretch at low loads: Less than 2% under 80kg 'preferred'.

Sheath Slippage: No real evidence to justify tests being made.

Chemical resistance and U.V. resistance.  No specific tests needed, but a warning, should be attached to new ropes of any relatively common chemicals harmful to that rope.

Colour: predominantly white or pale in colour.

Markings: Coloured bands were considered helpful to enable ropes to be distinguished.


Mike Cowlishaw, 14 Plovers Down, Oliver’s Battery, Winchester, Hants.


Tim Large requires ferrets to push the short extension at the bottom of Marble Pot.

The B.B. is always short of material – if you’ve been write it up for the B.B.

Building sessions at Tynings Barrows on Wednesday evenings – help required.

If you’ve been – don’t forget to write it up in the caving log.

Fill out the tackle book when you take tackle from the store.


October 15th 1978.  Rescue Practice – Goatchurch Cavern.

During October the MRO agreed to join with the Red Cross in a joint exercise at Burrington Coombe - there were to be several victims placed underground in Goatchurch.  CHRIS BATSTONE  is our reporter.

This practice was organised in co-operation with the British Red Cross who were holding an exercise at Burrington.  The caving casualties were from the Casualties Union, a group of people who act as the injured in such, exercises as this.  Their acting is extremely realistic so-much-so that one wonders if they are really acting!

The call-out came to the Hunters at approx. 12.45 p.m. and most, of those taking part were at West Twin by 13.00 hours – probably one of the quickest call outs on record.  A lot may be said about the ride over on Mr. N’s car. The rescue team assembled at the Tradesman’s Entrance and the job of ferrying rescue kit began.  Equipment included the 'Revival', Paraguard Stretcher and Dave Major’s carry-sheet.

A total of seven casualties, all having an assortment of injuries, had to be evacuated from the Boulder Chamber.  Four of the 'wounded' who could walk were evacuated first and it must be said that these people played their part very well - and of course; equally, so the rescuers. Having evacuated those capable of helping themselves, the job of removing the three stretcher cases. Injuries consisted of one man with spinal injuries; one with broken legs and one with a fractured collarbone.  The last was carried out in the DM carry sheet whilst Don Thompson and Bob Pike, our two caving doctors attended the other injuries.  Next out was the spinal injury in the Pareguard and the carry was better and quicker due to the fact that the main problems had been overcome on the first carry-out. After handing the injured man over to the Red Cross at the cave entrance the Paraguard was sent down to remove the last victim in an equally quick and efficient manner.

The whole operation was completed in about 3½ hours from callout to the last casualty reaching the surface.  It also provided an opportunity to use the Revival kit in conditions that were as near realistic as possible.  A lot was learnt from this practice that will be of great use in the future.  After the cleaning up the rescuers made their, way to the village hall at Burrington for tea and stickies and also to admire the handiwork of Bob Pike who did an excellent job of plastering up the two broken legs.  It took nearly twenty minutes to remove the plaster.

An interesting twist of events came to light after the practice - it seems a party of cavers were returning to the surface and on seeing the carnage in the Boulder Chamber, one member of the party fainted!  He was revived and taken out safely.

Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List October 1978

In keeping with past tradition the November BB contains the current address list of members.  Fiona has kindly done the donkey work by typing the stencils – many thanks for doing this dismally dull job.  Will all members check for the list for errors and contact Tim Large with any queries or errors.

Does anyone know of the address of D. Cooke-Yarborough?  Recent correspondence has been returned address unknown.


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


Ken Baker

36 Northumberland Road, Redland, Bristol


Richard Barker

40b Croxteth Road, Liverpool 8


Arthur Ball

4 Charlotte Street, Cheadle, Cheshire


Marlon Barlow

93 Norton drive, Norton tower, Halifax, West Yorkshire


Chris Batstone

8 Prospect Place, Bathford, Bath, Avon


Dianne Beeching

8 seymour Close, Wells, Somerset

390 L

Joan Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

214 L

Roy Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Glenys Beszant

14 Westlea Road, Warmley, Broxbourne, Herts.


Bob Bidmead

Valley Way, Middle Street, East Harptree, Bristol


Martin Bishop

Bishops Cottage, Priddy

364 L

Pete Blogg

5 Tyrolean Court, Cheviot Close, Avenue Rd., Banstead, Surrey

336 L

Alan Bonner

Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland

145 L

Sybil Bowden-Lyle

111 London Road, Calne, Wiltshire


Brian Bowers

44 Manor Way, Bagshot, Surrey


Dany Bradshaw

7 Creswicke, Bristol

751 L

T.A. Brookes

87 Wyatt Road, London, SW2


Neil Raynor Brown

25 Lingfield Park, Evesham, Worcs.


Viv Brown

3 Cross Street, Kingswood, Bristol


Tessa Burt

66 Roundwood Lane, Harpendon, Herts


Alan Butcher

17 Cedar Grove, Pennfields, Wolverhampton


Aileen Butcher

17 Cedar Grove, Pennfields, Wolverhampton


Ian Calder

22 Greenways, Lydney, Gloucestershire


Penelope Calder

22 Greenways, Lydney, Gloucestershire


Martin Cavendar

The Old Rectory, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset


Francisca Cavendar

The Old Rectory, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset


Paul Christie

7 The Glen, London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks


Patricia Christie

7 The Glen, London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks


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


Bob Cork

25 The Mead, Stoke St. Michael, Somerset


Tony Corrigan

139 Stockwood Lane, Stockwood, Bristol


Mike Cowlishaw

14 Plovers Down, Olivers Battery, Winchester


Jerry Crick

2 Coneacre, Chersey Road, Windlesham, Surrey


Bob Cross

1 St. Helens Lane, Adel, Leeds 16, West Yorkshire


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


Garth Dell

AI 5 Printing, HQNI, BFPO 825.


Colin Dooley

51 Osmaston Road, Harbourne, Birmingham 7


Angela Dooley

51 Osmaston Road, Harbourne, Birmingham 7

164 L

Ken Dobbs

85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon


John Dukes

Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Wells, Somerset


Michael Durham

11 Catherine Place, Bath


Gillian Durrant

14 St. Andrews road, Broadstone, Dorset


Jim Durston

Hill View, Old Beat, Maidentown, Nr. Burlescombe, Tiverton, Devon

322 L

Bryan Ellis

30 Main Road, Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset


Chris Falshaw

23 Hallam Grange Crescent, Sheffield


Helen Fielding

175 Bramley lane, Hipperholme, Halifax, West Yorkshire

269 L

Tom Fletcher

11 Cow Lane, Bramcote, Nottingham.


Phil Ford

27 Bryn Dyffrn, Holway, Clwyd, North Wales

404 L

Albert Francis

22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset


Joyce Franklin

16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol


Pete Franklin

16 Glen Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol


Colleen Gage

36 Woodland Road, Nailsea, Avon


Tom Gage

36 Woodland Road, Nailsea, Avon


Leonard Gee

15 Warren Close, Denton, Manchester


Stan Gee

26 Parsonage Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport.


Bob Givens

Newstead Lodge, 1 Fields Green, Crawley, Sussex


M. Glanville

Jocelyn House Mews, 18a High street, Chard


Bruce Glocking

213 St. Leonards, Horsham, Sussex


Richard Gough

35 Gladstone Road, Ashstead, Surrey


Martin Grass

14 Westlea Road, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts


Christine Greenhall

13 Nooreys Avenue, Oxford


Chris Hall

1 Chancellors Cottage, Long Lane, Redhill, Bristol

432 L

Nigel Hallet

62 Cranbrook Road, Bristol


Sandra Halliday

6A Collingwood Road, Redland, Bristol 6

104 L

Mervyn Hannam

14 Inskip Place, St Annes, Lancashire


Chris Harvey

Byways, Hanham Lane, Paulton, Somerset

4 L

Dan Hassell

Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset


Dave Hatherley

6 Withiel Drive, Cannington, Bridgewater, Somerset


Robin Hayler

39 Ditching Hill, Southgate, Crawley, West Sussex


Robin Hervin

12 York Buildings, Trowbridge, Wiltshire


John Hildrick

Tarngulla, Old Bristol Road, Priddy


Robert Hill

32 Ridings Mead, Chippenham, Wiltshire


Rodney Hobbs

Rose Cottage, Nailsea


Sid Hobbs

Hokestone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy


Sylvia Hobbs

Hokestone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy


Paul Hodgson

11 Ockford Ridge, Godalming, Surrey


Mike Hogg

32 Birchley Heath, Nuneaton, Warks


Liz Hollis

1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset


Tony Hollis

1 Bugle Cottage, Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset


Nick Holstead

14 Lower Alma street, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

387 L

George Honey

Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden


Jennifer Hoyles

35 Gladstone Road, Ashstead Surrey


John Hunt

35 Congre Road, Filton, Bristol


Trevor Hughes

Creg-ny-Baa, Charlesford Avenue, Kingswood Sutton Valence, Maidstone, Kent


Ted Humphreys

Frekes Cottage, Moorsite, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset


Maurise Iles

50 Warman, Stockwood, Bristol


Annette Ingleton

Seymour Cottage, Hinton St. Mary, Sturminster Newton, Dorset


Angus Innes

18 David’s Close, Alveston, Bristol, Aven


Margaret Innes

18 David’s Close, Alveston, Bristol, Aven

540 L

Dave Irwin

Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Somerset


Ken James

Flat 2, Shrubbery Road, Weston-super-Mare


Tony Jarratt

Alwyn Cottage, Station Road, Congressbury, Bristol


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


U. Jones

Woking Grange, Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey


Karen Jones

Room 63, New End Nurses Home, New End Hospital, Hampstead, London NW3

567 L

Alan Kennett

92 West Broadway, Henleaze, Bristol


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


Jane Kirby

Basement Flat, 8 Worcester Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8

413 L

R. Kitchen

Overcombe, Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon


Calvin Knight

Crossways. Hillesley, Wootton under Edge, Gloucestershire


John Knops

Ida Cottage, 235 Englishcombe Lane, Bath


Dave Lampard

Woodpeckers, 11 Springfield Park Road, Horsham, Sussex

667 L

Tim Large

c/o Trading Standards Office, South Street, Wells, Somerset


Peter Leigh

5 Armoured Workshops, BFPO 126, Enkessen


Stuart Lindsay

5 Laburnum Walk, Keynsham, Bristil

574 L

Oliver Lloyd

Withey House, Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


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


Stuart McManus

33 Wellsford Avenue, Wells, Somerset


A. McRory-Peace

5 Colmer Road, Yeovil Somerset

106 L

E.J. Mason

33 Bradleys Avenue, Henleaze, Bristol

558 L

Tony Meaden

Highcroft, Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset


Dave Metcalfe

10 Troughton Crescent, Blackpool, Lancs.


Warren Miner-Williams

8 litton Court, Blakeney Road, Patchway, Bristol


Keith Murray

17 Harrington Gardens, London  SW7


Dave Nicholls



John Noble

18 Hope Place, Tennis Court Road, Paulton


Graham Nye

7 Ramsey Road, Horsham, Surrey


Kevin O’Neil

4 East Street, Laycock, Chippenham, Wiltshire


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

Tony Philpott

3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon


Graham Phippen

Rock Cottage, Rock Road, Wick, Bristol


Steve Plumley

4 rickford lane, Burrington, Nr. Bristol


Brian Prewer

East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset


Jeff Price

18 Hurston Road, Inns Court, Bristol


Colin Priddle

10 Franklyn Flats, Kopje Road, Gwelo, Rhodesia

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


John Riley

Araluen, Linershwood Close, Bramley, Surrey


Pete Rose

2 The Beacon, Ilminster


Richard Round

131 Middleton Road, Banbury, Oxfordshire


Theresa Rumble

71 Chiltern Close, Warmley, Bristol


Roger Sabido

15 Concorde drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


John Sampson

8 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol

240 L

Alan Sandall

43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon

359 L

Carol Sandall

43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon


Jenny Sandercroft

5 Eastcroft, Henleaze, Bristol


Derek Sanderson

23 Penzeance Gardesn, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex.

237 L

B. Scott

Merrymead, Havestock Road, Winchester Hants


Gordon Selby

2 dodd Avenue, Wells, Somerset

78 L

R.A. Setterington

4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset

213 L

R. Setterington

4 Cavendish Road, Chiswick, London W4


Chris Shaw

7 Queens Head Walk, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts.


Mark Sherman

Wood View, Grey Field, High Litton


Steve Short

78 Greenwood Avenue, Laverstock, Salisbury, Wilts.


Chris Smart

15 Timor Close, Popley Islands, Basingstoke, Hants


James Smart

c/o 72 Winchester Road, Brislington, Bristol


Andy Sparrow

2 Grosvenor Place, London Road, Bath


Maurice Stafford

28 Rowan Close, Sonning Common, Reading, Berks.

1 L

Harry Stanbury

31 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Bristol


Mrs I Stanbury

74 Redcatch, Knowle, Bristol


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


Richard Stevenson

Greystones, Priddy


Paul Stokes

32 Manor Way, Bagshot, Surrey


Derek Targett

North Hall Cottage, Chilcompton


Mike Taylor

39 Reedley road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Nigel Taylor

Whidden Farm, Chilcote, Nr. Wells, Somerset


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.


