Dates For Your Diary


N.B. – All Friday evening trips meet at cave 7.30 pm.

February 3rd

Friday.  Eastwater

February 15th

Wednesday.  Paul Esser Memorial Lecture – Trhe West Face of Changabang by Joe Tasker.  Lecture to be held in the Arthur Tyndall memorial Lecture Theatre in the Physics Dept., Tyndall Ave., (opposite the Senate House) University of Bristol at 8.15 pm.  Admission free.

February 17th

Friday, Cheddar

February 16th – 19th

Lake District – walking.  Travel Wednesday night.  Stay at cottage at Chapel Stile, Great Langdale, near Ambleside.  Everyone welcome.  Place name on list at Belfry or to Mike Palmer (telephone: Wells 74693).  Accommodation for 20 in the cottage.

March 3rd

Friday.  Thrupe Lane.

March 11th

BRCA Symposium – Cave photography. UMIST, Manchester.

March 17th

Friday niters trip to South Wales.  Phone Richard Kenny. Meare Heath 269.

Easter Weekend

Yorkshire. 8 bunks booked at the Bradford P.C. Cottage.  Hoping to get permission to do Mungo Gill and magnetometer Pot.  Other systems will be visited, hopefully including Tatum Wife Hole.  Will all those interested contact Paul Christie, 7 The Glen, London Road, Berks, before February 12th.  Paul says in his letter that he is hoping to arrange a trip to Birks Fell Cave.  Incidentally for those who can’t write, they can phone Paul at Ascot 25372.

June 10th or 17th

Symposium: Cave Exploration in Northern Spain at Bristol University.  Details later.

October 7th

B.E.C. A.G.M. and ANNUAL DINNER – advance details in the March or April B.B.

Library Additions

The following books have been purchased for the library:

Proceedings of the 7th International Congress.  Science of Speleology

Limestones and Caves of Derbyshire

Cave Exploration in Canada.

All of these volumes are expensive and it is to be hoped that members will treat them with great respect.

Kay Mansfield has very kindly offered to bind complete volumes of exchange publications.  Whilst on the subject of exchanges, the Committee has agreed to exchange the B.B. for Speleo Abstract (a Swiss publication) and an Italian journal.  Details later.


A note from the Hut Warden

Chris. Batsone

In recent years, the numbers of cavers visiting Mendip has multiplied out of all proportions.  Our caves are full to overflowing each weekend and not only our caves, our caving huts are also taking a hammering.

It seems that the 'in-thing' to do if you are a guest in someone's club hut is to roll-up uninvited with at least fifteen people in the party; take over the hut and act as if you own the place sloping off on 8unday leaving dirty plates and frying pans in the sink, fag ends on the floor and rubbish lying all over the hut.  No wonder our members get tired of coming to the hut.  They get crowded out by people who are not even members who they don't know from Adam and then end up doing their own and six other bxxxxxs cleaning up on Sunday.

I am not saying that all guests at the Belfry act in this manner, a large proportion of those who stay are very helpful, these we must encourage.

Many other clubs around the country are now bringing in much harsher controls on who stays at their huts. The Bradford P.C., I'm told require each guest to be accompanied by a member.  I'm not sure what  the position is over a party booking but I'm sure it must be something similar to that of the Craven P.C. at Ivy Cottage, Horton, who only allow clubs that can offer reciprocal facilities; that is to say ‘If you want to stay at our hut then you should be prepared to let us stay at yours at some other time’.  In Derbyshire, the Pegasus have stopped all college and university parties staying at their hut in Peak Forest as they have found that the major problems arise from these clubs.  It was felt that since the Eldon P.C. have been evicted from their 'hut' in Buxton, the Pegasus may have been landed with extra guests.

Unlike Yorkshire and Derbyshire, much of our caving traffic is centred on the three huts in Priddy:  B.E.C., W.C.C. and S.M.C.C.  I'm sure that the M.C.G. will soon find problems when they finish their new concrete palace at Nordrach.  It would seem that out of the Mendip clubs mentioned the Wessex and ourselves get most of the problems, the Shepton have always been reasonably trouble-free.

What has been done so far? A general tightening up of the hut booking procedure seems to have yielded some results.  The Hut Warden MUST have at least 3 - 4 weeks advance, written notice of booking (SAE for reply).  This will enable the Warden to plan weekends in advance and so hopefully avoid overcrowding.  It also gives time to reply and either confirm or cancel a booking.

The Belfry will sleep 36 people at a push but this is not an ideal number as the hut becomes cluttered with personal gear and the cooking facilities etc. then become overcrowded. If we discount the bunks in the women’s room we are left with 30 places.  It has been found in the past that the most economic and comfortable number is 24 in the main bunkroom.  Of these 24 bunks, I allow 12 for Club members and 12 for guests; obviously these numbers can be juggles slightly and we are still left with an extra 12 bunk spaces to cope with any crises.

It has also become more apparent that the Hut Warden has to take a harder line with people who turn up without booking.  These people are now finding that they are being turned away from huts.  I am told that the Wessex policy is no booking, no bunk.  A policy I am thinking of introducing at the Belfry - any comments?

Already this year I have had two weekends double-booked because Club members accepted hut bookings in my absence and forgot to tell until it was too late to do anything about it. Please, dear members, if you are asked to book the Belfry for someone, either tell them to write to me, c/o The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset., or write to me yourself.  A written note should ensure that your booking is not forgotten.

'What of the future?

As from January 1st, 1978, the B.E.C., along with the W.C.C. will be operating a three tier hut fee system as follows:

Members - 30p per night. Personal guests - 45p per night. Parties or Unaccompanied guests - £1.00 per night.  Camping members - 20p per night.  Camping, guests - 30p per night

The system will work in this sway, members will pay the normal rate and each member will be entitled to sponsor two non-members at the personal guest rate.  The personal guest rate will also be charged to those Clubs which have reciprocal arrangements with the B.E.C.  Parties and unaccompanied guests wishing to use the Belfry and its facilities will be charged £1.00 per man per night subject to the Hut Wardens discretion.  Parties wishing to book the Belfry will be charged a 20% non-returnable deposit in advance, party bookings will not be accepted until this deposit has been paid.

I am also prepared to arrange a couple of members weekends at the Belfry if there is enough support from the membership for this - hopefully this would not exclude members personal guests from attending.

It is hoped that this article has gone some way to explain the reasons behind the action taken by myself and the committee to alleviate the problems of overcrowding at the Belfry. Club members are always welcome at the. Belfry (that really goes without saying) so why not call in sometime. It’s always nicer to have a hut full of members and friends we know instead of guests we don’t know. Sensible criticism and any further ideas will be welcome.

Chris Batstone, Hut Warden.


The Belfry Boy

Tune: Sweet Lorraine

Well, I'm the Belfry Boy,
I’m every other buggers favourite toy,
Oh how it always seems to give them joy,
To put me in bloody pain.
Baroom Ba roomm etc.
Oh how they treat me hard,
Kick me all around the Belfry yard,
Lord, you aught to see how I am scarred,
From when they shoved me up the drain.
And when a member calls,
I dash inside so they can black my balls,
And splatter me around the Belfry walls,
Till I've nearly gone insane.          They sit me in a chair,
Rub jam and marmalade into my hair,
I sit and smile as if I couldn't care,
But later hang my head in shame

And then they all insist,
That I am something called a masochist.
Especially when they come back pissed,
And want to play their silly games.

But now I sit and wait,
Because I'm glad to know that some day Fate
Will bring along a brand new inmate


Iran 77

The recent spate of foreign material sent in by members continues with a brief account of the expedition to Iran

by John King

No sooner had I returned to the shores of England than I was jumped on by the B.B. press gang.  Well I suppose it is time I scribbled a volume or two.

A brief account of the recent British invasion of Asia.

The journey out took longer than expected due to constant maintenance stops.  Every other day myself and the driver of our Gardener coach could be seen wandering around covered in grease after yet another successful repair.  Two and half weeks of sporadic travelling, rain, hail, landslide, small whirlwinds and a small fire on board, brought us safely to Iran.

At our chosen base camp site an area search of the northern ridge of Khu-e-Sha Hu soon provided us with an advance base camp site.  This was to be eight miles walk from base, elevating some 6,000ft, and at first seemed to be a satisfactory residential bluff apart from being over populated with scorpions.

People soon changed their minds as one by one they succumbed to various ailments.  This probably due to contaminated snow being used for water. The immediate area did not yield much in the way of shafts.  Although resembling a huge quilted mattress like that found on Khu-e-Parau, this plateau inundated with shake holes revealed very little.  The camp came under question as to whether a more likely position might be chosen.  Clean snow plugs would be an absolute must and therefore dictating the position of camp two.

After further surface work, a large snow plug found above a remote village under the northwest ridge proved ideal and so Camp 2 was soon established a little way off from the cluster of stone enclosures with grass roofs.  Soon, after moving in, the small summer village evacuated almost overnight. The reason for this could have been the approach of winter, although it did coincide with the ending of the fasting of 'Ramadam', a religious ceremony lasting many weeks.

Now the village is deserted, and so we make use of a broad rock shelter, this being nearer the ice plug. From this third camp, many shafts were discovered, three miles North West under the towering peaks of the northwest ridge, dominated by the summit of Sha Hu.  Here there was to be a small advance camp for tackle and food.  Exploration and survey of the shafts took a long time, and produced dozens of pots with vertical ranges of 200ft to 1,000ft.  A classic pitch first thought to be in excess of 551ft turned out to be about 450ft, but remained the deepest single pitch found.

Due to the vertical development of the area, most shafts were either partially or completely blocked by plugged ice and boulders before reaching any great depth.

The hike from base to the third camp entailing a gruelling fifteen mile climb of 6,500ft., encountering several broad, boulder strewn valleys, their high cliff sides, severely frost shattered.  The lime being in unique disarray due to tremendous upheaval.  In places truncated passage and stalagmite were found on the surface and the dip of the strata seemed chaotic.

Base camp situated on a tributary of the main ‘Servan’ river gave easy access to superb gorges, sporting passages high up on both sides.  Most of these being close on a 1,000ft above the now dry floor of the gorge. Those within climbing distance revealed no more than a short passage, or a large solution pocket, a few containing stalagmites of bat guano.  Eight miles further down gorge the main rising of the Sha Hu, under high pressure, forces out an incredible flow of water from tight impenetrable bedding planes and fissures and even in the river bed.

Of the wildlife in Iran there seems to be no shortage.  Protected from mans destruction by barren wilderness, many beasts have the freedom of their environment.  Leopards were seen by myself and others on a few occasions. Higher up tracks and droppings were found.  These were thought to belong to bear although this was not confirmed.  What else leaves 5" x 9" tracks, 4ft. apart?  Could the abominable snowman survive in such a cruel climate?

Once again, our water supply began to present problems.  Strained and sterilized snowmelt produced technicolor dysentery and sickness giving our Doctor plenty of research material.  Although very busy, the Doctor made time to treat a number of cases from various mountain communities.  Treating cases ranging from sores and bites to severe scalding and infected broken limbs.

Supplies again had to be replenished and for that purpose a journey into Kermanshah with the coach, left base camp early one morning.  The track from the base camp to the nearest metalled road covered thirty miles of rough terrain resembling the track up to the UBBS hut in Burrington.  Unnoticed by ourselves and unrecorded by the temperature gauge a water leak caused by a damaged radiator proceeded to boil the system dry and the inevitable happened. Engine seized solid and we were rendered immobile with a ton of equipment still on the plateau!  A number of frantic telephone calls and a lot of help from English friends, who really saved the day, and it looked as though our troubles would diminish very quickly.  Soon all was in hand, an early return by two weeks allowed us to see the eastern cities.

To conclude this adventure, a successful episode in the discovery of this relatively unknown part of the world, as far as speleology is concerned.  Perhaps a little disappointing in view of the depth of the systems in relation to the depth of limestone.  Iran has fantastic potential but I doubt that it will disclose its inner secrets without much hard work and disappointment.

{mospagebreak title=Ian Dear Memorial Fund" /> 

Ian Dear Memorial Fund (I.D.M.F.)

Very soon, members of the club will be turning their thought away from Tyning's, Wigmore and the like and towards summer holidays and possible caving or climbing trips abroad. There is already one caving trip being planned to Austria to look at some relatively unexplored areas of limestone and there may yet be others.  Younger members will hopefully be interested in joining such an expedition but may be deterred by the cost.

The ID.M.F. was set up by a bequest the late Ian Dear, for the sole purpose of assisting younger members of the club to visiting and climbing areas abroad.  So, if you are joining an expedition or even going alone on essentially a caving/climbing holiday and you are very close to your financial target, where a reasonable grant of money from the fund could make the difference between participating staying at home, apply to the I.D.M.F. Committee and see if they can help.  I will stress that, although there is mixed feeling about how, much and in what may the fund resources should be used, it will not used as dole or beer money in the 'Costa Bomb'.

Please apply if you think you might qualify, by giving a brief description of the proposed trip, a breakdown of cost and the sun of money required indicating in particular where the fund money is to be used.

The application can be given to any of the following I.D.M.F. Committee who will then call a meeting to consider it.  Two months or more notice would be ideal but one months notice before the trip is the minimum time that can be tolerated.  It is normal for a member who receives a grant to write a full account of the expedition for submission via the I.D.M.F. to the Editor of the B.B. for publication in the B.B. or Caving Reprts.

I.D.M.F. Committee: -

Sett, Mike Plamer, Nigel Taylor, Russ Jenkins and Barrie Wilton.



Compiled by Niph

Rock & Fountain Cave.  Brynmawr, S, Wales.  For members wishing to visit this cave should contact any of the following:- Bill Gascoigne - Tel: Pontypool 4489

John Parker - Tel: Pontypool 57279

Jeff Hill - Tel: Ebbw Vale 304413

BEC Publications. John Dukes is to take on the job of publication sales.  If you have any ideas for new sales outlets for this material, please let him know.

CORRECTION to S. Wales BEC Leaders.  Andy MacGregor is an O.F.D. leader and D.Y.O. leader.  (For full list see December 1977 B.B.)

Notes from the North. Caves on Leck-Casterton is booked by clubs until July 1978 - anyone interested in visiting any caves of these Fells should book now for the Winter season!  Seems to be a simple case of cave over-population.  CNCC are negotiating with Lord Bolton on the possibility of re-opening Thrackthwaite Beck Cave.  Permission will not be given at Top Farm to cavers to descend Red Moss Pot.

Otter Hole, Chepstow. The Royal Forest cavers have gated Otter Hole from January 1st 1978.  Keys are available from John Court, Trenchard Cottage, Joyford, Coleford, Glos. Please enclose £2 deposit and two stamped, self addressed envelopes, one for Key and the other for return of the deposit.  Information on the cave and tidal predictions are also available from John.  With the winter coming, cavers should be careful particularly on the ‘over-tide’ trips.  The Forest cavers are still working hard and a number of dye tests which seems to have confirmed the existence of much more cave to be discovered.  The G.C.R.G. have set up the first of its emergency dumps.  This has cost £30 so please if you feel peckish take your own food not that in the food dumps.  The dump is at present situated above the fixed ladder, just beyond the tidal sump. The electron ladder is to be removed so parties should take their own ladder, rope and tethers.  Chepstow Police station appears to be helpful and will note details of your trip, particularly useful if you are visiting midweek.

Singing River Mine. A key for this mine is held at the Belfry.

Whose boob! One D. Ingle Smith (of Wessex or UBSS) is a contributor to the nearly £10 book "Mendip - A new Study".  He writes - you've guessed rightly - about Mendip caving.  In doing so he's unearthed a new Mendip Pioneer - Henry Ernest Balch!

O.F.D.  Permit Secretary is Miss Denise Samuel, 4 Brent Court, Church Road, Hanwell, Lndn, W7 3BZ

Mines of the Peak District.  The Peak National Park Study Centre are running a course from 31st March to 2nd April, 1978.  Further details from The Principal, Losehill Hall, Castleton, Sheffield S30 2VWB. Cost (full board) is £25.

Charterhouse Caving Areas.  Caves on the Bristol Waterworks land at Charterhouse, have been administered by the Charterhouse Caving Committee since the early 1960's.  For the last year or so the organisation has become lax and neglectful - locks are missing on Longwood and on occasions the gate at GB has been left open.  If the CCC has forgotten its responsibilities it’s pretty certain that the BWW has not. Will all members ensure that they have the required permits and observe the rules of access to the CCC caves.

The MCG Book Sale.  The following books are available from the MCG (Malcolm Cotter).  The two books marked (*) are listed at publisher's price, but purchase of these allows the buyer to obtain a special discount on other books.

Limestones & Caves of the Mendip Hills (Ed. Smith)                                            £3.75

Limestones & Caves of N.W. England (Ed. Waltham)                                           £3.75

The Mines of Mendip (J.W. Gough)                                                                     £2.95

*Mendip Underground (D.J. Irwin & A.J. Knibbs)                                                   £2.95

*Mendip: the Complete Caves and a view of the Hills. ( Barrington and Stanton)       £3.50

A climber in the West Country                                                                           £0.75

The Collector’s Guide to Fossils                                                                         £0.10

A Mendip tribute to the Hunters?  The Wessex Lane have written to the Mendip Clubs suggesting that each should present Roger Dors with their club that the trophy.  The idea is that the trophy should be hung in the new room in the Hunters. Anyone with any ideas should contact a committee member.

Constitutional Amendments.  The AGM recommended that the 1977/1978 Committee should look into apparent anomalies in the Club Constitution.  In order to do this a Sub-Committee has been set up under the Chairmanship of Martin Cavender (the Club Solicitor).  Members with any suggestions should contact Martin (The Old Rectory, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Near Wells Somerset.)

Addition to the Library.  Paul Christie has donated a copy of the Mersham Firestone Quarries - an interim account - by members of Croydon Caving Club to the club library.

Caving Reports available to members.

No. 1  Surveying in Redcliffe Caves, Bristol.


No. 3A  The Manufacture of Lightweight Caving Ladders


No. 5A Survey of Headwear and Lighting (2nd ed.)


No.10 The BEC Method of Ladder Construction


No.13 St. Cuthbert's Report:


Part E. Rabbit Warren


Part F. Gour Hall Area


Part H. Rabbit Warren Extension


No.14 "Balague 1910"


No.15 "Roman Mine", nr. Newport


No.16 "Mendip’s Vanishing Grottoes"


No.18 Cave Notes '74


No.19 Cave Notes '15-16


All reports are stocked at the Belfry.  Members should see Chris Batstone or John Dukes.  They are available through the post so please allow p & p 50p for 3 or more.

From the Gloucester SS Newsletter, No.5, is a note of three Forest of Dean digs.  Work on Seymour Swallet is to begin again, with improved drilling facilities for banging. On the other hand in P.C. Cave, although there is a good draught, and the way in is visible, there are no diggers.  The mysterious project 'X' has yielded 60+ ft. of passage, including a 25ft pitch half-way down a big aven.

C.S.C.C. has recently taken under its wing the Mendip Cave Registry.  At present the mammoth task of collating the information is undertaken by Ray and Kay Mansfield.  For those that have not looked at the Registry, it is recommended that you do so (copies are lodged in the Wells Library and Bristol Central Reference Library). It is the only complete set of references to any Mendip cave up to the date of the last century.  There is about 10 years or so work to be added to the Register.  And you can imagine, it involves much work and it is well known that Ray and Kay would welcome any help - particularly from typists.  Their address is Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, nr. Bath.

Those who did not bother to attend the B.C.R.A. winter Meeting at the Hunters missed a fine afternoon and evening’s entertainment.  John Parker outlined the discovery and exploration of the Rock and Fountain - a fine talk, illustrated by slides.  This was followed by Dave Manley on a new idea of discovering new cave passage by chemical means.  After the Buffet, Jerry Wooldridge gave a repeat showing of his sound/slide sequences of La Cigalaire and Fairy Cave Quarry.  The evening was wound up by Martin Farr and Pete Glanville giving a potted account of the Iran 77 trip including Pete's observations on the medical problems of caving visits to arid areas.

Sports Council Cuts BMC Grant.  Since the publication of the BMC ‘Hunt Report’ there has been a considerable rift in the Council.  A rift in, fact based on fundamentals - put very simply Hunt stated that training should be based within the Climbing Clubs and under the watchful eye of BMC and Longland wished for a separate organisation to control training within the climbing world.

Reported in the 'Times' newspaper the grant has been taken away from BMC and has left them in a situation where they are in a situation where they are in severe financial difficulties.  Mrs. Audrey Selkela, Hon. Chairman of the BMC South West and Southern Area stated in a letter to me…”Within the last few days (Oct. 28th) arbitrarily and without consultation, the Sports Council has cut-off the BMC Training Grant thus jeopardising the future of a well-proven and well run operation for over five years. Further more, it would appear that the Sports Council is proposing to transfer this money to a secessionist Mountain Leader Training Board, chaired by Sir Jack Longland…. The BMC considers that the Sports Council is wrong, ill-advised and destructive. It would be wrong and unsafe for a body, other than the BMC to attempt to set standards of competence in mountaineering since the BMC in its membership embraces some of the best climbers and climbing educationalists in the world.

We had always understood it to be a hallowed principle that the Sports Council did not seek to interfere in the internal policies and philosophies of any sports or recreation; supporting a secessionist body and withholding grant-aid can only be interpreted as interference.”

So there you have it… conform or otherwise.  It is to be hoped that the Southern Council will ensure that it does not receive grant-aid for its administrative costs without first ensuring that it can survive without it.  BEC representatives to the CSCC meetings should ensure that the council gets this message loud and clear.  (see also: B.M.C. Saga continues on page 12 for the Sports Council viewpoint)


Book Review

by Dave Metcalf.

"Northern Caves, Vol. 5.” ‘The Northern Dales’ - Revised Edition by D. Brook, G.M. Davies, M.H. Lone, P.F. Ryder.

Surely this must be a guidebook which contains the most varied selection of caves and potholes ever recorded.  Since the 1974 version came out passages have been pushed, digs have been dug and sumps have been dived.  A wave of discovery fever seems to have hit the Northern Dales.  In the 1977 edition there are no less than 100 new entries together with many important extensions to existing caves.

The total area map has been extended to include caves as far a field as the West Coast of Cambria to the North Northumberland Border; Flamborough Head to Nottinghamshire. There are caves in Sandstone, Chalk & Grit, with every subterranean hazard known to man - from creaking boulders to radioactive gas!  Of interest to the connoisseur of cave names we have Mitochondrion Pot, Diggle Wigglepit and next time you visit Dentdale how about 60ft of Bum Burner Breach! There are many more surveys in this edition but unfortunately omitted is one of Blea Gill Cave - a newly discovered complex system of come 1-2 miles.  However a description of the new cave does appear.

Perhaps the most important extensions recorded are those in Cliff Force Cave and the long overdue reopening of Lunehead Mine Caverns.  Much new ground has been covered by divers, with much activity in all areas particularly in the Rawthey Valley with the sump in Rawthey Cave being passed and two important risings explored - Uldale House Rising and, would you believe 'Lady Blues Underwater Fantasy'.  Also recorded are underwater extensions in Tutmans Hole, Ayleburn Mine Caverns, Tub Hole, Gods Bridge River Cave, Otters Cave and Pate Hole leaving plenty of scope for further exploration.

The book is well laid out and very readable.  Additional Geological information is provided and there is also a comprehensive section covering caves in Magnesian Limestone.

This volume is understandably slightly fatter than other ' Northern Caves' editions but unfortunately so is the price.  However at £1.65p,  I still think it is good value.


Letter to the Editor.

Dear Dave,

I was extremely sorry to read the ungracious remarks made about Alfie at the last A.G.M.  As they seem to fall into the category of personal opinion, then perhaps my personal opinion might be heard.

Alfie’s efforts have provided me with a BB that has been my preferred reading amongst other journals, reports, papers and information sheets I read.  It has been largely successful in a humorous fashion.  It had style.  I hope its successor is as good.

I imagined that when Alfie ceased his association with the BB, a thankless task, would be treated with due honour for the considerable efforts he has made on our behalf over far too many years with too little help.  I'm ashamed that he has gone like this.  Is this the new BEC?

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Yours Regretfully,



Dear Sir,

May I be permitted to write a few words about the “Friday Night” Saturday trips to Wales.  As you probably know, the “Friday Night” trips that are run every fortnight are open to members of all Clubs, and despite our incredible difference we manage to cave quite happily as a group.  We also run about three or four trips a year to South Wales, these of course being on a Saturday.

The general system is that by mutual consent we fix the dates for a year in advance.  As a Welsh date approaches so people state their preferences and we select the cave.  Each cave has its own access rules and for clarity I will consider Ogof Ffynon Ddu only.

Approximately one month in advance one has to write to the Nature Conservancy Council, John Harvey, Clifford House, High Street, Newnham, Glos. GL14 1BB.  Newnham 376 for a permit to enter the cave.  One should state whether or not this is for OFD1, OFD2 or Cwm Dwr.  Each permit allows the leader to take six other cavers in the party.

Do avoid the 1st Saturday in the month as Penwyllt (South Wales Caving Club HQ) reserve their premises for Club members only on those dates.

I have never found it necessary to advise SWCC of our coming, but I always ensure that the Duty Warden is found, the nature of our visit explained, who we are, and a whip-round of say 5p or 10p each made to cover the use of their dining room, toilets etc.  The showers cost an extra 10p. per person.  It is essential that we make these gestures for we all use and appreciate their facilities.

As the trip date approaches so people wishing to come, contact me or other “Friday Nighters” and their names and locations are added to the list.  At this stage of the game we must consider the permit system, 1 leader +6, and usually we can enough Mendip OFD1 leaders or SWCC leaders to cover the size of the party (one only needs OFD1 leaders to pass through that part of the cave and this is a landowners request).  However, if this is not possible then we have to work on a 1st come 1st served system.  We pool our transport and this can involve a fair degree of planning and money on phone calls.

At long last we are over there, fed, and ready to go.  The permits are exchanged via the Duty Warden for a key, EVERY party members name is put in the HQ guest book together with the Club name and cave key number.  There is also a notice board made out for 24 hours, and all names are entered on cards against the expected 'out time'.  I usually add on two hours for contingencies. Make no mistake about it, if you are overdue then a search will be organised and at the least you would keep someone away from the pub on standby.  Remember that this cave has at least 25 miles of passages so the access arrangements have to be fairly rigid.

You may well ask, "What are the benefits of a trip like this?"  Well, the regulars amongst us enjoy caving as a group, so that's one answer.  Another is that we give anyone the chance to learn the basic routes so that they can then run their own trips.  The last one is that as an OFD1 leader, I must give people the opportunity of visiting that part of the cave.

On Saturday November 12th we had 18 in the party.  This is quite normal these days but it does mean that we have to be very conscious of our group responsibilities.  As happened on that occasion one must be ready to change the route if someone finds the 6 or 7 hour trip too tiring (often done by us without them necessarily being aware of the fact).

Unfortunately, on that date four people joined our party and I knew nothing about them until they overtook me in OFD2.  They failed to wait at an agreed place and we had occasional news of them from parties travelling in the opposite direction.  We had to change our plan and surface via Cwm Dwr instead of OFD1 and they were left on their own and had to return by their original route.  Had we stuck to our original plan of entering via OFD1, I would NOT have let them enter the cave, for our leader ration would have been invalid.

In conclusion may I stress that we WANT to help anyone interested, but common courtesy also helps us

Yours faithfully,

R.E. Kenney.


Dear Sir,

So the Tigers are on the prowl again and they have hit poor Wig 'straight between the eyes'.  We are being told once again that we ought not to like fixed tackle in St. Cuthbert's.  From anybody else I would take it as a mark of sheer arrogance to be told what kind of caving I ought to like.  But from Jim Durston I can't, because I know he's a bloody nice chap.  I can only assume that some bee has come untimely out of hibernation and is buzzing around his helmet.

The argument he leaves out altogether is that of cost effectiveness.  Electron ladders are expensive both in time and money and have only a few years useful life.  Fixed ladders are cheap and last for at least half a century.

It has been pointed out before, but I may as well say it again, that there is nothing to stop cavers from taking electron ladders down St. Cuthbert's and using them instead of the fixed ladders, if they prefer it that way.  (Jim knows as well as I do that he doesn't have to use the ladders on the Ledge Pitches, but can descend the crack at the back.)  His argument would be more convincing, if people did take down their own ladders.  Until they do so in preference to the fixed aids, it will be a fair assumption that cavers prefer the latter.  But who are we to tell cavers how to enjoy themselves?  After all that's all that counts.

All the best,

Oliver (Lloyd)


Cuthbert’s Revisited

I was privileged to go into Ease Gill Caverns fairly soon after their discovery and remember the breathtaking beauty of "Poetic Justice", a passage with thousands of straws, virtually wall to wall, floor to ceiling.  A few short years later I saw it again and scarcely recognised it; the damage done was so great that little remained to suggest anything of its former glory.

Earlier this year I revisited Cuthbert’s after a gap of some twenty years - give or take a year or two. Prior to this I had made only two or three trips into the system and my memories were somewhat hazy although I could recall some magnificent formations.  As I wrote off to arrange the trip, which was for the benefit of a party from the Derwent Mountaineering Club from Matlock; I wondered how many of those remembered formations would still be intact.

As we went our way through the cave under the watchful eye of Mike Palmer, there they all were - straws, stalagmites, curtains - all, unbelievably, in pristine condition, jogging my memory, looking as they had done when I last saw them, and indeed as they must have looked when the first explorers saw them close on thirty years ago. One curtain came so low it was necessary to duck your head in order to yet there it was, undamaged.

Over the years there has been a lot of criticism of the Cuthbert’s leader system the restriction on access it imposes.  In the past I've always been in favour of free and unrestricted access to caves, subject to the accepted ethics of discoverers being allowed to complete the exploration of their discovery first.  No-one can deny that it is far more enjoyable to be able to turn up in a caving region, set off do, the cave of your choice and find your own way through the system – no red tape, no restrictions, no finding someone to give permission; just pay the farmer his entry fee and off you go.  Without the bother of having to book a trip with a leader, I would have made many more trips down Cuthbert’s all those years ago.  But now I ask the question.  If there had been free, unrestricted access into Cuthbert’s from those years, would we now be able to go in and see these splendid formations? Would they now exist: for the new generation of cavers to enjoy as we who saw them back in the early fifties enjoyed them?  Regretfully, the answer is NO, they would not.  Most would be damaged if not destroyed completely.  The beautiful curtain I mentioned would have gone long ago. Would they still be intact if a less rigid system of control had been put into operation - say each of the Mendip Clubs being allocated duty club on a rota system and taking over responsibility for a set period?  I don’t think so.  I think the success of the Cuthbert’s leader system is that each individual leader accepts full responsibility.  On each occasion I have been down I have been impressed by the way the leader has ensured that every member of the party knew where the formations were and avoided any risk of damaging them.  If at any time there had a mishap it would have been known and the responsibility placed squarely on the shoulders of the leader at that time.  It is most unlikely that under any other system of control, any damage would have been traced back to any particular party, let at any individual and anonymity fosters carelessness.  It is an indisputable fact that the Cuthbert’s leader system has preserved the cave intact and although restricted access was irksome to my generation, it now gives me great pleasure to know that my sons will be able to see at least one cave in the condition in which their mother and I saw it long before they were born.

There have always been some individuals who believed they were justified in doing whatever was necessary to gain unauthorised access into caves, including using explosives, sawing off locks or merely sneaking in when no-one was looking.  It could not have been easy for the B.E.C. to keep control over the years.  In fact I remember many years ago when one young caver was caught making an unauthorised trip through Cuthbert’s; he was duly hauled before Sett and one or two other fearsome Godfather figures of the B.E.C. and given a right 'rollicking', threatened with excommunication, castration, or even being chucked out of the Club if he ever transgressed again.  It would have been all too easy to say "Oh, he's a competent and responsible caver, let the incident pass," a view some of us held at the time. But had that happened it would have been the thin edge of the wedge, others would have followed his lead, within a few years the leader system would have collapsed and the slow but inexorable desecration of the beauty that is Cuthbert’s would have begun.  Anyone who really wants to wander freely around Cuthbert’s can do so simply by taking the trouble to become a Cuthbert’s leader.

The caving fraternity and all who profess to support conservation owe a debt of gratitude to the B.E.C., and in particular to all Cuthbert’s leaders, for the time they have spent and the trouble they have taken to preserve the cave and its formations. This achievement is well worth the annoyance caused to me and my contemporaries when we had to go to the unheard of trouble of finding a leader and booking a trip down the cave; had we been given free and unrestricted access, the youngsters of to-day would have a very different cave there now.  And although they may moan as much as we did, the continuation of the leader system will mean that those who come after them will still be able to enjoy the magnificent formations which-abound in Cuthbert’s.  In fact, the success of the Cuthbert’s leader system prompts me to suggest that there must be a case for operating such a system in any new discovery that has a wealth of formation.


B.M.C. Saga Continues

In Jottings earlier, is an extract letter Audrey Selkeld of the SW Section of the B.M.C. gave the B.M.C. case over their current row with the Sports Council and the grant aid to the MLTB.  At the SW Sports Council Standing Conference held at Taunton in November they deplored the Sports Council action and wrote to the Director of the Sports Council - Walter Winterbottom (those of' you old enough to remember this name will know him as the manager of' the English Football team in the '50's).  Winterbottom replied to George Reynolds, Secretary of the SW Standing Conference deploring their action without 'the full facts'.  He then summarised the situation as viewed by the Sports Council and this follows in full:-

The BMC was set up in 1944 but it was not until 1964 that it begun to assume a more active role as a national governing body.  In that year as a member of the CCPR Outdoor Activities Committee, the BMC served on a working party which recommended the formation of the Mountain Leadership Training Board.  This Board was responsible to the CCPR Outdoor Activities Committee and was charged with the duty of prescribing the type of training and the form of representation from the user bodies.  It did, therefore, enjoy a great deal of independence within the limits of the expertise of its members, and the CCPR provided support services.

The Sports Council, which took over the staff and undertakings of the CCPR, continued to support the MLTB.  The Sports Council sought also to encourage the BMC to accept its responsibilities as a governing body and the Sports Council grant aided the appointment of a general secretary a national officer and back-up secretarial assistance, and assisted the Council in its move to Manchester headquarters.

In 1972, the BMC was beginning to obtain greater credence in the eyes of the member clubs through improved services and it was at this stage that the Sports Council with the agreement of the MLTB invited the BMC to administer the Mountain Leadership Training Scheme.  It was agreed at that time that the BMC should receive a 100% grant for this area of work so that there should be no burden on BMC finance obtained from club members.  At the same time it was agreed that the MLTB would have independence in policy matters and that the representation of the user bodies would be maintained.

There seemed to be a very happy relationship between the BMC and MLTB until 1973.  It was at this time that the President of BMC set up a committee to review the policy across the whole range of BMC activities.  A preliminary report was produced in 1974, the final report being presented to BMC Management Committee in 1976.

As a parallel exercise, the BMC Training Committee, chaired by Lord Hunt, considered the detailed policy on mountain training.  Inevitably the report made recommendations about the MLT Scheme, mainly questioning the name of the scheme and the value of the certificate.  The Hunt report emphasised the need for consultation and agreement with the MLTB about changes in the Leadership Scheme, and whilst suggesting larger membership for the BMC, stressed the independence of the Board.

In 1976 and '1977 there were several meetings of BMC/MLTB, some with the Sports Council, and the Sports Council was assured by the President of BMC in February 1977 that both parties were nearing settlement.  In mid 1977, the BMC unilaterally decided to abolish the Board and sack its Chairman.

Bearing in mind its undertaking to the MLTB, and the refusal of the BMC to service the Board and its activities, the Sports Council at its meeting in Glasgow, took the decision that the Sports Council should make every to bring about a settlement between the BMC and MLTB, but meanwhile the Sports Council should sustain the MLTB and withdraw that proportion of BMC grant attributable to the servicing of the MLTB which the BMC had repudiated.  As the normal machinery for talking to governing bodies was through the Sports Development Committee, it was agreed that the Committee should consider the matter and recommend a course of action to the Council.  It was further agreed that Mr. Atha should chair the separate meetings of members of the Sports Development Committee with representatives of the BMC and MLTB.

It should be noted that grant aid to the BMC was withdrawn only in respect of that element of grant which the BMC had applied for in respect of that element of grant which the BMC had applied for in respect of servicing the MLTB.  Grant for its normal administration and international events continue.  The BMC has not submitted any scheme of BMC training for consid6ration for grant aid.

After separate meetings with representatives of BMC and MLTB the Sports Development Committee has recommended to the Sports Council as follows: -

"It was agreed that the following recommendations should be considered by the Sports Council at its meeting on the 19th December: -

i.                    That the MLTB continues to be recognised as the autonomous body responsible for the MLTB schemes until such time as it appears that the Board no longer enjoys the support of the user bodies;

ii.                  That the Sports Council formally canvasses the views of the user bodies of the MLTB schemes;

iii.                 That the Sports Council recognises the contribution the BMC can make to the work of the MDTB and would wish it to take up its representation in the present constitution of the MLTB and be party to the election of a Chairman and officers of the Board;

iv.                 That the BMC be encouraged to put forward its training scheme for the sport of mountaineering to be considered for grant aid, and

v.                   That the BMC and the MLTB be asked to meet under an independent chairman to discuss the present situation with a view to the BMC resuming its servicing of the MLTB, and

vi.                 That the Sports Council should discuss with the BMC what grant aid is necessary to meet immediate staffing problems in its Manchester Office


Lead Sediments in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

by Roger Stenner

Many months ago the B.B. published a short paragraph concerning this topic, and it was hoped that someone properly qualified to comment on the possible dangers would have written a follow-up letter.  This has not happened, and several people asked me to elaborate on the original paragraph.  Readers should bear in mind that I am not qualified to make a judgement on medical dangers of lead and can only draw on the available literature, chiefly the report, “Lead in the environment and its significance to man,” published by the Department of 'the Environment as Pollution, Paper No. 2. (HMSO London 1974).

Lead mining and smelting had a very long history on Mendip, and Gough's "Mines of Mendip" refers to many aspects of lead contamination, some of them more than 400 years ago.  St. Cuthbert's Swallet drains a valley which was used for lead smelting for at least 1700 years, so it must he expected that the streamways have been contaminated. The question was - how extensive is the contamination, and how does it compare with natural contamination brought about by natural weathering of lead-bearing rock, and transportation by the surface stream? This was a question I was able to tackle and there were some surprises in the answers.  Briefly, all the stream passages in St. Cuthbert's Swallet have sediment containing 1½ - 3½% lead, but not every stream has been sampled. Surface streams going into the cave have sediments of 3 – 5% lead, and Wookey Hole sediments have about 0.6 - 1.5% lead.  Abandoned stream passages, and even in active stream passages, sediments about 3M above the stream bed have below 0.1%.  The analysis of sediments through the archaeological dig in Wookey 4 from 1974 – 1976 gave final proof that the contamination was un-natural.  In fact, analysis of sediments in St. Cuthbert’s will give a stack of information on chronology and changes in the cave since 250 A.D.  The analysis of sediments will not be as clear-cut as might seem at first sight because two samples of a clay like deposit from the cave proved to be very rich in lead - one in fact being over 70% cerrusite (lead carbonate) which were not stream borne pediments.  It is tempting to speculate whether Ochre Rift should have been called “Cerrusite Rift.”

The distribution of lead in St. Cuthbert's and Wookey is a fascinating subject, which is only really just starting to come to light.  Do the divers realise that they can follow the way to Cuthbert’s by following the lead and that any branching of the streams will be clearly shown by the sediment as well as by the water itself?  The amount of sediment needed for reliable analysis is tiny compared with a 50cc plastic water bottle.  However, the question of the possible dangers from the lead is likely to be of more immediate concern and this is where I have to leave my subject and refer to what others have written.

First, there is considerable controversy about the effects of small concentrations of lead, when blood levels are below the usually recognised level marking the onset of clinical lead poisoning.  Mental retardation, hyperactivity and behavioural problems have been reported with children being particularly susceptible.  In rats, similar low level exposures have been reported to shorten the lifespan by 30%.  Changes in the biochemistry in humans have been shown to be caused by very low exposures to lead.  It cannot yet be said that these changes have harmful effects such as the abnormalities just listed, but at the same time it cannot be said that the changes do not have harmful effects.  Why don't we know whether the changes affect our health?  Long-term epidemiological studies are needed to answer the question. Until then, one side says there is no proof that low levels are safe and point to disturbing signs.  Both sides are, of course, right but it is not, a very satisfactory state of affairs.

If we turn to higher levels of lead contamination, classical lead poisoning can develop.  Causes are many.  Pica or compulsive chewing (lead paints taste very sweet) inhaling dust from scraping lead paints or burnt paint from the blowlamp (old paints can be 40% lead) lead from old glazed ware or ware from amateur or "art-form" potters, especially used with acid foods, e.g. soused herring, working in lead using industries, drinking from pewter, especially mulled cider.  All of these can give massive lead intoxication. So where do Cuthbert’s sediments' corrie in the 'lead exposure league?'  What might it mean to you?  If you are 'normal' in not being exposed to abnormal lead contamination, probably not much. However, if you are in busy traffic a lot, or working in a lead using industry, any extra contamination should be avoided.  Always assuming low level contamination turns out to have no long-term effect. Personally, I don’t think it would be wise to allow children to breathe in dust that sometimes reduces visibility in the Belfry changing room to about six inches!  To be on the safe side, a rinse out in the drinking pool would have been a good of getting rid of St. Cuthbert's lead, and prolong the life of the boiler suit at the same time.  Perhaps it might be a good idea for lots of reasons, to reseal the stream-bed of Fair Lady Well Stream and reinstate the Drinking Pool as a permanent stream so this could once more be the normal practice.

Ed. note:            full account of the lead in the cave will be found in St. Cuthbert's Report, Part L which Roger is in the last throws of preparing.  If anyone would like prior access to the data then contact Roger.


Odds and Sods

Yeovil Caving Club member contracts Weil’s disease.  Following a trip down Stoke Lane Slocker on the 14th. October 1977 Benny Bainbridge had the symptoms of Weil’s disease.  Within two weeks he had lost the use of both of his kidneys and the liver was infected.  He was taken to the R.N. Hospital at Plymouth and subsequently moved to the R.A.F. Hospital at Halton.  He responded to treatment which involved the use of a Dialysis Machine and made a total recovery in about six weeks.  Bainbridge is reported to have drunk the waters of Stoke Lane and this in turn had been infected by Rats urine.  The case above is the second the first occurring some 10 years ago when Oliver Lloyd contracted this disease - again following a visit to Stoke Lane.  Be warned - do not drink water in any cave that flows near farm buildings or property where rats are likely to find a comfortable home.  This could apply to Cuthbert's where water from the small holding eventually drains into the cave - particularly in the Long Chamber Series and Coral Chamber area.

More on Gating of Otter Hole

The entrance to the cave is now gated by the Royal Forest cavers (see Jottings).  The gate has been installed at the entrance to the first crawl passage some 40ft. inside the entrance.

Swildon's Hole

The Wessex have obtained successes in Swildon's. First a breakthrough in the Sidcot Dig revealing about 500ft of passage.  The trend of this new section of cave appears to be towards Barnes Loop. The second is the discovery of about 100ft. of passage at Heaven and Hell.

Some Digging Possibilities in Manor Farm

by GRAHAM Wilton-Jones

When Manor Farm was opened up in September 1973 the water sank at point A, down a short choke in front of the large boulder before the final bend.  At this time the cave ended in a muddy choke at ‘F’.  Early in 1974 this choke was dug through revealing further passage.  Mr. ‘N’ banged in the sink and blocked it up.  It is now a deep pool of very liquid 'mud' and the water flows onwards, leaving the passage via a short sump to the left to re-appear and sink in the chamber at ‘B’ (this is the one reached normally through one of the holes on the final bend). The sink here is an obvious digging site.   The original roof tube from the main passage goes straight into

the chamber via the top hole.  A later rift tube joins the original hole, coming from a high inlet opposite.  The sink at ‘B’ is blocked by boulders collapsed from the roof of the chamber. It probably took water for a long time before this then flowed through the lower, terminal passages, as evidenced by the abrupt decrease in size of the main passage.

The sink at 'A' is probably relatively immature, considering how easily it was blocked (although Nigel did use a lot of bang).  The narrow, descending rift at ‘C’ is also probably immature, although it does draught gently.  At the very end of the final passage, at ‘E’ a steep slope can be climbed with the aid of an old, fixed rope belayed to a dubious looking boulder.  Above a boulder choke a short length of rift can be entered. Back from the steep slope, a low passage on the right leads to a tight rift.  Climbing up this reaches a small chamber, at 'D'.  The rift continues above and below a small, loose looking boulder collapse.  In the lower route a way on can be seen beyond some of the boulders, but the route through is tight and nasty.


Sketch Diagram showing lower end of Manor Farm Swallet.

Next month in the B.B.

An account of a recent visit to White Scar Cave (Yorks) and an account  of a visit to Belgium by - wait for it - 'Zot' as well as all the up to date news from a number of sources.  For the April and may BB’s there will be an account of the Discoveries of Wookey 20 - 25 and a new series of surveys, by Chris Howell, of the lesser caves of Mendip including sites such as Axbridge Ochre Mine and Loxton Cave.

Overheard at the Belfry

Club members are planning a trip to Austria this and JD and G. W-J are intending to go along.  Another member (MB) hearing this said, “Damned if I’m going along with these two – they take their caving too seriously.”



by Tim Large


The Committee, after taking legal advice, has appointed two new Trustees in a 'caretaker' arrangement to cover the Clubs interest until the situation can be discussed by you at the 1978 A.G.M.  They are Roy Bennett and Alan Thomas, who are both agreeable and happy to take up the position on the Clubs behalf.


The MRO have asked for extra space to store more equipment in the Stone Belfry.  The Committee agreed to extend the present store by a small amount, but at the same time increase the size of our tackle store to provide workshop facilities as well.  The cost of the change will be met by the MRO.

Bob Cross has obtained, for the Club, a fine workshop bench which sited in the improved tackle store. Many thanks Bob.

If anyone has, or knows of, items of equipment or tools that may be of use to the Club – just give someone on the Committee a ring to check costs etc, and than the go-ahead can be given to obtain it.  Obviously, expensive items will first have to be agreed by the Committee at one of their meetings.

There is a possibility that the track leading to the Belfry will be tarmaced.  The Club has been approached, by letter (!) by our neighbour, Walt Foxwell, with a view to a joint effort towards work.  This should reduce the rate at which everyone replaces suspension units.  In the meantime it would be appreciated if everyone would drive slowly along the track to minimise the damage to the surface.  Farm animals regularly use the track, as you all know, and several have become lame due to the badly rutted surface.


Barry Wilton has given the Committee notice that he intends to resign as Hon. Treasurer at the end of the current financial year.  Barry has done a good stint and his work is very much appreciated by everyone.  So budding treasurer’s lets be hearing from you. As the Clubs financial year ends in July, there will be a few months for a caretaker arrangement to exist under Barrie's guidance.  Being a rather special post it is no good waiting until the A.G.M. election of the Committee.  I think you would all agree there is a need to find a reliable replacement as soon as possible whom the committee would support at election in October.  Contact any member if you are interested.


The election for the two vacancies on the committee took place at the January meetings.  Those people that expressed an interest were Colin Dooley, John Dukes, Bob Cross and Martin Grass.  The two elected by secret ballot were Martin and John.  Welcome to both of them and DON'T BE LATE!!


This year the Priddy villagers are holding an 'It’s a Knockout' competition at their Spring Bank Holiday festivities.  The Club intends to participate and help devise a suitable game.  Martin Bishop is arranging it and would be pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in helping.

Instead of the usual Midsummer Barbeque which has faded in recent years, the Committee has agreed to arrange a buffet instead.  If you like an official mid-year Club Dinner (buffet).  The Belfry would probably be restricted to members only for that. weekend and I hope we would see some of the older and less familiar faces on Mendip combining perhaps some caving/climbing etc. with a ‘do’ on the Saturday evening.  More details when available re costs etc.

In my mail bag this month has been a letter from John whom many of you will know as being the only members name in St. Cuthbert's - namely Stafford's Boulder Problem. I am sure many of you will recall the place with very choice remarks.  John living in Aberdeenshire and gives an open invitation for members visiting Scotland to drop in.   Address available on request.  Also the mail bag is a letter from Keith Murray who has just returned from a six month visit to Br. Honduras.  I am sure be must have many tales to relate.  What about some of them for the B.B.

Your membership subscription is now officially due and will be gratefully received now!  Remember to comply with the insurance requirements the Club has to submit membership numbers by April 30th.  Any member not renewing by that date will be deemed to have lapsed and a re-application will become necessary.  This also means that your B.B. would cease to arrive too.  So let's be having those lovely cheques - made payable to B.E.C., not myself.


The Young Mendip Caver

Tune: German Musicaner

Well I’ll sing you the sons of a young Mendip caver
And of the adventures that overfell 'e.
Though he'd led a good life, he was hardly a raver
Until he went caving with a girl called Betsy.
Sing fal da ra lal de ra lal de la lady
All kinds of holes this young' caver'd been through
But the ones he preferred, they were both wet and hairy
And his favourite trip was to do Swildons Two

Now these two went down Swildons, the boy and young Betsy
The bike of the Belfry , invariably free.
They slipped on their wet suits and went down together
There was no one else with 'em, there was just he and she.
Now he'd charged his nife cell and she took her stinky
As down to the dark this young couple did go
He thought he was hard and she thought he was kinky
And they both hoped the other one wouldn't be slow.
When the Forty was passed he led over the Twenty.
Down to the streamway past ruckle and squeeze
But he found the sump wider than he had expected
And very soon after he was down on his knees

Then it's.  Oh! she did cry. Well me lamp it has failed me
Have you got a pricker to bring back the flame?
So he pulled out his wire and he tackled her stinky
And very soon after, 'twas working again

But this trip down below, it got wetter and wetter
And time after time she cried 'Do it again!'
Till he'd tried every way and he could do no better
And then she did say 'Try the first way again.'

Now when they came out, they were both tired and weary
And the charge in his cell, well it almost was through.
And there's only the moral to tell of my story
Wet stinkys need pricking down in Swildons Two


Pippikin - The Entrance Series

By Dave Metcalf

Pippikin is situated in the large allotment on the south side of Easegill about 100yds north of the wall which runs down from Leck Fell House.  However, to reach it, it is probably better to walk across from Bull Pot Farm, down towards Pegley Pot and follow the path up the north side of the Gill to a broken stile, cross the Gill and climb up a rocky dry valley and head for the fence that surrounds Nippikin.  Follow the obvious dry valley for 20yds to a stream sink which is Pippikin. The larger of the two holes nearest to Nippikin (not the stream sink) is best laddered direct into the entrance chamber (30ft ladder and Belay).

The way out of the chamber is with the stream through a low, wide bedding plane to a small gap where the stream drops abruptly down Cellar Pot (40ft).  The first man should then traverse the slippery beams across the top of Cellar Pot (while lifelined) and then proceed feet first into squeeze using the rope as a hand line as he emerges in the roof of a 15ft pot, but can position himself on ledges about 7ft. down.  The rope can now be used to ferry tackle through the squeeze in small quantities a time.

The bottom of the 15ft pot is choked but an obvious window leads into rift passage narrowing to the second squeeze.  This is relatively straight forward and leads down a step on to a small platform above the second pitch.  ( Northern Caves, Vo1.4, and other reports I have read speak of two constrictions at this point, but, judging the amount of shattered debris here, one of these appears to have been ‘persuaded’).

A twenty foot ladder hung direct from a stemple drops into a small chamber with the third squeeze leading into a washed out shale band.  This squeeze is probably stiffer than the other two.  The third pitch follows with two bolt belays on the left hand wall (50ft ladder and small karabiner).

A comfortable climb down enters a high chamber with the inevitable tight rift passage leading into the fourth squeeze.  This emerges dramatically in the roof of a wider 18" rift' and the best way to tackle this is to look through and carefully note the position of a large expanding stemple jammed across the passage at the far end.  Belay a 30ft. handline to a boulder and enter the passage feet first, keeping the legs as high up possible.  When the wider section is detected, drop the feet downwards and inch backwards until you can stand on the stemple.  From here it is easy to climb down using the handline.

The next pitch follows immediately (25ft ladder and belay) and the junction with the streamway follows. This, however, should not raise hopes too much as it is some time before the streamway assumes any large proportions than the preceding passages!  Immediately after the junction, the stream cascades down the Fifth Pitch with a thread belay in the right hand wall (10ft wire belay, 15ft. ladder).  The ladder hangs awkwardly and swings into a jagged narrow section partway down.

The exit from the chamber deteriorates into a short muddy traverse to the top of the Sixth Pitch which should be laddered as far forward as possible to avoid a narrow section halfway down (20ft. ladder, 10ft. belay).

At the bottom, the streamway turns sharply left with a small cascade from Ratbag Inlet entering on the right.  The passage enlarges in size here, and it is now almost a comfortable sideways shuffle along a high, winding streamway.  The passage continues in an uninspiring manner for some distance, until, following a short dry section, the rift widens at the boulder choke below the Hall of Ten.

This is a fairly strenuous pot, believe me - the following day you will know you have done it!  A few hints follow to help overcome the problems. Firstly, keep tackle down to a minimum, it is time consuming ferrying one or two ladders at a time through the tight bits.  Excess personal equipment should also be kept to a minimum to avoid snagging, i.e., loose boiler suits; bulky waist lengths festooned with bunches of karabiners etc. A short travelling line is useful for pulling gear through the awkward sections, with a man at either end to pull the rope should anything get jammed.

The majority of the Entrance Series is totally dry, and even when stream is encountered it rarely comes over the boots.  None of the squeezes are any more difficult on the return journey, but the return up the 5ft drop can cause a large drain on the energy making the subsequent squeezes appear more intimidating to a tired party.  Taking all this into account it is probably fair to estimate a time of 2¾ - 3 hours for a small, fit party to reach the streamway choke on their first trip into the system.

Editor’s note: Another article describing a trip into Pippikin Pot can be found in BB No.344.

Useful addresses

Tim Large (Hon. Secretary) 72 Lower Whitelands, Tyning, Radstock, Avon.  (Tel: Radstock 4211)

Graham Wilton-Jones (Tackle Master) ‘Ileana’, Stenefield Rd., Nap hill, High Wycombe, Bucks.

Nigel Taylor (Caving Secretary) Widden Farm, Chilcote, Wells, Somerset.

Mike Palmer (B.B. Postal) Laurel Farm, Yarley Hill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset.  (Tele: Wells 74693)

The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated.  The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be checked in the time at his disposal.

Editor:  D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset.