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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

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:    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

 

I

 

T

 

O

S

O

S

 

G

R

E

A

T

 

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.
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

Happy New Year

With the start of another new year, we should like to wish a very Happy and prosperous New Year.

Improvement

You may have noticed a small but acceptable improvement which has been made to the B.B. in this, its 27th year of publication.  The clarity of the type should be much more then in previous years, and this is due to our having converted the B.B. typewriter to take paper tape.  We hope that members will approve of this small but significant improvement.

Balancing The B.B.

An attempt is made in the B.B. to keep a balance between the various types of articles which we print. The intention is to provide something readable in every issue for every member. Lengthy articles of a specialist nature are only of real interest to a minority of readers; and we try to space these out so that they do not appear too frequently.  Having said all this, readers will perhaps be surprised to find a long article on surveying in this B.B. following hard on the heels of a long article on photography in last month's issue.

The reason for this is that the work published this month represents an advance in its subject and is the result of original work by club members - made possible by the complexity of the Cuthbert’s passage network.  New techniques in the technical side of caving - like new cave discoveries - should be made public as soon as possible.

Even if the work described was of less interest to the relevant specialists than is the case, it would still have been published this month for the rather more mundane reason that the editor has very little else to print.

This is a long standing problem which can probably never be solved to everybody's satisfaction.  One can either have a B.B. of variable size depending on what comes up; or a B.B. of constant size which comes out whenever there is enough to fill it; or a B.B. of constant size and regularity, filled out occasionally with stuff which does not appeal to many members.  Remember, if you want more of a particular sort of article, then you have to provide the raw material.

Crystal Balls Department

The other long article in the Christmas B.B. was intended to be a humorous and far-fetched bit of nonsense suitable for the festive season.  However, we hear that a recent allocation of grants to caving bodies has allocated the lion's share to that dealing with caving instructors.  If we don't watch out, the university of Charterhouse may be nearer to the truth than we like to think!

Are We Friendly Enough?

Tony Johnson's letter makes the point - amongst others that a lot of the things we enjoy have been obtained in the past by virtue of the good relationship which existed between cavers and locals.  One could also cite the case for the converse of this being true - that most of the bad things which have happened to caving (like the formation of various beurocratic bodies) were started because of bad relationships between cavers and locals - mainly in the North.  Although caving is now an accepted part of the local scene, we should still take every opportunity to make and keep good relations with our neighbours of every sort.

“Alfie”


 

Traverse Closure in Cave Surveying

by D.J. IRWIN and R.D. STENNER.

The several years it has taken to survey St. Cuthbert’s Swallet (1) have taught the authors a great deal about some of the less publicised aspects of cave surveying.  It has also resulted in the accumulation of a considerable body of data concerning cave survey precision.  We encountered problems which the cave surveying literature to date had not dealt with, and we feel that our findings will be of assistance to other surveyors.  This article is concerned primarily with the closing of traverses and this involves of necessity a discussion on compass calibration and the precision to be expected in a cave survey.

At some time, a surveyor will find that he has surveyed a part of the cave by a circular route which finishes at a part which has already been surveyed.  The circular traverse which starts and finishes at the same point is known as a closed traverse.  In many cases, the surveyor will find that there are occasions when several of these closed traverses have been made.  One may say “So what!” but generally, when the calculations have been made, the surveyor will find that - instead of the traverse ending at a point which coincides exactly with the start or with a previous survey point, it will have a slightly different value of the co-ordinates.  This failure to close is known as the traverse closing error.  It will be obvious that two different points in space cannot represent the same survey station, and thus they must be made to ‘close’.  Various methods for closing such a traverse have been discussed elsewhere (2) and so we shall only mention the methods in passing and dwell on the recommended procedure.

Problems really occur when one is faced with a number of closed traverses as shown symbolically in figure (i).  Whereas one can easily close a single or double traverse, the maze type looks and is more complex, Ellis attempts to show how this type of network can be closed, and states ‘…the first thing is to make a subjective assessment, and if any of the traverses are thought to be more accurate than others, then they can be closed first and the others closed on to them.  If all the traverses are of the same expected accuracy, the method favoured by the author is to close the outer traverse and then the inner traverses successively.’ (3).  As the surveying unit is now in general use on Mendip, there is little need to lower the survey grading below the requirements of C.R.G. Grade 6 and so one will have to think of all the traverses as being of the same expected accuracy - or so one would think!  From the results of the St. Cuthbert’s survey, both of the authors have shown beyond doubt that errors will be found in the most unlikely places.  One might think that, because of the difficulty of caving through boulder ruckles that the survey line would display the same lowering of standards for that part of the survey; but it was found that this was not so.  Surveying through such passages tended to make the surveyors more careful perhaps. At any rate, most of the errors occurred in parts of the cave where surveying was easiest.  As a result, it is not possible to assess the accuracy of any section of the survey line simply by relating it to a particular type of cave passage.

At the outset of the St. Cuthbert’s survey, we followed the recommendations current at the time by closing all the traverses as soon as they were completed during the field work data collecting.  These were termed the individual traverses, and then each passage junction to passage junction co-ordinates were joined up in various ways to 'hunt' for any obvious error.  Several errors were found and the offending lines were omitted for all later checks. As the number of traverses increased, subsequently covering the whole cave, this procedure became extremely complex and cumbersome.  However, the St. Cuthbert’s survey network was closed by this method and any section of the framework suspected of containing gross errors was either re-surveyed or fed in to the network at a later date.  Once the main traverse was closed, the remaining sections of the cave were closed in order of accuracy.  Without the help of computers, and only working from notebooks and desk calculators, this process took many hours of work running into a period of just under two years involving 1,500 man-hours!  This procedure caused a considerable amount of unnecessary resurveying. During the later stages of this work, it was found that the northern section of the cave (New and Old Routes) had an exceptionally large error.  This had not been discovered previously as it had compensated with a similar error in the Coral Chamber area, and so had gone unnoticed.  This was due to the fact the closing of the individual traverses was dominant in, the calculations, any other method having been discarded on the advice of other surveyors of considerably more experience than either of the authors.

This discovery of an error in the northern section of the cave showed the unreliability of using traverse closure errors the check the precision of various parts of the survey. It then became obvious that both the authors had missed a very simple way of assessing - with reasonable accuracy - any line survey section in the network.

Because any two stations in the cave must have the same coordinate changes between them irrespective of route chosen, we were able to tabulate the coordinate changes and see at a glance those which obviously contained errors of some form.  An example from the Rocky Boulder Series will demonstrate this procedure fully later in the text.  Although the St. Cuthbert’s survey was not closed using the tabular method (because the main traverse had already been established) the method was used to check our work.  The experience of a complicated network now enables the authors to recommend the following procedures, which will make it unnecessary for any other surveyors to fall into the frustrating difficulties and time-wasting problems that we met with the St. Cuthbert’s survey.

Willcox states that ‘...the core of the problem lies in discovering all the possible closed traverses for a network….’ (4).  In the case of St. Cuthbert’s, this would number 1.5 x 1013 (or 150 million million – Ed.) traverses and when repeat surveys are considered, the number would rise to 1.0 x 1030.  Obviously, another procedure must be looked for!

Why Does A Closed Traverse Not Close?

With the usual instruments used for cave surveying - a liquid damped compass~ a clinometer and a measuring tape, one cannot read the instruments accurately enough to collect precise readings.  All the readings obtained will be approximations.  For example, the compass card is normally graduated in 1 degree divisions, and when sighting through the eyepiece it is not possible to obtain a value better than ¼ of a degree.  Even this value is optimistic and will depend largely on the individual compass. Similarly, the clinometer readings will be of the same order of accuracy and if a good commercial tape is used, measurements will be to the nearest 1" or 0.1 ft.  The catenary effect may be ignored providing the tape is pulled taut before taking the reading. (5).

The greatest source of error is not, however, the readings of the individual instruments, since - provided the reading of the instruments themselves and the actual instruments are consistent, such errors will largely compensate, and with the type of survey we are considering, the Station Position Error can be ignored.  It is thus necessary to consider errors due to factors other than reading the instruments and to station positioning.

Compass Calibration

When a survey is made over a number of trips during which the compass calibration will have changed or, more importantly, when using more than one compass, then care in the compass calibration becomes of crucial importance. In fact under these circumstances, calibration errors can become larger than systematic errors.  Judging by correspondence in caving publications in recent years, calibrating a compass has not been felt to be necessary by some surveyors, but the importance is easy to demonstrate.

First, the theory. Figure (ii) shows the systematic error predicted by Warburton (6) to be statistically probable in a Grade 6 survey with an average leg length of 15 ft.  Also shown are the positional errors caused by 10 and 0.50 calibration errors. It must be noted that whereas the distance axis for the systematic error represents the slope distance of the survey, that for the calibration error shows the plan distance between a point and the start of the survey.

Consider two surveys made with different compasses that both start from the same station ‘close’ at a second point with a plan distance of 1,000 ft. from the origin.  If each of the surveys contains 1,500 ft. (slope distance) of survey line, then the systematic error would be expected to be 9.4 ft.  The error due to a 10 difference in calibration will be 17 ft. and if the error is 50, the total error will be 85 ft.  Since the readings given by two different compasses can be greater than 50, failure to calibrate a compass can introduce tremendous errors into a survey.

Now, from theory to practice.  When the St. Cuthbert’s preliminary survey was being compiled in 1962, Ellis was using the results of several surveyors, using different compasses calibrated (or not calibrated!) in different ways.  It is hardly surprising that he did not find it easy to combine the survey.  More recently, discrepancies were noted between three different surveys of the Rabbit Warren Extension.  Each end of this series is marked, as far as the survey is concerned, by stations which are part of a large network of passages, the co-ordinates of which can be taken as being substantially correct.  A survey by Irwin (7a) and by Ellis (7b) disagreed by a considerable distance when calculated from the same origin in the Rabbit Warren.  When these surveys were compared with Ellis's earlier calculations (1958) the difference was even more pronounced at 22 ft.  The differences are, in fact, due to calibration differences between the compasses used.  It has been shown that the site used by Ellis to calibrate his compass for the 1962 survey is subject to a large magnetic discrepancy due to buried steelwork. Irwin’s survey was used because it is consistent with the calibration used for the rest of the cave.  When the two Ellis surveys are corrected for differences in calibration, the three surveys are very nearly coincident.

Compass calibration errors cannot be avoided entirely, and the need for extreme care is shown by the fact that the closure errors (Fig iii) are slightly greater than those predicted by Warburton (6) which can be attributed to the unavoidable small errors in calibration.

To sum up, the traverse errors reported in figures (iiia, and iiib) are possible only with great care in compass calibration, when more than one compass is used.

If a single compass is used and the survey is completed very quickly, better closures may be recorded on paper but, whatever closure errors the surveyor reports, without proper calibration procedures the North arrow and hence the alignment of the whole survey will be uncertain.  The surveyor may be unaware of the problem, but anyone who, at a later date, has to survey an extension will certainly find more than his fair share of problems.

Expected Traverse Closure Error For A Grade Six Survey

In 1963, Warburton (6) published two articles in the W.C.C Journal discussing the accuracy of a cave survey, and produced theoretical curves to enable the surveyor to assess the expected accuracy in terms of closure error for any length of traverse. As these curves were based on certain assumptions, they can obviously be used only as a rough and ready guide. They do not allow for human failure in introducing gross errors into the survey and neither the do they allow for the approximate readings gathered from the instruments nor take into consideration the inaccuracies produced by poor calibration.  For the first time ever, a curve is published based on a set of traverses gained from the St. Cuthbert’s survey all to C.R.G. grade 6 and from them on can show from practical experience the expected closure error for a given traverse length. 

Closing A Single Traverse

If the co-ordinates for each station and the end points of the traverse are known, closure of the traverse can take place.  Assume that the beginning of the traverse has the known co-ordinates of E = 0.00, N = 0.00, Ht. = 0.00 but the end co-ordinate differences are N = -1.20, E = +3.60 Ht = -1.80, and there are twenty legs giving a total traverse length of 620 ft., then the traverse closure error is:-

Horizontal error:  = 3.79

Vertical error                                          = 1 .80

To close the traverse, each leg co-ordinate has to be the method shown on page 7:-

Station 1.

N = x

E = y

H = z

Station 2.

N = x +

E = y -

H = z +

Station 3.

N = x +

E = y -

H = z +

&c.

&c.

 

&c.

Thus the final station will have the full errors applied as corrections and will thus be equal to station 1.  The traverse will then close.

SIMPLE MULTIPLE TRAVERSE

If, as in Figure (iv) below, the circular traverse ABC is already closed by the method described, but a further traverse represented by the line ADB exists, then this can be closed on to the existing traverse by a similar method.

Figure (iv)

Editor’s Note:    Owing to the later receipt of material of a more immediate nature, the remainder of this article has been put back to the February issue of the B.B., in which it will be concluded.


 

Notices

Belfry Keys

In order to make the Tackle Store more easily available to members, a box now exists near the Belfry front door which contains the key to the Tackle store and itself has a Yale type lock.

It is intended to replace the present Belfry door keys with locks which use the same key as this box, so that any member having a new key will be able to get at the tackle store key.

Members having either type of present Belfry key will be able to exchange it for the new key by seeing or writing (enclosing the old key and a stamped addressed envelope) to MIKE PALMER.  Members who want a new key but have no key at present will be required to pay a 20p deposit on the new key.  Mike will be at the Belfry as much as possible during the changeover period. (4th of March is the official day).

Winemaking

'Sett's' talk on winemaking will be backed up by a practical course on the subject, if a sufficient number of members are interested.  It is suggested that the course, which will occupy a number of sessions on Saturdays, would start on March 3rd.  Would those interested please get in touch with Sett (R.A. Setterington, 4, Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset.)

Letters

As expected BOB CROSS’S letter on the subject of club trips to other areas has aroused a number of replies.  The first is from TONY JOHNSON who was for many years one of the most active members of club both in the caving and climbing activities and who was also one of our most successful Belfry Engineers.

Dear Editor,

I am uncertain whether I have met Bob Cross, but as an older and once active member, I feel that some comment is needed on his letter in the Christmas B.B.  While his overall objective - more club activity - is right, parts of the letter disturbed me and some things horrified me.

Unless one is organising, say, a summer holiday trip with a very relaxed schedule, large parties or parties with a wide variety of primary interests and skills should be avoided - at least until one becomes very skilful in organising them.  Far better to start small.  As groups of regular travellers emerge who know each other's habits and wishes, new members will join them and the gradual increase can be happily absorbed.

Stay in one spot, together - yes~ that’s important but again, remember that a large camp can very easily produce conflicting habits and practices; can fragment the trip, or can delay it and discourage it so that in the end little is achieved.

Try and make trips regularly.  This will overcome one of the problems of organisation and notification, as people will become aware subconsciously.  With the B.E.C., this is particularly important.  Any organisation requires tact, and with the individuals who form the backbone of the club, the subconscious approach is often the only way.

Perhaps the monthly North Wales climbing trips of the early '50's best exemplify this approach.  These weekend motor cycle trips, up the old A38 and A5 went on winter and summer, with the regulars usually joined by a small group of casuals.  Never large in numbers, these trips remain probably the most successful and ambitious (by the standard of the day) long series of trips in the club's life.

Now for my worries. Surely B.E.C. types have always been proud of their self sufficiency?  What they hadn't got, they begged or borrowed, or saved for and bought - and for most people, money was scarcer tharn it is now.  To suggest that the club should now subsidise members by the purchase of tents, primuses etc. is wrong.  I fear that we should have subsidised transport next.  With the high upkeep and running costs of a potentially excellent H.Q., now more than ever is the time to re-kindle the old self help attitude which seems tragically to have died with the old Belfry.  Believe me, it can give one quite a sense of achievement to do or to obtain something which at first sight appeared to be beyond reach, by one's own efforts.

What really frightened me about Bob's letter though is the reference to ‘bargain eggs’ and ‘burning half the furniture.’  They may have been jests, but they didn't read like it.  Now the B.E.C. may have had a reputation for being 'sharp' and 'on the make' where reasonably possible; but to my knowledge never at the expense of the people whose area we had come to enjoy - whether this was Mendip or elsewhere.  The friendly relations we had with the majority of local people on Mendip did not just happen.  They were the result of long conscious effort, and some reprimands.  Please remember this.  If it wasn't for our ability to have been able to talk to Tim Cunane and others against this background of friendship, you would not now have your access to Cuthbert’s - neither the entrance nor the cave.

Unless you treat local people with fairness and respect you can too easily finish up with the sickening relations that have developed in parts of the North.  These are the warning signals for Mendip - so beware! I know that you often need to wear stout boots, but please remember that such boots can often cripple the wearer - the club.  Leave your jackboots in the cupboard and think as you travel about, particularly about some of the folk you meet who, for some reason or other, cannot be as mobile as you.

Yours Sincerely,            Tony Johnson.

Our next letter on this subject is from TIM LARGE - our Caving Secretary - who also has some firm comments to make…..

I have read with interest the letter from Bob Cross in last month's B.B., but have to disagree with him on several points.  He says that in his opinion the lack of club trips off Mendip is due to the apathy and lack of skill of the Caving and Climbing Secretaries.

Let's take the bit about apathy first.  While I have been Caving Secretary, I have regularly advertised club trips both on and off Mendip.  Some have been successful while others have had to be cancelled owing to lack of support. Still others have been run with very poor attendance.  A few of the trips looked like this on the day:-

7.11.1971          Cuthbert’s, photographic trip.  Arranged at the request of club members.  Nobody turned up. Sorry, One person did.  A Wessex member!

12.12.1971        Cheddar caves, requiring prior arrangements which cost the club money. Two people turned up.

15.4.1972          Stoke Lane Slocker.  Three people attended out of a club which has 200 members.

Bob refers to the apathy of the caving sec.?  Surely he is wrong somewhere!

More recently, on October 14th 1972, a club trip to G.B. was arranged - again no support was forthcoming and the trip was cancelled.  If it is not possible to get support for local trips, what hope is there for getting support for trips further a field?

In the November B.B., I wrote an article which laid out briefly the problems I have been faced with regarding club trips, and also a list of the various access arrangements to help members who are interested in caving.  I also asked for suggestions for trips etc.  From our entire membership I have received ONE reply!  Do you still say the apathy is on MY side, Bob?  As for the bit about skill, I'm not sure what Bob was referring to, but I dare say he will clarify that some day!

ALL the club trips I have organised have been advertised WELL IN ADVANCE in the B.B. and the Belfry with details and my address, so that anyone who was really interested could get all the information for the trip.

To quote Bob’s letter on another point.  ‘It is not good’, he says, ‘to have a little elitist group going off in twos and threes.’ In any club, there will always be a small group of very keen bods, who become more competent and fitter than the average club members and who naturally tackle the more difficult caves. Why should they, of all people, be discouraged?  On the contrary, we should be doing all we can to foster the true spirit of adventure – the desire to ‘see round the next corner.’  Isn’t this what started the Shackletons, Scotts and Hilarys of this world?

In any case, all club trips are normally aimed at the average club member.  In cases where this has not been so, it has been stated.  I do agree with Bob on one point.  All trips should be well planned, but here we are up against that nasty word again – APATHY.

As for Bob's mention of transport; camping, cooking etc. there is really no problem here for a group of keen lads with plenty of group spirit.

As Caving Sec., I see my role as that of somebody who collects all the various bits of information together on things like access arrangements, sorts out a caving programme – and leaves the rest to YOU.  After all, for most members, caving was the thing that they joined the club for, so they should get on with it.  I am not going to spoon feed anybody.  By the time that bods join the B.E.C. they should have got past the stage where they need a nanny so if members want club trips, then it’s up to them to pull their weight.  That’s what belonging to a club is all about – helping one another; mucking in; whatever else you may like to call it.

On looking through the caving log, I see that the majority of the caving is done by the same handful of people - and I understand that this is usually the case.  These people probably fall into Bob's definition of 'elitists' but they would probably be the only people fit enough to do some of the strenuous caves elsewhere in the country.  They do such caves by organising small private groups and they are usually opposed to the idea of including everyone on their trips because such people might not be fit enough or competent enough to take part.

So if people want to cave off Mendip, they ought to cave locally as well so that they can maintain the necessary fitness and expertise.  In any case, there's plenty to do on Mendip if you look around.  I don't expect there is a single member of the club who has done everything on Mendip, so what are you waiting for?  As Bob says, 'Get deep down to things.'

Cheers,

Tim Large.

Our final letter is on a rather different point, and comes from ‘Mr’Nigel Taylor.

Dear Editor.

