Search Our Site

Editorial

Erratic Publications Dept.

At this time of year the spasmodic appearance of the B.B. is thrown further out of gear by the holiday season.  Thus, members who obtain their copy of this illustrious journal by post will not receive this one much before July.  Gradually, it is hoped, we shall get back to publishing the B.B. somewhat nearer the beginning of the month.  Until then, we must ask members to be patient.

Silver Jubilee Number

Comments on this number were mainly favourable – except from Bob Bagshaw on being told the cost of the special cover!  We have another article in reminiscent vein this month.

Copyright.

It seems we dropped a clang the other month.  Or legal advisor (Dennis Kemp) sent us a postcard – appropriately enough – a picture of the Old Bailey on the front, and pointed out that the copyright of an article rests in any case with the author and exists automatically.  It does not have to be claimed and it cannot be given away. If this is so, it would seem that the practice of claiming copyright by caving journals was in any case, unnecessary. However, we mustn’t get ourselves involved in any further arguments on this point.

 “Alfie”

Lady Chatterbox

Gaffy Fowler, at present serving in the R.A.F. as an officer called at 10a to say “Howdo!” on Saturday the 21st May and informed your correspondent with a great show of teeth that he GOT MARRIED AT EASTER!  He appears to have the ideal set-up.  He is away, so his bride lives with her mum and with him at weekends.  I bet she holds the record for the most “Gone back to mum bride” of the lot.  I duly tackled him about the provision of a barrel or two and was told there would be one in July or August.  He is going to be a Hunter Pilot (aircraft, not pub) in September.  Someone should ask the Air Ministry if they really want window boxes as standard G.A.F. equipment, or bent front forks – that is, assuming that Hunters have front forks.

Sidobbs is still courting. A boozy do was held recently in the Mossman residence (described some time ago by the same authoress in her ‘Stately Homes of Clifton’ – Ed.)  Some members of the B.E.C. discovered the Hula Hoop he keeps there.  A more erratic display of wriggling has never before seen in public.  One member turned up with a bottle of rum, and was last seen propping up the wall in the all moaning about “falling in luv again” and singing some song about a machine, nuff said.

C.A. Gardner.

Pine Tree Pot

The Mendip Cave Group, at their recent and most successful Hut Re-warming Party, announced the discovery of a new cave at Charterhouse.  This is provisionally known as Pine Tree Pot, and contains a fine grotto and a thirty five foot pitch.  Access is not possible yet, but we will keep you in touch.

Personal

Somewhat belated congratulations to MIKE and JUDY on the birth of their son.  Sorry we have no further details.

Fings Ain’t Wot They Used To Be

By Norman Brooks

Many years ago, in my first days of caving, I paid a visit to the Hunters Lodge.  There I encountered a group who were about the most outstanding loud singing and hard drinking mob of characters I had ever met.  They were, I was informed, the B.E.C. and they even had their own private room at the pub.  Later, some friends of mine were actually allowed to visit a hut about a quarter of a mile from the Hunters.  They came back with truly fabulous tales, saying that the place was called the Belfry and that it was where the B.E.C. lived.

Such a club was not for a mere nobody like myself, but perhaps if I caved diligently and listened hard at the Hunters, I too might attain the standard required to consider the possibility of being allowed to join the elite.

In due course, I managed not only to achieve my ambition, but gained the still greater honour of being placed on the Belfry Regular’s list for two years running.  My visits are rather infrequent nowadays but it was with hope expectation, based upon memories of the past that I returned at Easter. After all, it was on an Easter Saturday a few years ago that a census was taken in the cavers room at the hunters showed that no less than 66 people were present and all having a whale of a time. Yes, Easter would certainly be the right time of the year to return to the B.E.C.

As I entered the Belfry, I noticed that there were not many there.  This was not too upsetting, as I had heard that things were going from strength to strength.  The only obvious explanation for the extreme youth of the youngest occupant was that membership of the B.E.C. was getting so tight, like many famous public schools, you have to have your name down from birth.  Presumably, the baby had been brought out to be viewed by the Committee with a view to accepting it for future membership.  Later on, I observed several changes in practice which I found to be truly puzzling.  Firstly, the wearing of ties hand the appearance of creases in trousers.  One used to require a good excuse, such as the Annual Dinner, before such a lapse from correct dress would be permitted. Was the Annual Dinner now at Easter or – terrible thought – was this the done thing today?

