Search Our Site

Article Index

Any views expressed by any contributor to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of officers of the club, do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor or the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club, unless stated as being the view of the committee or editor.

Mendip Rescue Organisation

In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481.BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tele:  WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     D. Turner
Members:          R. Bagshaw; W. Cooper; D.J. Irwin;
                        N. Jago; T.E. Large; A.R. Thomas;
                        R. Orr;  R. Hobbs.

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. Thomas, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.  Tel: WHITCHURCH. 5626.
Caving Sec:       T.E. Large, 39 Seymour Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 2 Broughton House, Somerset St., Redcliffe, Bristol 1.
Hut Warden:      R. Orr.  ‘The Belfry’, as above.
Hut Engineer:    R. Hobbs, Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol. Tele BRISTOL 77368
Tacklemaster:    W. Cooper, 259 Wick Rd, Bristol BS4 4HE.  Tel: BRISTOL 77368.
B.B. Editor:       S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol.
Librarian:           D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Publications:     D.J. Irwin.  Address as above
B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.

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

One of the M.R.O. NiFe cells is missing.  It is marked ‘No. 10.’ If any member happens to see this cell anywhere at any time, the M.R.O. would be interested in any information which might lead to its recovery.

The price of the DINNER this year will be £1-10 or 22/- in proper money.


 

Editorial

Belfry Binder?

The open session with the committee has taken place, and from what we hear, comments have been mainly favourable.  Apart from one or two preliminary questions, the whole session was taken up with discussing problems of how to run the Belfry.  Although it would be foolish to suggest that everyone now sees eye-to-eye; at least everyone now has a clearer idea of the problems involved and the ways by which they might reasonably be solved.

The editor has been sounding out opinion as to how much club members want in the B.B. on this subject. The main feeling seems to be that we have now done all the talking and should get down to the job of running the place.  In view of this, we shall be keeping the rest of our material on this subject - including 'Sett's' excellent paper - in reserve, should it become necessary to re-open the subject in these pages.

Out-Of-Date Dates

This business of providing club members with information about future events is not as easy as it might seem.  Apart from slips in printing dates, there seem to be a number of other snags to contend with.  For instance, the survey course is now one week behind the published dates, as it had to be moved back at the last minute for the open committee discussion to take place.  The barbecue cannot be published because the decision to go ahead with it came too late for last month's B.B. - and this one will be too late.  Even when a slip about the open committee session was included in the last B.B., there was still some confusion about the actual starting time. Etc. etc.

Just how one solves this problem is not clear at present, but we shall go on trying!

“Alfie”

Members  Addresses

New Members.

John Murray, Latyner House, Hill Close, Wincanton, Somerset
Jo & M.R. Upsall, 32 Eastland Rd, Yeovil, Somerset.
I & P.J. Calder, 14 Trinity St, Salisbury, Wilts.
J. Dunston, Tolcarne, 90, Wells Rd, Glastonbury, Somerset.
J. & M. Coleman, Orchard House, Burnwell, Norfolk.
G.C. Williams, 90,Greville Rd, Southwell ,Bristol BS3 1LJ
P.J. Miller, 60 Elmtree Rd, Locking, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Mr. & Mrs T.W. Neil, Woodville Lodge, Laighton Rd, Worthing

Corrections to members' addresses.

Frank G. Darbon, P.O. Box 325, Vernon, B.C., Canada.

G. Wilton-Jones, 17 Monkham Drive, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk.

Changes to member’s addresses

Miss C. Salisbury, 24, Belvoir Rd, St. Andrews, Bristol 6. C.E.A02,
K.R. Glossop, D08205, No 4 Petty Officers' Mess, H.M.S. I,ynx, c/o B.F.P.O. Ships, London.

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

The Tacklemaster and committee would like thanks to STEVE GRIME for his donation of twenty foot nylon rope to the club.

Why not write for the B.B.? Any length of article can be used, but there is a need for small pieces of useful information to fill up spaces like this one.   If any member knows of some useful fact to pass on to the rest - write it down and put it in the B.B. box at the Belfry.


 

Letter from the North

An. article by J. ABBOTT, keeping us touch with his doings in the North.

As some of you know, the B.E.C. now has a permanent member in the Yorkshire Dales.  I moved up here back in January perhaps the worst time of the year to be introduced to these far off Northern Lands

and certainly the weather has been pretty bad up here at times.  However, when the sun DOES shine, it brings out the best in these northern Landscapes which are many, varied and beautiful to behold.

One scene in particular which stands out in my mind is that of the Lune valley and Morecombe Bay seen from high on the western slopes of Gragareth late at night. It was after trip down Marble steps - itself a very impressive pot – a ¬trip which this particular fellow found intriguing, amusing and knackering.  It was after climbing out of the entrance rift at the end of the trip, which could be made into a separate narrative in itself (how about it, then? – Ed) that I found myself staring out over a moonlit shallow valley containing the odd friendly light which marked each outpost of civilisation.  These pinpoints of light continued out and beyond the Lune valley and could still be seen on the plains beyond until some of them coalesced into what must have been small towns - places such as Carrforth and Burton in Kendal perhaps.  However, beyond even these lights one could make out a barrier where one texture of light finished and another started.  That which continued, until meeting the horizon, was of a more silvery nature.  It was of course, the sea - Morecambe Bay some twenty five miles away.