A considerable amount of time has been spent at the last few committee meetings in discussing Belfry security and also the Tackle Store and its associated costs.  I have an idea that I should like to put forward.  Why not spend the estimated and proposed £60 on flooring the Belfry Attic?  This idea has several advantages:-

1.                  It would make a good dry and damp proof storage area for the club tackle.

2.                  It would bring the tackle under the same roof as most of the other club activities.

3.                  Access to tackle would be to B.E.C. members only, as the rules dictate and only one key would be required.

4.                  It would bring tackle-making into the heart of the Belfry.

5.                  It would already be in line with a proposal to floor the attic.

6.                  An attic tackle store would add to the insulation of the Belfry with consequent saving in fuel bills.

Howver, I must stress that this should not result in the old Belfry (Alfie's stone hut) being allowed to deteriorate, as it is the base for the M.R.O.  The present tackle shed could be used for fuel storage and for storing construction and digging gear.

"Mr" Nigel.

Editor's Note:     As Nigel knows since he wrote the above, the dilemma of the locks and keys has now been sorted out, and the £60 has (or is highly likely to be) cut down to £30 for the lockers.  However, thoughts such as these on improving our resources are always welcome.

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS FALL DUE ON THE 31st JANUARY.  A FIRST REMINDER


 

Dates for your Diary

B.E.C. Club Trips.

Tuesday evenings from January 30th - Digging in Cuthbert’s.  Meet at the Belfry at 7.00 p.m.

Saturday February 17th DAN -YR-OGOF.  Leader Alan Coase.  Contact TIM LARGE if you want to go.

N.B. Alan is leading working trips into the cave fairly often and is willing to take members along.  Ring him mid week evenings if you want to go the following week end.  His number is WINTERBOURNE 774802.

Saturday, February 24th.  RHINO RIFT. Leader Tim LARGE.  Meet at the Belfry at 10.30 a.m.

Saturday, March 24th.  SOUTH WALES - Leader MIKE PALMER . This trip is in conjunction with the Friday Night Club.  Details are set out under this heading later.

EASTER - Yorkshire - programme to be announced later.  See Roy Bennett for details.

Friday Night Club.

These are privately arranged trips to which members are invited.

Friday, February 23rd - Cuthbert’s - meet at 7.30 p.m.
Friday, March 9th - Swildons - Meet at 7.30 p.m.
Saturday, March 24th – S. Wales - meet at Penwyllt at 9.30 a.m.

Joint B.E.C. and S.M.C.C. Weekends.

These are privately arranged Yorkshire trips to which members who want a strenuous weekend are welcome.

Saturday, 10th February.  Lancaster – Easegill.
Sunday, 11th February. Magnetometer Pot (Weather permitting).  For Details see Roy Bennett.

There will also be trips to the Lake District and to Scotland this year by a few B.E.C. members.  Anyone who is interested should contact MIKE PALMER for details.  Everyone Welcome.  The main details and dates so far arranged are:-

LAKE DISTRICT - Camping at Boot. 20-23rd April inclusive.  Main objectives; Walking, Canoeing, Drinking.

SCOTLAND - Camping at the Grampian Caving Club H.Q. which is just inside Ross and Cromarty.  9th - 17th June inclusive.  Main objectives Walking, Canoeing and (you've guessed it, Drinking.)

Members' Names and Addresses

New Members: -

798. P.E.K.Palfree, 10 Maynard, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.
799. B. Mills, The Old Bakery, West Harptree, Bristol BS18 6EA
800. M.D.Taylor, 115 Kennington Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.
801. B. Lewarne, Mount Gould Crescent, Mount Gould, Plymouth PL4 9EX, Devon.
802. P. Gibson, Doreena Rd, Elburton, Plymouth, Devon.

Changes, omissions to previous list, etc:

M.Hannam, 14 Inskip Place, St.Annes ,Lancs.
Miss D.S. Bowden-Lyle, P.O.Box 15, Iganga, Busoga, Uganda.
Mrs. C. Coase, 5 Mandalay Flats,10 Elseimer Street, Long Jetty, New South Wales 2262, Australia.
Mr. T. Hodgson, Urb Montesel, Rincon De La Victoria, Malaga, Spain.
Mr. F.G. Darbon, P.O. Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada.
D. Cooke-Yarborough, Lot 11 , McKay Crescent, Orange, New South Wales, Australia.

We have no record of the present address of R. Brown previously of 33 Green Court, Luton. If anyone knows his present address, please let Alan Thomas or Kay Mansfield know.

It’s a Small World!

We are told that when Clare Coase, after some sixteen years in Australia, decided that she really ought to investigate joining a local caving club - she is still a B.E.C. member of course - the club that she picked on was that run by John Riley. It seems that wherever you are, you can't get away from the B.E.C.!

In Committee

The February meeting of the Committee waded its way through a very full agenda involving several points of general policy, which led to full discussions.  One of these was the general agreement that if a club officer made a profit, this money must be passed to general club funds unless the officer concerned has had permission to spend it.  The situation regarding the various regional and national bodies was also discussed - of which more next month.

Two applications had been received for the Hon. Treasurer's Assistant later in the year.  These are from Barry Wilton and from Alan Kennett.

It was agreed that 'Mr.' Nigel Taylor should be appointed as Assistant Hut Warden in the absence of Jock Orr.  He has Not been co-opted to the committee.  This opportunity is taken to advertise for an Assistant Hut Warden as agreed at the last A.G.M, in case this should prove necessary in the future. Any applications to any member of the committee, please.

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DON'T FORGET YOUR ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION IS DUE


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 30

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

 

6

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

10

11

 

 

 

12

 

 

12A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

3. Cave H.Q.?. (3)
6. Wintery water. (3)
7. See 5 down.
8. 2 down and awkward rise give Mendip cave (8)
10. Survey points in the railway tunnel? (8)
13. Across strike.(3)
14. Cave on the far side of the sump? (3)
15. Before, long ago? (3)

Down:

1. An essential load underground, though not a heavy one, presumably. (5)
2. Stock a local example. (4)
3. I let ‘e itch!  Found oddly underground. (9)
4. Trip to the old city? (4)
5. Estimate of time 7 across (1,1,1)
9. Making use of. (5)
11. Measuring or protecting device in caves. (4)
12. Welsh cave. (4)
12A. Uneven feature of flood damage. (4)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

C

R

A

W

L

 

C

 

G

 

O

 

E

 

S

A

G

O

S

P

O

T

 

 

N

 

R

 

E

 

W

A

D

I

N

G

A

 

 

A

 

E

 

 

E

F

R

A

Y

E

D

 

L

 

T

 

I

 

 

U

S

E

S

E

N

D

S

 

C

 

E

 

R

 

S

 

S

T

O

R

M

 

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”

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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.

Mendip Rescue Organisation

In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481.BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB

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.
Assit. Cav. Sec. R. BENNETT, 8 Radnor Road, Westbury-on-Trim, Bristol BRISTOL 627813
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.J. 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.
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

 

The Belfry Needs

Although we have been installed in the new Belfry for about two years now, it is still not fully equipped. There are also a number of items which wear out and need constant replacement.

In particular, the following would be gratefully received:-

SAUCEPANS    KNIVES            SINGLE MATTRESSES             MUGS

Get in touch with the Hut Warden if you have any other objects which you think the Belfry might need.


 

Editorial

Festive Season

As in past Christmas numbers of the B.B., some concession to the season in the shape of allegedly humorous material has been included.  We trust that those serious minded members of the club will forgive this lapse.

Going Up!

As a result of various tasks laid on them by the recent A.G.M., the committee have had their financial look at the state of affairs.  It was, I think, obvious to most if not all present that the sub would have to go up.  Whether or not the committee have taken the right decision in the amount by which they have done this remains to be seen.  A more complete account of the proceedings will be found in this B.B. Even so members can take some comfort in the fact that, over many years, the sub has been on the right side of the inflationary spiral; and if it is now slightly on the wrong side, it is fairly likely that future trends of further inflation will put members back on the credit side before very long.

Images of our Club

It seems possible, judging by some of the material which has been received lately, either praising or blaming the club that if you asked our two hundred members what each one thought of the club, you would get two hundred different answers.  Last month, for example, Tim hinted at a certain amount of apathy on organised trips.  This month, Bob Cross puts in a plea for more.  This month again, Jock paints a bright picture of life at the Belfry, and, no doubt, next month, somebody will come forward with a different one.  This is not a bad thing, as the B.B. is the club is magazine and the proper place for views to get round to a large number of members.  Perhaps we might even get to the state of all agreeing about these things!


 

Annual Report of the B.B.L.H. & S.R.G.

Once a year, the annual report of a completely fictitious body creeps into the pages of the B.B.  The editor apologises for allowing his other self to disgrace the B.B. once again:!

Once more it is time for the doddering members of the Belfry Bulletin Literary, Historical & Scientific Research Group to emerge from their cobwebby seclusion and report on another year’s work.

Some time ago, as both readers who follow this ghastly series will remember vividly; they had a measure of success in predicting the future by means of a spereolite - or crystal ball.  This would have continued had not one member, more senile than the rest, spilt best part of . pint of rough cider all over its surface in a paroxysm of excitement and chronic alcoholism.

Undeterred by this disaster, the B.B.L.H. & S.R.G. have spent 1972 in growing complex crystalline devices in a little known cave, by adding minute amounts of carefully controlled impurities to stal.  The exact nature of this process is a closely guarded secret, but is thought to include specks of cigarette ash, Cheddar cheese and pickled eggs.  The resulting all-solid-state electronic device has been called 'Predictor Of Trends Having Ominous Lasting Effects Speleologically' or, as they fondly refer to their brainchild - POTHOLES.

Looking around for a suitably Ominous Trend, they fed into POTHOLES all the data they could find on the subject of courses for caving instructors.  To give POTHOLES the necessary background against which to assess the effects that a more rigid approach to this object might have, they also fed into POTHOLES two dozen assorted B.B’s; a pair of wet suit trousers belonging to Tim Large and two pints of Worthington 'E'.  Giving the device a few months to digest all this - for limestone crystals are notoriously slow - they eventualy had the dubious pleasure of seeing (by fluorescent effects) and hearing (by piezoelectric effects) POTHOLES version of what might well ensue in this direction.  This incredible information they laboriously copied out onto a series of old goat skins using quill pens, which they now offer to you for your Christmas credulity.

On, now, with this nauseous narrative.

