The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset .

Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor:   G. Wilton-Jones, 24 Redland Way, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Telephone: Aylesbury (0296) 28270.

Address Change:           John and Sue Dukes
                                        18, Shepton West
                                                Shepton Mallet

Have you borrowed one of the Club's GB or Longwood keys?  Believe it or are not, you are not the only one who wants to go down these caves. We now have two GB keys and one August Longwood key missing from the library.  If you still have one of these please return it post haste.

Welcome to the following NEW MENBERS:

977       Tony Callard
792       Ken James - back in the fold once again;
978       Shiela Furley
979       Richard Natthews
980       John Matthews


Harry Stanbury now at 7, Falcon Terrace, Bude, Cornwall.  In his letter Harry invites any members who happen to be in the area to drop in.

961 Nick Phimister now at 10, Telford Street, Inverness, Scotland.  Nick gives us prior warning that he will be on Mendip at Easter.


"How would you like your ostrich, Sir?"

During mid November the Africa Section both managed to wangle a week's holiday with intent to visit the South African coast and the famous Cango Caves at Oudtshoorn, Cape Province.  A letter from the Town Clerk/ Cave Manager, Michael Schultz, had informed us that trips to the spectacularly well decorated extensions of Canga 2 and 3 would not be possible but that we were welcome to drop in for a chat.

On November 15th, suffering from the usual severe hangover, we left Naseru and drove for a day and a half across the desert like plains of the Gretat Karoo to Oudtshoorn.  Situated in an attractive, fertile valley the town is sheltered by the Outeniquas and Swartberg mountain ranges.  Apart from these rugged, interminable peaks the scenery is almost English – with plenty well-stocked, green fields.  The major difference is that English fields have cows and those here have ostriches!  These vicious and enormous birds are bred and converted into feather dusters, bone meal, high quality leather, souvenirs and ostrich steaks - which the B.E.C. tried and found to be superb - just like a good beef steak and more tender.  On a visit to an Ostrich show-farm we were shown how to ride the birds.  To put an ostrich into reverse gear you grab its neck and twist down and backwards, as in a car.  The bird then hurtles along in reverse!

On Monday 17th we visited Hr. Schultz, who is also a member of the African Spelaeological Association and South Africa's representative for the I.U.S.  He offered us a trip to Cango 2 on the Wednesday (with a high court judge's party).  Unfortunately we could not wait for this, but were given complimentary admission tickets to the show cave instead.


Seen in Oudirshoorn Town Clerk’s office.  S.A.

We drove up to the cave which lies in a dolomite hill below the Swartberg range, about 16 km north of the town.  Feeling most important we joined a throng of weegies, presented our free pass to the guide and spent the next couple of hours in one of the world's most beautiful show caves.

This lengthy phreatic system of roomy galleries was used as a pre-historic habitation site and the entrance chamber contains Bushman paintings and other remains.  In 1780 a herdsman discovered the entrance and a local landowner, Van Zyl, organised the first explorations - exploring much of the present show cave.  This consists of a series of large halls, all filled with huge flowstone formations, columns, palettes, helictites, etc.  Despite their dryness and light coating of soot from early visitors lamps these are very impressive.  At 762m, the system ended in a draughting choke which was pushed in 1972 by cave guides and S.A.S.A. members to reveal the incredibly beautiful 270m extension of Cango 2 ( Wonder Cave).  Photographs section show it to contain superb helictites, crystal formations, etc.  A streamway at the end was pushed by S.A.S.A. in 1975 into Cango 3 - 1600m of cave with even more extensions beyond which are still being explored.  At present the whole system is over 4.5 km long.

The tourist trip has its own South African peculiarities.  There are set times for white and non-white trips (imagine that in Goughs!) the guide gives his spiel in English, followed by Afrikaans, and at the end of the walking section is an undeveloped round trip of tight crawls and chimneys for the more adventurous.  It is quite amazing how many standard weegies go through this area complete with high heels, clean white skirts and no idea what they are in for! The British system of 'over safetyfying' every¬thing would not allow for this - a pity as it is good fun for all.

Our next few days were spent boozing in a wet and windy Cape Town, wine-tasting, sightseeing at Cape of Good Hope, visiting the Sandloper caves on the coast at Storm River Mouth and driving along the picturesque Garden Route for two days of festering and swimming in the Indian Ocean at Port Elizabeth.  It was here we came across a superb 'blue' folk/country/rock group who would go down well in the Back Room!

Tony Jarratt and Colin Priddle.



by Tim Large.

BROWNS FOLLY MINE: Under an agreement between the landowner and the Council of Southern Caving Clubs this mine is now gated. There are two gates - one at either end of the system.  All other entrances have been blocked.  The Club has a key and details of how to obtain it will be published soon.  It is important that parties lock themselves in when on a trip in order to prevent unauthorised access.  This agreement had to be made to ensure continued access, even if somewhat restricted, otherwise there was a definite risk of the mine being closed.

WITHYHILL CAVE:  Just before Christmas the gate on this cave was tampered with in a similar manner to the previous occasion.  The cave is at present closed while repairs are carried out.  Any information as to those responsible for the damage would be gratefully received.

EASTWATER: Recent digging by Tony Jarratt at al in Morton's Pot has revealed s silted beddinmg plane which takes the stream. Prospects look good. Work continues.

Many of you will recall the fatal accident that occurred towards the end of last year during a rappel trip trough part of the Easegill system.  Many rumours were put about concerning the cause of the accident and the true facts are only just coming to light.  In actual fact no belay broke.  A previous party were rappelling through and their rope became jammed, and was therefore left in place temporarily.  The victim of the accident put her descending device onto the rope, assuming it to be a fixed rope, whereupon the rope jerked free.

Rappel, or 'pull through' trips are now fairly commonplace in those Yorkshire systems where it is possible to enter on the top of the hill and leave later by a lower entrance.  The Principles of this method are simple - take a rope twice the length of the longest pitch, abseil down the doubled line, and pull it down after you.  The same rope is used for every pitch and escape routes back upwards are removed - you have to continue down.


Rot - Decay - Twang.

The fact that the Yorkshire accident did not occur for the reasons originally rumoured in no way negates the value of the following article, submitted by Stu Lindsey.

The death of a fellow underground explorer, in pursuit of the fulfilment that voyages into the rocky depths imparts, is never an easy thing to accept, although some may shrug their shoulders and mumble, "It will never happen to me,"  You win a few, you lose a few," etc., etc.  To this end, and prompted by the death of a young girl in the Top Sink series of Easegill, I should like to remind aspiring Belfryites intending to embark on the explorations of the Yorkshire 'pull through' systems to TAKE CARE, and please take note of the following nine hints.

  1. Primary belays should always be backed up by a secondary one.
  2. Never use belay loops (tapes, ropes or cords) that have been left in the cave.  The chances are that the person responsible for leaving it there had deemed it of no further use after his trip.  Remove and take out of the cave these remnants and replace them with your own.
  3. Use two tapes (belay loops (diagram C & D)) on the primary belay point (B).  Make one longer than the other, and place it over the shorter one.  When the rope is placed through both loops the weight is taken up on the slightly shorter one.  Should this loop, but not the bolt, fail then the weight is transferred to the second loop.
  4. Loop the back up belay (A) through the two loops (C & D) and allow 2” - 3" (50 - 70 mm) slack.  This provides adequate cover should the primary hanger (B) fail.  Use tape, cord or rope with 'dynamic property'.
  5. BEFORE each descent check the state of the belay - more so if tape, cord or rope is used in direct contact with angular, metal hangers.
  6. When the belay point is a ‘spar’ wedged across the passage, make your descent from one of its ends.  A hang from the middle only encourages the law of physics to act against your interests.
  7. Descend as smoothly as possible.  Avoid undue bouncing.  Use a low stretch rope.  Marlow S.R.T. rope is ideal for this venture.
  8. Be prepared to ascend - just because you are on an abseiling trip does not mean that you will not have to reverse procedures.  Carry ascending gear or cord suitable for prusik loops.
  9. Finally enjoy yourself.  Doing so makes others happy.  Enjoyment is reflective of your having done the job right, and reflections are what the rescue teams like to see as they sit at home polishing their krabs…..waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting


Primary belay arrangement.

(A)               back up belay with a dynamic tape property

(B)               Angular belay hanger

(C)               Primary belay loop under tension.

(D)               Secondary belay loop, is long enough when primary loop under tension just touches it. Usually ½" longer when folded flat.

(E)               Doubled rope for abseiling - nylon, terylene, polyester, but not polypropylene.

Suggest ½” super blue tape for A, C and D.


Friday Night CC

Prew has asked if I would publish a list of the Friday Night C.C. meets for the year in the B.B.  For those not in the know, the Friday Niters consist of anyone who cares to go along, within reason.  Usally intending Friday Niters meet at the cave at 7.30pm.

Cotact B.E. Prewer. on Wells 73757 if you are interested in going along.

























Tynings Barrows

St. Cuthbert’s

South Wales

Lamb Leer

Fairy Cave Quarry, Shatter

Banwell Bone & Stalactite Caves





Bleadon Cave

Cow Hole






















South Wales


Stone Mines

Manor Farm

St. Cuthbert’s



South Wales


Tynings Barrows








Send to: - Fiona Lewis, 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset.  Do you want me to lick the stamp?


Swildons – Sump 12    29.12.80

Divers:  Colin Houlden

                        Mike ‘Quackers’ Duck

Porter:  Jane Clarke

Aim:     To reach Sump 12

A decision, one Wednesday evening, in the familiar environs of the Hunters, to go to 12 was really forced on Quackers by me.  We were already committed to go to 9 ‘sometime’ by having been told that 12 was not much further, I decided to make it the aim.  Quackers agreed.

We met at the shed (Belfry) at 1100hrs and were at the entrance by 1145.  There was a distinct people ruckle all the way to the 20’ but a little polite shouting and barging with elbows assisted our passage.  We were separated, but met at Sump 1.  Jane had to return, so we pressed on to the bucket of lead by 2 to kit up.

I led to 9, and with the exception of the bypass of 7-8 all was uneventful.  The bypass of 7-8 turned out to be of doubtful parentage and caused us to de-kit.  A carry to the chamber below the climb and we kitted up to go to 9, and thence to 11 where we de-kitted went on to 12.  After a glance up at Victoria Aven and at (I think) 12b, and then a short rest, we returned.

I had great difficulty going through the squeeze but otherwise the return to 2, where we de-kitted our lead, hoods, valves and masks, went O.K.  I was quite weary by now and carrying a 'taddy' did not help. This became evident at the 20'.  I tried to reach the eyebolt at the top of the ladder and discovered that the mind was willing but the body decidedly weak! The floor below the 20’ belted my right hip with about 14 stone.  It took about five minutes to recover from the shock (the fall did not hurt, just the sudden stop) and then I attempted another ascent.  Arms through the ladder, feet slipped out, backing, help from Quackers – I made it!  Porterage of my bag and the ladder by Ray and Adrian of Crawley C.C. was gratefully received. My egress up the 6' was helped by Quackers' shoulder and we made our way back to the shed and the Hunters.

Notes:   1: Vis was poor to nil all way in sumps;

            2: No line in position through 10, a duck, so not important;

            3: Total time 7¼ hours.

Colin Houlden


Could This Be A Back Door Into White Scar Cave?


Due to its susceptibility to pirating and its location above, well, almost above a cave of controlled access, the exact location of this dig is being kept secret. Tunnelling down through boulders for almost 12' has yielded a small chamber 8' x 4' x l' high.  A large block 4' x 3' x 2' is at present taking most of the room and making things difficult.  The way on appears to follow the steeply descending roof through the sandy spoil, this to dig sand being liberally sprinkled with fist-sized rocks. A profusion of small straws and stalactites have made operations a little difficult, but every precaution has been taken to protect them in our quest to link up with this difficult to get into 4 mile system.

Stu Lindsey.


NEW YEAR’S DIG (Y.S.S.) Section A – a       Grade I   Drawn by S. Lindsay

NEW YEAR’S DIG (Y.S.S.) Section B – b       Grade I   Drawn by S. Lindsay


Radio Location At Shepton Mallet

A Cave in Shepton Mallet – well not quite!

For some time ~here had been increasing complaints of Cider and Perry aromas issuing from the River Sheppey and irate citizens were continually calling the Wessex Water Authority who in turn were threatening our well being.  The problem, quite simply was how was Showerings and Coates Gaymer 's trade effluent reaching the river.

Eventually two intrepid employees with no underground experience9 kitted out in one piece waterproof suits and carrying hand lamps were dispatched up the tail race of an old mill under the bottling hall from which we had found that the effluent was running into the river.  They returned foul smelling with a report that the effluent was getting in from drains supposed to be carrying surface water.  Beyond that point the tail race got small enough to deter the pair.

The decision was taken to locate the source of effluent into these drains if possible, to clean out the tail race and to try to effect an entrance close to the problem area, the only present entrance being through a manhole about 100 feet away.  The problem was that we did not know where the tail race was in relation to the surface because all the plans we had were long out of date and known to be inaccurate.

I was then even more of a novice caver than now but I had already heard of Prew and his wonderful gadget. A phone call produced an instant response and in no time at all, a Wednesday evening planning meeting was arranged.  The following Wednesday the push was planned and with a perplexed engineering staff looking on, members of the M.R.O., Fred Davies, Tim Large, Chris Bradshaw donned wetsuits and entered the newly discovered chamber with radio call and telephone whilst Prew, Fiona Lewis and I stayed in comfort above ground.  Then gradually foot by foot the team made their way up the tail race with Prew tracking them above ground.  A bottling hall has a hundred tons of mild steel machinery inconveniently placed in it and this caused some anxiety as to whether the radio waves would bend.

After some time the push was made to the end of the tail race and two positions marked on the floor to dig new manhole entrances.  On their return to the open air – in the middle of a warehouse full of Babycham – the valiant team covered in black, evil smelling deposits, plodded ignominiously to the boiler house showers they showered fully dressed followed by the normal variety and emerged for a well earned drink.

The next step was to call in Luke Devenish who had two attempts to make a quick entrance but three generations of reinforced concrete floor in-filled with gravel contained all safe charges so we had to revert to traditional pneumatic drills.  The entrance complete there then ensued an altercation between Prew and Luke about the depth of the tail race; Luke’s drill being 3ft. shorter than Prew’s measurement.  Eventually it was realised that Prew had been holding his surface coil 3 ft. above the ground.  This resolved, the radio location system proved to be within 3” in depth projection and slap bang in the middle of the tail race.

So for the first time it had been possible to measure physically the depth of the radio-location coil and prove that it was where it ought to be.  This, coupled with the fact that we had a brand new survey of the tail race, a new manhole that enable sludge gulpers and high powered jetting equipment to be lowered to the polluted spot so that rubbish could be removed following the repairs in the drains, meant that the venture was highly successful and who were involved were pleased with the results.

J. Henley



Bi-Monthly Notes

yet again (sorry)

LANCASTER HOLE:  A short but constricted sump has recently been passed in this cave leading to 427 metres of passage.  There are a number of junctions which still have to be explored and the passage size indicates something big.  The exact location of the sump has not been revealed.

KINGSDALE MASTER CAVE/ROWTEN POT:  The three free-divable sumps linking these caves have been found to become one continuous sump after moderate rain and free divers are warned to be extremely careful.

SOUTH WALES, EASTER:  Once again the club, plus various other friends from the N.C.C., Eldon P.C., Pegasus, C.D.G., etc., will be descending on Chrickhowell for the Easter holiday.  A number of trips are planned, including Pant Mawr, OFD II, Agen Allwedd, Tooth and Llethrid Caves.  If anyone has any suggestions for other trips please contact Martin Grass a.s.a.p. so that these can be arranged.  A trip into GOYDEN and NEW GOYDEN POTS is planned for the Sunday for those who are sober enough.

P.U.  To celebrate Geoff Crossley's 21st birthday anyone who knows him is invited to join in the celebrations at the Queens Arms at Littondale, Yorkshire on February 28th.  As this is the last weekend of the Lakes trip many of us will be finishing the week off here.

MISS PIGGY: Christine Villis would like it to be made known that she is not to be refered to as Miss Piggy, but Christine.

GAPING GHYLL WINCH MEET:  For, the fourth year running Club members will be going to the Bradford Pothole Club’s winch meet at Gaping Ghyll.  As usual we will be ordering our beer in advance, so we have the minimum to carry “up t’ill”.  We will camp at the Ghyll and the B.P.C. very kindly lend us any tackle we require. Apart from a trip into G.G. various other caves in the area will be descended.  Anyone requiring more information or wishing to order beer, should contact Martin Grass or Graham Wilton-Jones.

S.W.C.C. CONTROLLED CAVES:  Members wishing to visit any of the caves under the control of the South Wales Caving Club should take note of the following statement made by the club

We regret that, due to the contamination many caves with carbide, a new rule has had to be made prohibiting the use of carbide lamps in all the caves under the control of the South Wales caving Club.  Formerly it was permitted to carry carbide lamps for emergency only, but unfortunately this lead to visitors entering caves with unserviceable or only partly charged electric lamps and then frequently having to fall back on their carbide lamps.  Please bring additional electric cells for emergency use.  Caves covered by this rule are Dan Yr Ogof, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu (1, 2 and 3), Pant Mawr Pot, Tunnel Cave, Llethrid Cave and Tooth Cave.

OGOF Y CI:  It appears that the local farmer decided to dump some sheep carcases in Ogaf y Ci, and cavers who found these reported the incident.  As a result the farmer was prosecuted for polluting the water has taken revenge, however, by blocking the cave.  Since the cave had three entrances presumably he has blocked all three.

LAMB LEER:  The winch scaffolding has been inspected and it is recommended that no more than four people go on it at anyone time.

G.B.:  Yet another part of our underworld is falling apart - the Bridge in GB looks in immanent danger of breaking away.  Take care in this region.

CAR THEFT: Thefts of various items left inside caver’s cars on Mendip are still continuing.  Cars left in the areas around GB, Cuckoo Cleeves, Burrington have been either broken into or else unlocked and then locked up again.  It is probably that the thieves are fully aware that caver’s cars are left for several hours at a time.

Avoid leaving anything, especially valuables, in your unattended car.


Still More About Wigmore.

In his article Wigmore revisited, B.B. 391/392, Trev incorrectly states that the travel time for water from Wigmore to reach the resurgence at Cheddar Risings is 11 hours. (p10, para 4).  Sorry, Trev. You got it a bit wrong.  Travel time is 42 hours, the distance to Cheddar being approximately 11 miles.

Trevor told me this just before his article went to press and unfortunately it could not be corrected intime.

The dye test commenced at 1715hrs. on March 3rd 1978, when 250ml of RWT 20% solution dye was placed in the stream.  Flow was estimated at approximately 10gpm.  A further 250ml of RWT 20% solution was added at 2200hrs.

Sampling began at Cheddar, Line of Works, Sherbourne Spring, Rodney Stoke, Wookey Hole and Rickford Rising. Sampling was at six hourly intervals: 0700, 1300, 1900, 0100.

First arrival of the dye at Cheddar was at approximately 0700hrs on March 5th, a travel time of approximately 42 hours.  All other sites sampled were negative.  Sampling continued until approximately 1600hrs on March 6th.

As far as I am aware this is the only dye test done on Wigmore to date.  These results must drastically modify Trev's theory.

I must lend some support to a theory that a line of drainage could exist in the form of cavernous development, Fed from Tor Hole, Red Quar, Fairmans Folly, Castle Farm and Bowery Corner. Wigmore's development in Triassic Conglomerate is evidence that large cavities can develop in this area but it remains to be seen what form this development takes when the limestone contact is made.

Thanks are due to W.I. Stanton for conducting the dye test and supplying information on the results.

Chris Batstone.


Map showing principal sites of interest and proven feeders.


Input:  March 3rd 1715hrs, 250ml RWT 20% solution into Wigmore Swallet.  Flow c10gpm.

Input:  March 3rd 2200hrs, 250ml RWT 20% solution into Wigmore Swallet.  Flow c10gpm

Time to first arrival of dye at Cheddar – approx. 42 hours.

All other sites sampled were negative.


Letter To The Editor

Withey House,
Withey Close West,

Dear Bassett,

Ref. B.B. 34 (11 & 12), 7.

I'm sorry not to have written up my trip down St. Cuthbert's in the log.  I'm afraid we were in rather a hurry to get to the Hunters.  I'll do it next time I'm at the Belfry.

It was like visiting an old friend/enemy that you haven't seen for years.  All the handholds were still exactly where you expected to find them, and the teasing bits were just the same.  I cut the trip rather short, because things were going very well and I didn't want to spoil it by getting overtired.  So after admiring the Angel's Wings we turned back.  I found I really was a bit tired climbing the Arête Pitch, and so, as I didn't want to make a mess of the Entrance Pitch, I sent out one of the lads to put in the dam.

I don't think I need have worried.  The technique all came back to me and I climbed it with no trouble at all; only a slight excess of puff.

Ever Yours, Oliver.

A Few More Notes.

ONE PIECE GIBBS.  Rich Websall brought an interesting ascending device into the Hunters the other day.  It was made in Czechoslovakia and he picked it up while in Europe over New Year. It can best be described as a one piece Gibbs.  As all its users will know, the only thing wrong with Gibbs ascenders is the way they have to be dismantled to put them on or take them off the rope.  With this new device the cam rotates on a fixed bolt instead of a removable pin. The fixed bolt is attached only to one cheek.  The other cheek is cut away to leave just enough room to feed in the rope.

I'll try and produce a picture of it for the next B.B. and I'll also make up some notes on what it is like to use.

POSTCARDS:  Wig's catalogue is about to be printed, so if you want to upset him, just find a card that he has never seen, and you can put his publication out of date even as it is produced.

Didn't we manage that with Mendip Underground, Wig?



B. E. C. Subscription 1981

Junior    £ 6.00

Full       £ 8.00

Joint     £12.00

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