Nick Thorne

20 Hawkers Lane, Wells, Somerset


Buckett Tilbury

15 Fernie Fields, High Wycombe, Bucks


Anne Tilbury

15 Fernie Fields, High Wycombe, Bucks


Roger Toms

18 Hoton Road, Wysemold, Leicester


R.S. Toms

18 Hoton Road, Wysemold, Leicester


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

3 Crown Rise, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales


Steve Tuck

Colles Close, Wells, Somerset


Tony Tucker

75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon


Sue Tucker

75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon


Dave Turner

Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath


John Turner

Orchard Cottage, 92 Church lane, Backwell, Avon

635 L

S. Tuttlebury

28 Butts Road, Alton, Hants.


Greg Villis

The Oaks, Round Oak Road, Cheddar, Somerset

175 L

D. Waddon

32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset


Eddie Welch

18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol


Mike Wheadon

91 The Oval, Bath


Maureen Wheadon

91 The Oval, Bath


Bob White

Weavers Farm, Binegar


Ross White

9 Ellery Grove, Lymington, Hants.


Wally Wilkinson

17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire


Val Wilkinson

17 Kings Street, Melksham, Wiltshire


Colin Williams

Whitestones Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Bristol


Claire Williams

Whitestones Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Bristol


Jane Wilson

University lab of Psychology, Park Road, Oxford


Barry Wilton

Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol


Brenda Wilton

Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol


Graham Wilton-Jones

24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Bucks


Annie Wilton-Jones

Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihull, West Midlands


Ian Wilton-Jones

Cwm Dwr, 110 Pierce Avenue, Olton, Solihull, West Midlands


Roger Wing

15 Penleaze Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex


Simon Woodman

Link Batch, Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon


Steve Woolven

21 Three Acres, Horsham, Sussex


Brian Workman

11 Moreland, 11 New Bath Road, Radstock, Bath


Sue Yea

Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Somerset


Club Officers and Appointments

Trustees: Bob Bagshaw; Roy Bennett; Les Peters and Alan Thomas


Chairman: Dave Irwin

Hon Sec: Tim Large

Hut Warden: Chris Batstone

Hon Treas: Sue Tucker

Caving Sec: Martin Grass

Hut Engineer: Nigel Taylor

Tacklemaster: John Dukes

B.B. Editor: Dave Irwin

Committee Members: Graham Wilton-Jones and Bob Cross

Librarian: Dave Irwin

Publications (Sales and Editor): Glynis Bezant

B.B. Postal: John Dukes

Ian Dear Memorial Sub-Committee: R. (Sett) Setterington and Mike Palmer plus the Caving Secretary and Hon. Treasurer

As Climbing Sec has been dropped as a Club Officer, Bob Cross has volunteered to be our contact man with Climbing activities and the B.M.C.

C.S.C.C representative: Tim Large


Revised Burrington Atlas being prepared – early photographs of the caves and cavers required.

Committee to discuss publications and future policy at November Committee Meeting.

See Lifeline for details of change to Cuthbert’s lock and tackle arrangements.

See Jottings for details of cheap rope offer.

Have you order sweatshirt? You must get the ‘Bertie’ sweatshirt. Contact John Dukes NOW.

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. Tele: Priddy .369

Date for your diaries:

February 25th. Derbyshire - Winnatts Head Cave & Peak Cavern - details from the Caving Sec: Martin Grass.



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, Som.  Tele: Priddy 369

In the next few months issues of the Belfry Bulletin the following material will be publishes: Wigmore survey; Loxton Cave survey; New Year in the Dales; Holloch; Wookey Hole survey; Cadbury Hill mine shaft; Austria 1978; Isometric surveys; Reviews of some new books; MRO Annual Report; Details of the Annual Dinner and Mid-Summer Buffet and several surveys of western Mendip caves and two new series.

Subscriptions 1979 (to October 1979)

Full members    £2.00

Joint Members   £3.00

Under 18’s         £1.50

Subs are due at the end of January 1979.  Don’t forget to send them in to Sue Tucker, B.E.C. Hon Treasurer, 75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon.

Useful addresses:

Hon Sec: Tim Large, c/o Trading Standards Office, South Street, Wells, Somerset.
Hut Warden: Chris Batstone, 8 Prospect Place, Bathford, Bath, Avon.
Tacklemaster: John Dukes, Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Somerset.

Odds and Sods:

DYO - ladder into Gerald Platten Hall removed  31 December 1978

Nick Burke Awards. The award is a tribute to the memory of Nick Burke, the BBC cameraman who lost his life while filming the ascent of Everest in 1975.  The competition makes awards to expeditions and is organised by the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol and the Royal Geographic Society.

There were 90 applications for the 1979 award of which six were successful.  Each of these will be lent two super 8 movie cameras (a Braun 801 and a Braun 148) and a tape recorder together with sufficient tape and film for 90 mins filming.  It is intended to show the films on BEC’s programmer series ‘The World. About Us.’



By Tim Large

Christmas has come and gone. A large group enjoyed their traditional Belfry festivities in the usual B.E.C. manner.  This was completed by heavy snow blizzard cut off Priddy from the outside world for a day or so.  On New Years Day a rescue call was received at the Belfry to help evacuate a youth group from the Outdoor Centre in Velvet Bottom.  A motley crew from the Belfry managed to drive by Land Rover to the hut making it rather a non-event.  Shortly afterwards the Cheddar Cliff Rescue Team arrived on skies complete with all the latest gear having somewhat over-rated the situation.  As usual the BEC gets everywhere - and gets there first!


This will be held on Wednesday 28th February at 8.15p.m. in the Arthur Tyndall Memorial Theatre, Physics Dept., Tyndall Ave., Bristol 8.  The subject will be

"British Wild Water Canoe Expeditions of the 1970’s”

by John Liddell.

He was a member of the Himalayan Canoe Expeditions.  The lecture will be supported by over 100 slides.  All are welcome and admission is FREE!


A new tie has been ordered. The design is similar to the old one but with a choice of colours: maroon with gold bat or dark blue with silver bat.  The cost will be about £2.50 each.  More details when supplies available.


Some concern has been expressed by members over the new tackle arrangements which were taken in an effort to minimise tackle losses and keep track of its whereabouts.  Some members feel that the new arrangements are too restrictive and penalise bone-fide members who cave regularly and return tackle soon after use!  In order to resolve the matter the committee will be discussing it at the next meeting on Friday 2nd February.  Anyone who has any view on the subject is encouraged to come to this meeting.


John Riley, c/o Cravenhouse Marketing Ltd., Carleton New Road, Skipton, North Yorks.
Colin Priddle, 15 Mons Road, Delville, Germiston 1401, South Africa.
Teresa Rumble, 29 Cotham Road, Cotham, Bristol.

Don't forget to let me have your address changes or corrections together with the postal code.


Jayrat sends in this snippet of news:

B.E.C. recently beat the W.C.C. at Skittles at the New Inn.

Many thanks to Sid Hobbs’ eldest son acting as sticker-up – young Edrich.



Tynings Burrows Swallet

Members are getting their fingers out and starting to work, in earnest, at the job of re-opening the cave. At the moment it’s blocked below the Second Pitch at the start of the 30ft crawl.  Whether the breakthrough point is blocked will no doubt be told in future BB’s – this will be a problem area.  Diggers are needed from now with 1979’s first project.  Digging will be at most weekends – contact the Belfry or form your own team.  WIGMORE is temporarily blocked.


The NPC have discovered a new cave in the bed of Easegill Beck.  The cave has a 60ft pitch at the entrance and then bombs off downstream for the next two miles.  There are about 16 inlets.  Exploration of the inlets have connected Lancaster and Pippikin giving an estimated length of at least 40 miles thus creating and new national record for cave length.  The enormous OFD lies, now, in second place at about 30 miles.  In the world stakes for length Lancaster must now rank about 7th longest.

News from the north;

Leck Fell

This area is thoroughly booked at weekends until August 1979.


Access arrangement is in jeopardy if clubs keep going to Casterton without permits.

Penyghent/ Gingling

All clubs wishing to visit Gingling this year should have their requests to the meets secretary by the 1st February 1979.

Birks Fell/ Mongo Gill

A major rescue had to be mounted after an incident down Birks Fell Cave.  The two members who were concerned were Derbyshire Caving Club and Glasgow University Spelio. Society, they had gone down without permission during the closed season on the Fell.  Correspondence is taking place between ourselves and the agents to try and repair the damage which the two clubs have caused.  After this incident the Upper Wharfedale Cave Rescue are contemplating the fixing of a permanent telephone cable through the connection crawl. Would all cavers treat this wire with care and respect.

Other areas

Washfold Pot.  The farmer has been gripping the land in the catchment area for Washfold.  Would all cavers please not that the water now raises very quickly.

Wales – DYO.  Cobbler Aven climber giving up 1,000ft of new passage and is known as Mazeways 3.  Russia – Optimistic Cave now 127,000m long.  It is hoped to connect this enormous system with the nearby Oziers Cave of 104,000m.  If this attempt is successful then this will become the longest cave in the world. The current number 1 is mammoth Cave in Kentucky, USA at 253,000m.  Alum Pot, Yorks. Greasy Slab bolt is missing.  Now requires a 12ft belay.  Tony Sutcliffe wants information regarding Pipers Hole, Tresco on the Isles of Scilly.  His address is Dept. of Palaeontology, British Museum (Natural History) London.

FRANCE: P.S.M.  The BEC explored Belfry Pot (well known to G W-J and JD) has been descended by Paul Courbon and he has carried on to the bottom of the PSM and out again by the same route.  I seem to remember G W-J stating that a full trip would never be done – he said it in front of the audience at the 1975 BCRA Conference as well!

New publications available.

Caves of Mulu by Brook and Waltham.  44pp surveys and photos.  £2.00 from Bryan Ellis.

Limestone Caves – a concise explanation.  Pub. Dalesman.  32pp.  Price 50p.

Somerset Sump Index, revised by Ray Mansfield.  Pub. CDG.  Price 50p from Oliver Lloyd.


Thrupe Lane Swallet

Even in this modern age of wet suits and other caving clobber, cavers on Mendip still hold on to the old style of dress, the good old woollies and boiler suits.  The following account by Marie Clarke gives one a feeling of ‘Hell, I’ll keep to my warm and comfy rubber clothes…

During August 1977 Clive North invited me to accompany him on a trip to Thrupe Lane Swallet, the weather had been inclement and the stream was considerably swollen.

The route to the bottom of the cave was to be via Perseverance Pot, Butt’s Chamber, Marble Chamber and the streamway to Atlas Pot.  From there on, the 20ft pitch to the platform, followed by the descent of the muddy Slither Pot route and so arrive at the bottom of Atlas.  This route was chosen in preference to the Atlas Pitch, as the trip was being undertaken after continual rain, and high waters were anticipated.  But how high, we were yet to discover.