“The Class of ‘93”

Squatting, like some collection of industrial waste and what remains of the Mendip countryside, sprawls the University of Charterhouse.  Around its hastily poured concrete and flimsy glass partitions, the cold wind howls and the rain drives remorselessly - for it is summertime.

Inside what one might loosely call its walls, lies the main examination hall, within which the class of 1993 sits grappling with its finals and hoping to obtain the coveted Bachelor of Caving Instruction degree which will enable it to indulge in lives of idleness and luxury as professional leaders or chartered instructors.

In fact, the class of '93 is somewhat smaller than that for the year before which in turn, was smaller than its predecessor.  A statistician would have concluded that some factor was at work which was steadily decreasing the popularity of this course - so vital to the public inter¬est. Fortunately, it has so far escaped the notice of those running the university, who’s Department of Statistics have been far too busy collating useless facts to have had my time to investigate the matter.

The class of '93, like all such classes, is somewhat of a mixed bag.  However, although its numbers may be small, we can take comfort in the fact that they include one Noel Nowitt - the hope of his professors and envy of his fellow students.  There he sits, with his massive domed forehead – stuffed tight with unnecessary facts - bent forward, while his pen drives steadily across the paper.  It has been confidently predicted that he will prove knowledgeable enough to lead as many as six novices at once down a cave entirely single handed.

At the moment, he is deep in calculations, answering the question 'Describe in detail the measurements you would take and the calculations you would employ to determine the most likely position for extension of a known cave system.'

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Meanwhile, a few miles away, huddled round a stove which is successfully repelling the biting cold of the summer, sit the active cavers of the B.E.C.  Their foreheads are not noticeably domed and in their hands they grasp great tankards of foaming ale.  A large, muscular lad is talking.  It is Pete Pushem.  He is describing the chances of extending a passage in Cuthbert’s.  His arguments involve no calculations at all.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Back at the University of Charterhouse, Noel Nowitt pauses.  Even he is not too sure of the answer to this question, so high is the standard demanded of the candidates.  He reads the entire question again. 'Describe in detail how you would conduct a survey to C. H. G. Grade V. (B) 4. (g) and indicate how this differs from a Grade V.(B) 4. (f).'

He wracks his brain. It is something to do with the compass. He forces his memory into action. His face clears as he writes 99 in a Grade V. (B) 4. (g) survey, a calibration certificate for the compass as supplied by the manufacturer must be quoted.  In the case of a grade V.(B) 4. (f) survey, however….'

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

But let us leave this rubbish and eavesdrop once more on the B.E.C.  A small, lithe looking man, one Fred Ferrett, has taken over the conversation. He is discussing running a meadiumish sort of survey line to the spot where the new dig is to start.  Pushem takes a great draught of beer and belches loudly. 

With a little sigh, Noel Nowitt writes the last word on his final sheet of paper and pushes it into the slot from whence it will go at once to the central computer.  He gets up, noting that all the others are still hard at it, and walks quietly out of the examination hall.  Once outside, there is time for a quick cup of coffee in the refectory.  As he drinks it, he glances up at the closed circuit television screen.  The computer seems to be taking its time.  The screen lights up.  He has a First Class Honours degree in Caving Instruction.  He finishes his coffee and goes to collect his certificate and the gear which he will now be allowed to use.  He thinks that perhaps he might go down Cuthbert’s tomorrow.

By one of those coincidences without which us authors would be hard put to spin any sort of yarn at all, Noel Nowitt arrived at the entrance to Cuthbert’s the next day at exactly the same time as Pete Pushem and his bunch of cavers.  Noel, immaculate in his new gear - looked haughtily at the scruffy looking bunch of cavers before him.  He had heard about the B.E.C. at the university.  They got away with going underground without an accredited leader by having no novices in their club.  As long as this continued no member of the B.E.C. could be accused of breaking the law by leading a novice down a cave.  The fact that the membership of the B.E.C. grew slowly but steadily without any novice ever joining it was ascribed by the B.E.C. to coincidence and by everybody else as fiendishly clever juggling with the books.

As a fully qualified instructor, Noel could insist on leading this ill-assorted lot, which he proceeded to do.  However, since they were not novices, they were entitled to choose the route, which Pete Pushem did by making offensive gestures at every passage intersection. Eventually, they pushed their way through a small passage having a rather unstable looking roof and emerged into a chamber which Noel failed to recognise.  He was about to ask why this had not been registered when, with a fearful noise, the roof behind them collapsed - cutting off the way back completely.

In a flash, Noel went into action. He extracted his portable spelaeophone and erected the loop aerial. He was just about to press the speech button when Fred Ferrett, who seemed to have panicked, lurched against him and sent the device flying.  It landed on the rocky floor just as Pete Pushem turned to look, and crushed it with a large and heavy boot.

There was an awkward silence, broken at last by the icy tones of the official leader, who said in an authoritative voice, "Well, we can't call up the M.R.O. now, so we will have to sit here and wait for them to find us.  At least, the central computer knows where we are!"

There was another pause, if possible, even more awkward.  Then, at last, one of the caving band spoke apologetically. "I’m afraid it doesn't.  You see, when we registered OUR trip with the central computer, it must have been just after you registered YOURS, and the computer reported your trip to us.  I know that I should have pressed the ADD button to get it to add our names to yours, but I pressed the CANCEL button by mistake, so I expect it has cancelled the whole trip, and doesn't know we are down here."

Noel turned pale at this news.  There was no way back and nobody would come to look for them.  Pete Pushem looked at Noel and added further information which he hoped Noel would find useful.

“Even if they did decide to look, they wouldn't look here because we only found this passage the other day and clean forgot to register it.”

Noel received this remark in silence.  He was badly shaken but still had faith in his vast store of caving knowledge.  To quieten his thumping heart, he thought about soothing things like inventing two more sub-sections to the C.R.G. grading system - when he suddenly realised that he was now quite alone.  In a blind panic, he got to his feet and rushed through the chamber into a passage beyond.  Soon, he heard voices and, rounding a corner, caught up with the B.B.C. who were sitting comfortably and passing round a large bottle of beer.  The scene aroused Noel's indignation. His recent panic forgotten, he drew himself up proudly to his full height and confronted the scruffy band with a steely eye.

“You!” he said, looking mainly at Pete Pushem, “Have not only been criminally lax in cancelling this trip and failing to report a discovery to the proper authorities; but you have moved off without my permission.  I could have you all jailed for this, and if I have any more lack of proper discipline from any of you, I will report it immediately!”

“Go and fetch a. policeman, then!”was Fred Ferrett’s  laconic reply.

“Right!  I will!” snapped Noel, reaching for his spelaeophone - only to realise that it lay hopelessly smashed further up the cave.

“Have some beer!” uggested Pete Pushem.

“Alcohol,” replied Noel, “is a depressant.  I rarely touch it!”

“Seeing that it's a depressant,” drawled Fred, “why is it that you’re looking a damned sight more depressed than we are?”

Noel ignored this remark, not having a suitably crushing reply to hand, and found that the B.E.C. had got to its collective feet and was preparing to move on.

“What do you think you're doing now?” he asked with some asperity.

“Going on!” said Pete. “You will follow Fred here, get caving and shut up.  You’re caving under B.E.C. leadership now.  Don't worry, lad.  We’ll get you out all right!”

On they went, through what seemed miles of passages, all completely unknown to Noel.  His companions caved without apparent effort, but emotional strain had sapped Noel’s stamina.  At last, in a difficult squeeze, he found him¬self stuck, and paused for a moment.

“Are you stuck?” asked a voice behind him.

Noel replied that he was taking an opportunity to study rock formation in the squeeze.

“You look stuck to me!” came the voice again, with what Noel considered a rather offensive ring in it. Noel decided to ignore it, and remained in the squeeze.  Suddenly, a violent burning sensation affected his rear and he yelped and shot forward out of the squeeze.  He turned round, to see a grinning man waving a carbide lamp.  Noel had never seen a carbide lamp in action, and he started stupidly at it until it dawned on him what had been done.

“You burned me with that thing!” he finally spluttered.  “I trust you are not deeply hurt!” was the only reply he got.

Now Noel seemed to settle into a kind of continuous nightmare.  It went on and on until he lost all notion of time.  Even when he finally saw the bluish light ahead, he failed to realize that it was daylight.  He found he was walking in a sort of daze down a lane surrounded by the ever-cheerful B.E.C.  Even now, his humiliation was not complete.

They came to a pub and went straight in - just as they were.  Noel was so worn out that he had ceased to care and just sank gratefully into the nearest chair.  Still in a daze, he drank the pint that was offered to him.  After a few repeats of this performance, he began to relax. They were not bad types really, he thought.  After all, they had got him out of a nasty situation.  To his amazement, he found that he had got to his feet and was speaking.

“It's my round, I think – What’ll you have?” he seemed to hear himself say.

Much later, Noel had a dim recollection of being half carried along, and later still, he woke up in what seemed to be a. rapidly revolving caving hut.  The motion upset him so much that he became violently sick. This upset him even more, and he was violently sick again.  He heard a sleepy voice say, “That's right, lad! - Fetch your boots up!” before he once again collapsed into a deep stupor.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Very late the next morning, he woke up.  The hut was now quite deserted, the B.E.C. having gone away on its own mysterious business.  Beside his bunk someone had put a thermos of hot coffee; three aspirins and a note. Before attempting to focus his bleary eyes on the note, Noel let the coffee and aspirins do their work.  At last, he felt fit enough to read the note, and saw that the writer had thoughtfully written it in large letters. It was brief and to the point. ‘DON 'T WORRY LAD, WE WON'T SAY A WORD.  BEST OF LUCK!’ and, in small letters underneath, P.S.  It's your round.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The news that their star pupil had refused all the lucrative offers of jobs as Caving Instructors or Leaders, and was proposing to sell all his worldly goods and become a missionary in Shepton Mallet, shook the university of Charterhouse to what might laughingly be called its foundations.  The professor shook his head in bewilderment and opened two letters that he had been carrying absentmindedly about with him for some time. They were both from prospective students for the degree in Caving Instruction.  Both had written to say that they had now changed their minds. One was going to become a bus driver and the other a builder’s labourer.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Meanwhile, in a little known byway in Cuthbert’s, the B.E.C were having a busy day.  With levers and screw jacks, they were lifting boulders and positioning them carefully in the roof of a certain small passage.  Under the keystone they had propped a steel bar coated with fibreglass and looking very realistic.  From this arrangement, a steel wire ran over pulleys.  Pete Pushem was talking.

“You'd better put a bit more grease on them pulleys, Fred.  I thought I was never going to get those rocks to fall down yesterday!”

Fred nodded.  “They say there's been two more cancellations at the university today!”

Pete Pushem grinned, and patted the prop like he would a useful and friendly dog.

“It's all set for the next customer, Fred!”

“Good.” replied Fred Ferrett.  “We made a profit on the last one, by the way.  He bought two more rounds than his fair whack when he got tight!”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The B.E.C. was, as usual, winning.


 

Grampian Dinner

From MIKE PALMER comes this epic tale of dinner going with a seasonal flavour.

 

Some of the nomadic B.E.C., along with three members of the S.M.C.C., made the trek to Sutherland for the Grampian Dinner on the 18th of November this year. The dinner was held at the Inchnadamph Hotel.

The journey was started on Friday, and broken in Edinburgh to visit Manchip and to lubricate dry tonsils. Here, we were met in the evening by Pope and Janet.  As might be expected, one or two 'jars' turned into a 'multi-pinta' drinking session which was brought to a sudden end at 10 pm by the ridiculous licensing laws of Scotland.  A sub zero Saturday morning saw an assorted mass of B.E.C. and Grampian members trying belatedly to top up radiators with anti-freeze and to get the +"@&?% things started.

Apart from the car in which Manchip, J. was travelling in, all vehicles arrived at Ullapool by mid afternoon.  John's conveyance persisted in boiling every thirty miles or so due to loss of water, but despite this obvious hazard, John and friends did eventually arrive.

A final dash was made to the hotel, calling in at the Grampian hut en route to shout abuse at Butch, Milch and Bob Mayhew - whom it appeared had just returned from caving, - but then the Shepton always look like that!

Because there was no A.G.M. (would you believe that?) to keep everybody busy until dinner time, those present retired to the bar.  The atmosphere was great and since there were so many faces from Mendip present, it was just like a Hunters evening - only much, much colder.

Towards dinner time, who should appear from behind the bar (the normal route of access on these occasions) but SNAB and his wife.

The food was excellent, hot, and plentiful and the proceedings only lowered themselves to the tone of a caving dinner when Milch (the guest of honour) was called upon to make a speech on behalf of the guests.  The speech was like something out of Tom and Jerry, being punctuated by the odd slurp of beer and unprecedented belches.

Later in the evening the drinking orgy continued and the rather hallowed residence was shattered by Mendip songs which, surprisingly, didn’t raise any objections from the proprietors, despite persistent use of 'they words'!

John Manchip retired early, being incapable.  Pope and wife retired early because they weren’t tired enough.  Phil Kingston was left passing out on the lounge floor, and Pat and I went to bed because we couldn’t remember any more songs.

The next day, Sunday, was really magnificent and after a very fortifying breakfast (which was a near repeat of the dinner except for the speeches) the BE.C. contingent went sightseeing.  All the mountains were covered in snow and looked very impressive - particularly Quinag and Suillvan, as we drove to Lochinvar and then to the beach at Stoer.

Plans were made for future trips in the spring, when it is intended to walk; drink; cave and possibly canoe.  Canoeing on the lochs will probably require permission, but it is intended to find out more details early next year.

For those people who think that such an expedition is a little insane at this time of year, I can only say that the experience is your loss because the whole of the area is truly magnificent.

It was reported that Milch never emerged from his ‘bag’, except for a honk, until late on Sunday – disgusting!

The return journey was quite eventful in that we drove through a blizzard; floods and high winds and it was often questioned whether this might be considered the ultimate in dinner going!


 

Equipment for Cave Photography

Having more space than usual this month, we are printing the entire remaining portion of ALAN COASE’S paper on photographic equipment for caving.

Readers of the September B.B. will recall that in that B.B.  Alan dealt with Transport and Protection of photographic apparatus for caving, camera supports and flash equipment.

FILM

This is very much a matter of personal choice, there being a very wide range of suitable material, especially in the black-and-white range. In the colour field, distinction must of course be drawn between reversal (transparency) and negative (print) films. The latter group is very small and very limited in speed  range, viz. the Agfacolour products from 40 A.S.A. (CN 17) to 80 A.S.A. (CN 5) which encompass the range which also includes Kodacolour X (50 A.S.A.) and Prinz Colour (64 A.S.A.).  Artificial light variants are not, in fact, mentioned at all as their application in cave photography is limited.  Further details of these and other available colour films can be obtained in the colour review published in Amateur Photographer each year.

The range of colour reversal films is much wider and it is not intended to describe them all. Most manufacturers produce a basic stock of 50 or 64 A.S.A. which provides a reasonable general purpose film for cave photography.  Except for close ups however, I prefer to use a faster speed. Two particular manufacturers specialise in the production of these, notably Kodak, whose High Speed Ektachrome (160 A.S.A.) is in my experience an excellent film for caving use, and Anscochrome, whose high speed range includes 200 and 500 A.S.A. material.  These I have also used very satisfactorily, although in using 500 A.S.A. one is either confined to very large chambers or passages or to very small light sources.  Both makes, like Ferrania (50 A.S.A.) can be home processed with a considerable saving in cost.  On this point, Amateur Photographer suggests that the normal processed cost per slide of High Speed Ektachrome is 1/5.  (This article was originally written in 1969 and I have not considered it worth translating into our present damm-fool monetary system because of the general rise in prices since Alan wrote this paper.  The figures will, presumably still give a relative guide. Editor.)  That for Anscochrome 200 is 1/1d and for the 500 A.S.A. it is 1/9d. Costs with home processing are hard to estimate, but it is worth noting for the budget conscious cave photographer that costs can be reduced to about 8d per slide for the 50 A.S.A. Ferrania material.  Ansco also supply their 64 A.S.A. stock in bulky easy loader, which I found lives up to its name.  This cuts costs considerably in conjunction with their home processing kit.  (For comparison, the normal range of costs per slide varies from 10d (Perutz) to 11½d (Agfa colour CT 18, Kodacrhome II and Kodachrome X) while Boots Gratispool and Prinzcolour cost about 8½d to 9d. per slide processed.

CAMERAS.

In selecting a camera for use in a cave, personal opinions, differing objectives and basic economics all play a large part.  However, such a camera clearly needs to be portable, have flash synchronisation, a good viewfinder and be reasonably reliable and robust.  Simplicity of equipment may also be regarded as a virtue as it generally implies compactness, but on the other hand the serious worker may be more interested in versatility.  The accompanying table on the next page, is an attempt, inevitably subjective, to classify cameras initially by film size and secondly by interchangeability of lenses, and to assess their suitability for the requir¬ements of cave photography.  The three point scale out¬-lined is selected purely for the sake of simplicity and clarity; there are many points at which some overlap exists and there are probably several assessments with which other users would strongly disagree.  However, in presenting such a table I feel some of the conclusions of choice facing present and future cave photographers may be presented in a fairly simple manner and that it will help in the remarks given below.  I should add that at no point in the table is any assessment of quality or value for money implied.  No consideration has been given to plate or large format cameras.

Compactness, low cost and simplicity are the chief advant¬ages of the cartridge loading cameras. Many also have a built-in rotating flashcube socket and offer much as a basic caving camera.  They are, however, limited in format and in the availability of cartridge films.  The latter point does not apply to half frame cameras, for all 35mm cassettes will fit them. They are also very compact and economical with film.  However, their format is also limiting and special mounting, projection and enlarging facilities are often necessary.  With the introduction of really compact full frame cameras, one advantage has disappeared, leaving only their ability to offer twice as many negatives or slides as a normal camera.  In caving circles, this may be regarded as a mixed blessing!

One particular half frame does deserve fuller attention.  This is the Pen F/Ft range, a unique single lens reflex.  It has a full range of interchangeable lenses and accessories and a rotary shutter which permits full synchronisation.  It is of course much smaller than any full frame single lens reflex camera, although costing much the same.

Film Size

Camera Type

Size & Port

Viewing

Synch

Versitility

Application

Cost

Remarks

 

Basic/Gen/Adv

Cartridge

Instamatic

1

2

2

3(1”)

1

2

3(1”)

A(C”)

#1

 

Half Frame

1

½

2

3

1

1

3

A/B

#2

 

Pen F/FT

1

½

1

1

1

1

1

C

#3

 

Fixed Lens

½

2

1

3

1

1

3

A/B

#4

 

I/C Lens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35mm

rangefinder

½

½

½

1

2

1

1

A-C

#5

 

I/C/ lens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reflex

2

½

2

1

2

1

1

B/C

#6

 

Nikonos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calypso-

½

1

2

3

1

1

3

C

#7

 

Nikkor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

127 roll

Twin Lens

1

2

1

3

1

1

2

B

#8

film

reflex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twin Lens

2

2

1

3

1

1

2

A-C

#9

 

Reflex (fixed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twin Lens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

120 roll

Relfex (I/C)

3

2

2

1

3

2

1

C

#10

film

S/H/ folding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I/C single

1

3

1

3

1

1

2

A

#11

 

lens reflex

3

½

1

3

2

1

C-C++

#12

KEY:  1 = Good.   2 = Average.   3 = Poor.  A = Low cost (under £25).   B = Moderate (£25-£50).C = High (Over £50).

ABBREVIATIONS:  I/C = Interchangeable lenses.   S/H = Second Hand.

#1  A wide range exists including interchangeable reflexes. Film scratch proof.

#2  Economical on film.  Compact.

#3  Reflex with I/C lenses.

#4  Some have semi-wide angle lenses.  Limited number covering wide price range, viz. Leica-Zorki.

#5  Very wide range.  Very versatile.

#6  Choose good lens range.

#7  Worthy of own column as only designed for rough use.

#8  Price A second hand.  Film may decrease in availability.

#9  Wide price range.

#10 One make (Mamiyaflex). Good range of lenses.  Versatile.

#11 Only second hand. Very compact.

#12 Generally bulky and very expensive.

The increasing trend towards compactness in full frame models is seen at its most extreme in the Rollei 35.  This is smaller than many half frames, but such miniaturisation does demand a high price (just over £100).  A very similar Japanese compact is the Petri-Colour 35 which costs about two thirds of the Rollei's price.  Both are magnificent little cameras with slightly wide angled lenses (40mm) though of differing apertures.  Fractionally wider lenses do exist on a number of readily available compacts, 38 to 40 mm being apparently an optimum size.  Few, if any, possess coupled rangefinders, though this is partially compensated for by very clear bright line viewfinders.  One word of warning is necessary.  With the increasing trend towards automation evident in cameras as well as in flashguns, some new introductions are fully programmed i.e. totally linked to the exposure system and without a manual override.  Some also have a simplified (?) flash system where a guide number is obtained in conjunction with distance and/or aperture. No doubt, a certain amount of wool could be pulled over the machine's eyes (cogs?) but for caving purposes the photographer's cont¬rol over his lighting must be absolute and such cameras should be avoided.

One camera in this compact class that does, at least on paper, seem worthy of note is the Kowa SW. This possesses what I regard as the ideal focal length for a 35mm camera at 28mm.  This has considerable depth of field, so there is a greater justification for the absence of a range finder.  It is not a reflex, though its viewfinder is claimed to have a viewing angle identical to the taking lens.  Although roughly 25% larger than the Rollei 35, it is only fractionally bigger than the average half frame.  Despite strenuous efforts I have not been able to obtain one from abroad (they are not marketed in the U.K. but were listed in U.S.A. at under 70 dollars and do seem to have many of the attributes of the ideal fixed lens caving camera).

In view of the prices already quoted, the interchangeable 335mm cameras offer much in terms of versatility.  They can broadly be divided into two classes; the rangefinder and the reflex.

The first is a comparatively small group, but includes the Leica family, one of the most famous and reliable of all cameras.  The Cannon range offer some superb lenses often with very wide apertures (e.g. fO.95) while the Zorki typifies many Russian imports in being heavily subsidised and so offering excellent value, albeit the designs are sometimes equally heavy and rather dated.  Another interesting member of this group is the Werra 3 which is now discontinued but which can occasionally be obtained with its attendant interchangeable front element lenses for a very reasonable price.

The reflex group is extremely large, a reflection of current popularity.  It is worth noting that some have non-interchangeable lenses, but this is really self defeat¬ing in view of the loss of versatility.  Indeed, the price range is now so wide that quite excellent reflexes may be obtained now for considerably less than the price of many of the programmed compacts.  Before choosing, it is as well to check that a wide variety of lenses etc. are available. Thus I find that the Miranda range are very good as, quite apart from other advantages, their optics are extremely good; they are very reasonably priced compared with other manufacturer’s lenses, and all offer a good maximum aperture.  Similarly, the Praktica range is very robust and offers good value as well as taking a very wide variety of screw fitting lenses.  Numerous other models exist higher in the price ranges - Pentax, Nikon/Nikkormat, Topcon all being of particularly high quality, some with metal bladed focal plane shutter affording higher electronic flash synchronisation speeds.

At the lowest end of the price range, mention of the Exa 500 is also pertinent.  This fully interchangeable camera is currently available with a fully automatic f2.8 lens for less than £25, while £35 brings a Tessar F.A.D. as standard.  This is excellent value for a very compact reflex, for which a large number of accessories are available.

Within the full frame 35mm group, a further camera exists which deserves special mention.  This is the Calypso-Nikkor II (and its predecessor, the Nikonos) for apart from its three-figure price tag (which might well be justified if used for diving as well as caving) it could be regarded as the ideal caving camera.  It is fully waterproof and built specifically to withstand rough or gritty conditions. Furthermore, the controls are easily read and it has an admirable viewfinder and a 35mm wide angle lens. The latter is interchangeable with a 28mm underwater lens, but unfortunately, the rumoured 85mm short telephoto lens does not seem to have materialised, for it would greatly increase the versatility of this excellent model.  One other drawback does seem to exist in that synchronisation and tripod sockets appear to be effectively the same.  This however, I have not been able to establish on the new model though the importers have promised the opportunity to assess one in the near future.

In moving this assessment into the roll film sphere, two particular disadvantages emerge.  The average roll film camera provides for 12 shots per film, and reloading roll film underground can be a rather more difficult process.  The film is also rather more prone to scratching.  Admittedly, some cameras can be obtained which provide 16 frames on 120 film, and newer cameras are being designed to accept 24 exposure 220 film. This, however, is difficult to obtain and currently limited to one black and white stock.

The principal advantage of the format is, of course, its large negative size, which may well be essential for advanced workers.  This in turn implies that all such cameras are heavy and bulky.  This is not really true of the basic twin-lens reflexes. Certainly those using 127 film, i.e. the Yashica and Rollei 44 (second-hand prices about £15-£20 and £35-£40 respectively) are extremely compact and have the additional advantage of producing colour slides (super-slides) that can be projected on 35mm equipment.  Even their larger relatives using 120 film and producing Gem x Gem format (with optional 35mm kits available) are at least as compact as many current 35mm single lens reflexes.  Their waist level viewing system (and reversed viewing) does have difficulties, notably a greater propensity to steam up, but they are excellent cameras in many ways and worthy of consideration.  None of those mentioned have interchangeable lenses but for caving purposes it is worth mentioning the special wide angle Rollei.  This unfortunately is no longer produced, but its value and reliability are reflected in the high second-hand prices (about £150) that it commands.  Its 55mm lens is especially suited to our purpose, although its max. aperture of f4 may be rather marginal.  (There is also - as with all Rolleis - a direct vision viewfinder in the hood.)

When moving into the ranks of the interchangeable lens roll film cameras, one moves up both in bulk and cost.  The Mamiyaflex is the only interchangeable twin lens reflex.  Although it has a wide range of lenses and accessories and is modest in price compared with the single lens reflex of its format, it is still an expensive item.  These latter are an increasingly numerous breed but they are bulky, generally have slow synchronisation speeds and, in some cases, prices are astronomical. Until recently, it was impossible to obtain one much under £200 but although the Japanese and Russians have entered the market with ‘Budget’ models, the Kowa 6 and the Zenith 80, list prices still start at approximately £150.

To come down to earth in this format is to suggest that perhaps the best values are the folding 6 x 6's that are now only available second-hand.  These reached their peak immediately before and after the war years and their advantages are fully outlined in ‘British Caving.’  Most models have full synchronisation (including a built-in delayed action device) and many have coupled rangefinders. Finding one with a good viewfinder for cave purposes is a little more difficult although some were fitted with optical and some with folding bright line viewfinders.  Condition is an important factor in buying second-hand, but excellent value can be obtained for about £10, while £20 to £25 should suffice for the later models of the super Ikonta class.

LENSES

Considerable attention has already been paid to the subject of lenses.  With fixed lens cameras, the trend towards the wider angles available in the new 35nm compacts has been pointed out.  In the reflex 35mm field, I have stressed my preference for a 28mm objective as the basic one for cave work.  This is because, in addition to having m angle of view of about 75O, it also possesses a very broad depth of field, so that a considerably larger band will be in focus than with a standard lens.  Wider lenses do exist, but distortion becomes very apparent from 25mm upwards, although with fish-eye lenses, this is often the prime objective. The 35mm lens is a good normal wide-angle having the advantage of all angle of field (about 650) shared by most flashguns.  With a 28mm lens or widerit is usually necessary to fire the flashgun from behind the camera or obliquely across the area being photographed or to use multi-flash techniques to illuminate the whole scene.

To supplement the wide angle, I find a short telephoto lens (say from 85 to 105nm) more useful than the 50-55 mm standard lens.  This allows selective framing of scenes slight imposition of different planes and, where necessary photography of inaccessible features.  Lenses longer than 105mm tend to be of limited value except for exceptional circumstances.

Translating such lenses to the 6 x 6 format, one would be selecting focal lengths of approximately 55mm (28mm equivalent), or 65mm (35mm equivalent) and 180mm (nearer to 135mm than to 105mm).  In half frame terms, the PenF/Ft is the only camera to offer a really wide choice, although some members of the Cannon Demi range offer a slightly wider than average standard lens and interchangeability with a moderate telephoto.

An increasing use of ‘tele-converters’ on interchangeable lens cameras is also apparent.  These have particular advantages underground, although it is stressed that some loss of quality is suffered with any supplementary equipment, particularly at short focal lengths.  These converters double or treble the focal length of the lens without altering the closest focussing distance.  The reduction of the apertures from 2x or 3x (i.e. from a maximum of f1.8 to f3.6 or f5.4 to a minimum of say f16 to f32 or f48) has both advantages and disadvantages.  It is particularly useful where using close-up flash to be able to shut down the aperture well below the normal minimum, but it is some-thing of a disadvantage to be reduced to a maximum aperture approaching f4 or smaller.  As with prime lenses, it is desirable wherever possible to retain automatic lens facilities, which most current converters offer for very little more than the non-automatic versions.

MISCELLANEOUS EQUIPMENT

Several of the items mentioned here might equally come in the section on the camera or on protection. Three in particular are concerned with protection and cleaning of the lens.  The simple rule here is DON'T.  At least, not underground!  Fit a. UV or Skylight filter permanently to your lens and clean THAT.  It is best done by first brushing off any grit and then cleaning with a suitable cloth.  I find the Calotherm cloths of particular value, for they also minimise condensation and can also be used for cleaning the viewfinder.  The small hand towel which I always carry is intended for the hands rather than the camera.  Another aid in this respect is to use polythene gloves when handling the camera.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I would like to repeat my earlier observation that the nature of one's objectives; the state of one's finances, and the nature of the caves one is most interested in clearly play a major part in selecting a camera.  If cave photography is merely an occasional aside from normal work then almost any existing camera can be utilised for the purpose.  If one is selecting a camera specifically for caving but is financially limited, a wide choice exists, particularly in the second-hand market.

If selecting for research or publication purposes, format may be an important factor.  I have found personally that 35mm material is readily accepted for press purposes and that the versatility and compactness of a 35mm reflex outfit (currently a Miranda G body; 28mm 208; 105mm 2.8 auto lenses) is an invaluable combination for advanced work, while a 120 roll film super Baldax with a coupled rangefinder provides an excellent 'trip' camera. Possibly I would find the Kowa SW even more satisfactory in the latter role, while a Calypso-Nikkor II with 35mm and 85mm lenses might fulfil most of the requirements for advanced photography and at the same time relieve the problems of internal disintegration and cost of regular cleaning.  This prompts a final word - wherever you go for a camera, don’t choose a fellow caver!

Alan Coase.


 

A message from our Hon. Librarian.

The National Caving Association has produced a Handbook of Equipment suppliers.  We have only one copy at the moment which is in my possession. Until we have a copy in the Library, I shall endeavour to answer any queries by return of post.

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The committee would like to thank Garth Dell for his gift of assorted karabiners, links, chain, etc.

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Sub-Committee On Voting Procedures

This consists of Mike Palmer as Chairman, Alan Thomas, Joan Bennett, Nigel Taylor and Barry Wilton. Send YOUR views on this subject to any of them.

Paul Esser Memorial Lecture

OLIVER LLOYD sends in this notification of a lecture which might be of interest to members of the club.

This is an annual lecture given in the University of Brisol on some subject connected with one of the water sports, caving or mountaineering.  It is in memory of Paul Esser, a medical student who lost his life while cave diving in Porth yr Ogof in February 1971 and who was particularly interested in those sports.

The next lecture will be given on Wednesday, 14th February 1973 at 8.15 pm in the Tyndall Lecture Theatre, Department of Physics, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol by Professor W.R Keatinge, who is Professor of Physiology at the London Hospital, on the subject “Hazards of Cold Water.”

Professor Keatinge was studying the cardiac and repitory reflexes to cold water on the skin in America during 1963 and 1964, and so became well qualified to study the effects of the Lakonia disaster of December 1963.  This ship caught fire in the Mediterranean and was abandoned by its crew and passengers, a large number of whom died in the water.  Professor Keatinge was able to show that the principal cause of death was not drowning so much as cold exposure.

I met him at a symposium on "Exposure and Survival" held at Loughbough in 1967 and immediately appreciated what a good lecturer he was.  He continued his study of the effect of cold on survival at Oxford and at the London Hospital and in 1969 drew attention to some of the reasons why people were unable to swim in cold water.

The relevance of all this to swimmers, canoeists and divers is obvious, and climbers and cavers are becoming increasingly aware of them too.  Club members should find the lecture both interesting and relevant.


 

Letters

BOB CROSS sends us his point of view about organised trips to various parts of the country

I would like, through the medium of the B. B., to express some long-felt opinions about the organisation of club meets off Mendip.

We hear; speak and read a lot of facts and figures about Belfry costs; library books, voting procedures etc., etc.; but now let us cast our minds over the nitty-gritty of an Exploration Club - the incidence and variety of club activity and the support it gets - the very thing which, I hope, makes us want to belong to the club.

Over the past few years, organised trips off Mendip, with a fair number of participants, have been conspicuous by their near absence.  This is due mainly, I would say, to a degree of apathy and lack of skill on the part of both our Caving and Climbing Secretaries.

By 'organised', I mean well advertised meets drawing positive support from all groups within the club.  It is no good to have little elitist groups going off in twos and threes.  What is needed is a group spirit, and a set up where everyone has a chance to participate, whether he or she is a tiger - wanting to dance up hard severes or someone simply content to amble over ridges. In short, we ought to be considering all interests; age groups and capabilities within our membership. Good, memorable, club trips have to be well planned - they do not spring from chatter in the Hunters the weekend before!

There are four main headings for consideration here.  Venue and campsite; Transport; Food and Equipment and Notification.

When you go away on a club trip, it is best if you all camp or stay at the same place - then everyone knows what everyone else is doing and there are no delays.  Camping is a cheap, healthy and enjoyable means of getting into the mountains or moorland.  Most farmers will react favourably to a politely written letter, and on several occasions, I have found pleasant campsites far from the squalor of places like Wall End, Langdfale and Skirwith Farm, Ingleton - often with great privacy; fresh milk; water and eggs and costing little simply by adopting this approach.  An amusing scene took place at a farmhouse in South Wales when on a club meet earlier this year.  I went to the farmer’s wife to purchase some eggs and was amazed when she explained timidly that she did not know what to charge.  Needless to say, I got a bargain!

Some folk do not possess a tent.  This is natural, for they are expensive and not used often enough to justify forking out for one - especially if you have only just left school and haven’t much money. Why doesn’t the club purchase a large one to cater for such people?  I borrowed one recently for a club meet - again to South Wales - and there were eight bodies sleeping in it.  Grand fun, practical, and space saving.

Naturally enough, people don’t want to camp during the cold winter months, but this should not deter things.  I remember a great weekend spent with the B.E.C. in some cottages belonging to a certain hostelry in Eskdale, Cumberland - rather spartan, but quite warm by the time we'd burned half the furniture on the fire!

Where can we go?  The Severn Bridge, the M5 and M6, northwards to Scotland and soon to bore into the depths of Devon and Cornwall, brings the magnificent caves of South Wales; the terrific rock climbing of North Wales and the classic fell walking of the Lake District together with the tough severe potholing of the Dales and the gentler charms of the Peak District all within six hours driving from Bristol.  There really should be no lack of enthusiasm amongst members!

Everyone has a car, so that should be no problem?  Rubbish; when I started as a probationary member, I had Shank’s Pony and little money, and I am sure that there are plenty of members in similar positions now. When people get together and either pool their car space or hire a minibus, costs are sliced.  More beer money in other words!

Troops cannot march without plenty of good grub. "Glue" packeted soup; "Bullets" tins of beans and other pre-packaged foods are no good for ravenous 'potters' or 'rock hoppers' returning after a hard day on, or under, the mountain.

Good grub, bought cheaply in bulk at supermarkets is far better than fodder bought at exorbitant prices in villages and again, when people cater collectively, costs are slashed.

By far the best means of cooking in the wilds is the Primus stove.  It is ridiculously cheap, ultra efficient, and knocks spots off camping gas. Again, not everyone can afford one but I am sure it is not beyond the means of a club like ours to purchase, say, two double burners for use on official club trips.

Notification speaks for itself - or does it?  There are four good channels for notifying members of forthcoming events.  Notices in the B.B.; The Hunters; the Belfry and the Seven Stars.  The notices must contain details of the venue; the date; the rendezvous; the activities and the transport arrangements and a rough estimate of the cost.  The people are left in no doubt as to what to expect.

Some of the suggestions I have made will cause people to disagree and maybe even to put pen to paper to pour scorn on what I have written.  Good!  Let's have a rousing argument.  I feel that it is the sort of thing that should fill our columns - then we can throw all the other verbage out of the Editor's window and "Get deep down to things ".

Editor's Note:     Any replies, particularly constructive ones, will be very welcome.  The subject of organised meets is one of long standing, and perhaps something we should pay more attention to stimulating.

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There being no replies to the advertisement for a BELFRY ENGINEER, the committee elected the only volunteer to come forward at the December Committee Meeting - Rodney Hobbs - who has thus been co-opted to the committee as Belfry Engineer.


 

In Committee

No apologies are made for the length of this feature.  The subject is one a great importance to members, and the Editor feels that all should know how this decision was taken.

The main feature question of the December committee meeting was the question of club finances.  All the officers had been asked to provide facts and figures, and come to the meeting well prepared.

It soon turned out that two of the largest spenders - The Belfry and Caving Publications - confidently expected to pay their own way in 1973 and would need no money from club funds to subsidise them.  This left expenditure to be financed on the B.B. (faced with rapidly rising costs and unable to make more than marginal savings without reducing size, frequency or quality) on Tackle (which has been deteriorating of late and now needs a fair amount of money) on Secretarial expenses (necessary postages, paper etc.) on subscriptions to other bodies; on urgent repairs to the Tackle Store roof (a capital, not a running cost, so one which does not come out of Belfry funds), and on small amounts required by the Caving and Climbing Secretaries and the Hon. Librarian.

The arithmetic soon revealed that the club’s income was not going to meet the club’s expenses in 1973, even with some pretty drastic economies all-round.  An increase in the sub was the only answer, but by how much should it go up?  This had to be decided by the committee there and then, since subs are due in January and some notice has to be given before.

Some members of the committee were in favour of the minimum amount necessary to balance the books, while others were in favour of a sub which could allow the club's facilities to be improved in line with recent years.  A long discussion took place.  Most of the points which came out are set down as follows:-

If the 1945 sub is taken as reasonable (it was 10/- then) inflation would make this somewhere between £1.50 and £2 today.  Our present sub is less than this and the sum mentioned would only get us the 1945 facilities - and present day members expected rather more than did the members of thirty years ago.  However, the membership is now three times what it was then, and so one would expect a more efficient use of money, and thus a lower relative sub.  Against this, it was argued that the club has grown because of improvements, and that these should be kept going.  Older members were more liable to object to an increase other than a minimum one, and these people are the ones on whom we have relied heavily in the past.  On the other hand, nobody objected when the sub was doubled a few years back - but then this was to pay for the new Belfry and so on.

Eventually, a resolution was formally proposed and seconded by two committee members suggesting a sub of £2.50.  An amendment was proposed and seconded making the sub £2.00.  A vote on the amended proposal was defeated by one vote, and a vote on the proposal in its original form was then acceptted with one abstention. The annual subscription due on January 31st will thus be £2.50 and all other subs go up in proportion.

Some editorial comment on the above seems to be called for.  The increase, which now makes our club one of the most expensive en Mendip is made up of two parts.  That which we had to have to pay our way (a £2 sub) and the EXTRA 50p which the committee felt was necessary to be able to keep the B.E C. on a suitably upward path. It is this 50p which is, if anything, a bone of contention.

Younger members, not on the committee but present at the meeting were in favour of the extra 50p. Older members, with heavier commitments, may not look on it with the same degree of enthusiasm.  I would, however, urge such members not to contemplate taking any drastic steps.  Inflation will, no doubt, soon cut it down to size and, if anybody feels strongly about a policy of budgeting for a surplus, it is of course possible to constrain future committee action at an A.G.M. and thus avoid future increases over and above those due purely to inflationary trends.  Life members on the committee were evenly split on the vote for or against the extra 50p.  The views of members on this subject will, of course, be welcome in the B.B.


 

Caves of Malta

PETE MILLER sends in this article which seems appropriate in this wet and windy season to remind us of warmer caving climates

Malta is the largest of a group of islands in the middle of the Mediterranean about 60 miles from Sicily.  It has an area of 93 square miles and is made up almost entirely of limestone, which rises to a height of 800 feet above sea level.  Two main kinds of Limestone are found in Malta and these are known as the Globigeria and Coralline limestones.  The basic stratigraphy of the rock shows a layer of 250 feet of Upper Coralline at the top, followed by thin layers of greensand and blue clay.  Below that is a layer 200 feet thick of Globigeria and finally at least 500 feet of Lower Coralline.  The tendency is for water to percolate through the semi-crystalline Upper Coralline limestone until it reaches the impervious layer of clay. The water then emerges as springs.

There are many caves on the island, though few of them are of any great size.  It would seem pointless to list every small rock shelter or sea cave, and only caves of some  importance are mentioned.

The most important cave in Malta is Ghar Dalam ( Cave of Darkness) in which rich deposits of animal bones including dwarf elephants and hippopotami - were found.  These are now housed in a museum near the entrance.  This cave also produced important remains of the activity of prehistoric man.  The cave consists of a passage 20 feet across and 181 high which runs straight in to the hill.  The first 200 feet is artificially illuminated, but it is possible to continue for a further 500 feet, although the main passage divides into smaller and muddier ones which are eventually blocked by unwashed clay.

Close to Ghar Dalan is another cave which I understood to be called Butterfly Cave. However, after visiting the cave I wondered if the name had changed in the translation from the Maltese.  At the entrance to the cave were snakes and lizards and about fifty feet inside the cave is a chamber which contained, without exaggeration, at least a thousand bats.  It was obvious from the deposits on the floor and roof of the chamber that the bats had been there for a considerable time.  Unfortunately, we disturbed the bats as we passed through the chamber, and they accompanied us during our subsequent exploration of a boulder ruckle and a muddy climb into a passage which led back to the bat chamber.

It came as some surprise when I visited Butterfly Cave again a week later to find there was not a single bat in the entire place.  This same day I visited another cave three miles away known as Ghar Hassan.  The entrance to this cave is high in a cliff overlooking the sea but is easily reached by a path.  The cave consists of a high main passage with numerous side passages leading off at right angles.  As I reached the end of the main passage in this cave.  I suddenly realised where all the bats from Butterfly Cave had gone.  They had now taken up residence in a particularly high rift passage in Hassan's Cave.

One side passage in Hassan's Cave leads to a dramatic opening a hundred feet above the sea and a chamber where Hassan - a legendary Saracen - is supposed to have lived with his harem.  Apparently, if one of the women did not satisfy him, he threw her from the opening into the sea where she died either from drowning or a broken heart.

A cave entrance in a valley just East of Ghar Hassan leads to a roomy passage which, after about two hundred feet, ends in a large window high in a vertical sea cliff.

One of the largest caves in Malta is found near the Inquisitor’s Palace, which is located near Siggievi.  An entrance in a small cliff gives access to a passage which continues for about 800 feet. For much of its length the passage is about four to eight feet high and at many points a bedding plane can be seen on the right.  The passage is eventually blocked by boulders although the way on can be seen.  About a hundred feet from the entrance, an opening on the left of the main passage leads, via a muddy crawl and a squeeze, to another opening in the cliff.

If one follows the coast road from the Inquisitor’ Palace towards Dirgli, one passes another cave. There are several entrances among boulders at the front of a cliff.  Much of the cave is loose boulder ruckle, although two passages lead to climbs (one needing a rope) into chambers which look solid enough.

Another cave to be found in the Siggievi area is Ghar-il-Kbir (which means simply ‘the big cave’).  This cave was inhabited until 1835 when the British resettled the residents.  The only modern inhabitants are goats.  The cave was clearly formed by the collapse of the roof of a chamber.

A place well worth a visit is il-Maluba.  This means ‘turned upside down’, and is near Qrendi.  It is a huge circular depression some three hundred feet across and a hundred and fifty feet deep, with vertical walls formed by the collapse of an enormous cave.  I suppose one must also mention the alternative theory that the depression was formed by an angry God scooping a large piece of rock (40,000,000 cu. ft.) out of the ground and throwing it into the sea to form the island of Filfla.  My interest in this area was increased when I read in an old Maltese book that, between this depression and a deep gorge leading to the sea, small but very deep hole had been reported.  However, when I searched the area, I was unable to find this hole.

The largest sea cave to be found in Malta is at Anchor Bay.  As one looks out to sea, the left side of the bay consists of sheer cliffs.  By following these cliffs for about a hundred yards (swimming) one comes to a small opening about six feet above sea level and a very large entrance about fifteen feet below sea level.  Both entrances give access to a huge chamber. Daylight filters through the large underwater entrance, but at the far end of the chamber one is in darkness. At this point, about fifteen feet below the surface of the water, another passage leads to a second smaller chamber from which a further submerged passage leads back to the main chamber.  It was impossible to tell if anyone had been in this cave before, but I doubt whether anyone had entered the second chamber.  The University of Malta Caving Club (now defunct) had certainly not heard of this cave.

There are two other Caves in Malta which are small but well known.  One is in the valley of San Martin and is used as a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes, and the other is Ghar Lapsi, which means 'the cave of the Ascension'. It is a popular beach, but the cave is in fact an insignificant rock shelter.


 

A Decade Ago!

JOHN RANSOM reminds us of what life at the Belfry was like over the Christmas season ten years ago

I joined everyone at the Hunters fairly late on the Saturday night and had the usual few laughs.

Sunday was a loafing day (ruddy cold out!) and we managed to drift up to the Hunters again in the evening. Our crowd was gradually increased as the days got nearer Christmas.

Monday morning was spent charging wildly about Wells for food and other objects.  Garth and Spike disappeared in the direction of Winking Daniel’s for some seats (old bus) of which we by then had about a dozen.  The weather kept on getting colder.  Cars froze up.  Fires were stoked harder.

Up to the Hunters again in the evening to collect a barrel of beer.  Rotten, Alfie, Roger Jarman, Rosemary, Carol and Julie went to the midnight service at Wells cathedral.  It was bitterly cold, freezing b----y hard and the roads very tricky.

Christmas Day began with hot coffee and getting the stove to burn cherry red.  Alan Thomas came bursting in through the door at about ten o’clock.  Time crept on, then chaos.  Everyone frantically dashing about in a mild panic trying to get ready.  Shouts of ‘I’ll do that @f:?£9;:I1£ who is wearing my tie!’ etc.  Finally, everyone got sorted out and transport shoved off to the Hunters at about half past eleven for a drop of breakfast and a Merry Christmas to Ben and family.

On to the Star at Wells for dinner.  Those who were there were, Alan Thomas, Alfie, Spike and Pam, Garth, Rosemary, Roger Jarman, Graham and Julie, Gordon, Nigel, Jim Hill, Rotten, Len and Phil Dawes and son.

Also in the same room were Frank Darbon, Prew and Brenda with family. A very good and hilarious dinner, and I am sure we all enjoyed it.  After this, it was time to move once more, dash out into the cold air, climb into freezing cars (someone needed a push) and then back to the Belfry where we found Noel who had the stove under full power and a very welcome coffee waiting.

After a couple of hours of indolence, we all started to come alive again.  Spike and Pam had arranged a great feast for the evening - a wonderful layout.  Bottles of various concoctions were waiting to be drunk (and they were, Ha. Ha.) and the happy throng were joined by Sally, Ron and Pat Bater, Bob Price and John and Jane Lamb.  We all had a damn good time eating and drinking as much as we wanted.  We even had dancing, with Spike and Rotten doing a special weegee dance!  The usual bottle walking session was, I think, won by Garth.

Then came the climax of the evening.  The Great Climb.  Three brave men tried the practically un-climbable traverse round the inside of the Belfry.  Starting near the door, our intrepid three roped up.

The party consisted of Noel, leading; Garth, seconding and Alfie as tail end Charlie.  Roped to each other by the neck they started off, clinging by teeth and eyebrows they climbed around large trees (holly) and had great difficulty in passing the door, where near disaster struck the third man.  A piton (coat hook) gave way and Alfie made a mid-air grab for the next one which, luckily, took his weight before any part of him touched the floor.

On they went, proceeding with great dispatch across the lake (sink) until they came to the corner when due to a misunderstanding between numbers 2 and 3 while on the verglas (plates of discarded jelly), Alfie came off with the hell of a crash.

Saddened by the loss of their companion, the remaining two pressed on with great determination. Speeding along the back wall they came to the crevasse (Women’s Room door) which had been left open deliberately. They passed this easily to reach the active volcano (stove).  Number 1 un-roped and climbed on, leaving No. 2 in an impossible position but he made a supreme effort and with much scrabbling and cursing finally landed back in the Men’s Room, having completed the traverse.

Amid much hilarity the party finally broke up, without leaving any bodies around.  Boxing day was spent clearing up and thanks to a few who had started this after the party, there was not all that much to do. Unfortunately most of us had to leave on Boxing Day, but about a dozen members stayed on.  The following Saturday, we had the Great Blizzard, which trapped us all at the Belfry until the following Thursday.

This story has been taken from notes written at the time and I hope it may have amused some people. The climb really did take place and, if you can remember the old    Belfry, it was quite a difficult one.  I might add that anything damaged or broken was repaired or replaced by those responsible.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this little tale, and I wish you all a very happy Christmas from Val and myself.


 

At the Belfry

Most people know that I am not usually lost for words, but when it comes to describing the scene at the Belfry during the last few months - the slide shows, talks, barrels and other functions; while all the time the place has been full of people covered in mud from caves and digs, or getting ready to go into them; I find it hard to convey this activity suitably.

Bed-nights from the end of the club’s financial year until now have been UP on the figures for the same period last year.  We have, it is true, had slightly fewer guests but this has been offset by an increase in the number of club members staying at the Belfry.

I should like to thank those members of the Spelaeo Rahl Caving Group for their help during our collection of logs for the winter, and all those who have helped to make the Belfry such a success of late.  I conclude by wishing all club members a personal Happy Christmas and feel sure that we can all work towards making and keeping the Belfry as the best caving hut on Mendip m 1973.

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Well, that's yer lot for 1972.  Once again, a very Happy Christmas to all and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.    

“Alfie”   

Monthly Crossword – Number 29.

 

Across:

1. Pebble or Stony in Stoke. (5)
6. Farinaceous Hunters Pot? (4)
7. Different pots. (4)
8. Caving in stream passage? (6)
11. Fed Ray a duff rope? (6)
14. Ropes have many this underground .(4)
15. Every cave does this. (4)
16. M.R.O. Weather? (5)

Down:

2. Found in ever open passage? (4)
3. Swildons passage. (3,3)
4. Am I Able? (3,1)
5. ….or egg, perhaps. (5)
9. Subtract. (6)
12. Backward Dai has ladders etc. (4)
13. Part of Mendip smirk? (4)
9. Awkward moments underground may seem to take this.

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword