Search Our Site


Next month, the nominations forms for the 1958 committee will be included with the B.B., and it has been suggested that we include a few words on the subject with this month’s issue.

By means of the nomination of new candidates for the committee, the voting for them, and the proposal and voting on resolutions at the Annual General Meeting, the average members gets his say in the way the club is run and in who is elected to carry out his wishes.  Our club is a thoroughly democratic one in which every member has an equal chance to have his ideas adopted at the A.G.M. – a state of affairs which is by no means enjoyed by the members of all caving clubs..

It thus pays all of us who are interested in the way the club is run to treat the nomination forms, voting forms, and attendance at the A.G.M. reasonably seriously as they come round as they soon will.


October Committee Meeting

The plans for the new stone building have now been done as promised by Pat Ifold.  The Electricity Board have now connected us up to the mains!!  In addition, a calor light has been installed as an emergency light.  Two new gas stoves are now connected – one of these has an oven.

We are still trying to obtain a water meter before the mains water can be installed.  Arrangements for the Dinner are now in hand.  The subjects of trees for the Belfry site and Cuthbert’s leaders were also discussed.

New Members.

Owing to the nearness of the Christmas B.B. and the annual complete list of members, we are holding these over.

M.N.R.C.  Winter Session of Lectures.

These are held by the Wells Natural History and Archaeological Society in the Museum.  Friends of members are admitted at a charge of 1/6.  lectures of interest are as follows: -

November 8th  The Geology of Mendip…Dr. F.S. Wallis    7.30pm.

December 24th.  Clare Adventure…Prof. E.K. Tatman                   7.30pm.

February 14th.  Caving Films of G.B. and Axbridge Ochre Mine…Mr. E. Humphrey  7.30pm.

March 7th.  The St. Cuthbert’s System…Mr. D.A. Coase  7.30pm.

March 28th.  Pioneering Days in Mendip Cave Exploration…M.J.H.  Savory            7.30pm.

Caving in Malaya

by Brian Prewer.

A few months ago, I wrote an article for the B.B. on the caves of Malaya, in which I described a trip to the Siamese border, to Kaki Bukit where I found several caves which appeared worthwhile exploring at some later date.  At this time, lack of tackle and the proper clothing prevented us from exploring them there and then.

Over the weekend of June 8th and 9th last, four of us from the R.A.F. Station, Penang returned to Kaki Bukit and explored two large caves and one smaller one.

We left Penang on the morning of the 8th, and hired a Morris Minor car and travelled about seventy miles north to Jitra where I had found a small cave on my previous trip.  Thus time we had obtained a hundred feet of nylon rope from the R.A.F. Yatch Club so we were able to descend the fifteen foot drop from the surface into a fairly large chamber about forty feet by thirty feet.  To the left of this chamber the floor sloped steeply away and a small passage led off from the lowest point.  On entering this passage a strange rushing sound was heard – we had disturbed hundreds of bats who decided that their dark abode was no longer safe.  When the bats had all left we tried again, and after a short crawl we found ourselves in a small, well decorated chamber.  The formations were all dry, and thus lacked the beauty that most formations which British caves possess.  This chamber led to another smaller chamber from which we could find no way on.  A rather disappointing cave – the bats are quite welcome to it.

Late that afternoon we reached Kaki Bukit and went straight to the place where I had seen a really large cave resurgence on my last visit.  The local inhabitants call this cave Wang Tangga Cave.  We changed at once and went below.  The entrance is about fifteen feet high and is quite dry, the stream emerging from about ten feet lower down.  Once inside, the passage descends for about thirty feet to where it meets the stream.  The stream here is about fifteen feet wide and two feet deep.  The actual stream passage is about thirty feet in height.  We made our way up the stream passage for about a hundred feet to where the stream reached a depth for four feet.  Things were beginning to get slightly uncomfortable by then, so a little further on we decided to traverse along one wall just above the stream.  A ledge must have been put there for our use.  In some places, traversing was impossible and we were again in water up to our chests.  After more than five hundred feet of this, the passage opened up into a chamber some hundred feet long by fifty feet wide and fifty feet high.  The stream had disappeared somewhere to our right.  At the far end of this chamber was a fantastic display of gour pools some of which were over ten feet across and there were also some excellent stalactites on the roof.  Here our photographers got to work, after salvaging as much gear as possible from the soaking wet bags.  Eventually they succeeded in getting two cameras and one flashgun working.  Using some American flashbulbs and H.P.S. film, they assured us that our patience would be rewarded.  At the first attempt the flashgun failed to operate, and on the second we got the pleasing effect of being in complete darkness, for the one torch we had went out.  The flashgun was in pieces as soon as we had another torch on, and was found to be full of water.  On the third attempt we were successful and despite a few more hitches, all the photographs we took were a success.

However, ‘Onward!’ – we have spent too much time here already.  A high level passage leads us from this chamber into yet another chamber even bigger.  The stream could now be seen below us, and after a short climb we were on the floor of the chamber beside it and looking back in the direction from which we had come, a yet more fantastic display of gour pools were see.  The highest one was probably twenty feet across, and the depth of water in it about eighteen inches.  Words cannot really describe these gour pools but only the photographs we took can do them justice.  (Prew submitted photographs of these gours to be used as illustrations to this article, but unfortunately there was not enough tonal range to enable stencils to be prepared.  Ed.).

Dragging our eyes from the gours, we crossed the stream passage once more.  The passage was now higher and narrower and the water deeper.  We could find no ledges on which to traverse.  This was then the end of the cave for us.  What lies beyond only a party equipped with a boat can find out.

Cuthbert’s Report

Water Temperatures

On Saturday, October 5th, a tourist trip was run during the course of which water temperatures were taken at various points as follows: - 1. The stream near the entrance where it sinks through the mud in the pool….53oF.  This had dropped to 50oF at  2. The top of Pulpit Pitch and at 3. The Shower Bath by the Lower Ledge Pitch on the Old Route.

Lower down the cave, near the Dining Room (4), the stream was 48.5oF, the same temperature as at 5.  A pool of static water in the Rabbit Warren, and probably the normal cave temperature.

On the surface, the Plantation Stream (6) disappears at 51oF, and after travelling probably a longer distance, enter(?) St. Cuthbert’s in the Rabbit Warren Extension and joins the main stream later at Plantation Junction.  The temperature at this point (7) being 50.5oF.  More work needs to be done on this before any definite conclusions can be drawn.

N. Petty.

Comment on the above.

Although, as Norman says. More work needs doing with regard to water temperatures in the cave; some preliminary conclusions can be drawn.  To simplify the figures given, the following diagram is included.



All temperatures in oF.   x indicates where more measurements are required.

The fall in temperature of the St. Cuthbert’s stream is as one would expect.  The rapid fall of 3oF to the Pulpit Pitch and the Shower Bath being caused by the vertical fall of 80 – 100 feet to these points, and then the ambient cave temperature of 48.5o being reached at or before the Dining Room.

It seems extremely unlikely that the water rising in the Rabbit Warren Extension and again at Plantation Junction can be fed by Plantation Swallet as has always been assumed, though without any real evidence.  The only evidence being that Plantation Swallet seemed the only possible source in view of the roughly comparable volume the flow of water at the riding by Plantation Junction being greater than the total of all other sources entering the cave.  It does appear to be possible for Cuthbert’s water to drop 4.5oF whilst Plantation water only drops 0.5oF over a greater straight line distance, the vertical drop being about the same in both cases.

If this assumption is correct, it leaves two further queries.  What happens to Plantation water?  This is simply that is does not join the St. Cuthbert’s System as it is known at present.  Secondly, where does the water rising on the Rabbit Warren Ext. and Plantation Junction come from?  The writer has always felt that the Drinking Fountain and Maypole Series are seepage collection from the south of Mineries Pool but Plantation Junction seems too large for seepage collection.  A further point is why the relatively high temperature of this water?  It will be interesting to compare the temperature with that of the Maypole Series stream, being the nearest tributary in that part of the cave.

The ‘x’ points shown in the sketch are points where temperatures are required.  It will be evident that these temperatures should all be taken during the same day, plus repeating all those taken already by Norman.  Both wet and dry bulb (can anyone lend us one?).

Also, a temperature reading should be taken at Wookey Hole Cave, and the thermometers used checked against an N.P.L. calibrated thermometer.  One of our members working in a Lab. should be able to do this.

A further check which could be done, is by analysis of the water entering Plantation Swallet and comparing it with a similar test on the Plantation Junction rising.  Any offers from any of our chemists?

It would appear that the name “Plantation Junction” should have classed with that of the Priddy Green stream in Swildons in being a complete misnomer, but it would probably be difficult to change it now.

D.A. Coase

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor of the Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir,

While the local Mendip folk are not unused to the sight of occasional cavers littering the road between the Hunter’s and the Belfry, things can sometimes get a little too far, as on a Saturday evening recently when an extremely incapable type, who looked as if he had just returned from a trek in the bush, lurched into the bar, which was crowded with strangers, in addition to the ‘regulars’, and attempted to shove his way through the crowd at the bar, at the same time bellowing for beer.  Mine Host and his worthy wife were busily engaged in supplying the requirements of a thirsty throng already at the bar, and, since immediate attention was not forthcoming, our friend from the bush addressed the gathering company in terms which could only be described as obscene.  Judging from the shocked and embarrassed expressions on the faces several of the ladies who were present, and murmurs of displeasure from certain regulars who were present, it was a fair guess that no one was amused by this behaviour.

During the many years which he has been patronised by the members of the B.E.C., Ben has showed himself to be a more than tolerant landlord, and it is up to the club to ensure that the good relations which have previously existed are not destroyed by such incidents, whether the characters concerned are members of the B.E.C. or any other club.  I suggest that a suitable punishment would be immersed in the Mineries!

(Name Supplied).

Partly to set “Oldtimer’s “ mind at rest, I think it is worth commenting that nowadays we are often in a minority at the Hunter’s and could not hope to keep order among all the types which sometimes frequent the pub without violence!  We have, however, made quite sure that Ben distinguishes between the B.E.C. and sundry other gangs of cavers.  The locals are also capable of sorting out ‘who’s who’ and Ben realises that we cannot be responsible, and do not associate ourselves with such types. – Editor.


To the Editor of the Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir – I have been going to write to you ever since I saw that Gesteprint in the Bulletin.  It certainly was grim!  The picture was much too contrasty before you started to make the stencil.  One thing – you must never set such large areas of black.  It causes the stencil to break down and makes the paper cling.  I am quite willing to produce a stencil for you, providing you supply the neg. or a decent print, and that I get a minimum of three weeks to do it in.  You should produce a picture as good as a cheap newspaper.

Yours etc.

Thanks very much for the offer Jonah.  How about it blokes?  Let us have some nice illustrated articles in future B.B.’s.


To the Editor of the Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir – I feel it is my duty to write in the hope of correcting any false impressions that may have arisen from a sentence in your esteemed journal of may 1957.  The sentence appeared under the heading Easter on Mendip and stated, ‘Among the skiffle tunes played was one which was thought to be the S.M.C.C. theme song – it was called “There’s a crack in this old building”’  The point I wish to make is that the theme song of the Shepton Mallet Caving Club’s regular runs,

Dear friends, the next time
You find yourselves in our locality
Try a sample of our hospitality.

On thinking of the many lazy hours spent over the valley enjoying our tea, milk, sugar, cigarettes and company many of the Belfry types will have to admit that the theme song above has been lived up to.  If the theme song suggested in the B.B. was adopted we should have to repair all but one of the cracks in our wall!

I remain, Sir,
A member of the B.E.C.
Bryan Ellis  (Hut Warden, S.M.C.C.)

I had to cut the above letter short to get this reply in…

The Shepton Mallet Caving Club
Are quite a decent shower.
We often pop inside their hut
To while away an hour.
We sit around, and all enjoy
Their hospitality
While we give Bryan cigarettes

Their badge it is a round one like
The sign of I.C.I.
In letters good and high.
It symbolises perfectly
Their speciality
They spell their Shepton Mallet with
A second round of ‘T’.





13/-  each complete







13/- EACH



4/9 EACH





PHONE 3331   (3 LINES)


The Belfry Bulletin.  Editor S.J. Collins, I Kensington Place, Clifton.


Committee Members

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

Note from your new editor

As you may or may not be aware Adrian Hole has had to stand down from his post as BB editor due to other personal commitments.  Thanks were given to Adrian by the committee for all his hard work as BB editor over the past years.

I have now taken over the job as BB editor for which I need your help.  The BB is a journal for all BEC members and is written by BEC members. Therefore if you have said things like: Why haven’t we had a BB for ages? Why is there not much in them?  Why aren’t they coming out on a regular basis? The answer to all those questions is because you haven’t written an article to put in it.  So all those budding journalists out there can now put pen to paper and send your articles in.

I would prefer all articles be sent to me by e-mail.  If you do not have access to e-mail then you could always send me a 3½” floppy disk, by post, with the article on.  Failing that your handwritten work can also be posted to me for inclusion into the BB. Any photos or surveys you want to include within the BB can be posted to me and I will ensure they are sent back to you as soon as they are put into the BB.

Remember that this BB is not possible without your input.

I look forward to receiving your articles.


Greg Brock

Have you visited the new club website yet?

It is full of all the latest events and information as they happen.  Keep up to date with the latest progress down Hunters Lodge Inn sink by seeing what you are missing in the photo gallery.

Thanks to Estelle Sandford who has put a lot of effort into designing, creating and regularly maintaining our website.

If you have anything to add to it please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Your Club needs YOU

Sean Howe will be stepping down as the club’s Membership Secretary at this years AGM.  We have yet to find a replacement!  Please contact a committee member if you would like to be next years Membership Secretary or if you would be interested in holding any other Committee post.

On the same note: Nominations for the 2004 - 2005 committee need to be with the Secretary by the end of August 2004.  This is so that a ballot can be arranged if necessary.  It should be noted that it must be ten years or so since we last had a proper election and that some key positions need filling i.e. membership secretary to name but one.

Remember: You don’t have to live locally to the club to hold a committee post.  There are a number of committee positions that can be undertaken away from the area.

Mendip Mega Stomp

This happened with great success.  The money that the BEC raised out of the event, the committee decided, will be passed onto Tony Jarratt for purchasing explosives etc for the club.

Tony Jarratt: Received with thanks.  The money has been spent on a 24mm drill bit.

Are You To Blame !!!!

Extracts from a recent BMC Summit Magazine

By Mike Wilson

I recently had a magazine passed to me because the walker thought that the comments were very relevant to our [Caving] activities!!!

In fact the article made very interesting reading and generally verified what a number of us have suspected for years ,that groups of people partaking in any dangerous sport will not find it easy to claim against a fellow caver /climber/hill walker .This is due to what legal eagles call The Standard of Care.

According to the article “and it appears fairly obvious “ that the standard of care owed to a novice is far higher than an experienced person .Therefore it is very important to make the novice fully aware of the risks.  Apparently in USA it is the norm to keep documentation to this effect !!!

The important part about the standard of care will be, in the context of a group, the standard of care owed to others will be higher for the more experienced member. From a practical point of view this means that while you would not routinely check your partner’s buckles and knots harness etc you would be expected to do so for a novice who does not know the ropes!!!

The law is about fault, about the consequence of actions [this is called the chain of causation] so if your actions have led to actual damage to another it is possible that you are at fault and then you may be liable.

Luckily it is not as simple as that and there are all sort of criteria that have to be satisfied before you panic .For a successful claim for negligence to be made the claimant has to demonstrate firstly that a duty of care was owed .That the duty of care has been breached, and that actual damage or loss has been sustained as a result of that breach of duty of care.

One of the first defences apparently is the BMC participation statement an experienced Climber [Caver, Walker]? would find it hard to show that he/she is unaware of the normal risks associated with outdoor recreation.  Most important [and I have typed this verbatim]a willing person cannot be injured!!!

This defence that is linked with the BMC Participation Statement is the principle of “volenti non fit injuria” literally a willing man cannot be injured –this is a very old common law principle.

It was passed as a defence by the Occupiers Liability Act [1957] which does not impose any obligation on a landowner or occupier to a visitor who willingly accepts risks .This act was amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act [2000] to remove occupiers and owners liability for anyone injured as a consequence of the natural features of the landscape, such as falling down a cliff, POTHOLE, or waterfall.

Knowledge of this act may help us in future negotiations over access to new caves digs etc.

The www link is      which gives anyone further details of the CroW act.

The chain of causation means that the loss or injury has been caused by the act or omission in question .In a negligence case, the negligent act must have caused the injury. If there is some other factor, such as the action of another person [or the person injured] which caused the injury then the chain of causation between the alleged negligent act and the injury is broken and the person who committed the alleged negligent act is not responsible for the injury.

I have tried to cut the article down to readable proportions in the hope that it will not prove to be mega boring .Personally I hope that common sense will always prevail and no one will ever break the unwritten code of caving conduct,ie the risks are shared by all and No One should ever claim off a fellow caver .!!!       

The Original article came from the Summit Magazine issue 23.  

In the light of recent events, this article becomes even more important because due to the fact that the BCRA have had their insurance scheme dropped by their insurers at short notice [thereby dropping them in the proverbial] it leaves most cavers without insurance cover.

Sadly the various caving bodies have been forced to close all caves under access agreements to protect the Owners / landowners etc.  This has not affected the Derbyshire Caving Association who have their own insurance.

I would like to add that the Wig informs me that the French insurance runs to £100.00 pa at the moment lets hope that we do not arrive at the same figure.  Currently all the relative caving bodies are trying desperately to resolve the issue!

Mike Wilson

Editor: This has now been resolved.

