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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; 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.

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One of the M.R.O. NiFe cells is missing.  It is marked ‘No. 10.’ If any member happens to see this cell anywhere at any time, the M.R.O. would be interested in any information which might lead to its recovery.

The price of the DINNER this year will be £1-10 or 22/- in proper money.


 

Editorial

Belfry Binder?

The open session with the committee has taken place, and from what we hear, comments have been mainly favourable.  Apart from one or two preliminary questions, the whole session was taken up with discussing problems of how to run the Belfry.  Although it would be foolish to suggest that everyone now sees eye-to-eye; at least everyone now has a clearer idea of the problems involved and the ways by which they might reasonably be solved.

The editor has been sounding out opinion as to how much club members want in the B.B. on this subject. The main feeling seems to be that we have now done all the talking and should get down to the job of running the place.  In view of this, we shall be keeping the rest of our material on this subject - including 'Sett's' excellent paper - in reserve, should it become necessary to re-open the subject in these pages.

Out-Of-Date Dates

This business of providing club members with information about future events is not as easy as it might seem.  Apart from slips in printing dates, there seem to be a number of other snags to contend with.  For instance, the survey course is now one week behind the published dates, as it had to be moved back at the last minute for the open committee discussion to take place.  The barbecue cannot be published because the decision to go ahead with it came too late for last month's B.B. - and this one will be too late.  Even when a slip about the open committee session was included in the last B.B., there was still some confusion about the actual starting time. Etc. etc.

Just how one solves this problem is not clear at present, but we shall go on trying!

“Alfie”

Members  Addresses

New Members.

John Murray, Latyner House, Hill Close, Wincanton, Somerset
Jo & M.R. Upsall, 32 Eastland Rd, Yeovil, Somerset.
I & P.J. Calder, 14 Trinity St, Salisbury, Wilts.
J. Dunston, Tolcarne, 90, Wells Rd, Glastonbury, Somerset.
J. & M. Coleman, Orchard House, Burnwell, Norfolk.
G.C. Williams, 90,Greville Rd, Southwell ,Bristol BS3 1LJ
P.J. Miller, 60 Elmtree Rd, Locking, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Mr. & Mrs T.W. Neil, Woodville Lodge, Laighton Rd, Worthing

Corrections to members' addresses.

Frank G. Darbon, P.O. Box 325, Vernon, B.C., Canada.

G. Wilton-Jones, 17 Monkham Drive, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk.

Changes to member’s addresses

Miss C. Salisbury, 24, Belvoir Rd, St. Andrews, Bristol 6. C.E.A02,
K.R. Glossop, D08205, No 4 Petty Officers' Mess, H.M.S. I,ynx, c/o B.F.P.O. Ships, London.

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The Tacklemaster and committee would like thanks to STEVE GRIME for his donation of twenty foot nylon rope to the club.

Why not write for the B.B.? Any length of article can be used, but there is a need for small pieces of useful information to fill up spaces like this one.   If any member knows of some useful fact to pass on to the rest - write it down and put it in the B.B. box at the Belfry.


 

Letter from the North

An. article by J. ABBOTT, keeping us touch with his doings in the North.

As some of you know, the B.E.C. now has a permanent member in the Yorkshire Dales.  I moved up here back in January perhaps the worst time of the year to be introduced to these far off Northern Lands

and certainly the weather has been pretty bad up here at times.  However, when the sun DOES shine, it brings out the best in these northern Landscapes which are many, varied and beautiful to behold.

One scene in particular which stands out in my mind is that of the Lune valley and Morecombe Bay seen from high on the western slopes of Gragareth late at night. It was after trip down Marble steps - itself a very impressive pot – a ¬trip which this particular fellow found intriguing, amusing and knackering.  It was after climbing out of the entrance rift at the end of the trip, which could be made into a separate narrative in itself (how about it, then? – Ed) that I found myself staring out over a moonlit shallow valley containing the odd friendly light which marked each outpost of civilisation.  These pinpoints of light continued out and beyond the Lune valley and could still be seen on the plains beyond until some of them coalesced into what must have been small towns - places such as Carrforth and Burton in Kendal perhaps.  However, beyond even these lights one could make out a barrier where one texture of light finished and another started.  That which continued, until meeting the horizon, was of a more silvery nature.  It was of course, the sea - Morecambe Bay some twenty five miles away.

It is not only sheer beauty which makes the dales such an attractive part of the country.  It has many pleasant facets which appeal to all manner of folk.  One, naturally, is its atmosphere.  It was a couple of weeks, back in mid-March that found three of us - two Bradford pothole Club members and myself -venturing over into Upper Wharfedale.  We had left Brackenbottom at about midday and after gaining both a hitch hiker and a puncture in a rear wheel and losing the use of the handbrake, we eventually made it up over the Silverdale Road towards Littondale.  It was a superb day, with both Penyghent and Fountains Fell bathed in sunlight under a cloudless sky.  I stopped the car in a lay-by high above Penyghent Gill where the three of us had a look at a stream which sank into a fissure - obviously an active dig.  It was surrounded by neat spoil heaps and the streamway contained several freshly constructed dams.  (The natives must have stolen the idea from Cuthbert’s!) However, after poking our noses into the dig, we set off once more to drop into Littondale.  In Litton itself, we came across a pub, the Queen's Arms. Consequently I stopped the car. After all, the air was warm and our throats were dry so it was the only solution.  It was in this pub that I met some of the atmosphere I mentioned ear1ier. The pub itself was set at the end of a short row of terraced limestone cottages, all of which were built in a solid, practical Dales fashion.  The interior of the pub reminded me of home (the Hunters, of course.)  The walls were bare stone and the roof was supported by a. large and very ancient beam.  The thing was held together by two metal straps placed on either side of it.  At one end of the room there was a fine coal fire and, although it was warm outside, we were immediately drawn towards it and sat around supping pints of mild.   There were two other characters in the bar, local coalmen, who were taking advantage of their dinner break to partake in a liquid 1unch.  I listened in on their conversation which seemed to consist of a mixture of grouse moors, twelve bores, market towns, mixed nuts and anthracite. Our chatter?  That too was just as varied and quite as idle.  As the afternoon wore on it seemed to get more and more idle, as did ourselves.  Indeed, so idle did we become that it was not until about 3.15 pm and numerous pints later that we were forced to shift our backsides.  Such was the atmosphere in that pub that I was very loath to leave it at all.

Talking of pubs, a terrible thing happened to me the first weekend I ventured into the dales back in January.  I was stranded in the 'Hill Inn' all night!  Cries of "Shame!"  It happened like this.  Upon arriving at Brackenbottom the B.P.C. headquarters - on a Saturday morning and introducing myself as a B. E. C. club member and a fellow mate of Bob Cross's - they stoned me – No.  Seriously, they made me very welcome, despite mentioning Bob Cross’s name.  I was invited to join a digging party.  I accepted this invitation and spent a pleasant afternoon excavating dead sheep and about three million tons of spoil. During the course of the afternoon, I chatted to various diggers and it transpired that most Saturday nights started off in the 'Chippie' in Settle and finished up in one pub or another.  That evening, after giving the 'chippie' a visit, a number of us eventually made it to the Hill Inn in Chapel le Dale via pubs in both Settle and lngleton.  Once there, we drank numerous Younger's milds and sang, shouted, croaked and wailed a number of folk songs.  Towards the end of the evening, well after closing time, the local constabulary decided to pay the pub a visit, finding fifty or sixty characters still inside drinking.  To a man, when asked, everyone declared themselves to be residents, which baffled the constabulary for a few minutes.  It was not long, however, before they decided that they would take the number of every car in the car park to make sure that none moved during the night.  This was the dilemma which confronted us.  We were faced with the awful prospect of having to remain in that pub ALL NIGHT, possibly even drinking all night or to take the easy way out and walk eight miles in the dark and pouring rain back to Brackenbottom.  You will be glad to hear that I faced the situation courageously as a true B.E.C. member should.  I put my beer glass in my hand, strode up to the bar - head held high - and asked for another pint.

Needless to say, since I have been up here I have managed to get a bit of caving done.  All of it has been done with the Bradford, who I have now come to think of as the B.E.C. of the North.  The weekend of the 22nd of January this year saw a number of us in the Birkswith area of Ribblesdale venturing down Calf Holes - Browgill, Old Ing and Sell Gill holes. The first consisted of a short through trip following a fairly large stream and containing an impressive twenty five foot waterfall.  The second was merely a downstream canal ending in a sump.  The third, and perhaps the most interesting of the three consisted of an open entrance shaft of 25’ followed and 50’ and 60’ ladder pitch. This deposited one at the end of a very impressive main chamber of G.B. proportions into which flowed, from a hundred and fifty foot up, a fairly full stream.  This was also an alternative entrance to the cave - an alternative that I did not fancy! The stream flowed on through the chamber to continue in a short stream passage to a final sump.  The following weekend, on the Saturday, five of us decided to pay Bull Pot in Kingsdale a visit.  The weather was bitter and snow lay everywhere.  However, the views of Kingsdale from the slopes of Gragareth more than made up for the cold.  The pot was descended in fairly rapid time despite some of the pitches being quite damp. The following day was the Bradford Club Meet.  There was to be an exchange of parties in G.G. via Flood Entrance Pot and Stream Passage Pot.  I elected to join the party laddering Stream Passage.  The weather was very much the same as the day before so we were all very glad to get underground at about midday.  The first pitch of 25' held the party up for some time, but once past this we progressed quite rapidly to climb a wet 85’ followed by a 110’ and finally by a loose 75’ pitch which got us into the stream passage in G.G.  Once assembled at the bottom, the party moved off to the Main Chamber via Mud Pot and Sand Chamber.  Undoubtedly, some of you have seen the main chamber before, but I'll not apologise for my description of what you already know.  We entered the chamber from a low balcony to be met by a great void penetrated at the centre by a shaft of light filled by a roaring plunging waterfall.  It fell with such violence that the resulting spray was blown to the further reaches of this huge chamber.  We walked across the remarkably flat floor of this vault toward the waterfall to gaze up and out of the entrance shaft - 360 feet up to a blue sky.  The Fell Beck, after plunging over the lip of the entrance winds its way across the floor of the Main Chamber only to sink under a pile of boulders at the chamber’s edge.  The water is next seen again at the bottom of South East Pot.  This too, was our destination; only we were to go by a drier route.  We passed the members of our complem¬entary party on their way to Stream Passage as we left the Main Chamber.  We soon arrived at the top of South East Pot to be greeted by the sight of a ladder of 140’ free-hanging over the depths of South East Pot itself.  This is a really impressive pitch in true Yorkshire style and, apart from being knackering, was a sheer pleasure to climb.  This was followed by a fifty foot pitch and after a length of twisting passage containing a couple of sporty climbs, the bottom of the last pitch of 70’ was reached. From the top of this pitch it was only a short climb to the surface.  It was dark as the time was about 7 pm when we emerged from the shakehole, but the sky was clear and the air crisp.  The moonlight shone down brilliantly on the snowscape as we eight weary cavers plodded our way slowly through the snow, down off the allotment to Clapham, heavily encumbered with ironmongery that was freezing to the touch.

If this, and the other experiences are indicative of what life in the Dales is all about, then here is one Mendip man who will be happy in his exile.


 

A Knotty Problem

The account of the practice rescue by Chris Howell seems to have brought some comments in.  Since we believe that all members should be in no doubt about tying a bowline, we make no excuse for printing everything we have received.

OLIVER LLOYD writes: - ‘I enjoyed Chris Howell's account of the practice rescue down St. Cuthbert’s, but was rather mystified by the bit about the double bowline, at least that's what I call it.  He calls it a bowline on a bight.   The method of tying this knot that  I recommend was to double back some six or seven feet of rope and then tie an ordinary bowline, which can be adjusted if necessary.  The patient's thighs are placed in the two loops created by the knot and the remaining knot and the remaining loop passed round the chest.  He said he found it hard to follow and would recommend instead to double back some six or seven feet of rope and then tie a straightforward bowline, which can be adjusted if necessary etc.  Personally, I don't see the difference!’

A correspondent who calls himself DRIPSTONE takes up the business of the knot and goes on to discuss other problems raised in CHRIS’S article as follows:-

First of all I must admit a sneaking admiration for Chris as he volunteered to be a victim, which is more than I would!  As to Chris not understanding Dr. Lloyd’s way of tying the knot (which is a bowline on a bight) probably Dr. Lloyd would be only too glad to demonstrate at a convenient time, but I agree that his description is quite straightforward.  I would advise using all three loops, especially in wet weather conditions.  However, if any kind of bowline jams in an awkward spot and it is desired to release the victim, it could be one hell of a job, and rescuers might well be advised to carry a knife for cutting ropes if necessary ( I bet the tacklermaster will be pleased to hear this! - Editor.)

I don't think it is bad practice to strap a person up, remembering that on a real rescue, the victim may be very capable of helping one moment and then suddenly go into delayed shook just when you are on a tricky bit and have counted on his helping out. It is probably better to treat him as a dead load right from the word ‘go’ if possible.  Again, the odd remark like 'Can we get someone below the stretcher in case it slips’ may not inspire confidence in the victim, but may be very necessary for the rescuers.  The victim of a real accident probably has other and more pressing things to worry about.

I am not writing merely to criticise what was an excellent account which I found instructive, so much as to point out that the victim on a practice rescue cannot really be expected to act and feel like a real victim. would.

Finally, since it is well known that the B.E.C. consists entirely of experts in one field or another (mainly the other) we asked our expert on seamanship – JOHN RANSOM - for some instruction on the tying of bowlines on bight and reproduce his sketches as follows: -

 


 

Ski Mountaineering

Another article by one of our most regular and reliable contributors, RON KING - or KANGY to most members, who says that he likes the new B.B. and the new cover.

We went to the Marcadou, a wide pleasant valley in the National Park due South of Lourdes, hoping to climb to the Wallon Refuge on Saturday and then to climb as high as we could on the Sunday, because you’ve got to have altitude, potential energy and all that.  Metres, man, metres!

Disaster struck at Cauterets.  No sealskins to hire for the skis.  Deep thinking produced the dreaded yellow wax (Fart Shune, if you’re not too shy to ask). This, at five bob, gives quite a good adhesion up to ten degrees of slope, after that you pull muscles you didn't know you had. Well, don’t say you haven’t been warned.

This cross-country, with seal skins are what it's all about.  Picture a laden Englishman following equally laden, but nicely equipped Frenchmen.  The distance increases, the sun beats down, the slope steepens.  Nine degrees - nine and a half – ten SPLATT!!  The rucsac, carried high and weighty, sinks into the snow, pining the flattened, wriggling, reddened, enraged and overheated Englishman with the remorseless pull of gravity.  The French, equally laden but nicely equipped, have vanished over the next horizon.  Even when, with the stubbornness of his race the Englishman makes effort after effort (and is not last) his energy expenditure is frightful, with slipping skis and the accumulation of snow piled on his ‘downhill style’ planks taking their toll.

At the refuge, the lessons learned are remembered and the developed cross-country ski examined with some respect.  I'm glad I ‘made do’ because now I’m quite sure that, as a result future sorties will be less frustrating.  However, all that was forgotten in the magnificence of the evening meal.  We had the ambiance of the Old Belfry, crowded with mates, binder bubbling on stove and beer to hand except that, in their unique French way, they produced in addition the magic of Haute Cuisine.  The wood fire was started, the doors closed, the candles lit and the veloute de champ¬ignons warmed (what you and me do call mushroom soup.)  Meanwhile, Bernadette mixed the legumes Macedoine with tartar sauce and Jean prepared the Crabbe Mayonnaise.  We waited. One does.  Conversation started and the first of the one -and-a-half litre bottles of Margnat was circulated and the soup begun.  Just when we had started on the crab, three strangers entered and gazed in admiration at the scene.  As they made up their powdered potato, Jean Gay enquired gently whether they were on a diet.  “Well, no,” they said, “but you?  What are you doing to-morrow with a meal like that inside you?”  Gay riposted instantly – “Us? Why, nothing!  We are a group of gastronomes from Toulouse here to assess this refuge to decide whether we should give it a two or a three star rating.”  - and we all, each one, dissolved in excruciating laughter and served each other with delicious saucusse cooked on the wood fire and helped each other to more wine.  We invited Francoise to share our omelette flambé (with rum) and generally, and then more and more hilariously, sang and joked until it was time to retire to the upper shelf of the refuge with a vast rum-grog apiece to keep out the cold or something.

As it is inclined to do, the next day dawned.  Bright light from a blue sky shone off the sparkling, untouched snow.  The ski-a-randonee were put on, and the first away headed towards a high coombe.  The Englishman considered and, deliberately and with experience, strapped his skis together and, carrying them, climbed - kicking steps in the firm snow.

The coombe was large and ringed with high peaks.  The French paused and relaxed in the sun.  An arête led temptingly to a hidden lake.  We followed it and, at the terminating point, ate an orange, drank in the view and left our skis.  It was only eleven o'clock and a rocky peak was just temptingly near enough to ‘go and have a look at.’

A steep slope led to a balcony, another to a small plateau hard against a rock wall.  The edge of the wall proved to be climbable in the sun, but with a biting wind which chilled.  A traverse proved necessary, frightening in crusty snow, but necessary. Long minutes of caution passed before the rather unwise traverse ended in a couloir which ran, narrowed by perspective, to the summit ridge.  The powder snow in the lower couloir settled it.  Not to-day!  We hesitated, sadly but firmly.  Too risky. A ski baton each and no rope didn't seem enough and, turning to go down, my heel crunched in excellent snow.  A glance at the time ¬12.30 - a look at the sky - not a cloud - a shout of ‘Death or Glory' - and the couloir went with a steep line of good steps.  There was a small check at the ridge where a thirty foot field of snow spelt danger but, fortunately, a small wind-blown ridge that was less hard gave a good footing. The last few yards to the summit of the Montaigu, (8, 300Ft) were a sheer joy.  A seat for the persistent in the gods.

