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Caving Meets.

May 30th.

G.B. Cavern.  C.C.C. Permits required.  Meet @ cave entrance 11am.

June 5/7.

Devon.  Accommodation at D.S.S. hut, Buckfastleigh.  Further details from Dave Irwin or Keith Franklin.

June 26th.

St. Cuthbert’s practice rescue.  This will be the second full scale practice to be held in the cave and it is hoped that as many leaders as possible will attend this important event.  Meet @ Belfry 11am.

July 9th.

Agen Allwedd (Aggy Aggy).  Accommodation at C.S.S. cottage.  Also camping. Indemnity forms are available at the Belfry or from Dave Irwin or Keith Franklin.  All forms to be returned to me by JUNE 13TH.

D. Irwin.  Caving Sec.

Sleeping Bags: -

The Northern Main Order Co. sell an ex U.S. Army “Arctic” sleeping bag for 59/11 (postage 3/6).  In good condition these, with their 6lbs of down, are superior to even a Blacks Icelandic Special and are thoroughly to be recommended.  The bag should be examined closely for signs or repair, particularly for a second rate replacement zip, and if there is any doubt, send it back.  The address is, Northern Mail Order Co., Caledonian Buildings, 135/154 Leith walk, Edinburgh 6.

R.S. King.


A few people are still being given the benefit of the doubt by the stal. department.  Strictly speaking, anyone who has still not paid their 1965 sub is no longer entitled to a B.B.  If you are one of those who have not yet paid, do so NOW.

Ireby Fell Cavern

Late on Good Friday morning, several cars filled with 18 cavers left the Flying Horseshoe at Clapham for Ireby Fell a mile or so from Masongill.  A winding road led us to a track quite near the potholes of Ireby and Marble Steps.  Both were on the menu and are each 400 feet deep, their streams feeding the master cave of Lost Johns less than a mile away.

Marble Steps was only a few minutes walk up the old stream valley (a small stream is still active in it and feeds the Low Douk Cave) while Ireby involves a half a mile walk over the fell.  The entrance to Ireby is located at the deepest end of a large shakehole and leads one through a short ruckle to a little ten foot climb leading to a letter box at the lower end.  It is here that one meets the water face to face, and it is amusing to watch the members of the party trying to avoid it – they can’t!  A few feet further the passage leads to a small chamber allowing one to stand comfortably, and also the first pitch – a free ladder climb of twenty five feet.  This enters a chamber with part of the stream entering just below the ladder climb and sinking again amongst the boulders on the floor.  Here one ladders for the big pitch (ninety feet of ladder) the laddering of this pitch is not clear in the guide books and a sketch (I hope!) will give a clearer picture of how it is done.  Gently lower the ladder from the top of the pitch and climb down the first thirty five feet.  Feed it to the ladder through the squeeze behind a flake and over a wooden beam. Instead of climbing the whole pitch via the squeeze, get off the ladder at the bottom of the second pitch  (Dong Pitch) climb down a spiral passage to rejoin the pitch (Bell Pitch).  This avoids a soaking in the squeeze, although one becomes very wet in the lower half of the pitch in any case.  The chamber at the bottom of the big pitch is a lofty rift.  In addition to the shower bath coming down Bell Pitch, a very heavy shower enters another corner, leaving little space where one can keep dry. A narrow rift passage, with nicely scalloped walls, meanders until the head of the fourth pitch – 25 feet (Pussy Pitch) is reached. Here a ladder was belayed from a flake on the bridge instead of dropping it through the hole in the floor which takes the full volume of water.  At the bottom one finds oneself in a small chamber with no apparent way on. A slit in the wall on the right hand side leads through a short ruckle.  Once clear of the ruckle, a fine vadose trench is entered with the occasional formations.  This trench meanders for quite a way, sometimes forcing one to stream level or to squeeze past narrow walls.  Next are the three ducks.  These are not really ducks but we crawls involving a few inches of water in a passage some eighteen inches high.  I’ve no doubt that when the water is high, these passages are places to avoid, especially when one sees the flood debris on the roof!

On leaving ducks, the rift continues to meander, although a lot easier in a similar manner to the Crab Walk of the Giants Hole in Derbyshire, until after about a thousand feet, the head of the fifth pitch is reached.  This twenty five foot pitch, a little awkward at the top, leads to the main stream passage.  Here, the passage dimensions change suddenly from a few feet wide to ten to fifteen feet wide and a series of deep pools.  Again, after a few hundred yards, one enters a series of large chambers that bypass a large section of the stream passage.  As the last chamber closed down, so the stream re-appeared, only to sink shortly into the sump.

The well known mud flaked floor was not found, although we entered the dry chambers, and can only think that successive parties have destroyed them.  Perhaps we should gate caves after all!  The ‘in’ journey took some four hours to bottom the pot and two and a half hours to get out.  Tired and wet, but well satisfied with our days caving, the party trudges through the moor land, using the last of the daylight, back to the vans and food at the campsite.  The party consisted of Dave Irwin, Don Craig, Roger Broomhead, Tom Sage (W.S.G.) and two W.S.G. guests.

P.S.  Just one final personal comment, the pot is just one mile long and deserves a higher grading than D.P.


There will be a WORKING WEEKEND at the Belfry on Saturday and Sunday the 29th and 30th of May. There are lots of things to be done to help improve the facilities.  Please turn up that weekend PREPARED TO WORK.


The editor would like to thank all those whom have sent in articles recently.  Please keep it up, as we are having a large size issue of the B.B. shortly.


111A Winner Street,
Paignton, Devon,
6th April, 1965.

Dear Editor,

I feel that I must reply to the appeal in the B.B. for members’ views on the subject of the Annual Dinner.

“Helictite” summed up the last dinner quite well with views that I would say were shared by a lot of members who were present.

But if one is really critical, and I am, a point to bear in mind is that, in the foyer of the restaurant, the displayed menu and price list quoted the identical dinner, in the same surroundings with possibly the same waitresses, as being the astronomical price of seven and sixpence.

I would rather like to have my club dinner there again thus year, as I found the atmosphere and surroundings most congenial, bit if I must pay ten shillings over the odds, I expect the service to be excellent, the wine to be on time and the meal to be hot.

Without a doubt there must be some form of amusement, particularly for the ladies, otherwise the evening can become quite dull.  It is easy for the men because they can stagger around like drunken newts, impersonating human beings and have ‘no end of a time’.  I am not going to pretend to have the solution to the entertainment problem, but I will say that the ingredients of the post prandial revelry last year seemed to satisfy most people remarkably well.

Unfortunately, there is a shadow cast over the proceedings by a few people on Mendip who won’t support our Dinner because they say it will be just like all the others.  Most of these people persist in shouting about what a wonderful time they had at the other club dinners, to which I might add, they made no contribution either.  Now if instead, they were to harness just a fraction of the effort they spent trying to reveal ‘Stalagmite’ and which, incidentally, they will be no doubt spend trying to unveil ‘Helictite’, in writing just a few lines to the committee, proffering ideas and suggestions, everyone would benefit.

These are a few of my thoughts on the matter and should arouse some club member from his stagnation to offer some form of agreement or reprisal – or will it???

                        Michael A. Palmer  (Pen Name)

Editor’s Note:    This letter sounds a bit like ‘fighting talk’. I am afraid, however, that the committee have already had to fix (and book) the place for the 1965 dinner – also the menu.  This only leaves the entertainment open for suggestions.  I have also shown this letter to a correspondent and got this (hurriedly scribbled) reply…

When I gave the editor my article, he said not to be very surprised if nobody wrote in about it. They have and I am.  I might even write again something on something else.


Practice Rescue

On June 26th, the second full scale practice rescue will be held in St. Cuthbert’s.  It was agreed at the Leader’s Meeting that this ought to be an annual event.

So far, in the thirteen years since the opening of this cave, only minor accidents have occurred (sprained ankles, minor falls etc.)  It would be foolhardy to suppose that a serious accident could not occur. I, like everyone else, hope that one will never occur, but it would be very slack on the part of the leaders to follow this attitude of mind.  We must, I’m sure you will agree, be ready for an emergency.  All leaders should be familiar with the rescue routes and techniques used to get a victim to the surface as quickly as possible.

This year it is planned not to divulge the position of the victim (Alan Thomas has volunteered to be our victim).  All people helping are asked to be at the Belfry by 11 o’clock ready to change, so that an accurate assessment of time taken for the many tasks to be carried out can be made.

The basic rescue from Upper Traverse Chamber to the entrance will be used, i.e. Upper Traverse Pitch, Traverse Pitch, Water Shute, Gour Passage Pitch, Pulpit Pitch, Arête and Entrance Pitch.  Discussions are taking place to decide on the siting of the victim and the route to be taken to Upper Traverse Chamber.  It is hoped to use one of the radio transmitters for cave to surface communication. The fixed line telephone will also be laid, with the handset that is held in the Belfry.

It is hoped that many of the leaders will be present and that any other caver who is interested in helping will be extremely useful.  If any one has nay queries or suggestions I should be grateful if they would contact Keith Franklin or myself.

Dave Irwin

St. Cuthbert’s Practice Rescue in Catgut Rift.

Whilst on the subject, it seems a good place to print the account of the last ‘do’, even this makes it an almost entirely Irwin type B.B….

The first of this year’s practice rescue was held on May 1st in the Catgut Rift.  The ‘victim’ (Roger Stenner) was strapped in the carrying sheet in the bedding plane below the rift near Crosslegs Squeeze.  Due to the size of our ‘victim’ (sorry, Roger!) he could not be taken along the floor of the rift to the widest part, where he could have been hauled up to the top and easily taken out to the ruckle.  As it was, he was brought up the normal route over the chockstone.  Up to this point, the passage was too narrow to allow side carriers and in places it was not wide enough to allow them to straddle the rift above the victim and help take his weight. To overcome this, a makeshift holding line was attached to the straps on the carrying sheet.  This seemed to solve the problem.  Two lifelines will have to be added to the list of tackle required for any rescue in the rift.  When the victim was hauled up and over the chockstone, the remainder of the rift presented no great difficulty.  It was found that, by arranging rescuers high in the rift, the victim could be carried over their knees quite easily.  The ruckle presented little problems, none of which are important.

This exercise proved that a victim can be extracted from Catgut, but the time taken was two and a quarter hours.  The question that needs answering is “Will it be quicker to take a victim through the Rabbit Warren Extension and up Everest Passage to upper Traverse Chamber?

Many thanks to all those who came down to help, particularly Roger Stenner for being our ‘victim’ and to Oliver Lloyd who constantly gave very useful advice and supplied the carrying sheet.