It is not only sheer beauty which makes the dales such an attractive part of the country.  It has many pleasant facets which appeal to all manner of folk.  One, naturally, is its atmosphere.  It was a couple of weeks, back in mid-March that found three of us - two Bradford pothole Club members and myself -venturing over into Upper Wharfedale.  We had left Brackenbottom at about midday and after gaining both a hitch hiker and a puncture in a rear wheel and losing the use of the handbrake, we eventually made it up over the Silverdale Road towards Littondale.  It was a superb day, with both Penyghent and Fountains Fell bathed in sunlight under a cloudless sky.  I stopped the car in a lay-by high above Penyghent Gill where the three of us had a look at a stream which sank into a fissure - obviously an active dig.  It was surrounded by neat spoil heaps and the streamway contained several freshly constructed dams.  (The natives must have stolen the idea from Cuthbert’s!) However, after poking our noses into the dig, we set off once more to drop into Littondale.  In Litton itself, we came across a pub, the Queen's Arms. Consequently I stopped the car. After all, the air was warm and our throats were dry so it was the only solution.  It was in this pub that I met some of the atmosphere I mentioned ear1ier. The pub itself was set at the end of a short row of terraced limestone cottages, all of which were built in a solid, practical Dales fashion.  The interior of the pub reminded me of home (the Hunters, of course.)  The walls were bare stone and the roof was supported by a. large and very ancient beam.  The thing was held together by two metal straps placed on either side of it.  At one end of the room there was a fine coal fire and, although it was warm outside, we were immediately drawn towards it and sat around supping pints of mild.   There were two other characters in the bar, local coalmen, who were taking advantage of their dinner break to partake in a liquid 1unch.  I listened in on their conversation which seemed to consist of a mixture of grouse moors, twelve bores, market towns, mixed nuts and anthracite. Our chatter?  That too was just as varied and quite as idle.  As the afternoon wore on it seemed to get more and more idle, as did ourselves.  Indeed, so idle did we become that it was not until about 3.15 pm and numerous pints later that we were forced to shift our backsides.  Such was the atmosphere in that pub that I was very loath to leave it at all.

Talking of pubs, a terrible thing happened to me the first weekend I ventured into the dales back in January.  I was stranded in the 'Hill Inn' all night!  Cries of "Shame!"  It happened like this.  Upon arriving at Brackenbottom the B.P.C. headquarters - on a Saturday morning and introducing myself as a B. E. C. club member and a fellow mate of Bob Cross's - they stoned me – No.  Seriously, they made me very welcome, despite mentioning Bob Cross’s name.  I was invited to join a digging party.  I accepted this invitation and spent a pleasant afternoon excavating dead sheep and about three million tons of spoil. During the course of the afternoon, I chatted to various diggers and it transpired that most Saturday nights started off in the 'Chippie' in Settle and finished up in one pub or another.  That evening, after giving the 'chippie' a visit, a number of us eventually made it to the Hill Inn in Chapel le Dale via pubs in both Settle and lngleton.  Once there, we drank numerous Younger's milds and sang, shouted, croaked and wailed a number of folk songs.  Towards the end of the evening, well after closing time, the local constabulary decided to pay the pub a visit, finding fifty or sixty characters still inside drinking.  To a man, when asked, everyone declared themselves to be residents, which baffled the constabulary for a few minutes.  It was not long, however, before they decided that they would take the number of every car in the car park to make sure that none moved during the night.  This was the dilemma which confronted us.  We were faced with the awful prospect of having to remain in that pub ALL NIGHT, possibly even drinking all night or to take the easy way out and walk eight miles in the dark and pouring rain back to Brackenbottom.  You will be glad to hear that I faced the situation courageously as a true B.E.C. member should.  I put my beer glass in my hand, strode up to the bar - head held high - and asked for another pint.

Needless to say, since I have been up here I have managed to get a bit of caving done.  All of it has been done with the Bradford, who I have now come to think of as the B.E.C. of the North.  The weekend of the 22nd of January this year saw a number of us in the Birkswith area of Ribblesdale venturing down Calf Holes - Browgill, Old Ing and Sell Gill holes. The first consisted of a short through trip following a fairly large stream and containing an impressive twenty five foot waterfall.  The second was merely a downstream canal ending in a sump.  The third, and perhaps the most interesting of the three consisted of an open entrance shaft of 25’ followed and 50’ and 60’ ladder pitch. This deposited one at the end of a very impressive main chamber of G.B. proportions into which flowed, from a hundred and fifty foot up, a fairly full stream.  This was also an alternative entrance to the cave - an alternative that I did not fancy! The stream flowed on through the chamber to continue in a short stream passage to a final sump.  The following weekend, on the Saturday, five of us decided to pay Bull Pot in Kingsdale a visit.  The weather was bitter and snow lay everywhere.  However, the views of Kingsdale from the slopes of Gragareth more than made up for the cold.  The pot was descended in fairly rapid time despite some of the pitches being quite damp. The following day was the Bradford Club Meet.  There was to be an exchange of parties in G.G. via Flood Entrance Pot and Stream Passage Pot.  I elected to join the party laddering Stream Passage.  The weather was very much the same as the day before so we were all very glad to get underground at about midday.  The first pitch of 25' held the party up for some time, but once past this we progressed quite rapidly to climb a wet 85’ followed by a 110’ and finally by a loose 75’ pitch which got us into the stream passage in G.G.  Once assembled at the bottom, the party moved off to the Main Chamber via Mud Pot and Sand Chamber.  Undoubtedly, some of you have seen the main chamber before, but I'll not apologise for my description of what you already know.  We entered the chamber from a low balcony to be met by a great void penetrated at the centre by a shaft of light filled by a roaring plunging waterfall.  It fell with such violence that the resulting spray was blown to the further reaches of this huge chamber.  We walked across the remarkably flat floor of this vault toward the waterfall to gaze up and out of the entrance shaft - 360 feet up to a blue sky.  The Fell Beck, after plunging over the lip of the entrance winds its way across the floor of the Main Chamber only to sink under a pile of boulders at the chamber’s edge.  The water is next seen again at the bottom of South East Pot.  This too, was our destination; only we were to go by a drier route.  We passed the members of our complem¬entary party on their way to Stream Passage as we left the Main Chamber.  We soon arrived at the top of South East Pot to be greeted by the sight of a ladder of 140’ free-hanging over the depths of South East Pot itself.  This is a really impressive pitch in true Yorkshire style and, apart from being knackering, was a sheer pleasure to climb.  This was followed by a fifty foot pitch and after a length of twisting passage containing a couple of sporty climbs, the bottom of the last pitch of 70’ was reached. From the top of this pitch it was only a short climb to the surface.  It was dark as the time was about 7 pm when we emerged from the shakehole, but the sky was clear and the air crisp.  The moonlight shone down brilliantly on the snowscape as we eight weary cavers plodded our way slowly through the snow, down off the allotment to Clapham, heavily encumbered with ironmongery that was freezing to the touch.

If this, and the other experiences are indicative of what life in the Dales is all about, then here is one Mendip man who will be happy in his exile.


 

A Knotty Problem

The account of the practice rescue by Chris Howell seems to have brought some comments in.  Since we believe that all members should be in no doubt about tying a bowline, we make no excuse for printing everything we have received.

OLIVER LLOYD writes: - ‘I enjoyed Chris Howell's account of the practice rescue down St. Cuthbert’s, but was rather mystified by the bit about the double bowline, at least that's what I call it.  He calls it a bowline on a bight.   The method of tying this knot that  I recommend was to double back some six or seven feet of rope and then tie an ordinary bowline, which can be adjusted if necessary.  The patient's thighs are placed in the two loops created by the knot and the remaining knot and the remaining loop passed round the chest.  He said he found it hard to follow and would recommend instead to double back some six or seven feet of rope and then tie a straightforward bowline, which can be adjusted if necessary etc.  Personally, I don't see the difference!’

A correspondent who calls himself DRIPSTONE takes up the business of the knot and goes on to discuss other problems raised in CHRIS’S article as follows:-

First of all I must admit a sneaking admiration for Chris as he volunteered to be a victim, which is more than I would!  As to Chris not understanding Dr. Lloyd’s way of tying the knot (which is a bowline on a bight) probably Dr. Lloyd would be only too glad to demonstrate at a convenient time, but I agree that his description is quite straightforward.  I would advise using all three loops, especially in wet weather conditions.  However, if any kind of bowline jams in an awkward spot and it is desired to release the victim, it could be one hell of a job, and rescuers might well be advised to carry a knife for cutting ropes if necessary ( I bet the tacklermaster will be pleased to hear this! - Editor.)

I don't think it is bad practice to strap a person up, remembering that on a real rescue, the victim may be very capable of helping one moment and then suddenly go into delayed shook just when you are on a tricky bit and have counted on his helping out. It is probably better to treat him as a dead load right from the word ‘go’ if possible.  Again, the odd remark like 'Can we get someone below the stretcher in case it slips’ may not inspire confidence in the victim, but may be very necessary for the rescuers.  The victim of a real accident probably has other and more pressing things to worry about.

I am not writing merely to criticise what was an excellent account which I found instructive, so much as to point out that the victim on a practice rescue cannot really be expected to act and feel like a real victim. would.

Finally, since it is well known that the B.E.C. consists entirely of experts in one field or another (mainly the other) we asked our expert on seamanship – JOHN RANSOM - for some instruction on the tying of bowlines on bight and reproduce his sketches as follows: -

 


 

Ski Mountaineering

Another article by one of our most regular and reliable contributors, RON KING - or KANGY to most members, who says that he likes the new B.B. and the new cover.

We went to the Marcadou, a wide pleasant valley in the National Park due South of Lourdes, hoping to climb to the Wallon Refuge on Saturday and then to climb as high as we could on the Sunday, because you’ve got to have altitude, potential energy and all that.  Metres, man, metres!

Disaster struck at Cauterets.  No sealskins to hire for the skis.  Deep thinking produced the dreaded yellow wax (Fart Shune, if you’re not too shy to ask). This, at five bob, gives quite a good adhesion up to ten degrees of slope, after that you pull muscles you didn't know you had. Well, don’t say you haven’t been warned.

