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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.

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:     D. Turner
Members:          R. Bagshaw; R. Hobbs; D.J. Irwin; N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas;

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. Orr (Acting for the time being)
Tacklemaster:    M. 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.
Publications:     D.J. Irwin.  Address as aboveB.B.
Post:    Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.




As hinted in these pages last month, the A.G.M. turned out in the event to be both a lively and a lengthy affair.  In the opinion of the editor, the club - like Phidippedes (the original marathon runner for the higgerunt!) came out well from this gruelling run, for which all concerned should be congratulated.

Firstly, the degree of interest shown by our members in the running of the club is, I feel, quite outstanding and some thing in which we can take pride.  Not only was there a record total of 52 members present at the A.G.M. but, when the proceedings had to be adjourned to the next day at the Belfry for another three hours, a full quorum - although not strictly necessary - was soon obtained and held during the remainder of the meeting.

Secondly, and of equal if not greater importance, was the degree of patience, tolerance and good humour which enabled the meeting to surmount what could have proved deeply naive issues.  In the event, we were able to discuss subjects on which members held strong and often opposing views in a manner which at once made these views clear without precluding reasonable solutions.  I am sure that if the committee and club continue to respect other people's sincerely held views and to retain their sense of humour, we shall be able to look back at the 1972 A.G.M. as one of the landmarks in the successful development of our club.

The Ian Dear Show

Nowhere was this ability which the B.E.C. has to laugh at itself more noticeable than in the good humoured way the procedural tangle surrounding the Ian Dear Memorial Fund got sorted out.  In spite of the dangers, so clearly stated, of attempting to put words into Ian's mouth; I feel sure that he would have enjoyed this section of the meeting.


The subject of how much information on club business should be circulated to members via the B.B. was left, by resolution, to the discretion of the editor.  The formal minutes will be circulated later but in this B.B. will be found a very short summary of the proceedings, which I hope will be enough to be going on with.

Candidates Reviewed

Apart from one complaint (From our Hon. Treasurer, who claims that his wife was easily able to pick out which of the candidates shown in the sketch was supposed to be Bob Bagshaw) people seemed to be satisfied with the arrangements.  This might encourage us to do the same next year.



Committee Notes

BELFRY ENGINEER.  In accordance with a resolution at the recent A.G.M., the Committee give notice that the post of Belfry Engineer is, in their opinion, vacant - there being no member of the committee who feels able to undertake this post.  At present, the duties of Belfry Engineer are being undertaken by the Hut Warden, but the committee feel that a separate person is desirable.  Applicants should be willing to spend a fair amount of time at the Belfry; be prepared to encourage others to help and be prepared to keep in close touch with the Hut Warden, Caving Secretary and any others who might be affected.  Applications should be received by the Hon. Sec. in writing before the 1st of December, 1972.  The position of Belfry Engineer is a committee post which will involve co-option. The committee reserve the right to select or refuse any applicant.

ASSISTANT HON. TREASURER. Bob Bagshaw wishes to pass on the treasurer's job to a successor at the end of the club financial year.  The committee are therefore advertising for a member who would be prepared to act as his assistant and to take over from the end of the financial year (31st July 1973).  Applications in writing to the Hon. Secretary by April 1st 1973.

The committee wish to thank John Cornwell for his donation of photographs.  Any further donations will be gratefully received and will be used to form the basis of a club collection.

Bearing in mind the wishes of the A.G.M. for club members to be kept informed on club business and the factors involved by other resolutions about the A.G.M. and dinner dates and the need to look into the publication of Club Officer’s Reports, the committee wish to make known a formal resolution proposed by Dave Irwin and seconded by Roy Bennett “That Club Officer’s Reports should be submitted in future by the club officers to the August meeting of the committee and subsequently published in the August or September B.B. after approval by the committee.  Reports NOT received by the August meeting will NOT be published in the B.B., but read out to the A.G.M.”  The voting in favour of this resolution was unanimous.

The committee wish to give notice that a sub-committee is to be formed to look into all matters connected with voting.  It is hoped that Mike Palmer will chair this sub-committee.  All members interested in this subject should contact any member of the committee.  It is hoped that members having a variety of different views will come forward in order that this subject can be looked into as widely as possible.

The Hon. Librarian would be grateful to hear from any member about books of interest which might be added to the club library.


Three smaller Caves of Wharfedale

DEREK SANDERSON sent in this article, which he says is a description of one afternoon and evening's caving while in Yorkshire.  The trip could be classed as a potter, though strenuous at times. Goes to show that all trips in Yorkshire are not too hairy.!

These caves were visited by Roger Wing (B.E.C.) Derek Sanderson (B.E.C.) and Keith Sanderson (W.C.C.) in an afternoon when the original plans to visit Darnbrook Pot and Cheery tree Hole had to be abandoned - access to these caves being denied at present following an accident in Cherry Tree Hole.

ROBIN HOOD'S CAVE. S.D. 978 657 LENGTH 960' Grade V

We underestimated the severity of this cave, and only allowed ourselves one hour for the trip, which proved to be far too short a time.  The entrance consists of a three foot diameter pipe running under the B6160. The pipe leads to a step up of a few feet, through a horizontal squeeze and into a low bedding plane.  There is about two feet between the flat roof and the broken floor, and progress is by slow painful crawling.  The rock is pale brown and dry.

After about a hundred and twenty feet of slow progress, the floor level drops slightly and one enters a low, wide flooded chamber with the roof dipping to the right below which the water makes its escape.  The water is startlingly clear and about a foot deep.  A further forty feet of crawling on all fours leads to a duck round a flake of rock and on to Connection Duck.  This duck is twelve feet long and should be treated with respect, as there is only two inches of airspace for much of its length, and that only in a narrow groove (the Nose Groove).  There is a hand line.  We floated through feet first.  Whilst in the duck, even the slightest movement can cause a small wave to swamp the nose, necessitating a hasty retreat.  We found this out the hard way.  The duck is not really feasible as a free dive as it ends abruptly.

At the far side of the duck, the streamway turns to the left in a small chamber (one can actually stand up!) but passes under a boulder after a few feet.  This forms a wet squeeze and gives access to a narrow rift. We climbed the powdery rocks, but could find no way on at high level.  However, a short crawl through boulders above the stream gives access to a bigger parallel rift.  A fifteen foot climb and traverse over loose boulders leads to a high level chamber of comparatively roomy dimensions.  From here, the upper route to the further reaches of the cave leads off.  This was first explored by the Craven Pothole Club in 1971.  By now, our allotted time was up and we returned to the surface.

There is a Grade 4CX survey of Robin hood's Cave in the C.P.C. Journal for 1971.  The danger of flooding should be borne in mind.

ELBOLTON POT S.E. 007 615  Length 500'  Depth 135' Grade III

On the summit of Elbolton Hill, half a mile west of Thorpe.  According to Northern Caves, Volume 19 the entrance is "15 yards west of cairn".  We found it to be a hundred yards S.E. of the cairn - in the next field!

A deep slit leads straight on to the entrance pitch of 55’.  Te problem here is to find a suitable belay point.  A short wooden stemple has been placed low down in the entrance slit but this seemed unsafe, so we removed a railway sleeper from the top of a nearby rift (we replaced it afterwards!) and used it as a belay point from outside the cave.

There is no problem about the pitch itself, but it is still reasonably impressive as it drops from the narrow entrance into an average sized chamber below.  From here, several ways lead off.  To the west (uphill) a narrow passage leads past a short muddy canal on the right and rises towards the surface before it ends in a choke. This seems to be leading towards the rift from which we removed the railway sleeper.  Directly behind the ladder, a passage leads off but not entered.

Walking downhill, one passes three drops on the right.  The first is a twenty foot pitch into the Grand Canyon.  This can be bypassed by descending either of the two remaining descents.  Both are climbable and lead into a horizontal rift-like passage which ends after about a hundred feet.  The last part seems to have been mined.  Some ten feet past the bottom of the third descent is a small tube on the right which leads directly into the Grand Canyon, at the lower end of which is the final pitch of twenty feet (belay to iron bar) into a terminal bedding chamber choked with mud.

The whole cave is muddy and similar in character to Hunters Hole.  The entrance pitch is the main at attraction.  Whilst sitting in the mud of the terminal chamber, a quiet voice was heard to say, "I hope nobody pulls the chain!"


FOSS GILL CAVE  S.D.  948 744   Length 899’ Grade  III

Major resurgence in the wood in the opposite side of the valley from Starbottom.  This is the most interesting and enjoyable of the three caves, being rich not in formations but in the variety of sculptured and scalloped rock.

There are two points of resurgence, a small lower cave on the left and the main cave above and on the right.  A low crawl in the water leads directly into the first of three fine short but deep canals, and instantly one is struck by the coldness of the water.  The first canal is about 70’ long and six feet deep at its upper end, though there are ledges three feet below the surface.  The canal is followed by a ‘T’ junction. Left leads towards the lower entrance while right leads upstream in a low crawl over smooth deep brown rock until a turn to the left leads to the second canal.

The second canal is shorter - about thirty feet - and not so deep and leads to a short length of stream passage with about five feet of headroom and containing raised ribs of rock just below the surface of the stream.  This breaks into a cross rift.   The way on is to the left, where a climb over boulders soon leads one into the third and the longest canal.

This third canal is about a hundred feet long, five feet deep and five feet wide and leads directly on to a low boulder pile beyond which is another 'T' junction.  Here, the stream can be clearly seen to bubble up from a hole in the floor.  To the right is a high rift whilst a tributary stream enters from the left. Following this stream, one enters a low, wide bedding plane (flat out crawling!) with mud banks either side of the small stream channel.  Fifty feet further on, the stream develops into a narrow rift containing a foot and a half of water.  Progress is made by wriggling on one's side.  An odd feature here is the redness of the rock and a sort of a rim stone ledge six inches above the water - formed by what appears to be mud coated with iron-rich calcite.

The rift widens slightly for a few feet, but narrows again, to a squeeze section about ten feet long which is immediately followed by an eight inch letterbox to the right.  Here, the nature of the cave changes to a horizontal bedding plane with gullies cut in the floor and with dark grey mud covering the surface.  After thirty feet of slithering, the way on appears to become too tight, but there is a strong draught.

It is worth while going out of one's way to pay a visit to Foss Gill Cave.  Whilst Northern Caves Volume I grades the cave as III, I agree with the author of the article on the, cave in the C.P.C. Journal for 1971 when he says, ‘I fully endorse the C.D.G.  Review comment that 'considerable exposure is involved in this cave which should be regarded as severe.’  After only a short time in the water, even with a good wet suit, one feels very cold.'

A Grade 4C survey can also be found in the C.P.C. Journal.


Have you been into any out-of-the-way caves lately?  Let us know about it if you have.  Guidebooks are all very well in their way, but you can't beat actual personal accounts of trips down lesser-known caves!


Open Letter To the Club

Member’s are encouraged to write to the B.B. on any topic connected with the club.  This letter raises a point which members may wish to develop further.

During the entertainment after the Annual Dinner, I was buttonholed by an attractive young lady in the Grotto Bar.  I was a disappointment to hear that she only wanted to talk politics.  Her complaint was twofold.  “Not only”, she said, "was the committee rather out of touch with the members of the club, but many members of the club were afraid to approach the committee with complaints or suggestions."

It is my belief that the committee are in touch and will do their best to right a wrong or take any other action PROVIDED THAT THEY KNOW ABOUT IT.  In my job as Quality Manager, I am probably better aware than many that in the hard world of business, a dissatisfied customer is a major problem which has to be corrected immediately.

If you feel that you have any complaint or constructive suggestion which could start an action leading to the advancement of the club, TELL THE COMMITTEE.  You can write or contact one of the members of the COMMITTEE or speak at a committee meeting.  If you are too shy (young, new, distant) to try any of these but are willing to talk to me I will discuss your suggestion with you and guarantee to support your case and put it to the committee.  I further guarantee that you will get action or a reasoned answer why not.

To sum up, it worries me that members could even think that the committee is unapproachable, and you can't really expect to get action to cure a fault until that fault is known.

If you have managed to read this so far, you may think "It's only that B. old fool Sett shouting his mouth off:!", but let me reassure you by saying that I have shown this letter to Dan Hassell, Nigel Taylor, Sue Gazzard, Dick Chandler and Sid Hobbs and they all agree with its sentiments and are prepared to act the same way as a sort of ombudsman if required.

R.A. Setterington (“Sett”)

Editor’s Note:    Well, there you are the.  It would seem difficult to imagine anyone who could still feel that his views are not getting over after this offer!

Dates for your Diary


Friday, November 3rd.

Friday Night Club.  Priddy Green Sink and clean up afterwards in Swildons.

Saturday, November 5th.

Sunday Digging Team.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Gour Rift and completion of survey of Cuthbert’s II.  9 am at Belfry.

Saturday, November 11th.

Sunday Digging Team.  Foxes Hole, surveying.  Meet at Belfry 10 am.

Saturday, November 11th.

Club activity.  Log collection for winter fuel supply from forestry.

Saturday, November 11th.

Talk on home made wine making by Sett.  Theory plus brief question and answer session plus some wine tasting.  Winemakers pleas bring samples.  Everyone bring a glass.  7 pm at the Belfry.

Sunday November 12th.

Sunday Digging Team.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Taping and transferring maypole to High Chamber.  Belfry at 9 am.

Saturday, November 18th.

Sunday Digging Team.  Burrington. Surveying small caves.  Belfry at 10 am.

Saturday, November 18th.

Friday Night Club.  South Wales. Meet 9.30 am at Penwyllt.

Sunday November 19th

Sunday Digging Team.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Gour Rift Dig.  Belfry at 9 am.

Sunday November 19th

CUTHBERT’S LEADER’S MEETING 2.30 pm at the Belfry.

Saturday, November 25th.

Cuthbert’s Practice Rescue.  10.30 am at the Belfry.

Sunday, November 26th.

Club Meet.  Coral Cave. Belfry at 10.30 am.

Sunday, November 26th 

Sunday Digging Team.  Coral Cave Surveying.  Belfry at 10 am.


Friday, December 1st.

Friday Night Club.  East Twin Valley with wet suits.

Sunday, December 3rd.

Sunday Digging Team.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Gour Surveying in High Chamber.  Meet at Belfry 10 am.

Saturday, December 9th.

Sunday Digging Team.  St. Cuthbert’s Maypoling in September Chamber.    Meet at Belfry 10 am.

Sunday, December 10th.

Sunday Digging Team.  St. Cuthbert’s.  September Chamber or Gour Rift Dig.    Meet at Belfry 9 am.

Friday, December 15th.

Friday Night Club.   G.B. Permits essential.

Saturday December 16th.


Sunday, December 17th.

Sunday Digging Team.  St. Cuthbert’s.  Gour Rift Dig. Belfry 9 am.

Saturday, December 30th

Friday Night Club.  Singing River Mine.  3 pm.


Saturday, January 13th.

Club Trip.  Banwell Caves.  Meet at Belfry 10.30 am.  See Tim Large for further details.


Half a Minute

A brief account of the main features of the Annual General Meeting.

Opening bang on time with no question as to whether a quorum was present or not, the meeting got off to a good start.  "Sett" was elected chairman.

After a query on the validity of the ballot papers, the preliminaries were soon over, with tellers duly appointed; member’s resolutions collected, and last year's minutes taken as read.  After a short discussion, the meeting went on to the Hon. Sec’s report, and his verbal additions to the published text.  These, in fact, caused no comment and the meeting went on to discuss our boundary problems, which it finally referred to the new committee.

The Hon. Treasurer's report, together with the Hon. Auditor’s report followed.  This latter is to be part of the official agenda in future. It was agreed that the new committee look into club finances in detail and might have to put the sub. up if it cannot be kept at its present level by suitable economies.

The Caving Sec.'s report produced no comment, except for the public declaration by the Caving Sec. (when asked by, the Hon. Sec.) that he agreed that the B.E.C. was the best club on Mendip.  Is this the start of a series of oaths of loyalty which club officials will be required to swear?