Secondly, the sparse attendance at the Hunters and the invasion of the singing room by shoe halfpenny playing foreigners on the Saturday evening shook me up.  This really was disconcerting.

Sett being absent, the Hut Warden’s duties were performed by a deputy who used an ingenious system of remote control and deputy-deputy.  In spite of this, I do not think the Committee should take too seriously the suggestion that a closed circuit television system should be installed between the Belfry and the Shepton hut as an aid to good Hut Wardening.

Another thing I found odd was the increase in overnight fees.  It used to be 1/2d, including 2d for milk.  It is now 1/6d with the 6d, I am told, for water.  Since water is cheaper than milk this little example of the mysterious workings of the laws of economics is absolutely beyond my comprehension.  Beer is even dearer than milk, so if the taps ran beer would it be possible for the overnight fees to be reduced?  I urge the Committee to give their most serious consideration to this matter.

One occurrence that never would have happened when I was a regular was that one day absolutely everybody went caving.  This was quite a record and shows that not all changes are on the debit side.

Maybe the reason for everything being different last Easter was that the members deliberately organised it that way.  The club has always seemed to function by a method of opposites.  If you took a keen caving type of visitor for a weekend, nobody would go caving but instead would go drinking or be taking it easy after drinking, the visitor would be disgusted.

If, on the other hand, you brought along a keen drinking visitor, then everyone would be caving and he would be dis-enheartened.  The type who was a keen caver as well as a keen drinker would probably find that everyone else was intent on some abstruse, highly technical discussion. If you tried to be really clever and took along a scientific-caver-drinking-type then the club would be holding a regatta on the Mineries.  You just couldn’t win.

Editor’s Note.    It would seem, from Norman’s article that whatever failings we might have as either a caving or a drinking club – our Lifemanship remains superb!

Rob Roy’s Cave

We welcome a new contributor to our ranks, JUG Jones.  Until we received this, we were unaware of his ability to write. It would be interesting to know where he was when he wrote it!

After many unsuccessful attempts (about five in all) my new found potholing mate an I managed to hire a car, and set out on a brilliant summers day last August to explore the little written of ‘Rob Roy’s Cave’.  The cave is marked on the ‘Esso’ map of Southern Scotland; the British Railways map of Loch Lomond and of course the O.S. map of Loch Lomond.  In spite of this, very little appears to be known about it.

As you probably know, Loch Lomond is definitely Rob Roy country.  Slightly to the north of Ben Lomond (3192’) and actually on the lake itself is the original prison where our hero was imprisoned many years ago by the ‘Blooming British’.

We left South Queenferryside on the 22nd August, passing through Edinburgh; Bathgate; Airdrie; Coatbridge and Glasgow.  Leaving there we went though Manyhill; Bearsden; Milngaine; Strathblone and Aberfoyle at the foot of the Trossachs.  We turned the car left there and cruised slowly along a secondary road towards Inversnaid.

What a truly majestic sight awaited us along this road.  With Loch Ard on our left, the waves almost washing against the car wheels, while over to the right and ahead of us appeared the mighty Trossachs – towering to a few thousand feet and standing out blunt and rugged in the August sunlight. One could easily imagine the redcoats soaked in perspiration, wearily searching for the ever elusive Rob Roy. What a hell of a difficult job confronted those very patient soldiers.  Slowly but surely beating the mountainside, searching in the gorse, heather and rocks, trying desperately to find the Scottish hero.  Then perhaps in the harsh winter months methodically retracing their steps, in a vain effort to catch sight of Rob Roy’s tracks in the snow.  Scotland must have seemed to them a very strange and tough country.

We reached Kinlochard (a tiny hamlet of perhaps three houses) and then Inversnaid.  The car was dumped in front of the jetty there directly in front of the hotel’s impressive entrance.  Then we checked our lights; maps; ropes etc and when everything seemed satisfactory, borrowed a ten foot dinghy and pulled out towards the area where we believed the cave lay.

After pulling steadily for half a mile or so, we saw over on our starboard bow an old and rusting landing craft.  This was no doubt left behind by the troops after the last war, as many of the lochs were used as training areas for invasions etc.  Anyway, it served as a good landmark.

Half a mile further north we passed the headland.  At this point I spotted, high on the mountainside, the word ‘CAVE’ daubed in faded white paint.  A knobbled old tree seemed a suitable spot to land, so we pulled ashore and secured the dinghy (Quote)

“You make fast
I’ll make fast
Make fast the dinghy!

After scrambling up the mountainside for about forty feet, we came to the writing that I have just mentioned.  In a direct line with this was the main entrance.  This was about twelve feet high and about six feet wide.  Below this and to the left (north) was a second entrance. This was somewhat smaller but entrance to it was quite easy.  Above and below these two entrances were one or two more, but these were mere crevasses in the rock.

Mike decided to stay outside the cave and raise the alarm if I wasn’t back within the hour.  I selected the main entrance and after climbing over a few boulders I managed to find a reasonable path to follow.  Alas, after some forty feet of fairly easy going it came to be impossible to go further, owing to what seemed a fairly old roof fall.

The second entrance proved to join up with the main one after quite an assortment of weird crawls and crevices, and whilst squirming down one of these, I was horrified to see a HUGE BLACK SPIDER.  My head automatically snapped back in order to avoid this veil looking insect, where upon I saw a further huge black spider; then another, then more.  For a split second I was petrified, yet they held a strange kind of fascination for me.  I looked closer (three pints of bass said I could).  Their bodies were the size of a sixpenny piece and like jet black marbles.  I touch one of them with my lamp.  It swung round and faced me, then raced up the wall and across the low roof towards my face.  In this confined space it seemed HUGE and bent on revenge.  I eased quickly back and as I did so, disturbed more of those evil black MONSTERS.

Shaking all over like a ‘pop’ singer, I fled from this section of the cave in half the time it takes the ink making industry to go on strike.

Along another passage of the cave, I came across a faded name and the date 1937.  I wondered how long it had been since anyone else had come face to face with what I had affectionately named Rob Roy’s Spider (or in the Latin phrase ‘ Draughtus Basserius Spideria’).

Whilst following another passage, I saw that a whole section of the wall appeared to be composed of mica. I broke off a few pieces, hoping somebody more learned than I could verify this.  I was also hoping to find some evidence of this cave having been used as a dwelling place at one time.  Perhaps a niche in the wall for holding a candle driven lantern, or some signs of a charcoal hearth, bit I suppose this would be just as dramatic as finding Rob Roy’s original dirk, since the cave must have been ‘dug’ by archaeologists, historians, locals, students and even American tourists.

It was getting late, and Mick was shouting for my return.  My accumulator was fading (I think one of the cells leaks) and I couldn’t find the way out.  All the likely ways appeared difficult.  I tried to pull myself up a rock face using a clean ‘arms pull’ but alas, the weakened armed Jug collapsed and fell back down again.  Then I saw a small ledge.  I managed to reach this by simple finger and toe grips and soon I was almost out.  I had reached an entrance and poked my head through.  Getting the huge bonce through was only part of the procedure.  I had to perfect a half roll to get my bony shoulders through. Then I gave Mick a call for assistance. We pushed and shoved until I fell free.

I fell feely on top of Mick, who fell back down a ten foot ledge, nearly breaking his leg.  In the truest tradition of the ‘Silent Service’, he screamed back up at me, “You clumsy, clumsy, clumsy awkward b-----, Jug!”

We then left the cave (Mick bemoaning over meeting me) with all the nits, gnats, midges, bugs and every conceivable kind of wandering biting lice in Scotland and after pulling hard for about ten minutes, this army of insects fell back in smart formation, leaving us itching all over.

On the way back, with an acute shortage of cats eyes and far too many trees growing far too close to the road, my mind began to relax.  Then SMACK (it can’t have happened to me!).  The window disappeared, the door caved in and I could feel blood running down my neck.  We groped our way out of the wreckage and finally rejoined our ship six hours adrift.

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

The following appeals appeared on the Belfry blackboard a few weeks ago.  We thought they were worth reproducing in the B.B.

Owing to the loss of one black kitbag (marked G. Salt) I have been forced to borrow a white kitbag (R.A.F.) which will be returned via Anthony Mr. O’Flaherty.

G. Salt

Owing to the loss of one white kitbag (R.A.F.) I have been forced to borrow a light brown hessian type sack (marked Northern Ireland Whites).  This will be not returned to Mr. Salt.

A. Fincham

Owing to the loss of one light brown hessian type sack (marked Northern Ireland Whites) I have been forced to borrow a black kitbag which I intend keeping.

R.A. Setterington.

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

Secretary, R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.
Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8.