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Annual General Meeting.

A report of the 1950 Annual Genera1 Meeting will appear in the March BB.

Change of Address.

Members are asked to note that the Hon. Sec’s address has been changed.  Address all letters to Hon. Assist. Sec. if possible; failing this to T.H. Stanbury, c/o D.H. Hasell, 1, Stoke Hill Cottages, Chew  Stoke, Nr, Bristol.  The Telephone Number 77590 is now longer applicable.  This address is only temporary and any further change will be notified in the BB.

The Growth of Stalagmites and Stalactites. 

by R.M. Wallis.

Although stalagmites and stalactites are such a prominent feature in most caves, it is surprising how few cavers have any clear idea of how they are formed.  It is the intention of this article to remedy this as far as possible by setting out the processes involved in simple language.  No apology is offered for any wounded susceptibilities in the scientifically minded – they should have a good idea of the subject already and this account is not written for them.

It must be admitted at the outset that there is a fair amount of doubt about the actual processes involved, but current theories are described here and seem to deal with the matter satisfactorily.

All our caves of any importance are situated in Limestone, a rock which is composed almost entirely of Calcium carbonate.  In pure water, limestone, like all other rocks, is practically insoluble – it will dissolve to an extent of only one part in 30,000 of water.  However, water will dissolve carbon-dioxide, a gas which is exhaled in the breath and is produced in burning and so is found in the atmosphere.  It is therefore picked up by water which will then dissolve limestone much more easily, though still in small amounts -- about one part in 7,000.  (This is not strictly a true process of solution as a chemical reaction is involved, but it may be regarded as solution without affecting the argument).  This increase in the dissolving power of the water is an essential factor in the formation of dripstone.

Most people are aware that water dissolves the limestone, and jump to the conclusion that deposits are formed simply by the evaporation of water leaving the limestone behind.  A moment’s thought will shew that this can only very rarely be the only mechanism, and in fact is usually of negligible importance.  In most caves the air is very humid, as is shown by one's breath forming a mist.  The air already holds as much water vapour as it can.  This of course means that water vapour cannot evaporate, or at least only very, very slowly so that the water drops which are seen on the end of growing formations grow too big and drop off before they can deposit any of their load of limestone on the end of the stalactite.  It may be argued that if the water is saturated with limestone, any evaporation would cause a little addition to be made to the end of the formation and this would be generally true.  But is the water saturated?  It may be in some cases but unfortunately we have very little evidence on this point.

The presence of carbon dioxide in the water overcomes the difficulty of lack of evaporation.  Imagine that water laden with carbon-dioxide is trickling through tiny cracks in the limestone above a cave passage.  These cracks are completely filled with water so that the lower down in the rock we go, the higher is the pressure due to the head of water above.  Now there is a scientific law which states that the higher the pressure, the more gas will dissolve, so the solubility increases also.  But as soon as the excess pressure is removed the gas will come out of solution, as you can see happening when a beer bottle is opened.  Now the water cannot hold so much limestone, so this comes out of solution also, and without any evaporation having occurred.  The excess pressure will be released as soon as the drop appears on the roof of the cave as then the head of water is no longer acting upon it.

The limestone appears in the drop as minute particles evenly distributed through it.  These will tend to be drawn to the outside of the drop where it is touching the roof, so that a ring of particles will be formed on the roof.  The same will happen with the next drop and so on and so on, and in course of time a thin cylinder will appear – in other words, a straw stalactite will be formed.

It seems likely that all stalactites begin life as straws.  They grow by having successive layers built up on the outside and the central hole fills up, leaving only a very narrow tube down the centre.  If a cross-section is polished, the successive layers can be clearly seen by their slightly differing Colours due to the different amounts of impurities present.  What decides when a straw begins to thicken instead of continuing to lengthen, we do not know.  Some straws grow to great lengths, occasionally up to 10 or 12 feet, but these are likely to be broken before this (even if there are no cavers about) or the change comes upon them and they start to thicken.

Although the material of the formation s has been referred to as ‘limestone’ there is rather a difference between massive limestone rock and dripstone, although they are chemically similar.  Limestone has no particular structure, but dripstone is crystalline and is in fact calcite – the familiar ‘dog toothe’ Spar.  They may also accur as a different crystal structure, ‘Arragonite’ which is just another and rarer form.  Straws, even quite long ones, are often a single crystal.  Dripstone is usually purer than the original limestone as much of the impurity is not dissolved.  Small amounts do appear of colours from yellow to pinks and reds.  Manganese gives browns, and copper green.  Iron is widely distributed on Mendip as Ochre, and accounts for the prevailing rather dirty colour of the deposits.  Occasionally, however, they are very pure, and then show up a brilliant white – parts of Stoke Lane show outstanding pure dripstone.

So far as we have accounted for pendant stalactites.  We will go on to stalagmites, helictites, and other phenomena in another article.

 (Part 2 of this very interesting article will appear in next month's B.B. Ed.)

Climbing Section Reports.

New Year’s Weekend – Dec. 30/31st. 1950.
Climbing at Blaenant Farm.

Attending: -

J.V. Morris; J.R. Crabtree; R.W.G. Cantle; P. Ifold; R.H. Newman; Miss J. Treble.

Saturday 30th. Dec.  Weather: - Thick snow, cold and windy.

J.V. Morris, P. Ifold & R. Cantle set off for Llanberis to climb Castle Gully on Dinas Cromlech.  The snow was very thick at the P.Y.G. and it was quite an effort getting the car up to Pen-y-pass.  The car was left at the top of the pass and the party tramped off down the Llanberis Pass.  Crossing the scree we slogged up the snow slopes to the foot of the climb.  The Cave Pitch was climbed. R.W.G. Cantle leading, followed by P. Ifold and then J. Morris.  J. Morris led through a flake on the side of the chimney where a belay was found.  R. Cantle then led up to within 6 feet of the check stone with only 50ft. or so of the climb to complete.

Here the climb had to be turned, the going had been extremely hard, the leader having to dig his way up the chimney all the time.  Here the leader dropped his axe (on purpose).  The cold was terrific, and for the second week running, an honourable defeat.  A rapid abseil to the belay below.

A further abseil over the cave, and the climbers were off.  A rapid search for the axe, a rapid boulder hop, and a poor scree run saw us off the rock and on to the road.  It was by now snowing fiercely and it was with relief we arrived at Pen-y-pass to drive by car to Capel for a first class meal and a good night at the Royal Hotel.

Sunday December 31st.  1950

Weather still uncertain – snow, wet and slushy.

R. Crabtree, J. Morris, R Cantle climbed Wall Climb. R. Crabtree doing a very fine lead on the first pitch.  This climb is a V.D., and under these conditions was very fierce.  The rock was cold and wet and it was not advisable not linger on holds.  J. Morris led the Traverse and the climb was finished.  This climb is short but very strenuous.  We then traversed on to the Milestone Ordinary Route and finished that.  We climbed off the N.W. Face down a badly iced gully and this was only done by roping down.  Altogether a good day’s climbing and a weekend well spent.

R.W.G.C. 4/1/51


John Ifold is now Club Librarian.  He was elected at the A.G.M. to replace Angus Innes now in the forces.  Thanks are due to Hal Perry, who, as acting Librarian has been looking after the library since Angus’ call-up.

There are a number of books that are outstanding.  Members having any such books in their possession are asked to return them as soon as possible, either to Club on Thursday evening or direct to John Ifold at Leigh House, Nempnet, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol. (Telephone Blagdon 432).

Johnny has asked that any member who is willing to loan or give books to the Club Library to either bring books to Thursday meeting or to contact him at the above address.

A new Library list is in the process of being made and a copy will be circulated to every member as soon as it is ready.

Archaeological Section

Bulletin No.3.  Belfry Site.

Since the last report no further news has been received by me regarding the Belfry Site, except that a new Map Tracing has been received from Geoff Ridyard, to replace the one that was mislaid.  As soon as I get the date for the starting of the Trial Trench, I will inform you.

K.S. Hawkins,
Archaeo. Corres. Sec.

London Section Dinner.

On Saturday 3rd, March 1951 the London Section are holding a Dinner.  The cost not more than 10/- each.  All members are invited to this Dinner the first to be held by the section.  Further details will be circulated to those interested as soon as available.  Will all persons who contemplate attending please let Johnny Shorthose know as soon as possible so accommodation etc. can be arranged.  (His address will be found at the end of this bulletin).

Account of a visit to Derelict Lead Mine in Swaledale, nr. Richmond, Yorks. 

by Jack Whaddon.

The Moors to the S.W. of Richmond, Yorks, have been mined extensively for both lead and coal in the years gone by.

So, on the afternoon of 25th. Nov, 1950, myself and another member of Catterick Rover Crew hiked along a rough track on the S. bank of the Swale.

This track was made of slabs of limestone laid end to end, stretching from the ruins of an old smelting works below Richmond Castle to one of the old lead mines upstream, which was our objective.