The Climbing Sec's report went through even faster, with no comment at all by the meeting and even that guaranteed discussion raiser - the Tacklemaster's Report - produced little in the way of discussion.  A vote of thanks to Dave Turner was recorded for stepping into the breach at such short notice.

The Hut Warden's report produced a little discussion centred mainly around costs which, it was finally pointed out, were already subject to the findings of the new committee.  The Hon. Librarian's Report; Caving Publications Report; B.B. Editor's report and Hut Engineer's Report were all dealt with in what must surely be record tine.

With the main business safely over, the meeting went to the first of the resolutions - that by the Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee to change its rules.  It was at this stage that the A.G.M. broke completely with tradition when Mike Palmer suggested an adjournment until the next day, owing to the very large amount of business still to be dealt with.  Encouraged by George Honey, the Chairman read out all the further business, which made the meeting realise that Mike P. certainly had a point.  In accordance with the general feeling, the Chairman adjourned the meeting.

At 2 pm. on the Sunday, the A.G.M. continued with a good starter.  A resolution to drop the word 'junior' from our description of younger members.  This was defeated, and the meeting went on to the I.D.M.F. rules.

A blow-by-blow account of the next two hours (all in rhyme!) will be found on the Belfry notice board. It is sufficient to say here that the meeting - with the best of intentions - found itself neatly trapped in a procedural difficulty of its own making.  The finally amended rules were eventually passed with three against.

A resolution that 'No provisional member shall be able to propose or second membership applications' was ruled by the chairman to be a constitutional change but that its acceptance by this A.G.M. should enable it to be put to next year's A.G.M. without any further discussion.

Various proposals affecting the voting methods were taken en bloc by the Chairman and eventually referred to the new committee.  The advice of the A.G.M. to this committee being that the ballot should be secret.

Another batch of resolutions affected the dates of the A.G.M. and dinner.  A discussion resulted in a proposal to hold the A.G.M. at 10.30 am at the Belfry to be followed by the Annual Dinner that evening.

A number of further resolutions followed.  It was agreed that, wherever possible, the committee should advertise any proposed co-opted positions.  The automatic retirement of all committee members after three years was defeated by a single vote.  A resolution tightening up the entrance qualifications was finally defeated after a discussion on the merits of the provisional scheme.  It was decided, by another resolution, to investigate forming a sub-aqua section.  The publication of Club Officer’s reports in the B.B. was referred to the committee and, finally, a proposal to phase out life memberships, was defeated with the proviso that if they do not keep in touch, they will be conveniently forgotten.

The dinner which followed was, although not the best by a long chalk, reasonably within the B.E.C. tradition. The actual meal was reasonable - and at least hot.  The later entertainment consisted of a punch and Judy show produced and directed by Oliver Lloyd, which was very well received followed later still by a typical piece of B.E.C. organisation - a film with a difference.  With the usual low cunning of the B.E.C., opportunity was taken to get the effect of two films from one.  On the first occasion, some new caving techniques were demonstrated in which cavers caved backwards while talking what appeared to be some central European dialect while all the time, a small group round the projector worked like beavers on their next project.  Eventually, by courtesy of people like 20th Century Palmer, Metro-Goldwyn, Prewer etc., we were able to see the same cavers moving forwards and speaking English - punctuated only by occasional growls, which seemed to occur when they found a prehistoric bone or two.

More seriously, our thanks, as usual to the organisers.  The B.E.C. dinner, after the debacle of 1971, seems to be getting back to form.  Let us hope that people will come forward in plenty of time who will be prepared to make next years dinner one of the really great club dinners.




An account by D.L. Stuckey of caving over the Summer Bank Holiday this year.

The vast midgy population of Crummock Dale Farm, already suffering from mild droughts had their peace shattered by the arrival of seven B.E.C. members on the evening of Friday, August 25th.  Roll call the next morning found Joan and Roy Bennett; Bob Cross; Ian Calder and Doug Stuckey alive and well, with Nigel Taylor and Ken James on the injured list.

A little later, all camp personnel negotiated the route to the Craven stronghold at Gaping Gill. After the entertainment of rousing the Craven from their slumbers, our party split.  Ken and Nigel walked down to Clapham for a guided tour of Ingleborough Cave, Joan soloed lngleborough and Simon Fell; adding her name to the injured list by twisting her ankle, while the other members of the party  turned their attention to Disappointment Pot.

The dry conditions had reduced the stream to a mere trickle giving the duck a six-inch airspaces but the well washed nature of the pot throughout its length showed that under wetter conditions it could prove a sporting entrance to Gaping Gill.  Each pitch was tackled parallel to the Craven ladders already installed.  The Pennine Underground description was adequate except that, on inspection, we found the entrance pitch 15 feet and the Fourth Pitch 20 feet to be easy free climbs.

Ignorance of the Bar Pot route from Disappointment inlet to Gaping Gill main chamber resulted in the party visiting Hensler's Master Cave and then spending sometime in Hensler's Old Passage before returning to the Disappointment Inlet.  Co-operation with a Craven party at the third pitch split our party, all gaining the surface after some five hours caving.

Bob's knees voted him on to the injured list, as they received a fair battering in the grips of Hensler's Crawl.  Sunday saw Bob, Nigel and Ken on a joy ride round the dales, while Joan; Roy; Ian and Doug, visited Kingsdale with the intention of abseiling through Simpson’s Pot to the master cave and out via the valley entrance.

Leaving Joan with the car keys and an estimated through time of three hours, Roy, Ian and Doug, started a direct descent of Simpson's.  Progress was stopped by the squeeze below the pit.  With Roy's assistance from above, Ian and Doug, climbed the pit and the party set off on the roundabout route.  Storm Pot (35 feet) caused a halt when the rope jammed on the belay and much energy was wasted before the pitch was prussicked.  The descent then continued with the use of a rope left on the pitch by another party.  The passage to Slit Pot - excellent for abseiling with large and smooth belays for all pitches.  The other party was met, and they gave us a large metal ring for use as a belay on Slit Pot.

For the descent of Slit Pot (83 feet) the two ropes of 96 and 106 feet were tied together to enable retrieval. Using the ring on a peg and sling belay, the knot ran over the lip easily, leaving the belay behind.  Roy made a quick exit through the master cave while Ian and Doug de-tackled Roof Tube Pitch, reaching the surface after five hours underground.

Ian departed, seeking his wife's company in Brecon.  Beckhead Rising not far from the campsite received a quick visit from Joan, Roy and Doug. Camp broke on the Monday morning. During its existence, Jim Abbott, Graham Wilton-Jones and others put in surprise visits.

A worthwhile weekend.


Library News

'Wig' says, “The latest additions to the collection include many missing items that have either been exchanged or donated.  I would like to say thank you."

Additions include UIS Bulletins (1971); London Univ. C.C. Journal No 13; Cerberus S.S. Newsletter No 18; B.S.A. Bulletin No 6; Axbridge Journal 1966; C.R.G. transactions Volume 14 No 3 Mendip Bibliography Part 2; Speleologist Yearbook 1965; B.E.C. Belfry Book 1963-4; Plymouth C.C. Newsletters 36-41; Leicester & Nottingham Univ. C. Assoc. Journal No 1; H.M.S.O. Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act 1972 Chap. 21; M.C.G. Newsletter No 95; W.C.C. Journal No 142 Aug. 1972 and Dorset Caving Group Journal Vol 1 No 4.

Items of interest: Dorset C.G. survey of Crocodile Canyon (Portland): W.C.C. Journal includes several items, but Graham Balcornbe’s account of early diving operations should be read.  Hutton Cave. Has this been rediscovered by Chris Richards?  Did you know that the divers have extended Swildons XII?  All in the W.C.C. Journals mentioned.  The M.C.G. have unearthed an interesting letter written by the Stride brothers to Mr. and Mrs. Young of Longwood Farm describing the exploration of Longwood and the involvement of the U.B.S.S. Greg Smith compares this letter to the 'account' in Johnson’s dubious book ‘The History of Mendip Caving.’

The report of the Southern C.C.C. on Conservation and Access as been published by many clubs, and those interested will find this in the Axbridge C.G. Newsletter for August 1972. Why don't we find, if not the complete, a potted report in the B.B.?  W.C.C. have published the M.R.O. Annual Repast in their Journal (No 142).

The Library Catalogue is now being compiled and will be published shortly.

STOP PRESS:  In addition to the items reported above, we have received from London Univ. C.C., Journals Nos 8-12 which, with many thanks, completes our set to date.  John Manchip has kindly sent a copy of Grampian S.G. Bulletin Vol.5 No 2.  The U.B.S.S. Proceedings Vol.13 No1 (July 1972) has arrived. Contents, though not of a startling nature, is well up to the usual standard and includes Rickford and Langford Resurgences - A problem in Limestone Hydrology; The Fergus River Cave, County Clare; Cloford Cave, Eastern Mendip; Priddy Long Barrow; Roman counterfeiter's den by George Brown of the Welsh National Museum - who uses the discoveries in Roman Mine as one of his main sources (B.E.C. Caving Report No 15 ROMAN MINE price 45p for a limited period) and says, "it is a considerable tribute to the care and enthusiasm which Mr. and Mrs. Tuck brought to their excavations" which goes to show that the B.E.C. do get out of pubs at times!  The October 1972 issue of Geographical included three interesting items: Pennine Pippikin, by Tony Waltham; Where Limestone Fashions Landscape (Ingle Smith) and a short item entitled Hypothermia on the Hills. Thanks to Chris Howell for donating these items.

Have you got your copy of 'Mendip's Vanishing Grottoes' yet? No doubt, like the caves the book illustrates, copies of this will one day vanish and become valuable collector's pieces. Why not invest in a copy while they are still available?  Only 50p from Dave Irwin.


We really HATE wasting any spaces like this one.  Have you looked round the new Club Library yet?  If not, you should and you will be surprised at what we have.  Why not borrow a book or two?


Tackle Master’s Report

Owing to his taking over the job at short notice, DAVE TURNER was unable to present his report before the A.G.M., but it is printed now for the information of club members.

This report is for the period August-September 1972, this  being the period covered by the present Tacklemaster.  All the club's tackle has been inspected in the last two months and a card index of all items created.


Seven of the ladders in use up to August were found to be in need of repair and have been withdrawn. The number of ladders in service at present is 25, making a total of 605 feet. The number of ladders under repair is 11, totalling 220 feet.  Most of these have been dismantled, and it is hoped to have these back in service in the near future..


The following are now in service: Nylon, 9 ropes totalling 894 feet; Ulstron, 2 ropes totalling 600 feet and Courlene, 1 rope of 100 feet.  This gives a total of 1,594 feet.


The club also possesses 2 Karabiners", 13 tethers, 2 nylon slings, 3 rawl and star drills and 6 rawlbolts.  A disturbing feature of the club is tackle is the rate at which it is diminishing. From the A.G.M. reports, it appears as follows:  Ladders, 1968 - 960 feet, 1969 - 940 feet, 1970 - 870 feet, 1972 - 825 feet including that under repair.  Perhaps the picture is not as gloomy as it appears, and if any member knows the whereabouts of any other tackle, would he let the Tacklemaster know?  Then, all members will be able to use it.

D. P. Turner, October 1972.


A Weekend in North Wales

We have just found room for another climbing article by G. E. Oaten.

After the tedious journey from Bristol to North Wales, we were greeted in Llanberis pass by a beautiful moonlit night which made our hopes rise for a fine weekend; but alas! our hopes were dashed to the ground on the Saturday morning by fine driving rain and low cloud.

Pete Sutton and a friend had been looking forward to climbing Cemetery Gates (200 feet X.S.) but this was now out.  So, more in hope than anger, they went to the climbing area known as Tremadoc.  It is rumoured that when it rains in the pass it is fine in Termadoc.  Once there, they set out to climb Vector (250 feet, X.S.) but this repelled their attacks, so they looked for easier game and found it on Striptease (160 feet V.S.) and Shadrach (180 feet V.S.)

Meanwhile, this left Maggie Sutton, Ross and Roy Marshall, Nigel Riche and myself at the Pen-y-pass cafe where we decided to brave the weather and set out on our intended walks. Maggie and Ross were to walk to the top of Snowdon via the miners track and the zig zags, while Roy, Nigel and myself were to do the Snowdon Horseshoe.  This involve ascending the pyg track to Grib Goch (2,816’) traversing the Grib to the summit of Snowdon (3,5601’) then over to Lliwedd (2,947’) down on to the miners track and back to the Pen-y-Pass.

We arranged to meet the girls at the top of the zig zag, so we set off on our different ways.  As we ascended the pyg track, the weather began to clear, allowing us to shed our waterproofs and to gaze at the majestic beauty of Lliwedd and Snowdon far to the left.  As we gained height and crossed the Grib, the wind became stronger and the visibility came down to about twenty yards, allowing us to see fleeting glimpses of the scree slopes below.

Grib Goch is a very exposed knife ridge where many an experienced walker has lost his life in bad conditions, so we treated it with much respect.

At last we reached the zig zags, but there was no sign of the girls.  We decided that the weather must have decided them and that they had gone back down.  After much discussion as to whether we should go on or not, it was decided that Roy should go down the zig zags, while Nigel and I continued the Horseshoe.  As we followed the cairns that mark the path, unknown to us, Roy had met the girls and continued with them to the top of Snowdon, and then gone back down.

The walk progressed with greater ease than we had thought.  Then it slowly dawned on us.  We had taken the wrong path in the poor visibility.  It was discovered that we were on Bwlch Nain that leads to the Watkins path.  After about a five mile detour, we finally reached the Pen-y-Pass cafe, somewhat disgruntled at not finishing the horseshoe.

That evening, we accomplished the ritual of supping ale to excess, but Sunday found us on a path that leads up to the Devil’s kitchen - which lies in Cwm ldwal in the Ogwen Valley.  The Kitchen is a large amphitheatre of rock and scree, with a huge rift that runs a long way into the cliff.  The path goes past Llyn Idwal up to the Idwal Slabs where budding Joe Browns are taught the art of rock climbing by their Outward Bound instructors.

We left the girls at the bottom of the Kitchen, and continued our walk to the top.  Once there, we walked the length of the cliff, to descend to Llyn LawaI by a steep gully to rejoin the girls.  A short walk brought us back to the cars and then the journey home, feeling tired but content at having had at good weekend.


Owing to the length of the remainder of Alan Coase’s paper on Photographic Apparatus, which was started in last month’s B.B. and bearing in mind the need to print the complete list of club members in next month's B.B., we are printing the rest of the paper in the Christmas B. B. rather then break it up into small instalments.  We hope that Alan, and those members who are interested in photography will bear with us!  Editor.


Articles, letters, snippets of information etc.  are always welcome for inclusion in the B.B.  The post box in the Belfry has not been used much of late, but should be a convenient way of getting YOUR contribution to the Editor.  Next time you are at the Belfry, why not write smoothing and put it in the box ?


Did you like the dinner? Any complaints?  The committee have to fix up annual dinners ages in advance and they will be glad to hear from you on this subject.  Don’t save up any moans until it is too late!  Let us know NOW, so that we stand a chance of DOING something about it.


Monthly Crossword – Number 27.






















































































1 & 13. Cuthbert’s passage. (3,3)
3. See 9 down. (5)
6. My niche? (7)
7. A ladderer does to a pitch. (4)
8. Type of underground passage on Mendip and London. (4)
11. Cavers do sport down this hole! (4,3)
12. 4 down and this are alike when underground. (5)
13. See 1 across. (3)


2. Making line fast. (5)
3. Common to Chamber, Wood and Hole on Mendip. (4)
4. See 12 across. (4)
5. Highest place in Cuthbert’s? (7)
6. I run cat for cave formation. (7)
9. (with 3 across)  Pitch in Cuthbert’s. (5,5)
10. Is this passage mine? (3)
13. From Pillar to this perhaps? (4)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword



















































































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. ORR (Acting for the time being)
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.
Publications:     D.J. IRWIN.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset

1973 Annual Dinner

No, it's not a misprint! We do mean 1973.  Other caving club dinners are noted for various activities (bun throwing etc.) but the B.E.C. dinner usually manages to provide something in the way of ENTERTAINMENT for members and their guests.

