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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… 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





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


Next month will see in the start of a new club year and of Course the AGM and Annual Dinner.  What follows is all the paperwork you will need for the EGM and AGM including the Officers Reports that have been vetted by the committee at their August meeting.

E.G.M. of B.E.C. to be held at the Belfry at 10.00 (not 10.30) a.m. on Saturday 7th October 1978. This meeting has been called by the 1977/1978 Club Committee.

1.                  Election of Chairman

2.                  Motion proposing a revised club Constitution (a draft copy was circulated with the August B.B.)


Annual General Meeting of the B.E.C. to be held at the Belfry on Saturday 7th 1978.  Time - to commence on conclusion of the E.G.M.


1.                  Election of Chairman

2.                  Election of Minutes Secretary

3.                  Collection of members resolutions

4.                  Minutes of the 1977 AGM

5.                  Matters Arising from the Minutes of the 1977 AGM

6.                  Hon. Sees Report

7.                  Hon. Treasurers Report

8.                  Auditors Report

9.                  Caving Secs Report

10.              Climbing Secs Report

11.              Tacklemasters Report

12.              Hut Wardens Report

13.              B.B. Editors Report

14.              Election of B.B. Editor

15.              Librarians Report

16.              Publication Officers Report

17.              Election of Club Trustees (dependent upon EGM)

18.              Election of Officers (dependent upon EGM)

19.              Members Resolutions

20.              A.O.B.


Hon. Sec's Report

This year has been a busy one; in committee and within the Club, both on the caving side and socially.

The Committee has, been involved with setting up the sub-committee to review the constitution and much good work has been done by this body, particularly Martin Cavender, who without his help on the legal side many problems could not have been overcome. Martin has also helped solve the problems of Club Trustees and this should be overcome in the near future. The club has maintained its membership numbers with one or two exceptions, but we have been pleased to welcome some new members.  The committee has been more selective regarding new members and several were deferred, mainly because they were not known well enough.  It is interesting to note that the average age of new members is rising, and is about 24-25 now.

Socially, the regulars have enjoyed several (!!) of the usual 'Belfry Barrels' on Saturday night. Together with one or two birthday, celebrations and the midsummer buffet, these have made for an enjoyable year fitting in with, but not deterring the main activity of the club, caving.  As indicated by Nigel Taylor's report, the caving scene has been encouragingly active both on and off Mendip.  The Club now appears to be functioning much more happily and hopefully will do so in the future.

I have been in attendance at various CSCC meetings and it now looks as if the south is getting some sense from other regions which the club supports and we shall continue to pressure NCA into what we believe is the correct way of doing things.

At the CCC meeting, some nonsensical proposals were passed regarding the restriction of the time limit on permits, but the club now opposes these and action has been taken to remedy the situation.

Our activities, both caving and social have involved us with other clubs - liaison with our friends near and far being most welcome.  I hope we can look forward to continued progress during the coming year.

Tim Large

Hut Engineer's Report

I was co-opted on to the Committee in the middle of May this year, as a result of the resignation from the post of Engineer of Martin Bishop.  At that time, the hut was in a reasonable state bearing in mind the considerable use it had been put to by the club and the Royal Navy.  Maintenance has continued piecemeal since then, with minor jobs being attended to whenever time and help was available.

A brief summary of work done, not necessarily in order: Clothes line re-erected; double-drainer sink fitted under water heater; heater removed, cleaned, refitted; wall to window ledge under heater tiled; outside guttering repaired; hole adjacent to drinking pool backfilled and re-turfed; window frames painted outside; septic tank excavated and inspected (work in hand); lockers painted, inventory of Belfry tools and possessions made, ventilator fitted above cookers.

A lot of work still needs to be done, mainly: alterations to tackle store, providing a larger store/workshop; soak away needs finishing; Belfry drive and car park needs some chippings; large amounts of walls, doors and ceilings need repainting and the showers need some efficient form of ventilation.

I hope that, if I am re-elected, or indeed if someone else is voted Engineer, the regular members will help continue the work on our most valuable asset.

Bob Cross


Hut Warden’s Report


In general, running the Belfry has been relatively easy this year; numbers staying at the hut have been evenly divided between members and guests.  A noticeable drop in the bookings from groups bring large parties to the hut has occurred.  This, I think, is party due to the introduction of the three tier system. The introduction of the three tier system has caused a few misunderstandings amongst a number of our members but I hope these have now been cleared up.   Admittedly there are areas for improvements.

During the course of the year the Belfry has been used as a venue for NCA, CSCC and ISC meetings.  A number of foreign cavers were made very welcome by the Belfryites during the ISC and it is hoped made some useful contacts. It’s really amazing how quickly Australians pick up Anglo-Saxon.

The hut has been reasonably clean and tidy over the past twelve months although there have been occasions when things have lapsed.  Much work in and around the Belfry is still to be done and I feel that it is rather a pity that more attention is not paid to this part of club activities.  A good deal of tidying up has been done but once again by the same old people who are doing the work and sacrificing much of their time in the process.  The excuse that no-one knows what needs doing does not carry any weight – you only have to ask.


This year, hut takings are upon last year but this is chiefly due to the Navy groups from HMS Daedalus who have increased their number of visits.  The financial position is as follows: -

Hut fees, publications and spares, showers and tackle fees etc……………£670

Navy parties (paid up)……………………………………………………...£170

Navy parties (due up to 31st July)……………………………………….....£190


The above figures are shown simply as monies paid over to the Hon. Treasurer after day to day expenses for repairs and maintenance of the hut – they are exclusive of overheads such as electricity, gas and rates.

From an inspection of the books for 1976-77 it may be seen that the hut fees and scales are approx. the same this year as last year’s figures. As I have already explained the Navy mid-week parties have provided our largest increase, in the region of £250 on last year.

Still on the subject of money – overdue hut fees are still outstanding.  At last years AGM, my attention was drawn to the large amounts of outstanding fees.  Of these I have managed to collect a fair proportion, what remains I have brought forward on to this years of outstanding fees to ensure that these debts are not forgotten.  It is hoped that a large proportion of these will be paid up by the time of the AGM.

It now remains, in conclusion, to thank people who have helped out on various occasions and made my job easier in the past twelve month’s reign of terror.

Chris Batstone


Caving Sec’s Report

I am pleased to report that the club has had a good and active caving year.  To give you some idea of the members activities I have examined all three caving logs and the following figures may be of interest to members.  These are based on the period 1st October 1977 to 23rd July 1978 and obviously are only those recorded by obliging and dutiful members,

St. Cuthbert's

32 general members trips, 4 club digging and 32 guest trips of which’s 7 were private Cerberus Speleo Soc; 2 WCC; 1 SMCC giving a total of 68 trips.

The Leaders Meeting was held on the 30th October 1977 in Cerberus Hall, St. Cuthbert's and was attended by 11 BEC and 5 guest leaders of which 2 were S:MCC and 2 Cerberus with the fifth being an independent leader.

General Mendip

The log records some 90 Mendip general trips and 30 digging trips – not surprisingly Swildons was favourite showing 25 visits, GB - 16, Manor Farm -9, August Longwood - 5 and Eastwater - 7 whilst the remainder covered the other smaller Mendip caves with 28 associated visits.

Wigmore Swallet, the only BEC official club dig bore the brunt of much fevered digging activity and was to a small extent a minor success with a fine 30ft entrance shaft some 15ft x 10ft at the top and some approx. 200ft to its name.  Lionel's Hole at Burrington is proving a good success but these details have appeared in the BB also some work has been attempted at Sludge Pit renewed activity has restarted in St. Cuthbert's at Sump 1.


16 trips have been made in this period to Yorkshire.  Juniper Gulf, White Scar, Long Churn, Marble Pot, Bar Pot, Heron Pot, Gaping Gyhll, Disappointment Pot, Kingsdale Master Cave, Tatum Wife, Dow Cave and Dowber Gill Passage, Yordas, County Pot, and King Pot being visited.

South Wales

South Wales has been the second most favourite area with some 8 trips, those being into Rock and Fountain, OFD, Porth yr Ogof, Pant Mawr Pot, Tunnel and Agen Allwedd.


6 trips have been made to this area, the caves visited being Speedwell Cavern, Giants, Oxlow Cavern, Peak Cavern and P8.

Other Areas

Two Otter Hole trips are recorded in the Forest of Dean area and to prove that the BEG get everywhere there has been one trip to Sutherland end a visit to Fingels Cave, furthermore at the moment several of our members are abroad on expeditions to Austria and France amongst other areas.

During my year of office there has been much political activity on both National and local level - but though same of this is allegedly associated with caves and caving I have no intention whatsoever to mention any of this in nor report simply for personal reasons.  I neither enjoy nor indulge in such activities as I feel these are best left to others and not to the club caving sec.

Initially, at the start of my year of office, I attempted to arrange some regular meets and jointly with the Climbing Secretary, several requests for ideas were put in the B. B. - the response was overwhelming – nil!

Accordingly I decided and made public my intentions not to make any arrangements, several of us instead – making known locally our intentions of away trips to Derbyshire and Yorkshire and simply seeing who turned up.  This approach seems to be what the active BEC bod prefers.

One point of issue that I wish to bring before the AGM is the somewhat dubious state of the fixed tackle in St. Cuthbert's of which I believe next years committee should be made aware, Arête Pitch ladder and fixing chain, the positioning of a proper rawlbolt in the entrance rift are just two of the problems.

Also I wish to suggest to the persons to whom it concerns that when any dig is undertaken, it is not an official club dig until a request for such has been made to the club committee for insurance and other reasons.  Furthermore, much of our digging gear has been abandoned around disused digs and sites thus depriving others if its use and also leaving the club open to possible criticism.

Lastly I must state that I stood last year for election to the club committee and was obviously successful, however my belief that a members who stands as such must be prepared to tackle any job of elected was truly tested as no other person at the tie wanted the post!  However, I am now aware of the fact, I will return to regular uniform duties as of May 1979, I cannot guarantee that if I were to stand and be elected to the new committee that I should manage to attend every monthly meeting therefore I am now putting myself forward as a general candidate for the new committee only on the clubs acceptance of that position.

May I wish my successor well with his endeavours.

Nigel P. Taylor
July 1978


Librarians Report

It is gratifying to be able to report that the library is being used to a fair degree as a reference source and for general reading.  During the year the usual additions have been made from various club exchanges but I feel that a major overhaul of our exchange list is overdue.  Several clubs have stopped publishing and until they resume their publications, the BB exchange should be dropped.

Several items have been purchased and many donations have been received including maps, club journals and books.  To all who have contributed our thanks.  Members who have caving material that is gathering dust on their shelves could possible consider donating this material to the club collection before disposing of it into the dustbin.  The black side is the loss of several items mainly CRG Transactions and a couple of books. Personally I believe that they have been taken out without the borrower recoding the details of the relevant book. Would people concerned please return these items or inform next years Librarian of their whereabouts.

Space is now a major problem and the wardrobe in the Library is to be revamped to house a larger part of the collection.  This will cost a few pounds but considering the value of the collection, both from a monetary point of view as a reference source, this will be money well spent.

I would like to records our thanks to Kay Mansfield for binding up a large number of the club periodicals which incidental, she has been doing for a number of years now.

Having done this job for six years I feel that it is time someone else should take over.  Six years is too long in any Club post.  However, having said that I am prepared to continue if the Club so wishes.

Dave Irwin

Climbing Secs. Report

The Climbing section whilst almost, grind slowly to an imperceptible crawl over the last year. BEC members visited Austria and small parties made forays into North Wales; The Lakes etc.  The faithful few still keep the name alive but I think the roll of climbing Sec. be amalgamated with another committee post.

Russ Jenkins.


B.B. Editors Report

It is with some concern that I give this report as I know that several club members do not approve of the style of the BB's I have produced in the last year.  Having said that I do not intend to enter into a long dissertation on the matter except to say that I seriously believe that the BB must reflect the activities of the current active membership of the club and be a source of information on caving and climbing matters generally.  It should also be to a standard requested by the active membership - if it fails to meet this demand we might as well resort to the armchair.  The position of the BB in its relation to the Caving Reports including 'Cave Notes' has been very much misunderstood by several members over the last few years. The BB contains articles of a general nature, whereas the single topic material of a more serious and original nature left placed in the Caving Reports.

The club purchased a new batch of covers at the beginning of 1977 when the format changed from A5 to A4 but these have only lasted until August this year.  To get us off the hook, Garth Dell printed a number of covers, sufficient for the next 18 months or so.

The Club should also investigate the possibilities of purchasing a printing machine.  Up to date we have survived by individuals owning such a machine.  Alfie bought the off-set litho machine some years ago and gave me the Gestetner. When Alfie stopped printing the BB last year so went the use of the offset litho machine.  The Gestetner is currently being used and as far as I'm concerned this is club property but it will not last forever.

During the course of this year, the Committee sanctioned the purchase of 100 reams of paper at £1.12p per ream.  This is not ideal paper for the duplicator but it prints adequately though perhaps not with the same clarity if we were using the good quality Gestetner paper. But events forced us to make such a purchase as the cost of Gestetner paper rose from £:2.50 to £3.60 in less than five months.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all members who have contributed material and ask them to be patient if their material is not published immediately - topicality is given first priority.  I've been fortunate this year in that there has not been any shortage of material - so keep it up please.  Secondly I must thank those members who have helped in many ways - typing, printing, collating at the Belfry.  There are a few names I must record in my thanks, Maggie Large for a considerable amount of typing; John Dukes for printing and Mike and Pattie Palmer for the postal and distribution.  Incidentally, Mike has done a grand job in the hand distribution - he has reached 30% of the club membership.

The BB Editor is now in a unique position as he is elected by the AGM after the precedent set by the 1977 AGM.  If anyone is prepared to take over the job they are welcome but in not I'm prepared to continue if members feel that the end product is to their requirements,

Dave Irwin

Publication Editor’s Report

There have been no publications this year and no new ones ere envisaged for the immediate future. I have not been able to put sufficient time into the job, and none of my anticipated timetable worked out in practice. The facilities available to me are no longer in existence.

The Cuthbert’s Reports have progressed a little, and thanks are due to Glenys Bezant for typing proof copies for photocopying offset plates.

It has been decided to alter the format of the Burrington Atlas, since there are several alterations or additions to be made to this publication.

I hope that someone with more energy, time and enthusiasm will be prepared to take on the post next year, as I do not think it fair to hang on to a job which I have not done well.

Graham Wilton-Jones


Tacklemaster’s Report

My report this year is one long moan.

I have spouted enough on previous occasions about taking proper care of equipment we have, about using the tackle log correctly and keeping the store neat and tidy.  The moan is about missing tackle this year. In particular we still have five lifelines missing, one being a brand new length of superbraidline nylon left in the Library until I could label it.  At one time all the older tethers were missing, though one turned up recently in a totally useless condition.  Several ladders are also missing.  For a short period of time, even the tackle log went missing.  The missing equipment cannot be accounted for by going through the tackle log to find who borrowed it, for it just has not been signed out.  After I mentioned the loss of certain items of tackle in the BB some months ago, two ladders and a rope, in a disgusting state, were returned.  That was all.

Thanks once again to Mike Palmer for the plentiful supply of C links.  Most of these have been used for the manufacture of new tethers which have now gone into circulation.

The superbraidline that was not stolen has been cut into lengths of 50ft, 100ft and 150ft.  It is kept in the roof along with other reserve store tackle such as the lightweight ladder.  During the last weekend in august the roof was broken into again yet again.  How long will the reserve tackle be safe?

Reserve tackle has been mixed up with equipment from the ordinary store, and lightweight ladder has been used for general trips on Mendip.  The arguments against this practice should by now be well known. The lightweight gear is not substantial enough to withstand constant use, and is reserved for the use solely away from Mendip.

To return to the original moan, I cannot see the Club sanctioning the expenditure of further monies on tackle while the current phase of misuse continues, nor can I justify any request from me for extra equipment.  That I can see is the restriction of tackle by removing it from the Belfry site, a very sorry but seemingly necessary state of affairs.

Graham Wilton-Jones

Nigel Jago

Members will be shocked by the tragic loss of Nigel Jago who was fatally injured at work on Friday 1st September 1978.  His work for the Club as Climbing secretary and climbing generally are well known to members of the club. 

Our deepest sympathies to Sue and the children.


Twenty Years Ago In The BB

Memory Joggers

compiled by Martin Bishop

I decided a few weeks ego, to dig back through some old BB's and see what I could find.  After awhile I thought, why not sort out a few articles and republish them.  So, I've picked out a few from the year of 1958 to start with.  I feel that these snippets will not only jog a few memories, but also bring home to some of the new members that things at the Belfry really ain’t so different today.

Mat 1958 'Cooking for Cavers I

Baked Beans a la Hobbs
Ingredients: 1 tin baked beans
1 bottle Coate's Triple Vintage Cider

Method:  Stagger from bed.  Cast bleary eye around kitchen.  Locate ingredients.  Imbibe sufficient liquid from bottle to find tin opener.  Open tin.  Imbibe more liquid to fortify constitution.  Wait until floor becomes steady before lighting gas.  Catch sight of beans.  Close eyes and reach for bottle.  Swallow.  Repeat as necessary.  Turn beans out carefully into saucepan.  Finish bottle to settle stomach.  Throw beans into rubbish bin.


You really don't change, do you Sid!

October 1958 Extract from the Log.  22-23 Sept 1958.  St. Cuthbert's.