The party consisted of Clive North, Richard Whitcombe, Simon Meade-King, Dave Everett, plus a few members of the West London Caving Club, including two novices and the writer.  Quite a large party!

The first wetting was down Cowsh Crawl, but this was only a minor indication of what was to follow. In Butt’s Chamber there was a sudden reshuffling of the boulder slope, which quickly dispersed the cavers of the party.  This may well have been the result of the water rushing through the mass of boulders. However, we proceeded to Marble Chamber where a shower bath greeted us, reminiscent of a downpour above ground. The streamway looked high and I followed Clive who had become jammed in the streamway with the outsize box he was carrying.  This contained equipment used at regular intervals to flood light the cave; all extremely impressive.  But this was no time to become jammed with a box as the water rose immediately behind us. We were an effective dam.  Care was necessary at the head of Atlas Pot where the water that was rushing down the streamway could easily sweep a caver over the pot.

It was agreed that the only possible route to the bottom of the cave was by Slither Pot, and at this point above Atlas, the two novices and one other caver turned back.  The descent of the 20ft was uneventful, although when once on the platform it was very draughty.  In fact, I shall always remember that platform for the intense cold, which appeared to be caused by the rush of water over the edge of Atlas and doubtless channelled up Slither.

As I only use a carbide lamp and the trip seemed to be lengthy, I was allowed second down the pitch. I found I had run out of rungs before reaching the bottom, but a swing on the ladder to a more or less convenient boulder and I was down.  Dave Everett followed me being the only other carbide caver in the party, and with Simon we went to look at the Atlas stream thundering over the boulders.  To accomplish this we crawled under a low arch which seemed to assume a magnitude of almost a sump, and climbed up about 8ft to witness the magnificent spectacle of a thundering cascade.  On my return under the low arch the draught blew out my lamp and I was plunged into darkness and up to my neck in water.  Simon rushed to my aid and we both tried to re-light the lamp, but without success.  By this time Dave, who was still on the Atlas side of the arch was also plunged into darkness, so Simon hurried off to Dave’s assistance.

By this time two more cavers had arrived at the bottom of the pitch, but none of us could re-light the lamps. So we patiently waited for Clive's box to arrive with the matches.  Lamps once again lit, Clive decided that Dave and I would have to return up the pitch because of our inadequate lighting, and also on account of my wearing the usual caving gear of boiler suit and woollens, not possessing a wet suit like the rest of the cavers; or like Clive, who was wearing a dry suit.  I was beginning to feel cold and even wet suited cavers were complaining too, of the cold.

While climbing the 70ft pitch, at about 20ft from the top I became aware of not possessing as much strength in the right arm as the left.  This was due to having torn a ligament some months previously; and I was feeling the unwelcome results of this minor injury.  This I felt was no time to discover my incapacity, so exerted extra effort; to battle my way up the remainder of the ladder.  Once at the top I experienced some difficulty in untying the bowline, but was assisted by the lifeliner.          

It was while waiting near the platform below the 20ft pitch, that shivering spasms began, the effects of exposure I knew.  Soon afterwards, Dave Everett joined me here, and I told him that I was experiencing shivering spasms.  He decided that we would make our way out as soon, as the next caver arrived equipped with a NiFe cell.  Dave and I could not attempt the exit together, as it seemed impossible to negotiate the 20ft pitch without being plunged into darkness by spray from the stream and our lamps were now burning low.  Matches and spares in Clive's box were somewhere at the bottom of the cave!

However, when the next caver did arrive he was reluctant to climb the 20ft pitch without a lifeline for fear of being swept off the ladder and down Atlas Pot.  It should be remembered that the trip was being undertaken in high water conditions and the water was running over the ladder.

So the three of us waited for another caver to appear who would climb the 20ft pitch and light it for Dave and I if necessary.  However, there seemed to be some delay at the 70ft Pitch, and my shivering spasms continued. I may have been standing on the platform for nearly half an hour; when Dave took the initiative and decided to climb and I would follow.  At this, the reluctant third caver sprung into action and climbed first after all, lighting the pitch for Dave and I.  The climb was straight forward and presented no difficulty, though very wet, and now fortunately we were both well lighted for our exit.

Once I started climbing the shivering stopped and did not re-occur even after another soaking in the streamway.  Our progress out of the cave may have been a little slower than the descent, but this was to be expected.  The extra weight of clothes, when soaked, is considerable and only fully realised when removed after a trip.  The only incident at Perseverance Pot was when Dave's light finally failed before reaching the top.  My light was barely glowing and after a short distance was completely extinguished and so we three reached the entrance shaft caving on the Nife cell only!

Form this experience I have learned, that once thoroughly soaked you must keep moving and above all, especially where there are ladders to climb, on this occasion there were four, it is essential to prevent the circulation from cutting off to the hands. I do this by wearing a pair of nylon gloves under rubber gloves and when wet can be wrung out if necessary.  Also on this occasion I warmed by hands by placing them on my neck as it was vital to be able to grip the rungs of the ladders.

Regarding the shivering spasms, I was fully conversant with the consequences if this state continued, but I was also determined to reach the surface again and I knew I could do it without help.  Determination increased tolerance and I remained calm, and also being a caver of some experience I felt I was capable of climbing all the ladders, and take further soaking in the streamway.  Never for one moment did I entertain the thought that I should not regain the surface.

Congratulations To Roy Pearce

‘Caves in Camera’ is the title of an appreciation of the cave photographer and member of the club - Roy Pearce.  He has the privilege to address the zoology section of the British Association. Those who know Roy will be well aware of his series of ‘bug’ photographs that are quite unique.


Italy - Corchia

The search for the Main Drain of the Carchia and the discovery of 150 unexplored cave entrances are some of the ingredients in Stan Gee's 3rd Italian report….      

Having returned from the Apuan Alps I am able to give you a more up-to-date account of the work carried out and the progress made in the area of the Antro del Corchia and Buca del Cacciatore (Abbisso Fighiera)

In the Antro del Corchia, now established as deepest Italian cave at -950 metres, an attempt to blow open a supposed higher entrance has failed and the project abandoned.  This attempt was made because no connection has yet been found between the Corchia and the adjacent Abisso Fighiera.  In fact hopes of a connection are fading because the Fighiera is heading in the wrong direction entirely.  However, it still seems inconceivable that two caves of such a size and close proximity should not connect.

In the Fighiera, 4 bottoms have been reached between -800 and 850m, the deepest of these ends in a siphon and is in a part that is heading well away from the Corchia. Explorations and the survey have been held up due to adverse weather conditions during the winter and spring. In fact there was two feet of snow on July 12th.  Another problem has been the closing of the Tavolino quarry road due to vandalism and theft of quarry machinery.

This road gives access (land rover type vehicles) to within a few hundred feet of the summit and the alternative is a 3 – 4 hours slog up 4,000ft of big, big hill.  To date some 7 kilometres of passage have been surveyed and it is estimated that about another 5 – 6 kilometres remain to be surveyed. The main galleries, which are described as a labyrinth, are heading away from the Corchia and towards the nearby Tana del Vomo Salvattico (The lair of the primitive man or Wildman) and, in fact, towards the main Corchia resurgence ‘la Pollacia’ or ‘Spring of Bitter water’. It has been suspected for some time that a main drain exists between the Corchia bottom and la Pollacia, some 4 kilometres away, and that this drain takes water from Vomo Salvattico and probably from Buca del Cane as well.  It is possible that the Figheria is not going to touch the Corchia at all but drop straight down into this main drain.  If this happens then the Figheria is certainly in line for the deepest known cave as it must enter the drain at a point below the present known bottom of the Corchia.

The access restrictions that were in force last year appear to have been lifted and nobody seems to be bothered about who goes down now.  One of the local groups G.S. (C.A.I.) Faenza are hoping to erect a hut close to the entrance of Figheria.  This will be known as the Bivacco or Capanne ‘A. Lusa’, in memory of Antonio Lusa who died last year.  The bivouac will sleep about 8 in beds and 4 on the floor and will be available to C.A.I. members only or others by arrangement.  This should ease tremendously the problem of winter exploration and it should be completed about October this year.

Our own explorations this year were centred on the Buca del Cane which was descended by Nigel Dibben and two Italian friends.  Unfortunately, the hoped for extension above the last pitch proved to be too tight for further progress.  After last years futile search the caves of Monte Forato were eventually found. These proved to be copper mines breaking into natural cave almost immediately.  Nothing much was known about these caves and the Italians, generally, don’t bother too much about caves-cum-mines.  Undoubtedly they are in the right area but are severely blocked by miner’s debris and thus require extensive excavation.

A visit was made to the area at the back of the Pania del la Croce and particularly to Panio del Vomo Morto (Dead Man’s Gulch) and Val de Inferno.  It turned out to be a very interesting area containing about 150 known entrances, noted by G.S. Bologna and including the Abisso Ravel, a single shaft of 950ft!

Many of these caves have not been explored and I feel that there are many more entrances still to be found.  The area is particularly interesting as it lies at approaching 5,500ft and some 4,000ft above the two large resurgences of Grotta del Vento and la Tana che Urla ( Cave of Winds and Hole that Shrieks).  However the only approach is on foot and though a rifugio exists nearby, all supplies have to be brought up by mule from the nearest road some 3 – 4 hours walk away and it is a steep climb.  This area could undoubtedly stand a thorough investigation but its location prevents difficulties that would require a lot of prior preparation. There are a number of good paths to the area but which ever approach is made entails a long hard climb of at least 2½ - 3 hours and our initial investigation suggested that the explorations will consist of mostly of deep shaft work.  I doubt whether a ‘shoestring’ expedition would prove very effective.

Our friends from Verona report the discovery of a 19 kilometres long cave in the Lessini Alps.  Further information as it arrives.

A man has died of a heart attack whilst attempting to dive the Corchia resurgence at la Pollacia.

Stan Gee.

(Ed. note: my apologies for the late publication of this article)

Stan adds the following notes for would be adventures:

A reasonable camp site can be found at Levigliani.  Costs, this year, were 500 lire a night (about 32p).  This includes use of toilets and wash basins.  Bath extra.

Food - a good evening in the restaurant costs about £2.00 including wine.

Beer - expensive, between 30 – 40p a small bottle, but better quality than of previous years.

Spirits – very cheap. 1 litre of Cognac about £1.20.

Wine – reasonable.  2 litres of red or white under £2.00.

Fags -very cheap, between 20p and 35p a packet.  The latter King size.

Petrol. - without coupons about £1.50 a gallon.

Rifugio - The use of rifugi by non-members is allowed but it is expensive.  A word of warning, the reciprocal arrangements between European Alpine Clubs only apply if you are a national of that country of which you are a member.

Map based on the footpaths map published by CAI Lucca section

Scale 1 – 50,000 (not very accurate)


Mountain  ridges


1.                  Buca del Serpente (A.C. lower entrance)

2.                  Antro del Corchia (old entrance)

3.                  Buca del Cacciatore (Abisso Fighiera)

4.                  Vomo Salvattico

5.                  Buca del Cane

6.                  The caves of Fredona

7.                  I a Pollacia (A.C. resurgence)

8.                  Tan ache Urla

A – B: - supposed line of the main drain.


Grand Mendip Digging Challenge



For a barrel of ale to be bought by the losers.

All new cave passage found between 26th November 1978 and the 25th November 1979


N.B. BEC winning to date – 12 feet in Wigmore Swallet!!!



Date For Your Diary

B.E.C. Annual visit to the Lakes, 1979

Date: February 22nd to 25th.

Cottages available. Apply to Mr Sanderson, Fir Garth, Chapel Stile, Gt. Langdale, Cumbria

£15 per cottage + VAT + Electricity.  5 persons -per cottage for the four days.