Two adits lead into the mine.  We entered by the lower one, which is about three feet above the river level, and was probably used to drain the workings.  It had been raining heavily during the previous week, and quite a stream of water was flowing out of the mine.

The mine itself consisted of several parallel passages which were at right angles to the mineral lodes.  Many of the tunnels contained up to two feet of water, whilst others came to a sudden end where the roof had collapsed.  Stalagmite coated the walls of many of the tunnels, and at one place (at the bottom of a shaft) several roots and twigs were ‘petrified’ by a coating of stalagmite.

There was fair amount of malachite (green carbonate of copper) in the lodes, and some of this had been dissolved by the water, tinting the stalagmite flow green.

It was dark when we emerged from the mine, so we headed up to the moors, where, after spending an evening holding up the bar of the local inn in the usual manner, we slept out in spite of the weather, which was extremely cold, even for Yorkshire.


by Holler.

  Stalactites – I think – grow up, not down,
Or have I got it the wrong way round?
  To avoid confusing appellations
I’ll refer to them merely as formations.

  And sandstone, limestone, O.R.S.,
Get me in a hell of a mess.
  And so – in case thee experts mock,
I’ll drop all names and talk of rock.


T.H. Stanbury,                 c/o Stoke Hill Cottages, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.
Miss D.S. Bowden-Lyle,   31, Highworth Road, St. Annes Park, Bristol. 4.
W.J. Shorthose,              Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
R. Cantle,                       Leader Climbing Section, 46, Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol.
K.S. Hawkins,                 Sec. Archaeological Section, 9, Quarrington Road, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
J. Ifold,                            Hon. Librarian, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke Nr. Bristol.

List of Publication’s available in the Library of the Bristol Exploration Club.

The address of the librarian is appended at the bottom of the back page of every Belfry Bulletin.


The British Caver. Vols,12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 18; 20; 21;
Cave Science (B.S.A.) Nos. 3; 4; 5 ; 6; 11; 12; 15; 14;
Transactions of the Cave Research Group. Vol.l.No3. ;Vol.l.No.4.
Caves and Caving (B.S.A.) Vol.l. Nos.1; 3; 4; 5;
C.R.G. Newslettes 1948, Nos 12 /20; 1949,Nos 21/26; 1950, No 27.
Belfry Bulletin (B.E.C.) Nos.5; 6; 7; 8; 10; 11; 12; 13;
Cave Surveying (C.R.C.)
Derbyshire Lead Mining Glossary (C. R.G.).
Cavern Guide
U.B.S.S. Proceedings Vol. 5, No.1; Vol. 5, No. 2.
My Caves                                        N. Casteret.
Ten Years Under the Earth                N. Casteret.
Au Fond des Gouffres,                      N. Casteret.
Dan-yr-Ogof Official Guide.
Pennine Underground,                      Thornber.
Caves and Caverns of Peakland.
The Falls and Caves of Ingleton,        J.L. Hamer.
The Story of Wookey Hole                Thornycroft.
Mendip Caves and Rock Shelters.     H.E. Balch.
Journal of the Craven Pothole Club Vol.1, Nos 1; 2;


Climbing Mount Everest                    G. Ingle Finch.
Climbing in                             J.E. Barford.
The Welsh Three Thousands             T. Fairbank
Snow on the Equator                        H.W. Tilman.
Mountains of the Moon                     Synge
The Ascent of Nanna Devi                 Tilman.
Epic of Mount Everest                       Sir F. Younghusband.
Rockclimbing and Mountaineering      C. Brunning


History of the Devonshire Scenery     Clayden
Bristol and Gloucester District Geological Survey
Geology in the Service of Man
Principles of Geology Vols 1 & 2       Lyell
Water Pollution Research 1933/45 & 1946.

(to be continued,)

Bristol Exploration Club Climbing Section HQ North

We are very pleased to announce that the club has a Hut in North Wales

c/o Mrs Jones, Blaenant Farm, Idwal, Nr, Bethesda, Carnarvonshire, North Wales.

The Hut is situated about half a mile off the main road from Idwal. Turn down a track passing the Idwal Cottage Youth Hostel, past a Chapel and carry on down the valley until you come to the first farm off the track almost a the bottom of the valley, Blaenant Farm. The hut, a stone building, is part of the outhouses belonging to the farm. A concrete floor has been laid and the place is very dry, snug and warm. The place is locked and the key must be obtained from the farm. One double bed and several bunks have been installed - a table chairs, cooking utensils, lighting, primus and climbing gear, etc. are kept in the hut.

Hut Rules

1                     All members arriving after 2100 hours must write to Mrs Jones and arrange for the key to be left out.

2                     A charge of l/6 a night per person is paid for the use of the Club N. Wales Hut.
( 1/- to the farmer, 6d/ to the Club).

3                     The Club hut is only large enough for six persons - any overflow can stay in the Farm itself or the barn. Any women staying at the farm must sleep in the farmhouse only.

4                     Members must be careful about noise after 2100 hours- (Farmers go to bed early).

5                     Club members must prove that they are members of the Bristol Exploration Club to enable them to gain admittance to the Hut. (n,b, This is to safeguard the members’ own interests).

6                     Club Members are asked to sign the Log Book and report on their climbing trips for record purposes.

7                     If members use club equipment, it must be left as it is found.

8                     It is essential that the hut is left clean It is not our property.

9                     Care must b e exercised with personal kit - i.e. ropes, slings, books etc. left in the hut.

10                 Any person requiring to use the Club N. Wales Hut must first contact the Hon. Sec. Climbing Section so that the arrangements can be made. This is important.

Climbing Section Reports

A Snow Ridge Climb,
Y-Gribbin; Glyder Fawr: Clogwyn Du; Devil’s Kitchen,
J.R, Crabtree, R.W.G. Cantle, Sunday 17th Dec 1950,

Leaving the Hut at 10:45 on Sunday, we tramped through the snow up past Idwal cottage and then up through Cwm Idwal. Scrambling across snow-covered boulders we arrived at Y Gribbin.

Looking across Llyn Idwal snow plumes were blowing off Y-Garn giving the whole scene a truly Alpine appearance, whilst the upper rocks gleams with Verglas and ice. We climbed Little Gully without much effort, clearing the holds with our only ice axe. We then trudged up across the ridge, steering a fairly wide course around many snow cornices which we met in our path. The view from here was magnificent and looking out across the whole of North Wales everywhere was snow. Tryfan looked awe inspiring in its mantle of ice and snow and the ridge looked externally sharp.

From Y-Gribbin we traversed round to Glyder Fawr where we encountered an extremely fierce blizzard.  Visibility was so bad that we almost passed unseen another party coming along the ridge in the opposite direction.  Courtesies were exchanged, and we carried on to the summit of Glyder Fawr.  We had a light snack, a few minutes breather and a pipe of tobacco.  With this necessary refreshment we pressed on round over Clogwyn Du and eventually glissading and sliding, we arrived at Twll Du (The Devil’s Kitchen) and in a cloud of snow-dust we roared down to Lyn Idwal, eventually arriving at the floor of the Gribbin.

Looking at our watches we observed that we had then only taken an hour from the summit of the Fawr.  We arrived back at the hut and after a hot meal and a steaming cup of coffee, the day was declared a great success, in fact, one of the finest ridge walks experienced, with the scenery unsurpassing in its beauty.

Christmas 1950 – Connistion – Lake District

A very enjoyable Christmas was spent in the Lakes, where a party of eight members stayed at Holly How Youth Hostel.  The weather, although extremely cold, was excellent, and activities were numerous.

Attending: - J.R. Crabtree; R.A. Setterington; L. Davies; G.T. Lucy; H. Perry; C.Ainsworth; D. Ainsworth; R.W.G. Cantle


Sunday 24th Dec. The whole party climbed on Dow Crag.  D. Ainsworth, L. Davies and R. Setterington climbed Easter Gully and Black Chimney, conditions were extremely fierce for rock-climbing as the whole of the upper cliff was verglassed and frozen over.  Although these climbs were only ‘diffs’, they were pushed to the extreme.

J.R. Crabtree, R Cantle & H. Perry climbed C Buttress.  This climb was turned after 250ft. with only two pitches to go.  An ice slab proving far too formidable as the party were without ice axes.  An honourable defeat and a tricky abseil and the party climbed off.

After these climbs the parties congregated at the cave at the bottom of the cliff for a meal, hot tea and wine.  Fun and games were then on hand on Goats Water which was frozen over.

Monday 25th. Christmas Day.  It was decided unanimously by all that the day should be spent ridge walking.  The whole party proceeded up past the old mines on to the Old Man of Conniston, (2,555ft.) and then round on to Dow Crag. Glissading and snow-scrambling was had by all and many photographs were taken.  D.  Ainsworth and R. Cantle climbed Easy Gully on Dow Crag, kicking steps all the way.  Another day well spent.

Fun and games was had each evening at the Hostel and at the Black Bull.  The food throughout the holiday was excellent, and all present voted for a return to the area.


We would very much like to print reports of caving trips as well, but none are ever sent in, the Editor hastens to assure those members that are in doubt, that B.E.C. members DO sometimes go underground.  We should be delighted to allocated a certain amount of space each month to current caving reports, so come on, you caving types (and there are plenty of you) what about it?

Archaeological Section.

Bulletin No.2. Belfry Site.

The proposed trial excavation which was to have been started at the Belfry Site on Dec. 9th. was postponed owing to the services of Ted Mason being required elsewhere on another project.

Due to the inclement weather, it may not be possible to start excavating now until some time in the New Year.

Members will be advised of the date set by Ted Mason as soon as I receive it from him.

K.S. Hawkins,
Archaeo. Corres. Sec.

For Sale,

Golden Retriever pups.  3 male, 5 female, age ten weeks at time of printing.  Price to Cavers £5 female, £7  male, to others, - £6 & £8.

1948 Royal Enfield 350cc W.D. Model but not W, D.  £55 - owner has purchased a new bike.

For further particulars on either of above apply:- John Ifold, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.

Caving in the Vercors No. 2. La Grotte de Favot,

By T.H. Stanbury.

Favot is becoming well known to the B.E.C.  The first club member to visit it was the writer in 1948, but in 1949, 13 members who went to the International Convention were taken there.

The is situated in the Dauphine region and in the Vercors area.  It stands 1,000ft. above the road from Pont-en-Royans to Villard de Lans about 9km. from Villard.

It was a blazing hot day in 1948 when I visited the cave, and the 1,000ft. climb up a 60 degree slope seemed endless.  Arriving at the entrance we changed and then sat and rested.  The entrance is about 10ft. high and about 40ft. wide and is rectangular.  We were all very hot and breathless and had no water with us, so the only way of relieving our thirsts was to find a comfortable position under one of the drips and catch it in our mouths.  The ration was one in the eye, one down the neck, and one in the mouth, but if one had patience the result was fine.

Having cooled down we lit our lamps and moved off into the cave.  After about 200ft. the roof dropped and the cave earth floor rose, and we had to crawl on all fours for about 25 feet when we saw daylight ahead and emerged on to a ledge on a vertical cliff face.  All around this second cave mouth grew pine trees, each one rooted precariously in the crevices in the face.

Behind us was the passage from which we had just emerged in front of the cloud flecked blue of the sky, whilst on our right was the entrance to the main system of Favot – and what an entrance – sloping down at an angle of 45 degrees was a gigantic tunnel with a smooth cave-earth floor.  I had the impression of a giant Aveline’s Hole diving down into the heart of the mountain.  Almost square in section, with a roof carved by the immense pressure of water of bygone ages, this passage, about 100 yards long and dead straight except for a sharp r.h. bend at its far end, took us into a large chamber.  I have one memory of this chamber, although its size was impressive, and that there was the dust – Dust!  It lay in profusion over quite a large part of the chamber.  The stalagmites rising in solemn majesty all around us told me that once the chamber had been alive and sparkled with wet, but now, alas, all that was left was a shadow of its former scintillating glory.

Steps had been cut in the side of the shoulder, and, climbing them we found ourselves standing on the shoulder itself, which was about 2 feet wide and fell steeply away on each side. 

The top of the large stalagmite was about 8 feet higher than where we were standing and we scrambled to its top.  Here the size of the chamber could be most fully appreciated – beyond us it extended into the darkness on the left.  Below us was the Pit, a black yawning opening effectively sealing off the further chambers except by the route we had taken, whilst to our right was the way by which we had come, and here the other party members could be seen as tiny spots of light winding their way across the boulder littered floor.

Climbing down from the big stalagmite was a far stickier proposition than getting to the top.   On all sides it fell away increasingly steeply and we had slide down its face, hoping that our feet would reach the narrow shoulder safely and not be diverted to cause us to travel at ever increasing speed and eventually land very much the worse for wear 60ft. below.  However, we all accomplished the ‘Glissade’ successfully, and climbing down the reverse side of the shoulder, reached the extension seen from the column’s top.  Here were pools of water and formations reminiscent of , this part of the cave system being very much alive.

The cave ended in a choke and we retraced our steps over the ‘hump’, using a different route on the far side.  As I have previously mentioned we originally climbed to the shoulder by means of steps cut into the stalagmite.  These steps were very congested on our return, so two or three of struck out along a ledge, and after climbing over and around a number of stalagmites we scrambled down a very fair rift, arriving back at floor level before the other who were using the more orthodox route.

Returning to the first chamber we split up into small groups, and I followed a tunnel very similar to Swildon’s Short Dry for a considerable distance, turning back before reaching the end, as time was getting short. 

I found that this passage was situated directly above another similar one into which I dropped through a convenient hole in the floor.  This lower passage had several side ones, some of which gave access to others, and some to small chambers – but over all this part of the system was the same dust and lack of water that was so noticeable in the first chamber – in the narrow tunnels my clothes collected it and it rose in clouds when I brushed myself down later in the day.

Passing through a labyrinth of small tunnels I eventually regained the slope at the bottom of the entrance passage, and here I stopped speechless.  I could look at right angles into the end of this passage, and the whole of my field of vision was filled with golden light.  I suddenly realised it was the sunlight – the sun was very low in the sky and was shining straight down the passage, the light being reflected by the myriads of dust motes present as a result of our movements.  It was one of the most extraordinary things that I have ever seen in a cave.

A seemingly endless climb up the 45 degree slope brought me out on to the ledge, and, turning left I regained the entrance and changed back into shirt and shorts.  With another member of the party I started the descent to the road, and a few feet from the entrance we saw a scree slope.  Riding the scree all the way, bouncing off the larger trees and pushing smaller ones aside, we reached the road at a phenomenal rate, the slope extending to just above the road.  Things like bramble bushes we ploughed straight through – we had no option – as once we were on the move, gravity ensured that we couldn’t stop.  It was a good thing for us that we knew there were no cliffs between us and the road.


T.H. Stanbury,                   Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Miss D.S. Bowden-Lyle,     Hon. Assist. Sec., 31, Highworth Road, St. Annes Park, Bristol. 4.
W.J. Shorthose,                 Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
R. Cantle,                          Leader Climbing Section, 46, Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol.
K.S. Hawkins,                    Sec. Archaeological Section, 9, Quarrington Road, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
H. Perry,                           Librarian, 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.


To remind you that all nominations for the 1951 committee MUST be in the possession of the Hon Sec by 30t November 1950.


In view of the continued busyness of Frank Young, Miss Sybil Bowden-Lyle has taken over the job of Assist Hon Sec. Her Address is 31 Highworth road, St Annes, Bristol. All correspondence, except that of a personal nature should be addressed to Miss Bowden-Lyle and not to the Hon Sec.

In accordance with the plan for the excavation of the site behind the Belfry. K.S. Hawkins has been appointed corresponding secretary: to the Archaeological Section. His address is 9 Quarrington Road; Horfield, Bristol, and all correspondence relating to Archaeology should be sent to him.

All articles for the BB either serious or otherwise should be sent to the Hon. Editor, c/o 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol, as before.

The size of the BB has been criticised for some time past, and a promise was made by the editor that all steps would be taken to expand it whenever possible. Since this however, a serious shortage of duplicating paper has become evident we are taking all possible steps to ensure that the BB will at least remain as at present and have placed an order with the suppliers for a large amount of paper which will act as a reserve, but do not, under the circumstances feel it advisable to exceed our usual six sides.

(This article has been on the shelf for some time, and has been part of the BB “Reserve Pool”) Ed..

Since its resurrection, the climbing section seems to be going from strength to strength; The BEC was even more strongly represented in North Wales recently. Members present were Gwen & John Ifold, Pat Brown, Johnny Bindon, Johnny Morris, Roger Cantle, George Lucy, yours truly and our affiliated members from Merseyside, Bob Crabtree, and Len Davies.

After two very wet weekends, the law of averages finally operated to our advantage, (except for a wet evening on the first day) and consequently the meet was highly successful - we had three days of rock-climbing.

By the time I arrived from Holyhead, the BEC was shaking itself reluctantly from the arms of Morpheus, to greet Phoebus coursing across the heavens in his fiery chariot. (i.e. the lazy blighters were just getting out of kip because the sun was scorching their eyelids.)

On this, the first day, Len, the Menace, Bob, Roger and I Loosened up on the Gribin, doing the Two-tree Route in two parties. There was only one highlight on this trip: Cantle opened his gob. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the Cantle gob opening, only at this particular moment his pipe happened to be in it. It nearly brained your boy Ronnie, who graciously retrieved it for him from a nearby ledge.

Just as we got to the top, it began to rain. Normally one doesn’t mind rain, but in North Wales there isn’t much room between the spots, so the Crabtree, Cantle, Newman outfit beat it quickly down to (there is an indecipherable word in the MSS ,Ed,) for some char. Morris and Davies, being philosophical types who believe that there is a saturation point beyond which one can’t possibly get any wetter, carried on and did a few more climbs, including one “severe”.

There was the inevitable session in the Royal afterwards, and the staff became rather dazed after a fill of the BEC’s songs and recitations.

There was some divergence of opinion as to which climbs we should do, so we split up into three parties to suit our tastes. Pat. Brown, J.B. and the Menace departed for Tryfan East Face, the main party went on the Idwal Slabs, while Len had a hankering to do Glyder Fach, so I trotted along with him. I must therefore be excused if I dwell too much on the doings of the Davies-Newman combination on Glydor Fach, since the exploits of the other two parties I know of only by hearsay.

The Tryfan party disgraced itself somewhat by splitting up and returning three hours overdue, while search parties fearing the worst, scoured the mountain for them.

The Idwal outfit, it seems, was not lacking in Interest. Cantle covered himself with glory by peeling off Saints' Wall. It appears that he was on a tricky move involving a blind grope for a hold out of sight around the corner; his blind grab missed, and off he came. The rope held and Crabtree was delighted at the spectacle - until he discovered that it was his new rope that Roger was dangling on, whereupon he waxed exceedingly brassed off! It was also reported that Johnny Ifold has devised a new slab technique, consisting of a breast - stroke swimming motion, with feet in the air and belly on the rock.

Meanwhile Len and I were having a wizard time on Glyder Fach. We went up the Alphabet Slab via Beta and continued on from there straight up Chasm Route, which proved a most enjoyable and satisfying climb. Holler-in-the-night Newman was particularly happy because he led up the Vertical Vice and got up it at the first attempt.

After Chasm we were in marvellous form and decided ambitiously to do a "severe" - either Hawk's West Buttress or Direct Route (while on Chasm we had made detours to inspect both the top and bottom of the Final Crack on Direct Route). Accordingly we shot down Main Gully, only to discover that both routes had been occupied in the meantime by other parties. So, instead, we climbed up and down Main Gully Ridge, practicing abseils and generally pottering about on the way.

It was then decided to start back to our rendezvous with the other two parties and to do a climb on Bochlwyd Buttress on our way. The sun was warm, and it was nice lazing about on boulders nattering idly, so somehow or other we never got around to doing Bochlwyd Buttress.

The day finished on not quite such a happy note as it might have done: instead of following our arranged programme, search operations were begun on Tryfan.

By Monday morning, two of the party found that they'd contracted Cantle's Disease, and this was attributed to drinking stream water. Later on in the day Newman was likewise stricken, and, failing to got a lift, had to walk from Capel Curig to Bethesda, thereby spending a most uncomfortable and exhausting night.

However, to return to the earlier part of Monday's proceedings. Five of us did Sylvan Traverse on Tryfan's Milestone Buttress, all in one party - Len, the Menace, myself, Roger and Bob respectively. The party was far too large, and the expedition assumed ridiculous proportions: for every minute one of us moved, fifteen were spent waiting for the other members of the party to move. However, it was jolly good clean fun, (apart from Roger dropping his karabiner) and we had quite an audience on the main road below viewing our antic; some of the spectators being armed with binoculars.

After our little duffy on Tryfan, the party broke up and went their respective ways. Finally for the first time in his life, Johnny Morris was scared stiff - and it was all Newman's doing. He lived up to his name of "Holler-in-the-night", only this time the yells wore accompanied by physical violence: Johnny was seized by the throat and almost strangled. As for John Ifold, he needs a national Health deaf aid, for, although the closest, he was the only one who slept through the commotion.

Don't miss the next thrilling account of the Climbing Section's adventures!!

Photographic Competition.

Your are reminded that the final date for receiving entries for this competition is November 30th. There has been a very poor response so far and we hope that this last month will see the entries pouring in.

Belfry Bulletin Christmas Number

Anyone having anything special in the way of articles that they would like included in the Xmas Issue, (which by the way, will be a double number) must send them to the Hon. Editor by the end of November.

Gentle Dizzie Part II

Our recent note about the other "Gentle Dizzie" has brought a "pome" from our own Gentle Dizzie God bless her.

Our Gentle Dizzie doesn't feed
on grass, as other Hippos do -
she much prefers to dine off crisps,
And guzzle beer and Belfry stew.

Her size, though large, is not as big
As many of her kindred souls,
But really is a useful shape
For crawling through those horrid 'oles.

Though lately we have noticed that
her keeness as a caver waning,
She takes to sunbathing instead,
While other members are Stoke Lane-ing.

Her mate - a Postle - makes amends
by now and then descending under,
But only after irate friends
Have shamed him into such a blunder.

So if on Mendip you should roam,
Preoccupied and very busy,
Don't run if you should see a shape,
It's probably "Our Gentle Dizzie".

For Sale

A number of members have suggested that there be a space allocated for a "Sales Column" for members. Anyone with white elephants for disposal are asked to write in to the Editor before the middle of the month for the entry to be included in the next month's BB. Here is the first entry:-

Car. Price £70. Taxed and insured to end of year. Make AUSTIN 16, (6 cyl.) 1931. Colour Black and dark blue. Maintenance:- a. Bodywork re-enameled two coats. b. inside and underneath metalwork all cleaned and painted with bitumen paint, c. Transmission sound, d. engine overhauled decoked & valves ground, e. pistons & con-examined - big-ends in good condition, crank shaft is of bearing type. f. interior of engine clean. g. reconditioned battery - starts easily, h. 4 new tyres, i. oil pressure 20 lb when hot, uses very little oil. j. seating - 5 with comfort - used to carry ½ a ton. Defects;- driving side windows damaged by sun and really need replacement. Brakes worn. Rear mudguards were worn -but have been welded and lined with aluminium. Price as standing £70; with, brakes and windows done £100. Apply to:- John S. Buxton, Calwich Gardens, Nr. Ashbourne, Derbyshire; Tele. Ellastone 78.

Cave Research Group of Great Britain.

The 4th Annual General Meeting of the C.R.G. will be held at the Church House, North Parade, BRADFORD, ?orks on Saturday 11th November 1950, followed by a descent of Ireby Fell Cavern on the 12th.  All persons contemplating going on this meet are asked to contact Assist, Hon. Sec. as soon as possible for details.

Annual Dinner.

The 1st Annual Dinner held at the Hawthorns, was successful beyond the organisers hopes. Fifty seven persons attended, including representatives of the W.C.C.; S.W.C.C.,. U.B.E.C; M.N.R.C: The Hon. Sec. of D.S.S. sent apologies that owing to the sudden illness of his wife he was unable to attend.  A good time was had by all, entertainment being provided by Messrs. R. Brain, R. Cantle, P. Ifold, R. Perry, R.A. Setterington, G. Lucy.

The verdict was that those that were elsewhere missed a really good show.

Calendars and Xmas Cards.

As usual there are Xmas Cards and Calendars available to members and friends. This year there are five samples to choose from. a. The Corkscrew Stalactite, Stoke Lane; b. Singsong around the camp fire at August Bank; c. Old Load Works, Priddy; d. Small Grotto, Stoke Lane; e. Party in Hunters (Lucy, Bindon, Cantle, Pat lfold, Hal Perry & Sett, all catching flies). Cost of Calendars is increased from last year's price to 3/- owing to rising costs. Cards are as before at 6d. each. ALL ORDERS MUST REACH HON. SEC, at 74. Redcatch Road, by the END OF NOVEMBER.

T.H. Stanbury.            Hon. Sec. 74. Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol.4. 77590
Miss D.S. Bowden-Lyle 51. Highworth Road, St. Annes Park, Bristol 4.
W.J. Shorthose           Hon. Sec. London Section, 26. Gatesido Road, Upper Tooting, London S.W.17.
R. Cantle                    Leader Climbing Section, 46 Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol.
H. Perry                     Librarian, 20 Northfield Ave., Hanham, Bristol.

Postal Ballot for 1951 Committee

The following persons have been nominated for the B.E.C. Committee for 1951.  You are asked to select the eight names that you think most suitable, and write them in the spaces provided on the attached voting form. This form MUST be received by Hon Sec. at 74. Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.. by FRIDAY JANUARY, 20th. 1951. Any forms received after that date will be void.

You are reminded that one of the names selected must, under our Constitution (amended at the 1949 A.G.M.) be a lady, but you can of course vote for more than one lady member if you so desire. The London section is represented on the Committee by a representative of that Section who happens to be in the area at the time.

Persons Nominated for 1351 Committee.

Bobbie Bagshaw; Roger Cantle; Ken Dobbs: Dan Hasell; John Ifold: Roger Ifold: Tony Johnson; George Lucy; Hal Perry; Tony Setterington: Henry Shelton: Harry Stanbury; "Postle" Tompsett.

Ladies:- Miss Sybil Bowden-Lyle; Miss Pam Richards; Miss Jill Rollason; Mrs. "Dizzie" Tompsett.

In the event of a person elected not being willing to take office, the next in order of voting will replace him/her. Frank Young has also been nominiated but has said that he does not wish to stand for 1951.

A number of nominations included the position to which it was desired the person nominated to be elected. This election is concerned with actual places on the Committee, the positions themselves being arranged when the result of the ballot is known.  It will be appreciated that if the various offices were voted for, in addition to the actual Committee Members, the result would be like a penny points permutation.

T.H. Stanbury. Hon. Sec.


1.       Belfry Charges, (see addendum)
a). Members:- 1/3 per night, 6d per day Cooking facilities.
b). Non-members, 2/3 per night, l/- per day Cooking facilities.

2.       No unauthorised persons may interfere with electrical, plumbing radio or gas fittings.

3.       Lights out from 1 a.m. - 7.0 a.m. when strict silence shall be observed. You are also expected to be as quiet as possible between 12 p.m. and 8.a.m.

4.       Everyone must do their fair share of the chores before departing, for any activity.

5.       Do not waste gas or electricity. These supplies are convenient, but also very expensive.

6.        No one must wear nailed boots or caving clothes in the New Belfry.

7.       Whenever you go underground leave a note in the Hut Log as to your whereabouts and the expected hour of return.

8.       All damage to the Belfry to be made good or paid for by the person responsible for the said damage.

9.       Children under the age of 14 years will in no circumstances be allowed to sleep in the Belfry or on the Belfry site.

10.   The last person to leave MUST be sure that:-
a). Electricity is off at the Main.
b). Gas is turned off at the Cylinder.
c). ALL water is drained off.
d). Windows are closed and the huts secured.

11.   The Hut Warden is in control of all matters connected with the Belfry Site, and in any dispute his decision is Final.

NOTE. Rule 9, is temporarily in abeyance, and so consequently there is the following Addendum to Rule 1:-

“Children under the ago of 14 years pay the appropriate members’ charge, providing that they are accompanied by their Parents, one of whom must be a club member“.


BB Numbering

This BB was published in error as No 41.

Annual General Meeting 1950 will be held On Saturday Jan. 2Oth.1951.

The Annual General Meeting of the Bristol Exploration Club will be held in Room 5 at St, Mary Redcliffe Community Centre, Guinea Street, Redcliffe, Bristol at 3.0 p.m.. All item for inclusion on the Agenda must reach Hon Sec by the 1st of January 1951. Each member will receive a Postal Ballot form and a copy of the Agenda will be sent to each member as soon as possible after this date.

Caving in the Vercors, No 1

by T.H. Stanbury

La Grotte du Bournillon

The Grotte du Bournillon is situated in the gorge of the River Bourne a. couple of miles from the hamlet of Choranche and on the opposite side of the gorge to the Grotte de Favot, which is a few miles further up-stream. When I visited the cave in 1948 we approached it from Choranche through the tiny hamlet of Vegor which is perched haphazardly on the sloping side of the gorge below the vertical face.

At a junction of two streams the road dropped down to the of the river and here the road ended at a power station. Although only small this hydro-electric station was very up-to-date, and was fed by water power brought down from further up the valley by means of tunnels through the rock. Here on a wall beside the station we changed into our caving togs, and, crossing the R.H. stream started off up a path.  Passing up through trees, we emerged on to a scrub-covered slope.  Below us we could see the stream foaming over its rocky bed, whilst ahead of us was a tremendous cliff.  Down the face of this cliff fell a waterfall several hundred foot high - a truly magnificent spectacle -. How unusual it was, to see surface water falling over a limestone cliff, the stream must have been very recent in origin or else it would have already found a subterranean course for itself.

Continuing towards the waterfall we soon found that it was only a small feeder for the main stream which we could see flowing towards us from around a right-band bend.  Passing over a rocky limestone outcrop, we plunged again into a grove of trees, emerging a few minutes later at a cliff face.  This face, here undercut and very weathered, reminded me of the photographs that I had seen of some of the larger of the French prehistoric sites.

Following this face downward to the left, we reached the top of a long slope that dropped away to the stream, which here had widened into a considerable pool.  A mighty arch spanned the water, and passing under it we entered the Grotto du Bournillon.  It was very hard to say at what exact moment we actually entered the cave, so immense was the arch, We estimated the entrance to be about 250 feet high and about the same wide, and we felt very small and insignificant wandering about under it.

There were two apparent ways in - a path led towards the stream; and another great arch under the main one and to the right, gave entrance to a chamber, the size of which, even from the distance we were from it, was immense. We followed the path to the stream, and soon we were threading our way beside it. The large entrance chamber had here undergone a startling transformation. The river was hemmed in between two rocky walls, whilst the roof was no more that 100 ft. over our heads. Ahead there was a very deep roar and a great turbulence of the river, and climbing along a very narrow path on the R.H. wall, with, only a single strand of wire between ourselves and the foaming depths, we saw ahead of us a hole about 6 ft. wide and 10ft. high through which the water roared. I have called the water flowing from the cave both "stream" & "river", but I must explain here that there was far more water flowing from the cave than there is at Wookey Hole in time of spate.

The river flowed through the hole with a noise like thunder, a spout of water over 8 feet long. It was the most impressive thing that I have ever seen in a cave. The path ended here at a tiny bridge and although we made a thorough examination of the rock around the hole could find no way through except where the water came out, and it was patent that nothing could force its way in through that foaming maelstrom.

Having satisfied ourselves that there was no entrance there, we retraced our steps towards the entrance, where two members of the party and myself stripped off and had a swim in the big pool under the arch. It was a very thrilling proceeding; we jumped in and them swam upstream in a backwater, emerging into the current and then swimming frantically for the bank before we were wept away. - another member of the party who saw us, tried a similar thing lower down the valley and being rather foolish, allowed himself to be swept into the centre of the stream, where he was whipped away by the current over some rapids before he could be rescued, eventually being saved, rather battered, and certainly much wiser, by others in the party. The current was so swift that even at ankle depth it was a problem to keep ones feet, and so the force of the column of water issuing from the cave can well be imagined.

Finishing our swim, we dried ourselves and then passed under the second arch mentioned earlier. We found ourselves in an immense chamber with a steeply sloping floor of boulders. As we climbed, the daylight gradually lessened and we completed the climb in darkness. Although we had been in the cave so long there had been no need for artificial lighting until that moment, as there was plenty of daylight coming in through the entrance arch. When we reached the top of the slope we found that the chamber was even larger that it had first appeared and the top of the slope was away from the further wall and a reverse slope led down again to it.

Passing along the apex of the ridge we entered another chamber at a high level and here we again heard the roar of the river again. We had entered the stream chamber through its “back door”. Perched on a stalagmite ledge high above the water, we could see the daylight shining in through the stream exit. Our way lay along the ledge, and in a few, minutes this widened out into a flat platform that terminated in a rounded tunnel, with the river, now at a much higher level, flowing smoothly along and ending at our feet, the water finding its way through a maze of boulders and then emerging about 25 yards from the exit, to foam over the boulders before precipitating itself into daylight. The water in the passage was deep, and so regretfully we halted. We were told that for 3 km, the tunnel had been explored, and beyond that no-one had ever been. - What a chance for a determined party. The majority of the party then retraced their steps to the entrance, but a party of four including the writer clambered down over the boulder strewn floor to where the water appeared.

Here we could see the water exit at close quarters and we also noticed that there was a second opening beside the first, although no daylight could be seen through it, we made every effort to reach this second hole, but the speed of the water had us beaten. We had half an hour‘s excellent fun in the foaming torrent, the power of which was amazing and we eventually gave up the attempt when we realised that the water would sweep us through the hole before we could have taken a couple of strokes towards our target.

We returned very wet and thoroughly happy via the upper route to the entrance, where we found that the rest had been taken into a high level system that ran parallel to the river passage and joined it at the point furthest reached 3 km from the entrance.

The most amazing thing about Bournillon is that a year later in 1949, club members went there from Valence and found the river dry. There was no water there at all and they were able to enter the cave via the water exit and to explore the main river passage. They reported a large passage with a floor strewn with boulders as big as a bus, at the end of which was a trap.

It is felt that the mystery of such places would soon be solved if the district could suddenly be transferred to Mendip or Bristol to the neighbourhood of Pont-en-Royans.

List of Members 1950. No.8

Derek Hunt                 Reed Cottage, Chilcompton, Bath, Somerset.
Fred Targett                Phillis Hill, Midsomer Norton, Nr. Bath, Somerset
Ralph Gregory            57, Gloucester Street, Upper Eastville, Bristol,5
Jock Berry                  25, Dennor Park, Hengrove, Bristol.4.
Jim Sims                    69, Kenmare Road, Knowle, Bristol.4
John Buxton               Calwich Gardens Near Ashbourne, Derbyshire
Mike Cook,3507129    AC2, Hut Y31, No 3 Wing, No 2 Radio School, R,A,F, Yatesbury, Nr Calne, Wilts.
Roger Hobbs              139, North Road, St Andrew; Bristol 6
Ted Farr                     6. St. David’s Cresc, St. Annes, Bristol,4.
Kenneth Long             3. Colston Parade, Bristol, 1
Norman Carr               35 .Kings Ave., New Maldon Surrey
Shag Matthews           112, Blagdon Road, New Maldon Surrey,
Dr J.D. Johnson          Crummock, Yew Tree Road, Dorking Surrey,
Paul Burt                    Insecticides Dept, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harptened, Herts,
Rosemary Beales       c/o 246 York Road, Bristol
Clare Ainsworth          16. Ninetree Hill, Bristol 1
Les Thompson            5O.Newnham Drive, Ellesmere Port, Wirral, Cheshire
R. Setterington           146 Sunny Gardens Road Hendon, London
R. Bennett                  37 Queens Road, Ashley Down, Bristol.7,
R.C. Davis                  119 Cromwell Road, Montpelier, Bristol
Alma Searle               55 Langton Park, Southville, Bristol 3


Congratulations to Angus Innes and Margaret Pope on their recent engagement. Good luck to both of you.

Climbing Section Report LLIWEDD

by “Holler in the Night” Newman

Once again the Climbing Section, the Death or Glory boys, succeeded in avoiding death and acquiring its alternative in North Wales. R. Newman, P. Ifold and R. Cantle departed from Bristol by car - for once having an uneventful journey - to join J. Morris and H. Crabtree on the spot. This expedition was unique in the conspicuous absence of rain consequently we have a lengthy line to shoot.

Day one was spent on Lliwedd, which boasts the highest cliff in and is on that account worthy of a fuller description. It is 1,000 feet high and has a character of its own. The strata run perpendicularly, so that the face consists almost exclusively of cracks and grooves. Furthermore, the rock overlaps in a boiler-plate formation and most of the holds are small and slope outwards.

As you may imagine on a 1,000-foot face, the exposure is great, and the climbs on Lliwedd are of a long and serious nature. It also has the reputation of being loose and dangerous, and most climbers regard it as experts’ ground. As a result, few people climb on Lliwedd, which suits us fine: nothing is worse than climbing on a crowded face and being surveyed by gormless people above and below or waiting for a party in front on the same climb to move on.

Why Lliwedd is not more popular is rather puzzling: the climb we did was on pretty sound rock. Even Bob had this fixation about avoiding Lliwedd, due to some nasty experiences on it in his early climbing days, and he had transmitted some of his misgivings to us. However, the Menace was keen and he gave us a convincing sales talk on Lliwedd, so we fell in with the Menace. Afterwards we were glad we did, and were so delighted with it that we discussed further routes on it.

One reason for Lliwedd’s unpopularity may be its inaccessibility: to reach its foot involves a three mile walk over a rough track followed by a long grind up scree slopes. We decided on “Route II”, classified as “very Difficult”, but in view of the high standards in the Lliwedd guide, it may be pushed up one stage to correspond with “severes” in the other guides,

We were in two parties; Morris and Newman leading through in the first, and Crabtree, Cantle and Ifold in the second. Finding one’s way up Lliwedd is quite a job: every groove looks exactly like its neighbour, and the Menace and myself often found ourselves balanced precariously halfway up a pitch, with guide books (open at page 56) in our hands, arguing about where we should go next. It doesn’t do to stray off the route, since our route crossed over or came very close to some “Very severes”.

One particular pitch on our route was up to F.N.I. standard. One steps off a bollard very delicately on to a few small outward-sloping holds and then endeavours to struggle up for several feet without either hand or footholds, until one reaches two “thankgod” holds (as the guide-book describes them) after which conditions ease. It had to be my turn to lead on this but after several attempts I could not get to the “thankgod” holds and had to retreat to the bollard. The Menace then produced rubbers and got up it, after a long and strenuous struggle. With the added security of a toy rope, I then flashed up it in a few seconds: I think I beat the speed record for that pitch!

After this difficult pitch, we carried on as before to the Great terrace, about two thirds of the way up, where Route II ended. We then carried on to the top by way of the Terminal Arete. Here the rock was loosed and the sense of exposure on the knife-edge of the arete was terrific: you’d fall almost a thousand feet before you hit anything at all, and after that you’d bounce down the scree for some distance. Yet we all felt on form and quite happy about it. There is no grander experience than leading a very exposed climb when you feel on form: conversely, there is no worse feeling when you don’t feel on form - as I found on Tryfan the very next day.

The lack of form on Tryfan may be attributed to fatigue as a result of somewhat overdoing things on Lliwedd the first day, after not having climbed for some time. A six mile walk, a graunch up a scree slope and a 1,000 foot climb involves a large expenditure of physical and nervous energy.

However, we thought it was worth it - especially when we reached the top and gazed around at the magnificent view. We could see as far south as the Pembrokeshire coast, which, according to my old battered school atlas in the junk-box upstairs, is quite a long way. We had intended to carry on along the col at the top to Snowdon, but decided against it, which is perhaps just as well, since we only reached Capel in time for one rapid pint afterwards. After our quiche noggin we whiled away the remaining daylight on small slabs near the barn. I was so tired that night, that I didn’t even holler!!!

Weathers, by Pro Bono Beco.

This is the weather the caver likes,
And so do I;

When drivers are falling off motor-bikes,
And swear-words fly:

And would-be songsters sing and coo,

And pints disappear at the Hunters’ too,
And gone are the days of the Belfry stew,

And spelios dream of the G.B. glue,
And so do I.

This is the weather all BECites hate,
And so do I;

When swallet rivers are in spate,
And nothing’s dry:

And heroes swim in icy pot,
Grovel in streams and mud, I wot,

And even the draughty air gets hot,

As madmen squirm through every grot,
- But not so I!!

Letter about Three Mile Cavern circa 1780

A copy of a letter written on Tuesday August 15th, 1780, on exploring the Three Mile Cavern in Derbyshire, which is supposed to communicate with Peak’s Hole, vulgarly called the Devil’s ----- in the Peak, submitted by Jill Rollason.

“The last place I parted with ye was from Peak’s Hole, and there you will naturally have concluded that our under-ground workings had been at an end! But alas! my friend Fate had otherwise ordain’d it; the Spirit of Curiosity had warped our rational Faculties; danger had become familiar to us, and we therefore determined upon a Plan which wizor men would have shudder‘d at the idea of. This was no less than exploring the Three Mile Cavern which I have already mentioned. Summoning therefore a Pose-comitatus, of all the miners of the place, we in brief told them our intention. Astonishment at first prevented them from answering us; none but two or three had ever ventured upon a Trial, custom even had not reconcil’d the others to so hazardous an enterprise: a promise of reward however, prevail’d upon the whole, and they accordingly agree‘d to attend us in the morning.

In the mean time a Messenger being dispatched to Sheffield for torches, we began seriously to prepare for our descent, this was soon accomplished. A paper of Memorandums was left in our escritoirs and a card in case of accident, telling who our friends were and where they were to be found, was left upon the Table in the Inn. Thus guarding against the worst that could befall us, at least so far as it respected matters which we might leave behind, we early next morning, accompanied by a chosen set of our near guides, repaired to the top of the Mountain where the Fissure open’d itself about three feet in diameter. Provided by the Miners with proper dresses, we then stripp’d Ourselves of our own outward Apparel and putting on each a pair of Canvas Trowsers, a flannel Jacket, and over that a Canvas Frock, with a Handkerchief over our Heads, and a Miners cap, we all proceeded one by one down this dread Abyss, for the distance of about 420ft. perpendicular.

Imagination can scarcely form a descent more perilous than this was. The only Steps to tread on, or things to hold by, were bits of oak stuck into the sides by the inhabitants of that place since it was first discovered., and which from want of use it was natural to suppose might have either rotted or loosened themselves in the Earth; moreover, a false step hurled: one inevitably to destruction; fortunately all was firm, and we arrived safe at the bottom, unhurt.

From thence renging ourselves in order, with a large bundle of candles and Torches, independent of the Candles we each of us carried we proceeded on with tolerable facility, thro’ two or three lofty and most beautiful enamoll’d Caverns of Spar. This we conceived as an earnest of future delight, and the Tablets were accordingly set at work; but alas; how great was our mistake. Here our difficulties were to commence. Following the Guides who, besides another who was with us, were the only two of the Party who had ever penetrated before we forced our way with infinite struggles, thro’ a narrow space between two rocks, and thence getting on our Hands and Knees were for the full distance of a Mile, obliged to crawl without ever daring to lift up our Heads the passage being too low. Filled with Mud, Dirt and a multitude of bits of Rocks, our progress was painful indeed, we still hoped for something better.

On we accordingly proceeded, ‘till a dreadful noise rumbling along the Crevices of the Cave, gave us to understand that we were near a River, to this then we according hurried. But description is inadequate to anything like a representation of this Scene. A vast Ocean seemed roaring in upon us; in some places bursting with inconceivable impetuosity, and others, falling through dreadful Chasms, naturally formed to give it vent; through this our journey was to continue. A cry of Light however alarm’d us, the confinement of the Air, and the narrowness of our Track, had extinguished all our Torches the candles too, all but one small end, were totally expended. We knew not what to do, In vain the Miners hollowed for the supply which was to have come behind; no answer was to be heard. Our fate seemed now inevitable; but we who were the Principals, fortunately express’d no fear. In this extremity a gallant Fellow, who was yet ignorant of the place, but from experience knew the danger we were in, suddenly disappeared, and after groping a considerable time in the dismal Horrors of the place, at length returned to us, with a fresh supply of Candles, having discovered his Companions unto who they were given in charge, almost petrified with fear, and unable to continue after us from their apprehensions.

