The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset .Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Once again there are no apologies for this late combined issue. The timing bands (for the non-technical, they're important bits!) on the printing machine snapped in January, and I have been waiting since then for Gestetner to supply new ones.  They arrived yesterday (16.3.82), I rebuilt the machine last night, and Herr Blitz is assisting with printing tonight.

In the last issue I suggested you make a resolution: to write an article, a line, anything.  Somebody took me at my word.  Dear Ed. Rotten idea.  Not well hidden in this paragraph is somebody's version of 'anything'.

Edited, it reads:


Yes, I am prepared to consider ANYTHING for publication.

I did not manage to get the M.R.O. reports in this issue, but I'll make every effort to get them in next time. 

Also in the next issue, another of Kangy’s songs, some useful info on dry nickel cadmium cells; a description of the Geevor tin processing plant, an article about one of the old Belfries plus the usual up-to-the-minute news from around the country and indeed, the world.

From the Daily Telegraph, 11th March, 1982:

"There are also rumours of vast, underground wine-lakes.  Why were a team of potholers, exploring the cave system at Grampus Moor near Nerdley, last week-end, staggering about helplessly drunk when they reached the surface?"


The Grottede lde a Diau survey printed on page 28, kindly reproduced by Jeremy H. and his underlings, belongs with the article in last bi-month’s B.B.  Just in case you wondered.


Club Committee

Hon. Secretary:        Tim Large                                Wells                  (0749) 73860 (work)

Hon. Treasurer:         Sue Dukes                              Shepton Mallet    (0749) 4815

Hut Warden:             “Quackers”                              (Belfry) Wells      (0749) 72126

Hut Engineer:           Ian “Wormhole” Caldwell

Tacklemaster:          John Dukes                             Shepton Mallet    (0749) 4815

Caving Secretary:     Martin Grass                           Luton                  (        ) 35145

B.B. Editor:              Graham Wilton-Jones               Aylesbury           (0296) 28270

                               Nigel Taylor

                               Stu. Lindsey

Non-Committee Posts

Membership secretary & D.D. distribution:           Fi Lewis, Wells

Librarians: Hon.  Chris Batstone, Bath

                        Tony Jarrat, Yatton (rarely!)

Monthly notes.

O.F.D.  Columns week-ends are: June 12th & 13th.  Sept. 4th & 5th.

The South Wales C.C. prefer it if cavers can make the Saturday rather than the Sunday.  Also, if a club plans to turn up with a large number of members, the S.W.C.C. like to know in advance.

Bleadon Cavern: A trip to this cave has been arranged for Saturday 8th May at 1500hrs.  As numbers are limited, names to Martin Grass, please.

Dan Yr Ogof: The Club has been granted permission by the South Wales C.C. and the D.Y.O. cave management to dig and blast in Dali's Delight, an area in which we have been showing a lot of interest during recent months.  All are welcome and anyone interested in giving a hand should see Martin Grass or Graham Wilton-Jones for details.

Northern Caves, Vol. 2 & 3:  At long last new and up-dated editions of the above guide books have become available.  Although of the same format as previous editions these new ones have stitched spines, and hopefully will stand up to the wear and tear cavers put guide books through.  Volume 2 has no new major systems or extensions, but the caves of Ribblehead (previously in Vol.4) have a few extensions, mainly by members of the C.D.G. This volume retails at £2.95 and covers Penyghent and Malham.  Volume 3 (Ingleborough) contains major extensions in Roaring Hole and Marble Pot, as well as many new explorations by the C.D.G., including upstream Ingleborough Cave, although the elusive connection to Gaping Gill is still to be found. Slightly thicker than Vol. 2, this edition costs £3.20.  Volume 4 of Northern Caves is due to be reprinted and available by mid-1982.  This is the volume we are all waiting for as it will contain the classic Three Counties System, with all the new finds, such as Link Pot, the Keld Head connection, King Pot and many more.  Let's hope Dalesman do not take too long in producing this much-sought-after edition.

Speleo Nederland: Ten of the lads from Speleo Nederland (Peter, Frans, et al) coming over from Friday 30th April to Saturday 8th May. They are going to Yorkshire for the week and will be staying at the Bradford P.C. H.Q. at Brackenbottom and would like to see as many of their Mendip drinking partners as possible!  I have arranged various trips for their stay and they would like anyone who knows systems to show them around.  Caves booked/planned are: Magnetometer Pot; Hammer Pot; Swinsto/Simpsons; Birks Fell cave; Outsleets Beck Pot; Lancaster, Easegill system; plus a lot of drinking!!

Anyone who thinks they can help or will be coming up, please let me know.



By Tim Large

The AGM was not very well attended and again finished in record time, but in the evening 140 members and guests attended The Caveman Restaurant in Cheddar to enjoy the dinner. Roger Dors was our guest of honour along with his wife Jackie and was presented with Honorary Membership to mark the occasion of our 1000th member.  An open air cabaret was provided by Cheddar Cliff Rescue as they had a callout to Coronation Street that night.


Many of you will know (or perhaps you don’t) remember it depending on how much beer you drank that an after dinner barrel was to be had at The Belfry - Well at present the contributions for the barrel are £15 short and our Hut Warden Quackers would like to hear from anyone who has not yet paid up.


The dinner will probably be at The Caveman Restaurant, Cheddar again.  There are a few who would like to incorporate a disco with it, probably being held in the Grotto Bar.  I feel his would detract from what the BEC dinner is reputed for, that is a chance for members old and new to meet, reunions, renaissances.  Members opinions are most important on ¬this issue or else some of you may end up with a dinner not to your liking.


Hon. Secretary:     Tim Large

Hon. Treasurer:     Sue Dukes

Hut Warden:          Mike Duck

Hut Engineer:         Nigel Taylor

Tacklemaster:         John Dukes

Caving Secretary:    Martin Grass

B.B. Editor:              Graham Wilton-Jones

                                 Stu. Lindsey


Membership Secretary & BB Postal        Fiona Lewis

Publications Editor         Alan Thomas


995       Brian Johnson

996       Terry Earley Sandra

997       Eckford

771       Pete Eckford (rejoined.)

998       Christine Bissett

999       Rob Harper  .

1000     Roger Dors (HON MEMBERSHIP)

1001     Graeme Johnson

1002     Alan Sutton

1003     Rachel Clarke

459       Keith Gladman (rejoined)


Our congratulations go to the following members who have been married in the last three month:-

DANY BRADSHAW who married HEATHER GIBBONS of EASTWATER FARM at Priddy Church on 20th of November 1981.

JOHN RILEY and SUE who were married on the 5th December 1981.

BRIAN WORKMAN who married LUCY DAVIBS daughter of FRED in late December.


Due to the pressure of work Nigel Taylor has been forced to vacate the position of Hut Engineer, but will stay on as a general committee member.  In his place the committee thought fit to co-op Ian Caldwell and Bob Hill to the position of joint Hut Engineers.  Bob Hill has now been fortunate in gaining a position with Shell working in Holland from mid March leaving Ian as Hut Engineer.  Our congratulations to Bob on gaining his new job.


A final reminder that the subscriptions should now be in.  The fee this year is £10 for single full membership and £15 for joint.  All subscriptions should be given or sent to Fi Lewis, 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset BA5 2BQ as soon as possible.


Sue Dukes and Fi Lewis are proposing to organise a jumble sale in mid June to raise money for the Hut Improvements Fund.  They are at present collecting jumble.  If you have anything you wish to donate please contact either Sue Dukes on Shepton Mallet 4815 or Fi Lewis 53 Portway, Wells where the jumble is being stored or via the Belfry at weekends.  Your support is needed in this venture.


Christmas at The Belfry was this year enjoyed by 10 members for Christmas Dinner and many others over the following week to New Year.  Mendip had a reasonable covering of snow which lasted over the period and temperatures at the Belfry on Christmas morning were recorded 150C below.  The festivities started on Christmas Eve when Tony Jarratt decided to take his new Suzuki land rover 'skating' on Waldergrave Pond.  All went well, Tony projecting his vehicle around the pond.  But on venturing to the far side of the pool it went straight through the ice into 3' of water.  Attempts to remove it at 1am in the morning, in a very merry condition, proved pointless. Tony was far from happy.  Next morning the whole Belfry contingent complete with MRO rope winch and cameras returned to haul it back to dry land. Tony donning wet suit could be seen wading into the Suzuki and baling it out with a caving helmet.  It was successfully pulled out, baled out, plugs dried and would you believe started first time.  It is apparently non the worse for the experience apart from a few bodywork dents where it argued with a six inch thick piece of ice.  The weekend after new year the snow end sustained low temperatures came in earnest and Saturday 9th January saw only eight people at The Belfry.  On the Sunday a magnificent Belfry Sledge was constructed and great fun was had by all at Rookham.


Members will be saddened to hear of the death of Mark.  He was killed in an unfortunate accident whilst climbing sea cliffs at Babbacombe in Devon.  He was 20 years of age.  Mark joined the club in October 1979.  Many of you will not have known him.  For a short period before joining the Police Force he caved regularly with his step-brother, Mike Barnes.  Together they made an enthusiastic and resourceful caving team.  Not long ago I met Mike in Rocksport and he told me that their caving had taken second place to climbing - having already reached lead standard on VS routes.  Our condolences go to Mark’s family and friends.


Recently Phil Coles turned up at the Hunters having returned from Australia.  He found The Belfry somewhat different from the hut he knew in the 60's.  Phil kindly made a donation £50 to club funds.  Many thanks from us all.


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List January 1982

828 Nicolette Abell               Faulkland, Bath

988 Tony Atkinson                Green Ore, Nr Wells, Somerset

987 Dave Aubrey                  Salisbury, Wiltshire

20 L Bobby Bagshaw            Knowle, Bristol, Avon

392 L Mike Baker                 Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon

818 Chris Batsone                Bathford, Bath, Avon

390 L Joan Bennett               Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

214 L Roy Bennett                Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

731 Bob Bidmead                 Middle Street, East Harptree, Bristol

998 Crissie Bissett               Exeter, Devon

145 L Sybil Bowden-Lyle       Calne, Wiltshire

959 Chris Bradshaw              Wells, Somerset

868 Dany Bradshaw              Eastwater Lane, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset

967 Michael Brakespeare      Dilton Marsh, Westbury. Wiltshire

751 L T.A. Brookes               London, SW2

992 Mark Brown                   Little Stoke, Bristol

981 Terence Buchan             Shepton Mallet, Somerset

756 Tessie Burt                    Harpendon, Herts

956 Ian Caldwell                   Clevedon, Avon.

977 Tony Callard                  Southsea, Hampshire

955 Jack Calvert                   Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire.

902 L Martin Cavendar          Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.

785 Paul Christie                  London Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks

655 Colin Clark                     Redland, Bristol

983 Jane Clarke                   Bath Street, Cheddar, Somerset.

1003 Rachael Clarke             Bath Street, Cheddar, Somerset.

211 L Clare Coase                Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia

89 L Alfie Collins                  Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset

862 Bob Cork                       Stoke St. Michael, Somerset

585 Tony Corrigan                Stockwood, Bristol

827 Mike Cowlishaw             Cleveland Walk Bath, BA2 6JW.

890 Jerry Crick                     Jaggaris, Jaggaris Lane, Nelson, Wiltshire

680 Bob Cross                     Somewhere in Scotland

870 Gary Cullen                   Horsham, Sussex

423 L Len Dawes                  Main Street, Minster Matlock, Derbyshire

449 Garth Dell                      Ord Depot, Viersen, BFPO 40

815 Nigel Dibben                  Poynton, Cheshire

164 L Ken Dobbs                  Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon

1000 L Roger Dors                Priddy, Somerset

972 Mike Duck                     Emborough, Nr. Bath, Somerset

830 John Dukes                   Shepton Mallet, Somerset

937 Sue Dukes                    Shepton Mallet, Somerset

847 Michael Durham             Bath

779 Jim Durston                   Chard, Somerset

996 Terry Earley                   Wyle, Warmister, Wiltshire

771 Pete Eckford                  Itchen, Suton

997 Sandra Eckford              Itchen, Suton

322 L Bryan Ellis                  Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset

269 L Tom Fletcher               Bramcote, Nottingham.

404 L Albert Francis             Wells, Somerset

468 Keith Franklin                Dandenong, Victoria 3175, Australia

569 Joyce Franklin               Stoke Bishop, Bristol

469 Pete Franklin                 Stoke Bishop, Bristol

978 Sheila Furley                 Glastonbury, Somerset

769 Sue Gazzard                 Tynings, Radstock, Nr Bath, Avon

835 Len Gee                        St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire

993 Andrew George              North Wooton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

459 Keith Gladman               Holt, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

648 Dave Glover                   Pamber Green, Basingstoke, Hampshire

1006 Edward Gosden            Brighton Hill, Basingstoke, Hants

860 Glenys Grass                Luton, Beds

790 Martin Grass                  Luton, Beds

432 L Nigel Hallet                 No known Address

104 L Mervyn Hannam          St Annes, Lancashire

999 Rob Harper                    Hanham, Bristol, Avon

4 L Dan Hassell                    Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset

893 Dave Hatherley               Cannington, Bridgwater, Somerset

974 Jeremy Henley               Leg Square, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

917 Robin Hervin                  Trowbridge, Wiltshire

952 Robert Hill                     Chippenham, Wiltshire

905 Paul Hodgson                Hoo, Rochester, Kent

898 Liz Hollis                       Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

899 Tony Hollis                    Milborne Wick, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

920 Nick Holstead                Trowbridge, Wiltshire

991 Julie Holstead                Trowbridge, Wiltshire

387 L George Honey             19044, Odensala, Sweden

971 Colin Holden                  Bruton, Somerset

770 Chris Howell                  Edgebaston, Birmingham

923 Trevor Hughes                HMS Bristol, BFPO Ships, London

855 Ted Humphreys              Moorsite, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset

73 Angus Innes                    Alveston, Bristol, Aven

969 Duncan Innes                 Traherne Hall, Uywn Grant Road, Penlyn Hill, Cardiff

540 L Dave Irwin                   Townsend, Priddy, Somerset

753 Sue Jago                       Church Lane, Farrington Gurney, Avon

792 Ken James                    Worle, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

922 Tony Jarratt                   Station Road, Congresbury, Bristol

51 L A Johnson                    Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol

995 Brian Johnson                Ottery St. Mary, Devon

1001 Graeme Johnson          East Park Road, Leicester

560 L Frank Jones                Address Unknown

907 Karen Jones                  Kynance East, Royal Cornwall Hospital (Treiske) Truro

285 Jonah                            Oriental Road, Woking, Surry

567 L Alan Kennett               Henleaze, Brsitol

884 John King                      Partridge Green, Horsham, Sussex

316 L Kangy King                 Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon

542 L Phil Kingston              St. Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia

413 L R. Kitchen                  Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon

946 Alex Ragnar Knutson      Southville, Bristol

874 Dave Lampard                11 Springfield Park Road, Horsham, Sussex

667 L Tim Large                   Wells, Somerset

958 Fi Lewis                        Wells, Somerset

930 Stuart Lindsay               Keynsham, Bristil

574 L Oliver Lloyd                 Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

58 George Lucy                    Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks

550 L R A MacGregor           Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants

725 Stuart McManus            Wells Road, Priddy, Somerset

106 L E.J. Mason                 Henleaze, Bristol

980 John Matthews               Clifton, Bristol

979 Richard Matthews          Clifton, Bristol

558 L Tony Meaden              Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset

963 Clare Merritt                   Chippenham, Wiltshire

704 Dave Metcalf                  Long Eaton, Nottingham

957 Dave Morrison                London NW11

308 Keith Murray                  London  SW7

989 Andy Nash                    Downend, Bristol

936 Dave Nichols                  Exeter, Devon

852 John Noble                    Tennis Courts Rod, Paulton, Bath

880 Graham Nye                  Horsham, Surrey

938 Kevin O’Neil                   Melksham, Wiltshire

964 Lawrie O’Neil                 Melksham, Wiltshire

624 Jock Orr                        Winklebury, Basingstoke, Hants

396 L Mike Palmer               YarleyHill, Yarley, Wells, Somerset

22 L Les Peters                    Knowle Park, Bristol Avon

499 L A. Philpott                  Bishopston, Bristol, Avon

990 Jem Pague                    Frogwell, Chippenham, Wiltshire

337 Brian Prewer                  West Horrington, Wells, Somerset

622 Colin Priddle                  Wadeville 1422, South Africa

481 L John Ransom              Patchway, Bristol, Avon

945 Steve Robins                 Knowle, Bristol

970 Trevor Roberts                Yatton, Avon

986 Lil Romford                    Coxley, Wells, Somerset

985 Phil Romford                  Coxley, Wells, Somerset

921 Pete Rose                     Chandlers Ford, Hants

832 Roger Sabido                 Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

941 John Sampson               Knowle, Bristol

240 L Alan Sandall               Nailsea, Avon

359 L Carol Sandall              Nailsea, Avon

760 Jenny Sandercroft          Victoria Park, Bristol

237 L Bryan Scott                Havestock Road, Winchester Hants

482 Gordon Selby                 Wells, Somerset

78 L R Setterington               Taunton, Somerset

213 L Rod Setterington         Chiswick, London W4

915J Chris Smart                  Woking, Surrey

823 Andrew Sparrow             Weston, Bath

984 Dave Speed                   Dinder, Nr Wells, Somerset

1 L Harry Stanbury               Bude, Cornwall

38L Mrs I Stanbury               Knowle, Bristol

575 L Dermot Statham          Cole Road, Bruton, Somerset

365 L Roger Stenner             Weston super Mare, Avon

865 Paul Stokes                   Bagshot, Surrey

1002 Alan Sutton                  Alveston, Bristol

968 James Tasker                Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

772 Nigel Taylor                   Chilcote, Nr Wells, Somerset

919 Tom Temple                   Address unknown

284 L Alan Thomas               Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset

348 L D Thomas                   Little Birch, Bartlestree, Hereford

571 L N Thomas                   Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.

994 Martin Thompson           Matson. Gloucester

699 Buckett Tilbury               High Wycombe, Bucks

700 Anne Tilbury                  High Wycombe, Bucks

80 Postle Thompsett-Clark    Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

74 L Dizzie Thompsett-Clark  Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

381 L Daphne Towler            Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex

157 L Jill Tuck                      Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales

678 Dave Turner                   Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon

912 John Turner                    Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.

925 Gill Turner                      Launceston Rd., Tavistock, Devon.

635 L Stuart Tuttlebury          Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey

887 Greg Villis                     Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

982 Christine Villis                Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon

175 L Mrs. D. Whaddon        Taunton, Somerset

949 John Watson                 Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

973 James Wells                  Yortown, New York 10598

553 Bob White                     Wells, Somerset

878 Marine Ross White         HMS Endurance, BFPO Ships, London

939 Woly Wilkinson              Melksham, Wiltshire

940 Val Wilkinson                Melksham, Wiltshire

934 Colin Williams                St. Austell, Cornwall

885 Claire Williams               St. Austell, Cornwall

916 Jane Wilson                   Portswood, Southampton

568 Brenda Wilton                27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol

721 Graham Wilton-Jones     Aylesbury, Bucks

850 Annie Wilton-Jones        Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

813 Ian Wilton-Jones            Olton, Solihul, West Midlands

943 Simon Woodman           Burrington, Nr Bristol, Avon

877 Steve Woolven               Horsham, Sussex

914 Brian Workman              South Street, Castle Cary, Somerset


Wareham's Cave, Gurney Slade

by Dave Irwin

On September 1st 1980 the writer visited Wareham's Garage at Gurney Slade for car repairs when he was told by the Wareham Brothers that they had broken into a "bit of a cave".  They were clearing an area of ground to the south of the Garage to build a bungalow.  Part of the excavation was to clear some of the sloping bank on the east side.  A JCB did its job well and eventually a small hole some two feet high and 18" wide appeared at ground level.  The writer immediately took a look and, saw a phreatic tube extending eastwards, sloping downwards at about 150 for a distance of 15 feet.  A slight draught was felt.  It was agreed with the Brothers that digging could take place and the author, suffering from his recurring leg problem, said he would wait until Ray Mansfield had returned from holiday when we would have a look.  It was emphasised by the Brothers that they did not want any publicity and did not want to be plagued by large numbers of cavers.  However, as it transpired, they obviously mentioned it to the landowner of the George Inn opposite the Garage and the connection with the Mendip Exploration Group was complete.  Digging was started by Chris Hannam et al. and the writer paid the site a visit a fortnight later to see what had happened.  An hour's fruitful digging took place under fairly cramped conditions and it became obvious that open cave lay beyond.  He continued to dig down under an arch to the left. Further digging became difficult until the only means to attack the site was by lowering the floor back towards the entrance.  The passage was then surveyed.  A few days later Chris Hannam phoned to say that a breakthrough had been made revealing some 150 feet of passage.  On September 22nd yours truly, together with the help of members of M.C.G., surveyed the cave after a number of photographs had been taken.  The cave will be sealed again when building activity commences in the Spring.


SURVEY NOTES: The survey was made to B.C.R.A. grade 5 requirements except that there was not a suitable area locally to check the magnetic deviation of the compass; therefore the whole has been downgraded to B.C.R.A.4.  The instruments used were an ex-W.D. prismatic compass, an Abney level and Fibron tape.


Book Review.

The Cave Explorers.

Jim Eyre Published by the Stalactite Press 1981, in 264 pp, 13 b & w photos, 5 line drawings,

Should you manage to obtain this superb book at all you may well receive it carefully wrapped in plain, brown paper.  That is, the unexpurgated, uncensored version.  Lewd, pornographic accounts, literary scenes of explicit sex, unadulterated filth, disgusting photographs and depravity - there is nothing of these in this work of Eyre's, and yet it has been banned from sale in Britain.  $16.50 in Canada but you will soon find the price rocketing in G.B. as the book becomes a collector’s gem.

The book is a humorous account of Jim Eyres caving from his birth in the early forties, through numerous expeditions and noteworthy events, largely abroad right up to, the present day. Those of you who have read Jim's accounts of scrapes and disasters in Descent will already be familiar with his style, his ability to see the funny side of every situation, his cunning at extracting the Michael out of the variety of characters he meets all over the world.  For those of you who not yet read any Eyre, there are few of you who can fail to be totally engrossed by this latest offering.

The photographs are a little disappointing, apart from the first, which shows a typical bunch of cavers, and two which show Kelly's winch and Rocket.  The cartoons are a very important part of the book, and there should have been more - dozens  The Provatina fiasco has tremendous scope for the humorous artist, and Jim Eyre must have lots of other cartoons that are suitable.

Perhaps the book banning is all part of a plot hatched up between Eyre and Kelly to boost the sales. More likely, though, it is typical Eyre. His whole life seems to be one long series of scrapes, near misses and disasters, and the recent court case is just one more.

What court case?  Who is this Kelly?  Read the book, and ask Alan "Hoss" Thomas who tells us he has gone legal and burnt his copy…..and there are fairies at the bottom of my garden too:



Early Cave Photographers And Their Work

by D. J. Irwin.

Cavers are generally interested in old caving photographs and illustrations – partly from an historic viewpoint, or quite simply just out of interest.  In general books, pamphlets and periodicals of the Past are eagerly sought after for this type of material.  In addition to books are early prints, usually removed from 18th or 19th Century books, illustrating cave interiors or entrances.  All categories of publication contain historical illustrations and perhaps one of the most important catalogues produced in modern times was the B.S.A. "Cave Illustrations before 1900" by Trevor Shaw, now long out of print and in great demand on the second hand caving books market.

Photographs taken by early cave explorers tell a considerable tale when one views them: what did the various entrances look like when the cave was first open?  what - gear did cavers wear in 1900?  how much damage, regrettably, has been caused since the opening of the cave?  who were these photographers?

When one compares the original bromide print with that published in books or other publications it is easy to see much more detail, which indicates the quality of photograph itself.

Many of the prints which have survived reveal the mind of the early explorer.  The "Savory Collection" at the Wells Museum unveils the recording thoughts of the photographer. Of the known parts of Swildons Hole in 1925, virtually everything of note had been photographed or sketched meticulously by the explorers - a very different attitude to that of the present day, where the sole 'raison d'etre ' is to find 'more cave passage, without first fully investigating and recording what has already been discovered.  The Wookey collection of photographs, a few of which have been published in the books by Balch and others, again recorded all known passages and formations.  Not only is the general view of each chamber recorded but the detailed level of recording is quite outstanding.

By searching through old prints and postcards many new photographs are corning light, all of which are of great importance to the speleohistorian, and it is the aim of the author to introduce some of these early pioneering photographers together with a list of their work known to the author, and its location.  Some of the work produced by these men is nothing short of miraculous when it is remembered that the cumbersome equipment then used must have caused great problems of transport through the smaller cave passages, and when one considers the patience required in waiting for the smoke to clear after using flash-powder lighting techniques.  Though their work is not consistently good, there are many photographs that rival the best that the modern cave photographer produces.

Many will be familiar with the Balch and Baker "Netherworld of Mendip" published in 1907 but it may be that the reader had not fixed in his mind the name of the photographer - H. Bamforth of Holmfirth (the setting for the T. V. series, Last of the Summer Wine").  A caver and mountaineer, Bamforth was also a photographer (professional) and owner of the famous printing works.  This successful business background enabled him to travel and, as a result, a fair number of his cave photographs have come to light in addition to those so well known to Mendip cavers in the Balch books.

A little careful searching will uncover many gems - photographs of such national classics as Juniper Gulf, Swildons Hole, Lamb Leer, Gaping Gill, Peak Cavern, Speedwell Mine, Gough's Cave, Eastwater Cavern, Hunt Pot, Hull Pot, Rift Pot, Sell Gill Holes and many others.  It is then important that the reader is aware that there is much material around, mainly in private hands or in museums; much more than has been commercially published and is readily obtainable on the caving market - if your pocket is deep enough!

Mendip has been particularly fortunate in having had to hand a number of outstanding cave photographers, two of whom must be recorded. I will mention the work of Balch himself but, though there are a few examples of his work still about, the work of Savory and Evens is significant.  Savory will be a name known to all cavers but Evens will probably be new to most, even though some examples of his work appeared in Balch's books.  Unfortunate duplication of photographs with those taken by Savory slightly dimmed Evens standing in the caver's memory.

J. Harry Savory was a professional photographer, having his studios in Park Row, Bristol, and it is believed to be connected with the printing firm of E. Savory that published many postcards and souvenir booklets for Goughs Caves.  Savory is best remembered in the Bristol area for his work on the photography of birds, but Caver are forever in his debt for the, comprehensive studies of Swildons Hole and Wookey Hole.  In his professional capacity as at photographer he was responsible for a series of 27 photographs published as postcards between 1913 and 1923 for Goughs Caves. Many of the original photographs still exist and the fine quality of his work is there for all to see.

The other man, a virtually unknown and forgotten figure, died in1973, at the age of 80, in Bristol.  A Bristolian, Evens was professionally a chemist and for a time, taught chemistry at Finsbury Technical College, London.  Apart from chemistry, his other main interests were microscopy and photography. It was this latter interest that caused him to explore all the byways on Mendip with his bicycle.  His entire Mendip work is now housed in the Bristol Museum, and may be viewed provided that prior arrangements have been made.  I am grateful to Dr. Curtis, Head of the Geological Department, for being allowed to see and record the photographs of caving interest.

Another photographer found in Balch's "Great Cave of Wookey Hole" (1929) is S.W. Chapman. Chapman roamed the west of England photographing all and sundry and included in his work are a number of photographs of Goughs Cave and Wookey Hole – a very mixed bag but a fine record of the major formations, and most were published as postcards during the 1920's sand 1930's.  Most interesting, perhaps are two cards of Gough's Cave showing details of the entrance before the takeover by Longleat Estates in 1933 and of the restaurant just after completion in 1934.  Little is known of the private life of this photographer except that he hailed from Dawlish in Devon.  Does anyone know if Lilian Chapman, whose painting of the 'Great River Chamber' (in Wookey Hole) frontispiece to Balch's "Great Cave of Wookey Hole", is any relation?

Nothing quite so extensive as the Mendip collection exists for the caving areas in Yorkshire or Derbyshire except for two names that occasionally appear - Shaw of Blackburn and Sneath of Sheffield.  Their work is confined to cave entrances and interiors of show caves, but their early postcards are genuine bromide prints; later, reprints of their work printed by lithography lack the immediacy of the earlier specimens.

A number of postcards have been available over the last 50 years or more recording interior scenes of such caves as Juniper Gulf, Gaping, Gill and Alum Pot, plus many entrances such as Rift, Hull, Hunt and Goyden Pots.  Who the photograph were is unknown and the only clue is the printers imprints on the back of the cards.  In many cases it may well be a printing house staff photographer but the early photographs reprinted by Walter Scott in the 1960's are certainly early shots take by the pioneer Dales explorers.

A set of intriguing photographs of White Scar showing Long standing on boulders and surveying gear by Long Stop Lake were published in the early 1930's but no photographer can be associated with them.  The Long photograph has been published many times in the White Scar pamphlets.

That, then, is a brief summary of some early cave photographers but the names of Frith's, Valentines, and many other local photographers play an important part in this story and perhaps later a complete list of their work will be published, so they cannot be ignored.  Frith, for example, famous for their rather 'static' sepia postcards, published over 70 cards of Cox's Cave, Cheddar, alone!  Details of these photographs may be found in "A Catalogue of the Postcards of Gough's Cave, Cox's Cave and Wookey Hole, Somerset, 1900 -1980" written and compiled by the author.

The following list of photographs recorded by the author has been gathered from a number of sources. Their location is abbreviated in the list and full details of each are given below:

Caves of Mendip

H.E.Balch, Folk Press Ltd., London. (1926)


The Great Cave, of Wookey Hole, H.E. Balch, Clare, Son & Co. Ltd., Wells, (1929) (lst. ed.)

The Caves of Mendip

Mendip - The Complete Caves and a View of the Hills, Barrington & Stanton, Barton Publications, Cheddar Val Press, Cheddar, Somerset. (1977)


Moors, Crags and Caves of the High Peak and Neighbourhood, E.A. Baker, John Heywood, Ltd., Deansgate & Ridgefield, Manchester (1903).


The Netherworld of Mendip, E.A. Baker & H.E. Balch, Simpson, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent. & Co., London, (1907)


Les Cavernes et les cours d'eau souterrains des Mendip Hills Somerset, Angleterre (Explorations de 1901 - 1904) H.E. Balch, Spelunca, No. 39, December 1904.

Swallet Caves

Mendip - Its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters, H.E. Balch, 1 st.ed. (1937) Clare, Son & Co., Ltd., Wells


Wookey Hole, Its Caves and Cave Dwellers, H.E. Balch, O.U.P. (1914)


Wells Museum.


Where the authors records only show a single copy the initials of the owner are given.  It should be pointed out that the owner may not be prepared to show this material unless a bona-fide reason can be given.

(D.J.I.)               - D.J .Irwin

(R.W.M.)           -R.W. Mansfield

(T.R.S.)             - T.R. Shaw

(M.D.Y.)            - M. Dewdney-York.

Where photographs exist without a title a brief description is given by the author.  Such titles will be shown in (         ).

Those wishing to view the Savory Collection should first write to the Curator of the Wells Museum so that arrangements may be made to get them ready for inspection.


(1)  Savory Photographs

The Archangel's Wing, Gough's Cave   (Postcard & Caves of Mendip p.18/19)
The Peal of Dells, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
The Fonts, Gough's Cave, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
The Fairy Grotto, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
90ft.- Cascade in St. Paul’s, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
The Organ Pipes, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
Pillar of Marble, 15ft. high, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
In Aladdin's Grotto, Gough's Cave  (Caves of Mendip p.16/17 & Postcard W.M.)
Aladdin's Grotto, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.) note C
Pillars of Wonderful Variety and Form, Gough's Cave   (Postcard)
Curious Erratic Pillars, Gough's Cave  (Postcard)
Imperceptibly Growing Closer (Feb. 1922), Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.) note C
A Marble Curtain and Stalactite, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
Magic Traceries, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
A Forest of Stalactites, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
The ' Zambezi Falls (Feb. 1922), Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.) note C
Countless Stalactite Pencils, Gough's Cave  (Postcard)
The Diamond Stream (Feb. 1922) Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.) note C
Niagara Falls, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
A Fallen Giant, Gough’s Cave   (Postcard) note A
A Most Beautiful Curtain in Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
A Group of Pillars of Wonderful Form, Gough's Cave   (Postcard (D.J.I.)) note D
Solomon's Temple, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
Outlet of Underground River after passing through Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.)
A Beautifully Reflected Group, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
Still Reflections, Gough's Cave  (Postcard W.M.)
Niagara Falls, Gough's Cave   (Postcard W.M.) note C & B


(A)    This photograph is distinguished by the hideous lamp holder held over the formation.  There are two basic versions: a) horizontal format; b) vertical format.

(B)    This photograph, taken in 1922; is heavily retouched in order to remove the hideous lamp housing.

(C)    These photographs were taken on 9th Feb.1922, whereas the remainder were taken much earlier- c.1912 (earliest postally used postcard seen by author is April 1913).

(D)    May also be found entitled; “Pillars of Wonderful Variety & Form, Solomon's Temple”.

N.B. All of the above photographs are the titles to be found on the 1923 set published by William Gough at the Lion Rock Bazaar.  The set was also published (1913) by another Gough brother, Arthur.  The titles vary slightly and a number of photographs from the earlier set were not re-used by William Gough; these are listed below:

Marvellous Coral Stalactites, Gough's Caves  Postcard   (Postcard)
(the photo. is inverted; formations are "pool type deposits).   ()
Part of Roof with Marvellous Stalactites, Gough's Caves   (Postcard)
Wookey Hole, The Witch of Wookey   (W.H. (frontis),' W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The First Chamber (with Wheeler & Barnes)   (W.H. p 20/21 W.M)
Wookey Hole, The Third Chamber     (W.H. p 20/21 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Conglomerate Roof      (W.H. p 28/29 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, An “Oxbow”     (W.H. p 28/29)
Wookey Hole, The 2nd Chamber (man with left arm outstretched)   (W.H. p 44/45 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Looking towards the Unknown (with Balch)   (W.H. p 44/45 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The Suspended Boulders  (W.H. p 44/45 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, "The Spur and Wedge" (with Hassall)     (W.H. p132/133)
Wookey Hole, "The Head of the Ravine and the Source of the Axe".   (W.H. p132/133 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, "The Index Grotto" (The Inner Grotto)   (W.H. p188/189 W.M.)
Group in Water Chamber (1919)     (Mendip p153 W.M.)
The Great Pool      (Cheddar p 72)
The Old Grotto, Swildon's Hole      ( Swallet Caves p 27 W.M.)
The Water Rift, Swildon's Hole   ( Swallet Caves p 29 W.M.)
The Folded Limestone beyond the 40ft. pot, Swildon's Hole   (Swallet Caves p 31 W.M.)
The Shrine, Swildon's Hole   (Caves of Mendip p 50/51)
The White Way, Barne's Loop, Swildon's Hole   ( Swallet Caves p 37 W.M.)
The Tower-Capped Pillar, Swildon's Hole  ( Swallet Caves p 39 W.M.)
Upper Grotto (Tratman's Temple) (1922) Swildon's Hole   ( Swallet Caves p 41 W.M.)
The First Party at the Trap (Sump 1) Swildon's Hole   ( Swallet Caves p 43 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Stalagmite Pillars from Floor to Roof .(1911)   (Caves of Mendip p 42/43)
Swildon's Hole, Streamway in the First Chamber  (Caves of Mendip p 52/53)
Swildon's Hole, Grotto in the Lower Series (Tratman's Grotto)   (Mendip p 189 W.M.)
Eastwater, The Author (Balch) among the Boulders   (Caves of Mendip p 56.57)
Eastwater, At the Bend in the Lower Canyon (Lower Traverse)   (Caves of Mendip p 62/63)
Lamb Lair, The Beehive   (Caves of Mendip p 68/69)
(see note (E) under Bamforth)   ()
Aveline s Hole   (Mendip p 27 W.M.)
Banwell Stalactite Cave (Gen. Whitley) (the General owned the Caves)  (Mendip p 34 W.M.)
Swildon's Hole, Lower Anchorage for the Rope over the 'Double Pots.(1921)   (Mendip p 189 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, (Balch and Allen climbing rift)  (Mendip p 192)
Wookey Hole, Massive Columns of Stalagmite  (W.H. p 196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole,  The Sentinel   (W.H. p 196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, A Typical Group of Stalactites  (W.H. p 204/205 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Massed Pillars   (W.H. p 204/205 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The Grill   (W.H. p 204/205 W.M..)
Wookey Hole, A Stalagmite Flow   (W.H. p 213/212196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, The Terminal Western Chamber  (W.H. p 213/212196 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, In Purgatory   (W.H. p 213/212196 W.M.)
Coral Cave (foot of entrance pitch)   (Mendip p 57)
Cross Quarry Cave   (Mendip p 59 W.M.)
Eastwater, Balch further down the boulders  (Mendip p 68 W.M.)
Gough's Cave, Simock, climbing up from the Lower Boulder Chamber    (Mendip p 89 W.M.)
Outlook Cave (entrance)(Ebbor)   (Mendip p 120 W.M.)
Plumley's Den (entrance)(1911)   (Mendip p 123 W.M.)
Rhinoceros Hole (entrance)   (Mendip p 128 W.M)
Rowberrow Cavern (entrance)(1921)  (Mendip p 132 W.M.)
Sandford Levvy (entrance)   (Mendip p 140 W.M.)
Swildon's Hole (Water Chamber)   (Mendip p 162 W.M.)
Wookey Hole, Upper Grottoes (1926)  (Mendip p 178 W.M.)
Yew Tree Swallet (Burrington) 1911  (Mendip p 182 W.M.)
Lamb Leer, party at foot of drop into the Great Chamber   (Mendip p 185 W.M.)
Swildon's Hole (Brewing Cocoa in Barnes Loop)   (Mendip p 185 W.M.)
Lamb Leer (top of Main Pitch)   (Mendip p 186 W.M.)
Lamb Leer (bottom of Main Pitch)  (Mendip p 187 W.M.)
Swildon's Hole (40 ft. Pitch, bottom showing "Elephant Trunk").   (Mendip p 188 W.M.)

All the following Wookey photographs are housed at Wells museum and do not appear to have been previously published.

Looking up to the entrance from below (from valley floor to upper entrance);
The cliff face from near the Badger’s Den;
The source of the River Axe (very similar to Chapman photo);
The arch at the water's exit;
A nearer view and another witch found by John Hassall (resurgence); (Stream and resurgence);
Boulders in the streamway (view of stream below weir);
Another point of view (of previous photo);
A good flood coming down (waterfall at resurgence);
Source of the River Axe (title on photo -is this a Savory?);
At the foot of the first cascade (below weir);
Balch at the Upper Rock Entrance;
Hassall and Balch (at entrance);
John Hassall (at entrance);
(original entrance);
Upper Rock Entrance;
Long festoon of ivy above the entrance (resurgence);
Looking back to daylight from top of first rise;
Chalk inscription at top of Hell Ladder (E.H. 1769);
The pathway at top of first rise near branch to "Spur and Wedge".
First Chamber (including Witch and River);
Stalagmite flow behind Witch;
Photographing the Witch in silhouette;
(resurgence) (March 1928);
North side of First Chamber;
Wall and Terraces behind the Witch;
(resurgence and canal)(March 1928);
(First Chamber) (March 1928);
The First Chamber (with boat on river) (March 1928) ;
First Chamber from river (showing steps below Witch);
(Witch and steps);
The large stalagmite in First Chamber, (1911);
The large stalagmite from a more distant shot, (1911);
Large mushroom behind Witch;
Pools in Second Chamber:
Looking back into First chamber (with Island Stalagmite);
Nodular formations below surface;
Second Chamber (looking up stale slope);
Second Chamber Cave pearl cavities (from above);
Second Chamber Cave pearl cavities (from front);
Little pool in corner of. First Chamber;
A white vein (S.E. corner of Second Chamber);
Fallen boulder in Third Chamber;
Third Chamber showing sand ripples;
Third Chamber (with Balch, Sinnock and Troup);
Third Chamber taken with Limelight;
Wheeler, Balch, Sinnock leaving the First Chamber;
The Sentinel;
The Index Grotto; Index Grotto (1928);
Curtains in the Index Grotto;
Stalactites and stalagmites just touching (1911);
Ernest Gardner by Four and a Half Columns;
(Top of Rift at far end of Purgatory);
A fine group of columns, Western Terminal Chamber (a similar shot to that published in W.H.)

As in the case of Wookey Hole, all the following photographs are housed at Wells Museum in the Savory Collection:

Swildon's Hole Swallet (entrance);

The entrance;
* The Upper Waterfall;
(Stream in entrance passages);
Coral-like stalagmite;
Long Dry Way;
The "Imp" group of erratics;
A group of erratics below drop boulder, (1919);
Long Dry Way - In the Chamber below the "Imp”(1919);
Party (18.8.1921) in Old Grotto;
The roof of the large grotto (Old Grotto) (1911);
Lower extremity of grotto (1913);
The wall round the Pagoda Stalagmite (1913);
(Above 20 ft. pot) Aug.1925;
(Double pots) Aug.1925;
Curtains (Old Grotto) 1913;
Curtains (Old Grotto) 1913;
The Alcove (Old Grotto) 1913;
(similar view) 1925;
Shelf of stalagmite just beyond the first turn to right after 40 ft. fall. (1922);
The Stalagmite Bridge Grotto;
Ever wet terraces just below Grotto;
Troup passing round the Giant stoup (1911);
The Giant stoup;
(formation between Old Grotto and Water Chamber);
Curtains in Barne's Loop, (1922);
Nodular lining, Barne's Loop (1922);
Chandler and Blake in Water Chamber;
Stream running in Water Chamber;          .
Curtains on either side of stream below Water Chamber;
Waterfalls in streamway above Water Chamber (1911);
Barne's Loop, top of White Way;
Pure white formation, Barne's Loop (2 diff. photo's.);
Nov 12th Grotto (Tratman's Temple), Columns on far wall;
Creep in Barne's Loop;
Langford prepared to take rope across the Double Pots;
Barne's Loop (detail photo.); .
Entrance to Water Rift;
Giant Boss;
Approach to Barne's Loop (2 diff. photo's.);
Wall above the Great Pool, Darners Loop (1922);
Water passage from Great Pot (40 ft. Pot)(1921);
Pencils (straws), Barne's Loop;
Nov 12th 1921 Grottos;
Exquisite formations in Nov 12th 1921 Grottoes first entered by Tratman and party;
Pencils, pillars and curtains (Tratman's);
Water passage and undermined stalagmite table (just above 20 ft. Pot)(1921);
Gear required for a day in Eastwater or elsewhere!

Eastwater photographs:

Looking up the stream;
Evening shadows across the valley (Eastwater entrance);
General view of valley;
Cleaning out a few dangerous stones from entrance;
A party ready to enter swallet (Balch photo.),
Balch in Boulder Choke at head of 380 ft. Way (1912);
Where one leaves the boulders for bed-rock, (Webb in photo.);
Boulder Chamber (Wheeler, Balch, Holly and Webb) 1912;
Wheeler and Holly with nothing much below them;
Webb and Balch in 2nd Great Rift Chamber (1912);

Gough's photographs:

'The Swiss Village'         1922;
Pencils under shelf in side passage near entrance, 1922;
Water-worn passage - smooth and carved, near entrance, 1922,
Wall and pool opposite Swiss Village, 1922;
Two curtains with fine folds;
Near Swiss Village (published by AGHG);
A fine stalagmite wall;
Columns and Curtains (see postcard section) 1922;
A fine erratic stalactite in Aladdin's Grotto, 1922;
Aladdin's Grotto, reflected (Feb. 1922);
The Swiss Village, (Feb. 1922),
(Aladdin's Grotto);
Niagara Falls;
Looking up into Solomon's Temple, (Feb. 1922);
Solomon's Temple;
(Stalagmite Columns);
Peal of Dells (AGHG); Column in Fairy Grotto;
(Curtains and straws);
Organ Pipes (close up view);
(Pagoda stalagmite);
A broken up stalagmite floor; (A. Gough in photo),
(Suspended limestone floor);
(Climb to Sand Chamber);
In the Boulder Chamber;
A more distant view;
Two views of Niagara Falls;
Two views of Lower Boulder Chamber;
Two detail views of Solomon's Temple,
A side chamber near entrance;
In the Lower Boulder Chamber (incl. Sinnock);
Examples of crystal stalagmites;

White spot Cave (1918?);

Gough’s Old Cave photographs:

A good 'freak' (wall formations);
(Wall formations);
The best of the few pillars;

Cox’s Cavern photographs:

(Speaker's Mace) Feb. 1922;
(Speaker's Mace) Feb. 1922;

Roman Cave (Long Hole)

(Entrance, looking out);
View of entrance.

Outlet of the Upper stream;
Outlet of the Lower stream.


A small cave mouth (east 'side);'
A little Cave shelter in eastern cliff;
Outlook Cave - first small chamber;
Outlook Caves - looking out towards entrance;
Remains of an old cave pot-hole;
A small cave mouth;
A small rock-shelter;
Three views of cave mouth under shoulder of western cliff face.

Coral Cave:

Party at entrance;
The slope of boulders and arch;
(Stalagmite boulders);
Examples of coral-like formations;
A tributary passage;
Looking back to Arch.

Entrance to Sandy Hole, Compton Bishop;


Rough steps from top to bottom of the large chamber;
Fallen flakes with stalagmite bosses, west side of large chambers, Deep Cave
One of the few signs of stalagmite on right hand wall before reaching large chamber
The Bishop's Chair;
Two views of stacked bones in Banwell Bone, Cave.

Lamb Leer:

Party starting down the Entrance Shaft;
The Entrance and the Old Bristol Road;
The Beehive, Largest known English stalagmite boss (with Chandler);
Looking down into Cave of Falling Waters from the top;

Burrington Coombe:

Two views of mouth of Fox's Hole (1911);
Langford Rising (1911);
Rickford Rising (1911);
Whitcombe' sHale
Two views of Plumley's Den (1911);
Looking down into Plumley's Den (1911);
Steeply tilted strata in Aveline's Hole;
In Aveline's Hole;
Entrance to Aveline's Hole (1911);
At foot of first slope - Aveline's Hole;
A stalagmite wall in Aveline's Hole;
Univ. Spelaeo. Soc. at entrance to Goatchurch; .
Entrance to Goatchurch (1911);
The Swallet cliff, Keltic Cavern;
Valley - cliff and swallet, Keltic Cavern;
Keltic Cavern, group of erratic stalactites - Main Chamber;
Main Chamber;
Keltic Cavern - The Boulder Bridge - Main Chamber (with Tratman) 1921;
Keltic Cavern - west end of Grotto 1921;
East end of the Grotto (Keltic Cavern) 192.1;
Keltic Cavern - the Main Chamber looking east, 1921;
Tickenham Rock Shelter (six views).

The Plantation Swallet (looking out);

St. Cuthbert's Mines, Plantation Swallet;

(2)  Bamforth Photographs       (Mendip):

Hyena Den and Badger Hole, Wookey Hole;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 23)
The Great Swallet of Bishop's Lot, Priddy;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 28)
In the First Chamber, Wookey Hole Cavern;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 49)
New Stalactite Grotto, Wookey Hole;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 57)
The Grill, New Chambers, Wookey Hole, (5744);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 58)
The Source of the Axe, Wookey Hole;  (Postcard (D.J.I.)  W.M.)
Entrance to great Cavern of Eastwater, (5760);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 59)
(shows artificial dam built during digging)  (Netherworld of Mendip p 62 W.M.)
Entrance of Stalactite Chamber, Swildon's Hole;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 78)
Stalactite curtains, Swildon's Hole;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 79 W.M.)
Stalactite Chamber, Swildons Hole (5763);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 80 W.M.)
In Cox's Cavern at Cheddar;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 92)
Great Rift Cavern, Cheddar Gorge, ( White Spot Cave);   (Netherworld of Mendip p 93)
Entrance to Lamb's Lair, Harptree, (5746);  (Netherworld of Mendip p 116 W.M.)
(E) The "Beehive" Chamber, Lamb's Lair;   (Netherworld of Mendip p 118)
Stalactite wall, Lamb I s Lair;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 119)
Entrance to Great Chamber, Lamb's Lair;  (Netherworld of Mendip p 120 W.M.)
Stalactites in entrance gallery, Lamb's Lair;  (Spelunca No. 39 p 8)
Eastwater Swallet;   (Spelunca No. 39 p 17)
Swildon's Hole in 1901 (entrance);  (Spelunca No. 39 p 26)
The subterranean river, Wookey Hole;  (Spelunca No. 39 p 28)
Wookey Hole, The Witch;   (Spelunca No. 39 p 29)
Wookey Hole, Stalagmites in the New Grotto;  (Postcard (T.R.S.) W.M.)
Entrance to Goatchurch Cavern (5743)     ( Swallet Caves 1st. ed. p 79)
The Beehive, Lamb Lair;   (Caves of Mendip p 68/69) note E


(E)    There are two quite different photographs of this formation.  The first published (Spelunca and Netherworld) shows a man at the top of the Beehive whilst the second shows two (?) men on the side above a wooden ladder. It is probable that this photograph was taken by Savory as he is Quoted as being the photographer in the earlier publication.

Gough's Cave, Mendip Hills ( Niagara) (5742);                                                        W.M.
Gough's Cave, Mendip Hills ( Boulder Chamber) (5750);                                          W.M.
Wookey Hole, Som., Middle Cave (Second Chamber) (66); Postcard (D.J.I.)           W.M.
Lamb Leer (roof of Great Chamber) (5758); .                                                         W.M.
Beyond the Grottos, Swildon's Hole, Mendip Hills (5762);                          W.M.
Eastwater, Boulder Chamber (5728);                                                                    W.M.
Wookey Hole, looking into the 1st. Chamber (man in white clothes);                      W.M.
Swildon's Hole - The Pagoda Stalagmite (Ap.1912);                                              W.M.
Swildon's Hole - looking towards upper end of Grotto (5766);                                  W.M.
Gough's Cave, Mendip Hills (un-numbered) (view looking up to Solomon's Temple;
The Font, Cox's Cavern, Cheddar (no number);
In Cox's Cave, Cheddar, Mendip Hills (Transformation);
In Cox's Cave, Cheddar, Mendip Hills (Speaker's Mace);
Lamb Lair, Harptree, Mendip Hills (5751);
Above Beehive, Lamb Leer, Mendip Hills (no number);

N.B. A mutilated postcard of Whitespot Cave, Cheddar exists (T.R.S.) but though displays the characteristics of Barnforth it must remain the work of an unknown photographer until another copy comes to light.


Crystal Cavern, Blue John, Castleton;   -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Reynard 's Cave, Dovedale (4576);  -   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Blue John Cavern, Castleton (5695);  -   Postcard (R.W.M.)
Lord Mulgrave’s Dining Room, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5697A);   -  Postcard (R.W.M.)
Lord Mulgrave’s Dining Room, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5699);   -  Postcard (R.W.M.)
Variegated cavern, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5700);   -  Postcard (R.W.M.)
Crystal waterfall; Blue John Mine, Castleton (5702);  -   Postcard (D.J.I.)
The Fairy Grotto, Blue John Mine, Castleton (5703);   -  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Canal, Speedwell Mine, Castleton (5705);  -   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Halfway, Speedwell Mine Castleton (5706);  -   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Speedwell Cavern, Castleton (Bottomless Pit) ( 5707)   -  Postcard (D.J.I.)
Waterfall, Bottomless Pit, Castleton (Speedwell Mine) (5712);   -  Postcard (D.J.I.)
Speedwell cavern, Castleton (above the Bottomless Fit) (5713);   -  Postcard (D.J.I.)
Peak Cavern (entrance) (5714);   -   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Arches and River, Peak Cavern, Castleton (5718);   -  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Devil's Cellar, Peak Cavern, Castleton (5720);  -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Peak Cavern,  Castleton (5721);   -  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Arches, Peak, Cavern, Castleton (5722);  -   Postcard (R.M.W.)
Peak Cavern, Castleton, (entrance, looking out) (5723);   -  Postcard (R.M.W.)
Looking down steps to Speedwell Mine, Castleton (5731); (view   looking DOWN steps)   -  Postcard (R.M.W.)
Peak Cavern, Castleton (5747);   -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
(N.B: Title of this photograph in Wide World Magazine “'Mr. Puttrell arriving in the Peak Cavern by way of the new opening”)  -  
Unidentified photograph (5749);   -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Unidentified photograph (5753);   -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Unidentified photograph (5757) (probably Speedwell);   -  Postcard (T.R.S.)
Unidentified photograph (5759);·   -   Postcard (T.R.S.)
Descent to Speedwell Mine, Castleton; (view looking UP steps)   -  Postcard (M.D.Y.)

(3) Chapman Photographs

(All postcards of Gough’s Cave, Cheddar)

Gough’s cave Cheddar                (7);
Gough’s cave Cheddar                (8);
Niagara Falls                             (4516);
“Solomon’s Temple”                   (4521);
Gough’s Cave, Cheddar (4522);
Cascade of St. Paul’s                 (4524);
Archangel’s Wing                       (4525);
Curtain                                      (4536);
Aladdin’s Grotto                         (10564);
Fairy Reflections                        (10656);
Fairy Reflections                        (10566);
Aladdin’s grotto                          (11034);
Gough’s cave Cheddar                (11035);
The Swiss Village                      (13400);
Prehistoric Man                         (13761)
The Grotto                                 (13764)
Temple Gateway                        (13765)
Organ pipes                               (13766)
Diamond Stream                        (13767)
Niagara                                     (13768)
Pillar of Solomon’s Temple          (13770)
Stalagmites by Pool                   (14123)
Artificially positioned stalactites (14124)
Stalagmite Flowstone                 (14125)
The Fonts                                  (14126)
Entrance to Gough’s Cave          (15721)
Entrance to Gough’s Cave          (160o2)

(All postcards of Wookey Hole)

Resurgence                                                       (16010)
The Witch’s chamber on entering                        (16785)
The entrance to the hall                                      (16786)
Terrace above Witch                                           (16787)
The Sentinel                                                      (16788)
The Witch’s Dog                                                (161789)
Eastern Wall of the Hall                                      (16790)
Great Stalagmite                                                (16791)
Hall of Wookey                                                  (16792)
The Witch’s Chamber looking down the river         (16793)
The Witch                                                         (16794)
The Witch of Wookey                                         (16795)
The Hall of Wookey                                            (16796)
Entrance to the Parlour                                       (16797)
The Grotto and Big Ben                                      (16798)
New Grotto                                                        (16799)
New Grotto                                                        (16800)
On the subterranean River Axe                            (16908)
Parlour                                                              (16909)
The Island Pool                                      (16910)
The Boat on the River                                         (16911)
Inner Grotto                                                       (16912)
Source of the Axe                                              (16193)
River Axe                                                          (18486)

Entrance to Gough’s Cave, Cheddar                    (20006)

The Hyena Den entrance (Wookey) (?)
The head of the of Wookey (?)

(4) E.D. Evens Photographs

(N.B. Nos. quoted are the Bristol Museum reference)

P8016 Devil's Punch Bowl (1919);
P8027 Wookey Hole entrance (1920);
P8052 Wurt Pit, Harptree            (1920);
P8053 Wurt Pit, Harptree            (1920);
P8064 Longwood Valley, (incl. swallet entrance)   (1921);
P8067 Devil's Punch Bowl (1921);
P8144 Burrington, West Twin stream (1921);
P8253 Lamb Leer, Entrance (1923);
P8254 Eastwater Cavern, entrance          (1923);
P8266 Dundry Stone Mines (1923);
P8276 Goatchurch, inside entrance (1923);
P8277 Goatchurch entrance (1923);
P8278 Goatchurch plan (by Mr. G. James) (1923);
P8279 Goatchurch, Waterfall Chamber (1923);
P8280 Goatchurch, Stalactite at Fonts (1923);
P8284 Plantation Swallet, entrance (1924);
P8285 Entrance to Swildon's Hole . (1924);
P8290 Entrance to Bone Hole (1924) (initialled by H.E.D.);
P8291 Entrance to Bone Hole (1924) (initialled by H.E.D.);
P8308 Swildon's, Upper Dry Way (1924);
P8309 Swildon’s, Upper Dry Way (1924)
P8310 Swildon’s, Old Grotto from Dry Way (1924)
P8311 Swildon’s, Column in Upper Dry Way (1924)
P8353 Wookey 1st. Chamber (1925);
P8354 Wookey 3rd. Chamber (1925);
P8355 Wookey New Chambers (1925);
P8439 Swildon's - Wall of Old Grotto (1926);
P8440 Swildon’s (large formation below Old Grotto) (1926);
P8441 Swildon’s Old Grotto (with Mr.& Mrs. James & Capt. Ellison) (1926);
P8445 Goatchurch, Boulder Chamber (1926);
P8449 Swildon's, Stalactite in 1st. large chamber (Boulder Chamber) (1927);
P8450 Swildon’s passage leading from 2nd large chamber in Dry Ways (1927);
P8451 Swildon’s Old Grotto curtains (1927);
P8587 New swallet just formed in St. Cuthbert's Lead Wks, nr Priddy, Mendip, Somerset. 1.5.1937 ;
P8591 Swildon's, Old Grotto (1938);

Notes: A number of these photographs, including scenic pictures of Mendip, were published in a series of postcards entitled 'Antiquities of Mendip'.  These include photograph nos. P8285; P8353; P8354 and “The Source of the Axe” (Wookey resurgence).

No. 8587 was published in D.E.C. Caving Report No. 13A (1968).

(5) Dawkes and Partridge (Wells) Photographers:

Wookey Hole, 2nd. Chamber (man with arm on right hip);
Wookey Hole, 2nd. Chamber (near entrance) (man with arm on left hip);
Ebbor Gorge. - Scree slope.

(6) Sneath Photographs (c.1905  - 1910)

The First Crossing in Peak Cavern, Castleton (352);                                  Postcard (R.W.M.)
Crystallised Waterfall, Blue John Mine, Castleton;                                                Postcard (R.W.M.)
Lord Mulgrave's Dining Room, Blue John Mine, Castleton (351);                 Postcard (M.D.Y.)
Bridge of the Great Cavern, Blue John Mine, Castleton (361);                     Postcard (M.D.Y.)

(7) Shaw Photographs (c.1910)

Gaping Ghyll (entrance shaft);                                                     Postcard (D.J.I.)
Gaping Ghyll (entrance shaft);                                                     Postcard (D.J.I.)
Hunt Pot (entrance);                                                                   Postcard (D.J.I.)
Ingleborough Cave (entrance);                                                     Postcard (D.J.I.)


The author would like to thank the following cavers who have supplied him with information or have made material available to him for inspection:

Ray Mansfield; Trevor Shaw; Chris Hawkes; Mike Dewdney-York.


From Yellowstone To Florida

by Karen Jones.   (Part 3 of Karen and Gary's U.S.A. trip)

From West Yellowstone we took the bus to Seattle on the west coast where stayed in a Youth Hostel.  It was situated in a rather depressed area and we saw more drunks on the streets those two nights than in the rest of the holiday.  It is quite an interesting place to visit and we spent an enjoyable day around the market and at the aquarium, where there was a tank that you walked through surrounded by the fish - quite an experience.

The following day we 'took a tour' to Mount Ranier, a dormant volcano, in a trio with Mount St. Helens and Mount AdamsMount Rainier is 14,100 feet and it is capped by snow. It has 27 named glaciers.  Our coach took us to Paradise Valley at 7000 feet, where there was a hotel and visitor centre. The valley was very beautiful, being carpeted in wild flowers, especially lupins, and the scent was lovely.

Once away from the inevitable crowds the peace and scenery was overw¬helming.  When we first arrived the summit was shrouded in cloud, but this gradually cleared giving us tantalizing views of the mountain.  The summit looked quite close (don't they always) but in fact was over 7000 feet and eight miles way.  Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours so we did not get a chance to do very much walking, although I hope that someday I'll get the chance to go back.  One interesting sight was the pine-trees, which were smothered in ash from Mount St. Helens when it erupted in May 1980 over 50 miles to the south.

From Seattle we travelled down the west coast, spending a few days in the National Park, walking below 300 foot trees which made me feel like an ant crawling around.  There was surprisingly little animal or bird life, although the racoons were partial to any food they did not have to forage for and were therefore considerable pests, and each site was equipped with a solid wooden food-store to use.   The racoons were very tame and could often be heard very near to the tent at night. They are frequently carriers of rabies, however, and are therefore not very desirable camping companions.

The Redwoods are a gradually declining species and only live in a very narrow belt along the west coast. They require 70 - 100 inches of water per year which is provided by rainfall and a thick fog which rolls in off the Pacific.

We then travelled down the Californian coast calling at Santa Cruz and San Diego from where we travelled across to the Grand Canyon in the Arizona Desert.  There is no Greyhound service to the Grand Canyon and so we had to travel up to there from Flagstaff on a tour bus, which cost us $8.00 return.  The land around the canyon is very flat and forestry is a major industry. There are several state parks to preserve the area.

We managed to get a pitch in the National Park campsite; those travelling by car have to be at the campsite by 10am, but fortunately they reserve an area for people travelling without their own transport.  After getting ourselves organised we went to the shop and visitor centre for information; we were hoping that we would be able to hire a couple of bikes and travel along the South Rim, visiting some Indian remains and the museum; unfortunately they had abandoned that scheme as there were too many accidents and stolen bikes! The only way to travel was on a tour (half day £7.00) or by foot, neither of which really appealed.

We returned to the tent for lunch and to sit in the shade for the hottest part of the day.  The temperature was 970 on the edge of the canyon and 1200 at the bottom.  The walk down is eight miles long and you have to carry a gallon, of water for each day, although there is water at the bottom.  We decided not to bother going as we had nowhere to leave the kit we did not need, and it seemed too much like hard work anyway.

Later on we went and got our first view of the canyon.  It is a mile deep, varying from one to eight miles wide and is 280 miles long!  It was a fantastic sight, almost unbelievable, and the rock formation and strata were fascinating.  As the sun sets the colours and shadows change and move and, the scene changes from one moment to the next.  The rock is red in colour, although at midday in the bright sunlight the colour is duller.

The following day we took the shuttle-bus along the rim of the canyon and got several good views from different angles.  We found it very hot going even though we did little walking.  For our lunch we found a pleasant spot over¬looking the canyon, under some pines.  Unfortunately I did not realise until I got up that I had been sitting on some sap and consequently had a very sticky behind!  Be warned!

We left Grand Canyon the next day and headed for Carslbad Cavern, New Mexico, passing through the Arizona desert and spending four hours in a coach ¬station in Phoenix because we could not stand the heat - 120oF. - and that was cool; a few days before it had been 125oF.  How people live and work in these conditions I'll never know; I suppose they must be used to it.

To get to Carlsbad Cavern, which is situated in the Guadalupe mountains and desert, we took the coach to White City and then had to get another up to the cave. Again this was a private tour operator, but as it would have otherwise been a seven mile walk it was well worth the expense.  There is a private camp-ground in White City, but as we had no transport and wanted to see the bat flight at dusk we decided to camp out.  This was easily arranged by seeing a Park Ranger and getting a backcountry pass, which allowed us to camp out among the cacti!

After warning us about the rattlesnakes, tarantula spiders, scorpions and other various delights, he let us set out to find ourselves a site.  We had to be half a mile away from any track or road, and hidden from view.  We managed to find a flat piece of ground where we could pitch our tent.  There was nothing to put tent pegs into as we were on flat rock, so we carefully collected some rocks, avoiding any ‘nasties’, and secured our tent, tying the guys to an available cactus!

We then headed back to the cave and bought a ticket for the full tour.  This takes you in by the natural entrance, whereas the half-tour takes you to the main chamber by elevator.  It is a self-guided tour using hand-sets and way-side information, which was a good idea as the whole cave is so vast that you need a while to take it in. Most visitors seemed to be intent on covering the course as quickly as possible and we were continually being overtaken.  Several of the Rangers, who were at points all around the cave, gave us odd looks and seemed to think that we were after a souvenir, but when we explained we were cavers from England they were very helpful and informative.

The cave entrance is an incredible sight, dropping 830 feet in half a mile.  There are very few formations until you get into the main chambers, where they were incredible and almost every available surface was covered. The limestone is pale compared with that over here, and a lot of the formations were covered with aragonite, or cave ‘popcorn’, which describes its appearance well.  It is thought to have formed by two methods, both of which were present in the same area, indicating that flooding must have occurred at one time.

The first type of aragonite occurred on only one side of the stal and is thought to be formed by small particles of limestone carried in the air; the second form is all around the stat and is thought to have been formed after flooding as the water level fell and the limestone particles were deposited.

The cave is of almost unbelievable proportions.  The 'Big Chamber' covers an area of over 14 acres and contains some extremely large formations, including one stal over 60 feet tall and ten feet across - the Great Dome - and two smaller ones at 40 feet!  The formations were too numerous to count or describe, and I'm sure you could easily spend days down there just looking around.  The cave was well lit and there were no garish colours to spoil its natural appearance.  It was a really fantastic sight and was well worth going all the way to America to see.

Another fantastic sight was the bat flight at dusk, when the 300,000 Mexican freetail bats leave the cave to go to their feeding grounds.  The bats circle anticlockwise out of the cave and fly around several times to get their bearings before flying off in swarms to feed on insects.  At the height of the flight more than 5000 bats per minute leave the cave; another fantastic sight and well worth camping among the cacti to see.

From Carlsbad we headed to Florida via New Orleans and spent a week lazing in the sun and snorkelling on the coral reef before heading for home.  We had a fright on arriving on the Florida Keys when, at 1am, we were woken from our sleep by an announcement over the tannoy that all campers were advised to leave the Keys, as Hurricane Dennis was thought to be heading that way.  No joke at 1am.  Fortunately we got a lift from some very kind people who took us to their home near Miami and treated us like part of the family until the storm blew over, although it never actually developed into a hurricane.

Our holiday was really worthwhile and something I'll never forget.  I'm now busy saving for my next trip.


Wigmore Revisited (Again!)

by Chris Smart

After a brief (!) interval of 15 months the Wigmore dig was revisited by Tony Jarratt, Ron Bridger (Luton Ron) and Chris Smart on Sat. 30th January.  We were suprised to find almost all the cave open and digging was only required for a total of ten minutes in 'Christmas Crawl' and 'Pinks & Posies'. The dig out of the 'Smoke Room' was attacked and the loose mud and pebble infill was easily removed, along with a few boulders to be stacked back in the 'Smoke Room'.  The dig was draughting well and looked promising, if a little worrying when one pondered on the stabi1ity of the roof.

On returning to the digging face later in the afternoon I noticed a small slot under the wall immediately before the 'Smoke Room' that appeared to have taken the stream at some time in the recent past.  This was enlarged to allow one to get one's head under the lip to see open passage for 3 m (10ft.).

The decision was made to dig this new passage (Blitz Passage) and Sunday morning saw the attack remounted by J-Rat and Trev Hughes.  They managed to excavate sufficient of the passage to be able to see into a l½m. (5ft.) diameter chamber.  The original Smoke Room dig was also revisited and both were reported as draughting strongly.

The following Saturday (6.2.82) saw J-Rat and Chris Smart return to the dig to discover approximately 2 ton of collapsed mud, spoil, boulders and conglomerate in the Smoke Room. This was blocking the old way on and took J-Rat about an hour to clear sufficient of the debris to re-open the entrance to the dig.  During this time I managed to enlarge Blitz Passage and squeeze in to see the way on continuing down dip.  However a point of interest was noted in that the stream water could be heard dropping some distance through the boulders forming the floor of the small chamber. Some more gardening was completed in the ‘Smoke Room’ but further collapses will occur here and it was decided to concentrate solely on the Blitz Passage' dig.  Combined work in the small chamber has now exposed an upstream section running parallel to 'Pinks & Posies' and the partly mud-infilled downstream section that is easily dug.  The way on is open and digging must continue.  Stacking of spoil is probably best in the ‘Smoke Room’ (with care!) or by a determined effort in the chamber at the start of 'Pinks and Posies!.

Some additional, random thoughts:

1)       1)I should like to thank the Club for the purchase of some plasticated cloth bags that have proved excellent for the Wigmore mud - the water oozes out and the bags set like concrete;

2)       The new manager of the farm area (Rob?) is an ex-caver and ex-Axbridge, ex-Wessex and ex-U.B.S.S. member.  He is more than interested in the dig and its results, but is concerned that the entrance grill is not locked;

3)       In Trev's last Wigmore article he states "it is credible to suggest that the conglomerate passage bifurcates at this point (the terminal choke), but this is not my belief."  I think that Blitz Passage shows that bifurcation is present and may be an example of differential solubility of the Triassic conglomerate. Frequent roof falls in the past and a subsequent build up of mud and gravel, etc., would exploit such weaknesses;

4)       A digging team of two is feasible, but with three or even four, well, who knows?  The Cheddar Master Cave can only be a few metres away!

Ref:  Wigmore Swallet + survey, A. Jarratt. B.B. No. 371 (March 1979)

         Wigmore Revisited, T. Hughes D.D. Nos.391/392 (Nov/Dec 1980).


From Vercors Plateau To Ardeche Gorge

by Jane Clarke.

On August 13th, somewhere in southern France, a little rural campsite plus French residents heaved a sigh of relief as the English circus removed their tents, washing lines of muddy caving gear and exploding petrol stoves, to drive south-west to the Ardeche region. After a super week's caving Graham and I were to join the Bradford Pothole Club on the second part of their French holiday ¬canoeing down the Ardeche gorge.

"Snake" (Raymond Lee) owner of the exploding petrol stove, had been taken to catch his train home to Bradford.  Soon afterwards the rest of the B.P.C. left for the Ardeche.  Time-keeping not being one of our strong points, Graham and I set off some hours later and, by way of an indirect route, arrived in the Ardeche a day behind everyone else.

Part of our route took us through the Verors.  After crossing the very smelly Isere River we soon arrived in Font-en-Royans.  I had only seen the Vercors in its February guise; it now looked quite different.  Then the roads had been thick with snow and ice and were overhung with huge, precarious icicles.  Cars carrying skis travelled up the gorge to the busy ski slopes higher up on the plateau. Those of us on that trip (Stu. Lindsey, Brian Workman, Colin Houlden and Dave Turner) even spent a few hilarious days trying X-country skiing.  Returning down the Bourne Gorge to our campsite one evening we were held up for some time by an avalanche that had swept across the road and blocked it.

Towards the end of the February visit the sun had shone just as brightly as in August and had started a tremendous thaw.  On a hot August day, looking over the railings at the Bourne River from the small car park in Pont-en-Royans, it was difficult to imagine the roaring floodwaters that had plummeted down the gorge, fed by tremendous, gushing streams of brown melt water from the caves along its route. Then the Dournillon was not accessible for more than 200m. from the entrance porch and the Choranche show cave was flooded to within 12 inches of the entrance arch.  But now, in August, the hot sun had certainly changed the appearance of the gorge.  The leafy poplar trees and the green plants at the water's edge were quite a contrast to the parched grass and dry soil on the higher slopes beneath the towering cliffs, which looked so glaringly white in the sunlight.  After buying food and wine we left Font-en-Royans and drove up Les Grands Goulets, a gorge equally as impressive as the Bourne, and bivouacked for the night at the top.

Having seen many signs to nearby showcases we decided to visit a few that were on our 'indirect route'. Grotte de la Luire at st. Agnan-en-Vercors is an old resurgence cave, which in times of flood acts as an overflow for the Bourne river which is some way beneath the tourist route.  During the last war the large entrance of the Luire was used by the local Maquis as a field hospital.  A plaque commemorates the three doctors, seven nurses and the wounded members of the Resistance who were killed when the cave was discovered by the Germans.  With our tickets we were given a typed description of the Cave in English. Either some meaning was lost in translation or the French are claiming another speleo record:

"It has been dug gradually between the years 7 million and 10 million B.C. date of the last glaciation during which some caving took place."

Having stuck a B.E.C. sticker on a nearby caving hut we drove to Chapelle-en¬Vercors to see Scialet-Grotte de la Draye Blanche.

We continued our journey to the Ardeche following ‘D’ class roads and lanes as much as possible and seeing some superb limestone, scenery.  The only main town we passed through was Montelimar where every other shop sold the local product, nougat.

We had arranged to meet the B.P.C. at Vallon-Pont d'Arc, a town at the head of the Ardeche dorge where most of the canoe hire companies have their bases.  As we got nearer the number of vineyards increased.  Finally we could resist no longer and pulled up to one of the huge storage sheds which housed the wine¬ storage vats.  The next few minutes saw upheaval in the back of the car as we rummaged through piles of camping stuff and muddy caving gear to find as many receptacles with lids as possible.  I did feel a little silly, standing clutching armfuls of empty tupperwares and lemonade bottles, whilst the French were buying their wine in huge jerry-cans.

After a peaceful and scenic drive from our original campsite at Nantizel, the town of Vallon was a shock for which we were not prepared. It may well possess six 17th century tapestries illustrating the deliverance of Jerusalem but what the guide book does not mention are the six 20th century campsites, all absolutely crammed with tents and caravans and bursting with people.  Having driven around one site looking for familiar Yorkshire faces (and been removed by the camp's security patrol) we finally found the right site and the B.P.C. pitched on a dusty corner near the river. None of us were very impressed by either the town or the campsite, but as canoes had been booked for the next day, everyone decided to stay put.

Although Vallon itself was a disappointment, the surrounding countryside and river scenery were not. The guide book describes the Ardeche River as passing through a very diverse landscape of vertical cliff walls, basalt strata, ravines and spectacular gorges.  It is one of the few rivers in the region which has not been harnessed by man and, as such, its flow varies greatly depending upon the season. At the time of our stay, mid-August, it was obviously at its lowest, but all along its course we were to see flood debris some 100 metres or more away from the river's edge.  The spring flood, caused by melting snows, must be spectacular to see as it is said to advance as a wall of water travelling at between 10 and 15 miles per hour.

The main Ardeche Gorge begins south of Vallan where the river divides a large limestone plateau into two extensive plateaux, the Gras to the north and the Orgnac to the south, both of which have may caves.  It is because of the superb gorge scenery that there are so many boat hire companies at Vallone.

There is no problem in hiring some kind of craft to get you down the gorge (and no-one asks to see your Junior school swimming certificates!).  There is the choice of being ferried down in an inflatable raft or in an ‘unsinkable’ punt or you can paddle your own canoe, with or without an escort.  The unescorted double canoes sounded much more entertaining.  Everything you need for the trip (bar plonk and food) is provided by the hire company - canoe, paddles, life-jackets and water tight barrels for keeping gear dry when/if you capsized (provided that you remembered to screw the lid on.)  We had also been given a profile of the river showing the general features such as cliffs, footpaths, fresh-water sources, caves, beaches, camps de naturistes, and rapids, each of which was graded on a three star system – 1* being easy and 3* being more difficult.

Having been shown by a very patient Frenchman which was the front of our canoe, Graham and I set off in lazy pursuit of the Bradford P.C. flotilla, who were some two hours ahead of us. (Oh, what it is to be organized!). After drifting under the huge natural arch from which Vallon Pont d'Arc takes its name, we soon left the crowds of holidaymakers behind.  The only sounds were the splash of paddles and the plop of fish jumping.  It soon became obvious that nudism was an acceptable part of the scenery so it did not take long for us to become 'naturistes' so. For most of the way the current was slow enough for us to just slide out of the Canoe and have a swim to cool off. Getting back in proved to be a little more difficult, particularly if someone decided he needed paddling practice just as you reached the side of the canoe (no names mentioned).

Despite the tranquillity, in the backs of our minds was the thought of the rapids yet to come. Gliding unsuspectingly around one of the river's many gentle bends we could see ahead a crowd of people perched on some rocks in the river.  A little closer and we could hear their cheers (and also see an ominous looking first-aid box).

Sacre Bleu!  It was the first 3* rapid!  There was no time to paddle or screech instructions at each other. Without really knowing what happened we popped through he rapid unscathed and dry, the water having decided our course for us.  Feeling very brave and intrepid we paddled on to find the B.P.C.

Having caught them up, the rest of the afternoon slipped by as we drifted, paddled and swam, and looked at the beautiful scenery.  It was rather like being in extremely warm river cave with no roof.  The sides of the gorge are canyon-like cliffs, many of which have been given names after their shape such as the Cathedral Rock and Madeleine Ramparts.  That evening we bivouacked on a wide, sandy beach near the river.  Behind us, in the trees, there was more than enough wood to build a lovely fire.  The distance of this wood from the river, debris from the spring floods, showed how much water must flow through the gorge in the spring thaw.

Someone had very thoughtfully brought along enough fresh melon and wine to supply us for the whole trip. So passed a very relaxing evening listening to cicadas (tree crickets) eating melon, drinking wine and yelling drunken oaths at a group of cavers who appeared from one of the many caves in the river cliffs on the opposite bank.  Not a carbide flame flickered as a heathen French accent (with a touch of Aylesbury) yelled, “Je suis le spectre de Marcel Loubens.”  We watched them as they made their way up the steep, winding footpath to the road above.

One of the nicer things about laziness and idleness is that they easily become habits.  After the first day's tranquil drift down the river the second day began with a very uncharacteristically energetic competition: B.P.C. v Ardeche river.  The 'team' began, by filling a two man canoe with five - enough to give Plimsoll heart failure.  Chanting unintelligibly and looking like something from an animated version of Hiawatha they tried to paddle back up one of nearby rapids.  After many attempts they eventually won.  Not to be outdone, Graham, Geoff Crossley and I also had a few goes but, being a rather scrawny threesome by comparison, was defeated. With gear packed and watertight barrels stowed, the flotilla set off, drifting lazily along the canal like straits and paddling furiously through the rapids. We stopped for lunch on a pebbly bank which lay below the ruins of the Templars Leper Hospital.  Finally the smell of rotting flesh fish sent us further downstream to a more pleasant eating place.  After lunch we stuffed our melon skins and empty Camembert boxes into rubbish sacks which were lying on the beach.  Although you are requested to bring your rubbish out of the gorge with you, we saw quite a few of these sacks lying in obvious places.  A day later we saw the gorge Rubbish Collection Service - a large punt piled high with rubbish bags.  It seemed to be a realistic way of keeping the water's edge clean.

We soon discovered that the grade given to each rapid bore no resemblance to what it was actually like.  Apart from running aground, colliding with boulders, sinking the canoes and actually capsizing, the only real casualty was Liz and Brian Sellars' water-tight barrel. Each one thought the other had put the lid on after lunch, until they next capsized.  Hmmm.  Before long the final rapid came into view at the end of a long section of canal.  From the crowd gathered along its edge and the frequent cheers it seemed that Rapide de la Caville justified more that its 1*, rating.  Up to this point the B.E.C. canoe was the only one not to have sunk or capsized, more through good luck than anything else.  Determined to keep our record we lined up our canoe to try to avoid a large boulder which was causing most of the problems.  We ran into the side of it and began to tip, but before the Bradford could let out a cheer the canoe gave a little wiggle and slid through the small gap into the faster water; leaving our record intact.

Rounding the last bend the cliffs melt away and the valley widens out.  The final paddle along the Canal de Situze was not particularly pleasant, being like a glorified swimming pool for the crowds along the bank. After handing over our cane in Sauze, from where they are transported by road back up the gorge, we said good-bye to Sheryl and Jim, Abbott and Brian and Liz Sellars, who were returning to Vallon by bus, provided by the canoe hire firm.  The eight of us that were left, Gep John Green, Claire and Mark Ferry, June and Brian Smith, Graham and I, went off in search of a restaurant. Some hours later we were asleep by the river's edge.

Although it is possible to canoe down the river and walk back up the gorge in two days we were not going to rush things.  The canoeing and return walk, were to take us four days.  Unbeknown to us at the time, Buckett, whom we were supposed to meet in Vallon, canoed down in one day and took the bus back up to the town, and somewhere along the route we must have passed each other.

The gorge footpath follows the river's course to within a few kilometres of Vallon.  Occasionally, where the cliffs came right down to the water's edge, we had to paddle, or wade across to the opposite bank.  In a few places ‘via ferrata’ helped with the steeper sections.  Being so hot it was a great relief to wear only a pack and a pair of training shoes and to be able to jump into the water to cool ¬off, which we did frequently. Unfortunately Graham must have plunged in with his mouth open as later that evening he refused supper and was violently ill.  Away from the water's edge the gorge was absolutely filthy and in some places stank. No doubt, the whole place is scoured clean by the floods each year.  On reflection the best plan is to canoe down and catch the bus back.

Once back in Vallon a shower, clean clothes and a super 'French meal' restored everyone's good humour.



Late News

Underwater Naval Manoeuvres on Mendip

An item of stop press has just arrived at the editorial offices of the BB and would appear to be of interest to some of you.  The Navy, it seems are to indulge in a variety of underwater exercises in the near future on Mendip and have requested that all ¬members of the Bristol Exploration Club pay particular attention.  The operation will involve individual submersible craft and should have commenced on January 1st.  When questioned about the late beginnings of the manoeuvres the Secretary for the Member Ships involved is reputed to have said, "Its always the same with anything to do with the BEC, nobody seems to care that our underwater craft have not arrived."   I think it is probably easier to sum it up in one short phrase….


Mendip Rumour

There have been persistent rumours recently on the Mendip Grapevine; of vast, new cave systems. The BB can now give you the full story, the hole story and nothing but a story.  It would appear that the as yet unnamed cave shows signs of 'T'old Man' having worked it in the not too distant past as a goldmine.  Whether or not it can still be worked for the good of the club remains to be seen.  It seems that some quite minimal investment is required, a figure in the order of £10 per head has been quoted by some learned gentleman and his financial sub-managers.  Perhaps I can add my plea to theirs and urge you all, if by some inexcusable error you have not yet invested, to pay up now and help keep the goldmine going as a viable concern.

Army Cave Rescue

A party of junior officers of the Army was reported as being somewhat late back from a caving trip recently. What makes it all the more serious is that when one considers the amount of time involved… almost three full months. It is virtually unbelievable that anyone could survive that length of time without the required sustenance, but such is the endurance of Army Subalterns.  In fact no one seems at all concerned and I think it will probably happen again and again.  Perhaps we should consider another approach - that of the re-education of people, to show more interest in the future whenever junior Army Officers are overdue….that is to say when the Subs are late.


I make no apologies for the above. It is contrived, yes I know that, but consider for a moment the reasons behind the necessity to write it….and I don't care if I repeat myself……If you have not yet paid, then do so, your subs are so overdue by now, I wouldn't be surprised if you were still using pre-decimal money.



Monthly Notes continued.

THREE COUNTIES SYSTEM: In Gavel there are now two sites off Glasfurd's Chamber.  One is a sump while the other is some kind of choke.  The sump needs bang.  The choked passage could head towards Notts.  In Pippikin the end of Gour Hall has been extended and digging there continues.  Lost Pot was the scene of a rescue recently, only a day after it was connected through to Lost Pot Inlet in Lost Johns.  The boulders of one pitch fell in seriously injuring one caver and trapping three others.

DIDO'S RESCUE: Dido's, in Derbyshire, is 30 yards of dry passage leading to a sump pool in a pit. Some scouts went in and one, without a light, fell into the pool and disappeared. Some time later this lucky lad was discovered, severely suffering in the foul air of a small air bell some sixteen feet into the sump, on a mud-bank.  The divers first tried to empty good air into the bell, and then tried to persuade the scout to dive out.  This failed so, with their own air becoming desperately short, they jumped the lad, tied a rope on him, and dragged him through the sump.

Correspondent - Geoff Crossley, who was very much involved.

Birks Fell Cave: A trip has been booked into this cave for Saturday 26th.  Those interested should contact Martin Grass.


            Dan yr Ogof and Tunnel Cave

                        Martin Grass.                tel. Luton 35145

                        Graham Wilton-Jones     tel. Aylesbury 28270

            O.F.D. 1

                        as above  + Mike Palmer           tel. Wells 74693

            Dave Irwin          tel. Priddy 369

            Reservoir Hole (winter months only or mid-week evenings)

                        Martin Grass, Graham Wilton-Jones, Dave Irwin, Stu Lindsey. Tel. Keynsham 68088.

Members requiring trips into these caves should contact the leaders direct, giving as much notice as possible.  Electric lighting is essential in all the caves.  Trips for members can be arranged into certain other restricted access caves, including Peak/Speedwell Cavern, White Scar Cave, Wookey Hole (dry series), Gough’s Cave and Ogof Craig ar Ffynnon.  Anyone interested in a trip should see me or telephone me on Luton (        ) 35145.     Martin Grass

Swildons.  The Moodys are at it again.  This time it is Pete's turn.  He has found about 400 feet of passage in Swildons 9, heading due east, into the unknown.

B.B. membership: It has come to my ears that certain people who feel that they cannot afford membership of the club, or use no other of the club's facilities, would still like to keep in touch by making a subscription to the B.B. only.  Although this is probably a matter for the A.G.M. to decide, your views would be welcome.

Batmanhole.  In the Tennengebirge of Austria, S.C. Marseille have explored Batmanhole to a depth of 1150 m, according to a report by Ian Thrussel in Caves and Caving No. 15 (p.30).  This makes it the eighth deepest system in the world, and the 15th system over 1000 m deep.     Bassett.


Dates For Your, Diary

Fri. 9th. Apr. -Mon. 12th. Apr.

South Wales. Camping near Crickhowell.  Caving, walking, diving, drinking, hunting (blind white fish!) Agen Allwead, Rock & Fountain, Pant Mawr, Llanelly Quarry Pot Dan yr Ogof (banging and digging), O.F.D. (perhaps), Porth yr Ogof (annual bathing trip), etc., etc.  (see M.G. or G.W.-J).

Thurs. 1st; Apr.

Wig baiting day.  Send Wig a (dirty) postcard.

Fri. 2nd. Apr.

G.B. (Friday Niters)        (7.30 at the cave entrance)

Fri. 16th. Apr.

St. Cuthbert’s (Friday Niters)

Fri. 30th. Apr.

Manor Farm (Friday Niters)

Sat. 1st. May -Mon. 3rd. May

DevonDevon Great Consols Mine.  Diving.  Climbing. (see G.W.-J. or Quackers)

Fri. 30th. Apr. -Sat. 8th. May.

Speleo Nederland in Yorkshire.  See page 2.

Sun. 9th. May.

O.F.D. (Smiths Armoury, in via Top Entrance and out via O.F.D. 1) (see G.W.-J.)

Fri. 14th. May.

Stone Mines (contact B.E. Prewer, Wells 73757 ) or G. Villis, W.S.M.27641 - work)