This cross-country, with seal skins are what it's all about.  Picture a laden Englishman following equally laden, but nicely equipped Frenchmen.  The distance increases, the sun beats down, the slope steepens.  Nine degrees - nine and a half – ten SPLATT!!  The rucsac, carried high and weighty, sinks into the snow, pining the flattened, wriggling, reddened, enraged and overheated Englishman with the remorseless pull of gravity.  The French, equally laden but nicely equipped, have vanished over the next horizon.  Even when, with the stubbornness of his race the Englishman makes effort after effort (and is not last) his energy expenditure is frightful, with slipping skis and the accumulation of snow piled on his ‘downhill style’ planks taking their toll.

At the refuge, the lessons learned are remembered and the developed cross-country ski examined with some respect.  I'm glad I ‘made do’ because now I’m quite sure that, as a result future sorties will be less frustrating.  However, all that was forgotten in the magnificence of the evening meal.  We had the ambiance of the Old Belfry, crowded with mates, binder bubbling on stove and beer to hand except that, in their unique French way, they produced in addition the magic of Haute Cuisine.  The wood fire was started, the doors closed, the candles lit and the veloute de champ¬ignons warmed (what you and me do call mushroom soup.)  Meanwhile, Bernadette mixed the legumes Macedoine with tartar sauce and Jean prepared the Crabbe Mayonnaise.  We waited. One does.  Conversation started and the first of the one -and-a-half litre bottles of Margnat was circulated and the soup begun.  Just when we had started on the crab, three strangers entered and gazed in admiration at the scene.  As they made up their powdered potato, Jean Gay enquired gently whether they were on a diet.  “Well, no,” they said, “but you?  What are you doing to-morrow with a meal like that inside you?”  Gay riposted instantly – “Us? Why, nothing!  We are a group of gastronomes from Toulouse here to assess this refuge to decide whether we should give it a two or a three star rating.”  - and we all, each one, dissolved in excruciating laughter and served each other with delicious saucusse cooked on the wood fire and helped each other to more wine.  We invited Francoise to share our omelette flambé (with rum) and generally, and then more and more hilariously, sang and joked until it was time to retire to the upper shelf of the refuge with a vast rum-grog apiece to keep out the cold or something.

As it is inclined to do, the next day dawned.  Bright light from a blue sky shone off the sparkling, untouched snow.  The ski-a-randonee were put on, and the first away headed towards a high coombe.  The Englishman considered and, deliberately and with experience, strapped his skis together and, carrying them, climbed - kicking steps in the firm snow.

The coombe was large and ringed with high peaks.  The French paused and relaxed in the sun.  An arête led temptingly to a hidden lake.  We followed it and, at the terminating point, ate an orange, drank in the view and left our skis.  It was only eleven o'clock and a rocky peak was just temptingly near enough to ‘go and have a look at.’

A steep slope led to a balcony, another to a small plateau hard against a rock wall.  The edge of the wall proved to be climbable in the sun, but with a biting wind which chilled.  A traverse proved necessary, frightening in crusty snow, but necessary. Long minutes of caution passed before the rather unwise traverse ended in a couloir which ran, narrowed by perspective, to the summit ridge.  The powder snow in the lower couloir settled it.  Not to-day!  We hesitated, sadly but firmly.  Too risky. A ski baton each and no rope didn't seem enough and, turning to go down, my heel crunched in excellent snow.  A glance at the time ¬12.30 - a look at the sky - not a cloud - a shout of ‘Death or Glory' - and the couloir went with a steep line of good steps.  There was a small check at the ridge where a thirty foot field of snow spelt danger but, fortunately, a small wind-blown ridge that was less hard gave a good footing. The last few yards to the summit of the Montaigu, (8, 300Ft) were a sheer joy.  A seat for the persistent in the gods.

Going down is, always, surprisingly less difficult than imagined and we soon arrived at, and put on the skis.  The snow had softened and the dreaded yellow - fart - caused some anxious moments on steep turns due to uncertain friction characteristics.

Skiing by traversing backwards and forwards, savouring the effortless movement, then through the trees cautiously, we arrived back at the refuge.  The others had gone minutes before.  We brewed a mighty bowl a tea and supped it while sunbathing.

Then, packs on backs, we slid, legs braced mightily, down the narrow twisting upper track and into the beautiful broad lower valley.  Through this, trudging rhythmically, until got to the final wide, evenly graded track to our starting point.  This made a splendid final run, braking furiously with deep snow ploughs, batons held wide to counter the heavy rucsacs.

And still the weather held, and, sitting in the cafe du ski at Cauterets, spent a long time in the sunshine, drinking beer.


 

Caving News

Another run-down on what is happening on Mendip, by TIM LARGE, our Caving Secretary.

EASTWATER 

The stream is sinking in a position just in front of the entrance.  A small collapse has resulted, with an almost cave-sized hole leading into the boulder ruckle.  The result of this is seen at the squeezes just inside the entrance - the boulders have moved in the area of the second squeeze.  This is also where some of the water re-appears.  From the beginning of the route-marking line, there appears to have been no movement until the lower end of the ruckle is reached just before the climb into the 380’ Way.  Here, there are several loose slabs and some boulders that move under foot.  Caution has always been the password in the ruckle and now even more care is needed as it seems to be on the move more often since the cave was re-opened.

CASTLE FARM AREA 

A small hole by the side of the road in front of the field where Castle Farm Swallet was, has recently opened up.  It takes the road drainage, which has excavated a small tube in the topsoil causing a collapse.  The hole goes back under the wall towards some large depressions, probably all part of the Castle Farm Swallet drainage system.  The hole has since been filled in by the County Council.