From the Past

What was going on in the BEC 30, 40, 50 years ago?  Some of you may be able to remember and some of you (like me) were not even born!!  I have included a section in the BB called ‘From the Past’  where I have gone through the BB archives and re-printed some of the interesting articles of what the club was doing all those decades ago.  For some this will jog memories of what happened in the past and for others it will give them a deeper insight into the history of the BEC.  

History of the BEC by T.H.Stanbury

Extracted from BB Vol 1, No.3 – April 1947

The first notes will, I am sorry to say, will be very sketchy as all the earlier records were lost in the blitz.  They were posted to me from Keynsham and never arrived, so I have only my memory to assist me.

In 1935 a group of my fellow-employees approached me and asked if I would be willing to take them to Burrington and other places caving.  Most of these lads had had a little experience of Caves and Caving, and as my own experience was little better than theirs, I was extremely diffedent about the whole arrangement, but agreed.  The following Saturday I took them to Goatchurch, and the trip turned out to be a great success.  The next four week-ends we were similarly employed and then many difficulties loomed large before us.

How could we get to the larger caves?  How could we get equipment?  Would the owners let us into the deep caves?  There were two solutions.

The first and most obvious was that we join one of the recognized and established Cave Clubs of the district.  This was debated at length and it was decided that in view of the fact that we were a group of working class men and that there were a number of points in the existing societies we did not care about, that we should not associate ourselves with any body already in existence.

The second course open to us was to form an entirely new caving club, and after many misgivings the Bristol Exploration Club was duly formed with an initial membership of about a dozen.  If we could have foreseen all the difficulties and troubles that beset us, I very much doubt if the project would have been launched.  At the inaugural meeting a set of rules were drawn up, and although they have been modified and added to, to meet changing conditions, they were essentially the same as are in use today.

For a time all went smoothly; our subs enabled us to buy ladders and ropes etc.  We familiarized ourselves with all the smaller caves and then turned to the larger ones.  Here, too, we were successful, and our first year concluded with the knowledge that we were still in existence, and if not exactly flourishing, we were holding our own.

Membership did not increase very much in the following years, we were not keen on too many members at first as we felt we did not have sufficient knowledge to hold them after they had joined.  We preferred to move slowly, consolidating our position as we went, so that when the time came, as come it would, when members started to roll in, we should be in a position to offer them something good.

The outbreak of the war in 1939 found the BEC in a stronger position than ever before, although membership was still only 15 we had suffered one bad loss, our Treasurer, who was also our Photographer, had been stricken with an affliction of the eyes necessitating his withdrawal from all club activities.  The last trip that he came with the club was to Lamb Leer, where we went as guests of the UBSS.

The older members were called up, one by one, so that except for one fortunate incident, we should have had to close down, like other Mendip clubs for lack of active members.  We were fortunate to absorb in the BEC the Emplex Cave Club.  The ECC was composed of employees of the Bristol Employment Exchange and had formed a club on similar lines & for similar reasons as the BEC.  These men have since done, and are still doing, yeoman work for the club, although they are only able to be present when on leave.

1940-41 saw us jogging along as before, a number of new recruits always balancing those called to the forces, but 1942 saw the most severe crisis in the history of the BEC. There was a very violent call-up, the result being that we were left with only about half a dozen active members, all of whom were actively engaged in the war effort.  As those in the forces were all made honorary members during their term of service, we were hit badly financially.  For six months we struggled along, and then came our salvation.

A number of persons of fair caving experience applied for membership and from that moment our worries vanished.  It is mainly through the hard work of two of these men R.Wallace and D.Hasell, that the BEC is where it is today.

In 1943 a forty foot duraluminium and steel wire ladder was constructed, followed later by a similar one twenty feet in length.  These ladders were our answer to the problem of transporting tackle to Mendip on push-bikes.

During 1943, 44, 45, certain “persons unknown”, instead of following the orthodox method of obtaining the key, broke into certain Mendip Caves and we learned later that we had been blamed for this vandalism.  We were not responsible, and we managed at least to convince others of this.  During these three years our membership increased by leaps and bounds and we emerged from our obscurity to take our place among the most active clubs of Mendip.

The year 1946 was a monumental one, our membership rose to 80 and we were able, through the generosity of a certain person, to purchase a large hut as Mendip headquarters.  Our dig at Cross Swallet brought us into contact with the Bridgwater Cave Club, whop have since been our guests at the Belfry for their 1947 Easter meet.  We absorbed the Mendip Speleological Group, and became, individually, very active in the Cave Diving Group.  Besides that we became members of the Cave Association of Wales and also of the Cave Research Group.

We look to the future with every confidence, and we still claim, as we did in 1935, that the Bristol Exploration Club is unique in that it is a’ personal’ club, wherein everyone, whatever their age and standing is welcomed, and is encouraged to take an active part in the running of their club.

by T.H.Stanbury

Extracted from BB Vol 1, No.3 – April 1947


St Cuthbert’s Sump II - Where do we go from here?

By Stuart McManus

Summary and Short History

Ever since the discovery of St Cuthbert’s by the BEC in 1953, the major efforts to discover new passage along its streamway have always been fraught with difficulty as the mud and lead tailings that choked the sumps have prevented divers from pushing through in to the passages that lie beyond. The usual method employed on these occasions required the construction of dams and the bailing of the water back into them to drain the sumps to enable the removal of the build-up of silt and mud by diggers.

Since the breakthrough in sump I on Halloween night in 1969 by diggers during a dry spell, and the discovery of over 275 metres of streamway that is Cuthbert’s II, and which terminates in Sump II there have been numerous attempts to pass the sump both by digging and diving but to no avail.

The basic problems with Cuthbert’s II Sump are similar to Sump I, in that the sump is heavily silted with lead tailings from the washing ponds from the old mineries used by the lead miners of old and muds/silt brought in by the streams as well as the continuing erosion of silt banks within the cave. The water retained within the catchment area is far greater than can be drained by damming the Mineries pond and therefore stored on the surface.  Here is an excerpt for the last push made on Sump II from 1982 – 1985.

In 1982 the attention of Butcher (SMCC) and McManus (BEC) returned to Sump II.  Ideas were discussed and plans were afoot to repeat a similar exercise to that of 1967. Rock drills had been used several years previously, but new attempts were made in 1982 to blast a way across the top of the sump.  This very slow procedure forced the diggers to re-consider the situation.  The conclusion reached was that the most effective way to overcome the problem was to bail Sump II and remove the infilling.  The number of dams in the cave was reassessed.

The 1977 dam used for draining the sump remained at Sump II but an additional one would be required. So, in April 1982, the sand-bag dam was built doubling the storage capacity to about 4,000 gallons.  Trial digs were attempted; the Mineries dam would be inserted some three weeks before the event and the Plantation Stream diverted into the St. Cuthbert's Depression, allowing the water to flow down into Maypole Sink and overflow into the floor of the depression.  The surface dams prevented most of the water flowing into the cave entrance.  The general idea was to drain the 'spongy' ground over which the surface Plantation Stream flowed.  However, as on previous occasions, this storage medium held far too much water and, although Plantation Stream had been diverted from Plantation Swallet and was flowing into the valley, too much water from the 'sponge' was flowing into the cave at Plantation Junction long after the dams had been put in.

With the dams operating in the cave holding back the water draining into the system, the sump bailing teams were able to empty Sump II to the infill level.  When the stream is prevented from flowing into Sump II the sump partially drains itself reducing the water level by some 1.5ft indicating that this sump is a true siphon draining through gravels at the downstream end. It took a dozen cavers about eight hours to drain the sump of water. All this effort allowed an inordinately short time for digging.  It was realised that the greater the volume of infill removed, the greater would be the volume of water to be bailed on subsequent occasions.  Continued digging pushed the choke face still deeper. 

To make matters worse bad air formed because of the large numbers of cavers working in such a confined space.

The ingenuity of Mendip diggers never fails to amaze the onlooker.  To overcome the problem of bailing the sump and reduce the volume of water, hundreds of plastic bottles were obtained and placed in the sump making the place look, to quote one caver, more like a "Moroccan bazaar than a cave passage".  The use of the bottles and two 1500 gallon double diaphragm hand pumps gave some success but the actual digging time was still only an hour or so.  With only a couple of men operating the pumps the foul air problem was considerably reduced.

A 'big-push' was arranged for the summer of 1985.  This time, ideas of driving a 110 Volt  submersible pump took shape. 3,000ft of cable would be required.  With this in mind, all the dams were refurbished, both on the surface and underground and a 5ft third dam – “The Kariba” was built close to Sump II, designed to holdback a further 4,000-5,000 gallons of water!  By the autumn of 1984,the Mendip Rescue Organization was preparing for the 1985 National Cave Rescue Conference to be held on Mendip.  Suggestions were made that it might be possible to borrow sufficient fire hose from the Somerset Fire Brigade to convey the necessary air to drive a submersible centrifugal pump at Sump II.  The Chief Fire Officer, Nigel Musslewhite, agreed and the tremendous task of transporting 60 fire hoses into and eventually out of the cave was a major task in its own right.  The logistics for the event were considerable and included the setting up of kitchen facilities, laying of telephone cables and the transportation of the pump. McManus wrote:

 “With everybody keeping an eye on the weather the Mineries dam was inserted ... to reduce the water retained in the catchment area ... The operation was probably the biggest pumping operation that had been carried out by cavers at that time, a case of the BEC 'doing it to excess' again”.

Suffice to record the air-driven pump worked successfully on 18th May 1985.  The pumping capacity was extremely high (more than 16,000 gal/hr) and the sump was drained in less than thirty minutes!  Digging now commenced within an hour of the start of pumping! On the first day over eighty cavers went to the dig site in teams of six.  The initial task, once the sump had been drained was to remove the hundreds of plastic bottles that had been placed in the sump during the course of the previous year.  This took a couple of hours though it had taken a year to put them in!

Once the water had been pumped out digging commenced.  The infill being removed consisted mainly of lead tailings from the washing operations of the miners.  Water was continually draining back from the downstream end of the sump.  Consequently it was necessary to keep the pump running in order to keep the digging face reasonably free of water.

So successful was the weekend's activity that it was agreed to repeat the entire operation weekly until the sump had been passed.  However, though great strides had been made the choke was not cleared.  By the middle of July 1985 digging had to come to an end when the borrowed pumping equipment had to be returned.  However Sump II had been excavated to a depth of 25ft and 65ft in length but still with no indication of the roof rising.

A further 10,000 gallon dam “The Aswan”, was constructed during 1986 – 1988 though this has still to be used in a successful pumping operation at Sump II.

Future Operations

The pumping exercise of 1985 demonstrated that the use of compressed air provided the best means of pumping the sump, for two reasons. The use of compressed air as the motive power, rather than electrical power, enables a relatively low weight submersible pump (DIP 25 Atlas-Copco) for its pumping rate can be used when compared with the equivalent weight of an electrically driven pump. Air also allows for flushing/purging of bad air that always accumulates at the sump area due to the number of and time that cavers need to spend there during the pumping and digging operation.

What’s required For a Further Push?


Since 1985, Sump II has refilled with silt and mud and the dams will need to be refurbished, though this should not constitute a major problem since additional capacity in the Aswan dam is available. The dams at the Beehive and Gour Hall will  need refurbishing as will the other smaller dams dotted along the active streamway. The major expenditure here will be cement.

Pumps & Equipment

The ideal system would be the loan, or purchase of an Atlas Copco air driven submersible (DIP –25) pump direct from the manufacturer – sponsorship would be quite attractive. The obtaining of over 1,000 metres of standard fire-hose from Angus Fire Armour again by sponsorship would also be desirable. The major expense with the fire hose is the couplings that connect the 15 metre lengths of hoses together. The use of longer lengths could be considered, though this would need to be assessed from any offer.

The final piece of kit would be the standard 7 barg road compressor that would be needed to drive the pump from the Belfry car-park. The diesel to drive it costing some 25p per litre.


I would consider it possible to muster sufficient cavers and volunteers to work on a six week-end period to re-establish the sump to its 1985 condition, once the dams had been refurbished and there was a definite dry spell. These dry spells are normally early spring and early autumn. The autumn is more favorable as summer flows into the cave should be somewhat lower than the early spring.

Stuart McManus

The trials and tribulations of Eastwater

By Madphil Rowsell

This is a collection of three short articles, updating the work/progress in Eastwater Cavern that has been made during the last year or so. It includes; another attempt on digging Morton’s Pot; a chance find of some new passage (‘Unlucky Strike’) and the surveying of Southbank.

Part 1: - Morton’s Pot 2003-2004

In the summer of 2001, Adrian Hole and myself had made yet another attempt at digging Morton’s Pot (BB 153 –“Life, the Universe and Eastwater Caven”). While attaining the deepest attempt yet, its flooding had resulted in the dig being aborted. It had been left abandoned ever since. In April 03, I returned from Tasmania with the sole intention of tidying up Morton’s Pot as it would no doubt be in a real mess.

My first trip down was pretty disappointing, the sack dams we had left for silt traps had all washed through leaving ripped up sacks strewn everywhere. I couldn’t even get into the chamber above ‘A Drain Hole’ for the debris. Demoralised, I started the clean up operation, a fatal mistake!! After a while, I finally made it into the little chamber and looked down ‘A Drain Hole’. I was really surprised to see that it wasn’t full of water. What was more we had only lost 3 of the 6 metres to fill.  With this, I headed out with crazy ideas of trying to get the dig going again!!! After another clean up trip I was hooked again, but finding takers to dig the place was the same old problem.

A miracle then happened. Graham “Jake“ Johnson (a Morton’s Pot veteran of 15 years ago)  decided to come on board.  I felt quite honoured! With both Jake and I unemployed at the time, we could hit the place pretty hard. We would dig most days if not twice a day.  We soon had the old seilbahns up and running again, the slit traps and  the debris cleared.

Together we formed a pretty good team. Jake had some great ideas of losing the spoil, a problem that had always plagued previous digs. I had just picked up a good shuttering technique from (Gadget) Nick Williams on a recent visit to Assynt. This would be a winner for applying in ‘A Drain Hole’ and keeping it stable. It  looked like we were on for a good attempt this time.

Finally it was time to go on a recruitment drive.  With suggestions of a digging charter to ban the loading of the dig site with sacks, and insurances that  everyone would have  a fair go at digging, we hit the Hunters’. Amazingly some more of the old Morton’s Pot veterans stepped forward; Pete Hellier, Paul Brock, along with some new additions to, Sean Howe and Nick Mitchell. Even Tony Jarratt appeared on odd occasions.  With this number we could shift the sacks from the dig site right out to the top of the 380ft way. Finally we could make real progress. During the week, Jake and I would sort out the shuttering and back fill as much as possible. On digging nights, the team would come,  dig and pull the bags out.

It worked pretty well and good progress was made. Things took a turn for the worse after about 2 m of digging when we dug into water. Worse still it didn’t seem to be draining. After several sessions of digging wet bags things were pretty hopeless. I had noticed a worm hole at the top of ‘A Drain Hole’ during the 2001 attempt that seemed to take water when in flood.  We managed to bail some water into here for a bit but then it blocked! To make matters worse bad weather had completely flooded the dig again. It looked like the show was over once again.

On a failed last ditch stand to solve the water problem we used the good old survival bag dam technique. I decided to have one last  look for the possibility of another drain point. Scratching about in the mud on the opposite wall I miraculously found another worm hole heading off in the mud. Man did the water disappear down here! It gave a lovely burping noise when the bucket was empty. Winner, the show will go on!! The dig was soon bailed and digging resumed.

By now we had uncovered the rib of rock that had been exposed in 2001. Previous speculation was that  this was forming a perched sump with the water draining off behind the rib. In 2001 the dig had flooded before we had had the chance to remove it. After a number of bangs, the rib and rift unfortunately narrowed down and pinched out, so it was back to digging on down.

Progress was slow during July and August.  A heavy flood coupled with the lack of comrades (I had headed over to Austria)  had left Jake a hard task of clearing up the dig. A new digger appeared on the scene – Lincoln Mick (Mick Barker) which gave Jake some salvation.  By September we were back to siege techniques again. At the end of September we were down 8m in ‘A Drain hole’, 2m past the 2001 last attempt.

At 8.3m, we surprisingly saw our lovely 1m wide pot narrow down to 10cm across the dig face. Quite stunning!! An attempt to dig under the remnants of the rib of rock yielded the same results, with it narrowing down to 10cm. Nightmare! The only other place was to dig back under the shuttering. Again after a metre or so under here the narrow floor was still there. What a disaster; all this effort to see our dig site narrow down completely to 10cm!!! Totally dejected and lacking enthusiasm we decided to put the dig to bed for the winter and see what the wet weather might do.  It was mid October. What a waste of time and effort!!

In mid November, during a trip down to Southbank, I was stunned to find a piece of wood down at the terminal sump along with some blue strops. These had only come from one place. I even knew where in the dig   the wood had come from! How cruel could you get; a piece of wood this size could get down but we couldn’t.  It did, indicate however that there must be reasonably open passage to Southbank. We must be missing something at Morton’s Pot.

The next day I headed back into Morton’s to have yet another good look around.  I checked every nook and cranny on the way down but nothing. I finally headed down to the bottom of the dig and was amazed to see a badger sized hole had been blown through and I could see about 6ft to a little chamber. This would explain now how the wood got down to Southbank. May be there is a cave god after all!!

It took a bit of convincing to get Jake to come down, I think he thought I was pulling his leg!! We enlarged the badger hole enough to get through and squeezed down to the small chamber. It was full of spoil but there looked like a way on into a rift. The echo in there was amazing.  It was bang job, but no more bag hauling!!!! Whooppee!!