Working on the assumption that it's never too early to start planning, DAVE SEARLE has volunteered to collect ideas and volunteers for suitable jollity at next years dinner. Chris ("I'm the dreaded Fagin") Harvey has already signed up.  Bring and/or send yourselves and your bright ideas to Dave at Dolphin Cottage (just up the road from the Belfry).



Club Members

A feature of the November B.B. is the list of club members that is traditionally published at this time of the year.  Typing out these names is usually a sad task, when one realises how many of one's old friends are no longer among those present.  This year, however, any such thoughts are balanced by the fact that, for the first time that I can remember at any rate, the actual numbers top the two hundred mark.  (I am open to correction here, but counting wives listed, I make it 201 in fact.)

Even more encouraging is the fact that membership numbers, having just reached eight hundred; mean that a quarter of all the people who have ever been members of the B.E.C. are still, happily, with us.  When one considers that the B.E.C. is about thirty seven years old, and one makes due allowance for those who join the club, only to disappear almost at once, the remaining figure causes some optimism.

Although, inevitably, times change and cavers with them, and to this extent the club is bound to change too, one likes to think that the club we have today is still recognisably the B.E.C. and such that members who are no longer as active as they once were still like to keep in touch.

No Trumpets for 300?

I have been asked why no mention was made in these pages of the fact that the B. B. reached its 300th issue.  Alas - the sad truth - as stated recently in no less a publication that the Wessex Journal - is that no editor of any Mendip caving publication can count.  Owing to a typical series of arithmetical boobs, the B.B. has not yet reached its three hundredth edition in spite of what the serial numbers might say.  When this actually happens, I will let people know.

Tuesday Evening Caving

Owing to the run down of the Tuesday night digging team in Cuthbert’s, I propose to organise a programme of caving trips on Tuesday evenings, providing there is sufficient demand. Why not drop me a line, or see me at the Belfry most weekends if you are interested?

Tim Large

Shock Treatment

A snippet sent in by Jock Orr.

When Dr. Henry Oakley was studying medicine, he used to augment his frugal income from his student's allowance by serving part time as a butcher's assistant by day and as a hospital porter by night.

Shortly after arriving on duty, the hospital night staff were electrified to see a newly admitted plump limbed and matronly woman of some prestige in the district running down the exit corridor, clad only in a flapping stretcher blanket, screaming at the top of her voice "What's that +?~: ?&Qi butcher doing in here?" - with a wheeled stretcher piloted by Henry Oakley in hot pursuit of his daytime customer!


Odd bits of information - humorous or informative - are always very useful to fill up odd spaces in the B.B. and to prevent any waste of paper!  The editor is always glad to receive anything suitable.


The Editor apologises for the delay in producing this B.B. which have been mainly because he has had a lot of work on of one sort and another.


Caves and Caving

A seasonal review the caving picture TIM LARGE, caving secretary.

As usual, at this time of the year, I am in the process of arranging a caving programme for the coming year.  Up to now I have only been able to organise meets for two to three months in advance because there is a shortage of members who are prepared to lead club trips. Those that have done so in the past have been approached by me in person.

Recently, however, a member suggested and offered to lead a series of club trips during the winter months. This offer was, needless to say, very welcome.  The trips were advertised in the B. B., but when the date of the first trip arrived, nobody except the leader turned up!

Now, if I don't organise club trips, members complain - and when I do nobody seems interested.  This has happened on a number of occasions recently and some of the trips that have taken place have been very poorly attended.

Perhaps now that members appreciate more fully the problems involved, the solution becomes obvious. If members want club trips (not only on Mendip) but further a field as well) please would they let me know what they are interested in doing.  I would also like to hear from any one who is willing to lead any particular trips. After all, this IS your club, and I think it would be a much more united organisation if everyone took a more active interest in club events.

Because of the various access arrangements for a large number of caves nowadays, it is essential for me to have plenty of notice for trips.  Below, I have listed the access arrangements for the more popular caves:-

LONGWOOD  Keys held by Dave Irwin and Tim Large.

RHINO RIFT  Key held by Tim Large.

G.B. CAVERN  At least ONE MONTH’S notice required to book key with U.B.S.S.

Charterhouse Caving Committee Permits are necessary for all the above holes.  I have the application forms, so make sure that you get a permit before descending any of the above.


Trips can be arranged, but the party is limited to FIVE.


Trips can be arranged with Gough's Caves during the winter months (November to February).  At least ONE MONTH’S notice is required.


I can obtain the key at short notice.


At least THREE TO FOUR WEEK’S notice is required, together with names and addresses of everyone in the party.


The club has its own leaders for O.F.D.1.  They are Roy Bennett; Mike Palmer; Tony Meadon and Dave Irwin.


Leaders are not required, but a few weeks notice of the trip to S.W.C.C. is desirable.  Several of the above leaders are familiar with these parts of the cave.


Leaders are required.  The club has its own leaders who are: - Andy MacGregor, Colin Priddle and Phil Kingston.


Some of the caves are controlled by the N.C.C.C. e.g. Easegill Caverns, Lost John's System, Penyghent Pot, Hut Pot & Lancaster Hole.  These need as much notice as possible - maybe as much as six months because of their popularity.  Also some caves are closed during the grouse breeding season. (April to June approx.)

I have a copy of the Northern Cave Handbook which gives full details of access to all Yorkshire Caves.


Some caves are controlled by the D.C.A. so plenty of notice is required to complete the necessary arrangements


Smitham Chimney

From time to time, articles on the lead mining industry on Mendip have appeared in the B.B.  We thought that members might therefore be interested in the state of the only remaining example of a lead smelting chimney and print a letter recently received from the Mendip Society.

I thought you might like to know of the efforts we are making on behalf of Smitham Chimney.  I am sure you will know the public concern expressed about the condition and fate of this scheduled building from the publicity it has been given on television and in the newspapers.

Smitham chimney is the sole surviving example on Mendip of the once flourishing lead mining and smelting industry.  It is a notable local landmark, visible against the Forestry Commission’s trees in Frances Plantation, as one approaches from the Castle of Comfort to Compton Martin.  It was renovated in 1919 because it was valued at that time as an important local feature.  However, since then its condition has gradually deteriorated, particularly with regard to the upper third of the brickwork.  For your interest, I enclose a report on the chimney by Dr. Buchan of Bath University.  This report formed part of our submission to the Ministry of the Environment when the Society applied for the chimney to be scheduled as a building of architectural and historic importance.  This was subsequently passed.  At that time, an attempt was made to raise funds for its renovation and although some progress was made, this was not sufficient and it was then our intention to use funds from the Mendip '71 exhibition which took place last autumn. However, the exhibition only covered its costs and the Society hoped that monies would be available from the publiation of its book ‘Man and the Mendips’.  Sales are progressing but it will probably be a year or two before enough books have been sold.

Following a recent fall of brick, the Parish Council called a meeting of all interested parties. Concern was expressed by everyone of the danger not only of the chimney being destroyed but of there being a danger to anyone who might be passing by when another fall occurs.  A public footpath passes along the foot of the chimney which is also the sole access to a farm.  It is therefore a matter of urgency that this problem is resolved within the next month.  It was agreed at the meeting at East Harptree that an extensive fund raising effort should be made.  A quotation was obtained from a local firm, J. Dawson & Sons of Clutton, Chimney Builders, who estimated that a sum in the region of £1,400 would be necessary to renovate the whole of the structure.

The building obviously cannot be allowed to remain as it in this unsafe condition, and funds are urgently needed.

The Mendip Society intends inserting an inscribed plaque into the base of the chimney describing its history and significance, together with the names of those who have been kind enough to contribute.  Donations have already been promised from the trustees, the Mendip Society, M.A.C. Builders Merchants Ltd. and the Mendip Trust, a body formed from the National Trust and the Mendip Nature Conservancy - and many separate individuals.

I feel reluctant to approach another organisation so like our own, but it may be that the B.E.C. or any of its members might wish to make a contribution to this, and really any amount would be welcome.  If so, I wonder if cheques could be sent to me (Dr. N.P. Blakeney-Edwards, Cyder Cottage, Kent Street, Cheddar, Somerset.) and made payable to the Mendip Society. I will keep you fully informed of the state of events.

Editor's Note:     embers may like to know that the Mendip Society was started by the B.E.C. Alan Thomas called an inaugural meeting, largely attended by B.E.C. members and the Mendip Preservation Society - as it was first known was formed as a result.  It is interesting to note how many things have been pioneered by the B.E.C.!


A New Climb at Black Rock Quarry - Weston-In-Gordano

A guide to some climbs near Bristol, by ALAN TRINGHAM

Black Rock Quarry is reached by a lane which leads off the main Portishead to Clevedon road.  The entrance to the lane is opposite a row of dark grey council houses about two miles from Portishead.

This cliff was first visited by myself and Tony Dingle in December 1971.  We saw that the main feature of the quarry is a slab about a hundred feet high set at quite a high angle.  To the left of this slab is a large corner with a dangerous looking block wall on one side and an impressive sheer red wall on the other.

On this occasion, we climbed a ridge to the right of the slab.  We returned in February of this year with Pete Sutton to climb the main challenge of the quarry, which is the slab itself.  We managed this by climbing a slight groove on the left side of the slab, giving a very fine sustained climb.  Since then, the quarry has been visited by Nigel, Gerry, Derek and others.

The following is a guide to the climbs so far done, from left to right:-

Phantom Grober - V.S. and A.2.  Climbs on overhanging flake on the red wall and then the groove above. Climbed by Nigel and Gerry.

Slab, Left hand Route - V.S. Climbs a slight groove to a ledge, then the slab direct to the top.  Climbed by Alan and Pete.

Slab, Central Route - Mild V.S. Straight up the centre of the slab to a small tree on the right, or on to the top.  Climbed by Nigel and Gerry.

Slab, Right Hand Route - Severe.  Up a crack and then tunnel to a small tree belay.

Slab, Right Hand Ridge Route - V. Diff.  Up the stepped ridge.  At forty feet, either move left on to the slab and up some flakes, or move right and climb a loose corner.  Climbed by Alan and Tony.

About forty feet to the right of the slab is another stepped ridge.  This gives a variable route to the top. About V. Diff. if you keep to the right, but harder if tackled direct.  Climbed by Alan and Pete.

To the right of this, in the corner, is a thirty foot diff. route which can be used for descent.


Drunkard’s Hole Survey

The survey was undertaken as one stage in the effort to produce a complete survey record of the caves in the area of Burrington.  The field work occupied a three hour trip and was undertaken by G.O. Williams and D.L. Stuckey on Sunday, September 10th.

A reproduction of the survey desorbed in these notes will be found on the next page of this B.B.

An ex-W.D. prismatic compass and an Abney level of Japan¬ese manufacture were used and these, plus two spirit levels were mounted on a dural plate to form a surveying head.  This surveying head was hand held and the instruments read to the nearest 0.5°.  Lengths were measured by means of a 10 metre Fibron tape which was read to the nearest centimetre.  Passage details were taken at stations and mid-station points, and roof heights estimated where measurement proved impossible.

A permanent survey station, marked with a cold chisel on a boulder in the floor of the bottom rift was made and taken as the datum origin of the survey, with co-ordinates Eastings 0.; Northings 0.; O.D. 157.6 m.

The compass calibration was carried out by the method established for the East Twin survey (1) and the co-ordinate calculations processed by an I.B.M. 360/50 computer. The line co-ordinates were plotted on metric graph paper with the passage outlines plotted by direct measurement. The final layout was then drawn on ‘Permatrace’ film.


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 5D is claimed for this survey (2).


Total surveyed passage length    44m
Total depth                                    19.5m
Entrance height above O.D.        175m


Report of a Rescue Practice in Stoke Lane Slocker

This is an account of a rescue practice on 29th Feb. this year by KEN GREGORY, Secretary of the West London Cave Club.

Having our H.Q. on the doorstep of Stoke Lane Slocker has given us a particular interest in that cave. Over the years, the subject of rescue through the passages of Stoke I has often been a debating point, and we therefore decided to try a practice rescue.

To make our problems as difficult as we thought practical, we selected as our victim a stout gentleman weighing about twelve stone with caving kit.  The victim wore ordinary caving clothes with a goon suit on top.

The intention had been to start the rescue from the sump, but owing to the girth of the victim, he could not get beyond the Nutmeg Grater, so the carry was started from there. The rescue team consisted of two bods moving ahead smoothing out obstructions, such as boulders in the streambed; another two on the drag rope; two more with the victim and another two bringing up the rear and carrying any other tackle.  All these positions were held by the same persons throughout the rescue.

The rescue was started with the victim lying just upstream of the Nutmeg Grater and facing downstream. Immediately before the Nutmeg Grater is a small chamber, and the victim was lifted back to this and then put into the carrying sheet.  There would have been sufficient room here for some first aid to have been administered, although there was not enough room to turn the victim round.  Because of this, progress through the next few feet of narrow passage was made with the victim travelling feet first.

At the first widening of the passage, just downstream of the Corkscrew, the patient was turned round without too much trouble.  Progress through the Corkscrew was slow, but by no means impossible - the main impediment being the bulk of the victim and the carrying sheet catching as it was dragged along.

Once through the Corkscrew, progress became much easier.  Fairly long drags could be achieved, with the victim riding toboggan fashion.  The frequent low sections caused little bother as they were each short.  The only problem between the Corkscrew and the Duck was the portion of the passage where a large boulder blocks all but a very narrow portion of streamway.  Here, it was necessary to lift the victim across the obstacle.

It was decided to try the Duck, which itself was no problem under fairly low water conditions.  One person could float the victim through. On exit at the other side it is possible to turn right at water level and follow a rift which comes out at the wider passage before the duck.  From this point, it becomes necessary to lift and pass the patient through the squeeze in the boulders which leads back to the main stream.  For this operation, one person needed to be underneath the victim, supporting him with his back until the victim was in the squeeze, where at least three others are needed to pull him through and back down to stream level. The remainder of the route through the streamway was straightforward - simple dragging being practical.

The entrance, as we had anticipated, caused us our great¬est problem.  Prior to going underground, we had diverted the stream down the rear water entrance, but this proved to have been quite useless as the water issued into the entrance tube anyway.  To get the victim up into the entrance tube, one person laid down to form a ramp over which the victim was then dragged.  As the majority of the water flows around the boulders at the right angle in the entrance passage, it was no problem to pull the patient round into the tube.  The final eight feet of passage caused many problems.  Once in the tube, it was only possible to pull the victim.  Due to the irregular floor, a straight pull was ineffective and, on pulling the victim two feet forward, his bulk dropped into a depression in the floor.  The patient's position was quite intolerable, with water running very close to his breath¬ing orifice.  The only thing to be done was to drag the patient back and release him from the drag sheet in order to get him out of a rather damp situation.

On any further rescue through the entrance tube, the floor will have to be made as even as possible with, we suggest, an infill of stones or sandbags.  It may even be practical to install a plank to drag the patient on to. Also, it might be necessary to dam the stream further upstream when the victim is in the vicinity of the entrance.

The whole operation took about three hours.


