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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som.  Telephone: Wells 72126.

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.  Telephone: Priddy 369.

Dates For Your Diary

October 14th

Eldon Hole (phone Dave Metcalf for details – Blackpool 65985)

October 20th

Stream Passage Pot (phone Dave Metcalf for details – Blackpool 65985)

November 25th

Leck Fell – Pippikin Pot (phone Dave Metcalf for details – Blackpool 65985)

December 8th

BCRA Winter Meet, Wells.  Provisional programme being arranged by Jim Hanwell includes a survey of work carried out at Westbury Quarry (Chris Hawkes); Austria and the humorous talk by Jim Hay – a repeat of the BCRA lecture.  In addition JayRat and Wig will arrange a static display of selections of their caving prints and Mendip postcards.  At the moment it is hoped that the Teacher Training Centre in Wells will be available for this meeting.  A dinner is being arranged at the Hunters in the evening.

New Year Dates

April 25th NCA Symposium ‘Caves and the Community’, Buxton.

September 22-28 European Regional Speleo Conference, Sofia, Bulgaria.

The Eighth International Speleo Congress is being held in Kentucky in the US of A on July 19-24th 1981


Club Notes

compiled by 'Wig'


As a result of a trustee wishing to resign, the introduction of the new constitution at the 1978 Annual General Meeting which requires trustees to be members of the club, Martin Cavender is drawing up the official paperwork naming the new trustees as from the 1st October 1979.  As from that date the new trustees are:

Bob Bagshaw, Roy Bennett, Les Peters and Alan Thomas


At the September Committee meeting it was decided that guests wishing to borrow cave keys from the Belfry will leave a deposit of £5 for the key and each member of the party will be charged 25p per head hire charge.  This charge is to recoup some of the expenses incurred by the club through its sub to the CSCC and the Charterhouse Caving Committee.  Members will be able to obtain the keys free of charge but they are reminded that any guests on their party are liable to the 25p charge.


Wessex had some 330ft of assorted passage at the end of September - mainly in Swildon's Hole.  Another 50ft plus is in the offing in Shatter Chamber Extensions.

B.E.C. are at lust getting worried!  50ft of new passage was found in Tynings recently and on 29th September, Danny Bradshaw and Bob Cork added 254ft in Wookey 24 (still going); Manor Farm is being saturated with digging teams in an effort to boost this.  A secret weapon in the form of Chris Richards can at last be revealed with a new cave on Western Mendip – see next B.B.

N.B.  We must also dutifully report the sad loss of some 4,500ft of passage by the Wessex - not 3,000,000 miles away from Eastwater Lane.  They have a lot to catch up!


Hon. Treasurers Report, 1979

completing our current series of club officers reports, Sue Tucker presents …

As Treasurer I have had a very enjoyable year serving on the Committee, and would like to thank the Committee for all their help.

Since the start of the Club year I have made a little alteration to the books, and have opened many more accounts to give clarity and to ease the accounting load at the end of the year.  I have also taken over from John Dukes the responsibility for B.B. postal (which ties in closely with the subs) and, when necessary, the collation.

I am very pleased with the way that the subs have come in this year und trust it wasn’t entirely due to the cost, and hope that the club membership will continue to support the club in the very difficult years ahead.

It has been a greet disappointment to me that the club made a loss this year, caused by inflation (coupled with a 2/3 year sub) not only catching up with us, but souring way beyond expectations, whilst the club tries to survive on a grossly inadequate sub.

The main areas of expenditure have been:-

Repairs & Maintenance        £233

Insurance incl. Pub. liability £312

Electricity incl. showers       £218

Replacement of tackle          £184 (after the losses of last year).

and, of course, the B.B. This has cost the club a staggering £461 of which £70 was spent on envelopes and £176 on two years supply of paper.  This was off-set by a sub of £356 - a loss of £105 not taking into account other items the subscription has to cover, i.e. insurgence, and I cannot foresee this figure getting any smaller, as this year we will have to purchase envelopes, the next paper and so on ad infinitum, we of course, have to take into consideration the postage which has just risen.

So the sub must rise drastically in order for the club to recoup the losses, keep puce with inflation and be in a position to keep the hut in an adequate state of repair (let alone improvements) if we are to compete with other clubs on Mendip.

I have done some research on the projected cost of the B.B. for next year und hope that this AGM will digest the figures and NOTE the savings to the club of the alternatives.

All figures worked on an Est. 250 envelopes per month:



4, 000 purchased




Sept 78

£70 outlay

250 x 12

250 x 6

250 x 4




= 1,500

=1, 000




= £26.25







Sept 79+

£104 outlay

250 x 12

250 x 6

250 x 4




= 1,500





= £39.00








+ Supplier: Harpercroft. I phoned the supplier on 27.9.79, today’s price for 4,000 envelopes would be £104, unfortunately they have not that amount in stock, there is a 20 week delay in delivery from the manufacturers and Harpercroft cannot guarantee the price as they do not know what it will be.

All the following figures are worked on an est. U.K. postings and 30 various o/seas countries.

1978/79 total postage £133.73.  1979/80 total postage £283.20 (est)


























O’seas surface












Est. cost


220x12x8    = 211.20

  30x12x20p =   72.00


220x6x11p   = 145.20

  30x6x10p   =   36.00

220x4x13½  = 118.80

  30x4x36p   =   43.20










Join the est. figures for postage and envelopes together: Monthly 362.00; Bi-monthly 220.20 and quarterly: 188.00 - surely the figures speak for themselves. Sue Tucker

Cambridge Bottom Eislufthohle

Nick Thorne has sent in the following report on his trip to Austria with the Cambridge….

Late July and August of this year saw Cambridge University Caving Club in the Totes Gebirge of Austria again, for the fourth year running.  Unlike previous expeditions which spent a large proportion of the time prospecting, this year's expedition had only one objective.  Our prospecting to date had unearthed no fewer than three pots in the 200-300m depth range and one, Eislufthohle, 350m deep and still going. And it was Eislufthohle, with its powerful draught and huge shafts, that was the sole raison d’etre for this years effort.  As the pot became deeper and harder to push, it was clear that a more serious expedition was required than ever before, with the sole aim of bottoming the place. Consequently it was a small (only eight) but dedicated bunch of Cambridge Speleos that took to the field this summer, gunning for a really deep pot.

Eislufthohle, discovered in 1977, is situated on the Loser Plateau, reached by driving up a toll road in the village of Altaussee (near Bad Aussee, about 35Km from the Dachstein where Graham Wilton-Jones and J’Rat were) and then walking through pasture for about an hour.  In the year of its discovery Eislufthohle was pushed to 150m depth to the Tap Room (see survey).  This involved descending the 75m Plugged Shaft.  This snow and ice nasty begins after an initial snow slope and spirals down through snow plugs and icicles, the pitch being split several times. Immediately following this is Saved Shaft, 13m to the Boulder Chamber.  Crawling through boulders leads to a climb down and a crawling traverse over a puits-en-bayonette.  This pitch was descended in 1977, but since it had no draught it was consequently named Keg Series, and abandoned in favour of a route beyond the pitch head.  This way was followed down a short climb and a broken 30m pitch to a vadose canyon and the Tap Room a good sized chamber to end exploration for a year.

Last year CUCC pushed Eislufthohle to still bigger things.  A climb down and a crawling traverse led to a small chamber with a huge boulder suspended in the roof, and the take off to the fourth pitch in the floor.  The pitch begins as a slot and widens into a fine sized rift with a small stream falling at one end.  About 15m down the rift lenses in a little and the rope was belayed for a further 30m descent to the floor.  We were tackling exploration at this sort of depth last year, as some of you will doubtless remember by caving overnight.  (This avoided negotiating the difficult Lapiaz to the cave entrance during darkness).  We pushed our sleepy bodies down the short fifth pitch, having made a 'bold step' across the passage to reach the pitch head.  Next came a superb piece of pot, guaranteed to blow the cobwebs out of anyone’s brains.  A short traverse led to the spectacular Greene King Pitch.  This drop is huge and black and the rope hangs nicely free in a finely sculptured corner of the main shaft.  The Balcony Pitch follows immediately to gain the floor of the 'Hall of the Greene King'.

After essentially nothing but good, honest grabbing vertically, we were then surprised and not a little disappointed when Eislufthohle started spreading outwards. A large passage with equally large hanging death led to a short pitch from jammed boulders.  From the bottom the route forked.  At the time we followed the right hand passage along a traverse to a very muddy, broken 20m pitch, a free climb and more traversing. This year we took the left fork and managed to bypass this section, of which more later.

This next traverse was quite a long one in a very tall vadose canyon.  Although not technically difficult it was quite arduous, especially with tackle.  It ended in a slippery mud slope/pitch, The Fiesta Run.  Below this the mud cleared a little and the traverse continued down to another pitch head with the dull roar of water somewhere down below.  It was at this stage during last year’s exploration that proceedings were bought to an abrupt stop by a car accident. (See B.B. 321 for an action replay of all the gore).

With the accident being caused, in no small way, by the fact that we were caving overnight, it should come as no surprise to learn that we gave up such tactics this year.  Instead we supplemented our luxurious base camp in the village with a smaller advanced camp at the edge of the Karren Field (about 20 minutes walk from the cave) and then linked the cave and the advanced camp with a long length of high visibility polyprop string.  On the whole this ploy proved very successful despite several very cold, sleepless nights up at advanced camp, piling boulders onto tents in order to stop them taking off in the driving rain.  To be honest it was very comforting knowing that the camp was here bringing civilization a little closer to you after a long, hard trip.

It took us three trips to rig in down to The Hall of the Greene King at the start of this years caving, the main stumbling block being a new arrangement of snow in Plugged Shaft necessitating new bolts.  Then, continuing down below the eighth pitch we decided to make the left fork, the main route. (The right fork is omitted from the survey).  This way descended a fine free hanging 15m pitch and reached more traversing.  After a short distance a 10m pitch entered a small chamber containing an expedient little water trough, ideal for washing muddy ironmongery - The Gents.  Below The Gents the previous years route was picked up on the long traverse to the Fiesta run.

Once below this we were soon at the limit of previous exploration and moral began to rise with each of us eager to be 'out in front'.  We started to rig the twelfth pitch of the pot.  After only three metres the way on down seemed fairly thrutchy and more obvious was a traverse outwards.  This was followed to a broken 15m pitch and a free climb down to the base of a sizable aven.  The passage was totally dry, the stream having been left at the previous pitch. What on earth was the pot doing now? The outlet from the chamber/aven was a descending traverse to the inevitable next pitch.  This again was a broken 15m one, but unlike the last one, this one landed in a fairly restricted passage.  One of our lunatic fringe pushed this tight, muddy grovel for perhaps 30m until he popped out into the roof of another shaft, quite roomy, that he estimated as 15m to a floor with a stream.  Had we picked up the stream way again?

We were never to find out. The difficulties involved with this ‘dry route’ made sure that the next party in the cave had a closer look at the twelfth, later named Madlmair Shaft after our beer vending campsite owner, in order to push downwards instead of the traverse.  The restricted pitch head soon opened out and a 'good' descent was made, 28m down to a ledge, the shaft continuing.  We were back in business.

The next trip saw tackle hastily pulled out of the dry route and down the new shaft Eislufthohle had answered our prayers and returned to its former vertical self.  So much so that in one trip 120m of depth was added, with yours truly swinging on the rope of the fifteenth pitch very close to the 500m mark.  I say swinging because the rope was actually 3m short of the floor!  Ah well.  The cave covered on this trip included a fine, wet 33m section from the ledge to the floor of Madlmaier Shaft.  An 'under/over' type move followed (everybody went over as under was wet) and then the 13th pitch.  This was descended 50m in a large dry gully, the stream having been lost in the floor. One rebelay was required just over half way down.  The stream then reissued from a hole high up in the wall and cascaded down onto the free climb and pitch that followed.  The 14th pitch was noted for its airy take off from natural belays.  (One of the few non-bolted pitches in the pot).  It was quite wet and gave onto a large platform at the head of the 15th pitch.  This pitch as I said before had to wait for another trip and a longer rope to the bottom, but nonetheless the view onwards was encouraging to say the least.  The passage was about 5m wide, goodness knows how high, mid simply went on off into the inviting blackness as far as a light could shine.  Eislufthohle was getting bigger all the time.  It had the 500m depth barrier beaten, and looked like making mincemeat of the 600 one too……And then…………..

Well, I suppose all good things must come to an end.  The weather closed in something rotten, and for about 5 days it rained heavily and the wind blew.  And of course now we had a cave where it mattered whether it rained or not.  The lower pitches would be awash and further exploration had to wait.  Several bad nights were spent up at advanced camp waiting for the sun to shine and calculating runoff times.  The expedition was drawing to a close and time was running out (I think I've written about the previous two years weather as well!)  We reckoned on one last pushing trip providing that we combined it with a little surveying/photography/de-rigging.

When the break in the weather finally came, we soon got down to the head of the 15th amidst lots of flashbulbs going off.  A proper length rope was rigged and 20m descended to the floor.  The stream ran along just under the boulder floor, and the passage sloped steeply past huge boulders in the floor and ceiling, and then absolutely unmistakably thick, black mud covered rock.  It was mud created by a sump backing up - the pot would shortly end.  Soon the head of the pitch was reached.  Drop tests indicated a short pitch with a deep pool just ahead.  An interested party soon gathered at the pitch head to witness the placing of what we believed to be our last bolt in Eislufthohle.

With the pitch rigged, we descended and our footprints soon desecrated the virgin black mud on the bouldery shore of an enormous lake - the far wall being only just visible.  How inconceivable that a passage of such size should close down to a sump, yet it had.  Eislufthohle had been bottomed.


Turning about, we began to de-rig.  Our moment of glory was soon weighed under by wet pitches, tackle hauling and prusiking with tackle.  In one massive effort our five man party managed to clear the cave below the Hall of the Greene King.  We eventually emerged to a starlit sky after about 15 hours underground.  Over the remaining few days of the expedition, in blistering sun again, the gear was bought the rest of the way to the surface, and so back to base.  Our advanced camp had served its purpose too, and was dismantled.

As we packed to leave for home, we considered both achievements arid plans.  We had taken three years to bottom a 500m pot, something none of us had done before.  We had gained valuable expedition experience in what, by continental standards, I believe is not a simple pot.  Unfortunately we have no complete high grade survey of the place.  Our grade 5 survey stopped at the Tap Room with a defective Clino, and the rest of the cave was just a question of measuring pitch lengths. This exercise alone however, makes us feel confident that 506m is a minimum depth possible for the pot.

For the future, then I think few of us, if any will return to this exact area of Austria again for at least a couple of years.  This in no way reflects the caving potential of the area as our results will testify. Finding deep pots on the Loser Plateau is a real clinch; pushing them however, as one of our rank dryly points out, is a little more difficult.  Our reasons not to return in force for a couple of years stems from a desire to see some other countries and karst areas in order to widen our experience.  Most of us haven’t seen a continental cave outside Eislufthohle!

Finally I would like to thank the IDMF committee for donations towards my expenses over the last couple of expeditions.  The aid I found invaluable; so much so that I would like to see the fund continue for a long while yet for others to use, supplying the capital in future quite possibly by repaying donations.


Cavers Bookshelf No. 6

Vertical Caving by Mike Meredith

64pp.  17 plates.  169 drawings. £2.50

This book does not set out, to cover Single Rope Techniques in as much depth as Thrun or Montgomery. Provided one accepts that its scope is limited to "French" systems and Petzl equipment, then it becomes a good publication to read in conjunction with practical experience.

The ethics of using bolts in the number and with the frequency advocated on the continent is of course a matter of debate.  Whether in ten or twenty years this amount of discretion will be looked back on with distaste or acceptance of the method as essential for the sake of safety, only time will tell.  The fact is that Mike Meredith's book gives a sound and very clear description his chosen techniques, with only one exception.

It is a shame that there is one area of apparent contradiction when he comes to deal with the use of the "Shunt".  He quite correctly states that because this device will absorb shock loading by sliding to a stop on the rope, rather than having a cutting cam, it is very suitable for use as a "dead man's handle" while abseiling etc.  However on page 29 he states:-

“A shunt cannot be safely used for self life-lining and on page 37 he says that a shunt should not be used as a safeguard when bolting a traverse line at the head of a pitch"

This apart, this book represents good value for money, by today’s standards, must be compulsory reading for continental expedition members.



by Time Large

One year closes and another begins.  You will have noticed from your ballot paper that Chris Bastone and Martin Bishop are not standing for the Committee.  Chris has been Hut Warden for several years now and has decided to take a well earned rest. It will be difficult to find a comparable replacement.

The Club Sweat Shirts have been ordered and should be here soon.  If you have not already ordered one then do so ready for the next order as all are spoken for on the first supply.

The Treasurers report will highlight the clubs financial position.  As has already been detailed in the B.B. subs will need increasing. Our Building Society capital is greatly reduced to cover ever increasing costs and to offset the reduced sub this year. Although covering only 9 months our major expenses for the period remained the same as usual.  In some cases e.g. insurance, there were premium increases.

While not wishing to criticise life-members, and all that they have done for the club in the past, I think that they have had good value for their money.  Life Membership will always be theirs but I wonder if the clubs financial position could be slightly alleviated if they could contribute towards the costs of printing and postage of their B.B. - what do you think Life Members?

I hear from Zot that he has a job on an Antarctic Survey supply ship, and is leaving before he can provide his usual humour at the Dinner.

Star Mines – Shipham

(Ed. note - my apologies for the error of name the author should be recorded as Neil Weston.





Compiled by ‘Wig’


Following the notes on possible liabilities having fixed aids in caves published by NCA (published in the BB) the South Wales Caving Club have reviewed the situation within caves under their control.  Those to be retained is listed below, for other locations with aids should be assumed that they have been removed and tackle taken with you on the trip.


All aids have been removed.


Entrance ladders
Maypole chain
Maypole wire
Bolt Traverse wire, bar and ladder
Bolt traverse 2 wire (presumably this is the 'jury Fairy' line.)
Lowe's chain
Poles across the pots.


Letterbox handline
Divers Pitch Handline
Skyhook lines to be fitted to Fault Aven Series
Arête rope
Great Oxbow ladder (alternative to be placed)
Maypole Inlet ladder


Belay bolt on Crevasse
Maypole bridge


Bolt for ladder into G. Platten Hall
Dalis Delight handline
Abyss handline
Rising ladder
Flabbergasm Oxbow handline around pool
Bolt for ladder into Great North Road.

The SWCC state that though they intend to inspect the remaining aids regularly is recommended that all are supplemented by a lifeline.

TYNING'S BARROW - Following the re-opening of the cave and a newly agreed access arrangement with the farmer the Belfryites have been down and have pushed Drunken Horse Passage to its conclusion.  Jay-Rat and Tim Large investigated the ruckle at the upper end of the passage and located a short side rift ending in a sump and on the north side located a sizable chamber above the boulders - Mountbatten Chamber.  Details of the access arrangements and of this chamber is given else where in this BB.

LAMB LEER access is now controlled by the Council of Southern Caving Clubs and the BEC, as a shareholder of the Southern Caving Clubs Ltd has a key.  It should be remembered that all cavers should call at Beaconsfield Farm for permission to park and change in the disused quarry. Anyone finding the lock faulty or that the lock is missing should contact Oliver Lloyd, the director of the company dealing with Lamb Leer access.

Wessex Cave Club Journal reports that on Wednesday 30th May that severe flooding occurred on Eastern Mendip.  Browne's Hole was resurging and the entrance to Stoke Lane Slocker was submerged under a foaming whirlpool.  A minor collapse in the Thrupe Lane depression eased the flooding into the cave itself.


In the last B.B. (Aug/Sept 1979) was the first publication of Chris Richard and Marie Clarke's survey of the Banwell Caves.  A letter has been received by 'Wig' from John Tucker (author of ' Smaller Caves of Mendip', BEC Caving Report No.9) stating that they (John Tucker and Percy Baker) have produced a booklet entitled ‘The Baker Extension to the Banwell Bone Cave’.  John says, “You will notice a marked difference in my cross, section of the entire cave system, but this only an approximate sketch of the system based on lower grade surveys and the smoke tests carried out by the Axbridge Group. If members would like copies they con have one for 20p each, which will just about cover postage and envelope.”

This publication is a nicely produced, type-set, publication, 14 pages including 7 photographs, a plan and elevation with sections of the Baker Extension and a short bibliography.  For those collecting details of Mendip caves through publications this is an extremely interesting and good buy.

Banwell Caves Access –

Whilst on the subject of the Banwell Caves it is as well to give details of the latest position regarding access.  The cave access is vested in the Dundry Caving Group (no longer any connection with the South Bristol S.S.) apparently a club of about two members only.  Access is through Steve Redwood of Banwell but you have to be led down the caves or whether you are able to collect a key is not known.  From some of my usual resources the house is up for sale again in the near future so this will see a change in access arrangements again remains to be seen. Currently there is no restriction on Sunday caving as there was with the previous owner.


Recently little stickers have been appearing everywhere on Mendip and some were seen at the BCRA Conference in Manchester stating that the BEC get everywhere, one was even appearing on Oliver Lloyd’s back for a time!  Whether this is true or not they are certainly getting to the far reaches of the Wookey System.  Bob Cork and Danny dived through to Wookey 24 and laid the aerial for a radio transmission on the 29th September.  Duly on the day, ‘Prew’ et al assembled on the hillside above the cave and found as with previous locating exercises that the expected point was ‘miles’ form the actual location.  This time the coil was laid out in Wookey near Sting Corner and from the CDG survey of the area it was expected to find the point above the top end of the large dry passage of Wookey Twenty.  This was not to be – the location was found to be some 400ft to the east.

After switching on the transmitter, Bob and Danny went off to explore the Oxbow above the active river in the far reaches of Wookey 24 and found approximately 250ft of new passage trending to the north-west, ending at a deep rift requiring tackle. M Presumably this will be an additional 250ft for the Digging and finding of new passage Barrel Competition – more of this later.


The notorious ruckle is on the move again and the cave is blocked.  The Wessex have made fruitless attempts art re-entry and all they have succeeded in doing is to upset the farmer and blown in the cliff above the cave.  Very careful negotiations are in hand with the farmer and one or two Mendip cavers in an attempt to recover the political situation and to allow an attempt to re-enter the cave to get under way.  It should never be forgotten that many of the farmers on Mendip let cavers have access to the cave entrances form a friendly basis and anyone doing a foolish and stupid action as at Eastwater could see the caves well and truly closed.