Any further information ring Mike Palmer on Wells 74693.  EVERYBODY WELCOME

Object - beer/walking/beer/beer/beer/stroll/beer/beer/short crawl/beer/beer/stoned!


Next month will see two new series commencing with a revival of ‘From the Caving Log’ and a monthly survey of Club activities during the last 35 years since the official formation of the BEC in 1943.  Also in the pipeline ‘Mines of Sandford Hill’; details of a mine at Yatton, Thrupe Lane in grots, the latest from Wigmore with a survey – a good start for 1979, keep it up.

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.

A Very Merry Christmas To one And all And a Prosperous New Year

EDITOR: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset. Tele: Priddy 369



By Tim Large

In Committee

At the November meeting, Martin Bishop was co-opted to the Committee to fill the vacancy recently made by the resignation of Bob cross.

A provisional booking has already been made to return to the Caveman next year for the Club Dinner. After paying the bill for this year’s event we still have a surplus of money and so will put this towards next year – perhaps we can have a bottle of wine each!!

John Dukes is still taking orders for BEC sweat shirts – contact him to place your order – preferably with money – see previous BB for details.

A new stock of carbide has been obtained – 35p per pound to members, 40p to guests.

The UBSS are concerned that the access arrangements to G.G. are not being adhered to.  Please make sure indemnity chits and permits are completed by everyone before descending and that the key is returned soon after use. Also, the bolts on the climb to the ladder are being replaced, possibly by some sort of bolt or bolthole which will require parties to take their own bolts if they intend visiting the area. More details will be published when finalised.

1979 Subscription Rate

The membership subscription to cover the period from February 1st 1979 to 30th September 1979 has been proportionally set a flows:

Full members    £2.00

Joint Members   £3.00

Under 18’s         £1.50


B.B. Costs

In an attempt to reduce B.B. delivery costs a 'pigeon hole' board will be installed at the Belfry so that regular visitors to Mendip can pick up their B.B’s from there.  More details when system operative.  Those members who receive their B.B via a hand delivery from someone who lives close by will still receive it by this method.

Burrington Atlas

This caving report is to be reprinted with amendments and additions, notably the Lionel’s Hole extension. Why not place your order now? -  it sold out very quickly last time.

Apologies to Postle and Dizzie.  I will amend the club records and I am sure you can look forward to your names and address being correct in next year's members list.  Once again sorry!

Christmas has crept around again; I expect there will be the usual gathering for the season’s festivities at the Belfry and I hope we shall see those amongst us who are not able to get to Mendip as often as they would like.  Anyway, to one and all, a Very Merry Christmas.


Happy Birthday, Stan

The next account comes from our old mate Stan G.  I'm afraid that this is included in the B.B. a little late due to the manuscript being mislaid, in fact I found in lying between sheets of: 'lettraset'.  Anyway, what better time than Christmas to celebrate Stan’s 30th, birthday remember toast him after the regular Belfry blow-out….

It was my 30th birthday; 30 years caving that is; I always prefer to consider that as my birthday or my re-birthday and it sometimes helps to be able to knock off the odd 15 years or so. Anyway there it was, 30 years caving and the newspapers were screaming 'Great Cave Discovery in Derbyshire, 'Caverns Measureless to Man' etc.  Yes, there are a few caves in Derbyshire.  It seems that some local maniac from the Orpheus had done a solo 'donging' job on the old Winnats Head Cave and had successfully broken through. What better way to spend a birthday? A couple of' pints in the Wanted Inn with convivial company and then a quick thrash to have a look at this wonderful .discovery.  It's not every day a new cave is found in Derbyshire; in fact it’s not every 365 days or 3650 days either!

Thus it was that our intrepid band of explorers, which included 4 B.E.C. layabouts, arrived at the cave to find a hastily constructed notice which said 'Access to THE CAVE 12½p'. We duly paid up but I felt that the farmer would have been happier if we had paid him in genuine good old half crowns.

After a bit of mucking about, we all slid into the cave.  The entrance is a 3 - 4ft high passage descending at an angle of 45 degrees for 40ft and ending on a rubbish tip of countless generations of campers and walkers.  Here, local maniac had done his first 'donging' job and the next 10ft looked like an earthworm’s hideout.  Accustomed as I am to the somewhat larger orifices of Italy, this came as a shock, but Nigel bawling from the front and the impending collapse in the rear, caused by Lennie's wild thrashings, urged me to proceed.  A quick thrutch, a few curses and through, not too bad at all, easier than it looked.  Next followed a creepy bit of passage to a small chamber and the next obstacle. This was a large boulder wedged in the passage to form a sort of letter box.  To me this did not present a problem but at this point 3 of our party debunked and it was as just as well that they did because just beyond this point lies local maniac’s 2nd 'Donging' job, even more miniscule than the first in which our portly companions had had some difficulty.  In the middle of this next squeeze, local maniac had thoughtfully constructed a depression which had filled with water, ideal for cooling off in a tight thrutch or killing you off if you can’t keep your face out!

Then blessed relief, a large chamber some 25ft high and 30ft long.  This was more like ‘caverns measureless to Man’ that I had read about.  We were on the top of a ‘gi-normous’ boulder choke and the way on was a somewhat concealed gap between two large boulders. An easy descent of forty feet brought us to a mouse hole and I recall that as I descended, in the crucifix position, I thought ‘There will be trouble here’ and there was!  Next another tight crawl led to a ten foot climb, with the inevitable piece of knotted rope, and a chamber some 18ft high with hanging boulders that looked as if they would tumble if Lennie produced one of his farts.  We were now at the head of a 25ft pitch; an easy free hanging climb brought us to the incredible main chamber, 160ft long x 60ft high and 60ft wide and decorated in parts.  A truly remarkable discovery for Derbyshire.

After taking photos and having a fag we returned to the surface with some difficulty.  The cave must have some magica1 qualities because everything became topsy-turvy.  What had been easy on the descent became bloody difficult on the ascent and vice-versa. At the mouse hole I envisaged us entombed for life as Lennie got stuck fast, completely blocking the passage and the airway as well.  With much thrutching and cursing, Lennie eventually extracted himself minus helmet, lamp, sweater and pants.  Then it was my turn and I fared no better, stuck fast about 1ft off the ground, legs flailing wildly and no prospects of progressing.  You've heard the song which says 'There's a smashing belay only 10ft away' well this one was only 10 inches away but it might as well have been 10ft.

Fortunately some kind soul shoved an ammo box under my feet and with the extra leverage I was able to disencumber myself.  Eventually we emerged on surface a pretty sorry looking lot and with Lennie giving a fair impersonation of the incredible HULK.

The farmer, counting his toy town half crowns, eyed us with disdain as we went to the cars, the three who turned back, laughed at us, and not one miserable bugger wished me a HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Stan Gee.


P.S.      Rating for the cave.

Tall and slim - moderate

Short and slim - swinish

Short and fat - Bastardish

Tall and fat - Impossible

Ed. Note -         since Stan's visit a second large chamber has been found - when are you going back to have a look Stan?

Another article by Stan is in the pipeline - Italy 1978 - this will appear in the January B.B. together with a new survey of Wookey Hole.



Last month Tim Large outline the arrangements regarding tackle; just too late for the November BB. Graham Wilton-Jones submitted a summary of the tackle situation and this is published below.  A moments thought, after reading the distressing situation will impress on you that the committee have no alternative but to restrict access to the store and if more tackle is lost then all tackle will only be available by a asking a committee member and during mid-week, making prior arrangements.

In the July BB I briefly mentioned that the tackle log was not being used correctly, and that many items of equipment were missing from the store.  By the time the Tacklemaster’s Report was published in September the situation has worsened.  By the AGM the store contained some half dozen ladders, a similar number of tethers and one, yes ONE, rope.  As I write this, a mere fortnight since the AGM, perhaps a few consciences are still pricking and a few garages and car boots being; cleared out a little more thoroughly than usual.  This weekend (20 -22 October) the store actually has a significant quantity of tackle, though, not all it should have by any means.

Someone at the AGM did ask how much tackle was missing and when the value of the missing equipment was queried at the weekend committee meeting I guessed about £400 of ladder and at least half that much of rope.  On the Saturday I did another stock check.  Even while I was doing this two ladders and a tether were returned, and I was informed of the whereabouts of two other ladders.

I believe that a list of missing gear will be useful.  We still await the return of the following ladder's:

L3(10ft); L6(20ft); L7(20ft); L11(20ft); L12(20ft); L16(50ft); L21(20ft); L22(20ft); L24(20ft); L33(20ft); L36(20ft); L37(20ft), L39(20ft); I47(20ft); L38(20ft) and a 30ft lightweight ladder that went missing immediately after I had coded it.  All that adds up to 350ft of ladder, worth at least £1.00/foot.

The following tethers are not accounted for:

T1; T2; T3; T4; T5; T6;T8; T14; T17 and (Spreader) 4. Particularly annoying is the fact that some of these articles were only made in May of this year.

One THOUSAND seven hundred feet of rope is missing.  A little over 1000ft can be written off anyway for a number of reasons; some had been missing for a long time; most is too old to be satisfactory as lifeline; some has been misused and damaged but never ‘officially’ written off.  The following ropes should be in good condition still, but their whereabouts are not known:

N4 R2 (65ft. no.4 nylon); N4 R3 (65ft. no.4 nylon) 140ft polypropylene, coded with blue ends; 60ft polypropylene, coded with blue ends; 150ft Viking Nylon, coded with blue ends, 150ft Viking Nylon, coded with blue ends; Approximately 150ft of brand new nylon super-braidline, un-coded.

The value of this quantity of rope is about £65.00

If we say that the average cost of a tether/spreader is about £1.00 then the value of the missing tackle works out at £425.00. HENCE THE COMMITTEE DECISION TO WITHDRAW PRACTICALLY ALL TACKLE FROM GENERAL AVAILABILITY.  Well, now that we know exactly what is missing how about doing something about it?

Graham Wilton-Jones


News in Brief

Belfry lockers - all members who have lockers at the Belfry should ensure that they have paid their annual rental by the end of January - 50p per year.  Pay this to Chris Batstone NOW or you'll loose it.  Also make sure that your name is on the locker door.

The Committee are waiting for samples of a new Club tie.   It will be in the current wide fashion and a choice of colours silver/royal blue and gold/maroon.  Cost will be about £3.00ea.  Nigel Taylor will be taking orders if the samples are approved by committee members.

The Constitution is being checked for minor editorial corrections by Bob Bagshaw and will be circulated to members as soon us this task is completed.

Cave keys held at the Belfry.  Guests wishing to borrow any of the keys MUST leave £5.00 deposit.  For the Lamb Leer key a hire fee has been set at £1.00. Members giving out the keys should insist on some sort of identification.

Thanks to Tony Tucker for the gift of O.S. maps to the Library and members.

Letters To The Editor

The following letter has been received by Tim Large and should be noted by all members wishing to descend G. B. Cave….

Wthey House,
Withey Close West,
Bristol 9

University of Bristol Speleological Society

To the Hon. Secretaries, Charterhouse,
C.C. Clubs.
26th October 1978

Dear Tim,

My attention has been drawn to the fact that club secretaries are not being sufficiently strict with their members who use the club key to G.B. Cavern with regard to observation of the access rules, agreed to in November 1975.  In particular the following: -

Rule 5:- “C.C.C. permits must be held by each member of the party going down G.B. Cave.”  In order to get a permit each caver must sign the Indemnity Chit.

Rule 6: - I am still having to replace locks at the rate of about six a year, which is absurd, and it is almost entirely due, so I am told, to the practice of leaving the cave unlocked, with the lock lying around waiting to be pinched.  It must surely be clear that a cave the size of G.B. security of unauthorised entry can only be achieved if each party locks the door behind it both on entering and leaving the cave.  Please could you be strict with your parties about this.

