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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Adrian Hole

Committee Members

Secretary: Vince Simmonds
Joint Treasurers: Mike and Hilary Wilson
Membership Secretary: Sean Howe
Editor: Adrian Hole
Caving Secretary: Greg Brock
Tackle Master: Tyrone Bevan
Hut Engineers: John Walsh, Neil Usher
Hut Warden: Roger Haskett
BEC Web Page Editor: Estelle Sandford
Librarian: Graham Johnson
Hut Bookings: Fiona Sandford
Floating Member: Bob Smith

Letters and articles published in the club magazine do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor the Committee or the club in general

Editorial.

Welcome to the Autumn BB - a bit like waiting for a bus, you waited ages and then ...... etc. First, the news- shockingly Tony and team have only found a few metres more in Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink in recent weeks - slackers!  The sump proved to be blocked and digging is now largely focused back on the Drip Tray Sump area (see Rich Dolby's dive report on page 18).  The St. Cuthbert's 50th Anniversary saw a good turn out (see page 25) and now thoughts turn to the AGM and Dinner - this issue should reach you a day or two before.  BEC members: Rich Dolby, MadPhil, Jrat and Carole White - along with other Mendip and Northern digging enthusiasts - recently passed their Explosive Users Group exam. Mendip digs beware!  In addition, Estelle Sandford has taken over the BEC website and is currently developing it - including a mail box marked Editor in which you can put articles for the BB if you feel so inclined.  Please note that it has a new address: www.bec.cave.org.uk

Note, that by mistake the volume No. of recent BB’s is wrong - last issue (BB516) was Vol. 53 No.2., the previous BB (515) was assigned Vol. 52 No.3, thus making Vol. 53 No.1 either something of a collector's item or simply a figment of my fevered imagination. Mea culpa.  My only mitigation is one of incompetence.

Finally, it was mentioned by some at the St. Cuthbert's do that no obituary for Jock Orr has appeared in the BB.  This is sad but true, but I haven't received one!  If someone would like to put one together and send it to me it will go straight into the next issue - which will be out just before Christmas


 

Digging and Diving News.

Eastwater Cavern.

Phil 'MadPhil' Rowsell, Graham 'Jake' Johnson and team continue the Morton's Pot dig, which is currently dry enough and hopefully will remain so if we are blessed with an Indian Summer.  Somewhere below Phil is also engaged in resurveying Southbank in an effort to accurately tie it in with the rest of the system - a vital and noble task but one which very few wish to assist with.

Hunters' Hole.

John Walsh's team are working in Dear's Ideal spurred on by the size of the parallel system being uncovered in Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink and only a short distance to the east. Indeed, hopefully the word parallel will soon be replaced by the word converging, or even inlet.

Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink.

Digging continues at Drip Tray Sump, most of the new stuff having been explored and surveyed - with the exception of the avens in BAB.  The "old cow bones" have been identified by Dr. Roger Jacobi ( British Museum (Natural History)) as bison and reindeer.  They are between 28,000 and 80,000 years old! (see article on p 10).

St. Cuthbert's Swallet.

Saturday the 6th September saw a large (and largely ageing) crowd gather for the 50th anniversary celebrations.  A champagne reception underground was followed by an afternoon of beer drinking, a BBQ (courtesy of Mr. Haskett) and then slide shows at the Hunters', including some of Don Coase's original exploration photographs. (See page 25).

Swildon's Hole.

Work has continued in Sump Twelve - more detailed news should appear in the next BB.

Thrupe Swallet.

There has apparently been another breakthrough at this site - approximately 120' of tight stuff. Once again, more detailed news of this should appear in the next BE. (For Part II of the account ofthe previous major breakthrough see p 4).


 

Letter From Kangy King

I enjoyed Chris's write up about John Stafford.

John Stafford is one of the best people you could wish to meet.  I've been glad to know him for a very long time.  I still owe him about 12 (10) pints as a result of our "Roof of Wales" walk over 41 of Wales' finest peaks.  In spite of the beer the route we fashioned follows a more or less straight line from north to south.  Get Staff to tell you about it one day.

He didn't say when he first started caving; he and Chris Falshaw weren't fully grown and were obliged to swim across the Twin Pots in Swildon's.  He also omitted to explain how he came to "crash my motorbike the night before".  The Velocette motorcyle had been given to the impecunious Staff by an officer gentleman in the RAF.  How Staff knew a gentleman is unknown.  The Velocette (a KSS 350 ohc pre-WWII machine) was called "The Black Widow".  Work that out for yourself or get Pat Ifold to tell you about his earlier KSS, also called "The Black Widow".  Fortunately Staff hadn't yet married so it didn't do a proper job on him.  The ex-WD dispatch riders helmet was steel and where it had hit the curb it had a flattened side.  It was described as "D" shaped.  I suppose that's what knocked his hair off.

As soon as I heard that Staff was conscious after his prang I went to the BRI with a bottle of Guinness, anxious to know if the bike was OK.  I have always been impressed with Staff but never more so than when he reached under the bed with the bottle without looking and prised off the cap using the wire mattress.  We didn't know that alcohol was not good for concussion and I often worry if I was responsible for the state of his brain.

Another of his accidents was in Cuthbert's.  He was supposed to link up with my party.  I think we were surveying somewhere.  He didn't arrive at our rendezvous and back on the surface he wasn't there either.  When we got to him in the cave he was sitting holding his bloody head.  A hold had broken on him and typical of Staff s luck he banged the side of his head as he fell.  A rescue was organised and he more or less got himself out with a little help from a top rope.  It would have been difficult to have managed otherwise.  Still, all the practice rescues paid off in that one day.  Later, in hospital it emerged that he had shattered his hearing mechanism in one side.  It’s almost impossible to tell which side because he can detect "What'll you have Staff?" from any side you choose.  Get anybody to tell you about it.

We did a lot of climbing together.  And that is another, treasured story.


 

Digging at Thrupe Swallet or The Agony and the Ecstasy.  Part II: More Agony.

by Tony Audsley

Part I of this article (1) described the history of the present dig from the start, in December 1999, up to the discovery of Rubicon Chamber at the end of December 2001. Now, in part II, the agony continues...

On Wednesday 2nd January 2002 the new section was entered.  In recognition of passing (just) the magic 100ft depth the chamber was christened the Rubicon.  This was another low sloping bedding chamber, about 15 ft long by 5 ft wide with a flowstone bank on the southern end.  Just short of this bank there was a pit among the boulders in the floor.  The pit took the form of a narrow slot at least ten feet deep but, in its raw state, impassably narrow.

A small stream, which emerged from the boulder floor of Maglite Grotto, flowed down the Rubicon and disappeared into this pit.  As was the case with Maglite Grotto the water destabilised the fill and the whole floor area tended to sludge its way down to the bottom of the chamber.  The eventual solution was to construct a series of slab steps to break the fall of the water and this has been largely successful.

Once we had stabilised the floor of the chamber we were able to start work on the pit.  This was an unpleasant place to dig and soon a dam and elephant's trunk pipe were installed in an attempt to divert the stream away from the back of the diggers' necks.  This was moderately unsuccessful.  Work continued on the pit until 13th February when the Resident Deity came out to play. This time she had an assistant, a novice digger who was unversed in ruckle etiquette and her playful ways. Climbing out of the Rubicon back into Maglite Grotto her assistant precipitated a massive collapse.  A three hundredweight block from the south side of the Hammerhead crashed down into the Rubicon, followed by all the stone walling it had been supporting.  Rich Witcombe and Rob Taviner had a really rather good view of all this from more or less directly below.  Luckily for them the block stopped before it reached their jibbering forms and being small and nimble they were able to dodge most of the other stuff.  After a decent pause Rich and Tav crawled up to inspect the damage and found that the Hammerhead Boulder seemed to be hanging unsupported. Gingerly they levitated back into Maglite at which point the floor of the grotto on the north side of the Hammerhead collapsed into the Rubicon.  The three diggers retreated thoughtfully from the scene, two needed to make urgent visits to a launderette.

After this things got rather silly.  We wanted all the boulders in Maglite Grotto to stay where they were but the boulders didn't like that idea; they wanted to get on down into the Rubicon and play there. So, what to do?  Plan A was quickly followed by plans B, C, D, etc. Each plan in the sequence involved undoing all the work of the previous one and moving the spoil heap again. This was all good fun and true to the time-honoured traditions of digging on Mendip but it was time consuming. The final solution, possibly Plan J, which took the form of a short but perfectly crafted angle iron mini-shaft*, was not completed until 29th May.  The first digging session in the Rubicon since February's collapse was on Sunday 2nd June.

Perhaps it was the 3 months enforced break from digging which had weakened the intellect. Perhaps we had just got used to playing musical spoil heaps but at this point someone, I am afraid it was probably me, had the bright idea of abandoning the pit and starting a high level dig at the back of the Rubicon.  This idea did not meet with universal approval but, in the first instance, the "upper-routers" won the debate and July was spent digging out a lot of rock and fill and dumping it into the pit.  All to no avail.  Eventually, by the beginning of August, common sense returned and we started back in the pit, and dumped the spoil from the pit...

During August and September the pit was gradually deepened.  The rather dismal working conditions were improved dramatically by the installation of "shower curtains" made of horticultural black fabric. These were draped down the north (wet) wall of the pit.  The curtains were much more effective in practice than the old elephant's trunk. They contained the falling water and trapped all the spray.  They are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for use by all who toil below falling water.

At a depth of about 12 feet, a stream was encountered which flowed away to the west over the mud and gravel floor.  A foot-high way on could be seen for about 8 ft.  This was followed through the boulders, heading for what appeared to be a sloping rock wall with an apparent drop just in front.