BUCKET HOLE Grid Ref. 5480 5336 Approx. Altitude 920’. 

This is a dig started late in 1971 by Tony Tucker and others. It is situated at the top of Smitham Hill, not far from the Castle of Comfort, in gruffy ground where there are several depressions, the dig being located in the largest of them which takes a small stream.  The depression is about thirty feet deep and is in lias. The site has been fenced off and various mechanical contrivances set up to aid digging.  The dig has been designated an official club dig.  Work has ceased through the winter months.

ROOKERY FARM SWALLET

This is in the Greenore area. I have recently obtained permission to dig at the site which has been dug by M.N.R.C., S.V.C.C. and A.C.G. groups on and off since about 1952. The stream sink was dug out to a small chamber, but this has silted up as the dig has not been looked at for some time.  Just South of the sink is the other half of the dig, a fifteen foot shaft in conglomerate, which leads via a squeeze to a very small chamber with one inlet passage of about eight feet leading to boulders.  The stream appears to use this route in wet weather, much mud having choked at the end, where there is evidence of banging having been used by previous diggers.  At this point, the cave enters the limestone, and a small tube leads off westwards towards an area of large depressions - one being quite recent, when the farmer Mr D. Thompson's combine fell down into a twenty foot collapse.  The stream has been dammed and then diverted into the shaft, where it disappeared without backing up.  The first job, which has been started, is to remove the mud etc. which has fallen in from the sides of the loose entrance shaft and the stream deposits lower down the regain the actual end of the dig, where chemicals may be needed to aid progress.

CUTHBERTS - GOUR RIFT

Dave Irwin’s Dig at this site is progressing slowly, the right hand end having been probed to solid rock on all sides, but indications show that the passage is going to the left and digging is to be concentrated here.   Shoring is being used to stop slumping and help prevent flooding of the dig by seepage through the gravels from the stream.  Digging takes place on Sunday mornings, meeting at the Belfry at 9 am and I am sure that Dave would welcome and enthusiastic diggers on this site.

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

 PLEASE NOTE:  In future, ALL rescue operations, HOWEVER MINOR should be reported at the time to the M.R.O.  The reason this is that rescuers are COVERED BY INSURANCE as long as the rescue is official. If you fail to notify the M.R.O. injured in rescuing, you are NOT covered.  It has been policy not to call the M.R.O. if you are sure that that is quite competent to effect a rescue unaided, but the matter of insurance has altered matters.  PLEASE NOTE.


 

 

Letters

31 Belvoir Road,
St. Andrew,
BRISTOL 6.

To the Editor, Belfry Bulletin,

Dear Alfie,

I have read the article on the club history in the March B.B. with very great interest.  I would like to comment the following: - It was stated that ‘Stoke Lane Slocker was transformed……..by the discovery of Browne's Passage by Pat Browne and the forcing of the sump by Don Coase, Sett, and Pat Browne’.

This is not true.  The first party through the sump was composed of Don Coase, Graham Balcombe and myself.  We had gone through Browne's Passage to look at the pool to see if (a) there was any outlet from it and (b) if so, could we get diving gear to it. We went to the pool and, after feeling around the wall, Don found the sump.  He was the first man through, Graham was second and I was tail end Charlie. It is debateable if that first party as indeed a BEC one, as we were all three of us members the C.D.G.  Don and I were, of course, B.E.C. while Graham was Wessex.

The second Belfry was originally the property of the Navy and was situated on Rame Head in Cornwall.  The weekend we spent dismantling and moving it to Mendip was one of the early club highlights.  The cash needed and above that available from club funds was loaned by Mrs Stanbury.

One more club first. In 1948 (Easter, I believe) I was fortunate enough to be the first to climb the waterfall in Fynnon Ddu.  I remember reading in an earlier B.B. that this was attributed to Colin Lour.  The party was, fact led by Bill Weaver of Wessex.

I hope you will find these odds and ends of interest.  All the best, Harry Stanbury.

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

Thank you very much, Harry. One hopes that, since the article on the club's history appeared there are no club members, however new, who don it know that Harry was the founder of our club - and hence in a better position to put us straight on club history than anyone.

The Stoke Lane clanger was entirely my own fault, since I was around at the time and should have remembered what happened.  If anyone is interested, and mainly to keep the record straight, the events were as follows: -

Sunday, June 1st, 1947.  Pat Browne, D. Sage and J. Umeach from Bruton.  Pat was showing the cave to the other two and demonstrating how the ends of known caves are probed for further passage.  To his surprise and delight he found Browne’s Passage and they explore as far as Cairn Chamber.

Saturday 7th June, 1947.  Pat Browne, Don Coase and Sett repeated the trip, forced the DUCK and find the sump pool.

Sunday 22nd June, 1947.  The party which Harry describes took place.  They do some exploration of Stoke II.

Weekend 28/29th June 1947.  Don, Harry, Sett etc. in a general exploration of Stoke II.

Monday, 30th June, 1947. Monty, Alfie and Luke Devenish read note left in Belfry and find their way to cave but fail to find sump.

Tuesday 1st July, 1947.  Same team find sump and look round Stoke II.

So I should have noticed the error!  Incidentally, there was a joke around at the time when some newcomer asked Don how he knew that the sump was so short.  Don said that he thrust his arm through and, when he pulled it back, saw that his hand was dry.  This was believed by the newcomer for a short while - but in fairness, we were all a bit slewed the time.