Going down is, always, surprisingly less difficult than imagined and we soon arrived at, and put on the skis.  The snow had softened and the dreaded yellow - fart - caused some anxious moments on steep turns due to uncertain friction characteristics.

Skiing by traversing backwards and forwards, savouring the effortless movement, then through the trees cautiously, we arrived back at the refuge.  The others had gone minutes before.  We brewed a mighty bowl a tea and supped it while sunbathing.

Then, packs on backs, we slid, legs braced mightily, down the narrow twisting upper track and into the beautiful broad lower valley.  Through this, trudging rhythmically, until got to the final wide, evenly graded track to our starting point.  This made a splendid final run, braking furiously with deep snow ploughs, batons held wide to counter the heavy rucsacs.

And still the weather held, and, sitting in the cafe du ski at Cauterets, spent a long time in the sunshine, drinking beer.


 

Caving News

Another run-down on what is happening on Mendip, by TIM LARGE, our Caving Secretary.

EASTWATER 

The stream is sinking in a position just in front of the entrance.  A small collapse has resulted, with an almost cave-sized hole leading into the boulder ruckle.  The result of this is seen at the squeezes just inside the entrance - the boulders have moved in the area of the second squeeze.  This is also where some of the water re-appears.  From the beginning of the route-marking line, there appears to have been no movement until the lower end of the ruckle is reached just before the climb into the 380’ Way.  Here, there are several loose slabs and some boulders that move under foot.  Caution has always been the password in the ruckle and now even more care is needed as it seems to be on the move more often since the cave was re-opened.

CASTLE FARM AREA 

A small hole by the side of the road in front of the field where Castle Farm Swallet was, has recently opened up.  It takes the road drainage, which has excavated a small tube in the topsoil causing a collapse.  The hole goes back under the wall towards some large depressions, probably all part of the Castle Farm Swallet drainage system.  The hole has since been filled in by the County Council.

BUCKET HOLE Grid Ref. 5480 5336 Approx. Altitude 920’. 

This is a dig started late in 1971 by Tony Tucker and others. It is situated at the top of Smitham Hill, not far from the Castle of Comfort, in gruffy ground where there are several depressions, the dig being located in the largest of them which takes a small stream.  The depression is about thirty feet deep and is in lias. The site has been fenced off and various mechanical contrivances set up to aid digging.  The dig has been designated an official club dig.  Work has ceased through the winter months.

ROOKERY FARM SWALLET

This is in the Greenore area. I have recently obtained permission to dig at the site which has been dug by M.N.R.C., S.V.C.C. and A.C.G. groups on and off since about 1952. The stream sink was dug out to a small chamber, but this has silted up as the dig has not been looked at for some time.  Just South of the sink is the other half of the dig, a fifteen foot shaft in conglomerate, which leads via a squeeze to a very small chamber with one inlet passage of about eight feet leading to boulders.  The stream appears to use this route in wet weather, much mud having choked at the end, where there is evidence of banging having been used by previous diggers.  At this point, the cave enters the limestone, and a small tube leads off westwards towards an area of large depressions - one being quite recent, when the farmer Mr D. Thompson's combine fell down into a twenty foot collapse.  The stream has been dammed and then diverted into the shaft, where it disappeared without backing up.  The first job, which has been started, is to remove the mud etc. which has fallen in from the sides of the loose entrance shaft and the stream deposits lower down the regain the actual end of the dig, where chemicals may be needed to aid progress.

CUTHBERTS - GOUR RIFT

Dave Irwin’s Dig at this site is progressing slowly, the right hand end having been probed to solid rock on all sides, but indications show that the passage is going to the left and digging is to be concentrated here.   Shoring is being used to stop slumping and help prevent flooding of the dig by seepage through the gravels from the stream.  Digging takes place on Sunday mornings, meeting at the Belfry at 9 am and I am sure that Dave would welcome and enthusiastic diggers on this site.

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 PLEASE NOTE:  In future, ALL rescue operations, HOWEVER MINOR should be reported at the time to the M.R.O.  The reason this is that rescuers are COVERED BY INSURANCE as long as the rescue is official. If you fail to notify the M.R.O. injured in rescuing, you are NOT covered.  It has been policy not to call the M.R.O. if you are sure that that is quite competent to effect a rescue unaided, but the matter of insurance has altered matters.  PLEASE NOTE.


 

 

Letters

31 Belvoir Road,
St. Andrew,
BRISTOL 6.

To the Editor, Belfry Bulletin,

Dear Alfie,

I have read the article on the club history in the March B.B. with very great interest.  I would like to comment the following: - It was stated that ‘Stoke Lane Slocker was transformed……..by the discovery of Browne's Passage by Pat Browne and the forcing of the sump by Don Coase, Sett, and Pat Browne’.

This is not true.  The first party through the sump was composed of Don Coase, Graham Balcombe and myself.  We had gone through Browne's Passage to look at the pool to see if (a) there was any outlet from it and (b) if so, could we get diving gear to it. We went to the pool and, after feeling around the wall, Don found the sump.  He was the first man through, Graham was second and I was tail end Charlie. It is debateable if that first party as indeed a BEC one, as we were all three of us members the C.D.G.  Don and I were, of course, B.E.C. while Graham was Wessex.

The second Belfry was originally the property of the Navy and was situated on Rame Head in Cornwall.  The weekend we spent dismantling and moving it to Mendip was one of the early club highlights.  The cash needed and above that available from club funds was loaned by Mrs Stanbury.

One more club first. In 1948 (Easter, I believe) I was fortunate enough to be the first to climb the waterfall in Fynnon Ddu.  I remember reading in an earlier B.B. that this was attributed to Colin Lour.  The party was, fact led by Bill Weaver of Wessex.

I hope you will find these odds and ends of interest.  All the best, Harry Stanbury.

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Thank you very much, Harry. One hopes that, since the article on the club's history appeared there are no club members, however new, who don it know that Harry was the founder of our club - and hence in a better position to put us straight on club history than anyone.

The Stoke Lane clanger was entirely my own fault, since I was around at the time and should have remembered what happened.  If anyone is interested, and mainly to keep the record straight, the events were as follows: -

Sunday, June 1st, 1947.  Pat Browne, D. Sage and J. Umeach from Bruton.  Pat was showing the cave to the other two and demonstrating how the ends of known caves are probed for further passage.  To his surprise and delight he found Browne’s Passage and they explore as far as Cairn Chamber.

Saturday 7th June, 1947.  Pat Browne, Don Coase and Sett repeated the trip, forced the DUCK and find the sump pool.

Sunday 22nd June, 1947.  The party which Harry describes took place.  They do some exploration of Stoke II.

Weekend 28/29th June 1947.  Don, Harry, Sett etc. in a general exploration of Stoke II.

Monday, 30th June, 1947. Monty, Alfie and Luke Devenish read note left in Belfry and find their way to cave but fail to find sump.

Tuesday 1st July, 1947.  Same team find sump and look round Stoke II.

So I should have noticed the error!  Incidentally, there was a joke around at the time when some newcomer asked Don how he knew that the sump was so short.  Don said that he thrust his arm through and, when he pulled it back, saw that his hand was dry.  This was believed by the newcomer for a short while - but in fairness, we were all a bit slewed the time.


 

Library Additions

More information on what can be found in the club library, by our Hon. Librarian, DAVE IRWIN.

New publications in the library include RED ROSE POTHOLE CLUB NEWSLETTER, volume 9 No. 4 and the first two issues of a new exchange, the PLYMOUTH CAVING GROUP NEWSLETTERS Numbers 42 and 43 for Feb and 1972.  The Red Rose include a report on their A.G.M. and the Plymouth include an interesting article on the chemistry and maintenance of caving accumulators, going into reasonable detail that is often omitted from this type of Article.  Problems of rescue in Afton rift; a description of Coombesend Chasm and other material can all be found in the February number while in the April one can be found notes on Hexworthy mine., demolition of archaeological remains in the Tamar Valley and interesting extracts from 18th Century books.

DIE HOHLE, Volume 22, numbers 3 and 4 (1971) includes articles such as the Expedition in the Ojo Guarena system on Spain; Trollgatera, a cave in granite in Sweden; Gruberhorn Hole, Salzburg, and many other items worthy of attention.

CAVES AND KARST Volume 13 Number 3 from the U.S.A. contains part 1 of the Application of Stable Carbon Isotope studies to Karst research.  The second part is in Volume 13 No 4.  Those interested in water tracing will find this publication of immense va1ue.  Incidentally we have several other copies of this series in the library which should be read by members.  For example, in Volume 12 Number 1 will be found ‘The Chemical Evolution of Cave Waters, Inner Space Cavern, Texas’ and Volume 11 number 6 contains ‘Volcanic ash Horizons in Layered Dripstones and Cave Sediments.’

Perhaps the most important addition to the club library for some time are the three volumes entitled CURRENT TITLES IN SPELAEOLOGY for the years 1 969,1970 and 1971.  From the caving literature both national and local, from magazines and newspapers, books and any other literal source that one may like to suggest, Ray Mansfield has combed the lot to produce these three immensely valuable volumes.  Each of them lists, for its respective year, all articles and books that have been published in the U.K. - whether the material itself deals with foreign or local caves or with fringe activities.

Taking Mendip as an example. Do you know that there is a description of Wookey Hole cave in 1840?, hat Hutton Cave has possibly been rediscovered?  Or do you want a description of Priddy Green Sink? If you want information regarding caving in Japan; Carlsbad Caverns; a new karst area in New Zealand; Bat studies in Uganda; some Styrian caves; free diving the first sump in Pollaraftra, Eire and much more you will find all the reference details in these volumes.  For anyone needing any information from any article written between 1969 and 1971, it’s all there!  Remember that these volumes are in the library, and if anyone is after a specific reference, he can check it in the C.T.S. and, with luck, we may have that particular publication also in the library.

Each volume of C.T.S. is subdivided into a number of sections:  Inter- and Non-Regional Topics (Cave Rescue, Archaeology in Devon and Cornwall; Somerset and Bristol District; Southern Pennines; Northern Pennines; England, Miscellaneous Areas; Wales and Shropshire; Scotland; Ireland and Foreign.  At the moment, C.T.S. does not carry information gathered from foreign publications, but the 1972 C.T.S. is to be expand to included these - some undertaking!

Members interested in having these for their own reference libraries should obtain copies from Tony Oldham, 17, Freemantle Road, Eastville, Bristol BS5 6SY at 50p each. Printed by Gestetner - 60p for 1969 and 50p for the other two.

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

Make a note of the ANNUAL DINNER.  Saturday, 7th October the Cave Man Restaurant.  Good Food.  Plenty of it. SOME FREE BEER. Entertainments.  ETC. ETC.  All the best people will be there!!  Price £1.10 ONLY per ticket.  Don’t miss this unique opportunity of hob-nobbing with the cream of Mendip caving society!!  Make a note in your diary.  Tie knot in something.  Keep saying to yourself, “Saturday, 7 of October”


 

The Dig in Gour Rift

A more detailed account of this dig by DAVE IRWIN.

The end of Gour Rift has interested the author for some time - in fact when John Cornwell dug a pit there in 1966 it had the feel that it was only time before it went – but ¬the site was temporarily abandoned due to lack of help.  In 1963,   the author and Bob Craig,   persuaded Dave Searle to help us remove a flake at the small pocket at the very end to enable us to see what happened beyond. The result was not encouraging enough at the time to make one want to pick up a shovel and dig.  Still the site niggled.  In 1970 just before departing for the U.S.A., Dave Turner, Colin Clarke and myself had another scratch and later, with Roy Bennett's help, removed more rock, but again, the necessary push was not there, as Cuthbert’s II had still to be fully investigated, and sump II looked the more promising.

In the autumn of 1970, a scratch group of us went down to the end again and this time, armed with buckets; picks and shovels, bailed the pool at the end just below the aven to the Bank Grill and began digging.  Very soon it became obvious that at some time in the past, large quantities of stalagmite had been deposited at this point and only now were being uncovered.  Just a short distance beyond the end of the gours in Gour Rift, almost opposite the duck, a large gour three to four feet across was found about a foot below the gravels. Smaller gours were found to the right, each arching towards the left hand wall.  Here was the incentive that was needed.  At some time in the past, water trickles that formed the gours had flowed down the rift and away under the left hand wall (looking down cave) some of the water possibly coming out of the sump passage!

At this point in the rift, several lines of weakness were noted and it was decided to follow one - which ended shortly in a phreatic hole in the roof of an overhang that had its supply of water from the updip side.  Anyhow, with this information available that the water had flowed away from this point, a regular visit to the site became imperative to keep the dig on the move - so the Sunday Morning Digging Team was formed.  Its nuc1eus comprised Dave Turner, Doug Stuckey, Chris Williams, myself and any other likely looking 'mug' at the Belfry.  A change of digging site was suggested, and an attack at the extreme end seemed to offer a better position for digging. The site enabled us to get away from the roof overhangs which forced the diggers to a kneeling position, and made the spoil easier to move.  However, this was not to be.  A rock floor was found some two feet below, and so it was a case of 'back to the original site'.  To prevent slumping, shoring has now been installed and its back to the pick, shovel and the well-known cry of "Where’s the bloody bucket?"

Anyhow, if anyone is prepared to get out of bed early on Sunday mornings ready to descend the cave at 9.30 AM. (not pm) and be guaranteed to be out again before lunch time closing - come along to the Belfry.  Even if we don’t get Cuthbert’s III this year - so what!  It makes a pleasant morning’s caving.

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

Wig also notes that this dig is not the only activity going on in Cuthbert’s.  There are other digs; plus surveying and water tracing.  On the latter subject, ROGER STENNER keeps us up-to-date in the short article which follows: -


 

Water Tracing in Cuthbert’s

The most recent set of results are of some importance because they prove that the Fair Lady Well stream enters St. Cuthbert’s Swallet, which I have suspected for some time, but have not been able to prove.  To the west of the Belfry,  the size of the stream decreases very quickly,  and it is now known that water entering the cave in the Long Chamber series is derived from the Fair Lady Well stream.  Furthermore, the stream continues to enter the lake.  The next water tracing experiments will be made to find if water from the lake enters the Main Stream in the known cave.

The Main Stream (Everest Passage) Kanchenjunga drip inlet, and the small stream near the foot of the Rocky Boulder Pitch all gave negative results.

The method used for tracing the water was the same as published earlier (B.B. for March, 1972). The difference was that this time the work was done at the Belfry, where the U.V. lamp caused some interest among the members present, especially when they saw the fluorescence produced in a few different minerals.

Editor's Note:     The entry of Fair Lady Well water into Cuthbert’s must be of fairly recent origin, at least in recent historical times, because until the time - not so very many years ago - when mains water became available in Priddy, the Fair Lady Well stream supplied drinking water to all the farms and cottages between the Belfry and Priddy Green.  The clearance of the stream channel  - a completely artificial one, incidentally - and the stopping up of any leaks into the depression was an annual job tackled by all the able-bodied villagers.  Of late, the water to the west of the Belfry has become rather more of a nuisance to locals than an advantage, and so the stream is no longer maintained, and may even have been encouraged to leak.

Incidentally, in the days when we used to drink from this stream, we used to have the water analysed and, whether or not its miraculous origin is fact or myth, it always amazed the analyst by its almost complete absence of my form of bacterial content. Judging by the muck which is usually present in Fair Lady Well nowadays, I should imagine this is no longer the case.

 


Fairy Cave to Hilliers Link – up

(A ‘FRIDAY NIGHT’ CLUB TRIP)

Readers may not be aware that Fairy Cave and Hilliers are now linked.  This is a brief account of the first B.E.C. trip, written up by NIG. TAYLOR

On the 17th of April this year, a staggering number of no less than seventeen cavers turned up at Fairy Cave Quarry.  The B.E.C. were well represented with Leader Brain Prewer ("Prew") Mike Palmer, Nigel Taylor and a latecomer - Doug Stuckey.

The connection from Fairy Cave to Hilliers had only been forced a fortnight beforehand, and I believe that we were the second party through.

Hilliers was excessively dirty with quarry sludge~ and crawling through it was like ‘Jelly Caving.’ The grottoes have been re-taped, and Cambridge Grotto was still in a good state of conservation, and is still well worth a trip.

The actual connection, via a boulder squeeze in loosening boulders and banged passage looks worse than it actually is, and adds a little sport to the cave.  With seventeen cavers, the trip took quite a time, and I personally learned to watch my tongue when I learned that the kindly old I gent ahead of me was a vicar!

On exit, a suitable adjournment was made to the Waggon and Horses - when gestures of thanks (!!) were made to our Cerberus/B.E.C. Leaders.

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The SURVEYING COURSE is still going on each Saturday at the Belfry between 7.30 and 8.30 pm as follows:-

Saturday, 1st July, Detail and Survey Presentation.

Saturday, 8th July, Survey Drawing.

Sunday, 16th July, Practical Surveying in the flue tunnels.

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FUTURE ARTICLES

Articles lined up for future B.B.’s include an account of last year’s expedition to the Picos de Europa; some surveying articles by Dave Irwin and Alfie and a long article on Cave Photography by Alan Coase.  We could always do with smaller articles, especially ones that take up half a page or so. These are very useful and enable a B.B. to be planned so that no space is wasted.

Have you got any LIBRARY BOOKS at home?  Have a look through your bookshelf, as there are quite a. few books which appear on older library lists which the present Hon. Librarian has no trace of in the library.


 

Library Requests

With the library just about completely catalogued and many of the exchange journals and newsletters bounds we are finding that a large number of periodicals have either been lost or never received by club librarians in the past.

Below is a short list of items that are missing (more will be published later) :-

BRITISH CAVER

Volumes 1 to 14, 26, 28

CAVE PROJECTS GROUP NEWSLETTERS

From No .3 to date.

CHELSEA S.S. NEWSLETTERS,

Vols 1 to 4.   Vol 5, Nos 1, 3, and 6 to 12.   Vols 6 to 9. Vol 10, Nos 1 to 7, 9.  Vol 11 nos 6 & 12. Vol 14, No 4.

M.N.R.C. JOURNALS

Vol 1 No.2.  All between 1964 and 1971 except June 1970.  Bulletin Vol 1 No.2.  Newsletters pre No. 45.

PLYMOUTH C.G.

Newsletters Nos 1 to 7 & 9 to 41.

RED ROSE C.P.C.

All journals except Nos 1 and 5.

SEVERN VALLEY C.C.

Any newsletters except Vol 1 Nos 10 & 12, Vol 2 No 2, Vol 4 No 12, Vo15 No 1.  December 1967, Jan, Feb, Nov & Dec 1968, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Jun & Nov 1969.

SHEPTON MALLET C. C.

Occasional papers Nos 3 & 6.

SOUTH WALES C.C.

Newsletters Nos 1, 4, 15, 18, 19, 26 to 40, 46 to 50 and 53 onwards.

WESSEX CAVE CLUB

Journals Nos 1, to 26, 29, 30, 32, 42, 45, 106 to 109, 111 to 113, 118 to 119, 131 to 134, 138 to 139.

Any members having duplicates of any of these missing items, or who would be willing to donate copies should contact the Hone Librarian, DAVE IRWIN, who will be pleased to hear from them.  If librarians of other clubs notice this list of missing items, it should be pointed out that we do have duplicate material we would exchange (particularly B.B.'s). B.B.'s are available from Number 100 to date.  Back numbers other than for exchange are available to any purchaser at the Belfry at 10 new pence each from number 110 to 169; at 5 new pence from 170 to 237 and at 7 new pence from 238 to date.  The income from any such sales will contribute towards additions for the library.


 

Roman Mine

 by J. & N. TUCK.  Caving Report No 15.  Price 60p

While they were looking for a 19th Century lead mine at Draethen, between Cardiff and Newport, the authors discovered a lead mine of great antiquity.  With the help of Dr. Savory of the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, it was established that the mine was of Roman origin.  Work done in the mine has resolved many uncertainties concerning Roman mining activities in the district.

The report includes an account of the discovery of the mine; its geological situation, and a history of mining in the area.  The mining technique used by the Romans is explained and archaeological finds are listed and discussed.  Fifty pages of text are printed by offset lithography on 10 x 8 inch paper.  The report is illustrated with two maps of the district; a survey of the mine; thirty line drawings and four photographs. The pages stapled between card covers. At this very low price, the report should appeal to those interested in the geology or the history of the area.

Copies and further information may be obtained from R.D. STENNER, Hartcliffe Comprehensive School, Bishport Avenue, Bristol 3.

Caving Meets

The will be a CAVING MEET - AUTUMN BANK HOLIDAY

25th - 28th of August.

TO YORKSHIRE - INCLUDING GAPING GHYLL WINCH MEET AND IT IS ALSO INTENDED TO BOOK TATHAM WIFE HOLE; SWINSTO; KINGSDALE MASTER CAVE AND VARIOUS OTHER  SMALLER KINGSDALE CAVES. CAMPING AT AUSTWICK.  TRAVELLING UP ON FRIDAY NIGHT.  IF SUFFICIENT  DEMAND A MINI-BUS WILL BE HIRED.

Will all interested cavers PLEASE contact TIM LARGE as soon as possible, so that all arrangements can be made


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 23.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

7

8

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

12

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. Was ‘e my rat’ in underground river? (9)
6. Describes outdoor scientific work – even underground. (5)
8. Cuthbert’s run. (3)
9. Furthest point underground. (3)
10. No southern spot up north. (3)
11. A Belfry brew? (3)
13. Take it easy in an Cuthbert’s itinery. (3)
14. Make small hole? (5)
15. Tempers be upset in this Cuthbert’s chamber, (9)

Down:

2. Right – One foot for this cave feature. (4)
3. Erratic O.E. Ailment. (9)
4. Progress along 1 across, perhaps. (4)
5. Found in bare terrain in Cuthbert’s. (5)
7. Old workings sound finished on Mendip. (5)
12. Take this in mineries or see it in rockface. (3)
13. Mendip House. (4)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

A

B

O

V

E

 

D

 

O

 

A

 

 

 

D

R

O

P

S

T

A

I

N

 

A

 

E

 

S

 

 

O

 

I

 

N

F

 

P

I

T

O

N

 

S

L

 

O

 

E

 

 

C

 

O

 

O

 

S

T

R

A

W

W

E

L

L

 

 

 

V

 

S

 

S

 

F

O

X

E

S

 

The Editor regrets that, while he can think of nothing sensible to put in this spce, it goes against his nature to leave it actually blank.  It would, of course, have filled up more had he actually typed an ‘a’ in the word ‘space’.  Oh, well! Honour is satisfied!

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.


 

Editorial

The Belfry

In this B.B. you will find a few words written as a result of the recent Committee enquiry.  Just how they strike you will depend on your personal attitude but, considering the relatively short time that the present Belfry has been in operation, the situation is no worse than might well have been expected and should give no cause for alarm.

That the B.E.C. finds itself in a position where the Belfry cannot be its member’s own hut to the exclusion of all others; and that it must give priority over day and even¬ing visitors to those who sleep there may strike some as a novel - even sinister - turn of events, but is this really so?  It is certainly not novel.  For many years the club encouraged visiting cavers to stay at the Belfry and acquired many useful contacts as a result.  Similarly, the 'regulars' evolved an image of life as it was then lived at the Belfry and took the view that if others did not like this, they could lump it.  We both gained and lost people by this attitude.

Whereas few people would like to see the B.E.C. turn into a dull; respectable; studious and narrow minded body, it must be admitted that attitudes change and that if the present one is towards more caving and away from singing and bottle walking, then that's how it is.  Worse things could happen.

Unskilled Labour

As you will see, printing enables one to drop a greater variety of 'clangers' than does duplicating, and this B.B. could well serve as an example of what NOT to do.  Have patience - we will get the hang of it!

“Alfie”

Letters

Letterewe
Wester Ross,
Scotland

24.3.72

Dear Alfie

The ripples and noises of dissention have spread even to our far-flung position in the B.E.C. empire and I would like to put the views of an exile if I may.

My views on club politics are well known - but committees must be.  That the B.E.C. committee through the years has been a successful one must be apparent from the history the club in the March B.B.  I personally know about 70% of the present committee. I have stood before them for the odd bollocking and a thank you - the former well deserved and the latter gratefully received.  Now these people have been elected time and time again - proving the club’s acceptance of their expertise.  They may be getting a bit long in the tooth in the eyes of some of the younger and newer members but before one begins to criticise, look back at their record.  I joined the B.E.C. in 1960 because the Belfry was a better place than Maine’s Barn.  Over the years, my loyalty to and pride in the club have increased without my being really aware of it - and it would be a great pity if the club were to suffer from any form of dissention.

My advice to dissenters is ‘Put up or shut up.’  Let them go into print (yes, print now in the B.B.) and let every one hear their point of view or, better still just shut up and leave it to the experts - for that is what our committee at present are.

Yours Sincerely

Steve Grime.

Member’s Addresses

New Members

775/6  Mr & Mrs J. Upsall, 82 Eastlland Rd, Yeovil, Somerset.
777     J. Durston, Tolcarne, 90 Wells Rd, Glastonbury, Somerset
778/9  Mr & Mrs J. Calder, 14 Trinity St., Salisbury, Wilts.

Change Of Address

T. Fletcher.  11 Cow Lane, Bradcote, Nottingham
C.G. Howell, 131 Sandon Rd, Edgbaston, Birmingham.
R. Toms, 22 Lancing gardens, Edmonton, London N9

Paid Up

G.S. Watts, 100 Chesterfield Rd, St. Andrews, Bristol 6


 

Geophysical Cave Prospecting

A short account of the possibilities of various methods written for the B. B.

by JOHN LETTEREN of M.N.R.C. & Wessex.

Introduction

It has long been the dream of many cavers to construct a little black box to detect and locate caves. The great majority of known caves on Mendip occur on the Black Rock/Lower Limestone Shales boundary, and have been discovered by digging active or extinct swallet type entrances. A few large solutional cave systems, notably Lamb Leer and Pen Park have absolutely no surface features and were discovered (by mining operations) quite by chance.  The discovery of Pen Park in the early days was, in fact, facilitated by a natural opening in the roof of the main chamber, but there are probably a considerable number which, like Lamb Leer, retain their secrecy.  Other examples are Manor Farm Swallet whose roof collapsed in 1968; the larger caves of Fairy Cave quarry, which were broken into by quarrying and - if you believe in fairies - the gulf at Sandford Hill and Palmer's Chamber off Lamb Leer.

Dowsing

Until the physical principles of this method are understood it must be regarded as a black art.  No significant caves have been discovered by this method.

Resistivity

Various workers, notably the late Prof. Palmer, have measured earth resistance in an attempt to delineate caves.  The method is extremely slow and tedious, as it is necessary to traverse the area not once but many times with different probe spacings to work to different depths. One worker in the U.S.S.R. has taken 20,000 readings in one area alone.  Even then, there is a chance of detecting faults as the method is only capable of detecting surfaces, not volumes.  Although various people have claimed success; few, if any large caves have been discovered (i.e. entered) using this method.

Seismology

I spent three years working on explosion seismology.  I received echoes from the region where Palmer’s Chamber should be, also from G.B. and some others.  This method is even more prone to detecting surfaces and was deliberately shelved by myself for that reason in favour of gravitational methods.

Microwave Thermometry

As the earth loses heat at night, cavities near the surface act as insulators and prevent the earth's heat from reaching the surface thus giving rise to cool areas.  However, the temperature differences are so small that a microwave thermometer is needed to measure the wavelength of the infra-red radiation.  The Americans fly such instruments at night to detect old mine workings under highways etc. and they claim to detect not only the tunnels but even the pit props! Unless one of these is hi - jacked, it would appear to be beyond the Scope of a club project.

Gravimetry

The earths force (or acceleration, if you insist) of gravity diminishes slightly over a cavity.  The figure obtained from theory over Lamb Leer main chamber is a quarter of a part per million, or 0.25 milligal – a milligal being approximately a micro-g.  One can purchase an instrument having an accuracy of 0.01 milligal, but before putting this to your committee, I should mention that such instruments cost about £3,500.  Various types of gravimeter have been proposed.  The one referred to above is the Worden.  Others use variations of the Cavendish balance or clever overbalancing mass-spring systems (such as the von Thyssen).   Bristol University and others have realised that electronic timers are now fast and accurate enough to time a falling mass to one part in ten million at least, but there are problems in determining the start and finish times to the required accuracy.  I am myself working on a home made gravimeter but as it is just possible that the idea might be worth a patent, I won't discuss it here.

Other Methods

There are several other cave finding methods about, but I won't attempt to describe any more here. Ideas like putting down boreholes all over the place and lowering down miniature T.V. cameras I will leave for you to exploit if you so wish.

Ethics

Is there a case for NOT using these methods?  Are they, like poisoning foxes, basically unsporting?  I do not think so.  Any method, however effective, will only detect caves in certain environments and even then, the problem of breaking into the detected cave arises.  The Palmer's Chamber dig has been going on steadily for generations, and had still a long way to go.  However, a really effective instrument could reward its designer by finding at least one new, big, shining, unspoilt cave and - a part from Rhino - it is a long time since anyone has done so on Mendip.

Editor's Note:     This is a subject which does not get heard of for long intervals in the B.B., and it is interesting to learn that workers are still busy in this field of enquiry.  Any comments from readers on either the scientific or ethical sides of this subject?


 

Climbing 1971 – 1972

Anan account of climbs and trips carried out by club members during the past twelve months

by GERALD OATEN.

The passing of this Easter makes it a year since the B.E.C. climbers headed for 'Them thar hills' namely Glencoe, Scotland.  (The account of this trip was published in a previous B.B.)

On arrival. we had prepared for the worst, having aired our thick jumpers, over rousers and long johns. To our amazement, the sun beat down on us for six days.  This made the gully climbs soft going, so the intrepid climbers made their way to Glen Etieve and the famous Trilleachan slabs.  Nigel Jago and Derek Targett climbed Hammer, 500ft, and Spartan Slab - both V.S.'s.  On returning, they said that it was some of the most enjoyable climbing they had done. On the last night of the stay, out luck changed.  It rained and blew all night.  Thus we beat a hasty retreat from Scotland.

The next trip that members made was at Whitsun.  This time, we migrated south to Cornwall.  Early on the first morning Derek, Fred and Nigel descended Ash Can Gulley at Chair Ladder to climb Bishop's Rib (X.S. 190' ) while Peter Sutton and myself scrambled down the easier way and made our way at sea level to Central Route (V.S. 195'). On sighting the start of our climb some fifteen feet above us on a ledge, Pete made his way up the short vertical wall.  Then it was my turn. I made the first two moves then it happened! - my shoulder came out again.

Pete's quick thinking saved me from falling into the 'Oggin.  He made the rope fast and belayed me to it. Then off for help he went, leaving me alone.

Although the tide was going out, the waves were sometimes crashing over me; making me wet and miserable. After what seemed an eternity, Pete returned with the boys and they decided to inform the coast guard at the top of the cliff.  After about a quarter of an hour, the coastguard arrived - wearing a white shirt and tie and Wellingtons. (Presumably trousers as well? Ed.) He brought ropes and a rescue stretcher with him.

The general idea was to haul me up the two hundred odd foot of cliff face on the stretcher.  By this time we had quite an audience, plus a lot of help from nameless climbers.  After a half-hearted attempt, they decided to abandon this method, making me think that they were going to leave me to the mercy of the sea.  All of a sudden there was a mighty roar and a rush of hot down draught from a Royal Navy helicopter.  The Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines had arrived!  After some skilful manoeuvres by the pilot, I was winched up into the craft and whisked away to Penzance Hospital and those pretty Cornish nurses.

Derek and Nigel made ascents of Diocese (V.S. 205') and Little Brown Jug (V.S. 200') on the following days while the rest of the group tried to get a suntan on Sennen beach.

After returning from Cornwall, some of the active climbers set about climbing some of the harder routes on the Avon Gorge.  The four climbers who took part in these climbs were Peter Sutton; Roy Marshall; Nigel Jago and Derek Targett.  They climbed in pairs.

Limbo (X.S. 230') was climbed by Derek and Nigel.  This is a fine route on Suspension Bridge Buttress.  It takes a line just right of the arête.  From the first belay you climb on ‘S’, all rounded pockets on a slightly overhanging wall, breaking out from this left on a hand traverse.  At the end of this is a difficult mantelshelf, which I was sure Nigel was not going to make as he thrashed over it. The route then follows Hell Gates to the top.

Earl of Perth (H.V.S. 210') is another route on the buttress and this also was climbed by Nigel and Derek. This takes the same stance as Limbo, but starts off to the right over the black bulge on the same sort of pockets as Limbo.  After the first couple of moves you use a peg, then follow the grooves that tend to go right, finishing on the final wall of Hell Gates.

Pete and Roy joined Nigel and Derek for the ascent of How Hard (H.V.S. 250').  Our four musketeers next tackled Clan Union (X.S.380i).  Nigel and Derek were the leading pair.  The first pitch is the same as Hell Gates, where you belay in the cave.  If you get a chance to do either of these routes, there is a writing book in the cave with some interesting comments in it.  This was first put there by (How's the climb going? Ed.) Drummond.  From the cave, traverse left across the diedre by a series of bridging and hand traverses.  The belay for this pitch is in a hairy position in slings.  The route then follows the fault line ascending to the left for some hundred feet.  This involves some difficult hand traverses.  By this time Pete and Roy were on the second pitch with Pete in the lead.  Roy came across the diedre in spectacular form with a series of back ropes for protection and he ended up spread-eagled on the diedre.  The last pitch is the same as for Limbo.

After doing this route, Derek and Nigel decided to try Last Slip (X.S. 130').  The first pitch of this is made by fingery lay backs that prove to be very strenuous.  In the following weekends they did this pitch so often that they could have done it blindfolded.  The second pitch of the climb takes a clean cut groove with a bolt for protection nearly at the base.  Nigel, who was leading, made it to the bolt and a little above, then he came to a halt. The moves to make are a series of bridging and backing up ¬or that's what it says in the guidebook.   Barrie and I were prussiking up the climb taking photographs and uttering words of encouragement.  The reply we received was “Go follow the sun!”  After several attempts at the climb, they gave it up as a bad Job.

The last hard route done was Spinor (X.S.130').  It is a very strenuous climb on red overhanging wall in the Amphitheatre.  If anybody would like to look at some black and white photos of these routes, contact the Climbing Secretary.

One Monday afternoon in August saw ten members on a ferry in the middle of the English Channel on their way to the Alps.  The transport we had was a twelve seater van that was very much overloaded with climbing and camping gear for eighteen days.  With so many navigators in the van, we found ourselves somehow in the middle of the Paris fruit market but eventually we managed to get on the right auto route that took us deeper into France and the Alps.

After eighteen hours driving and after many wrong turns and traffic jams, we arrived in Chamonix just as a heavy rainstorm started.  We had arranged to meet Bob and Lyn White and also Bob Sell in the Bar National, where we all had a long awaited and well deserved beer. We managed to pitch camp on the same site as the others.  With gear strewn all over our camp, we were the spectacle of the site, with the French walking past and muttering words that sounded like 'Mad Anglais.'

Nigel and Fred set off to climb Mont Blanc (15,772 ft) by crossing the Bosson Glacier and staying at an alpine hut.  At this height, they both suffered a bit and so decided not to go on. Barrie, Derek and Bob Sell did not know this, and they set off to cross the glacier at a narrower point to meet up with the other two.  It must have been very funny to see these three slogging up the path with ice axes, crampons, heavy boots and pack and being overtaken by old women carrying handbags and wearing shoes. On reaching the edge of the glacier they were so tired that they decided to come back down.

After our stay at Chamonix, we moved on to Interlaken in Switzerland.  This time the camp was quite good.  It had an English style bog!  From the site you could across and see the north face of the Eiger in the distance (13,026ft) and the Monch (13,449ft).  To see the sun setting on these mountains was, I think, the most beau¬tiful sight of the entire trip.

Bob Sell was the only person in the group that did any climbing.  He set off one day with a friend to reach the summit of the Eiger by its west flank.  While he was doing this, the rest of us set about sightseeing and put in some strenuous drinking (it was a long way to go for a booze up!)

Our trips included a drive to Trummelbach where there is a large waterfall which cascades from the middle of a cliff face.  For a small fee you can go up in a lift and see the water crashing along its course. A lot of the time was spent on the grassy banks of one of the lakes sunbathing.  On one occasion while the rest sunbathed, five of us went to a place called Kleine Scheidegg (6,762ft).  There are a couple of hotels here at the base of the Jungfrau and from there, there are two ways up.  Walking, or catching the mountain railway.  We took the latter.  On reaching Kleine Scheidegg we sat on the grass and ate a watermelon we had bought.  After this, we walked 'the couple of miles to the famous town of Gundelwald and had a look around while waiting for our lift back.

After the long journey outwards, we decided to make the return journey include an overnight stop. This turned, out to be in a little sleepy village just outside Dijon and here we spent a pleasant evening drinking in the bars with the locals.

We made an early start in the morning, getting to Le Havre at about 7 pm and managing to get on the 10.30 ferry. On arriving at Southampton we nearly had to push the van off because it would not start.  Since our return, the climbing section has not been very active but now, with the lighter nights coming, I am sure that our members will be climbing with renewed vigour after their long rest through the winter months.


 

Dates For Your Diary

The second B.E.C. Course Cave Surveying is being held on consecutive Saturday evenings at the Belfry from 7:30 to 8:30 pm. Dates and subjects as follows: -

Saturday, 3rd June.

General Introduction (Aims of a survey.  What the surveyor should be asking himself, etc.)

Saturday, 10th June.

The Line Survey.  (Including calibration etc.)

Saturday, 17th June.

Traverse Closures.

Saturday, 24th June.

Detail and Survey Presentation.

Saturday, 1st July.

Survey Drawing.

SUNDAY 9TH JULY

Practical surveying in the flue tunnels.

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Bred any good Rooks lately? - sorry, Read any good books?  If so, and the book is of interest to cavers, climbers etc.  Why not write a book review for the B.B.? Any length from a short paragraph will be useful!  Have a go!

Have you bought your copy of MENDIP’S  VANISHING GROTTOES yet?  Copies are running out fairly rapidly and - like the caves they so vividly illustrate - may soon disappear.  Get your copy before this happens - at the Belfry or from Dave Irwin.

At the Belfry

A periodical review or the Belfry scene by the Hut Warden,  JOCK ORR.

Let's start off with caving. Things are improving.  Some of the names appearing in the Belfry hut fee book also appear in the caving logs.  Early morning trips on Sundays are well supported with people getting up after a reasonable night's sleep; cooking their breakfasts and carrying on with the day's activities.

Hung-over festerers emerging at 11 am snarling and snapping at the cooking fumes are no longer part of the accepted scene, but have become somewhat of a novelty and are regarded as social pests.

Recent visiting clubs at the Belfry include the Bradford Pothole Club over Easter who, after an enjoyable Mendip weekend underground, interspersed with suitable periods for refreshment, eventually flaked out on Monday in Goatchurch.  Representatives of several university, scout leaders clubs and polytechnics put in appearances prior to Easter and filled the place to capacity.  And - a new development - Box Stone Mine has suddenly become a popular tourist attraction.

What about digging? There are three probes going on at the moment and Cuthbert’s is due for another all-out shift system attack on sump II sometime in the summer.  Our Caving Secretary is looking very happy as a result!

Over the weekend of 7-9th April, Hut Engineer Rodney Hobbs sniffed out a ruptured 'T' junction in the main water feed pipe running underneath a corner of the Belfry foundation raft - after the Water Board had detected thousands of gallons of water disappearing somewhere between the road and the building. Directing operations with professional aplomb, Rod set his squad to digging trenches and expose the elusive pipe.  A passing J.C.B. excavator was hired the spot and the new pipe was trenched; laid and reconnected by Messrs Gander and Prewer in the space of an afternoon whilst the committee was in session on the enquiry into the financing and running of the Belfry.

I must say I am impressed by the general tidiness of the Belfry recently and the clearing up of various piles of rubbish around the site.  Although there has been a slight decrease in the number of people staying, those who do are taking an obvious interest in operating the place as a caving headquarters with less accent on - to put it bluntly - a doss house for inebriated layabouts who have no intention of going anywhere further than the nearest pub.

From what I have heard at Committee meetings, there is every indication that this is going to be a busy year.  A particular club officer commented during the last meeting “Some club members think the committee is out of touch with the club requirements.  In actual fact, some club members are not only out of touch with the committee but with the club itself!"  I would agree.  The individual who bleats and blahs about how he would run the club is way out on a limb - in the moonshine - by himself.

Norman Petty is putting on a very interesting slide show on the second weekend in May.  It is all about the old Belfry.  Some of the slides are really historic.  Saturday night after the pub.  The club library is now operational, and you can now obtain lighting spares, club ties and badges and also publications at the Belfry.  Dave Irwin and his crew are digging Gour Rift down Cuthbert’s sharp at 9.30 every Sunday morning, so come along and give a hand - or join the Tuesday Night Diggers if you can’t make it on a Sunday.

If you're not caving, there are several maintenance jobs awaiting people with willing hands.  Come and help us to take a pride in the Belfry and continue the good work and traditions of the club.

‘Jock’


 

Some lesser Yorkshire Caves

For those Mendip cavers who fear that all pots in Yorkshire consist of hairy great pitches, this article by DEREK SANDERSON should provide encouragement!

Most Somerset cavers, when they venture north tend, for one reason or another, to head for the deeper super-severe caves and pots.  Yet this may not always be possible.  A few weeks ago, three Mendip cavers found themselves in the Pennines in something of a predicament.  Keith Sanderson (W.C.C.) and Derek Sanderson (B.E.C.) had sprained wrists, while Roger Wing (B.E.C.) was still suffering from the after effects of a broken leg.  Thus, the more difficult pots were out.  However, the following trips were made:-

SUNSET HOLE  SD 742 759 Length 2180' + Depth 120'  M.P.

Situated on the NW slopes of Ingleborough-Simonds Fell, about a quarter of a mile NE from the slit entrance of Meregill Hole, where stream sinks in a shakehole.  The stream passage is about two to three feet wide and formed as a rift.  The rocks are brownish and well scalloped.  There had been considerable rainfall during the previous days and the water level was high.  In several places the current was too strong to walk in.

The stream passage winds for about a quarter of a mile uninterrupted.  There are a few formations, but they not impressive - except perhaps a stalagmite boss on the right which is stained dark red.

After a quarter of a mile, the first pot is reached.  This only eight feet and can be free-climbed by traversing over the pot to the left, chimneying down a rift covered by yellow flowstone and dropping the last few feet back into the streamway.

A short distance and the stream drops over a few short steps and falls into the next pot of ten feet. Under normal conditions this pot would be free climbable, but as it was, the stream would have swept us off and barred our return.  We used a 120’ handline belayed double to a calcite column high on the right about 25’ back from the lip.  This made the descent invigorating but not dangerous.

After about three hundred feet of narrow passage, the stream drops over the third pot of twenty feet. This is passed by traversing over it into a narrow rift with wedged boulders as a false floor.  A squeeze through the boulders and a climb down a sharp flake of rock leads into a final chamber with a sixty foot drop into the final chamber. The stream drops to the right and emerges into the final chamber as a forty foot waterfall.  We didn’t tackle the final pitch (I’m not doing sixty foot pitches without a lifeline for anybody!)

We took an hour and a quarter, though some time was wasted retrieving a length of ladder which was swept away by the stream at the ten foot pot.  There is a well-decorated extension to the cave, but we missed it - though a small passage does lead off to the right above the twenty foot pot. Perhaps this leads to it.

MID WASHFORD -.GREAT DOOK CAVE.  Through trip. SD 764 747.  770. Length about ½ mile.  M.C.

There appears to be about three entrances at the Mid Washfold end, situated about half a mile NE of Sunset Hole around a sheepfold.  The wet entrance is behind the sheepfold, but was impassable.  A second wet entrance is seen where a stream sinks in the limestone pavement twenty yards to the south.  We descended a dry entrance amongst the clints between the sheepfold and the footpath.

A narrow passage leads in for a short distance until a low tunnel turns off to the right. A crawl over pebbles for about twenty yards leads to a flat out bedding plane crawl for a few feet until a hole downwards of three feet leads to flowing water. Descending the hole is awkward. Below is a second bedding plane about 1' 9" wide with, on this occasion, a foot of water in it.  After crawling downstream for about thirty feet, a considerable volume of water enters from the right (wet entrance) and a further forty five feet leads to a junction with more water entering from the left.  From this point, the roof rises and one is in the upper reaches of Great Douk Cave.

Great Douk is straightforward - walking practically the way.  The passage varies from a typically northern crawl to a high rift passage.  In some parts the water reaches waist deep, at one point it races crystal clear along a smooth-washed floor in a high, scalloped rift barely two feet wide.  Eventually one passes under Little Douk Pot, a fifty foot shaft from the surface, and into a large passage which leads to the wide entrance of  Great Douk Cave, where the stream flows over a ten foot waterfall.

CALF HOLES - BROWNHILL CAVE through trip. Birkwith area.  SD 804 775 / 801 778   2,000'   M.P.

Three hundred and fifty yards NNE of Old Ing Farm, where a stream drops impressively into a thirty five foot shaft.  Ladder the shaft through an eyehole on the left for a dry descent.  The ladder pitch is straightforward.

We didn't find this cave as impressive as David Heap would have one believe from 'Potholing beneath the Northern Pennines', though it is still worth a visit.  An upstream passage leads for about 750' to a chamber which contains a thirty foot waterfall. This passage consists mostly of a bedding plane with a gully cut in to it on the right by the small stream. There are many interesting though small formations on the left of the stream.  The final section of passage is a flat out crawl.

Downstream from the Calf Holes entrance, the passage is large and for the first seven hundred feet reminiscent of the London underground (and almost as crowded!)

Eventually, the stream sinks under the left hand wall and, a hundred feet on where the roof begins to get uncomfortably low, a small tube leads off to the left.  This links Calf Holes to Browgill Cave, and is known as Hainsworth's Passage.  It is the best part of the whole system.  The rock is light grey and rubbed smooth and shiny. The tube deescends for a short distance and an awkward drop of three feet leads to a cramped chamber.  From here, a delightfully smooth solutional passage leads back to the stream which flows in a surprisingly clean large tube-like passage.

Soon, the stream drops over a twenty foot waterfall, but dry solutional tubes on the right lead to Staircase Bypass which drops down to a narrow rift.  Left leads to the foot of the waterfall whilst right leads over boulders for a hundred feet until the streamway is regained and easy walking leads to the entrance at Browgill.  We took an hour and a half over this one, but Roger was suffering a bit.

DISMAL HILL CAVE.  Birkwith area.  SD 805 768 Length 450’ Depth 40’   V.D.C.

Situated to the south of Dismal Hill, about a third of a mile due south of Old Ing Farm, in a small dry valley halfway between the wall and t he scar.

The entrance consists of a horizontal letterbox in clean grey rock about eighteen inches high.  A flat out crawl leads for twelve feet. From here, a chimney drops fifteen feet to a ledge.  Three feet to the right, a second descent of twenty feet leads into a rift.  The descents can be free climbed, but we used a handline belayed to an obvious flake of rock outside the cave.

To the right, the rift is blocked at high level by pale yellow calcite on the right hand wall, but crawling underneath a pebble floor for about fifteen feet leads to an awkward twisting scramble over a sharp flake of rock to a wider part of the rift. Straight on is a small chamber containing rotted calcite on the floor.  However, just after the flake of rock at floor level, a clean layer of grey rock leads under the left hand wall.  This is the start of a tight bedding plane crawl of about seventy feet. At a number of places in the crawl the head has to be turned on its side owing to lack of space.  One can easily become stuck if one fails to follow the slight winding groove which takes a trickle of water.  Midway is a constriction in the form of an ‘S’ bend formed by blocks of false floor in the bedding plane.  The whole crawl is difficult but challenging.  From the crawl, one emerges into a stream passage running from left to right.  It is dead straight at this point, three to four feet wide and p1easantly scalloped. The stream is swift flowing.  I was the only one to pass the crawl and I didn't explore the streamway which felt somewhat remote.  This cave is worth a visit.

OLD ING CAVE   SD 806 768 Length 1350’  D.C. 

Situated in the same are as Dismal Hill cave~ on other side of a ruined sheepfold in a shakehole where a stream flows into a rift passage.  There is nothing complicated about this cave.  Its main attraction is the sculptured stream passage which winds for a considerable distance until a waist deep canal is reached which ends in a scummy sump.  About halfway the stream flows through a series of circular rock ribs as if it were flowing through hoops about six feet in diameter set two to three feet apart with deep pools in between.

At the first right hand bend a tributary passage enters on the left.  A traverse at high level along this leads to the tributary stream which can be followed upstream to a canal five to six feet deep and three feet wide with a low duck at the end.  This duck was first by passed by A. Gemmel ('Underground Adventures').  After the duck, the passage forks.  To the right the passage looks dusty and uncomfortable. To the left the stream can be followed until a flooded cross rift halts progress.  This rift is over six feet deep and must be near the surface of the moor.  Old Ing Cave is a pleasant, friendly cave and barely deserves its 'difficult' grading.


 

Belfry Enquiry?

The Belfry is the largest asset of our club and one towards which many have contributed to an extent far in excess of their normal subscriptions.  The running, maintenance and use of the Belfry is thus a subject of great importance.  The 1971-72 Committee have recognised this and, as a result of a suggestion from the chairman has recently conducted an enquiry on all aspects of Belfry running and use.  The purpose of these notes is to give members some idea of what resulted.

The first thing to emerge was that the new Belfry costs a lot more to run than the old one did. Insurance and rates are very much higher.  It costs more to heat.  This latter might well be made more efficient but even so, the building is bigger and inadequate heating is going to cost the club money in repairing damage due to damp. An estimate of running costs suggests a figure of £210 p.a. or about £4 per week.  It is possible to nit-pick a little about this total~ but not much.

Still, a high running cost is not the end of the world if it is matched by revenue.  Well, is it?  The committee found that in the first full year of operation the revenue was £278 and the estimate for this year is £234.  Obviously it is paying, but is the drop in revenue any cause for alarm?  If it were to fall much further, the Belfry would no longer pay.

Luckily, the position is brighter.  Dave Irwin's very detailed analysis showed that the drop is due to members - guests stay at a constant level - and that the drop in members is only a seasonal one; falling over the summer months.  This can be explained by the fact that fewer members are spending parts of their summer holidays at the Belfry.  Thus, provided we do nothing to make the present situation any worse, the Belfry looks as if it will continue to pay for itself.

Not entirely, however. So far, only running costs have been considered.  It was generally agreed that something like £50 per year should be allowed against small maintenance costs (and fifty pounds doesn't go very far to-day!)  On this basis, the Belfry is losing money. Even this does not take into account any money which ought to be set aside for later and bigger repairs or for capital improvements - so we can put away any flags which we might have thought of waving.

Thus, unless things alter, the committee will have to dip into general club monies for anything the Belfry might need.  But general club monies already have a lot to do.  More Belfry expenditure could well mean less tackle or less B.B. for instance.

What about publications? In the last B.B. it was stated that these now handle more money than does the Belfry.  Maybe, but they don’t make a large profit.  The committee have now to examine ALL club spending.  It is, however, very unlikely that a continual drain on general club funds could be permitted as a method of financing the Belfry.

Even so, there is no need yet for alarm and the committee sees no need for any special measures to be taken.  It is merely a situation which needs careful watching.  It is still early days, and it is possible that a natural balance may yet arrive.  As a first step towards helping such a balance to occur, the committee considered the amenities of the Belfry and have asked for schemes to be prepared for improving the size and accommodation for the Ladies Room; improving the heating arrangements; and improving the showers and toilets.  If these can be done at reasonable cost, they will be put in hand.

They then went on to discuss the use of the Belfry, and here the subject becomes more contentious. Even so, the facts tend to act as clear signposts.  For instance, some felt that the proportion of guests was too high – but the fact remains that if there were no guests, then every single club member would have to pay an additional pound a year (including all life members!) merely to keep the Belfry afloat.  So the Belfry, at present, cannot cater exclusively for club members.  Neither can it afford to cater for club members who do not contribute directly to its funds, if any such catering means a reduction in those who do.  It must be a case of 'He who pays the piper calls the tune'.

Of course, many members have paid a considerable personal sum towards building the new Belfry, and these people ought to be able to enjoys its use.  Social events, slide shows and lectures bring a variety of club members together and where else but at the club headquarters?  This is obviously true, but it must be remembered that if any such events dissuade people from staying at the Belfry it become very difficult to justify them.  To provide a financial voice which would demand a hearing, evening or day use of the Belfry would have to bring in about £10 a month, and no scheme so far gets anywhere near this.

It goes without saying that the committee will welcome and examine very carefully any suggestions from members on this subject.  The committee, on the other hand, cannot gamble with club finances and schemes which say in effect “Spend out THIS much - or take the risk of losing THAT amount of revenue and you MIGHT make an overall improvement EVENTUALLY” must be looked at with extreme caution.

Editor's Note:

The Editor would welcome any comments on the subject of running; improving; maintaining; costing or any other aspect of Belfry affairs.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 22.