By the end of November a small choked chamber had been entered.  This had the distinct advantage of being in solid rock, a new experience. Unfortunately, it was just a little too solid.  There were a few small leads here but none was very promising.  There was a slot in the floor which took all the water but it was proving very difficult to enlarge.  Digging conditions were also moderately unpleasant or leastways fairly damp.

By the end of 2002 the dig was 117 feet deep and had a total passage length of 300 feet, although some of this had been backfilled.  During the year there had been 81 digging trips with a total expenditure of 690 digger-hours of labour.

Spirits were low at the beginning of 2003 and on Wednesday 8th Jan we decided to give up the east end of the passage as hopeless and start digging at the base of the Rubicon Pit again. However, as luck, or the Deity would have it, the following Sunday's team decided to have one last look at the east end.  After digging out about a dozen bags worth a hole appeared in the back wall going apparently back up dip.  Three holes were drilled in the base of the wall just as a last shot at this area. After digging the walk back across the field was enhanced by Simon Meade-King taking a sudden header onto the ground after a brief encounter with a frozen cow-pat - this caused general mirth and was taken to be a good omen.

The following Wednesday night we were joined by Allen Sinclair, a trainee BBC photo-journalist. The poor bloke had been told to go out and film something under difficult conditions and he ended up down Thrupe.  The Deity must have taken a fancy to him for it was a good evening.  After doing some clearing of the debris, we could see about 10 feet into a low (3"-18") continuation which emitted a distinct draught. There was much excitement and not just for the benefit of the camera.

 

The approach to Inside Out.   Clive North has just been kicked in the crotch by Rich Witcombe.

Sunday 19th January saw us into the low bedding chamber continuation, about a foot high at the entrance, rising to a massive 3 feet high inside.  A good way on could be seen off to the right.  After enlarging the threshold we were able to see into a small draughting tube and hear the faint sound of falling water in the distance. In its raw state the tube was impassable but some gentle cooking by master chef Clive North tenderised the walls and the tube was slowly enlarged.

This process of gentle cooking and enlargement was complicated by the need to bail, to install pumps that refused to work and, in the later stages of the excavation, to chain the spoil all the way back to the top of Advent Chamber, the last remaining stacking space.  The water problem was solved eventually by driving a hole in the floor.  This took all the seepage and made the dig more or less self-draining.  This improved working conditions in the passage (now referred to as "Inside Out") almost to the point of luxury.

The team settled down for what everyone knew was going to be a long siege on the tube.  We were encouraged by the promise of better times ahead, but we had heard that before.  Perhaps the Deity was just playing games with us.  Nevertheless, we worked slowly along the tube, spurred on by the ever-increasing sound of falling water ahead.  Finally, on 19th March, we got to the point where we could flick stones forward along the tube and they would fall into a void.  We had reached the lip of a shaft. Tav's words from the log:-

" ... now the good news - the tube terminates at the head of a pitch. Can't quite get near enough to look down.  However rolling rocks (everybody had a go) suggests the pitch is 50-60ft deep, split by ledges, with the stream entering halfway down ... the actual pitch sounds relatively roomy ... "

We were still more than 6 feet away from the actual drop and it was not until Sunday 30th March that Simon (Nik-Nak) Richards was able to force the squeeze (later cooked out of existence) at the head of the pitch (Persistence Pot) and make the first descent.


Rich Witcombe descending Persistence Pot.

Once again though the Deity had the last laugh.  We had got into a fine 45 ft pitch which contained some well decorated grottos. Unfortunately the only way on at the bottom of the pitch was under a low arch in the western wall of the shaft. This was massively choked.  To add insult to injury, the Deity had arranged a water-spout to emerge from the wall of the shaft about 15 ft directly above the dig site.

We took some time to absorb the change in the dig's circumstances and most of April was taken up with necessary post-breakthrough housekeeping tasks.  Access to the pitch was improved, Tav surveyed the extension and Rich and Clive worked on various aerial water management schemes, the latest of which managed to convey (most of) the water from the spout across the rift and away from the dig site.

The first digging attempts in Upside Down (Gonzo Lumley's name for the passage) revealed a floor of grey clays lying above compacted red clays and rocks.  As this was excavated, the in flowing water ponded into the resulting hole and the unfortunate digger found that he was excavating his own swimming pool.  This was tedious and rather unpleasant and we came to the conclusion that the best approach would be to raise the roof of the passage rather than dig out the floor. This had the advantage that the spoil would be clean rock which would be easier to stack in the available sloping dumping space.

There were some leads to explore in the shaft itself.  On 12 May Nik-Nak probed the alcove on the north side of Persistence Pot, about 12 ft below the lip of the shaft.  Much to our surprise he entered a roomy (at maximum about 20 ft high by 6 ft wide) ascending rift.  The upper reaches of this rift (Nik-Nak's Nook) are close to the bottom of Advent Chamber and would have provided much easier access to the pitch had we pushed the leads on the east side of the dig in the early stages.  Ho Hum!


Bob Cottle in the entrance to Upside Down.  Photograph by Rob Taviner.

The major digging effort in Upside Down started in June with serious attempts to raise the roof of the passage.  The digging in Upside Down became a rerun of the Inside Out saga as it settled down to the familiar if somewhat monotonous cycle of drilling, banging and mucking-out.

On 20 August Dave King (MNRC) managed to pass the remnants of a stal barrier that had been causing problems for a while.  A few feet further on he forced a very committing downward squeeze to enter a small muddy chamber.  From here he followed a low passage which became too tight after about 15 ft. About 10ft ahead of his sticking point he could see a low arch, beyond which was a pile of stream debris with a heavy drip falling onto it, possibly from a high rift or aven.

This is the situation at the end of August.  Tav's survey shows that the dig has over 500 ft of passage and is 169 ft deep (over 300 ft to go to the rising).  Once again it looks promising.  Perhaps THIS time the Deity will give in gracefully and let us into the cave.  Or perhaps ...

Whatever, it looks like there will have to be another article sometime.

* Because of the author's incompetence the photograph of the shaft appears in part one of this article - sorry!



Diggers and visitors (January 2002 - date)

Allen Sinclair (BBC), Alison Moody, Annie Audsley, Bob Cottle, Carmen Haslett, Clive North, Colin Rogers, Dave Everett, Dave Grosvenor, Dave King, Dave Morrison, Dave Speed, Elaine Johnson, Gary Sandys, Hugh Tucker, John Hill, James Witcombe, Jonathan Williams, Mark Lumley, Pat Cronin, Pete Hellier, Pete Mulholland, Rob Taviner, Roz Fielder, Rich Witcombe, Simon Meade-King, Simon Richards, Steve Shipston, Tony Audsley, Tony Littler.

Reference

(1) Tony Audsley - Digging at Thrupe Swallet, or the Agony and the Ecstasy.  Belfry Bulletin 516 Vol 53 No 2 pp 19-26.

An alternative view of the dig

Richard Witcombe - Fourth time lucky? - Digging at Thrupe Swallet.  Wessex Cave Club J. Vol 27 (285) pp68-71.

Richard Witcombe - Fourth time lucky? - Digging at Thrupe Swallet.  Wessex Cave Club J. Vol 27 (286) pp84-88.

In the short term

Up to date information, photographs, sounds, a song and some foolishness may be found on the web at:-

http://freespace.virgin.net/t.audsley


 

Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink - of Dives "Climbs" Brown Trousers and Old Bones.

by Tony Jarratt
with photographs by Sean Howe

Continuing the saga from BB 516.

On 14th August Tangent took local vet Alex Barlow to look at the bones.  This would have been a more fulfilling experience for him if Tangent had taken working lights!  Tony Audsley compared our five samples with bones from Charterhouse Warren Farm Swallet and agreed with Alex that they were probably large cow and a small ruminant, possibly sheep.  Tony thought that they could be very old - at least 500 years - and that one appeared to have been chewed by a carnivore.  Margaret Chapman also borrowed the bones and brought them to the attention of Dr. Roger M. Jacobi of the British Museum (Natural History) and U.B.S.S.  The writer was surprised to receive a phone call from an excited Dr. Jacobi stating that the remains are of bison and reindeer and from the later half of the Upper Pleistocene period - between 28,000 and 80,000 years old! Tony, Alex and butcher Roger Haskett can be excused for their cow identifications as they don't get many bison to play with.  The gnawing marks on the bison's jaw are either from wolf or hyena, probably the former. If these animals were still around I wouldn't give much hope for Andy and Pam's cabbage patch ... Dr. Jacobi suggested that we remove more bones for examination and that he is interested in getting a date for the stalagmite coatings.  He is also able to get the bone dated at a cost of around 380 pounds. A.B.C.R.A. research grant has been applied for to pay for this.  Tony suggests that the bones may have been washed into the depths of the cave from a carnivore lair or pit-fall entrance during the alternating warm and cold periods of the Devensian glaciation.  This would also account for the banded sediment deposits in the Drip Tray area. (Mendip at this point was part of the cold and immense "mammoth-steppe" stretching unbroken across the whole of northern Europe as far as Siberia.  Accompanying our bison, reindeer and wolf on their forays over the vast grasslands and tundra were woolly mammoth and rhinoceros, bear, cave lion and primitive horse.  Though it is possible that the Hunters' Lodge was yet to be built the hunters were certainly there, namely the last of the Neanderthals and, latterly, the recently arrived ancestors of ourselves - Homo Sapiens).

