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Keeping a balance.

Every now and then, we get a little worried about the contents of the B.B.  Sometimes it is because nobody seems to be writing any articles of a serious nature: at other times it may be because there has been no climbing or archaeological news for some time, and so on.

The B.B. should, ideally, have something in it to interest every club member.  Obviously, this cannot occur in every issue as there is not enough space for a diversity of articles, even if the Editor had a supply of them to use - which he certainly hasn't!

However, if such a supply of articles was possessed by the editor, some attempt would be made to avoid a preponderance of any one type, unless a definite preference was expressed by a sufficient number of readers.

All of which is leading up to the fact that a lot more articles of a scientific nature type are on the way.  This, we think, will please most members.  Others, whose tastes do not run in his direction, are invited to rectify the situation by sending in other types of article.  If this occurs, we may even reach a stage of being able to select the best of what is submitted for publication.



If you haven't paid your sub this year, and have been sent this B.B., it is only because your name has not yet been removed from the list.  DON' T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!!!!

Book Review

By Jim Giles,

Shepton Mallet Caving Club Journal Series 1 Number 3

In this third journal of the present series, the Rhodamine ‘B’ water tracing technique devised by members of the Bradford Pothole Club is discussed by B.M. Ellis.  He explains the intricacies of using this revolutionary spelaeo - aid and describes at length the results of experiments in St, Cuthbert's Swallet and Swildons Hole. The author makes an interesting comparison between this and other water tracing methods and concludes with an outline of further applications on Mendip.

Archaeological Note

As most members will be aware, the field north of the Belfry is the site of a Roman settlement, presumably connected with lead mining.  Excavations were carried out there some years ago under the direction of Ted Mason and work is now in progress on the preparation of a report which will be published as a B.E.C. paper.  Much pottery has been recovered from this field since the excavation from ploughed soil and from the drainage trenches which from time to time are cut across the lower slopes.  If any member gets a chance to check the field again, and finds any pottery or other small find, I would be interested to see it.

Keith S. Gardner - Archaeological Secretary


by M. Luckwill

A recent article in the B.B. No. 170, noted the fact that the stal in Balch's Hole was phosphorescent. This article is intended to provide a simple explanation of the physics of the phenomenon in order that the reader will be familiar with the terms used in future articles which will doubtless appear.

For those who have never seen phosphorescence, a short description of what happens will not be out of place. A flash bulb is fired close to the stal and when the light from the bulb has died down, the stal can be seen to glow a bright apple green for a few seconds.  Several people are investigating substances which show this phenomenon, using ultra violet light as a means of illumination.  The process of light emission during and after illumination is known as Luminescence.

For practical considerations, Luminescence is divided into fluorescence and phosphorescence.  Figure 1 shows the amount of light emitted in relation to time......

Figure 1.

The portion AB represents light emitted during the illumination and together with any light emitted for 10 seconds after illumination is called fluorescence.  The portion BC is the light emitted after illumination and is called phosphorescence.

Phosphorescence may last only for a period of 10-7 seconds, or for several hours.  We are mostly interested in periods of from 1 to 5 seconds.

There are three aspects of luminescence: -

(1)                Absorption of energy of primary bombarding photons - due to the incident light.

(2)                Transfer and storage of this energy.

(3)                Conversion of this stored energy into light.

A crystal consists of a regular array of ions.  (You can imagine a large box filled with billiard balls which have been packed in a regular and tidy fashion).  In the case of calcite; these balls represent calcium and carbonate ions.

Naturally occurring crystals are rarely pure, however, and an impurity will cause a local disturbance in the array (you can imagine this time a larger ball such as a tennis ball in the middle of your box of billiard balls).  Such an ion is called an interstitial ion and plays an important part in luminescence.

Now let us look a little further into the structure of these ions.  For our purposes, the ion can be considered to be a nucleus surrounded by a number of mobile electrons.  If an electron gains some energy, it will tend to move away from the nucleus and become less stable.  In general, if an electron gets the chance, it likes to lose energy and become more stable. The electrons, however, cannot be at any distance they like from the nucleus, but must go round it at one of a number of fixed radii which thus divide the electrons into a number of shells representing different energy levels.  We shall consider two of these outer shells or bands which are….

(1)                The Valency band, which is the highest normally filled band, and...

(2)                The conduction band, which is the lowest normally empty band.

The difference in energy between these two bands is called the gap energy and is written Eg.  Now, if a photon with energy hv, being greater than Eg is incident upon the valency band, it can transfer its energy to an electron, which can then jump into the conduction band, leaving behind a hole in the valency band, as in figure 2.


Figure 2.

Remembering that an electron likes to be stable, we should not be surprised to find that the hole rises to the top of the valency band, as it is displaced by electrons above it - rather like an air bubble rising to the top of your beer (not if you drink draught: -Ed).  The electron-hole pair is called an Exciton.  The exciton cannot conduct energy, but it can transfer energy because it is mobile.  This excitation is therefore different from the excited state of an impurity ion which is fixed.

Figure, 3 shows the life of an exciton as it wanders about the crystal…….


Figure 3.

Now and again the electron will fall into a trap.  This is an interstitial ion which, you will remember, has produced a local disturbance in the energy levels present.  Then, by chance, the electron will gain enough energy to jump back into the conduction band and continue its wandering.  Eventually, it will be trapped in the excited state of an interstitial ion, which acts as an activator, or luminescent centre.

Recombination now takes place.  The electron is first trapped and then the hole is trapped (an electron from the impurity fills up the hole) and the interstitial ion regains its ground state. In the process, a photon is emitted.

The nature of the impurity affects the time for which the exciton remains trapped and also the colour of the emitted light, which is always of a greater wavelength than the incident light.  It is known that Strontiamite, SrCO3; Magnesite; MgCO3; Dolomite CaMg(CO3) and some forms of calcite luminesce  under ultra violet light.  Further work may discover the impurities which produce this phenomenon and hence throw some light on the formation of these crystals.

Caving Log

13.1.62.    Swildons.            Mike Luckwill + 3 from Cardiff.  Long Dry to sump.

14.1.62.    Eastwater.           Mike Luckwill, G.Dell, J. Cornwell + 3 from Cardiff. Camera descended second vertical under its own initiative.

14.1.62.    Eastwater.           Mike Palmer, Mike Weadon.  Followed 'clothes line' all the way.  Fings definitely ain't wot they used t'be!

15.1.62.    Eastwater.           M. Luckwill, J. Giles.  Trip to retrieve camera.

3.2.62.     Eastwater.           Dell and J. Cornwill.

3.2.63.    Swildons.             Mike Boone, Ron Wyncoll.

3.2.62.    Cuthbert’s.            P.M. Giles + 11 Cambridge Spelaeos.  Tourist.

3.2.62.    Cuthbert’s.            Mo Marriott, John Eatough and John Attwood.  11 Derbyshire types.  Tourist trip.

4.2.62.    Cuthbert’s             Mikes Wheadon and Palmer, Albert and. 4 Exeter University bods.  Tourist trip, attention Mr. M. Baker.  There is water in Lake Chamber!

4.2.62.    Balch’s Hole.        B. Prewer, P.M. Giles, M. Baker, G. Pointing, D. Berry, M. Boone, G. Selby and several M.N.R.C., and Cerberus types.  Photographic.

10.2.62.    Cuthbert’s.          Bryan Ellis and Chris Falshaw + 9 from Nottingham.  Tourist trip.

11.2.62.    Balch’s Hole.      Mike Baker, Alfie Collins and Jill. Photography in Maypole and Pool Passages. Mem.  Collins must take alternative means of illumination.

11.2.62.    Cuthbert’s           Survey trip in Cerberus Series, closed traverse almost completed.  Damaged tripod stopped further surveying. Keith Franklyn, J. Eatough, N. Petty and Mo.

11.2.62.  Cuthbert’s.            John Attwood and Eatough started to take the latter's maypole down, but two lengths were, too long.  Photographic trip instead.  Taped the drip pockets in Curtain Chamber.

17.2.62.    Cuthbert’s           P.M. Giles, Mike Holland, L. Holland and 5 Swansea types.  Transported two lengths of maypole from Upper Traverse to September Chamber.   Same party toured Cerberus Series and found Lake Chamber very full   (Mike Baker please note).

18.2.62.    Lamb Leer.         J.M. Calvert, J.Ransome, G. Tilley, G. Owen, R. Roberts, A. Leysham, C. Peters, H. Rowley.

18.2.62.    Balch’s Hole.      B. Prewer, P.M. Giles, G. Pointing, D. Berry, J. Eastough, J. Cornwill.  Maypole removed and replaced by chain and fixed ladder.

24.2.62.    Heale Slocker.    Coffee and occasional digging, very nearly in:  M. Baker, M. Luckwill, P.M. Giles.

25.2.62.    Cuthbert’s           P.M. Giles, M. Luckwill, R. Pyke, P. Badcock.   24' of maypole transported to Upper Traverse Chamber and left at top of the pitch for use in Hanging Chamber.  This was followed up by a quick trip into September Series where a small hole at the lower end of the bedding plane which runs down the side of September Chamber was entered and found to join up via a large and rather well decorated fifth with the main chamber again at floor level.

25.2.62.    G.B.                    Photographic trip to  Gorge  and Helictite Chamber by J. Attwood, J. Eatough, H. Phillpot, J. Cornwill.  Noted with DISGUST the considerable deterioration in Helictite Chamber.

25.2.62.    Heale Slocker.    M. Baker, M. Luckwill, P.M. Giles, P. Scott, J. Hill.  We are in! About thirty feet of passage ending in a choke, the floor of which is composed of large boulders and mud infill. Passage appears to be going steadily down the dip.

3.3.62.    Cuthbert’s             Bryan Ellis took a party of M.C.G. on a "Grand Traverse" down Pulpit Pitch and Main Stream to duck, out via Cerberus Series and Wire Rift.

3.3.62.    Swildons.             Mike Luckwill, Bob Pyke.  Surveying extension past Keith's Chamber.

4.3.62.    Cuthbert’s             Mike Baker, Bruce and 4 Redland Tourist trip which included LAKE CHAMBER (I have seen and I believe!) M. Baker.

4.3.62.    Cuthbert’s             N. Petty, B. Wilson, J. Williams, M. Rogers, S. Godwin, B. Hargill, B. Parrell.  Both Tourist trips.

4.3.62.    Cuthbert’s             M. Luckwill, Pat Irwin, plus 4 ' Enterprise' bods

4.3.62.    Goatchurch & Sidcot            G. Tilley, J. Ransome.  Quick trip to get rid of the Camera Pox.

4.3.62.    Cuthbert’s             R. Roberts, R. Croft, C. Peters, H. Rowley.  Finished the survey of September Series.

7.3.62.  Eastwater.              M. Baker, R. Roberts plus six.  “While on the above trip, I noticed a peculiar formation.  It was about half an inch high and formed by spent carbide. Condensation had caused a water drip to form on the carbide which had produced a "stalagmite".  The formation was very delicate and the walls were almost transparent.”  M. Baker.

17.3.62.  Cuthbert’s             J. Hill, Peter Scott and 8 U.B.S.S. Tourist.

18.3.62.  Balch’s Hole         Garth, Gordon and Roger.

18.3.62.  Cuthbert’s             P.M. Giles, M. Holland, M. Luckwill, J. Cornwell, J. Ransom, J. Williams, M. Calvert.  Thirty six feet of maypole was assembled below the Maypole Pitch with a view to re-entering Hanging Chamber to recover the 20' of maypole therein, a lifeline was then run from the top of the Maypole pitch to a large boulder in Upper Traverse Chamber.  The maypole was erected, but after three changes of position the attempt was abandoned and the may be disconnected and left at the bottom of Maypole Pitch.  In order to retrieve the maypole in Hanging Chamber, the original method of maypoling seems to be the only solution, unless a less flexible method of joining maypole sections is devised which may just permit the direct route.

19.3.62.  Nine Barrows        Jim Giles and Mike Boone took a brief look at this dig and found that a partial collapse had occurred but that the shoring was still intact.

42.3.62.  Swildons.              R. Stenner plus 2 boys to sump I.

Song Competition

1.                  Competitors may submit any number of songs, the words of which must be the original work of the competitor.

2.                  Any songs submitted must, in the opinion of the organizer, be suitable for performing at the club dinner and must be connected with club activities.

3.                  Competitors should indicate how they wish their songs to be presented.  If they do not wish to sing themselves, a suitable "choir" will be laid on, and various members of club who can perform on musical instruments will be available to act as accompanists if desired by the competitor.

4.                  There will be two closing dates.  The earlier, for those who wish their songs to be sung and/or accompanied for them, will be SATURDAY, AUGUST 25TH to allow time for rehearsals.  For those who wish to perform entirely by themselves, the closing date will be SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22ND to allow for elimination if this should become necessary.

5.                  If more than about half a dozen songs are received, it may be necessary to weed out some of the songs, so that people will not become, bored at the dinner by a long session.  In that case, the organizer will arrange for an impartial judge to pick out the best songs. If this occurs, competitors who may have written their own tunes must arrange an audition with the judge between the last closing date and the dinner.

6.                  Judging of the final selection of songs will be by popular acclaim at the dinner.

7.                  A suitable trophy will be awarded to the winner and runner-up.  All competitors whose songs were presented at the dinner will receive a consolation prize - probably in the form of a drink.

The rules for the PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION will be printed in next month’s B.B. the dinner is on Saturday, October 6th.

Climbing in Cornwall - Easter 1962

A large crowd of about thirty assorted members assembled on the Thursday evening after motoring down under incredible difficulties (cars travelling in the opposite direction on their correct side, etc.)  The venue was Trevalgan farm near St, Ives where a choice was to be had between camping and staying in the excellent barn provided.

Good Friday dawned cold and clear and the entire expedition repaired to Porthmorna Cove on the North Coast, where the climbing members attacked Basigran Pinnacle.  This is a long steep sided ridge jutting into the sea and almost cut off from the mainland at high tide.  It may be traversed by first of all scrambling up to the foot of a gendorme, from whence an interesting crack and a long traverse descends to a small platform near sea level.  The climb is not difficult and is rather more satisfying than the usual outcrop type of climb as it has a definite object, to reach the final platform - accessible only by rock climbing.  Three parties did the climb, returning by one of the lower West Pace traverse variations.  Mossman and Sandall kept near the sea and found some wet, slimy rock; whilst Bennett and Miles, Tuck and Marriott climbed a chimney encrusted with the usual odiferous bird lime.

After this effort, Marriott, Bennett and Tuck ventured up Black Slab Climb on Bosigran face.  The slab, which is a conspicuous feature of the face, looks F.N.I. from a distance, but on closer inspection is found to be liberally sprinkled with holds.  According to the guide book, its colour (black) is due to a coating of 'schorl', a piece of information which appeared to produce no intelligent response from the climbing party.  It was decided by a two to one vote that Mr. Marriott should lead the slab, which he did after surmounting an awkward pinnacle.

On Saturday morning, the intrepid explorers 'did' St. Ives and returned to Bosigran in the afternoon. This time, attention was directed to the Bosigran Ridges on the West side of the cove.  These run down at a steep angle to the sea and were used for commando training during the war.  When the climbers arrived at the seaward end, ready to do great things, a major setback was encountered.  The climb - carefully selected from the guide book - could not be found.  After some argument agreement was reached as to where the climb ought to have started.  Unfortunately, the rock at this point was in the form of a smooth vertical wall up which no climb of a reasonable standard could be found. After several unsuccessful attempts, the climbers retreated muttering darkly that 'it must have fallen into the sea' etc.  Messrs Dunn, Turner and Malcolm departed up the ridge from a higher start while Marriott, Tuck and Bennett followed after roping a severe which proved much harder than it looked.  By this time the weather had become warm and sunny and the climbers slowly meandered up the ridge, talking photographs and making private variations to the pitches. Further on, things became more serious and the final climb caused some misgivings.  This was in the form of an almost horizontal knife edge, which is climbed to the detriment of certain parts of the climber's anatomy.  The end of the ridge was so thin that it looked likely to cut the hands, and the whole thing was quite unlike anything that anybody present had previously climbed.

The next day was spent on the West Coast, starting with climbs on Chain Ladder.  This is reckoned to be the finest of the Cornish sea cliffs, and the four climbers were quite anxious to visit it.  It is best approached from the north, where a steep scramble leads to a deep inlet, bridged by a large boulder.  This looks insecure and was crossed rapidly.  As it was the first visit, two fairly easy chimneys were selected.  Initial pitches proved quite straightforward but some confusion with route finding occurred higher up due to not reading the guide book properly.  Several sea birds nests with eggs were found and Steve Tuck was nearly attacked by a bird which we think from its size must have been one of the last surviving Cornish ostriches.


Cave preservation in a nutshell from the N.S.S. magazine..... "Take nothing but photographs - Leave nothing but footprints"



Containing reports and references to operations in Northern Pennines; Mendips; Derbyshire; South Wales; Ireland and Gibraltar. This is well worth having and, whether you are personally interested in diving or not, makes a worthwhile addition to any caving library.  It is obtainable at 2/9 plus 6d postage from the Editor; - E-J. Waddon, 65 Raleigh Hall, Eccleshall, STAFFORD.  It is issued free to C.D.G. members.  Enquiries regarding membership of the C.D.G. should be made to J.S. Buxton, 38 Maulden Road, Flitwick, Bedfordshire.


The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw.  Editor, S.J. Collins.

Taking advantage of a recent overhaul of the typewriter on which the B.B. is typed, we have had some cryptic characters added to the keyboard so that it is now possible, amongst other things, to type phrases like 'speleological manoeuvres' and similar gems of the English language.  It also opens up a whole new field for original spelling mistakes, a subject for which the B.B. is noted.

Once again, we have twelve pages.  At one time, there was a ‘queue’ to join before stuff could be considered for publication.  This has now vanished, and so the odd article would not come amiss.

Whitsun Trip to Cornwall.

Owing to the fantastic success of the Easter trip to this foreign land, and in spite of the damage done to vehicles, the trip is to be repeated at Whitsun.  Anyone who is interested should get in touch with any of the Belfry Regulars.


Cuthbert’s Geology

(Extracted from a letter to B.M. Ellis from D.C. Ford )

When I wrote up the geology of St. Cuthbert's Swallet for Caving Report No. 7, I’d not finished work on it and so have a certain amount of revision of the ideas you've published. The controlling fault - Lake -Chamber to the Duck - is not the Stock Hill Fault mentioned in the geological survey, but one sub-parallel to it to the west. It is probably in the same system. If this St. Cuthbert's fault be extended south east of the duck (bearing in mind that it might not, in fact, extend any further) it passes through Hunters Hole more or less parallel to the principal alignment of the lower cave, and about fifty feet south of it. Interesting.

The controlling bedding planes in Catgut (above T-Junction) are not within the twenty foot plane of the Rabbit Warren as I wrote, but lie ten and thirty feet below (two different bedding planes).  The extension then runs through higher beds to get on to the main line, so to speak, at the Sewer bedding plane.  This performance is not typical of Mendip phreatic behaviour and is almost non-union activity.

The main water supply during stages 1 and 2 of my sequence of development came; it emerges, from the Rocky Boulder area.  This should “go” much more than it has done, back up to the surface.  However, I won’t guarantee that it is not (a) solidly choked, (b) collapsed anyway.

At present I am working on the south eastern parts of the cave and wondering about possible ways on, barring the sump.  It doesn't look very good because every bit of passage plays a part in feeding into the Lake-Gour rift.  Nothing seems to bypass it higher up and the best bets are in the rift itself.  One never sees the floor of the rift.  This is buried to a depth that could run into many tens of feet locally and the way on could be down it somewhere.    So get digging!


by M.J. Baker.

Recently it has been demonstrated that stalagmites and stalactites give off a green glow after being subjected to the light from flashbulbs.

This was first noticed when photographing formations, and a flashgun had been placed behind a stalagmite pillar and fired.  For a second or two, the pillar gave off a green glow.  This 'afterglow' has since been photographed successfully, although first attempts produced a pink glow due to incorrect exposure.

Since then, observations have been made on other specimens using ultra violet light.  Stalagmite consists of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) usually in the form of calcite, or more rarely, aragonite.

The first fact that we note, was that, although calcite in the form of stalagmite from Balch’s Hole and Pen Park Hole gave a strong glow, a perfect calcite crystal (Iceland Spar) gave a negative result.  Also calcite crystals in Carboniferous limestone that had not come from a cave did not produce any, ‘afterglow’.  This suggests that the afterglow was not due to the calcite, but to some other element that had been carried in solution by percolating water from the surface and precipitated at the same time.

This was supported when it was found that ‘fur’ coating the inside of a kettle or hot water pipe also produced an afterglow.  Most pure salts are not phosphorescent but salts of Calcium, Strontium, Barium and Zinc gave positive results and it seems that it must be due to the traces of heavy metals such as Manganese, Lead or Copper or Silver.

Note.  Phosphorescence of Calcium Nitrate was recorded as far back as 1674 by Baldwin.

Substances examined


Calcite crystals in carb. limestone


Iceland Spar  (CaCO3)


Carb. Limestone not from cave.


Aragonite  ( CaCO3)


Gypsum from Lake District  (CaSO4 )


Alabaster - Minehead  (CaSO4)


Celestine  (SrSO4)

Very Faint.

Galena - Pen Park Hole  (PbS)


Calcite - Pen Park Hole  (CaCO3)


Stalagmite – Balch’s Hole

Very Strong.

Stalactite - Cuthbert’s

Very Strong.

Fur from Hot water pipe - Midlands

Very Strong.

Fur from Hot water pipe - Bath

Very Strong.

Editor’s Note;    I personally find Mike's article very interesting as I had noticed this phenomena shortly after flashbulbs came onto the market, but thought it only worked if you had extremely clean stal.     This was what led me to try a flashbulb against the ‘bank’ at the top of the second pitch in Balch's Hole  (when it was still clean!) and later to expend a few unwanted white flashbulbs showing this to other photographers on the stal pillar in erratic Passage.  I believe that John Eatough subjected some stal to U.V. radiation and got negative results, thus suggesting that the afterglow was due to phosphorescence rather than fluorescence.  I was wondering how Mike's observations were made with U.V. light.  If he obtained ‘afterglow’ only or if he obtained a visible glow while the U.V. source was illuminating the specimen.  Possibly both phenomena play a part here.  Perhaps we shall hear further in a later B.B.


Have you paid your sub yet? You may not get the B.B. in future if you haven’t!

Notes on the possibility of Cave Art in Britain

by K.S. Gardner.

In any subject such as this, one must first accept or tabulate certain points which are, in the considered opinion of science, regarded as facts.  The facts in this case are that on the walls of the great caverns of south western Europe can be seen frescoes of engraved and painted scenes of animal life which are accepted as being of Aurignacian and Magdalenian origin; that is, of cultural phases during the Wurm glaciation.  It is agreed that the purpose of this art was of a magico-religious rather than of a decorative nature, and was based on the theory that, if one possessed the reproduction of a certain creature, one also possessed the power of life and death over it in the chase.  This idea has survived among more primitive tribes today, and indeed was very popular among the practisers of black magic in the European communities of several centuries ago.

In company with the static murals, we sometimes find large models of animals in clay, sometimes models which had borne real heads and possibly been draped in skins to simulate the real creature at some ritual performance.  With the later, Magdalenian culture, we get many fine examples of "mobile art", carvings or engravings on bone, ivory or stone.

A fairly common reproduction which has a great significance with regard to the purpose of this art is that of a human figure masked and draped in skins and interpreted as le sorcereur or the officiating witch doctor.

As already stated, these great prehistoric academies are centred in S.W. France and Spain at such places as Les Eyzies in the Dordogne where there must have been a comparatively considerable population during the period in question.  The people who carried out these works were those whose different methods of working flint have enabled archaeologists to classify them into the two different groups or cultures of the Aurignacian and the Magdalenian.

How then does Great Britain fit into the picture?  France and England were one land in those days so why should there be art in one country and not in the other?  It is only fair to say at this point that the North of France appears to be as barren of cave art as is England, but that the writer knows of no caves personally north of the Fontainbleu Forest.  Art has been found almost as far north as this at Ancy-sur-Cure in Avallon.

The local British flint cultures, whilst they are different from the Aurignacian, Gravettian and Magdalenian of Central France, would appear to be paronymous with them and there is nothing to suggest why, if an apparently conservative, people retained the backbone of their material cultures, they should forsake the religious cultures which one might expect to be the last thing to change.

Ossiferous objects such as harpoons, tallies and batons-de-commandment from Cheddar or Burrington in the Mendip show very strong links with the Magdalenian and are again suggestive of at least contact with the art conscious southern civilization. Articles from Cresswell Crags near the Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire border go even, further and show definite signs of magico-religious activities.  This latter site is typical of the British local adaptation of the southern flint cultures and the name Cresswellian has been applied to similar flint assemblages throughout the country.  Several fragments of bone have been discovered there bearing engravings of reindeer, horse, bison and rhino (?) but the most significant is the rib of a reindeer with a masked human figure on it closely resembling the sorcerers of cave paintings.  These bones admittedly are not typical of British cave sites, having come from the lower level of the cave, but they do strongly suggest the presence of believers in the hunting rites.

Supposing that art existed once here if of course no proof that it exists now.  Deterioration takes place through the centuries due to the action of air currents; flaking of stone etc and even Lascaux with its magnificent colour can show us indistinguishable blurs of long faded frescoes.  The greater rate of deposition of French stalagmite may give a protective cover to the works before they have a chance to fade whereas anything here may have disappeared before such a protective layer could form.  Let us also remember that for hundreds of years, antiquarians, students and the public hordes viewed Stonehenge in full daylight and it was only a chance that enabled Richard Atkinson to recognize carvings on some of the stones in 1952.  How many miles of underground walls will have to be searched by so few cavers in nigh on complete darkness before the blurred remains of an engraving or a faded painting would show up on the dark, rough rock?

Where then would it be likely to be?  Supposing the Cresswellians were believers or the Aurignacian few practised it here? To judge by continental sites - deep underground far from the entrance or in some almost inaccessible chamber! It is unlikely to be in a cave used as an occupation site but rather in a nearby unoccupied one.  At Cheddar, one might be tempted to suggest Great Cone's Hole as the temple for the Gough's hunter inhabitants.

It has been suggested that, as the estimated population of this tundra country was then about two hundred, there could not have been the organised religion of the French forests. True, one should not expect the dozens of sites which the French and Spanish have - perhaps only one in Derbyshire and one on Mendip but if today a dozen Christians went to the North Pole, would they leave their belief in God behind them?  A small population is not the reason for the absence of art.

It has been stated that in the barren tundra of this peninsular, wild game would be scarce and life too much of a struggle to bother with art.  If it was considered essential in the well stocked regions of S.W. France to cast spells in order to catch the elusive and required beast, how much more important must it have been here to employ magic to ensure victory over the same creature even more elusive and even more essentially required!  It is always in man's darkest hour that he turns most to his religion.

Whilst a great deal of the French art is of a hunting nature, there is a certain amount apparently devoted to the preservation of life - pictures of pregnant cows etc - and it might well be that the French had some control over herds and thought they ensured productivity by this method.  It may be safe to assume that this type of art would not be practised here as the presumably less pleasant conditions towards the close of the last Ice Age enforced a more nomadic hunting life upon the occupants.

Well then, will art ever be found in the British Isles or has it been found already and forgotten?  Were the red marks found in Bacon Hole, Gower really natural or were they the fading vestiges of a forgotten age?  This site certainly has a strong similarity with the Grotte-Temples.  It was not, as far as we know, occupied as early as the upper Palaeolithic, though an ideal site.  If Aurignacian man lived and died on Gower and the markings are hidden in the innermost recess, then the fact that the red bands vary from period to period in size and position may conceivably be due to the action of damp or some other phenomenon, as similar movement is not unknown in ecclesiastical murals.  It is a pity either way that the chamber housing them was not effectively protected as the walls are certainly covered with "art" now, and any scientific study will be seriously impaired by the collection of candle smoke drawings and engravings left by modern vandals.

Perhaps the Cave Preservation Society would like to take a scrubbing brush along there one day.

A New Way off Yr Elen

by "Kangy"

One of the troubles with Yr Elen in the Carneddau in North Wales is that it is stated to be 3,152 ft. which means that it is one of the Welsh Three Thousands and therefore has to be done.  Another trouble is that it is the highest point of a spur which inconveniently branches normal to the line of the great Carneddau summits.  Tiresome, very!

Routes worked out for a traverse of the Welsh Three Thousands are concerned with the least loss of height and it is found best to retrace the route back to Carnedd Llewellyn once Yr Slen summit has been attained.  This is all very well if a straight thrash around the Fourteen Peaks is under way, but it has always irked me to have to walk back towards Llewellyn and not go on.  A mate and I were camping by Craig Yr Isfa and it was the sort of day and time of year that combined to give bright but cold and blustery weather.  A fine excuse for a walk!  Eventually we found ourselves heads down and panting on Yr Elen.  We ate chocolate and regretted that the wind would fight against us all the way back to Llewellyn.  The view from the summit was extensive and included Ysgolion Duon (the Black Ladders) with the summit of Carnedd Dafydd to the right and above.  We were interested in the Black Ladders because of the climbs on it and made for a lower point to get a better view of it.  It occurred to us here that an interesting variation would be to descend into Cwm Llafar and make our way on to Carnedd Dafydd somehow. We were not equipped for rock climbing and so a requirement of any route was to be a certain lack of excitement. It was obvious that we could easily climb out of the cwm onto Dafydd by saddles at the head of the cwm or to the west of Dafydd, and so we started down.

As often happens, the closer we came to Dafydd, the clearer became the topography.  The Black Ladders remained black and un-ladderish, but the unpromising slag heap that formed the North East face sorted itself out and a possible route appeared as a ridge running directly up to the summit of Dafydd. The doubtful things about it were that it started above a steep rock face, and where it joined the final slopes of the summit it became steep and narrow.  A way around the rock face was up a steep scree slope on its felt flank. This was not as bad as it looked, as it was large scree and twenty minutes or so of scrambling was all that was necessary to get us on to the satisfyingly sharp crest of the ridge. Easy going and even a pinnacle led to the steeper rocks.  These proved to be no more than a scramble.  The particular pleasure we got from the route is that there is nothing artificial about it end the ridge finishes on the summit.  A proper route.

We saw from the 2.5" O.S. map later that the ridge is called Crib Lem and that the rock face is Llech Ddu.  They lie approximately S.S.W. from Yr Hen.  The lowest point reached in Cwm Llafar is about 2,000 ft, so the loss in height is not great and a small price to pay for a good walk.

Map References:
            Sheet 107 (1953)   
            Yr Elen                673652
            Carnedd Dafydd  663631

Some Comments on the Recent Surveying Articles

by R.D.Stenner.

Bryan's suggested new system of grading surveys is good in many ways, but there is a point I am not happy about.

Errors in measuring vertical angles may not make much difference on a plan, but they will make a big difference to a section and to the altitude of a station, I think that the care in measurement of vertical angles needs much more emphasis and would like to elaborate.

A cave survey should be a representation of the cave in three dimensions, and the vertical dimension should be measured with the same degree of accuracy as the two horizontal dimensions.  To measure vertical angles with a clinometer to the same degree of accuracy as is possible with a hand held oil-filled prismatic compass, the clinometer should be tripod mounted.  The prismatic compass does not have to be tripod mounted to be read to * or - 0.5°, but clinometers do.

Turning now to Alfie's article, the ideal survey should try to show a caver exactly what the cave is like. Surveys of caves should be parallel with surface maps.  The basis is an outline, with cave height, floor gradients and changes of altitude and on this foundation should be shown the nature of the floor, exact position and nature of formations, water (still or running) dumps of food, carbide and spent carbide (if any) position of rawlbolts and fixed wires (with date of installation and details of maintenance) actual route taken where not obvious, parts of cave taped off, details of entrance and access, and perhaps a lot more things which I can't bring to mind.

On this basic foundation, specialist surveys can be overprinted - a parallel with specialist surface maps. Geological and Biological overprints come to mind here.

The basic survey, as detailed as I would hope, would be as interesting to explore as the cave itself (and much less effort!) but there is a real use which Alfie overlooked - that is photography.

Photography in large chambers and in particular the photography of large, remote formations is often hazardous because of the impossibility of measuring the distance between the flashgun and the subject.  The usual rangefinders are useless, so the only answers are a bit of surveying or to make a guess.  A good survey should give the information needed.


Time is now getting on! Over half a year has gone by since the last Annual Dinner and the time left for taking that prize winning picture is getting shorter all the time.  We hope to be publishing a complete set of rules for both competitions in the next B.B.


Club members are welcome at the Archaeological site at Cheddar – contact Sett for details or just turn up.

Book Review

by Jim Giles.

Some Smaller Mendip Caves, Volume 1 - R.D. Stenner and others.  B.E.C. Caving Report No 6.  Edited by B.M. Ellis.  Price 2/6.

In this report, several club members have pooled their resources to produce a report dealing with caves which, due to their apparent insignificance, have not been rewarded with the close attention and glamour of the larger Mendip systems.  Information pertaining to several semi-successful digs is also included in the report both for record purposes and in the hope that it will be of some assistance to future 'cave hunters'.

Shepton Mallet Caving Club Journal - Series 3 Number 2. Edited by F.J. Davies.  Price  1/3.

Once again the Shepton have produced a journal devoted to reports of original work in the caving world.

In this edition, K.R. Dawe gives a full account of the diving operation in Swildons Hole which is well backed up by a description by J.M. Boone of his air breathing diving set 'Nyphargus' which was used to great effect at the same time.

Other articles in this journal give more details of the Trouble Series of Swildons and the Carricknacoppan caves of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

Subterranean Climbers.  Twelve Years in the world's deepest chasm. - Pierre Chevalier. Faber & Faber.       Price   16/-.

A superb and unforgettable book telling of Pierre Chevalier’s twelve year battle with nature in linking the Trou de Glaz and the Guiers Morts grotto. No description could possibly do this book justice.


The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw, 699, Wells Rd, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Bristol Editor, S.J. Collins, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.

Although the large Spring Number is not with us, we are attempting once more to produce a twelve page  B.B.  This month, we take advantage of this increase in size to print a long article taking up most of the B.B.  To these of you who are not interested in cave surveying, we apologise and hope that the next time we print an equally long article, it will be on a subject you are interested in (within reasonable limits, of course!)

This article, as well as being long, is of a controversial nature, as it suggests a modification, to a well established practice.  Whenever the B.B. has printed articles which were felt to contain some controversial elements in the past, these have always performed like damp squibs, and not raised a single voice of agreement or dissent.  We hope that, in this case, we shall get some correspondence  agreeing or disagreeing with  the article, as the subject of cave surveying is one in which there may well be considerable scope for new ideas.



Whitsun weekend. There will be a club meet at Gaping Ghyll.  A coach is being arranged by Brian Prewer.  Anyone interested should get in touch as early as possible.  It was suggested that the club should visit Lancaster Pot, but this has proved impossible owing to the grouse season, approximate cost 35/-.  Date June 10th.

Some (Controversial?) Thoughts on Cave Survey Gradings.

by  Bryan Ellis

This article in no way tells you how to make a cave survey.  It deals only with one aspect of the completed survey that of applying; a grading of expected accuracy.  It is important to remember that the views expressed are solely, as far as I know, those of the author and must not be taken as representative of those of the B.E.C. committee, nor of the editor, nor of any other member.  The purpose is to express on paper some of the views of the author in the hope that they will provoke discussion.  Now that you have been warned, here goes.

Some form of survey grading is very desirable so that, by simply looking at this figure, the reader may make a reasonably reliable estimate of the accuracy to be expected. However, at the same time it is even better if accompanying each cave survey published there is an article describing the instruments used in making the survey; how the figures are calculated and the survey plotted; a list of known closure errors and so on.

Let us take four hypothetical cave surveys, those of Axbridge Hole; Burrington Cavern; Cheddar Sleeker and Draycott Swallet.  A beautifully produced survey of Axbridge Hole is published without any accompanying screed!  The survey looks very good but even the closest examination fails to reveal any sign of a grading.  It is therefore impossible to arrive at any estimate of its accuracy.  It is hardly likely that a   survey would be produced as elaborately as this for anything less than a Cave Research Group grading of 5, but one cannot be sure.  Perhaps I may know the surveyor and therefore know the instruments that he uses and can guess that the accuracy is perhaps between the grades of 5 and 6.  But this is only guesswork and if I don't know him, I would have no idea at all.

Our second hypothetical survey has been published, in a club journal; this of Burrington Cavern.  Once again, close scrutiny of the map fails to show any sign of a grading.  This time, however, the situation is much better because there is an excellent article by the surveyor accompanying the survey.  This article describes in great detail the instruments that were used, the way in which he made the survey, calculated the position of each station - and he also gives a table of known closure errors.  This article is a model of what such an article should be except that even in the text there is no indication of the grading claimed.  Possibly the idea is that, by giving the reader all the details, he should be left to form his own conclusion, but before he can do so he must read all through the text.  He can get no idea from the survey itself.  Furthermore, the surveyor himself is the best judge of the accuracy to be expected and if he gives an opinion then perhaps the reader may like to adjust it slightly after reading the text.

The third survey is of a cave known as Cheddar Slocker and, like the first, is a well produced sheet but without any accompanying description.  This time, examination of the survey shows that the surveyor has claimed a grading if 5.  Anyone looking at this map now knows that, as a minimum, a calibrated prismatic compass; metallic tape and a clinometer were used.  It is therefore safe to assume that the survey is accurate enough for most purposes.  However, as there is no accompanying article, there is nowhere to state what instruments actually were used, nor of the closure errors that were found in the closed traverses in the cave.

Finally, we can consider the survey of Draycott Swallet, our final hypothetical survey.  This survey has been published in similar form to those of Axbridge Hole and Cheddar Slocker, but this time it has been sold together with a small booklet.  On the sheet is found the grading claimed by the surveyor and therefore an estimate of accuracy can be made immediately.   In the booklet are found all the details of the survey and its making, so if anyone is interested, they can read through it and then they should have an even better idea of the accuracy of the survey.

The idea of quoting at length the details of these surveys is to give the reader an idea of why I consider both a grading and an accompanying screed to be the ideal.  The grading on the survey is a “quick reference” guide and the article gives greater details.

Mention has already been made on several occasions of the grading.  I have stated why I consider one to be necessary (yes, the word 'necessary' is purposely used instead of merely 'desirable') but on what are these  gradings going to be based?  If it were possible, then the ideal would be a grading based on the known accuracy of the survey.  However, this is very rarely, if ever, known and therefore some other method must be used.  In many surveys there are closed traverses and it could be assumed that the closure errors on these loops are representative of the whole survey.  The total probable error of the survey could then be determined and the grading based on this figure.  This system would be satisfactory if every survey contained a closed traverse but many do not, especially surveys of individual passages such as those produced of new extensions to caves.  This system cannot therefore be used unless one is going to have one system for those   surveys including a closed traverse and another for those that do not.   This would be most undesirable.

Another basis on which an estimate of accuracy can be based is, on the instruments that are used and the  accuracy with which they are read. The assumption of which this system is based is not ideal because the   accuracy attained with the same instruments used by different surveyors will vary as also will the results by the same surveyor under different caving conditions.  Despite this, a fairly simple system of grading can be devised that will give an indication of the accuracy to be expected.

In 1960, the Cave Research Group of Great Britain published a paper on cave surveying by A.L. Butcher and this included a system of survey grading recommended by the C.R.G. This system is based on the  instruments used, and has been repeated in 'British Caving.'  It is, in my opinion, far from ideal but, as it has been given national publication and is used by practically all cave surveyors it should not be changed now unless anyone can design the perfect answer.  Not agreeing with the Cave Research Group (and many Mendip cavers do not) is not an excuse for trying to replace the present system by one that is only slightly better, if at all.

Having said that the present system is not ideal I should be more explicit and give my reasons for saying this, my main criticism of the C.R.G. gradings is that it appear to have been designed for specific combinations of instruments, and there is no way of arriving at a grading if a different combination is used other than be guessing at the equivalent degree of accuracy.  Partly following from this criticism is my second, that there is no provision for using any form of clinometer to measure slopes until one reaches grade 5.  Figure 1 shows the percentage error that occurs in a plan if the angle of inclination is ignored and it will be seen that a slope of 8o introduces an error of 1% while a slope of 16o gives an error of 4%.  As the angle increases, the error increases even more so, and with an angle of 25° there is a 10% error.  This should show the importance of slope when making a cave survey of any reasonable accuracy.  Even with roughly measured plans of approx. grade 3, it is often useful to take readings of slope, but no credit can be taken for the increased accuracy obtained when using the present C.R.G. System.  If it intended to produce a section as well as a plan, then it is important that angles of inclination should be measured.  Figure 2 shows the changes in height (for various angles of inclination) that are not going to be recorded if no account is taken of slope. For a cave 1,000 feet long, and having an average slope of 10o, a vertical change of 175 feet will be lost. My own experience of cave surveying has shown me that it is extremely difficult to estimate angles in a vertical plane with any accuracy, and this has been borne out by tests on other people. For this reason, it is most desirable to measure angles of slope and not estimate them.  A slope of 5o will not be noticed normally in a cave and while it will introduce an error of half a percent in the plan, three feet will have been lost, in the section with a survey leg of thirty feet.

During the year, the Northern Cavern and Mine Research Society published their own grade of survey. This is just a single grade, approximately equivalent to C.R.G. grade 6, to which they intend making all their surveys. The amazing thing about this grade is, that while they intend to use a tripod mounted prismatic compass marked in half degrees and read to one sixth of a degree, they only consider desirable and not essential, the use of some form of clinometer.  They aim always to measure horizontal distances, to the nearest inch, and then calculate the co-ordinates of their stations using five or seven figure logarithms.  In my opinion, some of these measurements, and the calculations, are going to be considerably more accurate than others and the resulting survey is going to have a far greater error than they intend.

Having made criticisms of the C.R.G. system of grading, can any improvements be suggested?  I made   the criticisms and therefore I will give my suggested modification of the scheme.  My aim is to make the   scheme less specific in the instruments to be used for the survey so that a grading can be obtained, without guesswork, when using a combination of instruments other than one of those listed by Butcher.  It also decreases the guesswork when arriving at a grading after' using an instrument not included in my list,   because the instruments are listed in order of increasing accuracy and because the accuracy of the instruments are sometimes given.

In table 1 will be found a list of instru¬ments, and other means most likely to be used when making a cave survey, and alongside each is given a number.  The scheme simply consists of adding together the numbers shown against each instrument that was used in making the survey, and the result is then that of the cave survey.  One feature of this scheme is that the surveyor is “allowed” to increase or decrease the final grading, thus obtained by half a grade.  This is to take into account factors which cannot easily be written down as hard and fast rules; such factors as the care, with which the surveyor made his instrument readings; the  conditions under which these readings were made; known closure errors, etc. In other words this allows the surveyor latitude to alter the grading slightly either way depending on how accurate he feels the survey should be.

Another feature is the increasing of a grading by half a grade if the 'leap-frog' method is used with hand held instruments.  In this method, the surveyor, instated of starting at Station 1, taking, readings to Station 2,  then moving to 2 and taking readings to 3 etc, starts at Station 2,  takes readings to 1 and 3, then moves to  4 and takes readings to 3  and 5, and so on.

A couple of examples should remove any doubts about the working of the scheme.  Thus, a survey is made using a metal tape and a calibrated compass and a clinometer both mounted on tripods and the   readings being accurate to + or - half a degree, then the numbers are 2 + 4 = 6 and a grading of 5-5 to 6.5 could be claimed.  As another example, if to make a survey a cloth tape; a hand held, prismatic compass and a hand held clinometer (both accurate to + pr - 1o) were used, then the grading would be 1.75 + 1.75 + 1.25 which gives a total of 4.75.  As it is not intended that survey gradings should be given other than as whole or half numbers, then the surveyor would claim either 4.5 or 5 depending on whether or not he thought the survey was as accurate as possible with the instruments used.

It will be found that, in most cases, the gradings obtained with, this scheme agrees with those given against the examples listed on page 393 of “British Caving”.  The main variations occur round the original gradings of 4 and 5.  As already in intimated, the author has always thought that the difference between these   two gradings is very wide; not only does one have to use a calibrated compass to increase from grade 4 to  grade 5, but a clinometer must also be used, and this can lead to a very great increase in accuracy.

Table 2 shows a comparison of gradings between the examples given in “British Caving” and the gradings that are attained by this scheme.  It will be seen that the maximum, grading on this system is 7.5 as compared with a C.R.G. maximum of 7.  However, it is extremely unlikely that anyone making a cave survey with the instruments required for the maximum grading would at the same time be confident enough of his results to claim the extra half grade, knowing what this implies. To keep the results similar to those of the C.R.G., the range of gradings can be limited to any whole or half number between 1 and 7.

A point which arises from a study of table 1 is that normally cave surveys should not be made using instruments that on the table occupy more than two adjacent horizontal lines. If a wider range than this is used, then one of the instruments or methods will be considerably more (or less) accurate than the others.  Any such combination can give rise to a false reading on the scheme.

The only originality, in this scheme is an attempt to standardise a procedure that cave surveyors have been making ever since the Cave Research Group first published their survey gradings - denoting on a cave survey the appropriate grading when a method of survey was not identical with one of the examples they gave.  The variations between the gradings given by this system and those originally described by the C.R.G. are very small, and if this system were adopted there would be no need to alter the gradings. I feel that this system is little, if any, more complicated than the original but is definitely more consistent and more comprehensive.

I have now finished saying my little bit about the grading of cave surveys, but I would like to hear other people’s reactions to my thoughts.  Possibly those of people with experience of surveying would be the most enlightened, but this is not necessarily so as all cavers look at surveys at some time or other.  Now it is your turn.

B.M. Ellis. November   1961.

Table 1

Instruments used to make measurements of….



Inclination and results taken into account when drawing plan.

Estimated out of cave  

Est. noted in cave

Pacing, counting of body lengths.........

Marked string, or cord


Cloth tape



Metal tape, Chain


Tachometer &c













Estimated out of cave  

Est. noted in cave

Hand held compass, readings ± 5o

Hand held prismatic, readings to ± 1o






Estimated out of cave  

Estimated and noted in cave

Hand held clino, readings ± 2o

Hand held clino, readings to ± 1o







If “Leap-Frog” method used with hand held instruments increase above readings by 0.8


Calibrated prismatic compass and clinometer, tripod mounted, readings to ± 0.5o


Theodolite, astrocompass or similar, tripod mounted.  Readings within ± 0,25o of true


Factor available to surveyor to alter final grading to take account of conditions at time of survey, care taken over readings, , known closure errors etc...+ 0.5"


TABLE 1.  Calculation of grading


Table 2.  Comparison of Gradings

Method of Survey

C.R.G. Grade.

New System grade.

Sketch plan from memory, not to scale.



Sketch plan roughly to scale.  No inst. used.  Directions & distances



Simple compass (± 5o) and marked string.



Prismatic compass (± 1o) and cloth tape or marked string.


3-0 - 3-5

Calibrated Pris.  Comp. (± 0.55o) metal tape and clinometer.


4-5 - 5-0

Tripod mounted prismatic compass   (± 0.5o) Clinometer (± 0.55o)



Theodolite, tachometer, metal tape.


6.5 - 7-0

Balch's Hole Extension

by Jill Rollason.

In January 1962, rumour had it that another 1,500 feet of passage, thick with stal, had been discovered in Balch's Hole after entry via a maypole pitch and a trip was arranged for interested B.E.C. members - mainly, photographers.

The extension is a high level passage, entered from Pool Chamber.  It is necessary to climb about fifteen feet on the maypole ladder, and about a further fifteen feet up a steep and difficult rift.  At the head of the rift is a narrow chimney about ten feet deep which leads into the FOURTH CHAMBER, which is richly ornamented with white and cream flowstone, several narrow curtains, and miscellaneous white stalactite.  To  the right can be seen a slope covered with tiny peach-tinted gours and a fine growth of red ''flowers" in a  pool - now dry but with remains of a false floor. The rock appears to be hardly more than compacted clay, and I was glad to move to the next passage which has obviously been shaken in the distant past (possibly by fault movement) but looked a little more reliable.  Here there is a pillar-cum-boss about five feet tall and two and a half foot in diameter which has been cracked into three pieces and moved about a foot out of alignment. The break has not been caused by recent quarry blasting since new stalagmites about four inches tall are growing in the old position.

The  FIFTH CHAMBER, which slopes at about  60 - 70° with a steep boulder scree on the near side, leads to a sump about sixty feet below, and the SIXTH CHAMBER which is angled at about fifty degrees and ends in a bedding plane with two sumps at the bottom. Stalagmite formations are plentiful in both chambers.

I was a little disappointed with this series after the enthusiastic reports which had been given, because I did not think it as attractive as the rest of the cave, but the formations, which have been compared, with  those in September Series in Cuthbert’s, are certainly well worth seeing.

It must be regretfully reported that within these few weeks of the cave’s discovery, many straws have been broken and flowstone ruined by mucky hands - all thoughtlessly and completely unnecessarily.  It is impossible to blame anyone except members of recognised, clubs, since; these are the only people who have been invited to visit the place.

Note 1.  The Maypole has now been replaced by a fixed wood and wire ladder.

Note. 2.  The water filled passage in Pool Chamber described in the previous article has been tested by diving and proved to be merely a pool.


The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw, 699, Wells Rd, Knowle ,
Bristol Editor, S.J. Collins, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.

Diving Operation.

There will be a diving operation in Swildons on the 23rd of June this year.  The intention is to get a diving party into Swildons VI by the direct stream route and then to push ahead into VII and beyond until they run out of cave, sumps or divers.  A support party will be required to go into IV via Paradise Regained and Blue Pencil and to free dive into VI.  All active members having the required degree of fitness are asked to get in touch with the organiser, Mike Thompson.  Others may be required elsewhere in the cave.  These people should also get in touch with Mike, who will be glad of their help.

Midsummer Barbecue.

Owing to the diving operation, this will be held this year on the 16th June.  Names should be given to Garth.

Annual Subscriptions.

These should all be in by now.  At the risk of repeating ourselves, we quote the little mnemonic which appeared on this subject several years ago

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


The Hut Warden would like to thank Dizzie and also John Lamb for donations of cutlery for the Belfry. He is still short of KNIVES.


The Hon. Librarian would like to remind all who attend club on Thursdays that the Library is open every week for the borrowing of books


It is with regret that we learn of the death of Professor L.S. Palmer on March 17th, after a six month illness.  Prof. Palmer, as most members will know, became Honorary Curator of the Wells Museum on the death of H.E. Balch, its founder.

Concretions in Balch’s Hole

by Jill Rollason.

The formations in this cave warrant a description, since (1) the editor could do with the material for the B.B. and (2) the stal is in a class of its own from the technical aspect. Generally speaking, it is re-crystallised, extremely fragile, and as clear as ice - especially the straws, which look like the "glass rain" that continental speleologists call them.

Helictites are very frequent, particularly in Erratic Passage, as is to be expected; and can only be bettered by those in the newly discovered Ladder Dig extension in G.B. Cavern. Again, they appear to be completely crystalline and transparent as ice and, although some are extremely involved in shape, many are only simple projections from straws.

However, the stalactite of Balch's Hole is probably its most individual feature.  The typical example is very pure white in colour, re-crystallised and joined to the roof by a narrow neck which gives the growth a strong resemblance to the shape of a carrot.  Some of these 'carrots' hang at the end of slender straws and it appears that they start off as a thickening of a straw and develop outwards and upwards as well - possibly in the crystalline period.  There is no simple explanation of this thickening since each 'carrot' that I examined had the straw running through the middle, and in more than one case, the interior of the straw is unobstructed.  The second interesting feature of the stal in this cave is that it is in most cases strongly phosphorescent, glowing a brilliant emerald green for several seconds after exposure to flashbulbs.  Efforts have been made to capture this effect on colour film, and a separate article on this aspect of Balch's Hole is being produced by Mike Baker.

Bug-Hunting in Cuthbert’s

by Richard Roberts

Caves are regarded by most people as completely lifeless but life underground exists, although to a markedly less extent than above ground.  Life underground requires, basically, two things.  One is water or moisture and the other is organic material capable of being broken down and digested.  Caves are usually fairly short of the latter but not absolutely bare of it. Pieces of wood or decaying leaves swept in by a stream provide excellent breeding grounds for cave fauna, but the most interest¬ing of these are out of reach of the stream, even in times of flood. Small pools way off the stream way are often full of life.  This is especially true of St. Cuthbert's.

When presenting a survey of cave life, special care must be taken to separate the habitual cave dwellers  (Troglobites) from the cave dwellers carried into the cave by accident (Accidental Trogloxenes) and those creatures which enter the cave for a certain period of their life  cycle (Trogloxenes).  We are only interested in the former.  These are usually allied to similar species above ground, but have evolved in such a way that they adapt themselves to life underground.  They lose their sight, and hearing becomes of little importance in this dark world, which is silent except for the sound of water moving and the very occasional rock movement.  Unfortunately, very little is known of their breeding habits as they are exceptionally difficult to observe in their natural environment.  This is a field of science which is comparatively unknown and a great deal of help is afforded to the expert by the amateur collector.

In St. Cuthbert's, I am starting work on a complete survey of the life-cycle within the cave and the fauna present there.  So far I have been collecting specimens from the better known parts of the cave.  This is very important because the caver tends to wipe out the colonies of insects living on these main routes.  One careless step can often destroy the work of many hundreds of years.  I decided to start in the obvious places such as the bottom of the entrance rift, which fairly abounds with several types of flies.  These must be   something in the region of twenty or thirty small flies here.  They appear to be related to the common fly present throughout the summer.  Also there is a larger, variety very similar in appearance to the Mayfly although somewhat smaller.

A thorough search in a small tributary stream entering here also led to the discovery of some life. A small colony of flat worms, about four millimetres long was living in the stream bed.  They were coloured white with small black spots along their backs. They were very similar in appearance to a young centipede.

Lower down, at the bottom of Arête Pitch, a colony of Collembola - small, maggot-like creatures about one to two mm long, which live on the surface of the water - proved a good hunting ground.  This species is very common in caves, but there are about a hundred different types of Collembola which have so far been collected in British Caves.

In Pulpit Passage, there are very many ledges on the left hand side, out of the flood level of the stream, which contain small pools.  In one of these there is a colony of blind shrimps of the order Amphipoda. These shrimps are very similar to the fresh water variety, but are completely colourless and blind.  Perhaps a colony is too strong a word for these. These were about four, but no doubt others were in the close vicinity.

Returning to the Old Route, there are several colonies of Collembola in the trench leading down to the top of Ledge Pitch.  The passage above the Wire Rift is also well populated.  Above Upper Mud Hall there are several pools which always suffer from the caver’s boot.  In the present year and a half, a flourishing colony of some forty Collembola has been destroyed.

In the lower reaches of the cave, below the Dining Room, there are several small groups of Asellus. These are very similar in appearance to the shrimps, but have ceased to move on their side and are slightly larger. In the Great Gour, and also some of the small gours a great many blind shrimps have been seen and one or two collected. It seems quite reasonable to suppose that a large number of these are living there.

Several other specimens, mainly Collembola, have been found on tourist trips to other parts of the cave. Notably, these are, the Rat Run; Rabbit Warren; Maypole Series; Harem Passage; Cascade Chamber; Everest Passage and September Series.  Here I would like to add a plea.  In September Chamber there is a small pool in the rocks near the taped formations.  It is to the left of the tape and about ten feet from the side of the chamber.  Please avoid contaminating this pool.  It contains a flourishing colony of Collembola which are of a variety which I have never before seen underground.  It would be a great shame if this was carelessly destroyed.

I would like to finish by saying that none of these specimens has yet been properly identified by the C.R.G. but the specimens can usually be identified down to the 'order' by the amateur.  If anybody is interested in starting this kind of work or helping me in it, I shall be very interested to hear from them.

Bushman Art

by K.S. Gardner.

I was very interested to read Sybil's article in the Christmas B.B. on her search for Bushman art in South Africa.  Over the years, quite a large number of B.E.C. members have got around to the Franco-Cantabrian group of deep-cave paintings and engravings, but I think this is the first recorded visit paid by a club member to the bush.  For the archaeologically minded, a few words on the comparison between the two groups might not be out of place.

The Palaeolithic art of Europe lasted over a considerable time span, possibly 25,000 years or more.  In this time, various material cultures supplanted or fused with local predecessors - Aurignacian, Magdalenican, etc, and eventually there seems to have evolved an "art for art's sake", particularly in the 'mobile' art such as decorated spear throwers etc.

Basically, however, regardless of the material culture or the art 'school' (for even then there were impressionists, cubists, renaissance etc) the underlying motive was magico-religious.  Models in clay of animals, ritually attacked with spears, paint¬ings with arrows superimposed, pregnant cows, bison in the act of mating all bear silent testimony to the rituals enacted to ensure full herds and success in the chase 20,000 years, ago.

How then, does Bushman art compare?  To start with the Bushman himself.  Probably once the aboriginal of Africa, he is small, yellow skinned and a nomadic hunter now diminished to a few thousand strong in the South African Bush.  He is not by any means a Negro, but must have been absorbed or liquidated by that race with the exception of the few thousand.  His art is found preserved in sheltered “abris” in the rocky open country of South and East Africa.  As with the Palaeolithic art of Europe, there are many instances of paintings being superimposed on earlier ones and of different styles being used.

The Bushman as he is today is apparently artless and certain schools of thought have expressed doubts as to whether he or his ancestors were responsible for the Bushman Art. According to Stow, Adams and others however, there is no doubt that, even if modern Bushmen do not paint, they understand perfectly the messages on the rock walls.

Another point in favour is that the humans portrayed are art recognizably Bushmen - short yellow men - and in several frescoes are to be seen fighting with taller Negro people. It has been recorded anyway that a boer actually watched an old Bushman at work on a fresco.

The subject of the art is usually of common wild animals with more humans than in the old European pictures.  Symbols such as Sybil’s dots are not uncommon.  Hunting and fighting are portrayed presumably in a pre-arranged attempt to ensure success.  A group of ostriches followed by an "ostrich" with human legs - reminiscent of the sorcerers and animal men of Europe - have been interpreted by Bushmen as 2 males   (black) 3 females (blue) and a 'nusa' Bushman hunter - a sub-tribe who were apparently known for this method of hunting.

The methods used are also not unlike the early European.  Hollowed out stone palettes; paints of metallic oxides ochres, and animal fats have been identified.

It has not been possible to provide a direct link between Europe and the Bush, but it does serve to show just one more instance of the almost indestructible instincts and skill of man regardless of colour or race.  From Australia to Greenland, Siberia to Africa; from 40,000 years ago to the present day, the primitive races have retained their artistic instincts and skills unaffected by the temporary gloss of 'civilised' Europe and its contemporary daubs.

Further Thoughts on Surveying

by S.J. Collins.

Bryan Ellis concluded his article last month by hoping that it might lead to further discussion of this aspect of caving in the pages of the B.B.  This article is at least one such result - I hope there will be others.

I should like to make my first point by considering the hypothetical case of the average caving type who has just bought a copy of the latest survey of some Mendip cave.  Two things are involved here to start with. Firstly, that he has paid several shillings for his copy - probably as much as he would spend on beer for a night at the Hunter's - so we must assume that he thinks the survey worth having. Secondly, the survey he has bought is the final result of much hard work by the surveyor who, presumably, had some purpose in mind when he decided to spend so much of his time and effort on the job.

At the risk of being facetious, I should like to consider both these points which are normally taken for granted and ask.  What did the caver buy the survey for?  and, Why did the  surveyor do the  survey in the first place?

I recently conducted a little survey of my own amongst some of the owners of cave surveys to ask what they use them for, and in many cases they admitted that the surveys were very rarely even looked at once purchased.  (Mike Baker mentioned an ingenious use for a cave survey which, unfortunately, lies outside the scope of this article).  The motives of cave surveyors are rather more complex, but, having done some surveying myself, I must admit that I never gave much thought to the uses of the work I was doing.

I should like to postulate three possible uses for a cave survey as follows:-

1)                  To act as an illustration when describing, discussing or planning a trip.

2)                  To act as a measuring tool for exploration or other scientific purposes.

3)                  To act as a map on which to find one's way round the cave system.

Now the C.R.G. system is excellent as far as it goes, and the advice and methods given in 'British Caving'   contain, in my opinion, nothing taut good sound sense.  The gradings, however, refer to the expected accuracy of the centre line only.

Let us start by considering accuracy.  Even experienced cave surveyors can sometimes be way out on accuracy.  On the 5th Cuthbert’s survey trip (1/12/56), a five point closed traverse taken with a metallic tape and tripod mounted astrocompass, failed to close by 11° and several feet.  On an open traverse, this error would have remained undetected. The only real check on the accuracy of open traverses is to compare them with a second set of readings - preferably independently carried out.  Such a check is available in Stoke Lane Slocker, since both Coase and Warburton have surveyed this cave.  In this case, an excellent agreement results - to the credit of both the surveyors, and the accuracy of each survey is thus removed from the realms of conjecture. What we seem to want, in my opinion, is a distinction between the present grading of expected accuracies and the cases where evidence can be brought to substantiate the claims.

Unfortunately, a direct comparison between Coase's and Warburton's surveys is not possible owing to the fact that the former is to a scale of 1:250 and the latter 1:240. This is because some surveyors work to scales based on eights of an inch and others to scales based on hundredths of a foot.  The first give scales of the type 1:48 1:96 1:240 1:480 etc and the latter give scales of 1:50 1:100 1:250 1:500 etc.   I personally favour the latter as it forces all who handle the survey to use surveyor's scales instead of ordinary rulers, and if you only want a rough guide, you can take the nearest eighths scale as being approximately correct.

Mention of scales brings us to the next point.  The amount of wall and passage detail; the accuracy to which this is drawn and the 'pictorial' quality of the survey depend largely on the scale to which the survey is drawn.  It is of very limited extra use to draw an accurate centre line survey to a large scale if advantage is not taken of the opportunity to include more of this kind of detail.  On the other hand, a less accurate survey with lots of detail, drawn up on a suitable scale, has a greatly increased usefulness.  A suitable scheme would be to agree on a range of scales and a suitable amount of detail to be normally associated with each.  As the scale got larger, conventional signs would presumably make way for a more detailed pictorial representation.    Such scales could well be as under:-

'A' = 1:50.  'B' = 1:100. ‘C’ = 1:250.  ‘D’ = 1:500.  'E' = 1:1,000.  'P' = 1:2,500 (approx 25"/mile).  'G'  = 6''/mile.

The last two would be used mainly for superimposing onto O.S. maps.  Thus, an accurate survey if a  small cave for, say, archaeological purposes, could well carry a grading of 6A which would mean that, in addition to the centre-line grade of 6, the survey had been plotted to a scale of 1:50 together with all the agreed detail appropriate to  this scale.  The same survey data, if used to add this small cave onto a map of a larger nearby system could result in, say, a grade 6D survey of the two. Surveys in which little attention is paid to detail, and hence the detail for the scale used is below standard, would just be known by a single grade number as at present.  There would be no stigma attached to this type of survey, it would just be recognised as being a different type of survey.

Which brings me (at last!) right back to my first point.  What sort of survey are we producing and is this really useful to most of the owners?

The answer to the first question, I would suggest, is that while we are no doubt attempting to caver all the uses postulated earlier, we are really only succeeding in covering the second use try means of our accurate centre line.  This has, of course, been of great advantage to those who have extended caves or linked passages as a result of survey data, examples are the mud passage in G.B. - a very useful piece of work, and the Fingertip Squeeze forcing in Stoke - a neat proof of the survey, but of little practical importance.

We are, nevertheless, mostly prepared to admit that a good centreline survey has its uses apart from its primary one in enabling connections to be found etc.  Might therefore, other types of survey only aimed at, say, illustration of routes to be taken, be of equal use?  The diagram of Cuthbert’s in the Belfry is one such survey - if you use the term in a wider sense.

It is at this point that I imagine I will be found to disagree with Bryan.  I think that every cave surveyor, when starting a cave survey, should ask himself what kind of survey he is contemplating and how best he can collect the necessary data and then present it on paper.  By all means let him use the present system, complete with C.R.G. gradings if it fits in with the sort of survey being undertaken.  On the other hand, some more imaginative surveys and presentation methods would be of great value and should in no way be looked down on. Even if they fall short of the intended aim at least they are trying to find new methods of acquainting people with a particular cave and perhaps, as a result of several attempts to introduce some new thought into the art of cave surveying, some future set of standards might emerge which will cover all aspects of the survey in a manner which will be just as universally acceptable as, say, the O.S. conventions art on surface maps.  Until then, let us experiment and work towards the day when cave surveys will fall apart from constant use in the same manner as paper backed maps!


The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw, 699, Wells Rd, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Bristol Editor, S.J. Collins, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept. C.A. Marriott, 7'8, Muller Rd, Eastville, Bristol.

Although it is perhaps a little early to say it, it looks very much as though our plans for a large spring number are doomed.  It is true that we have received some interesting long articles, and that the general standard of contributions seems to be rising, but the fact remains that a large and impressive stack of manuscript reduces to a very small amount of print.

Nevertheless, some attempt will be made this year to try to increase the general size of the B.B. by 'normal' means.  This, of course, imposes a greater strain on the mechanism and no rash promises will thus be given.  Readers will have noticed that the January number consisted of twelve pages and it is hoped that this one will do the same.  This does enable the inclusion of one long article without leaving out other material which might interest those who are not particularly 'keen on the subject of the long one.

Finally, the B.B. uses smaller print than some other and otherwise comparable journals, so the amount of matter in the B.B. is not as small as a comparison of numbers of pages would suggest.




It is planned to close both the 1962 competitions some time before the Annual Dinner this year so that judging and presentation of the results may be sorted out in a less hectic atmosphere.  If YOU have any ideas regarding these competitions PLEASE get in touch with the organizers.  Mike Baker for the photographs and Alfie for the songs.

MIKE BAKER could do with any old picture frames for putting photographs in for hanging in the Belfry and Hunters.

G.B. Cave

The U.B.S.S.  have recently sent  us the  following notice.

Any member of any party visiting this cave who wishes to make use of LONG HOUSE BARN must obtain the permission of Mr F. Young of Manor Farm, Charterhouse.  Mr. Young is entitled, if he so wishes, to make a charge for any use made of the barn.


There is no truth in the rumour that G.B. Cave is a shortened form of the title Giles and Baker Cave.


The Committee have accepted the resignation of “Spike" Rees from his post on the committee and his job as Belfry Engineer.  "Spike" had had to retire owing to pressure of work.  P.M. Giles and G. Dell have been co-opted on to the committee to act as joint Belfry Engineers owing to the large amount of work which needs doing around the Belfry.



Christmas Hole

by P.M. Giles.

New caves on Mendip are, to say the least, something of a rarity and as a rule, result from months and sometimes years of hard work.  G.B. is a typical example of "Labours Lost' with over a decade of disappointments in the history of its discovery.  Nearer ‘home’, St. Cuthbert’s too enjoyed relative immunity from the echoing ring and scrape of the tread of cavers boots for many years.

Probably one of the most picturesque caves coming to light in recent years was Balch's Hole, which was discovered - to the eternal joy of armchair cavers - by blasting in a quarry.  Fairy Cave Quarry, on Eastern Mendip, has in fact been responsible for a number of fine caves and Balch's Hole is no exception.  It will, therefore, be no great surprise to those who know Mendip well to hear of another discovery in this quarry, bringing the total now to about eight.

Christmas Hole, as this new cave is called, was found, again, by the quarry staff on December 19th 1961 in the floor of the quarry.  At the request of Mr. Garlic, the quarry manager, the cave was explored during the evening of the following day by a combined B.E.C. - Cerberus team in order to ascertain its parameters.  Consequently the cave was fully explored with the exception of three very small passages and a grade 1 survey made.

The following, in conjunction with the included surveys, describes the cave.

In the floor of the quarry, and surrounded by several large boulders (at the time of writing) nestles the entrance to Christmas Hole, at the foot of the climb to Balch's Hole. The entrance, an almost rectangular slot about two feet long, gives access to a forty foot deep rift, one side of which is made up of extremely shattered rock, possibly the result of normal quarry working.  Fortunately, the near side of the rift is of rough and dusty stalagmite flow, similar to the entrance to Fernhill Cave on the far side of the quarry, and so the required ladder can be climbed in safety.

Halfway down the pitch, a ledge made up partly of flow stone and partly of jammed boulders and debris presents the major junction of the cave.  If the ladder is continued down to the bottom of the rift, a small chamber is entered which has a low passage leading off under the ladder.  This is the ' Hundred Foot Way' and contains a few not very spectacular formations and except for a short band of helictites near the end, draws no comparison with nearby Balch's Hole.  The floor of this passage, however, is made up of a very fine rimstone, which in places is coloured a deep rust red and forms a marked contrast to the rest of the cave.

The Hundred Foot Way is in fact a solution tube with a well moulded recess running parallel to the floor on one side for most of its length, and terminating in a mud, choked chamber with little promise of progressing further.

Returning to the ledge in the rift, if a ladder is slung down the passage leading to the south and used as a hand line, a large chamber some thirty foot high is entered, the floor and ceiling being made up of jammed boulders.  A small grotto in the side of this chamber provides the perfect haven from stones knocked down from the entrance by cavers using the ladder.  In the far right hand corner of this small grotto, the 'Rock Shelter', a small, steeply descending solutional passage, leads off past a very dangerous boulder.  This has yet to be explored but could be well worth pushing.

At the far side of the main chamber, a twelve foot drop between the boulders and the southeast corner gives way to a small boulder chamber.  A handline is required for this drop.  To the right, a fifteen foot aven, joining, up with the main chamber and a thought inspiring boulder ruckle present themselves.  With due care and diligence, navigation through this ruckle is possible, and, after climbing about fifteen feet, a large boulder strewn passage is reached.

On the right (north) a mud carpeted solution tunnel about six feet high with a group of broken formations can be followed for about twenty feet, whereupon the roof dips down to within inches of the floor.  It would appear from shining a light through this sump like aperture and observing the reflections caused that the tunnel opens up again a few feet beyond.  In spite of the tenacious nature of the mud, this spot would make a worthwhile dig.

Climbing uphill (south) from the top of the boulder ruckle the passage becomes a cavern of similar dimensions to the Main Chamber with a great flow of rocks, earth and of all things, grass coming from a choked chimney on the North West side.  Apart from a small slot amongst the boulders on the east side, giving a view of a drop of ten feet or more, this chamber concludes the extent of the cave.

Owing to the dangerous nature of this cave, great caution should be observed at all times.  For those readers acquainted with the entrance to Balch's Hole, the accompanying survey includes a section through Balch's Hole showing a possible connection.  As regards the future of the cave, this rests entirely with the company owning the quarry, and nothing further has been heard from that source to date.

Tackle Required:           Entrance. Pitch:          40' ladder.
                                                                                40' lifeline or 80’ line & pulley.
                                                                                20' tether.
                                                                                Ladder belayed to nearby boulder
                                         Main Chamber:           20' handline.

Care must be taken when laddering the entrance rift to avoid the shattered side of the rift and movement of boulders wedged in the entrance and on the ledge.

A plan of Christmas Hole follows on this page, and an elevation showing the relationship of Christmas Hole to Balch's Hole will be found on the next page.


by Ray Winch.

Last summer I was invited to take part in the Oxford University expedition to western Spain.  As this occupied most of the summer vacation and I could not leave until early August, I missed the lorry transport and set off with "Fushy” and a pre¬arranged hitch took us to Barcelona, unwillingly by way of the alps!  After this there came a fabulous four day journey across Spain by third class train.  It involved two nights kipping by the track.  It was ridiculously cheap; incredibly slow; excruciatingly uncomfortable and altogether delightful in retrospect, the best memories were of the gay, courteous, song loving working class men we travelled with and of the sturdy insistence that every night was a Hunter's night (not to speak of the priest who believed in Hunter’s mornings as well'.)

The expedition was operating in the western massif of the Picos de Europas - a range of rugged mountains, which rise to a height of 2,600 metres.  The peaks are dolomitic in appearance and have constant snow.  The rainfall in the area is very high and there are few water courses and these were dry.  The area had not previously been explored from the spelaeological angle and even the surface surveying has obviously been of the most cursory sort. The expedition had its headquarters in an enlarged shepherd’s hut by the lakes Enol and Encia, some three hours journey up from the famous cave shrine of our Lady of Coradonga.  A large number of Bristol firms had assisted the expedition with presents of equipment and these made such a   show that shepherds made immense journeys just to stand and wonder at it. Certainly I myself was greatly impressed and felt that in the way of ropes and ladders seen the Shepton Mallet's mighty hoard might look feeble by comparison.

Before I arrived some thirteen caves and eight potholes had been discovered, but most of them were disappointingly small.  The difference between pots and caves is that the former are used by goats as cemeteries and the latter by cows as lavatories.  The biggest pot so far, P.1, had a sheep in the entrance shaft of 150’ (quite a large sheep. - Ed.)  At the bottom it resembled Swildons Four except that it was very much colder.  My first descent was for surveying P.1 but when we had to wait for the pool in which we had dropped the compass to clear I decided to press the exploration, and had the gloomy honour of discovering the final choke at no great  distance. P.1 is only a little more than 2,000 feet long.

The scope of the Expedition included archaeology, geomorphology, hydrology and meteorology and it was a constant problem to decide how manpower could best be used. Even with the limited field of caving, there were the rival thrills of discovering new caves; pressing exploration; surveying, etc.  On the whole, the systematic approach tended to win.  This was the correct policy but it led to disappointing speleological results. A magnetometric survey of the whole area had been suggested but the nature of the terrain, made the completion of only a minute amount of this programme, a formidable task.  Again, in order to make the magnetometric survey of use to others we had to link it with a plane table survey.

The score of new caves steadily mounted, but in terms of size, most were disappointing.  This is astonishing because all the evidence suggested the presence of large systems.  Enormous quantities of melted snow from above must go somewhere and that somewhere must be underground.  My own view is that we   were working at too low an altitude.  The programme provided little time for trips to the peaks, but one of the biggest, caves was found on one of these 'holiday' jaunts.  On the way home and after I had left, the canons of Coradonga invited the expedition to investigate the sink where the water goes down to come out at the  shrine some 1,000 feet below.  This was a different proposition and 450' of ladder were quickly used up and huge chambers and underground lakes encountered.  Unfortunately this exploration had to be left far from complete.

On the whole the speleological results - only one facet of the expedition - were disappointing. However, there had been no preliminary reconnaissance and this was a great disadvantage.  I am certain that, one day, the Picas de Europas will come into their own as outstanding caving country.  Very hearty congratulations are due to the Oxford University Cave Club and their colleagues for staging such a good expedition and for welcoming me to it.

Caving Log

3rd November.  Bottlehead.  Mike Thompson and Alfie.  Quick trip to lay bang in Bottleneck.

4th November.  Bottlehead.  Mike & Liz Thompson, Alfie, Jill, Bob Pike.  Unsuccessful trip to remove blockage after bang.

4th November.   Newman Street.  Mike Baker, P.M. Giles Esq, Mo Marriott.  Excavation continued.

11th November.  Fernhill.  B. Prewer, Alfie, Jill, Jim Giles, G. Selby, B. Johnson, J. Strickland plus one  other.  Photographic trip.

11h November.  Balch’s Hole.  B. Prewer, M. Thompson, S. Collins, J. Rollason, P.M. Giles, B. Johnson, G. Selby and 2 Cerberus.  Many cavers, dangerous boulders at entrance, gardening, despondency, retreat, Fernhill trip (see above).

12th November.  Heale Slocker.  M. Baker, P.M. Giles Esq.  Digging commenced.  No cave yet, but water rapidly disappearing through holes.

18th November.  Heale  Slocker.  P.M. Giles.  Digging continued with Mike Baker

19th November.  Balch's Hole.  B. Prewer, M. Thompson, G.Selby, S.Collins, J. Rollason, P.M. Giles.  Help from quarry manager (chemical) enabled us to get down the entrance pitch.  Alfie and Jim spent several hours photographing in passage containing some excellent formations.  Mike and “Prew” continued through pool passage and Chamber to the Stream Series.  About 50’ downstream a sump is encountered (to be more accurate a duck since there is one inch of airspace).  After a little probing, Mike went through.  He reported “sump" only nine inches long. Within another ten feet another sump bars the way.  This has yet to be tackled.

19th November.  Swildons.  B. Pyke, M. Luckwill.  Short trip to look at an aven in Keith's Chamber.  Walk at the bottom of Willy Stanton's climb and Derek Ford's dig is extremely dangerous.

26th November.  St. Cuthbert's.  A party of Sandhurst people led by Mo Marriott and John Eatough down to Cascade - Rabbit Warren - Duck then to the Dining Room and Cerberus Series.  The lake was full (Mike Baker please note).

26th November.  St. Cuthbert's.  Leader R. Roberts (with 3 W.C.C.)  Trip down to Dining Room.  Confirmed existence of Lake.

26th November.  Balch's Hole.  B. Prewer, M. Thompson, S. Collins, P.M. Giles, M. Baker, A. Sandall, P. Davies and K. Dawe (S.M.C.C.) B. Johnson, J. Strickland and two other Cerberus cavers. Line survey of system carried out by A. Sandall and the Cerberus types.  Photography continued by Messrs Collins, Giles and Baker.  Second sump passed and third, discovered some ten feet further on. Digging carried on at upstream end of stream passage (no results as yet).  Air circulation in lower reaches of the cave, in spite of the running water, is rather poor, similar to some parts of the Paradise Regained system in Swildons Hole.

25th November.  Ffynnon Ddu.  R.Stenner, 4 Lockleaze boys and two lockleaze girls.  Leader, Brian de Graaf.  Tourist trip with a good photographic session in the main stream passage, which was most impressively wet (accidental baptism for three of the party).  This succeeded in dampening the spirits of those concerned so effectively that the party split at Rawl’s Chain, and only half of the party went round the Rawl Series.  Bothered by Lamp Pox, var, Nife Cell.

3rd December. Gough's Cave (Rear Series).  J. Cornwall, P.M. Giles, A. Sandall, S. Collins, C.A. Marriott, J. Rollason, J .Lamb J. Eatough, K. Franklyn, P. Franklyn, J. Ransom, G. Tilley, and J. Watham.   Rediscovered pit and poached photographs.  Only one member lost his way going back through the show' cave, but still he's only been caving for twenty years.        A. Spoon.

3rd December.  St. Cuthbert's.  B. Ellis, M. Luckwill.  Survey trip from Drinking Fountain to Upper Traverse Chamber and line survey from top of chain to Upper Mud Hall.

10th December.  Balch's Hole.  B. Prewer, F. Darbon, M. Baker, P.M. Giles, S. Wynn-Roberts, R. Pyke.  Photographs by Jim and Mike.  They had the Flashgun Pox.  The rest had an enjoyable trip.

16th December.  G.B.  C.A. Marriott, P. Franklyn, K. Franklyn, M. Baker, J. Eatough, P.M. Giles, M. Luckwill, J. Cornwall, J. Ransom and G. Tilley.  Photographic trip in main chamber, white passage and ladder dig.

19th December. Christmas Hole.  See article.

27th December.  St. Cuthbert's Swallet.  Survey of September Series by R. Roberts and P.M. Giles.  Completed High Chamber to Trafalgar via Paperweight Chamber.  Also think we’ve found some “Palettes".


The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary. R.J. Bagshaw, 699, Wells Rd, Knowle ,
Bristol Editor, S.J. Collins, 33, Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.
Postal Dept. C.A. Marriott, 78, Muller Rd, Eastville, Bristol.