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Across:

1. Rock is this the caver underground. (5)
5. Can describe water or cave floor. (4)
6. Iron this makes ruddy stal! (5)
9. Climbing aid in pot? (5)
11. Backward skin blemishes can embellish cave. (5)
12. Blinded warriors home this on Mendip. (4)
13. Mendip Hole. (5)

Down:

2. Cave dweller stab in back? (4)
3. Large type of this in Cuthbert’s and small in Goatchurch? (5)
4. Mendip Hill in Ordnance Survey provides new cave. ,5)
7. Stone used differently in survey work. (5)
8. Stream goes loud, deep and south. (5)
9. Sailing boat going backwards for cave waters. (5)
10. Evacuate. Halve and reverse underground. (4)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

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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; 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.


 

Editorial

History

Since this year marks the twenty fifth anniversary of both the Belfry and the B. B., we make no apology for printing as our main article this month; a further version of the history of the B.E.C.

The last such article appeared twelve years ago in the B.B. for May, 1960 - number 147.  In that year, we reached the twenty fifth anniversary of the founding of the club.  A lot has happened during the last twelve year's and it seems to be a good point in time to record it.  We hope that the article will remind older members and acquaint newer ones with some of the background to our present position as a club.

In Print

Given good luck, this should be the first ever B.B. to be printed rather than duplicated.  We hope that all goes well, and that you approve of the result. Several people have already been kind enough to tell us that they approve of the new style B.B.  The change to printing is one more step in the moves to improve the B.B. in all directions.

Hint Weekend

Arising from the paragraph headed ‘Hint Taken’ in these notes last month, John Manchip raises his voice in defence of the other point of view and writes:-  ‘Dear Alfie, I am interested in the "wasted paper" in the Christmas B:-B.  Keep up the good work’.  It is difficult, if not impossible to please everybody at once.’

“Alfie”


 

Water Tracing Cuthberts 1971

Most readers will know of the work which has been carried out for some years now by ROGER STENNER on water tracing and analysis.  This article describes some recent work.

Two water tracing experiments were carried out, both of which were connected with earlier water tracing results.   The first was concerned with the Maypole Series sink, and the second with Plantation Swallet.  In each case, about 5 gm of pyranine conc. was added to the streams indicated in the text, and activated charcoal detectors were used in the sites in the cave. Small portions of the charcoal were subsequently treated with 20 ml of a 10% solution of potassium hydroxide in methanol.  The solutions were then examined under a ultra-violet lamp.  The presence of strong characteristic green fluorescence showed a positive connection.  In both tests, the positive results were all sufficiently strong to make a spectrophotometric check unnecessary.

1. The Maypole Sink

The results of hardness measurements made in May 1965 quite unexpectedly located the source of the Maypole Series stream.  It was a depression at the lower end of an over¬-flow channel from Plantation Stream into St. Cuthbert’s depression.  This sink is now called the Maypole Sink.  Since this result was published in the January 1967 B.B., there have been two developments.  An article on the variability of limestone hydrology and a negative result of a water trace using pyranine conc. They will each need to be discussed at some length.

An article in the March 1969 B. B. may be thought to cast doubts on the assumptions on which the Maypole Stream arguments were based.  The essential data was this.  Total hardness figures are in p.p.m. CaCO3 + or - 1 p.p.m.

St. Cuthbert’s Pool                     148 p.p.m.

Plantation Stream                      114 p.p.m.

Maypole Series Stream             143 p.p.m.

Other streams in the cave coming from St. Cuthbert’s Stream showed an increase in hardness. Temperature measurements showed that the Maypole stream came from a surface stream.  The stream sinking in the Maypole Sink (water from St. Cuthbert’s Stream mixed with overflow water from Plantation stream) was the only stream which met this criterion.  The assumptions were that the hardness of St. Cuthbert’s Stream remained fairly constant throughout the sampling programme, and would not become supersaturated.  The large area of marshy ground which is the source of St. Cuthbert’s stream acts in such a way as to damp effectively hardness fluctuations.  The variance of its hardness is considerably lower than that of Plantation Stream. The bicarbonate content of St. Cuthbert’s stream is too low to enable photosynthesis by water plants to make the water strongly supersaturated, which happens for example downstream of the Rodney Stoke risings.  In November 1967, three sets of samples taken from St. Cuthbert’s Stream at four-hourly intervals had a maximum variation of 106 p.p.m. CaCO3.  Confidence in the earlier conclusions was unshaken.

The second development was the tracing experiment carried out using pyranine conc. in November 1967. The dye was placed in the stream well upstream of the upper dam, and the result from the Maypole Series stream was negative.  This also supported the earlier conclusion, since at the time of the test, the Maypole sink was dry.

A further test was designed to find out more about the Drinking Fountain stream, confirming the earlier result at the same time.  In January 1971, David Turner and Martin Webster placed detectors in the Maypole Series stream; Disappointment Passage Stream, and the Drinking Fountain Stream, Pyranine conc. was placed in the Maypole Sink, which was taking water from St. Cuthbert’s stream.  All three detectors gave positive results.  The three sites all gave negative results in 1967 when the Maypole Sink was dry.  These results need further discussion, since the streams in the cave do not immediately dry up when the Maypole sink dries up.

The Maypole Series Stream

The St. Cuthbert’s stream overflows into the Maypole sink in wet weather, or whenever the top dam is left in place.  In unusually wet weather this water supply is joined by water overflowing from Plantation Stream.  The water flows fairly quickly through the Maypole Series, the temperatures being similar to those of the Main Stream while flowing from the surface to Traverse Chamber.  I suggest that beneath the Maypole Sink is a large depression filled with rocks and a large quantity of mud.  This mud acts as a reservoir, which is 'topped up' in wet weather and, when the sink dries up, drainage from this mud enables the Maypole Series Stream to flow for many days afterwards.  A full hydrological study of the Maypole Series stream would check this suggestion and also allow the calculation of the effective volume of the reservoir, enabling an estimate to be made of the volume of mud that would have to be dug out to enter the Maypole Series from the surface.  I also suggest that except in unusually wet weather, additions to the Maypole Series stream from other sources are negligible.

The Disappointment Passage Stream

In January 1971, the stream was moderate in size, but it is usually very small - a mere trickle. This would suggest a single effective source, the Maypole sink overflowing its normal course in high discharge conditions.  This is a reasonable explanation for the rapid reduction in stream size compared with the more gradual reduction in that of the Maypole Series Stream with the same source. The upper end of Disappointment Passage is very close to Plantation ' Swallet.  It is possible that small trickles here come from plantation stream, but this is pure speculation.

The Drinking Fountain Stream

This stream flows strongly when the Maypole series stream is almost dry.  This suggests that the stream has more than one source.  There is not enough evidence to permit speculation about the remaining part of the stream.

2. Plantation Swallet

The present state of knowledge dates from July and November 1961, with the results obtained by Bryan Ellis, using rhodimine B and treated cotton hank detectors.  In November 1971, Plantation Stream was diverted into the depression, and no water was reaching Plantation Swallet itself.  Dave Irwin placed detectors in the Main Stream upstream of Plantation Junction, and in Plantation Stream just upstream of the Junction.  It was possible that Plantation Stream in the cave has a large source besides the surface plantation stream, and this occasion gave a very good chance to test this. The pyranine conc. was placed in the surface stream well upstream of the diversion.  Both detectors gave positive results.  This means that there is no evidence of a large additional stream.  The conclusion to be drawn from temperature and hardness results is, in fact, that Plantation Stream in the cave does only have a single source, with additions from elsewhere being negligible.

I would like to thank Dave Turner, Dave Irwin and Roy Bennett for placing and retrieving the detectors in the cave, and Tim Atkinson for advice with the method for racing water with pyranine con.


 

A Short History of the Bristol Exploration Club

…….based on an account by T.H. Stanbury and others.

Since the early records of the club were lost in the blitz during the last war, and since there are very few members who are accessible and whose association with the club goes back to those days; accounts of the very early years of the club are bound to be a little hazy.

The story of the founding of the club is an established part of Mendip folklore by now but, like most folklore, is probably greatly embellished.  At any rate, a small group of fellow employees of our founder, "Harry" Stanbury formed themselves into a caving party in the summer of 1935 and visited Goatchurch.  The trip was a success and, after acquainting themselves with the procedures of the existing societies, they decided to form a new club.

Initial membership was about a dozen, and an inaugural meeting was called later in the year at which a set of rules was drawn up, and the bat adopted as the emblem of the new Bristol Exploration Club.  The basic phraseology of the aims and objects of the club in our present constitution comes straight from these original rules, and it is flattering to think that at least one other club - the Westminster - has drawn heavily upon this wording of 1935 in formulating their own constitution over twenty years later.

The few years between the founding of the club and the outbreak of war in 1939 found the infant club constructing tackle - rather differently from the methods we use today! - and running trips to most of the caves which existed on Mendip at the time.  The membership remained small and steady, as the club made little or no attempt to persuade others to join them until they felt they had acquired enough experience to be able to offer new members a reasonable standard of caving knowledge.

At the outbreak of war, club membership was 15 - a figure which the subsequent call-up soon began to reduce, until it was hardly possible to get a caving trip together.  The Emplex Caving Club, composed of employees from the Bristol Employment Exchange, found themselves in a very similar position, and in 1940 the two clubs agreed to combine.  The combined clubs agreed to retain the name of Bristol Exploration Club.

Matters continued to get worse, even with the extra manpower provided by the merger, and by 1943, the club existed in little more than name.  All its forces members were not available for caving, and the few left behind found it almost impossible to carry on.

Just when it seemed that activities would have to be wound up and hopefully started up again when the war was over, one or two additional cavers contacted Harry Stanbury, and a meeting was held at which it was decided to renew caving activities.  The club membership numbers date from this meeting, at which ‘Dan’ Hasell, who usually presides at our annual dinners, was present.  His membership number is 4, Harry Stanbury's being 1.

The end of the war in 1945 found the club shaky but still functioning.  On most occasions, since nearly all the early members lived in the Knowle area of Bristol, trips were organised from the Stanburys' house in Redcatch Road; but on occasion, members would change at Maine's Barn at Priddy.  It was these visits to 'The Barn' by some members of the B.E.C. which were mainly responsible for the dramatic growth of the club during the next two years from a handful of cavers to one of the major caving clubs of Mendip.

Maine's Barn in 1945 was the home of a collection of cavers from a variety of sources.  The only actual club represented was the Bridgwater Caving Club, who were in the main employees of the Puriton explosive factory.  Don Coase was one of these.  Another of the organised groups was a small band of ex-U.B.S.S. cavers who had found the Burrington hut too far from the caves of the Priddy area in those days of little, if any, personal transport.  This group provided members like 'Sett', 'Postle' Tompsett, 'Pongo' Wallis and 'Alfie'.

As these cavers got to know each other, it became obvious that it would be a good thing if they all banded together into one club.  The obvious choice was the B.C.C., but there were fears that this club would be disbanded as soon as the Puriton factory ran down on explosive manufacture.  It was the few B.E.C. members who visited the barn - like, George Lucy - who provided an alternative club round which the inhabitants of the barn could rally and in the end, they all joined the B.E.C.  This increase of membership was rapidly swollen by returning forces members, many of whom brought friends along with them.  At about this time the Mendip Speleological Group were also absorbed into the B.E.C. and, by the end of 1946, membership had risen to 80 and the B.E.C. had become a major Mendip caving club.

The need for a permanent Headquarters was now becoming of great importance and, accordingly, money was lent to the club by some members and a small wooden hut purchased.  This was the original Belfry, which started life as a sports pavilion on Purdown in Bristol and was taken to pieces and erected by the club next to the small stone hut by the slag heap near the Shepton Headquarters.  (This was, of course, long before the Shepton arrived on Mendip).  On Saturday, 1st February 1947, Don Coase spent the first night under the club's own roof at the Belfry.  Exact records have not been kept, but something approaching a total of 25,000 bed nights have been spent at Belfries by club members and guests since that date.

January 1947, the first issue of the Belfry Bulletin was published - Edited by Dan Hasell.  This number is 293, which seems to need no comment.

With the possession of a hut, the club continued to attract more members.  An active group from Nottingham University were amongst these.  The club now began to play a part in the discovery of new caves on Mendip.  In the summer of 1947 Stoke Lane Slocker was transformed into a large cave by the discovery of Browne's Passage by Pat Browne and the forcing of the sump by Don Coase, Pat Browne and 'Sett'.  It is a sobering thought to realise that 'Sett' is the only living survivor of this trip.  At about the same time, club members assisted the Browne’s in digging out Browne’s Hole and the nearby Withybrook Swallet was entered by the club.

At about this time, the Bridgwater Caving Club was formally incorporated into the B.E.C.  For many years after this, a B.C.C. membership card and key to Swildons used to hang in the old Belfry to commemorate this event. The significance of the Swildons key was that, in the days of Maine's Barn, the rest of us could only get down Swildons by courtesy of the B.C.C. who had an official key.

By 1948, membership had risen to 98 and the club's activities grew in proportion.  A survey of Stoke Lane was exhibited at a caving exhibition held in the Bristol Museum; the Clifton Caving Club were absorbed into the B.E.C.; a London Section of the B.E.C. was formed and a new loan amongst members resulted in a new and bigger hut being purchased.  The old original Belfry was bodily moved; towed down the road and re-erected on the present site and the 'new' Belfry built nearby.  This was the hut which was finally destroyed by fire.  Meanwhile, the club's interests continued to expand an active Climbing Section spent most weekends in North Wales and elsewhere; the club supplied most of the Somerset Section of the Cave Diving Group, and club trips began to be organised to France and other European countries.

By 1949, the membership had reached 120 and the meetings at Redcatch Road had begun to suffer from overcrowding.  The idea of holding meetings on a Thursday was so that club members could organise the coming weekend's caving and climbing. A room was therefore hired at Redcliffe Church Hall, and remained for many years the focus of the club in Bristol.  This year marked the end of the rapid post-war expansion of the club.  From 1949 to 1961 membership remained virtually steady, dropping in most years by one or two until a low point of 110 members was reached in 1961.  In 1950, the first annual dinner was held at the Hawthorns Hotel in Bristol.  This year also saw a porch added to the 'new' Belfry by the Belfry Engineer - Tony Johnson.

In 1951, the club ran a stand in the 'Our Way of Life' exhibition in Bristol as part of the Festival of Britain arrangements.  The stand aroused considerable interest.  In this year, a number of changes were made in the way in which the club was run with the object of distributing the work of running the club amongst a greater number of people.  The present system of club officers and the makeup of the club committee date from this time.

In 1953, accommodation on Mendip was again improved by the addition of a six foot length to the Belfry. This was used to enlarge the kitchen and the Women’s' Room.  This year also saw the most important discovery which the club has yet made. By permission of Mr. T.C. Cunane, excavation was started in the depression near the Belfry and after a few months continuous work, a cave system was entered in the October of that year. St. Cuthbert’s is too well known to need any further description or comment.

In 1953 and 1954, the club surveyed Redcliffe Caves in Bristol, presenting a copy of the survey to the city engineer.  The work on this survey was written up and published as the first of the B.E.C. series of Caving Reports.  Caving work of the time also included the opening of Hunters' Hole in 1954.

During 1955, the land on which the Belfries stood came onto the market and was purchased by the club in 1956.

The future of the Belfries had been worrying members ever since the Town & Country Planning Act had come into force but now that the land belonged to the club, all was well and the renovation of the 'new' Belfry was put in hand.

Thus, during 1957, the Ladies' Room and the Men’s' Room were decorated and mains electricity connected to the Belfry.  This year also marked the final demolition of the original Belfry, which had served the club so well, to make room for permanent stone building - the first permanent building to be erected by a caving club on Mendip.  In this year, the B.B. first came out with a printed cover and the size was increased from four pages to six.  On the caving front, the club assisted in the re-opening of Pen Park Hole in Bristol doing, in fact, about three quarters of the digging required to get in.  After running one tourist trip, the club had to abandon its co-operation with the other societies involved owing to a disagreement with “the management”.  This, however, was offset by the new discoveries in Cuthbert’s of The Maypole Series and the Rabbit Warren Extension.

January 31st, 1958, Don Coase died after an operation.  A simple plaque in Cuthbert’s was erected by the club as a permanent reminder of his work. On the Whit Monday of the same year, 'Herby' Balch died.  He was an honorary member of the club and the father of caving on Mendip.

Much work continued to be carried out in Cuthbert’s and on the Belfry.  The new stone hut gradually grew and work was done Tankard hole and other smaller caves.  Apart from this, 1960 saw no new activity of note - except possibly the claim that the Belfry was the only Mendip hut which never closed which accommodated more people than all the other caving huts combined - a state of affairs which will probably never occur again.  Club ties and car badges were introduced at about this time.

By 1961 the stone Belfry had been completed externally.  The internal fitting out scheme involved the construction of a shower, but this never came to pass.

The next few years, from 1962 to 1965, were marked by steady if unspectacular progress.  Membership, for some inexplicable reason, rose steadily over this period from 110 in 1962 to 185 in 1965, at which value it again stayed steady.  In 1963, a record number of bed-nights was reached at the Belfry - an impressive total of 1,861.  It is very doubtful whether this will ever again be reached and if so, not by such a relatively small band of ‘regulars’.  During this period of time, much work was put into the Belfry and this was balanced by a steady amount of new discovery in Cuthbert’s - a good example being that of the Coral Series.  Members of the club took leading parts in inter-club activities in communications and surveying.  A new entrance was made to Cuthbert’s to avoid past snags due to flooding of the entrance.  Sad events of the time were the untimely deaths of Jack Waddon on a practise dive in Mineries and Ian Dear, who left a sum of money in his will for the use of younger members caving or climbing abroad.  A feature of the B.B. over this period was the regular contributions by 'Stalagmite' whose identity became a favourite guessing game amongst members and the B.B's best kept secret.