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List 1972


D.B. Avis

Southington, Stapleford, Nr. Salisbury, Wilts


J.H.S. Abbott

28 St. Pauls Road, Manningham, Bradford, Yorks.


J.M. Bacon

The Old Post Office, Kinnerton, Nr. Chester


Bob Bagshaw

699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol, Avon


Mike Baker

22 Riverside Gardens, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon


R. Bater

4 Butterfield Close, westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Mrs Bater

4 Butterfield Close, westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Joan Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Roy Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Martin Bishop

Islay, 98 Winsley Hill, Limpley Stoke, Bath, Somerset


E. Bishop

Islay, 98 Winsley Hill, Limpley Stoke, Bath, Somerset


Sybil Bowden-Lyle

PO Box 15, Iganga, Busoga, Uganda


P. Blogg

5 Tyrolean Court, Cheviot Close, Avenue Road, Banstead, Surrey


Alan Bonner

Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland


T.A. Brookes

87 Wyatt Road, London, SW2


R. Brown

33 Green Court, Leagrove, Luton, Beds.


Viv Brown

3 Cross Street, Kingswood, Bristol


Tessa Burt

66 Roundwood Lane, Harpendon, Herts.


D.A. Byers

301 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


Ian Calder

Plas Pencelli, Pencelli, Brecon


Penelope Calder

Plas Pencelli, Pencelli, Brecon


R. Chandler

6 Blackcap Close, Southgate, Crawley, West Sussex


P.A. Christie

9 Prory Way, Tetbury, Glos.


Colin Clark

186 Cranbrook Road, Redland, Bristol


M. Clark

41 Mawney Road, Romford, Essex


Alan Coase

6 Meadow Mead, Rectory Road, Frampton Cotterell, Bristol


Clare Coase

5 Mandalay Flats, 10 Elsiemer Street, Long Jetty, N.S.W. 2262, Australia


J. Coleman

Orchard House, Bunwell, Norfolk


Alfie Collins

Lavendar Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset


D. Cooke-Yarborough

Lot 11 McKay Crescent, Orange, New South Wales, Australia


W. Cooper

259 Wick Road, Bristol


Tony Corrigan

48a Talbot Road, Knowle, Bristol 4


Bob Cross

122 Pearson lane, Bradford 9


I.M. Daniels

Handsworth, Pilgrims way, Chilham, Canterbury, Kent


Frank Darbon

2106 14th StreetPO Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada


Mrs Davies

Camp V, Neighbourne, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset


Len Dawes

223 Southwark Park, Bermondsey, London SE10


Colin Dooley

497A City Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham 17


Ken Dobbs

85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon


Jim Durston

7 Estuary Park, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset


P. Eckford

80 Wilton Gardens, Shirley, Southampton


Bryan Ellis

7 School Lane, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset


C. Falshaw

23 Hallam Grange Crescent, Sheffield


P.G. Faulkner

65 Broomfield Crescent, Middleton, Manchester


Tom Fletcher

11 Cow Lane, Bramcote, Nottingham.


D. Foxwell

870 Kebourne Road, Brentry, Bristol


Albert Francis

22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset


Joyce Franklin

12 Avon Way, Portishead, Bristol


Pete Franklin

12 Avon Way, Portishead, Bristol


Keith Franklin

6 Kings Street, Avonmouth, Bristol


R.T. Gage

15 Chandag Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


R.C. Gander

2 Rock Street, Croscombe, Wells, Somerset


Keith Gladman

29 Shenfield Road, Brentwood, Essex


S.J. Gazzard

8 Woodbridge Road, Knowle, Bristol


E.M. Glanville

Jocelyn House Mews, Chard, Somerset


K.R. Glossop

DO8205, No.4 Petty Officer’s Mess, HMS Lynx, BFPO Ships, London


Dave Glover

24 Burnham Road, Tadley, Nr. Basingstoke, Hants.


Jane Glover

24 Burnham Road, Tadley, Nr. Basingstoke, Hants


Martin Grass

14 Westlea Road, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts


Steve Grime

Letterewe, Wester Ross, Scotland


Chris Hall

65 Valley View Road, Paulton, Bristol


Nigel Hallet

73 Queensdown Gardens, Brislington, Bristol 4


P. Hamm

11 Queens Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


Mrs Hamm

11 Queens Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


Mervyn Hannam

Lowlands, Orchard Close, East Hendred, Berks.


C.W. Harris

The Diocesan Registry, Wells, Somerset


Chris Harvey

Byways, Hanham Lane, Paulton, Nr. Bristol


Dan Hassell

Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset


M. Havan

24 Elberton Road, Westbuty-on-Trym, Bristol


Rodney Hobbs

Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol


Sid Hobbs

Hokerstone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Sylvia Hobbs

Hokerstone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


J.G. Hodgson

72 Chesterfield Road, Bristol 6


Mrs Hodgson

72 Chesterfield Road, Bristol 6


Mike Hogg

32 Birchley Heath, Nuneaton, Warks


George Honey

Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden


B. Howe

48 Martins Road, Hanham, Bristol


C. Howell

131 Sandon Road, Edgebaston, Birmingham


P. Hudson

22 Glentawe Park Estate, Wind Road, Ystradgynlais, Wales


J. Ifold

5 Rushgrove Gardens, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol


P. Ifold

The Cedars, Blackford, Nr. Wedmore, Cheddar


Maurise Iles

Waterworks Cottage, Gurmney Slade, Bath


Dave Irwin

Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Somerset


N. Jago

27 Quantock Road, Windmill Hill, Bristol 3


A Johnson

Warren Cottage, Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol


Frank Jones

8 York Gardens, Clifton, Bristol 8


Mrs. P. Jones

50 Louisville Avenue, Aberdeen


U. Jones

Marsh Farm, Askem in Furness, Lancs.


Alan Kennett

92 West Broadway, Henleaze, Bristol


Kangy King

21 Rue Lionel Terray, 31 Blangnas, France


Phil Kingston

21 Longfield Road, Bishopston, Bristol


R. Kitchen

Overcombe, Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon


J.M. Knops

5 Kingsfield, Kingsway, Bath


Tim Large

39 Seymour Avenue, Bishopston, Bristol


P. Littlewood

22 Brockhurst Avenue, Burbage, Hankley, Leics.


Mrs Littlewood

22 Brockhurst Avenue, Burbage, Hankley, Leics


A.G. Leftley

9 Northumberland Street, Westley, Plymouth


Oliver Lloyd

Withey House, Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


George Lucy

Pike Croft, Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks


Val Luckwill

8 Greenslade Road, Sedgeley hill, Dudley, Worcs.


R A MacGregor

12 Meadow Way, Theale, Reading, Berks


J. Manchip

c/o Mr Hutchinson, 1 Orwell Terrace, Edinburgh 11


Mrs K. Mansfield

Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath


I.K. Marshall

4 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol


R. Marshall

Flat 47, Cromwell Road, Bristol 6


T. Marsden

50 The Deans, Downlands, Portishead, Bristol


E.J. Mason

11 Kendon Drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Tony Meaden

Highcroft, Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset


D. Metcalf

14 Rock Road, Peterborough. Northants.


P.J. Miller

60 Elm Tree Road, Locking, Weston-super-Mare


G. Moore

17 Elsmgrove, Redland, Bristol


T.E. Morland

1 Chantry Road, Wilton, Salisbury, Wilts.


J. Murray

Latymer House, Hill Close, Wincanton, Somerset


K. Murray

17 Harrington Gardens, London SW7


T.W. Neil

Woodville Lodge, Laigton Road, Worthing, Sussex


Mrs Neil

Woodville Lodge, Laigton Road, Worthing, Sussex


A. Nichols

121 Wyndhams Court, Commercial Road, Southampton


G.E. Oaten

32 St. Marks Road, Bristol 5


J. Orr

c/o The Belfry


D. Palmer

29 John Wesley Road, St. George, Bristol 3


Mike Palmer

27 Roman Way, Paulton, Nr. Bristol


A. Pardoe

Church Cottage, Church Road, North, Portishead, Nr. Bristol, Somerset


D. Parfitt

11 Johnson Close, Wells, Somerset


A.E. Pearce

22 Tiverton Drive, New Eltham London, SE9


J. Pearce

5 Colmer Road, Yeovil, Somerset


Les Peters

21 Melbury Rd., Knowle Park, Bristol Avon


Norman Petty

Bankside Road, Brislington, Bristol


Tony Philpott

3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon


Graham Phippen

Rock Cottage, Rock Road, Wick, Bristol


Brian Prewer

East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset


Colin Priddle

40 Ralph Road, Horfield, Bristol 7


John Ransom

21 Bradley Rd., Patchway, Bristol, Avon


Pam Rees

c/o The Belfry


I. Rees

20 Broad Street, Presteigne, Radnorshire


A Rich

Box 126, Basham, Alberta Canada


N. Rich

Ballyochyle Estate, Sandbank, Dunoon, Argyll


J. Riley

12 Lawley Place, Deakin, Canberra, Australia


Mrs Riley

12 Lawley Place, Deakin, Canberra, Australia


G.G. Robinson

49 Elton Road, Bishopston, Bristol 6


I.P. Rogers

56 Charlton Lane, Brentry, Bristol



Sgts. Mess, RAF Coningsby. Lincoln


C. Sage

17 Westbourne Road, Downend, Bristol


Miss Salisbury

24 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Brsitol 6


Alan Sandall

43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon


Carol Sandall

43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon


D.R. Sanderson

23 Penzance Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex


B. Scott

Merrymead, Havestock Road, Winchester Hants


Dave Searle

Dolphin Cottage, The Beeches, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Kathy Searle

Dolphin Cottage, The Beeches, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Gordon Selby

2 Dodd Avenue, Wells, Somerset


R.A. Setterington

4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset


R. Setterington

4 Cavendish Road, Chiswick, London W4


N.K. Shaw

Queens Head Walk, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts


M.B. Slade

31 Hilburn Road, Bristol 5


Dave Smith

14 Severn Way, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks.


J.M. Stafford

Bryger, Bagworth, Somerset.


Harry Stanbury

31 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Bristol


Mrs I Stanbury

74 Redcatch, Knowle, Bristol


D. Statham

The Bungallow, North Barrow, Yeovil, Somerset


Roger Stenner

38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3


Daphne Stenner

38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3


P.A.E. Stewart

11 Fairhaven Road ,Redland, Bristol 6


D. Stuckey

34 Allington Road, Southville, Bristol 3


P. Sutton

75 Bredon, Yate, Bristol


Derek Targett

16 Phyllis Hill, Midsomer Norton


Nigel Taylor

c/o Langley, Moors farm, Berkeley, Frome, Somerset


Allan Thomas

Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset


D Thomas

Mantons, 2 St. Pauls Road, Tupsley, Hereford


N Thomas

Holly Lodge, Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.


M. Thomas

5 Woolcot St. Redland, Bristol 6


M. Tilbury

9 Easton Terrace, High Wycombe, Bucks.


Buckett Tilbury

256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


Anne Tilbury

256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


Gordon Tiley

Jable, Digby Road, Sherborne, Dorset


Roger Toms

22 Lancing Gardens, Edmonton, London N9


J.M. Postle Tompsett

11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex


M.J. Dizzie Tompsett

11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex


E. Towler

5 Boxbrove Gardens, Alwick, Bognor Regis, West Sussex


Phil Townsend

20 Lime Close, Prestbury. Cheltenham, Glos.


Jill Tuck

48 Wiston Path, Fairwater Way, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales


Steve Tuck

3 Colles Close, Wells, Somerset


Tony Tucker

64 Calcott Road, Knowle, Bristol


Dave Turner

Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath


P. Turner

11 Harper Court, Honnington, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire


S. Tuttlebury

28 Butts Road, Alton, Hants.


J. Upsall

82 Eastland Road, Yeovil, Somerset


Mrs Upsall

82 Eastland Road, Yeovil, Somerset


R. Voke

8 Pavey Road, Hartcliffe, Brsitol 3


Mrs D. Waddon

32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset


R. Wallin

164 Bryant’s Hill, Bristol


G. Watts

100 Chesterfield Road, St. Andrews, Bristol 6


Eddie Welch

18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol


Bob White

The Old Bakery, Croscombe, Nr. Wells, Somerset


P. Wilkins

6 Effingham Road, St. Andrews, Bristol


Barry Wilton

Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol


Brenda Wilton

Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol


Graham Wilton-Jones

17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford


Alan Williams

Hendrew Farm, Llanderaied, Newport, Mon.


G.C. Williams

90 Grenville Street, Southville, Bristol


R.F. Wing

Penzance Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex



Rules of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund

We print the rules as amended by the 1972 A.G.M., so that members may know how they now operate.

1.                  The fund shall be known as the Ian Dear Memorial Fund.

2.                  The bequest shall be used to set up a fund to assist certain members to visit caving or climbing areas abroad.  Further donations may be added to the fund.

3.                  The fund will be administered by an Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee.  This will consist of the Hon. Treasurer; the Caving and Climbing Secretaries and two other members who will be elected, annually at the same time and by the same procedures as the general Committee.  The previous year’s ordinary members would be automatically nominated and would carry on in office if no other nominations were received.  The aforesaid committee will report to the Annual General Meeting.

4.                  Any club member under the age of eighteen may apply.  Members over eighteen years of age may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

5.                  Applications should be received by any member of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee two months prior to the date of the proposed trip.  A report, suitable for publication in the B.B. must be received by the Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee within one month of the completion of the trip.

6.                  The maximum amount of monies allocated in any one year shall be left to the discretion of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee.  The maximum amount allocated to any individual is unlikely to exceed £20 per trip.

7.                  The fund to be invested at the discretion of the club Treasurer, and the interest to be retained within the fund.

Note: At present, the two ordinary members of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee are M. Palmer and R.A. Setterington.

Built in Non–Obsolescence!

An interesting ‘snippet’ sent in by JOCK ORR

Chatting about the merits and deficiencies of various forms of lighting.  Alan Fincham mentioned that he still used the same NiFe cell for his caving in Jamaica that he had purchased whilst at Leeds University.  He still gets a regular 10 to 12 amp hours out of it.

When I asked him how long he had had the cell, he stopped and thought for a moment while he did some mental calculations.  With an expression of surprise he then exclaimed "Good Lord!  That was in 1956, sixteen years ago.  It would seem that NiFe cells are a good buy!


Every endeavour will be made to get the Christmas B.B. into the hands of members before Christmas. At present there is a small shortage of articles, and any last minute contributions will be very welcome.


Monthly Crossword – Number 28.


3. Found in nearby pub. (3)
5. Tire car in some caves? (7)
6. Describes cold water cave? (3)
8. Climbing aid. (6)
10. Companion to ensure safety? (6)
11. Lamb Leer insect. (3)
12. Bod rule found in most caves. (7)
14. Comes round once a year! (3)


1. Get a caving trip organised. (7)
2. Tin five hundred with the French for illumination. (6)
3. Here in France, they make bang. (1,1,1)
4. Any negative arrangement. (3)
7. Surveyed Lake Chamber, perhaps? (7)
9. Loos arrangements of 13 across. (6)
11. Mendip Swallet. (3)
12. Mendip gorge with alternative does not flow. (3)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

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:     D. Turner

Members:          R. Bagshaw; W. Cooper; D.J. Irwin;

                        N. Jago; T.E. Large; P. Stobart;

                        A.R. Thomas

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, 2 Broughton House, Somerset St., Redcliffe, Bristol 1.

Hut Warden:      D.J. IRWIN, Tonsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.

Hut Engineer:    P. STOBART, ‘Eriksay’, The Avenue, Coombe Down, Bath Som. Tel: COOMBE DOWN 7663.

Tacklemaster:    W. COOPER, 259 Wick Rd, Bristol BS4 4HE.  Tel: BRISTOL 77368.

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

Librarian:           D. SEARLE, Dolphin Cottage, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tel: WELLS 78748.

Publications:     D.J. IRWIN.  Address as above

B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.



With this issue of the B.B., a start has been made towards transforming the B.E.C. journal into something which club members may eventually be able to take some pride in. A lot of discussion has been, and is still going on about such points as what size we can sensibly expect to maintain while giving members good value for their money and, in a wider context, just what the content of a typical B.B. ought to consist of.  If YOU have any bright ideas on any subject connected with the B.B., the editor or any member of the committee will gladly give your idea an airing.  Better still why not come to a committee meeting and tell us how you think the B.B. could be improved?  Ideas should, of course, be constructive.  It is of little use, for example, telling us that you would like to see more of a certain type of article unless you have some idea of how we might set about doing this.  It is hoped that, by the end of this year, we shall have a B.B. which will cater for most tastes, but it will be easier to do this if we know what YOU think about it.


Twenty Five Years Old

A quarter of a century, or a third of an average lifetime is sufficiently long span of time to warrant some form of acknowledgment.  We hope that the new form of the B.B. will gradually set a standard for the further improvements in contents and printing which hopefully will follow.

Belfry Matters

At least four sincerely held, yet conflicting points of view as to how we should organise the Belfry have been made known to your editor recently by their adherents.  What one might call the Caving Viewpoint says ' The Belfry is a caving hut, and all other activities must yield to caving’.  In contrast, the Social viewpoint says ‘ The B.E.C. is not just a caving club.  The good fellowship for which the club has always been noted should not be allowed to disappear, and life at the Belfry should encourage it.’

