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QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editorial

Lifelines

The recent accident in Lamb Leer unfortunately provides an example of a type of accident which might well have been minimised or even avoided had full life lining techniques been in use.  The fact that the accident occurred to a caver of many years standing on Mendip emphasises the fact that every caver, however experienced or fit, can ‘come off’ for some reason or another, given bad luck.

There is, or course, an understandable tendency for cavers of experience to minimise the use of life lines.  Perhaps the accident will serve to impress on us the need for the grater use of such preventative measures.

Thin End?

The strong possibility that Somerset will require the B.A.C.I. certificate for all leaders under its control from 1976 onwards - and by implication will be rejecting the training scheme adopted and published by the Council of Southern Caving Clubs - could be seen as a first step towards that state of affairs portrayed in the Christmas B.B. last year, in which the fictitious University of Charterhouse made its appearance.  Having said this, it should not be implied that there is anything intrinsically wrong with B.A.C.I.  The point being made is that of restriction of freedom of choice.  In this connection, it is worth noting that the approach of the C.S.C.C. scheme, 'Caving for Beginners' differs considerably from that of B.A.C.I. and that the choice is therefore not one between two certificates as between two methods of approach.  Indeed, there is no reason, in theory as far as can be seen, why a particular caver giving advice and training under the C.S.C.C. scheme could not be a B.A.C.I. certificate holder.  There is, however, a world of difference between a state of affairs in which he MAY hold such a certificate and one in which he MUST.  The C.S.C.C., quite rightly in the editorial opinion of the B.B., place their first priority on experience.  As an older, experienced climber is reputed to have said to a younger man proudly displaying a certificate, "That's all well, but can you abseil from it?"

Round And About

Apart from a small editorial comment in the column itself it seems appropriate to congratulate 'Wig' editorially for reaching his century this month by the production of his hundredth topic under, what has become by now, the familiar heading of Round and About.

Many people have said how useful they have found this feature of general information, and I would like to add my personal thanks coupled with the hope that he may go on for a very long time to come.

“Alfie”


 

At the Belfry - A Flowery Spiel

An account of some of the happenings at the Belfry in the earlier part of this year - by Nigel Taylor

Spring and nearly, ever so nearly, summer is in the air at the Belfry now.  And with the spring come new flowers and new faces, but nevertheless old shoots and faces have been popping up in and around the Belfry. Chris Falshaw and family, Mike Wheadon, Pat Ifold and family, and many others.

Again, there has been an early showing of perennial hardies, such as Sett and family, Mary and Pete Ham and family and many, many more.

Back in the autumn, Albert Francis was even seen at the Belfry sleeping there for the first time ever! This was due to acute hop poisoning after an excellent N.H.A.S.A. dinner!

Club members actively participating in various digging activities such as Hollowfield and Bucket Hole have been numerous and the club's licensed explosive users have been employed gardening many earthy systems.

The Belfry car park has been re-graded by mysterious loads of quarry stone - connected somehow with an even more mysterious Hut Warden.  The Belfryites have also been working hard on the site, and a night exercise from 9.30 p.m. through to 6.30 a.m. saw the erection of a large M.R.O. store and new Tackle Store facilities.

However, all is not roses at Belfry Avenue.  Problems of rusting tanks arose, and were ably dealt with by Rod Hobbs and Tim Large one weekend recently.  Problems of sewage disposal have also reared up and threatened to drop us all in the fertiliser.  These, too, have (we hope) been overcome.

Due to two accidents in the attic roof, repairs were necessary, and these were efficiently executed by ‘Jock Orr Plastering Industries Ltd.’ In general, members and guests have all mucked in well with the problems and given fair periods of their time.

Belfry regulars include, at present, Andy 'Groper' Nicholls, Zot, Martin Grass and female company, Colin and Angela Dooley, Chris Backstone, John Dukes and 'Streaking for Deakin' Sue from Southampton - and of course your scribe, Mr. Nigel.

On a more serious note. If you or someone is bitten by a snake, immobilise the limb - treat as for fracture - do NOT tourniquet, DO NOT allow victim to move - Do reassure and comfort victim - DO call 999 - DO NOT take victim to Wells.  Ham Green hospital in Bristol is the only one in the vicinity with serum - but it is often not necessary.


 

Open Letter To the Club

Editor's Note:     This threatens to be a B.B. written entirely by Nigel Taylor!  In this open letter, he has some forthright comments to make on the Long Term plans.

The Long Term Planning Committee have done it again!  Yes, they have produced - not a representative report but another diatribe! They have completely missed the point, or rather the points of necessity.  A detailed account has been drawn up, telling us how more paper talk and ensuing paperwork will be created - and this is capped by a list which is not so much 'Long Term' as short sighted!

Now to the 'winter of my discontent':-

List 1 contains the order of priority of items in groups, and my comments are as under: -

  1. Comfort.
    I thought the B.E.C. was a caving club, not a ruddy 5 star listed A.A./R.A.C. hotel.
  2. Rubbish storage and Waste Disposal.
    This itself is rubbish, since we now have 4 dustbins and I personally come up midweek if the local farmer cannot undertake the job on the fortnightly dustbin day.  Furthermore, I have recently been pressing the new Mendip District Council to drive up to the Belfry to pick up the bins.
  3. Cooking Facilities and Food Storage
    With 8 gas rings and one grill, and one new oven, are they really that bad for a hut which sleeps a maximum of 25?  In any case, the utilisation is usually in the 80% bracket with a fair proportion of the users not even contemplating cooking each and every meal.  As for food storage, what have successive committees done about the lockers?  (First mooted by me over 18 months ago at a November Committee meeting.)
  1. Eating.
    How does the sub-committee propose to improve this?.....Aaaaagh…….an answer emerges…… intravenous feeding!
  2. Washing up, crockery storage, etc.
    What is up with the shelves and cupboards Norman Petty made?  They open the doors?  Or their eyes?

That has withered away the first 5 ludicrous and apparently highest priority items.  Having scrubbed these erroneous 'priorities' one is then left with something of substance from which one may prepare a sensible list ( if one is to have such a list at all)

    1. (No 8) Washing self and Shower Facility.
    2. (No 9) Charging Facilities.  Surely this is a vital requisite for a caving hut in these days of frequent digging and caving trips?
    3. (No 7) Changing and Drying of clothes.  The need for this is plain for all to see and comprehend.

4.       (No 6) Workshop facility.  For the lifeblood of a caving, climbing - or even canoeing club, a place where tackle, digging gear, tools, canoes or whatever can be made - bearing in mind the communal skills and knowledge - producing a product in a sensible and well-equipped area at the club H.Q.

5.       (No 12) Administration Facility.  In this day and age, when large clubs must need to run their huts on business lines (especially when one is dealing with monies and goods belonging to the club, let alone the £15,000 or so of club hut) the need for proper administration facilities rears its ugly head, let's not play the ostrich!

6.       (No 14) The Loft.  Ideas for improvement to this are often aired down at the Belfry. I refer the reader to the B.B. Number 303. (See, Editor, the B.B. is used for references!)  The club is wasting valuable, utilisable space up there and if it embarks on extraneous expenditure on the sub-committee's proposals then such potential will be wasted due to lack of funds or their allocation.

7.       (No 13) The Library.  Here, only a carpenters skill and club finance are the requisites to transform this 'near shell' into the condition merited by both its content and the valiant efforts of the club librarian Dave (Wig) Irwin.

 

8.       (No 10) Sleeping Accommodation.  Here there is even less scope for the necessary improvements to be made.  However, I feel that women club members might prefer, or deserve, better feminine conditions, yet, to back track, we must not forget that this is a caving club and basically composed of males (But perhaps I'm just a Chauvinist pig!)

9.       (No 11) Parking.  Even though I realise that soon we can expect club members Range Rovers; Lamborghinis; Daimlers; Rolls and the like will be replaced by perhaps H.S.125's S.A./B.E.C. Concorde’s and an array of resplendent V.S.T.O.L. craft, I feel sure that there are not many of us who would like to see a shiny NICE macadam or LOVELY concrete car park, of course resplendent with DIVINE tints of white or yellow lines.  Besides, I, for one, don't want to have to read the club Car Park Attendant's Report before the next A.G.M. - I will find my own tedious enough!

One last point - I wonder if the sub-committee could be kind enough to tell me why in the May B.B., No 319:-

Three further lists will be compiled:

1.                    First to show order of priority of groups of items.

2.                    Extent of improvements as costings of expense & labour.

3.                    (Last but not least!)  Order of priority of items.

Please, oh PLEASE, what's the difference, between list 1 and 3, or is it to cater for inflation presumably mentioned in the intervening list 2 perhaps?

I know it is easy to knock a subject as I have just done but I hope the reader; the sub-committee and the general committee will appreciate that I have endeavoured to put forward counter-proposals in this letter, and I will also have shown this letter to the sub-committee's chairman Graham Wilton-Jones to give him a chance to challenge any points that I have proposed.  This letter is not under any circumstances to be taken as an attempt to challenge either Graham's views as chairman, nor for that matter to challenge the integrity of the general committee or any of its officers.  This meant purely as a thought-provoking article on points which the editor invited comment!

It may be questioned as to why I did not put these views forward as Hut Warden, well, this was not possible.  The committee, for some reason, decided that the Hut Warden should not have a sub-committee say in the proposals.  I say this in answer to several queries raised to me on this point.  So I must further stress that these are not the B.E.C. Hut Warden's views, but my own - purely as an interested member and regular user of the Belfry.

Yours in the Club Spirit,

Nigel P. Taylor.

Editor's Note:

As Nigel points out, I invited comment, since the way the club decides to spend its money on the Belfry is a subject which should interest most - if not all - B.E.C. members. Perhaps other members might like to make points - if not to the B.B., then to Graham who, I am sure, will be pleased to hear about as many points of view as possible to help him in what is after all, a very difficult job.

Another Reminder about the A.G.M. and Dinner

SATURDAY OCTOBER 5th

A.G.M. starts at 10.30 a.m. at the Belfry.

Dinner will be at the Blue School at WELLS – just down the bottom of Rockham.

FULL DETAILS IN NEXT B.B.!


 

The Deneholes of Hangman’s Wood

A description of a little-known type of underground feature written by Derek Sanderson and Roger Wing.

The Deneholes are phenomena which may be of interest to cavers - particularly as some of them can still be explored.  Indeed, some members may be familiar with them whilst others may merely have read about them.  They are found in a number of counties in the South East of England and also in parts of France, and one of the main concentrations is in Essex, occurring in the comparatively small area known as Hangman's Wood, Greys.  There is a soft spot in the hearts of the authors for the Deneholes, as they represent an early landmark in their caving careers.

DESCRIPTION. Basically, all Deneholes consist of a single shaft dropping vertically from the surface through the thin topsoil of the region and the underlying Thanet Sand, and terminating in a chamber in the chalk beneath, which may be at a depth of up to eighty feet.  These shafts vary in diameter, but are usually between ten and twelve feet wide and are reminiscent of a well shaft.  The chambers at the bottom vary in shape from simple bell like chambers to more complex chamber patterns.  The Deneholes found at Crayford, Kent are of the simple bell-like variety, whilst those at Stankey are more irregular.  The most common form of chamber is the 'double trefoil' shape as is found at Hangman's Wood.  Originally, there were many shafts at Greys, but now there are only two shafts open (70' ladder required for each).  Below is a network of chambers interconnected by short rabbit-hole-like crawls.  All is dry and mostly horizontal.

AGE.  To establish their age is by no means easy, but one may hazard a guess from various pieces of evidence.  In 1884 and 1887, the Deneholes complex of Greys was fully investigated on behalf of the Essex Field Club by two of its members - T.V. Holmes and W. Cole.  An extensive report was published in which they discussed some of their findings. They found, for instance, pieces of Niedermendig lava which was quarried in the Eifel district of Germany and not imported into this country until the arrival of the Romans.  This, in itself, is of dubious value, though it may add weight to other evidence.

The most useful evidence concerning age comes from the bones found in the deposits that have inevitably settled at the bottom of the shafts.  These include remains of sheep; badger; ox; dog; horse and man.  What is significant is the total absence of red deer and wolf, which were apparently common in the time of the Normans.

One may suggest, then, that the Deneholes were dug soon after the arrival of the Normans, and this seems to be the conclusion arrived at by Baker when he wrote, '…the assumption that they existed in Saxon times will hold no more water than a chalk Denehole would.' (Caving, p102).  They do, however, predate the trees which grow around them.

REASON FOR EXISTENCE. This leads to the engaging problem of why they are there, and several theories have been put forward over the years.

  1. The shafts are, in fact, natural.  This is a recent theory.  What has been supposed is that a cavity has been formed in the chalk bed by percolating water in a similar manner to that which occurs in Limestone.  This cavity is formed close to the top of the chalk layer.  The theory goes that eventually the roof of the cavity meets the underside of the layer of Thanet sand above, and this drains through like an egg-timer to leave a cylindrical shaft dropping into a semi-filled chamber in the chalk beneath.

    No matter how feasible this theory may seem, it cannot hope to explain the ‘double trefoil’ shape of the chambers.  Add to this the problem of balancing the infill with the volume of the shaft, and the theory loses credibility - regardless of whether such a formation process is at all feasible.
  2. An equally implausible view is that they were gold mines.  1705, a Dr. Pert wrote a Natural History of Oxfordshire, in passing, he referred to the Deneholes as 'the gold mine of Cunobeline in Essex.'
  3. That they were flint mines.  There are several points against this view.  Firstly, a band of flint can be seen in both the open shafts of Hangman's Wood, but this flint has not been touched.  Secondly, there are no signs of debris either inside or outside the Deneholes, and this would be the first time a flint mine had been cleared up.
  4. That they were Roman burial chambers.  Some burial urns were found by a Mr. Neeson, but not in the Deneholes of Hangman's Wood, and both the dating and design of the chambers run against this view.
  5. That they were cave dwellings.  Clearly, this is wrong.  Cave dwellings are invariably littered with the remains left by the inhabitants.  No such remains have been found in Hangman's Wood.
  6. That they were places of refuge.  According to Baker, this theory seems to have gained weight from the fact that locally, the word 'Denehole' is pronounced 'Danehole' implying a hiding place from the Danes.  However, several commentators, including Baker, have observed that the word is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word 'Denn' which simply means 'Cave' or 'den'.  Also, the nature of the Deneholes themselves suggests that they are the last place that one would wish to use as a refuge.  Once in, it would be an easy matter to become trapped.
  7. That they are pitfalls, or some form of animal trap.  Clearly, this is not a feasible theory, as the Deneholes are too elaborate in construction.
  8. That they were granaries.  This theory was much favour by Holmes and Cole, and they arrived at this conclusion by drawing an analogy between the Deneholes and other under ground constructions which are definitely silos.  However, where these silos are concerned, there has always been an abundance of evidence as to their use - evidence which the Deneholes have not displayed.
  9. That they were chalk mines, either for local marling or for commercial uses.  This theory seems to be the most likely, and was accepted by Baker, though a few questions may still spring to mind.  Firstly, why mine chalk at Hangman's Wood when there is a large outcrop of the rock barely two miles away?  There may be several possible answers to this, such as the cost or inconvenience of transport, or different ownership of the land where the outcrop occurs.  Secondly, why are the chambers shaped the way they are?  Baker attempts to explain the trefoil shape in terms of how far a bucket on the end of a rope will swing from the main shaft, but this is not completely satisfactory.  Rather they are shaped in this way for purposes of structure.  Some of the walls between chambers of one shaft and another are only a matter of feet thick, so they have been dug with a sense of precision.  There is very little evidence of collapse which implies that the diggers knew when to stop digging 'one chamber and start another.  The trefoil shape may be the natural outcome of the maximum removal of chalk with the minimum of risk.

SIGNIFICANCE OF AGE. It may have been noted that the Deneholes at Greys were tentatively dated as post-Norman, while elsewhere Mr. Meeson found some Roman urns suggesting a pre-Norman date.  The conclusion to be drawn from this is that not all Deneholes were dug in the same period and that they were dug when and where necessary.  This would imply that, whatever their purpose was, it was an agricultural or industrial one rather than being the result of an invasion or some other occurrence which can be accurately dated.

ACCESS.  Access is controlled by Thurrock U.D.C. who issues a descent licence for those who are prepared to abide by a number of simple rules and fill in an insurance slip.  Address to write to is: Recreation Manager, Recreation Department, Blackshots Lane, Grays, Essex, RM13 2JU.  There is a lot of serious research still to be done in connection with Deneholes.

References

Caving (E.A. Baker)
Forgotten Thameside (Glyn H. Morgam) 1951.
Deneholes and other Chalk Excavations (Rev. J.W. Haynes)
Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute.39,1909.
Victoria County History of Essex. (G. Gould.)
Essex Field Club Report. (T.V. Holmes & W. Cole) Essex
Naturalist. Vol 1,1887.

 

 


 

Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany, by Wig

  1. Hollowfield.  Martin Bishop, Pat Cronin et al. have just about ended their activities at Flowerpot.  Digging at various sites was proving difficult.  A survey, drawn by 'Wig' will appear in Caving Report Number 18, to be published in September.  The cave is about 250 feet long and some 50 feet deep.  An essentially phreatic cave with some later vadose modification in the lower section. Stal. formations are present, the best being located at the top of the 12 foot pothole leading to the low bedding chamber at the far end of the known cave.  Although small, the discovery of this cave focuses attention again to a neglected area.  A sketch plan is shown below:-

The editor apologises for the non-inclusion of the sketch plan. The plan will be will be included in next month’s B.B.

  1. Jugoslavia.  A note appeared in a recent B.R.C.A, Bulletin stating that the Jugoslavian government has now forbidden foreign cavers from visiting caves in their country.  This applies to all cavers, whether visiting caves by themselves or with Jugoslav nationals.  Show caves are exempted.
  2. Ludwell Survey.  On the 10th July, 1974 a party of divers and dry land cavers surveyed Ludwell Cave to B.C.R.A. grade 5 (Sump to Grade 3) and the survey with background notes on recent activities at this site will appear in Caving Report Number 18.  A C.R.G. grade 3 survey appeared in the B.E.C. Caving Report No 9 several years ago.  The dry cave survey was carried out by 'Wig', John (Bath C.G.) and John Hutchinson.  The sump was surveyed by Martin Bishop, Ken James, Neil Rigilani and Pete Eckford.  The outflow of water from the Ludwell sump was merely a trickle, much to the surprise of the divers.
  3. Cuthbert’s 21st Anniversary Trip.  Invitations will be going out soon to various cavers to join in the celebrations.  The date, 4th September 1974.  The time, 7.00.p.m. at the Belfry.  Champagne at the Great Gour.  Anyone else interested in making up a second party should contact Kangy King at 22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Bristol.  The party leader will be Roy Bennett - one of the first to descend the Entrance Rift in 1953.  Woolies will be the disorder of the day and the route through the cave will be Entrance Rift; Arête; Wire Rift; Waterfall and Wet pitches; Bypass; Stal Pitch, Gour Hall and Duck.  More details later.
  4. B.E.C. Rescue List.  The current list is very much out of date, and so Andy Nicholls (Caving Sec.) and Dave Turner (B.E.C. Team Leader) are compiling a new one.  Members wishing to be included in this list should contact either Andy or Dave giving brief details of experience; special knowledge (medical, localities in or out of caves etc.) transport, work and home phone numbers etc. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  Whilst on the subject of rescue lists, two practice rescues are being organised later on this year.  The two sites chosen are the top series of Longwood and the annual Cuthbert’s in November.  Andy and Dave will be organising these events and M.R.O. wardens will be invited to observe the proceedings.
  5. Winter Evenings at the Belfry.  Apart from the usual jollities at the Belfry, one or two more serious events will be taking place.  It is hoped to arrange a FIRST AID course with one of the M.R.O. doctors or the Ambulance men.  Dates and times are still to be arranged and details will appear soon in the B. B. - so keep your eyes skinned.  We are hoping to extend invitations to other clubs on Mendip, thus ensuring a full house.  In addition to the course, several sessions of practice tying the M.R.O. carrying sheet will take place at the Belfry on Sunday mornings.  Details will appear in the next B.B.  Arrangements for the more conventional lectures are well under way, and two speakers have so far been fixed to give talks: -

The Pyrenees - Kangy King.           Ballooning over the Alps - Tom Sage

Again, more details later.  Anyone knowing anyone who can give an interesting talk should contact Wig.

  1. Sea Caves in North Devon.  Earlier this year, Graham Wilton-Jones and Dave Irwin paid a visit to Saunton Sands and Cronde Bay in North Devon.  Over twenty sites of caving interest were visited and those that could be entered were sketch surveyed.  The caves at Saunton are in sandstone along an unconformity with the underlying vertical beds of shales (Pilton beds.)  The caves at Baggy Point are wholly in the shales and are quite large.  One, Whiting Hole, has not been entered, although local legend says it is of a very considerable length.  A detailed paper, with the surveys, is being published in Caving Report No 18.
  2. Inventory.  The committee have at long last decided to produce an inventory of our property - from equipment such as typewriters to digging tools.  This will be presented to the club at the A.G.M. and/or in a future B.B.  Anyone holding any item of club equipment should contact Wig with the details.
  3. Annual Dinner and A.G.M.  The A.G.M. is to be held at the Belfry at 10.30 a.m. on Saturday 5th October 1974 and the DINNER will be held in Wells - details of venue, price etc later.  This is a reminder just in case you haven't read the adverts in the B.B!
  4. Round and About.  The Editor has slipped this one in unbeknowing to 'Wig' to draw attention to the amount of useful information disseminated in this regular B.B. feature and promises not to interfere again until the next century is reached!
  5. Sunday Digging.  Digging has started again in Cuthbert’s in sump I.  If you feel like getting up early and being ready to descend the cave at 9.30 - you're welcome.  Some surveying trips are also arranged.
  6. Holidays.  Two parties are away to the continent - one with Martin Bishop, Liz, Dog, Ken James et al. are off to Northern Italy and a second party off to the Pyrenees including Andy Nicholls, John Dukes, Graham W-J etc.  In each party is a possible I.D.M.F. candidate, so look forward to their B.B. contributions that form part of the conditions of grants from the fund.
  7. Dinner again.  In addition to the entertainment that is being arranged for after the dinner, a small exhibition is being installed showing some of the latest surveys and publications available.  Also included will be a selection of interesting items recently added to the library - including the St. Cuthbert’s Minery Ledger and the Longbottom Diaries of 1934-1937.  There will also be a publications stand at the A.G.M.
  8. Surface Digging.  Vee Swallet is the latest site of interest.  Barry Wilton and others are gently probing this old B.E.C. site.  Last dug in the early '60's by Mo Marriott et al., several interesting flints, arrow heads and axes were uncovered there.  A more detailed account of the dig is to be found in B.E.C. Caving Report No 6.
  9. Resolutions.  Members having items which they want discussed in the form of resolutions at the A.G.M. are advised to start thinking about them now - although they can, in fact, be brought up at the start of the A.G. M. itself.  I have had a plea from the minute taker for people PLEASE to write their resolutions on reasonably sized pieces of paper - not on tiny little slivers of paper, which present quite a problem to store afterwards.

Some Reminders.

Martin Bishop would like any member’s ideas on decorating the living room at the Belfry.  Dave Irwin would like to remind library users to return the books promptly after use.  Please remember to SIGN for all tackle – always.  Those interested in long term rent of lockers in the Belfry should let Nigel know.  Barry will accept Bankers Orders for subs, but let him know about it or you might be charged twice.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 48

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Across:

1. Second letter sprite and short railway make caving H.Q. (6)
6. B.E.C.’s. (4)
7. Heard, perhaps in large chamber. (4)
8. Regains consciousness. (5)
9. ‘Go Straight…’ is motto of U.B.S.S. (2)
10. Thus. (2)
11. Useful caving aid – though not flaming nowadays! (5)
12. Progress slowly and imperially. (4)
13. Has been used as water transport in caves. ( 4 or 2,2)
14. A very Southern Cave club. (3,1.1.1)

Down

2. A helictite could be this, or a club character (9)
3. New Mendip cave is welt proof! (9)
4. Risky Hero?  (Up north perhaps!) (9)
5. Climbs up rope with aid. (9)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

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W

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I

 

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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, B. Wilton, G. Oaten, N. Taylor, A.R. Thomas

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            A. NICHOLLS, (Acting)

Climbing Secretary         G. OATEN, Address to follow.

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

Belfry Engineer              M. BISHOP,  Address to follow. Tele : PRIDDY 370

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

 

QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editorial

No Prizes

Back in March, when material for the B.B. was so short that a massive dose of re-printing from Volume 1 of the B. B. was the only way by which the number of pages could be filled, a prize of £1 was offered for the best practical suggestion for improving the B.B.  The closing date was given as the end of May.

Since the B.B. is currently running a month late (due mainly to the chronic shortage of material which the scheme was designed to overcome) your patient editor has waited until the end of June before announcing the results of this suggestion scheme.

Now I know that, in these days of inflation, the sum of £1 does not represent wealth beyond the dreams of avarice although judging by the reaction of members to the increase of the annual subscription, it presumably has not yet fallen into the category of peanuts - but even so, your editor foolishly imagined that it would provide at least, some incentive for the more ingenious club members to come forward with practical schemes for ensuring more material (or other improvements) for the B.B.

Alas!  Apart from Tim's resurrection of the monthly versus bi-monthly B.B. which, whatever its merits, can hardly taken up without the general agreement of the club in A.G.M., there was only ONE other suggestion. This was to publish an annual subject and author index - and the idea was given a suitably practical twist by the suggested submitting a completely cross-referenced index for last year’s B.B. Unfortunately, some years ago, the A.G.M. advised the editor that the inclusion of such an index while useful to a few members would be regarded as a waste of paper by the majority of the club and so I do not feel entitled to go against such advice by adopting the present suggestion.

Thus, before anybody starts to sharpen their pencil and write down resolutions for the next A.G.M., let it be placed on record that, in response to a general appeal to club members for practical ideas for getting more material and otherwise improving the B.B. and in spite of the incentive offered (which would have been paid out by the editor and not from club funds) NOT ONE SINGLE SUGGESTION WHICH COULD BE USED WAS FORTHCOMING.  our editor will therefore soldier on, under the assumption that although he may not be perfect, neither are his readers!

Grateful Thanks

On the brighter side, for the editor at least, have been the letters and personal messages of encouragement which, it must be admitted, came just when he needed some form of morale-boosting.  Thanks, in particular, to Janet Setterington who, before motherhood intervened, was a professional journalist and whose kind words for the B.B. are therefore based on personal experience on a much higher level than that of the B.B. editor.  It is pleasant to think that the work of producing the B.B. is appreciated in some quarters at least.

2,595 Cavers

One of the small points which came out of the last meeting of the Southern Council was the calculation by one of the delegates that the combined membership of Southern caving clubs is 2,595 and that this is greater than the caving membership of any other region. We had better step up our rate of discovery of new caves!

“Alfie”


 

Notices

The Hut Warden would like to appeal for any FIRST AID KIT for Belfry use.  This is separate from M.R.O. kit, and is to cover minor injuries at the Belfry.  Also donations of OLD CARPETS would be appreciated.  Contact Nigel Taylor.

The Belfry Engineer would like any suggestions for the decoration of the living room. Please contact Martin Bishop with any ideas on this subject.

The Treasurer would like to remind members that they can pay their annual sub, if they so wish, by Bankers' Order.  This saves you having to remember every year!  However, if you do this LET BARRY KNOW, as he gets no record of who is doing this, and will charge you again!  The best way is to get a Banker’s Order form from your bank, sign it and enter the amount of your annual sub AND GIVE IT TO BARRY.  He will then make a record of your Banker’s Order and send it on to the bank for you.

The Caving Secretary would like to remind members to enter up all trips in the log.  Apart from it being one of the club rules, it provides an interesting and sometimes useful record for the future.

The Climbing Secretary would like to remind members that there is climbing every Thursday in the Gorge.  Meet at the gorge at 7.00 p.m. and afterwards at the Seven Stars.

The I.D.M.F. Committee would like to remind all younger members that assistance from this fund may be possible for trips abroad this summer.  Contact either the caving or climbing secretaries, the treasurer, Mike Palmer or 'Sett'.

Lockers will shortly be constructed at the Belfry.  Some of these will be for long term hire and others kept for weekend hire.  Anybody who wants to be considered for the long term hire of a locker should give his or her name to Nigel Taylor.


 

Cave Grading For Severity

This article, by Mike Cowlishaw, first came out in 'Omnibuss' the Journal of the Birmingham University S.S.   It discusses the grading of caves from the point of view of severity.

The present methods of cave grading consist of very broad categories - either descriptions such as 'Super Severe' or numerical grades as used in Northern Caves Vol 1.  These systems, although generally agreed to be adequate as far as they go, are basically subjective and in many cases convey little information to the user. In addition, complex caves are not usually of consistent standard, and attempts to classify separate series under general headings can be very misleading when complicated trips including several sections of a cave are made.

Many of these disadvantages can be overcome by using a 'piece by piece' system of grading whereby a numerical figure is attached to each major section of a cave in such a way that some simple mathematical operation can be used to combine these to give a meaningful result for a given trip.

A further necessary refinement is to ensure that an objective, or mainly objective method is used to grade each section of cave (i.e., that several people grading the same section of cave under similar conditions will arrive at the same score within, say, five percent.)  There are, of course, many practical difficulties in achieving this, and these I shall discuss in due course.  The main problem, perhaps, is allowing for high and low water conditions.

The comments above mainly concern the sporting side of caving.  A truly objective system of severity grading such as had been outlined would be by nature informative, and hence would be useful in many more general and scientific fields.  Besides, people love to play around with figures, and the system would allow direct comparison of caving trips.  On the other hand, it is unlikely that a system simple enough to be used by the 'average' caver would have much application in that other important field - rescue - except perhaps where a cave is unknown to the rescue team; and this is rarely the case in this country.

A generally accepted detailed grading scheme would be of especial use if printed on surveys. Surveys at present give little indication of the general severity of a passage except where they show major obstacles. A suitably orientated system of scores associated directly with each section of the cave on the survey would almost completely obviate the need to refer to a separate write up.  Only short notes on access would then be required and these could well he referred to on the survey.

There are, of course, difficulties to the proposed system other than the practical difficulties of implementation.  A major one is that anything such as has been described (even if it eventually boils down to a couple of numbers associated with a given cave) is a further and possibly detrimental increase in what might be called the technological aspects of caving. An added complication can often be harmful in that the figures can be misunderstood or even misprinted with undesirable results.  Furthermore, there is the problem of a basic standard method - a controversial subject. Presumably, for a start, obstacles could be related to time.  For example, descending a given fifteen foot pitch might be equated to a quarter of an hour of sitting around        doing nothing.

Probably the best method of achieving an objective grading of a given cave/trip/series/passage is to use a set questionnaire which, although not restricting the grader to 'yes/no' answers, puts fairly rigid restraints on the scores that cane be given for a specific obstacle.  This is, of course, necessary in order to maintain the desired level of objectivity. Everyone has experienced the way in which some trips seem much easier in retrospect, when, perhaps, early difficult or strenuous sections have been partly forgotten.

Leaving aside the tricky question of relative values of different types of obstacle or passage, there are some fundamental problems; in particular, how to allow for the effects of things that might vary from trip to trip.  These include Water conditions (i.e. normal fluctuations of water in the cave) Transient Hazards (flash floods; loose boulders; rotten props in mines etc.)  Size and equipment of different parties and the relative ability of the party with particular reference to novices.

After a great deal of thought and experimentation, it was found that a single grading score could not be manipulated to allow for all these different aspects.  An analysis shows that three or four scores are required for an approximately ideal representation.  This is too complicated for the applications discussed above, and a compromise solution of two scores was investigated.  This was found to be a great improvement on reliance on a single score.  The two figures would represent:-

(a)     General obstacles and the effect of time.

(b)     Water and transient hazards.  A sort of 'exposure risk' figure.

It became clear that variations in the size of parties could be catered for by carrying out some standard type of adjustment to score (a).  Similarly, the effect of wearing dry kit in a wet cave could be allowed for by manipulating score (b).  The effect of novices in the party could be calculated by adjusting both scores.

It should thus be possible to start off with a pair scores based on a party of four, wearing wetsuits, and then adjust these scores to provide one with a revised figure, if, for instance, the party was about to descend a wet cave in dry kit.  The complications to this basic idea are, of course, endless and should be kept to a minimum.  Even if this sort of exercise is not indulged in, the basic scores would enable direct comparison to be made over widely differing sections of cave.

As a side issue, and extremely graphical method of displaying the two scores is to plot one against the other on a sheet of graph paper.  In cases where I have tried it is for various trips, it was found to be very informative and showed at a glance the relative importance of the two scores. The distance from the origin was found to be analogous to the conventional idea of cave grading.

The above has pointed out the main features of the grading system I have devised - I hope with sufficient justification for each of its features.  I shall now summarise the above and make some comments on practical details.

A questionnaire would be devised for scoring.  It should be equally applicable to short lengths of passage and to complete caves or trips.  In particular, scoring the constituent parts and adding up the individual totals should give nearly identical results to scoring the trip as a whole.

The questionnaire would be divided into two parts.  The first - general, technical and other difficulties.  The second - water and transient hazards.  The scores from these two parts would be the final basic scores for general use.

The first part (obstacles) would be scored fairly rigorously.  For example, 3 points for each 100' of flat out crawl; 1 point for each quarter hour underground etc.  The problems here include definitions of severities of climbs etc. and the assumptions one has to make such as the use of lifelines etc.  Single rope techniques would not be adequately catered for - one would probably have to assume that prussiking up a pitch would score the same as using a ladder.  The movement of tackle would be allowed for in the scoring for a pitch. The actual form of each question in the questionnaire, and the relative scoring of each type of obstacle would be matters heeding a fair amount of discussion.  I have arrived at a form of questionnaire which gives reasonable results (with some surprises!) but which has got vast potential for improvement.

The second part would be more difficult to prepare a questionnaire for.  Water obstacles such as ducks or sumps and the time one is wet can be scored in the same way as dry obstacles, but transient effects are more difficult and usually require better knowledge of a cave than can be picked up in one trip. Every effort would have to be made to try to make the scoring objective despite the problems.  It might be possible to estimate flood risk by taking into the probable number of flash floods in a year and also allowing for the danger of such floods.  For example, Little Neath River Cave II is fairly safe, whereas many northern caves can be extremely dangerous.

Other points which would be taken into account are loose boulders and complexity of the cave where this could cause a hazard due to a mistake in route finding.

I hope the above is reasonably clear.  To round off and give the feel of a bi-polar grading system, here are some scores that I have calculated using my rather primitive questionnaire:-

Stoke Lane Slocker

Penyghent Pot

P8

Rhino Rift

Dan-yr-Ogof to Green Canal

30

99

28

49

35

44

57

14

5

32

Notes: The first column relates to obstacles and the second to water and transient hazards.  One of the above was scored from a guidebook description (R.R.).  A couple of the others were scored by friends, with nearly identical results.


 

Tackle – 1974

A review of the tackle situation as in April 1974 by the tacklemaster, Graham Wilton-Jones.

These first six months of my position as Tacklemaster have mainly been spent in organising all the tackle and collecting it on to Mendip and rebuilding much worn out ladder.

At present, as a temporary measure, Alan Thomas very kindly looks after all the ultra-lightweight ladder and certain tethers, lifelines etc.  These are collectively known as Reserve Tackle and are not for general use on Mendip, being usually loaned out for trips to foreign parts like Yorkshire or the Pyrenees.  Frequent use of this tackle by many cavers would soon damage it.  I see no reason, however, for it not being used in, say, Primrose Pot or Rhino Rift.

Even if only for the sake of courtesy, give Alan a ring at least a week before you want any reserve tackle.  You will also ensure in this way that it actually available.

Hopefully, this situation will not last for long.  I want to convert the old Tackle store in the stone Belfry into the new Reserve Store. Keys for this will be available from various sources on Mendip.

Nigel has extended the M.R.O. store at the other end of the building.  The remaining space will be used as the normal Tackle Store, containing all other equipment.  Many thanks to people who are helping with this conversion.  The bars across the windows, by the way, are NOT a new test for thin cavers - Bucket please note!

So far, two hundred and ten feet of ladder has been repaired - thanks again to those who helped.  Ken James has offered to get ferrules crimped on the ladder eyes.  Some hundred and fifty feet remains to be repaired and I'll be doing this during the weekend of the working party.

We could do with many more tethers.  These are dead easy to make up, but I'll need a lot more 'c' links.  If anyone can get some or make some, I'd be grateful.  If anyone has access to a set of dies for stamping the code tags, please let me know.  The lifeline situation is bad, and we are seriously short.  This is being rectified now, so don't fret.

I have no intentions of buying any abseiling or prussicking equipment, which includes rope, for club use. I, for one, would have no confidence at all in using S.R.T. (Single Rope Techniques) on tackle used by anybody and everybody.  If anyone has really strong views on this, then perhaps they would write to the B.B. about them.

Finally, please remember to sign tackle in and out.  If it does nothing else, it gives me an idea how much any item is being used.  If you find any faults, please note them in the tackle log, even if it is only a missing tag.

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

There is always room in the B.B. for small contributions to fill up spaces like this one!

Comments, advertisements – anything within reason.

There is always a B.B. box in the Belfry.


 

Letters To The Editor

4 Galmington Lane
Taunton

Somerset

Dear Alfie,

Although I am not a member of the Bristol Exploration Club, I felt I must write in opposition to the critics of the Belfry Bulletin.

Caving and its allied pursuits are not top of my list of priorities, but I do enjoy reading your publication.  Speaking professionally, I feel it is well edited, well laid out and informative. More to the point, it is not too highbrow for ignoramuses such as myself, who are not versed in technicalities.

The magazine would seem to suffer from only one problem - the eternal lack of contributors. Perhaps, if the bar-room critics put down their pints and picked up their pens, the B.B. might be even more lively and successful; but that is probably asking too much of people - writing does, after all, require mental and physical effort!

Thank you, Alfie, for the interest and enjoyment you bring to my house on "B.B. mornings" - you will always find yourself propping up our marmalade jar.

Yours,
Janet Setterington.

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

Withey House,
Withey Close West,
Bristol 9.

Dear Alfie,

It's always nice to see the Belfry Bulletin and I don't really know what people are grumbling at (No 319).  You don't need to worry about being quoted or not, as long as due acknowledgement is made. It has occurred to me that you might try selling it outside the club.  Perhaps you already do so.  I should have thought it would have gone quite well at 10p post free.  Wig's notes are particularly the kind of thing to interest non club members.

Incidentally, I thought Wig's comment on the Wookey 9 tunnel faintly and unfairly damning.  The Kilmersdon miners have driven a magnificent tunnel from the outside to 3 by way of 9 and 7.  In their calculations - aided by Stanton's survey - they were only two metres out. The tunnel is just over two metres in diameter and beautifully made.  I've only seen the far end of it, but the other day I went there and made my quickest trip to 9 ever.  There is a hole leading into 7 with water about twenty feet below while the hole into 9 at about the same height leads down into the mud bank immediately opposite the 9:2 pool.  Unfortunately, 9 is getting a bit messed up, but not irreversibly.  They have put iron ladders over the 9:1 pool, giving access to the high level extensions which lead back to 5.  These are lashed in place with a line belonging to one of our members, which is a pity as we can't now return it to him!  They have run into a spot of trouble by entering the far end of the Charon's Chamber rift.  This leaves them with an unstable boulder ruckle poised above their heads.  They are still busy making this part of the tunnel safe.

The people who made this tunnel will call it the Kilmersdon Tunnel - and I hope the name sticks.  It is a fitting tribute to the best of our Somerset colliers.

Ever Yours,
Oliver Lloyd.

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

Whiddons Farm,
Chilcote,
Somerset.

Dear Alfie,

I thought I'd fully endorse Tim’s comment on the quality of the B.B., but I leaped out of my seat at his idea of a bi-monthly B.B.

Any caver who subscribes to Bruce Bedford's excellent little magazine 'Descent' will know just what a 'little period of two months' is like to wait for a mag.

How many times have we heard the same old story "We haven't had our B.B., so we didn't know it was on!?  Tim himself, in his letter, says, "Having just received my B.B. for March, together with the April issue, I HAVE ONLY JUST SEEN YOUR REQUEST TO WRITE ... "

Nough said ?
Nigel Taylor.

Make a Note of The Annual Dinner

SATURDAY OCTOBER 5th

·        NEW location in WELLS!

·        REAL FOOD by outside caterers

·        Entertainment in the B.E.C. Manner!

·        DRINKS supplied by ROGER DORS and his incredible mobile Hunters!

·        FURTHER INFORMATION SOON!

And

Why not come to the A.G.M. as well – at the Belfry on the same day?


 

Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany

By 'Wig'

  1. Charterhouse Permits.  In paragraph 69 (March '74) the second sentence reads, 'No permits are issued to members' It should, of course, read 'No period permits are issued permits to non-members and no permits can be issued to married minors.'
  2. O.F.D.  Entry via the top entrance is being restricted somewhat.  A written request to the Hon. Sec. of the South Wales C.C. must first be made, who will then send a letter giving permission.  This letter must be shown to the Duty Warden at the cottage before he will issue a key.  The S.W.C.C. is concerned about the amount of damage in the system, and so are attempting to keep records of all parties entering the cave.
  3. Stoke Lane Slocker.  The cave has now been gated.  The key is available from the farmer (returnable deposit £1.00) 5p per head is charged for the descent.  Access to the cave is via the top road.
  4. Sandford Levvy and Mangle Hole.  Neither cave is blocked.  The landowner is still a little sore over the attitude of cavers, and would really like to seal both caves.  However, provided that the caves are approached from the east (over the hill) and that cavers do not change in front of the residents, then all should be well.
  5. Manor Farm.  The farmer has decided to charge 10p per head for descent of the cave.
  6. Carbide Lamp Spares.  The following lamp spares are now available at the Belfry.  Complete carbide lamps £2.80; Jets 8p; Prickers 15p; Sealing ring 6p; Flint assembly 25p; Felt pad 8p; Flints 12p; 2⅝" diameter reflector 26p; 4" diameter reflector 36p; other lamps and spares can be supplied.  Details from Tim Large c/o The Belfry.  Spare parts for various electric cells are underway.  Tim also has some battery operated lifejacket lights which can be used as emergency lights.
  7. 21st Anniversary of the Discovery of St. Cuthbert’s.  This is Wednesday, 4th September 1974.  On this date in 1953, Roy Bennett and Viv Brown made the first descent of the Entrance Rift and explored to the head, of Arête Pitch.  The next trip was on the 20th of September, when the entrance rift was opened enough to allow all but two of those concerned with the dig to descend.

Kangy King is arranging the programme, and is inviting as many of the original explorers to attend a club meet that will celebrate the coming of age of the cave.  The party will descend the cave via the old route - wet & waterfall pitches; water shute; by-pass; Stal Pitch & on to the end of Gour Rift.  Members of the celebration party will be by invitation only. The party will be made up of individuals who have contributed to the exploration of the cave in some way.  Champagne will be served at the Great Gour.

Cavers interested in joining in the celebrations are invited to contact Kangy, who will form a second party to enter the cave after the celebration party.

  1. Additions to the Library. Several items have been added to the library, including items from S.M.C.C., A.C.G., Grampian.  Climbing magazines have been donated by Tim Large and Chris Howell.  Also items from Egons, Sottoterra etc. have been received.
  2. Fairy Cave Quarry.  B.E.C. leaders are Nigel Taylor Mike Palmer.  Requests for trips to the various caves in the quarry should be arranged through Nig or Mike.
  3. Caving Reports.  A small but important change will take place in the future.  All reports issued, from No 1 to No 17 have been single subject material.  Number 18, which makes its appearance later in the year, will consist of several topics of interest to cavers.  Its contents will include Flower Pot, Hollowfield; Ludwell Cave - details of a new underwater passage and a complete survey of the cave, and the sea caves of Saunton Sands and Baggy Point.

Whilst on the subject of caving reports, Nos 16 and 17 (Vanishing Grottoes and the Burrington Atlas) are now almost out of print.  Members not having either of these publications, but who wish to purchase them are advised to do so soon.  They, and the others, are available from Chris Howell, 131 Sandon Road, Edgbaston Birmingham.  Chris also stocks back numbers of the Belfry Bulletin.  These are available at prices from 5p to 20p each.  Write your wants to Chris.

  1. Additions to the Library.  Grampian S.G. Bulletin Vol 5/4 and 5/5.  Index to Bulletins Vols 1 to 5.  Wessex Journals numbers 151,152,153.  Miscellaneous publications; Computers in Water Resources Management, I.B.M. publication.  Regionalisation and hydro-geological parameters for use in mathematical models of groundwater flow, Spelaeo Rahl Newsletter, Aug. Sep. Nov 1973.  Egons Journal numbers 15,16, 17, 19, 20.  B.C.R.A. Bulletins numbers 1 to 4 (1974) Transactions Volume 1 number 1.  M.C.G. Newsletter number 106.  Microclimatology of caves ( Lawrence) and Advances in Spelaeometeorology (Lawrence) both donated by N. Taylor.  Omnibuss 5. Devon S.S. newsletter number 114 Bibliography on Lava tube caves Pelobates - Croydon C.C. number 24.  Cerberus newsletter 19, 20, 21, 22, 34, 35, 36 thanks to Nick Chipchase.  BACI 1eadership qualifications.  N.C.A .Caving Code. C.S.S. newsletter Vol 16 No 6.  Plymouth Newsletter Numbers 54, 55, 56 and Red Rose C.P.C.  Newsletter Vol 11 No 1.


 

Up The Creek

Many club members take part in activities on, in or underwater.  This forms the flimsy excuse for this write up by the editor. It also illustrates the fact that members can write on holiday activities in the B.B.!

In June, two units of the Mendip Navy took part in summer manoeuvres on the Salcombe Estuary.  They were captained by Steve Causer and Alfie.

Alfie arrived first, and was promptly conned into paying not only his Harbour Dues, but a vast sum for the use of the car and boat park at Batson.  Steve craftily launches his boat from the roof of his car.  We hasten to add that he first puts it to the ground, although we would not be at all surprised to learn that he has attempted a direct catapult launch straight from the car roof into the water.  Anyway, by this means, he manages to avoid parting with much cash, thus saving it for drinking.

The first part of the manoeuvres consisted of the boats making their independent way to Southpool, at the end of the creek of that name, where Alfie was assured by Steve that there was a pub and where Steve was assured by Alfie that there would be sufficient water in the creek to coincide with opening hours.  Accordingly, at the appoint time, Alfie's boat made its way steadily up the creek in shallower and shallower water.  A local inhabitant, hailed from the boat, assured the worried crew that they would get no further up the creek that day, and expressed surprise and concern at the distance from the sea they already were, the opinion of the Local Inhabitant, the sooner the boat was turned round, the better for all concerned. This was done, and punting gave way to rowing and rowing to running with the engine lowered.

By a brilliant piece of navigation, Steve was located on a beach near the mouth of the estuary, where he and his family were basking in the sun.  It turned out that in true Mendip fashion, he had had to abandon the trip up the creek owing to engine trouble, and had rowed over to this beach instead.  The return trip was made in line astern with no trouble.

It was agreed that two things had been learned.  One being that the tides in this estuary do not conform to any of the charts, but are a secret shared by the Harbourmaster at Salcombe and the Almighty.  The other lesson was that, for some inexplicable reason, opening hours of waterside pubs are not adjusted to suit the tide - a piece of sloppy organisation that caused us much worry and careful planning in subsequent voyages.

A day or so later, Steve left the moorings in about two inches of water (owing, as explained to the need to match opening hours with the tide) and I left a little later in about three inches of water to pick up my passengers at the town pontoon with the object of returning to the beach and basking in the sunshine.

Having just left the town behind, we were surprised to see frantic waving from a point on the shore, towards which we altered course.  It turned out that Steve's unerring instinct had led him to a waterside pub. Unfortunately, the steps were used by the ferries, which came zooming in with complete disregard for any other boats and only just gave you time to land passengers. The only place in which Steve could tie me up meant that I had to clamber from boat to boat on my way ashore, to the intense interest of the next load of ferry passengers, who waited with baited breath for me to fall into the water.  I considered obliging them, but eventually decided against it.

We tried an interesting variant on our way back from the beach that day, in which I towed Steve's boat. Since the only point of attachment was one of my rowlocks, both boats progressed with a curious zig-zag motion which may have been interesting to watch but was uncomfortable to be in.  On the way back, you go through a line of standing waves.  I happened, of course, to be looking aft when we hit them which all added to the general fun.

The summer manoeuvres were voted a success - which meant that neither of us actually sank or rammed the harbourmaster’s launch!


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 47

1

2

 

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

7

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

13

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. All stew locates most Mendip caves. (7)
6. Receiver of proof of aural connection in cave? (3)
7. Holy man plus packets of paper gives some features of caves. (7)
9. Loosen. (4)
10. Can be mud; sand; stal &c, in a cave. (4)
12. Older caving types had an accident? (7)
14. Sticky stuff, commonly. (3)
15. Boots to this to cave floor, and well may have it as well. (5,2)

Down

2. Cuthbert’s pitch. (3)
3. Sail backwards to the rock? (4)
4. Making sure of tackle. (7)
5. Progressed through low cave. (7)
7. Type of machine found underground on Mendip. (7)
8. Drops to a Mendip cave. (4,3)
11. Beware of this hole, educated men! (4)
13. Returning time in brief.  (1,1,1)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

A

C

A

N

A

L

 

A

 

 

L

 

O

 

A

I

D

S

T

A

R

R

E

D

 

A

 

 

D

 

T

 

D

U

M

P

 

 

 

H

U

E

 

 

 

A

R

C

H

 

R

 

R

 

 

O

 

I

N

D

O

O

R

P

O

O

L

 

I

 

E

 

 

F

 

L

O

G

G

E

D


 

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, B. Wilton, G. Oaten, N. Taylor, A.R. Thomas

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            A. NICHOLLS, (Acting)

Climbing Secretary         G. OATEN, Address to follow.

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

Belfry Engineer              M. BISHOP,  Address to follow. Tele : PRIDDY 370

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

 

QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editorial

The Long Way Round ?

I wonder if anybody else picked up the item in Dave Irwin’s 'Round and About' column the other month, when he was describing the main rescues last year?  In the item for the 22nd July, 1973, the description reads: 'a friend was stuck just beyond the little waterfall inside the entrance at the beginning of the Dry Ways, the chaps went back to the rear of him via the Old Grotto.'

It could, of course, have been a misprint - but if not, what was the matter with Kenny's Dig?  I have a shrewd suspicion that there are a number of cavers today who are experts on places like the Damp Link but who couldn't take you to the New Grotto if you paid them.  Perhaps there is a need for Descriptive Map of Swildons!

Future Use Of The Belfry Site

At the last meeting of the committee, Graham Wilton-Jones outlined his Long Term forecast of use of the Belfry site and list of priorities for future improvements to be made.

As always with this sort of document, it is a little difficult to 'take it in' at first reading, but it is hoped that Graham will have a copy which can be reproduced in the B.B so that club members can be kept abreast of the current thinking.

“Alfie”


 

All to Pot

A light hearted account of some Yorkshire caving.

by Andrew Nicholls.

The editor has kindly given me this chance to quash the rumour that your favourite solicitor is to be found scrounging food in the Belfry or in an alcoholic slumber in the corner and does not, and never has possessed any caving gear.

It's a lie!  To prove it, Andy Nicholls and Malcolm Jarrett voyaged to Yorkshire at the end of March for an ambitious weeks' caving having, as members of (dare I say it?) the Council of Northern Caving Clubs, booked several fine pots at ten days' notice with no more trouble than a 3½p stamp.

Most of it never got done, mainly because the car carrying the tackle blew up and failed to arrive at the B.P.C. hut at Horton in Ribblesdale until Monday night.  When it did, Andy found that he'd left his boots behind - a ploy he'd used with great success on various French expeditions but now infuriating.  So Pippikin, Monday's hole, had to be abandoned.

On Tuesday, they did get down Gravel Pot on Leck Fell, with a Southampton friend.  Well, almost down: Andy had an epic on the 84 foot pitch and refused to brake-block back up. It was far wetter than he'd expected. The tails of the ladder had snagged out of reach on the far wall and had to be freed by crazy pendulum swings, and the rig was about five feet short.  Unable to see the floor through the downpour, or to climb back up, he calculated quickly before leaping off into the void and causing consternation in a life lining Jarrett.  The little lad's efforts to get back up a ladder which began at nose level were comical. No one else wanted to go down, so the descent was aborted, though they did detour to see the fine blue-grey formations of Glasford's Chamber and extensions.

The return to the car was via Short Drop Cave, half a mile of gradually less impressive vadose streamway.  Harsh words were said about dragging all the Gavel tackle through the crawls and Andy's habit of vanishing up grotty inlets 'to study the spelaeomorphological influences'.

Wednesday was the highlight. Malcolm and Andy, with Nigel Anderton (Southampton) and Julian Griffiths ( Cambridge) disposed of Pasture Gill Pot in Langstrothdale - only 340 feet deep but a fine Grade V pot.  A thirty foot entrance pitch and second pitch of thirty feet, breaks into the streamway which leads at once to the third pitch - a spray-covered fifty.  The water runs on to the fourth pitch, which is a hundred and thirty five feet and, as Julian was on carbide, Andy was thrown over the edge on a rope to see if it was wet.

 “What if it's absolutely torrential?”

“You’ll have to climb straight back up!"

“What if I can't?”

“We’ll leave you there and go to the pub."

(Wails and curses from eighty feet down)

But it was a magnificent pitch - just away from the wall and dry all the way.  The others abseiled down.  The Near Rift followed squeezing and grovelling through boulders with a thrutch in the middle which halted Nigel.

Down to three heroes, the party pushed on through Tadpole Passage which is two hundred and fifty feet of vile, wet crawl with a duck in the middle; and reached the fifth pitch - a wet twenty.  The sixth pitch is by-passed on the right to a climb down into the Far Rift, easy traversing through loose boulders to more flat out crawling over cobbles to another duck. "Hey! It’s not a duck.  It's a damned squeeze underwater!"

"Blob deggle mayflibe apig dobar?"

"Slop?"

"I said, 'What do you reckon to this grade V caving so far?"

"Luggit!"

"What?"

"Rubbish!"

The cave's final passage is 300 feet of sharply scalloped crawl to a wet forty foot pitch, which would have been walking but for the clusters of straws on the roof.  Near the end was a fascinating display of tree roots - not the piffling tendrils of Wookey Nine, but monstrous black pythons sprouting through roof and walls, writhing along the passage and (Get out, you beast - get OUT!) straight up your wetsuit trousers.

Below the last pitch, the cave ended suddenly in a boulder chamber and sump.  That was it.  The three set out, waking Nigel on the way, and reaching the surface after six and a half hours of sporting caving.

Thursday was a relaxed day. Malcolm and Andy, with Nigel and a Cambridge ex-Wessex friend of Andy's relaxed in: -

The Sportsman. (Dent)
The Fowlands Inn (Bentham)
The Talbot. (Settle)
The Craven Heifer (Stainforth)
The Crown. (Horton)
and The Helwith Bridge ( Helwith Bridge.)

The day's objective, a visit to Whernside Manor to bait Ben Lyon, had to be abandoned when it was found that the Great Man was out.  Instead, we spent a couple of hours down Ibbeth Peril I, an interesting system with surely the coldest water in the Dales.

And that was the end of the weeks I caving except for Andy who, as a final fling, journeyed to South Wales and led three Cambridge friends down O.F.D.  Eight hours was spent on a trip from Top Entrance over the traverses to Smith's Armoury, down Pendulum Passage, then down the whole length of that magnificent streamway to emerge from O.F.D. I.  The deepest trip in Britain and, though not particularly arduous, undoubtedly one of the best.  The Crevasse has a new bolt for the 80 foot abseil and the 25, 15 and 40 foot pitches in Pendulum Passage can all be free-climbed, though the last is tricky.

Caving Meets

MAY 24th - 27th - SPRING BANK HOLIDAY.  Yorkshire - staying at Brackenbottom - the B.P.C. H.Q.

Saturday May 25th PIPPIKIN & LANCASTER/EASEGILL

Sunday, May 26th JUNIPER and NOTTS.

Saturday June 22nd. Cil Yr Ychen and Llygad Llwchwr.  One Day Meet - Details later

July 13th and 14th, Forest of Dean - Staying at the Gloucester Hut. WESTBURY BROOK or WIGPOOL

August 23-26th Yorkshire. Details later but it is hoped to include BIRK'S FELL and SLEETS GILL.

FURTHER DETAILS OF THESE TRIPS FROM ANDY NICHOLS OR DAVE IRWIN. NOTICES WILL APPEAR ON THE BELFRY NOTICE BOARD.

If anyone knows of any other trips planned by club members in the future, which other members can join, please let Dave Irwin, Andy Nichols or the editor have details.


 

Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany

By 'Wig'

  1. County Clare, Eire.  Cavers visiting the Clare caving area are reminded that the M.R.O. maintain a basic rescue and first aid gear at Ballynalacken Castle, Lisdoonvarna.  The nearest rescue services for Clare are called out from Dublin about 150 miles away!
  2. Cave Rescue Conference.  This is being held in the Mendip area on 21/22 September 1974.  The General Organiser, Jim Hanwell, will be issuing details later.
  3. St. Cuthbert's Swallet.  Celebrates its 21st Birthday this year in September.  A commemoration trip will be made descending the cave by the route taken by the original explorers.  Personnel on the original trips included Ray Bennett; 'Sett'; Chris Falshaw; 'Mo' Marriott; Viv Brown and John Pain.  Alas, the two principal movers, Don Coase and Jack Whaddon, are no longer with us.  At this time it would not be a bad idea to take a long and objective assessment of the impact of the Leader System operating for the cave.  Is the condition of the cave today such that the club can claim to have at least delayed the deterioration of the cave by means of this system?  Are the leaders really aware of the damage that, nevertheless, has been done in the cave?  Are they as aware of their responsibilities as were leader in the past?  Perhaps somebody would like to comment.
  4. Cambrian Caving Council Handbook 1973.  This edited by Noel Christopher, is available at 20p a copy.  The contents include cave rescue, in Wales; Cambrian Cave Registry Access to the caves in Wales and the Marches; Caving clubs in the Cambrian Council; Constitution of the Council; rules for O.F.D., Dan-yr-Ogof and Tunnel (Cathedral) Cave.  Copies available from Noel Christopher, 22, Deva Close, Poynton, Stockport, Cheshire SK12 1HH.  A copy is in the Club Library.
  5. Shepton Mallet C.C. Journal.  Series 5 No 6 Autumn 1973 is just out and follows the same style as the last few - Lava Caves.  Chris Woods contributes a couple of interesting articles on the Cueva Del Viento (suggested as being the longest known lava tube) which S.M.C.C. members surveyed last year in Teneriffe.  Milch contributes another of his lava tube bibliographies and T. Hayman includes a short article and sketch survey of Eisen Hill Mines, Weddon Cross Somerset. (NGR 909371).  A copy is in the club library.
  6. Access Keys.  Longwood./August; Rhino Rift and G. B. are now kept at the Belfry in the Library. Keys for the library are held by Dave Irwin and Nigel Taylor.  The issue of Longwood and R.R. keys are to the normal Charterhouse rules.  G.B. key to members only.
  7. St. Cuthbert’s - Entrance Rift.  During this last winter the Entrance Rift has been particularly wet, and on two occasions cavers have not been able to return back up it.  It has been decided that the best way to prevent this type of occurrence when the river is in full spate is only to let people down if they have been down the cave on a previous occasion.  It is essential that people going down know the problems of climbing back up the rift. Incidentally the main reason for the high water is because plantation stream has been diverted into the depression by a neighbour because - wait for it - the noise of the water entering Plantation Swallet disturbed his peace!
  8. Pinetree Pot.  As the key is unobtainable during mid-week it has been agreed by M.C.G. that the club will hold a key at the Belfry.  Arrangements for its collection are the same as for the Charterhouse keys (see 57.)
  9. Goatchurch Cavern.  John Knops is gallantly digging away below the Water Chamber and has reached the small Goatchurch stream again.  He is digging at the right hand junction at the bottom of Hellish Tight (the alternative way down to the Drainpipe).  A choked pothole has been excavated to a depth of about fifteen feet and a gravel and pebble choked streamway reached.  John is continuing the dig along this stream which is below the level of the Terminal Rift at the end of the Drainpipe.  By this means he has deepened Goatchurch by a few feet.  The stream seems to be running along a line similar to that of the Drainpipe.  A sketch map taken from the M.C.G. survey marks the spot.  Anyone with any energy to spare should phone John and join him.  His telephone number is BATH 27576.
  10. Cuadernos de Espeleologia No 7.  One of the important overseas exchanges has just arrived for the club library and contains a wealth of information for anyone wishing to get references for Spanish caving.  Perhaps the most interesting article for the sporting caver is the description and historical notes on the Gouffre de Garma Ciega, having a depth of 868m (2,860 ft).  The cave, at Dijon on the cote d’Or, was located on a prospecting trip in 1965 and descended to a depth of 250m (825 ft).  In 1967 this was increased to 340m (1,120 ft) and 360m (1,180 ft) in 1968.  In 1969 another prospecting trip located another entrance at a higher level and during the next two years increased the depth to its present amount.  The whole publication of over 200 pages is typeset and finely printed and with many surveys and photographs makes a valuable addition to the club library and deserves the attention of all active cavers.  We have also received No 5-6 of the same publication which also warrants special attention.
  11. USE OF BANG ON MENDIP AND ELSEWHERE.  I’ve heard from a reliable source that the use of bang is only to be used by the licence holders.  There have been occasions where bang has been handed on from a licence holder to another caver.  The police have made it quite clear that should they get hold of any definite news that bang has been handed on in this way they will take a serious view and prosecute the individual.   The long term effect WILL (not MAY) be the WITHDRAWAL OF MENDIP EXPLOSIVES LICENCES.
  12. Manor Farm Swallet.  The ladder on the entrance pitch will be removed by the time you read this - so take a 50' ladder and the necessary lifeline!
  13. Another goes under!  On April 5th, Tony Tucker lost his bachelor freedom by getting hooked to Sue Gazzard.  Best of wishes, Sue and Tony.  While on the social line, Phil and Yolande Kingston now have a baby son - wonder when they'll be applying for B.E.C. membership?  Older members will remember Foulmouth (Pete) Miller.  Well, he's now on his travels again and has obtained a post in South Africa.  John and 'Mo' Riley were back in England again on holiday from Australia during the Christmas period.  Rumour has it that they may be coming back to settle here in the autumn.  Living at Priddy as I do enables one to see many B.E.C. members who call in for a flying visit now and then.  Recently, one older member called in for a general chat about the club - that was Phil Townsend, who incidentally coughed up two years subs!  What about you lot who haven't yet paid Barry Wilton your sub for this year?  It's £2.50, and remember - by the club rules, your May B.B. is not sent to you if you haven't paid up by the end of April.  I recall the editor putting it in rhyme some years ago (he would!) and I think it goes: -

Annual subs should all be in
Ere the month of May begin.
Any bloke who falls to pay
Doesn't get B.B. for May.

Another member who called in recently was Garth Dell who is now a happily married family man.

  1. It takes all kinds!  What goes down must come up.  This is what is happening to Dave Turner these days - except that he is keeping up with the club motto by not coming back up a cave but by taking up ballooning with Tom Sage.  Older members will, no doubt, remember Tom in his old W.S.G. days when he used to some down to Mendip with Frank Darbon (now in Canada), Cedric Green and Bill Smart.  Martin Hutchings, also of the W.S.G., is now living in the Bristol Area and so, perhaps, we shall be seeing more of him.
  2. U.S.A. Marathon.  During the summer months, several well-known Mendip cavers are spending about three months caving in the states. Martin Webster, Ray Mansfield, Martin Mills and Bob Mayhew are all off to a grand tour of the caving areas and, as far as I can gather, the route is South from New York to Kentucky, then to Texas and on down to New Mexico.  North again to Los Angeles and finally back to New York and home.  No doubt we shall be hearing of some of their escapades in the B.B. later this year.
  3. Swildons - Car Parking.  Would members please park cars when going down Swildons on the UPPER GREEN (Near the church).  Also inform other cavers of this request from the villagers.


 

Water Into Cuthbert’s

The Editor 'casts his mind back through the ages' to give a bit of background to the problem of flooding Cuthbert’s.

The paragraph in this month's 'Round and About' on the water in the Entrance Rift in Cuthbert’s (No 58) has prompted me to write these notes on the history and thinking behind the control of water entering the cave.  I have not given the exact dates, although I could have looked them up, because they are not relevant to the argument or conclusion.

From the time when the lead works finally closed in the first few years of this century until some time in the 1920's, the whole of the bottom of the depression consisted of a pool. This pool disappeared in a spectacular fashion one night, when a hole about six feet across was found to have opened up.  According to Bert Russell, it took several cartloads of stone to fill this hole in again.

After this episode, a rather more shallow pool usually occupied most of the depression floor. This was the case when we first came to the site in the 1940's.  This shallow pool was filled from two main sources - A high level stream coming from Mineries Pool which brought most of the water in, and a source of general seepage from the same source which came down from Mineries via the area of 'tumps' which lies between the pool and the bottom of the depression.

The dig of 1947 - handicapped by being 'unofficial' which meant that no shoring could be used and which failed to enter the cave by means of the present (new) entrance by about two feet - was undertaken in very dry conditions and thus the water situation presented no problems.  Indeed, one of the reasons why the original entrance site was chosen as the place to dig was because it was relatively high up and away from the water of the depression pool.  During the whole digging phase, no problem was experienced through water - but once the head of the Entrance Pitch was reached water was met with coming from the direction of the origin dig (the present entrance).

In the first flush of enthusiasm, this water was ignored and everybody constructed drip shields for their carbide lamps to enable them to stay alight during the descent of the very wet entrance rift.  It was at this stage that Les Browne, Don and myself took a good look at the water situation to see what could be done to lessen the amount flowing down the rift, Don decided to concentrate on the depression pool and repaired the old bank with help and fitted a sluice, so that water could be kept out of the cave for a short while - long enough for cavers to get down under dry conditions. The problem of getting back was solved by fitting a telephone which ran from the Dining Room in Cuthbert’s to the Belfry - with a later extension to the Shepton Hut - so that returning cavers could ask for the plug to be put into the sluice.

Meanwhile, Les Browne pointed out that a much greater improvement would be to stop the main stream from entering the depression at all.  An old trench existed which went underneath the aqueduct which carried Priddy's drinking water supply from Fair Lady Well and which went into the plantation swallet.  This trench had partially collapsed and the bottom was far above the level of the stream - but Les set to work lowering the bottom of the trench until it became low enough to act as a diversion for the stream.  The trench became known as Browne's Cutting - and we constructed a thick dam from the rubble we got out of Browne's Cutting to block the stream from entering the depression.  We soon had this Upper Dam complete, and water running merrily into Plantation - leaving at the bottom of the depression a vast area of mud heaving with thousands of freshwater shrimps; three smooth newts, one great crested newt and a peculiar looking insect.  We rescued the newts and left the rest to their fate.

In spite of somebody (who has since owned up!) who used to breach the Upper Dam regularly (and we used to mend it with equal regularity!) the scheme worked very well.  There was now much less water to cope with, and the sluice now held the water out of the cave for a couple of hours under normal conditions.

Unfortunately, conditions one day in 1960 were far from normal.  Two inches of rain fell in the Belfry area in four hours and, although the Upper Dam held fast and kept the main stream out of the depression, the seepage from the other source raised the level at the lower dam quicker than fire pumps could lower it by pumping it back uphill into Plantation.  In the end, it was only by raising the level of the whole dam by a vital few inches that we got the party out of the cave.  Brian Prewer visited the scene the next day reported that the lower dam was completely submerged and that the pool was back to its pre-1920's size and depth. It was nearly a fortnight before the water level got back to normal.

With this 'near miss' in mind, we decided on the present scheme, which was designed to make sure that never again would cavers have to risk a long stay in the cave due to a sudden and violent storm.  We realised that we could not keep the water from getting into the depression under storm conditions, so we argued that we must get it out more quick instead.  So we dug the present entrance and incorporated a pipe straight from the sluice into the cave, so that it would always be possible to lower the water level behind the lower dam quicker than a storm could fill it.

With the situation described in 'Round and About' whereby the main stream is now back in the depression, it is doubtful - to say the least of future - whether the scheme could now cope in a storm situation.  Even so, the present situation need not be dangerous provided that it remains possible to put the stream rapidly back into Plantation if necessary.  The danger is that Browne's Cutting will be allowed to fall into disrepair and the Upper Dam be completely washed away.  In the event of another storm like that of July 1960, by the time that Browne's Cutting is re-opened and the Upper Dam restored, the quantity of water in the depression might have become sufficiently large that it would take too long to lower the level.  In the 1960 storm, the pump raised an estimated 125,000 gallons into Plantation in about 5 hours just coping with the seepage water.  It would be tragic indeed if a serious accident ever occurred in Cuthbert’s which could have been entirely prevented - and one wonders how the club would come out of any enquiry which might be held after such an unhappy event.


 

Reynold’s Rift

This account of the cave recently opened by the Chelm's Coombe Caving Club has been sent to the B.B. by Their Secretary, J. Aylott

Reynold's Rift is situated in the grounds of the National Tower Testing Station at Chelm's Coombe, Cheddar and the opening up of the cave took just under two years by members of the Chelm's Coombe Caving Club and friends.

It is situated under a collapsed section of the face where, when the quarry was blasted, 1,200 lb charge of powder was laid and instead of blasting out the face, it collapsed inwards and down, creating an unstable boulder pile.

Some History of the Dig.

During June 1972, while clearance of the pad area of the National Tower Testing Station was being undertaken, a small hole at the base of the collapsed section of the face was discovered.  It was noted by members of the Chelm's Coombe Caving Club, but little else was done. Then in early August 1972, it was investigated by J.C. Aylott who found that the slot - only two inches by four inches had a slight draught but that digging at the site would be impossible due to the unstable condition of the face at this point.  On the 7th of August, 1972, digging started by J. Aylott in the floor of the station about three feet away from the original slot. He was later joined by R. Collins. Work was greatly encouraged when, after the removal of about two feet of material, a rift was found.  It was about two inches wide and twelve feet deep.  A ten foot shaft was sunk through this rift, and on the 21st of September 1972, J. Aylott - on a solo trip - broke through into a small chamber with a boulder and mud floor which still carried a good draught.  The squeeze through was exceptionally tight and was later widened in October 1972 to make the removal of spoil easier.

On the 27th September 1972, V. Gray joined the diggers, making up a team of three.  Work then carried or through 1972 until August 1973. during which time all the digging had been done without blasting.  From June 1973, the diggers were: J. Aylott, V. Gray and R. Barclay and these carried on until October 1973 when P. Carter joined the team.

During August 1973, the assistance of N. Taylor was found to be of great advantage, and he greatly speeded up the dig with his blasting, making regular visits from then onwards.

It was during August 1973 that the second small chamber was broken into, after digging through another two inch wide section of rift.  The dig had then been in progress one year.  The team carried on digging in the floor of this chamber by blasting and then digging out until this chamber was made into another pitch.  Then, on the 6th December 1973, J. Aylott and P. Carter broke through into an open cave passage through a very tight crawl which was enlarged from the other side later on.

On the 10th of December 1973, V. Gray and J. Aylott explored all the new cave passage and started digging in the floor of Mud Alley, where boulders could be heard falling down a pitch. On the 28th February 1974, J. Aylott and V. Gray broke through the tight section in this rift into a fifty foot pitch, which was found to be choked at the bottom.  Work carries on.

The Cave Description.   Alt: 280' O.D.  Approx. Length 300'  Depth: 80 - 100'

The cave entrance is found at the base of the East Face about fifty feet North of Box's Cave.

It is entered through a steel gate set in concrete under which is the first pitch, with one side made up of half 40 gallon oil drums.  This is easily climbed down to a squeeze which drops into a small chamber. From there, one drops down the second pitch (Blasted Pitch) which, again, can be climbed.  At the Northern end of this pitch, a passage goes nearly to the surface, but it is impassable.  At the bottom, a crawl will be found heading in a Southerly direction. This crawl (The Rack) is six feet long and drops two feet into a larger passage.  This is the Main Passage which goes to the north and south.

To the north, the passage soon enlarges to about five feet square with a boulder floor, and then closes into a squeeze (Devil's Doorway) through stal cemented boulders.  The passage then drops down six feet to a stream sink.  All this area is made up of boulders cemented by stal.  There is a large boulder hanging in the roof over the sink which is only held up by two chocks tones - so care should be taken.

The passage then rises, and a crawl follows over boulders in the stream bed.  After a few feet, it is necessary to drop down into the stream bed and go through a squeeze at stream level.  From here onwards, the passage (The High Way) is twenty feet high and three feet wide with the stream running in the floor to a large boulder choke filling the whole passage.  Care should be taken in this section of passage as the floor is of stal and can easily be broken.

Southward from the Rack, the passage starts as a muddy crawl then turns into a traverse on muddy ledges over a twenty foot pitch.  This is Mud Alley.  By chimneying down this pitch, a false floor of boulders can be reached after which a hole in the southern end can be passed which leads to 'Clinker Climb' - a fifty foot pitch in two sections which ends at present in a choke where the stream is seen again.

By continuing the traverse, the rift floor is again reached and from here, the passage leads to a chimney The Smokestack.  This is forty feet high with a squeeze in the middle.  The whole chimney has very good chert bands and fossils and care should be taken when climbing.  The squeeze is overhanging and in loose boulders.  Digging is continuing under the chimney in a boulder choke which is unstable and should not be entered.

Access and Notes

The cave is situated on the National Tower Testing Station, and all access is controlled by them.  Permission can be obtained by writing to the Station Manager.  A maximum of four per trip is allowed.  All trips are led, and it is requested that only electrics are used.  It is essential that the tapes in the cave are not crossed as they are to protect the cave for others.

A trip was made down the cave on the 9th February 1974 under extremely wet conditions, and it was found that Blasted Pitch was taking a large amount of water and that the Rack was impassable.  This should be borne in mind, and any trip arranged that meets with conditions such as these should be cancelled.

All diggers would like to thank Mr. Box for all the help and encouragement that he has given them in opening up the cave, and it is hoped that all cavers who visit the cave will help to maintain the good relations that exist at the present time.

Listed below are all the people who have helped with the dig, and the number of trips done:-

Name

No. of trips.

Hours digging.

J. Aylott

V. Gray

R. Collins

N. Taylor

R. Barclay

P. Carter

G. Jones

N. Smith

F. Reynolds

J. Thorpe

W. Wilson

W. Stanton

119

23

61

9

8

8

4

4

2

2

1

1

180

58

35

22

20

20

10

10

5

5

3

2

The cave is named after the late F.A. Reynolds who died shortly after his last trip down the dig.

 

Why not make a weekend of it?

Come to the Working Weekend (May 10th – 11th – 12th).  Free Bed-nights at the belfry *

Closed to all except workers and those attending the Don Coase memorial Lecture (Saturday night only)*

Come and see the Committee ACTUALLY WORKING!*

COME TO THE DON COASE MEMORIAL LECTURE.

Have a jar or three at the Hunters!  Meet your friends!  Stay and work on Sunday!

AND GO BACK TO WORK ON MONDAY COMPLETELY CLAPPED OUT!


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 45

1

 

2

 

3

4

 

5

 

6

7

 

 

8

 

9

 

 

 

10

 

11

 

 

12

 

13

14

 

 

15

 

16

 

 

 

17

 

18

 

 

19

 

20

 

 

 

21

 

22

 

 

23

 

24

25

 

 

16

 

27

 

 

 

28

 

29

 

 

30

 

31

32

 

 

33

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

2. Has water twin associations on Mendip. (4)
5. Sounds like 5 down. (2)
6. Bertie, perhaps. (3)
8. Weegie trip? (4)
10. Short-lived Mendip hole. (4)
12. Swildons Grotto not south? (3)
14. ….or N.W. (1,1)
15. Had obligations. (4)
17. First part of 33 across. (4)
19. Feature of G.B. found in Kangaroo, Zebra etc. (4)
21. Ungated? (4)
23. Correct (1,1)
24. Makes bang work in short. (3)
26. Arête this in Cuthbert’s for example. (2,2)
28. Reports from all quarters? (4)
30. ‘Warm and dry and….’ (3)
32. It’s been this for centuries. (1,1)
33. Cat’s would be useful to caver. (4)

Down

1. Stoke Lane chamber. (1,1)
2. Decided before caving? (1,1,1)
3. Once caver’s staple diet. (4)
5. Galena, for example. (3)
7. Vane cave feature. (4)
9. Loosen, perhaps. (4)
11. G.B. Passage. (4)
13. Can be five or seven days, has been three. (4)
14. Stole Lane Chamber. (4)
16.  One way of spelling ages. (4)
18. Write down N, S, or W. (4)
21. Caves have a daylight this. (4)
22. Hardly S.P. or S.C. (4)
25. All caves have come to this. (3)
27. Associated with buts. (3)
29. and 31. ‘..will… to excess’ (2 and 2)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

S

L

I

N

G

 

C

 

D

T

 

 

 

O

C

H

R

E

U

 

A

 

O

 

I

 

N

C

A

V

E

N

A

M

E

 

K

 

E

 

 

 

N

 

A

 

C

L

U

S

T

E

R

S

B

 

I

 

U

 

Y

 

S

E

N

N

U

I

 

 

 

E

D

 

E

 

T

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G

H

T


 

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

 

QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editorial

Good News

Thrupe Swallet - as many of you probably know - 'went' over Easter and has resulted in a new addition to the major caves of Mendip.  Congratulations to all the diggers involved.  I also have information of another site which may shortly yield a cave of reasonable size and add yet a further cave to the Mendip repertoire.

Happy as this situation is, one wonders how effective any measures to conserve them - if they warrant such treatment - will be.  Must new discoveries on Mendip always be balanced by the loss of irretrievable formations in the newly-discovered caves or elsewhere?  Present day caving being what it is, I have no doubt of the fate of any worthwhile scenic beauty that these new caves may possess.

Don Coase Memorial Lecture

A write-up of this function appears in this B.B., to which I would like to add that those who missed it missed an extremely interesting, technically excellent and amusing lecture. If future Don Coase Memorial Lectures maintain the standard set by this first one, they will indeed prove a fitting tribute to Don and a credit to the club.

Am I Wasting My Time?

I ask this question quite seriously, as I recently heard through the usual second or third-hand channels, that 'nobody ever reads the B.B. and that there is no point writing anything worthwhile in it, since nobody ever bothers to quote from it or refer to it.'

I know that this is not entirely true, because at least those indefatigable researchers of C.T.S. refer to every source of caving information, and our exchange system (ably kept up-to-date and put where it counts most by the equally indefatigable Wig) makes sure that at least the B.B. gets into the right hands - even if those hands do not always do what we would like them to.  It is, of course, possible that the occasional lack of reference to work originally published in the B.B. may occur through lack of knowledge of its source.  It is even possible that this could occur through prejudice.  It could also be because work published is not considered of a sufficient standard compared with, say, a slightly later account in some other publication.

Whatever basis there may (or may not) be for complaints such as this one, there is no doubt that 'knocking' of the club magazine has an erosive effect.  The task of persuading people to contribute becomes in any case more difficult, and there might well come a point at which an editor is forced to consider seriously whether it is all worthwhile.

“Alfie”


 

The Don Coase Memorial Lecture

An appreciation of the first of these annual lectures.

by 'Kangy'

This, the first of an annual series, was given by Dr. Tony Waltham - Lecturer in Geology; author; editor and evidently caver.

Don Coase was a caver too. As Alfie Collins said in a short tribute before the lecture, we wanted to remember Don in this fashion because he was a damn fine caver and a damn fine club member.

The Wig, slightly twittery about the turnout because of the lateness of the announcement in the B.B. (A tradition, surely and entirely appropriate!) need not have worried, because the turnout, impromptu and most enthusiastic, was good.

Tony's lecture, 'Caves and Altitude' was pitched at me and my lad and we both enjoyed it at our different levels.  He described his searches for the cave depth record, the premise being that to find the deepest cave in the world, it is necessary to start at altitude.  We were left to draw our own conclusions.

We were shown slides. Slides of Mendip; Yorkshire; France; Greece; Kashmir; Nepal; Iran; U.S.A. and fresh from the printers, Canada.  Tony is a travelling caving man with considerable photographic ability. Studying the slides, one became aware of the technique behind the art and I was left grinning with admiration at an effortless ladder shot which was one of the best lit that I can remember seeing. The link work was supplied by the dry throwaway style of Waltham the humorist, with a succession of tall stories of ludicrous situations which my two lads are still repeating to each other.

Tony is the author of the book 'CAVES' to be publish this autumn by Macmillan which should be good.

I would like to thank Dr. Waltham for his fine lecture and express my appreciation in this form. Could we have another lecture, please? Perhaps a lecture explaining why (with abseiling techniques so highly developed) the expeditions he takes part in seem to rely on the good old-fashioned ladder.

Long Term Planning

Graham Wilton-Jones, who is running the Long Term Planning Sub -Committee, gives us their first thoughts on what we should be doing to the Belfry site.

General Philosophies:

We must make better use of the existing facilities.  The comfort of users must always be considered.  Most facilities show room for extension and improvement.  We should improve existing conditions to as high a standard as possible before embarking on any major alterations or extensions.

Such improvement is to be performed item by item, according to a particular order of priorities. Therefore a general report is to be submitted initially, outlining all the possible improvements and useful or necessary alterations.  Detailed reports on each item will then be submitted before work begins on that item.

In order to do this, three lists will be compiled.  The first will show order of priority of groups of items since it has rapidly become clear that many items are connected in some ways, and can thus he dealt with together for convenience.  The second will show the order of extent of the improvement or alteration in size of cost and labour while the third will show the order of priority of the items.

The nature and extent of any improvements should be guided by our present circumstances, and determined finally in the light of past experience.  However, any alterations will be determined by what we believe or can assess that the club; the members; the caving situation etc will be like in ten years' time - since this is the period set by the terms of the report.

It is likely that more people will be actively caving though current rates of growth will diminish. The club will probably be bigger, and there will be more guest bookings.  Under present conditions we would have more guests and fewer members using the Belfry.  Guests must not take over the hut, and it must therefore be made more attractive to members.  We must regard the guests as potential new club members as well as a means of helping the Belfry to pay for itself.

List 1.  Order of Priority of Groups of Items.

1.                    Comfort. (Includes heating and insulation.)

2.                    Rubbish storage and disposal.

3.                    Cooking facilities and food storage.

4.                    Eating.

5.                    Washing up, drying, cutlery and crockery storage.

6.                    Workshop facility.

7.                    Changing and drying of clothes.

8.                    Washing self (although the shower facility alone deserves higher priority.)

9.                    Charging facilities.

10.                Sleeping accommodation.

11.                Parking.

12.                Administration facility (Hut Warden's Office/booth)

13.                Library.

14.                The loft.

Other lists and progress on this subject will be published in the B.B. to keep members up-to-date.

The Editor would like to invite any member who has useful comment to make on this subject to write to about it.

Barbecue This Year

IT WILL BE ON SATURDAY JUNE 22ND.  INFORMATION, OFFERS OF HELP TO NIGEL TAYLOR


 

Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany

By 'Wig'

  1. Thrupe Swallet.  The great news of the Easter weekend was that Thrupe Swallet 'went' on Good Friday.  The explorers - Tony Dingle et al. broke into a deep rift which leads to the cave which will be described.  Thrupe Swallet is one of the large stream sinks which has not, until now, given up its secrets.  Originally dug about 1936 by the Mendip Exploration Society, who entered two small chambers, it was later abandoned due to difficult conditions and instability.  The next recorded account appears about 1968 when George Pointing and Dave Berry together with Norman Tuck, started work again.  From then on, the site has been dug more or less continually, Tony Dingle working it in the later stages.

The find would appear to be a major Mendip discovery.  A brief description is as follows:- A 30' dug shaft leads to a 150 - 200 ft long rift involving general shuffling and some traversing and drops some 50' to the head of Perseverance Pot.  Below this pot is Perseverance Rift, up to 40' high and similar to Manor Farm rift.  This gives access to Cowsh Crawl - some six horrible feet long!  After this crawl, a left fork leads to a rift series of passages up to 80' high with some shafts in the area.  To the right, one enters Butt's Chamber (name of farmer) a sizeable place where the stream enters.  Some 30' above the floor, a sand crawl leads for 30' to Marble Chamber, smaller than the previous chamber.  At the bottom of this chamber, a crawl through unstable boulders regains the stream which falls down an impressive aven.  The way on lies along a Yorkshire type rift for about 150' when suddenly the head of Atlas Shaft - some 170' deep - is reached. The dimensions of Atlas Shaft are quite something even by Yorkshire standards. It is about 50' by 60' at the top. A short climb of some 30' via an oxbow gives way to a 120' ladder pitch, and then a 20' scramble at the bottom leads to a further 300' of passage believed to end in a sand choke, though the explorers are not yet allowing cavers beyond the head of the big shaft. The Wessex are gating the cave at the moment, and it is believed that they intend to hand the access control over to the Council of Southern Caving Clubs Limited.

  1. Charterhouse Caving Permits.  The period permits are issued to club members on a five year basis and are valid as long as the member pays his subscription - hint!  No permits are issued to members or indeed anyone under the age of 16 or to married minors.  Permits are issued at the Belfry or a 'Wig's' and may be obtained from any of the following: - Caving Sec., Hut Warden, Librarian.  Forms must be countersigned by a parent if the member is under 18.
  2. Wookey Hole.  The planned extension to the show cave into Wookey 9 is well under way.  The tunnel from 3 has been blasted through and now requires a concrete walkway to permit access to the weegees and a further excuse for the management to make an extra charge!
  3. St. Cuthbert' s Minery Ledger.   Now in the hands of the club has made fascinating reading matter.  A fuller note will appear as a separate article in a later edition of the B.B.
  4. Climbing and Caving Logs.  Members are required to enter all trips made by them as a record of club activities.  I know that at the moment the level of activity is not at full blast, but future members would like to know what was done.  Many members are actively digging at least three sites on Mendip and not one of them has been mentioned in the log - SO PLEASE ENTER YOUR TRIPS UP.

Editor's Note:  It is appreciated that some degree of secrecy often surrounds digs.  Even so, if diggers could keep a record - and if necessary chuck it in the B.B. box after the dig has either 'gone' or been abandoned - it can find its way into club records.

  1. Practice Rescues.  Roy Bennett and 'Wig' are discussing a short series of practices.  Two are to be arranged for this year.  Longwood (Great Chamber) and a full Cuthbert’s.
  2. Swildons Shatter Series.  On Easter Sunday a mixed party bailed and succeeded opening the 'U' tube. The party, essentially S.M.C.C., worked the buckets of liquid mud back up the small tube and tipped the spoil into the crack in Crossways Chamber.  'Butch', always in need of careful skin treatment, managed to get a magnificent mud bath as he almost sumped the mud pool to get through to the downstream side, losing helmet and light in the process!
  3. Easter Weekend Again.  Martin and Liz Bishop, plus Ken, James, Dog, and members of C.C.G. spent their holidays in Ireland caving in the Clare area.  Mike Palmer, Nig Taylor, Andy Nicholls, the Wiltons and others made off to Derbyshire land among the holes visited were Giants to the bottom and Knotlow Mine including the shaky new extension.  The Bennetts spent the weekend walking Snowdonia, and according to Joan the weather was the best they'd ever known it.  Dave Turner spent the weekend, it is reported both underground in Cuthbert’s and above ground ballooning.

Stan Gee and Chris Falshaw have both been around the Belfry and as far as I can gather Chris will be down again in the near future for a Cuthbert’s trip while Stan Gee's comment was" Well, life at the Belfry hasn’t changed since I was last down!"

  1. Manor Farm.  Roy Bennett writes "After being defeated in Hunters Hole, the Tuesday/Wednesday night diggers have been pushing the depths of Manor Farm under the watchful eye of N.H.A.S.A.  The cave originally ended in a fork, the left hand passage ascending to boulders while the right hand passage ended in an impassable rift.

First, the boulders in the left hand fork were passed to an aven with a boulder roof, while the rift was chemically widened to give access to a wider section with a hole leading off to another boulder choke.  The aven was then pushed further by a combination of delicate banging and luck, with the boulders becoming increasingly restive and aggressive. The team were considering giving up when a breakthrough was made on the 17th April 1974 to a small collapse chamber on the side of a sizeable rift.  This runs back up cave along a fault and contains large masses of calcite. There appears to be no open way on, and further digging will have to be resorted to.  Unfortunately the best site, high at the Southern end, is occupied by a rather nice stalactite grotto.  This has been taped off, and other points of attack will be looked into.

Anyone contemplating a look round should be very careful in the boulder ruckle. Work will continue every Wednesday and careful volunteers are welcome.  Around the holiday periods it is best to phone Roy (Tel: 0272-627813) after 6 p.m.  A plan and section sketch of the area will be found on the opposite page.

 

  1. Cuthbert’s.  Ray Mansfield and others have recently removed all fixed aids in the Maypole Series as agreed and left the pitches rigged as is Pulley Pitch.  Also, the ladder in the entrance shaft has now been removed and a chain installed.
  2. Cavers' Books worth buying.  The Mysterious World of Caves - E. Bauer.  Published by Collins International Library Series.  Price, £1.50.  129pp and many coloured illustrations and photographs.  In many ways a better buy than 'Radiant Darkness'.  Available from Smiths or any bookseller.

The Caves of North-West Clare. Ed. Tratman.  Published by David and Charles, Newton Abbott, Devon.  255pp and many surveys and photographs.  A caving classic.  Price £6.00 though thought by some to be now £7.00.

A tour to the Caves - John Button.  A reprint of this 1780 work.  It describes a journey through the Yorkshire dales and of the known caves. S.R. Publishers Ltd.  Price £1.50.

Postojna (English Edition).  A photographic record of this great cave.   Available from Tony Oldham, 17, Freemantle Rd, Eastville, Bristol.  Price £3.00

  1. Bryan Ellis retires.  Though Bryan has long since retired from regular caving, he was the main source for caving publications.  After serving the caving community for 14 years, he is now only handling SMCC, BCRA & Descent.


 

Caving Meets

JUNE 22nd.  (Saturday) Cil Yr Ychen and Llygad Llwchwr.  One Day Meet.  Apply to Caving Sec. for Details.

JULY 13/14.  Forest of Dean. Staying at the Gloucester Hut.

AUGUST 23-26. Yorkshire.  Birk's Fell and Sleets Gill.

For further information on these meets, and any others that may be in hand, apply to the Caving Sec or 'Wig'.

Free Diving To Nine

Colin Priddle, the first man to free dive to the ninth chamber in Wookey, sends us this letter and account

After the plea by the editor and by Dave Irwin in 'Round and About', I have photocopied articles by myself which were published in C.D.G. Newsletter No 30 for January 1974.

It is C.D.G. policy for anyone to copy articles provided the Hon. Sec. is asked for permission.  As I am the Hon. Sec., I give you permission as long as we get a plug and a note quoting the source.

The plug is that the C.D.G. Newsletters are published every 3 months at a price of 20p for about 30 pages. They contain all the diving reports and diving finds from all the caving areas.  The Newsletter is obtainable form the Hon. Editor, Dr, O.C. Lloyd, Withey House, Withey Close West, Bristol BS9 3SX.  A remittance should be sent with the order.  Cheques and postal order to be made payable to the Cave Diving Group.

_______________________

The intention of the trip was to explore a new passage above the 8th and 9th chambers.  John Parker, wearing a single 40, laid a line to 5 and I free dived though climb directly out of the water into 5.  The dive from 3 to 4 is very easy (6ft long and 2 ft deep). The dive from 4 to 5 is probably 18 feet long and 6 feet in depth.  John Parker then dived to 9 and came back overland to the top of 5.  He then lowered a string halfway to the water, to which I attached a ladder.  John then belayed and I climbed.

Six was crossed by an awkwardish traverse followed by a small passage to 7.  This was a direct traverse and climb down about 60 ft to the water.  The lower part of this climb I found very difficult.  I would recommend for future trips that a ladder from 5 should be used for this climb.  A quick swim along the lake’s length and a twenty foot ladder climb brought the view of the 8th chamber.  A crawl through a hole; a wall traverse; a free climb down; a twenty foot swim and a twenty foot ladder climb brought us to the upper part of 9.1.  The two twenty foot ladders we used were left by John Parker in his trip to 5.  One of the N.C.B. divers then climbed up the ladder to us but decided that, as time was running short, we ought to be going out.  So he went back down to 9 and I went to 8.  John Parker coiled the 8 ladder as I connected the 7 ladder to the nylon rope acting as a Tyrolean across 7.  John belayed the 7 ladder from 9 so that I could climb down to the 7 water level.  Once there, he coiled the 7 ladder whilst swimming, also releasing the belaying rope for me in 9.  John then dived to 5 while I climbed and crawled to 5.  The ladder in 5 was lengthened from above so that the belaying rope could be used to belay the ladder round a stal from below. Once down, the ladder was lowered, leaving the belaying rope round the stal for future trips. The lines were taken out from the sumps at the end of the five hour trip.

This trip was repeated later, and the ladders to 8 and 7 were belayed before the trip in an earlier dive.  By using a ladder on the long drop into 7 from 5 the route was much easier.  Even so, the party of three (Clive Westlake, John Parker and myself) took nearly five hours.  The push above 9.1. yielded nothing.

The time taken to dive from 5 to 9 is of the order of three minutes, so as far as time saving is concerned, the overland route is not advantageous,.

Editor's Note: Colin tell us that, after May 31st, his address will be:-

C.J. Priddle,
c/o 19 Stottbury Rd,
Horfield,
Bristol BS7 9NH.

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

Have YOU done anything interesting lately?

Why not write it up for the B.B.


 

Letters To The Editor

4, Albion Terrace,
Upper Bristol Rd,
Bath
.

Dear Alfie,

Having just received my March B.B. together with the April issue, I have only just seen your request for suggestions etc., and felt compelled to write.

First, I must congratulate you on the improvement in the printing, which is now much clearer and more legible.

My March and April B.B.’s came in the same envelope and all for 3p!  This immediately set me thinking about that 'hardy annual' - a bi-monthly B.B. Is it really necessary to publish monthly?  Two months is considered a very short space of time these days, and what do we really gain from a monthly B.B.?

For all their moans, I don't think member s would really miss a monthly B. B. and they would have twice as much to read when they did get it.  This way, we could cut our postage costs in half and save on covers as well.  With the rising price of paper and postage, this surely makes sense - otherwise, we shall soon be having to review our subs again!

Yours, etc,
Tim Large.

Editor's Note:     Thank you, Tim.  As you say, the idea of a bi-monthly B.B. is one which has cropped up for years now, and every time the club have been asked - by sending out a questionnaire or by voting at A.G.M.'s they have always been in favour of continuing the monthly publication of the B.B.

At the moment, we are coping financially - but as you point out, the rapidly rising costs of paper and envelopes with threatened rises in postal charges may well compel us to ask the club at some future date to choose between a monthly B.B. and a higher subscription rate or a less frequent B.B. and the same subscription.  On the other hand, it is now reckoned that inflation may well be as high as 20% per year - as distinct from the 14% which I quoted in a recent B.B.  If this rate is indeed true, then subs of all caving clubs will have to go up regularly and this inevitable increase will to some extent take care of the rising costs. It all boils down in the end as to what the club members want to see for their money.  Do they want, in an inflationary age, to see subs kept below the current value of money with some inevitable cut-back in club services - or do they want to see these services maintained with the subscription jacked up at intervals to match the falling value of money?  It is a straight choice, which perhaps the club ought to consider at the next A.G.M.

We must bear in mind that never, since the club was founded, have we been exposed to such a rapid inflationary situation.  In these circumstances, it may well be the sensible thing to set our sights a little lower.  On the other hand, we did much worse then the W.C.C. in losing members when both clubs put up their subs by the same amount.  Should we therefore go for better service to club members to make them feel their sub is well spent?

I must confess that I don’t know the answer to this one.  I have replied to your letter at some length (much longer than your letter was!) because I feel that the point you have raised is one which has greater repercussions than just the B.B.  I think that it is something which club members should talk about between now and October, and I will be pleased to publish any letters on this important topic in the meantime.

Notice

Following the resignation of Doug Stuckey form the committee and as caving secretary, Andy Nicholls has volunteered to take his place.  Before confirming this, the committee are taking this opportunity to advertise the vacancy.  Any applications should be made to the committee.


 

Vi Salon Nacional Y I Internacional Fotograffica Espeleologica

This is a description of a cave photography show, which club members can enter.

The Speleology Delegation of the Excursion Section of the REDDIS soccer club invites photographers from all over the world to enter the I INTERNATIONAL SPELAEOLOGICAL PHOTOGRAPY SHOW to be held in the city of REUS in 1974.

The Theme is that of scientific and sporting spelaeology, and participants can be either amateurs of professionals and can enter either as individuals or through their clubs and/or societies.

Photographs may be in black-and-white or as colour prints, up to a maximum of five, un-mounted.  The recommended size is 30 x 40 cm. (16 x 12ft approx.)  No works whose longest side is greater than 40 cm will be admitted.  The number, title and location taken should be written on the back of each photograph as well as the name and address of the photographer. These details should be the same as those written on the entry form.

Photographs may only be submitted by post as certified printed matter, and the entry forms should be sent under separate cover by air mail.  (I have two copies of the entry form and the certified printed matter envelope sticker which I will give to any club member who wants to participate - Editor. Entries and photographs should be sent to the following address:-

O.E. REDDIS.  I SALON INTERNATIONAL SPELAEOLOGICAL, PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW, P.O. Box 217, REUS, SPAIN.

There will be a prize for the best black-and-white and the best colour collection (minimum of three prints - maximum of five as above).  These prizes will consist of plaques - enamelled with gold, silver and bronze inlays with the name of the winner suitably engraved.

Photographs will be returned within fifty days after the show closes, except the winning photographs, which will be retained.  All participants must freely authorize the reproduction of their works with no right to royalty payments.

A Show Catalogue will be sent to all participants.  THERE IS NO ENTRY FEE.  The organisers are not responsible for any loss or damage to works.

Photographs will be accepted up to September 30th 1974 and judging will occur on October the 5th or 6th. The actual show will be held from November 9th to November 24th and the awards ceremony will be held on the last day of the show (November 24th).

Editor's Note:     Apart from the fact that I have been sent literature describing this show, which has been reproduced in the B.B. above, I know nothing about it.  At first sight it may seem odd that a football club (Club futbol REDDIS) should be organising an international salon of cave photography - on the other hand, it does give club members a chance to have a go - and at least the entrance is free AND competitors get a free show catalogue.  The club did debate whether or not it would be prepared to organise a club entry, but decided that there were very few active cave photographers compared to years ago, and that it was best for members to compete individually if they desired.

As I noted earlier, I have TWO COPIES of the entry form and the special envelope sticker.  No doubt, if more than two members wish enter, further copies can be obtained by writing to the address given.


 

The Somerset Trust For Nature Conservation.

There is always a shortage of small items to fill odd gaps such as this one in the B.B.  Any small item of interest or of a humorous nature will do - as long as it is printable!

If YOU can think of anything suitable, drop it into the B.B. box in the Belfry - but drop it gently or you may disturb the spider, who has made this box his home, since nobody else has used the box for ages!

From time to time, we receive handouts from societies whose objects are thought to have something in common with, our own.  The last of these to be written up some time ago in the B.B was that of the Mendip Society in connection with their preservation of Smitham Chimney on Harptree Hill.  This one is from the Somerset Trust for Nature Conservation.

Publication of this type of information should not imply that the club are officially bringing the activities of these bodies to the attention of members, or urging them to contribute to them or to join them.  We publish, as always, for the information of club members.

THE SOMERSET TRUST FOR NATURE CONSERVATION.

The purpose of the trust is to prevent the unnecessary destruction of wild life and to encourage the breeding and preservation of wild plants and animals that are use beautiful or rare, by conserving their habitats.  To this end the Trust has acquired (and manages) twelve nature reserves. A descriptive leaflet is available.

The Trust has established Nature Trails in its Black Rock and Longwood reserves (both open to the public) three trails on Exmoor (in conjunction with the Exmoor National Park Committee) and the National Trust, and the Pen Wood Trail near Pendomer, in association with the Forestry Commission.  Twice each year it opens a Nature Trail for primary schoolchildren on Langford Heathfield Common.

The Trust has prepared an ecological map of most of the county to aid the County Planning Department, Rural District Councils and other Local Authorities in mapping planning decisions.  Such information was not previously available.  The Trust has collaborated with the Nature Conservancy advising the Local Authorities on the establishment of Local Nature Reserves in Somerset.

More than 3,250 people have already joined the subscription is £1 to Miss J.R. Taylor, Tanlake Cottage, Buckland, St. Mary Chard, Somerset.

The Ian Dear Memorial Fund

A Message from ‘Sett’ - Chairman of the Ian Dear Memorial Committee.

At this time of the year, when holiday plans are being made, a reminder to younger members about the Ian Dear Memorial Fund might be in order.

Ian Dear, a member of the B.E.C., left money in his will to assist younger members of club to go caving, climbing etc. abroad.  There are a set of basic rules by which grants under the fund can be made to younger members and these have been published in the B.B. some time ago. However, if any member of club is planning a trip abroad or wishing to do so, and feels that he or she might be eligible for assistance under the terms of the fund, any member of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee will be pleased to advise them.  Members of the committee include the Caving Secretary and the Treasurer.  If in any difficulty, contact me direct.  My address is:-

R.A. Setterington, 4 Galmington Lane, TAUNTON, SOMERSET.

Older members who may be planning trips abroad for caving purposes, and who would be willing to include any younger members in their party should also contact members of the I.D.M.F. Committee as well, perhaps, as advertising the trip in the B.B. Members who could benefit from a grant can then be put in touch with people who could include them in a party.

Ian Dear hoped that his gift to the B.E.C. would be instrumental in enabling younger members to visit caving regions which otherwise they might never see.  So far, very few people have availed themselves of the benefit of Ian's bequest to the club.  It would be nice to think that this year, Ian's intentions could be better fulfilled.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 46.

1

2

 

3

 

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5

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Across:

1. Cave like feature like the K & A perhaps?. (1,5)
6. Would a dais in a cave be classed as one of these. (4)
7. Describes the entrance of Fairy Cave. (6)
8. Name of the old B.P.C. headquarters. (4)
9. Colour. (3)
10. Char this cave feature. (4)
13. Caving in a gated cave might be classed as this sort of sport. (6)
14. Cave or football feature. (4)
15. Written up. (6)

Down

2. Dressed for the occasion? (4)
3. Hon. Thrill for Mendip cave. (5,4)
4. Led to great things in G.B. (6,3)
5. A cave construction makes one before caving began. (4)
11. Distinguish G.B. from Cheddar when it comes to gorges. (4)
12. One of these 6 across. (4)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

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O

R

B

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T

 

T

O

U

R

 

 

V

O

L

E

 

N

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S

E

 

O

W

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D

 

E

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N

N

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O

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Z

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N

 

O

P

E

N

 

O

K

D

E

T

 

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S

 

F

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O


 

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, B. Wilton, G. Oaten, N. Taylor, A.R. Thomas

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            To be appointed,   ADDRESS LETTERS TO THE BELFRY

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

 

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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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