In 1966, Belfry charges, which had remained constant ever since the Belfry first opened in 1947 at 1/- per night and had done so in spite of inflation because of the sheer number of people staying there, were at last raised to 1/6.  Some discussion as to where to site the proposed new toilets led to a few members suggesting that a long term plan for the Belfry site would be a good idea. A semi-¬official team of three men was set up and at the 1966 A.G.M.  This body was enlarged and made official.  Also in 1966 the club bought the barn which it later sold to the Shepton who have made it into their new permanent headquarters.  A new survey of Cuthbert’s was started at this time.

In 1967 the idea of a definitive report on Cuthbert’s was conceived by Dave Irwin and planned as the most ambitious documentation of a Mendip cave ever attempted.  Work on this report began as a 15 part publication  A fund was started for a new permanent Belfry, and the Long Term Plan was passed by the 1967 A.G.M.  This was started in 1968 by the cutting and opening of a new track for the local farmer.   The early part of 1967 was marked by an outbreak of foot and mouth disease which led to the closure of most of the caves on Mendip.  This lack of caving was made up for later in the year by the passing of the sump in Cuthbert’s and the opening of Cuthbert’s II.  Publication of the Cuthbert’s report started this year and, at the A.G.M., it was announced that the fund for the building of a new Belfry now stood at £751.

On the evening of Monday, 15th September 1969, some visitors who were staying at the Belfry returned from a visit to the Hunters to find the building in flames.  The Belfry was a write-off, although the main shell remained intact.  Within days, a special committee had sorted out the necessary admin and got an insurance claim filed with the insurance company.  They also prepared a report for the A.G.M. which, luckily, was only a few weeks away.  Meanwhile, other club members had tidied up the site and organised the Stone Belfry into a temporary headquarters complete with sleeping and cooking arrangements - thus gallantly maintaining the tradition of a Belfry which never closed. At the A.G.M., the fact that there was already in existence a cut-and-dried plan for rebuilding which had already been passed by all the relevant authorities enabled the club to swing straight into action without any delay.  After the A.G.M. and dinner, a party was held in the ruins of the Belfry.

On the 9th of May 1970 - two hundred and thirty six days after the fire - the present Belfry was ceremonially opened and the whole of the £3,000 or so which the building had cost was paid by the club without any from of help from any outside body whatsoever.

Almost inevitably, after an effort of this magnitude a period of relative quiet followed in 1971, which brings us to the present day.  This point in time, as your present club historian sees it, is likely to prove one of the more difficult in the club's history.  We have got to learn how to and use our new headquarters properly: we have got to learn how to adapt to these times of rapid change; we may well have to adopt a more professional approach as befits our status as property owners.  At the same time, we must somehow manage to preserve all that is best in our club - which, is in many ways unique.  Luckily, there are signs that many club members - both on and off the present committee - are becoming aware of the situation and the need to find a formula which will enable the club to preserve its reputation for good fellowship and informality while at the same time running as an efficient organisation. Given the usual mixture of good luck and judgment which has brought us all the way from that small band of cavers who went down Goatchurch in 1935 to a body nearly two hundred strong whose assets run into thousands of pounds, we should be able to find our way once more round any snags which may arise - as we have done so often in the past.

In this account, a few people's names have been mention from time to time.  This should not be taken to mean that only those so listed have played exceptional parts in the formation and building up of the club. To list all those members who, through their hard work and enthusiasm have produced the club we have to-day would be an impossible task.  Many more, who have played no direct part in the building and running of the club have nonetheless made equally important contributions in fostering the friendly atmosphere which has been so typical of the B.E.C. and which represents an asset as important if not more so than mere property or cash.  All these people's names should, by rights, be included but to do so would involve a list of most of the 700 odd members and past members of the club.  If we are to have a spokesman to represent this great crowd of friendly and likeable characters, I will let George Weston speak for them in the words which he wrote to win our first song competition and with which he so unerringly laid a finger on the pulse of the club.

We are the B.E.C.
And this we must confess
Whatever is worth doing, we
Will do it to excess.

Providing that we continue to recognise what things are worth doing and to pursue them with the enthusiasm which more timid souls might regard as excess, we shall not go far wrong.

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If any members have EMBASSY COUPONS or GREEN SHIELD STAMPS which they would be prepared to donate to the Belfry, they will be used to obtain CHARGERS for nife and oldham cells. Please give or send coupons and or stamps to the HUT WARDEN - JOCK ORR - at the Belfry.


 

Recent Caving on Mendip

An up to date review of caving activities by Tim Large.

Discoveries In Stoke Lane Slocker

During November 1971, the Avon Caving Group dug into a tight, aqueous series of passages leading from the stream inlet near Sand Chamber in Stoke II.  The entrance was effected through a series of awkward ducks and followed along a narrow rift passage with more stream inlets and meanders in the typical Stoke Lane style.  This passage is joined via a mud tube to another inlet running in a parallel direction. These passages are named Ward's Way and Bailey's Way after members of the digging team.  The end of Bailey's Way is very near to the stony Crawl in Stoke I, and an oral connection has been proved.

It is unlikely that it will ever be a bypass to sump I due to its tightness and the awkward ducks at the Stoke II end, which would probably make it worse than sump I. This, of course, would depend on the water level in the cave, but would in any case be undesirable from a preservation point of view.

 

Hunting Lodge Slocker

This shaft, in the Stoke Lane area, has been dug for the last two years by the West London Caving Club.  When work began, the Shaft was only forty feet deep, the floor consisting of boulders and farmyard debris including horse and cow remains.  The W.L.C.C. set about removing all the debris to the surface - some very large boulders caused numerous problems at times.  The present depth is about sixty feet where the shaft is gradually narrowing. The two side rifts, Fusilier Rift and the one in the wall opposite, are now left high and dry as digging work continues - still downwards and over the whole shaft area.  Not far away from this dig is East End Sink which flows to St. Dunstan's Well.  Also the Upstream Series in Browne’s Hole - a foul place - (This was spelt 'fowl' in the MS, presumably no place to chicken out of - Ed.) leads in the direction of Hunting Lodge, being about four hundred feet away.  Hopes are still high of a discovery and work continues.

Editor's Note:     Members may be interested to note that Browne’s' Hole was largely dug out with B.E.C. labour, under the direction of Les Browne. His son Pat, who was the discoverer of Browne’s Passage in Stoke Lane, was a B.E.C. member and he also discovered the Upstream Series in Browne’s' Hole up to the first chamber.  After Pat's death, two B.E.C. members - John Bindon and Alfie - pushed the second drainpipe and discovered the Condemned Cell.  The idea by then was to establish the connection between Browne’s Hole and Hunting Lodge Swallet.  They enlarged the second drainpipe and carried on beyond the Condemned Cell before retiring from the dig.  Work was then carried on by Dave Mitchell - a member of the B.E.C. at the time who broke through into the further portion of the Upstream Series (Fred's Passage, The Parade, etc.)  Later, as a member of the East Somerset Caving Group, they attacked the problem from the Hunting Lodge end.  At that time, Hunting Lodge Swallet was full of rubbish almost to the top.  They removed some forty feet of rubbish.  The present team are therefore following a long tradition - and the best of luck to them.

The Tuesday Night Digging Team and Cuthbert’s II

Since Sump I was safely opened with a good airspace during the winter of 1970/1971, work could begin on exploration projects in Cuthbert’s II.  To begin with, Sump II was seriously attacked.  To aid this, another two dams (would you believe - courtesy of 'Crange' ?) were built just upstream of Sump II.  These are to facilitate bailing of the sump, which was accomplished several times, enabling the sump passage to be entered for about twenty to twenty five feet to a murky pool with a steeply dipping underwater passage partially blocked with boulders, gravel etc.  This area was greatly enlarged, not without causing many and sometimes very hazardous problems.  All went well during the drier months, but bailing became impossible during the winter and so work has been temporarily stopped.  At one stage the team witnessed a strange happening.  With the sump nearly bailed and no water running into it, the water level rose on one occasion nearly trapping Roy Bennett who was working at the end of the sump.

Martin Webster has attempted to dive the underwater passage but found the entrance too tight due to boulders in the stream bed.  Meantime, the height of the dams is being raised, which now means that a squeeze has to be negotiated over the top of the Gour Rift dam because it was built underneath a large jammed boulder - purposely, I might add.  In the summer, another attack will be launched.  One line of attack could be to drain the sump as far as possible, remove the boulders, and attempt another dive.

Until work on the sump is resumed, the team has started another maypoling and climbing programme; systematically working upstream from just below the ten foot pot.  So far three holes have been investigated, but did not yield anything.  The system of working used is to climb where possible, or maypole to the roof level at selected sites and then traverse along the passage inspecting every possibility. At roof level, large quantities of mud have• been encountered, ranging from dry powder to thick glutin¬ous accumulations which have made conditions difficult.  Lumps of charcoal have been observed on the surface of mud banks at roof level up to sixty feet above the streambed.  There are plenty of holes in the roof all along the II streamway and it is intended to work over its whole length.  We are also improving maypoling techniques to enable us to rise to even greater heights!

Anyone interested in joining us on Tuesday evenings is very welcome.  The Cuthbert’s II streamway is well worth a visit.  We meet at the Belfry at about 7 pm.


 

Book Review

The book reviewed here is new addition to our library and may prove contentious.  It is hoped that a further, review may be received for the B.B. stating the case somewhat differently

"QUARRYING IN SOMERSET” Somerset County Council (1971).  Published by Somerset County Council.  Price £5 plus post and packing from County Planning Department, Taunton. 349 pp. 66 plates. 28 maps. 23 figs.

Some idea of the scope of this report may be gauged by the fact that the report is on A4 size paper and well over one inch thick.  At the price quoted and bearing in mind that the edition is a limited one, it is doubtful whether more than a handful of copies will find their way into the personal libraries of cavers.  As a library book, which will shortly become available to all members, it certainly deserves careful reading.

The report is divided into seven main parts which are followed by a number of appendices which provide more in the way of background to the main report.  Together, they cover almost every aspect of the quarrying industry - its background; history; future prospects; geological importance; relationship to the rest of Southern England and relationship and conflict with other land uses.  The final part of the report proper consists of the findings of the survey.

Apart from the relationship between quarrying and caving, there is much of general interest in this report, whose text is liberally embellished with tables of statistics, diagrams, and maps.  These range from the distribution of wind velocity and direction with season over Mendip to flow diagrams of a modern stone crushing plant.

However, it is the relationship between quarrying and caving which will, no doubt, be of greatest interest to cavers, and it is in this respect that the views of individual cavers are likely to differ in their reactions to and interpretation of this report. The first thing which strikes one is that quarrying on Mendip is a large industry of national rather than regional importance and, as such, cannot be airily dismissed with a wave of the hand. On the other hand, caving views are well represented - indeed, it has been said that on looking at the bibliography at the end of the report, too great an emphasis might have been given to caving views.  Certainly this bibliography contains a large proportion of caving authors, but when this is compared with the sources of information given as acknowledgements at the front (pages 5 and 6), it will be realised that the bulk of the information has been acquired from commercial and public sources.

As far as conflicting interests are concerned, I personally feel that the report is as objective and free from any kind of hysteria as one could expect.  Items of special pleading (which include caving interests) have been properly confined to the appendices whose contents are briefly summarised in part 6 - that part which deals with conflict¬ing interests.  The findings of the survey - in part 7 ¬are presented with commendable brevity when one considers that they cover the entire scope of 230 pages of report and take just over one page to do it.  A précis ratio of over 200:1 is not the easiest thing in the world to achieve!  As an example of this, it is probably worthwhile quoting the paragraph of most interest to cavers in its entirety, as follows: - ‘The conflicting interests are many and will have to be evaluated and the merits of some are such as could affect the continued expansion or the opening of new units within the production areas.   Of the conflicting interests, it would appear that the conservation of water sources will take precedence over the quarrying interests - at least for the foreseeable future.  In the Central and West Mendip production areas, amenity; recreational and scientific interests could outweigh the regional and national claims of the extractive industry.  In the East Mendip production area there are fewer conflicting land interests.’

One is left with the general impression that quarrying is seen as an important industry and that the intention is to cater for its requirements wherever possible.  The report, says, in effect, that while doing so, attention must be paid to other interests - including our own - and that a balance between the exploitation and preservation of the region must be achieved. The big question must be that of asking oneself how much weight the arguments in favour; of preservation will have in practice when weighed against the growing national demand for stone.  The report lays down no rules here.


 

In Committee

A Brief Review of the main activities of the club committee.

The March meeting of the committee dealt mainly with routine matters.  The detailed investigation of the Belfry is well under way, and it was agreed to deal with this at some length at the April meeting.  Joan Bennett, as club auditor, pointed out that if any changes to the Belfry required a lot of money, then the committee should refer this to the A.G.M.  It transpired that the committee has no legally defined limit of expenditure but the chairman assured her that any scheme involving large amounts of money would in any case be referred to an A. G. M. for their approval or otherwise.

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‘MENDIP’S VANISHING GROTTOES’ is now on sale.  It is hoped to include a review of this book in the next B.B.  Meanwhile, the price as announced in last month’s B.B. is in error. The FULL price is 50p, but members will be able to obtain copies for 40p up till the end of May.  Get in touch with DAVE IRWIN and secure your copy without delay!

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Have you any club library books - or club tackle - or any thing belonging to the club in your possession? There are a few items missing. Have a good hunt round your shed or attic and send anything you might find to any committee member of the relevant club officer.

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Spares for NIFE lamps and CARBIDE lamps are now available.  These spares, particularly for carbide lamps, tend to be more difficult to come by as time goes on.  Why not dig out your carbide lamps and give them a birthday?  Even if you only use them during power cuts, a few spares could make all the difference. Spares are kept at the Belfry.

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Read any good books lately? Why not send us in a REVIEW of any interesting caving, climbing, fell walking etc. books that you may have read and think would interest club members?


 

Just a Sec

Notes from our Hon. Sec. - ALAN THOMAS.

As you will have read in last month's B.B., the committee are going to look into the Dinner business in view of the dissatisfaction over last year's dinner and the fact that the pattern of club dinners seems to be changing.  As Hon. Secretary, I get invited to a number of dinners, and I am being forced to the conclusion that dinners just ain't what they used to be. This year, the season opened as usual with the B.E.C. dinner which I have already said was a poor meal.  The dinner was nonetheless enjoyable, but this is because the B.E.C. have a great capacity for enjoying themselves despite adversity. The committee expressed our disappointment to the restaurant and we have finally settled for a sum less than we were charged.  The difference will be sufficient to provide a drop of free beer at the next one.  Make a note by the way of the 7th October 1972 at the Cave Man.  The agreed price seems good value indeed.

I attended the W.S.G. dinner (which was £2) and the U.B.S.S. dinner (in the star at Wells for £1-70) so perhaps we need to rethink the price we now pay.  The W.S.G. dinner coincided with a rescue, so that we dined at 9 pm and there was a superb Punch and Judy show at the U.B.S.S. dinner by Oliver Lloyd which he has promised to repeat for our next.

The most important piece of information to my mind that comes with the M.R.O. report this year is that the police have taken out an insurance policy through the county treasurer to cover civilian personnel used on cave rescue work.  It is therefore imperative that all rescues are reported to the police if there is any possible risk to life and limb.  The police have to pay £2 per day in respect of every rescuer below ground and £1 per day for everyone above ground.  After a rescue, therefore, we must inform them immediately of the people involved.  The policy provides £10,000 for death; £5,000 for loss of one eye or limb; £30 per week for temporary disablement and £1,000 p.a. for permanent disablement.  If anyone wants further details, I can provide them.  There is no cover for such things as mileage expenses, loss of earnings etc.

Editor's Note:     Alan Thomas has just become an M.R.O. Warden and Tim Large a team leader.

Dates for your Diary

26th MARCH

Box Stone Mines.  Leader, Jock Orr. Meet at the Belfry at 9.30 a.m. (Sunday).

1st APRIL

(Easter Saturday) Little Neath River Cave.  Party will leave the Belfry at 9. a.m. Leader, Dave Irwin.

8th APRIL

Stoke Lane Slocker.  Meet at the Belfry at 11 a.m. Leader Tom Gage. (Saturday)

30th APRIL

Reservoir Hole.  Meet at the Belfry at 10 a.m. Leader Dave Irwin. (Sunday).  N.B.THIS PARTY IS LIMITED TO FIVE.

Aug – SEP

Sutherland. Caving, Climbing, Walking etc.  Contact Jim Abbott at 34, Kirkgate, Shipley, Yorks for further details.


 

Ian Dear Memorial Fund Meeting

This was held at the Belfry on the 12th of December 1971.  It was chaired by R.A. Setterington and the minutes taken by M.A. Palmer. N. Jago,  R. Bagshaw and A. Thomas were also at the meeting, whose purpose was to discuss the existing rules of the I.D.M.F. and how they could best be publicised.

The meeting was reminded that IAN DEAR had bequeathed a sum of £300 to the club for the purpose of assisting young members to visit the continent to cave, climb anal visit places of interest.  It was generally agreed that greater use should be made of the I.D.M.F., since it was felt that IAN's original intention was that the money should and would be spent fairly rapidly.

To this end, the meeting agreed on a three point plan as follows: -

  1. Improve Publicity.
  2. ALTER THE RULES
  3. Foster more trips abroad.

The improvements in publicity were covered, the meeting felt, by the insertion of more notices in the B.B.; by including more information in any club advertising and by supplying information about the I.D.M.F. with application for membership.

Changes in the rules were agreed by the meeting, but will need to be covered by the next A.G.M., since the committee (who had the new rule changes submitted to them by the Ian Dear Memorial Committee ) ruled that the I.D.M.F. committee was a special committee rather than a sub-committee and was therefore responsible to the A.G.M. The changes proposed to the rules will be published in full in a later B.B. and this will give all club members roper chance to study them well before the A. G. M.

In general, the changes in the rules are designed to let the I.D.M.F. adopt a more flexible attitude by relaxing the annual 'deadline' by which applications have to be in by relaxing the age qualification, subject to certain provisions.  The maximum amount to be paid in any one year remains unaltered, but the maximum individual amount may be increased under the new rules at the discretion of the I.D.M.F. Committee.

The meeting considered probable that some older club members would be prepared to foster younger members when making trips abroad, and felt that this should be encouraged.  Any intending trips abroad by members prepared to carry out fostering should be publicised in the B.B. for the benefit of younger members.

As already stated, the minutes of the meeting were submitted to the general committee and it was agreed by them to give this subject publicity in the B.B.

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Tim Reynolds says in the latest Wessex Journal.  ‘Don’t tell your troubles to your beer mug or a passing stalactite.  It's unlikely that they will be able to do much for you.’ It's much more likely that something will be done if you WRITE TO THE B.B. ABOUT IT (Tim didn't say, that bit - I did.)  It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to write a short note and put it in the post or the B.B. post box in the Belfry.  Get YOUR views over to the club!  The B.B. is YOUR magazine after all, why not use it?


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 20.

1

2

 

3

 

 

4

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

13

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. Twit Sue for comfort underground. (7)
6. Everyone in Mud Hall. (3)
7. Step in Eastwater. (4)
8. Hole with sailors added is unaltered. (6)
10. Remove 7 down manually. (6)
12. Sore old Mendip product. (4)
14. Night before. (3)
15. A camera tripod does. (7)

Down:

2. Above ground again on the blackboard. (1,1,1)
3. New metric units, five hundred and small bed for a Mendip cave. (6)
4. Often triggered off by itself beheaded. (4)
5. Stops rope slipping off pulley. (7)
7. Many chambers have these large stones. (7)
9. Cave type five with medicinal draught. (6)
11. Diving or climbing at no cost? (4)
13. Appropriate word for this position? (3)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

 

N

 

O

 

 

 

B

 

D

O

W

N

B

E

L

O

W

 

T

 

M

 

 

 

N

 

 

A

 

A

R

E

T

E

S

 

Q

 

P

 

S

 

S

 

R

U

C

S

A

C

 

L

 

 

A

 

 

 

A

 

O

 

D

R

A

I

N

P

I

P

E

 

T

 

 

 

E

 

E

 

 

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.

Member’s Addresses

Additions

P.G.Faulkner, 65 Broomfield Cres., Middleton, Manchester.
R. Brown, 33 Greencourt, Leagrave, Luton. LU4 9PJ.
I. Rees, 20 Broad St., Presteigne, Radnorshire.
J. Murray, Latymer Ho, Hill Close, Wincanton, Somerset.

Changes:

R. Cross, 36A Memeage St , Helston, Cornwall.
J. Abbott, 34 Kirkgate, Shipley, Yorks.
S. Tuck, 3 Colles Close, Wells, Somerset.
G. Wilton-Jones, The Tumery, North Dean, Speen Rd, High Wycombe, Bucks.


 

Editorial

Untitled

The move towards a more legible B.B., which started last month by the move to printing is, no doubt, an improvement but readers will have noticed that most of the titling was near enough unreadable.  The reason for this has been found and, until we can be sure of the process involved, most of the titling will be done by hand.  We hope that you will bear with us while we sort out the tricks of a new trade.

Non-Event

In contrast with the first B.E.C. surveying course, the last one was a non-starter.  This was due to a series of misunderstandings as to the date and time for the start and also as to the duration of the course.  We have made a. start in the business of keeping members informed with what is going on ¬both in the B.B. and on the Belfry notice board; but it looks as if our communications can still do with some improvement.

Historical Errors

By and large, the last edition of the History of the B.E.C. was well received, and several members have already been good enough to say that they thought it was both useful and informative.  Apologies, however, for getting the year of the discovery of Cuthbert’s II wrong! There are probably more small errors in the account.  If any older readers have information which they think would add to any further version it will be gratefully received and put away carefully until the next occasion.

“Alfie”

Library Notes

from our new Hon. Librarian, DAVE IRWIN

At the time of writing these notes a number of books in the club library have been catalogued and are available to members wishing to borrow them.  Books are loaned out for ONE MONTH and it is to be hoped that members will co-operate by returning them within this time limit, as other members may well be waiting to read them.  A review of the latest acquisition is to be found in the March B.B. - the important Somerset County Council publication discussing the future of quarrying on Mendip. Member wishing to borrow books through the post may do so, but postage and the necessary insurance is out of their own pockets.  A list of books will be available soon - a small nominal charge will be payable to defray the cost of production.

Recent Additions To The Club Library

Caves and Karst Vo113 Nos 3 & 4.  The application of stable isotope studies to karst research - Russell Harmon. ( USA)

 Axbridge C.C.Newsletter - mainly club news - March 1972.

 C.R.G. Transactions Vol 13 No 1.  Includes Caves of Western Sierra Cuera; Quantitative tracer methods; Development of avens in Peak Cavern; Excavations at Ogof-yr-Esgryn and Archaeological sequences in the Peak District.

C.R.G. Transactions Vol 13 No 2.  Symposium on the origin and development of caves (various topics.)

B.S.A. Bulletin.  New Series, No 5. (Feb. ‘72).  World expeditionary association.  (Details). News from Yorks. particularly Langstrothdale, also extension to Calswick Cavern in Derbyshire.

Chelsea S.S. Newsletter Vol 14 Nos 4 & 5 (March '72) Geological History of S. Wales; List of gear for camping and caving holidays; Care of tackle and suppliers of cells for caving.  Care of Nife cells.

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USEFUL GEN.   Dave Irwin informs us that Bryants in Bristol now only give a 5% discount to club members, and then only on orders in excess of £5. This is worth bearing in mind if you are thinking of getting any new equipment from them.


 

Never Mind The Patient – Watch That Stal!

A report on the Practice Rescue from September Series by the 'Victim'.
Chris Howell

On the 16th of January, 1972; sixteen of us met at the Belfry for a short introductory talk from Dr. O.C. Lloyd before setting out for September Chamber for a practice 'carry' through the September boulder ruckle.

'O.C.L.' commenced his briefing with a demonstration of the use of the bowline-on-a-bight for hauling an exhausted caver up a pitch.  Although his method of tying this particular knot directly round the body of the subject was undoubtedly very quick, and required little or no adjustment,   I personally found it rather hard to follow and must confess that I would now be quite incapable of repeating the knot.  I feel that for most cavers, the easiest method is to double back some six or seven feet of rope, and then tie a straightforward bowline, which can be adjusted if necessary.  The patient's thighs are placed in the two loops created by the knot, and the remaining loop passed round the chest.  It is particularly important to keep this chest loop as high as possible to prevent 'toppling' during the haul.  Ideally the knot should be high up in front of the chest or over one shoulder.  For a long haul, some method of padding the leg loops would prevent cutting off the circulation to the legs.

We were next shown how to tie the 'victim' into the M.R.O. carrying sheet.  In a moment of misguided public spirit, I had volunteered to act as patient for this particular rescue and so within a very few minutes I found myself securely trussed within the confines of the heavy canvas sheet.  It is worth noting that, where a patient is conscious, his arms should be left outside the sheet if he is capable of helping himself.  He is then able to assist the carriers by pushing and lifting to some extent.  Anyone who has ever compared trying to haul an inert person up a pitch with hauling up someone who is only capable of ‘pawing’ at the rock will know what a difference a degree of self-help can make.  There is no doubt an additional psychological element involved here too - it seems to me to be bad practice to strap a person up if he feels capable of helping himself.

Hauling ropes are attached to the sheet at the head and tail and also on each side when the passage permits of enough carriers.  Ropes at the bottom of the sheet are tied round the subject's feet in a manner which permits the ropes to take his weight when in a vertical position without restricting his circulation.  This point is particularly important. I well recollect a practice rescue from Cuckoo Cleeves when this was overlooked.  I was, again, the victim and after reaching the surface I was unable to walk for about fifteen minutes due to the numbness in my feet.

Finally, a pair of goggles are provided to protect the patient from muddy ropes getting into contact with his eyes.

Into the cave at last. I feigned a fall beneath the ‘pretties' in September Chamber.  The drag sheet was laid out by one team memberr, whilst others removed my nife cell to avoid spillage of electrolyte and consequent burns.  The helmet is, of course, left on the victim is head.  I was then picked up by four of the rescuers who supported my inert body throughout its length - not forgetting my head!  I was carried to the sheet and for the second time securely strapped in and the goggles put on.

The carry went smoothly for the first twenty minutes or so, down the drops from September Chamber where Warden Prewer uttered the comforting words, "Never mind the patient - watch that stal!, then on along the short rift passage to the start of the ruckle.  The only observation I would make at this point is that, if the patient is conscious, remarks such as "Can we get someone below the stretcher on this drop in case it slips?" are not likely to inspire confidence in either the shocked victim of a real accident or the (supposedly) fearless victim in a mock rescue! This apart, I suffered very little buffeting, although clearly, very great care must be taken about where the sheet is set down on a real incident particularly when the victim is likely to have suffered fractures or suspected internal injuries.

We had now arrived at the crucial point of the ‘carry’ - the boulder ruckle.  The confined space between the rocks ensures that for most of the remainder of the journey out High Chamber, nobody can lift or haul at the sides of the sheet.  Again, things progressed fairly smoothly, although even more slowly, for some ten minutes or so, with frequent rests whilst rescuers were instructed to lie in holes in the floor to smooth the passage of the carrying sheet.  However, a hiatus was reached at the narrow vertical ‘S’ bend which occurs beyond an inclined slab and is met some fifty or so feet into the ruckle from the High Chamber side.  Due to the constricted room at the front end, only two persons were able to get a purchase on the hauling ropes, and they were unable to provide sufficient pull to get the sheet round the vertical corner.

Here I remained firmly stuck for some ten minutes or more - though it seemed like an age.  The final straw came when it was discovered that there was some difficulty in moving the carrying sheet back for another attempt. Now, I have never suffered from claustrophobia, but at this point I must admit to becoming distinctly worried about the whole business.  From the position of the sheet within the ‘S’ bend, it was clear that nobody could get at the knots to release me - and it seemed that progress, either fore or aft, was impossible.  After another five minutes, I felt that since I was officially conscious, this was a point where some self-help was more than justified!

By doubling up my legs and straightening them whilst the rescuers pulled on the head ropes, I found that progress was possible, and promptly shot through the squeeze like a cork from a bottle - or so it seemed after the long time of inaction.  From then on, progress was rapid, if a trifle bumpy, and I was finally carried out into High Chamber an hour or so after first being put in the carrying sheet in September Chamber.

At this point, all my rescuers disappeared save for a grinning Roy Bennett, who handed me a large, wet, muddy and heavy sack containing the carrying sheet from which I had been recently released.  "Pick up thy bed and walk!"  Huh. Unfortunately from my point of view, Roy (who, with no disrespect is almost old enough to be my father) can propel himself round St. Cuthbert’s carrying a heavy, bulky sack faster than I can travel ‘clean’.  By the time we reached Mud Hall, he had obviously tired of my slow pace and I was relieved of my burden (further ignominy).  Progress then regained its normal pace (for me!) and the last of us were out of the cave some four hours after entering.

Some final observations from the victim's point of view:-

a)                  More co-operation between those in front of the sheet and those behind.  I felt that there were times when people were standing about not knowing quite what was expected of them next.

b)                  More attention to smoothing the victim's passage over holes and rocks.  I came up with some great bruises the following day.

c)                  Longer head ropes for the sheet might have helped in the Ruckle, although the pull would have been over the top of a slab - perhaps this could be tried again. However, as I am small and light, extrication of a heavy victim could be very difficult and something other than pullers would be needed, I suspect.


 

Just a Sec

from our Hon. Sec. ALAN THOMAS

I hear from the Cambrian Council that there has been some movement in Cwm Dwr Jama main passage and in the boulder choke where the connection between Cwm Dwr and Ogof Ffynon Ddu is.  The South Wales Caving Club advises cavers not to go through the connection under any circumstances.

Some months ago, a caver who broke his arm in Eastwater left a 25' proprietary ladder in the cave in a canvas bag.  It is said that it was subsequently brought to the Belfry.  I should be obliged, if anyone knows anything about it.  Give me a ring or drop me a line if you do.

With great regret, I have to inform you of the death of Harry Glover - so well known to Belfry users of seven years ago.  (For the benefit of newer members, Harry and his wife used to run Priddy stores - Ed )

You will be sorry to hear that the County Council plans to make a large part of the mineries area (that part owned by Lord Waldegrave) into an official picnic area complete with car park and toilets.  It is intended to ‘improve’' the pools.

It is on the cards that the C.R.G. and B.S.A. may merge.

Snowdonia January

A Climbing Article by R.J. MARSHALL

The B.E.C. were up in Snowdonia in force in January, searching for snow.  There was none evident when we arrived in the Llanberis Pass on the Friday evening, but we were hopeful.

Looking up to the surrounding peaks in the morning, a smattering of snow showed up, contrasting with the grey clouds.  There was rain in the air, but it was not rain¬ing then.  After breakfast, we split up, John Minors and myself decided to attempt the main wall of Carn Las.

This is a hard severe climb on a crag about a mile and a half on the South side of the pass below Crib Goch.  We left the car beneath the Grochan and made our way back up the pass, turning off the road to cross the farm bridge across the stream.  As we climbed up towards the crag, it started to rain and by the time we reached the scree the rain had turned to sleet.

From here it was possible to observe the main wall.  It is an interesting line, wandering between lines of overhangs.  We were damp and cold by the time we had soloed up the waterfall to the start of the first pitch.

We split the climb into five pitches of various lengths.  These are not of particular technical difficulty - about severe - but as you climb you become more conscious of the exposure.  You are moving on large jugs usually with more than adequate protection.  After about two hundred feet, you belay on a large ledge in a corner.  From here you make an interesting move across to and on to the top of a fragile looking spike.  This is a wide step.  Looking down, you can see the scree about three hundred feet below.  Moving on, and around a corner you come on to a steep juggy wall.  A rising traverse across a steep slab leads to the top.

Sitting on the belays it is possible to watch the cars travelling up and down the pass.  We were pretty damp and cold on the later pitches. Looking down and seeing our tents a couple of miles away gave us that "What the hell are we doing here?" feeling.  Even so, winter climbs have a slight exciting edge over summer routes.

On the Sunday, John and I made our way round the Horseshoe.  The wind was gusting strongly as we started out along the Pyg track. We could see a smattering of snow along the ridge.  Ahead of us, another couple of climbers were battering against the strong winds.

We were soon to find out just how strong the winds were.  We left the Pyg track to climb up to Crib Goch.  There was about an inch of snow on the ridge.  We saw the tracks of the two previous climbers leading on to the ridge but along the ridge there was no sign of our leaders (yeti?).  We crawled along the ridge, keeping as low as possible out of the wind.  We were engulfed in spindrift several times as we climbed up to the 'hotel' at the summit. Passing the shelter behind the 'hotel' we passed the summit cairn on our way to Llewedd.

The climb down to the start of Llewedd was treacherous, loose and slippery.  This was successfully overcome and the easy climb up Llewedd started.  This being the easier part of the horseshoe, we were able to move quickly.  After rejoining the miners' track, we were back at the Pen y Pass about four hours after we had left in the morning.

Other members were at Trenadac and on the Glyders, no doubt their accounts are being prepared.

(Let us hope so - Ed. )

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CAVING PUBLICATIONS have for too long been regarded as a minor activity of the club.  DAVE IRWIN starts to put this into a more correct perspective in the article that follows, with a review of what has been achieved to date and some thoughts as to where we go in the future.  Club members might be surprised to learn that more money is currently being handled by the Publications Department than is handled by the Belfry!  Caving Publications thus form a major club activity.  We hope that the review which follows will help to put members ‘in the picture’ on this aspect of the B.E.C.  (Editor's Note.)


 

Where do we go from there?

Since the mid-fifties, the club has published fifteen caving reports and one climbing report.  When one looks at the subject matter, it is easy to see that this series is one of the most varied set of caving publications now on the market.  Number 1, a survey of Redcliffe Caves by AIfie Collins, recorded most of the underground stone workings that lie in the area of Redcliffe Church in Bristol. It was available to members until quite recently, but is now out of print.

The association of the B.E.C. and St. Cuthbert’s Swallet is inseparable.  Number 2, a preliminary report on St. Cuthbert’s Swallet by various leaders of the time outlined the intricacies of the system.  The sketch surveys by Don Coase are most illuminating. At that time, when little of the compass work had been started on the survey, the outline of the cave as we recognise it today from the later Ellis Survey or the later still Irwin/Stenner survey first appeared. This report has been out of print for eleven years and is eagerly sought after by leaders and by members attempting to complete their Series of Caving Reports.  It is the rarest of all the caving reports and copies have changed hands for £1

One of the mainstays of the early publications, and their editor until 1968 was Bryan Ellis. Though now mainly associated with another Mendip club, he was very active with his pen back as far as 1958. The publication his Caving Report No 3 - the S.M.C.C. method of ladder building - and his survey of Headwear and Lighting were among the first of their kind.  The Headwear and Lighting Report has always had a fairly good sale, and in 1967 was completely revised by Geoff. Bull.  Only fifty copies of this reprint were published before the stencils became damaged.  Now it has been re-typed and is in the waiting pile for another reprint - this time about a hundred copies will be available.  Although the prices and the equipment mentioned in the text (over seventy pages of the stuff!) are pre-1967, it does give the caver a pretty good coverage of the various types of equipment and spares that are available. Surprisingly, this is still - fourteen years after its first appearance - the only publication its kind to be found anywhere in the country.

A revised edition of number 3 was issued as number 3A and a few copies were still available as recently as 1971.

Alfie Collins put his digging background to good use by writing Caving Report number 4 - the Shoring of Swallet Cave Entrances.  This has been out of print for a couple of years, but was already by that time out of date and in need of complete revision owing to advances in shoring techniques.  Whether this will ever appear in a revised form remains to be seen.