Then there is the economic viewpoint, which says ' The Belfry has cost a lot of money and is expensive to run and maintain.  Whatever else it may or may not do, its first job is to pay its way.’  Finally, there is the member's viewpoint, which says 'The Belfry was built by the club and for the club.  Club people should always get priority.'

We are not alone in finding problems connected with the ownership of a new headquarters building, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in admitting that such problems exist. It would even be odd if they did not. What we must do is to find some modus vivendi which satisfies the various viewpoints summarised above.  It would appear that the committee must do their sums and find out just how much the place costs and what return is necessary to pay for it - then some reasonable balance could be struck between the claims of members and the needs of visitors.  As for any conflicting claims between serious cavers and the mere social variety, there seems to be no real need, in these days of easy transport, to confine social activities to the weekend.  Why not a fortnightly Belfry social evening some time in the week? Participants could easily pay the day fee as well as chipping in for the drinks and thus help to make the Belfry pay and keep everybody happy.

The Irremovables?

Another theory which has come recently to the editorial ear says that there are committee members who, irrespective of performance or outlook, can never be removed to make way for more progressive types because they depend for their votes on older members who are equally out of touch.  On the face of it, this theory leaks plausible, but I wonder how true it really is? I can think of at least one occasion where a member of long standing and good past performance was voted off because the club - rightly or wrongly _ judged that he was no longer in a position to contribute his particular skills.  I can think of no time in which a member who was determined to do some job better than its holder was doing it, failed to get there fairly quickly.  On the ether hand, I can think of a number of occasions in which the new broom did a little quick sweeping and then failed to keep it up.  The motto for potential new brooms seems to be 'Show us what you can do, convince us, and then keep us that way.'



QUOTE…..During a discussion on Tim Large's report in the St. Cuthbert’s news sheet where he refers to some leaders as 'deawood', Norman Petty was heard to comment " All these leaders have been struck down with Dutch Elm Disease, I suppose."


Trip to the Berger

To most cavers, the Gouffre Berger will conjure up visions of vast expeditions with fantastic and detailed organisation.  This article by DAVE YEANDLE  shows how even this hole can be tackled in the Mendip manner.  Last summer I was fortunate enough to be invited trip to the Gouffre Berger.   Having heard of the wonders of this hole, I didn't hesitate in accepting.

The Berger was first bottomed in 1954 by the international expedition.   Since then, many parties have reached the sump which is about 3,700 feet below the entrance.  Diving has produced an extra twenty feet in depth and 300 feet in length.  The French have since really pushed the cave, the most important discovery being a mile of passage starting at the top of Hurricane Pitch (the last pitch!)  A large amount of passage has been found upstream of the main cave and a new entrance has been opened up.  The system is now some four miles long.  Most British expeditions to the Berger have been large and organised.  Ours was different - small and not really organised at all.

The trip, which was arranged by Tony Waltham, started as it as it was to go on, in an informal manner with people wandering over in ones and twos, but soon the party was assembled at La Molier, our campsite some three miles from the entrance.

The Berger starts as a normal sort of pot, rather like a dry Yorkshire SSP.  At around 700 feet down, the pot intercepts the Berger proper, and this descends more or less steadily to the sump.  On the first trip, Tony Waltham, Keith Turnbull (all Imperial college Caving Club and Happy Wanderers) Tony White (ULSA) and myself went to the top of Aldos shaft - 130 feet and the last pitch before the main passage.  Slight difficulty, mainly due to the large loads we were carrying, was found in the meanders, a set of rift passages starting after Cairn Hall.  The French have, however, installed a large number of wooden stemples and planks.  If one trusts them, the going is much easier. One man went down Aldos and all the tackle required to reach Camp 2 was lowered.

The next day, we set off for Camp 1 carrying our camping gear.  As far as I was concerned, the best part of that day was emerging into the main passage for the first time.  While I plodded off in the wrong direction, I seemed to be surrounded by blackness and very little else.  Progress downwards brought many more delights - the first Berger stal, Lake Cadoux, Little General Pitch and the Tyrolean.  The latter is most interesting as it can be compared (with a little use of imagination) to the well-known photograph of the rope traverse on Annapurna South Face - one must, of course, throw in a waterfall and a pool.

The next section, the Great Rubble Heap, turned out to be enormous and rather boulder strewn.  Many of the boulders were the size of a double-decker bus and the walls were often ‘lost’ for several minutes.  However, there was a vague sort of path which soon led us to Camp 1 suburbs and Camp 1 itself.  We were surprised to smell only rotten cloth in this area, we had been fearing the worst after seeing the state of the entrance series.  Perhaps we were lucky in being the first party of the season!

While we looked around the Hall of the Thirteen, which is very near to Camp 1, others took tackle to the top of the Balcony, the halfway point in depth.  This section of passage is simply too much. After the huge gour pools and thirty foot high pillars of the Hall of the Thirteen.  We quickly descended, over alternate gours and boulder heaps.  The place was so clean and spacious that heavy loads did not seem to matter for we had found the perfect cave.

We soon cooked up our meal and went to bed.  We slept well and after waking up set off towards Camp 2.  After the Balcony (a sixty foot pitch) more splendid passage. Soon, another pitch was reached, a pleasant sloping one, on stal, and clean because a small stream trickled down it, The main stream was now reached and with it, a couple of canals.  These we passed in our boat, just as we had done with Lake Cadoux. These canals were quite narrow and approximately 400 feet in length.  From this point onwards, the cave was really wet, a few short pitches usually followed by annoying little pools were spread out along a smaller then usual (for the Berger!) rift passage.  Soon, the top of Claudine's Cascade was reached a really draughty exposed spot with hardly anywhere to belay.  A pole traverse followed by an impressive sixty foot pitch took us into a pool of large proportions and medium depth.  A little later, a short traverse and pitch brought us to the top of the Grand Canyon - the site of Camp 2.  We were at last out of the water and draught, dramatically so in fact, as the route traversed round the side of the passage some hundred feet above the stream,

Four hundred feet in depth later, we were at Camp 3.  We had a quick look down the streamway from the top of Baches Pitch (sixty feet) and while gazing down, we wondered id we were to go further.  We certainly weren’t that day, so off we went back to Camp 1, a very sporting trip when unladen.  The next day we went out and the day after that we waited for our reinforcements.  They arrived, and the following day Dave Brook, Alan Brook, Dave Headley (three more ULSA’s) Dave? and Martin? (I never learned their second names!) Tony White, Tony Waltham, Roger, Keith and myself set off on a photographic orgy.

After a night in Camp 1, everybody except a party of five sump seeking ULSA cavers, went out.  The trip to Camp 3 was like a speleological silent film than a Berger bottoming ¬expedition.  The food bag containing nearly all our rations was lost and found twice - once in a small pool and then in a large one (the pool at the bottom of Claudine’s).  After such a carry-on, the Berger must have had the best laugh it had had since it was dived by another lot of mad Englishmen.  To cap everything, we realised that we had overestimated the ladder required by two hundred feet and underestimated the rope by about a hundred feet.  One man stayed in Camp 3, leaving four heading towards the sump.  Baches was easy and dry, soon followed by a horrid pitch of about thirty feet.  The ladder was belayed to a dubious chock stone, reached by an exposed traverse and the ladder went between two waterfalls into a nasty deep pool.

Sooner or later, we reached the top of the Grand Cascade (65').  The water plunged straight down.  Even with the ladder belayed on the left to a belt, it looked desperate. Half way down was a small ledge with the water landing on it.  The effect was rather like a rough sea.  The descent to the stream was impressive.  All the way down I kept expecting to swing suddenly into the full force of the water and have to fight for breath and to stay on the ladder.  It never happened.  The worst part was the last ten feet.  At one point just below the ledge, I turned round and saw the main waterfall less than two feet away.  Nobody had wanted to do this pitch free or with a self life¬line, so we had to face the fact that we couldn't reach the sump.  We went to the top of Little Monkey, which is the last, but one pitch and 900 metres down.  This part of the cave turned out to be a super version of Penyghent.  There is even a hands and knees crawl (a proper one!). By now we had developed a great deal of respect for the French, who had explored the series above Harrison Pitch - we hadn't even reached their starting point!

Now the work began, as it always must, to regain the surface.  Quick progress was made to Camp 3, partly because there is no escape from the Berger wind until one is above Baches.  After a large feed, we set off for the Grand Canyon.  This was an experience not easy to forget.  We were starting to get tired, but hadn't reached the mechanical stage. Each person had two large rolls of ladder and some rope.  Progress was made as follows.  ‘Move ladder on left.  Move ladder on right.  Move feet. Decide that next bit is too steep. Move ladder on left…’

After the next pitch we were moving well.  A surprisingly short time later, we were all at the start of the canals.  Everybody was cold and falling asleep and this was due, no doubt, to the numerous short immersions when even wetsuits were not enough. The tackle was taken to the bottom of the next pitch, so that everybody and everything was above the sections liable to flooding.  And so to Camp 1 and sleep.  We had been away for twenty one hours.  Seven hours later, we were back down to where we had left the tackle.  We had to hurry, as Tony Waltham and his car had to leave for England very shortly and the tackle was to go with him. By now, we were moving a mountain.  Even so, people seemed quite happy with their lot and we progressed well.

At the top of the Balcony, somebody mentioned that we were halfway out.  I now felt a little like a slave who must for ever carry increasing loads up an endless succession of pitches, with only the occasional reward like a bit of sleep or a Mars bar.  Then something happened that changed us back into a happy band of trogs leaping around a cave.  We saw some lights – thousands of them – heading down the passage  towards us at a tremendous rate.  We had been vaguely expecting some sort of help in de-tackling, but all the same, we were relieved to have it in reality.  Behind those lights were Roger Graham (M.U.S.S.) Mark Rogers (ULSA) Ian Plant, Jeff Yeadon and someone else, all of the Kendall Caving Club.  Camp 1 was reached very quickly, where we all celebrated.  The Kendal lads took some photographs on Kodachrome II and P.F.1 flashbulbs.  Everybody was in a jovial frame of mind.

Next, we all went up to the bottom of Aldos carrying all the tackle.  The five old hands - as we now started to think of ourselves - returned to Camp 1 while the rest went out with the tackle.  They surfaced at eight in the morning after twenty hour trip.

The next day, we left the cave.  The trip out was tremendous.  Everybody turned out to help, time seemed to fly and tackle whizzed up pitches at an unbelievable speed.  Dave? spent the day at the top of the first underground pitch.  This boring task didn’t seem stop him hurling abuse at all who passed, and allowing nobody to climb the pitch (we were all hauled up.) The atmosphere was great.

As I neared the entrance, I started to feel almost sorry to be going out.  The cave now seemed very friendly and back outside were all sorts of torments like insects, cows and rain.  However, the thought of food and wine was most tempting.  Anyway, it wasn’t raining.  In fact, we surfaced in to one of the clearest nights that I have ever seen.  The sky was full of stars with the Milky Way in full view.


Leaders Meeting

The main topic at the recent Leaders' Meeting was the preservation of Cuthbert’s.  It has been observed that several sites of stalagmite and mud formations have been destroyed and/or disfigured, even though there is a leaders system in operation.

Particular cases of this are the white stal flows in the Rabbit Warren Extension which have been obviously crossed by someone,  who has left a mud trail behind, completely ruining the flow.  The white flows at the lower end of Rabbit Warren Extension have also suffered the same treatment and the curtain and stal. flow also in the Rabbit Warren Extension.  Flows above Chain Chamber and the dry gours just beyond have all suffered.  The mud formations and cave pearls in Lower Mud Hall have been damaged, but the worst site of all has been in Erratic Chamber. This is the passage that has been known for many years to connect Rabbit Warren Extension with the top of Struggle Passage, but the way was barred by many straws  and helictites.  Somebody has forced their way through, doing irreparable damage.

There are other sites where the tale is the same and unless immediate action is taken it appears that more formations will be damaged.  We discussed many suggestions ranging from closing the cave to discouraging tourist parties from particularly vulnerable areas of the cave.  One line of action, already taken by the leaders - that of taping the formations, notably in September Chamber, has resulted in no damage being reported in that area.  It was decided to take the following action: - 1. To tape every vulnerable area and also to build small walls and mark out paths through areas of formations so that there can be no question of anyone not knowing where to tread.  2. Some form of reference system, so that anyone can consult a list that will tell them where; particular passages where there are vulnerable formations go, so that they do not need to force any passages unnecessarily.  3. To restrict parties in some areas of the cave to not more than three, particularly in Rabbit Warren Extension and Curtain Chamber.  4. To remind leaders that they have a responsibility not only for the safety of their parties, but towards the cave itself, and 5, To attempt to clean up some of the formations that will permit this treatment and to repair formations if possible.  The leaders also intend to review the prospective leaders test to see if it is still adequate.

FIXED TACKLE.  It has been six months since the items of fixed tackle were removed.  At the meeting it was decided to replace the ladders on the Ledge Pitches but to leave all the ether sites as they are now.

MAYPOLE SERIES.  The fixed tackle in this section of the cave is in need of repair and replacement and so it was agreed that several improvements could be made during the repair work.  These are to be carried out as soon as possible.  The short belay at the head of Pulley Pitch needs replacing, but otherwise the pitch is O.K.  The nylon line on this pitch is only for pulling up a rope and not for belaying. The Maypole fixed ladder is to be replaced by a pulley system similar to that in the Pulley Pitch.  The Upper Chain Pitch will have the chain removed and receive the same treatment.  The Lower Chain pitch will have the chain removed, but it has been decided not to replace it with any fixed aids as they are not necessary.  The pitch is easily free-climbable and the leader can fix a handline for any of his party who require one.  All this work will be carried out in the near future and the Ledge Pitch ladders have 'already been replaced.

SUMP 1.  This is at present open in all weather conditions as a flat out crawl in water with a 4 to 10 inch airspace.  There is no need to use the dams.

Tim Large


The Ian Dear Memorial Fund

As members will recall, the Ian Dear Memorial Fund is there to provide help for younger members to go on trips like that just described.  The Chairman of the Ian Dear Memorial Committee - 'SETT' (R.A. Setterington) supplies a timely reminder to young club members about the fund.

The late Ian Dear - a much respected and active member of the B. E. C. - in 1964 bequeathed a sum of £300 "To assist junior members of the B. E. C. to visit caving or climbing areas of the continent".  Since that date, monies have been managed by the Ian Dear Memorial Committee, meeting as required.  It has come as rather a surprise to this committee and to myself in particular that this fund has only been used twice in the last six years.

At a recent meeting of the fund committee, it was decided that the existence of the fund should be made more widely known.  The possibility of extending the terms of reference was also discussed, but this would have to be confirmed by the general club committee and possibly by an A.G.M.  We also discussed the likelihood of older members of the B.E.C. chaperones on trips already arranged by themselves.

As January is commonly the time when we start thinking summer holidays, now is the time to consider whether we, individually, might be eligible for a grant from the fund or would accept the job of advising or chaperoning a younger member.  Applicants will each be considered on individual merits, with initiative and originality being important.  As the terms of reference may well be changed, even if you are not sure whether you qualify – why not apply?  The Ian Dear Committee will decide.

Changes and Additions to Member’s Addresses

R.F. Bidmead.  41 Fishponds Rd, Eastville, Bristol BS5 6SE
J. Manchip. c/o Egan,16 Warrender Pk.Cres., Edinburgh EH9 1EA
N. Hallett. 73 Queensdown Gds, Brislington, Bristol 4.
N. Jago.  40, Mount Pleasant Terrace, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
P. Coles.  18 Cobthorn Way, Congresbury, Nr. Bristol.
N. Rich.  Ballochyle Estate,Sandbank, Dunoon, Argyllshire.
J. Bulger.  23 Ajax Close, Gt.Wyrley, Wallsall, WS6 6JU
R. Brooks.  5 Gordon Road, Clifton, Bristol 8.
J & M. Riley.  12 Lawlwy Place, Deakin, Canberra, Australia, ACT 2600
B. Smart.  c/o Beuin Hospital Site, Costain (W. Africa,) P. O. 28, Lagos, Nigeria.
P. Ifold.  The Cedars, Blackferd, Nr. Wedmore, Somerset.
J.M. Stafford, Bryher, Badgworth, Scmerset.
A.T. Williams.  Hendrew Farm, Llanderaied, Newport, Mon. NP6 2AB.
J. Ifold.  5 Rushgrove Gdns., Bishop Sutton, BS18 4XB.
Miss C. Salisbury, 59a Ashley Hill, Bristol 6.
Mrs. P. Rees, 10 Hawthorn Way, St. Ives Huntingdon.
S. Grime, Letterewe, Wester Ross, Scotland.

