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This is the First Report of the new discovery in Stoke. Lane Swallet. This will, I think, Be one of the most important on Mendip for some considerable time. The report of the "Trap Divers" will follow soon.

Stoke Lane Swallet


Browne's Passage

An exploration party from Bruton, led by myself, made an important cave discovery in Stoke Lane Swallet, one of the least known caverns on Mendip.  The members of the party were - P.M.BROWNE, D.SAGE, and J.H.UMEACH.  During the three hours of our exploration we had the luck to be the discoverers of a new and very interesting series of low tunnels and encrusted grottos, totalling about 250 feet in length.  This new system ,now known as Browne's Passage, doubles back upon the known cave and thereby introduces several very interesting hydrological problems, which I trust will be solved in the near future.

Immediately after the discovery I arranged an expedition with the Club for the following Saturday.  Accordingly the second party to enter, the extension, consisting of D.A.COASE, R.A.SETTERINGTON, and I, arrived at the little village of Stoke Lane at about 3.00pm on June 7th.

During the proceeding four days a considerable amount of rain had fallen on the surrounding land and so, on arriving at the cave mouth, we found the volume of water entering it to be far greater than it had been on the previous trip. In normal weather the entrance of the swallet is dry, or nearly so, but that day the water was thundering over the boulders and pouring into the narrow opening, and on into the darkness beyond. All being in readiness for the adventure I abandoned all thoughts of personal comfort for the following four hours and crawled into the uninviting gate to the strange world under the hills. Within a few seconds I was forming an admirable substitute for a leaky drain-pipe, with the icy water pouring up the legs of my boiler-suit and emerging by means of vents and other outlets somewhere above the knees!

A suggen step enabled us to stand in a narrow keyhole shaped passage, in which the stream foamed and boiled around our feet. Suddenly the passage widened and lowered forcing us to crawl along an arch shaped tunnel of a type very characteristic of this cavern. On the floor the stream flowed through a series of muddy, leech infested pools. At about 30 ft. from the entrance the roof rose slightly and we found ourselves on the brink of a large swiftly flowing stream, the main stream of the cavern, coming in from our right. Crawling in the water beneath a low arch we entered a long, narrow rift at the end of which was the first chamber. The murmuring river flowed through the chamber and vanished under a huge boulder at the far end. Looking back along the rift by which we entered this place we saw the lights from the rear of the party beautifully reflected from the surface of the rushing water.

Now began the discomforts of the journey. Climbing over huge blocks of limestone we left the stream and struggled upwards through a small and very muddy aperture to a steeply inclined bank of wet, glutinous mud. Below us, on the left, the stream again appeared from under a low arch. From here we had as it were the choice of two evils. One method was by following the water, the level of which was just above one's neck; and the other by what is known as the Muddy Ox-bow. I enquired whether it was to be mud or water and the unanimous reply was mud please. At the top of the slope we literally slid through the door shaped opening which gave access to a small mud grotto proceeding one of the most uncomfortable portions of the whole cave. Those who have been through the Devil's Elbow in G.B. Cave will be able to visualise a similar tunnel, entered through a choice of two holes bored through a mass of solid mud, the floor covered by a pool of stagnant water!  Dropping into the glue like mixture of mud and water I began to move forward,using my forearms as skids and my feet as barge poles, A sharp bend brought us to a long, narrow, and comparatively dry tunnel, at the far end of which I crossed the stream, which once again came rushing past from a large passage on my left, and turned to watch my companions wallowing through the mud-lined tunnel.

A short tunnel led us to the second chamber, the floor of which was strewn with largo cubical boulders. Creeping through a low arch in the opposite wall, we began one of the most painful crawls that I have ever undertaken. The floor was covered with a thick bed of sharp pebbles, over which we crawled beneath a seemingly endless series of very low creeps. At length we came to a fork in the passage. On the left an ascending tunnel led through the "Grill Chamber" to "Pat's Coffin", and on our right a roundish passage, followed by another short and painful crawl, brought us again to the main stream. From this point we, followed the rushing water for about 50 feet along a high passage, in which we noticed some exceedingly fine formations, until it again became necessary to make use of another ox-bow, the walls of this one, together with the floor and roof, being coated with crystalline formations.

In a few wore yards the main stream vanished into the wall for the last time. (Until the opening of Stoke Lane ll.) On the left we followed a small stream, which soon vanished, through a narrow fissure in the right wall, along a low tunnel at the end of which a short vertical squeeze, followed by a long sandy tunnel, brought us to a high narrow chamber, the floor of which was heaped with a pile of massive rocks cemented together with mud and stalagmite deposit. Straight ahead, a large tunnel stretched away into the gloom, and from it a small stream usually flows, to disappear on reaching the edge of the boulder pile. Some weeks ago this chamber was the scene of the new discovery, now Known as "Browne's Passage".