Rule 8: - Reservation of digging and exploration right to the U.B.S.S.  The most gross infringement of this rule was by a certain Villis of Cheddar, who spoilt the squeeze on the dry way out of the first grotto. This chap had his tail adequately twisted by his club secretary.  It should be, noted however, that the rule applies to all fixed tackle in the cave, which is the responsibility of the Society.  With particular reference to the Ladder Dig, the Society, with the agreement of members of the Charterhouse C.C. removed the bolts in the wall, the idea being that parties who wished to visit the Ladder Dig could bring their own bolts and remove them at the end of each trip.  This however, has been abused, and unknown persons have fitted at least two sets of permanent bolts, the latest set quite unsuitable, which the Society has had to deal with.  We have not yet finalised our arrangements, but when we have I will let club secretaries know the size of hangers, nuts and spanners that their parties will need to take with them.  In summary, no fixed aids may be put in.

I would welcome your comments on this and on any other ideas you may have which will help us to preserve the amenities of this fine cave.

            Oliver (Lloyd)
                        Hon. Treas. U.B.S.S.


The following letter has been received by Dave Irwin……

Dear Leader,

I regret to inform you that until further notice Fairy Cave Quarry; except for Fairy Cave, is closed for caving trips.

This restriction is due to the fact that Hobbs have been informed by the authority responsible for quarry safety that some rock faces are insufficiently stable.  The Cerberus committee are currently attempting to organise with Hobbs or by other means the stabilisation of the relevant rock faces.

I will inform you as soon as the situation improves.

Yours, Good Caving,

          Ken Gregory, Caving Secretary, Cerberus Spel. Society. 17th November 1978


Dear Editor,

I would like to take this opportunity, through the Belfry Bulletin, to air my surprise on the new ruling by our committee concerning the locking away of the tackle room key.  It was on Saturday 21st October that I was taking a group of 6th form pupils for a days caving on Mendip.  Needing some tackle and inadvertently leaving my Belfry key at home, a trip to the Hunters was called for to beg, steal or borrow a key. On meeting with Mr. ‘N’ it (this new ruling) was explained to me and the reasons for it being that the club had £400 worth of equipment, stolen (or gone missing).  Unfortunately, he and two other members present, could not unlock the Belfry library due to other commitments.  One had left his key at home!  Luckily, one other had his key and kindly went with me to unlock the library to help me out of my predicament.

I put it to the club that on a Saturday or Sunday a member would have no or little, difficulty in obtaining a library key.  But other B.E.C. members, like myself, who do the majority of their caving during the week, to get easy access to the caves without queuing for hours at the 20ft in Swildons, or other reasons would now have to write to obtain a key or hope that a committee member was there.  The latter would be unlikely.  Whilst I appreciate the predicament that the club is in, they must offer a service of some sort to their members.  The easy access of tackle has always been a selling point of the club and one for which many of us have joined the club.  As it stands now my caving days during the week seem to be over.

One or two points to help the club come to mind.  Firstly that the tackle book should be kept where it belongs - in the tackle store, in so doing being a reminder to members to use it.  Secondly, the Belfry lock should be replaced.  So many people other than BEC members must have keys now that Tom, Dick, or Harry, can take equipment.

As it stands now any member who is lucky enough to get tackle should hang on to it.  You won't get any more.

I would appreciate this letter being published in the Belfry Bulletin to find out and stimulate other member’s views on this subject.

Yours faithfully,

Dave Hatherley.  26th Oct. 1978

From the 1943 Caving Log:

March 20th – first trip after the reorganisation of Club.

A trip to Goatchurch. Party went through Drainpipe and examined lowest chamber thoroughly.  A dog marooned half-way up Rock of Ages was rescued by T.H. Stanbury and C. Drumond.  Members present:-T.H. Stanbury, C. Drumond, D.W. .Jones, G. Tait, T. Ward and T. Charles.

3rd April 1943

A trip by cycle to Swildons Hole.  The Club made its first test of wire and duralumin ladder on 40ft pot and found that the ladders exceeded all expectations.  On return journey met. party of 7 men and 2 girls in Upper Grotto and took them out as they were lost!

Members present: T.H. Stanbury, C. Drumond, D. Hasell.

(Ed. note: Though it is generally believed that it was the UBSS that first built electron ladders in this country about 1945 this entry shows clearly that it was the B.E.C. that were first, as usual).


19 July 1959  Stoke Lane

Roy Bennett, Mo Marriott, Norman Petty, John Attwood, John Etough, John Stafford, Bob Bagshaw and others on a trip intended to be photographic, but which developed into a tourist trip.  Sump cold and miserable – otherwise a very interesting trip.  Throne Room and Bone Chamber very impressive.

J.E. (J. Etough)


Anyway Rocket Drop

The following account describes the exploration of a small cave that took nearly three years for the caving population on Mendip to hear about, let alone descend the place.  Accompanying this article is the survey and a group of photographs.  Having done a deal with the Wessex, your Editor managed through the good offices of 'Backbone', to get the survey decently printed and to supply the Wessex for their needs in exchange for the printed pages of the photograph.  One would expect Macmillan’s, David & Charles, Longmans etc. to get caving photos upside, down but NOT the Wessex.  However, they did succeed in doing so - says a lot for their organisation!  Memo to all BEC members 'Have to take the Wessex caving and show them the difference between stals!

by Claire Williams

Rocket Drop first opened in the spring of 1974 when a small, though deep hole opened in one of our fields. The earth continued to subside making a conical hole about 12 feet round and about 10 feet deep leading to a narrow rift.  The rift is about 10ft deep and leads down into a large chamber.

This was explored by Colin (Williams) who found a blind pit on one side of the decorated chamber. The way one proved to be a wriggle through boulders in the bottom of a steeply sloping boulder floor.  This led to a small chamber with flowstone covering the walls below which is a tricky climb of about 20ft (rope advisable). This has now been altered by throwing a boulder or two about to make an easier 15ft climb.  At the bottom the way on was choked with boulders and mud.

Little progress was made over the next few years although our dog, Rocket, was a somewhat surprised Speleodog when he fell down the entrance pitch - hence the name Rocket Drop. The Wessex kindly offered to help with the entrance shaft piping and gating during the autumn of 1977.  After six months or so, many words, much muscle and some brains, four pipes were placed in the cave entrance (they don't get much practise at this sort of thing!).  This made the entrance into a 30ft pitch.

Over the summer of 1977, Colin, Pete Moody and Alison Hooper dug the choke at the bottom of the second rift to enter a long narrow gallery.  This has fine straws end some mud formations.

Further digging and banging opened a low passage at the end of the Second Chamber leading to a tight 15ft vertical rift and the Third Chamber.  From this final chamber a low constricted tube, similar to Easy Street in nearby Pinetree Pot, leads off for a short distance where work is continuing.

The cave is in horizontally bedded limestone and is formed along a series of joints and is probably phreatic in origin.

Tackle required: -

Entrance pitch - 30ft. ladder and 100ft tether:

Blind Pit - 20ft. ladder attached to the entrance ladder.

2nd Pitch (rift) - 50ft hand line.

Access: The cave may be visited by arrangement with Colin either at home at Whitestown Farm, Cheddar Crossroads, Compton Martin, Bristol or at the Hunters (preferably with the offer of some beer!)


Our thanks to the Wessex' A' team for gating (God only knows what the ‘B’ team is like!)

..to Fred Davies and Alan Mills for banging..

..Phil Hendy for the photos (they make it look much better than it really is even though they are upside down!)…

...the 'Wig' for the survey and everyone else who helped.




Brief survey notes: Instruments - Suunto compass and clinometer, 50ft fibron tape. Instruments were hand held and calibrated fulfilling the requirements of a Grade 5 survey.  Original drawing was inked on a stabil material and then photo reduced to suit the size of the BB.  Details of the side rift below the First Chamber were supplied by Phil Hendy.



Le Deuxieme Festival International Du Film De Speleologie

La Chapelle en Vercors, 23 - 27 August '78

Following the successful trip to the Dachstein two of our intrepid explorers went to the cinema…

a report by Ross White…..

The 18th August 1978 saw Andy Sparrow and myself plodding down the road out of Salzberg; having left Graham Wilton-Jones et. al who were returning home after the expedition to the Dachstein.  We were on our way to Le Vercors via Italy, using our thumbs.

Some time later, after surviving a dose of food poisoning and the odd occasion when our sense of humour broke down, we arrived in La Chapelle - En Vercors, a small village situated about 50km south-west of Grenoble.  We met up with Ben Lyon, who had been invited to help judge the films, and Dave Morris, George Bee, Paul Atkinson and families who were over to dive some sumps.  Although we didn't have any caving gear (a prime excuse you might think) as we carried everything on our backs, we did end up doing some caving.

The first trip was with Ben to La Crotte de Bruder, which had a large entrance chamber leading into impressive rift passage.  We only covered a few hundred feet as we weren’t equipped properly and there was a lot of swimming aided by a few dubious looking traverse lines.

We also did some sherpering for the divers into La Grotto de Bournillon.  We’d been well primed with alcohol the night before but the effort was well worth it.  The entrance is immensely impressive (largest in Europe) with a stonking great passage going half mile into the mountainside to the sump pool, which is large, crystal clear and very cold.  D. Morris and P. Atkinson dived 700ft to -70ft then returned, due to the cold and setting tangled in old broken line.

On the opposite side of the valley is a show cave - La Grotte de Choranche, which is an absolute must if you're in the area.  It is exceptionally well decorated and un-commercialised.

As for the festival itself, the second of its kind, the French had obviously put a lot of time and effort into it.  There was an assortment of French, English, German, Belgian, American and Swiss films, 23 in all.  A jury of seven, including Nick Barrington and Ben Lyon studiously sat through all these and eventually awarded Sid Perou's 'Alum Pot' the winning title. 'Pippikin Pot' was also a runner up.

There were a number of remarkable films, the most memorable being, I think; a German film entitled. 'Taucher Im Fels' by W. Mann featuring Joohen Hasenmayer, a cave diver.  It tells of a big push into a large resurgence. The visibility was superb, the passage huge and you can imagine the diver wearing a twin set backpack, four side mounted bottles PLUS a camera in an English sump!  It effectively captured some of the tension and loneliness of long cave.

Another film dealt with the problems of cave conservation in Belgium, problems caused by major quarrying and rubbish tips etc.  Of course, there were a couple of ‘joke’ films - they were so bad, that you had to laugh.

The festival was spread over five days with trips to local show caves and a wine co-operative thrown in for good measure.  It wound up with a dinner and a re-run of the winning films.  As a whole it was worth seeing despite logistic problems and it also gave one a chance to meet foreign cavers.

The cost?  Admittedly not cheap: 10f for an afternoon session, 15f an evening session but you could buy a season ticket for 50f which worked out much cheaper.  Camping fess were nominal.

If anyone is in the area next year I can recommend a visit.  It certainly provides an interesting new dimension to armchair caving! for the dedicated.  The local barman is very friendly and keeps liberal opening hours and some strange reason likes cavers!



These are somewhat shorter this month but we'll try and make up for it in the January B.B.

Address Change: Steve Tuttlebury 28 Beacon Close, Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey.

Otter Hole: The key is available from Peter Capper, Dunraven, Clearwell, Coleford, Glos.

Due to damage in the cave, the RFDCC intend to tighten access conditions.  Details will be available shortly.

Leck Fell ( Yorks.)  Permits for all caves on Leck Fell should - be obtained from:

A. Hall, 64E Manor House Close, Leyland, Preston. PT5 3TY

The Meets Secretary for Casterton Fell only is still:

P. Llewellyn, The Chalet, Lower Newhouse, Waddington, Clitheroe, Lancs.

Penyhent/Gingling - All clubs wishing to visit Gingling next year should make their applications by the 1st February 1979.



On the following two pages are the separate views of Swildon’s stereo plan.

Get a sheet of tracing paper and trace page 14 with a green crayon or felt pen.  Using the guide lines overlay the first tracing onto page 15 and trace this picture with a red crayon of felt pen.

Place the tracing paper onto a good white background to ensure the colours stand out clearly.