If YOU have recently changed your address, PLEASE let Alan Thomas have your new address so that we make sure you get the B.B.


Swildons Long Round Trip

For those cavers who cannot get to the Berger, GRAHAM PHIPPEN reminds members that Mendip offers some fine sporting caving, which he describes in this article .

Dick Pike, Tony Jarrett, Pete Moody and myself sucessful1y completed the 'Long round trip' on the 1st of October last.  To the best of my knowledge, this trip has not been attempted since the great floods of 1968, so it is worth article.

The trip can only be attempted one way because of the two sumps 'Grit' and 'Gloop' that have to be passed in the Damp Link.  For this reason, the twenty five foot Shatter Pot has to be laddered on the way in to make it climbable on the way out.  Having laddered Shatter you have the alternative of descending into the streamway via Blue Pencil Passage or going via the Troubles.  Blue Pencil will avoid sumps II and III, letting you into the stream in Swildons IV.

All of the party had free dived sumps II, III and IV a few days previous to this trip, and so the precise nature of these sumps was known to us at the time.  This being so we opted to go down via the Troubles and sumps II and III.  Weights were borrowed from the dump at II and left at IV to be returned, of course, by a party that weekend.

All the equipment we carried was hoods and facemasks in excess of standard rig, and these are easily slipped inside a wetsuit jacket.  The cave divers Tony and Dick remarked how pleasant it was to be able to stroll these farther reaches of Swildons without being weighted down with equipment.  Sumps II and III were both about thirty five feet long and wide and open.  IV was fifteen feet long and at that time free of excessive silting, making it quite an easy pass.  Sump V was a series of ducks at a time when conditions were dry. Local and recent advice from cave divers should be sought for sumps IV and V, as their nature is liable to change.

The 'Damp Link' is an inlet passage about thirty feet up the left bank of the streamway between V and VI. Shortly before the first sump, which is called ‘Gloop’, there are four siphon tubes, only two of which work. They can quite easily be started with a little judicious sucking.  Space all through the damp link is rather limited.  This being so, baling Gloop is rather difficult but can be achieved by two people.  If one person stands as best he can in the sump, he can pass the bucket to the second person, who will be lying on his back and endeavouring to push the bucket between the passage roof and his body - no doubt piling half the contents all over his face and chest while throwing the rest over his legs and down the cave. The process is cold, and I had a bad case of cramp from lying prone in such a position for the length of time required.  There is, of course, a happier alternative which we did not think of until afterwards. That is, to start the siphons and then disappear for an hour until the siphons stop working.  We found that siphons stopped working when there was just sufficient air space - or rather lip space- to ease oneself through. Should you decide to hurry up the proceedings by baling, then you will have to procure a bucket from somewhere.

Once past Gloop, a tight and narrow passage leads upward for about a hundred and fifty feet to the second sump, which is called ‘Grit’.  This sump, shallower than Gloop, has to be baled out as dry as possible to allow passage through what then becomes a tight, right-angled squeeze.  I spent several minutes trying to extricate my legs from this squeeze without dislocating any joints - but then I am longer than the average caver, who should have no such problem.

The water from Grit refills Gloop.  It was here that the party was most worried, for the air is rumoured to be bad and the baling of Grit was said to cut off effectively any retreat back through Gloop. A party has been through the Damp Link since our trip.  They left one of their team on the safe side of Gloop after siphoning it, while the rest passed through and baled out Grit.  The intention was that he should re-start the siphons on Gloop after Grit had baled, so that they had a way of retreat should this be necessary. However, he was unable to re-start the siphons, as Gloop did not fill up sufficiently.  Thus, he able to pass through Gloop - not without discomfort - aft¬er Grit had been baled.  This must surely add to the confidence of any future party through the Damp Link.  Our other anxiety, that of foul air, was not the problem we all expecting.  There is considerable length of passage between the two sumps, and when we entered, the air smelt quite fresh.  We were all breathing heavily through our exertion but did not at any time have sort of experience with foul air.  It must be remembered, though that we were the first party through, for possibly three years.  When both sumps are full, this length of passage is probably a closed system and any accumulation of foul air might not disperse.  The air might easily deteriorate if many parties go through at short time intervals.   I have not spoken to any of the previous people, although it should be interesting to hear their reasons for suspecting the presence of carbon dioxide.

There are already four buckets for baling Grit, and there is a danger, if any more accumulate, of having to negotiate a plastic bucket ruckle, making the trip both foolhardy and dangerous.

The tight and narrow passage of the Damp Link continues after Grit for approximately another hundred feet, and then opens up into the Shatter system.  We found in Shatter one duck which required baling, and this was easily effected with a helmet.  A pleasant wetting after our exertions, with ample lip space - if you don’t talk on the way through - and of course a detailed serrating of stal rock.  There was plenty of room in the Static Pool.  I do not think that this fills, but should be interested to learn from anyone if this is correct. We concluded the trip by climbing Shatter, which we had previously laddered and then came smartly out the normal way.

In all, we took six hours, two of which were spent in passing the Damp Link.  We all thoroughly enjoyed the trip; a very great degree of teamwork was required and admirably achieved - credit to Dick Pike for being the capable leader he is.


In Committee

An occasional review of the activities of the club committee

The traditional committee meeting held the day after the A.G.M. last October saw the usual business of allocating club officers for the year and starting to deal with the items wished onto the committee by the A.G.M.  As a matter of general policy, the committee agreed to sort out the entire tackle situation, to keep a detailed eye on the operation of the Belfry and to tighten up somewhat drastically on club membership.

In addition to these items, and the usual crop of minor business, the committee has spent some time on two items of major importance, those of the acquisition of additional land and relationships between us and our more immediate neighbours - both of which may well take some time yet before they are completed.

In the main, problems connected with the Belfry continues to dominate the committee business problems like the renovation of the toilets; sorting out a more sensible hot water system and re-roofing the stone Belfry.  The library installation and cataloguing continues to make steady but slow progress.

The Chairman's invitation to club members to attend the committee meetings was taken up in January, which meeting had several knotty problems connected with the Belfry and the B.B. to discuss.  At one stage, the 'audience' having been given their head by the chairman, fell to disagreeing amongst themselves, thus proving that there are usually two sides to every question and that the job of taking the decisions is not as easy as it may appear from outside.

A belated bouquet to last years committee, who managed to clear up 67 items of business out of a total of 72 which came their way during their year of office.

Just a Sec

Notes from our Hon. Sec. augmented here and there by the Editor.

At the annual meting of the National Caving Association which I attended at Whernside Manor on the 30th October last, there was a great body of agreement between the delegates than in former years.  In fact, the final differences between the Southern Council and the Cambrian Council were settled by goodwill on both sides, and the N.C.A. now has a constitution and can act as the official national body in its dealings with the sports council.

It is refreshing to hear that the C.D.G. still tries to keep out of caving politics, so that Oliver Lloyd, as Diving Group representative, abstained from voting on several matters which he had proposed as Southern Council representative.

It was interesting to learn that an education committee had appointed as its chief caving instructor a man who it knew had never been caving.

A meeting was held recently at Upper Pitts of the Southern Council working party on conservations and access.  Its report, which will be presented to the next Southern Council meeting, is now ready.

Incidentally, at the meeting I was somewhat surprised to learn that somebody who recently enquired about joining the B.E.C. found the answer offensive and swelled the ranks of the Severn Valley instead.  I have long known that we have a national reputation for unsociability, but in this instance I wonder who they wrote to, and who bothered to answer!  I have a duplicated screed telling them how good we are which I send to prospective members and which has been closely scrutinised to avoid giving offence.

A reminder to members that Richard Kenney will be giving his slide show on Antarctica at the Belfry on February the 19th.  The slides are particularly interesting, and the fantastic clarity of the air in Antarctica gives them a sharpness of definition which has to he seen.  Time of the show is 7.30, giving adequate time at the Hunters afterward for those who don't want to miss their regular pint.

Look out for the publication by the B.E.C. in the near future of  'Mendip's Vanishing Grottoes'  This book, containing between 45 and 50 photographs of beautiful but now extinct cave formations, is saddle stitched and printed by the offset litho process. It will be sold to members at 30p (6/-) for the FIRST MONTH ONLY when it will revert to its proper price of 40p (8/-).

Congratulations to Bob and Lyn White on the birth of a daughter - Rosalyn Jane.

Dave Irwin's address will shortly be ‘Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset’ as he is buying Steve Wynne-Robert’s cottage. Likewise, please note Nigel Jago's change of address which is given on page 6 of this B.B. and is NOT as printed on page 1!

Please have you any library books or other printed matter belonging to the club?  The librarian is doing• his best to sort out the collection now that it has been moved to the Belfry.  Keys are held by the Hut Warden, the Librarian and myself.

Congratulations to Mr. Tim Pardoe who is now Dr. Tim Pardoe.

George Honey has sent a Christmas card from Droppsta in Sweden (his address in last November's B. B.) and says that any cavers or climbers are welcome for skiing/walking/boozing/wenching. His card shows his house at Droppsta, which is a wooden house about Belfry size and which he refers to on the card as Belfry No 2.

Jill Tuck reports that George Boon of the National Museum Wales is doing a long article on two sites of Roman forges, one of which is Roman Mine and the other White Woman’s Hole in Asham Wood.  The article is for Proc. U.B.S.S.  Jill say that Norman and herself have seen the draft copy, in which the author says nice things about the Roman Mine excavation being amazed at the fact that the hearth site was excavated in complete darkness.


A long weekend in Langdale

By Alan Tringham

Now that there is a motorway from Gloucester to Kendal, it is no longer such a journey to get to the Lake District. The only necessity is a co-driver to share the monotony of a straight road late at night.

The first night at the campsite was uneventful, apart from a manoeuvring car colliding with my van, and disturbing the slumbering occupant.  The morning was cloudy, so we decided on a look at Pavey Arc - a big rambling cliff above Stickle Tarn.  On passing the new Dungeon Ghyll hotel, a shower of rain sent us scurrying for the bar and a pint of mild.

Two hours later saw us at the bottom of Cock's Tour - a 300 V.Diff. reached by 200' of scrambling above Stickle Tarn.  This is a rather rambling route but with some very inter¬esting individual pitches and a good feeling of exposure down to the tarn below.  The best pitches were the second which was a narrow slab requiring an easy hand jam to start followed by several delicate moves on polished holes before a runner could be put in.  The sixth pitch was also quite memorable, being a hand traverse where a good runner could be fixed and ten feet up a diagonal crack before a large ledge was reached.

The rest of the climb was up easier slabs which gradually lay back towards the summit.  This we reached to be met by the rest of the party, including my brother David, who had scrambled up Jack's Rake - an enjoyable moderate.  By this time the weather had improved so we finished the trip by walking round to Harrison Stickle and descending the track past Dungeon Ghyll.

Both the Friday and Saturday evenings were spent pleasantly in the bar of the old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. We were somewhat alarmed at the price of Tartan bitter until we found that they had included a 5p deposit on the glasses.

We spent the next day in similar fashion climbing Bowfell Buttress.  This is a classic route high up on Bowfell, rather similar to a Tryfan buttress, but more continually steep and interesting.  It is only grade Hard Diff., but some sections are very polished, and are more like Hard V. Diff., although well protected.  Some local hard men we met in the pub had made an ascent on a wet January day and found it more like hard very severe.  The chief drawback is the two hour approach march, but at the top of the climb, you are just about on the summit of Bowfell.  You can return over this and down to the Band, which has a good track down to the site.

The last day being fine, we thought we had better take a look at Gimmer Crag, as it is the best known in Langdale.  This also entails a fair slog up to the base of the cliff.   We found that, as in North Wales, 'best known' also means queues at the bottom of all the more popular climbs.  We eventually got started on 'B' route, a mild severe, which we found rather easy apart from a short gritstone type layback problem called Amen Corner.  Here, we assisted a party of three North Country girls, who were plopping off about ten feet up with monotonous regularity. A male shoulder proved to be the answer to the problem.

We found this route rather less interesting than our previous climbs, but hope to return to try our luck on one of the harder routes on the Ulent face, which appears to be a lot steeper and more continuous.

Letter To The Editor

38, Paultow Rd,

Dear Alfie,

Several people recently were suggesting that the Belfry was under used, and I was wondering if the following suggestions might be worthwhile.  I know that these ideas are not exactly new, as several people have been talking in a similar way for some time, but since nothing seems to have happened except talk, it might be worthwhile to set them out on paper.

Either on a Friday night or a Saturday night, some slide shows or talks could be arranged, with wide publicity.   I am thinking in terms of university type programmes sent by post to interested people outside the club, and even possibly advertisements in the local papers. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who could lead discussions that would be worthwhile on all kinds of caving or climbing topics.  It would seem to be that the Belfry would be a far better choice than, say, Priddy Hall or the Hunters back room.  If things go well, guests could be invited from other bodies might give talks of more general interest, like the Somerset Archaeological Society; Mendip Society; Bristol Naturalist Society etc.  This would have to be next winter, after trials this winter have shown what support we could count on.

Some talks might be expected to attract a large audience while others might only attract two or three.  This should not matter as long as the lecturer is good and keen to pass on knowledge.

I think it only fair to back up this suggestion with an offer to take part in a series of talks on aspects of surveying; cave chemistry; hydrology; water analysis etc. Do readers think that this is a reasonable suggestion?

Roger Stenner.


Monthly Crossword – Number 18



















































































1. Many current measurements give light. (5)
6. Southern Cricket Club on Mendip? (1,1,1,1)
7. Rhino Wire Etc.? (5)
9. Lead this on Mendip once. (3)
11. Cuthbert’s series carboniferous without heart. (5)
12. Everyone at end of 4 down. (3)
14. Held back by 16. (5)
16. They hold 14 in caves or outside them. (5)
17. Hunters full or unstable road I tread. (4)


2. Working in underground road I tread. (4)
3. Choose a cave differently. (3)
4. Tiny, but includes everyone in the end. (5)
5. Angular adjective. (5)
8. Not for clutching!  Especially the last! (5)
10. Cave floor description in Lancs. Yorks. (5)
11. This beheaded is used to do this. (5)
13. 7 across turned through a right angle in home, cave or garden. (4)
15. Lacking in sumps. (3)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword



















































































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:-


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



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.


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.


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





















Half Frame











Pen F/FT











Fixed Lens











I/C Lens






















I/C/ lens






















































127 roll

Twin Lens






















Twin Lens











Reflex (fixed)











Twin Lens










120 roll

Relfex (I/C)











S/H/ folding











I/C single











lens reflex









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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.



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.


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.


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


Monthly Crossword – Number 29.



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)


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


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:     D. Turner
Members:          R. Bagshaw; W. Cooper; D.J. Irwin;
                        N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas;
                        R. Orr;  R. Hobbs.

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, 2 Broughton House, Somerset St., Redcliffe, Bristol 1.
Hut Warden:      R. Orr.  ‘The Belfry’, as above.
Hut Engineer:    R. Hobbs, Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol. Tele BRISTOL 77368
Tacklemaster:    W. Cooper, 259 Wick Rd, Bristol BS4 4HE.  Tel: BRISTOL 77368.
B.B. Editor:       S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol.
Librarian:           D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Publications:     D.J. Irwin.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.


The Climbing Secretary would like to appeal to all climb and past climbers for the return of any of the club’s climbing tackle that might still be in their possession.  Turn out your lofts and sheds, blokes.  You never know what you might find.