The next week saw a frantic session, virtually drilling and banging around the clock. Our thanks have to be extended to Tony Jarratt for sacrificing his need for bang, to allow us to continue when supplies were running low. (Many thanks). We finally broke into a small rift  like feature (a mini 13 pots). This was it, we were finally off. We only got about 4m around the corner where another small rift headed off to what looked like a pitch. More widening before we entered a small pot 5 metres deep with another tight rift heading off to yet another drop. Again, a great reverberating echo.

With deteriorating weather it was almost a race against time. The increased levels of water were also making life exciting as the small breakthrough chamber had now become a nasty little duck. It also didn’t do one of the drills too much good either – sorry!!! More awkward blasting finally gained us access to the drop, only to be disappointed once again, dropping into another pot with another narrow rift heading off.  The prospects here didn’t look good either, another big banging job not being very inspiring. With water levels becoming critical we retreated. It was late November.

That was the last trip down to the pointy end until recently, a combination of water levels being too high and lack of enthusiasm!!  We did over the winter however undertake a number of clean up trips, capping spoil, taking out the remaining old sacks and rubbish from the dig. Even the seilbahns and the old metal silt traps have now been removed, leaving the Morton’s dig site looking more like cave again rather than a bomb site!!

In mid March 04, we finally got the chance to head back down and survey the new passage and contemplate our next moves. The duck required a bit of clearing but otherwise the place was pretty clear and open. Even the final rift looked more promising with a possible widening/corner further down. The survey showed we had made a total of 25m.

With renewed enthusiasm we decided to continue and widen the rift to the potentially more open passage we could see and have another evaluation, neither of us were really keen to undertake a major mining exercise. After a few sessions the rift surprisingly broke into a very immature tight rift/canyon passage, just too narrow to allow easy passage. Progress is only possible with selective widening, yielding a metre or so more of very awkward passage each time. The use of a recently made Hilti bar will hopefully make progress more rapid. To date a further 12m has been gained, it will be interesting to see what further passage is found.

The passage is very reminiscent of the lower Lambeth Walk passage and definitely not the place to be caught in a flood!

 Graham “Jake” Johnson hauling sacks up from the base of Morton’s Pot.
Photo: Sean Howe

 Madphil looking down ‘A Drain Hole’ standing on the back filled shuttering. The scaffold bars held into the rock by a 6” rebar pin at each end drilled 3” into the rock.
Photo: Sean Howe



 Pete Hellier pulling sacks up the 380ft way with the ‘scrap heap challenge’ skip.
Photo: Sean Howe

 Jake sat demoralised at the bottom of ‘A Drain Hole’ before the break through. His left foot on solid rock, his right in the now 10” wide rift!
Photo: Sean Howe





The recent surveying of Southbank and Lambeth Walk (see later article) has indicated that there is about 70m to the junction in Lambeth Walk where it is now known the Mortons Pot water flows to. The surveying also shows that a “big pitch” (as previously speculated in the previous article BB153) is now unlikely, and the passage will probably continue to follow the bedding plane down to Lambeth Walk. How the Soho rift fits into the scheme is also now confused.


Firstly my full gratitude has to be extended to Graham “Jake” Johnson, who has equally put a lot of time and effort into this dig over the last year or so. During the course of the dig we have worked really well as a team, having a good laugh, but also sharing disappointments, despondencies and madness! His conviction to leave the dig site as free from debris as much as possible is commendable and one I fully support. We have had many sessions clearing debris and while not completely finished the dig is well on the way to being returned to normal cave passage. Its been a good session, and long may it continue – many thanks.

We also need to thank all the other diggers not mentioned in the report who have put trips in to help dig (pull bags out from!) Morton’s Pot.  Thanks also goes to Sean Howe (the team photographer) for taking and allowing the use of his photos.

Finally thanks to Tony Jarratt for his support during the widening phases often sacrificing his need for bang to allow us to continue. Most commendable.


Pete Hellier looking up from the base of ‘A Drain Hole’ now some 7m deep. Photo: Sean Howe 


Part 2:- Unlucky Strike

With Morton’s Pot being too wet, Jake and I were in the market for a new dig. We discussed several options, but decided to have a look around the Rift Chambers on the Eastern Side of Eastwater Cavern. There were several dig sites around here. On this recky trip, we decided we would have a go at Becky’s dig, a very tight tunnel half filled with mud. The next day we headed in (with Mick Barker) and spent several hours digging in very tight conditions until the roof came down and prevented progress without chemical widening.

As we still had some time left we went for a look around the 2nd Rift Chamber, one place I had never had a good snoop about in.  Just after standing up in the 2nd Rift Chamber, instead of heading straight on up the climb, I had a look back and saw the rift continuing on in the other direction. Being inquisitive I headed up to have a look. It headed back  into a tight chimney which broke out into a small rift. One way headed back and looked down into the 2nd Rift Chamber. The other way was blocked by stones but draughted and had darkness beyond. The stones rattling on down the other side sounded pretty good!! Mick confirmed they weren’t heading back in to the First Rift Chamber. Looked like this was a winner!

I managed to push most of the stones out of the way, but I couldn’t shift a big one blocking the way. Shouted to Jake that reckoned I had something good here and needed a hand. After some persuasion (no doubt another of my “great leads”!) he came up and we managed to push the boulder over the edge and clear a path into the unknown. Man did it rumble down a slope for a long while!! Even Jake was excited now.

After a short crawl, a large rift chamber was entered with a 4m climb down. Halfway down the chamber the rubble slope changed to calcite flow with a huge calcite curtain (inch plus thick, 20-25ft high) stretching down to the floor like a big door. The only disappointment was that there was a small chunk taken out of the bottom. The damage looked fresh and was probably the result of my bowling attempts breaking in to the passage.  This gave rise to the name, finding a lucky strike but unluckily damaging a bit of formation. We did search around for the fragments but didn’t find any so may be it had broken earlier. Who knows?

The passage continued on down through nice stal and flowstone to end in a calcited choke. Didn’t look too promising but it did take water from a pool on the left. This pool turned out to be a tight duck. The other side leading to a short low calcited passage turning up dip but becoming too tight.  Heading back out the duck proved somewhat difficult and I had to be pulled out by my feet! (The following day surveying, I had to be pulled out again – be warned it is an awkward return!). We had a quick look at a rift heading up but didn’t seem to do much. We headed out, pleased with our find. It was poetic justice for all the hard work that we had put in to Morton’s.  It also couldn’t have happened on a better day either, the BEC diggers’ dinner!!

Jake and I surveyed what we had found the following day and discussed digging options. We put several bangs into the end where the water sinks but it doesn’t look promising. During one session Jake had another look at the rift climb and spotted a chamber through a narrow rift high up with a good echo. After one bang a small rift chamber with a small aven heading up was entered but no way on.

A small phreatic tube in the right hand wall was also found on this climb up, both of us missed this one several times!  After a small amount of digging this yielded a short passage heading down into a little chamber but with no going leads.  All leads have been essentially exhausted, but the orientation of Unlucky Strike heading off into an unknown blank area of Eastwater Cavern may warrant a further look and a more determined dig/ bang effort at the sink at the end of the chamber.

The survey of Unlucky strike is shown. Approximately 74m of passage was found, along with some reasonable formations.


Part 3:- The Surveying of Southbank

During the 2000 digging attempt in Morton’s Pot, an effort was made to correlate all the survey data for Eastwater Cavern into an electronic format, to better understand the cave’s layout. The resulting computer model indicated that the position of Southbank (particularly Lambeth Walk) was of some significance to the Morton’s Dig and a new find in Soho. Both indicated a probable connection. (This was the subject of the previous article “Life, the Universe and Eastwater Cavern” by Phil Rowsell, Belfry Bulletin 153)

While most of the cave had been surveyed over the course of time, Southbank (beyond Waterloo) discovered in the late 1980s had never been surveyed by its explorers. All that was available was a sketch map in a Wessex Log Book by Pete and Alison Moody. The accurate positioning of these lower passages would be of prime importance to the Morton’s and Soho digs and hence its need to be surveyed.  It would also be fitting that a complete survey of Eastwater Cavern be finally published!

Trying to find willing accomplices to survey Southbank however was a difficult task. I did manage a trip with Alison Moody down to Tooting Broadway pushing that to its conclusion, a sump.  (Phil Short later attempted to dive this and the terminal sump to no avail) but progress on the survey front was non existent. I guess no one relished the thought of spending hours collecting data in squalid conditions. In September 03, I finally managed to persuade two of the BEC Austrian Exped lads (Tim Lamberton and Ollie Gates) to do a trip down and we managed to survey from the start of Tooting Broadway back to the Terminal Sump. A great start but unfortunately the lads were unwilling (too busy!) to head down again.  Nightmare - back to square one i.e.  no progress.

Thankfully salvation finally came from Kev Hilton and Emma Heron ( Wessex) who were keen to see what all the hype about the West End was. Our first trip down was a guided tour but it resulted in a 2”x 2” x 6” piece of wood being found at the Terminal Sump. The wood was recognisable to have come from Morton’s Pot, indicating that a connection was present. (This find also resulted in the surprise fact that the Morton’s Dig had broken through!). Most of our subsequent trips down have been highly productive and most of Southbank and its side passages have been now surveyed to Grade 5 accuracy. At the time of writing only the far reaches of Tooting Broadway are still outstanding. In addition to surveying some water tracing was also undertaken.

Observation from the survey

The survey from Charing Cross is shown and the updated computer model is shown in Fig 1 & 2. It shows several interesting facts:-

  1. Morton’s Pot - Lambeth Walk Connection
    The piece of wood and strops at the Terminal Sump proves that a connection with Morton’s Pot exists. Furthermore during the surveying of Lambeth walk a digging sack was seen in the initial deep trenched part indicating that Morton’s Pot does connect with Lambeth Walk and not some other known or unknown passage. It is highly probably that the connection will be found by continuing up the deep trench which branches off from Lambeth Walk halfway up but is currently too tight to follow. The upper parts of Lambeth Walk actually head up towards the water inlet between Gladman’s and Lolly Pot. – see survey. The survey indicates that missing passage is some 85m.

    Also of note is that the angle of Lambeth Walk seems to indicate that the passage will continue at the same angle along the bedding plane and that a “big pitch” in line with the other pitches in the cave as previously hypothesised – see BB – is doubtful.  Only further digging at Morton’s Pot will establish this.
  2. Results of the Water Tracing.
    A new rabbit hole up from the entrance has developed and now takes  most of the stream in low water. This water re-appears at the drinking fountain in Ifold’s then flows on to the Soho rift. It also appears in the Strand. This water then finds its way to the inlet between Gladman’s/Lolly, and then…………..

    onto the sink in the Chamber of Horrors via Blackwall Tunnel. It also find its way to the small stream that appears just after ‘Never Hurry a Murray’ which flows to the Terminal Sump. A separate test showed that some Soho water does flow to the Gladman’s/Lolly inlet. While not proven, it is believed that some of the Soho water also flows to the stream seen in the top part of Lambeth Walk and is the feed for the stream just after ‘Never Hurry a Murray’ that continues to the Terminal Sump.

    This may also indicate that the Soho rift may not connect with the Mortons Pot/Lambeth Walk Passage as previously suggested.
  3. Chamber of Horrors and the Terminal Sump.
    From the survey it can be clearly seen that the deepest part of the cave is the base of the Chamber of  Horrors at 155m deep and that the Terminal “perched” Sump (and hence the whole of Tooting Broadway) is some 10m above (145m depth).

    With the Chamber of Horrors being the deepest part of the cave the sink is of great interest as possible stream passage can be seen, but widening will be necessary. Several other “drainage” points near the Chamber of Horrors are also of interest in accessing possibly this lower streamway.

    The fact that the Terminal Sump is perched is also very interesting. Water backs up here in high water to a head of approximately 1m, judged on flood debris. This may, as was previously concluded, be due to the rest of the cave sumping up (the Chamber of Horrors having flooded from the base on one known occasion) but could also be perched due to a flow restriction. This again offers some opportunity to potentially access the lower “Chamber of Horrors” streamway past the Terminal sump or from Tooting Broadway. Some tests are currently planned to observe the volume of water/backflow in the Terminal Sump to see if digging is possible. The far end of Tooting Broadway also now warrants another look for digging possibilities.
  4. Pea Gravel Dig
    Again from the survey it can be seen that the dig is only 4m in plan distance from the Terminal Sump but more significantly at the same height. This would explain the account of the dig suddenly flooding, the diggers having breached the sump water. In light of the above, if the Terminal Sump proves only to be of relatively small volume this may provide a better digging site to by-pass the sump.

Further work

  1. Work will continue at both Morton’s and Lambeth Walk to see whether the connection can be closed and to see what fossil passage may be intercepted. The parties involved however do not envisage “mining” a connection for connections sake.  Only if reasonably long sections (humanly passable) of natural passage are intercepted will the connection be sought.
  2. The survey of the far reaches of Tooting Broadway will be (if not having been done by publication) surveyed as well as the tidying up of several side passages/leads.
  3. A number of dig sites have been identified and will be perused over the coming month.
  4. Once the survey of Southbank is completed a full survey of Eastwater Cavern will be issued.

Credits Due in the surveying of Southbank.

  1. Without the help of Tim Lamberton (BEC), Ollie Gates (BEC), and particularly Kev Hilton ( Wessex) none of this work would have been achieved. All have done long trips, surveying in particularly poor conditions to collect this data.  My sincere thanks.
  2. As credited in my previous BB article, I would also like to thank all the other people who have given me survey data (or partook in its collection) for the cave. It has allowed the development of this computer model and the correlation of a complete survey.

    The nature in which the survey data was freely given is of great credit to those who gave it and shows what can be achieved by the pooling of data. This is in stark contrast to what seems to be the usual disaster scenario that seems to plague many of our cave systems with data being withheld from the caving fraternity by individuals with a variety of incomprehensible or petty reasons!! In keeping with this open spirit the computer model and the full survey will be issued shortly and available to those requesting a copy.


Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink - Summer Season at Stillage Sump

by Tony Jarratt

Continued from BB 518:-

During the rest of April and early May work continued at both the Cellar Dig inlet and the left hand wall dig in Hangover Hall. The former was abandoned after some 4m of blasting. This low ascending crawl is some 6m long to a too tight, choked connection with Lower Bar Steward Passage. The latter dig was hoped to bypass Stillage Sump but after a couple of metres of digging the solid LH wall veered round towards the sump and so this site has also been abandoned. The sump itself was re-dived by Jon Beal, assisted by other Frome C.C. members, and confirmed to choke after about 1.5 metres at a depth of 2 metres. Quackers rightly pointed out that the name is incorrect and the descriptive word needed was "ullage", the stillage actually being the wooden firkin rest. As it's too late to change now the next shitty feature will bear this name.

A new site at the top of R.R.R. was treated to two blasting trips but closed down after some 4 metres in huge boulders located beneath the floor of H.H.H. The use of joss sticks, a flashing red light and a radio rendition of "Five Live" failed to provide a nasal, visual or aural link to either H.H.H or B.B. so this site has also been scrubbed.

On the 13th of May the survey was continued from R.R.R. for 18.35 metres to Stillage Sump and a concrete dam was constructed over a short section of plastic pipe inserted into the base of the H.H. spoil dump. Four days later an experimental baling trip proved that the system works and that in an hour or so the sump can be drained of the couple of hundred gallons of water which it contains by emptying it into the abandoned LH wall dig. On this trip the sump was not completely emptied and no digging was done due to a shortage of manpower but we were much encouraged by the ease of the operation and by the discovery of a stubby stalagmite on the floor of the calcited passage. The now redundant submersible pump was painfully removed from the cave on the way out so that it could be cleaned and serviced.

Two days later we regretted this as after a three hour baling session it was realised that the pump would make life a whole lot easier and would have to be, again painfully, brought back down! About a metre of depth had been gained in the narrow sump pool to reveal a calcited left wall, more stalagmites on the floor and a shallow bedding alcove on the right. Thick silt blocked the apparently even narrower way forwards and the proximity of closing time called a halt to proceedings.

The 21st of May saw Sean Howe, the writer and Grampian digger Martin Hayes dragging cables, hoses and the skip-encased pump back down the cave where it was all set up for future operation. Two days later more Grampian members transferred drums from H.H. to R.R.R. in the morning and in the afternoon Trev, Jake Baynes and the writer pumped out the sump and removed seven bags of silt and rocks before blasting off the top of the bedding plane on the R.H. side to give more working space. Next day a return was made by Jeff Price, Tim Large, Jake and the writer to find that the bang had done a superb job. The remaining bang fumes drove the wiser Jeff and Jake to the surface while the two other idiots drilled and set another charge. They were later to much regret this as they struggled out of the cave feeling like death. Having recovered and left the fumes to clear for a couple of days a return was made on the 26th for another pumping, clearing, drilling and banging session. The "calcite" filling the top half of the fault-guided passage was thought to be possibly aragonite. Fearing the accumulation of fumes the next visit was five days later when much of the water was pumped back into a dozen or so 25 litre drums at R.R.R. and the rest stored behind the dam. This was meant to improve the air conditions by keeping the passage open longer but the prevailing still weather meant a lack of draught throughout the cave. Tim suffered worst this time as fumes released from the bang spoil got to him. Despite this another 8 hole charge was fired and a very unlucky leech sent to the big artery in the sky! Communications between H.H. and R.R.R. were by Motorola walkie-talkie. This site was now becoming a bit of a problem and it was decided to leave gaps of a week before revisiting it.