Repriov'd in this manner from a Death which seemed to await us, in its most horrid form, we proceeded with fresh Recruits of Spirits, and plunging into the River above our waists, scarce tenable from the impetuosity of the Torrent, we cautiously plck'd our steps, and at length, after four hours most unspeakable fatigue, arrived at about 300 yards beyond the spot where the subterranean passage we had the dry before explor'd, was expected to find an entrance into this dreadful place. Here, then we were obliged to stop; a fall into a yawning Gulph in which I was providentially saved by a corner of a Rock catching me by the knee, had hitherto given me an inconceivable degree of pain, but I had not spoke; it now became scarcely bearable; out, however I was to crawl, and that too, upon this tortured limb. The retreat accordingly began: but-no Anguish could surpass the excess Torment I was in. Often did I wish to remain where I was, no Succour or Assistance could be given me; every man was painfully busied in charge of his own safety. At length having almost worn out the other knee, and torn both my sides and back by forcing myself in those positions I was compelled to call out for help as we happily came to the first opening where I could be raised.

Languor and Faintness from what I had suffered, had totally deprived mo of my Strength. I was accordingly seated on a rock, but in a few minutes having collected myself as much as possible, I totter'd through the rest of the Cavern, helped where Assistance could be given me, and in that manner got to the blessed Sunshine of the Day. All the rest however were tolerably well, excepting two of our Guides, one of whom had received a violent contusion on his Head from a Rock, and another several bruises from a fall, in his climbing up the last aperture. Altogether the depth we had descended was about 140 fathoms or 980 feet, and the length about 3 miles, according to the Minors' calculations. Neither at this distance were we at the end, a passage still continued, but so filled with water, and so full of Peril that the Miners themselves were averse to further trial. And here, my friend, I will take my leave of you for the present. The pains in my limbs are still excruciating; but a little time will set all to rights again. All I have to say is, that I never wish even the greatest Enemy I have in the World, to be so unpardonably led by curiosity as to tempt destruction, where indenendent of the Dangers of the place, the falling of a single Stone might bury him in Eternity for Ever."

Note:- All grammar, punctuation and spelling as in the original!! J.R. (Except the usual typesetting errors, Ed.)


The Following X-Word has been sent in by Alfie Collins.


Across :-

9     should be easy for Club Members to solve(3).

5     One of these would look rather out of place in a window, however (10,7)

11    First word of a Mendip Caving Club's motto (2).

12    You might get the Ab-Dabs if the first part did this down a cave.

13    An essential part of a caver's equipment,

14       If you get 2 down it doesn't do to this do

15       A caver’s drinking this are supplied by Ben,

Down: -

2      Part of a cave suggesting one way travel-(8 )

3      If it gets too 4 down you may get this down a cave.(5),

4      You can get this at the Hunters or it can get this down a cave (5).

6      Lamb this on Mendip

7      It often requires a lot of “good honest work” with a new cave (2,4,2,2)

8      There used to be one of  these in the entrance shaft in Longwood (5.5).

9      If your this you won't get 3 down,

10    You don't tie this sort in a rope (3 ).


No prizes are offered, but have a go, it'll be good fun.

British Caver

STOP PRESS, Vol 21 of the British Caver will be published early in December. Send for your copy now to G. Platten, Rotherfield, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants. Price is 6/3 post paid or a ream of 10x8 paper.

Archaeological Section, Bulletin No.1. 11/11/1950, Site at Belfry,

The “site” was located and surveyed on October 22nd 1950, by E.J. Mason aided by several other members.

Thanks to D. Hasell who has been in contact with the owner of the land, permission has now been granted to go ahead with the trial trench, which is scheduled to begin on the second weekend in December 1950. The Sec. of the Archaeo, Sect. Takes this opportunity to appeal for help in the excavation dept..

Much as we like the casual visitor, we would appreciate the consistent workers the most, as they are more efficient and can be depended upon to turn up regularly.

If this Site turns out as we hope, there should be several years work there, so you will appreciated the points that I have made.

These reports or Bulletins will appear in the BB each month for as long as the Site is being worked.

(signed) K.S. Hawkins.

Corres. Sec. Archaeo. Sect..

French Holiday

There are plans afoot for a Caving-cum-sightseeing trip to the Dauphine region of next summer. Will those interested please write to Hon. Sec. and let him know. No details have yet been considered, they will depend on those wishing to go, and also if there is the rumoured Convention in or near Paris.


L'Aven Grotte de Marzell

by. G. Fenn

(This is one of a series of articles, submitted by Gordon, on caves visited during the 1949 Convention at Valence. Ed.)

Thursday 25th. August 1949

This was the first day of the second part of the Congress.  (The first part was of course the Convention meetings themselves in Valence. Ed.)  We were up at 05.00 hours, breakfast and away from our H.Q. at the Seminaire at 06.45.  We went through Loriol, Rochemaure, Viviors-sur-Rhone and Bourg-St. Andial.  We climbed upwards from here along a rough track of a road through miles of rocky scrub land.  We stopped at 08.55 and could see nothing but this rocky scrub for miles and miles in all directions.

There was rough wooden sign near a hut which read ‘Aven Grotte de Marzell’.  It seemed the most unlikely place for a cave.  As we jumped out of the coach we were covered by thousands of tiny white flies which crawled everywhere and irritated but did not bite.

The entrance was just down a hole under some rocks with newly made concrete steps leading down.  The first party of six entered at 09.20 and I happened to be the first of these.  After walking down a staircase of wood in spiral fashion for some way (wearing shorts, shirt, and with no lights, as we were told to take no lights or overalls) we reached a jumping off stage.

A slip knot was put around my throat, and I was being pushed backwards down a sloping tunnel.  I half crawled and half slid down this and then looking around saw a light far below me.  This was Ageron & de Joly, who were lighting my way down.  I lowered myself down an electron ladder and then as it swung over the drop changed on to a wooden ladder.  I climbed down this and released the rope, sending it up for the next man.  The ladder drop was about 50-60 feet, the chamber being 120 feet below the surface.  When we were all down, we left this chamber and descended, following Ageron and de Joly.

The route was marked out, so that we were not to disturb the bones and formation.  We came to a small chamber of extremely pretty formation and beautifully coloured.  It was the moist magnificent coloured cave we saw.  We stooped around under small arches and de Joly pointed out some large ‘leopard’ spots covering the coloured floor.  The formation was dead but contained many crystals which sparkled under the powerful electric light, supplied from a petrol generator on the surface.  We then returned to the first chamber and Ageron explained, whilst we were waiting for the next party, how he intended to light the cave and how it would be stair-cased.

On the way back the electron ladder broke whilst Roy Ifold was climbing it.  He carried on to the surface, and a new ladder was put down for the rest.  We reached daylight at 10.50 hours and the other parties continued in lots of six until we moved off again at about 13.15 hours.

Note: - The cave was originally discovered by E.A. Martel, and then lost, to be rediscovered by Ageron years later.


T.H. Stanbury,                 Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Miss D.S. Bowden-Lyle,   Hon. Assist. Sec., 31, Highworth Road, St. Annes Park, Bristol. 4.
W.J. Shorthose,              Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
R. Cantle,                       Leader Climbing Section, 46, Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol.
K.S. Hawkins,                 Sec. Archaeological Section, 9, Quarrington Road, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
H. Perry,                         Librarian, 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.

Annual General Meeting 1950.

The Annual General Meeting will be held early in January 1951, and the first step towards this is the nomination of members for the 1951 Committee.

The following list is of the existing committee, all of whom, subject to their willingness, are eligible for re-election, provided that they are nominated at this time.

D,H, Hasell, Chairman

T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Sec. & Treas

R,A, Setterington, Hut Warden

G,T, Lucy, Hon. Tackle Officer

F,W, Young

A.M. Innes

Miss S, Bowden-Lyle

K, Dobbs

one member from London Section

R, Cantle, Leader, Climbing Section

Your are asked to send in nominations for 9 positions on the Committee, these to include one London Section member and one lady member. All such nominations MUST be in Hon. Sec.’s possession by 30th. November, 1950,

(note :- You will see that the existing committee has ten members. This is due to the fact that R. Cantle has been co-opted to represent the climbers.).

Annual Dinner

All persons who are attending the Annual Dinner MUST definitely send to Hon. Sec. before Monday October 16th. enclosing 7/6 per person attending. Failure to do this will mean exclusion from the function for those who omit to send, as this is the last day before the hotel is notified of final numbers.

Stoke Lane Swallet by M.M. Unwin

During a recent visit to Stoke Lane Swallet, I noticed a small blue-green patch on the limestone rock surface as approaching the locality known as “Boulder Ruckle”.

Upon further examination I was able to determine that this was due to a species belonging to the alga group, a simple organism known as Chroococcus Turgidus. This can be found abundantly in this country in moist places, and can be seen at the entrance to Wookey Hole.

But the main interest in this text is that the alga were living under extreme austerity conditions, with no light available to carry out photosynthesis, by which most alga obtain their energy, the alga still maintained their blue-green colour, which rather suggests that other forms of nutrition other than photosynthesis does occur. This led me to suspect that the alga obtained their nutrition from the organic matter in the water present.

To determine this I conveyed into the “Changing Room”, (the other side of Trap 1) suitable quantities of double distilled water in glass containers with an outer covering of synthetic plastic. Some of the alga was removed and placed within small glass test-tubes containing the distilled water. This was repeated three times respectively. I left two of the glass tubes behind containing alga, the remaining one I enclosed also in the synthetic plastic covering so as to keep the contents in the dark, also to avoid breakage on the return journey. After two days, I opened the latter tube to find that the alga had in fact almost lost its colour.

On the fourth day of the commencement of the experiment I returned to the cave to where I had left the other two tubes. I removed one and returned with same and placed it within the sunlight, where, within six hours the alga had regained its colour, as had done the first specimen.

It appears from the foregoing experiment that the alga in question can utilise light from photosynthesis as well as the organic matter carried by the water. Control tubes containing the river water were set up in the experiment, and further work on this subject is in progress.

MM Unwin

List of Members 1950 No.7

C. McKee,                                 70 Imperial Road, Nottingham,

Ken. Oxby,                                c/o 19, Baker Street, Nottingham.

Miss Maureen Pillinger,              36 , Gathorne Road, Southville, Bristol.3

Mrs Gwen Ifold,              Leigh House. Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol,

Mrs Marie Young,                      The Barton, Stanton Drew, Nr. Bristol.

Clive Seward,                             25, Beaconsfield Road, Knowle Bristol.4.

Miss Margaret Offer,                   c/o the Farmhouse, Great Wigsell, Hawkhurst, ,

Dave Young,                              42, Hogarth Road, London. S.W.5,

J.G. Turner,                               39, St. Marks Ave,, Salisbury, Wilts,

Miss Sheila Ainsworth,               3; Byfield Place, Combe Down, Bath Somt,,

Miss Tessie Storr,                      460 Alfreton Road, Nottingham,

Miss Eunice Overend,                49, Alexandra Road, Frome, Somt.,

Bob Crabtree,                            13, Winterley Ave,, Wallasey Cheshire,

Miss June Beer,                         1, Elm Tree Drive, Bishopsworth, Bristol.

Miss Jean Bevan,                       31, Gilda Cresc,, Knowle, Bristol.4.

Miss Beryl Wild,                        49, Speedwell Road, St, George, Bristol.5,

Letter about bones in Stoke Lane & Roman site near Belfry

The following letter and the reply are those promised you in the last BB :-

St.Faith’s Cott,,


Nr Axminster,



The Editor, Belfry Bulletin

Dear Sir,

What has happened to the archaeological finds, including I believe, parts of three skulls and other bonus, that were brought out of Stoke Lane Cave about two years ago? Have they been examined, identified labelled and preserved in the correct manner, and if so where are they now and what are the findings? I ‘would like to know and so would others.

If nobody in the Club is further interested in the remains, both inside and outside the cave I suggest that the Club offers them to an institution more interested in Archaeology than we

are and also offers to conduct any ardent archaeologists to the site within the cave which should be well worth “digging”.

A lot of these remarks also apply to the Roman site in the field behind the Belfry,

Yours etc.,

J.M. Tompsett,

Here is Ted Masons Reply :-

11, Kendon Drive,



2nd. Sept. 1950,

To The Editor, Belfry Bulletin,

With reference to Mr Tompsett‘s letter of the 17th. Instant, the surface bones at Stoke Lane Swallet were removed under my direction by the joint’ efforts of the BEC and the Mendip Research Group in September 1949, just under a year ago. The bones were handed to me on site and the Mendip Research Group subsequently handed over those which they themselves had recovered on another occasion.

As archaeological adviser to the BEC the control of these remains and excavation is a matter, of course, for me to advise upon.

1.       THE SITE, Excavation of the site is contrary to my advice until certain conditions are complied with:-

a)       Excavation rights,

b)       Access

Of these (b) is the most difficult since the site should be within easy reach of daylight, particularly where friable bones are concerned, apart from the extreme difficulty of transporting equipment via the sump. All earth would have to be finally sieved and examined in the open. Until a new and more direct entrance to the bone chamber is formed, this would be impracticable. In fact the surface bones were only recovered when it was learned that there was a possibility of damage by trampling. The difficulty of obtaining a second entrance is of a non-archaeological nature, and the difficulties are well known to the BEC, who have been pursuing this aspect. Any ruthless digging in the cave under present conditions is to be depreciated,

If these conditions could be complied with there is no reason why a proper excavation should not be carried out as originally arranged as a joint excavation by the BEC and the Mendip Research Group. However the inadvisability of attempting to excavate without a secondary entrance was also borne out by a written statement of Professor Tratman when he visited the site.

2.  THE BONES. The final identification would not normally be done until after the commencement of the excavation since the date of relics of this nature is almost wholly dependant upon information found during the course of the excavation. However, in view of the difficulties of opening the site, the bones will be submitted for anatomical examination, as soon as I am satisfied that their restoration and preservation is such that they are in a suitable condition to travel. Bone reconstruction and preservation is a long and tedious job. It will be appreciated that bones which have lain in wet conditions possibly for several hundred years do not dry easily and applied heat tends to warp. In fact, the care necessary to specimens after recovery from a site can be as tedious and exacting as the scientific excavation of a site. Any club engaged on archaeological work must be prepared to be patient.

However, the first batch of bones may be able to be despatched in the course of the next few weeks. It is hoped that Dr. Zouner of the Institute of Archaeology will furnish the anatomical report, although for Mr. Tomsett’s information a preliminary report of the bones was kindly made in situ by Prof. Tratman, a copy of which is in my possession.

With regard to labelling, preservation etc., this is being done in accordance with my normal methods although if Mr Tompsett has any suggestions to make, I shall of course be only too pleased to consider them.

Any offers to conduct ardent archaeologists to the site, should, of course, be referred to me since it is not the custom for archaeologists and excavators to undertake work on a site, in which another colleague is concerned, There is a kind of “professional etiquette” even among excavators. However, again, if there are any suggestions, I shall be only too pleased to give then unbiased consideration.

With regard to the final housing of the finds, this is a point which is normally considered prior to removal and it was agreed by the B EC that they would be deposited in the Museum at Shepton Mallet. There remains the question of the scientific publication in which the final report would appear. It is hoped that this will be the Proceedings o f the MNRC with a note in the Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological Society (space permitting) and of course - the Belfry Bulletin.

2.  THE BELFRY. As on all sites a certain amount of preliminary work has had to be carried out which may be enumerated as follows.

1.       Excavation rights

2.       Organisation of the excavation.

3.       Equipment

4.       Action

1.                   The owner has been approached, but requires to see the area staked out.

2.                   The general outline for an excavation committee has been suggested by me to the BEC. These should comprise the appointment within the Club of:-

a.       Correspondence Secretary.

b.       Excavation foreman.

c.       Photographer.

d.       Surveyor.

e.       Draughtsman.

f.         Technician (marking and joining of pottery etc.)

g.       Digging assistants

3.                   Equipment. Tools, A roll call has been made for tools and I understand that these have now been accumulated:-
Stakes A number of stakes were required. These have now obtained.
Plan. Ordnance sheet. This is now in the possession of the BEC.
Surveying Level. Some difficulty has been encountered in obtaining a level for .the site and remains unsolved.

4.                   Action. Air photographs have revealed certain features enabling us to narrow the field in which to begin work and these features have been marked by the BEC on the ordinance sheet. Although the absence of a level is disconcerting, there is no reason why a sondage should not be made this year, weather permitting, but the main onslaught will have to be left until the summer. Within the next few weeks, it is hoped that a trial trench will be cut. However we must assume that the help of members will be maintained, since excavation is a slow and painstaking process and helpers must appreciate that it is easy to destroy several hundred years evidence in as many seconds. Swallet digging is fast work compared with archaeological excavation. Also we must be assured of a good nucleus of helpers who arc not likely to waver after the trial dig if it justifies continuance on a larger scale. Otherwise in such circumstances the site is best left alone. Like most things one must take the good with the bad, although I think there is every prospect of it proving an interesting site.

The enquiry from Mr Tompsett is certainly welcome since it indicates some enthusiasm in the club concerning archaeological matters, and I look forward to having his help and others like him on the site.

Yours faithfully,

Edmund J. Mason


Leaders are still required for trips during December, January & Feb.. What about the London Section? Send in offer and suggestions as soon as possible.


T.H. Stanbury        Hon. Sec.                            74. Redcatch Road Bristol.4, 77590.
W.J. Shorthose      Hon, Sec. London Section     26. Gateside Road, upper Tooting, S.W.17, R. Cantle        Climbing Sec     46 Cherrington Rd, Henleaze, Bristol 9