In 1962, there appeared the first of two reports entitled Some Smaller Caves of Mendip.  The first of these (Caving Report No 6) was compiled by several of the active diggers of the time.  The details of Alfie's Hole and Vee Swallet are amongst the digs of the past.  The only survey made of Hunters Hole (a grade 5 by Ellis et a1.) and Tankard Hole (by Roger Stenner) will be found in this publication.  A retype of the stencils with a few corrections was made in 1966, and a few copies are still available at the Belfry at 15p each.  The second report on Smaller Caves of Mendip was written by John Tucker of the Axbridge C.C. At the time of its publication (1963) the A.C.G. had no outlet such as our caving report series, so out they came as Caving Report Number 9.  Four copies of this are still available at 15p each, but when they are sold it is very unlikely that this report will ever be reprinted unless the demand is large enough to merit the cost of reprinting.

In 1962, St. Cuthbert’s Swallet again appeared in a second report - Caving Report Number 7.  This was an updated and more detailed description which included newer discoveries such as the September and Maypole Series. Cuthbert’s was again the subject of Caving Report Number 8 - the well known Ellis preliminary plan of St. Cuthbert’s together with the survey notes.  Again, both number 7 and number 8 are long out of print, number 8 being the rarer of the two reports.  Cuthbert’s was to have been the subject of number 9 - the Elevation of St. Cuthbert’s, but this did not materialise because, as already mentioned, number 9 was brought out as the second part of the Smaller Caves of Mendip.

Following the death of Don Coase in 1958, some unfinished manuscripts on the B.E.C. method of ladder construction came into the possession of the club.  Norman Petty and Alan Sandall modified and completed this manuscript which was subsequently published as Caving Report Number 10. Still available, it is largely an historical document, although one ladder still to be found in the tackle store (the larger rung ladder) was made by this method.  Tests carried out on this in 1966 showed that the un-brake screw method of locking the rungs was still the strongest method yet devised!

For years, the Long Chamber and Rocky Boulder area of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet was a puzzle even to leaders of long standing.  In 1964, Dave Irwin systematically explored the area and his results were published as Caving Report number 11 (Now out of print for two years).

For some time, members of the club had been actively engaged in surveying and in 1967; Alfie Collins published a paper in the series entitled Presentation of cave survey data. This sixty page report was a small scale publication in that only fifty copies were placed on the market.  To the surprise of all, it went out of print in a matter of a few weeks.  Due to the coloured banda plates being damaged in the meantime, this report has never been reprinted, though the new ideas suggested in the report have been published elsewhere - notably in the C.R.G. Transactions on the Cave Surveying Symposium.

In 1965, it was suggested that as the club had complete access to St. Cuthbert’s, they were morally obliged to give to the caving fraternity all the information which had been collected within the system.  In order that this could be readily available between 'two covers', a massive report was planned.  A completely detailed survey - broken down into a number of sheets; full description of all parts of the cave; detailed historical account of the exploration of the system; water tracing; fauna and flora, and not least a comprehensive discussion of the formation of the cave by Derek Fordo  Although taking longer than was first anticipated to produce; the five parts that have appeared so far out of the projected fifteen have been well received.

In September 1971, there appeared the first formal archaeological report - Roman Mine (Caving Report No 15).  Not content with merely producing a list of finds made in the mine, Jill and Norman Tuck have added much other and valuable material.  The whole work is printed by the offset litho process, and includes photographs and a survey.  Where, might you ask, is number 14 in the series?  The answer is simple - it's on the stocks.  It is, in fact, Roy Bennett's account of the B.E.C. Pyrenean T rip.

Lastly, but not least in this roundup of the Caving Reports, is number 16 - which has hit Mendip like a bomb to say the least.  Many members will remember the many enjoyable hours spent in Balch Cave during the few years that it was open to cavers.  One can now browse through a book and enjoy the magnificent photographs of John Eatough and Roy Pearce.  John Eatough and John Attwood spent many hours in Balch producing a photographic record of the cave soon after its discovery.  In a similar way, Roy Pearce photographed Shatter Cave.  Selections from both these collections are published in a report called Mendip's Vanishing Grottoes.  Printed on good quality art paper, at 10" x 8" with outline surveys included, it is one of the best buys to date.  Until the end of April the price is 40p rising to its full price of 50p after this date.

What of the future? There are still ten parts of the Cuthbert’s Swallet report to appear.  The B.B.C. Caving logs from 1944 - 1971 should make excellent reading and make available for the first time the full record of the discoveries of the club. This should surprise those feel that the members spend all their time in the bar of the Hunters!  Another popular seller should be the proposed Burrington Atlas - containing surveys of all the caves of Burrington with descriptions; surveys and photographs.

All these publications can be obtained either from the Belfry or by post from Dave Irwin, Townsend Cottage Priddy, Wells, Somerset.

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FOR SALE  One Mountain tent.  Stormproof. Very good condition.  £23.

Also one Tinker tent with flysheet and sewn-in groundsheet .£20.  Owner has given up camping and needs the cash.

If interested, write to:- N. RICH, Eoonenive Forestry Group, Ballochyle Estat,e Sandbank, Dunoon Argyll

Additional Address: Mrs P. Jones, 50, Louisville Ave~ Aberdeen, AB1 6TX.


 

Dates for your Diary

APRIL/MAY

Club & Guest trip to South Somerset Cave. Including Quaking House Hole, Milverton; Holywell Cave and Cannington South Quarry Cavelet and North Quarry Cavern. YOUR chance to visit these little known caves.  Food Beer available. ALL DETAILS FROM NIG. TAYLOR, Somerset Farm Institute, Cannington, Bridgwater OR Whiddon Farm, Chilcot, East Horrington, PHONE: Wells 72338.

MAY 6th

MAGIC LANTERN SHOW.  Norman Petty will be showing some historic B.E.C. slides.  At Belfry in the evening.  See Belfry board details of time.

Aug/SEPT

Sutherland.  Caving/Climbing/Walking etc. Suit all tastes.  Contact Jim Abbott at Kirkgate, Shipley, Yorks for details.

At the Belfry

The talk on the chemistry of limestone solution given by Roger  Stenner on Saturday evening 11th of March was both interesting and well attended.

The intention was to make this subject understandable to ordinary cavers, and this was done by describing the results which Roger had obtained from samples and other work tin G.B. and St. Cuthbert’s.  These fitted together to give an overall picture of intense solution by streams in the entrance boulder ruckles and an undetectable rate in stream passages except where tributaries enter.

The study of flow patterns and analyses of streams and Drips of percolation water was described, and this was shown to lead to a model of a typical Mendip shake hole cave.  A lengthy discussion followed with questions on both the theory and on practical applications to cave exploration. Finally, there were slides showing sampling measurement, analysis etc. of the cave waters.

R.H.B.

In Committee

Brief reports on the meetings of the club Committee 

The April Committee meeting started at 2.30 p.m. as usual and had dealt with all the routine items by about four.  They then went on to examine the Belfry in detail and did not finish until nearly 7 pm. A complete analysis had been done by Dave Irwin, who earns the thanks of the committee for all the work he put in.

Most of the points which are known to worry some members of the club found spokesmen amongst committee members, and the discussion was both full and detailed.  In particular, it was felt that club members were not always getting full value out of the Belfry - one way and another.  However, the financial facts tended to limit most of the possible solutions.  It appeared that the Belfry was paying its way, but only just doing so - and with nothing to spare.  Under these circumstances, the committee realised that there was very little room for experiment or manoeuvre.  Until or unless revenue improves, it must be a question of "He who pays the piper calls the tune." The Hut Warden has therefore got the job of giving priority (where necessary) to those who contribute to Belfry funds while at the same time (where possible) making the Belfry available to all club members on as wide a basis as possible.  It was realised that the Hut Warden would have difficulty in any attempt to find some suitable balance within these very necessary conditions, and it was hoped that club members would support him and would realise that the club has very little choice in the matter of running the Belfry.

A more detailed account, under a separate heading, will appear in next month's B.B., since it is felt that this is a subject of great interest to nearly all club members.


 

A weekend In Yorkshire

….being the latest episode in the saga of, the High Wycombe branch of the B.E.C  

by GRAHAM WILTON –JONES

One Friday evening in mid February, Bert Byers, Bucket Tilbury and I; together with others who are not so keen on the underworld, set off up the M1 for the North, leaving an hour later than planned.  At Newport Pagnall we came to a halt - caused by twenty or so cars which had got involved in minor bumps except for one major one and one burnt-out shell.      On again, after an hour, and on to the M1/M6 link. A great idea, this road, cutting the journey to Ingleborough from Wycombe to four hours.  We could have!+@@%! the A.A. bloke who informed us that the link was now complete and opened - the ignoramus!  Anyway, we reached Fred Weekes's place, at Padiham, Lancs at 2 o'clock on the Saturday morning, after seven hours on the road.

Hence, 8.30 on Saturday morning was not the ideal time to get up.  We drove quickly to Clapham; telephoned Prestwick and they predicted odd, light showers perhaps.  The moors had a covering of snow and a small stream sank in the elongated hollow which contains the entrance to Stream Passage Pot.  I quickly rigged the first pitch with a twenty foot ladder and Buckett and I walked down the narrow, meandering stream to the eighty five foot pitch, to check on the conditions.  All seemed reasonable so, after blocking the pot entrance with snow (We had exited but Bert was below) we had a quick look at G.G. from the surface.  Bert had not seen it before (he escaped from the pot).  A little later, while the others prepared tackle, I went back to the first pitch to re-rig with a ten foot ladder.  At this depth there is a rocky projection and it is possible to swing on to this, and free-climb the remaining drop.  Pennine Underground (PU) reckons twenty five feet of ladder here, so we saved considerably there.  According to Martin Webster in the B.B. for January 1970, the take-off for this pitch is difficult, but we did not find this so.

At the eighty five foot pitch, instead of dropping down with the water to the lip of the pitch, we traversed onwards as far as possible to where a hole has been worn in a flake of rock. A second tether was used to draw the ladder away from the waterfall.  Even so, we met with freezing spray thirty five feet down.  Rigged in this way, the return to solid rock from the ladder is a little awkward for the first man up.  PU suggests 85' of ladder, but we found that seventy feet reached the bottom.  Laddering from the lip reduces this to sixty feet.

The hundred and ten foot follows immediately.  We laddered from the top since we could not rapidly find a free climb down to the ledge - fifteen feet below - and we were cold and wanted to hurry.  Martin's article suggested that this could be climbed, but we were fairly certain that this section would be a climb only for the expert.  In our opinion, fifteen feet of ladder is necessary.  Below the ledge, it is possible to free-climb the pitch.  The water poured over the ledge, and was beautifully deflected sideways, along the rift, by a flake of rock, while the ladder dropped straight over the edge.  The pitch was thus relatively dry.  It was easier to use the ladder for the section just below the ledge, but a free climb for the final thirty feet seemed wise, as the ladder vanished amidst the full force of the waterfall.  Dropping tackle down this pitch was awkward, as it snagged on the numerous ledges.  We lost a pulley and a krab under the deluge and nobody felt like searching for them - so bang went £3.50!  The ladder reached the bottom 95' from the top so, subtracting the free climb at the bottom leaves 65' as the length of necessary ladder.

The final pitch is in a narrow rift, and was dry except for heavy drip at the bottom.  We had rigged sixty five feet of ladder, hopefully, and found a good solid ledge a short swing away.  A further free climb brought us into Stream Passage.  PU suggests 75' of ladder and this would have been necessary had we rigged further along the rift as sixty five feet is only suitable at one point.  In all, we reduced Thurber's given length of ladder from 295’ to 210’ and this could probably be reduced further to 160, or less.  None of these reductions necessitated difficult free climbing.  We were already used to this technique!  We did Disappointment with 125' instead of PU’S 155'.  The first pitch is only 20' and the fourth has several free-climbing possibilities. Swinsto suffered the same way. The 100’ belay on the first pitch must be a misprint.  There is an obvious, good natural belay right above the pitch.  The second pitch is a free climb, the third is only 25’, the fifth and sixth are both 45' and the seventh is a free climb.  230' is thus reduced to 165'.  All lengths are given to the nearest five feet.

From Stream Passage we cast about for the way on.  We were all unfamiliar with this part of G. G. and had only consulted a rough survey in front of the Ingleborough cave blurb.  Following the stream down, it soon sinks in boulder at a 'T' junction with a much larger sandy floor tunnel - Stream Chamber.  We explored to the left, until the way on was blocked with sandbanks. We tried to the right now, hurrying a little, for we wanted to show Bert the waterfall in daylight.  In our haste we missed the obvious way on, having peered over a deepish overhang.  We returned to the water and followed it upstream to the limits of caveability! Back downstream, to where the water sank we searched for another way down to the stream.  Finally we all squeezed down to a boulder pile, following the sounds of water.  We regained the stream only to be stopped by a pot, down which the water vanished.  We returned and resumed searching at the right hand (SE) of Stream Chamber.  There was no other possibility.  We soon found the way on and reached the first signpost scratched on the wall (for which G.G. is infamous) we quickly came to Sand Cavern.  By the time we reached the Main Chamber, it was utterly dark above, but it was interesting to see the waterfall in light only from below. This gives a completely different perspective from a daytime view.

Time was pressing, so we began to hurry back.  It was evident that snow was melting on the surface.  Water was caascading where none had been before.  At the top of the lowest pitch we were all cold.  At the next pitch we had already experienced difficulties in dropping tackle.  We had to prevent the lifeline snagging when returning it to the bottom in order not to waste time. We had lost much time on the lowest pitch when the returning lifeline snagged - leaving those below wondering what on earth the hold up was.  Communication was impossible.  The first man up the next pitch used a double lifeline.  The second tied on to the middle of the line and ascended.  The line was pulled back and firstly tackle, and then the third man, went up attached to the middle of the line. Tackle was prevented from snagging on the way up by holding it clear of the rock using the lower rope.  (This method is, in fact, a technique for steadying a stretcher on ascents.)  The fourth man went up on the end of the line.  If only we had thought of this when lowering the tackle, we would have had that pulley for the final pitch.  I wonder how many cavers and potholers already use this obvious and simple technique?  It has its faults for the inexperienced, however.

On the long pitch, we watched the second climber disappearing amidst the spray, just halfway up the ladder, and suddenly realised that we had only a few feet of rope left at our end.  In record time, extra rope was added after a bit of super high speed uncoiling and knot tying.

As mentioned, there was no communication from top to bottom. I know I’m rather light but, as I reached out for the first handhold of the free climb, it vanished below my feet, as did most of the others.  I ran up sheer rock and ladder alike.  There is nothing like a good lifeline!  The next pitch was undoubtedly the most difficult, and was very wet.  We were all getting numb with cold, and much energy was lost on this pitch, especially since we all started on the wrong side of the ladder.  All fingers were numbed at one time or other - mine halfway up the ladder where they refused to grip the rungs.  I yelled for a tight line and, as both hands released their grip, I had to sweep my hands behind the ladder and fold my arms and climb like that.

Emerging, after eight hours underground, suspicions were confirmed.  The moors were virtually devoid of snow and the air was almost warm. We reached Fred's house around mid-night.  There, we experienced the pleasures of having a friend up north.  Hot baths, turkey dinner and wine - a fitting end to an excellent, testing trip.

Sunday was spent in a leisurely way, pottering on the surface around Malham Cove and Gordale Scar. It was like a spring day, with artificial climbers (well, what else do you call them?) in hordes, basking in the warm sunshine and hanging in various unlikely positions all over the cove's massive limestone cliff.  Bradford Pothole Club were out, trying their latest prussiking device a sort of ferruled wire.  In one hand, a small boy held sufficient for the cove from top to bottom - over 250 feet.

We mused on the vast system of cave that might lie behind the cove, waiting for someone to find a way in. Unfortunately, the dip is in a direction opposite to the underground stream flow.

Then we visited Gordale Scar, where there is a massive but heavily weathered and eroded stale flow forming a waterfall.  This is an old cave that is now a gorge, with walls sloping impressively inwards.  Higher up, there is a natural arch, with a waterfall dropping through it.  On either side there are numerous hollows and a few caves.  Subsidiary faulting, caused by the Mid-Craven Fault which gave rise to both Gordale Scar and Malham Cove (also to Attermire and Giggleswick Scars ), is visible in two places.

Altogether, in spite of the long and arduous trip on the Saturday, we enjoyed a pleasant and restful weekend.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 21.

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Across:

1. Found in spare crystals on Mendip. (4)
5. They have a crack at it climbing. (5)
7. Cops out for a Cuthbert’s chamber. (7)
10. Old climbing nail maker of metallic sound. (7)
11. Once fast Mendip publican. (5)
12. Describes a well known rift. (4)

Down:

2. Black Hole? (5)
3. Best way to operate a winch? (2,5)
4. Somerset river surrounded by water. (4)
6. Blue rod type of cave rock. (7)
8. Part of Cuthbert’s drainage system. (5)
9. Mendip weather condition which doesn’t sound like a hit! (4)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

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A

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C

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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; 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.

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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.

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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.

Editorial

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.

“Alfie”

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.

Wanted

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.

Letter

256, Cressex Road,
High Wycombe,
Bucks.
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

MARCH 4th

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.

MARCH 4th

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.

APRIL 8th

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

APRIL

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

AUG-SEPT.

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

Extras

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

Extras

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

Rope

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.

 

Extras

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

Additions:

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.

Changes:

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

Resignation:

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

Monthly Crossword – Number 19.

 

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Across:

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)

Down:

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

L

A

M

P

S

 

S

 

A

 

D

 

O

 

S

M

C

C

R

I

F

T

S

 

A

 

U

 

T

 

 

T

 

L

O

T

S

 

C

O

R

A

L

 

E

A

L

L

 

A

 

 

B

 

N

 

I

 

W

A

T

E

R

D

A

M

S

 

I

 

D

 

Y

 

B

 

C

R

U

S

H