Have you any club LIBRARY BOOKS in your possession?  Our Hon. Librarian would like to make the club library as complete as possible now it’s in its new home.  Please have a good look round!  If you have any unwanted caving books, magazines, journals etc., the librarian would be very pleased to accept any donations of suitable reading material from club members.


Hint Taken

It’s not often that we get any reaction from members to what appears in the B.B., so that this does happen, it tends to be taken seriously by the editor.  At least three separate are people are known personally by the editor to have taken a dim view of what they consider to have been a complete waste of the Christmas B. B. by the article describing the details and reasons for the choice of this size format.  We thought at the time that readers might wish to know what was coming and the reasons for the choice.  However, we assure readers that in future we shall take up no space in this, or like manner.

The Annual Dinner

Elsewhere in this issue, it is noted that one of the subjects which this year's committee are to investigate in detail is the Annual Dinner.  Faced with the usual need to book long in advance, the committee have had to lay on a conventional meal at the Cave Man.  Steps will be taken, of course, to ensure that the meal and the rest of the arrangements are as good as can be achieved.

It has, however, been noted that club dinners are changing.  The Wessex, for example, now do their own catering and have dropped the club guests - apart from a single guest of honour.  The Shepton have gone a stage further and have substituted an informa1 buffet for their dinner. The Cerberus, it is rumoured, have abandoned dinners altogether.  In our own club, a proposal to split the A.G.M. and dinner was almost passed at last years A.G.M.

If times are changing, we should presumably consider whether we ought to change, and if so, in what direction.  The committee have set themselves the task of trying to find out what the club wants, so that they can put some sort of recommendation to the next A.G.M. Already, several such suggestions have percolated as far as the editor.  One of these is to hold the dinner on the weekend before the A.G M. and to combine it with an exhibition in which each club officer displays the progress of his department.  By this means - so the argument runs - not only would club members be able to see just how the club was progressing, but it might well affect the way they subsequently voted at the A.G.M. and thus keep club officers on their toes!

Another suggestion is to hold a formal dinner with expense not the main consideration - for those who like formal dinners and are prepared to fork out for them; and to hold an informal buffet and party at some other date as well.  No doubt other suggestions will come to light between now and October. If any reader has ideas as to what - if anything - we should do about the club dinner, a letter to the B.B would be very welcome.


Omalas Cave

At this time of the year in particular, when one begins to think of the summer holidays, it is pleasant to be reminded of 'far away places’, as in this article by MARTIN WEBSTER.

The Omalo Plateau lies high up in the Lefka Ori, or White Mountains of western Crete, surrounded by towering limestone pinnacles rising in places 3,500 feet to summits exceeding 7,000 feet in height.

In mid September last year when Ray and Kay Mansfield, Dick and Ann West, Steve Wynn-Roberts and I visited this fine natural fortress.  The day started at Chania, and as we drove into the hills we were immediately struck by the rugged appearance of the rolling foothills and the stark, rocky mountains above them.

The road which led to the plateau had only recently had a tarmac surface put on it and was typical of the excellent mountain roads which are being built all over Crete.  For most of its length, it was extremely meandering, following the hillsides, and in places impressive dumps could be seen at the roadsides.  As we reached a height of some 3,400 ft. the gradient slackened and we cruised down through rock portals and out into the lush green plateau.  Only a few hundred yards down the road, we stopped, for just to the right what was what we had driven two thousand miles to visit – Omalos Cave - the deepest and longest cave in Crete. The entrance chamber provided a striking contrast to the dazzling light and fierce heat out in the open. The entrance was some 30ft. wide and between 10 and 15 feet high with a boulder strewn floor which led back some 40 feet to where the cave went on underground.

Being suitably impressed, we returned to the road and drove on to the end of the plateau to a Tourist Pavilion, which perched on the edge of a rocky valley.  About half a mile away, the opposite side of the valley could be seen rising abruptly in some three thousand feet of stark bare limestone. A great place for climbing, except for the heat which was around the hundred degree mark at mid day.  The tourist pavilion is normally used by people intending to walk down the gorge of Samaria.  This gorge is entered by descending into the valley and is one of the largest gorges of its type in Europe!

We were intending to do the walk later during our stay in the area, but before that we were going to attempt to get as far as possible in Omalos Cave.

Once settled in at the pavilion, Ray and I decided to do a laddering reconnaissance trip into the cave:, so after selecting sufficient tackle, we were driven down to the cave and after changing we arranged a pick up time and then set off.  The passage was some fifteen feet in diameter initially but after a short distance it led into a lofty rift passage which descended in a series of sporting climbs.  These we found to be quite tricky when two people were attempting carry some two hundred feet of ladder, three hundred and fifty feet of rope, belays and the rest.

It was not long before we arrived at the first pitch, a thirty foot descent into a large rift chamber, the roof being lost in the darkness far above.  Here, we gratefully dropped the ladders and fixed some tackle in position; belaying to a somewhat dubious piece of wall which happened to have an eye bolt in it.  After testing this, we decided to risk it.  At the bottom, the passage veered to the left and once again we found ourselves in a very large rift. Soon, this entered a fifteen foot diameter passage again, and we were forced to wade through some waist-deep lakes which we found somewhat chilly!  The passage beyond ascended slightly, up a slip mud slope and then reverted to the large rift type passage once more.  After a few more pleasant climbs, we were abruptly baulked when we arrived on the edge of an awesome chasm.  This was, of course, the next pitch.  From the bottom of this hundred and fifty foot drop to the roof must be all of two hundred and fifty feet, thus it forms quite a chamber.

The pitch is in two parts; thirty feet to a huge basin of deep water and then a hundred and twenty foot to the boulder strewn floor below.  We were intending to abseil and prussick, but due to the lower pitch being against the rock most of the way, we decided to ladder instead, while Ray was sorting out the ladder, I wandered off down a passage to the left which emerged at the, side of the pitch and provided quite an easy climb down to the basin. Having found this quite entertaining, I set about climbing back up the opposite side of the pot back to where Ray was. This was found to be not quite so easy. At the top of the pitch we found a very handy belay point and it did not take long to thread the ladders on down. Unfortunately the ladders just poured into the water filled basin thirty feet down and so the whole issue had to be dragged clear of the water and fed down the final hundred and twenty.  Once we had laddered, I set off down for a quick look round at the bottom.  The ladder had to be freed several times and the final thirty foot was hanging on only one C-link, which was a bit difficult to rectify, as the pitch was free-hanging at that point.  The view up the pitch was quite magnificent and after looking around the chamber, I followed the continuing passage on down two short drops to the edge of another small lake.  This was furthest point reached on the first day, and we rapidly made our way back to the entrance.  As we reached it an hour before we were due to be picked up, we got changed and see off towards the local taverna, which just happened to be in the same direction as the pavilion!

The following day Ray and I, this time accompanied by Steve who unfortunately was suffering from severe toothache; set off down the cave.  This time we had only a small amount of tackle for some small drops we knew to exist below the 'Big Pitch’.  The main pitch was soon reached and I quickly went down.  When Ray reached the bottom he said that Steve had decided to give the trip a miss as his tooth was playing up so, leaving him at the top of the pitch as lifeliner, we started on down the passage.  The short drops did not prove to be bad, although we found that we only had a rope for the final one, so the climb back up it was rather like a trapeze act! A few hundred feet beyond this, the passage widened and we entered a vast chamber.  It was difficult to decide where the way on was, but by going down the slope over huge boulder and climbing a somewhat tottering boulder pile, a horizontal, passage was entered which led off to the right.  The cave completely changed from then on.  The passage became smaller and muddier and we eventually had to crawl now and again!  Soon we came to a junction.  At first we could only find two ways on.  An obvious ascending passage going slightly to the right and a low bedding plane going sharply right.  By this time we were beginning to feel the strain.  It had become customary for us only to have one large meal a day and as the tourist pavilion had only supplied a small meal of lamb and tomato, we had long since used up our energy reserves!

After much heavy breathing, we took the ascending passage.  We gained quite a lot of height and eventually ended up in a large circular chamber.  The passage on was found at the opposite end and we had a climb down through boulders into it.  It was evident that at times quite a large stream flowed along here.  We descended, following a series of short climbs to the edge of a deep lake.  There was a climb on the right hand wall by which we found it possible to keep at least some of ourselves dry.  However, the holds had a nasty tendency to break away!

The passage ascended slightly beyond, but within a few feet we came to the edge of a formidable looking hole, which brought our progress in this direction to an abrupt halt. Feeling somewhat bemused, we retraced our steps as far as the junction and at this point were a little puzzled. We knew that the pitch we had reached was approximately eighty feet deep and led to a sump.  This was not the deepest point in the cave however, as another passage; supposedly leading from the junction went a lot deeper.

Ray disappeared up the bedding plane but after much hunting round decided that it did not look very likely. Just as were about to give up, we noticed a passage going off to the left behind a flake of rock.  This led into a crawl and then out into a rather grubby looking descending passage.  We scrambled along this passage gaining depth rapidly until it finally levelled out in a series of tight sandy chokes.  The draught at this point was considerable!  Beyond this, it started to rise again and a small chamber was entered with an aven leading vertically upwards.  This we felt must be the end as the sandy area looked very much like a dried up sump, so it was with some pleasure that we started back through the chokes.  Later on inspection of our none too clear survey, we found that the end of the cave was, in fact, on beyond the top of the aven.  To compensate for our disappointment at not getting to the end, we did find that the sand choke was the deepest point in the cave, so we had achieved our main object which was to bottom it.

It was two somewhat weary cavers that eventually reached the ‘Big Pitch’.  Much to our consternation, we found that Steve had disappeared.  We managed to get up without any assistance only to find that the ladder seemed rather reluctant to leave.  Finally, we managed to persuade it to come with us, so laden with our mountainous assortment of metal wire and rope; we staggered up the seemingly endless passageways.  At the thirty foot pot we tied all the gear to the bottom of the ladder. I thought at the time that we were being a bit optimistic, for when we came to shift the huge load; we found that it would not budge.  I descended once more and removed the large rock which was hanging on to our precious burden.  This time, the load, accompanied by much groaning from the top of the shaft, slowly inched its way upwards, finally to disappear over the lip.  I came up and we were en our way once more, feeling rather like overburdened Christmas trees.

When we eventually made our triumphant exit, we met Steve who was just about to come down to assist us! I thought that he had timed his entrance rather well, and secretly, I expect he did too!  The trip had lasted five and a half hours and although we had not fully achieved our aims, we felt well pleased with an extremely good days caving.

1967 Expedition to Crete - U.B.S.S. Report.

At the Belfry

The first of a series of short articles designed to keep members up-to-date with what is going on at the Belfry ••••••••••

Fellow club members,

Most of you will have heard by now that Dave 'Wig' Irwin has resigned from the post of Hut Warden because he is moving from Bristol to his new house in Priddy, and will be occupied with getting things organised for some time to come.

Those of us at the Belfry during Dave's term of office knew that by direction of the committee he was instrumental in tightening up a certain element irresponsible behaviour calculated to inconvenience club members staying at the Belfry.  During my term of service, as your Hut Warden, I shall continue to implement the committee's policy and will be looking for co-operation in this direction from all who stay at the Belfry in order to promote the interests and requirements of members and visitors engaged in useful and productive activities according to our club constitution.

At the February meeting of the committee, on which I now sit as Hut Warden, the chairman suggested that there should be a thorough enquiry into the running and financing of the Belfry. The committee agreed to this, and the statistical and financial side is being handled by 'Wig' - abetted no doubt by our Hon. Treasurer.  The maintenance side of this enquiry is being looked into by our new Belfry Engineer, Rodney Hobbs, with whom I shall be working closely.  I shall be primarily concerned with keeping an eye on maintaining an acceptable standard of housekeeping compatible with the smooth running of the Belfry and with the purpose of attracting, for preference, a full complement of club members, or alternatively, visitors, staying over the week end.  I have been doing a bit of checking up on the internal functioning of the new Belfry and have compiled a long list of faults which make very interesting reading. This list, a formidable one of twenty two items, all of which need some improvement or alteration before the Belfry can really be said to be an efficient and comfortable headquarters worthy of the B.E.C., will be given to the working party and will no doubt lead to a few muttered oaths from the Belfry Engineer.  The result of the whole enquiry will be put to the club at a later stage.

To conclude this first note on the Belfry with some general remarks, I am looking forward to an increase in attendance and an acceleration of activities in caving, digging and work on the Belfry over the coming weekends - with less festering and hanging about the Belfry.  I shall also encourage active support for any propositions for the organisation of a greater degree of conviviality and relaxation in the Belfry on Friday and Saturday evenings between the hours of nine pm and midnight.

In fact, my inspiration which will effectively promote the social atmosphere of the club on the club premises will receive my active support.  All musicians and choristers, jugglers and acrobats will be welcome to perform their various talents at such functions with the proviso that they start in time to knock off at midnight - thus avoiding any complaints of late night disturbances to the inconvenience of active members who wish to go caving or have to attend to work on the Belfry site on Sunday morning.

Naturally, I would prefer to be notified in advance of any impending special celebratory occasion in order to assist and assess the suitability and timing of the affair within the framework of other club activities.

I shall be contributing a regular Hut Warden’s commentary to the B.B., and in the meantime, I wish to convey a welcome to the Belfry to all club members, their guests and visitors.

Jok Orr

In the Brecon Beacons

…A fell walking article by BOB CROSS.

The Saturday before Christmas, a group of five club members headed over the border to the Brecknock Beacons for a day’s walking.  The party consisted of myself, Rodney, Sue, Steve and Colin.  It was our intention to traverse the whole Brecon Horseshoe, a distance of about twelve miles, so we left town early to ensure a full day on the fells.

We left Rodney's motor at the summit of the fell road from Talybont-on-Usk to Merthyr-Tydfil.  From here you usually get a fine view back down the wooded valley toward the Black Mountains. However, the skies were full of cloud and the heights were in the mist - an indication of the compass marches to come. Not deterred by the elements, we trudged enthusiastically up the grassy slopes of TwynDu. On our right lay a deep gully with a sprinkling cascade and waterfall of about sixty feet or so. This side of the Beacons abounds with impressive torrents and water courses which cut deep into the Old Red Sandstone cappings.  East of this gully lay a conifer plantation, and it was at the top of this that the slope steepened.  Here, the smoky vistas of the valley gave way to thick unbroken mist.  The aches and twinges of lack of fitness were getting a grip on us, but after two or three hundred feet of this ascent, the steepness gave way and we were on top of a ridge and second breath came with the now more leisurely pace.  This ridge had an extremely steep side to the east, and we walked along the top until we reached a stream which had broken through the hard edge and formed a steep gully of tumbled sandstone cobbles.

The source of this stream lay amongst steep sided peat hags and groughs away across a plateau.  At this point we had a pow-wow to decide the next move.  I suggested a compass march, as it was useless to try to use landmarks in the thick mist.  All agreed, and we trudged off of 320O magnetic bearing across the moor.

The going was tough among the hags that in places must have been ten feet deep.  The best path seemed to be on the sand stone flatties and over the silvery sand in the base of the ditches.  The terrain is, I imagine, very similar to the simmit plateau of that well-known peak, Kinder Scout in Derbyshire.

My navigation proved PERFECT and we soon hit the steep, descending crags of the plateau's northern edge.  Our planned route lay in a north westerly direction along this edge, on over a spur and thence by lesser peaks to the summit of Pen¬-y-Fan.  From this point, I went wrong in my bearings and, after a mile of fruitless bog-trotting, we decided we were lost.  Yearning for an open view of more than fifty feet, we reckoned it was best to descend south westerly to the Taf Fechan and then follow the Roman road up the valley.  Halfway down the fellside, we came out of the clag and glimpsed the choppy waters of the Taf Fechan reservoir.  Rodney produced a flask of delicious hot Bovril and I helped him guzzle the savoury brew.  Sue did well scrounging wads (sandwiches) off the rest of us.  Thus fattened, we set off down the hillside to the caw-cawing of a circling raven.  We reached the main road and followed it for about two miles to a point where it crosses the saddle between the mountains and winds its way down into the Usk valley. From here, we turned north easterly and ascended the slopes of Bryn Teg.  Deciding to give this peak a miss, we skirted across its southern slopes.  Daylight would soon be waning and the wind began to increase, driving the tiny droplets of moisture through our clothing.  The path got steeper, eventually coming close to the edge of the north face of Pen-y-Fan.  Here, the grassy slopes gave way abruptly to a very sharp edge and a long, almost vertical drop into the corrie below.  We saw nothing of the depths - only swirling mists.  One unfortunate soul met a nasty end on these slopes.  He fell nearly five hundred feet from the summit shelf after slipping on hard ice.

After a long slog, we stumbled onto the summit and ran/crawled the traditional race to the trig point where Steve took some photos.  There were two other folk on the summit, they didn’t hang around either, as the wind was incredibly powerful, knocking us over like skittles. Here, we had a disappointing experience.  We saw blue sky for about ten seconds, then, once more, the blanket descended.

With about four hour’s daylight left, we thought it best to lose as much height as possible and get down into shelter.  We ran and stumbled down the back of the mountain into the Taf Fechan valley.  The stream here is very picturesque, cascading and tumbling through rock and heather and reaching at last the gently sloping valley bottom.  This part of the ramble was, I think, the most enjoyable.  I was beginning to mellow, as that numb feeling was creeping into my boots, and we all yearned for the comfort and warmth of some cosy pub. We followed the banks of the two reservoirs and an old railway track that follows the contours around to a disused railway station at Torpentau.  Here we were surprised by the sight of green and red flares soaring into the murky sky and sounds that resembled guns firing.  I thought that the army were at play and feared for us all. It turned out to be the R.A.F. Mountain Rescue who were enjoying themselves letting off fireworks. We stopped over for a friendly yarn and walked the last few feet to the car.  It had just started to rain - what luck! - and our clothes were just a little bit damp.  We piled into Rodney's barrow, tired but contented after an enjoyable amble - about ten miles - and got to the Hunters in time for a couple of hours boozing.

Footnote:  I feel that much more fell walking could be done by club members with a little enthusiasm and organisation.  The Brecon Beacons and the Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks are all within a day's driving and all three offer interest and variety.  All that's needed is a little bit of spirit.  Try it and taste the difference!

Editor's Note:     Reminds me of the time we set out to climb Pen-y-Fan I the usual Welsh mist and we finished up on top of Bryn Teg having got ourselves on to the wrong mountain.  I can certainly vouch for the force of the wind that blows over the top of the Beacons - you really do have a job to avoid being blown over.

Caving News

by Dave Irwin

Although little has been heard in the B. B. of the Tuesday evening digging team, their valuable work still continues at the bottom of Cuthbert’s.  The pushing of sump II is becoming one of ' bail the sump; remove rock from the open hole at the present end, and allow to refill itself.'  Not what one would call very inspiring caving –  but for the edification for many – this it would seem, is the only way of locating further cave discoveries on Mendip.  A determined effort at a site of interest in St. Cuthbert’s could well reward the diggers with a superb extension.  Here, almost under the Belfry, is one of Mendip’s most promising systems and yet to get a digging team underground is proving almost impossible. Swildons would seem to have the greatest appeal amongst Belfryites.

March 1st sees the appearance of Caving Report No 16 - entitled Mendip’s Vanishing Grottos. This is the publication of John Eatough's collection of Balch Cave photographs and Roy Pearce's selection of Shatter Cave material.  For 30p (6/-) going up to 40p (8/-) after mid -April, one can’t afford to miss this opportunity of adding this collection to one’s caving bookshelf. Not only does one receive a photographic record of Balch Cave and Shatter as they were but a collection of photographs showing cave photography at its best.  The booklet (10" x 8") is printed on top quality art paper, saddle stitched with an art card cover.  A limited number is being printed, so don't hesitate to send your 30p + 5p P & P to Dave Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.

News in Brief

‘Prew’ has succeeded in producing a radio transmitter powerful enough to transmit through 400 feet of rock.  Gour Hall has been located on the surface and when the weather improves, a surface survey will be carried out by 'Wig' to the cave entrance to enable a closure to be obtained.

Not deterred by foul air foul digging conditions and other obstacles, NHASA are digging again at North Hill Swallet on Sundays.

Bob Picknett and Roger Stenner have carried out a Carbon Dioxide check in St. Cuthbert’s with interesting results.  Pockets of C02 were found in the boulder ruckle area of Arête - is the ruckle on the move?

In Committee

The February meeting of the committee received with regret the resignation of Dave Irwin as Hut Warden (due to pressure of work on his new home and his being no longer in a position to stay at the Belfry).  Pete Stobart as Belfry Engineer (due to having to work most weekends) and Dave Searle as Librarian (due to pressure of other interests).  Accordingly 'Jok' Orr has been appointed as Hut Harden (and so becomes ipso facto a member of the club committee).  Rodney Hobbs has been appointed Belfry Engineer (and replaces Pete Stobart on the committee) and Dave Irwin becomes Hon. Librarian (thus breaking a long standing tradition of librarians not being members of the committee). On suggestions from the chair, the committee agreed to conduct an investigation into the running of the Belfry.  This will be conducted on the widest possible lines, with Dave Irwin in charge of costings of Belfry expenses of all kinds, aided by Jok and Rodney who will provide suggestions for more efficient use and maintenance of the Belfry.  One another suggestion from the chair, an investigation into the club dinner is going ahead.  Findings of both these exercises will be presented to the club later.  The remainder of the meeting was taken up with routine business.


Short items of interest to fill up the odd space like this one.  Spaces inevitably turn up at the end of longer articles, or even, as you can see, in between shorter items.      If you see anything interesting in the press, or on radio or television connected with caving climbing etc., or road some useful or interesting snippet of information somewhere, PASS IT ON to the editor so that it can be put in a space this size and be read by all the club members in the B.B.

-WHY NOT WRITE TO THE B.B.? ?? Suggestions; criticisms; information are always welcome.  Even praise, if you feel that way!  Write direct to the editor or drop your screed into the B.B. post box at the Belfry.

Anguillas Karstic Conundrum

The old slogan, ‘The B.E. C. get everywhere' is not far short of the mark.  Any caving area, sooner or later, gets visited by some B.E.C. type, as this article by KEITH MURRAY show………

The Caribbean island of Anguilla lying WSW - ENE measures some fifteen miles by four and consists of limestone resting on a base of tertiary volcanic rocks rarely seen. These limestone form cliffs of up to two hundred feet along the Northern seaboard, while the Southern coast slopes gently into the sea.  All these shores are much cut into by crescent shaped bays,  mostly with superb sand beaches, and only one of the many salt lagoons at present supplies evaporates as export to the oil producers in Trinidad.  There are no streams at all on the island.

About one mile inland and parallel to the coast, a belt of lowland runs along the broadest part of the island.  This is notable for two inland brackish lakes or ponds connected by a wide strip of arable land.  The Northern boundaries of these ponds are formed by low cliffs of massive blue-grey weathering limestone with several horizontal bedding-plane cracks but no vertical joints whatsoever.  While in some cases the top bedding plane has spalled off and broken into blocks bounded by vertical joints, none of these joints continues through into the underlying strata.

Further North there is a third brackish lake - Badcock's P which is encircled by rocks, the Northern cliff in this case rising in steps to about sixty feet.  These cliffs show several shallow individual caves formed by hemispherical collapse of rock on to a bedding plane, there being no connected system and no vertical fissuring at all evident.  While the three major ponds can be seen to be fed by sub- aqueous springs at points close to their Northern shores, none of these risings spring from a hole larger than can blocked by a closed fist.  A walk or scramble along the sharply fretted rocks around the coast will give an acute impression of karstic topography, but few if any of the cavities, with which the rock is riddled are interconnected, and very seldom - if at all - will one come across a vertical fracture.  Inland, the frettings are eroded smooth, but the rocky terrain is still pocked with solution holes usually filled with soil and supporting the typical scrib vegetation forming a cover some fifteen feet above ground level.  After heavy rain, sheets of water lie for days on this karst' limestone until what moisture cannot run off is absorbed by the vegetation or evaporated away.  In the past, industrious local inhabitants succeeded in cultivating a surprising amount of this inhospitable terrain, but the practice has died out, and only boundary walls remain.

Despite the many and eye-catching karstic features, the ones which matter in conducting surface water underground are remarkably and unexpectedly absent in Anguilla.  One is driven to the conclusion that the only means by which surface water can reach the underground water table is via the exposed outcrops of the more or less horizontal bedding planes.

A brief description follows of the five known caves on the island.  Of these, one was discovered in the course of our work on the island, and another conveniently happened during our visit when Miss Miriam Hodge's vegetable patch opened up at her feet.

FOUNTAIN CAVERN. This, the most spectacular cave, and an attraction for the more energetic tourists, is a collapsed dome some 150 ft. in diameter.  The entrance is at the very top of the dome, where a pitch apple or autograph tree grows conveniently so that you can sign upon a leaf before going down.  A great cluster of roots from this tree go down some 30 ft. to the cavern floor.  A pile of roof debris, which descends another twenty feet to the periphery of the dome, goes to a point on this periphery at which lies the fountain pool which gives the cave its name.  This pool was the sole source of fresh water for the adjacent village of Shoal Bay and legend has it that the wenches of the locality were apt to have strangely contorted bosoms from the effort of heaving themselves up the roots with vessels of water. Today a fixed steel ladder is attached to a concrete block under the autograph tree and is firmly secured at its base within the cavern.  The fountain is disused and the cavern occupied by numerous bats which stuff themselves up convenient avens.  The wenches of today are surpassing handsome.

MEADS BAY CAVE.  This was a shallow sea cave formed along spectacular fault plane, but its walls have now been removed by the sea.

BARBARUDAN CAVE.  This is similar to the Fountain Cavern and is situated on Mr. Mackenzie Lake's land east of the road going up to Welches.  Entry is by an arcuate rift on the periphery of the collapsed dome.  The hopes of a cave going in two opposite directions are dashed on finding that one simply crawls round the periphery to come out at the other end of the rift.  The roof area is much lower than that of the Fountain and at one point a small pool of water runs into a low bedding plane passage which a very slim caver might try.

NORTH SIDE CAVE.  This was discovered by my colleague in a very remote part of the island and is reported to be similar to the Fountain and Barbarudan.  Unfortunately, I had no opportunity to visit this cavern.

WEST BAY POT. This hole in Miss Miriam Hodge's garden is an earth shaft going down to a ledge at eighteen feet and then continuing out of sight to approximately sea level. As the sides were very loose and the place inhabited by hordes of black spiders as large as a man's hand and reputed to bite viciously, personal descent was not embarked upon.


256, Cressex Road,
High Wycombe,
15th February, 1972

Dear Alfie,

There are a couple of points from the new format B.B. (of which we all approve) on which we would like to comment.

Our reply to Graham Phippen's query concerning the ‘static’ pool in Shatter Series.  This pool does have a natural drain-away.  This drain can become blocked with mud and grit which will cause the pool to sump.  However, in recent year’s this drain-away has been kept clear by judicious poking with the fingers.  To our knowledge, the pool no longer fills.

We wholeheartedly support the suggestions written in the last B.B. by Roger Stenner.  For us long distance travellers would prefer any such programmes of talks etc. to be given on Saturday nights.  There is one point which we must stress that is that any event must be advertised well in advance – one month is not sufficient.

In the past, we have received notification via the B.B. of forthcoming events and invariably (apart from the dinner) they have already taken place by the time our B.B.'s reach us. Little wonder that we never attend caving meets, rescue practices etc.

We remain, sir, your most humble and obedient servants.

Graham Wilton-Jones
Bucket Tilbury
Bert Byers.

Editor's Note:     Many people have complained, as you have, of not receiving notification until far too late, often after the event has occurred. In fact, when the actual typing was done on these occasions, it was well before the time for the event, but subsequent delays in the B.B. have made nonsense of the notice.  An attempt is being made this year to get the B.B. back to REGULAR appearance, so that people will be able, to get notification BEFORE events occur.  We hope that these schemes will be successful, and meanwhile, here are dates for your diaries.

Stencils received for printing 9.30 pm 25/2/72.

Dates for your Diary


Talk on the Chemistry of Limestone and its role in cave formation - by Roger Stenner.  At the Belfry at 7.30. p.m.  Plenty of time afterwards for the Hunters.


Rodney Robbs and 'Mr' Nigel Taylor are holding a joint birthday celebration.  At the Belfry after the Hunters shuts.

MARCH 12th

A demonstration and talk on TACKLE MAKING by the Tacklemaster, Bill Cooper. At the Belfry at 2.30 p.m.  This should be very interesting and informative. Come and see how tackle is made!

MARCH 26th

Caving trip to Box stone Mines. Leader, Jock Orr.  Meet at the Belfry at 9.30. a.m.


Caving trip to Stoke Lane Slocker.  Leader, T. Gage.  Meet at the Belfry at 11 a.m.


(Date to be announced later).  Repeat of the B.E.C. Course on Cave Surveying.


SUTHERLAND. Caving; Climbing; Walking etc.  Suit all tastes.  Contact Jim Abbott at 34, Kirkgate, Shipley, Yorks. for further detail

If any member is organising, or knows of, any interesting event, please send details to the editor, so that this DIARY feature may be kept up-to-date and enable club members to plan to attend functions held by the club.

Club Tackle

In response to many enquiries we are publishing an up to date list of club tackle, which has been compiled by the Tacklemaster specially for the B.B.

General Mendip Stores

For normal caving trips. Please note that if organising a trip on Mendip to a cave which requires more tackle than normal (e.g. Rhino Rift, Primrose Pot etc.)  Tackle should be obtained from the BRISTOL STORE to avoid running the Mendip store down (and to obtain the most appropriate tackle).

Ultralightweight Ladder

Standard Ladder

Heavyweight Ladder

Wire Tethers

Lifeline Ropes

Hauling Ropes


5 twenty foot ladders.

6 twenties and 1 twenty five.

2 ten foot ladders.

3 x 100’, 1 x 93’, 1 x 103’.

3 x 100’, 1 x 93’, 1 x 103’.

1 x 50’.

1 descendeur, 1 spreader, 1 lifeline pulley, 1 nylon sling.

Cuthbert’s Store

For Cuthbert’s trips only. This store can be opened with a Cuthbert’s key.

Heavyweight Ladder

Wire Tethers

Lifeline Ropes


1 twenty-five and 4 twenties.

1 five and 1 ten foot.

112’ nylon rope.  60’ terylene.

1 lifeline pulley.

Bristol Store

Ultralightweight Ladder

Standard Ladder

Wire Tethers


6 twenties.

4 fifties.

1 x 27’, 5 x 10’, 1 x 5’.

2 x 300’ Ulstron, 1 x 200’ Nylon, 1 x 96’ Nylon.



3 Nylon slings.  2 - ⅜ stardrills, 1 - ½ stardrill, 3 - ⅜ rawlbolts,

3 - ½ rawlbolts, 2 Karabiners, 1 pulley.


Alterations and Additions to Member’s Addresses


G. Bull.                         2 Maple Close, Eastcote, Ruislip, Middlesex.
R. Wallin,                      175 Bryant’s Hill, Bristol 5.
C.H. Dooley,                  497a City Road, Edgebaston, Birmingham 17.


P. Sutton,                     75 Bredon, Yate, Bristol.
R. Cross,                      36a Meneage Street, Helston, Cornwall.
J. Abbott,                      34 Kirkgatem Shipley, Yorks.


D.A. Greenwood,           42 St. David’s Drive, S. Anstan, Sheffield.

Monthly Crossword – Number 19.



















































































4. “Ain’t it all a waste of time?”(4,5)
5. French stops in Cuthbert’s are tests. (6)
7. Can be spelt differently but is just as heavy either way. (6)
8. Dip pear in. (To Goatchurch?). (9)


1. Could describe what a litre isn’t in some future drinking days. (3,1,5)
2. Eastwater is, for example. (2,4)
3. Open Lobes in Stoke Lane. (4,5)
6. Get out of danger underground with two directional cloak. (6)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword