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

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tele: WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     R. Bennett
Members:          R. Bagshaw; D.J. Irwin; R. Hobbs; M.A. Palmer; N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas; N. Taylor; R. Orr.

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  R.J. BAGSHAW, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.  Tel: WHITCHURCH. 5626.
Caving Sec:       T.E. LARGE, 39 Seymour Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 27 Quantock Rd, Windmill Hill, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
Hut Warden:      R. ORR.  ‘The Belfry’, as above.
Hut Engineer:    R. HOBBS, Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol.
Tacklemaster:    M.A PALMER. 27 Roman Way, Paulton, BS18 5XB
B.B. Editor:       S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol.
Librarian:           D.J. IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tel: PRIDDY 369.
Pbs. (Sales)      C, Howell, 131 Sandon Rd., Edgbaston, Birminham.
Publications:     D.J. IRWIN.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.

MENDIP RESCUE ORGANISATION.  In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481


 

Editorial

The Stalactite Curtain?

The setting up of the various bodies - like the Regional Councils and the N.C.A. - was a move which many of us, who could remember a less beaurocratic era, viewed with some concern.

It seemed to us a pity that the situation in the North between cavers and local landowners had reached a state which necessitated the formation of a body to fight for access on caver’s behalf.  A bit of time taken off from caving to buy beer for the locals seemed a better way of doing things.  Nevertheless, we told ourselves, it was more likely that conditions in the North were different from those on Mendip, and it was hardly up to us to judge.

As long as the various bodies did what they were supposed to do, there seemed no need for any active comment.  Any body whose job was to make caving simpler to carry out was one which, on the face of it, there could be no quarrel with.

However; it has now been reported to us from sources which are normally reliable, that a very sorry state of affairs has come to pass.  It is one which could well affect; every Mendip caver in the long run to a much greater extent than would appear at first sight.  We have been told that the Northern Council have decided to DENY ACCESS to all caves under their control to ALL CAVERS from other regions unless their clubs join the Northern Council.  The setting up of this Stalactite Curtain - so different from the harmless and decorative formations we have underground on Mendip represents a new and sinister twist to the caving scene.

Well, at least we have been warned.  It appears that if Anybody is foolish enough to give any of these bodies teeth then they will bite.  This latest move can by no stretch of the imagination be described as helpful to cavers. It is a blatant example of power politics at its crudest - and should be a warning to all Mendip cavers.

There will, of course, be a temptation to press for the Southern Council to intensify its efforts to control caves on Mendip, so that we shall be in a position to retaliate. To say that such temptation should be avoided would be seriously to understate the position.  If this is, in fact, carried out; then the eventual end of club caving and the introduction of nationwide, regimented caving will follow inevitably.

In my opinion - and the reader is reminded that all the editorial matter in the B.B. is not necessarily the opinion of the committee or the club - anything is better than the type of regimented caving which we might well be heading towards if we don't watch out. The loss of caving areas or the loss of some Mendip caves are serious matters and one would not pretend that any such losses will help our caving position.  On the other hand, it is possible to pay too high a price for things and, in this case, it would be as well to go into the eventual price of bestowing power on councils before giving it to them.  As Tony Johnson pointed out last month, much of the ease with which we on Mendip have traditionally entered caves, or dug on other people's land has depended on the good relations we have enjoyed with them.  It is this that I feel we should be giving time to fostering - not councils.

“Alfie”

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

Members are reminded that NEW BELFRY KEYS are now available from MIKE PALMER.  They are issued either on production of an old key (plus 5p to cover administration costs) or by paying a deposit of 20p.  Members are reminded that ALL Belfry keys are the property of the club, and should be returned if no longer required.

If you send your old key or your 20p by post to Mike, remember to include a stamped addressed envelope for the return journey.

Mike also has a number of spare DIGGING ROPES in stock which are being kept in reserve.  However, if any diggers require a longer rope than they can get in the normal course of events – contact Mike.


 

Exposure to Cold Water

A report on the recent PAUL ESSER memorial lecture as advertised in the B.B. and attended by ALAN THOMAS, who sends this report.

Paul Esser was a Bristol medical student who died two years ago in Porth-yr-Ogof.  This year’s lecturer was Bill Keatinge, Professor of Physiology at the London Hospital.   The audience comprised a fair number of the divers and the cavers from Bristol, to whom were added canoeists, mountaineers and yachtsmen.  There were a number of B.E.C. members there but I was surprised not to see more.

The first point made was the enormous number of deaths in cold water every year.  There are approximately 1,000 compared to 12 or so in hill walking and climbing.

The second point was that the commonsense thing to do if immersed in cold water often proves to be the wrong thing.  In the ‘Lakonia’ disaster, many people undressed to facilitate swimming, and those who could not swim exercised in the water to keep themselves warm.  In fact, both these actions increased their susceptibility to hypothermia.  Experiments show that if you exercise in water below 25OC, you increase your circulation and reduce your internal body insulation and hence your deep body temperature.  Above 25°C exercise serves to increase body heat.  Wearing ordinary clothing in cold water may only keep the skin temperature up by a few degrees but it has a profound effect on deep body temperature.

Thin people cool down much faster than fat people in cold water - and hence fat people survive longer. Since it is too late to do anything about one's build once one is in the water, the only practical thing to do is to wear a well fitting wet suit.  Gloves should be worn even if the hands warm enough, because there is a great loss of body from the hands.

Hypothermia alone does not account for all the deaths that occur in cold water.  Between 10 and 15% of people suffer from ventricular abnormalities on entering cold water.  In extremely rare cases, this could lead to cardiac fibrillation and death. Immersion in cold water causes rapid breathing, a rise in blood pressure and sometimes a doubling of cardiac output. These factors could lead to heart failure.  Rapid breathing in choppy water could lead to the inhalation of water.

Professor Keatinge tackled the problem of sudden death in cold water experimentally, and we saw on film a demonstration of a man swimming in water at 4.7°C.  He started off strongly enough and high in the water. There was little disturbance of the water as he swam.  At the end of this experiment (short of the attempted time) he abruptly stopped and commented minutes later after he had been hauled out of the water and had made remarkable recovery "I don’t know why I stopped - I just couldn’t go on."  Had he been alone in open water, he would certainly have drowned and the coroner might well have attributed his death to cramp.  In fact, his difficulty was due to the greater viscosity of water at the lower temperature.  This is a new observation and may well be the answer to many hitherto unexplained deaths in cold water.


 

Traverse Closing In Cave  Surveying

Continuing and concluding the article started last month by Dave Irwin and Roger Stenner.

The procedure is to fix the starting co-ordinate at, say, point A (or point B) and calculate the co-ordinate changes of the line ADB to point B.

Before the errors in a multi-traverse network can be thus distributed, it is necessary to determine whether any part of the network contains an error which is larger than the expected positional error.  This may be done by examining the co-ordinate changes from one point in the network to another point, taking a variety of routes chosen so as to reveal any bad routes. By a process of elimination between these bad routes, the actual section which is causing the error may be isolated. To make the procedure clearer, consider the following example - which is part of St. Cuthbert’s survey.  Figure (v) is a block diagram representing the network of passages

This network contains 100 closed traverses, and an examination of them all is impracticable and unnecessary.  The traverse lengths of each part of the network are tabulated below:-

 

Traverse

Length

Legs

 

C5 – C7

C5 – L4

L4 – M1

L4 – 7A

C5 – 7A

7A – I2

I2 – M1

I2 – I1

M1 – I9

I1 – I18

I18 – I9

C7 – G5

G5 – I9

I1 – H1

H1 – H7

H7 – G5

H7 – G5

C5 – I9

30’

60’

510’

257’

121’

92’

58’

30’

69’

55’

108’

179’

139’

15’

35’

37’

707’

3

4

36

14

9

7

3

1

4

8

6

12

10

1

2

4 +

2 +

38

The co-ordinate changes from station C5 to station 19 were examined by a number of routes.  The method used was find a number of routes which agree with each other and then to examine the routes remaining.  For the example shown, the results are shown below.

 

Routes 1, 2 and 3 were considered first.  Route 1 can be seen to be different from the other two, and a calculation showed that this difference was greater than that expected from positional errors.  Thus, the actual error was presumed to have been due to a mistake.  The actual place was pinpointed by the technique already described and, after resurveying the doubtful legs (only two were involved) the figures for route 10 were obtained with much closer agreement.

 

 

Traverse

North

East

Height

Slope Dist

Legs

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. C5-G5-I9

2. C5-C7-G5-I9

3. C5-7A-I2-M1-I9

4. C5-L4-MI-I9

5. C5-L4-7A-I2-M1-I9

6. C5-C7-H1-I1-I2-M1-I9

7. C5-7A-I2-H1-H7-G5 (Route 1)

8. C5-7A-I2-H1-H7-G5 (Route 2)

9. C5-7A-I2-I1-I18-I9

10. C5-G5-I9 RESURVEYED

73.62

79.12

81.40

79.97

81.73

80.39

75.60

74.47

78.60

78.66

131.47

123.06

126.19

127.47

125.55

127.87

125.09

126.49

125.81

126.69

114.26

107.30

107.57

107.33

109.07

102.20

108.20

107.44

104.63

112.32

846

347

340

565

536

288

440

436

405

846

48

25

23

33

32

17

34

32

31

48

The remaining routes were chosen to test each of the other sections of the survey.  For each of the routes, the difference between the co-ordinates and the approximate mean co-ordinates were tabulated, together with the 1 and 2 standard deviation expected positional errors.  Results are as follows

Traverse

Deviation from mean in feet

Expected Error

Position

 

N

E

Ht

Diff

1SD

2SD

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

-6.4

-0.9

+1.4

0.0

+1.7

+0.4

-4.4

-5.5

-1.4

-1.3

-5.5

-2.9

-0.2

-1.5

+0.5

-1.9

+0.9

-0.5

+0.2

-0.7

+6.8

-0.2

+0.1

-0.5

+1.6

-5.3

+0.5

-0.1

-2.9

+4.8

10.8

3.0

1.4

1.6

2.4

5.7

4.5

5.5

3.2

4.8

3.5

2.2

2.2

2.8

2.8

2.0

2.5

2.5

2.4

3.5

7.0

4.5

4.5

5.7

5.6

4.1

5.1

5.1

4.8

7.0

It will be seen that route 6 contains an error greater than the 2SD expected error and the possible compass error (which is 2.6ft for 1 degree calibration error.)  The co-ordination differences indicate that there is a mistake in the C7 to H1 traverse.  Routes 7 and 8 differ from route 9 by a relatively short passage length, and therefore a large change in co-ordinates is not to be expected, but this is not the case in fact.  Examination of the co-ordinate changes reveals that there is probably an error common to routes 7 and 8 and this must be in the very short section from H1 to H7. The remaining routes are limits of precision of the survey.

The carrying out of this procedure is a very necessary preliminary to the closure of a multi-traverse network if the surveyor is to avoid falling into the trap of allowing one mistake to distort the whole network - or the other trap of placing more reliance on his data than the instruments permit.

Least Squares Method

Having determined which sections of a network are reliable, there are two possible procedures.  With access to a computer, it is possible to use the method if least squares and thereby close the network in a single step. Most surveyors do not have access to a computer, but fortunately there is an alternative method which will give satisfactory results very close to those by the least squares method.  This method has the advantage that the surveyor can see exactly what is happening at each stage of the procedure, and can change the order of closure as he needs.  If flaws or defects crop up, they will be seen fairly quickly - which is not always the case when a major computer programme is run.  A simple electronic calculator is a great help in this work.

1.                  Work out the co-ordinate changes between two points across the network as previously shown.

2.                  Assign co-ordinates to one of these points, and work out the most probably value of the co-ordinates of the second point.

3.                  Ignore all stations except junction stations for the moment.  Take a junction station on a route which agrees closely with the co-ordinate changes of the stations already fixed.  From each of the two fixed stations, work out the co-ordinates of this station by a number of routes.  Find its most probable value as already shown.  If it differs markedly from the ‘uncorrected’ co-ordinates, then this route is a good fit only by chance, containing compensating errors which have been overlooked.  If so, scrap the procedure and start again omitting the offending section.

4.                  Continue this procedure until the most probable value of all junction stations have been worked out, always using the corrected co-ordinate changes as they are successively derived.

5.                  Finish with junction stations on routes with poorer closures.

6.                  Distribute the closure errors among the stations between junction stations.

Stations rejected because of poor closure pose another problem.  If closer inspection of all field notes; calculations and rough drawings fail to reveal the mistake and if resurvey is not possible, the rejected stations may be fitted on to the closed network by distribution of the large error but in the report which accompanies the survey, it should be made quite clear which parts of the survey contain the large errors, which should also be quoted.

Finally, it should be remembered that this procedure will cause some passage distortion - though this should be less than is found when the old 'hit and miss' closure system is used (and which has been found in the St. Cuthbert’s survey.  See note 1).

This is because the most probable values for a station's co-ordinates - whether worked out by the least squares method or the more long winded method - are -not, and cannot be the correct values for those co-ordinates.  They are, after all, values obtained by rationalising imperfect results.

Computing Station Positions

The authors used standard duplicated sheets for entering centre line measurements; calculations; station co-ordinate changes; corrected station co-ordinates and basic station details (roof, wall and floor distances).  This tabulation made the job of checking much easier.  The station co-ordinates were copied into a book in which traverse closures were used to correct the co-ordinates to give the final station co-ordinates.  This procedure is recommended to other workers.  If a computer is used, the printout should be in a similar form.

The Use of a Computer in Cave Surveying

Desk calculators with print-out facilities speed up the calculation of station co-ordinates from the data obtained underground.  A computer would do the same work much faster and print the information in the format required.  It is, however, likely that restrictions on the use of a computer would more than offset the advantage of the time saved when comparing a computer with an electronic calculator.

Both procedures are a significant advance over the mechanical or manual calculators used in the early years of the survey.  A lot has been written about the use of plotting facilities.  The authors had the opportunity to use such a computer and did not do so for two main reasons.  Firstly, with the bulk of the drawing already complete when the offer was made, the time needed to type out data was too great and secondly the plotting would be on paper and we required it to be on plastic.  The use would be restricted to plotting station positions and drawing grids and this is only a very minor part of the total time needed to draw a cave survey.

Closing a Complex Traverse Network

As recently as 1971, the C.R.G. published a procedure for closing a complex network which involved closing every possible traverse.  In St. Cuthbert’s Swallet, this would involve closures of the order of 1030 traverses. This is clearly impossible. Co-operating with the late Mike Luckwill, a procedure was subsequently worked out for the closure of a complex network.  It is not possible to explain the method briefly here, but it will be discussed in a future article

Summary

The need for great care when calibrating a compass must never be underestimated, since errors due to calibration are likely to be the main source of true position error in a cave. Tabulating co-ordinate changes within a network as described makes it possible to close a network simply without the aid of a computer.  The results for the St. Cuthbert’s survey have been found to compare favourably with those obtained by the least squares method of closure, and greatly eases the location of errors within the network.


 

Caving In The Opera House

by ‘Wig’

When the curtain rises up on Tannhauser, the poor unsuspecting opera-goer has immediately to watch a cave scene for the whole of Act 1., though he doesn't see grotty cavers diving sumps or gleefully sliding down mud slopes.  However, many operas contain cave scenes as part of their story - ranging from Wagner to the light operas of Handel.  Since all other aspects of caving are currently being catalogued, I offer the following data for anyone's collection.

Bellini

NORMA Act II

Debussy

PELLEAS ET MELISANDE Act 11 Scene 3

Gluck

ORPHEE Acts II and III

Handel

ALCINA Act I

Purcell

DIDO AND AENEAS Act 11 scene 3

Verdi

UN BALLO Act I scene 2

MACBETH Act III

I LOMBARDI ALLA PRIMA CROCIATA Act 11 scene 2

LA FOPZA DEL DESTINO Act II Scene 2

Wagner

TANHAUSER Act I

SIEGFRIED Acts I and II

DAS RHEINGOLD Scene 3.

As Dr. Johnson once described opera as 'an exotic and irrational entertainment' so this could perhaps also be said of caving!


 

Tackle Story

An up-to-date report on the club tackle position by Mike Palmer the Tacklemaster.

I thought that some members might appreciate a brief outline of the present tackle situation; changes already made, and suggestions for the future.

At present, there is 320ft of ladder and 400ft of in active use by the club.  The St. Cuthbert’s store a permanent length of ladders at the request of the St. Cuthbert’s leaders.  This consists of two standard 20ft ladders and a heavy ladder for the entrance rift.  All this is included in the total length already stated.

In the reserve store (at my home at present) there is all the ultra-lightweight ladder, which is maintained mainly for special expeditions and trips to Yorkshire and amounts to 160ft of useable ladder.  There is also an additional 90ft of standard ladder, which makes the total length of reserve ladder come to 250ft.  Besides this reserve ladder, a few extra lengths of lifeline are maintained for special trips and eventual general use as and when replaced by newer ropes.  The total available is 355ft.

Unfortunately, since the retirement of Norman Petty, the tackle has not received the loving care to which it had become accustomed, and has deteriorated to the extent that there is now 285ft in need of repair.  This statement is made without any intended malice towards Norman's successors since I fully appreciate the task that they had accepted.

Now, what of changes?

The major change affects the splicing of the shackle eyelet on the ends of ladders.  Hand splicing will be phased out and replaced by a 'crimping' method which consists of a special alloy ferryle hydraulically pressed around the wire end which effectively clamps it to the main longitudinal wire of the ladder.  I do not intend here to discuss the technical pros and cons of the method, since these have been fully thrashed out at committee meetings - but they could form the basis of another article if requested or the subject of correspondence in the B.B.  However, it is worth while noting that the Wessex and Shepton clubs have been using this method for over ten years without any known failure in this type of splice.  To avoid any possible misinterpretation, I would like to stress that the new method only affects the ladder eyelets where the ‘C’ links are fixed, and not the securing of the rungs, which will still be fixed by the taper pin method.

Another intended change will be the introduction of blue anodised alloy identification sleeves between the two end rungs at each end of the ladder.  The main reason for this change is that the present method of identification by means of resin soaked glass fibre tape requires frequent replacement. The anodised tubes should last for years and can be renewed when repairing tackle.

A change that is already in operation is the use of BLACK MARKER sleeves, along with the customary club marker, for DIGGING ROPES.  This has been introduced and I particularly wish to stress this point to indicate the difference between digging ropes and lifelines, because on several occasions I have noted that digging ropes have been used as lifelines - with obvious consequences should an accident occur.

I should like to stress, particularly to new members, that all lifelines have a BRASS or COPPER ring at each end with a rope reference number and the club initials stamped on it. Unless the rope is identified in this manner, it should not used as a lifeline.

New notices have been pinned up in the tackle store to assist in the correct stowage of caving and digging tackle.  Other notices have been put up to act as simple reminders to pay tackle fees where appropriate, to fill in log books and, most important of all, to clean the tackle after use.  I have, on several weekends, had to wash tackle that has been put away by members after caving trips, because of the filthy muddy state in which it has been left. Please help each other by cleaning all your tackle after a caving trip.

Whilst on the subject of tackle care, there are different opinions in the club on whether it is best to fold or roll ladders for carrying purposes.  I personally have no preference, but would point out that on no account must any method used to cause twisting or sharp bending of the wires. It would be interesting to have views on various methods, with the aim of adopting a specific method for use within the club.

Regarding suggestions for the future, I think that these should come mainly from you, the members. Please write to me; the committee or preferably the B.B. about any ideas or criticisms you might have about the club tackle.

One idea that I have is to take the marking of the digging ropes a stage further by dyeing them completely black in a nylon cold water dye.  Nigel Taylor’s idea of storing tackle in the Belfry loft warrants some consideration.  I have heard suggestions that the club ought to provide ropes for abseiling and I am sure you have lots more, so let's hear them!

P.S.  It is intended to organise one or two ladder building sessions during the spring/summer months, details of which will be displayed in the Belfry.


 

They sought them here,
They sought them there
They sought those caves
Every blooming where!

With the spring on its way, and thoughts turning to holidays, “Mr.” Nigel Taylor sends in this account of a very recent trip to Tunisia.

The trip took place from the 20th to the 24th of February this year.

After a long wait and eventual flight, nine Mendip cavers arrived at the Sarsse (? Ed - I can't read it very well!) Palace Hotel, Tunisia to begin a three day holiday in the 'Golden Mediterranean Sunshine' (which we never saw) and spend some of the time down Tunisian holes (which we very nearly never saw!)

Martin Mills, ‘Jesus’ Smith, Bob Craig, Mike Jorden, Alan Butcher, Martin Webster and organising duo "Kayray" Mansfield made up the S.M.C.C. party while Nigel Taylor represented the B.E.C. to ensure the tradition that the B.E.C. gets everywhere!! A misunderstanding concerning a Mr. D.J. lrwin later managed to halt the entire Tunisian Administration and Immigration system; passport control and hotel staff!

Anyway, after our safe ensconcement in the bar – whoops! sorry! - in the hotel, we ventured forth on the first day to look at the catacombs of Sarsse - a maze of five miles of tunnels, of which we saw a hundred and fifty feet complete with a Balch's Dependable Illuminant thrown in - all for a small sum - and watch your pocket as you go my boys!

After such an intrepid adventure, we left the Milch-daubed Kittycombs, where the hole cats were buried and returned to the hotel to set about renting two Peugot 404's for our travels in Tunisia.  That evening was spent celebrating Nigel's 21st birthday (what – again! Ed) which went on long past 2100 hours.

The Thursday broke (as did the heavens) and the party went beetling into the hills around Kirowan and much time was spent looking for the route to a Roman temple nearby which we were told could be found the 'Cave of the phantom horse'.  Upon asking a policeman, after the preliminary shaking of hands, he jumped into the leading car and off we went!

After a couple of hour’s hill walking, a large hole was sighted high up in the limestone bluff to the right of a scree and boulder run.  Soon, spurred on by this, we came upon a large solutional development some 30ft wide and 45ft deep set back against a rock buttress with inlet tubes in the back wall all leading upwards and choking down.  One largeish passage leads to the right and above the pit and is used as a shelter by both birds and a friendly passing shepherd in bad weather, whom we met.  He knew, as far as I could tell, of no other caves nor had seen the like of us in his many years and disappeared despairingly as Milch made a hairy gully slab climb to look at a high level passage he had spotted further up the scree slope.

But of the 'Caves of the phantom horse' there was no sign except a resurgence chamber slightly to to right of the ' Temple of the waters' and at the same altitude, which we found on our descent from the ridge.

At the top of the gully was an excellent view scanning a vast area of the Kirwan range and plateau lands. A mine working was found on the easier land on the other side of the scarp face.

As time, unlike us, was not prepared to stand still, we made our descent of the scarp face gully and rejoined our jubilant Tunisian guide eager to show us the temple and to sell off part of it for £1 per little lump.  On our showing he'll never be a wealthy man.  Yet one interesting point was noted by Ray Mansfield.  The guide sported a C.T.S. tie presumably their official organisational body.

On the Friday, a mammoth drive of over 250 miles was made and much time was spent on the discovery of a square kilometre of pseudo-karst scenery, made up of water- and wind eroded sandstone, in which lay vadose canyons up to 30ft deep with large pots and pools which were all bone dry at the time of our visit.

Later on during the day, many small rock shelters were noticed as we traversed the mountain ranges. Our travels were interspersed with comments from Butch like, “This looks like Iceland if you took away everything”, and Nigel’s imperialistic waves to astonished but friendly natives upon whom he bestowed his magnificence!

All in all, a very interesting and enjoyable time was had by all, except by 'Jesus' who couldn’t find a pub that sold Newcastle Brown, nor any C.R.G. members ready to rise to his B.S.A. bait!

On Saturday, much haggling was done in the ' Medina' - the old walled town of Sarsse, before we were whirled away to bake inside Monastir International Airport Terminal for 4 hours for a French-delayed aircraft.  When we eventually boarded, we had another hour's delay and were then forced to fly to Italy where we couldn't land due to congestion and then made a dash to Stuttgart for a refuelling stop, leaping in before three aircraft already waiting to land.

Seven hours after take-off from Tunisia, we arrived in Birmingham, and in Butch’s car made the Hunters in an hour and twenty minutes exactly, getting there at five minutes past eleven for a pint and a last drink with the emigrating Wessex Hut Warden Greg Pickford, who, at the time you may be reading this, should be well on his way to New Zealand and virgin caves.

Editor’s Note: Not virgin - the B.E.C. has been there already.

Editor’s other note: There appears to be some doubt as to the exact part (if any) played by Mr. Irwin in the account by Mr. Taylor.  According to Mr. Irwin, his name has no connection at all with the story you have just read and should therefore be removed.  According to Mr. Taylor, I was not supposed to alter a word from those he wrote.  Since both these gentlemen uttered vague threats should I fail to comply with their instructions and being a natural coward (the yellow streak down my back is available for inspection at any committee meeting!)  I have carried out little judicious editing from the original which, given luck, should please nobody!


 

Library List

A club library list has been produced and placed on sale at the Belfry for members to purchase at 10p each (p.& p. 5p).   It will prove of value to members both regular at the Belfry and those not so regular and living off Mendip.  In 12 pages o quarto it lists all books, periodicals and the like that are held in the library and is up-to-date to September 1972.  For those not able to visit the library, books and periodicals may be sent through the post - postage and the necessary insurance to be covered by the borrower except for some rare items which are not lent out.  Those wishing to borrow by post should contact Dave Irwin, at Townsend Cottage (see front of B.B.)  Will members note that all items are on loan for ONE MONTH only. Several members have had books out for much longer periods and it would be appreciated if they would return the items as soon as possible as it will save me having to write to them individually.

Dave Irwin.

An Amendment to ‘Climbing in Black Rock Quarry'

I would like to thank Alan Tringham for the boost to my ego in connection with the new climbs at Weston-in-Gordano; described in last November's B.B.  He has not got his facts quite right.

The Phantom Groper was climbed by N. Jago and D. Targett and the so-called Central Slab Route is, in fact, called the Stripper (V.S.) and not mild V.S. as reported.  This was also climbed by D. Targett and N. Jago.  Unfortunately, Alan Left out the best route in the quarry.  This is Vanishing Tattoo (H.S.A2). The route takes the middle of the red wall using bolts, free moves and hard pegging.  This was put up by N. Jago, D. Targett and G.E. Oaten.

G.E. Oaten.

Members Addresses

M.T. Dorp, 4 Manilla Rd, Clifton , Bristol 8.
R. Ellinor, 3 Chipperfield Rd, Kingswood, Bristol BS5 4DP.
S.H.Grime, Shenavall, 62 Souter Drive, Holm Mains, Inverness.
G. Marshall, 29 Stonehill, Hanham, Bristol BS15 3HP.
P.B. Marshall, 43 Horton St, Frome, Somerset.
I.J. Rees, 182 Newbridge Rd, St. Annes, Bristol BS4 4DS.
Mr. & Mrs. R.S. Toms, 89 Apple Grove, Enfield, Middlesex.

A REMINDER THAT SUBS ARE NOW DUE.  THE ORDINARY RATE OF MEMBERS ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION IS NOW £2. 50, PAY BOB


 

The S.M.D.T. in Yorkshire

A short account by D.L. Stuckey

The Dowber Gill stream sinks in its bed a few feet from a steel and concrete monument to man’s engineering skills.  Via this climbing frame of an entrance shaft, four B.E.C. and one W.C.C. members entered Providence Pot.  At the foot of the shaft, a short crawl brought contact with a guide wire, the other end of which was found 2,000 feet away after a confusing sequence of mud chambers; oozy crawls and short climbs, all of which led to Dowber Gill Passage.

Here, the stream, last seen on the surface but now under the firm influence of the local fault, makes a beeline for Dow Cave nearly a mile away.  The caver’s route is anything but a bee-line, as it involves high level chambers; traverses, and well-scalloped stream passages.  The continuous changes in level, plus the distance involved, adds up to some strenuous caving before entering the sizeable passages of Dow Cave.

The party of D. Turner; D. Irwin; M. Taylor; G. Pickford and D. Stuckey required five and a half hours to complete the through trip.  For general guidelines I would refer you to Pennine Underground and/or Northern Caves Volume 1.  A more detailed and colourful account appears in David Reap’s book ‘Potholing Beneath the Northern Pennines’.  For Mendip men, the trip is bit of a collector’s piece and once done, it's done!

Publications News

A review of what is coming out in the near future, by Dave Irwin.

A trend that has become apparent in the last couple of years is the question "What is new in the publications pipeline?"  To put questioners at ease, here are a few notes on what to expect to see published during the next few months.

Caving Report No 14 - Balagueres 1970 - by Roy Bennett.

Though long overdue, it is of considerable interest.  This report covers the caves that were visited by the B.E.C, in this little-known area of the Pyrenees.  Available March/April 1973.  Price about 25p.

Caving Report No 17 - A Burrington Atlas - by D. Irwin, C. Howell and D. Stuckey.

A collection of surveys of all the caves associated with Burrington.  Includes new surveys of Sidcot; Foxes; Milliars Quarry Cave; Rod's; Tunnel; Whitcombe's; Barren; Nameless; Elephant; Toad; Frog; Drunkards and many others.  Also included are surveys of Goatchurch; East Twin; Reads and Avelines that are already available through the survey scheme and adapted for this publication. Background notes on each site are given. Available April 1973, price about 40p. DEMAND FOR THIS PUBLICATION IS ALREADY VERY GREAT so members who want a copy should get in touch with Chris Howell NOW as numbers to be printed are obviously limited.  At the moment, we have firm bookings for over 120 copies.

Caving Report No 13 - St. Cuthbert’s Swallet - Cerberus; Maypole; September and Long Chamber Series.

Work is almost complete and these will be published under a single cover.  Available about May/June 1963.  Price about 40p

Drunkard’s Hole, Rod's Pot and Sidcot will be available as separate surveys during the course of the next few months.  Drunkard’s at the printers now.  Price for each 10p.

Work has already commenced on another atlas - that of the Caves of Western Mendip.  If the Burrington project is a success, this too will be published as a caving report.

Those B.E.C. Caving Logs that we have are being edited and published as a series of Caving Reports. Members interested in obtaining copies (and there are some dating back to 1944) should let Dave Irwin know, so that numbers required can be estimated.


 

Yet Another Report on a North Wales Trip

by G.E. Oaten.

The weekend of the 26th January saw the exodus of a few B.E.C. members to the Promised Land - Snowdonia, North Wales.  After hours spent in sharpening ice axes and crampons, we were somewhat dismayed when the weather forecast promised us mild, wet conditions.

After the uneventful trip, Roy Marshall, Derek Targett, Nigel Jago and myself met up with Phil Kingston and Roy and Joan Bennett on the Saturday morning and made our way to the Ogwen Valley. Unknown to us at the time, Alan Tringham and Pete Sutton were at Tremadoc climbing Princess (280' H.S.)

Upon reaching Lyn Ogwen, we made the ascent to the summit of Tryfan by the North Ridge.  We then made our way to Glyder Fach via one or two small patches of soft snow.  We were greeted at the top by strong winds and poor visibility.  After a short rest we headed for Glyder Fawr, losing height quickly to gain access to Llyn-y-Cwm.  Roy Bennett and Phil left us here to return to Ogwen via the Devil’s Kitchen.  Nigel, Derek and I continued on our way on a compass bearing that took us down into Nant Peris in the Llanberis Pass, a walk of half a mile brought us back to the campsite.

After we had cooked a cordon bleu meal, we made our way to the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, where we spent a pleasant evening in the Everest Room supping ale and listening to the music of two guitarists.  We arose late on the Sunday morning with an assortment of thick heads.  In this delicate condition, we were only up to a short walk and a stroll around the various climbing shops.  After this, we took our leave of the district and headed back towards Bristol.

Sofa Rugby

A short description of this new Mendip sport by the editor.

It is not often we get the opportunity to report to our members of the existence of a brand-new sport; but such is our welcome task at present.

Sofa Rugby is played indoors, in a room preferably of stoat construction.  The two teams scrum down on each side of the sofa, the object being to ram the opposing team hard against one wall - preferably grinding them between wall and sofa, or alternatively crushing them between sofa and floor.

The first game was played at the Shepton Hut between teams from the Wessex and Shepton.  As a result of this, the B.E.C. decided on away matches only, and the games are now played at Upper Pitts, the visiting team providing the actual sofa; settee, Chaise Lounge or what you will.

It was thus that I found myself travelling from the Hunters to Upper Pitts on fateful Saturday night; passing en route a sofa, which was being carried from the Belfry to the 'Harena' by suitable drunken stalwarts.  I must admit that, in these somewhat dull and conformist days, the sight of a sofa with legs, staggering along the road, gladdened my soul and took me back to the days when almost anything could happen on Mendip and usually did.

On arrival at Upper Pitts, the sofa was manoeuvred into the living room, and the teams lined up. What follows is a highly biased account of the subsequent proceedings.

On the first scrum down, the B. E. C. team pushed gallantly but, owing to the fact that a large number of Wessex craftily joined in after all the B.E.C.'s heads were down, our team got pushed against the wall.  On the second scrum a similar thing happened, and I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and watched the third from the touchline.  This was enlivened by the efforts of our scrum half (Tim Large) who nobly got round the back of the opponents side and pulled off as many of the extra players as he could.  Even so, we were still beaten.  The average sofa only lasts for about three scrums, and this one was then ceremonially burned outside.  It is a rough game and there are always casualties.  In my case, this took the form of a bruised rib, which is still a trifle painful.  All the same, a good game and an interesting addition to the Mendip scene while the supply of sofas lasts!

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

DON'T FORGET YOUR SUB - £2.50. PAY BOB BAGSHAW.

Winemaking

"Sett" proposes to run a course on the above subject at the Belfry, following the success of his lectures to date.  Cost for the course will be £1 or 20p per lecture (to Belfry funds.)  Dates and titles for the first four are as follows:-

24th March        Equipment and fermentation.

31st March        Flavours and recipes.

14th April          Cleanliness and disinfecting.

28th April          Acids; sugars; yeasts etc.

The rest will be announced in due course.  If interested, put your name on the list at the Belfry or contact Sett at 4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset - or just turn up.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 31.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. Measured cave passage in untapped way. (5)
4. Exit direction. (3)
6. Not found in G.B. door, but lower down. (9).
7. Underground feature in Mendip or London. (4)
8. Flat object in cave discovery. (4)
10. Last war St.? Try another formation.(5,4)
12. Distressing call. (1,1,1)
13. Describes rift or chamber in Longwood. (5)

Down:

1. European mountain becomes a friend. (3)
2. Stub cert for this cave. (9)
3. Browne’s Hole passage name. (4)
4. Tube to lie in Cuthbert’s. (9)
5. Poisonous word (5)
7. Jobs. (5)
9. Wig’s drink? (4)
11. Lead this once on Mendip. (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

L

 

H

 

H

U

T

 

E

I

 

I

 

E

 

O

U

T

G

 

L

 

L

 

U

 

O

H

I

L

L

I

E

R

S

 

T

 

 

 

C

 

 

 

U

 

S

T

A

T

I

O

N

S

O

 

A

 

I

 

G

 

I

D

I

P

 

T

W

O

 

N

D

 

E

R

E

 

F

 

G

 

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

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tele: WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     R. Bennett
Members:          R. Bagshaw; D.J. Irwin; M.J. Palmer; N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas; R. Orr.

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  R.J. BAGSHAW, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.  Tel: WHITCHURCH. 5626.
Caving Sec:       T.E. LARGE, 39 Seymour Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 27 Quantock Rd, Windmill Hill, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
Hut Warden:      R. ORR.  ‘The Belfry’, as above.
Assit H.W.        N. TAYLOR, Whiddon, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tel. WELLS 72338.
Hut Engineer:    R. HOBBS, Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol.
Tacklemaster:    M.A PALMER. 27 Roman Way, Paulton, BS18 5XB
B.B. Editor:       S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol.
Librarian:           D.J. IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tel: PRIDDY 369.
Pbs. (Sales)      C, Howell, 131 Sandon Rd., Edgbaston, Birminham.
Publications:     D.J. IRWIN.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.

MENDIP RESCUE ORGANISATION.  In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481

Editorial

All In Pictures?

What with a cave survey; some tips on tying knots and a page of yer actual music, this B.B. threatens to become more of a picture that a written magazine.  Never mind, it's variety that counts!

Catching Up

For a number of reasons, the B.B. has been approximately a month behind itself this year.  It is planned to catch up over the next month, and this in effect means that we shall have to try to produce a B.B. a fortnight for this and the next two issues.  I would therefore like to make a special plea for material of all sorts.  It is quite surprising how much manuscript condenses itself into a single issue of the B.B., so if you have anything which you think worth sending, please send it.

And Hanging On

Which may sound surprising to a few authors who have sent in a copy which has not yet been published. I have not had time to reply individually, but one author who has sent in a long article will see it in print as soon as the caving political climate is right, and a fine crossword will appear later this year when the present stock of pre-printed monthly crosswords gets a suitable gap in it.

“Alfie”


 

The Webbing Knot

From time to time we publish basic information on useful knots for club members.  Here is a knot described by NIGEL JAGO - our Climbing Secretary.

I have been asked by a few members of the club to describe how to tie nylon webbing - or 'tape' as it is known.  I have attempted to draw the knot used together with a brief explanation.

Tying the Basic Webbing Knot

The knot is basically an overhand knot with the opposite end of the length of tape threaded around the knot. The first stage is to form an overhand knot in one end of the length of webbing, as shown below:-

 

Such a knot pulls up into the shape shown in the next diagram.  If the loose end ‘B’ is passed underneath the end ‘A’ and through the knot already formed, it will appear on top of the existing knot at 2, 3, 4 and 5 as shown loosely in the final diagram.  To be on the safe side, at least an inch and a half of tape should lie outside the knot at 'A' and 'B' when completed and tightened up.  The knot should be bounced on with a person’s weight to tighten it.  Ends of the nylon webbing should always be sealed with a flame.  ALWAYS check a knot before use.

 


 

Sub-Committee on Voting Procedures

This sub-committee has completed its task, and some preliminary results were shown to the committee, including a very fine new voting form.  Their final report will be to hand in the near future but, on the evidence so far presented, there seems to be every chance of the main committee endorsing their report.  A vote of thanks was recorded to Mike Palmer for the work of the sub-committee.

Sub-Committee on use of Belfry Facilities

Members are reminded that Jock Orr has been given the task by the Committee of forming a sub-committee to look into the use of Belfry Facilities and to place its recommendations before the general committee.

Any members who have useful thoughts on the above subject should get in touch with Jock as soon as possible.

Electronics for Caving

Editor’s Note: We have had a letter from GEORGE HONEY, who, as most members will know live in Sweden.  He has been interested in scientific cave prospecting for some long time, and sends the article that follows.  He hopes that it will stimulate some of our more scientifically minded members to reply.

Electronics could be used fro three main functions in connection with caving – Communication, Position Location and Cave Finding.

The first thing to do is to set the boundary conditions, and those I propose for a start would be:-

Rock     Homogeneous limestone.  By this I mean solid pure limestone with no vertical or horizontal faults and no mineral strata.

Depth    100 metres (300ft approx.) maximum.

Power   I feel that for ease of transport, it would be as well to limit this to 6 watts as a continuous demand.  This requires a power source of about the same size and weight as a miner’s battery.

General Remarks

Any form of information transfer between two unconnected places must use magnetic or electric fields or both.  Unfortunately, limestone presents a severe obstruction to the passage of radio signals, an obstruction which becomes rapidly worse with increase of frequency. This means that we must consider non-radio transmission. (i.e. magnetic or conductive) or use very low frequencies below 1Mhz.  Recently, there has been much interest in such low frequency communication.

Communication

A telephone is of course the simplest way of communicating from surface to cave.  It suffers, however, from several disadvantages.  In a waterproof box it is relatively bulky; large amounts of cable have to be laid; and the system deteriorates rapidly if left underground.  In comparison with a telephone, small walkie-talkies have obvious advantages.

In the spring of 1966, several tests were carried out in St. Cuthbert’s.  These involved the use of 140Mhz transceivers; 27Mhz transceivers and 200Khz receiver.  The results of these tests were that communication was lost in the highest frequency case that of he 140Mhz sets, at the bottom of the entrance drainpipe. The next sets, those operating at 27Mhz, lost communication about ten feet further in, at the top of the entrance pitch.  The low frequency receiver obtained results from the Dining Room.

A test was then made laying a single piece of thin bell wire (insulated) from the surface to the top of Arête Pitch.  Good communication was then obtained on 27Mhz but none at all on 40Mhz.

Considering the size, cost and availability, it would thus seem wire guided radio system is a feasible proposition at the present.  Since transmission is not involved, I doubt if there would be any pressure from the G.P.O. to have such a system licensed.  The thin piece of wire could well be hidden behind rocks and left permanently in position, and the best positions for communication in each chamber could be suitably marked.  Because of the extremely low cost (about £3) and portability, this system (using low powered Japanese W/T's) lends itself to cave rescue work and large 'pushing' operations where surface support is needed.  In fact, it would be possible to wire a number of caves together to a central rescue point.

If lead wires are not to be used, then this leaves either radio communication using very low frequencies or magnetic communication using audio frequencies.  The first of these two would require a G.P.O. licence, but this aspect will not be dealt with in this article.  Basically, the lower the frequency, the better for maximum transmission through rock.  This leads, however, to other problems such as large antenna size and low modulation index. From a quick search of the low frequency bands, both 120Khz and 80Khz appear to be free from navigational transmissions, so I would pick 120Khz for a start and make a fairly sensitive receiver which need be no bigger than a small pocket transistor radio.  Transmission poses another problem.  One can either choose a frame aerial or a ferrite rod aerial. The frame aerial would be more efficient but would have to be made about three feet square and presumably made to fold up.  The ferrite rod is compact and a transmitter could be made no larger than six inches cubed. There are, however, problems of modulation system and maximum drive power before saturation occurs.

Prospecting and Surveying

We must assume that the first step in cave location would be a careful study of the geological and contour maps of the area under investigation.  This is likely to reveal watersheds; surface watercourses; strata declination and faulting.  In simple terms, this study would give one a good idea of where to start looking.

The next problem is one of magnitude.  How large is the surveyed area to be and what size of abnormalities which could be due to caves is it hoped to find?  These are to some extent conflicting requirements since one would want to cover as large an area as possible while at the same time looking for as small an irregularity as possible.

A number of methods are theoretically possible.  A list of some of them is given below:-

  1. Infra-red photography using planes or satellites.
  2. Thermo detectors plugged into the ground.
  3. Gravitational surveys.
  4. Resistivity surveys.
  5. Seismic surveys.
  6. Magnetometric surveys.
  7. Vertical electromagnetic survey, similar to that used on Apollo 17.

The feasibility of any of these methods must include expense, and I would imagine that any method involving the use if aircraft or satellites are out of the question without some form of government interest.  The other methods need not be too costly, but would involved teams of people on long and laborious ground traverses plus the time taken on the interpretation of results.  A short review of feasible methods follows:-

  1. Cavities near the surface, or actual entrances would show up immediately on an infra red survey as anomalies.  The depth limitation is unknown and the method expensive.
  2. Requires a very large number of detectors to obtain any meaningful information.  Could be used in conjunction with 1 to obtain further information on small selected areas.
  3. It has been rumoured that a sufficiently sensitive gravimeter can be home-built.  Would require a two man walking survey.
  4. Resistivity surveying needs relatively cheap equipment but many people to carry out the survey, moving the stakes forward about twenty feet at a time.  Given enough dedicated people; a fine day and walkie-talkie equipment, a fairly large area could be covered.  Details, however, will be poor unless many close interval cross-surveys are carried out.
  5. I have no details, but it is known that explosive detonations are not required.  Hitting the rock surface with a large hammer may provide a great enough shock-wave.  I do not know the cost a geophones and recording system.
  6. This requires surveys spaced at twenty foot intervals.  A two-man instrument can be cheaply made.  Small fissures may give no significant change in vertical field, whilst more bodies may give misleading results.  A proton Precession Magnetometer may be simply made, consisting as it does of a bottle of water with sensing and drive coils and a frequency monitor.
  7. Electromagnetic sounding seems to have possibilities especially as we now have details of Apollo 17 and can get more technical details as required.  Recording and interpretation may well be the problem, and this must be looked into.

In conclusion, I feel that all of the above methods are applicable and, if some coordinating body could be formed, some real progress could be made on determining the most effective method to be employed.

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

George also sends some literature on the Apollo 17 experiments and some references which may be useful and which can be made available to any interested members.

Perhaps "Prew", "Sett" or any of the members who have looked into these problems in the past might care to reply to this article in a future issue of the B.B.?


 

Sidcot Survey

by D.J. Irwin and D. Stuckey

A sketch and some notes on a new survey of this cave which will be available to members through the survey scheme in due course at about 10p.

As no survey was currently available through the survey scheme, it was felt that one of the best known minor caves Mendip should be surveyed to a reasonably high grade.  The only widely distributed survey was by the Stride brothers in 1944, and this was published in the Mendip Caves book number 3 (1).  Another version of the Strides’ survey appeared in British Caver in 1944 (2) having a scale 1 inch to 13.3 feet!  No indication of accuracy was quoted.  A smaller section of the Water Chamber and Paradise is to be found in the S.S.S.S. manuscript Caving Log for 2.11.1947 - but this is not generally accessible to cavers.

The new survey was produced in three trips by members of the B.E.C., but is not complete.  Purgatory has been blocked for nearly ten years and has not been re-opened by the surveying team.  Perhaps some enterprising caver with time on his hands will set to and re-open this sporting section of the cave.

The survey line was constructed by use of a survey unit as outlined in the notes on the East Twin Swallet survey (3).  Passage details were taken at station and inter-station positions, and roof heights estimated where measurement proved impractical.  The entrance survey point is marked with a chiselled cross in the outer rock face of the entrance arch.  A permanent survey station has also been set up at the far end of Paradise - the peak of an obvious pointed boulder a few feet from the Terminal Aven.  Its coordinates are N +97.53; E +104.60 and Height O.D.382.97.

The compass calibration was carried out as for the East in survey (3) and the co-ordinates processed by the use five figure logs.  All the survey lines throughout the system are open traverse, but the end coordinates are probably within three feet of the estimated position based on the expected closed traverse of 400 feet length. (4).

Details of the surface survey carried out to establish the height of the entrance above O.D. will appear in a future B.B.  A C.R.G. Grade 6D is claimed for this survey to the end of the passage beyond the water table, and 5D for Paradise.

Total Passage Length:    575ft.  (Including avens and side passages.)

Total Depth:                   91ft.

Entrance Height:            469.59 ft above O.D.

Survey Trips:                 August 1968 and 22 and 27 October 1972

 

References:

(1)                 Mendip Caves, Book 3. H.E. Balch, 1948. Page 91.

(2)                Mendip Bibliography, Mansfield, Standing and Reynolds. C.R.G. Publication No.13. (Jul. 1965)

(3)                Belfry Bulletin Vol 23 No1 (January 1969)

(4)                Traverse Closure in Cave Surveying. Irwin and Stenner. Belfry Bulletin Vol 27 No 1 F ig 5(b).

(5)                Cave Surveying. Butcher and Railtoin.  C.R.G. Trans. Vol 8. No2.

 

 


 

Odds & Ends

Alan Thomas writes

I liked Dave Irwin's cave references from classical music very much.  By all means let us have our bibliographies as complete as possible. In this connection, I should like to draw caver’s attention to Shakespeare.  Cymbeline III, iii, 35 Romeo and Juliet II, ii, 13.  There are also such speleological romances as "A Passage to India" and Dante’s Inferno I.  Macauley refers to Mendip caves in ‘The Armada.’

Editor's Note:     It is rumoured that Tony Oldham has references to every mention of a cave in literature and, no doubt, if true, the list must be impressive.  Only goes to show that the caving spirit is more widespread than most people think!

WINEMAKING ‘Sett’ announces that the winemaking course is now cancelled owing to lack of support.

Sofa Rugby Rumour hath it that there are no more sofas left on Mendip.  How about somebody designing and making a special competition sofa?  It could be made so that it could be dismantled for ease of transport and/or replacement of parts.  Quite a challenge to our inventive geniuses who make underground

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

HAVE YOU PAID YOUR ANNUAL SUB. YET?  £2.50 to BOB BAGSHAW

The Digger’s Song

It is a long time since verse last appeared in the B.B.  We are also breaking new ground, as Kangy has sent us the music as well!

(Dedicated to a rare body of men and, in particular, to the stalwarts of St. Cuthbert’s.)   by Kangy

Chorus: (After each verse ):-   Digging away, Digging all day, Dig, dig, dig, dig, Dig, Dig, Dig.

I wanted to go down a cave,
And now my ambitions I've got 'em,
In Cuthbert’s I'm all the rave
At the dig in the hole in the bottom.
 
I only went out on a spree
Thinking to sup and be off, when
I encountered a crowd - B.E. C. -
All lewd and licentious and tough men.
 
They said" Young man, it will go
If you carry these ladders and drop ‘em
Into a hole that we know
That’s not really too much of a problem."
 
Now the entrance pitch is divine
As long as you’re skinny and narrow
The walls are all covered in slime
From the drippings of Walt’s old wheelbarrow.
 
We continued on down the Arête
The shaky old ladders appalling
But, as the other bloke said,
“It's a ruddy sight better than falling.”

Two ladders, and then the Wire Rift
Were next on the menu they brought me,
To traverse I needed the gift
That my ape-like ancestors had taught me
 
Mud Hall and Stal Chamber too,
And Boulder (with boulders abundant)
My mates disappeared from my view
As they hurried to show me what fun meant.        A hole at the end gave the clue
Leading to Everest and gravel.
We slid down the scree in a queue
More or less in the right line of travel.
 
I staggered along in a daze
Dimly noting the Sewer in passing
They'd knotted me up in a maze
When I suddenly noticed the splashing.
 
A wall - immense and quite tall
Traversed the passage we trod in
Blocking the flow in the hall
And changing the level of 'oggin.
 
At the side stood a large bucket wheel
Fixed in its bearings by packing
This fiendish device seemed to deal
With the drive of a pump, double-acting.

So, sloshing the water about
It pumped from one place to another
A muddy great hole was washed out
Without any effort or bother.
 
A spade, all eroded and rough,
I was given to my consternation.
They invited me kindly enough
To get digging and start exploration.
 
So now I'm a digger of note.
To be found at my post every Tuesday.
On cave exploration I dote.
I'm sure I'll be digging till Domesdayl

Those members who frequented the Hunters in the days of the regular sing-songs will recognise the tune as basically that of 'The Hole in the Elephant's Bottom' (Ed.)

 


 

Caving News

A Report on caving activities by the Caving Secretary, Tim Large.

What's happening on the caving scene? Well, lots - the Sunday Morning Digging Team have been pushing hard at the end of Gour Rift in Cuthbert’s, the dig now being about 6' deep but it fills up with water from the Bank Grille.  Here John Knops has come to the rescue and invented the Mark I Perpetual Bailing Machine, which is a pump working from an overshot waterwheel.  As yet, the prototype is still under going field trials and appears to be O.K.  The next stage will be the Mark 11 - built on a stronger chassis and with phosphor-bronze bearings.  This strange machine is a bit of a shock for any caver who comes across it unawares and leaps over the Gour Rift Dam to see a waterwheel there emitting great slurping noises.

At the moment, the waterwheel slurps away alone - for the Sunday Team are away on the hills led by Wig and festooned with tripods; clinos; cameras etc. rushing around the Burrington area and working on the latest publication the Burrington Atlas. This should be out soon and will be the most comprehensive document on the caves of Burrington so far produced. Many of the caves have had detailed surveys produced for the first time.

Back in St. Cuthbert’s again, the Tuesday Night Team have started digging in the soak away just upstream of Stal Pitch.  The passage, which is quite big, follows the dip and down under a phreatic roof.  Here again, mechanical devices have been installed – in this case and aerial ropeway to aid the removal of spoil buckets.  In between this, the Team has also visited Swildons on several occasions, going to South East inlets; abseiling and prussiking trip down Black Hole and more prussicking and climbing on the Twenty and the old Forty.  They have also entered the unstable Eastwater and visited Primrose Pot (yes, on a Tuesday night!) but only to the bottom of the first pitch – a nice little trip for four people in three hours.  One of the party only managed the squeeze by doing it bare from the waist up.

Cuthbert’s has had its usual quota of tourist trips - two of these being on Tuesday Evenings with groups from R.A.F. Locking and Ian Calder's group of outdoor Activities Instructors from a centre near Brecon.  One group was heard to mutter something about Cuthbert’s looking more like a building site, what with pumps and shoring etc, only to be truck speechless on emerging from sump I into Cuthbert’s II to be confronted by a peculiar wooden structure blocking the passage.  This is the working of that notorious group known as the Shepton Mallet Building and Construction Co., who have launched an attack on the equally notorious "Man Trap" which is now approaching twenty feet deep and being re-named the "Party Trap".  To overcome the problem of having to bale out the hole, the S.M.B.C.C. has constructed an aqueduct across the hole lined with heavy gauge polythene, thus keeping the dig permanently dry.  This makes it the only underwater dig by non-divers on Mendip.  If digging progresses at this rate in Cuthbert’s the Caving Sec will have to appoint a Clerk of Works and call in the factory inspectors to examine all these ingenious contrivances under Mendip!

Elsewhere on Mendip, things have also been happening.  Doug Stuckey has led successful trips to O.F.D. and Rhino Rift.  “Mr” Nigel has been wittering away down Manor Farm Mine which he assures us will lead to ‘caverns measureless to man’ (how will Wig survey them in that case? Ed.) but at the moment is digging - or rather wallowing - in a cowsh pool at the present end of the system.

Another club trip was held to the caves of Western Mendip led by Chris Howell and visited Loxton Cave; Denney’s Hole; Sandy Hole; Foxes' Hole and Axbridge Ochre Mine.  The last proved somewhat elusive with various bods disappearing in all directions amid much foliation until eventually the gorge-like entrance was found by that intrepid Nettle Pot digger - Tony Tucker. All in all, it concluded a very pleasant days caving.

Not much has missed member’s attention during the past few months.  G.B.; Longwood; North Hill Swallet have all been graced by our presence.

Do you know there is a lesser horseshoe bat residing in the Boulder Chamber of St. Cuthbert’s?  It’s been there for about two months and is now just off the normal route to Everest from Katchenjunga, clinging to a dry section of the overhanging roof.  Various people have always thought they had seen bats flying in Boulder Chamber. Well, they were right!

In the Future, there will be club trips to Yorkshire which will include such caves as Car Pot, Alum, Bull Pot and maybe Juniper Gulf for those wanting something a little more strenuous.  Anyone who is interested should contact Roy Bennett as soon as possible.

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

NEW BELFRY KEYS are now available at the Belfry.  Don't forget to bring along your old one if you have one.  All members are reminded that Belfry keys are and remain the property of the Bristol Exploration Club and should be returned to the club if no longer required.  All new keys have a serial number, and a register will be kept showing the possessor of every key to club premises.


 

Caving Reports

Review  A review of what is still available or will shortly be available

By Wig

Caving Report No 3A

 “The Manufacture of Lightweight Caving Ladder - S.M.C.C. Method." Price 15p (20p to non members.)

This publication covers the basic construction of light weight ladders involving the use of taper pins for locking the ladder rungs.  First published in 1962, it still offers everything that cavers need for ladder construction.

Caving Report No 5

A Survey of Headwear and Lighting.   Price 30p or 40p non-members.

With 72 pages and illustrations, this publication is still unique although it first appeared in 1958. It was revised in 1967 by Geoff Bull and although the prices are now some five years out of date, the coverage of equipment is exhaustive and little else has changed.  A new cover has been designed for this publication by Barry Wilton which will show members the trend in cover design for future B.E.C. publications.

Caving Report No 6

‘Smaller Caves of Mendip - Volume I’ Price 15p to all.

This of some interest historically and includes the Hunters Hole survey.

Caving Report No 10

‘The B.E.C. of Ladder Construction.’ 15p to all.

Together with 3A, ladder construction is covered by this report.

Caving Report No 11

‘The Long Chamber/Coral Area of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.’

Price 20p (25p to non members.)  First published in 1965, it was the first real attempt to sort out the mysteries of the Long Chamber and Coral Series area of St. Cuthbert’s.  The surveys are grades 1 - 3 and are printed on two sheets. ONLY TEN COPIES ARE AVAILABLE so members missing this item from their collection of caving reports should get it NOW before it makes its disappearance.  There will not be a reprint.

Caving reports 13E, 13F and 13H

All part of the great Definitive Report on St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  13E covers the Rabbit Warren in 20 pages and with 3 pull-out surveys of which the W.S.G. Bulletin says ‘the C. R. G. Grade 6D surveys are far above any other standard achieved.  The quality of the drawing work is superb.’ Price 22p to all.  13F covers the Gour Hall area and 13H the Rabbit Warren Extension.  Both at 15p to all.

Caving Report No 14

Pyrenean Expedition. Price 25p to members and 30p to non-members.  Available shortly.

Caving Report No 15

Roman Mine. Price 45p to members,  60p to non-members.

50 pages of photos and report on the Roman Mine near Newport.  Includes pull-out survey.

Caving Report No 16

'Mendip's Vanishing Grottoes'  40p (members) 50p (non-members)

Collection of 42 photos of Balch and Shatter caves by John Eatough and Roy Pearce.  The C.R.G. Newsletter says, “Produced by two outstanding photographers…is a glaring example of the conflicts increasingly arising between caver and quarrymen.  To describe this book as appalling is no insult to the producers, for it is their intention to shock all thinking speleologists into action rather than words over the problem of conservation.  The volume is therefore an invaluable piece of history as well as a dire warning.”

The W.S.G. Bulletin has this to say, “Every caver will want to have this fine collection of photos, well worth the money, with central stapling which allows it to be opened flat, a pleasing detail.”

Will members please note that copies of Vanishing Grottoes are dwindling rapidly.  There are only a few left.  If you want to obtain a copy of this or any of the reports listed contact C. HOWELL adding 7p for postage and packing.  Make cheques or P.O.’s out to the Bristol Exploration Club.

Alfie's Spelaeodes are still available at 50p per copy or 55p post free.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 32.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

12

 

13

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

16

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. Oddly, much weight is attached to this by cavers. (5)
4. This side of the sump. (3)
5. Hall or escalator on Mendip. (3)
7. Type of 1 across. (4)
8. Small round object. (4)
9. Speak. (3)
10. A hole on Mendip.(3)
11. The other side of the sump. (3)
12. Mendip rift. (5)
14. Cuthbert’s run. (3)
15. Consume. (3)
16. Type of tooth found in Cuthbert’s (5)

Down:

1. Meets lion on Mendip. (9)
2. Has difficulty in keeping balance. (5)
3. Temporary shelter away from Mendip. (4)
4. Not on. (3)
5. Waste tear (on an unstable Mendip cave?). (9)
10. Cuthbert’s series. (5)
11. Diggers may form this? (4)
13. Temporary shelter on Mendip? (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

P

A

C

E

D

 

O

U

T

A

 

U

 

E

 

U

 

O

L

E

T

T

E

R

B

O

X

 

 

H

 

R

 

L

 

I

T

U

B

E

 

D

I

S

C

A

 

E

 

S

 

E

 

 

S

T

R

A

W

S

T

A

L

K

 

T

 

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O

S

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G

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

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tele: WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     R. Bennett
Members:          R. Bagshaw; D.J. Irwin; M.J. Palmer; N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas; R. Orr.

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  R.J. BAGSHAW, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.  Tel: WHITCHURCH. 5626.
Caving Sec:       T.E. LARGE, 39 Seymour Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 27 Quantock Rd, Windmill Hill, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
Hut Warden:      R. ORR.  ‘The Belfry’, as above.
Assit H.W.        N. TAYLOR, Whiddon, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tel. WELLS 72338.
Hut Engineer:    R. HOBBS, Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol.
Tacklemaster:    M.A PALMER. 27 Roman Way, Paulton, BS18 5XB
B.B. Editor:       S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol.
Librarian:           D.J. IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tel: PRIDDY 369.
Pbs. (Sales)      C, Howell, 131 Sandon Rd., Edgbaston, Birminham.
Publications:     D.J. IRWIN.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.

MENDIP RESCUE ORGANISATION.  In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481

Editorial

Cave Politics

Every sport requires a certain amount of 'behind the scenes' organisation - and ours is no exception. What sticks in most people’s gullets is the thought of people revelling in the organisational aspects of caving instead of getting down holes and actually doing it.

Unfortunately, such people do exist - and what is more, it is getting to the stage where caving clubs can no longer ignore what is going on.

We therefore make no apology for running, as our main article this month, one which deals with this subject.  We are not alone in this, as the current issue of the Wessex Journal also devotes some space to this subject.  We urge readers to take the time to think about what is amid, and to make sure that the club acts in a suitable manner to counter any future threat to caving as we understand it.

Sit. Vac

For a variety of reasons, many of the members of the present committee will not be standing next year. Now, as always, is a chance for younger members to come forward and help to run the club.  There is only one snag - it means a fair amount of work!

“Alfie”


 

Swinsto Hole

An interesting article on one of the major cave trips possible in this country, written by Derek Sanderson

Although the winch was still on at Gaping Gill, it being a bank holiday, we (Roger Wing, Keith and Derek Sanderson) elected to attempt a through trip in Kingsdale by abseiling down Swinsto Hole and emerging through the valley entrance.  This was quite an undertaking for us, as we had never done any real abseiling before.  Neither had we done Swinsto by ladder, though I had done Simpsons Pot next door and Keith knew the master cave from the valley entrance.

We arrived in Kingsdale early and found it deserted. We entered the master cave via the valley entrance to ladder the twenty foot pitch which would bring us out.  The valley entrance consists of an upturned oil drum leading to a long winding tunnel-like passage of stooping height after passing a low duck.  It took thirty minutes to ladder the pitch and return to the surface.

The climb up the side of Gragareth to Swinsto was hot work in a wet suit but didn't take too long. We took with us three 120 foot ropes; two twenty five foot ladders, some belays and a long string of karabiners! Well, we didn't know what we should find in the cave!  Once one has pulled the abseil rope down from the first pitch, there can be no turning back. The karabiners were for use if we could not find suitable belays - the ladders were for use on any pitches that looked too dangerous and the ropes were for lifelines and spares in case the abseil rope snagged and had to be left behind.  All proved unnecessary, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

We entered Swinsto at 11 a.m. and followed the tight short entrance tunnel of grey smooth rock to the head of the first pitch of nineteen feet.  We passed the rope through the ring of the eyebolt located low on the right and spent a little time getting used to the descendeur and slings before dropping down the short pitch in only a trickle of water.  The rope came down easily, and we were committed to going on!

There are two ways leading from the small chamber at the bottom.  Right leads to some avens, whilst to the left is the Swinsto Long Crawl - a thousand feet of hands-and-knees crawl in six inches of water. This, however, proved to be not as tedious as we expected and it was soon passed.  We then found ourselves at the head of a thirteen foot climb which we went down by abseiling.  There is no fixed belay here but a smooth spur of rock to the left is adequate for the purpose.

The climb is followed, after fifty feet of pleasant stream passage, by the second pitch of 23 feet which leads into a small chamber.  There is an eyebolt in position and the descent is in water, though this does not encumber the pleasure of abseiling down such a smooth circular pot.

The passage turns to the right at the bottom and becomes a narrow rift of grey rock with the stream flowing through it.  After a short distance, progress is halted at the third pitch of 22 feet.  This pitch has no eyebolt, but a large deposit of pasty calcite directly above the pitch serves as a perfect belay point from which the abseil rope can be retrieved.  The rocks at the bottom are browner in colour and there is a pool into which one drops about waist deep.

From here, the way on is under a pile of loose boulders into a section of pleasant streamway where one is halted suddenly at the head of the fourth pitch.  This is more formidable, being 46 feet deep and followed immediately by the 42 foot fifth pitch from a sloping ledge.  There is an eyebolt here.  I descended first to see if a belay point had been installed on the ledge. There had.  We passed both pitches without any difficulty but with considerable satisfaction.  The descents are invigorating, especially the first, where the walls are smooth and one is constantly in the water.

At the base of the fifth pitch, an old abandoned pot can be seen round to the right, whilst the way on is via a rift passage which, after turning to the left, becomes the traverse where one can either clamber over the water on powdery brown rocks, or follow the stream at low level.  The streamway is tight but not difficult.

After the traverse, the passage remains narrow and descends through a number of pots until the stream sinks amongst boulders and the way on is to the right through a comfortable passage of smooth scalloped light brown rocks.  After a sharp turn to the left and crossing some pools, we climbed down a flake of rock into a short chamber from which the passage dropped through a 19 foot climb which we abseiled.  There is no fixed belay point here, but there is a smooth spur of rock on the right which is suitable.

From the bottom of the climb, only a few feet of passage leads to the sixth and last pitch of 23 feet into a wide chamber with the stream re-emerging from the opposite wall. The belay point here is a sturdy wooden stemple wedged across the passage.

From here, a low level passage leads into the Cascades, a high narrow passage which passes over several climbable pots in sculptured rock until a high aven is passed on the left. This is the base of Slit Pot and is the junction of Swinsto and Simpson’s Pot. Downstream is a 12ft climb and squeeze over boulders into East Entrance Passage - a dull, tiring, flat-out crawl about two hundred feet in length leading to Master Junction.  A map is advisable here.  To the right, a pleasant streamway affords comfortable walking to the ladder which we had placed for our exit.  We emerged from the valley entrance at 2.30 p.m., though the trip could have been done in a much shorter time by cavers more familiar with the system.  However, we were very satisfied with ourselves.


 

Hard Rock Caving

An interesting look at 'how the other half lives' and an offer of an exchange by George Honey.

or~ HOW ANOTHER CLUB ORGANISES ITS A.G.M.!

The air-conditioned coach left the centre of Stockholm at midnight on the 30th of June, bound for Nordmaling - some six hundred miles to the north for the A.G.M. of the S.S.F. (Swedish Caving Club).  About twenty of the hundred or so members had joined the coach, so there was plenty of room except for my knees.  (The average Swede must be shorter than an Englishman, for they certainly pack the seats in!).  Sleeping soon became impossible, as the sun was up at about 2 a.m. and, even with the air conditioning, it soon became very hot.  We stopped once or twice on the way up at transport cafes - roadside Hiltons compared to the one I used to know on the A4!

We arrived at Ava "Gastis" at 9 a.m., and drove into a cluster of painted buildings - a 'wandershome! which was going to be our home for the next few days of A.G.M.

I had a quiet sleep to awake to find a lunch on.  Outside it was stinking hot (the usual Swedish summer ) and a local sports shop had on display a range of tents, rucsacks and kayaks for us.  All were of the very best quality and extremely light and not expensive.  After a super meal of salmon given by the local council, we listened to a talk about that district of Southern Lapland which is about the size of Yorkshire.

At 7 a.m. next morning, we were called, breakfasted, and were into the coach and away to the fells. A quick three caves before eating our packed lunch and then another three afterwards.  This routine went on for three days.  The pace was killing, but it ensured that everybody who was at the A.G.M. had at least seen a cave that year!

Now about the caves. There are three types, all in granite or diorite (another old igneous rock).  The first type is a glacial scratch, where the glaciers have dug out a narrow cleft which may have been roofed by a subsequent rack fall.  The second type has been formed by water during one of the ice ages.  A vertical crack which had developed in the bedrock became filled with stones and water from the overlying ice and due to turbulence, wore out the shape shown. The 'window' has in some cases opened out due to subsequent frost damage .

The third type is a pure fault.  A vertical crack.  I went down a hundred feet of one of these on ladders made out of fir trees.  Note the use of fixed tackle.  From the bottom, we went back up another fault which was a giant boulder ruckle about ten feet wide and a hundred and fifty feet high.

Of course, I forgot to say that to get to any cave in this area requires an hour of two walking through pine forest or up a mountainside.  Caves could be described as easy but access difficult.  The pressmen got there however, since caving is a rather unusual affair in Sweden.  I, of course, managed to get the B.E.C. a mention in the local paper.

As I said, it was an impressively organised weekend with lectures on geology, speleology and with film and slide shows from all over Europe.  The A.G.M. itself was like any other club's A.G.M. and I was asked to look into the possibility of arranging an exchange meeting with the B.E.C.

There are medium sized limestone systems, as Roger Stenner can verify (I have an article of Roger's which has been mislaid for some time, but which will appear in the next B.B. - Editor.)  Most of these caves are of the Goatchurch style.  One thing that is impressive is the immense size of the country making even a simple cave into a big trip.  What the S.S.F. would like would be a week on Mendip with tourist trips down Cuthbert’s, G.B. and Swildons and the like so any ideas, please?

Editor’s Note.    One hopes that the club will manage to find the time to act as hosts to the S.S.F. and even perhaps be able to organise a return match.  I must say that I like the idea of the local council laying on meals for the caving club.  Imagine up going down to Cheddar for our A.G.M. only to find that the local council have turned up in force and laid on a free lunch complete with local cheese and cider.

Changes of member’s Addresses

423. L. DAWES. The Lodge, Main Street, Winster, Nr. Matlock, Derbyshire.
594. P.A. WILKINS, 55 Eighth Avenue, Northville, Bristol, BS7 OQS
731. R.BIDMEAD, 63 Cassell Rd, Fishponds, Bristol.
707. R. BROWN, 26 Cranleigh Gardens, Luton, Beds.
808. J.A. HUNT, 35 Conygre Rd, Filton, Bristol BS12 7DB
        K. JAMES, Baytree Rd, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

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

Mike Palmer, our Tacklemaster, would be very interested to hear any members who would be prepared to help make tackle.  His address is at the front of this B. B,


 

The Future Of Caving Clubs

In this article, a word of warning is sounded about the possible dangers to caving clubs, and a guide to their avoidance.

by S.J. Collins.

Reader 's views are welcome on the above subject

The Club System

A caving club designed to suit its particular needs seems to rank highly among the requirements of the average caver.  One has only to glance at the lists of clubs which are published from time to time to realise just how many clubs are operating on Mendip today.  It is certain that there are more clubs at present than there were cavers when I personally started to cave.

Now it is considerably easier for a small group of young cavers to join an existing club than it is for them to start a new one. Apart from all the obvious snags like getting hold of tackle, their club is bound to lack many of the less tangible advantages built up over the years by the larger and more well established clubs.

In spite of this, quite a proportion of cavers have preferred to take the hard way, and this process has been going on here on Mendip almost as long as has caving.  The case appears to be well made that some cavers have been, and still are, prepared to go to considerable lengths to construct clubs to suit their particular requirements rather than to join ready-made clubs.

There are, of course very many new cavers who prefer to join existing clubs - and have quite a large choice. For this choice - or indeed, that of founding their own club, to be effective - clubs must, like individuals, have distinct personalities and differ from each other by all the usual attributes such as age; experience; character; wealth; influence and the like.

Thus, whatever the outlook of any individual caver might be, the fact that he can exercise considerable choice in the type of organisation he joins or creates represents a freedom well worth preserving.

Unfortunately, there are factors which - if one takes a pessimistic view - could well lead to the destruction of the club system and if, as I have contended, cavers value the existence of the club system; it will be instructive (to say the least of it) to examine what is happening and what may well happen in the near future, so that clubs can act in a manner which will preserve them.  This applies equally to their dealing with each other as to their approach to bodies external to them.

Forces Acting Against The Club System

These can be reduced to three main forces, all of which can be made to reinforce each other, which fact should be borne in mind constantly when considering them individually.

  1. Access. The main difference between caving and climbing is that caving is extremely vulnerable to control by access.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to put a ring of barbed wire right round a whole mountainous area; but ridiculously easy to control the specific and narrow entrance points to caves.  Thus, any body which gained significant control of cave entrances in a caving area would be in a position to dictate terms to caving clubs and, if it wished, to control them completely.
  2. Finance. For many older clubs, the days of operating on a shoestring are now part of their history.  Such clubs have heavy outgoings such as rates; insurance; maintenance etc., and must operate on a reasonable scale merely to keep afloat.  This makes them financially sensitive and any real curtailment of their operations could quickly result in a financial crisis from which an interested external body might agree to rescue them - at a price.  This is the same technique as pushing a man into a river and then offering to pull him out in return for certain concessions.  This could well be used as another lever by which control could be exercised against the wishes of a caving club.
  3. Centralisation. A situation could well arise in which the loyalties of club members were gradually weakened by the activities of central bodies.  This is likely to take the form of a gradual erosion of club functions and - like all insidious processes - it will be tempting to ignore it until it becomes too late.  If this actually happened, and clubs were thus persuaded to destroy themselves, it could be argued that they had merely exercised their own free choice in the matter.  Against this line of argument, most of the older clubs owe a considerable debt to past (but still interested) members who have worked hard to build up that club and who would hardly be expected to welcome its destruction by its present members.

The Present State Of Affairs

Already, the three factors discussed have begun to affect caving clubs.  Taking access first, considerable progress has been made in the north towards replacing individual arrangements between land owners and cavers by a form of centralised access control.  Much more rapidly than I would have believed possible, we have seen the start of the abuse of power, as demonstrated by the Northern Council.  Far from learning any lesson from this on Mendip, we are in the process of taking the first steps towards a similar situation.

To those who argue that the Caving Councils are not external bodies but are merely the clubs of a region acting in concert, I would say that this may be true NOW but there is little guarantee that it will continue to be so in the future.  There are a number of organisations which have interests in caving and are not based on the club system.  The current Wessex Journal, which I would urge members to read, deals with one such group - that of the education system - to which we might well add scouting; various other youth organisations and the like.  Bodies such as the police (concerned with rescue organisations) and even local and national government departments would all find it easier to be represented on a single, central body through which they can exercise the greater degree of control that they might well start to consider desirable. The time could well arrive when the clubs, who formed the councils in the first place, found themselves in a minority on them.  Frankenstein, I seem to remember, found himself in a similar predicament.

On the financial front, no club is as yet anywhere near dependant on external funding - although several have had building grants, which may have started a taste for free handouts.  In this connection, it is of interest to see how the N.C.A. - a club controlled body, remember! - has so far used its money.  The bulk of this has gone to the scheme for Caving Instruction, which will result in the creation of a group of people who feel that they owe their authority to a central body rather than to any club.  The thin end, perhaps, of a very large wedge.

The very existence of a central authority tends to weaken local enterprise, even if it has no real teeth. Look for example, at the curious reluctance of Mendip surveyors to run counter to the C.R.G. in spite of the fact that nearly all of them are in some way dissatisfied with its policy.

Possible Future Developments

The way by which these factors may gain momentum until the club system is finally broken is best illustrated by a look into an imaginary future.  The only assumptions necessary are that the N.C.A. exercises effective control of cave access and contains sufficient people who desire the end of club caving.  Neither of these assumptions is, in my opinion, a severe extrapolation.

We thus have a position whereby clubs can be threatened by sanctions if they fail to implement central policies.  One can see clubs being 'recommended' to use 'qualified' cave instructors as a first move. Gradually, certificates of competence would become the norm - finishing up with an almost exact parallel to the Driving Test and M.O.T.

Having saturated the market for Instructors, the general appeal to safety - always a good emotional bet - might be next centred on tackle with the creation of 'recommended' standards of tackle and a central inspectorate to ensure its enforcement. This will require some full-time staff who will, to start with, have spare time on their hands which they will want to use to their best advantage.  The creation of a number of departments and committees of this central body would be one of the obvious outcomes of this state of affairs.  Thus, a club, for example, wishing to dig at a certain spot might well have to satisfy the Research and Exploration Committee, the Local Authorities Land Utilisation Co-ordinating Committee and the Cave Preservation and Environmental Control Committee for a start.  Needless to say, unauthorised caving of any sort would result in an enquiry with the possibility of individual suspension of licences or even the suspension of a club, if group culpability were proved.

Centralised cave and hut bookings for 'away' trips might well help some permanent official to fill up his day and increase his importance.  No doubt, a national journal would be started at about this stage.

The substitution of donations from clubs by a levy based on membership would provide yet another weapon to be used against such clubs who still showed an unacceptable degree of independence.  In this connection, Treasurers would be required to submit a standardised balance sheet and would thus find themselves, along with tackle officers, caving secretaries and hut wardens, effectively working for the central body.

Soon, clubs would be asked to adopt a model constitution, so that anomalies could be removed between clubs. By this time, the final blow would go almost unnoticed.  It would be called 'Rationalisation of Regional Assets' and would result in the creation of single regional headquarters having a full-time warden. The club system would be over.

Possible Counter-Moves

A heavy responsibility rests on all who control caving clubs if they wish to prevent something like that just described from actually taking place in the future.  Detailed action will of course, depend on the circumstances and the nature of the particular threat involved at anyone time.  It is, however, possible to imagine some general guidelines, which are listed below:-

  1. Keep informed:  It should be the duty of all who are concerned with the running of clubs to make themselves aware of all the moves which are being made or projected even if they have no apparent bearing on the situation.  In particular, those who represent clubs on the councils must understand fully the mechanism by which those councils work.  One of the main weapons of the organisational man is his ability to use procedural points to reduce the opposition.
  2. Look ahead:  A good chess player tries to work out the long term effects of his move, because he knows that short term advantages may prove detrimental in the long run.  The same type of thinking should guide clubs.  For example, if a club cannot do caves in the North as it used to because of access restrictions imposed by the Northern Council; should it join the Northern Council, or accept some immediate disadvantages?  Arguments in favour of joining may be that the influx of other clubs will alter majority decisions in that council.  Arguments against may be that if all clubs joined all councils, the way would be open for their abolition on the grounds that they were now all the same and that a single body could now replace them.  Careful thought on these sorts of lines is necessary for EVERY decision.
  3. Respect other Clubs:  While a certain competitive element is a natural part of the club way of life, it must be recognised that working away at removing another club's advantages which your club does not possess can eventually rebound on your own club.  The process of levelling down does most clubs nothing but harm eventually.  You joined your club by exercising your choice.  Make sure that a choice of the sort you enjoyed is not taken away from cavers of the future by this type of action.
  4. Take, and keep, the initiative:  Where you cannot prevent things occurring which are to the detriment of the club system, the only counter measure is to set up equivalent ones BASE ON THE CLUBS.  Thus, if some sort of competence document looks as if it cannot be avoided; it is better for clubs to take it upon themselves to organise a scheme than to have one forced down their throats.  Keeping one jump ahead without panicking is difficult but not impossible.
  5. Cultivate personal contacts.  If representatives of clubs can only meet under ‘official’ circumstances, a degree of stiffness is introduced which does not allow people to exchange ideas as freely as does informal between friends.  If all club officials were on a beer buying basis with each other, many suspicions and misunderstandings would be removed and cooperation could occur without letting in the beaurocrats.
  6. Remember who you represent:  If you are convinced that nothing you can do will save, or affect, the situation; you owe it to the members who elected you to look after their interests to tell them that you see no point in trying to stave off the inevitable.  This at least gives them the opportunity to decide whether they still want you to represent them.  If you really believe that it is already too late to save you club, then it is dishonest not to say so.


 

The Burrington Surface Survey

One of the major tasks which had to be carried out for the Burrington Atlas was the surveying of entrance heights of the caves. In this article, Dave Irwin and Doug. Stuckey describe the work which was done.

In 1968, work commenced on producing a handbook of the caves of Burrington. This involved the surveying of all the caves that had not at the time surveys readily available to the caver and also entailed the checking of all the altitudes of cave entrances. Discrepancies were noted between editions of ‘Caves of Mendip’ by Barrington regarding the altitude of East Twin.  So a surface survey was started to enable the altitudes and also the position of the various groups of caves to be positioned on the 25" O.S. map of the area.

The aim was to produce closed traverses that were linked to O.S. bench marks.  During a weekend in August 1968, Bill Smart used a telescopic levelling device and produced a set of results between the bench mark at Ellick House and the entrance to Aveline's Hole.  Spur lines were connected to several cave entrances en route.  The work lay dormant until September 1972 when Doug. Stuckey and Dave Irwin continued the work with the surveying unit. The finished traverse lines (see table 1 for details) and the spur lines amount in length to over three miles.  In certain cases, the readings were with both the compass and clinometer where the entrances needed to be located on the surface and others, where the entrances were marked on the 25" O.S. map, the clinometer only was used.

Figure 1 shows the traverse lines.  Locations of the caves have been marked, so giving the route of each of the lines. The survey lines were produced using fibron tapes and the survey unit.  Closed traverses were corrected by distributing the mis-closure equally between each station.  Where the compass was in use for cave location, this was calibrated using the centreline of the main road through the Coombe.  The readings were to the requirements of a Grade 6 survey.  The clinometer readings were read to the nearest ten feet on level stretches.  Leg lengths were up to a hundred feet.

From the table 2 it will be noted that there are a number of levels that disagree quite markedly from those quoted in ' Complete Caves of Mendip'.  The first East Twin Swallet is quoted as being 471 in CCM, taken from the values quoted on the B.B. (1).  The new surface survey located an error in a back bearing of the 1968 survey and so East Twin entrance altitude is 493 feet.

Rod's Pot created a problem for the authors.  The value quoted in CCM was based on a survey of the surface in the Reads - Rods area by Crickmay (2).  Three surveys were made by the authors between Drunkards Hole and Rod's Pot. The vertical differences between Rod's and Drunkards entrances were 11ft, 12ft and 16ft.  The difference quoted in CCM is 28 ft.  Having eliminated our third value of 16ft due to a poor clinometer reading we looked at the results of the traverse taken from West Twin Valley over to Rod’s Pot and back to the road line.  The vertical mis-closure was exceptionally good - in a traverse length of about 5,500 ft, the mis-closure was 3.23 ft, and the fact that the road traverse closed exceptionally well between the two bench marks leads us to assume that there is a serious error in CCM value.

Closing the traverses was carried out in the following manner.  The bench marks were located and the line closed on to them (traverse 1). Next, the line from the West Twin Valley via Rod's and back down the track to the cafe - thus re-joining traverse 1.  This was traverse 2.  Traverse 3 linked the West Twin (at Sidcot Swallet) Goatchurch and East Twin and re-joined the West Twin valley at the same point as the start of traverse 2. Levels of other caves were found by constructing spur lines from the closed traverses, and linking a number of caves along the line.

The assistance of the following members made this survey possible and our thanks is gratefully recorded. (Many people thought that the authors had given up actually going underground):- Chris Williams; Roger Stenner; John Hunt; Nigel Taylor; Mike Taylor and John Rees.

References:

1.                  Belfry Bulletin No 247 (October 1968).

2.                  U.B.S.S. Proceedings.  Vol 6 No 1 p37  (1946-1948).

3.                  Complete Caves of Mendip.  1972 Edition.

4.                  O.S. 25” survey Somerset sheet XVIII. 6.

TABLE 1

Traverse

Length

Vertical Range from B.M.

Mis-closure (Vertical)

Vertical Range obtained

Percentage Error

1

 

351.74

- 1.12

352.86

 

2

5,470

 

- 3.23

 

0.06

3

5,555

 

- 1.93

 

0.05

(all measurements in feet)

Table 2

Cave

Altitude

Altitude CCM 1972

Altitude B.B. 247

Pipsqueak

Elephant Hole

Elephant Rift

Lizard Hole

Frog Hole

Toad Hole

Road Arch

Foxes Hole

1921 Dig

Boulder Shaft

Spar Pot

East Twin Swallet

Top Sink

Dreadnought Holes West

                      East Upper

                      East Lower

Lionel’s Hole

Goon’s Hole

Bruce’s Hole

Barren Hole

Tween Twins

Pseudo Nash’s (A)

Jonny Nash’s

Pierre’s Pot

Quidlers Arch

Tunnel Cave

Whitcombes Hole

Goatchurch Cavern

Sidcot Swallet

Flange Swallet

Yew Tree Swallet

200 Yard Dig

Quarry Cave

Supra Avelines

Nameless Cave

Avelines Hole

Milliars Quarry Cave

Café Rift

Plumley’s Hole

Bath Swallet West

                      East

Rod’s Pot

Drunkard’s hole

Drunkard’s Dig

Bos Swallet

Read’s Cavern

Fox Holes

 

572.04

598.05

622.30

613.71

631.61

545.93

569.25

560.00

566.00

476.70

493.28

596.34

560.79

556.75

554.79

463.11

446.98

467.25

537.82

440.06

425.59

447.41

416.93

481.26

521.27

547.66

540.05

469.56

444.17

470.00

365.14

385.99

399.18

506.14

324.62

331.20

303.34

325.64

568.96

564.16

569.76

581.58

585.54

586.84

525.40

525.00 approx.

650

572

  -

  -

605

625

  -

565

  -

560

455

471

  -

  -

  -

  -

441

414

470

540

450

  -

425

424

485

517

546

530

470

440

465

360

  -

390

495

325

370

  -

328

  -

550

547

575

  -

585

527

525

 

572.04

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

470.61

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

324.82

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

  -

Notes:  CCM = Complete Caves of Mendip

(A)        Pseudo Nash’s Hole is listed as Johnny Nash’s Hole in CCM.

 


 

Voting Procedures

At the last A.G.M., the Committee was asked to look at voting procedures.  Here is the report of the Sub-Committee on the subject

The Sub-Committee, consisting of Mike Palmer (Chairman) Alan Thomas and Barry Wilton, met on the 4th of Feb.

Objective

Resulting from several proposals presented at the A.G.M., the meeting directed that the Committee examine the voting procedure with a view to ensuring that the ballot is secret.

Information

A sub-committee was formed from members of the club who answered a call for volunteers in the B.B. Only one letter was received in response to an appeal for member’s views.  Other people questioned by members of the sub Committee did not have any particular views on the matter.

This being so, it was generally agreed to review the voting procedure within the terms of reference of the club constitution and the A.G.M. directive and to keep recommendations within those limits.

Recommendations

It was agreed that the voting procedure is not carried out strictly in accordance with the club constitution that this could easily be rectified by producing a properly designed Ballot Form and a voting procedure which should be reproduced in the B.B. each year before the election time for the benefit of all members.

Barry Wilton agreed to design a proper Ballot Form which would contain all the relevant information and by its design ensure the required secrecy.  A copy of this form was attached to the original report and is not reproduced in this B.B. because it is self-explanatory. Its important features are;-

  1. The Words  'BALLOT FORM'
  2. A place for name and membership number.
  3. A tear-off strip ensuring secrecy of ballot.

The following was agreed:-

(a)                Ballot forms will only be sent out to fully paid-up members at the latest date for posting stipulated by the constitution.

(b)                Forms can be returned by post or handed in at the A.G.M.

(c)                No further forms will be available at the A.G.M.

(d)                The Tellers can still check the names against a list of paid-up members at the A.G.M. if necessary.

(e)                The tear-off strip shall be removed by the tellers before opening the ballot forms to count the vote. 

(f)                  Regarding (c) a notice is to be placed in the B.B. saying that if no ballot form has been received by two weeks before the A.G.M., the Secretary is to be contacted requesting a form.

(g)                The Chairman of the A.G.M. should direct the tellers to destroy the Ballot Forms and strips with the approval of the meeting.

(h)                At the start of any A.G.M., the Chairman should ask any non-members or non paid-up members to identify themselves so that they can be excluded from any voting.

Note that the foregoing does not require any alteration to the Club Constitution if adopted in toto or in part.  In the main, it is only an amplification of the procedure already formulated in the Constitution.

(Signed) Michael A. Palmer.

The General Committee of the B.E.C. have adopted this report, which therefore becomes the club's official procedure.

(Signed) S.J. Collins.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 34.

 

1

 

2

 

3

4

 

5

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

8

 

9

 

10

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

13

14

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

 

 

 

 

 

17

 

 

 

 

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

3. Otherwise glassy substance without little Surrey found near belfry. (4)
6. Associated for many years with Oakhill. (5)
7. Defines mud chamber in Cuthbert’s. (4)
9. Opposed to flow? (3)
11. Climbing aid. (3)
12. Long time. (3)
13. Make this nor a mistake. (3)
15. Stumble over cave visit? (4)
17. Removed from cave dig. (5)
18. Can be said of cave or of caver! (4)

Down:

1. Estimated time out initially. (1,1,1)
2. Flashy adjunct to caving? (4)
4. He goes first – like the dealer. (6)
5. Angle a form of ore. (6)
8. A jerk on a rope? (6)
9. Climbing ladder. (6)
10. Its home is between Plantation Junction and the Great Gour. (3)
14. Pore over this line? (4)
16. Edge of pot. (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

N

I

F

E

 

S

T

A

L

O

 

I

 

O

 

 

L

 

S

 

T

A

C

K

L

E

D

T

 

 

 

T

 

E

 

A

R

O

W

 

O

 

A

I

M

A

 

E

 

P

 

 

 

M

W

E

T

S

U

I

T

 

I

 

N

 

 

S

 

A

 

N

A

D

I

T

 

T

R

O

G

 

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

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tele: WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     R. Bennett
Members:          R. Bagshaw; D.J. Irwin; M.J. Palmer; N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas; R. Orr.

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  R.J. BAGSHAW, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.  Tel: WHITCHURCH. 5626.
Caving Sec:       T.E. LARGE, 39 Seymour Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 27 Quantock Rd, Windmill Hill, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
Hut Warden:      R. ORR.  ‘The Belfry’, as above.
Assit H.W.        N. TAYLOR, Whiddon, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tel. WELLS 72338.
Hut Engineer:    R. HOBBS, Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol.
Tacklemaster:    M.A PALMER. 27 Roman Way, Paulton, BS18 5XB
B.B. Editor:       S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol.
Librarian:           D.J. IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tel: PRIDDY 369.
Pbs. (Sales)      C, Howell, 131 Sandon Rd., Edgbaston, Birminham.
Publications:     D.J. IRWIN.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.

MENDIP RESCUE ORGANISATION.  In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481


 

Editorial

Doug Parfitt

We are sure that all club members will join us in expressing very sincere sympathy to Doug’s family following his death on April 19th from cerebral haemorrhage.

Doug was 54 when he died and his club membership number of 750 belies the fact that he has been associated with the club for many years.  He was one of those rare and useful people who could always be relied upon to work quietly away in the background and it is to people like Doug that we owe so much of what we enjoy today on Mendip.  His skill as an electrician was always at the club’s disposal and the ease with which we got our electricity back so soon after the fire, and subsequently into the present Belfry was due to his, and his son-in-law Brian Prewer’s efforts.  At one time, Doug and Brian spent every Monday evening at the Belfry working on the lighting, power and plumbing.  His last job was to install the night storage heaters.

Open Air Caving

Our main feature this month is a series of articles on the delights of gorges, collected for us by that stalwart contributor to the B.B., ‘Kangy’ King.  With the summer months coming on, it is as well to remember that we are an exploration club and the traversing of gorges forms a nice summer link between caving and climbing.

Electronics For Caving

From time to time, as in last month's B.B., we read of the part which electronics can, or could, play in caving.  Since my personal experience of things electronic puts me somewhere in that no-man’s-land between the layman and the expert.  It might be of interest for me to play Devil’s Advocate on this subject and to ask just what electronics has really done for us and whether we are really interested?

Taking the three main headings of the article of last month, we have COMMUNICATION between caves and the surface; PINPOINTING of underground places with respect to the surface and finally CAVE FINDING from the surface to unknown caves.  Our record on Mendip of these three activities over the last thirty years has not been good.

We once had a telephone from the Dining Room in Cuthbert’s to the Belfry, but it packed up and was finally abandoned.  There was some success at pinpointing places in Cuthbert’s, but a record of unreliability on the same sort of exercise in Wookey.  As far as cave finding is concerned, not a single instance of success has ever been recorded on Mendip to the editor's knowledge.

Now why should this be? Over the period in question the state of the art in electronics has improved out of all recognition.  Most of our present-day electronic engineers have never seen an ordinary radio valve, yet alone handled one.  What is the trouble?

Taking telephonic communication first, it is true that the conditions met with in a cave are a little worse than those of the average living room but, compared to the conditions in a rocket; missile; satellite; atomic reactor etc. they are mild.  It should be well within our capabilities, if we were so minded, to build handsets which would stand being in a cave if necessary for years without attention.

Cables should no longer be a problem.  The old ex-army 'Don 8' cable, with its rubber insulation is now a thing of the past. Modern insulation can readily cope with any thing a cave can offer, and with transistor amplification a few ohms here or there cease to matter.  Single line and earth return should be possible even in dry caves.

Radio communication is, admittedly, a more difficult subject because the limitation here is more fundamental that transmitters are very inefficient at the low frequencies which have to be used.  The answer would thus appear to be that of making sure that receivers are as sensitive as possible to overcome the deficiencies of the transmitters.  When I was first employed as an electronic engineer, a communication receiver which could receive very weak signals of the order of a microvolt per metre were large, heavy boxes weighing as much as 40 or 50 lbs and containing perhaps as many as twenty or thirty radio valves. Maybe transistors still cannot cope with the very low signal levels that valves can sort out, but if they still lag behind valves in this respect, I am sure that it won’t be for much longer and we shall be able to build small, lightweight receivers as sensitive as were the old communication sets.

Turning now to pinpointing, much the same arguments apply.  The transmitter ideally needs a large loop aerial, laid horizontally on the cave floor for preference and fed with relatively large currents.  However, the receiver is on the surface and can be relatively big if that is the price of extreme sensitivity.  Maybe the transmitter should be fed in pulses to enable large currents to be used without flattening the batteries too quickly. Reliability of equipment should be no problem.

As for cave finding, the odd exercises involving resistance measurements which have taken place from time to time seem to me to be a waste of time.  We hear rumours of a possible gravimeter but, to show what can at least be postulated, it might be as well to consider the scheme that a B.E.C. member known as 'Monty' proposed way back in 1949.  The method was a seismic one and depended on being able to borrow one of those machines which thump up and down for tamping down odd holes in the road surface - also a number of seismic microphones, nether of which Monty was able to get his hands on to at the time.  Monty designed all the rest of the device round radio valves, and with modern equipment it should be a doddle.  The idea was that each 'thump' should start up a time base.  A variable time delay narrow band (in time) gate was then manually adjusted until the time interval coincided with the time delay of a particular echo.  Since the whole thing was repetitive, the signal from the echo could be summed and displayed on an ordinary meter.  One would then log the various echoes as a function of time delay, checking one microphone after another and plotting the echo depth.  By this method, general effects, such as changes in rock structure could be separated from local effects due to cave passage.

Perhaps I have been a little harsh with all this, but again perhaps not.  Could any of our current (note clever pun) electronics types put us wise on all this?

“Alfie”


 

Notices

KEYS for the Belfry are now available from the Hut Warden or his deputy.  These keys are serial numbered and members are reminded that they remain the property of the B.E.C. and should be returned when no longer required. A deposit of 20p is required for new keys, but old keys can be swapped for a new one.

The Publications Officer wishes to inform members that the printing work is being tackled now by Doug Stuckey.

The Tacklemaster asks members who have any difficulty in finding the right tackle for their purposes - in particular digging ropes - to contact him.  His address is in the front of this B.B.

MATTRESSES are urgently required for the Belfry.  Single size preferred.  If you have an old mattress but no way of getting it up to Mendip - let the Hut Warden or the deputy H.W. know and they will organise something.  Remember, it's much easier to let the Belfry have an old mattress than to try burning it in the garden!

Open Air Caving

KANGY writes

It was Alfie I think who first wrote in the B. B. about open air caving and it's not a bad description of the feeling that gorges give.

Fascinating and precious things are gorges, and I don't regret badgering friends and relations to record their experiences in this series.

The gorges written about are amongst the great gorges of the world.  It's strange, but the feelings of the writers are similar even though they are respectively an historian; a translator; an engineer and an eight year old lad.  I suppose it's because we're all explorers.

The Gorge Of Samaria – Crete

by MARK JAMES

The guidebook to the Gorge of Samaria has now been published in all tourist maps of Crete and proves, inevitably, to be remarkably inaccurate. However, an attempt will be made here to recapitulate an enjoyable if odd expedition.

Probably the best of the Gorge (qua gorge) is the magically romantic approach to the top and the dizzy strait.  After an extremely cultured/hedonistic period in Crete with wife and mother; eating, drinking and mopping up about half a dozen oranges a day, the spectacle of the top of he gorge from the refuge at Xiloskalo is breathtaking.

From Khania - the old capital of Crete - one drives South towards the White Mountains and, after going through the richly endless orange graves, snakes up increasingly open hillside from which the oranges, olives and vines gradually disappear until one comes to the plain of Omalos.  These Cretan plains sound romantic - a flat bowl in the midst of fairly sparse mountains but, in fact, I found them rather dull, enlivened only by the wild tulips that flower there.  The inhabitants can grow little but potatoes and, like most Cretans, are a little haughty especially if there are women in evidence.

Up from the plain one follows a barren valley and the road leads up the right hand side of the pass to the refuge of Xiloskalo.  This refuge has a wide balcony facing South though, even on a brilliant April morning, it was very cold at 9.30 when we arrived.  As we stood and looked down the apparently sheer drop on the South side of the pass into which we were to descend, an enormous bird floated effortless beneath us.  To the right and left were shapely, if not dramatic, snow-clad peaks.  Before us the bottom valley was darkly, mistily indistinct. I can imagine no more marvellous setting in which to see my first eagle.  He gave us two demonstration circular glides at a pace that would have seemed slow had one not realised the scale, then disappeared towards the mountains high on our left.

The Greek's principal tourist selling point seems to be woollen bags woven in traditional patterns and in bright colours, to be suspended from the shoulder by a thickly plaited cord.  Roger, who, when not enjoying holidays in traditionally cultured parts of the world, is an administrative Officer for the Ministry of Defence, was slung about with two of these.  I had one and a haversack of my mother's - the net effect of the two of us was somewhat dangling.  We had, however, brought our boots.

The track was obviously designed for mules, and for the first thousand feet zigzagged down very steeply indeed though perfectly comfortably.  The pines grew thickly on the slopes and one could often lean out from the path and rest on a tree whose roots were fifteen or twenty feet below. There were fascinating glimpses back to the blue, white and black of the peaks.

After the first sheer section, the track kept fairly close to the stream which was clear in the main though sometimes cloudy with melt water.  Flowers increased; trees thinned and we came out at the first habitation - the little church of St. Nicholas standing in a small grassy alp with a couple of now deserted buildings alongside it.  The sun was now higher and it was pleasurably hot.  Beside the path I found the wild white peony - the flower we had been looking for throughout the Cretan holiday.  I was the only one lucky enough to find it.  If anything, it looked better than I had expected.

The day was gorgeous (let us hope that the pun was an accident! - Ed.) and we carried on easily to the waters meet, a mile or so below, and thence to the first olive trees we had seen this side of the mountains which heralded our arrival at the village of Samaria.  My memory does not show me clearly what the bridge was like, but I know that crossing from West to East of the river, we looked down from forty to fifty feet into deep, still pools with occasional enormous boulders.

Samaria itself was deserted, though it seemed from the condition of one or two of the houses that there is still some seasonal occupation - possibly pastoral.  Certainly there are enough olive trees to merit a harvest.  After an idyllic lunch Roger, ever the scholar gypsy, was settling down to his book of poetry, but I drove him to his feet and we set off for the gorge proper.

I think really that I enjoyed the morning, with its wonderful lights and sunshine, more than the gorge itself impressive though it was.  The walls close in South of Samaria and are often overwhelmingly tall above one, though I question whether they are really the 3,000 feet that the guidebook mentions - perhaps a thousand feet would be nearer the mark for much of the way.  The walls are full of orange brown colours and there are many folds and contortions.  At intervals, small caves mark the cliff with black openings.  The path stays on the East side, much smaller now than the mule track down to Samaria though still marked, in bizarre fashion, by green litter bins at quarter mile intervals.  (This in spite of the fact that we saw not a soul between Xiloskados and Ayia Roumeli!)  The length of the gorge where one feels really tightly enclosed is not really more than about a mile, and culminates dramatically in the Portes or gates.

Though the immediate stretch of cliff here is probably not above three or four hundred feet, the gap narrows to some thirty feet.  There is no path, so it was off with the boots and trousers and hope for the best. In fact, the water never went above our knees and, though swift, was not as pushing as many a Welsh or Scottish stream. Some fifty yards downstream, we came out of the water and hopped about to warm ourselves up.

From here on, the gorge gradually opens.  Strange flat sheets of puddingstone conglomerate afforded amusing walking. In places, the river had cut through it in such a narrow channel that it was possible to leap from one side to the other, and before we had realised how far we had gone, we were surprised to hear voices.  The small hamlet, which is improperly marked on the map, was in fact on the West side of the stream and boasted an inn - if that is the word for it - perhaps a shelter for selling wine to travellers.  The two old crones who served us had a great thrill in uncorking the retsina, whose smooth yet tart flavour we were longing for, and were delighted to discover our nationality.  Memories of 1941 are still very much alive, and it is better to be British than German in those parts.

So on, somewhat headily, to the sea at Ayia Romeli.  The place itself was seedily attractive.  The inevitable police station (police always seem to make up about a quarter of the visible population in rural Crete) a small tavern, a few cottages and a building site of what looked as if it could in the future be chalets for wealthy tourists.  We had heard that one could get boats out, but had decided to walk out next day along the coast to Khora Sjakion.

The inn was prepared to put us up - though I am at a loss to know where - and we then sat for a long time appreciating the boredom that seems to be a hallmark of rural Crete.  Twiddling beads and desultory bursts of polite conversation we endured for an hour and then, leaving our things, we set out to look at the ancient site of Tara (very unexciting) and for a swim in the Mediterranean (cold but-superb on this bleak and empty coast.)

We returned to find a German party that had followed us down the gorge had arrived and were hoping to get a boat out (there is, of course, no motor road.)  This was a great occasion and produced prodigious police activity.  When it was over, they returned to their H.Q. and had a parade!

Supper was an omelette - excellent - and stale bread over which our host sprinkled water liberally to freshen it up.  Diet in Ayia Romeli was dependant on the weekly boat.  The boat came and went after supper.  The policemen eventually finished their latest game of cards and, at last, the mystery of our sleeping place was revealed.  Two cot beds were brought in and we bedded down in the bar (lounge, dining room) of the inn.  I think there were only two rooms altogether, but there might have been three.

Relieving myself in the middle of the night, the stars were shining, but the moon was brighter and the one impressive thing in that seedy little village - the Venetian fort that towered five hundred feet above it - was clearly picked out amongst the eroded gullies of the hillside.

The walk out to Khora Sjakion next day was much longer and harder than the descent of the gorge.  It took us ten hours with only brief stops for food, a swim and wine at the attractively set village of Lautron which took us seven hours to reach.  It was not a beautiful walk.  The vegetation is low coarse scrub with scarcely a tree till the olives of Lautron. Naked, eroded slopes are every where and though we kept close to the coast, we wondered sometimes whether we were mistaken, as the only creatures we met were goats.  There were a few highlights.  The church of St. Paul was a perfect little Byzantine shrine just above high water, excellently kept up, we guessed, by the handsome priest in Ayia Romeli.  We approached it over yet larger sheets of the strange conglomerate.  Our swimming place was superb, a small enclosed rocky bay we climbed down to, and which gave us fine sand and smooth rocks on which to dry our nakedness.  Finally, the last section of walk gave us one giddily dramatic stretch of path where it traversed a ledge with a sheer face above and plunged two hundred feet below into a deep turquoise sea.

It’s a wonderful walk. Do it when you can!  Perhaps it will whet your appetite for summer action!

Shooting the Grand Canyon

by Mlle. Nicole Malagutti.

If you have ever dreamed of spending some time away from the most overrunning aspects of our civilization, such as T.V., cars, etc., I would advise you to take a trip down the Colorado River on a rubber raft.

You start  from a place called Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  To get there, you can hire a mule or hike.  Having ridden the mule, I would recommend hiking, if you are prone to vertigo – as the tracks are very narrow and the bends very sharp.

The raft is waiting for you, and your seven day trip starts immediately.  It is a good start, as soon after departure you go through the first rapid. This is Horn Creek, rated 7-9 (The scale of difficulty goes from 1 to 10).  These rapids, and there are 93 of them, are a thrilling experience. "Hang on! hang on!" recommends the boatman - and here you go, grabbing at a rope as strongly as you can. At the top of the wave, you are thrown in the air, your only contact with the raft being the rope to which you cling tightly.  A second later, you go through a tall wall of water which covers the entire raft.  You do not have time to be frightened (this comes later!).  Of course, you wear a life jacket and, should you be washed away into the river, the best thing to do is to grab the first rock you meet, hang on and wait for rescue.

In between rapids, you have a more relaxed time during which you can enjoy the magnificent scenery offered by the high pink cliffs steeply rising over the dark brown river, the fantastic architecture carved by erosion, the lava fingers solidified thousands of years ago, and many other beauties.

Some time during the afternoon you stop to collect drift wood to cook the evening meal and, at about tea time, you stop by a beach, choose a place where you want to install your camping equipment which is limited in fact to a sleeping bag.

After a good meal cooked by the boatman, I guarantee you will have a wonderful evening by the fire with no noise except the chatting and singing of the 'river runners' under a wonderful collection of stars.

Next morning, after a good night's sleep (good, that is, if you are not too worried about the snakes and scorpions that might visit you) you will be up at 5.30 and after a substantial breakfast and shower under the nearby waterfall (what a massage!) you will be off again on the trail of Major Powell, who first went down the river about a hundred years ago, losing three men in the adventure.

Gorges Du Verdon, France

by Jonathan King.

We were on our summer holidays with mummy and daddy and Philip.  We set off to walk the Gorges du Verdon because daddy suggested it.  We went up the valley in the car.  It was hot.  We got to the starting place at about half past ten.  We stopped the car in the parking place in the middle of the gorge a long way down.  We got ready by putting on our, shoes and our equipment which was a bottle of lemon; cheese and other things to eat.  We put all this in the rucsacs one for me and one for daddy.  Mummy stayed behind to film us starting off and then we walked till we got to a tunnel.  We waited for daddy who had filmed us going up to the tunnel.  We started going through the tunnel.  I used torch and my brother used his.  We walked on through the tunnel until we got to another tunnel, that tunnel was the last tunnel for a long way.  When we got to the other end of the tunnel we stopped to have a rest and wait for daddy who was trying to find another path outside the tunnel but couldn’t.  Daddy joined us and we had some sweets and then went on through a deep gorge until we came to an ideal spot to stop for lunch.  It was a shelter in the rock like a cave.  It was out of the sun which was very hot.  After lunch we started walking again.

Our plan was to follow he gorge down to the end of the difficult bit and then to find the end of the big tunnel so that we could get back to our starting place without redoing the difficult bit.

We found the top end of the tunnel and the source which was he only chance for water.  We didn't fill our bottle because we thought we were going to come back to it.  We came to the difficult bit and walked along the paths with steep cliffs on one side. Some of the path had a cliff hanging over it.  There were long ladders going up a steep gully in the cliff.  Going down the other side we found another path which was a junction.  There were lots of trees so we couldn’t see the river very well (it was a long way down). We started to look for the bottom end of the tunnel but we didn’t succeed.   Daddy and I went on ahead to try to find out where we were.  We came to a standstill by a river.  We felt thirsty because there was no more clean water so we took some glasses down to the river and swilled our mouths out.  We noticed the Touring Club de France hut perched high above on the cliff side, so Daddy went back to fetch Mummy and Philip who weren’t having a nice time.

From there we went all the way back up the steep slope to the hut because we couldn’t find the tunnel to go back.  By this time everybody had had enough and they were thirsty and tired.  Daddy was red and sweating and couldn’t hardly speak. I was a bit thirsty.  Then we went up a steep ladder and walked along to the hut and had a litre of water each.  There was a nice man in the hut who drove us back to our car and one of the nice things in the walk was some of the fossils Philip had discovered.

I think we did well despite the lack of water and the heat.

Editor’s Note:    I think he did well, too.  In these days, when so few people seem to be able to write, it is heartening to see the son of one of our most regular correspondents breaking into print.  Keep it up!

Les Gorges Du Tarn

by Kangy.

The sight of the deep cut Tran Gorge from Le Rozier is very good.  The guide will tell how many thousands of years the Tarn and the Jonte have eroded their separate ways through the massive limestone beds that form the high plateau of the causes.  Only going to see can strike home the singular effect of a deep gorge powerfully incised into a horizontal plateau.

The Gorge of the Tarn has many viewpoints, from Le Rozier where its setting can be appreciated; from Pont Sublime where its grandeur can be seen, and from the course of the river which is almost inaccessible.

Commerce has solved the problem of inaccessibility by providing rapid-shooting, long, narrow barges which start at St. Enimie and land at Les Bawnes, giving a 25 kilometre excursion for about five pounds.  Having leisurely absorbed the region and become enamoured of it, the prospect of a descent of the river became more and more alluring.  Spice was added by the possibility of doing it in an inflatable dinghy and avoiding unnecessary expense.

So on the next family holiday, the inflatable was dragged along with us in the hope that, if my reconnaissance was successful, we could all make the descent.  Easy access to the river is limited to only a few places along the 25 Km of the recommended section.  We decided to start at St. Enemie and Ann would go and wait at Les Bawnes. This would give us views of the most spectacular parts and keep our driving to minimum, quite apart from the fact that the cirque at Les Baumes has a pebble beach which would greatly amuse the family while dad did his stuff.

We pumped up the inflatable by the side of the road, just downstream of the large signs exhorting the thrills of the barges and, feeling slightly criminal, carried it to the water. Ann passed me the waterproof bag with camera and din-din and, bidding me a fond farewell, pushed the boat off into the rapid running section of the river.  That bit went rather quickly what with an imprecise directional control; swift current and lack of practice.  Two oars and a round boat don’t make for a quiet life!

Suddenly the bank loomed and branches threatened the boat.  I thrust off ineffectively but got a couple of good bites with the paddles into the solid mass of swiftly moving steely-coloured water of the deep channel and, spinning wildly, found myself in the rough shallows fending off frantically at sharp, teeth-like rocks protruding from the white foam.  Furious arm work, a certain detached feeling which slowed time down, and I was once again in the dark water, in the calm before the rapid.  Quick flicks of the paddles lined me up to shoot what I hoped was the best gap.  It happened.  A smooth whoosh; an abrupt lurch; no time to think; paddle like a maniac and - - - suddenly all was calm - the first of a series of deep pools. Deep, clear water; tall, smooth limestone cliffs enclosed by a narrow strip of sky.

I allowed the inflatable to drift, and started to think about stowing the gear which had been dumped quickly into the boat in the excitement of the start.  I was reminded of my camera and took some photographs. I drifted into pebbly shallows and, by pushing down on the oars and raising myself, I scooted along trying not to worry too much about the abrasive effect on the buoyancy.  Once more into a long pool, and then I settled down into a steady rhythm of rowing, and progressed.

Pool led to rapid; rapids to shallows – all encased between the vertical, smooth walls of the gorge. Time passed.  My shoulders ached with the unexpected effort required to traverse the deep, slow sections of the Tarn.  Simply drifting would have been more pleasant and appropriate, but I still had an ambition to return with my boys and wanted to get on.

At mid-day, the sun warmed a long bank of shingle heaped against the rock wall and I made my first landfall.  Dragging the expedition vessel high enough up the bank to be sure that it would not be washed away, I got out the expedition rations and ate.  I felt very possessive.  My bank; my provisions; my river; my boat.  Especially my boat, because if that went there was no alternative but to swim until the gorge sides diminished sufficiently for me to climb out.

Advancing shadows cut short my reverie, and the reduced stores were repacked and the voyage resumed. The gorge began to open out past this point and the enclosed private feeling gave way to a more touristic one. The river still flowed between rock walls, but lower ones, topped by vegetated limestone scree slopes and completed by cirques which gave the impression of mountain peaks.  All was light white stone, dry, protruding through a cover of light green shrubs and trees.  Upstream, from where I'd come was the primal gorge, simple and sure, rising on the right to a well shaped limestone peak.

The sun rays began to redden; the regular paddling numbed the tired feeling as I crossed long wide stretches of the river.  Beaches began to appear and all was calm and peaceful.  In the distance a wide bend followed the direction of a deep and high cirque which must be Les Baumes and I started to look for my family.  A white dot of a dress became larger and I soon distinguished the energetic shapes of two small boys happily heaving stones into the water.  I made my second landfall and kissed Ann and nobody mentioned a second trip and I didn’t insist.

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

The Annual Mendip Barbecue is normally held on the Saturday nearest to Midsummer Day.  This year it will be SATURDAY JUNE 23rd.  Keep this date free for the usual festivities round the bonfire if fine or festering in the Belfry if it turns out to be a typical Mendip summer day.

With any luck, there will be a more detailed announcement in the next B.B. in time for the event, but if not, please contact "Mr." NIGEL TAYLOR at the Belfry or at Whiddons, Chilcote.  Telephone number WELLS 72338.


 

A.G.M. of the C.S.C.C.

This account was written and supplied for the B. B. by Dave Irwin.  A full copy of the minutes will be in the club library when available.

The A.G.M. of the C. S. C. C. was held in the Hunters with Allan Thomas as Chairman.  Several interesting points were discussed apart from the normal routine election of subcommittees and officers.

Tim Reynolds was re-elected as Hon. Secretary/Treasurer and informed the meeting that the Council had finished the year with a surplus of £23.  He also informed the meeting that the National Caving Association (N.C.A.) had discussions in hand relating to a national insurance cover to protect landowners against claims from cavers.  If this happened, the need for indemnity chits ('blood chits') would probably disappear.

Tim was given permission to go ahead with the formation of the Southern Council Company Limited - a scheme to enable the council to purchase caves should the need arise. This would, the meeting was informed, take from three to six months to set up.  The cost of setting up the Southern Council Company Limited is, it is hoped, to be financed by funds from the N. C.A.

The N.C.A. minutes were also read out to the meeting and an interesting point came out regarding interim payments to member organisations of the N.C.A.  About £950 is to be distributed this year from Sports Council funds to members of N.C.A.  Of the interim payment authorised by N.C.A. of £450, payments ranged from £10 to the Southern Council to £200 for the British Association of Caving Instructors (Editor's Note: There you are, I said that my crystal ball really worked! - See last Christmas B.B.)

During discussion on matters arising, Box Stone Mines was the principal subject.  Closure of some entrances by a farmer has been causing problems.  However, this has been, left in the hands of the C.C.G. and further moves are to be carefully watched.  Mike Collins, M.N.R.C., proposed setting up a conservation Corps to form a central body to organise the routine clearing up of caves.  This was voted out on the basis that conservation should be the responsibility of all cavers and not of some national body.

The Conservation Sub-Committee (Rich. Witcombe, Chairman) is to look into the problems of caves requiring special protection and access.

The most controversial proposal came from S.M.C.C. (Bob Mayhew.)  Bob proposed, in a very tightly constructed formula, the centralisation arrangements for access to all Mendip caves.  As this proposal had a large number of clauses, it was withdrawn and a simpler one submitted.  This basically gave the Hon. Secretary of the C.S.C.C. the right to renegotiate existing access arrangements with the landowners.  He, at the next A.G.M. in May, 1974, is to produce a report for submission to the Council for the necessary ratification.  Tony Knibbs, Hon. Secretary of the C.C.C. gave his support to this system.

One weakness of the C.S.C.C. was highlighted by Bob Mayhew in his proposal and that was that clubs wishing to join the C.S.C.C. should be proposed and seconded.  This is worthy of thought, but as the whole proposal was withdrawn it did not arise.  The current method of getting on to the council is by merely sending 25p and stating the name of the club! - Perhaps a useful weapon to partisan cavers!


 

Another Knot

A contribution from your overworked and underpaid Editor.

Well, no - you can't actually invent a new knot to-day, as generations of people have twiddled rope into every conceivable shape before you.  However, I managed to tie this knot more or less accidentally the other day and thought that it may - or may not - be of interest.

Before describing how to tie it, a few words about this knot might be as well.  Like most knots, it has its advantages and disadvantages. Its main advantages are twofold. Firstly, it is an extremely non-slip sort of knot.  Even with a slippery rope, it is guaranteed to lock up into a solid chunk - and stay there. In spite of this, it is comparatively easy to undo.  Secondly, if a loop is made in a rope using this knot, either or both ends may be pulled upon without running any risk of shortening the loop.  Thus, if you do this sort of thing with it….

 

……the loop will stay open. This might be useful when, say, guiding an injured man up an awkward pitch.

Unfortunately - AND A WORD OF WARNING MUST BE GIVEN HERE its very non-slip properties are caused by the vicious, and sharp bends it puts into the rope.  An ordinary bowline will reduce the strength of any given rope by half and this knot is very considerably worse.  So a rope must be of VERY adequate strength before you trust your entire weight plus snatch to this knot.  Like all such knots, it becomes kinder to the rope if it is tied on a bight by doubling the rope and tying the mat in the doubled end of rope.  This lessens the sharpness of the bends which the knot causes.

The knot is commenced as in the figure opposite by making a small loop as shown and passing the end of the rope under the loop after having passed it round your body or the object to be fastened to the rope

 

The free end of the rope is then worked over, under, over, under and over as shown in the next figure opposite.  After this, the knot must be ‘pulled together’ as it does not self-tighten very well owing to its high internal friction.

 

A view of the completed knot in a single rope end is shown opposite.  The knot is undone by pulling the uppermost loop forward with no tension on the hauling end of the rope.  The knot will then loosen.

 

Below is shown front and back views of the knot as tied with a double end to the rope.  In practice all rope ends should be longer than shown in the diagrams.

 

The most strenuous job so far carried out using this knot was the hauling up a fairly steep incline of a quarter of a ton of 'Rayburn' cooker - a loop being made in each end of the rope by the knot described with one end round the Rayburn and the other end loop attached to a 30 cwt winch.  The tension in the rope was very considerable.  No visible permanent damage appeared to have been caused by the knots but this does not mean that no damage in fact occurred to fibres inside the rope.

I finally found this knot described in - of all places one of Sally's books on embroidery.  It is used in its opened out form as a decorative knot in macramé work where it is known as the Josephine knot.

Hardly the right sort of image for caving or climbing~


 

Library Notes

Some of the recent additions to our expanding library, sent in by the Hon. Librarian .

Rocksport  Various copies have been donated by Nigel Jago and we now have a complete run from 1969 to May 1971.

Mountain Number 8

The Climber Volume 8 number 7 July 1969.

Rock Climbs at the Wyndcliffe (F. Cannings.)

Birmingham Cave & Crag Newsletter Autumn 1950, June and July 1951, August 1952.

C.S.S. Newsletter Vol 11 No 12, Vol 15 No 1 and 2

S.W.C.C. "Our Caves" Nos 3-7 and Caving Knots.

S.M.C.C. Library list, 1972, Journal Series 5 No 4.

C.R.G. Constitution; Transactions, Vol 2 No 4, Vol 14 No1 ---- Vol 14 No 3; Newsletter No 132.

W.C.C. 'Pioneer under the Mendips'  Stanton.

A.C.G. Newsletters June 1967, December 1972

M.N.R.C. Development of Artificial Climbing particularly suitable for Cave Exploration.  D.P. Turner, 1964.  Newsletters numbers 43, 44.

B.E.C. B.B.'s nos 31-41; 53-76 Caving Reports Nos 3A & 11.

M.C.G. Newsletter number 9 March 1956.

G.S.S. Newsletters Feb/Jul/Aug/Oct/Nov/Dec 1968, Jan/Feb/Mar/Apr 1969 May 1965.

D.S.S. Journals Nos 100-104 (1967-69)

SWETCCC Spelio Vol 7.No 1.

Orpheus C.C. Newsletter Volume 8 number 9

N. Pennine C.C. Newsletter No 31 June 1969.

Red Rose C.P.C. Journal Number 6.

Die Hohle Volume 23, numbers 3 and 4.

Bologna S.S. Soterra Number 31, April 1972.

Northern Caves Volume 1. Wharfedale.

Current Titles in Spelaeology - International.

Pen Park Hole Calcott, 1972.

The Caves of Devon. T & A Oldham, J. Smart. Dec 1972.

Celebrated American Caves (Honey)

Complete Caves of Mendip ( Barrington and Stanton.)


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 33.

1

 

2

 

3

3

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

7

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

10

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

13

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

16

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. North plus Mendip hole give light. (4)
3. Short formation. (4)
6. A hundred talked otherwise and put ladders in. (7)
9. Cross Lake Chamber perhaps? (3)
11. Take sights on. (3)
12. U.E. twist for caving wear. (7)
15. Working found in many a ditty. (4)
16. Short cave dweller. (4)

Down:

1. Formation gone – hence unable to make bricks? (2,5)
2. Ready and able. (3)
4. Caving beverage? (3)
5. Soot cup for Cuthbert’s chamber. (7)
7. Meadow form of 4. (3)
8. Holding back, not swearing! (7)
10. Swildons Way. (3)
13. All caves come to this. (3)
14. Hilliers Hall (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

L

I

G

H

T

 

O

N

E

I

 

I

 

E

 

F

 

A

M

U

D

 

N

I

F

E

S

E

 

D

O

T

 

 

 

T

S

A

Y

 

 

 

C

O

W

T

 

 

 

T

W

O

 

A

O

C

H

R

E

 

R

A

T

N

 

U

 

A

 

A

 

E

E

A

T

 

M

O

L

A

R

 

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

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tele: WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     R. Bennett
Members:          R. Bagshaw; D.J. Irwin; M.J. Palmer; N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas; R. Orr.

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  R.J. BAGSHAW, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.  Tel: WHITCHURCH. 5626.
Caving Sec:       T.E. LARGE, 39 Seymour Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 27 Quantock Rd, Windmill Hill, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
Hut Warden:      R. ORR.  ‘The Belfry’, as above.
Assit H.W.        N. TAYLOR, Whiddon, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tel. WELLS 72338.
Hut Engineer:    M. BISHOP, (Acting)  Address to follow..
Tacklemaster:    M.A PALMER. 27 Roman Way, Paulton, BS18 5XB
B.B. Editor:       S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol.
Librarian:           D.J. IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tel: PRIDDY 369.
Pbs. (Sales)      C, Howell, 131 Sandon Rd., Edgbaston, Birminham.
Publications:     D.J. IRWIN.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.

MENDIP RESCUE ORGANISATION.  In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481


 

Editorial

Clangers Department

Unfortunately owing to the fact that the B.B. is usually produced in rather too much of a hurry; mistakes creep in.  Last month's issue contained some mistakes which were of more then the usual amount and warrant some apology from the editor.  Firstly, some of the names of people who formed the sub-committee on voting procedures were left out.  Profuse apologies to Nigel Taylor and to Joan Bennett on this account.

Secondly, a number of mistakes occurred in the write-up on the Burrington surface survey.  These will be found (I hope) corrected in this B.B.

A Month Behindhand

While in an apologising moody readers will have noticed that the B.B. has been running behindhand for some time this year.  The obvious way out of this - to combine two issues - is being firmly resisted, as we hope to be able to catch up and provide twelve issues during the year.

A. G. M. And all that

Because of the month behindhand, we start the round of paperwork which leads to the A.G.M. in this month's B.B.  Members will remember that the A.G.M. last year was a lengthy affair which had to be continued on the Sunday, and for this reason, the minutes are being split into two B.B.'s so that a huge chunk of A.G. M. minutes will be avoided.  Whilst on the subject of A.G.M.'s it is not too early to mention that this year's A.G.M. is on Saturday, October 6th - this being the traditional first Saturday in October. It should also be noted that, in accordance with a resolution made at the last A.G.M., this one will be held at the BELFRY and will start at 10.30 in the morning.  There will, of course, be a suitable break to enable members to visit a local hostelry for refreshments between the morning and afternoon sessions.

Stoke Lane Slocker

The new arrangements for access to this cave are now out.  I have not actually seen them myself, but as described it looks as if it is going to be considerably more difficult to arrange trips to this cave than has been the case in the past.  The cave is administered by the West London Caving Club, who have a headquarters nearby; with an arrangement with the present farmer.

If the access arrangements are as tough as they sound, there will be a temptation to use the C.S.C.C. as a means of getting them slackened, but against this must be set the right of a caving club to make agreements with local landowners.  The situation appears to be one in which friendly talks may prove the best method of solution to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Paying The Piper

Talking of the C.S.C.C., an interesting argument cropped up at their last meeting on the subject of raising money if this ever became necessary to safeguard any particular cave. It was suggested that, in this event, money should be collected by a levy attached to the annual subscription of club members of all participating clubs.  This, of course, would have the effect of clubs contributing in the ration of their respective membership – the bigger clubs paying the lion’s share.

It becomes difficult to see how this can be equated with the theory that all caving clubs have an equal say in the affairs of the C.S.C.C. – either we must say that clubs contribute according to membership, nobody could blame them if they insisted on a voting system also based on membership.  He who pays the pipe, calls the tune.

“Alfie”


 

Letters

We are naturally pleased to publish this letter from our old friend 'Sett' especially as it says nice things about the B.B.  It is good to know that at least one club member reads it!

Dear Alfie,

The April B.B. is one of the best you have ever published.  However, there are several items which, in my opinion, justify comment - some briefly, some at greater length.  Let us discuss the shorter ones first.

What a well designed collection of articles on gorges!  I have always enjoyed open air caving and could, perhaps, point Kangy at some other worthwhile gorges in France.  I hope he will excuse me if it turns out that I am teaching my grandmother to suck eggs.

The gorge which goes from Le Rozier to Mayueis is one that he probably knows and is particularly spectacular when viewed from the platform above Grotte Dargilan.  Johnny Ifold might like to know that they now collect the post daily (in joke!)

Over in the Vercours (Esso map ref. V13 and 14) there are several notable gorges and cirques.  The Grands Goulets (not to be mistranslated!) used to be ignored by the locals.

Changing to your article on knots.  You are quite right to point out that the more vicious bends make a more anti-¬slip knot but generally weaken the system.  I doubt if this is as important with man-made fibres as with natural.  I have tried to tie the knot by the method shown, but I can't make it match the completed picture.  Perhaps you would like to check.  I wouldn't be surprised if one of our ex-navy members writes in to say that he has known this knot for years under another name.  If you don't get any response, try John Ransome.

There should be no trouble lifting a quarter of a ton with an ordinary caving or climbing rope.  A climbing rope in good condition will have a breaking strength of at least a ton and a half.  It needs to, to withstand the shock of a hundredweight and a half body falling from above a belay to end up suspended the same distance below. Any rope, stressed to this limit, should survive that particular episode but NEVER be used for climbing again.

Changing yet again to electronics for caving.  Like you, I too am on the fringe of electronics, although I try to keep in touch with modern developments.  The ideal one to one system is obtained by designing the receiver to be as quiet as possible and have a gain which just makes the background noise audible. (This does not apply to broad¬cast systems.)  Modern transistors and OP AMPS are infinitely quieter than some of the early transistors and should be seriously considered.  The U.S. Navy has worked underwater systems both with audio frequencies and with V.L.F. Carriers.  George Honey, who appeared to know what he was talking about, suggested a 150Hz carrier.

I have seriously considered organising a meeting (teach¬-in/seminar) on underground communication, but pressure of work puts this off until around or after the A.G.M. Perhaps we could sound out the electronics experts before and at that time to see if such an event was worthwhile and who could usefully attend.

Yours,
" Sett "

Editor's Note:     On knots, I believe that I said the knot has to be 'pushed together' to tighten it, as it is so non slip that it won't do this for itself.  You get slightly different looking versions according to how you do this, but topologically they are all the same knot. I have tried John Ransome, who does not know the knot.

CLANGS On B.B. 306 of this year's B.B., the clinometer was, of course, read to 10 MINUTES OF ARC not feet.  The confusion arose because the sign 10' is the same for both measurements!


 

Hazards of Cold Water

A report on the Paul Esser Memorial Lecture by Alan Thomas appeared in the B.B. for Feb.  This, sent in by Oliver Lloyd, is the official summary of the lecture.

Summary of the Paul Esser Memorial Lecture delivered on 14th February 1973 in the University of Bristol by Prof. W.R. Keatinge.

Some of the most exciting sports are the dangerous ones, but the risk becomes quite small if the hazards are under stood.  Of all these, water sports take the greatest toll of human life: about 1,000 deaths a year, compared with about a dozen on the mountains.  Death from shipwreck results more often from cold than from drowning.  Old fashioned equipment was designed to provide flotation rather than to protect from cold, but ideally both should be provided.  Since the last war, much research has been devoted to the study of body cooling of volunteers, with core temperature measured by electric thermometers. These give most reliable measurements when swallowed to lie just behind the heart.

Body Cooling

Thin men cool faster than fat men, because the layer of fat insulates the body core.  The cold causes the blood vessels in the fat to shut down.  Channel swimmers are usually fat.  The usual summer sea temperature here is about 150C (590F).  At this temperature, fat men have a distinct advantage over thin.  For thin men, the critical water temperature at which heat balance is possible is about 200C (680), while for fat men it is 100C (400F).

 

Below these temperatures, the rate of body cooling is uncontrollable, even by shivering.  The rate of body cooling can, however, be reduced.  Firstly, keep still, because exercise in water (unlike air) always accelerates body cooling, if the water is cold enough to threaten life. Secondly, keep on as much clothing as possible as this will slow down the rate of cooling.

 

The same principles apply to children, who often seem to tolerate cold water better than adults.  This is an illusion.  They cool more rapidly, both because they are usually thinner and because they have a larger surface area of skin in relation to body weight.  Girls generally cool more slowly than boys, because they are fatter.  In one experiment, one boy cooled as much as 3.20C (5.760F) in 33 minutes.  All the children who looked really cold were found to have core temperatures of less than 350C (950F) - the normal being 370C (98.40F) which is a fairly serious degree of hypothermia.

Cold Vasodilatation.

At temperatures near freezing point, the protective shutdown of blood vessels in the skin becomes reversed due to paralysis of their muscular walls.  The resulting vasodilatation accelerates cooling, particularly of the hands, from which heat pours out of the body.  The practical answer to this is a wet suit with gloves. Whales and seals, do not get cold vasodilatation at low temperatures and so their blubber will always protect than against heat loss.

Sudden Sinking.

Professor Keatinge quoted the case of a young athlete out sailing in the winter on a reservoir, when his boat over turned.  He had only fifty yards to swim to the shore, but after he had got half way he shouted that he couldn't go on, and sank.  Cramp may be ruled out, as he was in good training.

Study of skin reflexes to cold shows that respiration is accelerated, and air is not expelled from the chest as fully as usual.  The heart accelerates; the cardiac output doubles and the blood pressure goes up. Possibly the over breathing in choppy water might cause water to be inhaled; but a more important finding was that irregularities of heartbeat occurred (ectopic ventricular beats). These occurred in 10 to 15% of subjects on being immersed in cold water.  After a few minutes these irregularities ease off, because the nerve endings in the skin adapt to the cold.  None of these things accounted for the sudden sinking of the lad in the reservoir, so that it became necessary to design an experiment under controlled conditions which would imitate the circumstances.

A good swimmer dressed up and got into water at 4.70C (400F) and started to swim, but within 90 seconds he sank and had to be pulled out.   We were shown a film of the next swimmer repeating the experiment.  First we saw him over breathing, due to the cold water on the skin.  Then he began swimming but was holding his head high out of the water, which is tiring. He quickly began to get exhausted and to make small mistakes.  After 7½ minutes he had to stop and be pulled out.  On the bank he was utterly exhausted but within a minute and a half was talking cheerfully.  “I don't know why I couldn't”, he said, “I just got exhausted; I couldn't go on.”

The explanation why cold water is more exhausting than hot is very simple and has nothing to do with hypothermia.  This man had no drop in core temperature.  It is that cold water stickier (more viscous) than warm.  It is trying to swim in treacle.

Editor's Note:     The dynamic viscosity of water is 1.5138 at 4 degrees centigrade but drops to 1.0019 at 20 degrees. Thus, water not far from freezing is half as viscous again as water at a comfortable temperature.

Practical Advice

Always wear a life jacket when sailing.  If you have to abandon ship on the open sea, make sure you are fully clothed or wear a wet suit.  Don't exercise yourself, but keep afloat until rescued.  The natural thing to do is to swim about.  This is one case where the natural thing is the wrong thing to do. If you are caught in cold water without a life jacket, do not swim for the shore; cling to the boat until rescued if rescue is on the way.

When a subject appears to have died from hypothermia, do not despair.  Plunge him, if possible, into a bath of water as hot as the hand can stand. This is a life saving measure if done early.  The hot bath should not be continued after a satisfactory heart beat and respiration are restored.

Alcohol taken before immersion in cold water does not noticeably accelerate heat loss and makes the ordeal more tolerable.  On the other hand, if taken after two hours of exhausting exercise, it can cause a dramatic fall in blood sugar, which eliminates the ability of the body to control temperature, and so may be lethal.  So if you take a hip flask up a mountain; take some sweets as well.

Editor's Note:     I am obviously wrong here, but I have always been under the impression that alcohol dilates the surface blood vessels and, by thus warming the skin from inside, makes the subject feel warmer although he is in fact getting colder. Perhaps Oliver might care to enlarge on the effects of alcohol, this being a subject of some interest to the B.E.C!

Notices

The committee would like to thank Andrew Nicholls for his work in getting our rates for the Belfry halved.

Older members may like to hear that 'Mo' Marriott was married on June 30th.

The committee wish to announce, that, having accepted the resignation of Rodney Hobbs from the committee and the post of Belfry Engineer, this post is now vacant.  Martin Bishop has been asked to fill the post in the meantime and is thus Acting Belfry Engineer and an applicant for the position. Will any other applicants please get in touch with any committee member as soon as possible, as the committee have little time left in which to act.

The committee wish to announce that, in accordance with the instructions of the last A.G.M., they have chosen Barry Wilton from the candidates offering themselves for the job of Hon. Treasurer to take over from Bob Bagshaw at the end of the club financial year (31.7.73.).  Barry has accordingly been co-opted on to the committee.


 

Minutes of the 1972 A.G.M.

The first of two parts of the official minutes of this meeting.

The meeting opened at 2.35 with some 52 members present.  The Hon. Secretary called for nominations for a Chairman.  D. Hasell, R.A. Setterington and S.J. Collins were nominated.  D. Hasell said that he would not be able to attend the entire meeting and the meeting therefore voted for the other two.  Votes were in favour of Setterington (20-14) who was thus declared Chairman.

The Chairman then called for the ballot papers but queried their validity since there had been a departure from the usual practice.  The Hon. Secretary explained the system he had used, which was designed to ease the work of the tellers.  Each paid up member had been sent a form, which he did not have to sign.  There were no spares and thus no member could send in a second form.  Dam Hasell then proposed a resolution to declare these forms valid.  This was seconded by Pate Franklin and carried unanimously.

The Chairman then called for three tellers.  Mrs Meaden and Mrs Palmer were suggested from the floor.  Dan Hassell volunteered to act as the third teller.  The Chairman then called for member’s resolutions, a number of which were then handed in.

The Chairman then moved on to the minutes of the 1971 A.G.M.  These had been published to all members and he therefore ruled that they be taken as read.  He asked for any objections to the minutes.  There were none, and Frank Jones proposed their adoption.  This was seconded by Maurice Iles and carried without dissent.

The Chairman then asked the meeting whether discuss the minutes.  Mike Palmer asked whether a list of tackle had, in fact, been produced. Dave Turner said that Bill Cooper had published an incomplete list in the February B.B.  Mike Palmer said that next year's Committee should be instructed to take more positive steps to ensure that the tackle was known and listed and generally looked after.  Alan Thomas said that in many ways the Tackle¬master had proved unsatisfactory, but that Dave Turner had since taken over and was sorting the problem out in a keen and efficient manner.  The Chairman said that perhaps further discussion could be left until the Tacklemaster’s report came up for discussion.

The Chairman reminded the meeting that Income Tax was another subject left to the committee by last year's A.G.M. Bob Bagshaw replied that this had now been agreed with the tax inspector.  The Chairman also reminded the meeting that no report had been received in 1971 from the Climbing Section.  Nigel Jago replied that a report was, in fact, published after the A.G.M.

Dave Irwin brought up the problem of the showers.  The Chairman suggested that this be raised later, when the Belfry Engineer's report was up for discussion.

The Chairman asked whether a Librarian's Report for 1971 had ever been published.  Various people agreed that it had not.  There were no further items arising from the minutes of the 1971 A.G.M. and the Chairman moved on to the Hon. Secretary's Report.

The Hon. Secretary said that his report had not been published in full.  Owing to circumstances beyond his control, the remainder of the report was not in his hands and he would therefore have to give an impromptu report to the meeting.  He said that this was a great pity, since he had spent much time in choosing the wording of the original.

He said that the main reason for his remarks in the open¬ing of the written report was the presence of factions within the club to an extent which, in his opinion, was quite unprecedented. He said that he felt that the solidarity of the B.E.C. was in some danger and instanced a similar state of affairs which had occurred a few years ago in the Shepton Mallet Caving Club. He said that some people considered the Hut Warden's attitude to have been hypocritical.  This, he said, was completely untrue.  The Belfry is being efficiently run and is cleaner tidier than it has ever been.  However, a group of fun makers have been staying away and making a laughing-stock of the B.E.C. in the Hunters.  He appealed to all members for a more tolerant attitude towards each other and added that club officers should not be denigrated in the official reports of other officers.

The Chairman then called for a discussion on both the written and verbal parts of the report. Tony Meaden said that the Hon. Secretary had mentioned trouble with our neighbour Mr. Foxwell in his written report and asked if the meeting could have a fuller explanation, which Alan then gave. Mike Palmer then asked why the committee appeared not to have taken suitable steps to resolve this matter. Jock Orr said that the B.E.C. was not really a party to the dispute but merely happened to be sited between the participants.  Opinion was divided on this point, with some speakers arguing that the club was involved whether it liked it or not, while others urged the club to stay out of what appeared to be a dispute between two other parties.  The general feeling of the meeting on became apparent at one point at which a speaker suggested that we keep out until we are forced to join in. This was greeted with a general murmur of approval from the floor.

After a further discussion, Mike Palmer put forward a proposal which was seconded by George Honey “That the subject of access to ours and Mr. Foxwell's land over land belonging to the Dors family be investigated by the next      committee, who should seek legal advice.”  An amendment was proposed by Alan Thomas “That the word 'independent' be inserted before 'legal'”.  This was seconded by Jock Orr and the amended resolution passed unanimously by the meeting.

Dave Irwin said that the remarks in the B.B. appeared to cast a slur on Dave Turner.  (The page in question being part of the written report from the Hon. Secretary) and asked if these remarks could be struck from the record. Jock Orr said that he thought the remarks were fair and implied no criticism of Dave in an form.  Mike Palmer said that his reading of the page in question brought him to the same conclusion as Jock Orr.  Dave Irwin said that he still thought that the remarks should be struck off and formally proposed their deletion.  This was seconded by Phil Kingston and defeated by 5 votes to 10, all the remainder of the meeting abstaining.

A discussion then arose as to whether club members receive sufficient information on committee matters and, in part¬icular, whether more should be published in the B.B.  Roger Stenner proposed that all such matters be left to the Editor’s discretion.  This was seconded by Kangy and carried without dissent.  Bob Bagshaw then proposed the adoption of the report. This was seconded by Dermott and carried nem. con.

The Hon. Treasurer's Report followed.  The Chairman said that this had been published but asked the Hon. Treasurer if he would like to add anything to his written report.  Bob said that he had no additions to make, but perhaps the Auditor's report should be read at this stage and both reports discussed together.  The Chairman then read the Hon. Auditor's Report to the meeting.

Jock Orr said that the Auditor’s Report was very good and should be implemented.  Mike Palmer queried why the report had not previously been published.  Joan replied that it was a recommendation to the Treasurer and as such had not been published.  Nigel Jago suggested that it should be a part of the Agenda in future.  This was formally proposed by Jock Orr, seconded by Dave Irwin and carried 23-2 with the remainder abstaining.

Alan Kennett proposed that Joan and Roy Bennett be appointed as auditors for the forthcoming year. This was seconded by Bob Cross and carried without dissent.  Phil Townsend asked whether the committee could be instructed to look for a new Treasurer in view of Bob Bagshaw's announced retirement.  The Chairman agreed, and said that there was no need for a formal vote.

Roy Bennett said that we could go into a loss situation unless the costs of the B.B. were reduced or the subs increased.  George Honey suggested a bi-monthly B.B. and additional charge for postage.  Alfie replied that he had sounded out the club on a quarterly B.B. with small newsletters filling in the gaps, and that the club had come out overwhelmingly in favour of continuing the B.B. in its present form.  He said, however, that some small economies could perhaps be made on the postal side. Dave Irwin pointed out that publications other than the B.B. had shown an apparent loss, but this had been due to a peak on spending and would not show as an overall loss over a period of time. In reply to a suggestion that surpluses in other departments could be used for the B.B.  Dave said that these surpluses were for the Belfry and that it had always been agreed that the B. B. should be financed from subscriptions. Jock Orr said that the B.B. must continue as a monthly publication.  Dan Hasell amplified this by saying that he had always considered the B.B. to be an important part of the club and if the only way to keep it as it ought to be was by raising subscriptions, then this would have to be done.  Barry Wilton wished the meeting to know that he fully supported Dan' s arguments.  Mike Palmer wished to enquire whether subs were paid by members solely for their copies of the B.B.?  A discussion along the lines already described went on for some time and eventually Roy Bennett asked for a new vote on the frequency of the B.B.  This was taken, and produced 28 in favour of continuing as a monthly and 7 in favour of its being a bi-monthly.  Dave Irwin then proposed the adoption of the Hon. Treasurer's Report.  This was seconded by Andy MacGregor and carried nem. con.

The Chairman pointed out that the discussion just over had taken up much time and that there was a lot of business still to get through.  At this stage, the tellers brought in their results, which the Chairman read out by announcing the successful candidates in order of votes cast. These were:- R.J. Bagshaw; T.E. Large; A. Thomas; R. Bennett; S.J. Collins; D. Irwin; J. Orr; M.A. Palmer and N. Jago.

The Caving Secretary's Report followed.  This had been published and the Chairman asked if there were any comments.  Alan Thomas asked the Caving Secretary whether he thought that the B.E.C. was the best club on Mendip.  The Caving Secretary agreed that this was indeed the case. Andy MacGregor then proposed the adoption of the report.  This was seconded by Roger Stenner and carried nem. con.

The Climbing Secretary's Report - also previously published led to no discussion and was adopted after a proposal to the effect by Kangy, seconded by Barry Wilton.

The Tacklemaster's Report followed.  This was read to the meeting by the Chairman. Alfie asked whether Bill Cooper had handed over all the tackle which should exist.  He was assured by Dave Turner that this was so.  A discussion on tackle followed which resulted in the proposal to adopt the report being put to the meeting by Andy MacGregor seconded by Alan Thomas and carried without dissent.  A vote of thanks to the Tacklemaster was proposed by Alan Thomas and seconded by Tim Hodgson and carried without dissent.

The Hut Warden's Report followed.  This had been published and the Chairman asked if there were any questions.  Mike palmer said that the receipts from Tackle Fees were very disappointing and thought that this could be a result of the Cuthbert’s Leader’s Meeting having agreed to do away with them.  Dan Hassell asked if the Cuthbert’s Leader’s Meeting was competent to take such a decision.  He said that he understood that all decisions taken by that meeting required to be ratified by the committee.  Alan Thomas said that this was correct, and that the Committee had not heard about this suggestion from the Cuthbert’s Leader’s Meeting.  Jock Orr said that he had had fees from some Cuthbert’s Leaders but not from others.  Joan Bennett queried the use of the storage heaters and asked whether there was any rule to say when they were allowed to be used.  Jock replied that they would be used when it got cold enough. Joan said that she thought this could be very expensive.  This led to a discussion on fuel costs which in turn led to a more general discussion on Belfry Expenditure.  Dave Irwin proposed that in view of this discussion and the previous discussion on the cost of the B.B. “The committee should look into club finances in the widest possible context before any move to put up the subs was contemplated.” Jock pointed out that the Belfry had made a surplus.  Nigel Jago asked why we no longer kept a barrel fund going if we were hard up. Nigel Taylor replied that we were a Caving and Climbing club, not a travelling drinking club.  This led to a lively - if not spirited - discussion, which was eventually resolved by the seconding of Dave’s resolution by Alan Thomas, which was then voted upon and carried without dissent.  Dave Irwin then proposed the adoption of the Hut Warden's report, which was again seconded by Alan and carried.

The Hut Engineer's Report had been published and the Chairman invited comments.  Kangy asked if the roof had been insulated yet, as it had a considerable bearing on fuel costs.  He was told that it had not, but would be before the winter came.  Nigel Taylor proposed the acceptance of this report. This was seconded by Bob Bagshaw and carried without dissent, as was the Librarian Report, which the meeting adopted without discussion.

A short discussion on the Editor's Report revealed a request for photographic material in the B.B. The Editor pointed out that photo litho plates cost 23/- each and wondered in view of the financial discussion whether it was the wish of the club to make the B.B. more expensive to produce.  The report was adopted after this had been proposed by Tony Corrigan and seconded by Pete Franklin.

The Caving Publications Report was adopted without discussion by the meeting, its adoption being proposed by Andy MacGregor and seconded by Dermott Walsh.

The Chairman then turned to the remaining business of the meeting, at which point Mike Palmer proposed an adjournment in view of the volume of business still to be discussed. George Honey queried this and asked if the Chairman could read out the remaining business so that the meeting could decide whether to adjourn or not.  On hearing the rest of the business from the Chairman he seconded the resolution to adjourn. This was carried unanimously by the meeting.

The Chairman then announced that the meeting stood adjourned to 2pm the next day at the Belfry.


 

Travels with a Test Tube

The first in this series appeared in the B.B. for February and the editor apologises for the delay in printing Roger Stenner’s second instalment!

Pollution studies took me next, in July, to Norway.  Several days were spent in splendid weather in fjords in Western Norway.  The people are very friendly towards Britons, who have no language problems because so many Norwegians speak perfect English. A lot of rain made the waterfalls very spectacular and the high roads still lay between huge banks of snow.  Skiing was still in progress high in the mountains.    Minor roads are surfaced with oiled grit, swept and repaired almost daily.  They are not for timid drivers or drivers with a poor head for heights. The fjords are deep, cold and clear and full of hungry cod.  Ferries are an integral part of the transport system.  They are regular, efficient and cheap.  After the first work in the fjords, I took the Great North Road into the arctic circle, for more work in the fjord complex starting at Bodo.  The tidal race at Saltstraumen causes a huge set of whirlpools; the biggest in the world I'm told.  Here, I managed to surprise the locals, who were catching two pound coalfish, by taking a 15¼ lb. cod on freshwater tackle.  Sitting back feeling pleased with myself, I noticed two huge birds circling overhead - white tailed sea eagles.  With the work finished and the mini packed up with my specimens, it was time to travel south again, towards Sweden where I would meet George Honey again. Before that there was time for a detour near Mo-i-Rhana to Gronligrotten a show cave not too far south of the Arctic Circle.

From the car park in a clearing in the forest at the foot of a valley wall, along path winds steeply upward towards the cave.  Visitors are warned to allow twenty minutes to reach the cave.  In hot sunshine, with sample bottles, C02 analyser, thermometers and cameras and wearing enough clothes for a cold cave, this time was about right.  By the cave entrance is a little kiosk, making a fortune from the sales of cold drinks. The entrance fee is paid here and, as well as post cards, they sell surveys of the cave.  As show caves go, this one is a little unusual. Photographs are permitted and people who wish can go down without a guide, as long as they have their own lights. The only help for tourists is a couple of planks; some fixed steel ladders and the odd handrail - not a place for open-toed sandals - and the guides! - two very pretty girls took it in turns to guide the parties.

The cave is fairly small, with about two thousand feet of passages and is about 320 feet deep. Water from a fairly big surface stream leaks through boulders to one side of the stream, re-appearing in the cave after about a thousand feet.  The cave is in very odd looking rock.  The Great ¬Oones like entrance leads into a fairly steep, boulder strewn bedding plane passage.  The main route lies to the left.  The stream is seen briefly entering on the right.  It is soon lost, re-appearing in a photogenic little waterfall.  It soon disappears again into a small slot, but it can be heard lower in the cave.  The flat roof is covered with drops of water, condensing on the cold rock from air made warm and moist by the stream.  After about six hundred feet, where the show cave ends, a passage leads upwards to another entrance.  Part of the floor was dust covered ice.  Back at the junction, a passage to the right leads to a flat out crawl over dry sand. The roof soon lifted in an obviously solutional passage.  A little climb to avoid a dangerously corroded ladder led to smaller and steeper passages.  At the top of a vertical rift, I turned back.  It was silly to start taking risks alone; without a reserve light; loaded with gear and in a foreign land.  Instead, it was time to start taking photographs and measurements.  After crawling round in a little maze, a big passage led back into the middle of the tourist route, by-passing the flat out crawl.

Back on the surface once more, there was time to admire the scenery.  Above, a noisy raven was slowly circling.  All around was the dense forest and across the valley gleaming in the brilliant sunshine was the Schwarteisen¬glacier, the second biggest in Europe.  The ferry needed was out of action, so I could not visit it but the cave made a pleasant break in the work programme.


 

Eskdale 1971

Tony Tucker sends us this account of what was obviously a typical B.E.C. visit made to the Eskdale area in November of 1971.

We left Bristol from Gulliver's Travels at Bedminster at about 7pm.  Eleven of us (I think) and piles of gear roped on top of the Transit and stacked inside - with us sitting in any empty space we could find.  Pete Franklin was driving and things went reasonably well until we left the motorway - apart from occasional attacks of cramp etc. However, a few miles further on, Bob Cross (our rough country navigator) proceeded to get us lost as best he could. While he was looking at a map to try and find the most devious route possible, we came across a small town which suddenly leapt up out of the night and, before he could stop us, we all jumped out and staggered to the local chippy - all the pubs being shut.

After a sumptuous feast of F & C. – and I can thoroughly recommend that chippy ~ though for the life of me I can’t remember where it is - we set off again and, after pushing the Transit up a steep hill complete with hairpin bends (it looked like a ruddy mountain in the moonlight!) we finally drove into Boot.  We were meant to be there at midnight but what with Bob's mountain roads etc., it was 1.20am when we arrived.

The Burnmoor Inn was still open and we all piled in demanding ale.  That is a pub with a difference!  Jose, the landlady is quite a character and she runs the place with her husband and Eric the barman.  We sat in a corner of the room for mutual protection against her approaches, where we cringed and supped our ale.  Steve Spratt had an interesting experience, but I can't go into details because Alfie wouldn't print them.  We staggered out at about half past three and unfurled our sleeping bags in some dilapidated cottages across the street.

On the Saturday, we again visited the pub for morning drinkies, where we found Jose and Eric crawling around on the floor looking for his false teeth.  Just a quickie, whilst deciding where to go.  Decided on a visit to Wastwater.  The weather by this time had taken a turn for the worse and when we arrived at Wastwater it was incredibly damp, with an evil swirling mist writhing up from the lake.  The only thing to be done, of course, was to go to the pub which lay conveniently situated just outside the car, and to stay there until they chucked us out. Eventually, we were thrown out and, as the weather was still somewhat unpleasant, the majority of our group decided to walk round the lake and then drive back to Boot.  However, three stalwarts; Crange, Steve Spratt and myself, decided to go up Scafell, down the other side, and back to Boot across country. That was in theory.  In practice it was a trifle different.  Part way up, we lost Steve and thought that he had fallen in the lake.  We called out but received no answer, so we looked for him but failed to find any trace. By this time, we were rather worried, thinking that the Demon of the Mountain had carried him away.  A few minutes later, I stumbled and nearly fell over Steve, who was lying beside a boulder.  As he was wearing black waterproof clothing, we hadn't seen him. When asked the reason for this odd behaviour, he said he was tired and had decided to lay down.  We couldn’t argue against this logic, so after a fag we carried on.  When we were about three quarters of the way up, the weather began to clear - only to be replaced by darkness.  By this time, we were crossing what could be described as a scree slope composed of very large boulders.  After negotiating this obstacle, it was almost pitch black, so we held a meeting to decide whether to go on or to turn back.  The intrepid Crange wanted to go on, but we said that it was foolhardy and dangerous as we had no lights.  It was decided by two votes to one to go back down and return to Boot along the road - a distance of sixteen miles.  We walked about eight of them when all of a sudden we were drawn by a strange force inside a building which, on examination, proved to be a public house. The gods were on our side at last, and we settled down with a pint of beer.  It was then decided to phone our people at Boot (the beer having cleared our heads) and tell them where we were just in case they were getting worried. We did this, and Peter said that he would come and collect us.  We didn’t argue.  On the way back to Boot, we were told that the other party had raided a sawmill and swiped enough timber to last us the night (supplemented by some old furniture from the cottages.)  We all had a meal and decided to visit a different pub for the evening’s refreshment. We accord¬ingly snuck off and, after an enjoyable time, went back to the Burnmore Inn.  Jose was furious, accusing us of only coming back when the other pubs were shut (which was true.)  However, she soon calmed down and we started supping again.  There was a group of Yorkshire lads in the room as well and we soon had a good singing match going – foreskins in the sky and all.  Jose became quite upset because nobody was taking any notice of her, so we sang ‘Edelweiss’ all the way through, upon which she broke down and told us how she had been raped by the Nazis during the war.  The singing then continued until about 4 a.m., when we began to stagger off to bed.  Bob Cross was highly slewed and kept apologising for bringing us to such a terrible place.  We told him to shut up and that we were enjoying it immensely.  After several people had been ill we eventually got to sleep.

On Sunday, we arose late and partook of a light breakfast then packed our gear for the ‘off’.  I tabled a motion that we should go into the pub to say farewell and there ensued a considerable debate over this - the opposition  being led by Crange, who said that he had forgotten his key and unless we left soon, he would be locked out.

However, the outcome was soon decided, and once again we trooped into the pub.  The B.E.C.’s ever present thirst had won again.  More beer.  We left before closing time (I think) and proceeded to Wrynose Pass where we had to de-bus again to allow the Transit to get to the top. By the way, going back to first thing that morning, I forgot to mention that when we at last woke up, it was to find that it had snowed during the night and that all the mountain peaks were covered in a layer of crisp new snow – a wonderful sight.

At the top of Wrynose, Cross and Glossop engaged in mortal combat with dry cowsh.  Bob came off worst.  We remounted the wagon and set off down Hardknott Pass, a terrifying descent.  Most of the time we couldn’t see the road in front because the descent was so steep - only the valley floor hundreds of feet below.

A ghastly odour was gradually wafting its way through our vehicle, which was traced to Bob who was still liberally bespattered with cowsh.  We forced him out of the Transit to enable him to dunk his head in a nearby stream, to get rid of the awful pong.  At this stage, our forward progress was halted by a horse which, as it was without rider, decided to delay our journey for as long as possible. Bob, refreshed by his icy wash, and with his brain still numb from the shock of the cold water, was heard to say, “Leave this to me, lads.  I've got a way with horses.”  We duly left it to him as requested and sat back to watch the show.  We were not disappointed.  Bob walked up to the horse, muttering words of encouragement in its ear.  No notice being taken of this approach, Bob decided to push it out of the way.  The horse objected to this treatment and tried to bite Bob, who retired rapidly.  We then urged him to ride it away, but the horse looked him in the eye, obviously trying to decide which bit to bite next and, when having finally made up its mind, it moved towards him to put its decision into effect, Bob leapt into the Transit with commendable agility.  We removed it eventually by nudging it gently off the road with the vehicle.

Fog on the M6.  We nearly got lost at Spaghetti Junction and wound up at a pub outside Cheltenham.  While the rest of us were drinking, Crange phoned home to explain that he had forgotten his key and to arrange a method of entry into the ancestral home.

We arrived back in Bristol about midnight after a most enjoyable weekend. Special thanks to Bob Cross, who arranged the trip and also to the rest of the party, without whom a lot of the atmosphere would have been missing.

Those present were: Joyce and Pete Franklin (our driver, thanks, Pete!) Brenda and Barry Wilton, Sue Gazzard, Tony Tucker, Bob Cross, Keith Glossop, Crange, Steve Spratt and Rod Hobbs.

Notice

The Caving Secretary would like to remind members to write up their trips.  The write-up does not have to be lengthy - merely the date; cave; leader and party if there is nothing else to put.  If trips are not written up, the committee gets a false impression of the amount of caving being done and - apart from anything else - may not be so keen in spending money in this direction - so WRITE IT FOR YOUR OWN SAKE!


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 35.

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Across:

1. Fret Choir in Cuthbert’s. (5,4)
6. Green on Mendip. (3)
7. Steep hill face. (4)
8. …will do it (see also 13.) (2)
10. Hauls. (5)
13. …excess. (see 8). (2)
14. Add fuel to fire on Mendip. (5)
15. Signal on line perhaps? (3)
17. Warty type of Mendip cave passage. (6,3)

Down:

2. Use this in caving? (4)
3. Concerning. (2)
4. Underground pile. (6)
5. Hill on E. Mendip. (4)
6. Possess. (6)
9. Digging implement? (6)
11. Caving adjunct. (3)
12. Agitate. (4)
13. Type of stal. (5)
16. Agreeable sound. (2)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

 

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