Make yourself a pair of red and green glasses, or pinch the kids, similar to those in children’s 3D picture books and see the cave survey for the first time in the full glory of 3D, just turn on the kitchen tap an you can hear the stream plunging into the Double Pots.  Make the wife produce a few gargling noises to stimulate the diving through sump 1 – what a good way of caving in the sitting room!  Make sure you don’t get too excited, fall over the cat and break your legs!  Thanks to Mike Cowlishaw for this copy and to Willie S. for using the survey.


Send them to: Sue Tucker, 75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon.

Details of subscription rates are given in the Hon. Secs. Column ‘Lifeline’ page 2

Swildons Stereo Surveys!.


Wigmore Swallet

Continuing the saga of Wigmore Swallet

Stu Lindsey gives us the up to date picture…..

End of Part One…

The first half of '78 has seen Tony Jarrett and Stu Lindsey busily ginging up the ‘open’ ends of the Winding Shaft.  This was achieved with notable assistance from Chris Batstone, Trev Hughes, Graham W-J, Ross White and Miss Jane Kirby, when they were available.  The task involved mixing by hand, the equivalent, of the ingredients that went into the 'cap', about 2t tons of concrete!

Unfortunately, the need for the ginging….over 50ft of it……meant demolishing the dry walled spoil heaps and the almost complete denuding of Hesitation Chamber.  This latter exercise completely robbing the chamber of its 'loose' character.  However the task did provide a few hairy moments, especially when perched 30ft up the shaft on virtually non-existent ledges, invariably wet and muddy, and handling large boulders and buckets of 'goo'… it was on reflection, quite fun!

In May, with the completion of the most necessary ginging imminent, Stu. L. began the task of constructing the framework to receive the 'cap', areas of obvious instability being grouted in where practical.  The main shuttering (¼"ply) was laid down on five cross members of 2" x 2", each member having 'two legs', this raised them the necessary 3ft up from the only two ledges available on each side of the shaft, stream side and farm side.  (At the present time mid. September, Ed., - this means the cap is mainly supported by the ginging at each end!)  The positioning of the formwork means that the concrete lid is at the same depth as the soil when we started digging.  As a safety measure, and because of the flimsy nature of the base, three large log were dangled under the formwork and suspended by ropes to acrow jacks wedged across the upper part of the shaft.  As things turned out 'the tension on the ropes remained slack throughout the capping ceremony…….!

So, to the big day, the 16th September 1978.  The capping of the Winding Shaft with nearly three tons of concrete.  An operation that made certain doubting Thomas! (no, not Alan Thomas) squib with anticipated delight at the thought of a certain Wigmore Collapse…..sorry to have disappointed you folks!......phew.  The much was mixed in a rather temperamental mixer and pushed 60 yards to the delivery chute where two sweaty figures sculpted it around two yawning orifices.  One, with scaffold pipes across acting as a flood valve!  The entrance hole, 6ft x 4ft. approx. will be covered by the 'wee top frae Ross-shire', this has been delivered from the Bonnie Highlands by various modes of transport.  Whilst no intention of ‘padlocking’ is envisaged the landowner wants it secured - so, the lid will be bolted when the lips of the hole are lined.

Many thanks to ‘Mistair Crestani’ for on-site materials and loan of the mixer and, to all who turned up on the day and assisted with the various operations.  The area around the hole has now been handed back to nature except for the remnants of the big spoil heap which in time will form a dry wall around the ‘cap’.

At present access is still confined to diggers, so anyone wishing to assist please see Stu Lindsey or Tony Jarrett.

It is my intention to display a pictorial history of the dig in the Belfry and also put together 'collections of prints' for various persons.  To this end I would be grateful to hear from anyone who has 'pics' to do with Wigmore, especially subterranean ones, as my camera went wrong during Dec-Jan in the break in period.  My address is 5 Laburnum Wlk, Keynsham, Avon (S.A.E.) or to me at the Belfry.



(For latest leaders list see page 5)

I do not intend to make a habit of writing Editorials in the B.B. as it can easily become a platform for one member’s viewpoint.  The B.B. exists mainly as a mouthpiece for members and the 'Letters Column' should provide a forum for argument and discussion.

However, a problem is rearing its head and the Committee is likely to find not any disagreement within its ranks but a serious administrative headache.  It all concerns the requirement that Cuthbert's Leaders should be covered by a Third Party Liability Insurance.

To go back into history. In 1975/1976 the Insurance Companies revised the level premiums for all caving clubs insured through STEWART- Wrightson in Bristol. The CSCC negotiated and steered the discussions from a single option to a series of policies with the cheapest at about 35p per head up to £4.00 per head.  Up to that time we had been fully covered not only for club activities and land owner indemnity but also for member to member and member to guest Third Party Liability cover the options offered to the clubs were arranged so that clubs could select the insurance cover best suited to their needs and their pockets.  The new insurance rates proposed by the companies were for all members and they flatly refused my suggestion to allow clubs to break their membership down into two categories; active and inactive members, so that two scales of subscription could be introduced according to the insurance rate.  The companies replied that any cover that we accepted had to be all or nothing there could be no division of membership.

After a long discussion at the 1976 AGM the Club decided that they would accept the 44p offer which covered club activities as a body through the Trustees and landowner indemnity. This meant that NO MEMBER had any 3rd Party cover whatsoever from the club insurance and the meeting strongly recommended that if all active members had make their own arrangements to get their own insurance cover and that Cuthbert’s Leaders, who were the most vulnerable for any potential claim, did have the necessary 3rd party cover (£250,000).

On, or about the February 1977 committee meeting decided that all Cuthbert's Leaders should have an insurance cover though neither the Caving See and the Hon Sec. of the time made little effort to enact the committee decision.  The 1977 leaders meeting requested that this decision be looked at again by the committee to see whether the need was a real one and in early 1978 the matter was again discussed by the committee who could see no way within the constitution of subsidising each BEC leader.  Even if they could the insurance premium would amount to over £100 each year at current rates (about £7 each).  Several leaders were able to get cover through their domestic household policies for their caving activities - not cover specifically for Cuthbert's).  Further as the policy would cover each leader for his caving activity in general (not solely for Cuthbert's - in fact no insurance company would issue a policy for Cuthbert’s only except in the situation of paying an enormous premium) it was felt by some members if the committee that it was unfair that members of the club should be subsidising a few members for their overall caving activity.

The Committee, though split, passed a resolution raising the tackle fee from 5p to 25p (20p of the total would be considered a travel expense to be divided amongst all leaders at the end of each year).  So the situation stands.  Late in 1978 Martin Grass, the Caving Sec., was instructed by the Committee to write to all leaders BEC and guests, stating that from 1st January a new key would be fitted to Cuthbert's and only those leaders with the necessary insurance cover would be given a new key.  As far as I am aware only about 6 leaders of the 20 odd BEC leaders have the necessary cover and not one guest has come forward with their cover notes.  With only about 6 leaders for cave access for visitors is going to be severely restricted and the likelihood of external political pressure on the club via organisations such as the CSCC is great indeed. WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?  The matter is urgent and it is unlikely that the Committee will be in one mind in coming to a decision.  Please let Tim Large, Martin Grass or myself have your WRITTEN THOUGHTS so that the committee can discuss the matter in March and if necessary call a general meeting.



National Caving Association

NCA's Legal and Insurance Committee have issued the following comments on the Occupier's Liability Act (1957).  It should be pointed out that these notes are intended for guidance only and do not represent an authoritative statement of the legal position. Whilst they have been prepared in good faith, no liability can be accepted for their contents.

Comment from the Legal and Insurance Committee, No.1 May 1978


This Act has been around since 1957 so it is not a new development. The only change over the years has been that court cases have considerably extended a landowner's duty to care for people who are on his land.  But, basically the effect of this act is as follows:-

1.                  A landowner has a duty of care to people who are on his land (with or without his permission). So, if someone is injured as a result of a failure by the landowner to observe this duty of care then the injured party would be able to successfully claim damages from the landowner.

2.                  It is difficult to say with certainty what docs constitute a failure of a duty of care since this is something the court would decide based on the doctrine of ‘reasonableness’ and also considering all of the facts of the case.  So, it is not possible to give a yes/no answer as to whether a certain set of circumstances would give rise to legal liability.  What follows is an interpretation of the view a court might take.

3.                  A landowner with a cave on his land is unlikely to be legally liable following an accident to a caver underground.  This is because a court would probably accept the view the caver went underground knowing that it was a hazardous undertaking and there would be nothing the landowner could do to make the cave safer because the caver by going underground had agreed to descend the cave as he found it (hazards and all).

4.                  Alternatively, if a landowner diverted a stream down a cave after one had descended with the landowner’s knowledge and an accident occurred as a result, then the landowner would probably be liable.  It is suspected that in those circumstances he might be criminally liable as well.

5.                  In cases where an organisation agrees to administer access to a cave for the landowner, then if the access agreement requires the organisation to keep the cave locked, failure to do this could render the organisation liable as well.

6.                  This could happen if the cave entrance was left unlocked by someone (a non-caver) fell down, was injured, sued the landowner and was awarded damages.  The landowner could then sue the organisation in charge of access for negligence in allowing the entrance to be left open.  The organisation would have to show in defence that it had taken all reasonable steps to show that the cave remained locked. If it were able to do this then it might escape liability which would leave the landowner footing the bill for damages.

7.                  It is because of this possibility that most landowners when granting access to a cave to an organisation usually try to protect themselves by the following:-

a.                  including a clause in the access agreement that requires the organisation to indemnify the landowner in the event of someone successfully claiming damages against the landowner.

b.                  requiring the organisation to take out an insurance policy which would enable the organisation to pay the landowner in the event of this happening.

c.                  require the organisation to ensure that all cavers descending the cave have signed an indemnity chit which, prior to the Unfair Contracts Terms Act, would probably have prevented cavers form successfully suing the landowner.

Unfair Contract Terms Act.

The effect of this is to render indemnity chits in effect is preventing a person suing for damages for personal injury or death.  It does not make them illegal; it just makes them a waste of time, since they have no legal effect.  Now, this is not the disaster it might at first sight seem to be.  Indemnity chits are only effective in preventing someone who has signed one from suing.  In the case of an access agreement the only people who would sign an indemnity chit would be cavers.  These are the people who would have the most difficulty in successfully suing a landowner for damages following an accident in a cave (see 3 above).  It is highly unlikely that non-cavers would sign an indemnity chit before falling down a cave!  So, since the people who are most likely to be able to sue a landowner are highly unlikely to have signed indemnity chits, the fact is that indemnity chits are now ineffective hardly alters the landowner’s liability or risk of being sued.  So, the net effect of the Unfair Contract Terms Act might be to cause the disappearance of indemnity chits.


Fixed Aids In Caves

Ed. note:           the following section is of particular interest to members of the club and I hope that the Club Officers concerned read this and take the necessary action….

Fixed aids in caves divide into two types - those maintained by someone and those which are not maintained.

Fixed aids maintained by someone.  If someone takes it upon himself to maintain fixed aids in a cave then if a person was injured as a result of a failure of a fixed aid then the person who maintained them could successfully be sued for negligence.  An example of this would be where a club has installed several fixed ladders, leads trips down the cave and carries out repair work on those ladders. If one of the ladders failed and someone was injured then the club might well be liable for damages (assuming of course that the injured party sued).  It is obviously difficult to state whether a fixed aid is maintained or not and this is something which, in the event of a legal action, would be one of the major issues for a court to decide.  But, in the present legal climate, if there was fixed steel ladder which had failed, then it would be difficult for whoever had installed it or had been the last person to paint it to escape legal liability of sued.

Fixed aids not maintained by anyone.  Examples of these are the rawlbolts at the head of pitches.  The point here is that it is up to the caver to decide whether to use the aid or not.  For example, a caver at the head of a pitch has the choice of using a bolt or putting a tether round a rock flake.  It is up to him to decide which is the safer.  With the bolt there is a risk of it coming out.  With the flake it might break or the tether might slip off.  The person who has to make the decision as to which one he is going to use is the caver on the spot and he can hardly sue anyone if he makes the wrong decision.

So, to sum it up: if someone looks after a fixed aid or alternatively the aid is the only way the caver can traverse the next bit of passage so he has to use it, then there is a possibility that if a caver is injured he might be able to successfully sue the person who, either maintains the aid or who installed it.  But, if no one maintains the aid and there is a choice of whether to use the aid or not, then it is unlikely that a caver would be able to sue anyone for damages following injuries resulting from the use of the fixed aid.

Current Cuthbert’s Leaders List

compiled by Martin Grass,

(Ed. note:  Since writing the editorial, Martin Grass has produced the latest list of current leaders.  Though the situation is not as bad as the Editorial suggests the subject still need airing.  Some leaders who have insurance cover have stated that they will only be taking their private parties down the cave – so please let’s have your comments as soon as possible and fully air the problem.  ‘Wig.’)

The Saint Cuthbert’s lock was changed at the beginning of January and we now have 14 leaders who have produced their insurance policies and have been issued with new keys.  The list of current leaders is as follows: -

Colin Clarke

Colin Dooley

Martin Grass

Ken Gregory (Cerberus C.C.)

Dave Irwin

Mick Jordan (S.M.C.C.)

Oliver Lloyd

Andy MacGregor

Tony Meadon

Gay Mayrick (S.M.C.C.)

Brian Prewer

Graham Price (Cerberus C.C.)

Nigel Taylor

Dave Turner



Dachstein 1978

Notes on the surveys/caves discovered and or surveyed by Graham Wilton-Jones

On our first full day on the plateau, Hermann, Ross and I headed out to the west of the camp towards the steep cliffs that form the northern face of the Niederer Ochsen Kogel. After a fine night (I'd slept under the stars) the day was clear and hot, so we took little notice of Hermann when he told us not to wear shorts because we were to walk through woods. The 'woods' actually comprised of patches of rather low, flattish bushes of pine (Pinus Montana) cunningly designed to rip legs to pieces. As we climbed the steep lapiaz, following no particular course, Hermann found our first 'site', C1, and labelled it so using a can of fluorescent orange spray paint.  Being some distance from the campsite, we thought, it was not until four days later that we looked at it more thoroughly.  The wide open entrance, overhanging on three sides, had a large pillar of snow and a snow cum gravel slope at one end, while the base was of snow, sloping down to a depth of 9m.  With a couple of holes at the edge of the snow, one leading down a further 6m. J-Rat momentarily interrupted our explorations by hurling himself, along with several large blocks of snow, upside down from the top of the snow pillar into the middle of us, using the cornice descending technique.

Continuing day 1 we moved up to the screes below the Ochsen Kogel cliffs, at the entrance to the corrie Schladmingerloch, where chamois played on the patches of more or less permanent snow at the top of the screes.  Hermann had a list of some holes already known in the area and he wished to find No.7.  At the base of a small cliff I found C2, a short, mud floored tube, rather low and blocked with mud after about 12m.  Hermann found a similar wide, low passage nearby, at the base of another cliff.  It led to a pitch, at the head of which a cairn had been built.  Originally he 'mistook it for No.7 but afterwards labelled it C3.  Five days later the pitch was descended and found to be 33m to a boulder blocked floor.

Hermann began looking for another on his list – No.8 - in the Schladmingerloch, but only found a couple of entrances into narrow canyon passage, later to be designated C30.  In the well worn fault lines below the screes of Niederer Grunberg we heard a stream gurgling away in the inaccessible rift, an unusual sound for this almost bare limestone and presumably the result of snow melt.  Above here, while trying to get a closer look at a crimson winged bird that flitted like a butterfly among the boulders and scree, and up the cliff face, I came upon a narrow, slightly draughting rift at the very base of the Grunberg cliff. This was to be C19, undoubtedly our best find, and almost the furthest away from the campsite.  Meanwhile Ross and Hermann had been finding interesting holes plugged with snow away from the bottom of the screes.

It seemed to me that the holes with initially horizontal sections and those with narrow entrances were those most likely to go.   Large open entrances were likely to be filled with glacial debris (if any had reached this far down the mountain) scree or snow.  However, this was not entirely proved to be the case.



During the return journey we did actually find No.7.  Arriving back at camp we found that the others had all been very busy collecting and sorting gear, and setting up camp.  Hermann left us, going via the bottom station of the Seilbahn and sending up the remainder of our equipment.  Altogether we had brought up 460kg, cost wise it was little over £4.50 each to use the cable-hoist.  I’m certain any sane person would think it reasonable to offer a fiver to someone else to carry 75 kg of gear 3km as the crow flies and up over 1000m.

Andy and Dave had been to the base of Niederer Ochsen Kogel and had found one or two holes, including an interesting sounding resurgence at the bottom of the cliff.  On the way back, in the corner of the camp meadow; Andy noticed cool air around an insignificant, peaky hollow.  Camp site organisation, stopped in favour of Mendip style digging.  Several boulders and copious quantities of moraine were removed to reveal a chamber, beyond which the rumbling spoke of a large shaft.  Belaying to a way marker pole, borrowed from a passing footpath the 20m shaft was descended and a second pitch found.

We removed the ladder and Throstle, with his bare hands, destroyed another large boulder from the entrance in preparation for the morrow.

The following morning, after a bit more gardening by the Haslingden Hammer, creating a veritable skiers trap, the second pitch was descended to a small, grovelly collapsed chambers at a depth of 42m.

It had already rained very early in the morning, and although the day was warm there were clouds and mist patches about.  After midday we had an inevitable mountain thunderstorm, lasting about an hour.  The rest of the day was spent prospecting to the north and south of the campsites.  Most of the exploration and the surveying of the sites found (C5 to 11) took place on the next day, in beautiful weather.  C5 is close to the top of Ochsenwieshohe, having a narrow entrance in the bottom a large depression.  Leaving Thros to sunbathe, J-Rat and I explored and surveyed.  The horizontal development ended at a gravel choke while the deepest point, on a boulder floor, became too narrow as it headed back under the entrance pitch.  On the surface once more, we slid down a nearby, rapidly melting snow patch to C60.  J-Rat and I dealt with this one too.  It is about 100m of basically horizontal, vadose passage with one or two short, climbable vertical sections.  The water flow shown on the survey is conjectured.  It possibly derives from the melting snow patch above.  Otherwise the system may well be related with C5. The water sinks in boulders close to the entrance.  When I found it, I had thought that C7 was promising, having a narrow entrance but immediately widening out.  Ross and Thros dropped it and found it to be only 13m deep with a floor of boulders.  C8, at the head of the valleys leading down to the camp, was filled with snow, but it was possible to climb down to at least 8m between the snow and rock.

Ross, Andy and Dave had looked to the south of the camp, so I spent the afternoon labelling and plumbing their finds.  C9 and C10 lie in the same fault.  C10, although not deep at 7m is a significant gash, being nearly 20m long and 3m wide. C11 is an enormous depression (though my survey notes do not tally with my memory there) and contains No.5 from Hermann's list.  The main depression is spear shaped and also contains an egg-shaped depression 20 x 30m and between 5 and 10m deep, and another small pot, 7.5m deep.

On July 30th came the threat of further thunderstorms.  A small amount of fell in the morning, but not enough to deter us after fortification with 'tee mit rum, tee mit citron and peach cake at the Wiesberghaus.  We dealt with C1 and the leaping J-Rat and then moved north west along the fault lines to a small hill overlooking the Wiesberghaus.  On its eastern slope we explored C12, with its two entrances leading down 17m to a black, peaty choke, and then the nearby C13, only 8m deep and tight.  We then split up and prospected further north: accompanied by rolling thunder and a few, weak spots of rain.  Just below the North West end of the hill I found C14, a slope leading in from the cliff edge to a pitch, similar to C3.  I then searched the cliffs and hollows to the North West but only found rifts of seemingly little significance and one short rock shelter. The area has suffered much block faulting, and perhaps the depressions here are caused by this.  Further over to the east Throstle had found some large holes, 5 to 7m deep but reckoned they were without much hope of extension.  The others searched along the valley between the hill and the Wiesberghaus and found the latter!

The last day of July dawned clear and fine and the Austrian army came to visit in one of their helicopters. Maybe it was an exercise, maybe they were curious to discover what a British caver looked like, or maybe it was just a plot to scatter all our cooking utensils about the meadow with wind from the rotor blades. J-Rat’s beloved ally plate was last seen flying through the air and into a patch of rhubarb growing in a doline.


Escaping from the helicopters we made our way over to C14, which proved to be 40m deep in two pitches. The second pitch was an impressive rift which all but defied our attempts descent it.

The best bolting tool we had was broken on it, there were no natural belays except the large boulders at the head, half of which I had pushed to the bottom, and the piton eventually used broke off part of the wall, bent, and went in all of a centimetre.  I had the dubious pleasure of descending the rift without bouncing too much, only to find that the sole way on, in solid rock, was about 10cm wide.

While J-Rat, Ross, Andy and I had been involved at C14, Thros and Dave explored and surveyed C3. J-Rat then did a through trip of No.7 and extended the cave by pushing down a deep rift near one end for about 8m. Dave wondered over to the area I had looked at yesterday and found C15, about 20m of passage and a large, bouldery chamber.  Ross and I attempted to climb up the northern cliff of Niederer Ochsen Kogel, but I felt that a short climb near the top needed some kind of protection, though Ross would have happily continued.  We skirted around the edge of Schladmingerloch, with ravens and alpine choughs soaring and performing acrobats above, and chamois playing in the snow below.  Ross investigated where some water came through narrow cracks in the cliffs to form a small waterfall down to the scree edge.  Other accessible holes in the cliffs were merely rock¬ shelters.  Returning via C3, a route which was now becoming standard, Ross found a couple of deep rifts.  C16 was just around the corner form C3, while C17 was at the end of the C3 cliff face, immediately beneath part of a snowfield over which we had walked several times.  We let everyone know of its whereabouts as soon as possible - and moved the route over the snow field a little to one side, away from the pot.  Leaving the exploration of these two until the following day we headed for camp.  Close to the main footpath between the Wiesberghaus and the Simonyhutte J-Rat and Andy found a Yorkshire style entrance to a 9m deep climbable pot, later labelled C21.  This was typical as a day of wandering in the lapiaz ¬whenever we went to do something specific we came across other sites of interest, giving us all the more to do.

Tuesday, August 1st was fine again, but for reasons unknown we were late getting up the hill.  On the southern corner of Niederer Grunberg there was a large opening that intrigued us.  Without binoculars - it was a foolish decision of mine not to bring them - it was impossible to tell what it might be like because it was high up in the cliff and only visible from the southern side of Schladmingerloch.  A sloping grassy ledge seemed to lead across to it.  From C3 we watched Tony climb towards it but he ended up above it and unable to locate it. Had we been in touch with walkie talkies we could have directed him to it.  As it was he had some difficulties retreating and had to be talked down from below.  The cliffs are steep here and contain numerous holes.  Hopefully we can abseil down to some of then next year.

Tony and Andy traversed around the north and west of Schladmingerloch and found three more significant caves.  C23 was a small cave at the top of the scree, sloping down to a depth of 7m and absolutely coated with and blocked with moonmilk.  C24, at the top of a high slope of scree running down form a bay in the cliffs, had to wait exploration for a week, when I went there with spray paint and a ladder.  The pitch was 8m into a pool floored chamber with little other development.  When I searched the third one, C25, I failed to locate it.  According to Tony’s notes it is a snow slope cave with ice formations, 6m deep and blocked with a snow choke.  It is in a grassy area on the south side of the corrie below the base of the west cliff.

While they were doing their circuit of Schladmingerloch the other four of us descended and surveyed C16. It was a rift opened out in one of the faults.  Part way down the rift a traverse across from a wide ledge led through a narrow opening to further rift.  Being the only one with waterproofs I dealt with C17, since its roof of melting snow caused continuous rain down below.  The survey was somewhat awkward.  Not wanting a soaking wet survey book I left this at the top and took down the end of the tape.  After a short ladder descent, first to - 10m, then to 16m, shouting up instructions like ‘end of ladder’.



Read now.  I traversed across snow and boulders and climbed down to the bottom the pot, where the drip was less, and the way on was too narrow. Communication was difficult, and although the survey readings agree with what I shouted and what I heard replied, the survey does not look right.  The final climb down didn’t seem as steep as the survey shows.  Thros and I then briefly looked at C18.  Although it continues beyond the survey it is tight and awkward.  5m inside is a superb example of a Dachstein fossil - Megalodont (Kuhtrittmuschel) - 'Cow hoof print mussel', projecting from the wall. These are very numerous in this limestone, but are usually visible as planed off sections.

We moved up to the Grunberg cliff and the entrance passage of C19 was looked at -100 feet of heightening rift, still going gently downwards and draughting.  Andy was confident about its prospects.

Half way between Niederer Ochsen Kogel and the campsite Dave and I had found a deep, snow filled hollow in the morning.  By the evening some of the snow had melted and I was able to enter a short horizontal passage; but my light was at C19.  The site was designated C200.  Over a week late I had a brief chance to look at the place again, with a light.  The rift continues over the head of a short pitch that could require tackle because of the overhang.  Another one for 1979.

Every evening was spent in the Wiesberhaus.  There we made many friends of various nationalities, but especially Austrian and German.  Mendip style signing sounded rather rough compared with Austrian yodelling, though Thros excelled himself with a few northern folk songs.  At times the 'haus' family got out their own instruments, Fritz on the skiffle, Fitzi on guitar and Freddi on squeeze box.  Occasionally I managed a bit of diary writing, or persuaded one of the others to draw a quick survey, but highly close social atmosphere of an alpine hut is not conducive to such activities.

On the Wednesday after breakfast our German friends from Wessling, near Bonn, came over to say good-bye, and to invite us to drop in on them on our way home.  We showed them some of our caving gear - most was now scattered far and wide about the plateau - and trundled a few boulders down C4.  Then, all of a sudden, mist rolled in, obliterating the campsite in seconds and it began to rain slightly.  I decided to wander up to the Simonyhutte.  Reaching it in about 45mins, I continued on up to the snout of the glacier, where I was just above much of the mist.

Above the hut, beside route 601 to the ice-field, I came upon a large shaft partially blocked with snow.   Just below the ice tongue, in one of the rock hummocks above the snow, well to the left of the path, was another shaft.  In the rock hummock closest to the ice tongue was a 5m shaft down to water. In all probability these three sites will have no, potential as they will be blocked by moraine.  Like all North European glaciers, the Hallstatter Gletscher, is retreating rapidly and only recently must have covered the site that I found.  The sound of melt waters pouring off, through and under the glacier was impressive, filling the valley with noise.  This vast quantity of water immediately disappears into the terminal moraine, below which it must sink into, the limestone.

When I returned everyone was in the 'haus' with Helmut, who had come up for a couple of days.  After a quick meal and drink, Tony, Hoss and Thros went to the Jaghaus, in the Herrengasse, the deep valley to the north. We had already looked at some sites in this region when we went down to Hallstatt earlier, but a ladder was needed to look thoroughly at 1546/16.

The rest of us moved up to C19.  Most of the rest of our stay was devoted to this pot, but on our frequent journeys out there several other sites were found, and we managed to look at these during the de-tackling of C19.  Maulwurfhohle, as we later named it, begins as 50m of westwards heading rift, narrow and awkward, gradually deepening, and dropping into a big passage at a 25m pitch.

Dave went down first on ladder, and ran about letting his-mind be blown.  They don't make them like that in Scotland.  Climbing up a boulder pile from the bottom of Platzlschacht he reached the base of an aven whose top disappeared into the blackness, making it over 50m high. Downwards a traverse on ledges soon looked over another blackness, the 60m Dorisschacht.  We made our way out through the twisting Gargantuagang to tell the good news and to prepare more tackle.

More mist came on the Thursday, almost immediately after Dave had left for C19, so the rest of us made our way to the Wiesberghaus instead, where Dave soon joined us.  It would be all too easy to become lost in the pathless lapiaz in the mist, and there’s no schnapps up there.  Later we decided to risk the journey up and the mist cleared by the time we reached C3.  Once at the bottom of C19's Platzlschacht, Tony, Dave and Ross ridged a 12m handline down a narrow, back and¬ foot, bouldery rift, the Stiegl. They bolted a ladder down the next 10m to the head of the following pitch.  Thus they had by-passed some of the big pitch found yesterday.  Tony and Ross descended the remainder of the big pitch (40m) using four rope protectors on the ledges, where it will probably have to be re-bolted next year.  At the bottom they found a series of parallel pitches, up to 50m deep.  Andy, Thros and I went into the system and did some surveying from Aufartz, the big aven, to Dorisschacht.

Back at the camp an enormous thunderstorm broke, but we still managed a Spag. Bol. mit wasser. The clear night turned to rain again by morning, but Hermann, in his own inimitable, Austrian way, splashed enthusiastically through the wet to persuade us back to C19.  Ross, Thros, Dave and Tony went up to descend one of the next pitches and continue exploration.  Andy and I went up later to survey the entrance passage, and then came out with some excess tackle.  It rained hard while we were down and drips began to appear from everywhere.  The others found it wet too.  They found that, below the 50m pitch the passage soon deteriorated into a tight, wet, 80-90m rift, the Schlangengang, reaching an estimated depth of -192m.

The weekend was spent climbing the Dachstein and washing and mending equipment, dubbing boots, drinking, eating, sunbathing and relaxing - what all good expeditions are about.

On Monday Ross and Andy took some of the gear (wet suits, crampons, ice-axes etc.) down to the lower Seilbahn station and visited the Bank in Hallstatt - they had been overspending at the Weisberghaus.  The rest of us went to C19, taking Freddi from the 'haus' to do his first ladder pitch. He was suitably impressed.  While Dave took him out, we descended and surveyed Dorisschacht.  Thros went into the rift containing the next three pitches, pulled up the rope from the big one, rigged a traverse line, and started putting in a bolt for another pitch. J-Rat and I followed a rift above and reached a chamber, through the wall of which I could hear Thros hammering. We dropped down a 10m ladder pitch to find we had spiralled back below Thros, about 12m down.  All three pitches joined at a chamber, beyond which a rift, Belfry Avenue, continued.  J-Rat followed this for about 80m gradually descending.  The floor dropped away, very narrow, about 25m, and a good draught went along the rift.  In several places there were bat droppings.  J-Rat's light went out and he got lost trying to return at the wrong level in the rift, but I found him after about an hour.  (Haven’t we heard this tale before?)  On the way out, at the head of the first pitch, I dropped my carbide light and J-Rat's ran out just as he reached me.  The others had made their exit.  The spare lights were at the bottom of the system.  We had sort ourselves out as we hung there - not a good state to be in.

Hermann came with us on Tuesday, more enthusiastic than ever, the rain being wetter than usual. It was so miserable we settled for breakfast in the Wiesberghaus.  J-Rat, Andy and Hermann went to C19 first, Hermann to take some photo's for the Austrian press.  He did not like the entrance passage one little bit and assured us that Austrian cavers would never have looked at it.  He went to the bottom of the first pitch, and Andy and Tony continued on down to explore Belfry Avenue.  They pushed it over 150m to find T.T.F.N. schacht, 10m deep below a 30m aven. Unfortunately no time was left this year to explore further.  They began to bring all the gear out of the cave to the entrance, checking various side passages on the way, especially those near many Meetings, the area off the bottom of Dorisschacht.

Ross, Dave and I went up to the cave a little later.  Dave and I removed some tackle and came out with Hermann.  Ross and I went into the Schladmingerloch, where it was snowing through the swirling mists.  We surveyed and labelled C23 and C24, but I could not find C25 despite a long search. Ross, meanwhile, had found some more sites.  C27 is a large, but rather shallow (4m) hole floored with large boulders.  C28 is near C30 and is a partially snow-filled rift leading to ice formations with no way on.  C29 was most interesting, being another snow-filled rift leading down to ice formations and an ice floor.  However, in this case a draught had kept a hole open through the ice.  Next day we put a hand line down the ice hole and climbed down an ice slope, smashing many icicles en-route, to the head of a 20m pitch between ice and the rock wall.   This will need looking at in 1979 using a ladder, provided that the ice hole is open still.

Freddi had showed us a hole which he understood to be Schmalzgrubenhohle, which is marked on the map, though this name has been given to No.7.  It had been descended by an Austrian caver, but was not marked and was not on Hermann's list.  After a 5m free-climbable pitch 30m of descending passage led to another pitch, which divided, leading down to depths of 35m and 38m.  Somewhere the draught has been lost.  Otherwise it is a promising pot.  We designated it C31, but the painted number washed off in the rain.

Even on the last trip down from C19, removing tackle, another hole was found.  Returning via a different route, along the cliffs above C3, I found a short pothole leading to an inclined, bouldery rift.  Ross named it Ost Wasser Hohle, and delighted in trundling high boulders down the rift to make his way on safe.  As might be expected he blocked the way on with an enormous block, but then decided he had lost the draught and the way had to be elsewhere.

Thus ended a very successful recon of the area.  This year we brought along much more rope than we actually required.  Next year we will probably need more, to use as surface fixed ropes to gain access easily to the top of Hoher Grunberg.  Wet suits were not necessary this year, but next year we have been offered a trip into the extensive Hirlatzhohle, just above Hallstatt.  There is a wet, lower section of lakes and streams in this cave.  We have also been offered a trip beyond the show cave section of the Mammuthohle.

The 1979 Dachstein Expedition will begin, hopefully, round about Friday, July 20th and last until mid-August.  We may have the use of a small hut beside the Wiesberghaus but this has yet to be settled. No doubt we shall again have our base camp in the Ochsenwies-Alm, though it may be necessary or desirable to have a small camp on the top of Grunberg.

If you have enthusiasm, can afford the time and save up the money ( Austria is a very expensive country) then let us know if you wish to join us next year.  Arrangements are underway now.

NOTE: On the survey plans  NM indicates magnetic north from hand held Silva

  N indicates estimated north.

Attempts to measure declination were not entirely satisfactory.  It is not given on the map.  Surveys were made using fibron tape and hand held Silva compass.







Dates For Your Diary

February 10th

Rift Pot, Yorks. Anyone interested should contact Dave Metcalfe in Blackpool.  Tele Blackpool 65985.

February 22nd to 25th

BEC to the LAKES.  Cottages available.  Apply to Mr Sanderson, Fir Garth, Chapel stile, Gt. Langdale, Cumbria.  £15 per cottage plus VAT and electricity.  5 persons per cottage for the four days.  Further information from Mike Palmer.  Tele: Wells 74693.  EVERYBODY WELCOME.

February 21st

Argyll Caverns.

February 28th

Paul Esser Memorial Lecture given by John Liddell entitled “British Wild Water Canoe Expeditions” at 8.15 pm in the Arthur Tyndall Memorial Theatre, Physics Department, Tyndall Ave., Bristol 8.  Admission free.

March 11th

Lancaster/Easegill.  Anyone interested should contact Dave Metcalfe.  Telephone: Blackpool 65985.

March 17/18th

Peak Cavern/Winnats Head Cave.  Staying at the Pegasus C.C. Hut.

Easter 1979

Yorkshire.  Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club Hut.

Dates for your diary cont…


17/18th, March

Peak Cavern/Winnats Head Cave, Staying at the Pegasus C.C.  hut.

Easter 1979

Yorkshire.  Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut.

21st Feb.

Aygill Caverns.

SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE OVERDUE………………………….Come on you lot and pay up!

Full members £2.00; Joint members £3.00 and Under 18's £1.50……………………. send your subs to

Sue Tucker, BEC Hon. Treasurer, 75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon.


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.

Ed. apologies for the standard of the surveys – we are using a different type of stencil that appears to cut poorly using the stencil styilis.

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