Climbing over the pile of boulders to the far end of the chamber, we dropped one by one through a narrow, irregularly shaped hole in the floor. Twenty feet of awkward crawling brought us to a small chamber with a pile of very unstable boulders, behind which a low tunnel led us to a high sloping grotto with excellent formations.  Following a low water-worn tunnel, from the roof of which hung a cluster of well formed straw stalactites, we suddenly found ourselves on the brink of a black and mysterious "lake", covering the floor of a low, wide chamber measuring some 15 feet across. From here we crept along a narrow, arch-shaped tunnel for a considerable distance until we were suddenly faced with the "Nutmeg Grater", a very nasty Squeeze. On the return journey we found a by-pass to this section of the tunnel, but unfortunately this offered us no greater degree of comfort than the "Nutmeg Grater" itself!

A fine series of round, water worn arches led us to another long and sometimes low tunnel, at the end of which we crawled out into a chamber called "Cairn Grotto". (The limit of the first Exploration). The grotto was about 25 feet in height, and two possible exits could be seen leading from it. One was an ascending mud tunnel giving access to a sloping mud grotto. The other was a narrow rift, in which the water was about three feet deep. Entering the latter of these two extremely uninviting passages, I dropped into the icy waters beyond a low arch called "Disappointment Duck", under which I was forced to submerge to my neck, the tunnel suddenly turned to the left and I found myself in a small chamber in which the water was about five feet deep. A short distance beyond this the walls closed in and the roof dipped below the surface of a dark and horrible pool. Spluttering and cursing, I made my way back to my two companions in "Cairn Grotto".

On the return journey we explored the remaining section of the known cave, an ascending series of tunnels terminating in a small, low chamber.

Somewhere in the vicinity of the "Nutmeg Grater" one of the party was found to be crawling up the narrow passage with what remained of his trousers hanging round his ankles!

After the journey back to the open air, which took us over an hour, we took great delight in lying in a nearby waterfall, after which we changed into warn dry clothing once more.

On Sunday June 22nd the sump at the end of "Browne's Passage was dived by D.A.Coase, T.H.Stanbury, & F.G.Balcombe. Beyond it was found over 400 ft. of cave. On June 28th and 29th D.A.Coase and other members of the B.E.C. together with myself, again dived through, and beyond, was discovered one of the largest and most beautiful caverns in the West of England. The largest chamber is about 100 feet long, 80ft.high and over 70 ft. wide.


by Llesah.

I have here a question, the Editor said,
From the Belfry one Saturday night,
I've been racking my brains and shaking my head,
But I cant got the answer quite right.

We'd been telling some tales, as we do when we're out,
And this is what puzzles my head.
Why, when “Postle" called a Boy Scout a Boy Sprout,
Did his lady friend fall out of bed?

Beyond the Cairn Chamber,

by The Editor.

First of all I must apologise for this article which must, of necessity be very sketchy. I have seen the large chambers, but as I did not intend to write this myself I kept no record of my impressions and I have left the Pukka article by D.A.Coase in Cornwall.

You will remember Pat Browne's description of the 3ft. Puddle, which is the dreaded "Trap". This is plunged rather more easily than its appearance would indicate, and beyond one enters a tunnel. about 5 ft. wide and high, with water about 2ft.deep. Down the stream we paddle until we reach the Boulder Ruckle, which is the floor of the first large chamber. From here the cave opens out into a total of 9 large chambers, some of then very beautiful.

In one of these chambers is a high scree slope which is littered with bones, some human, some animal. Some of those bones have been tentatively identified by an eminent archaeologist. There is evidence of Ox, Sheep or Goat, and Deer, (Probably Red Deer). The Human bones present are from at least two skeletons, one of an adolescent and one adult.

Leading off this chamber is the "Throne Room". This is the most beautiful Grotto I Have ever seen. It is lined with formations of all colours and dominated by two large stalagmites, one "The King" formation which is joined to the roof, and the other, ''The Queen", which is astonishingly like the statue of Queen Victoria on College Green.  Part of this chamber is a beautiful smaller Grotto, now called "Princess Elizabeth's Grotto", which has a stalagmite floor studded with clear pools filled with "Coral" formation which form a delightful contrast to the noisome water of the stream in which we have wallowed to reach this beauty. In another chamber, connected by high and low level passages to the "Bone Chamber", is an amazing curtain formation whose edge unlike the more normal curtain, is a cylindrical "carved" pillar more than 20 ft. high.

