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

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

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




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

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

G.B. Cave

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

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


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


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



Christmas Hole

by P.M. Giles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


by Ray Winch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caving Log

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19th December. Christmas Hole.  See article.

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


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