A party of four, including Mike Wheadon, Mike Palmer, Albert Francis and Prew went down at 8.30pm and went straight to Catgut Extension.  Went into the chamber found by Mike Wheadon on the 21st September. SIZE IS SIMILAR TO THAT OF QUARRY CORNER.  THE FORMATIONS AT THE TOP END ARE PROBABLY AMONG  THE FINEST IN THE ENTIRE CAVE.  The chamber was named September Chamber.  At the bottom of third chamber, a small hole leads to a chamber in the centre of which was an aven.  The top could only just be seen with the aid of a powerful lamp.  Height is over a hundred feet.  From here a bedding plane continues down dip to an old stream passage having excellent formations.  This carried on until a T-junction was reached.  Left is a short passage.  Right goes for about 70-100ft and many ways still to be looked at.  Series is called September Series.

November 1958 re Old Stone Belfry.  New Hut

We still need willing hands to build this new hut.  When you next use the Belfry, think of those past club members who put it up so that YOU could be comfortable on Mendip.  Now’s your chance to do your bit!  Remember there are FREE bed nights for all who WORK at this job.

For those who prefer to sing their notices, we have:-

“Cavers sitting in a daze
By the stove’s heat-giving rays.
Foremen form the building bawls,
Stop flipping rays and raise flipping walls.”


The Grand Tour - Caving Style,

by our Manchester exile - Nigel Dibben.

For the last two years, a course at Manchester University has seriously limited the amount of caving that I have been able to fit in (cries of AH! from the wings).  So to make up for, this, I arranged not to start work until late August end to get five weeks on the Continent beforehand.

The symposium in Bristol on Northern Spain gave a good opportunity to get up to date on what was happening there and to meet again some of the MUSSS cavers.  As a result, the first stopping point was to be Spain, followed by Italy where Stan Gee would be in late July and France where I would take pot-luck on who I would meet.

I left for Spain on 5th July and travelled via the Belfry, Weymouth, Cherbourg, Nantes etc and reached Spain on Friday evening to find the only MUSS member there at the time in one of the bars!  As no other cavers were expected to arrive until the following Monday or Tuesday, we went for the weekend to the Picos de Europa to visit Lancaster University SS at their remote camp at Tresviso (2 hours walk or 1 hour by Land Rover from the nearest road!) and to walk up to the spectacular Cares Gorge where the footpath is cut into or through the mountainside some 500ft from the bottom and another 500ft from the top - at the least.

Back at Matienzo, the first group of cavers arrived on Tuesday so the serious business of caving began on Wednesday.  MUSS technique is quite simple and very pleasant; every day starts at the bar at midday, no cave is entered until at least 2p.m., exit around 8 - 10 p.m. and then keep the bar open until 1 or 2 a.m., or later every other day or so.  By this method, we spent nine out of the next ten days underground pushing and surveying 1.5km in  Solviejo (the local name meaning “Old Sun”) discovering and surveying in a large a cave 300m long by 50+m deep (Torca Mustajo) revisiting sites found previously but never before entered and doing a few ‘pleasure’ trips.

Undoubtedly the best of the latter was a trip into the massive Uzueka system which at present consists of about 15km of passage – most of this forming the length of the cave as opposed to being maze work as in some other ‘long’ systems.  The particular aim on this trip was to visit an aven about halfway along the cave.  Named the Astradome, this aven is certainly the most spectacular that I have ever seen being perfectly cylindrical and about 60-70ft in diameter.  The echo in the oven is quite incredible us the sound reflects straight up from a pool of on the floor, and down from – we presume - the roof.  For some time there had been a considerable amount of speculation about how high the aven was: - 100ft, 100m, 1000ft?  Various estimates had been made.  It was certain that the top could not be seen with a spot-focus beam so at least it must have been more than 100ft.  Our technique was novel, to say the least; a bottle of helium had been obtained together with some weather balloons kindly donated by their manufacturer.  Being the only diver on the party, Salford Pete (Bolton Speleo Club) was volunteered to carry in the bottle which was the size of a ‘40’ (I think).  The balloon was sent up with a length of light string attached and a definite roof was reached against which the balloon bounced.  Unfortunately the roof must be decorated with straw stals, one of which punctured the balloon which descended a bit more rapidly than was intended. (There was still enough helium left to give some fun breathing it in and speaking with ‘Mickey Mouse’ voices, although we decided to stop that when we became dizzy – 3 miles from the surface!

Anyway, to cut the story short, the string was measured outside the bar that night and found to be EXACTLY 100m long which, with the height of the holder, gave an overall height of 100m to the aven.

After this period of activity, I felt I was due for a bit more relaxation so I joined Stan in Italy.  Arriving on Sunday afternoon after two days driving (nearly 900 miles as far as from Stockport to Matienzo) I met up with Stanley in the Rifugio Pietrapana after a brisk walk from the village of Levigliani.  For two days there was no caving to be done so I made do with a couple of walks and hill climbs until The Bradford Pothole Club arrived to visit the Antro del Corchia.

This fine system had been the target of a number of expeditions by the DCC in the late 60's and early'70's and in 1973 I had done the through trip from the original entrance to the lower entrance - Buca del Serpente.  The BPC split their assault into two days, the first spent tackling as far as the stream passage, which is only reached after a couple of hours in dry passage; the second day was spent bottoming the cave in 13 hours and de-tackling completely.  The cave is best appreciated in this way as the tackling trip can be taken at a leisurely pace in dry kit with time for a visit to the fine Stalagmite Gallery whereas the second day is taken a bit more rapidly in wetsuits down the very sporting streamway to the bottom.  The biggest pitches are 100ft and 140ft, all the rest being 25 to 30ft and the trip involves every sort of caving except the worse sorts of flat out crawling.  I highly recommend it as a sporting cave with depth.

After the Corchia, I rejoined Stan and two Italian cavers from Gruppo Speleologico Verona (who had been to Mendip last September).  For two days we went caving in the area around the Rifugio at Buca del Cane (visited by DCC in 1973) and some little known shafts on Monte Freddone.  Caving with Italians is an education in itself - but when one of them is known to have some rather unusual ideas, about pitch-rigging, it becomes a bit hair raising too.  We were prussiking on alpine ropes (i.e. knicker-elastic) using the continental technique of rigging pitches designed: -

a)       to ensure that the trip takes as long as possible (add at least half an hour a pitch)

b)       to ensure that the safety of every member of the party is put at the greatest possible risk possible

c)       to ensure that as much equipment is required as possible and that preferably as much is damaged or left in the cave as can be.

In short, I did not really approve.  The technique amounted to putting a new bolt at the top of each pitch over 50ft (whether necessary or not) and belaying a loop of the rope to it so that, one had to change ropes, often 100ft from the floor.  In one case, at the top of a 140ft pitch, this supplementary bolt pulled out when I was 10ft below it - 20ft from the TOP of the pitch.  After a 10ft free-fall and a few well chosen words, it was necessary to prussic up past the knot that was all that remained of this ‘safety’ device.  The moral is to avoid continental rigging (they didn’t seem to use any natural belays or rope protectors) and to carry a 'cow's tail on your sit-harness.

However, after two weeks in Italy, Stan was leaving for home so I drove back into France to the Vercors in the hope of meeting some other DCC members there. The DCC had moved on so during a day of torrential rain (lasting 36 hours non-stop) I went to four show caves in the area.  At the last one visited, I met up with some members of the Worth Valley Caving Club who kindly let me join their ‘expedition’ for the rest of the week. Their aim was not to find anything new but merely to enjoy a couple of weeks unrestricted caving in the fine systems in the area.  So we spent the next three days looking into caves that were not too badly affected by the earlier rain.  Eventually, all good things have to come to an end and so on the 11th August I set off back home, stopping once in France and arriving at Stockport on the Saturday night.

My gratitude must go to the members of MUSS, DCC, BPC, GSV and WVCC with whom I caved and to divine providence that allowed me to cover over 4,000 miles in a Bedford van without any breakdowns!


G.G. Winch Meet Whitsun 1978

By Glynis Beszant

 (Ed. note: I feel, after the thoughts of Chairman Wilton-Jones in the last few issues this article reflects the female mind when the men are underground!!  Still it’s good to see the girls writing their side of the caving saga!)

A party of three BEC members which comprised of G.W-J, Martin Grass and myself arrived rather late at the BPC dump; the lateness was due to us sharing the idea of going north with half the populace of London.  However, we, got there to see Rich Websell and Rob Palmer of the Wessex and as it was 2 a.m. we thought we’d be friendly and phone the Belfry just to check that the rest were coming up next day - as well as speaking to the Wessex, of course!

Next morning the condemned (me) ate a hearty breakfast before we drove to Crummock where we’d start the walk to G.G.  After packing our rucksacks so that we could carry more beer and less clothes, we set out with a full pack apiece and Graham with an additional suitcase.  He would insist that it was what the best dressed walker carried.  After walking up and down dale in the blistering sun with a stop every twenty minutes or so for Graham to relieve his suitcase arm and for me to reduce to a grease spot we were diverted by the sound of banging.  Arriving over the next hump we saw various BPC members digging away at a small shakehole ( Yorkshire’s picked up some Mendip habits after all).  We stayed around until the next lot of bang went off then completed the last leg to arrive knackered, at Gaping Gill.

After a very disbelieving welcome from the Bradford, after all we had promised faithfully for three years running and only made it this year, we looked around for somewhere to camp.  As all the ground near the beck was covered in a multitude of canvas we decided to pitch the tents at the top of the incline near the elsan tent, Bradford reckoned it eminently suitable for the BEC.

After hanging around for a couple of hours Tim L, Andy Sparrow and Backbone turned up with one rucksack full of compo rations – I wonder where they got them (?).  After eating we decided to go and identify some holes.  Graham, guidebook in hand, led the way.  We had an uneventful time chucking rocks down holes until we got to Marble Pot when after lobbing down huge boulders Andy heard a noise.  A lamb was at the bottom of the pitch.  The more athletic hacked back to camp for ropes.  On their return the ropes were lowered, the lamb fixed into slings and hoisted to the surface.  We returned to the beer tent and went to bed.  We were all wakened, except Martin, at 3am by the Bradford beating beer barrels around the tent!

Martin, Sparrow and Batstone went down the winch next day to look at Mud Hall and Sand Caverns and came up the winch much later to sunbathe.  Chris Batsone had warned them of unusual formations in Sand caverns before the trip and sure enough there was a pile of t..ds just waiting to be discovered by the BEC. Tim and Bassett in the meantime decided to take a million foot of rope that Graham had brought up back to the camp back to the car and to replenish our beer stocks.  On their return the variety of beer cans acquired from the pub put the idea of collecting empties to decorate the Belfry into Tim’s mind. This had alarming results as he promptly jumped into the rubbish pit to collect various cans only half an hour after the elsans had been emptied there.  Tim and G.W-J then went down Disappointment to Far Country and planned to come up on the winch.  However due to the drive wheel on the winch breaking (they had a spare) the queue was 3½ hours long and so our errant heroes came out Bar Pot.  During this time Martin had become Red Cross Brigade sending soup down to the frozen cavers in the windy bottom of the Main Chamber.

Dinner was late that night and the beer tent was first priority.  In the night Martin was awakened to Bassetts bare buttocks protruding in the tent - he'd been woken by a sheep rummaging in the rubbish pit and had got up to chase it out.  I must add that the sheep had proved a bit of a problem this weekend.  Apart from being brazen enough to filch food from around the tents and falling into caves AND the rubbish pit, they also had a curious effect on people.  Pete Faulkner was seen running a complete circuit around the top of GG shouting obscenities at woolly beasties and even Backbone was heard to shout 'mint sauce' at frequent intervals.

Next morning we woke to find that Tim had already walked to the top of Ingleborough and back in time for breakfast (mad fool).  After breakfast is when my purgatory began.  I had used every excuse not to go down the winch - even the lack of the £1 needed.  So they had a whip round (I think Tim footed most of the bill) to send me down.  The hour of torture began and I was, sent down after Tim.  The first 20ft over the overhand was alright but the speed after that convinced me the cable had broken.  A scream rent the air much to the amusement of those on the surface and I ended at the bottom an embarrassment to the BEC being in tears and calling for help to get me out.  A slightly nonplussed Tim hoiked me out and when I'd recovered showed me round the majestic splendour of GG Main Chamber!  Why isn't there an easier way down?

On the way up I decided that the speed down, if not right, for descent would be bloody marvellous for the ascent.  Still I tried to be stoic and fixed my eyes ahead, not looking up or down.  On reaching the surface a stream of abuse issued from the winch chair much to the amazement of Martin who was so sure I would have enjoyed it.  Tim got into the chair next and spent the next minute blowing his whistle for ascent - he didn’t' know the winch was broken - again.  Eventually Tim was brought up only to be showered with water by Graham.

Camp was struck, loaded into rucksacks and we walked back to Crummock rescuing two more sheep from Car Pot on the way.  There's something most peculiar about that route - it, took three hours to come up and 45 minutes to get back!  We loaded up the cars and sped off to Austwick and the Fighting Cocks where we were refreshed with ale and sandwiches.

Kingsdale was next port of call and martin, Sparrow and Bassett sweated up to Heron to abseil through and exit at the lower entrance.  Batstone and Tim investigated Yordas cave while I caught up oh my suntan. When the Heron crew joined us it was decided to abseil down Yordas Pot and out the cave.  Much discussion followed as to which rope to use on Tim’s 160ft pitch.  Graham had a 120ft rope which he was prepared to use but Tim wanted to try his new 160ft rope.  Just as well the later was used as the pitch turned out to be 80ft!  A quick brew up and we zoomed down to Keld Head for the lads in black rubber to wash and cool off.  By this time Sparrow was becoming very agitated about the time he would get back to Mendip as it might be too late to get his leg……well it’s a bit personal, you know what I mean!!

At last we were squeezing ourselves into cars already full to bursting with tents etc., and began the long haul down the motorway back the smoke - all slightly overdone with suntan but otherwise rather satisfied with the weekend.


Letters To The Editor

To the Editor, B.B.

Arriving at the Belfry on the 28th July (Friday afternoon) I was somewhat staggered by the absolute chaos and filthy mess within.

The furniture, such as it is, was completely soaked and thrown about the room, every article of cutlery was dirty and left in a heap on the worktop.  The whole hut smelt like a cow shed with rotting food, stale air and a general smell of filth.

I'm not saying that the type of piss up that resulted in this mess should not happen in the shed but the members involved (some of them of many years standing) should ensure that the place in cleaned up afterwards.  I hope other members will support any action that the Committee might care to take.  If anybody thinks this is the pot calling the kettle black, I clean up, my mess.

Trev Hughes, Aug 1978.


To the Editor, BB - A letter to the Pigs…

 (Pigs being the obnoxious members/non-members/guests using the Belfry)

On 3 or 4 occasions during, the past couple of months the Belfry has been left in a deplorable state. On one occasion during midweek it took about an hour to clean the hardened spilt food and grease from, the table and cooking areas, clean the sink and do the, washing up.  NOW this weekend 27th-28th July, the Friday night arrivals found they not only had to wash up partly cleaned cutlery etc., but after their labours found the furniture soaking wet, also the bunkroom backdoor was left open, a good job the recent invasions of undesirables were off to parts further north!  With attitudes such as these no wonder the Hut Warden has found it necessary to remove the greatest part of the cooking utensils only leaving a few tea-mugs out.

It also appears that an apathy of doing things in half measures is becoming incumbent amongst Belfryites, half the tackle store done and half the half made cess pit has been started.

Stu Lindsey.



by Tim Large

The lifeline can finally be belayed this month.  I hope it has been able to keep members, particularly those absent from Mendip, in touch with the clubs activities.

The Club has had the offer of some very cheap foam mattresses end has decided to purchase 100 of these to keep the bunkroom well provided for.  Also Tom Temple has donated a small number waterproof mattresses which will come in useful for the more incontinent amongst us.

At last we have the details for the purchase of Club sweatshirts.  The price will be about £5 being in one colour - NAVY with a white design incorporating Bertie.  A limited quantity will be purchased to begin with so if you are interested contact John Dukes - cash with order - sizes are small, medium and large.

I understand that the Cambrian Caving Council intend to vote against any NCA Constitutional changes proposed by the CSCC at the forthcoming NCA AGM in January 1979.  It appears that again they are not taking any notice of the views of the grass roots cavers.  If this is the case the Club will support any action intended stop this unacceptable attitude.  This could involve a boycott of the NCA AGM by CSCC which would mean that the meeting would be inquorate and no decisions could be made.

Ben Lyon of Whernside Manor has sent out a questionnaire on cave usage in the Dales.  Apparently the Yorkshire Dales National Park intends to judge the value on any cave site and the frequency of visitors.

If any cave is only visited once per year, does it make it less important than one that has weekly visits by the hordes?  We would oppose closing of any cave regardless of its popularity.  What may be a lesser known cave today could be the King Pot of tomorrow.

The Committee have decided to publish the attendance record of this years Committee meetings they are as follows: -

Committee member













Dave Irwin













Tim Large













Martin Bishop













Graham Wilton-Jones













Russ Jenkins






Resigned from attending meetings in February with committee’s approval.

Barrie Wilton













Nigel Taylor













Alfie Collins




Chris Batstone













John Dukes

(co-opted in February)









Martin Grass

(co-opted in February)









Bob Cross

(co-opted in June)





Sue Tucker

(co-opted in July)




+ present, A Absent


If elected to the Committee next year I would be prepared to undertake the secretarial task again, having thoroughly enjoyed nyself despite the various problems.  I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the AGM and Dinner.

Safe caving,
                        Tim Large.


Library List

Number #3 - additions to the Library List published Sept. 1972.

Parts 1 & 2 were published in the March and August 1978 B.B.'s.


Newsletter May      1965; Feb. 1968; July 1968; Oct & Dec. 1968

1969 - Jan - April; 1972 - Nov/Dec

1973 J/F; Ap; My; Jy; Sept.

1974 J, F, Mar, A, My; Sept; Nov; Dec.

1976 Jy/A; B/Oct.

1977 J/F; Mar/Ap; My/Ju; N/D.


Bulletin 2(4, 5)

Index to Bulletin Vols 1 - 5 (1974)

Bulletin, 2nd Series 1(1-2; 4; 5)

Bibliography of Technical Articles

Caving Songs of Mendip; Occ. Pub No.3


Journal 2 (1) (2).


Ladder Construction - Epoxy Resin Process


Journal (14)


Index to all volumes.


Newssheet Nos: 2 - 8, 10 - 17, 19 Journal Nos 5 & 6

Newsletters Nos: 2, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 20, 21, 24, 29-31, 35, 38, 39, 41, 42, 50, 55.


1958 (Jy, Au, D)

1959 (May, Jy, D)

1961 (Jy, O)

1962 (Mar, Ju, S, D)

1963 (Mar, Ju, S, D)

Development of Artificial Climbing

Journal 2 (1)


Journal (3)


The Northern Caver 2 (1)


Newsletter (41); Journal 2(3); 3(1)


Annual Dinner

The 29th B. E. C. Annual Dinner SATURDAY 7th OCTOBER 1978 at the CAVE MAN REST., CHEDDAR

PRICE £3.50 each includes a free pint or glass of sherry before the meal and a bottle of plonk (between two) with the meal.

Meal includes Roast Beef nod Yorkshire Pud. ‘Silver Service’ is definitely OUT this year.  The veg. will be placed on the table; only the meat will be waitress service.   So, hopefully the meal will be over in about 1½ hours.

Send your reservations and money to the Club Treasurer Sue Tucker, at 75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Redstock, Avon.

All bookings should be in with Sue by the 2nd October at the latest.


It is with great regret that we have to report the death of two of Mendip’s well known cavers - 'Digger' Harris after a long illness and Prof. E.K. (Trat) Tratman.  'Digger' was a Hon. Life Member of the BEC and will long be remembered for his lack of smell that enabled him to gain an entry into the well known Cow Hole and his efforts in the exploration of Wookey Hole in the 1930's.  'Trat' whose caving activities date back to 1919 caved extensively through out Europe but will forever be associated with the caves of Clare in Eire, Swildon's Hole and for his study of the Burrrington Coombe caves.

News in brief:

Rock and - Fountain, S. Wales; large extension found, believed off the 3rd. Boulder Choke.  Said to be huge passages.

New stock of carbide ordered for supplies at the Belfry.

Don't forget to send in your order for a BEC sweat shirt to John Dukes.

ADDRESS CHANGE: Teresa Rumble, 71 Chiltern Close, Warmley, Bristol, Avon

Meets in Yorkshire organised by Dave Metcalfe: 10 Troughton Crescent, Blackpool.

Oct. 1st. Gingling Hole, Fountains Fell.

Oct. 29th. Notts Pot

Nov. 18th. Top Sink

Dec. 16th. Swinsto/Simpsons exchange.



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.

Dates For Your Diary

July 7th

South Wales (OFD) – Friday niters trip.

July 21st

North Hill – Friday niters trip.

August 4th

Stoke Lane Slocker – Friday niters trip.

September 9/10th

BCRA National Caving Conference, Renold Building, Manchester.  Accommodation – Booking not later than July 14th. – charge £4 per night.  Tickets at door £1.00.  Conference Secretary D.M. Judson, Bethel Green, Calderbrook Road, Littleborough, Lancs.  Make cheques out to D.M. Judson, Conference acc.

A letter from David Metcalfe states that he would be pleased to see ant BEC members at the following meets arranged for the Northern Dales Speleological Group.

August 6th

Giants Hole, Derbyshire.

August 26th

C.P.C. Winch Meet Gaping Gill.

September 23rd

Marble Steps Pot.

October 1st

Gingling Hole, Fountains Fell.

October 29th

Notts Pot.

November 18th

Top Sink.

December 16th

Swinsto/Simpsons Exchange.

Late News And Notes

As we go to press news has been coming over the radio and making headlines in the daily press of a rescue taking place in Scotland.  Not that we wouldn’t take notice of it anyway, it was made all the more juicy in that it involved our own '"Wigmore man - Tony Jarrett (Jayrat). On a surveying trip lights failed and apparently there was a small boulder fall in the area.  Goon and helpers were flown, half way to the cave at least, by helicopter from Edinburgh to Assynt!  I wonder if Jayrat has ever read the club rules and I can't help feeling that there's going to be some heavy p ... taking when he appears back at the Belfry in the next couple of weeks …. if he has the nerve to come back

ST. CUTHBERT’S…Work has commenced again after a lapse of 8 years in sump 1 area.  Wig, Dave Turner, Brian Workman et al are digging under the roof (there’s no walls or floor!) on the left, upstream of the sump.  A nylon, 8” dia tube now carries the water through the sump and empties it into the '2' streamway about 200ft further on.  Please take care not stand on the pipe or cut it. The eventual move is to dig out the sump and investigate the bedding plane on the right of the crawl into the sump itself.



by Tim Large

New members:

Sue Yea, 102 York Rd., Montpellier, Bristol.
Clive Parkin, c/o P.O's Mess, H.M.S. Daedalus, Lee-on-Solent

CONSTITUTION SUB-COMMITTEE has now met and much fine work carried out by Martin Cavender has resulted in the sub-committee sorting out a revised constitution based on the existing one, but being much more readable and less ambiguous.  It will be for the A.G.M. to decide if it is to be accepted. (Copies will be circulated with the August B.B. as a BB Supplement, as was the A.G.M. Minutes. Ed.)

BELFRY – more work has been done around the hut, including an inspection pit to investigate the septic tank (no', it's not a cave dig!).  During the working weekend the showers required repairs as the hot water pipes sprung a leak.

MIDSUMMER BUFFET - This event was well attended and a good time had by all!  It was good to see many of the old faces including Mike Baker,' Kangy," Maurice Iles among many others.  It just might be a regular mid-year event in the future.  About 100 members were milling about the room; almost as good as the dinner!

A few weeks earlier, at the same venue Jane Kirby and Sue Yea held a joint birthday party.  Ross White had to be rescued from the bog by Roger Dors and Jane as he fell asleep - or was it into a drunken stupor?

BELFRY continued - The modifications to the Old Stone Belfry have nearly been completed.  The MRO have been allocated a little more room and the age old problem of the guttering on the roof cured once and for all.

We are now the proud possessors of a battery charger which will probably be housed in the remaining part of the Stone Belfry when it is fitted out as a workshop cum storeroom.

B.E.C. SWEATSHIRTS - If there is sufficient demand for these the Club will buy a quantity suitably inscribed with the Club emblem.  Any ideas on a design would be appreciated.  Let me know if you are interest to give me some idea of numbers to order.

A CAVING NOTE - Recently Northern Cave Club dug into a new system at the bottom of the 500ft long and 160ft deep King Pot (Yorkshire).  Now they have uncovered a master cave system about 1 mile long and 450ft deep which includes 15 pitches and makes it a classic Yorkshire trip.  Martin Bishop, Trevor Hughes and myself were lucky enough to be invited to take a look and were most impressed and shattered by the time we got, out.  At present survey, photographic and diving work is in progress.  Access is limited to N.G.C. members only at present.

Camera Raffle - The camera was won by Bob White the draw for which took place at the Midsummer Buffet. The winning ticket was drawn by Jackie Dors.  As far as can be gathered about 30 pounds has been raised for club funds.

Pope has written to say that he is leaving his current address and will let us know his new one in the near future.

Officer’s reports will be presented to the August C0mmittee Meeting and they will appear (hopefully) in the September BB.

Charterhouse Committee have passed a resolution stating that permits will be valid for one year.  BEC, WCC, SMCC and others have objected. Meeting asked to be called soon. More details later.


Sunto Instrument Bracket And Maintenance

By Chris Batstone

Many Suunto users will be aware of the few minor faults with these superb instruments for cave survey use. The major disadvantage being the fact that both instruments are separates and the surveyor has to waste valuable time sorting out which instrument to use, particularly when they are hanging from the neck on their carrying cords.  To overcome this problem the two instruments may be combined together with the aid of a simple 'L' shaped bracket, using the screw holes for the 1anyard attachments.

Thus the surveyor has both instruments to hand at every which effectively speeds up the survey work.

Construction of the bracket is quite simple provided one has as drill and files and a suitable vice for holding the work.  Anyone with a little skill in metal working can make the bracket quite quickly.

The bracket must be made from a non-ferrous metal or alloy such as brass or aluminium to ensure that the compass is not influenced by magnetic effects.  The shape of the bracket should first be marked out on a piece of 1" thick sheet (see fig.1 for dimensions).  Two holes are drilled for the screws that attach the instruments. The bracket can then be cut from the plate and filed up to remove any sharp edges.  The bracket is then bent slightly, as shown, in fig. 2 to align the instruments.

FIGURE 1.  Suunto Instrument Bracket.
Scale - Twice full size.  Dimensions in inches.


Note:    Soft aluminium will bend easily with the bracket assembled the instruments thus making the alignment easier.

Brass and hard alloys. These may have to be annealed before bending in a vice.  The bends should be made carefully, in stages, testing the bracket up against the instruments for fit.  (The best bend radii for this type of material should be in the order of 3t –Ed)

Once the bracket has been bent to a suitable shape it can be attached, to the instruments using either the old lanyard screws or compatible round or cheese headed screws of the same thread (these are probably No.8 UNC - Ed.)  The instrument was first used with great success on the Tyning's Barrows Swallet survey - see April, 1978 BB - and has proved its worth on other trips, Wigmore and Rocket Drop.

Figure 2 – Bracket assembled


Sealing the Instruments.

Although the Suunto instruments appear to be proof against all things, including nuclear attack, they are prone to leak when expose to wet, muddy cave conditions.  If allowed to continue for any length of time, the optics will soon become obscured by a thin film of mud.  Prevention is better than cure, so owners of Suunto equipment would be well advised to seal their instruments before taking them underground.



The grub screw hole may be sealed with paraffin wax or plasticene this will only be necessary if the original sealant has been removed.

Dismantling And Cleaning

If the instrument develops a leak and the optics become dirty internally, it will become necessary to dismantle it.  The construction of both the compass and clinometer is identical (with the exception that the compass unit is liquid filled).  The body is an accurately machined alum alloy block housing, the compass or clino cards sealed in a Perspex unit and the lens for reading the graduations on the instrument.  The sealed unit is held in place by a press fit alum alloy back plate and a grub screw to prevent the unit from moving in the body when assembled (see Fig. 4)

Figure 4 - showing method of construction. (lateral cross section)


1 – lens

1a – Perspex lens integral with sealed unit

2 – plastic window

3 – compass or clinometer in sealed unit

4 – grub screw

5 – back plate

6 - aperture

Dismantling is a fairly simple job:

A 3/32" or ⅛" diameter hole should be drilled in the edge of the back plate, no more than ⅛" deep to avoid damaging the sealed unit.  A small watchmaker’s screwdriver is inserted into the hole and the back plate prised off.  With the screwdriver, the grub screw is removed and the sealed perspex unit can be taken out.  The lens assembly has no obvious means of removal and should be left in situ.  To attempt to remove the lens could ca»se irreparable damage; it can be cleaned without removal.


Dirt can be removed from the inside of the lens with a fine sabre artist’s brush of good quality.  If the dirt is 'stubborn', a few drop of distilled water may be sufficient to loosen the dirt which can be cleaned off with the brush.  The unit should then be rinsed with distilled water and left to dry in a warm atmosphere. The perspex unit may be wiped clean using a lens cloth but take care not to scratch the perspex lens on the outer rim.


Once all parts are clean and thoroughly dry, re-assembly may commence.  This procedure is a straight reversal of the dismantling procedure. Ensure that the re-assembly of the unit is carried out in a warm and relatively low humidity room to avoid subsequent condensation on the optics.

The small hole drilled in the back plate may be sealed with epoxy resin.  The sealing operation, previously described should then be carried out.


All of the operations described in this article have been carried out by the author and found to be satisfactory.  Readers are warned that these recommendations are not those of the manufacturers and may therefore invalidate any warranty or guarantee agreement.  Further the author accepts no liability for inaccurate information.  At the time of publishing (June 1978) the information was correct for Suunto KB14 and PM5 clinometer.  Further information on renovation and repair of Suunto equipment may be found in BCRA Bulletins.


BCRA  Bulletin No.3.  Feb. 1974. G. Stevens

Grampian S.Gp. Bulletin No.2 Series 2.  J. Batstone.


Next month in the B.B. - an up-to-date account of the recent pushes in Wookey Hole by Chris Batstone, a club trip into White Scar Cave by Mike Palmer, AGM announcements, the latest findings by the Committee and the Sub-Committee on changes to the Club Constitution and The Unknown Streamway by Wig.  Also will be a report on the Peak Cavern trip organised by Martin Grass.

The Austrian trip is on with about a dozen or so BEC and Grampian members seeking out deep caves in the Dachstein area.  It is hoped to be able to publish their work as soon as it is received from them by post from Austria - can't be more up-to-date than that!


Why Ski in the Pyrenees?


One of the advantages of the Pyrenees as a skiing area is that if a base is chosen out of the mountains then you're not stuck to one station, there is a choice.

The Pyrenees run East/West and there is, on the French side, a good road running parallel with them and about 1 hour from whatever station is chosen.


It is particularly important not to be committed to one station because in general they are small and at a lower altitude than the Alps, and if from far off England you book Guzet Neige for instance you could be caught with poor snow or bad weather.  There are stations which are fairly reliable Salardu in Spain for example or Pas de la Case in Andorra are highish and can give excellent skiing both on and off the piste. The advantage of the Pyrenees is the warmth of the sun.  Watch out for sunburn.

Lucheon would be a reasonable place to stay it's not too dear en pension and it is possible to visit a number of interesting ski stations easily from there. Superbagneres was one of the earliest stations to be established and is the nearest to Luchon.  It has the advantage that the road goes to the highest point, so that the beginner’s slopes always have the best of the snow. The biggest French station from here is Les Auges/Peyresourds, two stations linked by high level routes. There is a superb descent at Peyresourds - if only the dreaded T8 teleski doesn't break down!  It drops directly from the highest point and curves leftwards following a valley out into the sticks away from the station. Once out of the valley the route winds back to the station and the infamous T8!  The T8 is symptomatic of French Pyrenean skiing.  It's not very well maintained.  The ski tours are rough and bumpy under ski because they don't bother to flatten them and the pistes are as nature intended.  I rather like it!  Luchon also gives access to the Val d'Aran and the most important Spanish station, Solardu.  The Spaniards make an effort and it is almost up to Alpine standards.  Certainly the Val D'Aran, the upper valley of the Garonne where it emerges after sinking in the Trou de Toro, is well worth a visit on its own a account.  While considerable development is being undertaken in the name of tourism, most of it is in good taste and worth seeing.  Salardu is, high and has many good runs, away from the popular slopes.  It's worth struggling to get away from the clank of the tours into the quiet of winter mountains.

Up and down the chain of the Pyrenees are many small but interesting stations. Font Romeau is elderly but well equipped and sunny.  It isn't very steep but it's beautiful.  Guzet Neige, one of the nearest to Toulouse is good but not too reliable for snow in a poor season. It is set in trees and there are a number of good runs.  Towards the Atlantic is La Mongie, good but a long way from Toulouse, though this could be combined with a visit to Cauteret and the adjoining stations.

If you do decide to ski in the Pyrenees then call into Toulouse to collect your F.F.S. card which gives you insurance and the right to reductions on the ski tickets (forfaits) of the order of 25%. You could park your car in the car park underneath Place Capitol and collect card and forfaits from the very friendly Club Escargarol which is situated underneath the arches at the side of the square.  They also hire out skies and boots at very reasonable rates and arrange trips.


Snakes Of Italy

Translated from the Italian with added information and advice for walkers climbers and campers by Stan Gee

Due to certain changes in environment in. the mountain areas of Italy, the snakes of these areas are increasing in numbers and are now presenting something of a hazard to mountaineers and walkers.  So much so that the Club Alpino Italiano are now involved and a National Campaign for information on poisonous snakes has been launched.

The following is a translation of the booklet "Vipere Italiane" published by the Instituto Sicroterapico Vaccinogeno Toscano and is meant to publicise their snake bite vaccine "Sclavo" but at the same time it provides a useful guide to the snakes and their habits, identification, safety first and simple first aid.  However, before considering the aspects of the various types of European snakes it should be understood that all the poisonous snakes of Europe are of the Viper family sub divided into 4 main groups which are themselves sub divided into many localised groups.  These localised groups have adapted to their local environment by way of colour change etc., and thus descriptions given here may differ widely from the same species found in other parts of Europe.  For example the common adder of Britain can be found in 4 main colours and several other lesser colour differences depending on the area of habitation.  Furthermore although the common adder is of the same main species as the Italian ''Marrasso Palustre" (Viper Berus) or Marsh Viper, it is quite different in colour size and ferocity.

However, from the point of view of the mountaineer or walker etc., the normal grass snake and the rarer smooth snake are both very easy to identity and all others may be considered to be dangerous, to some degree.

The following is a direct translation from the booklet "Vipere Italiane" but only insomuch as the information relates to mountaineering and outdoor life:-

The Vipers in Italy.

All of the poisonous snakes in Italy fall into the viper family and are found in all parts of the country with the only exception of Sardinia (the book does not state what snakes, if any, are to be found in Sardinia) and form 4 main groups.

Vipera Aspis

Vipera Berus

Vipera Ammodytes

Vipera Ursinii





Common Viper

Marsh Viper

Horned Viper

Bear Viper

The second of these species is found in almost any situation, plains, Hills, mountains, woods, stones in areas that are damp, humid or marshy and in the walls that line country roads.  Due to this facility to live anywhere they are the most prolific of the snakes and are easily found and are thus the most dangerous to open air people.

Common Viper

Is found all over the country in areas of scarce vegetation and stones where they love to lie in the sun. The male is about 65-75 cm long and the female 75-85 cm long.  The body colour is very variable ashy grey, grey-yellow, dark brown or rose coloured. The back has a zig-zag mark that can be continuous or interrupted sometimes standing out vividly sometimes less vividly from the colour of the body.  The end of the tail is generally yellow-orange.

The Marsh Viper

Is a snake of extreme irritability i.e. is always ready for aggression.  It is found all over Italy, but particularly in Alpine districts where they have been found at altitudes in excess of 3000 meters in damp flat areas, banks of rivers and streams etc.

The extremity of the head, seen in profile appears round and on the top of the head are some shield like marks usually 3 and of different shapes, instead of the fragmented scales as on the asp.  The size of the adult marsh viper is generally longer than the Asp and its length is between 60 & 80cm long.

The body and scales are grey, brown yellow or rose coloured and the dorsal has a symmetrical design consisting of brown spots along the length and alternate vertical zig zag marks. Generally these marks are darker than those of the Asp and in the mountains snakes are sometimes found that are almost completely black.

Horned Viper

This is considered to be the most dangerous of European snakes, due to the quantity of Venom it injects and the speed of action of this venom (about 15 mins).  It prefers to live in rocks and sunny arid areas and it can be found also in woods that are not dense or on the edges of forest glades. It is present in the pre alp ( Gran Paradiso) and up to altitudes of 1600 meters and is often active at night.*

It is the easiest to recognise of all the other species of viper due to the presence of a small horn at the front of the head.  This horn is about 5mm high and renders this snake recognisable at first glance.  Other recognisable features are its size, in which it is larger in diameter than the other snakes and longer, 90-100cm.  Apart from this it has the general characteristics of the Asp but the colours of the dorsal marks are much darker in contrast to the rest of the body.

Vipera Ursini

Is found generally only in the central Italian mountains, Sibillini and Gran Sasso areas.  In general appearance it differs little from that of the Marsh Viper but is much, smaller, about 50cm at most.  It is considered by some to be a sub species of the Marsh Viper and is recognisable from the Marsh Viper by its smaller head and by the presence of a dark spot on the neck.

General Identifications

Apart from the colouring which can sometimes be confusing there are several other points that will enable the reader to differentiate between a dangerous and a non dangerous snake.

The Eyes

A grass-snake has perfectly round eyes and pupils whilst all of the viper family have vertical slit pupils.

The Head

The grass-snake has a long tapered head covered with large scales, the viper is more triangular and snub nosed and has smaller scales.

The Body

A grass snake’s body tapers gracefully to the tail, the viper thins down abruptly thus giving the impression of a fat body and a short thin tail.


When disturbed the grass-snake moves away with a great flurry of movement and sometimes threshing movements.  The viper glides away usually with the head some 3 inches above the ground.

Simple Safety First observations particularly for campers, walkers, climbers and cavers:-

1)                    Always wear boots and heavy woollen socks.

2)                    When walking announce your approach by using a stick to occasionally tap the ground.

3)                    Before sitting down on grass or stones, use a stick to strike the ground and surrounding grass.

4)                    Do not lean against tree trunks that are covered with foliage or piles of logs.

5)                    After resting, thoroughly shake out discarded clothing before putting on, watch particularly insides of rucksacks.

6)                    Do not leave car doors open if you are leaving the car for any reason.

7)                    Pay particular attention if entering abandoned cottages or climbing stone walls.

8)                    Especially cavers should beware of horizontal passages or holes with little depth which may be the home of hibernating vipers.

9)                    Pay particular attention during the summer months and early autumn when the females like to hang in trees or bushes 4 or 5 ft above ground level, as a bite in the head or neck is nearly always fatal.

10)                If you should have need to kill a viper for any reason, use a stone or a stick and stay at a safe minimum distance of 1 metre,

This then is the essence of the booklet "Vipera Italiane" which goes into mulch more detail; most of which is not of interest to the mountaineer.

The details and advice given above can be applied to all of the mountain areas of Europe and to much of North Africa as well, where, although there is greater diffusion of types of snake most of the dangerous ones fall into the viper category.

The first aid information was dealt with in the April 1976 edition of "Climber & Rambler".


First Aid

Should you or a friend be unfortunate enough to be bitten the following advice, taken from an article by W.J. Wright in January edition of the St., John Review, is given.

Most people, when bitten, think they are going to die and as a result develop shock - cold clammy skin, feeble pulse, rapid shallow breathing and perhaps semi-consciousness. A person bitten by a viper may have blood-stained saliva followed later by non-clotting of the blood and perhaps blood coughed up.  A striking snake does not always inject venom but if swelling above the knee or elbow occurs within two or three hours then venom has been injected and it is a severe case.  Local swelling in the area of the bite will occur within a few minutes if venom has been injected.  In this case the area round the bite should be cleaned, preferably with soapy water, and a dry dressing applied.  Do not use a tourniquet but a firm but not tight ligature above the bite helps to compress the tissues and delay absorption into the system.

The St. John First Aid Manual continues, support and immobilise the limb concerned, and should breathing fail, commence artificial respiration.  In all cases seek medical aid.  The manual also states that many people die from fright, after being bitten.

The dangers of snakebite are recognised by the Club Alpino Italiano and most of their larger Rifugi hold stocks of serum and many of the larger villages as well.

* Translators note (from previous page)

Snakes of the viper family can, to some extent, control the amount of venom that they inject, depending upon the size of the victim.  The Horned viper usually injects all at one go.


Into The Devil's Arse

or A trip into Peak Cavern

An account of a club trip by Martin Grass

Our first attempt to enter Peak Cavern was in November of last year but due to flood waters throughout the show cave (necessitating swimming along normally dry passages) the trip had to be abandoned.  In march of this year we were luckier and were able to walk through the whole show Cave without getting wet.  The main attraction of Peak as a show cave is the large entrance where rope-makers once worked and lived.  A short, low passage at the end of the entrance chamber leads into the Great Cave, another large chamber, with fascinating, glowing formations which on inspection proved to be 'cats eyes' which had been embedded in the rock!

A large dry passage enters Roger Rains House, the third and last large chamber in the tourist section, with a waterfall entering from high up on the, right side of the passage. The cave now changes to an almost horizontal stream passage to a 'T' junction where the show cave ends.  Left at this junction quickly ends in the Buxton Water Sump which was first successfully passed by Don Coase back in the early ‘50s.  Right at this junction leads past old mine workings (lead) at Victoria Aven onto Speedwell Pot which feeds vast quantities of water from Speedwell Cavern into Peak. It was interesting to learn that this pot was caped a few years ago with a giant concrete plug, the intention being to extend the tourist season by keeping some of the flood waters out of the cave.  Various muddy climbs over boulders and a sandy crawl ends at the Muddy Ducks which are nothing more than large puddles.  Once through these the passages become a larger phreatic tunnel called The Upper Gallery with two side passages leading off, one to Pickerings Passage and the other to a pot completely filled with fine sands which greatly impressed Mr. ‘N’ who had visions of exporting it all to Mendip to make cement and other such solid materials.  Easy going down, the Upper gallery turns to a short traverse to the Surprise View a 20ft fixed ladder down into the Main Stream Passage, the famous phreatic passage which is up to 50 feet high.  This magnificent passage can be followed up stream to the down stream end of Buxton Water Sump or up stream to Squalls Junction where the main Peak water enters at three waterfalls.  Near the junction we took a high level muddy crawl to the left which led to Lake Passage and Ink Sump, a beautifully clear green sump which has not been dived to any conclusion (at present unfortunately diving has been banned by the owners of Peak).

Back in the main stream the large tunnel continues past some very high evens to Far Sump which is about; 200 feet long.   As diving has been banned BCRA are trying to construct a large dam and lower the sump by bailing- such is their determination to extend the system.

After a soggy Mars Bar or two we returned to Squaws Junction and made our way via some of the muddiest passages I have ever been in, back to the Surprise View thus completing a very pleasant round trip.  A quick wash off in the streamway and we started to make our way out.

On the return journey some of us visited Pickerings Passage.  This awkward free climb is similar to Marble Pot in Cuthbert’s but larger and not so tight.  At the end of this passage is Moss Chamber where the unfortunate Neil Moss is still stuck in a narrow fissure half way up a steep stal flow.  Ironically the only formations in the whole cave are here.

Throughout the whole of this series and particularly in Moss Chamber are rusty relics still left from the attempts to rescue Moss from his fissure.  Thermos flasks, food tins and telephone wires are scattered about giving the place a morbid atmosphere.

We exited after a pleasant 5 hours underground and although not a hard cave, Peak makes a very satisfying and sporting trip.  Our thanks go to Pete Smith from BCRA who led the trip.

Another trip has been planned for later in the year, any member interested contact me as numbers are limited.  The exact date will be published in the B.B. as soon as it has been confirmed.


Cadbury Camp Mineshaft

By Tony Jarratt

On the weekend following the ‘Great Snowstorm’ the Belfry regulars were contacted by archaeologist and ex-club member, Keith Gardner, who wanted a mineshaft investigated.  The hole had appeared after the snow, on the wooded fortification of Cadbury Camp hill fort overlooking Yatton (NGR: ST 439650) immediately above the Country Club.  Bob Cross, John Dukes, Rog Sabid; and Wig bravely answered the call and John and Rog found the shaft to be approximately 150 feet deep, 8 - 10 feet in diameter at the top, tapering to about 5 feet at the bottom.

The first 8 feet or so is stone-lined and the rest is in solid limestone with a floor of rubble and earth at least 4 feet deep.  The shaft was partly covered with old railway lined and rotten timbers placed there after a previous collapse earlier this century.  No passages lead off the shaft and there are no signs of haulage marks on the sides or of any other mining remains in the immediate vicinity.  Shot holes were noticed in the shaft sides.

Various theories as to its use have been put forward, the most probable being that it is a trial shaft in search of iron ore, which was mined all along the hills as far as Winford, the nearest group of workings from Cadbury being in Kings Wood, half a mile away. Here there are many shallow shafts and levels driven insooth limestone and earth.  Suggestions as to its being a well are made doubtful by the dryness of the shaft, its position of only 50 feet from the steep hill-side and the fact that shaft bottom is about 85 feet above saturated moor level.

A dig at the bottom would prove interesting but rather difficult due to lack of dumping space - all spoil having to be hauled to the surface.  A few years ago a similar, though only 40 foot deep shaft opened up in the grounds of the Country Club and two others are rumoured to exist further along the ridge towards Claverham, though have not yet been investigated.

The Cadbury shaft is an excellent SRT practice site and the local council and commoners association have jointly paid for its capping and the provision of a manhole for access.  A 1” ring spanner and lifting key are required (a set will be kept in the Belfry).  Best access is from the ‘No Through Road’ ( Henley Lane) just past the Country Club going towards Yatton.  A public footpath leads to the foot of the hill and by climbing up through the woods behind the club the shaft can be found at the top.  Prospective diggers will need cutting gear to remove the five bar gate thrown down by local yobs!  A further pleasure of the site is its close proximity to Richard’s cider farm. Probably the best brew in the locality and £1-00 per gallon.

From the Tacklemaster

Ladders and ropes, too many to enumerate, are missing from the tackle store, with no indication of the borrowers or whereabouts in the tackle log.  Particularly annoying is the removal from the library a length of new super-braidline nylon before it had even been coded.  Somebody must know where it is.  Please return any tackle you have borrowed, whether booked out or not, as soon as possible, for checking.

REMEMBER – the tackle log has six columns:


Name;   Tackle description or number;     Cave/area;         Date out;           Signature;         Date in;

Code numbers are on ladder end rungs, on metal rings on ropes and on tags on tethers and spreaders.



compiled by Nipha

LONGWOOD SWALLET The Bristol Waterworks Company are fitting a new automatic pump into the pumping station above the entrance to farm. The pump will automatically switch on and off according to the water level in the reservoir not the local conditions of the stream.  Previously it has been manually operated.  The B.W.W. is placing a notice inside the cave entrance as shown below:




Under certain conditions this cave can be flooded without warning if pumps stop at the nearby pumping station.

Persons entering the cave do so at their own risk. They must be in possession of a current Charterhouse Caving Committee permit.


This will pose quite a problem for cavers as the stream under wet conditions will rise suddenly and without warning.  Though the blockhouse will divert a lot of the surface stream down the valley to the blocked Water Chamber entrance, it is probable that the water will seep through the boulders above the entrance shaft.  I am led to believe that a similar pump is to be installed at the pumping station above Swildon's entrance.  This could cause the M.R.O. to have quite a headache!  One only needs to remember the days when the pipe was removed from the ‘40’ – there was a callout every Saturday night for at least 6 weeks after at about 10.30pm.

The B.W.W. have issued the following warning to clubs:-



Longwood Cave has long been known to be dangerous because of the risk ff flooding from a stream.

That danger is even greater now because the cave is likely to flood more often.

Pumps that take water from the springs at Charterhouse will now stop working automatically.

This can cause a sudden flood wave, making some passages impassable and the exit and entrance extremely difficult to negotiate.

There are warning notices stressing this danger at the cave entrance.

Access to the cave is controlled by the Charterhouse Caving Committee, and only cavers holding a current permit should enter the cave.

T A K E   C A R E !


Ten Years Ago ..

A subject, still much talked about on Mendip, is the July Flood of 1968.  Ten years ago when many of the current bunch of cavers hadn't even thought of going caving on Mendip.  They certainly cannot remember the horror on the faces of cavers about at the time when they heard that the '40' had gone.  Anyone not realising the extent of the damage in the caves should read the July 1968 BB for a fairly comprehensive coverage of each affected cave.

CAMBRIDGE University 'Underground, 1978' has been donated to the Club Library. It contains several interesting articles including their activities in Austria on the Loser Plateau.  Also to be found is details of further work in Yorkshire.  Good reading and plenty of surveys.


The C.S.C.C. now control access to the cave through the S.C.C. under licence from the Somerset County Council.  Keys to BEC members can be obtained at the Belfry (the BEC will shortly be a shareholder in the SC Company.  Member clubs of the CSCC will have to pay £0.50 for access and non-member clubs of CSCC will be required to pay £2.00.  A £5.00 deposit is required from either type of club, this is, of course a returnable deposit.  The BEC and any other club who is a shareholder in the company will not have to pay the tackle fee.

Clubs wishing to obtain a Key, if not arranged through one of the shareholder clubs should write to

J. L. Thomas, 53 Warham Road, Harrow Weald, Middx.


One has heard on several occasions stories of caving operas made up by cavers, now a modern composer Klaus Cornell has written an oratorio entitled ‘Oratoria Spelaeologica’ after his visit to the well known Swiss show-cave Beatus Hohlen.  The work is in 5 movements and is a musical impression of the underground scenery and his personal feelings at the visit.  A record has been issued of this work that apparently has received several concert hall performances, complete with genuine underground sound effects (hopefully not those of genuine cavers!)  Milch (SMCC) came across this reference in a Dutch (?) motoring magazine, dated 8-7-76 and it is also mentioned in the 'Lquipe Speleo Bruxelles (73) p22 for December 1977.  At the moment, Milch, Ray Mansfield and Wig are desperately trying to find out who has made the recording and of course get a copy.  The owner of the shop frequented by ‘Wig’ was last seen scratching his head and burrowing into his great pile of import listings. It may be that the record has been issued locally in Switzerland by Claves – a Swiss record label.

Mendip Dig - news flashes:

WCC are digging at Limekiln, an old John Cornwell site; Elm Cave has been investigated by Wessex who have found that the water level in the flooded chamber is falling – they are sitting by the water waiting for the chance to dig.

Lionel's Hole - Andy Sparrow et. a1. are still pushing the new extension.  Pete Moody has dived the downstream sump for about 15-20ft.  The underwater passage is quite roomy, about 3ft square.  The terminal choke is being dug, a fair ol’ draught is reported to be whistling from it.

Viaduct Dig is progressing slowly but they are working towards an active stream passage.  A lot more banging is required before the 'Thrupe' diggers can get there.  The cave is now about 400ft. long and 90:ft. deep.

Wigmore Swallet - Tony Jarrett and Stu. Lindsey have been putting the finishing touches to the Winding Shaft ready for the capping and gating operation.  The BEC Committee have allocated £50 toward the cost of gating.

Box Mines - Stu Lindsey reports that the Cotham C.G. have found about 3,000ft of new passage, off the Clift workings.


In a letter from Stan Gee is a self portrait ‘Ready for a mountain walk’, here it is: reproduced faithfully by the BB editorial staff:-



'Pope'; our Rhodesian correspondent has sent through a newspaper cutting from the Rhodesia Herald, Salisbury (May 19th, 1978) headlined

"Valour award for Cave Action"

The following is a shortened version of the account:-

"A 40 minute fire fight inside a cave last September has earned a temporary lance corporal with the Rhodesian Light Infantry the Silver Cross Of Rhodesia for displaying, supreme valour in action ..... !

The Lance Corporal was in charge of a group of four men sweeping a hillside feature of reported terrorist presence.  The press report continues.  “During the sweep the officer commanding the troops followed a terrorist into a cave. Firing followed, and Lance Corpora1 Phillips realised the officer was lying injured inside the cave.  He and another non-commissioned officer made an attempt to rescue the wounded officer, but because he was inside the cave lying wedged between rocks, this was not possible.  It was apparent to the Lance Corporal that there were at least three armed terrorists inside the cave.   Because it would have been a hindrance, he put his rifle to one side, and armed only with a borrowed pistol entered the cave in another attempt to rescue the officer. Lance Corporal Phillips was subjected to heavy fire from a range of less than 5m ...... When Lance Corporal Phillips ran out of ammunition he withdrew from the cave to reload.  Back in the cave, he moved further inside, beyond the critically wounded officer, and provided covering fire against the remaining terrorists so that a medical orderly could enter the cave and remove the wounded officer.  Before this could be done the terrorists opened fire again and Lance Corporal Phillips moved deeper into the cave, killing one terrorist and wounding another. When the officer had been removed, Lance Corporal Phillips then used grenades to dispose of any remaining terrorists.  The cave was searched at first light and three terrorists were found dead.  A wounded terrorist left the cave by another exit during the night."

Apart from the stabbing incident between two cavers in Yorkshire a few years ago I wonder if this sets a record for the most unusual cave rescue incident?

New Mendip Surveys:

Thrupe Lane survey is available through the Mendip Survey Scheme and was also published in the S.M.C.C. Journal (Autumn 1977).

Wigmore Survey is ready and will be published in the BB as will Rocket Drop.


Dye Tracing At Wookey Hole

By Dr. W.I. Stanton

This article has been reprinted from the CDG newsletter with permission of the CDG Secretary

These experiments were devised in response to a suggestion by Martyn Farr that a repetition of the 1967 Cuthbert's - Wookey trace, with added detail, might allow prediction of the nature of the unexplored passages between the two known systems.  It was hoped in view of the very fast flow through time of eight hours, that the deep sump beyond Wookey 25 was the last. Vadose passages like those of Cuthbert's 2 might begin immediately upstream.

The plan was enthusiastically supported, and there were volunteers enough for all sampling (at 15 minute intervals) to be done manually.  Samples were run through the flourometer every two hours.  On 27.11.76 150 grams of flourescein were added to the Cuthbert's stream at the cave entrance, and the dye was followed underground. Travel time to Sump 1 was about 1.5 hours.  Soon after, Martyn Farr poured 40cc. of 20% Rhodamine WT solution into the Well at Wookey 25.  This began to appear at the resurgence 7 hours later.  The flourescein however did not come through, although sampling continued for 80 hours after input.  It might have been absorbed en-route by the peaty water that we had stirred up in the Mineries swamps during the input.  There was considerable despondency.

One thing was clear; flow-through was very much slower than in the 1967 test.  It was natural to suppose that this was because the river was at medium stage, whereas in 1967 it had been in flood.  Theoretically if the volume of ponded water back in the sumps (phreatic storage) is very large, as is obviously the case at Wookey, the total amount of water in the system decreases by a rather small percentage, as the flow drops from flood to draught conditions.  In this system when the flow halves, flow-through time will almost double (twice as slow).  In a vadose streamway like Cuthbert's the converse applies; the volume of water in the system shrinks very considerably as the flow falls, so that flow-through time lengthens only slightly.

Bristol Waterworks has a continuous flow measuring station on the River Axe downstream of the resurgence. Flow during the 1967 test was about 40mgd. (million gallons per day) whereas in the 1976 test it was (roughly, as the gauge was malfunctioning) 1.5mgd.  Another trace was attempted on 4.6.77 using Rhodamine W.T. for both inputs. Dave Morris poured 40cc. of the dye into the Axe at Sting Corner and a few hours later I added 100cc to the stream at Cuthbert's entrance. To avoid more caver frustration a mechanical sampler was used at the resurgence but the result was operator frustration, as the clockwork timer worked in fits and starts.  Nevertheless enough data were obtained for conclusions to be drawn.

The Sting Corner dye resurged in about 15 hours and the Cuthbert's dye in about 68 hours.  Flow was fairly low at the time: about 5mgd. I concluded from this result that the volume of water in the Cuthbert’s Wookey system upstream of Sting Corner was roughly three times the volume downstream of it.  The time differences between traces, as already mentioned, show that much of this volume is sump. Probably therefore large deep sumps continue for a long way upstream of Wookey 25.

The theory outlined above does not take into account of diminishing bore sizes as the channel is followed upstream past, confluences, such as that of the Swildon's and Cuthbert's waters.  However it seems not unreasonable to suppose that the ratio of average phreatic bore size to average flow remains roughly constant, in which case the argument would still apply.


The Discovery & Exploration Of Wookey 23 - 25

by Chris Batstone

The numbering of sumps in Wookey can for some seem strangely complex.  From one to nine the system is relatively easy to understand, there being airspace between the sumps.  From 9 to 22 things become slightly obscure.  To clarify this however, the reader should be aware that between 9 and 22 the cave is totally submerged, except for the 20th chamber the numbering is merely to signify stages in exploration.  The conventional sump numbering system is used beyond the 22nd chamber.


By early 1976 the Cave Diving Group attempts to find the continuation of the cave system beyond the 22nd chamber had been fruitless.  Despite this a number of divers were still enthusiastic enough to keep up the search.

On February 21st1976, Colin Edmunds and Martyn Farr had gone in to 22 to investigate the far sump. Previously Parker had reported that "it was static and did not go."  During their investigation of the sump they found an opening much like the "slot" in 15.  They explored the passage beyond until the line ran out.  They had explored 300ft of passage down to a depth of 65ft.  The two divers were forced to return to base having no more line with which to explore further.

A day later on the 23rd February, two more divers Oliver Statham and Geoff Yeadon went in to push the sump further.  Statham led the dive, he followed Edmunds line to the limit of the previous dive. Then tying on his own line pushed on to surface 60ft further in Wookey 23.  He was soon joined by Yeadon who was following behind surveying as he went. They had found a passage 40 x 25ft with a sandy floor.

The next sump did not seem very inviting so they spent some time investigating an aven for alternative routes, none were found.  Statham dived sump 23.  This he found to be a series of short sumps.  Each time he surfaced he found deep water high rifts with dry passage leading off, but steep mud banks to make his exit difficult.  He found that exiting from the pool in "24" was difficult due to its steep mud bank.  He was soon joined by Yeadon who helped him out of the pool onto the mud bank.

Yeadon wandered off along the large sandy passage they had found, looking for the next "inevitable sump".  Excitedly he shouted to Statham to "de-kit".  The passage was not going to end in a sump just yet.  The two explored up the passage, where they heard the roaring sound of a large amount of water.  Climbing over some boulders they found the subterranean River Axe flowing in a passage 40ft high and 5f. wide.  They swam upstream against a very strong current, for approx. 150ft.  The passage opened out into a large Chamber, with a high level route leading off.  They stayed in the river passage which had narrowed to 2-3ft wide and about 50ft high.  After about 300ft they came to a cascade which they climbed, into a large chamber.  Here the high level passage mentioned earlier joined the river passage.  This chamber opened out to a lake.  The divers swam across the lake to investigate a rift, but no way on could be seen.  The water in the lake came up from under the left wall this then was the next sump (24).

On their return they made a quick survey and explored the high level passage; the total passage length was 2,000ft plus.

A week later on the 27th February Martyn Farr and Colin Edmunds were back.  Arriving at Sump 24 Farr dived reaching a depth of around 85ft. The way on was up a steeply inclined dip.  On his second attempt he reached an air surface.  His dive had been 350ft long finishing at a chamber (25) covered in thick deposits of mud.  He swam across it until he came to what he thought to be a bridge of rock.  Pulling himself up about 3ft out of the water he could see into another pool approx. 30ft in diameter.  He returned to Edmunds in 24 where they explored some side passages. They returned to 9:2 after 6¼ hours in the cave.

Farr and Edmunds returned to Wookey on the 10th April aiming to photograph the new extensions and have a look at the terminal sump (25).  On reaching 25 Farr christened the chamber the " Lake of Gloom".  He discovered that the rock bridge was in fact a solid rock wall.  Making impossible any attempt to dive through to the next pool.  However he managed to "de-kit" and climb over into the pool to make a quick inspection.  Finding that the sump was very large and deep and to dive further would require a good deal of support.

It was now apparent from the last pushing attempt that considerably more support would be needed to push any further.  With a dive of over 2000ft long and 80ft deep to 25.  The problems of high air consumption had to be considered, a large amount of extra air cylinders were needed.  The problems of decompression, too, had to be considered.  Decompression stops in cold water can be very wearing. To offset the cold, constant volume, drysuits were acquired.  These dry suits had the advantage of keeping in the body warmth, and counteracting the negative buoyancy at depth.  The major disadvantage of these suits is that they tend to cause overheating when the diver is not in the water.  A large amount of the equipment was obtained from sponsors who donated either equipment or money to the project.

Many weeks were spent practicing with the new equipment and techniques associated with it.  Numerous artificial aids were transported into the extensions; this included two lengths of rigid steel ladder to 25 to aid the scaling of the barrier wall.  To facilitate easy passage of the canals and climbs, these were roped up to assist the divers in high water conditions.

A water tracing exercise was also carried out on November the 27th.  Two tests were made.  One using rhodamine dye from 25.  This was detected at the resurgence after 9 hours.  The other test was made from St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  140 grams was put into the sink and followed through the cave to sump 2.  But the dye was not subsequently detected at the resurgence after 56 hours.  It may be supposed that the amount of dye used was too small.

The Push

The 11th June 77 had been set for the assault on Sump 25.  In the preceding weeks the essential equipment had been transported to various parts of the cave ready for use.  The 9th Chamber was crowded with divers, supporters, television film crews, newspapermen and tourists.  The divers were Martyn Farr, Dave Morris, Colin Edmunds, Brian Woodward, Richard Stevenson, Paul Atkinson and George Bee.

Due to high water conditions the dive was postponed, although a performance was put on for the benefit of the media.  This also gave an opportunity to put the finishing touches to the final preparations.

The same team of divers were back at the cave on the 18th June.  Farr dived with Morris as back up diver.  The others went to 24 to help ferry and check the back up equipment. Leaving Morris in the Lake of Gloom, Farr dived down the Well, finding the line reel previously left in from the July '76 dive, at approx. 100ft depth.  He decided to follow the passage floor down.  Passage dimensions were approx. 4ft wide by 25ft high. Visibility was poor due to mud from the floor, which he disturbed as he swam.  At 135ft depth Farr came to a 10ft vertical drop.  He could see the passage continued on downwards.  Descending this he soon reached 150ft depth.  Here he dropped the line reel and made a rapid return to Morris at the Well to decompress.  The divers returned to 9:2 de-tackling as they went, making a short decompression stop before surfacing in 9:2 after a trip lasting 8 hours.

Although the main objective of the dive to push the final sump failed, the exercise has been useful, several lessons had been learnt.  Decompression and use of open circuit breathing mixtures have been established in cave diving, besides setting a new British cave diving depth record.

To the authors knowledge no further pushes have been made on sump 25 nor are any further planned, at the time of writing.  The story does not stop here, the events of the 1976-77 dives are just another chapter in the story.  As diving equipment and techniques improve, so divers will be able to push even farther and deeper into the sumps of Wookey Hole.

It is hoped this article has provided a clearer picture of events at Wookey Hole to date.

References: -

C.D.G. Newsleters No's '39 to 45 (new series)

B.C.R.A. Bulletin No 17 Aug 77.  Recent developments at Wookey Hole.


The Descent Of King Pot

a new find on Scales Moor, Yorkshire

by Martin Bishop.

On Friday 22nd June, Trev Hughes, Tim Large, myself and Rocksport's own Fiona, set forth for Yorkshire and the Northern Cave Club Brada Garth Hut in Kingsdale.  I had been previously invited to attend their annual barbeque at the entrance to Yordes Cave, but then I was told of the new find - there didn't need any further persuasion!  Anyway, we managed to make the Craven Heifer in time for a beer, meet the lads and arrange our King Pot trip for the following morning.

Saturday morning 'dawned' about 8 a.m., and after breakfast a short discussion and some cider (we always take the necessaries) Trev, Tim and myself and Dave Gallavar (NCC) set off for the cave, sorry - pothole.  Our journey was to be interrupted by watching the fanner and friend castrating sheep using an amazing tool which resembled a miniature hatchet!  From this point to the entrance, Trev made Tim quite ill by insisting on a sheep’s nuts kebab at the barbeque.  Eventually we made the entrance end after a quick check of our gear we began the descent.  Enough of this frivolity, I'll now get down to the business of describing certainly one of Yorkshires best trips and certainly one of the most impressive.

The cave consists of an awkward 25ft entrance pitch, followed by a 10ft rope descent into a small chamber.  From this chamber a 35ft pitch leads into a series of crawls through boulders to the head of a 10ft pot.  This crawl marks the end of the 'old cave' and the scene of the breakthrough in early June.  Beyond a 10ft climb leads into 25ft of rift passage to the head of the 5th pitch.  A 30ft ladder dropping through boulders takes you into a few hundred feet of passage to an exceedingly loose choke.  About halfway along this passage a climb takes you into a grotto full of straws which rivals Easter Grotto in the Easegill System. Once past the unstable choke you enter, what was for me, the worst part of the system  A short rift passage leads into a flat out crawl in a narrow phreatic tube with a 3ft deep, 6-8" wide trench cut in the floor.  After 100ft the passage (still small) goes through a tight 'S' bend and through a tight squeeze to the head of the next pitch, 25ft ladder required.  At the bottom of the pitch a 2ft wide, meandering stream passage continues for 700ft and up to 40ft high, at the top of which is a 8ft dia. phreatic tube full of pretties.  At the end of the meanders, a 10ft pitch quickly followed by a 15ft pitch leads to a loose climb up a slope to a large chamber beyond which is an even larger chamber entered via a 45ft pitch - King Henry's Hall (150ft long, 100ft wide and 100ft high) - so named after the boulder at the head of the pitch which is about the size of a mini-car and has no visible means of support.  At the end of KHH a 35ft pitch down a narrow (Cuthbert's style) rift leads through 200ft of rift passage to two very large un-named chambers.  From this point about 600ft of canal passage with a good stream, takes you to the head of the 70ft pitch.  The pitch is really superb and has a rock bridge which spans the head of this 30ft dia. pot.  After a fine descent the stream passage below leads 300ft to a sump.  Back under the 70ft pitch, a 10ft climb over a rock barrier leads to a muddy, flat out and wet crawl to some small chambers and an inlet junction on the right of the main passage gives was, after a climb up a mud bank, to a chamber with some fine abandoned gours about 8ft wide and 100ft long.

Dropping back into the main passage, 700ft. of canal leads into the Scales Moor Main drain. Downstream from the junction about 450ft of superb stream passage with a hell of a lot of water, ending at a big, blue and very deep sump pool.  Upstream of the junction 300ft of passage ends at another sump of the same calibre. So we start out, breaking the journey by looking at two inlets, one halfway back through the canal and the other at the far end.  The first leads to a lake and a passage beyond that has a strong draught issuing from a choke and looks a promising site to push.

The other inlet is gained by a 5ft climb up into a classic 12ft dia. phreatic passage.  This continues for about 220ft and stops at an abandoned lake chamber; the acoustics in this passage are phenomenal.  On the return trip we split into two parties, Tim and Dave racing on while Trev and yours truly taking our steadier pace. About three and a half hours later we gained the surfaced knackered but dead chuffed at being the first non-NCC cavers to be allowed down. My next visit to this cave will be with two NCC members to dive the terminal sumps, to do this must involve a 10-15 hour trip, so I could be after some ‘bottle-boys’ - any offers?

To conclude this article we go on to the barbeque which proved to be a very good night with stacks of beer and food; to Trev's disappointment no Sheep's Ball Kebabs but after a few beers he was not bothered.  Tim Large must be getting old - he found it necessary to go to bed at about 11.30p.m. – SOBER!  Trev finally disappeared by 2.30am and I strolled (or staggered) along Kingsdale with the dawn, rising behind me.  So come Sunday.  Cider for breakfast, then to the Craven Heifer for lunch where Trev and I thrashed the NCC and (commiserations to Funky Dibben) the Derbyshire C.C. at darts after a few more beers at Dave Gallavers house in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, we made our way home.  A great weekend.


A No Name Article

By Michael Palmer

A White Scar Caving trip was arranged for 14th Jan. '78 by Martin (how green is my) Grass and so, to use a well worn phrase, a small band of BEC members drove the boring Motorway route to Horton-in-Ribblesdale to be the guests of the Bradford.

The party consisted of two groups, the Palmer family with Greg Villis and Christine, and Martin, Glenis, Pat and Paul Christie.  Martin had hoped for slightly better support of the trip but as it transpired the numbers were adequate.

En-route the Palmer group we’re fortunate enough to stay the Friday Night at Fred Weekes' Paddiham 'put you up', where they enjoyed fine hospitality.  The other group made it to the Bradford Cottage in time to find enough space for their sleeping bags.

Saturday morning, early but not so bright, saw the groups assembled in the White Scar Cave car park, where the events of the drive up in the fog and snow were discussed at length, while secretly hoping that the leader wasn't going to turn up.  He did, accompanied by a few friends, and so we all had to change in the freezing cold and prepare ourselves.  The route had to be changed because the usual air space at Big Bertha boulder choke had sumped.  This was fortunate in some respects, since the alternative was the higher level Battle Series which only a few dozen parties have previously visited.

The route at this point is upwards through a naughty corkscrew squeeze, emerging into an extremely large chamber.  From this chamber the leader took us to the caveable extremities of the Western Front and the Northern Front to look at very nice formations and a wonderful crystal pool which unfortunately was dry.  On the trip out Paul Christies wonder light failed again and to cap it all he later lost the Carbide lamp, loaned by Greg, while negotiating a swim in the cold streamway.

At the entrance the women had prepared welcome hot cup of tea, having returned early from their shopping in Settle.  After a quick change and a thank you to our leader we made a hasty return to the Bradford Cottage for a shower and hot food.

The hut warden had made a double booking, so bunk space was scarce.  However, after a little bartering and swearing sufficient room was found for the women, Martin and Paul, while Michael and Greg slept in the van. At the Helwith Bridge later on Saturday night we were blessed with the presence of a lost sheep, one Andy Nichols, who reported that he is fine and enjoying his change to Northern climes.

A trip to Swinsto had been organised with Fred Weekes for Sunday morning, which found the men once again standing by the roadside in the freezing cold changing into wet wetsuit. The women folk did a more sensible thing by going walking from Ingleton to see Thornton Force, which is a very impressive sight after wet weather.

Except for Fred this was everyone’s first trip into Swinsto, so there was lots of speculation about the sort of trip it would be.  The arrangement was that we would abseil through the system, pulling the rope down behind us, into the Kingsdale Master Cave and leave by the Valley entrance.

Sufficient articles have already been written about this trip so enough said, but it is relevant to record that this is a fine sporting pothole and the grand finale of the Kingsdale Master System is worth the effort.  The only bad spot of the trip was when the rope nearly didn't free itself from the top of the main pitch

We were all by this time on the ledge which divides the pitch into two; we were also being blown by an icy cold wind, caused by the swollen stream descending the pitch. After only a few minutes we were all very cold and subsequently decided in the warmth of the hut that it would not take very long for exposure to set in if trapped on the ledge under such conditions.  So, as a safety measure it was considered advisable to take a second rope of about 60ft, to avoid the danger of getting stuck should the main rope become stuck in any belay.  Feeling very pleased, with ourselves we returned to the hut for a hot meal before saying our good byes.

The weather was not too kind and the accommodation was overcrowded, but two fine caving trips made the weekend worth while and thank you to those who came and to Martin for organising the main trip.



by Tim Large

whose address is c/o Trading Standards Dept., 31 South Street, Wells, Somerset.

The year marches on so quickly these days, before we know we are at the A.G.M. and Dinner will be upon us. Already I can hear the usual rumblings of discussion.  I hope these rumblings will be aired in the proper place - the A.G.M.  It often seems to happen that various moans develop before the A.G.M., but those concerned air their grievances everywhere but at the meeting.

DINNER:  As you have already probably read in previous B.B.’s, the Dinner is to be held at the Caveman, Cheddar and the meal will include Roast beef, Yorkshire Pud, wine and a drink before the meal (either a pint or a sherry) all for £3.50.  The management of the Caveman have been ‘grilled’ by myself and I’ve been assured that a) the meal will be over in about one and a half hours and b) no-one will need to complain about the quantity of the food.  The veg., etc., will be laid out in dishes on the table. I hope that this year the Dinner will be memorable one and that there will be no repetition of the food throwing that occurred last year – we do not wish to stoop as low as the Wessex.  Last year some idiot threw pats of butter which landed on a lady’s dress (she’s no lady! Ed.).  It was lucky for him that he was never caught!


New members

Dave Nicholls, 2 Harklcy Rd., Exmouth, Devon.
John Knops, Ida Cottage, 235 Englishcombe Lane, Bath, Avon (lapsed member rejoined)

Changes of address:

Roger Sabido (832) 15 Concorde Drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, B310 6RZ
Buckett Tilbury (699) 15 Fernie Fields, Aylesbury, Bucks.
John Dukes (830) Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Som.
Sue Yea, Bridge Farm, Dulcote, Nr. Wells, Som.
Richard Knight (904) Crossways, Hillesley, Wotton-under-Edge, Glos. GL12 7RD.
Nigel Jago (753) West Cottage, Church Lane, Farrington Gurney, Avon.
Derek Targett (583) Norton Hall Cottage, Chilcompton, Midsummer Norton, Avon.
Mike Baker (392) 10 Riverside Walk, Midsummer Norton, Bath, Avon.
U. Jones (Jonah) Woking Grange, Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey.

Leaders for Shatter Cave, Fairy Cave Quarry: -

Dave Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.  Tele; Priddy 369
Mike Palmer, Laurel Farm, Yarley Hill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset. Tele Wells 74693

Max. no. in party is 5, electric lamps only, 25p per head into the coffers of the C.S.S. and give the leaders about 4 weeks notice please.

MORE ADDRESS CHANGES received by the Editor:

Teresa Humble, 71 Chiltern Close, Warmley, Bristol, Avon.
Colin Priddle (Pope) 15 Mons Road, Delville, Germiston 1401, South Africa.

Colin writes '…its good to hear of new caves being found on Mendip.  I have taken a step nearer caving again – by moving to Rhodesia.  It must be a step nearer returning to England too.'

ON MENDIP recently has been Jonah who turned up at the Belfry on his motorbike and when being asked by Trevor Hughes if he was a caver replied “My boy, I’ve been caving for 35 years!”  Trevor quickly shrank from sight!  Also seen at the Hunters - the one and only Steve Grime recounting tales of his travels abroad.  Incidentally, Jonah has donated a quantity of material for the club library including a rare copy of 'Historia Rievallensis' by the Rev. W. Eastmead published in 1824. The book contains an account of the recently discovered CAVE AT KIRKDALE.  Many thanks Jonah.

A.G.M.  Due to the committee proposals as a result of the work of the Constitutional Sub-committee it has been decided to hold an EGM on Saturday 7th October starting at 10.00am at the Belfry.  The A.G.M. will commence after this E.G.M.  This will conform to the spirit of the resolution at last years A.G.M. which requested this work to be carried out - namely that the revisions should be accepted before the 1978 A.G.M.


Caving In Gibraltar

By Trev Hughes

The Rock of Gibraltar is a limestone peninsula approximately 3 miles long by 1 mile wide.  The Rock is triangular in cross section and the ridge reaches 900ft above sea level.

Due to continued military interest and the limited area of level ground the rock has, over the years, become honeycombed with mined passage ranging from 250 year old gun batteries to present day command centres.  The total length of mined passage is now nearly 35 miles at many different levels.  It is perhaps less well known that there are 176 known natural caves on the rock, all are very old and are of phreatic or fault origins, there being no surface streams on the rock.  The highest entrances are at 750 ft above sea level (I know because it’s a long beer initiated slog up the water catchment steps).

Probably most people have heard of St Michael's show cave which is two thirds up the western side of the rock.  The large chambers in this cave led to its wartime use as a hospital.  The largest chamber in the show cave was a ward; it is now used for concerts, seating about 500.  The lower chamber was adapted for use as an operating theatre.

During the latter part of the war the Royal Engineers drove a tunnel horizontally into the hillside to connect with the operating theatre providing a convenient wheelbarrow route for bits of broken soldiers.  During these blasting operations instead of a pile of rubble at the end of their tunnel the Sappers found a large hole, so the lower and lower lower series of St Michael’s cave were found.

The lower series is formed along a large fault with a considerable vertical down throw, it connects with the lower lower series in the blasted entrance passage and in a 100ft pot within the system.  Stream action appears to have played no appreciable part in the formation of cave passage. The lower series like the show cave is extremely well decorated with large areas of flowstone and columns; cave mud is noted for its absence.  Although fairly short (660ft) the lower series has a vertical range of 80ft and provides some sporting climbs and an interesting 1-2 inch wide traverse around a 20ft deep lake.

The only interest in caving on the rock is a small group of resident Army cavers and a few local people who comprise the rocks only caving club!  However, they are always willing to provide a guide for non-local cavers such as a visiting naval caver like myself.  Most of the caves on the rock are short but some are relatively sporting such as the lower lower series of St Michael’s cave.


Letter To The Editor

To the Editor of the BB

Firstly the thoughts of 'Chairman' Alfie, if only others could have been prepared to write articles I am sure that Alfie’s thoughts may have been a bit watered down.  I think you should give him a round of applause for keeping the B.B. going so long.

As far as the B:B. is concerned you in the Bristol area are lucky in that you can read through the Bulletin and then throw it on the fire if you feel like it.  Other people overseas look on the B.B. as a God-send, which reflects the good old times in the Belfry, when it was the Old Belfry, before it burnt down.

You should ask yourselves, what are we trying to do?  You have a wonderful club on Mendip dedicated to caving and I say OK to the social activities of the older members (I myself included) who can't go caving (I'm blind and can hardly walk) and like to sit around and talk about the good old days (were they? – wife’s comment).

An idea for an article in the B.B.  Could a rough map of Mendip be produced showing where new caves have been discovered.

By the way, there's a second Belfry out here - a log cabin similar to Belfry 1.  In a good winter (not green) you can ski miles through forest, so why not pitch your strength against this nature and not against older members of the B. E. C.

Yours, George Honey, Sweden, 6th July 1978.


CAVING BOOTS (CRANGE TYPE). There are still some pairs left - mainly sizes 8, 9, 10.  PRICE £8.75. For those not familiar with them, they have external steel toe caps and commando soles.  Contact Tim Large (address see LIFELINE).

CAVING EXHIBITION: Arrangements are being made to hold this in the autumn at Wells Museum.  The purpose is to exhibit historical/antique items of caving equipment.  Anyone who has anything suitable, either to donate or loan should contact Tim Large. Work telephone Wells 73960.  Best times 8.30-10.30a.m. or 4.30p.m. to 5p.m.

Proposed Exhibition of Caving Equipment at the Wells Museum

Mr. Cook, Curator of the Wells Museum is interested in setting up an exhibition of caving equipment, past and present sometime in the autumn.  The success of this venture will be dependant on the quantity of material is forthcoming.   Anyone prepared to loan or give equipment should contact either Wells Museum or Chris Bradshaw at Rocksport, Bus Station, Wells, Somerset.  Telephone Well 0749 73054.


How To Avoid Caving Trips

By Annie Wilton-Jones

You may have noticed a distinct absence of I. Wilton-Jones’s on Mendip in the last couple of years. We’ve certainly noticed an absence of Lukin's cheese and cider in our diet so we can’t have been in the area for a while.  It would seem that we have developed quite a talent for avoiding caving and it is only fair that we should pass on this expertise to other would-be defaulters.

One of the first things to do is to get married.  As every married caver knows, this entails not so much the loss of your freedom as the gaining of a second set of excuses.  A frequent result of taking this first step along the road of avoidance is the purchase of a house.  This is a very good avoidance method in its own right.  It gives you two let outs: -

1) Mortgage repayments should easily high enough to reduce your ability to pay for petrol to a minimum. Trips to Mendip will therefore be similarly reduced.  2) There's always ‘so much to do in the house’.  A new house will be of faults and an old one will require extensive renovation and then there's the garden!  Of course the single caver can always try the house purchase without bothering with the marriage method.  It still works just as brother-in-law G. W-J will, no doubt, testify.

After a while, of course, your pay will go up a bit so the mortgage repayments will not cut down your spending money as much and, at about the same time, the house and garden will reach a comfortable condition.  The new house excuse will, therefore, be less effective so a fresh one must be found. Might I suggest the development of a second interest a least as time consuming as caving?  Running is a good example, this will require that a lot of time is spent in training and a lot of money is spent getting to races. It is also something that cannot be ignored for a week or so as you will lose your fitness. There will, of course, be the odd weekend when there’s no race and you will have a little money your pocket but you’re bound to be able to think of something you need for the house that will cost money and take the whole weekend to install.

Now is the time to introduce a further excuse.  Why not start a family? This is a good excuse for the wife to stay above ground - a large stomach is very cumbersome and gets in way in crawls and on ladders - but, on its own, is not sufficient excuse for the husband to stay in the daylight.  The answer is 'blood pressure'.  A nicely raise blood pressure will put the wife in bed for months at a time, maybe even in hospital, until the baby is born. Marvellous excuse!  How can the husband go caving when he has to look after house, garden and pets on his own while also trying to find time to go to work and visit his wife?  One point. On this excuse, though, is to time it correctly.  If you misjudge it you may end up missing the BEC Dinner which somewhat spoils the effect.

Of course, once the baby is born (in our case a daughter, Clare) you have a ready made excuse.  The baby is too small for you to take on long journeys and your wife is too tired for you to leave her to cope on her own. However, as wife and baby settle into a routine caving might become a possibility again so why not break your ankle? It's a bit painful at the time but it can be quite fun hobbling around on crutches and every one feels sorry for you.

When the ankle heals you could go into hospital for a minor op, but this won't last very long so you'll soon need a better excuse.  I don't recommend the following one but it works very effectively:

Get knocked down by a car. The main problem with this excuse is that you can’t control the seriousness of the accident.  Assuming that you are not killed, you may well be so badly injured that not only will you never cave again but you may also never do anything active again either.  If you are lucky your injuries will eventually heal but you won't know the final outcome for many months.  You will spend these months in hospital and/or attending painful physiotherapy sessions while hobbling about, once again, on those crutches.  At the end of all this treatment though you may still be able to cave so just in case you find you can, it might be an idea to start a second baby now so you'll have an excuse ready when the time comes!

Seriously though, Ian will still be on crutches for quite a while and we don't yet know how well his leg will heal.  However, you will see us on Mendip again in, we hope, the not too distant future, along with one or two babies, one dog, two cats and two or more gerbils!

Annie W-J.


Additions To Cliftworks Passage, Box Mine's

by members of the Cotham Caving Group.

In Mendip Underground (1) the description says of Cliftworks Passage “…enters the most recent workings, much blackened by diesel fumes.”

The object of this article is to try to describe Cliftworks Passage in more detail, so that the visitor to the mine will be fully able to appreciate a most interesting part of the mine.

Follow AO route from the Backdoor to Cliftworks Passage as described in the guide.  Turn right at the water tank at the junction, pausing to look down the Well opposite.  Proceed along Cliftworks Passage, passing B11 and WO Passages on your right.  Passing under several dry stone arches and through a doorway, you will now be in an isolated part of the mine from which the only connection is back through Cliftworks Passage.

About fifty feet past the door on the right is the first of several side passages.  This one is roughly five hundred feet long and along its length, on the right side, you will find a well, tools and finally a crane. At the end are natural springs. Just short of the end, on the left, is a connection through deads to a passage which runs parallel to it.  In the area of this connection passage are some examples of the large tongs which were used on the cranes to pick up the blocks of stone.  After passing through the connection turn left to return back to the main route.

Cliftworks Passage goes for about another three hundred and fifty feet past the side passage, when you come to a 'Y' junction where, on the right, is an air shaft of approximately four feet in diameter.  Straight on, over a large roof fall, is the main passage.  To the left is a complicated series of passages forming an oxbow to the left of the main route, rejoining it at the far side of the roof fall.

Climbing over the roof fall, you will have a walk of about six hundred feet to where the passage takes a sharp left turn; here some tools can be seen placed on a block of stone on the right side of the passage, with a low roofed passage ascending behind. This is the exit of the second side passage, from near the doorway in Cliftworks Passage.  About one hundred feet past the first side passage is the entrance to the second side passage, also on the right.  Nearly two hundred feet on, on the right, is the connection with the first side passage described earlier.  Passing over the roof fall (in the Cliftworks Passable) you come to a "Y' junction, stood in the middle of which is a rail mounted, hand powered winch. To the right is a side passage along which can be seen tools; a saw sharpening bench - a very good example of a crane with chain and stone tongs in position; this is the crane which appears in the 'Mendip Underground' photograph.

Straight on from the junction is the main way on to rejoin Cliftworks Passage at the point where the tools are on the block of stone.  There ore several interesting passages off this route and at one point you can make an earlier connection with Cliftworks Passage, rejoining it near the large roof fall.

Standing near the tools in Cliftworks Passage, and looking forward, the end is three hundred feet further on where one can see the first signs of pneumatic drill working (these drills were known as 'windy drills' by the miners).  The main way on is to the left, soon reaching a three way junction. Taking the right hand passage, passing the remains of a hut on the left to reach the final working face after some five hundred feet.  At the face are more tools, springs and another crane.

Length of Cliftworks Passage from entrance on the A4 road = 2,500ft.

Length of second side passage (Original Cliftworks)                    =1,350ft.

Survey of the main passage by T. Meek, P. Marshall and A. Type (of the C.C.G.).  Other parts of the survey by P. Marshall, B & L. John, A. Tye and D. Marshall (of the C.C.G.). 

NOTE: Some parts of the roof are showing signs of age and should be passed with care.


(1) Mendip Underground by Irwin & Knibbs, Mendip Publishing, Wells, 1977 (Price £2.95).



Additions to the Library:

Shepton Mallet Journal, Series 6 No.4 Autumn 1977 includes Mount Suswa Caves, Kenya; The Law Hick (mining) and Thrupe Lane Survey.

Chelsea Newsletters Vol.20 Nos 1-4.  No.1 includes an article on the Aggy Sumps

Wessex C. C. Journal No. 172 including Cuckoo Cleeves extensions; Water Tracing – Mangle Hole and Swan Inn Swallet; Swildon’s Renascence Series (survey) and the Black Cavern Pwll Du Gwent, S. Wales.

Cave Diving Group Sump Index, 2nd Edition 1977 revised by Ray Mansfield.  Potted histories, descriptions and diving log on all sumps in the Mendip region.  Copy donated by Ray Mansfield with thanks.

Yeovil Caving Club - Sump Nos 7 and 8.  No.8 includes article 'Caving – a safe sport!  This is full of inaccuracies - the author must research his material more fully.

Cave Diving Group – A Cave Diver’s Training Manual by O.C. Lloyd, 1975.  Donated with thanks by Martin Grass.

Cambridge Univ. Journal ' Cambridge Underground 1978'. See Jottings July B.B. Donated by Nick Thorne with our thanks.

Patent Specification No.1481303. Taken out by Dave Sweeting on the swaging method of attaching ladder rungs to the wire rope.  Published July 1977.

Climbing Magazines – those that we have in the collection have been bound into volumes and where they are not complete they have been filed into loose paper files.  Many thanks to Kay Mansfield for undertaking the task of binding and to Stu Lindsey for a good supply of binding materials.

Library List Part 2 will appear in the September B.B. March 1978 B.B.  Part 1 appeared in the March 1978 B.B.

During a recent check of the Library a number of items were found to be missing - anyone with library material should let the librarian know as soon as possible (Dave Irwin] Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells) so that a check can be made against the register. Books include Darkness Under the Earth and Limestones and Caves of NW England. A full list will appear in the September B.B.

A circular advertising the 2nd International Caving File Festival at Vercours, France has been donated to the library.  The dates are 23 – 27 August.  Camping Hotel or dormitory facilities are available.  Write to (if interested) Festival du Film de Speleologie, 26420 La Chappelle ene Vercours, France.


Library list


Newsletter: Vol 1 (1,2,4,6,7,8); Vol 2 (2-8, 10, 11); Vol 3 (1, 3-10); Vol 4 (2-11); Vol 5 (1-3); Vol 6 (1-3); 1959 Mar/Apr; May/June; July/Aug; 1960 Jan/Feb; Mar/Apr; May/June; Sep/Oct; 1950 (Autumn); 1951 Jan; July; Aug.




C.D.G. Review 1955-1957

Newsletters 1965 (Dec); 1967(Oct/Nov); 1968(Apr/July); Nos 9-12,14-19, 21, 23,3 4, 35.

Newsletter ( Somerset Section): July, Aug, 1967.

Misc. papers: Divers, log Sheet; (Wookey) Jan - May 1949

Divers Plans - Swildons and Stoke Lane.

Sump Rescue Equipment, O.C. Lloyd, 1965

Newsletters 1st Series 1 - 20, 25, 29, 30, 33 (NB Nos 21-24 not published)

Notice of operations at Wookey 9/48 - 4/49.

Derbyshire Sump Index, 1968.




Publication No. 22, 14

Newsletter 128 - 133 (end of run- followed by merger with BSA)

Index of Newsletters to 129.

Transactions Vol.5 (1); Vol.7 (3); Vol.11 (1); Vol.14 (4); Vol.14(1, 4); Vol.5 (1-4)

Constitution of CRG

CRG/SPORTS COUNCIL - Technical Aids in Caving Symposium (March 1972)



Conference Programme, 1974

Proc. of the 7th. International Speleo. Congress,   Sheffield (sept.1977)

CERBERUS S.S.  Newsletter 18-22, 24-36, 38-49, 51-54.


Newsletters Vol 1(complete); Vol. 2(Complete); 11 (12); 13 (1, 2); 14 (3, 11, 12); 15(1-11); 16 (9); 17b (1-7, 9); 18 (1-6, 8, 9, 12); 19 (1-2); 20 (1-2).

COTHAM C.G.  Newsletters Vol. 5 (1-3); Box Stone Mines, reprint, 1973


‘Some Notable Quarrymen,’ 1973.

Box Quarries, Vol. 1, 1976.

Memoirs, Vol. 4, 1968-1969.

Box Stone Mines, 1st. Edition, 1966.

CRAVEN P.C. Journal Vol. 3 (1-3), 5, 6); Vol. 4 (2-4).

CROYDON CAVING C.  Pelobates 17, 24

                                        Mersham Firestone Quarries, 1976.

DERBYSHIRE S.G.: Bulletin Vol. 1 Part 1, 1975

DERBYSHIRE C.C.: Dodgers Despatch 1-8

DESCENT:  Nos 7-9, 11, 37

DEVON S.S.: Newsletters 100-104, 112-118.

DORSET CAVING GROUP:  Journal Vol 1 (1-6); 2 (1-4, 6); 3 (1-5); 4 (1-3); 5 (1,2)

DURHAM UNIV. S. Assoc.:  Journal No. 1, 1977.

EXETER UNIV. S.S.:  Vol 8 (3); 9 (1).


Dates For Your Diary

Friday ‘niters’ meets. Details from Richard Kenny, ‘Yennek’, St. Marys Road, Glastonbury, Som. Tele Meare Heath 296.

August 18th

September 1st

September 15th

September 29th

St. Cuthbert’s – all meets at 19.39 hrs..

Lamb Leer

Browns Folly Mine.

Mangel Hole & Sandford Levvy.

For those interested in joining Dave Metcalfe in Yorkshire the following trips have been arranged by him:

August 26th

September 23rd

October 29th

November 18th

December 16th

C.P.C. Winch meet at gaping Hole

Gingling Hole, Fountains Fell.

Notts Pot.

Top Sink.

Swinsto/Simpsons Exchange.

OCTOBER 7th at the BELFRY    E.G.M. at the Belfry at 10.30hrs to discuss the rev' Club Constitution. If adopted by the meeting this revision will be in operation for the A.G.M. which will start immediately the E.G.M. is concluded - most probably after lunch break.

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING   Once again the year rolls on and the call for nominations is out again.  Of the existing Committee the following people have stated their wish to resign at the end of the current club year, Nigel Taylor, Russ Jenkins.  Nominations must be handed to the Secretary by the 9th September.


8ft x 11ft GOODALL FRAME TENT for sale - £30.

Phone Bristol 697313.  The tent is being sold by Roy Marshall one of our past Climbing secretaries.

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.



By Tim Large

Summer has arrived, albeit a bit late and wet.  The only complaint beside the weather heard around the Belfry has been that there is too much going on and everybody cannot attend everything as dates clash!

Over the May Day Holiday there were club trips to S. Wales, visiting Rock and Fountain, Otter Hole and Aggy.  Also, the newly formed M.A.P.S. group (Mendip Association of Portly Speleologists) ventured north to Yorkshire visiting Tatham Wife Hole.

On the Committee scene business is booming and the problems eventually being overcome following the advert for our new treasurer, two nominations were received from Sue Tucker and Claire Williams.  The outcome was that Sue is elected to carry on from Barrie at the end of July until the AGM.  Many thanks Claire for your interest - nice to see the girls taking more active interest in Club affairs.

The other advert was for a new Hut Engineer - nominations being received from Bob Cross and " Zot' - Bob being co-opted to the Committee.

The membership list has now officially closed so if you are reading this BB, you must .have paid your sub - if you have not - then you know what to do (£3.00, full member; £4.25, joint members - cheques payable to the B.E.C.)  The number at the close of play was 167 members.  This is about 30 short of the list as at January 1978.

Alan Kennett has kindly donated a small number of caving helmets which will be kept at the Belfry for use particularly by newcomers, novices etc. as there is always a shortage in these cases.  Our thanks too, to Alan Thomas and Martin Grass for donations to the Club Library, including the useful CRG publication of Aggy.  Our thanks to all.

The Committee has agreed that we purchase a quantity of caving boots.  They should arrive in a few weeks, so enquire at the Belfry or via me, price about £8.75/pair.

The Annual Dinner has now been booked at the Caveman, Cheddar costing £3.50 and including Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pud., wine and a free pint or glass of sherry before the meal.


795       Pete Leigh, 5 Armoured Workshops, BFPO 106
Graham Wilton-Jones, 24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Bucks.


933       Dianne Beeching, 8 Seymore Close, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2JD
934       Colin Williams, Whitestones Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton BS18 6LD.
935       Lynne Williams, address as above.

DON'T FORGET THE, MIDSUMMER BUFFET – Still tickets available - £2 a head.  8p.m. at Hunters Lodge Inn on Saturday 17th June 1973.  Also a working weekend at the Belfry June 17th-18th - free accommodation for members helping.

The club has been invited to a buffet/skittles evening by Yeovil Caving Club on Saturday 1st July at Glover Arms, Reckleford, Yeovil.  Anyone interested in going please let me know as soon as possible so tha I can book numbers.

REMEMBER: My new address is c/o Trading Standards Dept, 31 South St., Wells, Somerset.

Cheers, Tim Large.


Beneath Llangattwg

by Graham Wilton-Jones

The 1976 extension to Ogof Craig y Ffynnon (Rock and Fountain Cave) raises some interesting questions concerning past and present drainage under Mynydd Llangattwg.  A recent visit to Ogof Craig y Ffynnon prompted me to have another look at Ogof y Darren Cilau, which lies further along the north-eastern outcrop of limestone towards Agen Allwedd.  Perhaps some notes on Ogof Craig y Ffynnon and Ogof y Darren Cilau would be useful.

To begin with I shall refer to Wig's article in B.B. No. 356, December 1977, to comment on Ogof Craig y Ffynnon.   The small rising (IP 2) is not the main rising for the cave, which is actually Ogof Capel (see also IP 8).  This is situated at the bottom of the Clydach Gorge, 500 yards west-south-west of Ogof Craig y Ffynnon entrance.  On my visit to Ogof Craig y Ffynnon the cave was wet.  Between the boulder chokes were deep pools concealing flooded lower passages which can be entered in summer.  These carry Ogof Capel water.  The entrance to Ogof Craig Ffynnon is a rubble rift, the sides of which show superb scalloping, and must once have been part of an impressive streamway approaching a resurgence in the Clydaoh area, or does this section of cave pre-date the valley (see below - Clydach rejuvenation)?  The limestone continues below the coalfield south of the Clydach and I believe that some caves there actually head under the coal.  Ignoring the scarp outcrop to the east, the next place the limestone is seen is in the coast districts, close to sea level.

The lower stream series (IP 4) is not that difficult, and is reminiscent of the more complex parts of O.F.D. One of the streams we pushed (at least, J.D., the wellie-booted worm did) to a choke.  This was under a dripping aven in the other passages of this series.  The sources of the streams down here have not otherwise been traced, but I would venture to suggest that the Ogof y Darren Cilau stream deserves further attention in this respect.  Dye tests have been made, but it should be borne in mind that negative results are not indicative of no connection hydrologically.

The end of Ogof Craig y Ffynnon (IP7) lies after two miles of fairly straight passage (with obstructions) equidistant from Agen Allwedd terminal sump (I or IV, I don't know) Eglwys Faen and the end of Ogof y Darren Cilau.  It is in the same beds as Agen Allwedd, i.e. the Oolitic, having risen up through the Dolomitic (IP 7 and 8) and is similar in character to Agen Allwedd, especially Main Passage, St. Paul's, etc.

I will return to the subject of Ogof Craig y Ffynnon.later.  What of Ogof y Darren Cilau?  For those who do not know this cave, and no doubt, you are many (sensible people) a brief description may be useful (then you won't have to go yourselves).

At the base of the cliff, behind the old limekilns above Whitewalls, is a low, wet entrance, one of eight at the base of the outcrop between here and the valley be the old sheep dip.  It is a taste of things to come.  The lowness and wetness, and narrowness continue for a thousand feet.  One thousand feet of very technical, grovelling, with only a few short stretches of walking.  Finally this small streamway breaks into larger passage, and the stream disappears under the edge of this.  The larger passage leads to a fault guided rift with stal, some old and massive, at this end, and a grey, shaly conglomerate breakdown at the other end, several hundred feet away.  This breakdown is also the end of a huge phreatic passage: remarkably similar to Agen Allwedd Main Passage, but almost immediately filled to the roof with mud. However, a further passage leads from here, zig-zag rift which goes to the final chamber.  This chamber is several hundred feet long and tens of feet wide, formed entirely of collapse (into what would be interesting to know) and floored with boulders and glutinous mud.  There is one similar, but smaller chamber off to one side.

Several interesting thoughts come to mind:

What are the relative altitudes of the caves mentioned?  Unfortunately ‘Caves of Wales and the Marches’ does not give these.  However, following the Tram Road on the 2½ map is helpful.  Near Brynmawr it is at 1175' OD.  At Eglwys Faen it has dropped, and varies between 1100' and 1125' OD. At Agen Allwedd the track is lost, but Aggie entrance seems to be 1275' OD.  (Is there really a 150' climb from Eglwys Faen to reach it?)  Perhaps this is more accurately indicated on the new survey. Eglwys Faen must be 1125' - 1150' OD. Ogof y Darren Cilau, way above the Tram Road, must lie at 1300' OD or more.  Ogof Craig y Ffynnon, 200' below the Tram Road, must be at about 975' OD, while Ogof Capel and Elm Cave, the Agen Allwedd resurgence, must be round about 750' OD.  Someone must be able to find more accurate figures for these.

Several passages run in from the escarpment - Ogof Pen Eryr, Ogof y Darren Cilau stream, Aggie entrance passage - on the strike apparently, or is the dip at the edge of the hill west instead of south?

What is the relationship between the large passages so far known? Are they parts of the same cave, did they undergo similar conditions of formation, or is it simply that they are formed in the same rock?  Ogof y Darren Cilau seems to be too high up in the beds to have any relationship with the other caves, but is it?  The entrance altitude suggests it is.  So does its breakthrough into shale.  However, in the entrance series of Ogof y Darren Cilau and in the long (crawl in Ogof Craig y Ffynnon there is a band of green limestone.  Are these the same beds?

The final chamber in Ogof y Darren Cilau is totally dissimilar to the big chambers in the other caves, though perhaps it is a large phreatic passage.  Why does it have such wet mud in it?  Is it because there is no draught to dry it out - we noticed no draught here or because it has an occasional humid draught?

Why should Ogof Craig y Ffynnon be thought not to be a fossil part of Aggie? (IF 8).  I would have thought that that is just what it is. It rises eventually from its entrance (250' above the Clydach) into the Aggie beds.  Why should it not, perhaps, be a continuation of Aggie Main Passage? It has not yet reached near there according to the surveys available.  Pete Bull has done a great deal of sedimentological work in Agen Alwedd and this, more than anything else, seems to be helping to date the passages of Aggie, and to demonstrate the relationship between them.  Similar work in Ogof Craig y Ffynnon to show a comparison would be invaluable here.

Was the Clydach Gorge a product of rejuvenation following glacial deepening of the Usk valley? Cave streams seem now to be the major erosional influence in the gorge.  Could a fossil extension of the present Aggie streamway exist somewhere above the base of the Clydach, possibly on a level similar to that of Ogof Craig y Ffynnon, but maybe to the west of this?

What happens beyond Aggie terminal sump IV?  It would seem that there must be pitches, or at least ways down like those in Ogof Craig y Ffynnon which take Ogof Capel water, except that these for Agen Allwedd would still be taking all the water.  Only a small stream actually goes down those in Ogof Craig y Ffynnon.

How much do the Llangattwg system pre-date the present topography?  Projecting the northern end of Summertime takes it straight out of the hill.

The questions and postulations are endless.  Several of the former can be answered easily by a geologist or someone with more access to relevant information that I have.  The reward for the studious could another Key to Llangattwg - or have written (as we say in my Norfolk homeland) a lood o’ ol’ squit!


All members are reminded that it their responsibility to ensure that the Belfry is always kept locked - remember there have robberies in the past.  Will all members make a special point to ensure that the Library is kept locked at all times, certain items in the collection are quire rare and extremely useful for reference purposes.  Library keys are obtainable from any Committee Member.


Time is going on again – The AGM 1977 AGM Minutes will be included with the B.B.



by Oliver Lloyd

Joe Tasker the mountaineer held, an audience of four hundred in the palm of his hand for two and a quarter hours.  He was delivering the Seventh Paul Esser Memorial Lecture in the University of Bristol on Wednesday 15th February 1978.  He was giving us a step by step account of his ascent of the West Face of Changabang in the company of Peter Boardman, illustrated by over two hundred excellent pictures.

The mountain is well over 23,000 feet in height and was clearly to be the most difficult climb, either of them had undertaken.  Neither would admit to the other that he had any doubts about the possibility of success, but it was not until after 25 days, when they got to the "half-way" snow field at 20,000 ft.; that they knew it was possible.  I think most of us would have given up before that.  At that height climbing is exceedingly arduous. It was only possible to go up five to ten feet at a time before stopping to get one’s breath.  They were averaging four hundred feet a day.  The whole climb lasted 40 days and not unnaturally they ran out of conversation.

Their technique was to establish a base camp at 16,000 ft., to which they would return from time to time for more gear.  Their return from camp to camp was facilitated by leaving a fixed rope and abseiling down.  They had two other camp sites on the way up, each being made by cutting a narrow platform in the snow.  The outside place was not an enviable one, but they belayed themselves to pegs, in case of rolling over.  Repeated journeys to and from these camp sites was necessary to get all the necessary gear up.  Leading was, a very tiring and responsible business, so they took it in turns. Finally after spending a day at Camp 2 they made a dash for the summit with light leads.

The descent was not without incident.  There was the piton that got bent to an uncomfortable angle; while Joe was abseiling down a rope belayed to it.  Pete was not sure whether to remain belayed to it or not.  Each of them had an occasion when he lost the rope on the way down. For Peter it left him in a very difficult position, attached to it upside down by one foot in a sling.  You have to be quite good at single rope work to be able to rectify a position such as this.

After they had got down they were called upon to assist in sorting out four fatalities, which had just occurred in the next valley.  It was necessary to establish the identity of the victims and to bury the bodies.


Don’t eat yellow snow

(Zot - the man who doesn't need to stop at Motorway Service Areas!)compiled by Graham W-J

‘In the beginning there were sent forth into the north western wastes of Lakeland a motley crew, who did purpose to challenge the hills.  And it came to pass that the radio and television and newspapers did broadcast news of doom and despair and snow and ice and wind, and it was good.  But they did speak with false tongues, for the snowline was high above the valley floors.  The B.E.C. did finally arrive, and the hills and the vales were devoid of those who ascend or wander therein, except for the few and foolhardy.’

We reached Chapel Stile, in Langdale, at various times on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and took over five of the Lingmoor View cottages, which are summer holiday homes in an old terrace.

Thursday saw us en route for Patterdale, via devious routes designed by Alis and M.A.P.  (they were lost).  Everyone of us set off on the path climbing Grisedale Brow, with X Bob and Zot making a cracking pace towards Helvellyn.  'Whereupon some fell on rising ground', and these persons, who shall remain nameless, went to the pub.  The snow lay in patches quite low down, but was continuous above 1500 feet; and much of it had a hard, icy coating.  We met with very little snow on top of ice, as had been reported.  Four of us put on crampons which made life a little easier.

 “I wish I had a pair of crampons” said M.A.P., not for the first or last time.  At the Brow Bob had stopped to chat with three other walkers, so we managed to catch up. Sue and Miss Piggy, coming upon ice ground did return, taking with them the faithful hound, Bec.  In spite of advice, John and I decided to have a look at Striding Edge and the 15 foot high cornice leading onto the summit of Helvellyn, and a group of us moved up to the crags.  While everyone else, including M.A.P. (“I wish I had a pair of crampons") descended and crossed the frozen Red Tarn towards Catstye Cam, John and I traversed Striding Edge.  Compared with Crib Goch last winter, it was a cinch and we didn't even rope up.  The final slope was straight forward, and the cornice seemed solid enough.  We watched a couple of walkers managing with one pair of crampons.  Apparently one of them fell on the steep slope ahead of us, but seemed OK when we reached him.  The top of Helvellyn was icy cold and windy.  The previous weekend's footprints stood out above the surrounding snow, whose soft crystals had been blown away, a peculiar sight.  Visibility was fair under the low, scudding clouds, but the ominous looking darker patches in the distance came to nothing.  We moved quickly off the top, down Swirral Edge and up to Catstye Cam, where we met up with "I wish I had a pair….." again.  From there we glissaded down to Red Tarn Beck.

Later on we were discussing with the crampon wisher how to use an ice axe in a fall I demonstrated but he replied, “I don't think I’d have the presence of mind to use the axe properly,” I assured him he would, whereupon he fell on the steep slope and lost his presence of mind!

That evening we visited the………… Outgate, where they sell Hartley's Best Bitter (beer and water) and straight bitter (less beer and more water).  It did affect Zot enough to cause him to remark, “Oi ‘aven’t 'ad me 'ole for four years”.  We were all suitably sympathetic.

Guess where M.A.P. went on Friday morning.  You’ve got it.  He is now the proud owner of a pair of Simond crampons.  Strange he couldn’t remember the episode in the Pyrenees with Simond pitons, which split, snapped and bent.  Maybe he will when the point of his crampons begin to break off.

Meanwhile X Bob, Sue, John and I had set off up the stream that flows off Wetherlam.  There were some magnificent frozen waterfalls in the Gorge, with enormous icicles.  It soon became impossible to continue along the frozen stream, but there is an obvious path following an old miner’s track to the north of the gorge.  Most of the walking was on grass, with only patches of snow and ice, but as we climbed up Birk Fell the snow became continuous.  We put on ice gear and traversed very hard, icy snow to the summit of Wetherlam.  A strong, cold wind tried to whip us from the top while we hung around to admire the view, and to consider the irresponsibility of a walker without ice axe or crampons up there.  He said that he was unaware of conditions, in spite of so much publicity about recent accidents.

Bob and Sue decided to cut short their walk because of the ice, and descended directly from Wetherlam.  John and I carried on round to Coniston Old Man.  From Swirl How to the Old Man the ice surface was an unbroken convex sheet sweeping right down to Seathwaite Tarn, but the going was very easy in crampons, Michael.

At this time the said M.A.P. & Co. were in the pub in Coniston thinking of using the new gear to go up the Old Man.  They eventually set out and rushed up Church Beck and did a gully to the summit.  They arrived there just after John and I left. I understand they did not use a rope for the ascent.  "You only need a rope if you're going to fall". (M.A.P. - again).  We descended via Low Water to the Youth Hostel in Church Beck, where Bob met us with the car.

In the evening Fred, Thros, Mick, Griff and John of the Valley Caving Club arrived while we were in the Old Dungeon Ghyll.  Johp Manchip and family turned up from Edinburgh - they'd had trouble getting out of the snow there, but were surprised to find so little snow in the Lakes.  I gather from one of the locals that the Lakeland valleys are always passable in winter-time, which is worth knowing, though the M6 is frequently impassable.

Early on the Saturday morning, very early, seven of us were off along Mickleden with the intention of reaching Scafell Pikes.  We climbed into the snow, and occasions, patches of ice, and soon stopped to don crampons.  Rossett Gill gradually closes to a gully, steepens, and then suddenly levels into a wide col between Rossett Pike and Bow Fell.  Spindrift was being blown across the frozen Angle Tarn and up to Esk Hause. Here we met a couple who had camped the night on Scafell - I thought we did. things to excess!  We climbed onto the back of Great End and walked the ridge to Scafell Pikes, which was just out of the low cloud most of the time  The final climb up and down was fairly difficult without crampons, and plain daft without an ice axe, yet we came upon plenty of walkers without either.  It almost made us feel we were being over-cautious when met two blokes with cheapboots, plastic bike jackets and very little else.  How they managed I dread to think.  From Scafell Pikes to Great End the wind, from the east, was really vicious.  At one point, past Broad Crag, it knocked all of us down simultaneously.

Back at Angle Tarn, after I’d persuaded J.D. that he and I should forgo a desperate crag traverse on Hanging Knotts (maybe it wasn't that bad) we traversed the easier Rossett Crags and descended to Stake Pass, having decided not to cross Bow Fell against the strong wind and ice-spicules.  John Manchip, Fred, Martin and Greg followed Stake Pass and Mickleden back to Langdale, while John D., M.A.P. and I climbed back upwards towards Pike of Stickle.  Part way up a voice came down-wind, “Get off my…..mountain”.  X Bob and Zot had just come from the Pikes via Stickle Gill.  Needless to say we continued our way on ‘his’ mountain and we three soon reached Pike of Stickle.  Under such clear conditions as we had been having maps were largely unnecessary.  We could clearly see each of the places to which we were heading.  We soon walked across to Harrison Stickley from where the view was excellent.  Thence the descent was directly down to Stickle Tarn on a snow slope, and then down the path of Stickle Gill to Langdale once more.

Mike's wagon was at the Old Dungeon Ghyll; while Bob's car was still at the New DG.  As we walked to the Old DG we met the bus, carrying Bob and Zottie from the Old to the New, all of ¾ of a mile.  "Best 6 pence I’ve ever spent," said Zot.

And so a good weekend was had by all.  With news of blizzard and drift from Mendip X Bob & Co. set out early on Sunday for home, but the rest of us found time after a leisurely morning for a few jars in the New DG.  Greg and Miss Piggy spent most of the morning devouring the rest of their food, before joining us and eating yet more.  How does that Midget manage them both?!  Finally we were away, leaving Fred; to spend his day rescuing the foolhardy hordes from Bowfell - that was his story anyway.

Not mentioned before, but they were there, were Pat and Paul, Patti and Co., Keith Newbury, Glenys and even Andy Nichols and attachment for a while.  There must be a pub or two in the Lakes that they didn’t visit!

P .S. Buckett and I went up to the Lakes again the following Saturday, to find the Snow undergoing a rapid thaw, and there was minor flooding in the valleys.  We walked the path up Stickle Gill, which was really in spate, and did not meet snow until we arrived at the Tarn.  The ice, there was melting fast and the path that fords the Gill was well under water. Buckett leapt across from boulder to boulder lower down and I groped my way slowly across too.  The snow was really rotten and we frequently stepped into deep, soggy drifts.  At the back of Stikle Tarn we crossed Bright Gill via a snow bridge and then decided we were too low down so crossed back again.  Higher up we had difficulty with crossing the torrent and had to leap from boulders again.  We used the map to set a compass course through the mist to the top of Pavey Ark, and ended up climbing a steep crag which barred our way.  At various points below we had met up with three men and a dog.  Arriving at the top of the crag we came into a gully with footprints of men and dog leading upwards.  They were taking the longer but gentler route up.  We ended up almost ignoring the compass bearing and following the dog prints, plus occasional cairns, until finally we met the dog, and men, coming the other way through the rain. We continued on our bearing, leaving the dog party looking for the top of Pavey Ark and we headed into the mist, hopefully towards Harrison Stickle.  Going from cairn to cairn we traversed a steep snowfield, often thigh deep in wet snow, peering constantly through the mist at unrecognisable lumps of rock. The dog group caught us up and turned down to the left, looking for Dungeon Gill.  We climbed the small pimple to our right and found ourselves on top of Harrison Stickle, recognisable only from the height carved on a stone.   We crossed the top and searched for a route down.  In fact, although there is nothing on the map, a path exists down the scree via a short climb, and descends steeply to Dungeon Ghyll.  The dog party were obviously lost and were going towards Stickle Gill.

We met a party of lads who had turned back from the Ghyll because the path was hidden beneath a steep sheet of snow.  This traverse was quite hairy, especially since the mist began to clear.  There was evidence far below in the bottom of the Ghyll of recent avalanches - great blocks of snow and large boulders, and the canyon echoed with the rushing of melt-water.

Once over the traverse we glissaded down the wet snow slope to the stream, but, by staying level from here we eventually left the stream below us again as we headed for the end of the narrow ridge that divides Dungeon Ghyl from Stickle Gill.  Who should we see as we descended to Stickle Gill, but three men and a dog, once more.  These hills are small.

P.P.S.  There was one other Quote, again from M.A.P. "I’m glad Peak Cavern's on a Saturday.  We’ll be able to talk about it in the pub afterwards!  As it turned out Mike did not come to Peak, and not a word was breathed about it in the pub on Saturday night.



Tunnel Cave - South Wales

Graham Wilton-Jones

Buckett and I recently visited this fine system, and I felt it would be useful to offer a brief description in the BB, since 'Caves of Wales and the Marches' is rather inadequate and, perhaps misleading.

The location can be found on the 2½" O.S. map, SN 81, at SN 837165, but this map shows and the book description mentions a path from the Haffes.  This path no longer exists, but one starts from the Dan yr Ogof caravan site, past the sheep pens, to a point overlooking the Haffes, and thence onto the path leading over the moor towards the Giedd.  The path follows a wall to the left until it has climbed up the steepest section of the hillside, and then divides.  One part continues beside the wall running towards the dry valley above Dan yr Ogof, and the other branch turns sharply right towards Waun Fignen Felen. From this junction one does as the book says, almost, climbing up to the high point on the right, on the edge of the hillside. The top entrance of the cave is practically on the highest point - a most unlikely place for a cave.  In BCRA Transactions Vol. 4, Nos 1 & 2, March '77 is a surface survey of the area with cave surveys superimposed; including Tunnel.  The location of the top entrance is easy using the lines of shakeholes and the nearby dry valley.  Approaching the entrance even quite closely the only evidence of cave is a low pile of bang debris.  The entrance cover is only seen when you are right on top of it.

The entrance shaft is virtually all mined, square section at the top and spacious, and is 35 feet deep.  A 30ft ladder belayed directly to a railway line at the top is sufficient, the bottom of the shaft being narrower and climbable.  12' down there is a firm railway sleeper platform all round the shaft.  At the bottom the pitch breaks into natural rift at the Courtyard pitch.  After a short piece of horizontal passage, a bolt above and exposed ledge takes a 25' ladder into Cascade Aven.  The Second Cascade (the system was explored from the bottom) is a steep, stal slope littered with bang debris, steepening further until it finally overhangs the First Cascade, which comes in from the other end of the rift.  I found a handline useful on the Second Cascade, descending to the Wire Traverse on the right (looking downwards) having belayed to a eyehole in the right hand wall.  This required about 60' of handline, but 120' as the book says is needed if it is belayed at the bottom of the Courtyard.  The wire on the traverse is fixed, and I belayed 100' of handline to the bolt on 'the far side".  This was also far too much, about 60' being sufficient.  However, this First Cascade is steep smooth, and the handline here is invaluable.  Leading off from these avens are a few passages which constitute the Cascade Aven Series.  At the bottom of the stal slope, the rift is choked up with gravel and and stal but a small draughting passage is the route on downwards.  A twisting hands and knees crawl leads to a couple of 15' climbs down. After the first climb the passage enlarges.  At the bottom of the second is the way into Paul and Barnabas, concealed between the boulders and the wall.  This is the passage leading to the numerous pearls.  Ahead the route continues down to a sandy chamber, but the way on is a climb up just before this.  The passage is now a winding rift dipping at about 10°.  By traversing horizontally we ended up in the roof tube, and this is the obvious place to be for route finding since the draught here is dispersed.  There are one or two places where the passage is too wide to traverse, and it is necessary to descend and climb up again on the other side, but the route is not as complex as the book would have us believe, nor is any of the cave technically difficult.  Normally wherever a decision has to be made the wrong route is a cul-de-sac, and the draught can occasionally be felt. Eventually a stream is reached and soon after is the grille with the show ' Cathedral Cave' beyond.  It would have been possible to have the key for this grille, but we had to collect our tackle from the top anyway, so there seemed to be no point

Returning up the passage the first major opening on the right is East Passage.  This is much easier than West Passage, the route to the top entrance.  Cross Passage on the left starts as walking but soon degenerates to a crawl over sand to emerge in West Passage.  East Passage continues, passing the way to Xmas Grotto on the right, up a climb into a large phreatic tube and into the high Steeple Aven.  We did not continue here, but the passage goes a little further to reach Final Chamber.

The whole of our trip took four hours, during which we covered much of the cave twice - in and out. Next time we shall rappel in, visit Paul and Barnabas and Xmas Grotto, and leave via the show cave beside Dan yr Ogof.

Useful references:

BCRA Trans. Vo1.4, Nos 1 & 27 Mar, 77.  (Survey p.296, plus several other notes)

Caves in Wales and the Marches, 167; .o62


CRG pub. No. 7

Ed. note: I hear, through the Mendip grapevine, that a new Welsh caving guide may be underway.



complied by Niph

Mendip news and notes - Don't forget the Midsummer Buffet on June 17th and the working weekend at the Belfry on June 17th and 18th.  No further extensions have been found in Lionel's Hole but according to Andy Sparrow there are a number of digging points.  On a recent trip in St. Cuthbert's by Wig, Stuart Lindsey and Tim Large, Pillar Chamber Extensions was visited.  Several unex¬plored sites and possibilities were examined, particularly in a de¬corated rift at the top of the 54ft Pot.     In the top chamber of the extension

amid much 'hanging death', Stuart dug through a gravel choke under a low arch to find another small decorated chamber - a bedding chamber some 30ft long by 12ft wide.  A few broken curtains lie on the floor.  At the upper end of the chamber there's a gravel choke that appears to be heading towards the Far Chamber area.  Pillar Extensions make an interesting trip but it’s not for those of a nervous disposition!



Another B.E.C. Extension is on Eastern Mendip - at Waterlip Quarry to be precise - popularly called Ogof Cakin' Fant (we’ll leave you to work out the true meaning of that name).  First inspected by Andy Sparrow et. al, on Jubilee Day 1977 the cave was pushed to a limit of 30ft but in January this year Andy and Ross White returned (to quote the caving log)….”intending to dig final squeeze.  Digging floor proved ineffective, so Sparrow made an attempt to pass it as it was - much to his surprise he succeeded.  The way on was blocked by a flake of rock which soon gave way to a crowbar.  Crawling over the flake led into 15ft – 20ft of muddy crawl to an inclined rift….the cave… extremely tight”.

On the 21 of January Andy, Steve Short and a couple of midgets from other clubs returned to the site. Alison Hooper (the wee midget, took the lead.  “… the point reached on last week’s trip.  It proved passable without further work and followed by Andy, she pushed on through another 50ft of tight rift crawls and' Z' bends.  'Termination of the cave is now a boulder blocking the way on. Cave length now about 90ft.


Dates For Your Diary

June 9th

Longwood (Friday niters trip)

June 10th

Symposium n Cave Exploration in Northern Spain at Bristol University.  Organised by Phil Hendy (Hon. Sec. WCC). Tickets £1.00.  Commencing 9.00 am.  Bristol University in the Main Engineering Theatre, Queens Building.  Fee of £1.00 included morning coffee + biccies and afternoon tea.  Cheques and PO’s to Phil Hendy, 5 Tring Ave., Ealing Common, London W5.

June 17th

Midsummer Buffet – Hunter’s lodge back room 7.30.  Tickets for meal £2.00 each or free for those wanting to drink only.  Tickets for Buffet from Tim Large.

June 17/18th

Working weekend at the Belfry – come along and give your active support.

June 23rd

Swildons Hole – CANDLE ONLY! – (Friday niters trip).

July 7th

South Wales (OFD) – Friday niters trip.

July 21st

North Hill – Friday niters trip.

August 4th

Stoke Lane Slocker – Friday niters trip.

September 9/10th

BCRA National Caving Conference, Renold Building, Manchester.  Accommodation – Booking not later than July 14th – charge £4 per night.  Tickets at door £1.00.  Conference Secretary D.M. Judson, Bethel Green, Calderbrook Road, Littleborough, Lancs.  Make cheques out to D.M. Judson, Conference acc.

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

Editors Note:     The paper used for this issue and future issues of the BB is thinner and not of such good quality as the gestetner paper we've been using.  I hope that members will not be too displeased, but when duplicating paper has risen from £2.65 in November 1977 to £3.60 in April 1978 one can realise the cost of the BB to the club.  Also, 22 pages in the BB will mean a further postal increase. With the thinner paper we can increase the BB to well over 20 pages without any postal increase.