The next visit was a full week later when draughtier conditions prevailed and the air was much improved. The usual pump, drill and bang operation took place but we were spurred on by both the opening up of a narrow, clay filled rift, which may be the drain for the sump, and the recent discovery of the main way on in Wookey Hole by Rick Stanton. Another repeat performance took place on the 14th when a 110 volt drill was used to place four 24mm shotholes to take gelignite sticks. A week later we returned with the battery drill for yet another banging session. On this trip Tim noticed possible rat droppings in Pub Crawl so visitors should be reminded of the risks of Weil's Disease in this cave.

On the 25th June, during the clearing of spoil from the last bang, a distinct draught was felt blowing into the top of the narrow rift above the sump and it was decided to blast upwards following this. This was done on the 28th using 100 gramme detonating cord. A lucky toad got a lift back to the surface on top of Jeff's head - under his helmet. Our guest digger today was Boyd Potts of the Orpheus.

In Broon Ale Boulevard climbing has recommenced at the three remaining avens. That partly scaled by Nick Mitchell   (now named Old Nick Aven to keep with the booze theme) was pushed some 4m higher by Eddy Hill on the 9th of June and a bolt placed. Two days later the writer, supported by Ernie White, gained another 7m to reach a narrow and muddy passage at a height of 15m heading up-dip but needing enlargment. This was done by Trev Hughes on the 13th and the writer was able to squeeze into a larger section of passage which quickly terminated in several impassable inlets and a too tight hole in the floor. On the 16th this was surveyed and bolting commenced at the final aven(s) in B.A.B. (Old Peculier Aven). Five more bolts were put in on the 23rd by Tim, your scribe and Nigel Strong of the Eldon Pothole Club. At the furthest point Nigel gained a view of "walking size" passage heading off down-dip and continuing vertical development above. Trev placed the final bolt on the 27th and reported that both ways on soon closed down though another visit is necessary to confirm this and to survey the aven.

The first, blind rift, previously climbed by the writer, was eventually surveyed and retrospectively named Old Fart Aven.

At the bottom of Pewter Pot the rapidly drying out Slop 3 dig saw a lot of attention on the 20th of June when Trev, Ray Deasy and the writer cleared and stacked mud and rocks from the unstable slope leading to the ongoing passage.

This report will be continued in BB 520.

Bone identification

Bone identification - updated - with the usual thanks to Dr Roger Jacobi for his time and effort. He has closely studied and measured the diameters of seven antler bases from the twenty fragments recovered in the large selection of reindeer and bison bones making up sample HLIS 28. These are 17.1 and 14.8mm, 8.4 and 15.8, 20.6 and 19.2, 25.2 and 22.8, 23.5 and 24.2, 20.2 and 18.1 and 19.6 and 14.4. "... they all appear to be from females or juvenile males supporting the idea that the area above the cave may have been a calving ground." This sample also includes the first evidence of Brown bear (Ursus arctos) from the cave.

27         Bison priscus          Right scapula.

28(1)     Unidentified             Various fragments.

28(2)     Rangifer tarandus (reindeer) – Mid-shaft portion of juvenile right femur.

28(3)     Mid-shaft portion of left metatarsal.

28(4)     Distal shaft fragment of left metatarsal.

28(5)     Distal shaft fragment of right metatarsal.

28(6)     Proximal right tibia.

28(7)     Partial left innominate.

28(8)     Distal right humerus.

28(9)     Mid-shaft portion of juvenile right humerus.

28(10)   Fragment from anterior margin of right scapula.

28(11)   Five rib fragments.

28(12)   Fragment from anterior face of left metatarsal retaining part of proximal articulation.

28(13)   Mid-shaft portion of right tibia.

28(14)   Distal right tibia.

28(15)   Antler. Nineteen pieces (including five bases).  All potentially female/young male.

28(16)   Proximal phalange.

28(17)   Distal left femur.

28(18)   Diaphyseal fragment of left tibia (posterior face towards proximal end).

28(19)   Diaphyseal fragment from internal face of left tibia.

28(20)   Shaft of juvenile right tibia.

28(21)   Distal shaft fragment of right metatarsal.

28(22)   cf Bison priscus      Eight rib fragments.

28(23)   Fragment from spine of left scapula.

28(24)   Incomplete cervical vertebra 4.

28(25)   Ursus arctos (Brown bear)   Fragment from lower shaft of right radius. "It is a large bone and, given that the bone is juvenile, the adult would have been of some size. The bones at Banwell are noticeably large and, as you know, I think that the fauna there may be of about the age of yours. Interesting!"     R.J.

29         Microtus oeconomus (Northern vole)   Incisor and two molars.

30         Rangifer tarandus       Right tibia.

31(1)     Distal left tibia.

31(2)     Proximal right tibia - gnawed at proximal end.  Distal epiphysis lost.

32         cf Bison priscus         Right M3.

33         Rangifer tarandus      Left P3.

34         Distal right humerus.

35         Bison priscus        . Horn core. "An important find   which confirms your bovine as Bison priscus rather than wild cattle - Bos primigenius."     R.J.

36         Right naviculo-cuboid.

37         Rangifer tarandus     Distal right tibia.

38         Bovini cf Bison priscus     Proximal left metacarpal (unfused distal epiphysis lost Slender).  Smaller range of Isleworth.

39         Distal left tibia? Gnawed at proximal end.

40         Rangifer tarandus     Shaft of left humerus.

41         Antler fragment.

42         Base of shed antler. Female? 18.2 and 16.8.

43         Mid-shaft of left femur.

44         Base of shed antler. Male? 18.8 and 17.8.

45         Shaft of juvenile right humerus.

46         Antler fragment.

All the above have been deposited at Wells Museum with the exception of numbers 35, 37, 39, and 42 which will reside at the Hunters'.

Additions to the team and acknowledgements.

Gordon Coldwell (CPC), Ryan Jackson, James Daly, Julian Herbert-Smith (all FCC), Christian Degen (Germany), The B.E.C. Committee and Chris Falshaw for their generous donations to the Digging Fund, Charles Adcock (Event Horizon Pyrotechnics), "Yorkshire" Dave Hodgson (GSG), Andy Chamberlain, Fiona Crozier, Nigel Strong (Eldon PC), Boyd Potts (Orpheus C.C.)


Photo by Sean Howe


Photo by Sean Howe


   Tony Jarratt in Hangover Hall

Of Boulder Chokes, Bats and Irish Musicians - Meghalaya 2004

by Tony Jarratt

A BEC/GSG member's view of this year's expedition to NE India. Refer to Belfry Bulletin 115 and GSG bulletin October 2003 for background information.

"U Ramhah died on the hill-side alone and unattended, as the wild animals die, and there was no one to regret his death. When the members of his clan heard of his death they came in a great company to perform rites and to cremate his body, but his body was so big that it could not be cremated, and so they decided to leave it till the flesh rotted, and to come again to gather his bones, but it was found that there was no urn large enough to contain them, so they piled them together on the hill-side until a large urn would be made. While the making of the urn was in progress there arose a great storm, and a wild hurricane blew from the north, which carried away the bleached bones of U Ramhah, and scattered them all over the south borders of the Khasi Hills, where they remain to this day in the form of lime-rocks, the many winding caves and crevices of which are the cavites in the marrowless bones of the giant." Rafy, 1920    (Pinched from Daniel Gebauer's magnificent South Asia Cave Registry, without his permission but with grateful thanks.)

February 6th saw the Mendip contingent - Tony Boycott (BEC,GSG) Jayne Stead (GSG) and the writer joining Simon Brooks (OCC,GSG) for the flight from Heathrow to Calcutta via Amman and Bombay. In Calcutta we met Joe Duxbury (GSS) and Jonathan Davies (GSG) before flying on to Guwahati where we were met by Gregory Diengdoh (MA). A Sumo ride to Shillong followed and here we found Peter Ludwig (LVHOO-Austria), Thomas Arbenz (SNT-Switzerland), Brian MacCoitir, Robin Sheen and Quentin Cooper (BC-Ireland), Damien Linder (SCJ-Switzerland) and the Meghalayan Adventurers; Brian Kharpran Daly (MA,GSG), Shelley Diengdoh, Dale and Ronnie Mawlong, Brandon Blein and others, plus their relatives and friends. Beer, Chinese/Indian food and more beer set the seal on the start of the expedition.

On the 9th several of us hired a Sumo jeep and headed for the village of Shnongrim in the Jaintia Hills of eastern Meghalaya - scene of past glories and with more to come in the next three weeks. Tents were set up on arrival as our purpose-built bamboo camp, like a Spanish hotel, had yet to be constructed.

Our caving started in earnest next day with the discovery of an extensive pothole system only some four minutes walk from camp! Krem Krang Wah (lower sloping ground cave) was a fine series of Yorkshire-style pitches and canyon passages with a miserable streamway at the bottom. Brian M. and Quentin undertook the rigging and did a grand job, their skills being honed to perfection by the end of the expedition. The adjacent Krem Krang Riat (upper sloping ground cave) was tied into the system and the impessive 80m deep Tiger Mouth Pot - part of Krem Krang Wah - also connected to eventually yield 2252.22 metres of sporting and attractive cave. Thomas and Peter, later in the week joined by Simon and anyone else that they could "press", recommenced work in Krem Synrang Labbit 1 and 2 (bat shelter cave) eventually surveying 4332.56 metres to give a combined system length of 5986.45 metres..


During the next few days more of the team arrived at camp including Imogen Furlong (SUSS), Andy Harp and Nicola Bayley (RFODCC), Mark Silo (OCC) and Danny Burke (BC).

On the 14th some of us had a "rest day" and were driven to the base of the ridge to visit an ancient, dry resurgence cave recently discovered near Lamyrsiang village by the locals and featured in the Meghalayan media. Krem Bam Khnei (rat eating cave) was surveyed for 738 metres to a massive and impenetrable boulder choke. Many of its beautiful flowstones and gours were covered in Hindi graffiti and rubbish was strewn everywhere as, due to its ease of access and lengthy, roomy galleries, it has become a subterranean religious shrine for immigrant coal miners working nearby. It must once have been a stunning system of deep and clear canals but now, alas, it is doomed. We were glad that the terminal choke was impassable but were very impressed by the speleological potential in this area. Despite the mess we were filmed and interviewed in this cave by a team from Doordarshan Kenora - the Indian government cable TV network - and so I had the dubious privilege of appearing in both British and Indian caving documentaries filmed just a few weeks apart.

With Krem Krang Wah finished we dropped the impressive 20m pot of Krem Bir (mud cave) in the hope of entering the continuation of the ongoing Krem Synrang Ngap (bee shelter cave - see BB 115 & GSG Bull. Oct. 2003). This latter, extremely promising cave never got visited this year due to other projects so has been left for the 2005 Grampian contingent. Krem Bir unfortunately dropped into an enormous, unstable boulder choke - part of which was pushed into a short section of ancient fossil tunnels ending in more awesome chokes which were left well alone. A strong, misty draught indicated big cave below but there was no safe way to reach it. This was a muddy, gloomy, uninspiring and quite frightening cave which we were glad to leave. One of its few redeeming features is a mini gypsum chandelier. The surveyed length was 332.4 metres

The 18th was spent in glorious sunshine on a reconnoitre of the ridge and catchment area above Krem Wah Shikar and the finding of Krem Mulieh 1-4 (soft, white rock which cures diarrhoea cave!). 1 and 2 were connected via a 40m pot but the promising passage below degenerated into a wet crawl which even the redoubtable Quentin was indisposed to push, even with his helmet off. In this cave I was climbing a large rock pinnacle to establish a good survey shot when the top 1.5m started to topple backwards. By a miracle I managed to regain balance and avoid falling for 4m, feverishly embracing half a ton of spiky limestone! This was a sharp reminder of the perils of virgin cave. The other Krem Muliehs also bottled out but at least we could now write them off. On the walk back from these a local showed us several caves in the Um Im (living or permanent water) area which were later to provide the main focus for the expedition. With no local names they became Krem Um Im 2-5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The previously partly explored and locally named Krem Um Im became number 1. This latter cave was soon to be connected with the 9km long Krem Liat Prah which the main explorer and surveyor, Michael Laumanns, had written off as "finished". Absent from this years trip he was destined to soon receive many smug communications informing him that his "baby" had now grown into a teenager and was very likely to get bigger next year! Jonathan, Brian M. and Robin made the first connection with the Liat Prah streamway after surveying 200 metres of canals at the bottom of the vertical Um Im 1 system. After this refreshing swim they surveyed upstream Liat Prah along an inexplicably previously missed passage for 313 metres, again mainly swimming, to a boulder choke from below which the stream emerged. The nearby Laumann's Pot was descended down 27m and 43m pitches to provide an easier way in and lots more passage mapped.

Krem Um Im 2-5 is an interconnected system of attractive passages on several levels. It is adjacent to, and connects with in two places, a superb jungle-filled doline which became known as the "Lost World". A pleasant 30m pitch could be by-passed by descending the equally deep doline and entering a low and narrow streamway at the bottom. This was followed to where it became a wide, low bedding plane which eventually debouched into the side of walking sized canyon passage leading to Craggy Island. This large, oblong collapse chamber heralded the start of yet another horrific boulder choke where Quentin's talents once again came to the fore as he pioneered a complicated route through it for c.50m to an echoing area. The writer, scouting ahead for the survey, got to push the last bit to reach the head of a 20m pitch into what appeared to be huge, dry canyon passage. Having no tackle we left a 10m tape hanging down in the hope that this would be found from the newly discovered and adjacent Krem Um Im 6, the entrance of which was only a few metres away from 2-5 and also in the floor of the Lost World doline.

In this cave, once again, an enormous, frightening boulder ruckle had to be pushed and the good Dr. B. got the short straw on this one. He wormed his way downwards between boulders as big as the Hunters' until a lack of ladders to descend the gaps between them curtailed his exploration. These were eventually provided and the ruckle pushed to a depth of some 35m to where it opened up into solid cave at a stepped 30m pot. Quentin rigged this with one of the world's most frightening take-offs; the hanger being in the underside of a boulder weighing hundreds of tons and not only forming the ceiling of the 30m pot but also holding up all 35m of choke above!!! This was a classic hang which caused much ring-clenching on the prussik out.

Below the pot a large, active and beautifully decorated river passage bore off downstream to reach yet another boulder choke after 274m. Valiant attempts to pass this initially failed but by a stroke of luck we had a jar of fluorescein with us and some of this was chucked into the stream - mainly for the benefit of the video. Next day a party finishing off the survey were amazed to hear voices and then even more amazed as Mark and Jonathan emerged from the choke having pushed upstream from Krem Liat Prah. They had seen the green water and this inspired them to greater efforts - a marvellous and superbly timed stroke of luck. Um Im 6 (and by definition Um Im 2-5) were now part of the rapidly expanding Liat Prah system. Also on this trip, and at the suggestion of your dig-fixated scribe, an obscure hole at the base of the 30m pot was cleared by Quentin in the hope of passing the upstream sump in this cave. Sure enough open but decidedly squalid passage was entered and left for another day.

When that day came a couple of hundred metres of filthy and unpleasant phreatic tunnels were surveyed and the main way on desperately searched for. It just had to go. Our last chance was a tiny inlet canal with thick mud under the water and a definite "collector's item". With nothing left to survey we went for it and after 30m of misery the passage improved slightly in that we were no longer scared of disappearing forever into the quicksand of "Shit Creek". A good echo hinted at better things ahead and suddenly we gained a view of black space as we entered a 15m high bore passage at right angles. We had hit the jackpot again! A massive dry tunnel bored off upwards to the right. This was later mapped for several hundred metres and contained some stupendous formations. A huge side passage turned out to be an oxbow to the main drag and provided an airy balcony for the video team and some awe-inspiring views of the river passage below - this being reached by turning left at the initial entry point. This 15m high by 8m wide tunnel carried the main stream which was soon found to issue from an impenetrable choke on the RH side after 200m. Ahead the passage increased in size and gained height to form a gigantic, breakdown-floored square tunnel which we surveyed in a straight line for 390m to a point where the boulder floor met the ceiling. The heat and lack of draught indicated that a way on was unlikely but a wristwatch altitude measurement indicated that "The Grand Trunk Road" was not far from the surface. On the way back a small but interesting inlet, "Shnongrim Subway", was found which may well be explored further next year, our lesson on not ignoring the obscure passages being well and truly drummed home after this discovery! Krem Liat Prah had now entered the big league with some 14km of passage and looked quite likely to become India's second longest. This was confirmed after Brian, Jonathan, Shelley and team, who had meanwhile been dropping Krem Um Im 7 and 8 and connecting these to the main system, pushed the total surveyed length to 15118.01 metres. (There is some doubt as to the actual connection of these last two caves to the main system but if they are ignored the overall length is still 14828.90m). Michael's response to all this was;- "..... your discoveries make my nice speleogenetic model of the whole area totally OBSOLETE. Arrghhh ^'**uu!=)=!?=/!"S$%/()=!!!!!"

A selection of seemingly ancient bovine jawbones, limb bones and a horn, found in Um Im 6, have been given to Tony Audsley who will attempt to identify them.

With no sign in 6 of the tape left hanging in 2-5 a return was made to the latter cave with 20m of ladders for the pitch. The nature of the place precluded dragging full SRT kit through and the last section of choke almost precluded us as a highly dodgy "spiral staircase" of loose Henrys had to be negotiated to reach the pitch head. At the base of the pot the huge, dry canyon had metamorphosed into a grotty little stream passage well endowed with crabs, crayfish, assorted cave fish and bats aplenty. Having got there we were then obliged to survey "Shnongrim Sewer" so set off downstream in a healthy draught. After 200m of mud, bats and gradually deepening water most of the team mutinied when it reached chest height - or in Jayne's case eye level! With the alluring draught and echoing nature of the passage the writer just had to look a little further and after only c.50m of not unpleasant ducks he emerged into the side of a 6-8m diameter river passage. Once again a grotty lead had led us to the big stuff and we wondered how much had been missed over the years by people only exploring the "holiday sized" passages. To the left the water got deep and there may be a sump, judging by the ample mud deposits in this area. To the right it was wide open and well populated with bats, who almost certainly did not enter via the low streamway. The passage bore a distinct Jamaican feel and so was named Ratbat River as their patois would have it. Only a cursory glance was had before the writer retreated with Dr.B and team to the surface, well pleased at having found what we believe to be the continuation of upstream Liat Prah beyond the choke. Ratbat River is located below Shnongrim village and heading straight for the Krem Wah Shyngktat (prawn stream cave) system (alias Krem Synrang Moo/Pineapple Pot). A dye test should confirm if the downstream sump in Shyngktat is the main feeder of Ratbat River and thus Liat Prah. A connection to this fine system, plus a link through the downstream boulder choke into Krem Umtler, would make the complete "Megha-system" over 19km long.

Thinking to find an easier, safer and more direct way in we decided to revisit Krem Shrieh (monkey cave), located on the north side of the ridge but known to have a large bat population and an unpushed streamway heading in the right direction. The previous, obviously soft and wimpy "explorers" had chickened out when the undergound wildlife had become too much for them in a walking sized (just) streamway called "Half Bat Half Fish". Full of confidence Robin, Quentin and I descended this truly spectacular doline and 60m pot to the bat-infested depths where the very air consisted of bat piss and ammonia, plus the odd falling parasite and selection of guano. As we approached the unpushed streamway the airspace became less but the bats became more. With our upper bodies taking up most of the space scores of these black and somewhat loathsome little buggers were bouncing off us and the walls and dropping into the stream. Not content with decently drowning like nice, cuddly British bats these monsters then took off from the water or swam rapidly to the walls (or Quentin) to gain height for their next dodgem flight. Several actually took time off for a quick shag within inches of our heads before resuming their frightening antics. Meanwhile, below water level, huge blind fish smashed into our legs and lower bodies and almost certainly the crabs and associated fauna at floor level were also up to some dirty tricks! It then dawned on us that one of the last people here had been Martin "Lump" Groves - a man not renowned for his wimpishness so we hereby apologise for our preconceptions and would like to state that the original explorers did a magnificent job in actually surveying this horror story! Anyway, we pushed on into huge passage and were about to take off our face protection and heave a sigh of relief when Robin noticed the rope hanging down the entrance pitch - bugger. Needless to say this cave did not provide an easy route into the Liat Prah system but it is obviously part of something much bigger and needs further investigation next year. A possible, draughting dig may pay off and the undescended pot in the floor of the doline should be dropped. Apparently the locals are very impressed by cavers who visit this place as it is a well known venomous snake habitat!

An attempt to join the resurgence cave of Krem Umtler to the lower end of the system was also doomed to failure due to the immense size of the intervening boulder choke where fears of getting lost forever seriously gave us the frights. A better thought out attempt may be made next year as a connection would considerably extend and tidy up Liat Prah as stated earlier. It is potentially India's longest cave.

Not far away the superbly named Krem Bun (sorry Daniel) eventually yielded a pitch system of 209.15m to Thomas, Shelley, Imogen and team. This cave was not jokingly named but in honour of their local guide, the diminutive Bun Sukhlain. His mate's name was Never Full so it could have been worse.

Most of our exploration plans for this year never got done as the sudden growth of this system overshadowed all else. A whole new area was also opened up at Semmasi (0r Samassi, Sem Massi, Sammasi, etc.*) village where the superb river cave of Krem Tyngheng (wide open mouth cave) yielded 3752.41 metres and Krem K'dong Semmasi (Semmasi corner cave), 902.75 metres. With at least nine more known caves there is a lot more to do in this hardly touched area despite it being a bit too Christian and heavy on the TEMPERANCE!!! Apparently our colleagues were the first westerners most of the villagers had ever seen so the headman, Bikin Paslein, took lots of photos of them - a nice role change! Other caves were explored near Daistong and another new area to the south, beyond Tangnub village was briefly investigated. There are tales of large caves here so roll on February 2005!

Nicky, assisted by Andy and Jonathan, recorded much of the expedition on video in the unlikely event of surpassing her excellent production from last year. Many people took a comprehensive selection of photographs and images, some of which accompany this report - with thanks to their owners.

Long, hard days underground were balanced by the usual evening entertainment and every night the traditional bonfire was patronised by the cream of European and Meghalayan socialites. Quentin and Danny, our professional Irish musicians, did us proud with fiddle, mandolin and guitar sessions and most of the locals were also accomplished musicians, particularly on the guitar. One memorable night saw the real "Shnongrim Combo" in action with Carlyn (harmonica), Pa Heh (guitar, drum), Heipormi (guitar, vocals), Menda (guitar, vocals and hymns) and other passers-by playing traditional Jaintia festival tunes. Plenty of beer kept the troops happy and Carom and Cribbage were popular with the intellectuals. The re-employment of Myrkassim Swer and his Muslim cooking team was much appreciated as was the excellent job done by Bung and Addie in organizing the camp and driving us around. Addie's new found fame as a submarine jeep driver may last some time! The people of Nongkhlieh Elaka and Semmasi were once again superb. Special thanks must go to local guides Raplang, Pa Heh, Carlyn, Heipormi, Menda, Bikin and Bun - and others - who actually found the caves for us to go down.

The finale of the expedition was a party held at Donbockwell "Bok" Syiemlieh's farm, between Shillong and Guwahati, where a bamboo bar, bunkhouses and stage were laid on and a local rock band provided. The evening was much enlivened when the month-long unwashed Quentin, looking lika a poor man's Alice Cooper, joined them on stage to play some superb rap and blues on electric guitar, much to both their and our astonishment and delight. Our very grateful thanks must go to Bok and his staff, the Ladies of Shillong (Barrie, Dabbie, Maureen, Rose etc) and everyone else who helped make this trip yet another magnificent epic. Only 10 months to go...

Top Tips for Pushing Meghalayan Caves!!! Check everything accessible and don't worry about a lack of draught. Tight squeezes, ducks, grim boulder chokes and short digs are all worth a go and, as this expedition proved, often pay off big time. The presence of Heteropoda spiders may indicate routes to the surface above or nearby and plenty of "Snotgobblers" (web-building fly larvae) invariably are a good sign of lengthy, draughting passages - they are an excellent indicator of routes through boulder ruckles. Very few Meghalayan caves are "finished", or ever will be.

 (*I have adopted the spelling favoured by Carlyn Phyrngap and Daniel Gebauer and apparently appropriate for the place name "Cowshed" - many other spellings are used by locals, mapmakers and visitors.


Lodmore Hole - When You’re In A Hole… Keep Digging

by Phil Hendy

Lodmore Hole is located in a fenced depression in a field some 200 metres east of East Wood on the Yoxter ranges at grid reference ST 5354 5343 and altitude  260m AOD.  The field is level, but covered in patches of gorse and bramble, with many shallow pits and depressions.  Some of these are natural, but others are the traces of old mines.  In 1872 East Wood (or Lodmore Wood as it was then known) and the surrounding area was extensively mined for iron ore.  The shallow cuttings can still be seen in the wood; although some crevices in the lower parts of Lodmore Hole were filled with red ochre, there are no traces of mining in the cave, and it is believed to be entirely natural.

What set this depression apart from others in the field, apart from its size, was the outcrop of rock in the lower northeast part of the pit.  Jim Hanwell had noticed the depression some years ago, but in 1988, Ros Bateman, then living at nearby Lodmore Farm, obtained permission to dig from the M.O.D. through the Brigadier in Taunton and with the agreement of Mr. Cook, the then Yoxter range warden.  Interest in the area had been stimulated by a letter written to Ros’s father by Dr. J.D. Wilcock of Stafford, detailing the results of his dowsing results in the Yoxter area in December 1987.  Ros had accompanied Dr. Wilcock around the fields, and relates that he was quite eccentric – following his dowsing line by taking a direct route, even through hedges. 


Digging commenced in May 1988, with cavers from E.M.I. in Wells.  Digging tailed off towards the end of the year, although the team had uncovered the two main walls at right angles to each other.  At about this time the BEC expressed an interest in the dig, and obtained permission to work there.  In November they fixed netting to the sides of the dig and secured the shoring. By April 1990, the dig was about 25ft deep, and plans were being made to pipe the entrance shaft.  A month later, the first side passage had been found and enlarged, but it did not look promising, and the way on continued downwards.  Measurements made at the time showed that the surface depression was 13ft deep; the shaft to the platform was 25ft deep, with a further 5ft excavated below that.  The dig here was 3ft wide.  The side passage (5ft below the platform) was 16ft long.  However, by the summer of 1990, some slumping was occurring from the bottom of the shoring, and interest was waning. Over the three years that Lodmore Hole was dug, the EMI/BEC team had excavated under the outcrop, exposing a steep bedding plane wall on the east side, descending at an angle of approximately 85o from the horizontal. The north wall appeared to be gently undercut, and the rock was tantalizingly fluted and water worn.  The dig seems to have been abandoned by August 1990.

By 1992 NHASA had been forced to leave its dig at Twin Titties Swallet, just when it was becoming promising.  The diggers heard of Lodmore Hole, and arranged to help with the dig.  Access was reaffirmed with Ron Dawson, who had by then taken over as warden at Yoxter, and arrangement was made with James Bateman, the farmer at Lodmore, to park in his yard, and walk through his farmyard onto the ranges.

NHASA started digging on August 26th, 1992.  It was decided to make the excavation NHASA-sized, an option which would allow a proper look at what lay below the surface, and minimize the chances of missing any way on. Over the first few weeks a stile was built over the fence, a shelter was erected over the surface winch, a path was leveled down to the site hut, and existing spoil heaps were stabilized.  The original shoring was dug out, and the new shaft was made about 4m square.  The old chain-link fencing was laid around the steep unprotected earth bank to the east of the shaft; as vegetation grew through it, the slope was prevented from slipping into the hole.  As the shaft became deeper, it was decided that the usual shoring of angle iron and boards would not be strong enough (having found this out the hard way in Twin T’s) so a cemented stone wall was decided upon.  Of course, it was not possible to build this in the traditional way, from the bottom, because the bottom of the dig kept moving downwards. Therefore, a method was developed of building from the top downwards.  The wall was built in a quadrant for strength, abutting each end of the two natural rock walls.  Side passages were left open by building arches over them.  The fill was mainly stones and mud, with some larger rocks. Cement was usually carried over, but stone dust was transported by vehicle. Dust runs were not without their incidents.  In March 1994, the weather was atrocious, with torrential rain.  Dave Turner’s vehicle became bogged down in the mud, and when we pushed it clear, I found that my boots had sunk into the mud.  The 4WD surged forward, leaving me off balance, whereupon I fell full length into the mire.  At that point, the rain began to fall as near-horizontal hail, which drove straight through the fuzzy bush I was trying to shelter behind.  Dave himself became bogged down, and had to be towed out by tractor.  Pug (Albert’s technical term for mortar) was mixed in an old car roof; water was collected from the hut roof and collected in barrels.  The pug was lowered down the shaft in buckets.

By June 1993, the shaft had been built down to -5m, and old shoring was still being taken out.  Spoil was winched out using a tripod; the buckets were then transferred to an inclined cable, up which they were hauled to be tipped around the sides of the depression.  As we went deeper, a series of dry stone retaining walls were built around two sides of the depression, to provide a series of terraces for tipping. A wooden gantry was built over the side of the shaft opposite the winch, from which buckets could be handled.  The fixed steel ladder was moved to the wall at the foot of steps adjacent to the top winch. All ladders in the dig were of rigid steel; this allowed safe rapid descents, though towards the end, ascents were much slower!

By December 1993, it was reckoned that we were no more than 1m above the point reached by the original diggers.  The side passage to the left of the dig (westwards)was re-opened.  It was nothing more than a gap where rocks had settled under the overhanging wall.  This passage descended as a crawl, about 3.7m long, with a sloping roof on the right, and an unstable-looking boulder pile to the left.  It was not dug seriously, but was left open, just in case.

The first pitch was about 10m deep; at this point, the dig area was quite large, so the opportunity was taken to reduce the area by building a platform.  Another winch was bolted to the wall, with the rope running over a pulley to the back of the shaft to allow a better hang for the bucket. All winches were car back axles, converted by Fred Davies, with a handle fitted where the transmission formerly entered the differential.  The drum was simply a car wheel hub, sometimes with extra sections welded on to increase the rope-carrying capacity.

Digging continued, and by July 1998, a second ledge was built about 4m below the first.  The shoring wall was being constructed as vertical as possible, but the back wall was receding, thereby increasing the working area.  This back wall showed thin near-vertical beds of limestone, with a 5cm band of chert adjacent to the main bedding wall.  We were now well into unknown territory.  A second side passage was revealed on the left (December 1994); it was similar to the first, and just as unpromising.   Some air spaces began to appear under the back wall, but they proved to be no more than settlement gaps.  The depth reached 13m, and digging continued.  Now the back wall became very unstable, and a concrete lintel was cast under it.  The decision was taken to build masonry under this wall as well.  To decrease the working area yet again, due to the cutback of the far wall, a third platform was laid 3m below the second one.  This platform was L-shaped, with a narrow section running along the left hand wall.  The fourth ladder was fixed below this.  A third winch was then bolted to the wall. The fill was still mainly mud and stones, but with some clay pockets.  At times, there was a heavy drip, but there was no sign of any running water.  This surprised James Bateman, who expected us to hit water as he had a 40ft deep well at the farm, at about the same altitude as Lodmore Hole.  Even at our maximum depth (37m), there was no trace of water backing up the hole. Mixed in with the limestone we found odd pieces of chert, and some rounded old red sandstone cobbles.

As the fourth section of the dig was deepened, excitement grew as what appeared to be a half-tube began to be revealed in the bedding wall, adjacent to the platform. However, at 3m, the ‘half-tube’ ended, and proved to be no more than an alcove.  The bedding wall continued relentlessly down, thus widening the dig area to the right, although as we were building a wall under the back face, it was not being extended in that direction.  Five metres down the fourth pitch we decided to build another platform, really more of a ledge, with a fixed ladder bolted to the wall. 

By August 1997, we had a measured depth from the top of the main shaft of 83ft (25m).  It became difficult to drag buckets up from below the third winch, and in June 1999, a length of conveyor belt was hung down from the fifth ledge to smooth the way.  On the 23rd June 1999 we were digging as usual, although some members of the team were beginning to become disheartened, having dug so far with no result. Jonathan Riley completed building a section of wall, and then I began to dig.  Suddenly I felt the floor move and heard a rumbling sound from below.  I moved back smartly, and then began to grovel in the floor.  By pulling stones and mud out of the way, a 25cm triangular black hole appeared.  To the right was a chert band, matching that in the back wall of the dig.  Lying against this at an angle was a slab of rock, some 50cm square and 15cm thick. Looking down the hole, I could see a drop of about 3m, appearing to widen as it got deeper.  Only one side (the bedding plane wall) was solid, the rest was loose stone.  There was an obvious cold outward draught, and what looked to be walking-size passage leading off at the bottom.  Time was getting on, so after everyone had looked down the hole, we covered it, changed and returned to the Hunters’ Lodge for our usual debrief session.

The following week there was, not surprisingly, a good turnout.  Some spoil was removed in buckets, and then the big slab was raised using the winch, and carefully laid to one side.  A short length of rigid ladder was fixed in the hole, and Jonathan gingerly wriggled down a steep rubble slope and into the slot.  We found that our masonry wall at this point was only a short way above solid rock.  The drop was about 2m, landing on a boulder slope in a rift about 60cm wide.  At roof level, leading upwards for about 3m with the bedding wall on the left, and heading under the third platform that lay above, there was a steep crawl-sized passage in rubble.  It did not lead anywhere, but was left open, once the jammed stones supporting the floor had been supported with cement.  The boulder floor under the drop sloped steeply down for about 2m back under the present floor of the shaft.  It was not possible to enter it; the ‘walking-size’ passage was an illusion.

It was decided to carry on digging out the floor of the main dig, to intercept the cavity below.  This was done, revealing a large jammed block to one side of the floor (south).  It was immovable, so was left in situ.  We uncovered solid rock opposite the main wall and descending at the same steep angle, so we found we were digging in a fairly narrow rift.  As we went down, the main wall became undercut where slabs had become detached.  Some unstable looking ones were levered off, partly for safety, but also to increase working space.  Eventually, the solid block was completely exposed, and was left bridging the rift.

We continued working most Wednesday evenings (the traditional Mendip digger’s night) except for when the ranges were required for the defence of the realm. On one memorable occasion, RAF troops covered in camouflage paint and firing blanks unexpectedly surrounded the diggers as they walked to the dig after they had unwittingly walked through their tripwires, setting off thunderflashes.  The strangely-dressed cavers did not deter the RAF, although later it was found that they were exercising on the right night – but at the wrong place!  Aerial attack of a more natural (though much more threatening) kind occurred when the team ceased work early due to a massive thunderstorm.  They were chased off the field by lightning, with strikes hitting the ground behind them, and advancing as they fled.  One night, a heavy snowstorm caused an early withdrawal from the dig, causing a few route-finding problems on the way back to the farm.  We also had a few problems finding our way through the thick Mendip mist.

The floor of the dig was now rapidly being lowered as the working area decreased in size.  Several large slabs of rock, which had become detached from the bedding wall, were broken into more manageable pieces by using a sledgehammer, but one resisted all attempts to crack it.  On 17th November 1999 Aubrey Newport was asked if he would do the necessary.  Four 25cm lengths of Cordtex were inserted into the holes, and the charge was detonated from the surface.  Fumes prevented examination of the damage until the following week, but then we found that Dr. Nobel’s Magic Rock Remover had done its stuff, with no collateral damage. The fragments were removed, and digging continued.  Some sideways development was now occurring as the main wall was undercut, and in early December, a space was revealed beyond a large vertical slab.  By squeezing over it, a low crawl was entered, with a possible continuation to the south – under the boulder pile, which we had been carefully stabilizing with copious amounts of pug!  The slab was dug around and smashed, and we continued to lower the floor, being careful to preserve the continuation of the crawl. Jonathan bravely wriggled into this and reported what looked like a pit at the end, approximately 3m deep but largely choked with boulders.  We hoped that as we carried on digging the main shaft we would find a safer way to this pit, but it was not to be.  Some metre and a half lower, we found that the two solid walls of the shaft had converged to the point where further digging would be extremely difficult if not impossible.  There was no chance of reaching the pit at a lower level.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and it now appeared that what we should have done was to remove the massive boulder pile found on 23rd June.  This now loomed nearly 2m above us, and would present a real challenge to break up and remove, thanks to our generous grouting.  There was no option but to engineer the crawl under these boulders. Between June and August 2000, Jonathan Riley gradually worked his way into the crawl, carefully removing some stones, and cementing in the others.  At least the left hand wall was solid.  A level floor was laid, and at the end, where solid rock with a chert band was again encountered, there was just room to turn round.  The crawl was about 2m long, and there was still an encouraging draught.  In September, work was started on digging out the pit.  We removed several large stones, which quickly increased the working space.  Much of the debris was used to backfill the bottom of the main shaft to within half a metre of the crawl level.  The pit was found to be about 1.5m deep, with a further metre visible descending steeply along the line of the crawl.  Once we were in the pit, spoil hauling became a real problem, as it was impossible to drag full buckets along the crawl without leaving most of the contents behind. The old Twin T’s technique was brought in, whereby mud was placed in bags, tied with a tape strop using a lark’s head knot, and dragged out of the crawl. Eventually we entered a short section of natural open passage.

Digging continued along and downwards. The solid rock we had found at the end of the crawl did not extend very far down, and we soon realized that this wall was merely the downwards continuation of the boulder pile.  The roof, however was solid, and showed some small half-tubes.  Some joints in the left hand wall were filled with red ochre, and there were a few short stalactites.  The floor was mud and stones, but as we progressed, the mud became a deep thick glutinous mass, with large rocks in it.  Eventually, the roof dipped to the floor, just above which there was a small phreatic tube, and digging in this direction ceased. However, gaps began to appear in the right hand wall, which ‘windowed’ into the base of the boulder ruckle. This appeared to offer a continuation sloping downwards, offset to the right.

Being fully aware of the mass of boulders lying above, we carefully began to remove the base of the boulder ruckle.  It appeared to have some solid roof, but it was decided to try to cement a wall at the top end of the space, supporting everything with a framework of scaffolding until the cement had set.  This was started in January 2001, but it was very slow work.  Enthusiasm was beginning to wane, for a variety of reasons.  The death of Richard Kenney, our stalwart top winch man, in December 2000, and soon after the withdrawal of John Ham for personal reasons robbed us of two valued members of a workforce, which was diminishing just when more people were needed.  To dig and remove spoil to the surface now required at least seven men, but due to the slow rate of progress caused by the need to carefully support the boulder ruckle, many diggers just stood around idle for long periods of time, and were fast losing enthusiasm.

The outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in February 2001 hastened the decision to pull out.  For six long months digging had to cease, which gave us plenty of time to consider the options over many pints in the Hunters’. We decided it was time to move on. When access was again permitted, we would remove our tackle and make the entrance safe.  We had a certain amount in the kitty, and with a small legacy from Richard Kenney, we decided to build a cap over the shaft – after all our efforts, it would be criminal, indeed almost impossible, to backfill it. However, in August that year Brian Prewer and I met John Locke, the Army land agent and his assistant Nigel. We showed them the site, and descended the hole.  John was very keen to preserve the hole, possibly as a training site (?!!!), and suggested that the Army maintain the perimeter fence and shaft, provided that we left the fixed ladders.  We gratefully accepted the offer.

NHASA returned on August 22nd.  It was realised that the dig at the end was too dangerous to allow access for non-cavers, and so with great regret the entrance to the crawl was sealed with a thin wall of cemented stone, leaving just the main shaft of four pitches and six ladders.  It would be easy to reopen this crawl if necessary.  Once this was done, we began to remove the winches and other equipment, and stack it on the surface.  The next problem was to get it removed.  Luckily, we were able to do a deal with the Priddy Friendly Society.  In exchange for paying for two of its members to attend a firework training course (to allow safe running of the November bonfire and firework display), they agreed to provide transport to take the gear away.

On November 14th 2001, we met Steve Sparkes, Chris Winter and Fred Payne of the Friendly Society at Castle Farm, and with permission granted from Sharon Brown crossed her fields with 4WD vehicles and trailers.  It was a drizzly day, but it did not take long to load everything up, and take it to Upper Pitts for storage.

All that was left was to say goodbye to NHASA's longest dig.  On October 14th seven of us walked for the last time across the muddy fields to the dig.  There was distant lightning in the south.  We assembled on the second platform, where we celebrated our achievement with sherry, champagne and Brenda Prewer’s famous cake.  A last visit was made to the bottom; it was a gloomy place now that the tackle and electric lighting had been removed.  We exited, and made our way to the Hunters’, releasing on the way an amphibian which had taken up residence.  We rescued many frogs, toads and newts over the years, and on one occasion a small adder that had fallen down the shaft.  Thrushes nested in the entrance shaft, and swallows raised families in the shed.  They were very tolerant of being disturbed by the diggers and our noisy generator once a week.  So the Lodmore Hole dig came to an end.  Others may take up the challenge in later years, but for us it was time to regroup and move on.  Chancellor’s Farm Dig was waiting.


The cave is located within a fenced area, entered via a stile in the northwest corner.  Steps lead to a path around the shaft to a wooden viewing platform.  This was beginning to deteriorate (April 2004) and should not be walked upon.  The shaft is partly protected by a scaffolding fence.  All pitches have fixed ladders (safe in 2004).  The first entrance pitch of 10m is roomy, with the near-vertical bedding plane wall on the left, and a joint wall, with thin exposed beds at the back. There is a band of chert in the angle between the walls.  The rest of the shaft is a curved wall, built to retain undug infill – the complete extent of the shaft is not known.  The ladder is a little short of the bottom, but it is easy to reach the first platform, where No. 2 winch (‘John Ham’s’) was bolted to the wall.  A low 3.7m crawl under the hanging roof extends to the left. It was enlarged from a low passage, where infill running in from the left had settled, leaving a gap under the roof.

The second 4.5m pitch leads to a slightly larger ledge, with a side passage on the left similar to the one above.  The bottom of the third pitch (4m) is another ledge, where the third winch was located. There is a scaffold bar cemented in place above the main pitch below, and just below the lip on the far wall, a concrete lintel can be seen.  This was built to support some unstable-looking rocks above.  Down to this point, the natural rock can be seen to the right and ahead, but below the lintel, all but the bedding wall was constructed of masonry, as the far (joint) wall became very loose and needed supporting.

The next 16m pitch is descended by using three ladders.  The first, 5m deep and leading from the left of the 3rd ledge, ends on a narrow platform. Opposite this point, and slightly lower, an alcove can be seen in the bedding wall.  From there, three ladders (5, 3.5 and 2m) are fixed to the back wall.  Halfway down the second, the shaft begins to become restricted, and the jammed boulder, discovered on 23/6/99, is passed.  The bottom ladder ends on a very small ledge, from where an easy climb of 2m ends on a backfilled boulder floor. From the foot of the final ladder, the opposite wall is a cemented boulder ruckle.  By ascending this, under the jammed block, a loose passage ascending for 3m along the bedding wall to the south, can be seen. It lies under the ledges in the main shaft.  The loose floor has been stabilised by cementing the stones at the bottom of the passage, but entry is not advised.

To all intents, the cave ends at the infilled floor, but there is a continuation, now sealed, alongside the bedding wall, running to the northwest.  Behind the seal, a low 2m crawl, dug through the boulder ruckle, leads to a 1.5m drop into natural passage.  There is little space to turn at the end of the crawl, and most diggers chose to enter this feet-first.  The drop leads via some built steps into a passage some 7m long and 2.5m high.  Some rock has fallen from the beds on the left, which makes this a roomy place.  There are a few short stalactites and small areas of flowstone, and red ochre fills some of the cracks in the left hand wall.  At the end, the roof has some phreatic tubes; it narrows and descends to a mud floor.  Although at the beginning the passage wall on the right is solid rock, it soon gives way to the base of the boulder ruckle.  This is loose and unstable, but a view is possible of a space through the boulders, descending to the left, slightly offset from the passage.  This space was never entered, and marks the end of the dig. The depth to the foot of the shaft (from datum, 2.7m below field level) is 33m.  Total depth is 37m.

Few formations were found in the cave, although some white flows and short straws are developing as lime is leached from the cemented walls.  Lodmore Hole is an unusual site, in that the bedding was nearly vertical. No significant lateral development was seen, and we can only speculate about what the hole would look like if it was completely excavated, as is currently happening at Templeton.  The cave appears to be fault-related, and although the depth achieved is something to be proud of, the logistics of spoil hauling did not allow us to come to a satisfactory conclusion.


Over the years, members of the digging team came and went.  The main clubs represented were EMI and NHASA, with members of the BEC and WCC, and several non-club diggers.  There were too many to be named here.  On any one night between three and 24 diggers could assemble, in all winds and weathers.  Any interclub rivalries were set aside, though there was plenty of leg pulling and in-jokes.  On one occasion, I asked for a bucket of small stones for backfilling the wall, and was sent a kit – a few large rocks and a lump hammer.  Woe betide anyone standing at the foot of the entrance shaft when Albert Francis was in playful mood – they might receive anything from a snowball to a bunch of nettles, depending on the season.


Permission must be obtained from the range warden at Yoxter, and a telephone call to Lodmore Farm is necessary to ask to park in the farmyard.  From the yard, walk to the right of and behind the farm buildings, and cross a stile into a field (part of the ranges) by a pond.  Turn left, and follow a cattle track through gorse bushes to a gap in the wall leading to a field on the left.  Head roughly south to a gate into the next field, then southeast to the fenced depression.  Alternatively, at the gap in the wall, follow the left hand fence to the field corner (this field is roughly triangular) and crawl under the barbed wire fence.  Walk to the nearest M.O.D. range notice, and continue straight on to the depression.  WARNING:  although live firing does not occur on the ranges, apart from at the butts, the area is often used, day and night, for training exercises.  Do not enter the ranges without permission, especially when red flags are flying – and keep an eye open for RAF cadets lurking in the bushes!

Thanks are due to Ros Bateman and Vince Simmons for help putting together the early history of the dig. The survey data was compiled by Kathy Glenton, and the survey was drawn with help from Brian Prewer.  Photographs are by Brian Prewer and the author.  A more complete description of the dig is available, together with a collection of photographs on CD-ROM.



Cave Rescue Practices

Mendip Rescue Organization Training Programme 2004
(These are also included in “Dates for your Diary”)

23rd October – Rescue Practise, Eastwater

Including an evacuation from the bottom of Dolphin Pitch to the top of the 380ft way and beyond if time permits.

As with last year’s Thrupe Lane practice this will be run by the Caving Club team leaders and just overseen by MRO wardens.

A series of First Aid courses (First Aid in the workplace certificate) are being planned for this year. More details will become available as we have a clearer idea on how many people wish to attend. If you would like to take part please contact me on the number below.

Further details can be obtained from:

Gonzo (Mark Lumley)
MRO Training Officer

WBCRT Cave Rescue Training Programme 2004

For those of you who live in Wales or want to go for a weekend the below information may prove useful.

4th September - Technical Training Day.

Multiple workshops to cover pitch rigging, tyroleans, stemples, etc. Venue is the SWCC headquarters at Penwyllt. Meet 10.00am prompt.

4th December - Big Rescue Practise in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu or Dan yr Ogof.

This will be another large scale practice in a major cave system. Details will be finalised later in the year.

If you have any training queries or requests from West Brecon Cave Rescue Team then please contact Jules Carter on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or tel. 02920 844 558.

Bertie Bat Enamel Badges

Available soon - Bertie Bat enamel BEC badges.

To enable us to afford them send a cheque for £4 (to include postage & packaging) made out to BAT Products, 6 Tucker St, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2DZ or give J.Rat £3.50.

All profits to the Club

Consequences of Beer

The picture below shows the consequences of drinking too much beer.


Hint: Look at it upside down.

BEC Working Weekends

Your help is needed on the following dates.  The more people that turn up the easier it is for everyone.  Please put these dates in your diary and make an effort to attend. You never know you might enjoy it!!

3rd & 4th July 2004
25th & 26th September 2004

Dates for your Diary

6th August 2004            20:30 – BEC Committee Meeting
3rd September 2004       20:30 – BEC Committee Meeting
2nd October 2004          BEC AGM & Annual Dinner
23rd October 2004         Rescue Practise, Eastwater
5th November 2004        20:30 – BEC Committee Meeting
3rd December 2004        20:30 – BEC Committee Meeting


A List of Lantern Slides offered on loan.

By R.M. (Pongo) Wallis.

The following is a complete list of the slides etc., which I posses, up to March 1954, and which are of caving subject. All are 2”x2” size. I am prepared to make these available to club members who wish to borrow them for a specific purpose (other than giving themselves a film-show) provided that they adhere to these conditions: -

  1. They should send me not less than one week in advance a list of slides they which to borrow, the date when they require them and 1/- postage.
  2. The borrower shall be responsible for the slides whilst they are out of my possession and shall pay for broken cover glasses etc.
  3. The slides shall be returned to me by registered post as soon as possible after they have been used.

Colour transparencies are marked in the list by (c). They are mostly of a higher quality than the black-and-white slides which have been made in the main from rather old negatives.


Double Pot Chamber.
Pye Chamber.
The Traverse.
The Cathedral.
Piccadilly Circus.
Formations in Starlight Chamber.
Starlight Chamber.
Stalactite in Toastrack System.
Upper Toastrack.
Gypsum-covered Stalactites.
Rawl Series – Straws (2 slides).
The Rising.
Traverse Passage.
Streamway in low water.
Chain ascent to Lowe’s.
Passage to Eagle’s Nest.
Coral Pool Passage.
Traverse Pass. – Coral Pool Pass Junction.
The Column.
Column off Entrance Series.
Toastrack Passage.
Large Chamber nr, Pillar Chamber.


Entrance Pitch.
Erratics in Meander Pass.
Cascade in Meander Pass.


Dinghy on River.


Dinghy on River.
Stream at end of cave.
Ladder down to stream.


Browne’s Hole (2 slides)
Ife Hole (1 slide)
Rod’s Pot (1 slide)
Eastwater Cave (1 slide)


The Colonnade.
The Graveyard (2 slides).
Bottom of Entrance Pitch.


Dinghy on Third Lake.
Formations in Wigmore Hall.
Formations at end of ‘Tube’.


Upper Grotto (2 slides).
Helectites in Upper Grotto.
Main Gorge (7 slides).
Roof over the Bridge.
Formations over Gallery.
White Way (3 slides).


Old Grotto.
Old Grotto (2 slides).
Ladder down to stream.
Entrance to Water Rift.
End of Wet Way.
Barne’s Loop.
Tratman’s Grotto.


1st. Chamber.
The Witch.
St. Michael’s Mount.
Ditto – Jointing.


Upper Main Drain.
Main Drain.
Forked Pendant at Eureka Junction.
Stream Way at Holbeck Junction.
Gypsum Cavern (4 slides).




1 slide.


Various mines etc.


White Quarry Cave.
Gop Cave (2 slides).
AFM Cave.
Llandulas Cave-mine.


Brant’s Gill Head.
Hull Pot.
Gordale Scar (2 slides).
Malham Cove.
Keld Cove.
Typical Caver.

Various maps, diagrams etc.

A Visit to North Pennine During August.

By Jack Whaddon.

On the Saturday preceding August Bank Holiday Norman Petty and myself set up camp at Bull Pot Farm, Kirby Lonsdale, preparatory to spending a week getting rid of surplus energy beneath the Pennines.

Sunday was spent in viewing the lie of the land in the Leck Fell and Casterton Fell areas. The bed of the stream at Easegill provided numerous interesting examples of the powers of erosion of moor land stream when in flood. Some time was spent exploring the small caves in the vicinity of Witch’s Cave and Leck Beck Head. On the way back to camp, Hidden Pot was descended - a not too difficult rock climb without the 40ft. ladder recommended in ‘Pennine Underground’. Small Cave, which is reputed to connect with Bull Pot of the Witches was next descended, but was found to choke after about 45 feet.

We joined a party from Red Rose Club on Monday, and spent some time in Lancaster Hole. After the 110ft. entrance pitch had been climbed we entered the ‘Graveyard’, a large chamber filled with stalagmite columns, also saw the ‘Colonnades’ – a cluster of beautiful pure white stalagmite pillars 12 feet high. We looked at Fill Pot on the way out; plans were afoot to enter the Master Cave, but excessive rain ruled that out, A very enjoyable evening was had by all at the ‘Wheatsheaf’ at Ingleton afterwards, despite an untimely raid on the premises by ‘the men in blue’.

Having read about Pikedaw Caverns in ‘Underground Adventure’, both Norman and myself decided on Tuesday to visit these caverns, which were discovered during mining operations in the last century. The 70 foot shaft was found in an area of gruffy land above Malham Tarn, which was reached after a long pound up from Stockdale. The caverns consist of a series of very wide, more-or-less co-planar passages, the roofs of which exhibit evidence of pure solutional origin. The calamine (zinc carbonate) was apparently mined beneath a stalagmite floor which overlays a partial clay refill. In the Western end of the system, solutional hollows in the roof were seen to be covered by a stalagtitic deposit of azurite (blue carbonate of copper) this in turn being overlaid by a thin sheet of malachite (the beautiful green basic carbonate of copper). Fragments of calamine adheres to the roof at the joint; thus the whole provided a polychromatic example of successive materialisation within a lode.

Wednesday was an exceedingly fine day, so we operated with the Red Rose boys in the descent of Alum Pot main shaft (165ft.) followed by a severe wetting in the Upper Long Churn and Lower Long Churn, the bare rock floor of these two caves being interesting on account of the scalloping over the entire length. Weathercote Cave, in Chapel-le-Dale, was visited next. Here a large volume of water hurtles down a high waterfall at the bottom of which is a pool and a boulder ruckle. Here two of us found a way into a bedding plane, fairly wide and low, which was obviously subject to frequent flooding. Crawling on hands and knees in the strong current of the powerful stream was necessary here – a painful operation due to the scalloping on the floor. After a couple of hundred feet, during which we had been more or less immersed in icy water, we came to a sump, which is possible of considerable length, and then we returned to the surface.

Steady light rain was falling on Thursday, so plans to descend Jockey Pot (200ft. daylight ladder pitch) were shelved. Instead we had the co-operation of the Red Rose boys in a visit to Gaping Ghyll. We descended via Bar Pot – and awkward 50ft. ladder pitch, followed by a very nice but damp 120ft. ladder pitch. After crawling some considerable distance though a maze of pebbled floored passages reminiscent of Mendip, we finally entered the Main Chamber of G.G. – a most spectacular sight with a line of waterfalls caused by the day’s rain along the length of the roof. We took a look at the East Passage and Mud Hall, but had insufficient tackle to descend into the latter.

Friday and Saturday were spent a look around White Scar Show Cave and numerous resurgences in the Godsbridge area. Yordas Cave was visited, and we viewed Keld Head, a large rising nearby. We summoned up enough energy to walk over to Thornton Force, a large waterfall, where in the exposed cliff we were able to see a well-known unconformity. Here we found a narrow conglomerate bed marking the point at which the lowest beds of the carboniferous series lie unconformably on the eroded strata, believed to be Pre-Cambrian. The pebbles in this conglomerate represent the initial deposit on the bed of the sea which encroached upon the British Isles at the beginning of the Carboniferous era.

At Clapham Cave sometimes known as Ingleborough Cavern, we found the guide most co-operative. Access to the non-tourist sections of the cave is freely available to genuine cavers, providing, of course, a healthy respect for formations is maintained. Both at the entrance to the cave and the nearby Clapham Beck Head are large deposits of tufa from the stream.

We returned to the Mendips on the Sunday, after a thoroughly enjoyable week during which we had the generous co-operation of the Red Rose boys and their excellent electron tackle. It is hoped that in the not too distant future we will be able to arrange another visit to the north.

Jack Waddon.

Accidents Do Happen

By ????????(J.V. Menace Morris I believe Ed.)

To those of you who never have been caving or climbing ‘prang’ the thought of having one yourself seems very remote. However they do happen and your party may be involved.

Most people have a rough idea of what to do in such an emergency, but how many know what NOT to do?

The main thing to remember is whatever the injury or condition, treat for shock. The major point of this treatment is warmth. Therefore as soon as possible the victim should be got into dry clothes and wrapped in blankets with hot water bottles. Warm sweet drinks should be given, if the victim is conscious but on no account should liquids be poured into the mouth of an unconscious or semi-conscious man as the danger of choking is very great. On NO account give alcohol. Most people believe that Whiskey, Brandy or Rum has a beneficial effect on an injured person. This is a fallacy, because although it is a stimulant, it is altogether harmful. It increases shock and lowers body temperature, at the same time giving a false impression of warmth. This is exactly what one is trying to avoid. The best drink to give is hot coffee sweetened with plenty of glucose. While help is being sought and first aid gear obtained do NOT leave the victim alone. Huddle close to him to give him warmth. Apart from this, the mental effect on an injured person left alone is very bad.

If the victim is in great pain and emergency ampoules of morphia are obtainable; one ampoule (Omnopon 1/3 grain) should be injected into the leg or arm every three hours. Those ampoules are simplicity itself to use and are quite safe if used as stated. However if the victim has severe head injuries or suspected internal haemorrhage, morphia should NOT be given without the advice of a doctor.

Now to deal with the commonest of caving dangers – exposure. This is even more dangerous as it is insidious and the victim may not realise that he is suffering from it until it is too late. Before I deal with the symptoms and treatment, I would definitely state that prevention is better than cure.

Our more scientific minded members have done wonders with the perfection of tackle and safety devices; all credit to them, but how many give due consideration to food & clothing? There seems to be a mistaken impression that any old clothes will do for caving!! In every case warm suitable rig should be worn, with wool next to the skin, which even when wet will give a ‘warm water insulation’.

As regards diet, for a long time now the main idea has been to have a good ‘blow-out’ before and after the intended trip. I am quite convinced that this is misguided and dangerous. In both cases the digestion is not given a chance to function correctly, firstly through undue exertion and secondly from fatigue. A light but nourishing meal should be taken before the trip and a supply of food taken down the cave. There are many suitable foods available: - Chocolate; Vita Glucose tablets; Biscuits; Cheese, and even self-heating tins of soup etc.

Should a case of exposure arise the symptoms are manifold. The main ones however are extreme fatigue, and in serious cases a feeling of drowsy warmth under extremely cold conditions. The victim will probably rapidly become worse, showing an inability to move or concentrate. In very severe cases he may drop off to sleep. At all costs he MUST be kept awake, as this sleep will rapidly deteriorate into unconsciousness & maybe death. It is therefore essential that the leader keeps an eye on his party under bad conditions, and keep the weaker members near him.

If this condition does arise the impulse to rush out of the cave should be curbed. Help should be sent for, treat for shock and the victim treated as an accident case also. The death through exposure in A.G. Pot will bear out this statement.

It must also be borne I mind that people in the initial stages of exposure are liable to accidents by falling and carelessness with tackle, owing to their inability to concentrate.

Having dealt with exposure I will continue with the more common injuries, their diagnosis and emergency treatment in the next issue.


(to be continued)



Do YOU know the correct procedure to follow in the event of someone requiring the services of the Mendip Rescue Organisation?


The following article has been culled from ‘World Science Review’ and submitted by C. (Spike) Rees.


The bat is the only mammal that flies. In flight, it has a remarkable ability to avoid obstacles in total darkness.

It has been found by experiments with captured bats that when blindfolded they can avoid obstacles with the same ease as those having full use of their eyes. Bats with plugged ears, however, blunder hopelessly into objects that were easily avoided when their ears are functioning.

Strange Sound in Flight

It is known that bats emit strange cries when in flight. They are inaudible even through an ordinary microphone, and are far beyond the range of the human ear. These cries are not to be confused with other audible cries that are frequently heard by cavers. These cries have been detected by a special high-frequency amplifier tuned to 25,000 cycles per second. A young, sharp, human ear can detect sounds up to about 15,000 cycles per second.

The sound made by a bat is a series of very short clicks, each click being a bundle of ultrasonic energy. Each of these sound pulses last only about 1/100th. of a second. Griffin and Galambos, two Harvard scientists, discovered, a few years ago, that the repetition rate of these pulses is variable. For flight in the open with few obstacles, there might be as few as five pulses per second. As an obstacle is approached, there is a change in rate, increasing to sometimes 60 per second.

The pulses start as a bat prepares for flight, and continues until he lands again. It has also been found that if a bat’s mouth is tied so he cannot emit a sound, he cannot avoid obstacles.

All this is conclusive proof that a bat is guided in flight by echo’s of its own signals. In other words, he has some kind of radar set. Man’s radar takes a great deal of equipment and a crew to operate it; the bat carries it in his very small head.

It is also a remarkable thing that large numbers of bats flying together can operate their’ radars’ without interfering with each other’s. This is especially remarkable in the confined space of a deep cave, such as many bats dwell in. A similar number of radar stations operating together would be in hopeless confusion.

Firstly, it seems that there is some kind of distribution of frequencies amongst a colony of bats. Secondly; this high frequency sound energy is highly directional. Thirdly, the perception of echoes from other bats would not have the order that echoes for any one bat would have with respect to his own outgoing pulses. Fourthly, there is a limited range of effectiveness of this high frequency sound. All these complex factors are involved in the intricate design and effective use of the bat’s echo-locating apparatus.



Included with this issue will be found a ballot form for the 1955 Committee. Please complete this form and return it in the envelope provided, to Assist. Hon. Sec., 55 Broadfield Road, Bristol. 4., to reach him not later than Friday, Jan 26th. Or hand it in at the start of the Annual General Meeting.

No resolutions have yet been received for inclusion on the Agenda for the A.G.M. The final date for handing in resolutions will be Monday 16th. January. These should also be sent to the Assist. Hon. Sec. at the address above. Any resolutions received after this date will have to be raised under A.O.B. at the A.G.M.

Don’t forget to reserve your ticket for the Annual Dinner. Entertainment in the form of a Conjuror and a Comedian will be provided. A coach will be available for up to 30 persons at approx. 3/- a head.

The index to the BB included in this issue of the BB has been complied by R.M. (Pongo) Wallis. Members will find it’s most useful for reference. Very few back numbers of the B.B. are available, but a complete file is in the possession of the Editor and is available for reference at any time, although he regrets that he cannot allow the file to be borrowed. A similar file is in the Club Library and this, of course is readily available to all, under the normal Library rules. John Ifold will be only too pleased to let you have it. Incidentally the Club Library is, without doubt, amongst the finest of it’s kind in the country, and it seem a pity that more club members do not make use of it’s facilities.


John Riley

Members will remember that in the past we have printed, from time to time, various kinds of songs that are popular with cavers and climbers. Here, then, is another: -

If you want a good companion, boys,
John Riley is his name.
In fair or stormy weather, boys,
John Riley’s just the same.
His heart is like a mountain
And his honour you cannot buy,
But when he’s bending his elbow, boys,
John Riley’s always dry

Buys his ale by the pail.
He’ll order Susannah to go out and buy
Dublin Stout,
Then cry out,
Drink Whiskey and never go dry,
Rye Whiskey, wine, gin and lime.
He’ll knock back a double and then he will cry,
Mary Anne. Fill your can,
For your honour John Riley is dry,
Oh so dry.

‘Tis early every morning, boys,
When he gets out of bed,
You’ll find no feather bolster, boys
Lies under Riley’s head.
But when the sun is shining
So eager and yet so shy,
He’ll leap right out for his Dublin Stout,
For your honour John Riley is dry.

Buys his ale by the pail.
He’ll order Susannah to go out and buy
Dublin Stout,
Then cry out,
Drink Whiskey and never go dry,
Rye Whiskey, wine, gin and lime.
He’ll knock back a double and then he will cry,
Mary Anne. Fill your can,
For your honour John Riley is dry,
Oh so dry.

I hold my father said to me, When I was but a youth:
That all the other Riley boys,
They died of Whiskey, truth.
It is a strange misfortune boys,
But a fact you can’t deny,
That when the wine is flowing. Boys,
That Riley’s always dry.

Buys his ale by the pail.
He’ll order Susannah to go out and buy
Dublin Stout,
Then cry out,
Drink Whiskey and never go dry,
Rye Whiskey, wine, gin and lime.
He’ll knock back a double and then he will cry,
Mary Anne. Fill your can,
For your honour John Riley is dry,
Oh so dry.



Hon. Editor T.H. Stanbury, 48, Novers Park Road, Bristol. 4.
Hon. Gen. Sec. R.J. Bagshaw, 56, Ponsford Road, Bristol. 4
Hon. Assist. Sec. K.C. Dobbs, 55, Broadfield Road, Bristol. 4.


In pursuance of the much needed tidying campaign at the Belfry, will all users of this establishment please note that in future, in addition to any duties, the Hut Warden may detail them for, they are also requested and required to do their own tidying up IMMEDIATELY after using the utensils.

The strength of these requests lie in the fact that the double scale of charges allows the Hut Warden the higher price to those who do not do their fair share.


You will find included a leaflet appertaining to ‘The Balch Testimonial Fund’. In view of Mr. Balch’s connections with caving the Committee asks members to support his fund. Donations please to the Hon. Sec., 56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.


The Coach to Wells for the Annual Dinner will definitely run. Requests for seat reservations and dinner tickets to the above address


In hope of stirring the ‘literary’ type into action for articles for the B.B., the reward for any items printed will be one free Belfry night or two at Redcliffe.


Index to Belfry Bulletin JANUARY 1947 To DECEMBER 1953

Numbers in the index refer to Bulletin Numbers and not to pages.


























January 47

March 47

April 47

May 47

July 47

September 47

October 47

December 47

January 48

March 49

May 48

June 48

July 48

August 48

September 48

October 48

November 48

December 48

January 49

February 49

March 49

April 49

May 49

June 49

July 49


























August 49

September 49

October 49

November 49

December 49

January 50

February 50

March 50

April 50

May 50

June 50

July 50

August 50

September 50

October 50

November 50

December 50

January 51

February 51

March 51

April/May 51

June 51 (Not issued)

July/August 51

November 51

December 51

























January 52

February 52

March 52

April 52

May 52

June 52

July 52

August 52

September 52

October 52

November 52

December 52

January 53

February 53

March 53

April 53

May 53

June 53

July 53

August 53

September 53

October 53

November 53

December 53


The index includes the main articles appearing in the ‘B.B.’ only. All minor items of news &c. are omitted and most nome de plum is omitted from the Author Index.

Prepared by R.M. Wallis, 1954




A.G.M. 1946

-------- 1947

-------- 1948

-------- 1949

-------- 1952


August Hole


Aven d’Orgnac


Aven-Grotte de Marzoll







B.E.C., History of


Belfry, Building a



Black Mountains



Britain Underground ,Thornber


Caves of Adventure, Tazieff


400 Centuries of Cave Art, Breuil


Lascaux, a Commentary, Broderick


My Caves, Casteret ‘Penguin Parade’


Pennine Underground, Thornber


Underground Adventure, Gemmel, Myers


Bournillon, Grotte de


Brambiau, Underground River of


Buckfastleigh Caves


Bude, Caving Area


Burrington Combe area, Caves























3, 27

































Cameroon, Mt.


Caves, Rhodesian


Caving, Above Ground

--------- in Germany

--------- how to talk

--------- Techniques, French

--------- This


Ceriog Caves


Chalk Mine, Springwell


Climbing Section


Crystal Pot





Dating Radio, Carbon


Dewar Stones Climbs





Ease Gill Caves


Eastwater Cavern, New System


Eisreisanwlt, Austria




Exodus, IV. 47


Exploration of Nether Regions





Favet, Grotte de


France, Caving in


France, if you’re going to

-------- Planning a trip to


French Caving Techniques


Formations, Growth of



























































Gargas, Grotte de


Geology for Beginners


Germany, Caving in


Grotte de Bournillon

---------- Favot

---------- Gargas

---------- Niaux




Hill walking






Ife Hole




Lakes, A week in


Llethrid Cave




Magpie Mine, Bakewell


Marzell, Aven-Grotte de


Menace, Adventures of


Mendip Mining




Natterer’s Bat


Niaux, Grotte de




Orgnac, Aven d’




Peak District, Walk in


Photography, Cave

--------------- Colour


Pridhamsleigh Cave





























































Redcliffe Caves

----------- Surveying in


Reed’s Cavern, Buckfastleigh


Rhodesian Caves


Romano-Brit. Lead Smelter, Priddy




Safety Underground


Sauerland Caves


Smelter, Romano-British, Priddy


Smuggler’s Cave, Bude


Springwell Chalk Mine


S.R.L. Reports


Stoke Lane Swallet

------------- Beyond the Cairn Chamber

------------- Theories on


Stretcher, The Club


Swildons Hole, Old Account?




Three Mile Cave, Derbyshire, 1780




Wales, North, Border Caves

--------------- Dicing in

--------------- Speleology in


Wales, South, Weekend in






















































Brain, R.


Browne, P.M.




Cantle, R.G.W.


Coase, B.


Coase, D.A.


Collins, S.J.




Dobbs, K.C.




Fenn, G.


Fletcher, T.E.




Ifold, J.W.


Ifold, R.A.


Ifold, A.M.




Johnson, A.C.




“Menace! See Morris J.V.


Manson, J.


Morris, J.V.























































Newman, R.H.N.






Orren, G.




“Pongo” see Wallis, R.M.




Rhodes, T.C.


Ridyard, G.W.


Rollason, J.





Setterington, R.A.


Stanbury, T.H.



Stewart, P.A.E.




Thompson, L.J.


Treasure, S.C.




Unwin, N.M.




Waddon, J.


Wallis, R.M.




















































A Happy New Year to Members of the Bristol Exploration Club from Caxton, his team of slaves and the Editor.


Thanks to the efforts of several members and to a little ‘Pruning’ here and there, we are able to continue publication of the BB for the time being.  An earnest appeal is made to call to send in material suitable for publication.



We have been asked to print the following:-

To Whom It May Concern.

Notice is herby given that Mr. M. Hannam T.B.C.O.M., has reluctantly decided to relinquish his honorary title of T.B.C.O.M. to Gilbert Gruff Esq., R.I.P. of Mendip.  A close Analysis of Mr. Gruff’s activities, as revealed in the well known bardic legend, shows that he undoubtedly deserves this honour (!) more than any other person on Mendip.  The title of B.F. will be awarded to Mr. Gruff’s kangaroo for services rendered.

Accidents (Concluded)

By J.V. (Menace) Morris.

Having dealt with exposure in the last issue of the BB, I will now dwell on the other kinds of caving or climbing mishaps.

They are:-

Fractures; Contusions; Sprains and Lacerations.

Fractures can be quite common and varied.

The main symptoms of a fracture are usually as follows:- Visual. i.e., bent or misshapen limbs, undue mobility, or complete lack of same, swelling, and lastly the most dangerous, crepitus.  Crepitus is the grating of the broken ends of the bone together. 

I need hardly say that it is most stupid to test for a fracture in this way.  All these symptoms are accompanied by great pain.

If the fracture is compound or complicated, i.e., bone crushed or broken ends piercing the flesh, greatest care should be taken.  The victim should be treated for shock, which is usually extreme with fractures.  The wound should be then dusted with Sulphanilamide powder, a sterile shell dressing lightly bound over it, or if this is not available, any clean and if possible, sterile dressing available.  The limb should then be splinted.  Anything rigid may be used as a splint; a ladders rung, trenching tool handle; and ice axe, in fact, anything that comes to hand.  In the case of a fractured leg the victim’s other leg would serve.

In cases of' severe haemorrhage a pressure bandage should be applied.  A tourniquet should not be used unless other means fail.  Even then it should not be kept on for more than twenty at the outside.  Keeping it applied longer than this leads to gangrene.  (A ‘pressure bandage’ must not be covered by any other dressing.  Ed.)

All bad wounds, especially to limbs, should be treated in this way and immobilised, and the possibility of a fracture should not be ruled out.  Never pour iodine on a wound as it is now out of date, causes increased shock and burning, with resulting scar tissue.

If available, the victim should be given two tablets of Sulphathiozole (M & B) every two hours to minimise infection.

There is always the possibility of a fractured skull.  If the skull is visibly fractured there is not a lot one can do for the victim.  However, a fractured skull need not be fatal.  Other signs of a fractured skull are bleeding from the ears and nose.  The victim will probably have a violent headache, though not always.  He may lose the use of his limbs, and pupils of his eyes be dilated and vacant with little or no reaction to light.  He will not necessarily become unconscious.  As soon as a fractured skull is suspected the victim should be kept as quiet as possible, and expert medical aid obtained at once.

Internal haemorrhage.  This is extremely serious and can be caused by broken bone ends piercing the internal organs; e.g. fractured ribs or pelvis.  There may be no outward sign, although there may be bleeding from the mouth.  Other signs are rapid shallow pulse and respiration, and a sharp drop in body temperature.  The same treatment applies as for a fractured skull.

In any case of serious or suspected serious injury, medical aid should be obtained as soon as possible.  A man’s life may depend on how quickly the rescue can be effected.  Also, of course, you can do a lot to help whilst waiting for assistance.  Don’t panic, keep cheerful, for the victim’s sake, even if you don’t feel it, and get expert medical aid as soon as possible.

I have not written this to try and frighten anyone, but to point out that you, everyone of you, can help in some way in case of emergency.


Committee Notice.

The committee regrets to have to announce that owing to the continued rise in the cost of material, etc., it will be necessary to increase the Annual Subscription by 2/6 per head for 1955.


Change of Address.

Postle & Dizzie Thompsett, 51 Rothmans Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex.
A.J. (Tony) Crawford, 3 Hillside, Harefield, Nr. Uxbridge, Middx.

Additions to Club Library.

The Speleologist No. 8
C.R.G. Newsletter No. 48 May/June 1954.
C.R.G. Newsletter No. 49/50 July/Oct. 1954.
N.S.S. Newsletter Vol. 12 No. 9 Sept. 1954.
N.S.S. Newsletter Vol. 12 No. 11 Oct. 1954.
S.W.C.C. Newsletter No. 10 Oct. 1954.
B.C.C.C. Newsletter Vol. 3 No. 9 Oct. 1954.
B.C.C.C. Newsletter Vol. 3 No. 10 Nov. 1954.


A few notes on French Caves.

By Alan Wrapson of the W.S.G.

During our trip to France we (members of the W.S.G.) had an unlimited choice of terrain, and our main problem was to pick out which systems to investigate in the limited time at our disposal.

Whilst at Rocmadour we visited Padirac - the show portions.  We found the French Authorities most helpful and willing to show the non-tourist sections if they were given a little notice.  We also spent many sporting hours in ‘our’ type of caves - some of the ones known to B.E.C. members and also others pointed out to us by the local speleos.  I regret that I cannot give references as the maps that I marked are not now in my possession, but I can perhaps tell you a little of one system: -

The cave is near the road from Montevidean to Gramat, and the entrance is at the end of a steep sided valley.  A stream joins the passage a few yards inside the cave, and then the passage and stream press on together.  The passage-way is large, but wading up to the waist cannot be avoided.  (The cave has the appearance that in flood time the water level is very high and the flow very fast!)  There is a vast accumulation of debris in the bed of a stream.  The water passage leads into a large inviting chamber with steep muddy walls, the stream by this time having taken a different course.

After one hour from the entrance the stream plunges over the edge of a vertical pot, and I have never seen a pot with such smooth sides.  Progress further without tackle is impossible, and I would say a 10 foot ladder with a thirty foot tether is required at this point.  The water level is some ten feet below the approach passage and this lower level appears to be a small (??) lake which vanished into the darkness on the left.  With a strong torch beam we could not tell the depth of water at the bottom of this pot.

I want to return at some future date to this ‘very sporting’ system and find out a little more about its history, flooding etc.

Whilst at Annecy we visited la Grotte de la Diau, some 15 miles from the town.  The cave is fed by glacic water and was more than a little cold!!!  We had borrowed a rubber boat from a member of the Speleo Club de Lyon, but did not progress far owing to the intense cold.  This cave appears to be very dangerous in flood time; we found a badly mauled and shredded dinghy and a light weight metal ladder that was almost unrecognisable. As such.

When we were in Lyon for a night we were treated to a spectacle one never sees in England: - a showcase full of every conceivable type of cave formation splendidly illuminated by concealed lights.  We were rather taken aback but then, the French seem to have plenty more where they came from.

A. Wrapson.

What About Your Voting Form?

YOUR vote may put YOUR candidates on the Committee.  If you fail to send in your form you have only yourself to blame if your selected candidates lose by a narrow margin.


FILL IN YOUR VOTING FORM - TODAY, Put it in the envelope provided AND MAKE SURE THAT


The above also applies to Resolutions for the A.G.M.  If you have any bright ideas for the betterment of the B.E.C.  Let us hear about it at the A.G.M. as the A.G.M. is the right place for all such brainwaves and also for criticism, if any.



T.H. Stanbury        Hon. Ed. 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R.J. Bagshaw,       Hon. Sec.  56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol.4.
K.C. Dobbs,           Assist. Hon. Sec., & BB Distribution & printing, 55 Broadfield Road, Bristol .4.

Financial Statement for year to 21st December,1954

Annual Subscriptions


45    8      -

Interest on Post Office account (2 years)


2      9    11

Redcliffe Hall:         Levy
                            Less hire

13     -     6
12     -      -

1       -      6



1      8      9.

Deficiency for year


39    4      8½



89  11    10½

Belfry:                   Expenditure
                            Less Receipts

75   14   -½
35    7     7

40    6      5½

"BB": Stencils paper etc.,

12   14     3
6      6     7½

19     -    10½

Tackle:                  Expenditure
                            Less Levy

13   19     6
3      6      -

10  13      6

Public Liability Insurance


7    19      4

postages & stationery


3    10    10.



2    12      6.

National Speleo Society of America


1    17      1.

Annual Dinner:       Receipts
                            Less cost

22   17     6.
21   13     6

1      4      -

Goods for resale:    Purchases
                            Less sales

7      9     9
6    19     7½

-     10      1½



1    17      2



89  11    10½

Total Club monies 1.1.54


65    8      5½

Less Deficiency for year as above


39    4      8½



26    3      9.

Post Office Savings Bank balance 31.12.54


36  15      5

Cash in hand 31.12.54


9       -      4



45  15      9

Less reserve for Annual Dinner 29.1.55


19  12      -.

Total club monies 31.12.54


£26  3      9

Annual General Meeting 1955

To be held at The Redcliffe Community Centreat 2:15 on Sat 29 Jan


  1. Election of Chairman
  2. Collection of ballot papers
  3. Collection of member resolutions
  4. Election of 3 tellers for ballot
  5. Adoption of minutes of 1954 A.G.M.
  6. Hon Sees Report
  7. Hon Treas Report
  8. Caving Report
  9. Climbing Report
  10. Tackle Report
  11. Belfry Report
  12. Library Report
  13. Members resolutions
  14. A.O.B.

Members Resolutions may be handed in at the start of the A.G.M. but for admin reasons it would be appreciated if they could be passed to The Asst Hon Sec 55 Broadfield Rd Bristol 4, well before this date.

Resolutions so far received .

  1. Proposed.  That the Quorum required for an Annual General Meeting shall be 30 members or one third of the paid up strength of the Club
    D Hasell
  2. Proposed.  That once yearly a complete list of members addresses be circulated as a supplicant to one issue of the "B.B"
    J Waddon
  3. Proposed.  That the number of persons serving on the committee should be made official.
    K C Dobbs.
  4. That some steps be taken to get some younger members on the Committee.
    K C D


Report on the Annual General Meeting 1955.

Dan Hasell was elected as Chairman for the meeting.

The Minutes if the 1954 A/G.M. were adopted.

The Hon. Sec’s report was brief; membership had risen by one to 118. The estimated number of 95 people at the dinner was an increase of 40 on last year. The club donated £5 to the Balch Testimonial Fund.  Members had so far subscribed £2/2/-.  He stressed the need of advising change of address.

The Hon. Treas. Report was adopted, subject to a small item being rectified.  The usual Belfry profit this year had been absorbed by the re-felting of the roof.  He did not favour the building of a new Tackle/Changing Room until the matter of site ownership was cleared.

A slight decrease in the number of caving trips was reported.  This seemed due to bad weather.  R. Gardner asked when something was to be published on Cuthberts.  D. Coase replied that this would be done when the Proceedings were published. K. Dobbs was asked why the entry restriction to Cuthberts was continued.  The answer was that the cave was not yet fully explored.  Due to the size of the cave it is impracticable to let people wander around, but parties are catered for.


  It was reported that the club now has 55ft. of wood and wire ladder, 70ft. of dural and 36ft. of ultra-lightweight.  The usual Question ‘Where are the digging implements?’ was asked, and, as usual, was not answered.  The use of the ultra-lightweight tackle was explained that it was not robust enough for general use and that the safety factor of this tackle was low.


Bed nights were down by 84 to 746, possible due to fewer outside clubs visiting Mendip, and a drop off of older regular users.  A vote of thanks was proposed to Sett for his services as Hut Warden.  He will be no longer able to continue in this office.  It was decided to refer the complaint about the locking of the Belfry to the 1955 Committee for action.


As a result of the Library Report it became obvious that even less books were borrowed than last year.  It was suggested that a list of stationery Office publications should be obtained with a view to purchasing relevant books for the library.


  1. The amendment to the first members’ Resolution was carried.  It provides for a quorum for a General Meeting; this is to be 25 p.c. of the paid membership of the club.
  2. It was resolved to publish a complete list of members’ names and addresses as a supplement to the BB.
  3. It was conformed that the number of persons to be elected to the Committee was 9, as laid down in the rules.
  4. No seconder was found for the resolution that steps be taken to get younger members on the Committee as the result of the 1955 Ballot was known.
  5. As a result of the resolution that Rule 3-12 be observed or scrapped the 1955 Committee was requested to look into all rules and bring them up to date.

Any other Business.

  1. It was resolved that a slate be fixed in the Belfry so leaders of trips may show their destination and approximate time of return.
  2. It was agreed that Rule 6 be amended to include affiliated Clubs.
  3. Keith Gardner was elected Club Archaeologist.
  4. The matter of First Aid Kits was referred to the 1955 Committee.

This is not a full report of the A.G.M. and may not be completely accurate.  The full minutes are available on application to the Hon. Sec.

K.C. Dobbs.

February Committee Meeting.

The 1955 Committee elected the following officers: -

Secretary & Treasurer    Bob Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Committee Chairman      R.A. Setterington, Brookland House, Cannon Street, Taunton, Somt.
Assistant Secretary  Ken Dobbs, 55 Broadfield Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Hut Warden & Caving Sec          Alfie Collins, 27 Gordon Road, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Belfry Maint. Engineer    Mike Jones, 12 Melton Crescent, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
Tackle Officer           Ian Dear, 1 Fairfield Villas, Henrietta Park, Bath, Somt.
Climbing Secretary   John Stafford, 5 Hampden Road, Knowle,Bristol. 4.
Assit. Climbing Sec  Chris Falshaw, 50 Rockside Drive, Henleaze, Bristol.
Ladies Representative    Judy Osborn, 389 Filton, Avenue, Horfield, Bristol. 7.

As Ken Dobbs will be leaving Bristol in the near future, the Committee have co-opted Alan Sandall (35 Beachamp Road, Bristol.7. to act as Assistant Secretary after Ken leaves.

All the matters referred to the Committee at the A.G.M. have been discussed.  A sub-committee has been formed to discuss alterations to the Constitution and rules.

Amongst other business dealt with were First Aid and M.R.O. kits; the provision of a blackboard for Caving Parties; the Belfry sink drainage; water supply; Calor Gas; water tank & lino for the Ladies’ Room; the arrangement of Club caving trips; tackle and digging tools.

Norman Brooks was accepted as a full member.

It is with regret that I had to type one sentence in the above Committee Report.  The item referred to is the one stating that Ken Dobbs will soon be leaving the district.

For many years our Ken has been a hardworking Committee member, and the progress of our organisation in recent years had been aided very considerably by his tireless work in all spheres of Club activity.  His place will be very hard to fill.  I hope that we shall see him often in the future and wish him every luck in his new venture.  Good luck, too, to Alan Sandall who is stepping into his shoes; I have not had the pleasure of yet meeting Alan, but I am told he will be a worthy successor to Ken.




I must apologise for the shortness of Page 2.  This is due to the fact that we are using a new type of stencil which is marked very differently to the old ones; thus ‘one of those things.’

Whilst in an apologising mood I have to again offer my regrets for this issue appearing so late.  Once more I plead that there are only 24 hours in a day, BUT I have been told that there will soon be 36 and acting on this assumption, I feel that I can promise future issues will be ‘on time’.



Annual Subscriptions are now overdue.

The revised subscriptions are as follows: -

Life Membership            £5/5/-
Joint (Man & Wife)         17/6
Full                              12/6
Junior                           7/6

Please send your subscription as soon as possible to: -

Bob Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.


We may be allowed to keep a bookcase at Redcliffe.  If anyone has a suitable receptacle for books, or knows of one, would they please get in touch with the Hon. Sec.



Those members who knew Gordon Fenn will be interested to know he has become a father again – another boy.  Congratulations Gordon.


Notes on Cave Surveying Part 2.


It was pointed out in Part 1 of these notes that, to compile a rough survey of a cave, it is not necessary to use instruments, and that the C.R.G. recognise this fact in classifying such surveys as Grades 1 and 2.  However for any more accurate survey, it is necessary to use instruments and before discussing these it is worth while to have a look at the measurements which have to be taken during the survey of a cave.

Most cave surveying is done on the CENTRE-LINE system.  This consists of choosing a number of points in prominent positions in the cave and taking measurements from each point to the next, so that a fixed line can be drawn passing through the centre of the cave system.  Once this line has been fixed, the details of passage and chamber shape may be constructed.

Magnetic Surveying.

As most cave surveying is done using a Centre-Line system, so most Centre-Line surveys are done with Magnetic compasses.  The principle on which a magnetic compass operates is, I am sure, familiar to all cavers, and need not be explained.  Whatever its type, the magnetic compass measures the angle between the line on which the bearing is being taken, and the magnetic north.  Most magnetic compasses divide the circle of direction into degrees, North being taken as the starting point of 0 degrees, East coming next at 90 degrees, South as 180 degrees and West as 270 degrees and final back to North as 360 degrees.  Thus if the compass reads 225 degrees when pointed at a certain object, the object is southwest of you.

We have seen how the direction of one point is measured from another in a magnetic survey, and now we want to know the distance apart they are.  This is normally measured with a cloth surveyor’s tape calibrated in inches and feet on one side, and links and chains on the other, a steel tape of the same design for more accurate work, since it does not stretch, or a surveyor’s chain, which is 22 yards long and is divided into 100 links.

The only other measurement which we must know is the Elevation of one point from another (i.e. the distance vertically up or down one point is from the other).  This can be done using a clinometer, a very simple version of which is sketched below.  The plumb line always remains vertical, so that if the sighting bar is pointed in the direction of the point to be measured, the angle read off one protractor will be the same as the one to be measured.

These then, are the basic instruments normally used on magnetic surveying to measure BEARING (or direction) DISTANCE and ELEVATION, and we are now in a position to discuss grades of surveys using them.  This will be done in Part.3.




T.H. Stanbury, 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.