Until the end of July the termination of the new series was a trap, but early in August, Pat Browne, exploring off "Princess Elizabeth's Grotto" discovered a rift which he thought bypassed this obstacle. This was confirmed on Aug.10th.when a small party took a ladder in and carried the exploration a little further. They have almost reached the river again, but they are stopped by another small vertical.

This very short account will give members some idea of the extent of the new system.  Exploration is going forward, and we shall be starting on the work of removing the bones as soon as we have found another entrance (or exit).

The Editor's Notes - The Belfry.

We have no report from the Belfry warden for this issue, but as all active members will know, the hut has proved its worth this Summer. On August Bank Holiday, 25 bods had breakfast there. In connection with this day's work, the A.U.T.A.H.W.* has suggested that in future, should such a crowd turn out, at-meal times all members shall collect plate, knife, fork and cup from the assistant cook at the first shutter on the left, and the head cook will issue rations at the door.

From the Bristol Evening Post we cull the following:-

Exploring bravely underground,
Some members of a Club have found
By squirm an wriggle, squeeze and crawl,
The finest Mendip Caves of all,
And chief among the wondrous sights,
Are stalagmites and stalactites.
Which lackadai-sically grow
An inch each thousand years or so,
While now - of all the blooming cheek -
They're working on a five day week!

* A.U.T.A.H.W. — Acting unpaid assistant Hut harden.


We, have received some contributions for future Bulletins from a, few members and should like more. If your article has not appeared, don’t be discouraged, it will.

The Secretaries graph which is well known to members, has now reached the unprecedented length of 7ft 6ins (unfinished). In the years to come provided that any future secretary does not condemn it to use in the detail, the Editor hopes to see this monument of perseverance used as wall paper for the B.E.C. Mendip Club House.


We have lately received from this Group Publication No.1, Parts 1 & 2.  Part 1, Cave Fauna by E.A.Glennie, Part 2.Cave Fauna Preliminary List by M.Hazelton & E.A.Glennie.

Visit of French Cavers to Mendip.

A party of about 15 Frenchmen have been staying on Mendip as guests of the Wessex Cave Club. We learn from the local press that they have discovered a new Cave Animal “something like a caterpillar". Believed to be new to science.

Back Numbers

Back Numbers, when available can be collected from H.Q. for 3d.each or by post.4d. per copy.

The Mystery,

Perhaps she was trying to drop off??!!

Annual General Meeting

This was held at 74 Redcatch Rd. on Saturday the 14th December 1946 at 7:30 

D.H. Hasell was elected chairman of the meeting and then the Treasurer read the Report and Accounts for 1946. Major points of these were as follows:

Secretarty’s Report 1946

The club has run 65 official trips this year, on which there was an attendance of 520, 275 Members and 145 Visitors.  Club membership stands at 81, the highest ever. Of this number, 18 are in the Forces and 33 are new members.

We are supporting the formation of the Cave Association of Wales and hope to become a member club.

Our affiliation to The British Speleological Association has not renewed, as in the opinion of the Committee, the objects of the association have been lost, and the money is better spent improving amenities of the BEC.

Members have been present at nearly every local operation of The Cave Diving Group, and the Club is now to take part in the work of The Mendip Rescue Organisation.  Details of this scheme will be circulated later.

The Club has now purchased a large hut for Mendip Headquarters. The Library, thanks to the kindness of members has been considerably increased.

(signed) T.H. Stanbury Hon. Sec,

Financial Report 1946

Cash in Hand Jan 1st


General Expenditure to Dec. 14th


Income to Dec. 14th


Hut expenditure to Dec. 14th






The Club, however, still owes Mrs.I,M. Stanbury £8.0.0d for part purchase of the Hut. A further £l.9.8d has been received since the Accounts have been made up.

The expenditure has all come at the end of the year when funds were low, but the opportunity of purchasing the Hut was too good to miss, with the result that the cash balance is at present, negligible.

There has been a lot of slackness in leaders failing to collect the Tackle fee, amounting to a loss of several pounds, and I look to leaders to remedy this in the future.

(Signed)  T.H. Stanbury. Hon. Treasurer.


The next business was the election of the committee. T.H. Stanbury was unanimously re-elected Hon. Sec. and Treasurer. Nominations for the other four places, and the votes for each were as follows:

D.H. Hasell        15 votes
E. Jenkins         4 votes
D.A. Coase       15 votes
A. Innes.           9 votes
A. Withers         3 votes
G. Lucy             8 votes
P. Stewart         11 votes

The Committee for 1947 will, therefore, be:

T.H. Stanbury    Hon. Sec and Treasurer
D.H. Hasell
P. Stewart
D.A. Coase
A. Innes.

Constitution Amendments

Amendments to constitution and rules were then discussed, and a revised copy will be sent to each member as soon as they are printed. Major points raised and passed were:

I.          There to be four classes of membership.

(a)  Life Members.
(b)  Full Members
(c)  Junior Members (those under 18 years of age)
(d) Associate Members.
Subscriptions for (b) 10/- per annum, (c) and (d) 5/- per annum.

II           The Equipment fee to be reduced to 3d. per trip.

It was also agreed that the new rules shall stand without alteration for the next three years, unless a two thirds majority of members request any alteration or amendment.

D.A. Coase was appointed Hut Warden and Hon. Equipment officer, and a charge of 3d. per person using the Hut, and for those staying overnight a 1/- per member per night, or 2/- per visitor per night were agreed to. Members of other cave clubs would be welcome at the Hut (hereafter known as 'The Belfry') with the proviso that BEC members have priority for accommodation.

Mrs. I.M Stanbury, in recognition of her services to the club, was unanimously elected an Honorary Life Member.

Donations toward the cost of the 'Belfry' would be welcome, and £2.2.6d. has been received to date.

The meeting officially closed at 9.45 p.m.

Then a concerted rush was made for the 'buffet', which was presided over by Mrs. I.M. Stanbury, ably assisted by Mrs J. Fountain and Mrs. S. Hasell, and soon everyone was stuffing mightily.  The 'proceeds' from the buffet resulted in a further 15/- for the Club funds.  our thanks to 'The Caterers'.

Sidelinks from the A.G.M.

Johnnie Pain handing round a FULL packet of players. Four fags were returned. The Biter Bit !!!

The committee having 'detailed' his duties, the Hut Warden immediately attempted to resign, but was forcibly prevented from doing

The Belfry.

Is situated at The Beeches, Eastwater, which is at the entrance to the old St. Cuthbert's Lead Mine, about half a mile from the Hunter's Lodge Inn on the right hand side of the road to Priddy.

The accommodation comprises a wooden hut in three sections, each about 12’x 8’, and a small stone hut as a tackle store. A great deal of work had to be done to make it really habitable, and anyone who can help during weekends would be more than welcome, please note the fire is in going order to thaw out frozen digits. Contributions of cutlery, crockery, cooking gear, blankets, etc., will be gladly accepted.

Overheard in G.B.

Experienced caver - 'Mad things, these Helictites, aren't they?'

Novice.         - 'wouldn't you be if you had been down there as long as they have?'

Programme for January. February and March

January 19th.     Full Eastwater.  Meet at the Belfry, 10 a.m
February 16th.   Axbridge Ochre Mine, Loxton Cave, Denny's Hole.
March 9th.         Lamb Leer

All other week-ends will be devoted to work on 'The Belfry'


Belfry Bulletin

The Belfry Bulletin will be published at irregular intervals for the present. Any Suggestions or criticisms for improving it, or contributions for inclusion will be welcome.  Come on you budding authors!! Please send replies to - The Hon. Editor.  'Belfry Bulletin' c/o 74 Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.


The Bristol Exploration Club wish to thank G. Platten for the gift of a primus stove and A.M. Innes for the gift of a long climbing rope.

Round and About Bristol

For club members who are not able to get as far away from Bristol as Priddy and Burrington, there are some interesting points nearby. There are some gruff-holes terminating in small chambers near Henbury Golf Course and Blaise Castle Estate. There is an underground passage leading from the garages on Horfield Common the (now demolished) Quantocks school on Kellaway Avenue, the garage end is now cemented over, but the other end opens into the school basement.

There is a small cave entrance in the middle quarry on the west side of Avon Gorge which continues for about 15 ft and ends in choke.  A nice set of slabs presents a decent rock climb in the same quarry.  Also between quarry II and quarry III is a good ridge walk - in one place about 4 feet wide with approximately 200'- drops both sides !

On Dundry Common the strata of the rock is horizontal and there an interesting system of small caves.  In places they have been shored up either with props or stone walls.  There are 4 at least of varying size and probably quite a few more.  If anything is known regarding these caves - information would be gratefully received. On a recent visit the names of R. Crew B.E.C. and O. Oxley and B. Warren Y.C.L. were noticed.

Nearby situated near Barrow Hill is Dial Quarry with an interesting cave running approximately west to East with about 120 ft.

Information Please

Would anyone knowing anything regarding a cave situated in Burlescombe Quarry (Burlescombe, Devon) please write to P.A.E. Stewart, c/o H. Stanbury, 74, Redcatch road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

A party from Blundells school, Tiverton made a partial exploration but were brought up by a vertical drop of a depth exceeding the length of rope carried by the exploration.


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“.

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


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.