Rich Dolby dived "Hair of the Dog Sump" on the 17th but failed to make any progress (see following article).  He intends to have another look with a single bottle.  On this trip Tangent, Vince Simmonds and Pete Bolt gained another 5m of phreatic crawl at the end of The Barmaids' Bedrooms and there is still further scope here.

Work continued on clearing the Inn-let crawl in preparation for stone-walling the climb up and emptying the Drip Tray water through the floor.  Photography, tourism and clearing trips also continued and John Wilson (Moles) commenced a detailed palaentological survey of the bone deposit which was also visited by trainee archaeologist Hannah Bell (Soton U.C.C.) who was elated by the antiquities and beauty of the Bedrooms.  Ed Hodge (U.B.S.S.) made some relevant observations on the stalagmite deposition.

The 25th August saw your scribe, Jeff Price and Tangent emplacing bolts at the end of the Boulevard in an attempt to bypass the suicidal terminal choke via a high level inlet. After a climb of over 5m this potential ceiling passage was reached and found to close down after 1m.  At least we had ticked it off and could put our minds to surmounting the choke.

The Boulevard survey was completed by Trev Hughes on the 31st amidst much enthusiastic admiration, this being his first visit to the lower section of the cave.  On the 1st September the writer checked out all the south end of Pewter Pot to find nothing of promise and some very loose boulders at the top.  Beware if you visit this area!  Jake Baynes worked hard on Slop 3 dig but after reaching deep water under the floor of the Pot this was again temporarily abandoned. It is not a promising site. With little else to do and plenty of time to spare your scribe bit the bullet and, leaving Jake wedged high in the Boulevard, tiptoed up through the terminal choke for a distance of some 20m and a height gain of around 10m - all amongst horrendous huge boulders.  There are several possible ways on but are all too frightening to contemplate pushing at present.  From first hand descriptions of the nearby Tankard Hole this place sounds very similar but with the unfortunate difference that it is approached from underneath!  It is estimated that the Boulevard has crossed under the road and is heading out under Roger Dor's field but there are no plans to seek for another entrance here.


Traversing over Hair of the Dog Sump


The lower end of Broon Ale boulevard


Broon Ale Boulevard – climbing up the phreatic ramp towards the choke


The Inn-let


Broon Ale Boulevard

On 3rd September eight more bone samples, including a bison horn cone, were recovered and a further, stalagmite coated bone came out the next day.  On this trip MadPhil and the writer completed a few outstanding survey legs and dug into 15m of well decorated parallel rift passage on the NW side of the Boulevard.  A superb pure white flowstone boss inspired the name Guinness Head Rift.  It ends in a 7m high aven which appears to close down but is probably geomorphologically connected to the Bedrooms' above.  It was later re-discovered by John Walsh!

During the next couple of weeks a variety of consolidating jobs took place.  Bev and Gwilym commenced wet stone walling the Inn-let climb; the writer, Jeff Price, Ray Deasy, Dan the Dane and co. cleared bags from Drip Tray sump/dig and filled up the Spile Heap; Ed Waters, Sean Howe and a Shepton team took some stunning photographs of Broon Ale Boulevard; Tangent and Trev investigated the choke beyond the bone deposit and prepared more samples for Dr. Jacobi, and John Wilson completed his bone survey.  More surface surveying and computing was done by MadPhil and in the depths of the British Museum our mentors studied the pieces of bison and reindeer provided and became enthusiastic over the discovery.

Wednesday 17th September saw a team bailing water from Drip Tray Sump into a hole on the floor of the Inn-let.  A party visiting BAB heard it pouring down the south side of Pewter Pot.  This has solved our winter digging problems as bailing or pumping is now a feasible option.

More diggers and acknowledgements

Greg Brock, Pete Bolt, Hannah Bell (Soton Uc.c.), Ed Hodge (UB.S.S.), Dr. Roger M. Jacobi (British Museum (Natural History), U.B.S.S.), Dr. Andy Currant (British Museum (Natural History), UB.S.S.), Mabs Gilmore (Open Univ.), Dr. Rainer Grun (Australian Nat. Univ., Canberra), B.C.R.A. and Bill Tolfree (B.C.R.A., S.M.C.C.), Daniel Listh (Denmark), Ed Waters and Hilary Clarke (S.M.C.C.).

1.                  Bone identification

2.                  Right mandible of bison (Bison cf priscus) with three permanent, crenellated molars.  Gnawed by hyena or, more likely, wolf (Canus lupus).

3.                  Distal humerus of bison, broken.

4.                  Mandible of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus).

5.                  Vertebra of bison.

6.                  Part of reindeer antler.

7.                  Stalagmite coated bone.

8.                  "Curly" bone.

9.                  "Straight" bone. 9. Rib.

10.              Bison horn cone.

11.              Pelvic bone.

12.              Small vertebra.

13.              Y -shaped antler part.

14.              H-shaped antler part.

Useful references

In Search of Cheddar Man, Larry Barham et al. (1999)

On the Track of Ice Aze Mammals, Anthony J. Sutcliffe (1985)

Owls, Caves and Fossils, Peter Andrews (1990)

Westburv Cave - The Natural Historv Museum Excavations 1976-1984, Peter Andrews, Jill Cook, Andrew Currant and Christopher Stringer

Note:    Due to the irresponsible actions of a Club member the longest and finest stalactite in the cave has been smashed to pieces necessitating a ban on tourist and photographic trips for the foreseeable future. This is a very fragile, beautiful and palaentologically important cave system and we WILL conserve it as well as we are able.

The Digging Team.


 

Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink - Hair of the Dog Sump Dive Report.

by Rich Dolby

Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink, Priddy, Somerset.  (ST 5494 5012).  17-08-03

DIVER: R.J. DOLBY. SUPPORT: J. WALSH

The purpose of this trip was to dive Hair of the Dog Sump, the most recent find in the on-going development of the H.L.I.S. system.  A previous porterage trip made on the 12-08-03 had shown that the new sump had some potential - a crude measurement of the entry pool indicated a depth in excess of 3 metres.

The exploration commenced from the 'northern' end of the sump - the diver entering the water at 11.55 a.m. having belayed his primary reel line to a large boulder above water. The steeply sloping bottom quickly dropped to in excess of 2.5 metres along the western wall.  The diver continued probing along this western wall, and found the depth quickly decreased again to around 1 metre, at this point attention switched to the east side of the sump.  Here the bottom dropped away again to around 3.5 metres in depth.  The diver returned to the shallower central area of the sump and retrieved the primary line.  A traverse line had previously been installed and it was to this that the diver belayed his line to commence exploration of the southern end of the sump.  This area also proved unproductive with no way on evident.  Despite much probing along both walls and the central 'floor' of the sump no way on could be found.  Operations ceased with the diver leaving the water at 12.25.

The general nature of the sump toward the northern end was of steeply inclined phreatic walls with an uneven 'floor' of large boulders, covered with a thick mud/silt deposit. This gave way to a generally even mud floor toward the southern area.  Visibility in the sump was generally poor to non-existent.

Dry cracked mud banks can be seen immediately adjacent to the pool, indicating that the water levels do fluctuate.  This suggests a similarity with the previously explored Drip Tray Sump (Belfry Bulletin Vol. 52, No.3) - which was found to drain completely under certain conditions.  Similarly, there are indications that the water backs up considerably in times of heavy weather.

NB. A month later the water level had dropped another 1.5m - ARJ

Many thanks for assistance from M. Barker, P. Bolt, A. Hole, A. Jarratt, V. Simmonds and J. Williams - "their physical energy and their indomitable will were their tools".



 

Ores Close - its Caves and Mines.

by Dave Irwin

Ores Close area is best known for Dallimore's Cave, named after the farmer at the time of its opening and initial exploration in 1948.  However, surrounding the farmhouse, now a private dwelling, lie a number of mineshafts, some exhibiting mined and natural passage upwards of 500m in length.  All have been capped and, except one, their individual location lost.  Nonetheless interest in these sites covered a period of over 50 years from 1938 - 1991 and of the 10 sites recorded only Dallimore's Cave is currently accessible to cavers.


Fig.1: Ores Close. The area where the miners worked is the diamond shaped fields both to the north and south of the farm buildings.

Of direct interest to cavers is the line of swallets extending north-east from Hillgrove to Green Ore - the Hillgrove Swallets; they are Easter Hole, Lobster Pot, Whitsun Hole, Rock Swallet, Zoo (or Double Back), the lost Gypsy Pot and Hillgrove Swallet, the collective name for a number of adjacent digs.  Though this site has been dug intermittently since 1903, and at the deepest, is currently over 30m deep; it holds on to its secret well.  It is also Mendip's longest running dig site. In addition to this group of mainly dry swallets lie a number of sinks extending down towards Biddlecombe including Haydon Drove Swallet.  To the north-west, at Green Ore is Island Plantation Swallet and to the north lies the now buried Nedge Hill Swallet.  A group of mineshafts is also known at Miles Lot Plantation, Green Ore.

Immediately before and after the Second World War, interest in the Hillgrove - Green Ore - Miner's Arms and Hunters' Lodge rectangle intrigued a number of cavers in the WCC.  A numbered list of sites was prepared by Peter Harvey, c.l946, each prefixed by the letter' A'.  The alternative name for Alfie's Hole is A101.


Fig.2: Aerial photograph taken in 1946 of Ores Close.

