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QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editorial

Southern Council

At the Annual Meeting held on Saturday 31st of May, the secretary, Tim Reynolds, resigned.  Tim has spent quite a few years at this thankless task and it is, perhaps, not sufficiently realised just how much Tim has done to ensure that our views have been put over and, in many cases, acted upon. We all owe Tim a most hearty vote of thanks.

For much of the time he was secretary, Tim battled on alone, but recently there has been a growing awareness of the importance of trying to influence the thinking of caving councils by taking part - a process that the B. B. is doing its best to foster.  At present, the B.E.C. is playing a major part. Not only are three of the four trustees of the Southern Council's company members of our club, but the job of being Tim's successor had been taken on by Dave Irwin while Alfie has been elected to the new position of official chairman of the council.

Committee Posts

Because of his new commitments to the Southern Council which represent a great deal of work, and in line with the precedent set by Tim, Dave Irwin is resigning from his position as Hon. Sec. of the B.E.C. but is staying on the committee.  In accordance with recent practice, the club committee are giving notice that a vacancy exists, and this may be taken as the official announcement.  However, it is hardly possible to run the club without an Hon. Sec. and Mike Wheadon has volunteered to take on the job in the meantime and also to put himself forward as an applicant for the job.  We should, I feel, thank Mike for his public spirit and wish him the best of luck!

Andy Nichols has a new job which takes him away from Mendip and has had to resign as Caving Secretary. This job is now being done by Tim Large. We are, of course, still short of a Climbing Sec.  Any offers?

Yo-Yo

From having plenty of material a month or two ago, we find ourselves in the more usual position of having very little for this edition of the B.B.  I feel that we rely too heavily on a few stalwarts who can be relied on to produce an article on almost anything (or even nothing at a pinch) whenever the need arises.  This month looks as if it will be a mixture of stodge (about caving politics again!) and social news, with very little about caving and climbing.  I am sure that there must be more members who do something occasionally which they can write about.  Why not have the odd go at it, and help the B.B. to have a greater variety of authors and subjects

Car Badges

These are now available again, at the modest price by today's standards, of £1.75 or, as we used to say, thirty five bob.  This bargain offer is for a limited period only, after which they will go up to their proper pride of £2.  How about one for your new Mercedes?

Dinner

The Secretary wishes to announce in plenty of time that the dinner will again be at the Blue School, Wells, as it was last year.  Saturday, 4th October is the day.  More details will follow in later B.B.’s Meanwhile, keep this day free (there is also an A.G.M. of course).  Last year's dinner was voted by many to have been amongst the best ever held.  Don't mss this one!

Tailpiece

It should perhaps; be headed 'Ringpiece'.  The Ed's collection of Hunters songs has now reached the total of 76.  If one includes caving Songs, it comes to over a hundred. Will the publications department dare to publish a B.E.C. Hundred Best Songs?


 

Letters To The Editor

21 Hillcrest,
Knowle Park,
Bristol 4.

Dear Sir,

Living as I do between the Mendip and Cotswold hills and being an ex-caver very interested in geological phenomena, I have often wondered why it is that the Mendips are relatively well-endowed with extensive cave systems, yet the Cotswolds have, as far as I know, no cave systems of any sort.  Both these hill systems are products of folding and each system is comparable one with the other in the intensity of folding. Therefore the jointing and bedding configuration is similar, as may be seen by comparison of the many quarries in Cotswold and Mendip.

The chemical nature of the rocks in each system is the same (around 90% calcium carbonate) and the solubility of Mendip limestone and Cotswold oolite is similar, oolite being slightly more soluble in bulk due to its greater surface area/mass ratio.  The physical nature of the two rocks is rather different.  Mendip rock is hard in almost all of its strata.  Cotswold rock is as hard as Mendip in only about 5% of its total thickness. Elsewhere it may be almost as soft as chalk.  I would be most grateful if, through the pages of your bulletin your readers who are erudite (probably all of them) on this subject could provide suitable explanations.

Yours Sincerely,
Dave Morgan.

Editor's Note:     What about it, blokes?  We should know, but Dave Morgan assures me that he once asked 'Herby' Balch this question and got no satisfactory answer.

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4 Galmington Lane,
Taunton
, Somerset.

Dear Alfie,

I seem and hear, frequent complaints based on the theme 'they don't know the words'.  I suggest that it is unfair of the more senior members of the club to make such statements when 'they' haven't had a chance to learn.  In the days when a sing-song at the Hunters was a regular occurrence, we all had the opportunity forced on us. Nowadays, too many non-cavers use this hostelry to make it either wise or opportune to consider using the Hunters for sing-songs. I believe it is time that we who 'know the words' or might be expected to, got together and fixed some firm dates for singing lessons.  I suggest the Belfry from 11 p.m. to midnight and later if nobody objects

"Sett "

Any comments from would be singers or noise abatement societies?

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120 Pearson Lane,
Bradford, Yorks.

Dear Alfie,

Please, please publish this letter to the editor the next issue of the B.B.

I note with great interest the comments of Alfie in the April/May issue of the Belfry Bulletin regarding the present vacancy in the committee for a Climbing Secretary.

I have for a long time thought that the existence a club officer entitled 'Climbing Secretary' in this club is anomalous, considering that only a small proportion of B. E. C. members are, in fact, climbers.

Climbing as a pure sport goes on happily outside of clubs and societies such as our own.  It is a competitive sport totally dominated by individualists who seem to feel no desire or real need of clubs and I do not think that Kangy King himself will disagree with this statement.  I think that, as needs change within our club, we now need a Mountaineering Secretary - albeit climber, fell walker or both, but basically someone who identifies and keeps in touch with all the members of the club who want to participate in the objects of Clause 2(c) of the present club constitution.

I find it very perplexing that there is so much over lapping of Mountaineering activities by the Climbing section and 'the rest' of the club, particularly of that of away meets, and I suspect that the reasons are largely political.  I feel strongly that the enjoyment of a more significant body of members would be furthered if we simply altered the title of one officer and, more to the point, the expressiveness of his role.

The rare bods who have ascended to the dizzy heights of Climbing Secretary have for too long represented a minority electorate at the expense of an unrepresented and growing band of all-round mountaineers and in so doing have prolonged the existence of a hallowed cult, so obviously out of proportion to the size and nature of the club.

In conclusion, I hope and indeed ask that consideration will be given to the views of the writer and that correspondence takes place within these pages, and if needs be, the matter is discussed at the forthcoming A.G.M. - oh, and please remember to hail "Below!" before you dislodge any little stones on top of me from your towering stances.

Without Prejudice,
Cheers,
Bob Cross.

Editor's Note:     One hopes that Climbers, fell walkers, mountaineers and all these fascinating sub-divisions of the sport or pastime will come forward to put their points of view in the B.B.  I, for one, had no idea how distinct all these people were, having the rather naive view that our Climbing Section did all these things - and even went caving on occasion.  Perhaps someone like Kangy might prevailed upon to put us straight on this subject?

Friday Night Club

These meets are organised by Richard Kenney, and further details may be obtained from him at 'Yennek', St. Mary's Road, Meare, Glastonbury, Somerset.  His telephone number is Meare Heath 296.

All meets are at 7.30 p.m. at the site named except those in Wales, for which Richard should be contacted.

June 27th                      Longwood.

July 12th                       Wales.

July 25th                       Thrupe.

August 8th                    Swildons.

August 22nd                  Stoke Lane.

September 5th.              Cuthbert’s.

September 20th             Wales.

October 3rd                   Hilliers/Shatter.

October 17th                 G.B.

October 31st                 Pinetree Pot.


 

Mik’s Peregrinations

Owing to certain supply problems, strangely enough having nothing to do with the absence of up-to-date lists of members of lack of B.B. covers, I have just taken the opportunity of reading a past article and was not very impressed.  I think that I demonstrate a certain amount of nerve in inflicting another load of rubbish on you, but 'yer tis' for April/May.

The first item on my list is to congratulate the gallant band of Belfry regulars who have worked so hard in re-vamping the Belfry.  Being nowadays no longer a regular visitor to the Shed, I think that the club has again done extremely well in convincing those who use the facilities most to do the work.  As you know - or if you don't I'll tell you - the Women’s Dormitory has been resited to where the Changing Room used to be; their shower has also been resited and there are now two fully operational water closets within the confines of the Belfry.  The Changing Area and Showers have been combined and both the Living Room and the Men’s Dormitory modified.  Lockers have also been constructed.  Workers were mainly Butch; John D & W; Graham; Colin; Chris; Keith; Martin and, of course, Angie.

Whilst I'm chatting about modifications, it occurs to me that those who no longer manage to get to Mendip very often will have no notion of the further modifications to the Hunters. This is being undertaken by Roger (with local assistance) and consists of his 'gutting' the remaining outbuildings and barns attached to the south side of the pub.  This will provide him with increased living accommodation on the upper level and a reasonably large room at ground level capable of catering for larger parties - could it be that Roger has the smaller club dinners in mind? Being rather concerned for my alternate home and any threat of my losing ground, I elicited from Roger a firm promise that there is always plenty of room for cavers - so not to worry.

With this first mention of caving comes the first serious matter.  I have been hearing dark mutterings after hours about a body known as NCA.  It always seems slightly ridiculous to me that we produce these bodies, which immediately form committees and pontificate on many matters on which they are really no more expert than the rest of us (other than myself, I mean.)  This time it seems that tackle is the question and with it comes the warning that we should all be aware of the inherent dangers in setting up any authority which could establish tenets not necessarily appropriate for all occasions.

BEC tackle has recently become an item of note.  Firstly, because only a short while ago there were some complaints that we had none, and now a report that the matter has dramatically improved.  Ladders have been manufactured using our own Tellurit press and, as comfort for the sceptics, samples have been taken and satisfactorily tested at Bristol Wire Ropes.  Just one small (?) complaint from Graham.  Some members (and non-members) are treating tackle with less care than it deserves.  Normally, I wouldn’t mind too much, but it might be my life - not yours so take Graham's tip and take care of tackle.

Having gone mad and exercised my prejudices last month, I have to report that yet again SRT is in the news.  This time, it is the arrival within the club of a batch of the long awaited Gibb Rope Walkers.  I understand that the Pyrenees expedition will be using these if their trip through PSM takes place as planned this summer.

Finally, although this month it seems that I could add more, I must mention one or two snippets of gossip: Butch is off to Kenya for a spell towards the end of July and Andy Nichols, who is clearly more intrepid, is removing his soliciting and residence to Yorkshire (where the real caves are!)  I know it will be over by the time you read it, but Bishop is having a party in costume at the end of May.  Even more finally, talking to Patti Palmer who was away sans husband for a skiing holiday said that she was disappointed because she had really just learned how to stop when she had to return!

(Owing to the two month's coverage in the last B. B., we feel obliged to print a postscript from 'Mik' which you will find immediately following.  Editor.)


 

Peregrination Postcript

Having issued a double B.B., our editor has once again stolen the summer to go on holiday (that's the second consecutive year he's done that) and left me with the not-to-be-missed opportunity to add a postscript to my wanderings and bring the scene up to date.

On the Sunday of the Bank Holiday, the Bishops fancy dress party took place.  This party, which nobody appeared to be formally invited to, was rather surprisingly well attended and at an early hour a huge number of well disguised bods turned up at the Hunters, to the delight of the weegees for a pre-party pint or three.  Obviously to mention all present would read like pages from Debrett, but I must note that the Bishop was a bishop whilst Liz, until she flaked, was Andy Pandy. Many present were in hired costumes. Butch and Barrie (until Butch, who had recently been vaccinated, retired to bed) as front and rear parts of a pantomime horse.  Historically speaking there were Richard and Barbara Stevenson - Medieval; Dick and Anne West - Tudor; Bob Scammel and Anne - Quaker and Mike and Maureen Wheadon - Georgian.  There were many others bright enough to manufacture their own costumes.  Sid Hobbs was, need I say, a Viking, Mac McAnnus and Ken James in drag, Phil Hendy as the Wessex resident amateur brain surgeon, Ian Jepson as Perseus with an extremely lifelike Gorgon’s head, Brenda Wilton as Minnie Mouse and Angie, who worked on almost all the BEC’s costumes, as a second row forward.  An extremely good and liquid time was had by all.

The Bishop party also, as it happens, turned out to be an excellent prelude to Priddy Sports Day, when again the BEC turned out in some force (no sign of bicycles though) and, I am pleased to say, Butch was sufficiently recovered to get himself 'into a state' again at the Hunters before travelling to the New Inn where he gave a superb demonstration of how to photograph aircraft passing overhead whilst falling flat on his back.  The BEC Priddy residents were well to the fore, with Liz Bishop now recovered and the Hobbs' and the Searle family on parade.  The Thomases arrived late though Hilary did not (I'm told) win any events.  John (Jonjon) Hildick caught the envious eye of Barrie because he displayed on his coat lapel a number of badges advertising him as committee member and treasurer.  Barrie is now convinced that he should now have a Treasurer's Badge.  Before leaving the sports day subject, I must mention just one jarring note.  It seems that some partygoers in their exuberance chose to let down the sports day marquee - not on your own doorstep, please, chaps!

The pre-Pyrenean activities continue to provide some fodder for this article.  The latest addition to the equipment for the trip is a rather superb modern style goon suit which has a waterproof zip instead of the old neck or chest seal.  Anyway, two or three weekends ago saw a small party of new proud owners adorning themselves in these suits on the bank of the mineries ready for a splash about.  This, needless to say, provided much amusement for the various weegees who seem to congregate at the mineries these days. All I hope now is that I shall be able to report at a future date that this new apparel was successful in assisting the intrepid B.E.C. party to get through the P.S.M.

Insurance Sub-Committee

Set up at the request of the last A.G.M. to look into various knotty problems concerning the state of insurance and associated legal aspects, this sub-committee, aided by various outside experts, have produced their findings.  Since there is no need for the entire report to be circulated, a summary will be included in next months B.B.


 

Deserts and their Survival Problems

Since we have had enough fine, and sometimes hot weather lately to form the makings of a decent summer for once, the next article, on survival under desert conditions, may be rather more appropriate than usual. In fact, it comprises some useful hints and tips about dealing with conditions in arid regions, based on 'Wig's experiences in the states a few years ago, and could be of interest to any club members who might be thinking of going looking for caves in these types of region.

A few years ago in California, I had a narrow squeak in Death Valley - the hottest place in the Western world, which could easily have cost me my life.  Early in March 1971, I decided to take a weekend trip to this notorious place, some four hundred miles North-west of Los Angeles.  Taking the Baker - Las Vegas road, once you have crossed the Bernadino mountain range to the East of Los Angeles, you enter desert country which, in the winter and early spring months, is one of the more pleasant areas of California. This desert zone - the Mojave Desert (which is pronounced Mo-ha-vay) and known locally as the High Desert (it lies between 6,000 and 8,000 feet above Sea Level) includes a tremendous variety of scenery from the Joshua tree zone to a variety of mountain ranges towering up to 10,000 feet that lie to the east of the massive Sierra Nevada range, whose peaks reach 14,000 feet.  Many semi-active volcanoes dot the landscape.  Usually these are not large and peak at about a thousand feet.  The volcanoes need no description except that where one spots a mound of greyish-black material, you can be pretty certain that it is best to give it a wide berth!

However, the 15 freeway crosses the Mojave and at Baker, a two lane road heads north towards Death Valley.  The weather was typical for the season, a cool 80OF, a bright blue cloudless sky. The terrain gradually changed after leaving the freeway to a variety of coloured mountain ridges reminding one that this was not an area to be toyed with.  The mountains displayed angular pointed shapes and were coloured with a fantastic range of reds, pinks, greys, white and green with the lower scree slopes covered with the desert patina of blackish-grey.  The valley floors were liberally covered with salt flats stretching for miles at a time, the vegetation being the usual tumbleweed and scrub.

In time, the last township of Shoshone is reached and the road led the way to Salisberry Pass.  (Note: both the author and the editor would like to assure readers that this is the correct spelling for this particular pass!)   This is the Southern gateway to Death Valley.  The central settlement in the valley, Furnace Creek, lay some 120 miles to the north.  It was soon after this point that I noticed that the petrol gauge was looking pretty sick and this sudden realisation of trouble caused an immediate lack of interest in the wonderful scenery!  Here I was, with a nearly empty petrol tank and a car that rarely did better than 18 mpg.  The temperature was by now about 115 in the shade (with an air temperature of about 120 and a ground temperature somewhere in the order of 130). The only water in the area lay under the salt crystals and was therefore undrinkable.  Anyway, having leaned on the car bonnet and got burned in the process, I headed straight away for Furnace Creek Ranch - the nearest filling station.

The petrol gauge gradually dropped lower and lower and I began to sweat and became tense.  The road was fairly straight, taking a route along the edge of the valley floor, about 280 feet below sea level and passing Dante's View; Bad Water and Funeral Point!  Furnace Creek finally came into view and, with a sigh of relief, so did the filling station.  I pulled up by the pumps and was served by a smiling Chinese attendant who pointed out that the hose was not long enough to reach the filler and asked me to pull the car up a bit.  I tried to start the car but it wouldn't.  I had finally run out of petrol.  Putting it into neutral, we pushed the car the last foot or so and within minutes, the Torino had its twenty gallon tank full of petrol. As I drove out of the filling station, the chinaman called out "Have a nice day!"

This little incident taught me a lesson that was later to be invaluable when I spent many weekends down south in the Anza Borrego desert near the Mexican border.

Deserts are rarely great rolling sand dunes as we tend to picture them, but a very harsh, broken terrain. The sides of the mountains and floors of the valleys are a mixture of blistered and shattered rock, with little vegetation and very little water.  This absence of water can be very misleading.  In the Western deserts of the U.S.A. up to a few inches of rain falls in the months of November and December and often this annual total will fall within a space of a few hours with devastating results.  The sides of the mountains and the valley floors are incised with deep, narrow canyons that can spell the end of any explorer caught in this winter flooding.  The brilliant sunshine at one end of such a canyon can be associated with heavy rainfall at the other end, maybe many miles away, catching the unsuspecting victim without warning.  The water flowing through these canyons will often produce a wall of water many feet deep, and the run off from an entire mountain catchment basin will funnel through a narrow canyon and out on to the valley floor.  Split Mountain Canyon in the Anza Borrega desert is rarely more than fifty feet wide and extends for over twenty five miles.  The sides are precipitous, the walls being of the loose conglomerate associated with the sea deposits of the now receded Gulf of California.  Another canyon in Death Valley, Surprise Canyon, led to Panamint City, a mining settlement.  It took over eighteen years to build a road through this canyon, albeit intermittently and after its completion, the prospectors had time to drive their trucks through it twice before a cloudburst destroyed the entire road - such is the force of desert water.

With cavers venturing further into remote areas in search of cave sites, it is essential the geography of the area is determined beforehand - otherwise one could land up as a lump of bleached gristle!  Men need quantities of water under normal conditions, and considerably more under desert conditions.  The body's way of keeping cool is to sweat.  For example, a man driving a car on a 110O day, may sweat almost one quart an hour, and the only way of replenishing this loss is to drink an equivalent amount.  There is no way by which one can get along on less water by 'training'.

Thirst is a body signal to say 'I need more liquid' and it is the first sign of dehydration.  Should the liquid supply not be given to the body, then body functions will slow down, followed by loss of appetite; fever; sleepiness and finally death.  Sickness occurs when the body has lost the equivalent of 5% of body weight.  A loss of 6 to 10% produces dizziness; breathing problems and tingling in the limbs.  The heart beats harder as the blood begins to thicken and walking becomes impossible. A 15 - 20% dehydration is generally fatal.

Giving the victim water will allow the body to re-hydrate quickly and even if the water is ice cold, the worst that will happen is that there will be temporary stomach cramps. What if there isn't any water, or if it is in very short supply? Some simple rules follow:-

1.                  Keep all clothes on, however much discomfort is experienced.  A man may feel cooler with his shirt off, but this increases the sweat demand.  One cane save over 20% of sweat loss merely by staying clothed.

2.                  Stay in the shade and rest rather than walk.  Lying down reduces the strain on the heart, but NOT on the ground.  Ground temperature can be 30 – 40O higher than air temperature so, if possible, get at least a foot above the ground.  Walk at night, but don’t start until several hours after sunset to ensure the air temperature has dropped sufficiently.

3.                  Eat nothing except perhaps a little chocolate, as the digestion diverts the water that would be available for sweating.  The drinking of alcohol or urine will only increase the dehydration rate.

4.                  Keep clothes moist by the use of any available fluid (booze, urine etc.)  This will help to reduce the evaporation from the body.

5.                  Salt tablets should never be taken unless there is ample water available.

In addition to the problems of dehydration, the temperature in deserts zones fluctuates considerably between midday and midnight.  Towards evening, cool airstreams sweep across the hot surface causing the temperature to fall rapidly and variations of 60OF are not uncommon.  Thus, warm clothing is often necessary at night.  During the day, with the temperature maybe up to 120O (higher than this is courting trouble in a big way) in the shade, everyone must be fully clothed to prevent wind and sunburn.  Large, wide-brimmed hats and neck scarves are essential.

One last but important point.  To keep cool during the day, don’t drink iced beer or anything cold.  Hot tea or similar beverages are best, as they raise the body temperature, thus reducing the differential between the body and the ambient temperature.

It is absolutely essential to examine the local seasonal temperature and general climatic conditions for any hot area one intends to visit.  You are on your own when you get there!


 

Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany, by Wig

181.      Otter Hole: Roy Bennett informs me that the cave length is over 2,500 feet with passages up to 30 feet wide and 80 feet high.

182.      M.R.O. - B.E.C.  Team list: Tim Large is compiling a new list composed of members who are prepared to help during a rescue call-out.  If you want to be included in this list, please cont act Tim.  His address will be found at the front of the B.B. A.G.M. and Annual Dinner: Saturday, October 4th 1975.  A.G.M. to be held at the Belfry at 10.30 a.m. and the dinner at the Blue School, Wells (the same venue as last year.)  Price about £2.25.

183.      Swildons now costs 10p: After a quarter of a century, the Maines have decided to put the good will payment for descending Swildons up to 10p.  If one considers the value of 1/- in 1950 in relation to average earnings, the present 10p is still much cheaper than was the old 'bob'.  The payment should be made at the house next to the field gate as shown below, and PLEASE park your cars on the top green near the village hall.

 

184.      Swildons Again:  I find it quite extraordinary that members have not noted some recent changes in the cave (neither have I seen any mention in other clubs journals.)  Quite apart from the fact that the cave is much drier than usual at this time of the year with no active stream before the twenty, two changes have taken place - possibly due to some severe flooding earlier this year.  The first is that a considerable quantity of pebbles has been washed downstream, leaving the streamway approaching Kenny's Dig about two feet deep and the small potholes in the floor approaching the Well thoroughly scoured.  The larger change has occurred above the Well, where the infill has been removed exposing a ten foot deep rift that interpenetrates the wall of the Well itself, thus providing a possible alternative route. The sketch shown should illustrate the changes clearly.  Editor's Note: To enable readers to compare the 'Before' and 'After' sketches Dave has included, they are both being printed on the next page.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 56

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Across:

1. A pitch still with us, though twice this is no longer! (6)
5. Type of cave passage. (3)
6. and 8. Master calf for this recently dug and abandoned swallet. (6,4)
10. Behold, it sounds deep. (2)
12. Cave dweller, often. (3)
13. Spanish yes, is backwards. (2)
14. May be heard after bang, perhaps. (4)
16. Tweeds otherwise prepared for cavers to eat. (6)
18. Gallery in G.B. (3)                in this! (6)
19. First a bit of cave with two missing directions should not leave you

Down

1. Aids, perhaps. (6)
2. and 15.  Mendip Swallet, otherwise wet satin. (4,4)
3. Not until opposite but shortened. (3)
4. Old cave inhabitants. (5)
7. You can be as drunk as one in an old fashioned way. (3)
9. Short, dry, alternate way. (6)
11. Rarely visited Cuthbert’s rift. (5)
12. Mendip Swallet. (3)
17. Browne’s Hole chamber from Glastonbury? (3)


 

Club Headquarters

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           Colin Dooley, John Dukes, Chris Howell, Dave Irwin, Tim Large, Andy Nicholls, Mike Wheadon, Barry Wilton

Officers Of The Club

Honorary Secretary             M. WHEADON, (Acting) 91 The Oval, Englishcoombe, Bath.  Tel : BATH 713646

Honorary Treasurer             B. WILTON, ‘Valley View’, Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary                A. NICHOLLS, c/o The Belfry

Assist Cav. Sec.                 T. LARGE, 15 Kippax Avenue, Wells, Somerset

Climbing Secretary             Position vacant at present.

Hut Warden                        C. DOOLEY, 51 Ommaston Road., Harbourne, Birmingham 17. Tele :  (021)  427 6122

Belfry Engineer                   J. DUKES, 4 Springfield Crescent, Southampton. SO1 6LE  Tele : (0703) 774649

Tacklemaster                     G. WILTON-JONES, ‘Ilenea’, Stonefield Road. Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks. Tele : (024) 024 3534

B.B. Editor                         S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol. Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Publications Editor              C. HOWELL, 131 Sandon Road, Edgebaston, Birmingham 17.  Tele : (021) 429 5549

B.B. Postal                        BRENDA WILTON  Address as for Barry

Spares                               T. LARGE,  Address already given

Membership Sec.               A. Dooley, c/o The Belfry.  TO WHOM ALL SUBS SHOULD BE SENT.

Any views expressed by any contributor to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of officers of the club, do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor or the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club, unless stated as being the view of the committee or editor

QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editors Note:  The explanatory feature on the findings of the Insurance sub-committee promised in the last B.B. for inclusion in this edition had had to be postponed into the August issue owing to the length of the A.G.M. minutes

Editorial

Nominations

Once again, the time for nominations for the 1975-6 committee is upon us.  At the time of writing, it is not yet known officially whether any of the members of the present committee are going to resign, but there are a few rumours.  In any case, we are without a climbing secretary and this could well be one of the years when it might be comparatively easy to become elected to the committee.  In addition, there is the new rule which says that the way in which the club officers are chosen must be such that every member of the committee gets a fair chance to apply for any particular job.  Thus, if any reader has a secret hankering to do a particular committee job, now is your chance.  You need no proposer or seconder.  You may nominate yourself if you wish.  If you nominate somebody else, you must make sure that he or she agrees to serve on the committee if elected.  All you have to do is to send or give to the Hon. Sec. (Mike Wheadon) IN WRITING a note to the effect that you wish to nominate a particular person (or a number of people if you wish) and that he or she or they have agreed to serve if elected. Sign it and give or send it to Mike.

Minutes Of The A.G.M.

With no less than 6 pages of this 10 page B.B. given over to the minutes of last years A.G.M., it can hardly be claimed that this is a B.B. packed with something of interest to everyone - and yet the minutes, dull reading though they may be - should be of interest to all members.  The Editor believes that it is better for members of the club to be able to read the main points of all the discussions reasonably fully reported that to have a scrappy set of minutes with much pertinent matter swept under the carpet and hidden from the public gaze.  Apart from this, there is, of course, the fact that there is still damn all stuff coming in from members for the editor to print.  Hint.


 

Mik’s Peregrinations

This month's journey is cut short owing to the more important matters taking precedence but so that you don't feel totally neglected, Alfie is allowing me a few lines to maintain continuity.  Firstly, expeditions are now under way with the visit of the BEC party of Johns Dukes & Widley, G. Wilton-Jones, the Palmers, Wiltons, Dooleys, Andy Nichols, Steven, Keith Newbury and Pete Leigh to the Pyrenees while Richard Stevenson and Martin Bishop in another company are visiting the gouffre.

The pub scene has been embellished by visits of a number of bods not normally reckoned to be regulars. Sally Collins with family (including Alfie) Carol and Alan Sandall, Pete and Joyce Franklin and Alan and Hilary without family.  Norman Petty is in danger of becoming a regular having been up for several consecutive Saturdays and Albert Francis keeps sneaking in the odd mid-week visit. The annual barbecue took place on the 28th June this year and was organised (?) by Jonjon Hildick, Janet and Barbara with assistance from Sett in preparing the food, which was two hot dogs per person.  There was plenty of beer about and not all of it was drunk during the evening.  Sid (Streaker) 'Obbs was not there, but Sylvia almost promised to take on his role this year.  Sad to say, she didn't - she is now doing a sponsored slim - contributions to save Priddy Hall fund.

Finally, since space is so short, I must just bring two matters to your notice, the first being the sporadic folk evenings at the Hunters, and lastly but by no means least to give our best wishes for her speedy recovery from her hip injury to Stella Hasell.  We look forward to seeing her at the dinner this year fully recovered.

From the Hon. Sec.

Recent approved applications for membership from: -

Maureen Wheadon, 91 the Oval, Bath.

John Hildick, Tarnagulla, Old Bristol Rd, Priddy.

Robert Cork,22 Dennor Park, Hengrove, Bristol.

Chris Ashe, 7 Queens Head Walk, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts.


 

Minutes of the 1974 A. G. M.

The Hon. Secretary declared the meeting open at 10.40 with 53 members present and called for the election of a chairman.  Both 'Sett' and 'Alfie' were nominated from the floor of the meeting and a vote taken. Alfie was elected by an undeclared majority.  Alfie then pointed out that, whilst he was prepared to act as chairman if the meeting so desired, he had been accustomed for the last few years to act as the minute taker, and it would thus become necessary to appoint somebody else to take the minutes if he were to act as chairman.  The Hon. Secretary then called for a volunteer who would be prepared to take the minutes.  None was forthcoming, and the Hon. Secretary then suggested to the meeting that it reconsider the election of its chairman.  The meeting then elected 'Sett' to be chairman without dissent.

The chairman then called for the collection of any member’s resolutions and also for the ballot forms. In connection with the latter, the Hon. Secretary said that one member had been sent a blank form by mistake, which he had filled in as well as he was able.  Could this now be accepted?  The meeting indicated its assent.  Alan then pointed out that he had received a ballot form with no name attached.  Could this also be accepted? Garth Dell then proposed its acceptance and this was seconded by Bob Cross.  Voting showed 30 in favour with all the remainder abstaining and the chairman announced that it had been carried.

The chairman then called for three tellers for the ballot.  Bob Cross, Brian Prewer and Frank Darbon volunteered and were accepted by the meeting.

The chairman then moved to the minutes of the 1973 Annual General Meeting.  These had been published in the B.B.  The meeting agreed to take them as read.

On matters arising from the minutes, Alan Thomas reported that the committee had, in fact, affiliated the club to the C.N.C.C.  Dave Irwin amplified this and pointed out that we had affiliated rather than join it outright, which would have run contrary to the wishes of a large section of our membership as expressed at the 1973 A.G.M.  Dave was then asked what the difference was and replied that it was largely a matter of principle.  Our affiliated status enabled us to enjoy access to Northern caves, but did not involve us in the affairs of the Northern Council, since we did not have a vote. Some criticism was voiced from the floor of the meeting, but Bob Cross pointed out that a vote on the C.N.C.C., even if we could have obtained one had little practical advantage.  Mike Palmer then proposed the adoption of the minutes. This was seconded by Dave Irwin and carried without dissent.

The Hon. Secretary's Report then followed.  This had been published in the B.B.  The Hon. Sec. said that he wished to point out a serious omission from his report. He should have mentioned the efforts of the committee chairman to improve the working of the committee during the club year just ended.  This resulted in a considerable degree of improvement and went a long way towards removing those features of the committee which he had criticised in his report.  Ken James asked why it had been felt necessary to revoke the earlier decision about siting the fire in the Belfry.  Alan replied that the earlier decision had been shown to have been based on conflicting information.  Alfie pointed out that it was just this sort of thing which had prompted him to try to improve the way by which the committee reached its decisions.  The later decision had been taken after the new procedure had been brought in and had resulted in a better overall decision. Martin Bishop then proposed the adoption of the report.  This was seconded by Mike Wheadon and carried nem. con.

The Hon. Treasurer's Report then followed.  This was distributed to those present as an advance print from the October B.B.  Mike palmer asked if the £90 for the I.D.M.F. had been included.  Barrie replied that it had not, but was in fact only £60 since one applicant had not been able to go and had returned his £30. There had not been time to withdraw the money from London. Mike Palmer noted that last years dinner had made a.1oss.  Barrie agreed and said that the arrangements needed to be tightened up this year.  The loss had been due to a number of people booking for friends who, in fact, did not appear.  It had not proved possible to trace them in all cases.  Nigel Taylor wondered if an issue of dinner tickets might solve the problem.  Barrie agreed, and said that in addition to this, there would be a definite closing date in future.  He pointed out that last minute additions were usually accepted by the caterer after the total quantity of food had been ordered, so that late additions to the total meant less food per person.  Dave Irwin asked Barrie if the subvention to C.C.C. had been paid.  Barrie said that it had, but he had had difficulty in finding the address of Tony Knibbs.  Dave then asked about the subscription to the British Mountaineering Council.  Gerry Oaten said that he had written to them but had had no reply.  Dave Turner then asked why the club had so much money in a current account where it earned nothing.  Barrie said that he had no objection to putting £300 to £400 in a building society.  It was then proposed by Dave Turner 'that Barrie look into this possibility and take advice and appropriate action'.  This was seconded by Garth.  The Chairman ruled that this could be taken as advice to Barrie, since he had already agreed and he did not propose to ask for a vote.  In reply to a further question, Barrie said that it was proposed to increase the public liability insurance cover from £100,00 to £250,000.  Dave Turner asked whether this cover applied to anyone person or to anyone incident which could involve several people.  He also asked whether forming the B.E.C. into a company would help matters.  Barrie agreed that all these matters wanted looking into.  Nigel Taylor said that W.G.C. were looking into the possibility of forming their club into a company, and asked how much extra premium would be needed for the additional cover that Barrie had announced.  Barrie said that the premium would rise by £20.  Dave Turner said that this was an important subject and that there should be a formal proposal.  Dave Irwin said that it would be more appropriate to advise the committee to look into the whole subject in broad terms rather than to attempt to define the subject here and now.  Chris Howell seconded this, and it was put to the vote and carried without dissent. Garth then proposed the adoption of the Treasurer's report. This was seconded by Nigel Taylor and carried unanimously.

The chairman then asked for the Hon. Auditor's report.  Joan said that the audit was not yet complete and asked if this item could be taken later. This was agreed.

The Caving Secretary's report was then taken. The chairman said that he would like to see reports of more meets written up in the B.B. and asked for comments.  Tony Tucker said that there were other trips not organised by the caving secretary which are well attended.  Andy said that his report had dealt only with organised trips, and that the poor response he had noted referred to these rather than to any other trips.  Bob Cross said that the club did not want purely caving trips to places like the Yorkshire Dales, but preferred more general trips where people were free to cave, hill walk etc.  Maurice Iles then proposed the adoption of the report.  This was seconded by Dave Irwin and carried nem. con.

The Climbing Secretary then read his report.  Mike Palmer said that both the caving and climbing reports suggested that there was very little going on.  He wondered whether this was a sign of the times.  Nigel Taylor said that he had organised a minibus for the BCRA trip and this had resulted in a well supported trip.  He suggested that cavers needed more spoon-feeding than had been the case in past years.  Dave Irwin suggested that this was a misleading picture.  Lots of people cave and organise trips requiring a great deal of initiative, but these trips are not noticed because they are not written up. Dave Turner said that even so, the caving and the climbing secretaries had painted a picture of gloom and nobody had really put up a case to refute it.  Mike Palmer said that he agreed with Nigel.  If trips are laid on, people will turn up provided that everything is done for them.  The chairman said that with the rising cost of fuel, there was much economic sense in running a minibus irrespective of the arguments about spoon-feeding cavers or climbers.  Bob Cross said that there ought to be a formal proposal at this stage.  Gerry Oaten pointed out that, before any formal proposal was submitted to the meeting, it should be remembered that trips are usually arranged at the last moment and that minibus hire might not always be practicable under these circumstances.   Dave Irwin said that we were now becoming dependant on fuel and wondered if a club minibus would be a practical idea.  Martin Bishop agreed with this and said that it could also be used locally, for example, running people down to climb in Cheddar.  Gerry Oaten pointed out that officially, such trips were banned and that if anyone dislodged a rock the person concerned could be in grave trouble.  Dave Turner said that the discussion now seemed to have got back to the club's insurance policy again!  Nigel pointed out that there might well be snags to the club's ownership of a minibus and that it might be better to hire one.  Chris Howell, following Dave Turner's line of thought, said that public liability insurance normally excluded illegal actions.  The chairman, taking up Nigel's point, said that a reasonable compromise might be to run some minibus trips during the next club year on a hiring basis and, if these proved sufficiently popular, then the club might like to consider buying a minibus.  Mike Wheadon, reverting to the point made by Chris, said that we could not, as a club, condone climbing in Cheddar and suggested that we tried to find out more about the legality of such climbs.  The chairman advised the club to play it cool.  Martin Bishop said that if we played it cool and a member injured some innocent bystander, we would be in serious trouble.  Brian Prewer asked what, in fact, constituted a club trip in the legal sense?  Andy Nichols suggested that, as far as the insurance cover was concerned, any trip on which members of the club normally took part would be called a club trip. Chris reminded the meeting at this point that it had already instructed the committee to look into the various aspects of the club's insurance.  All that was now necessary was to add a rider to the effect that the legal implications of trips be included in that investigation.  Maurice Iles said the parish council in Cheddar had passed a resolution banning climbing in the gorge during the summer and that this might give the notices some additional legal standing.  Dave Turner said, that we wanted reasonable insurance cover as members of a club.  At this stage, Bob Cross reminded the meeting that it was supposed to be discussing the climbing secretary's report.  In this connection, he wanted to know if there was any news about the possibility of a club climbing headquarters in North Wales.  Gerry Oaten replied that we had the use of a hut in North Wales.  Bob said that he doubted whether the club was aware of this, as he had not personally heard of this arrangement.  Gerry Oaten replied that the climbing section were well aware of the arrangement and that if Bob had only got in touch with the climbing section, he would have known about it.  Bob said that some publicity in the B.B. would have been a good thing and asked why it had not been mentioned.  Alfie said that he was unaware of the arrangement.  Nigel Taylor then proposed that the report be adopted.  This was then seconded by Dave Irwin and carried without dissent.

The result of the ballot was then announced.  The chairman said that 86 forms had been submitted and that the successful candidates, in order of votes cast in their favour were as follows: - Dave Irwin, Alfie Collins, Barrie Wilton, Graham Wilton-Jones, Tim Large, Andy Nichols, Gerry Oaten, John Dukes and Colin Dooley.  The name and number slips were given to the B.B. editor so that names of voters could be recorded in the B.B. and the actual voting papers were, by instruction from the meeting, and then destroyed.  The chairman said that there had been no nominations for the ordinary members of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee so that Mike Palmer and himself continued to serve as ordinary members.  The Chairman then called for the election of an auditor.  Joan Bennett was proposed by Dave Irwin and seconded by Bob Cross.  There being no other proposal, the chairman declared Joan as having been elected.

The chairman then stated that he was going to take a member's resolution next, since it was pertinent to the election of club officers and should therefore come after the announcement of the result of the ballot.  This resolution was submitted by Mike Palmer and read,  'That the committee elect its officers in such a way that every member gets the opportunity to be elected to any office'. The Chairman invited Mike to speak to this proposal and Mike explained that the intention of the resolution was to make sure that everybody on the committee got a chance to stand for any position. Dave Irwin amplified this and said that Mike's idea was to give members who might feel reticent the opportunity of applying for club posts.  At present, the system involved a member being proposed and seconded and if nobody proposed a particular member, he stood no chance of indicating that he would be willing to be considered for any particular position on the committee. Alan Thomas said that he saw nothing wrong with the traditional system, to which Dave Irwin replied that it was restrictive and prevented any keen person from putting himself forward unless somebody else happened to suggest his name.  Nigel Taylor thought that Dave Irwin had a good point and suggested that the present system was biased towards the status quo.  In many cases, he felt, members of the committee would be reluctant to suggest a new name for a committee post for fear of being misunderstood and being thought to be criticising the previous holder of the office. Garth suggested that, now the new committee had been elected, the A.G.M. chairman and that committee should sort matters out between them.  Dave Irwin thought that this was a good idea, but should be worded more formally.  He proposed that 'The chairman of the A.G.M. shall preside over the meeting of the new committee while the club officers are being elected.'  The chairman reminded the meeting that it already had a resolution in front of it, and asked whether the meeting would wish to take Dave's resolution as an amendment. Mike Palmer said that he was happy to substitute Dave’s resolution for his own, since the intention of the earlier resolution was implicit in Dave’s resolution. He would therefore withdraw his and second Dave's.  Alan Thomas then proposed an amendment that 'the initial meeting which decided the club committee posts shall be chaired by the A.G.M. chairman during an adjournment to the A.G.M.'  This was seconded by Mike Palmer.  Martin Bishop said that he would like to see an independent chairman, because it could happen that the A.G.M. chairman might be on the committee.  If Alfie had been chairing the meeting, this would have happened. He proposed altering the amendment to read  'The initial meeting which decides the club committee posts shall be chaired by an independent chairman to be elected at the A.G.M. and shall be held during an adjournment to the A.G.M., the results being announced after this adjournment.' This was seconded by Nigel Taylor. The chairman then called for votes in favour of the second amendment, which he declared to be carried.  He then called for a vote on the amendment as now worded.  This was carried with two votes against.  The amended proposal was then voted on and carried.  The chairman then called for the election of an independent chairman under the new resolution.  Three names were proposed from the floor of the meeting and a vote was taken by a show of hands.  The resulted was – Sett 29 votes, Garth 6 votes, Bob Cross 5 votes.  Sett therefore announced that he had been elected as the independent chairman.

The Tacklemaster's report then followed.  This had been published in the B.B.  Roy Bennett said that it implied that Telurit splices were to be used on ladders and tethers. Graham replied that the report did not say this but merely discussed the possibility.  A discussion on methods of Telurit splicing elicited the fact that these must be carried out correctly if they are to be trustworthy.  Nigel pointed out that the National Tower Testing Station use this method and also test other people's splices.  Graham said that you could test a Telurit splice to breaking point, but there was no way of inspecting one that was actually to be used. Dave Irwin suggested that Telurits be given a definite lifetime as they cannot be inspected for deterioration.  Roy said that Norman Petty would be prepared to continue producing the conventionally spliced tethers and, with the general neglect of tackle nowadays, this might be a better solution.  The chairman suggested that the subject should be left to the Tacklemaster, who would doubtless bear in mind all that had been said on the subject, and this was agreed to by general assent of the meeting.  Roy then asked whether the distinguishing markings on digging ropes designed to prevent their use as lifelines were effective.  Graham said that he thought they were and that users were well aware of the difference.  Frank Jones then proposed the adoption of the report. (Correction: For Frank Jones above read Frank Darbon.)  This was seconded by Roy Bennett and carried without dissent.

The Hut Warden's Report then followed.  This had been previously published.  Alan Thomas said that the Belfry had been very clean and tidy and congratulated Warden. The report was adopted after this had by Chris Rowell and seconded by Nigel Dibben.

The chairman then announced an adjournment at 12.52 p.m. and said that the meeting would re-convene at 2 p.m

At 2 p.m., the chairman announced the club officers and the fact that the new committee had unanimously co-opted Chris Howell (Publications Editor) as a member of the committee.  He then invited the Hon. Auditor to give her report.  Joan said that the club books had been audited and found to be satisfactory. She said that she would be handing a written statement to this effect to the Treasurer.  Garth proposed that this report be adopted.  This was seconded by Alfie and carried without dissent.

The Belfry Engineer's Report followed.  Martin added to his report an observation that he had had very little support from club members and that there had been no response to his appeal for suggestions. Nigel Taylor asked what inference members were supposed to draw from these remarks.  He objected to the inference that the Hut Warden and the Belfry regulars had not given Martin their support.  Some people, Nigel reminded the meeting, had worked very hard. Martin replied that his statement was a general one and was not aimed at any particular group of members.  Alan Thomas said that people had turned up for the working weekend only to find that there was nothing for them to do and the Belfry Engineer was not present.  Tony Tucker complained about the lack of light bulbs and the poor condition of the fire escape door.  Graham Wilton-Jones said this was quite typical of the way that big jobs tended to get done while smaller jobs did not.  Tony Tucker said that the fire escape door had cost £11 and was no good. He did not consider this to have been a minor matter.  Alan Thomas said that the club had had three doors donated recently.  The chairman said that he hoped the new committee would note what had been said on the subject and would do whatever was necessary. Chris Howell then proposed that the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Garth and carried nem. con.

The B.B. Editor’s report was taken next.  This had been published.  There were no comments or discussion.  Nigel Taylor proposed that the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Andy Nichols and carried without dissent.

The Publications Editor's report followed.  Again, there was no discussion.  The report was adopted without dissent after being proposed by Nigel Taylor and seconded by Graham Wilton-Jones.  Alan Thomas proposed a vote of thanks to the retiring Publications Editor, Dave Irwin, for all the work he had done in expanding the club publications and improving their standard.  This was carried with acclamation.

The Hon. Librarian's report followed.  The chairman opened the discussion by stating that he did not consider that the club made enough use of the excellent library no available to members.  Bob Cross asked if the club were buying many new books, to which Dave Irwin said it was not.  Nigel Taylor asked whether the club would be buying the new Wessex book on Swildons.  Dave said that he considered it was not good value for money, but if the committee decided to buy it, then it would be purchased.  Martin Bishop then proposed that the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Nigel Taylor and carried without dissent.

The I.D.M.F. Report followed.  Mike Palmer said that there had been three applicants, who had been granted £30 each. One of these had not been able to go and had refunded his grant.  Reports from the other two are awaited.  The I.D.M.F. committee would continue to advertise the fund and would welcome any guidance from this meeting.  Alan Thomas asked how this year compared with previous years.  Mike said that it was a record.  The previous highest total had been one applicant.  Mike said that the identical awards of £30 had been co-incidental. Sums were allocated on the basis of what was required to make a trip possible that had been impossible without the grant.  Alan Thomas then asked if we were spending capital. Barrie said this was so, but only just.  Alan then asked if any recipient of a grant had ever contributed towards the fund at a later date when his finances had improved. Mike Palmer said this had never happened and Barrie agreed.  Andy Nichols then proposed the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Graham Wilton-Jones and carried without dissent.

The chairman then took the remainder of the member’s resolutions.  The first of these, by Chris Howell and Tim Large was that 'The B.B. be circulated in future only to members of the club and that exchange publications be on the basis of Cave Notes and/or Caving Reports as appropriate. The chairman invited Chris to speak to the resolution.  Chris said he wanted to make it clear that no criticism of the B.B. editor was implied. If there was any such criticism, it was directed against members who did not support the B.B. by writing for it, thus making the editor's job of producing a journal worthy of the club impossible to carry out.  He pointed out that the B.B. postage consumed 1/6th of the entire subscription and said that there was no outside interest in the B.B.  It was, he said, never used for reference or quotation by other journals and the minimal sales of old B.B.'s confirmed this.  The club should therefore aim at making Cave Notes their main publication and the B. B. could, perhaps, be published bi-monthly or even quarterly and be reduced to newsletter format and size as being more in line with its standing as compared to some other caving journals.  Nigel Taylor said that other journals did quote from the B.B. and pointed out that those societies who kept a complete file of the B.B. might object at this stage to being denied access to any future issues. Tim Large said that he was in complete agreement with what Chris had said.  It was often necessary to air internal disagreements in the B.B. and this did our image no good.  There was also a powerful economic argument in favour of a bi-monthly or quarterly B.B. The chairman then invited comments from the B.B. Editor.  Alfie said that he found himself in sympathy with much that had been said by Chris and Tim but there were other factors which affected the position.  On the purely financial side for example, it should be remembered that the cost of the B. B. was kept down by the generosity and initiative of some members.  One in particular had donated over £100 worth of material for the B.B. recently. Nobody would suggest that any conditions were attached to these gifts, but it was reasonable to suppose that people would cease to contribute in this way if the B.B. was no longer to their liking. Alfie said that the club had been repeatedly asked whether they wanted the B.B. to continue monthly or to go over to some less frequent interval and had consistently and overwhelmingly voted for a monthly journal.  He said that he had no personal feeling as a less frequent B. B. would mean less work for him, but he felt that the wishes of the great majority of club members should be respected.  Alan Thomas said that the B.B. helped to foster interest amongst members as it stood and Nigel Taylor said that any reduction in frequency of its appearance would loosen ties among members living abroad.  Garth said that people like himself who could not get to Mendip very often like to read their B.B.   Keith Murray said that he would personally pay extra for a monthly B.B. if it came to a choice.  Chris Howell said that the arguments put forward only confirmed the fact that there were two points of view and all of them were repeats of statements which had been made many times before.  He said that the resolution should be put to the meeting without further delay.  Dave Irwin said that it had been an ambition of his - or perhaps a dream - to make the caving publications free to members.  The sales would have to be very great to make this possible, but it might be practicable to make Cave Notes free to members one day.  Tony Tucker said that the club would lose much if the B.B. were to become a bi-monthly.  He, too, urged that a vote be taken straight away.  The chairman said that there were really two parts to the question under debate.  He said that he proposed to put the question of a weekly or bi-monthly B.B. to the vote first.  This was done with a large (uncounted) number in favour of monthly and one vote against. This member, in fact, wanted it quarterly.  The chairman then called for a vote on whether the B.B. should be distributed only to club members in future.  This produced a total of 6 in favour and 35 against.

A resolution 'that future Life Memberships should abolished' was proposed by Dave Irwin and seconded by Roy Bennett.  Dave Irwin explained that the number of Life Members imposed too great a burden on members who paid annually and that continuing inflation would soon make the position completely untenable.  Since the club would be forced to face this fact sooner or later, it were better that it be faced now.  Nigel Taylor suggested that a solution might be for the club to agree that Life Members should always be contacted first when any appeal for money was contemplated, rather than to compel them to give up their life memberships.  Roy Bennett said that no form of compulsion was suggested by the resolution.  It was the intention that life membership be abolished for the future and he hoped that if this occurred, as many present life members as possible might be persuaded to give up their life memberships on a voluntary basis.  Alan Thomas said that life members living abroad might find it difficult to send subscriptions annually to which Dave Irwin said that a period subscription could, perhaps, be worked out Bob Cross suggested that even a voluntary scheme was not fair to many present life members.  He said he would be happier to see appeals for donations as being more in the spirit of life membership.  Mike Palmer said that many of the life members had given to the club in various ways money or services which were worth far more than their life membership appeared to be costing the club.  An inconclusive discussion then took place on what might be called the ethics of the subject.  Nigel Taylor then said that all the life members were asked to confirm their address each year.  He suggested that some of them might well drop out quite early in this process, thus helping to pay for those who stayed in contact.  Garth said that he wondered how many life members had voted in the ballot and Roger Stenner wondered how many life members continued to take any real interest in the club after their active caving days were over.  Mike Palmer asked what benefit was expected from the proposed change and Roy Bennett replied that it was largely a financial benefit that was expected.  Alan Thomas said the proposal was a constitutional change and as such, would have to have a year’s committee stage and be finally voted on at the next A.G.M. even if it were passed in principle at this one.  At this point, the chairman put the resolution to the vote and it failed to be carried by 12 in favour and 16 against.

The chairman then asked for any other business.  Bob Cross asked if the colour of club ties could be changed and Nigel Taylor suggested that the committee be asked to look into the possibility of providing a dark blue tie with gold bats as an alternative to the present design.  Tony Tucker said there was no need to change the shape of the tie, as widths tended to go into and out of fashion fairly quickly.  Nigel Taylor then proposed that the committee investigate the possibility an alternative dark blue tie with gold bats and purchase some if possible.  This was seconded by Mike Wheadon and carried with 26 in favour and 5 against.

Tony Tucker then expressed his concern at the filling in of Plantation Swallet by Mr. Foxwell.  He was informed that the committee were looking into this action.  There being no other business, the chairman then declared the meeting closed at 3.35 p.m.


 

Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany

Compiled by 'Wig'

184.      Whernside Manor likely to close.  At the eleventh hour of the negotiations, the North Yorkshire County Council Planning and Resources Committee decided not to support the Yorkshire Dales National Park in the proposed purchase and development of Whernside Manor.  This, in many ways, is a pity as the army of novices wishing to be taken caving will ultimately turn its head towards the caving clubs for help. This help will not be readily forthcoming for reasons of over crowding in our already sardine-packed caves.  In many cases, these organisations go their own way, causing problems particularly in the conservation field.  When will the bureaucracies of Whitehall and the town hall come to a sensible decision for once in their lives?

185.      N.C.A. to set up a 'Royal Commission'.  At long last the executive of the NCA has realised that the stormy climate in the caving world means that NCA must one day restructure itself to cater for the wide divergence of opinion amongst the caving regions.  In an attempt to find out what the grass roots caver want a special commission of four persons is being set up to listen to cavers in the hope that a sensible solution can be found.  If this commission fails, the outlook for NCA is bleak indeed.  Phil Davies of the Wessex has volunteered to become the CSCC representative on this panel.  Phil has all the attributes required for such an investigation since he has not been involved with the NCA structure at any time since its inception, but is nevertheless well known.

186.      The Cerberus Speleological Society is receiving a face lift.  Its membership has jumped from about 35 to over a hundred last year and, unlike their predecessors, the armchair has been left far behind.  In the next few months they will be publishing a report on the Caves of Fairy Cave Quarry, price about £1.00


 

Letter to the Editor.

91, The Oval, Bath.

Having noticed Sett's letter in the last B.B. referring to the traditional Hunters Saturday I thought I might set pen to paper to stir the controversy.  Not that one can dispute the fact that they 'orrible words are fast fading; at least, all but the more 'orrible which need no effort to remember. I would argue Sett's point that the cause should be laid against us and not Hunters.

Historically, as many members will recall, the 'Cavers Room' of Hunters, which has now been modified to become the lounge, was the standard port of call for Saturday night bar room mountaineers, after visiting the old hatchway to get beer.  The bar was then considerably smaller and only catered for local customers.  Thus, with cavers being in their 'own' room, when any singing started the natural thing was to join in, learning the words along the way.  In the summer, tourists came for miles to park near the open window and giggle at those rude fellows inside.  However, at that time it was the practice to revert instantly to a rendering of Sospan Fach whenever Ben appeared.  Later on, this practice ceased, and Ben often had occasion to complain about our uncouth behaviour.

When Roger modernised the Hunters, he recognised our need and set aside two rooms in the remoter parts of the pub where we could gather and sing but unfortunately, in 'some respects, he also enlarged the bar.  Nowadays it is normal for us to go to the bar, only leaving it for the calls of nature or 'time'.

Still, on odd occasions such as when Maurice IIes turns up and feels in voice, we lobby known aficionados and return to the back room to sing.  Admittedly, we are not very successful.  We have such complexes now that we automatically forget either words or tune (or both) but we can still run the course when we have a mind to. What we obviously need is practice, and if the Belfry after hours is the only place, then count me in.

Mike Wheadon.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 58

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

6

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

14

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

 

 

 

 

 

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

6. Place to find a pot in Yorkshire. (3)
7. Type of cave found in noticeably cold climates? (3)
8. Cave location partly understandable with respect to ground? (5)
9. Cuthbert’s extracted metal? (3)
10. Not a feature of even risky caves. (3)
11. Stark form of cave bearing landscape? (5)
12. Type of cave in which seals might be found? (3)
13. Upper part of this reversed? (3)
16. Cave deposit. (3)
17. 6 could be a feature of this place. (3)

Down

1. A cave dweller. (1,3)
2. Mendip swallet describes cavers having spent too much time in 17. (9)
3. Caver knew this place on Mendip, or got told, perhaps. (6,3)
4. Cavers initial stumble? (5,4)
5. Extremely light – though not used in caves for illumination. (4)
12. As a cave feature. (4)
14. Obtained from 17 – otherwise urinate in tea. (4)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

T

W

E

N

T

Y

 

B

 

A

 

A

 

I

 

B

E

D

C

A

S

T

L

E

 

A

 

K

 

T

 

 

F

A

R

M

L

O

 

B

A

T

 

S

I

E

C

H

O

 

 

T

 

D

 

H

 

S

T

E

W

E

D

A

R

T

 

O

 

I

 

L

 

E

 

T

R

A

N

C

E


 

Club Headquarters

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           Colin Dooley, John Dukes, Chris Howell, Dave Irwin, Tim Large, Andy Nicholls, Mike Wheadon, Barry Wilton

Officers Of The Club

Honorary Secretary             M. WHEADON, 91 The Oval, Englishcoombe, Bath.  Tel : BATH 713646

Honorary Treasurer             B. WILTON, ‘Valley View’, Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary                A. NICHOLLS, c/o The Belfry

Assist Cav. Sec.                 T. LARGE, 15 Kippax Avenue, Wells, Somerset

Climbing Secretary             Position vacant at present.

Hut Warden                        C. DOOLEY, 51 Ommaston Road., Harbourne, Birmingham 17. Tele :  (021)  427 6122

Belfry Engineer                   J. DUKES, 4 Springfield Crescent, Southampton. SO1 6LE  Tele : (0703) 774649

Tacklemaster                     G. WILTON-JONES, ‘Ilenea’, Stonefield Road. Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks. Tele : (024) 024 3534

B.B. Editor                         S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol. Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Publications Editor              C. HOWELL, 131 Sandon Road, Edgebaston, Birmingham 17.  Tele : (021) 429 5549

B.B. Postal                        BRENDA WILTON  Address as for Barry

Spares                               T. LARGE,  Address already given

Membership Sec.               A. Dooley, c/o The Belfry.  TO WHOM ALL SUBS SHOULD BE SENT.

Members are reminded that nominations for the 1975/76 committee should be sent to the Hon. Secretary. See editorial for more details.

Any views expressed by any contributor to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of officers of the club, do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor or the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club, unless stated as being the view of the committee or editor

 

QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editorial

Take A Bow

Response to last month’s appeal for paper has been very good indeed.  One is tempted to wonder if the motto had anything to do with it, because club members have ‘done it to excess’ and our supplies of paper are now in a much more healthy state.

Dilemma

When articles are in short supply - as at present - the editor faces a number of dilemmas (if this is possible, and I reckon with the B.B., it is!)  If he fills a B.B. up with specialist information, most members will consider this to be a waste of paper.  If he sends out a very thin B.B. containing only the articles he happens to have by him this would be considered a waste of covers and postage.  If he waits until he can produce a standard B.B. containing information of general interest, he is likely to be accuse of letting down the club by not providing a regular source of information.

Under these circumstances, it becomes very difficult to win.  Apart from the reasons given above, the editor feels that the article he is including in this month's B.B. might possibly be said to earn its keep if it persuades some active caver to do some work along the lines suggested.  We hear people say from time to time that there is nothing much to do much to do on Mendip.  This could be the chance for somebody to prove such people wrong!

Published Elsewhere

While on the subject of articles, we note that from time to time club members send in their work to publications other than the B.B.  This is, of course, perfectly fair and in any case there is usually some good reason why an author decides to let a particular piece of work go to a journal which will reach the audience he has in mind.

However, most members of the B.E.C. rarely read other publications - and rely almost entirely on the B.B. for keeping abreast of what is going on.  There would thus be no harm in authors who have published elsewhere submitting their work for subsequent publication in the B.B.  The original source will be brought to the attention of B.B. readers in every case should the author so desire.

“Alfie”


 

Preliminary Report on Reynold’s Rift

We have received the following from the Chelm's Coombe Caving Club - a branch of the National Tower Testing Station Sports and Social Club.

On the 6th of December, 1973, members of the Chelm's Coombe Caving Club broke through into an open cave passage in their dig 'Reynolds’s Rift' at the National Tower Testing Station, Cheddar.

We have so far discovered two hundred feet of passage with a vertical range of fifty feet.  A hundred feet of this is stream passage.

No visits are allowed at the present time, while clearance work is done, while a report is prepared for the National Tower Testing Station.  Digging will be continued by club members.

The situation as far as access is concerned will be in the full report which will follow when clearance is completed.

J. Aylott,
Secretary, C.C.C.C.

Addition to members' addresses.

828 Nicolette Abell, Ardtraskart, Greenway Lane, Bath, Som.

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

Members might like to know that we are still following up information about chemical lights but are not yet in a position to give members any further information.  This will be done as soon as possible.

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

Annual Subscriptions for 1974 should be sent to BARRY WILTON.  Members are advised not to leave this chore until the last minute, because there is always a risk that they will get removed from the B.B. circulation list in May.


 

Limestone & Caves of N.W. England.

A Review of this important book, which will be in the club library, by Andrew Nichols.

Edited by A.C. Waltham. (David & Charles, for the B.C.R.A. 1974. Price £6.95 )

This, the first of a series covering each of the four major British caving areas, is intended, as Trevor Ford says in his foreword, to provide a factual survey for not only the sporting and scientific caver, but teachers and students as well as landowners; quarry industries and water authorities.  That, I suspect, is a pious hope.  It is a book for cavers, and one which they will find invaluable.

It's a large book. 470 pages covering the twelve mile wide limestone strip between Morecambe Bay in the West and Nidderdale in the East, which contains most of the major systems of the Dales.

There are two sections. The first opens with a discussion of the overall geology, spelaeomorphology and hydrology; continues with three chapters on the characteristics and behaviour of karst water and ends with a review of biospelaeological and archaeological work.  These 180 pages are hard going for the non-specialist, particularly without a glossary - though the authors may fairly expect their readers to have a certain amount of knowledge.  Initially, it may disappoint those who expected the same excitement from the writing as from the caves, but a second reading should dispel that because, once absorbed, it adds enormously to the value of the rest of the book.  It also represents a great deal of dedicated work. There is, for example, a casual reference in one chapter to 'water sampling from 68 sites over a period of 7 years' - much of it new and all of it important.

Archaeological work in the Dales was predominantly 19th century and yielded little from the few inhabited caves, so this chapter continued to disappoint me, though that presumably will not be so with the corresponding reviews of the other caving areas in the series.

The second, and larger, section deals with the caves themselves.  There is a chapter on each of the 12 areas into which the karst has been sub-divided, with a final discussion of the total chronology.  This is why the book will be bought and what it will be judged on.  The B.C.R.A. has done well in assembling a team of writers so expert on their particular areas.  All the chapters are good and several are outstanding.  Tony Waltham's is unusually successful in his disentanglement of the multi-phased development of the Lost Johns-Short Drop-Gavel system.  Dave Brooks's discussion of Kingsdale is a masterpiece of clear, precise and jargon-free analysis, and his description of Black Keld brings out all the excitement of one of Britain's major hydrological systems.

No serious caver - sporting or scientific - can afford to be ignorant of the caves of North West England, and those who do know a little of the area will have their favourite cave s and theories; and may be affronted to find that they may not have been given the coverage that they think they deserve.  Lower Easegill Pot, I am convinced, merits more that a few lines on page 251!  Understandably, not everything can be put into 470 pages and Tony Waltham as editor has had to aim for width rather than for depth for this is a survey - not a thesis.

Nevertheless, I was surprised by some omissions and editorial emphasis.  Chapter 19, for instance, on Ribblesdale refers to ‘the massive hydrological system of Brants Gill Head’ (the Penyghent-Fountains Fell master cave) and proceeds to dismiss it in three pages - while the spelaeologically piffling Morecambe Bay area, however interesting to the theorist, has a lavish 26 pages.  The Black Keld system has only a short, though excellent, chapter.  Crackpot Cave in Swaledale, another huge hydrological system, is outside the scope of the book altogether.  The necessary arbitrary division into twelve areas has had the effect that chapters 14 to 16 are treated almost -without reference to each other and with no mention of the now respectable Three Counties theory.  Cavers more familiar with other areas covered by the book will be able possibly to find other examples.

However, the sheer size and importance of the area covered must be blamed for what omissions do exist. The material included is accurate and thoroughly discussed, with many gaps in present knowledge valuably pointed out. Not only, is the book recent; it is, unusually for a caving book, right up to date at the time of writing.

The presentation is not, unfortunately, up to the standard of the text.  There is an excellent bibliography, as full as you could wish and far better than the usual series of footnotes, but the many diagrams and illustrations vary wildly in effectiveness.  Some (Figure 70) are crisp and clear.  Others (figure 44) are so cluttered with detail as to be useless. The two dozen pages of photographs, apart from the occasional superb shot such as Tony Waltham's of the minarets in Lancaster Hole, are frankly poor with the underground shots generally worse than the surface photography.

These shortcomings are minor compared with the success of the book as a whole. 'British Caving' was never adequate to fill the gap caused by the explosion of caving in the last decade and a half, but the B.C.R.A. will undoubtedly do so if the remaining three books are as good as this.  It is no substitute for the more specific papers in club journals nor for the successors to Pennine Underground, but that is not it’s purpose.  It is a broad survey of a large area and, despite its price a book which every caver ought to get hold of.


 

Surveys – Past and Future

An article written, so the author says, for the average non-specialist caver.

We all know what a cave survey looks like.  Even if some of us have never actually owned one, we have at least seen examples in the Belfry or elsewhere.  We also know that, apart from any differences in the standard of drawing or lettering, they are all basically alike.

Next year, formal cave surveying will be twenty five years old - for it was back in 1950 that Arthur Butcher published the paper which was adopted by the C.R.G. and which has formed the basis of cave surveys ever since.

Now, a quarter of a century is a fairly long time, and it might be of interest to the average caver to see just what cave surveyors on Mendip at least, have been thinking about all this time, and whether we are likely to see any new ideas in the way of cave surveys in the future.

The quick answer to what cave surveyors have been thinking about all this time can be summed up in a single word Accuracy.  In 1950, Arthur Butcher came out with a series of grades because he assumed that cave surveyors would use a variety of instruments, some better than others, and it would be necessary to give the user some idea of what he could expect in the way of accuracy according to what the surveyor had used when he did the survey.

Nothing much happened on Mendip until 1962, when Bryan Ellis attempted to improve on Butcher's system with a simple and ingenious scheme which made sure that a surveyor's equipment was all of roughly the same standard.  This scheme of Bryan's was designed to fit in with Butcher's original scheme and was sent to the C.R.G. but was not adopted by them.

A year later, in 1963, Dennis Warburton published an article in the Wessex Journal.  This was the first serious attempt to replace guesswork by facts, based on both theory and practice.  Dennis showed how the accuracy of a survey would vary under different conditions and then compared these figures with actual figures taken from no less than 28 different surveys.

As a result of all this, Dennis found a number of very important things about the accuracy of cave surveys.  He found, for example, that the accuracy did not depend much on either the surveyor or on the difficulty of the cave being surveyed (within sensible limits, of course!) which was something that came as a surprise to quite a few cave surveyors. Another thing which Dennis found was that most surveys were much closer to each other as far as accuracy went than the grade numbers they had been given would suggest.  He reckoned that it would be better if surveyors stated the accuracy they thought they had achieved, rather than give the survey a number.

By this time, a number of cave surveyors on Mendip were all discussing what ought to be done as a next step.  I put down my own thoughts on the subject in 1964 and they were published as a B.E.C. caving report in 1966.  At about this time, Mendip surveyors were meeting frequently to swap ideas and they eventually decided to produce a handbook on the subject - which turned out to be too big for anybody to publish.  At least one copy of this book still exists and I am trying to get hold of it for the club library if anyone is interested.

One of the conclusions which the surveyors came to was that there were only two real types of survey as far as accuracy went - the properly done survey and the quick, rough sketch. They had lots of other ideas as well, but they did not succeed in getting any of these adopted by the C.R.G. However, some of the surveyors concerned were invited to give papers at C.R.G. meetings and this aroused some interest in their work.

At about this time, Mike Luckwill got interested in the subject, and, as a professional mathematician, he had some hard words to say about cave surveyors.  He argued that they never took the trouble to read any books on surveying but seemed to prefer to believe that they were pioneering an entirely new subject.  Mike pointed out that, apart from the practical examples that Dennis was able to use by 1963, the position in 1969 could and should have been reached in 1950. Had Mike not died so suddenly and tragically, he would no doubt have put his arguments on paper - indeed, he was in the process of doing just that at the time of his death - and perhaps he would have shaken up many cave surveyors.  As it was, his remarks did not go unnoticed, because Dave Irwin, Roger Stenner and Doug Stuckey had been concerned with the problems of the Cuthbert’s survey and, by using the approach suggested by Mike Luckwill and adding several ideas of their own, they have come up with a survey which is probably as accurate as any cave survey really needs to be.

So, at the present day, it is rapidly becoming possible, if it has not already done so, for a cave survey to be carried out with a degree of accuracy good enough for all practical purposes.  The arguments which have led to this state of affairs have been omitted from this review but it might be of interest to state the main conclusions which have resulted from the quarter of a century since 1950.  Firstly, increased accuracy has not happened because we now have better instruments or more skilful surveyors.  It has happened by using the same instruments and by taking the same reading with them, but with better techniques.  This is something which I doubt any surveyor of 1950 would have suggested might happen.

Secondly, it has been shown that any reasonable surveyor will produce an accurate survey providing he uses his instruments in the right way, and that this survey should be pretty well as accurate as anybody requires.

Now to answer the second question. Will we be seeing anything new in the way of cave surveys in the future?

The answer to this depends very much on what cavers decide to do.  With the problem of accuracy near enough solved, the more mathematically inclined caver may well lose interest in the subject.  The caver who is keen on drawing cave surveys might well turn his attention to the problems of just how you decide what the shape of a cave really is, and how you put this down clearly on paper.  There are a number of techniques which could be used, and Dave Irwin for one is currently experimenting in this direction.

There is, however, a field in which the average caver could contribute greatly to the art of cave surveys, and I will try to explain just how this could be done.  To illustrate what I have in mind, one has only to read the last Christmas B.B.  This B.B. had three articles about caving trips.  On the Birk's Fell trip, the party had difficulty in finding some parts of the cave.  Admittedly they had gone down for the fun of exploring it for themselves - but it still might have been useful to them if one member of the party had been able to take down a survey which actually showed how to get round the system.

In the article on G.G., the party had consulted a survey but were still in some doubt about taking the correct turning - and the penalty for missing it might well have been quite high!

I have been arguing the case for maps which are actually designed to give the average caver as much information as he could reasonably want about the actual cave for some time now. I gave a paper to the C.R.G. symposium at Leicester on this subject.  After the paper was over, the chairman asked the 200 cavers present if they had any questions.  There were none.  He then asked people to put up their hands if they thought this sort of thing was a good idea and should be tackled on actual caves.  Almost everyone present put up his hand.  I only mention this because it shows that it is no use saying "It's not worth trying because nobody wants it."  After all, nobody was ever asked whether they wanted the present sort of cave survey.

At this stage, I can almost hear people saying "If you think it's such a good idea, why don't you DO something about it?  "Alas! As one gets on a bit, the time available for doing anything worthwhile underground gets there are so many other things which take up all one's time.  That is why I hope that some young, keen active caver might care to consider doing something along these lines.

What lines?  Well, I personally had two schemes in mind although they are by no means the only possible ways of doing the job.

The first of these is called the Descriptive or Pictorial Map.  One of these can be started by taking an existing survey - preferably of a well-known cave like Swildons, so that it can get a good trying out by a large number of cavers.  The first thing to do is to decide whether the survey actually enables you to cave properly.  Does it, for instance, show clearly all the places where it is possible to miss one's way? Not all surveys are good enough for this.  As an example, I can never find my way into Browne's Passage in Stoke I from the survey. All places where this can happen should be noted.  One good trick for making a survey show places like this, is to include an enlargement of any tricky bit.  The actual enlargement can be drawn in down the cave and shown like this:

 

The next thing to decide from the existing survey is whether or not various parts of the cave get in each other's way too much - or whether the surveyor has gone to the other extreme and separated them so much that it is not easy to see what leads to what. For instance, I used to find it very difficult to see where the Dolphin Pot route in Eastwater came out on the plan of the lower series.  Where portions of the cave are detached to make the survey clearer, it should be shown clearly that this has been done.  The sketch below should make this point clear.

 

Having got the existing survey into a form so that the caver can see and understand the cave, it is now necessary to visit all parts of the cave and make notes of anything the caver might find useful.  Here is a list of some of them:-

What tackle is necessary and what, if any, provided?
What and where are the main obstacles?
How long might any given trip be expected to take?
How wet is the cave, or parts of it?
Are there any places worth photographing?
Are there any restrictions on lighting etc.?
Are any passages too small for average cavers?
Are there any special hazards (instability, ventilation, etc.)?
Is the cave, or parts of it, liable to flooding?
Are there any special techniques which have to be used?
Are some portions of the cave only accessible with diving equipment?

…and so on.  All this sort of information should now be added to the survey - using words or symbols.  If symbols are used, there must be a key to them but they should also be clear enough in meaning hardly to need that key.  There's not much point in giving a caver all this information in code! If in doubt, ask any fellow caver what he thinks a sign means - and if he gets it wrong, or at least doesn’t agree with it after you've told him - scrap it and try again.  In same cases, don't try at all.  It's just as easy to write MUD SUMP alongside a mud sump than it is to invent some symbol for one, which the caver has to learn.  Fixed and portable tackle is fairly easy.  Most people would realize what the diagram at the top of the next page meant….

 

If a lake, stream or canal is shown on a survey, it is of more interest to the caver to know how wet he is going to get than to be told it is 320 feet above sea level. Something of the sort shown below might well do in such a case…..

 

And so on.  One thing that could be of use to a caver is not so much how long a particular passage is (which he can get from the survey anyway) but how much time it will take to get along.  Time markers, representing 5 minutes of average caving time between them, could be the answer here.  The sign I have suggested is as drawn below, which is supposed to be a stylised drawing of an hour glass:-

 

…and is shown at appropriate intervals alongside every passage in the cave.  Thus, any proposed trip can be estimated by adding up all the time markers along the chosen route.

There are many more types of useful information which can be added in this way.  The result would be a survey which could be used by cavers fresh to the district to plan a trip in advance. They would know what tackle they needed and where it was all to be used.  They would know what sections of the cave could be visited normally, what bits needed diving equipment, what passages were too small for the larger members of the party, whether it was worth taking a camera down, and a lot of other useful information which is not available on the present type of survey. I am sure that a survey laid out on these lines would get used extensively, if it were done for a well visited cave like Swildons.  If anyone is interested in having a go, I am prepared to help as much, or as little, as required.

This article has gone on quite long enough, so I will not describe any other new sort of survey, except to say that there is also a need for a method of putting down useful information in a much smaller space than a normal survey takes up.  It is not easy to spread out a large sheet of paper in a wet, constricted underground place.  However, if there is any interest in this subject, and we get another month in which hardly anybody has sent in anything for the B.B., I might describe possible methods in a further article.

S.J. Collins.


 

Round and About

…A Monthly Miscellany, by ‘Wig’

  1. M.R.O. News.  New callout arrangements starting on SUNDAY, March 3rd 1974 for Mendip are the result of re-organisation within the Somerset police force.  The police have requested that all emergency calls must be routed through their regional control centre at Frome as from Sunday, 3rd March.  To comply with this, all calls for cave rescue must follow this procedure:-

DIAL 999 - Ask for POLICE - Request police for CAVE RESCUE.

As a result of the phone change, the M.R.O. notices will be changed and will also include the name of each cave and the location of the nearest telephone. The police will require the following information:-

1.         Name and address of caller.

2.         Number and situation of telephone.

3.         Nature of accident.

4.         Name of cave.

5.         Position in cave (if known)

6.         Number of people in party.

7.         Experience and condition of party.

The informant must then WAIT at the phone until contacted by an M.R.O. Warden, who will give him instructions.

The police will ring wardens in list order until one is located.  The police and the warden will then decide what action is necessary and further action will be at the discretion of the warden and police.

  1. M.R.O. Wardens.  The present list is:- Howard Kenny; Willie Stanton: Dave Irwin; Alan Thomas; Bob Craig; Roy Bennett; Oliver Lloyd; Phil Davies; Jim Hanwell; Tim Reynolds; Fred Davies; Brian Woodward; Pete Franklin; Brian Prewer; John Chapman; Frank Frost and Harry Stanbury.
  2. M.R.O. Annual Report.  There have been 15 rescues including alerts during the last year.  Four of the six have been as a result of falls, and 1973 might be described 'The Year of the Fracture'.  Two notable and ominous ‘firsts’ have occurred - the first abseiling accident in a Mendip cave and the first badly injured patient requiring rescuing through a sump.  These reflect the increase in abseiling and prussicking by relatively inexperienced cavers.  Whilst M.R.O. is strictly concerned with cave rescue matters, we feel obliged to urge more thought in using these new climbing aids and greater care regarding the composition of parties, especially on long trips.

Sunday, 15th April 1973.  Swildons Hole.

On returning from a trip beyond sump I with two friends, David Dryden fell about 15 feet on attempting to climb up the well in the Upper Series.  He broke the left tibia and fibula.  In a subsequent I thank you letter, Dryden writes…'the accident was cause mainly through exhaustion brought about by not eating a substantial meal beforehand.  I had eaten something that didn’t agree with me the day before and was feeling the after effects that day.  Perhaps I’ll know next time to abandon the trip if I'm not in A.1. condition.'

Tuesday, 24th April, 1973.  Swildons Hole.

A group of Bristol cavers were reported overdue.  They were not members of a club.  A search of the cave found the party unharmed at the bottom of Vicarage Pot.  They had abseiled down the pitch and pulled the rope down after them before realising their mistake.  This was an exact repeat of the callout of 2.11.69.  We hope that the message has now been learned.

Monday, 24th June, 1973. Stoke Lane Slocker.

A Wessex party going down the cave was passed by a Cotham party on its way out. The latter, on surfacing, found the stream was rising rapidly due to a thunderstorm.  The W.C.C. party were found making a rapid and safe exit before the stream rose to dangerous levels at the entrance.

Saturday, 30th June, 1973.  Goatchurch Cavern.

Yeaden, a member of a scout party, on his first caving trip, fell and dislocated his shoulder in the Water Chamber.  As the medic could not return the shoulder, his arm was strapped up and he was encouraged to get out under his own steam.

Saturday, 30th June, 1973.  Longwood Swallet.

Tress, one of an M.C.G. party returning from a trip to August Hole, fell off the 10' climb into the entrance passages.  He badly injured his jaw and right cheek.  He was given first aid and persuaded to move out, largely on his own. A sit harness was found to be very useful in helping him up the narrow entrance shaft.

Sunday, 15th July, 1973.  St. Swithin's Day Alert!

The meteorological office issued a general warning that up to 2 inches of rain could fall on Mendip during the after noon.  Wells police notified M.R.O.  Local cavers were notified.  In the event, the local fall was not as heavy as first feared.

Sunday, 22nd July, 1973.  Swildons Role.

A telephone call was received direct from Mike Collins, caving sec. of M.N.R.C. informing that a friend was stuck just beyond the little waterfall inside the entrance at the beginning of the Dry Ways.  Collins explains…'I was asked by a party coming from Swildons IV to show them the short way out so that they could get out before their lights faded.  This I did, but Doug Stevens, who is rather stocky, got stuck but was adequately protected and would not suffer from exposure. I left the cave to summon assistance on Priddy Green.  The chaps went back to the rear of him via the Old Grotto, and one directly to him so that he would not be alone too long.'  Stephens was quickly freed by members of the St. Albans C. C.

Saturday, 27th October.  Sidcot Swallet.

A party of five from Wolverhampton were in the cave when one of their carbide lamps came to pieces.  Fearing that they might be gassed, three of them fled to raise the alarm, supposing that their two companions might have been overcome. During the telephone conversation with M.R.O. the other two appeared.

THE SMALL QUANTITIES OF CARBIDE GAS ARE UNLIKELY TO BE HARMFUL IN ROOMY CAVES, THOUGH QUITE LOW CONCENTRATIONS ARE COMBUSTIBLE.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SEAL THE GAS IN, AS IT DETONATES ON COMPRESSION TO ABOUT TWO ATMOSPHERES.

Monday, 12th November, 1973.  Swildons Hole.

A Cerberus S.S. party went down the cave with the of abseiling down the old Forty on a double line.  The first two members descended safely.  However, when Graham Price began his abseil, the loop flicked off the belay and he fell about 30 feet with the loose rope.  Fortunately, he did not crash on those below but landed on his left hip, sustaining a multiple fractured of the pelvis and a not too serious internal rupture.

This potentially difficult rescue went well on the whole though communications were delayed because the public call box on Priddy Green was inoperative. It is believed that the fall occurred because the rope was dry and stiff and so 'stood up' off the belay when the abseiler briefly supported his own weight on the ledge below the lip of the pitch.

Saturday, 1st December, 1973.  Eastwater Cavern.

An anxious friend phoned the Wells police to report that his friends were overdue from a trip down the Twin Verts.  They were adequately equipped.  The party emerged from the cave just as rescuers were being rounded up.

Thursday, 10th January, 1974.  Sludge Pit.

Wells police phoned Jim Hanwell at 2.40 a.m. reporting that a worried wife from Bristol had phoned in regarding an overdue party that had gone down the cave the previous evening.  Whilst the police were checking the Eastwater Lane, a message was received from Bristol reporting the safe return of the cavers. They had been delayed by a puncture. Surely, it would have been better had those involved troubled to contact their homes to announce the delay and save needless worry and a rescue alert.

Saturday, 19th January, 1974.  Swildons Hole.

Sith, a Bath University student visiting Swildons II, fell at the 11 foot drop in the Old Approach Passage.  It was suspected that he had fractured an ankle, although he had broken both tibia and fibula.  This was the longest distance haul yet made on Mendip, and the first serious injury in Swildons II.  It is probably not without significance that Smith was the only member of the Bath party without a wet suit, as well as being the least experienced caver.  He had been caving five times previously, including one much shorter trip in Swildons.

Saturday, 19th January, 1974.  Swildons Hole.

Whilst engaged on the Swildons Rescue, it was reported that a party had not confirmed their return from a trip to Primrose Path.  Two cavers were detailed to reconnoitre the cave whilst the police tried to locate those involved at their homes.  The presence of a rope at the pot gave cause for alarm. A member of the party was found safe and sound in his bed at his home in Wells.  Why make needless work by leaving ropes underground or failing to remove outdated notices on blackboards?

Sunday, 20th January, 1974.  General Alert.

The worried father of P. Sprules contacted Frome police when his son failed to turn up after a days I caving at 2 a.m.  A check of the list of those helping underground in the Swildons rescue found him in a hauling team.

Sunday, 27th January, 1974. Eastwater Cavern.

A party from the Harrow Moles Club were reported about two and a half hours overdue during the evening.  No official callout was received, so it appears that they underestimated the duration of their trip.  This is proving to be a common occurrence with parties not familiar with the cave.

  1. Library Notes.  The latest publications received include:-

Gloucester S.S. News sheet Nov, Dec, Jan and Feb.
British Caver No 61.
D.B.S.S. Proceedings Vol.13,No 2.
Cerberus S.S. Newsletter No 34.
Bibliography on lava tube caves - Harter.
Supplement to above - Harter.
W.C.C. Journal No 151.
The Great Storms and Floods of July 1968 - W.C.C. Oce.
Pub. Series 1 number 2.
Belfry Bulletin. Volume 27 - two bound sets.
D.S.S. Journal No.114.
New Climbs 1968 - Ed. Rogers.  (Many thanks to 'Milch' Mills for this donation.)

  1. Those moaning letters.  Recently a letter appeared appealing for information happening 'on top of the hill' - I wonder why this writer did not offer the B. B. his article that appeared in the C.D.G. Newsletter on the interesting 'overland I route from Wookey 4 to Wookey 9.  I'm sure that this would have been far more interesting to club members than my silly notes!  Nuff said!


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 43.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

9

 

10

 

11

12

 

13

 

 

 

14

15

 

16

17

 

18

 

19

 

 

20

 

 

 

21

 

 

 

 

22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. All west for typical Mendip cave. (7)
6. You’ll…the day (Priddy Green Song). (3)
7. French stop in Cuthbert’s. (5)
8. Think on the right lines for this. (4)
11. and 14.  Describes abortive dig? (2,2)
16. These may hurt in a tight squeeze. (4)
21. Black hole? (5)
22. Green? (3)
23. Shorten this in G.B.. (7)

Down

1. Iron etc. causes this stal (5)
2. Form of nave underground. (4)
3. Part of Mendip cave name. (4)
4. Sump – otherwise part. (4)
5. Resting place underground? (3)
9. Forward direction in cave. (2)
10. Initially, for example. (1,1)
12. Alternative which sounds like 22 across. (2)
13. Mendip cave. (1,1)
15. Coloured rift in Cuthbert’s. (5)
17. Dear’s curtailed is a notion. (4)
18. Crystalline substance, commonly. (4)
19. Fastener on wet suit. (4)
20. Mendip Hole. (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

 

F

 

R

 

 

 

C

 

C

O

R

A

L

 

M

U

D

 

X

 

T

 

L

 

T

 

D

E

N

 

L

I

G

H

T

 

S

 

D

I

P

 

B

 

C

H

E

R

T

 

P

E

N

 

O

 

Y

 

B

 

R

 

A

L

L

 

F

O

R

T

Y

 

E

 

 

 

S

 

S

 


 

Club Committee

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           M. Bishop, D.J. Irwin, D. Stuckey, N. Jago, N. Taylor, A.R. Thomas, B. Wilton

Officers of the Club

Honorary Secretary        A.R THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269

Honorary Treasurer         B. WILTON, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary            D. STUCKEY, 34 Allington Road, Southville, Bristol 3.  Tele : BRISTOL 688621

Climbing Secretary         N. JAGO, 27 Quantock Road, Windmill Hill, Bristol 3

Hut Warden                   N. TAYLOR, Whiddons, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tele : WELLS 72338

Tacklemaster                 G. WILTON-JONES, 17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk

B.B. Editor                    S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol.

                                    Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Honorary Librarian          D.J IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells Som.  Tel : PRIDDY 369

Publications Editor         D.J IRWIN  As above

B.B. Postal                   B. WILTON  Address as above

 

QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editorial

In spite of any indications there may be to the contrary, the editor would like to wish all members a Happy and a Prosperous New Year.

Shortages

Luckily, the threat of petrol rationing seems to have receded, but other things are becoming either expensive or in short supply, and the thing which is likely to affect the B. B. is the position of paper, which is both!

A normal 24 page B.B. takes 3 reams (1,500 sheets) of paper to produce.  Not long ago, we were paying 60p per ream, but the paper we have had to buy in order to produce this one (and it is the wrong sort of paper as well) has cost us £1.35 per ream.  A move has already been made to economise by combining pages 1 and 2 of the normal layout, and the only other compromise is between wasting paper and giving members fair value for their subscriptions.  In the past 2 years, the size of the B.B. has been kept constant every month.  What we are suggesting now is that it might be more sensible to see what has come in each month and make the size of the B.B. correspond.  Thus, this B.B. might well turn out smaller, but future B.B.'s might not.

Incidentally, if any member can lay his or her hands on a cheap supply of A4 paper suitable for litho printing, we would be extremely grateful.

Ratification Time

As usual, at this time of the year, the committee have been ratifying the last quota of members and, equally as usual, have been asking themselves questions about the whole subject. On the one hand, nobody wants to refuse permanent membership without good reason but on the other hand, the committee feel that ratification should not be a 'rubber stamp' procedure.

One aspect which they have been considering this year is that of groups of cavers who apply to join the B.E.C.  The club is against formal affiliation because it is felt that this is liable to produce 'cliques' so (in theory at any rate) every prospective member joins as an individual.

Obviously, in a case where he has joined at the same time as several of his friends, he is going to carry on caving with them - and the dividing line between a small group acting and thinking as a separate entity and one acting and thinking as part of the B.E.C. can never be sharply drawn.  The committee, however, would like to think that members who already form such groups will make a real effort to integrate themselves fully into the club.

That Motto

Having thought, in 1972, of a way to combine the letters B.B. with the figures 72; it was with some relief that it was found possible to do this with the figures 73 as well. However, 74 has proved beyond the skill of the editor to combine with the letters B.B., and so we have a new heading. For those who might possibly be interested, the Latin motto has been produced by the usual method of leaving out all the unnecessary words.  The Romans did this because they objected to having to carve more words on a piece of hard stone than they really needed to.  The motto is, of course, "Whatever is worth doing, we will do it to excess" - a motto which has been that of the B.E.C. for some years now and which might well be appropriate this year in particular.  The full sentence (with the missing words in brackets) is Quodcumque (res) faciendum (est); nimis (illud) faciemus and the translation again with the missing words in brackets is; Whatever (thing is) fit to be done; we will do (that thing) to excess - which is about as close as the Romans could have got towards the B.E.C. motto!

“Alfie”


 

Gour Rift Dig

An account of this dig in Cuthbert’s by Dave Irwin.

During the summer of 1972, through to the spring of 1973, the Sunday Morning Digging Team attacked the end of the Gour Rift in an abortive attempt to excavate a continuation of the Gour Rift.

For years, the end of the rift looked a tempting site for an attack.  In the early days of the exploration of St. Cuthbert’s, the end had been investigated and the Bank Grill entered, but this tight ascending passage gradually closed down.  In 1957, the sump was passed by Balcombe and Coase only to discover the further sump that was destined to become Sump 1 - the original sump being then known as the Duck. In 1966, John Cornwell made the first attempt that seriously attracted cavers to the end of the Gour Rift, but after a short series of digging sessions, the site was abandoned.  At about the same time the Taylor brothers made an attempt at the still un-entered hole at the top of the aven above the Great Gour in an attempt to see if there was a high level passage over the top of the Gour Rift.

Then, in 1966, the Tuesday Evening Digging Team came into existence (Turner; Irwin; Craig; Woodward; Webster and several others) who bashed the Dining Room dig for nearly three years and excavated a passage over 150 feet long that has how been proved to be the upstream end of the Whitsun Series.  Then came the major breakthrough - almost by accident.  By chance, the terminal sump of St. Cuthbert’s was found to be empty of water in the autumn drought of 1969.  Secret digging sessions (up to five in a week!) were made by Bennett; Craig et. al. and were rewarded with the discovery of Cuthbert’s II.  A serious attempt to explore all the high level passages of two was made by Bennett et al. in the following few years, together with an attempt to pass Sump 2.  All prospects of continuing the cave in Two diminished.

During the same period as the Gour Rift Dig, then S.M.C.C. dug at a point just downstream of Sump 1 at a point where the water was known to soak away in dry weather.  They reached a depth of about fifteen feet before giving up.

At the same time, the S.M.D.T. attacked the end of Gour Rift.  The early digging sessions were limited to the left hand wall.  It was here that Cornwell had dug in under an overhang that gave the appearance of another passage running off the line of the rift by about fifteen degrees to the east.  The other point that was of interest was the extreme end of the rift, where the tops of two phreatic arches could be seen.  These had been modified by two chemical persuasion attempts a few years earlier (Irwin; Craig and Searle in 1968 and Turner and Bennett in 1970) in an attempt to see clearly up into the rift down which came the Bank Grill water.  However, it became clear that a serious digging attempt had to be made and so the dig became a bail-and-dig session.  The whole floor was lowered and of course, the lower the floor became, the larger the pool of water that had to be bailed the following week in order that digging could be resumed.  To prevent the water from flowing back through the Duck, a small concrete dam was constructed.  The construction of this dam eased the bailing operation considerably, as the pool now needed about an hour and a half to bail. As the fill began to be removed, large lumps of stal gouring were uncovered.  At first it was thought that these were the remains of a series of descending gours that continued on from the abrupt end of the series in the Gour Rift. However, this was not so and they were, in fact, isolated lumps which had been deposited in the infill.  At the end, the phreatic arches were dug into and it was found that they were merely the top of a four foot deep by foot wide phreatic hollow or pocket.  Undeterred, the diggers continued lower to a depth of about nine feet.  It was at this depth that the greatest blow occurred.  A rim of rock was uncovered which ran round the extreme end of the rift forming the top of a pothole.  This was probed with iron rods to a depth of between five and six feet by a series of probes that gradually increased the angle of attack so that an impression of the shape of the wall under the infill could be obtained. Hopes of any sign of undercutting of the wall soon faded when it was found that the walls were smooth and vertical. At this time, the digging sessions were becoming more of a bailing operation than a dig.  The bailing time went up to about two hours. and digging time was correspondingly reduced.

To assist the bailing, several ideas were submitted, but the most practical idea came from John Knops in the form of a water wheel.  However, in practice, difficulties arose in the form of binding bearings and other mechanical problems.  During this time, large quantities of wood were taken down the cave to shore up the right hand wall of infill to replace the galvanised sheeting that held back the wall until the diggers undercut it and the inevitable happened.  When the dig had been taken to its lowest point attention was transferred to the right hand side, under the breccia in which is formed the Bank Grill pothole.  The diggers dug in under the breccia, only to find that a floor existed that sloped downwards, but back towards the Duck.  Probing at the Duck itself revealed that the small arch which forms the Duck is, in fact, the top of a six foot wide arch, largely buried in the infill.

However, for all the problems, we have learned a little about the end of the rift that has attracted so much attention in the past before work on the Burrington Atlas and on other activities - not least the advent of winter combined to bring the dig to a grinding halt early in 1973.  Anyone wishing to continue where we left off is very welcome, but some form of pumping device is essential to probe further than the S.M.D.T. were able to do.  Perhaps after all the work that has been carried out at the end of St. Cuthbert’s, the real way on will be found at the bottom of the lake!

For the record, the regular diggers at the Gour Rift were Doug Stuckey; Dave Irwin; Dave Turner; Chris Williams; John Rees; John Knops and many others including tourist trippers.

( A sketch of the dig will be found on the next page.)


 

Caving Trips

The Caving Secretary asks ALL club members and guest leaders to WRITE UP their trips in the appropriate log. Apart from this being required by the club rules and making a valuable record, IT IS IN MEMBER’S OWN INTEREST to write up trips, since money spent on caving gear is related to the amount of use it is THOUGHT to get the wrong impression is given without write-ups.

Route Finding in Wild Country

Although many of the practices described in this article... by Bob Cross…will seem obvious to some cavers and fell walkers, it will act as a reminder that dangers from exposure can easily be minimised by good route finding techniques.

There are times when the craft I shall outline will be of great value to both potholers and mountaineers. From my own experience, I can remember when club members were lost or went adrift on the fells.  For example, about three years ago a party of B.E.C. cavers planned to descend the then relatively unknown Black Shiver Pot, which is on the western flanks of Ingleborough.  They did not find it on their first trip and I believe it's true to say that only after three separate attempts did they finally find the hole. On another occasion, again on Ingleborough, where Bar Pot was the venue, the crew surfaced after dusk on a cold and rather misty night.  They were wildly uncertain of the direction back to the car park at Clapham and were very relieved when they got down to Clapdale Farm.  On yet another occasion, a party of club bog-trotters took the wrong turning during mist on a ridge walk in the Brecon Beacons, leaving their intended route and upsetting their plans.  The consequences or these happenings were frustrating and inconvenient rather than disastrous but, if we stop to consider a party of cavers emerging cold and wet into freezing conditions and darkness from a remote hole like Langcliffe Pot in Wharfedale or Pant Mawr in the little Neath Valley; dropping into the wrong valley; getting split up and becoming completely lost, they would be in real danger from exposure.  It could happen on any winter weekend away from Mendip and, although it may sound a little far-fetched, it is a very real possibility.  In climbing or walking, the chances of getting lost are much greater if skill is not acquired.  Great distances and remote places are often involved through terrain completely devoid of obvious landmarks and where extremes of weather such as thunder; blizzard; mist and white-outs can be expected.  It is thus vital to make yourself a competent navigator, and this is just as vital as being a good leader.

Wherever you go in the hills, you need a good map, a watch and a compass.  The need for a watch is obvious, it helps you to keep to your schedule and, more important, you know when the light will fade and you can make adjustments to suit.  As far as maps are concerned, the most detailed are the six inch Ordnance Survey maps, but the one inch covers more ground in a sheet and the two and a half inch series probably represents the best compromise.  If you are on the hills and you get lost, then any ground feature that can be recognised on the map will be useful and enable you to get a compass bearing back to your intended route.  There are a variety of features which we can use.  Stream junctions cairns, prominent boulders, trig. pillars, fences, stone walls etc. should all enable you to pinpoint where you are.  If you periodically glance at your map and keep a note of your position then, should the mist come down, you will already know approximately where you are and be able to walk out on bearings accordingly.

If there are no prominent features, then you'll have to be a little more crafty.  It is possible, if you have a keen eye, to make use of the contour lines mid the vegetation symbols.  This is where the two and a half inch map scores over the one inch series. If you look closely, you will see information of all sorts - walls, footpaths, boundary stones, bench marks, depressions, bog, heather, scree etc. all of which are as accurately positioned as the 'harder' detail.

Sometimes, even if you cannot see things, you can obtain hints on their existence, e.g., the sound of running water, the sound of traffic, chain saws working in a forestry plantation.  I've even heard tell that if you hear a raven caw-caw you’re very likely near a crag.

Good co-ordination of eye and ear coupled with accurate compass work can get you out of nearly any fix. Compasses come in all shapes, prices and qualities.  The sort we want for moor land walking has a base protractor.  This is a Perspex rectangle fitted with an arrow etched into the plastic base that runs through the vertical axis of the compass needle. The SILVA range of compasses are this type.  They enable accurate bearings from one point to another to be taken from a map.  I will not go into their operation, as it is quite simple and will be explained in the instructions for use which come with almost any compass.  If you want to be really fastidious, then the silva RANGER is the one.  This has a sighting vane and, on the most expensive model, a clinometer.  A sighting vane can be useful on occasion, e.g. for determining an astral fix, but that is outside the realm of this article.  When you take bearings, add 80 west to allow for magnetic variation.  This matters little over short distances, but the effect of ignoring it will give an increasing error the further you go.  If for some reason, after walking for some distance on a bearing, you wish to retrace your steps, set your compass to a back or reverse bearing.  If the forward bearing is greater than 180, subtract 180 from it and if it is less than 180, add 180 to it.  When you're in mist or darkness and cannot see your target, you've got to set your compass to a bearing from the map and make sure that you walk in a straight line. To do this, send a man ahead until he just begins to disappear, stop him and get him to move right or left if necessary until he is dead in line with your bearing.  Now walk up to him and keep repeating the process.  If you are alone, then try to find some object in the line of the bearing - perhaps a boulder or a clump of grass and walk up to it.

If you are completely lost and are walking about in all directions looking for a landmark, it is important to know just how far you are walking.  Count your paces as you go.  The average pace is about one metre.  Down the side of the 2½ inch map are alternate black and white steps.  Each of these is 100 metres.

Note where the wind is striking you.  If it's in your back and it comes round into your face, you may be walking in a circle. However, if you have already taken precautions to avoid this, don't panic, as the wind often does strange things in the vicinity of crags and ridges.

In summing up, there are many ways of establishing your position and direction, and I hope that this article has been of some use, especially to those who have not had much experience of walking across the fells.  I should like to end it by recounting an experience that happened to me when I was walking in the north.  I took a pal in the Craven Pothole Club up a fell side in the Pennines known as Widdle Fell.  The purpose of the tramp was to examine a sink in the limestone that I had noted earlier in the year.  It was winter, and the snow lay think and the mist was down below 1,200 feet. The sink was easily found, being in the bed of a steep, fast-flowing stream, well marked on the map.

After inspecting the sink, we pushed on to the summit of Great Knoutberry Hill (2,203') just for the exercise.  We had no compass and no torch, only a one inch map.  Visibility was very poor and our only means of navigation was the map. We had about five hundred feet of very steep, rocky slope before we reached the summit plateau.  This proved tiring but we reached the top quite quickly. Here, our stream was shown as coming out of a tarn - indeed its name was Tarn Gill.  Crossing the stream's source was shown the North/West Riding county boundary, running in a south westerly direction straight to our goal and we hoped to find a feature that marked the boundary.  We soon found the tarn, and sure enough, crossing the stream was a broken down stone wall.  We followed this in a south westerly direction for some distance to its end, but we were not yet on our summit.  Closer inspection of the ground revealed a line of spaced hardwood posts - the boundary posts!  These were followed straight to the trig. pillar on the summit.  Here, we rested a while - reflecting on our faultless navigation - when suddenly a voice spoke.  “Na then, lads, bit chilly, ain't it?” and we turned in disbelief to see a shepherd, dressed in cloth cap, baggy cords and clogs and draped in an old stinking sack.  At his feet ran a scraggy border collie.  “Hast tha seen any sheep behind't walls?" said he.

Notice

Owing to pressure of work, Nigel Jago is no longer able to continue as Climbing Secretary and the Committee are therefore appealing for volunteers for consideration as climbing Secretary.

Another Notice

Owing to the attempt to save paper by combining the first two pages of each B.B. from now on, there is not normally any space for the usual reminder that the opinions given in the B.B. are not necessarily those of the club.  An attempt will be made to put a reminder in the B.B. to this effect from time to time where other space permits.

SUBS for 1974 are now due!

Yes, we know that nothing will happen to any member until the end of April.  We know that some members reckon that the next A.G.M. is the proper time to pay.  We know that this is a tradition not to bother too much about when you pay – BUT if you don’t pay now, how do we know that you will – or might – later on?  The committee has to budget now and if it doesn’t know how much is going to come in, how can it decided how much it can spend? Point taken?

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

Members are advised NOT TO LEND OUT THEIR BELFRY KEYS.  There have been instances of non-members borrowing keys; taking out club tackle and NOT RETURNING IT.  If YOU want YOUR tackle kept safety – please help.


 

Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany  by Wig.

  1. Wednesday evening diggers.  Digging at Hunters Hole has been switched to Manor Farm.  Anyone interested should first phone Roy Bennett for times etc.  Tel No Bristol 627813.
  2. Chelms Coombe Quarry.  Rumour has it that Nigel Taylor is involved in another cave discovery near box cave – further details next month.
  3. August/Longwood.  In November, the P.C.G. pushed the end of Reynolds Passage.  The end of this passage is fairly vague, as it depends on your size - and the more of a midget you are the better.  About 15 years or so ago Tony Knibbs of M.C.G. pushed well beyond the limits of the passage as shown on the Rennie survey, to the head of a twenty foot rift shaft.  At this time, some bang wire was seen hanging down the pitch.  At about mid 1973, Fred Davies ended at the same point.  In November 1973, Brian Lewarne of the P.C.G. pushed to this pitch and oozed himself through the squeeze at its top to reach the bottom where a stream entered.  From the bottom, he pushed on again for a short distance to reach the head of yet another shaft into which, at some point down it, the main Longwood stream was seen to be entering.  The depth of this shaft was estimated to be about 50 feet, but the head was blocked by a boulder.  Due to the very constricted nature, it would seem that bang will have to be used.
  4. Porth-yr-Ogof.  During mid 1973, a boy soldier lost his life in Porth-yr-Ogof and at the request of the coroner, the police and various interested bodies met on September 30th, 1973.  The results of this meeting were published by Frank Baguley in the C.C.C. news sheet, No 3 for 1973, as follows…..”The whole subject was dealt with in great detail, from the precipitating cause of the accidents; the cave itself, the conduct of the party and the preventative points of view.  It was agreed that the police issue a statement giving the recommendations of the meeting (to be vetted by Oliver Lloyd) which would be circulated to all L.E.A.'s; armed forces; caving organisations; Youth organisations, etc.  The caving organisations themselves were already dealing with the matter, and would be making their own detailed recommendations in due course after consultations.  The main points of the Brecon meeting are:-

1.                    It is impracticable to close the cave.

2.                    The Forestry will put up further detailed notices.

3.                    Prevention and education are the main themes.

Should another rescue (recovery) be required there, then there will be a one way traffic system involved.

It is still not possible to state why the cave resurgence pool is so dangerous, as it does not appear to be so, but with a history of five deaths, one cannot ignore the warnings.  It is up to everyone - organisations and individual cavers alike - to help in preventing further loss of life in this or any other cave.  Nobody can legislate for the actions of the foolhardy.”

  1. Coolites again.  I've not actually used one, but for 44p it seems a good buy.  Possibly a better buy ('cause it's British - the Coolite is a Yankee product) is what is called the Chemi-lite.  This method comes as a small flat pack about 3" x it" x 1/32 thick.  To use it, all one does is to tear off the top strip - and cor blimey, it's alight:  This light lasts for about an hour, but does have the advantage that it can be stuffed into the crown of the helmet or, better still, stitched into the inside of a wetsuit and ripped off when required.  This item is being marketed by Rock Products, 30 Drake Rd, Wells, Somerset at about 50p - wait for the ad. in Descent.  Early trials in Swildons have proved its usefulness.  A party came out from sump 1 on this light and stayed talking to another party at the bottom of the Forty.  The light was on its last legs when they reached the entrance.  More details later, together with the answers to questions such as; Are they completely safe? Are they toxic? Are the burnt-out remains dangerous to animals? etc.
  2. Manor Farm.  The survey of the main passage is now complete (see number 16).
  3. Limestone and Caves of North West England.  A copy of this book has been received by the writer, who has not yet had time to read it from cover to cover.  However, a scan through selected chapters enables him to present this tentative review.  This will be followed by a full review in the February 'Round and About'.

The first ten chapters deal with the area as a whole, from geology; geomorphology of the caves; hydrology; biospelaeology and archaeology.  The attempt has been made to summarise the present state of the art since the publication of 'British Caving' in the 1950's. The remaining chapters take each caving area in turn, with surface topography; local geology, development of the caves and a general summary.  The larger chapters are, as one might expect, those dealing with the caves of Leck Fell, Casterton Fell, Kingsdale and Gaping Gill.  Fascinating reading is the general summing up of this book and having only read a limited number of chapters; it has already clarified the picture of those areas for me.  The immediate disappointment soon disappeared, but I had hoped that it would have used Tratman's 'Caves of Clare' as a model - but when one considers the size of the subject, then I'm only full of admiration and congratulate the many authors and the editor.  See No 9 Nov. 1973 for details.

  1. Library Additions (Yes, 27, due entirely to an editorial clang - Ed.)

Easier Climbs in the Avon Gorge, Bristol. G.Mason, 1964.
South East England, E.C. Pyatt(Climbing Guide,1963)
B.E.C. Caving Log 1973 (9.1.73 - 14.10.73)
R.N. Mountaineering Club Bulletin Nos 148, 150, 153, 156, 159.
Mountain Craft Nos 73 and 79
The Climber       Vol.5 Nos 1, 2, 3, 6, 7.
            Vol.6 Nos 7, 8, 9.
            Vol.9 Nos 4, 5, 6.
Severn Valley Caving Club Newsletter:
            Vol 3 Nos 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
            Volume 4 complete.
            Vol.5 Nos 1 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
            Vol 6 Feb, June, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov.
            Vol.7 Jan, Feb, May, Jun, July/Aug, Sept/Oct.
            Vol 8 1, 2, 3, Jul, Aug/Sep, Oct/Nov.
            Vol.9. Dec/Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Sept.
            Vol10.Dec/Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Sep.
            Volume 11. Complete
            Vol. 12  No 1.
Plymouth Caving Group Newsletter No 53.
Mendip Caving Group News No 103.
EGONS Journal Nos 15, 16, 17.
Bristol Poly Caving Club Newsletter Vol.2 No 1.
A copy of Tony Waltham's book has been ordered for the library.  See No 9 Nov. 1973 for details.
National Speleo Soc. (U.S.A.) have agreed to exchange and have sent:-
N.S.S. News     Vol 30 Nos 6-12
            Vol 31 Nos 1 -1 0
SWETCCC Spelio Vol 12 No 1 with supplement.
Occasional Publication No 3 - Norway.

Our many thanks to Milch of the S.M.C.C. and to Keith (Sailor) Glossop for climbing publications and S.V.C.C. newsletters.

Anyone turning out their cupboards are welcome to throw any climbing or caving publications towards the club library. All will be gratefully received.


 

The Catacombs of Paris  

The article by Colin Sage as promised in the last B.B.  (The editor does occasional manage to find articles!)

Whilst I was in Paris in August, I decided to visit the catacombs. These are reached by taking the metro to Place Denfert Rochereau and walking around the corner from the metro station.  The catacombs are available for inspection every Saturday at 2 p.m. throughout the summer and every other Saturday during the rest of the year.

After paying two francs admission, one has the chance of purchasing a candle for 60 centimes - and if you don't have a torch, buy one, there are no lights at all in the catacombs!

The catacombs are reached by descending a spiral staircase consisting of 91 steps and going down sixty feet.  This leads to a brick corridor underneath the South side of the Denfert Rocherou square. This corridor, and also those that follow on from it all lead to the ossuary.  The good condition of the roofing of these passages is necessary for the support of the buildings, public roads and subterranean works (especially the metro!)  By way of these passages, visitors find themselves under the Avenue Rene Coty, which is then followed in a Southerly direction the walls of the passages involved hold up the ancient aqueduct of Arcueil.

Further on, one descends by a slightly sloping tunnel into an area called 'l'etage inferieur'.  One then notices an impressive reproduction sculptured in the rock, of the fortress of Port Mahon - the principal town in Minorca.  This work was carried out by an old veteran in the army of Louis XV during his periods of leave.

A little later on, we pass by the side of a well, cut into the rock, the water of which is extremely limpid.  It is called 'Bain de Pied des Carriers'.

A reasonably steep slope leads back to 'l'etage superieur' and we arrive at the door of the ossuary. At the entrance one can read these lines from DeLille engraved in the rock; ‘Stop. Here is the empire of the dead’.

Once the doorway has been passed, we go down a lot of passages bordered on either side by millions of bones carefully stacked, all coming from the ancient disused cemeteries of Paris. There are regular horizontal lines of skulls, interrupted by those displayed in the shapes of the cross and other decorative motifs of a macabre quality.  The origin of the bones is pinpointed by plaques.  After wandering through different crypts, one comes across a sarcophagus, a stone altar, a spring called simply 'the fountain, of the Samaritan' and various inscriptions pondering philosophically over death and the fragility of human existence.

The ossuary collects together the bones of 5 or 6 million people.

On leaving the ossuary, an inspection passage is passed through, and one sees two immense domes which are natural and about thirty five feet high.  They are empty, but allow one to think of the danger represented by such features to overlying buildings and roads.  The exit staircase which leads to daylight on 36 Rue Remy-Dumoncel has 83 steps and is about fifty five feet in depth.

The origin of the catacombs in Paris does not go back, as do those of Rome, to the early Christian era., but only; to the end of the eighteenth century.  For nearly ten centuries there existed in the first section of Paris, a cemetery called 'Des Innocents' at a square which bore the same name.  This cemetery, which received the remains of many generations from some 20 parishes in the area, became one of the largest centres of infection and threatened public health.  Between 1725 and 1755, the inhabitants of the neighbouring areas brought violent complaints which, for a long time, were fruitless.  Finally, in 1780, most of the inhabitants - terrified by the accidents which occurred in the cellars of the Rue de la Lingerie, set up a committee towards the end of 1779, which became over 2,000 strong and petitioned the Lieutenant General Police by demonstrating the dangers to public healthy and safety represented by this 'centre of corruption', in which the number of bodies disposed had caused the ground level to become eight feet above the level of surrounding ground and roads.

The evacuation of the cemetery was finally decided upon in 1785, and to dispose of the bones, the ancient subterranean stone passages called 'La Tombe Issoire' were chosen. After having made these underground areas fit to receive the mortal remains and carried out the preliminary works, the catacombs of the Tombe Issoire were consecrated on the 7th of April 1786 and proclaimed the general ossuary of the cemeteries of Paris.  That same day, the transfer of bones was begun from the Cemetery des Innocents to the catacombs.

After the destruction of the church of Les Innocents, all the tombs, inscriptions and crosses which were not claimed by the families involved were also transferred to the Tombe Issoire.

The success of the operations prompted the administration to extend them to other cemeteries in Paris and, from 1787 to 1814, a number of Parisian cemeteries were closed and the bones sent to the ossuary, there to be arranged systematically according to their cemetery.

Many burials of victims of the revolution (1788 to 1792) were also made in the ossuary.  Since then, all human remains found in Parisian soil have been placed in the catacombs.


 

The Cyalume

Some further news on chemical lighting.

The Dorset Caving Group, after reading last month's description of the Coolite, kindly sent the editor of the B.B. one of their chemical lights for test and comment.  or which I should like to express our thanks in the B. B. (and also when I write to them more fully).

This light is made by the Cyanamid Corporation of U.S.A. under the trade name of CYALUME.  In spite of the fact that the one I was sent was labelled 'use before Jan '74' it performed extremely well.  For the first four hours, it gave a good light, of the sort that no real caver could possibly complain about in an emergency.  How many  light hours after ignition? it was still enough to grope out of a cave with, and it would have been possible (in a dim enough light) to have recognised it if used as a marker some 48 hours after starting.

Like Dave Irwin, I too am chasing up the answer to the questions involving toxicity etc., and I hope that an article will appear in a later B, B. this year, from one or other of the sources we now have in hand.  One theory which I have heard is that these devices are in actual fact artificial glow-worms, since it is suggested that they use the same method of illumination, which in the case of the glow-worm is known to involve the mixing of two chemicals (originally dubbed Luciferin and luciferase)

The Cyalume is, like the Coolite, a plastic tube which, on being bent, breaks a glass ampoule which float a in liquid 'A' and contains liquid 'B'.  The answer to using them would appear to be best met by two terry clips fixed to the helmet, between which the light can be clipped when in use. This modification to a helmet is cheap and simple to do.  It might just pay to keep the tube inside a piece of copper pipe with two corks to ensure that a nasty thrutch in a cave does not set it off - but this is a refinement.

As a preliminary finding, it would seem not too expensive to keep one of these as an emergency light, but until we know more about them, please be careful about disposal.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 42.

 

1

 

2

 

 

 

3

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

4. Cuthbert’s series you might expect to find under water. (5)
5. Cuthbert’s Hall. (3)
7. Part of the name of a Burrington cave. (3)
8. Not heavy but essential. (35
9. This clue should strike a caver. (3)
10. Type of rock. (5)
11. Mendip hill. (3)
13. The lot found in mud hall. (3)
14. Was in Swildons. (3)

Down

1. O flex shoe on Mendip (4,4)
2. Hilliers hall makes Cuthbert’s run (3)
3. B.C. Shutter on Mendip. (9)
6. Edge of a pot. (3)
8. 8 across is when in a cave. (3)
9. Swildons Ways. (3)
12. Mendip Swallet. (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

P

O

T

 

B

E

C

 

O

 

R

O

P

E

 

O

L

D

W

E

 

R

 

S

 

A

D

E

 

S

I

D

C

O

T

 

T

A

 

D

 

A

 

E

G

 

B

U

D

D

L

E

 

A

M

E

 

Y

 

E

 

U

P

A

D

D

 

S

S

S

S

 

P

 

O

N

E

 

T

E

N

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126


 

Club Committee

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      To be appointed

Members           M. Bishop, D.J. Irwin, D. Stuckey,                       N. Jago, N. Taylor, A.R. Thomas, B. Wilton, G. Wilton-Jones

Officers of the Club

Honorary Secretary        A.R THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269

Honorary Treasurer         B. WILTON, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary            D. STUCKEY, 34 Allington Road, Southville, Bristol 3.  Tele : BRISTOL 688621

Climbing Secretary         N. JAGO, 27 Quantock Road, Windmill Hill, Bristol 3

Hut Warden                   N. TAYLOR, Whiddons, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tele : WELLS 72338

Tacklemaster                 G. WILTON-JONES, 17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk

B.B. Editor                    S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol.

                                    Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Honorary Librarian          D.J IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells Som.  Tel : PRIDDY 369

Publications Editor         D.J IRWIN  As above

B.B. Postal                   B. WILTON  Address as above

 

QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editorial

Reprinting

Caving clubs - and the B.E.C. in particular - always seem to go through phases in which news is scarce. Now that we have the paper supplies ensured, we feel justified in filling the present gap in articles by reprinting - and we hope that the material chosen will bring back memories to some and a glimpse of history to others.  In spite of this we would still prefer to fill the B.B. with news of resent club activities.

That 14 Percent

14% is, according to the paper we read, the amount at which inflation is expected to go this year. The B.B. is, of course, arranging to provide itself with greater than usual stocks of everything by spending no more than the normal annual amount, so that the worst effects of this sort of inflation can be kept at bay, and members provided with more than their current money's worth.

Assuming that individual purchasing power remains constant, then the fact that inflation at this rate will mean that the 1984 annual sub will have risen to £9.26 is of little consequence - since our salaries will have hopefully risen at the same rate. What will have to be faced is the position of our life members.

The calculations behind the value of life membership did not, of course, take inflation into account, as this was very low at the time life membership was introduced.  At a rate of 14%, the 20 year average period before a life member becomes a liability is down to 9 years.  It looks as if, sooner or later, the committee will have to find a way to prevent life members from becoming a drain on club resources without breaking faith with them.

Comparisons

Comparisons, they say are odious - and maybe so.  However talking to the secretary of the Other Club one evening at the Hunters elicited the fact that, when we both raised our subs to £2.50, the B.E.C. lost proportionately about six times as many members as they did.  One wonders why and whether it matters.  For instance, why is it that members of the Other Club stay on in greater numbers once their most active days are over but continue to give their club financial and moral support?  Have this club something to offer its older members which we have not?  Or do they just attract a different sort of member?

It may not, of course, matter.  At the last dinner of the club in question, their guest of honour made the point that there were far too many of the same old faces about.  I suspect that, as in most things, what you want is the right proportion and I wonder how we stand in this respect.  Would anybody like to make any comment on this subject?

“Alfie”


 

A New O.S. Map

A review of the new O.S. 1:50,000 scale series

by Chris Howell.

The introduction of a new series of O.S. maps is always an event of note - particularly in the case of the "half inch" and "one inch" scales so beloved by the informed country goer.  The introduction of a map on an entirely new scale is doubly interesting, and must be an event without precedent for the majority of our readers.

Some years ago, the O.S. indicated its intention to metricate all its maps and plans, and discussions followed as to the form that the new series was to take.  The "Two and a half inch" maps were already, in fact, drawn to an actual scale of 1:25,000 and presented no problems. The Six inch maps (1:10,560) clearly had to become 1:10,000 and the 25 inch maps (1:2,534.4) similarly could become 1;2,500.  The problem series was the One Inch - where the scale fell between the convenient figures of 1:50,000 and 1:100,000.

It must have been with some relief that the majority of users of these maps learned some twelve months ago that the new maps were to be at the larger scales (or nearly 1¼ inches to the mile).  The results of the O.S. labours, or at least half of the results, are now with us in the form of the new 1:50,000 First and Second Series maps published in 103 sheets for the area south of a line from approximately Lancaster to Bridlington.  The remaining 101 sheets will be published in 1876.

Although the change in linear scale may seem insignificant, the effect is starling, with an increase in the region of 62%.  (If you don’t believe it, work it out for yourself!)  Not surprisingly, one’s immediate impression on viewing the new sheets is one of clarity and an increased sense of space.

Perhaps it should be explained at this point that the new First Series maps are straightforward photographic enlargements of the old One Inch sheets, although based on new sheet lines which do not, in the majority of cases, coincide with the previous ones. To quote the O.S. blurb on the inside cover of the new maps; 'By using a special technique it has been possible to avoid much of the effect of enlargement on the thickness of the lines' - a justified claim, since the increase in line thickness is only obvious by direct comparison between the old and new maps.

Other new features are a change in format, with removal of symbols and explanatory notes from the bottom to the right hand side of the sheet, and a change in cover and sheet measurements from 127 x 215 mm (5" x 8.47") and 705 x 838 mm (27.8" x 33”) to 134 x 227 mm (5.28" x 8.94") and 1000 x 980 mm (39.4" x 38.58”) respectively.  The grid lines are now marked in blue instead of black and the contour lines in orange instead of brown.

With what logic the writer can only guess, the new contour lines remain at 50 foot intervals, with markings to the nearest metre!  (This is presumably because, being a photographic copy, the contour lines at 50’ intervals have had to be retained; but since the map is supposed to be metric; they have now been marked off in metres - Ed.)  This results in such ludicrous markings along the contours, as 15, 46, 61, 76,107, 122, 137 etc.  Fortunately this seems to be about the only serious criticism that can be levelled against the new maps.

Perhaps one of the obvious changes is in the colour coding of classified roads.  Motorways become blue (previously red) and B roads orange (previously brown).  If, like - the writer, you happen to be red/green colour blind, I think you will find these changes very much to your liking.

New symbols are introduced for built-up areas, orchards and woods.  Housing becomes an orange stipple (previously black stipple) orchards become a green stipple (previously black tree symbols) and woods become solid green (previously black symbols on green).  At least the built-up areas look less depressing now!

The old 1" sheet 165 has now become sheet 182 (albeit with 5 kilometres taken from its Northern border) and a comparison between the old and new reveals some welcome corrections of the courses of tracks and footpaths.  One notable omission appears to be the Belfry - although the Sheep Ton is marked!  Spot heights are now shown in metres with Blackdown bearing a paltry figure '312'. New 'Danger Area' legends adorn the area round Haydon Grange.

The attentive reader will have noted a reference to a Second Series of these sheets, of which so far only three appear to have been published - namely 115 (Caernarvon and Bangor, covering the main walking and climbing area of North Wales) and 176 and 177 (West and East London).  Eventually all the First Series will be redrawn to this standard as each sheet is fully revised.

The Second Series will carry information at present only found on the special 1 inch tourist series, such as view points, camp, caravan and picnic sites, parking sites and toilets. The complete redrawing of the map at the larger scale has provided greatly increased clarity and accuracy of contouring in areas of prominent relief - such as the South Eastern slope of Crib-y-ddysgl which was previously left as a large white hole on the map. On the other hand, the Idwal Slabs are still shown as virtually unbroken hillside!

To anyone who has seen these new sheets, any summing up of mine will be superfluous.  The new maps are a magnificent improvement on the old - so if you haven't yet bought yours, then DO SO.  There is only one snag.  They cost 65p per sheet.  Best say it quickly - it doesn't sound so much then!

Important Notice!

There have been further instances of unauthorised use of the belfry and club tackle to safeguard your property:-

Do not leave any valuable gear at the belfry

Do not lend your belfry key to anybody and please let nigel taylor know if you have invited any guests – or if you know of any strangers staying at or using the belfry

Help to preserve your club property


 

Stoke Lane 1947

These articles on the (then) new discovery of Stoke Lane Slocker appeared in B.B. No 5 for July 1947. They were in fact, the third and fourth articles to appear in the B.B

Discovery of Browne’s Passage – by P.M. Browne.

An exploration party from Bruton, led by myself, made an important cave discovery in Stoke Lane Swallet, one of the least know caverns on Mendip.  The members of the party were P.M. BROWNE, D. SAGE AND T.H. UMEACH. During the three hours of our exploration we had the luck to be the discoverers of a new and very interesting series of low tunnels and encrusted grottoes, totalling about 250 feet in length. This new system, now known as Brown’s Passage, doubles back upon the known cave and thereby introduces several very interesting hydrology problems, which I trust will be solved in the near future.

Immediately after the discovery I arranged an expedition with the Club for the following Saturday. Accordingly the second party to enter the extension, consisting of D.A. COASE, R.A. SETTERINGTON and I, arrived at the little village of Stoke Lane at about 3.00pm on June 7th.

During the preceding four days a considerable amount of rain had fallen on the surrounding land and so, on arriving at the cave mouth, we found the volume of water entering it to be far greater than it had been on the previous trip.  In normal weather the entrance of the swallet is dry, or nearly so, but that day the water was thundering over the boulders and pouring into the narrow opening, and on into the darkness beyond.  All being in readiness for the adventure I abandoned all thoughts of personal comfort for the following four hours and crawled into the uninviting gateway, to the strange world under the hills.  Within a few seconds I was forming an admirable substitute for a leaky drain-pipe, with icy water pouring up the legs of my boiler suit and emerging by means of vents and other outlets somewhere above the knees.

A sudden step enabled us to stand in a narrow keyhole shaped passage, in which the stream foamed and boiled around our feet.  Suddenly the passage widened and lowered forcing us to crawl along an arch shaped tunnel of a type very characteristic of this cavern.  On the floor the stream flowed through a series of muddy, leech infested pools.  At about 30ft. from the entrance the roof rose slightly and we found ourselves on the brink of a large swiftly flowing stream, the main stream of the cavern, coming in from our right.  Crawling in the water beneath a low arch we entered a long, narrow rift at the end of which was the first chamber.  The murmuring river flowed through the chamber and vanished under a huge boulder at the far end.  Looking back along the rift by which we entered this place we saw the lights from the rear of the party beautifully reflected from the surface of the rushing water.

Now began the discomforts of the journey.  Climbing over huge blocks of limestone we left the stream and struggled upward through a small and very muddy aperture to a steeply inclined bank of wet, glutinous mud. Below us, on the left, the stream again appeared from under a low arch.  From here we had as it were the choice of two evils.  One method was by following the water, the level which was just above one’s neck; and the other by what is known as the Muddy ox-bow.  I enquired whether it was to be mud or water and the unanimous reply was mud please.  At the top of the slope we literally slid through the door shaped opening which gave access to a small muddy grotto preceding one of the most uncomfortable portions of the whole cave.  Those who have been through the Devil’s Elbow in G. B. Cave will be able to visualise a similar tunnel, entered through choice of two holes bored through a mass of solid mud, the floor covered by a pool of stagnant water.  Dropping into the glue like mixture of mud and water I began to move forward, using my forearms as skids and my feet as barge poles.  A sharp bend brought us to a long, narrow, and comparatively dry tunnel, at the far end of which I crossed the stream, which once again came rushing past from a large passage on my left, and turned to watch my companions wallowing through the mud-lined tunnel.

A short tunnel led us to a second chamber, the floor of which was strewn with large cubical boulders. Creeping through a low arch in the opposite wall, we began one of the most painful crawls I have ever undertaken. The floor was covered by a thick bed of sharp pebbles, over which we crawled beneath a seemingly endless series of very low creeps.  At length we came to a fork on the passage.  On the left an ascending tunnel led through the ‘Grill Chamber’ to ‘Pat’s Coffin’, and on our right a roundish passage, followed by another short and painful crawl, bought us again to the main steam.  From this point we followed the rushing water for about 50 feet along a high passage, in which we noticed some exceedingly fine formations, until it again became necessary to make use of another ox-bow, the walls of this one, together with the floor and roof, being coated with crystalline formations.

In a few more yards the main stream vanished into the wall for the last time (Until the opening of Stoke Lane II).  On the left we followed a small stream, which soon vanished through a narrow fissure in the right wall, along a low tunnel at the end of which a short vertical squeeze, followed by a long sandy tunnel, brought us to a high narrow chamber, the floor of which was heaped with a pile of massive rocks cemented together with mud and stalagmite deposit.  Straight ahead, a large tunnel stretched away into the gloom, and from it a small stream usually flows, to disappear on reaching the edge of the boulder pile. Some weeks ago this chamber was the scene of the new discovery now known as ‘Browne’s Passage’.

Climbing over the pile of boulders to the far end of the chamber, we dropped one by one through a narrow, irregularly shaped hole in the floor.  Twenty feet of awkward crawling brought us to a small chamber with a pile of very unstable boulders, behind which a low tunnel led us to a high sloping grotto with excellent formations.  Following a low water-worn tunnel, from the roof of which hung a cluster of well formed straw stalactites, we suddenly found ourselves on the brink of a black and mysterious ‘lake’, covering the floor of a low, wide chamber measuring some 15 feet across.  From here we crept along a narrow, arch-shaped tunnel for a considerable distance until we were suddenly faced with the ‘Nutmeg Grater’, a very nasty squeeze. On the return journey we found a by-pass to this section of the tunnel, but this unfortunately this offered us no greater degree of comfort than the ‘Nutmeg Grater’ itself.

A fine series of round, water-worn arches led us to another long and sometimes low tunnel, at the end of which we crawled out into a chamber called’ Cairn Grotto’. (The limit of the first exploration).  The grotto was about 25 feet in height, and two possible exits could be seen leading from it.  One was an ascending mud tunnel giving access to a sloping mud grotto.  The other was a narrow rift, in which the water was about three feet deep.  Entering the latter of these two extremely uninviting passages, I dropped into the icy water, beyond a low arch called’ Disappointment Duck’, under which I was forced to submerge to my neck, the tunnel suddenly turned to the left and I found myself in a small chamber in which the water was about five feet deep. A short distance beyond this the walls closed in and the roof dipped below the surface of a dark and horrible pool. Spluttering and cursing, I made my way back to my two companions in ‘Cairn Grotto’.

On the return journey we explored the remaining section of the known cave, an ascending series of tunnels terminating in a small, low chamber.

Somewhere in the vicinity of the ‘Nutmeg Grater’ one of the party was found to be crawling up the narrow passage with what remained of his trousers hanging round his ankles!

After the journey back to the open air, which took us over an hour, we took great delight lying in a nearby waterfall, after which we changed into warm dry clothing once more.

On Sunday June 22nd, the sump at the end of ‘Brown’s Passage’ was dived by D.A. Coase, T.H. Stanbury & F.G. Balcombe.  Beyond it was found over 400ft. of cave.  On June 28th and 29th,. D.A. Coase and other members of the B.E.C. again dived through, and beyond was discovered one of the largest and most beautiful caverns in the West of England.

Beyond the Cairn Chamber - by D.H. Hasell

First of all I must apologise for this article which must, of necessity be very sketchy.  I have seen the large chambers, but as I did not intend to write this myself I kept no record of my impressions and I have left the Pukka article by D.A. Coase in Cornwall.

You will remember Pat Brown’s description of the 3ft. puddle, which is the dreaded ‘Trap’. This is plunged rather more easily than, its appearance would indicate, and beyond one enters a tunnel about 5ft. wide and high, with water about 2ft.deep. Down the stream we paddle until we reach the Boulder Ruckle; which is the floor of the first large chamber.  From here the cave opens out into a total of 9 large chambers, some of then very beautiful.

In one of those chambers is a high scree slope which is littered with bones, some human, some anima1. Some of these bones have been tentatively identified by an eminent archaeologist.  There is evidence of Ox, Sheep or Goat, and Deer, (Probably Red Deer). The human bones present are from at least two skeletons, one of an adolescent and one adult.

Leading off this chamber is the ‘Throne Room’.  This is the most beautiful Grotto I have ever seen.  It is lined with formations of all colours and dominated by two large stalagmites, one "The King formation which is joined to the roof and the other, ‘The Queen’, which is astonishingly like the statue of Queen Victoria on College Green.  Part of this chamber is a beautiful smaller Grotto, now called "Princess Elizabeth’s Grotto’, which has a stalagmite floor studded with clear pools filled with ‘Coral’ formation which form a delightful contrast to the noisome water of the stream in which we have wallowed to reach this beauty. In another chamber, connected by high and low level passages to the ‘Bone Chamber’, is an amazing curtain formation whose edge unlike the more normal curtain, is a cylindrical "carved' pillar more than 20ft. high.

Until the end of July this termination of the new series was a trap, but early in August, Pat Browne, exploring off ‘Princess Elizabeth’s Grotto’ discovered a rift which, he thought bypassed this obstacle.  This was confirmed on Aug. 10th, when a small party took a ladder in and carried the exploration a little further.  They have almost reached the river again, but they are stopped by another small vertical.

This very short account will give members some idea of the extent of the new system.  Exploration is going forward, and we will be starting on the work of removing the bones as soon as we have found another entrance (or exit).

And finally, in the same issue of the B.B. (Number 5) a comment on the discovery from the Bristol Evening Post.  In the manner of 'Punch' it is necessary to explain that the five day week in industry had just come in at the time.

Exploring bravely underground,
Some members of a Club have found
By squirm an wriggle, squeeze and crawl,
The finest Mendip Caves of all,
And chief among the wondrous sights,
Are stalagmites and stalactites.
Which lackadaisically grow
An inch each thousand year's or so,
While now of all the blooming cheek,
They're working on a five day week.

Turning to Volume 2 of the B.B., we have chosen two items for inclusion in this reprint.  The first is another cave discovery - this time considerably smaller - of Withybrook Swallet - again by Pat Browne, this time in September 1947 which will be found on the next page.


 

Belfry Working Weekend

10th – 11th –12th May

WORKERS ONLY – FREE WEEKEND!

Belfry closed except for workers and those attending Don Coase memorial lecture.

Withybrook 1947

An Account of the Discovery of Withybrook Cave. by P.M. Browne.

Withybrook Swallet, in the hamlet of Withybrook, is a walled-in depression upon the North side of the main road between Stoke Lane and Oakhill, about half a mile from Stoke. The stream which is usually flowing into the swallet is conveyed under the road in two concrete pipes.

Discovery and Exploration.  The system was opened by P.M. and L.M. Browne, with Sam Treasure as engineer.  A sloping shaft, some eight feet in depth, was excavated through sand, gravel and boulders until, on September 10th 1947, the first open passage was struck.  Beyond, the two explorers could see their goal, made inaccessible merely by one massive rock.

Many hours were spent in a vain attempt to force a way through, but finally it was decided to clear the obstruction by blasting. On September 10th, two plugs of explosives were used on the obstinate boulder, which fell with a crash into the chamber beyond.  Withybrook cave was open!  Great flakes of shattered limestone had to be cleared from the jagged opening before the cavern could be entered, but at last the discoverers crept through and into the unknown.

Description of the Cave.  Beyond the bottom of the entrance shaft, a sloping rift chamber about fourteen feet long, five feet wide and eight feet high with a very unstable roof, goes off to the East.  Suddenly, a stream course appears and the whole system begins to follow the dip of the strata, running North at an angle of about 45 degrees for about forty feet. Here, the way becomes choked with mud and boulders.  Above the sink, a promising but at present inaccessible passage leads away.  Another interesting passage, running west for ten feet, terminates in two small rift chambers.  The second of these runs due south.


 

Poem

And finally, to complete our reprint review of the first two volumes of the B.B., a poem found by Harry Stanbury in an old book which was reproduced as written with the sole exception of the word 'Belfry' for 'Lydford' in the third verse.  Harry thought at the time that it described the Belfry rather well, and maybe you might think it still does, after all these years.

1.  They have a castle on a hill;
I took it for an old windmill,
The vanes blown off by the weather:
To lye therein one night, ‘tis guessed,
‘Twer better to be stoned and pressed,
Or hanged, now choose you wether.

2.  Ten men less room within this cave,
Than five mice in a lanthorn have,
The keepers they are sly ones,
If any could devise by art
To get it up into a cart,
‘Twre fit to carry lyons.

3.  When I beheld it, Lord! I thought,
From this place all sane men would fly
This Belfry, when I saw it all,
I know none gladly there would stay;
But rather hang out of the way,
Than tarry for a trial.

4.  The prince a hundred pounds has sent,
To mend the leads, and planchen’s rent,
Within this living tomb:
Some forty-five pounds more had paid,
The debts of all that shall be laid
There till the day of doom.           5.  The people all within this clime
Are frozen in the winter time,
For sure I do not fain:
And when the summer is begun,
They lye like silkworms in the sun,
And come to life again.

6.  One glass of drink I got by chance,
‘Twas claret when it was in France:
But now from it much wider:
I think a man might make as good
With green crabs boyl’d, and Brazil wood,
And half a pint of syder.

7.  At six a clock I came away,
And prayed for those that were to stay
Within a place so errant:
Wide and open, the winds so-roar,
By God's grnce I'll come there no more,
Unless by some Tyn Warrmt,

William Browne 1590.


 

Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany By 'Wig'

There always come a time when, once embarked on a monthly set of notes such as this, the writer starts to scratch his head to think of enough subject matter to fill out a lean month! World cave depths?  The latest design in wetsuit fashions?  Or just simply the well-worn topic of carbide lamp maintenance.  However, just at the last moment, the saving grace appears.

  1. Swildon's Hole: The latest push has come in the upper reaches of Cowsh Avens.  Fred Davies et al. have entered yet another aven above s..t Sump - the believed inlet of the Priddy Green sink stream.  Entry to this aven avoids S. Sump and the top of the new aven is very close to the surface - though it appears that the aven lies under the barn!  Whether the Maine’s will allow a trapdoor entrance through the floor of the barn remains to be seen - it seems very unlikely.
  2. Cuthbert’s: It appears that bats are using the Entrance Rift to enter the cave.  During mid-March the writer spotted a bat flying around in the small chamber above Arête Pitch ladder.  The bat flew round with a circular motion, and then swooped down into the boulder maze in the floor opposite the ladder, and presumably down into the roof of the Ledge Pitches.  Bats have been reported in various parts of the cave.  Lately a bat was seen in the lower reaches of Boulder Chamber (1973) and Pillar Chamber (1972).  Several years ago, a bat skeleton was found in the Maypole Series.
  3. Burrington Atlas: Sales of the latest B.E.C. Caving Report are still going strongly, and the total print of 500 copies is nearly a sell-out.
  4. Vanishing Grottos: This photographic record of Balch and Shatter caves is almost out of print. Members wanting a copy are advised to obtain one as soon as possible.
  5. Surveys: A new stock of various cave surveys is now held at the Belfry.  Many have been increased in price due to the addition of V.A.T. and general price increases by the printers.
  6. The Belfry - A new Chimney? The committee, in conjunction with Bucket Tilbury, are submitting a design to the planning authority for permission-to build a chimney for the fire in the living room.  Details will appear in a later issue of the B.B., when permission to build is given.
  7. Climbing Secretary: Nigel Jago has resigned from the committee due to pressure of work.  Gerry Oaten is filling in for the immediate future until a permanent secretary is appointed.
  8. B.E.C. Annual Din-din: In recent years, the venue of the club dinner has been a Wookey - Cave Man combination.  This year will see a break from this rough routine.  The venue has not yet been decided but it can be said at the moment that it will be in the vicinity of Wells.  The Fodder - for beer soaking up - will be handled by an outside caterer.
  9. Withyhill: Access to this cave is being tightened due to the damage in the form of creeping mud.  If you want to go and visit this system, please treat it with the greatest respect.  Talking of damage, the fine collection of straws in the crawl midway down Victory Passage in Cuthbert’s have been smashed.  The only people who can be blamed for this are the Cuthbert’s Leaders as a whole.  It must be said - the required standards for a Cuthbert’s Leader are not being maintained.  This being so, the only answer would seem to be MORE TAPING.
  10. Library Additions: S.M.C.C. Journal, Series 5 No 6. British Caver No 61. U.I.S. Bulletin No 8. Microclimatology of Caves ( Lawrence).  Advances in Spelaeometeorology (Lawrence) and various climbing magazines contributed by Chris Howell.
  11. Winter Lectures:  During the coming winter (74-75) a series of lectures of interest is being arranged at the Belfry by Dave Irwin.  The series will consist of about six talks, and will terminate with a ‘lecture of the season’ given by a well-known caver.  This end of the season lecture is to be called the Don Coase Memorial Lecture.  It is also planned to hold a Don Coase Memorial Lecture THIS year.  You will find details in this B.B.
  12. Streaking in Caves!  Paul Deakin and his team of photographers were down on Mendip during March and were gainfully employed taking photographs in Cuthbert’s, Swildons and Shatter Cave.  I'm led to understand that at least one of the shots included an unknown streaker.  Wait for 'Descent' to get its hands on the print!  Well, cavers have always been one up on the general public - I think!


 

Short Comment

by the Editor.

Whilst looking through volumes 1 and 2 of the B.B. for the reprint feature in this B.B., I was struck by the number of club members of the time who got mentioned by name in those volumes - either because they had written for them or because they were doing something interesting that somebody else had commented on.  I estimated that well over a quarter of the total club membership of the time got a mention in the B.B.  I realise that we are a much bigger club now, and that times have changed - but surely, we could have a greater variety of authors today?

B.B. Suggestion Scheme

An appeal to club members for ideas for improving the B.B

From time to time, odd comments reach the editorial ear about the B.B.  Seldom, if ever, are these comments actually made to the editor - who is forced to rely on rumour and gossip.  In any case, the comments mainly deal with features which a member does not want to see in the B.B. - and hardly ever with those he DOES want to see.

There is a box near the main door of the Belfry, which was originally put there by the B.B. editor for any articles; letters etc. for the B.B.  At the moment, it houses a spider, complete with web.

Club members could help no end if they put into this box any comment of any sort about the B.B. - good as well as bad.  Please sign your name to any comment, because it may be more sensible if we discussed your idea with you ¬or wrote to you about it, if you are an infrequent visitor to the Belfry.

In addition to comments, I am prepared to offer a prize of £1 for the best and most practical idea for improving the B.B. received up until the end of MAY this year.  Please note that good ideas in this category should include some practical means of ensuring that they can be carried out. It is, for example, merely preaching to the converted to suggest that we could do with more articles on cave exploration unless you can suggest some way by which we could come by them.

Why not earn yourself a little drinking money as well as helping the club to have a better magazine

The Don Coase Memorial Lecture - 1974

Will be on the subject of

CAVES AND ALTITUDE by Dr. A. C. Waltham,

At the Belfry - 7.30 p.m. SATURDAY, MAY 11TH 1974.

The lecture will be illustrated with slides of caves from Iran, France, U.S.A., South America and many other countries.

Make this an evening to remember!

Plenty of time afterwards for drinking at the hunters!

All are welcome


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 44.

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Across:

1. Used as tackle or on a rescue maybe. (5)
5. Banwell cave. (5)
7. Cuthbert’s Swallet is one. (4,4)
9. Collections of straws. (8)
12. Boredom – nothing to do with caving. (5)
13. Sort of place to get 1 down in? (5)

Down

1. Most cavers have been this on occasion. (5)
2. and 10. Outdated sort of protective clothing for caving. (4,4)
3. Cave feature and how to tackle it? (7)
4. Hyena this is another 7 across. (3)
6. Vain eel otherwise gave name to Mendip cave. (7)
8. The Belfry is, we hope, a club one. (5)
11. Another place to get 1 down 13 across. (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

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W

A

L

L

E

T

 

B

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V

 

E

 

R

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E

A

R

E

T

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A

 

D

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N

 

R

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P

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N

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G

 

N

 

G

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C

B

 

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P

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H

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Club Committee

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           M. Bishop, D.J. Irwin, D. Stuckey, G. Oaten, N. Taylor, A.R. Thomas, B. Wilton

Officers of the Club

Honorary Secretary        A.R THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269

Honorary Treasurer         B. WILTON, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary            D. STUCKEY, 34 Allington Road, Southville, Bristol 3.  Tele : BRISTOL 688621

Climbing Secretary         G. Oaten, Address to follow.

Hut Warden                   N. TAYLOR, Whiddons, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tele : WELLS 72338

Belfry Engineer              M. BISHOP,  Address to follow

Tacklemaster                 G. WILTON-JONES, 17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk

B.B. Editor                    S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol.

                                    Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Honorary Librarian          D.J IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells Som.  Tel : PRIDDY 369

Publications Editor         D.J IRWIN  As above

B.B. Postal                   Brenda. WILTON  Address as above