 

Library Additions

More information on what can be found in the club library, by our Hon. Librarian, DAVE IRWIN.

New publications in the library include RED ROSE POTHOLE CLUB NEWSLETTER, volume 9 No. 4 and the first two issues of a new exchange, the PLYMOUTH CAVING GROUP NEWSLETTERS Numbers 42 and 43 for Feb and 1972.  The Red Rose include a report on their A.G.M. and the Plymouth include an interesting article on the chemistry and maintenance of caving accumulators, going into reasonable detail that is often omitted from this type of Article.  Problems of rescue in Afton rift; a description of Coombesend Chasm and other material can all be found in the February number while in the April one can be found notes on Hexworthy mine., demolition of archaeological remains in the Tamar Valley and interesting extracts from 18th Century books.

DIE HOHLE, Volume 22, numbers 3 and 4 (1971) includes articles such as the Expedition in the Ojo Guarena system on Spain; Trollgatera, a cave in granite in Sweden; Gruberhorn Hole, Salzburg, and many other items worthy of attention.

CAVES AND KARST Volume 13 Number 3 from the U.S.A. contains part 1 of the Application of Stable Carbon Isotope studies to Karst research.  The second part is in Volume 13 No 4.  Those interested in water tracing will find this publication of immense va1ue.  Incidentally we have several other copies of this series in the library which should be read by members.  For example, in Volume 12 Number 1 will be found ‘The Chemical Evolution of Cave Waters, Inner Space Cavern, Texas’ and Volume 11 number 6 contains ‘Volcanic ash Horizons in Layered Dripstones and Cave Sediments.’

Perhaps the most important addition to the club library for some time are the three volumes entitled CURRENT TITLES IN SPELAEOLOGY for the years 1 969,1970 and 1971.  From the caving literature both national and local, from magazines and newspapers, books and any other literal source that one may like to suggest, Ray Mansfield has combed the lot to produce these three immensely valuable volumes.  Each of them lists, for its respective year, all articles and books that have been published in the U.K. - whether the material itself deals with foreign or local caves or with fringe activities.

Taking Mendip as an example. Do you know that there is a description of Wookey Hole cave in 1840?, hat Hutton Cave has possibly been rediscovered?  Or do you want a description of Priddy Green Sink? If you want information regarding caving in Japan; Carlsbad Caverns; a new karst area in New Zealand; Bat studies in Uganda; some Styrian caves; free diving the first sump in Pollaraftra, Eire and much more you will find all the reference details in these volumes.  For anyone needing any information from any article written between 1969 and 1971, it’s all there!  Remember that these volumes are in the library, and if anyone is after a specific reference, he can check it in the C.T.S. and, with luck, we may have that particular publication also in the library.

Each volume of C.T.S. is subdivided into a number of sections:  Inter- and Non-Regional Topics (Cave Rescue, Archaeology in Devon and Cornwall; Somerset and Bristol District; Southern Pennines; Northern Pennines; England, Miscellaneous Areas; Wales and Shropshire; Scotland; Ireland and Foreign.  At the moment, C.T.S. does not carry information gathered from foreign publications, but the 1972 C.T.S. is to be expand to included these - some undertaking!

Members interested in having these for their own reference libraries should obtain copies from Tony Oldham, 17, Freemantle Road, Eastville, Bristol BS5 6SY at 50p each. Printed by Gestetner - 60p for 1969 and 50p for the other two.

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

Make a note of the ANNUAL DINNER.  Saturday, 7th October the Cave Man Restaurant.  Good Food.  Plenty of it. SOME FREE BEER. Entertainments.  ETC. ETC.  All the best people will be there!!  Price £1.10 ONLY per ticket.  Don’t miss this unique opportunity of hob-nobbing with the cream of Mendip caving society!!  Make a note in your diary.  Tie knot in something.  Keep saying to yourself, “Saturday, 7 of October”


 

The Dig in Gour Rift

A more detailed account of this dig by DAVE IRWIN.

The end of Gour Rift has interested the author for some time - in fact when John Cornwell dug a pit there in 1966 it had the feel that it was only time before it went – but ¬the site was temporarily abandoned due to lack of help.  In 1963,   the author and Bob Craig,   persuaded Dave Searle to help us remove a flake at the small pocket at the very end to enable us to see what happened beyond. The result was not encouraging enough at the time to make one want to pick up a shovel and dig.  Still the site niggled.  In 1970 just before departing for the U.S.A., Dave Turner, Colin Clarke and myself had another scratch and later, with Roy Bennett's help, removed more rock, but again, the necessary push was not there, as Cuthbert’s II had still to be fully investigated, and sump II looked the more promising.

In the autumn of 1970, a scratch group of us went down to the end again and this time, armed with buckets; picks and shovels, bailed the pool at the end just below the aven to the Bank Grill and began digging.  Very soon it became obvious that at some time in the past, large quantities of stalagmite had been deposited at this point and only now were being uncovered.  Just a short distance beyond the end of the gours in Gour Rift, almost opposite the duck, a large gour three to four feet across was found about a foot below the gravels. Smaller gours were found to the right, each arching towards the left hand wall.  Here was the incentive that was needed.  At some time in the past, water trickles that formed the gours had flowed down the rift and away under the left hand wall (looking down cave) some of the water possibly coming out of the sump passage!

At this point in the rift, several lines of weakness were noted and it was decided to follow one - which ended shortly in a phreatic hole in the roof of an overhang that had its supply of water from the updip side.  Anyhow, with this information available that the water had flowed away from this point, a regular visit to the site became imperative to keep the dig on the move - so the Sunday Morning Digging Team was formed.  Its nuc1eus comprised Dave Turner, Doug Stuckey, Chris Williams, myself and any other likely looking 'mug' at the Belfry.  A change of digging site was suggested, and an attack at the extreme end seemed to offer a better position for digging. The site enabled us to get away from the roof overhangs which forced the diggers to a kneeling position, and made the spoil easier to move.  However, this was not to be.  A rock floor was found some two feet below, and so it was a case of 'back to the original site'.  To prevent slumping, shoring has now been installed and its back to the pick, shovel and the well-known cry of "Where’s the bloody bucket?"

Anyhow, if anyone is prepared to get out of bed early on Sunday mornings ready to descend the cave at 9.30 AM. (not pm) and be guaranteed to be out again before lunch time closing - come along to the Belfry.  Even if we don’t get Cuthbert’s III this year - so what!  It makes a pleasant morning’s caving.

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

Wig also notes that this dig is not the only activity going on in Cuthbert’s.  There are other digs; plus surveying and water tracing.  On the latter subject, ROGER STENNER keeps us up-to-date in the short article which follows: -


 

Water Tracing in Cuthbert’s

The most recent set of results are of some importance because they prove that the Fair Lady Well stream enters St. Cuthbert’s Swallet, which I have suspected for some time, but have not been able to prove.  To the west of the Belfry,  the size of the stream decreases very quickly,  and it is now known that water entering the cave in the Long Chamber series is derived from the Fair Lady Well stream.  Furthermore, the stream continues to enter the lake.  The next water tracing experiments will be made to find if water from the lake enters the Main Stream in the known cave.

The Main Stream (Everest Passage) Kanchenjunga drip inlet, and the small stream near the foot of the Rocky Boulder Pitch all gave negative results.

The method used for tracing the water was the same as published earlier (B.B. for March, 1972). The difference was that this time the work was done at the Belfry, where the U.V. lamp caused some interest among the members present, especially when they saw the fluorescence produced in a few different minerals.

Editor's Note:     The entry of Fair Lady Well water into Cuthbert’s must be of fairly recent origin, at least in recent historical times, because until the time - not so very many years ago - when mains water became available in Priddy, the Fair Lady Well stream supplied drinking water to all the farms and cottages between the Belfry and Priddy Green.  The clearance of the stream channel  - a completely artificial one, incidentally - and the stopping up of any leaks into the depression was an annual job tackled by all the able-bodied villagers.  Of late, the water to the west of the Belfry has become rather more of a nuisance to locals than an advantage, and so the stream is no longer maintained, and may even have been encouraged to leak.

Incidentally, in the days when we used to drink from this stream, we used to have the water analysed and, whether or not its miraculous origin is fact or myth, it always amazed the analyst by its almost complete absence of my form of bacterial content. Judging by the muck which is usually present in Fair Lady Well nowadays, I should imagine this is no longer the case.

 


Fairy Cave to Hilliers Link – up

(A ‘FRIDAY NIGHT’ CLUB TRIP)

Readers may not be aware that Fairy Cave and Hilliers are now linked.  This is a brief account of the first B.E.C. trip, written up by NIG. TAYLOR

On the 17th of April this year, a staggering number of no less than seventeen cavers turned up at Fairy Cave Quarry.  The B.E.C. were well represented with Leader Brain Prewer ("Prew") Mike Palmer, Nigel Taylor and a latecomer - Doug Stuckey.

The connection from Fairy Cave to Hilliers had only been forced a fortnight beforehand, and I believe that we were the second party through.

Hilliers was excessively dirty with quarry sludge~ and crawling through it was like ‘Jelly Caving.’ The grottoes have been re-taped, and Cambridge Grotto was still in a good state of conservation, and is still well worth a trip.

The actual connection, via a boulder squeeze in loosening boulders and banged passage looks worse than it actually is, and adds a little sport to the cave.  With seventeen cavers, the trip took quite a time, and I personally learned to watch my tongue when I learned that the kindly old I gent ahead of me was a vicar!

On exit, a suitable adjournment was made to the Waggon and Horses - when gestures of thanks (!!) were made to our Cerberus/B.E.C. Leaders.

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

The SURVEYING COURSE is still going on each Saturday at the Belfry between 7.30 and 8.30 pm as follows:-

Saturday, 1st July, Detail and Survey Presentation.

Saturday, 8th July, Survey Drawing.

Sunday, 16th July, Practical Surveying in the flue tunnels.

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

FUTURE ARTICLES

Articles lined up for future B.B.’s include an account of last year’s expedition to the Picos de Europa; some surveying articles by Dave Irwin and Alfie and a long article on Cave Photography by Alan Coase.  We could always do with smaller articles, especially ones that take up half a page or so. These are very useful and enable a B.B. to be planned so that no space is wasted.

Have you got any LIBRARY BOOKS at home?  Have a look through your bookshelf, as there are quite a. few books which appear on older library lists which the present Hon. Librarian has no trace of in the library.


 

Library Requests

With the library just about completely catalogued and many of the exchange journals and newsletters bounds we are finding that a large number of periodicals have either been lost or never received by club librarians in the past.

Below is a short list of items that are missing (more will be published later) :-

BRITISH CAVER

Volumes 1 to 14, 26, 28

CAVE PROJECTS GROUP NEWSLETTERS

From No .3 to date.

CHELSEA S.S. NEWSLETTERS,

Vols 1 to 4.   Vol 5, Nos 1, 3, and 6 to 12.   Vols 6 to 9. Vol 10, Nos 1 to 7, 9.  Vol 11 nos 6 & 12. Vol 14, No 4.

M.N.R.C. JOURNALS

Vol 1 No.2.  All between 1964 and 1971 except June 1970.  Bulletin Vol 1 No.2.  Newsletters pre No. 45.

PLYMOUTH C.G.

Newsletters Nos 1 to 7 & 9 to 41.

RED ROSE C.P.C.

All journals except Nos 1 and 5.

SEVERN VALLEY C.C.

Any newsletters except Vol 1 Nos 10 & 12, Vol 2 No 2, Vol 4 No 12, Vo15 No 1.  December 1967, Jan, Feb, Nov & Dec 1968, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Jun & Nov 1969.

SHEPTON MALLET C. C.

Occasional papers Nos 3 & 6.

SOUTH WALES C.C.

Newsletters Nos 1, 4, 15, 18, 19, 26 to 40, 46 to 50 and 53 onwards.

WESSEX CAVE CLUB

Journals Nos 1, to 26, 29, 30, 32, 42, 45, 106 to 109, 111 to 113, 118 to 119, 131 to 134, 138 to 139.

Any members having duplicates of any of these missing items, or who would be willing to donate copies should contact the Hone Librarian, DAVE IRWIN, who will be pleased to hear from them.  If librarians of other clubs notice this list of missing items, it should be pointed out that we do have duplicate material we would exchange (particularly B.B.'s). B.B.'s are available from Number 100 to date.  Back numbers other than for exchange are available to any purchaser at the Belfry at 10 new pence each from number 110 to 169; at 5 new pence from 170 to 237 and at 7 new pence from 238 to date.  The income from any such sales will contribute towards additions for the library.


 

Roman Mine

 by J. & N. TUCK.  Caving Report No 15.  Price 60p

While they were looking for a 19th Century lead mine at Draethen, between Cardiff and Newport, the authors discovered a lead mine of great antiquity.  With the help of Dr. Savory of the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, it was established that the mine was of Roman origin.  Work done in the mine has resolved many uncertainties concerning Roman mining activities in the district.

The report includes an account of the discovery of the mine; its geological situation, and a history of mining in the area.  The mining technique used by the Romans is explained and archaeological finds are listed and discussed.  Fifty pages of text are printed by offset lithography on 10 x 8 inch paper.  The report is illustrated with two maps of the district; a survey of the mine; thirty line drawings and four photographs. The pages stapled between card covers. At this very low price, the report should appeal to those interested in the geology or the history of the area.

Copies and further information may be obtained from R.D. STENNER, Hartcliffe Comprehensive School, Bishport Avenue, Bristol 3.

Caving Meets

The will be a CAVING MEET - AUTUMN BANK HOLIDAY

25th - 28th of August.

TO YORKSHIRE - INCLUDING GAPING GHYLL WINCH MEET AND IT IS ALSO INTENDED TO BOOK TATHAM WIFE HOLE; SWINSTO; KINGSDALE MASTER CAVE AND VARIOUS OTHER  SMALLER KINGSDALE CAVES. CAMPING AT AUSTWICK.  TRAVELLING UP ON FRIDAY NIGHT.  IF SUFFICIENT  DEMAND A MINI-BUS WILL BE HIRED.

Will all interested cavers PLEASE contact TIM LARGE as soon as possible, so that all arrangements can be made


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 23.

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

7

8

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

12

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. Was ‘e my rat’ in underground river? (9)
6. Describes outdoor scientific work – even underground. (5)
8. Cuthbert’s run. (3)
9. Furthest point underground. (3)
10. No southern spot up north. (3)
11. A Belfry brew? (3)
13. Take it easy in an Cuthbert’s itinery. (3)
14. Make small hole? (5)
15. Tempers be upset in this Cuthbert’s chamber, (9)

Down:

2. Right – One foot for this cave feature. (4)
3. Erratic O.E. Ailment. (9)
4. Progress along 1 across, perhaps. (4)
5. Found in bare terrain in Cuthbert’s. (5)
7. Old workings sound finished on Mendip. (5)
12. Take this in mineries or see it in rockface. (3)
13. Mendip House. (4)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword

A

B

O

V

E

 

D

 

O

 

A

 

 

 

D

R

O

P

S

T

A

I

N

 

A

 

E

 

S

 

 

O

 

I

 

N

F

 

P

I

T

O

N

 

S

L

 

O

 

E

 

 

C

 

O

 

O

 

S

T

R

A

W

W

E

L

L

 

 

 

V

 

S

 

S

 

F

O

X

E

S

 

The Editor regrets that, while he can think of nothing sensible to put in this spce, it goes against his nature to leave it actually blank.  It would, of course, have filled up more had he actually typed an ‘a’ in the word ‘space’.  Oh, well! Honour is satisfied!