Ores Close

Ores Close, adjacent to the 'T' junction of the Priddy road with the A37 Wells - Bristol road is an area that has been subjected to considerable mining activity.  Nothing relating to the activity here has been found in the standard books of reference including Gough's Mines of Mendip.  Most of the work appears to have been the sinking of shafts and development of vertical features in the search for calamine (zinc blend) and possibly haematite which has also been found there.  An aerial photograph taken by the RAF in 1946 for the Ministry of Housing and Works clearly shows the intensive effort that was made in search of minerals in a relatively small area.  Over 200 sites can be identified in the two fields to the north and south of the old farmhouse.  All appear to have been capped long ago and only an occasional accidental opening leads to the exploration of an individual shaft.  Today part of the area to the north of the house is now a mature conifer plantation.

Ores Close Cave, 1938

In 1938, Charles P. Weaver, his wife May, and George Bowen, having explored the tiny series in Eastwater Cavern for which they are still remembered, began exploring the mine shafts in the area north of Pen Hill; an activity they knew as "mineshafting". Most of the open shafts in the area were explored and found to be up to 50m deep. On the 22nd May 1938 having descended a 37m unidentified shaft (note 1) they had a chance meeting with the farmer, Mr. Dallimore, (note 2) who told them of other shafts.  Weaver noted that  (note 3)

" ... not only did he know of several open ones, but also of one, covered in with an entrance about 6' round with a stone on top - he thought it was a rabbit's burrow!  On poking a stick in it he dislodged a stone & imagine his surprise when it fell down & out of his hearing.  He led us to the spot & not long after we had uncovered a shaft about 4 ft diameter, built up like a well, about 15 ft down it entered a natural rift.  We rigged our ladders & and after a descent of 50 ft we landed in a natural cavern.  Passages going out up the main rift in either direction. .. .I have yet to survey the system, this will follow when we have logged all the many passage. Ochre is much in evidence, stalactite confined to fine straws about 4 in. long - pure white curtain & much drip deposit .... I will wire you & send a sketch later, but thought it would be best to log our find right away.  I think an apt name for it is Hillwove Cavern discovered or re-discovered May 22nd 1938 by CP. Weaver, Mrs CP. Weaver & G.B. Bowen - my wife has held materially & has been in as far as we have .... "

 

Fig.3: A detail of the field north of the farm buildings (bottom right) showing the density of mining in the area.

Weaver's summary in the MNRC Report for 1938 is more detailed. (note 4)

"Removing the stone, revealed a roofed-in mine shaft.  This proved to be 55 feet deep, and led into what proved to be the largest lead mine workings known on Mendip.

Passages, mostly mined in a Rift, led into Natural Cavities - extending some 200 feet to each side of shaft terminating to N in a huge boulder choke, at junction of two major faults.  A passage was forced through to a depth of 186 feet.

The mine workings, on three levels gave perfect specimens of lead and calamine ores.

Photos have been taken of old props, decayed with age. In several boulders, marks plainly showed the passage of ropes for hauling skips loaded with ore.

Stalactite formation and drip deposit were much in evidence.  Perfect specimens of cave pearls were found, also fine evidence of "blasting" by heating with fire.

This discovery was made by CP. Weaver and G.B. Bowen, photowaphs being taken by G. Harvey.

There still remains much to be examined and a survey is to be made - a typical Mendip Lead Mine, not to be confused with either a shaft, pure and simple, or a "wuff' working".


Fig. 4: Weaver’s survey of Ores Close Cave 9original in BSA Records, BCRA Library.  (38 by 16cms)

The last paragraph emphasises a conflict of opinion as to the material being searched for by the miners. In his letter to Simpson he reasons that it was excavated for calamine as there is " ... much ochre in evidence ... " but later seems to have changed his view and that it was " ... a typical Mendip Lead Mine ... ".

Harvey's photographs have not yet been located though the search continues and reports seen by the author indicate that Gerard Platten took a number of images clearly indicating the entrance location but again, these have not been found. (note 5)  Weaver suggested that the cave be known as Hillgrove Cavern but was obviously dissuaded for the name given it on the survey is Orr's Close Mine.

Following this discovery, WCC arranged at least two trips to visit the "Disused Lead Mines".  (note 6)

The 1940s

So matters rested until the post-war period.  A crowd of BEC cavers, including 'Sett', 'Postle' and 'Pongo' et al visited and descended what was know to them as Ores Close Mineshaft on the 4th May 1947.  Its location was not stated and would appear to be one that was well-known to the then BEC members.  However, a later document from a very different source positively points to its location.

The 1950s

In 1952, Luke Devenish, was contracted to level the ground at Rodney Pits Plantation and at Ores Close hopefully returning it to agricultural use - though the Ores Close north field is a now mature conifer plantation. (note 7)  During the course of this work a number of shafts were opened, some of which were later explored by UBSS cavers. (note 8)

About the time of this work Devenish prepared a map, based upon the 25" as survey showing the location of the seven open shafts he was aware of including two that were open prior to the levelling work. (note 9)  Each site was annotated with a letter which cross-referred to a set of very short notes outlining details of each shaft (Fig. 5)


Fig.5: Detail of Devenish's c.1952 map showing the field to the north of the farmhouse. (The original is very faint and the dark areas resulting from the computer scan have been removed for clarity).

Later, c.1955, Devenish wrote a two page document with another version of the Ores Close map showing an additional shaft just south of the farmhouse.  His manuscript notes are more general than the earlier map without directly cross-relating to the indicated shafts on the accompanying map (Fig. 6). (note 10)


Fig. 6: Devenish’s c.1955 map of the area, amended by the author by the addition of alpha indents as entered on the c.1952 map.  On this Original the “dots” were colour coded according to the legend.

However, by scaling the maps it has been possible to obtain good NGR’s for the eight sites.  As each site is referenced by letter on the earlier (c.1952) map the various notes on this and the c. 1955 manuscript can be grouped together resulting in a fairly good summary of each site.

Shaft A       5680.4960 This is the shaft descended by BEC in 1947, but by 1955 the general condition of the top of the shaft was considered too dangerous to make a descent.  Devenish states that the BEC reported the depth as being 73m on the c.1952 map but amends this to 64m in the c.1955 manuscript.

Shaft B        5676.4957 Opened by levelling. 10m deep, no side workings

Shaft C        5682.4958 Opened by levelling. No depth has been stated but it is not deeper than 25m. (note 11)  This site was explored by William Stanton and Oliver Wells.  No details of the trip can be found in the WCC Logbooks.  A miner's clay tally was found in this shaft, and is now on display in Wells Museum (see photograph page 29).

Shaft D        5675.4954 The shaft was open before levelling began.  Again no information is available except that the shaft was explored by William Stanton who sent a report to the local representative of the Geological Survey at Keyworth, Nottingham.  Devenish adds that “... there was no trace of the mythical 10' band of galena". (note 12)

Shaft E        5674.4945 Opened by levelling. No other details.

Shaft F        5683.4945 Opened by levelling but stated to be choked.  No other details.

Shaft G       5680.4939 Opened by levelling but found to be too tight at -12m, though stones fell at least that distance below.

Shaft H        5685.4934 Shown only on the c.1955 map and was not explored though Devenish noted that " ... unskilled sources suggested by the dropping of stones that it was 120 feet deep & ended in water (v. likely as the noise (?) indicated that it received considerable quantities of sewage.) .... "

Whether any of the sites for which no detail exists is the Weaver-Bowen cave of 1938 - Ores Close Cave - is unknown.  All of the sites have since been capped and buried.

The 1967 Shaft

The first detailed account of a descent of any of these shafts came in 1967.  Mr. Stevens, the farmer at Ores Close Farm, driving his tractor through the farm yard accidentally opened up the top of a shaft. The first attempt to ascertain the depth of the shaft was by plumbing the depths - it was found to be 20m deep. However, MNRC gathered their able bodied members together and assembled at the mouth of the shaft and rigged ladders for the descent on Sunday 20th November 1966.  They included Brian (Bucket) Tilbury, Howard Roberts, Geoff and Pete Stokes, and Roy Pearce paid a visit. Biggs wrote (note 13)

" ... we removed part of a large stone, which covered the entrance, and while those who had not "had a gander down" were doing so, the rest of us set about rigging the ladders ".

Pearce went first and descended 27m but the shaft continued on downward.  Back to the surface and another 10m of ladder was added.  Tilbury went next and found that the bottom was choked with small boulders and reported that (note 14)

" ... there was a likelihood of a side passage so both he and the writer entered and tried their luck with a machette, which was all the digging implements (sic) that we had with us, after a while this was found to be only a hollow in the rock that was bricked up with "deads" and earth, as the bottom was solid rock ... we decided to call it a day ... "

Samples were taken to attempt to find out the purpose of the shaft, these included hematite and iron pan. Pearce suggested that it was a 19th century trial shaft and a response from the British Museum suggested that

the miners were probably looking for zinc blend (calamine).  The shaft was later caped by concrete and fitted with a manhole cover by Tilbury. (note 15) Pearce summed up the (note 16)

" ... hole is probably an exploratory shaft dug along a rift line by miners [in the) early nineteenth century [and) is 120 ft deep, no room for a wooden runged ladder, (so must have been climbed up and down by rope, this would not have been difficult as [the) hole is tight enough to chimney in all places) there were haulage marks to be seen in places ... "

The 1991 Shaft

In May 1991 Oxford University Cave Club (OUCC) members, who had been working in the recently discovered Oxford Extensions in Dallimore's Cave, were shown the open top of a shaft close to the house by the kitchen window of the old farmhouse.  The then residents, Rhonda and Mark Cottle, showing the OUCC cavers the entrance stated that it had already been descended to a depth of 15m a short while before.  The shaft, Ores Close Folly, (note 17) was again descended and this time the bottom was reached at a depth of about 30m ending " ... .in downward muddy grovels to a boulder-strewn crawl".

A small system of horizontal passageways were explored but (note 18)

"…the way on proved to be up the first incline past a hideously precarious wall of infill on the right".

OUCC explored some 500m of passage but because of the very muddy conditions they are reluctant to return to complete their survey - a pity.

Finally ...

So, a number of sites have been explored by cavers between 1938 and 1991 in this little known area of Mendip.  It is fortunate that the Devenish documents have survived for there appears to be little other hard evidence elsewhere on Mendip.  Before it too is lost OUCC should grace their description of Ores Close Folly with a NOR!

Acknowledgements

The writer wishes to acknowledge the useful comments and further information from the following: Phil Hendy (WCC Librarian), Tony Jarratt, Ray Mansfield (UBSS), Roy Paulson (BCRA Librarian) and thanks to the Trustees of Wells Museum for enabling the photograph of the Tally to be taken.


The Miner's Tally (120mm x 70mm) found at Ores Close, c.1952, donated to Wells Museum by Luke Devenish. Photograph by Dave Irwin.

Notes

1.                  Weaver, C.P., 1938-1939, Personal Diary MSS, 56p, surveys (photocopies located in BEC and WCC Libraries)

2.                  Weaver, C.P., 1939, Ores Close, Hillgrove. MNRC Rep 31,50-51

3.                  Weaver, C.P., 1938, Report on Ore's Close Mine (letter dated 23rd May 1938 to Eli Simpson, BSA) MSS, 4p BCRA Library

4.                  Weaver, C.P.; 1939, (as above, i.e. footnote No .4).

5.                   Mendip Cave Registry, 1967, The Mendip Cave Register. MSS, typed, (322)p, maps, biblio.

6.                  Anon, 1939, Forthcoming Events. WCC Circular, (46 OS) 1 (Jun) (15th July 1939) and Anon, 1940, Forthcoming Events, WCC Circular (5 lOS)1 (Dec/Jan)

7.                  In the descriptive notes on Ores Close Cave in Complete Caves of Mendip Stanton states that the levelling was carried out in 1938 but this could not be the case as the aerial photographs of 1946 clearly show the spoil heaps.

8.                  Devenish, Luke E.W., 1955?, Ores Close and Rodney Pits Plantation. MS 3p, map; in D. J. Irwin collection (Trevor R. Shaw believes that MSS was written about 1957).

9.                  Devenish, Luke E.W., c.1952, Personal caving dairy. 2 vols, 1947 - 1952. Housed in the WCC Library.

10.              Devenish, Luke E.W., 1955?,  (as above, i.e. footnote No.9).

11.              Devenish, Luke E.W., 1955?, (as above).

12.              Devenish, Luke E.W., 1955?, (as above).

13.              Biggs, Ray, 1967, Ores Close Farm Shaft. MNRC Cay Bul1(l)11(Jan/Feb)

14.              Pearce, A.E. Me. R., 1967, Shaft at Ores Close Farm - Ref. 569494.  MNRC Cay Bul1(2)6(Mar/Apr)

15.              Hodgson, Tim H. led], 1967, Ores Close Shaft. MNRC Cay Bu11(4)13

16.              Pearce, A.E. Me. R., 1967, as above

17.              This site is not accessible to cavers.

18.               Guilford, T., 1992, Ore's Close Folly.  OUCC Proceedings (13)9-10.


 

Memories of Mendip in the Forties.

by Dizzie Tompsett-Clark

I happily slept on the hay in the barn,
with Postle and Don and the rest.
We drank and we swore, and the clothes that we wore
were far from our cleanest and best.

For we went down the caves that ran under our feet
and many a squeeze came my way;
with old carbide lamps and thick ladders of rope,
whilst the darkness chased panic away.

There were chimneys we climbed; there were boulders we scaled;
and the streams that ran swift after rain.
There were times we were lost, when I felt rather scared
'til we'd sussed out our trail once again.

We'd a car boasting sidescreens, and running boards too,
with a windscreen that folded down flat.
And a neat dickey seat, tucked away in the rear;
there were many who envied us that.

While the others had motorbikes, battered and old,
and lovingly tended with care,
for petrol was scarce, and money was short,
but somehow we always got there.

In the evenings we'd roar down the road to the pub,
where Alfie played tunes that we knew.
And there we heard tell of one "Eskimo Nell"
as we drank our host's excellent brew.

All too soon, time to go; and we'd climb on our bikes
or crowd in our Lea Francis car.
Then once more we'd roar to the Belfry and bed
and be grateful it wasn't too far.

For a Club had been formed, with a bat as its badge,
and a hut was soon bought for a song.
To start with we slept on the old wooden floor
but I'm glad to say, not for too long.

Now we've benches and bunkhouses, showers and loos,
and places to dry out wet clothes.
I haven't been caving for twenty-odd years
and I won't go again, I suppose.

But Alfie plays host to us "oldies" each year
at a Dinner, both happy and sad,
while we think of those missing, who ought to be there,
and talk of the Good Times we had.

Dizzie Tompsett-Clark February 2001

Ed. In the accompanying note Dizzie makes it clear that she would like to dedicate this poem to Alfie and thank him for all his work over the years organising his annual "Alfie's Dinners".


 

St. Cuthbert's Swallet 50th Anniversary and Letters from Clare and Damian Coase.


Saturday 6th September saw a great turn out for the St.Cuthbert's Swallet 50th Anniversary. Fine weather blessed an alcoholic afternoon with a champagne reception below ground and beer and barbeque above. Later at the Hunters' the highlight of the slide shows was the photographs taken by Don Coase in 1954-5 during the early exploration of the system.  These were sent from Australia by Clare and presented by Roger Stenner - who noted that they clearly show the benefits of the leader system in terms of conservation.  Below are some photographs of the event and extracts of letters from Clare Coase and her son Damian.

To the BEC,

Congratulations on your anniversary .... this September .... 50 years since the discovery of St. Cuthbert's Swallet.

For me, it has been a long time and much water has flowed under many bridges. Don and I had been married barely 18 months and were to have only a few more years.  Caving was his great love and St. Cuthbert's his passion (there was some for me as well!).  It was sad when he had to limit his caving and forego his cave diving altogether. Not everyone has the joy of a great love as he had of caves, and I know how much he was appreciated and loved by the club members, that is why I married him.  Anyone so much appreciated must be great value, and he was.

He would be delighted to know that St. Cuthbert's is held in such high esteem, has been so well protected and that his co-work of discovery is still remembered.  Thank you on his behalf as well as on Damian's and mine,

Sincerely,

Clare Coase.


Left to right: Graham Wilton-Jones. Brian Woodward (S.M.C.C.) and Stuart McManus.


To the BEC,

Congratulations on your 50th anniversary of the discovery of St. Cuthbert's Swallet.

I heard of my father Don and his exploits from my mother Clare and had looked through those amazing glass-mounted slides.  The British Caving book gave some clues but it wasn't until my wife Nanine and I visited the UK on our honeymoon in 1990, that I realised what a maniac he and his friends were to explore those caverns.  Often alone for hours, perhaps days with the primitive equipment they had, is beyond belief.

The BEC (through Dan I believe) arranged for us to visit St. Cuthbert's. The descent was horrifying, exhilarating and exhausting.  But standing next to the plaque dedicated to my father is one of the fondest memories of my life.

The fellows, who led us through the cave, were fantastic guides, incredibly patient and well prepared.  A couple of special memories stay in my mind, watching the amazing way the cavers moved so fluidly through the smallest of passages and their apparent age1essness - I couldn't tell if some of them were 35 or 65 years old, must be all that exercise or staying out of the sun.  Another was the climb out of the cave.  We were nearly to the top but my wife couldn't go on - she was exhausted, her arms like rubber.  No problem to the guys underneath her - "Just stand on my back and you can use your legs and give your arms a rest".  The next one says "Stand on my head".  This went on until we reached the top.  Dedicated, patient and understanding, an amazing bunch of people.

The experience gave me a little understanding of the type of man Don was, and I'm sure made my wife question marrying into the family.  I remember that she was so sore the next day she couldn't get out of bed.  It also showed me another side to my amazing mother Clare.

I have to apologise most strongly for not writing to those good people long before this.  I can only offer the not-sufficient excuse of newly married state, new job and distance. If not too late, thank you.

I am now part of the Outdoor Education programme at my school, involved in the Duke of Edinburgh training in bushwalking, abseiling, surfing, canoeing and even caving.  Maybe St. Cuthbert's ignited a spark or maybe it's in the genes.

Again, congratulations on the anniversary and well done for fostering the spirit of exploration,

Sincerely,

Damian Coase.

Ed. A handwritten note from Clare at the end of Damian's letter says: "I seem to remember something about Damian getting stuck.  He must have forgotten!!"



 

Potentially Lethally Deadly.

(or - Four Men and a Minor Breakthrough in DYO).

by James Cochrane

The lakes in Dan-yr-Ogof were high, not drastic but deep enough to suck the warmth from the body with the chilling speed of an industrial freezer, only damper.  This was my fourth trip into this magnificent cave, and for the first time I was certain of where I was going, more or less. There were four to our team, Joel Corrigan, Tim Lamberton, Ross Dyter and myself.  With us also were Mike Alderton and Rich Bayfield, who intended to get to the 'High and Mighty' series, a trip that depended upon two things.  Mike would be putting up with an arm almost broken the previous evening in a Cardiff wall jumping session; and Rich would have to manage to stay on all of the climbs, something he periodically has trouble doing.  After passing the lakes, Mike and Rich carried on shivering into the distance.

Our team objective was to investigate the Lower Series extension of 'Toad Hall', an aven with a loose boulder crawl in the ceiling.  Poking at loose and dangerous boulder chokes seemed to us an ideal way to pass a Saturday afternoon and Joel had it on good authority from Liam Kealy that the aven was an area of potential. Ross and I were still learning the major routes of the cave, but had no difficulty in reaching the Washing Machine, the Long Crawl having restored warmth.  At this point we found one of Joel's diving tackle sacs on a ledge, retrieved from almost certain drowning by a saintly visitor after recent high water levels.  Full of renewed faith in the human spirit Joel led us on to Toad Hall.  The muddy rope climb up to the extension proved exciting for Joel, who decided to tie in foot loops to help the rest of us who were nonetheless humorously acrobatic.

The aven's base was a few square metres, a mound of breakdown warning of the loose ceiling above. Tim and Joel bridged up the chimney and would garden any immediate loose blocks whilst Ross and I sheltered in safe passage.

'Oh dear,' muttered Tim 'I've lost the skills! Joel, how do you do this, oh I see, I'll tie off here, hold this'.  For about half an hour Tim and Joel released volley after volley of brick sized rocks. Ross bemoaned his cordura suit as heat leaked out of him through inactivity.  'I'd have a nice new TSA if Dudley had one in my size'.  The rest of us were wearing plastic suits of one form or another.  'Let's have one more chap up here to help Tim' called Joel. Ross would soon be working up a sweat extending the boulder crawl up top.  'Jim, stand clear whilst we clear this bit'.  I did so, and rocks whistled down the aven, embedding themselves with dull thuds into the mud and boulder mound, small impact shards ricocheting off the walls. Ross and Tim were making fast progress in the initial crawl.  Given a break in the rockfall, and having cleared the base of many pointed rocks of the potential 'intruder' variety, I bridged up and found shelter in a small alcove. From here I could chat to Joel as he bolted to another potential lead on the right hand side of the aven.  As he hammered, large blocks continued to scream down the left-hand side, as the top passage was emptied into the base of the aven.

Joel's lead was too small, a short and narrow continuation, but his bolt placement allowed a more useful hand-line rig to the top.  As we pulled ourselves into the top passage, Ross and Tim could be heard just ahead at a tight section.  'Nooo, don't move that one!  Have you seen what it's holding up!'  Negotiations with the choke were tentative at first as two ways were worked on.  Ross wriggled back to allow Joel a look, 'I want some action, I want some fun, me me me ....'.  Ross had been enjoying his work, the engineer in him relishing the problem, but if he'd mentioned scaffolding, I'd have left him to it! Tim and Joel's tentative tapping produced one tight way through.  From struggling to the other side Joel was in a position to widen the gap.  Meanwhile, Ross was fashioning a decorative pair of mud breasts.

Tim retreated as Joel prepared to move some boulders that might or might not help the situation. Two thunderous booms were followed by an eerie silence.  'Joel! You ok.... ?'  'Yeah, yeah, just rocks and stuff landing on me' came the reply.  An almighty slab had been toppled into a perfect slot on the left, leaving a hole at that side only big enough for rats with hard hats, whilst the second route was much improved, though still disturbingly loose and unstable. Tim now followed after Joel, dislodging lots of loose choss, then called us further in.  'You've bloody filled up that passage again' complained Ross ‘I’ve just spent ages clearing that!'  'Well you've got to clear it again now,' retorted Tim from the other side, 'because it's our only way out'.  Having forgotten our gloves, Ross and I shredded our hands clearing sharp blocks from the squeeze, filling gaps in the floor and releasing more down the aven, which we'd probably have to dig on the return.

Ross now struggled through the tight 90° upward squeeze, cursing his girth, the rock and his lack of recent caving; a spot christened Uncle Dyter's Stickle brick Cleft.  'Jim, I'd recommend shifting some more of those rocks at the base of the squeeze, you might have trouble with your legs!'  I shovelled out more small rocks, enlarging the bend cautiously, in order to get all 6ft 3 of me through.  Then, mid-way through, Joel asked me to fetch his compass from the head of the aven!  On the second attempt, I found myself sat upright twixt rock and hard place, groping with my right hand for loose handholds above me.  Delicately heaving up, I twisted my legs to get my knees through and out I popped to be faced with an immediate horizontal manoeuvre.  'Just be careful there mate,' encouraged Joel 'it's loose as hell so try not to touch anything.'  Dutifully I obeyed, sliding out onto a rightwards-inclined boulder slope at the base of a bedding chamber.  Now I was excited.

After that narrow passage, the chamber was positively spacious.  The four of us sat at the top of the loose slope taking in the surroundings, all delighted to have broken through into virgin passage with such relative ease.  Several potential ways on could be seen.  At the base of the bedding plane, another small hole opened up in the jumble of boulders. Up-slope on the left a wet crawl of speculative stability vied with the boulders straight above the slope for the title of most delicate engineering project.  Most promising was a lead at the right of the slope where moving a few blocks entered a low mud passage against the ceiling.  Beyond, a parallel, slightly more stable chamber presented itself. Joel was pretty certain this was entering a blank area on the survey, were we about to discover a high level fossil series?  Whilst Ross and Tim carried on along the base of this chamber, I crawled up-slope where a short mud bank led to a small calcite pool with formative cave pearls. Breaking right, a low crawl over a mud-covered choke (in which Tim was nosing about) continued to a small drop at the back of the chamber of about one-and-a-half metres.  With no room to turn, I lowered myself headfirst, finally swinging my legs down.  The small chamber closed down on the right immediately with silt and mud, whilst the walls and roof were very loose to the touch.  Only at the upper left was there a small gap which appeared to enter the base of another aven.


Joel came through and tapped away at the gap with the hammer, a slight touch releasing shards over his head and shoulders.  Delicately he lifted himself through the gap, and then heaved an obstructive boulder to one side.  Tim joined me in the small chamber, and we were then huddled at the centre as both Ross and Joel decided to garden loose blocks from either side.  Once these were clear we all pulled ourselves up into the aven base.  A calcite boulder ceiling abruptly blocked our way only a few metres up with a small shower at the centre.  We congregated here and made sure there was no possible way through.  'At least it’s finished in a nice chamber, with water and a few formations,' offered Ross, 'better than in some squalid little hole!' A return trip would be needed to survey, photograph and investigate the more technical leads.  A compass bearing gave us a trend of NW, and we had gained enough height to take us out of the lower series.  The next digging would be much more arduous.  We estimated a total find of 30-35m with various leads, albeit uninviting ones.

The return through the sticklebrick cleft proved easy, and we slid down the aven rope to find a significantly enlarged mound of rocks.  Back on familiar ground a speedy exit saw us from one dark to another, emerging at 9pm after 7hrs, by which time Rich and Mike had reached the 'Windy Way' and back. At Donald's hut, a quick wash saw us ready to push on to the Copper Beach.

The Team

James Cochrane (BEC), Joel Corrigan (unaffiliated), Ross Dyter (BEe) and Tim Lamberton (BEC). 09/03/02

The return trip a few weeks later by Joel, Tim and friend Gavin produced a survey but alas no photos due to a lack of the necessary equipment!  The leads were investigated, with some boulders moved and the leads determined to be pushable, but extremely arduous and delicate undertakings.  A return trip is planned.


 

Straws Two Metres Long.

by R.A. Setterington "Sett".

The Old Codgers are an informal group of a dozen or so of ex climbers, cavers and walkers who, now all OAPs, get together twice a year for exercise and, in the evenings, put the world to rights.  We try to be economical by meeting in the south in the spring and the north in the autumn, self catering in a caving or climbing hut.  Since we are restricted, by club rules, to 12 beds we usually book the four midweek nights, Monday to Thursday, giving us 3 days walking plus two days driving.

In September 2002 we gathered at the Yorkshire Ramblers hut near Clapham, West Yorkshire, dividing into smaller groups depending on walking range. The four mile group, who have a common interest in archaeology in general, especially industrial archaeology, opted for starting at Ribblehead and walking the track northwards past the Ribblehead viaduct towards the Bleamore tunnel.  About two miles on there is a bridge over the railway which incorporates an aqueduct, as near as makes no difference the mid point from Euston to Glasgow, from which the entrance to the tunnel is visible and a good point to turn round.  A quick couple of pints in the pub followed by a visit to the small museum/exhibition in the former station waiting room was interesting and informative. We drove home via Dent getting semi lost on the way.

On Wednesday we opted to visit the Bancroft Mill engine at Barnoldswick and the Yorkshire Dales Lead Mining Museum at Earby only to find, quite reasonably, that the engine is only in steam a very limited number of weekends in the year and the mining museum was closed pending a major renovation when enough funds have been raised.  It appears as if the reopening will be a year or two away because they are planning to put in a second floor.  Enquire before making a fruitless visit.  We had noticed a sign to the Canal Inn at Salterford so we returned there for a liquid lunch.  The inn is well established having been built on an ancient salters route before the

Leeds & Liverpool Canal was built, nearby, around 1774.  The canal was higher than the inn and needed a road bridge over it.  Seepage from the canal has flooded the original cellar and the higher approach to the bridge has made the entrance unusable so the bar is now the former first floor.  The interesting fact is that, in 230 years or so there are now straw stalactites 2m long hanging from the ceiling of the old entrance.  There is such a profusion of straws that it would not be sensible or tactful to attempt to enter the room to measure the longest straws but the length and rate of growth make these stalactites unique.  If you are in the area do visit the pub where you will be well looked after.  Beware that it is also a stopping place for travellers on the canal so get there early for lunch.

On Thursday we regrouped, the four mile group went pass storming in the Lake District while others opted for a walk from the Clapham car park up to Gaping Gill.  We had only got part way when threatening rain turned into actual rain rapidly increasing in intensity.  This caused a return to the New Inn in Clapham which has an all day bar.


 

Gaping Ghyll 1946.

by R.A. Setterington "Sett".

After I had chatted to Pete Stewart at the Vintage Dinner I was reminded that I had intended to dispute Pete's claim of being the first BEC member down GG after the war.  Since I am writing about events 55 years ago I wrote to Ray (Pongo) Wallis to check on my belief that four of us had been at a GG meet in 1946.  Ray confirmed my dates so I refute Pete Stewart's claim by asserting that Don Coase, Mervyn (Postle) Tompsett, Ray Wallis and myself joined a BSA meet in the summer of 1946.  We did three trips down GG including an upward one via Hensler's  "It's a Bugger" passage and one down Rift Pot.

There have been two recent articles in "The Journal" concentrating on "How I Got There" rather than the actual caving.  Before I go any further I had better warn readers that each sentence should be prefaced by "If I remember rightly" so, to avoid boring repetition, please take this as read.

Don was working in Bristol and living in digs at the bottom of Gloucester Road.  I agreed to pick him up at 10 a.m. so I left Taunton at 9 a.m.  I have to remind you that this is well before motorways so all main roads went through the middle of towns, above all we hadn't the foggiest idea of the timing of long distance journeys.  On the A38 north of Gloucester we found a convenient pub, so stopped for a pint, or maybe two.  It was lunchtime when we got to Bridgenorth so we stopped for a meal in a cafe in the old town.  By mid afternoon, at Hodnet, disaster stuck with a puncture in the rear tyre.  Using an adjustable spanner and a screwdriver we removed the rear wheel and Don volunteered to roll it to the nearest garage for repair; we didn't know where!  I must have dozed off because a couple of hours later Don reappeared with a repaired wheel.  The bike was reassembled and we continued to the outskirts of Whitchurch where we kipped in a hay barn, after strict instructions that we were not to smoke. The next morning, after a superficial wash under a cold farm tap, we continued into Whitchurch where the local dairy was just opening, as it was Sunday we didn't expect any shops to be open but it was worth enquiring from the milkman.  This was followed by a shout into the open door "Mother, there's two hungry looking lads out here looking for breakfast".  We were invited in and served a full English breakfast for 1/6d; those were the days.  It took us the best part of the day to get to GG where Postle and Pongo had already set up camp.

Apart from the actual caving, I do remember the arrival of a BBC portable? Recording Studio, on a farm flat towed by a tractor, this consisted of a pair of turntables each with a large black disc (remember those things), amplifiers and a large bank of lead-acid accumulators.  A reporter, with a microphone on 400ft. of cable, was sent down the hole leaving the recording engineer on top.  The microphone could also work as a small loudspeaker, so when the reporter, prior to recording proper, pointed the microphone at the waterfall and asked what it sounded like, he was told "We could do it much better in the studio".

I assume we had learned the art of long distance travel as I don't remember any special events on the return journey.


 

Midcot Fissure" Tisbury" Wiltshire (ST 945296).

by Vince Simmonds and Ros Bateman

Following a phone call asking if we would like to investigate an interesting feature exposed while excavating for a house extension we headed for Tisbury on Saturday 25th May 2002. On arrival Vince started to clear away some of the debris that had fallen into the fissure.  The area under the house was full of loose rocks and after removing a number of these a way down could be seen although it quickly narrowed down.  It was felt that further excavation in this area might have undermined the property. To the south-east removal of more infill and rocks gained access to a narrow rift in the floor of which a narrow fissure could be seen but not followed.

Geology

The local bedrock (lithology) exposed at Midcot is a pale to light brown fine grained calcareous sandstone with some fossils (bivalves) and isolated non-cemented sand units.  The high percentage of calcitic cement present within the sandstone causes the rock to have many 'karstic' features.  The sandstone shows clear graded bedding structures with pronounced bedding planes and jointing.  Evidence of subsurface weathering has resulted in iron staining and dissolution of the calcareous cement causing the sandstone to be weak to moderate in strength.

The fissure lies in a NW-SE direction extending beneath the existing house and proposed new extension. The fissure feature studied was 3 metres in length with evidence of dissolution development along a natural joint or fracture plane.  The true lateral extent and depth of the fissure is not known.  However a pronounced 'draught' present from the fissure could infer that either the feature is laterally extensive or a parallel local interconnecting fissure exists enabling a circulation draught to be present.

A grade 3 survey of the fissure feature shows that the fissure exposed forms a 2.5 metre deep narrow (0.75m) rift. The sides of the main rift are comprised of well bedded sandstone bed units.  The rift at each end is in-filled by loose fractured sandstone blocks and fine-grained unconsolidated sand.  Although small open cavities between the rock in-fill extend approximately I metre beyond the main rift no attempt was made to remove the natural in-filled material at the NW end of the rift which extends beneath the foundations of the existing house.



 

Lyncombe Mine.

by Nick Harding

SANDFORD, SOMERSET.  NGR 4352 5920. Beside a track in wood east of Lyncombe Lodge First discovered 1995

Surveyed to Grade 2 on 27th July 2003 by Nick Richards and Nick Harding (RE.C.).

There appear to be no records anywhere pertaining to this mine.  We are of course willing to be proved wrong but just in case we'll nail our grubby flag to the mast on this one and stake a claim.

As we're the new boys we thought we'd come bearing gifts.  Okay, so we can all think of better things to give than a dark hole in the ground, but hey, we're all cavers here.  (There's a better one to come, I promise you, wrapped in brightly coloured paper with a big shiny bow).

This particular hole was initially discovered by Master Richards back in 1995 but its taken him the best part of eight years to get this far so, with a hiatus in our current dig, due to the machinations of a local parish council, we decided to measure the old fellow up before repairing to the Crown to comprehensively refresh ourselves.

The mine is an east-west working on two levels.  Entrance is just above a trackway.  The metre wide opening leads onto a balcony in the first chamber known as the "Blue Rabbit Chamber" (due to the discovery of a small blue plastic rabbit! We know how to name things I tell yah!). A ladder, secured to a tree near the entrance allows access via a 4 m. descent, or so, to the chamber floor.

Standing at the bottom and tucking underneath the entrance balcony, a bit of a crawl leads to the "Shark's Mouth" - of dogtooth calcite - really quite scary when you're not expecting it - not that anyone would expect a shark in a cave of course.

To continue ascend the "Bridge" into the main thrust of the system.

The lower level continues until terminating in the Crystal Chamber some 40 metres in.  This is part of a calcite vein. The passage to this point narrows down to a low crawl.  There are piles of "deads" in evidence as well as ochre in a number of places in the system.

An old, rotted stemple (which we thought about naming Anoushka) can be seen in the roof of the upper series.  Clambering up to this point one can head back towards the entrance and overlook Blue Rabbit Chamber from "Dirty Pair of Nicks Balcony" - at the same level as the entrance one.

The Basement in the main gallery is reached via a squeeze into a low bedding chamber, which drops into a small rounded room beyond - as yet to be further plumbed - possibly in a future investigation, but we'll probably be in our late dotage by that time.



 

Adolf Schmidl (1802-1863)

by Mike Wilson

Adolf was regarded as the father of speleology.  He was born 18 May 1802 in Konigswart, Bohemia, and lived in Vienna where he studied philosophy and law from 1819 until 1825.  He then spent a period teaching in Vienna. His writing included twenty-seven books and numerous cave journals, it is recorded that he spent six years caving from 1850 to 1856.  From 1857 to 1863 he was professor of geography at Budapest Polytechnic where he lived until his death in 1863.  His book Die Gratten und Hahlen van Adelsberg, Lueg, Planina, und Laas, published in 1854, was considered to be the beginning of speleology as we know it today. It was full of lithographic prints done by himself and was much admired by Martel!

He had a colleague (Ivan Rudolf) who appeared to be with him on the majority of his expeditions. Rudolf was an engineer in the mercury mines at Idrija (the town near where he was born in 1821).  His task with Schmidl was to act as surveyor, a task which he managed extremely well.  Between them they managed to publish a table of eleven caves surveyed in their region! Ivan Rudolf's main job was both difficult and dangerous, the miners basically dug by the opencast method, or spiral adits, a product called Cinnabar, chemical symbol HGS - deep red translucent and highly toxic crystals. Mercury is obtained by heating Cinnabar in a current of air using a wood or coal furnace and by condensing the vapour through corrugated clay pipes by throwing water on the pipes (sounds primitive to me).  Cinnabar is so toxic that the miners only worked one shift per week. This is because of the poisonous MG vapour invisible except in ultraviolet light.  I have been told that the crystals are absolutely beautiful to see! Cinnabar is used commercially as vermillion colouring and as rouge for expensive cosmetics.  The total production of mercury is so small even today that the flasks are still filled manually and to put the process in perspective 1 pallet load of 52 flasks weighs 2 tons!  At the moment the richest ores are in Almaden in Spain.

Back to caving, Schmidl made accurate notes and measurements and then Rudolf produced the surveys. These two men probably were the first people to survey caves properly thereby initiating the principle of accurate cave surveying! Schmidl's exploits include the Postojnska System and Predjamska Jama.  Probably his main achievement was discovering 500 m of the underground river Pivka.  He achieved this with his son Ferdinand on the 30 August 1850 travelling all night and taking no small risk that storms would block the sumps and endanger their way out.  He was lucky and added 570 m to the underground river system.

He surveyed and explored Postojnska Jama in 1854 showing 5850 metres.  In 1855 he started caving in Austria and explored Geldloch, and surveying the same, but did not reach the major shafts, to quote "the passage leading in that direction was inaccessible", even on all fours! We have to assume from this statement that caving in those days generally consisted of exploring walking or stooping passages with very little attempt to push into tight or low sections. Rudolf and Schmidl spent 6 weeks in 1851 investigating the hydrology of the Timavo underground water system passing Svetina's far point in Skolj Anska Jama.  Sadly stopping only 400m from the entrance!  The Timavo river rises in the Sneznic mts 50km east of Trieste, goes underground at Skocjanske Jama, and rises after 40km of underground travel at or near Duino.

In 1852 Schmidl and Rudolf checked out the resurgence of Planina cave using a special wooden canoe which had to be dragged through low water or stripped down into component parts so that it could be passed through tight points of the cave (a very revolutionary piece of equipment for its day) bearing in mind that it is recorded that it was unloaded and dragged at least 12 times and dismantled twice!  In total 6km of river cave was explored.  Interestingly this method was subsequently used by Martel on several occasions.  August 1856 saw Schmidl in Hungary making a huge trip in the Aggtelek cave system. It was surveyed at 8.667 km long. This figure meant that it was the longest cave in Europe until 1893 when Postojna reached 10 km. Bearing in mind that Schmidl's career only lasted for seven years he achieved a huge amount in terms of caves surveyed and new passages explored at not inconsiderable risk to himself and his trusty companion Rudolf.  Sadly he only managed to publish three books and several dozen papers and this meant that many people with an interest in early caving history find it difficult to relate to his huge achievements.  I believe that a large collection of his written work resides in the library of the University of Vienna and would be very interested to have a browse through the collection.

Schmidl's publications

Beitrag Zurhohlenko noe des Karst (1850)

Uber den Unterirdischen Lauf der Recca (1851)

Die Grotten und Hohlen von Adelsberg, Lueg, Planina und Laas (1854)

Diebaradla Hohle bei Aggtelek und dei Lednica Eishohle bei Szlitzein Ingomorer (1856)

Die Hohlen Des Otscher Sber, Akad, Wiss-Wein-Math (1857)

Thanks  

To Jeff Price for the use of his library and all the other people who have encouraged me to persevere with these articles.


 

Club News.

Dave Irwin has sent the following note about BBs:

In 1999 I scanned BBs numbers 1-100, but the result, though readable, was not brilliant as the originals were produced by the old and very variable Gestetner stencil process. Unless the machine and inking process was in tip top condition the printed result could be very uneven.  To overcome this Andy MacGregor has screen captured the scanned images on the BEC CD ROM and converted each page (over 500 images - one at a time!) into a word processor document.  The end result is a clean printout of these early Club newsletters complete with all illustrations.  Andy has told me that he is prepared to produce a CD ROM for any member for a small charge to cover costs and postage.  If you are interested contact him at: Tadley, Hampshire. Email: andy.mac-gregor@[removed]

On a similar theme all the recent BBs have been recorded on CD ROM by Sean Howe.

Treasurer's Report (2002-20031)

This report is only a rough resume of this financial year.  I am pleased to report that we have yet again experienced a quiet but rewarding year.  A modest sum has been placed in the IDMF fund to keep the balance sound (it also helps our continued dealings with Mendip Council regarding our zero rating).  I try to assure them annually that some of our rates go towards assisting our younger members.

We as a Club are well placed financially to finance the new extension to foundation level and beyond, to this end I am holding cash in the current account at a higher level than normal, rather than transferring it to the savings account.  The St. Cuthbert's account is healthy and thanks to Roger Haskett I receive the fees on a regular basis thereby making my task easier.

To conclude, the BEC is moving forwards financially each year but I have to say that some of this is due to the low number of BB publications!  Our future financial status looks sound and I hope we can keep it that way.

P.S.  I would like to recommend that there is no rise in subs this year, basically because the BCRA seem to be acting on the general dissent over insurance AT LAST.

Mike Wilson.


 

Hon. Secretary’s Report (2002-20031)

Here follows a brief summary of some items dealt with by the Committee during the past club year.

The monies (over 650 pounds) raised from last year's auction held at the Dinner have been used to furnish a new cabinet in the Library.  This is to hold the collection of books left to the BEC by Dave Yeandle; any money left over will be used by the Librarian to purchase new books that will be added to the "Pooh Collection".

There is new design and issue of T-shirts and ties, these are available from Tyrone Bevan, he also has some items of old stock - polos etc.

The work on the extension has progressed throughout the year thanks to the persistence of the Hut Warden, who I am sure will thank all those involved in his report.  It's amazing to see that the Belfry supply chain is running as well as ever - a special thanks to those particular individuals, Trevor and Tyrone.  We will have met the requirement on the planning permission with some time to spare. The Belfry has had a new lick of paint; thanks go to those who turned up at the various working weekends through the year.

There has been a sharp increase in the cost of insurance and this thorny issue is still the main topic of debate by clubs nationally.  At this late stage there has been a move by the national body to put forward some proposals.  This will be an item of discussion for next year's committee.

English Nature has requested that SSSI's are monitored and findings are reported back to them by 2010. St. Cuthbert's has around 20 sites that need to be looked at and this again is a task for the next committee to look into.

As directed by the last AGM the Committee looked into the new rules regarding charitable status and concluded that there would be absolutely no benefit to the BEC in going down this particular avenue.

2003 was the celebration of 50 years since the discovery of St. Cuthbert's Swallet and on 6th September a day of celebrations was held at the Belfry and in the evening at the Hunters'. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who made it such a success: Joan Bennett, Dave Irwin, Martin Grass, Roger Haskett, Nigel Taylor, Pete Glanville, Roger Stenner, John Eattough and to everyone else who turned up and participated.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those people that make up the Committee and non-Committee posts for volunteering their time and effort to the administration of this Club: Mike Wilson, Fiona Sandford, John Walsh, Greg Brock, Roger Haskett, Tyrone Bevan, Sean Howe, Adrian Hole and Graham Johnson.

The Annual Dinner is at the Bath Arms, Cheddar on the 4th October.  There will be a coach from the Belfry/Hunters' around 19:00 returning from Cheddar at 1:00.  Thanks to Roz who has again taken on the task of organising the Annual Dinner.

On a sadder note, this year on 31/1/03 saw the passing of a stalwart of the Club, Jock Orr, his name will be forever linked to the early history of this Club.

Vince Simmonds


 

Dates For Your Diary.

4th October, a.m.: AGM

4th October, p.m.: Dinner, Bath Arms, Cheddar

5th October, a.m: General nausea, headaches, vomiting etc.

7th November: Committee Meeting

5th December: Committee Meeting

Hut Warden's Report (2002-2003)

Bed nights: Members: 338
Non-members: 232
Univ. Lets Offs: 216.

About the same as last year - fifty-five pounds up.  As usual, people don't book in or they put money in envelopes with no name.  Ejits.

Quite a pleasant, relaxing year for me due to good support from the Hut Engineer, OU Johnny, and BBQ Jake. Plus my two willing painters Crispin and Chummy, and of course, the Secretary and his good lady. Massive thanks to Nigel T. for time, effort, help, advice, and equipment with putting in the foundations for the extension.

I am sure the same thanks will also be extended to Mr. Dany (the bricklayer) Bradshaw on completion of the outer shell up to DCL (not quite finished at the time of going to press), cheers Dany.

To finish, I would just like to say that I would like to see the Hut much more tidy and clean while people are actually staying there, I am fed up of walking in and seeing it a total tip - clear up, wash up and wipe down after each meal.  Thanks again to anyone who helped.

RJH


 

Notes From The Logbook.

13/08/03: Welsh's Green Swallet: Graham J., Tangent, Sean Howe

A break from Morton's Pot. Brought out the drain rods after 10 years for use in Morton's.  The colouring of the lias is noticeable with LED lighting and Tangent is a fat bloke.

20/08/03: Eastwater Cavern, Morton's Pot: Graham, Lincoln Mick

1.5 metres of water, lots of silt, moved a lot of rocks up from Jepson's to top Seilbahn.

27/08/03: Eastwater Cavern, Morton's Pot: Graham, Mick

Wall building and clearing flood debris from Jepson's.

05/09/03: Eastwater Cavern, Morton's Pot: MadPhil and Graham

Good session sorting out the Ramp.  One more session and should be sorted out permanently.  2½ hours.

06/09/03: Eastwater Cavern, Southbank: MadPhil, Ollie Gates and Tim Lamberton

Good trip down to start surveying the West End.  Surveyed from Tooting Broadway to base of Trafalgar. Several more to be done, but needs doing.  6¼hours.

07/09/03: Eastwater Cavern, Morton's Pot: MadPhil

Bagged up spoil at base of Morton's and cleared debris from Little Chamber.  General tidy of dig site, dry. Ready to kick arse again.  1¾ hours.

14/09/03: Eastwater Cavern, Morton's Pot: Graham, Phil, Jrat, Mark Ireland

Cleared all bags up to Jepson's.  80+ good effort. 3½ hours.

17/09/03: Eastwater Cavern, Morton's Pot: MadPhil, Graham, Sean Howe, Ben Hewley and Pete

Took drill and scaffold down.  Cleared dig site of all bags.  Drilled holes and set scaffold in place, while others cleared bags to base of Morton's and then cleared bags (50+) to base of380 Foot Way.  Good session, just need to shutter behind scaffold and job's a good one!  3½hours.

19/09/03: Eastwater Cavern, Morton's Pot: Phil, Mick and Graham

Digging, scaffolding, bag emptying and concreting.