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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

Shortly after buying himself one motorbike, Wig has replaced it with another.  It has an engine bigger than that on Jane's car, and has already taken the Wig to Austria and back.  Wig is a little new to motor-biking, hence the cartoon on p.14.

 

Wig met up with Helmut, et al, and did a number of caving trips in Austria and Germany.  Articles will be forthcoming.

Bristol Exploration Club Annual General Meeting.

THE A.G.M. WILL BE HELD AT THE BELFRY ON SATURDAY 2nd. OCTOBER COMMENCING AT 10.30 am.

This is a meeting for all members of the Club.  Yes, ALL members.  If you have any Views on Club business or policies, this is the time to air them. If you know that you will be unable to attend but you have some point to be raised, then please forward this, preferably in writing, to a member of the committee.

Nominations For The 1982 - 1983 Committee

Your nominations are now requested for the new committee.  If you know of someone who wishes to stand for the new committee, they must be proposed and seconded by paid up members of the club.  Please send your nomination/s, in writing, as soon as possible, to our Club Secretary, Tim Large.

A JOKE:  Wormhole has taken Nicola to the South of France IN HIS CAR!


 

Stretching Time In County Clare

by Jane Clarke

After three days of good caving and general mirth and merriment the South Wale Easter meet was brought to a close.  The B.E.C. still had its white ensign, the Beaufort Arms still had beer in their barrels, the Boy Scouts had retrieved their latrine tent, and Gooff Crossley's tent resembled a chicken's latrine.

A small group of us (Martin & Glenys, G.W-J. and myself) had decided to extend the Easter holiday and so arrangements were made to visit County Clare. With visions of Guinness and Bailey's Irish Cream before us we left Crickhowell camp-site heading towards Fishguard.  As we were travelling on a middle of the night ferry there was plenty of time to visit a few sites on the way.

The first stop was Carreg Cennan Castle, a superb ruin set up high from the surrounding countryside on a large limestone outcrop.  A short drive from the castle we reached Llygad Llychwr, having planned to do a hasty en-route caving trip.  Eventually we found all four of the river chambers after plenty of swimming and wading in quite a strong current.  I kept an eye out for the Lewd Letcher but was disappointed.

The ferry arrived in Rosslare and a few hours later we were brewing up and cooking breakfast by the roadside.  Sometime later, having visited Kilkenny Castle on the way, we pitched tents in a field on the outskirts of Doolin and spent the evening foot-tapping and glass raising in O'Connor's Bar.

The first cave we visited was just up the road from the campsite; the Doolin Cave System.  St. Catherine's 1, the entrance, to Fisherstreet Pot, the exit, is a 3 km long through trip, and is considered to be a County Clare classic.  Having first tackled Fisherstreet Pot, we were then driven by Glenys to St.  Catherine's 1.   After a partly wet crawl we dropped into the stream way,  where there very good examples of limestone shelving. Climbing up into the Beautiful Grotto we stopped for some good photo's of straws and stal.  I was very impressed by the Main Streamway, named the Great Canyon, and described by the guide book as being “high, wide and handsome.”  The stream covered the floor of the passage and, in some places, was quite deep.  Apart from the cave entrance and a short distance in bedding cave much of the trip is in large walking passage.  Although there do not seem to be many decorations the passage shapes and rock sculpturing definitely make this a worthwhile photographic trip. Another point in its favour is that the trip begins in a field in the middle of nowhere and comes out not so far from O' Connors Bar.  Who is to say that the first visitor to Doolin Cave was not a Burren peat-digger escaping from his nagging wife to O'Connor's for a quick Guinness.  Cunning folk.  Wednesday evening saw us foot-tapping and glass raising yet again, this time in the company of a mixed bunch of D.B.S.S. and Cerberus.

On Thursday we drove the short distance from the campsite to see the Cliffs of Moher which, in some places are up to 700 feet high and face straight out into the Atlantic.  It seemed that every horizontal surface was occupied by some type of nesting bird. Kittiwakes, gulls, fulmars, cormorants, shags, sea-duck and puffins were either bobbing below us on the water or flying aimlessly around the cliffs.  Wandering aimlessly with both feet firmly on the ground was yet another familiar face - Mike Cowlishaw.

Sitting in the nearby information centre, writing postcards and drinking coffee, we chatted to Mike Russell, a well known figure in Irish folk music.  At the mention of caving he told us all about a concert tour made by himself and his late brothers.  This tour included meeting with Durdy and playing at the Pegasus dinner, which he had obviously enjoyed.

Driving east from Lisdoonvarna, which was our main food-shopping town, we spent some time at the Kilfenora Burren Centre.  Various displays showed the flora, fauna, geology and archaeology of the area - well worth a visit.

As the weather was so good, with not a cloud in sight, it seemed a good opportunity to visit the most flood-prone of County Clare's caves - the Coolagh River System.  The flood warning in the guide book was enough to keep the adrenalin flowing in my system for the whole trip:

"The Coolagh River Cave has a very large catchment area (approximately 6 sq. kms) and responds both quickly and violently to rainfall.  During a major flood the cave fills to the roof and water fountains out of the surface holes around the and of the cave under a 40 metre head of water."

We entered the system via Polldonough South, following the stream into the low entrance.  Crawling over pebbles we soon passed daylight - the small B 9a entrance.  The stream soon cuts a channel in the floor and the passage takes on he appearance of an hourglass.  Traversing along the top section  of Double  Passage,  as it is known,  we soon reached an ugly  flowstone column after a rather slippery climb down.  There appeared to be lots of vegetation stal-ed into the column, presumably flood debris.  Another short crawl leads into Gour Passage, particularly notable for a series of cabite dams, remnants of an old false-floor.  A 6m pitch drops down into the Lower Main Drain, where we met with the Main Stream and continued to follow it downstream over several cascades. Looking up some 20m. to the roof of the high, sheer-walled, scalloped canyon we were constantly reminded of the flood potential of the cave by the debris draped around the ends of stal and the foam way above our heads.  The Terminal Bedding Cave, with its walls covered in slimy sump mud, was our downstream limit.  Back upstream, just beyond the Gour Passage climb, we stopped for a few photographs of Balcombe's Pot, a 5 m. deep pool.  To avoid the cobbly, wet entrance crawl we exited via the B 9a entrance, amidst brambles, and walked back to the car.  As the weather was still good we crossed the road and went for a short romp into the beginning of Polldonough.  After passing a couple of very dead farm animals, definitely not smelling their best, we returned to the sunshine.

Our days were beginning to take on a pattern of sight-seeing in the morning and early afternoon followed by caving.  Evening meals were, on occasions, early breakfasts.

On Friday morning we followed the coast north towards Black Head, and then on to Ballyvaughan.  The countryside was very rugged and barren, most of the hillsides being bare limestone an with the occasional glacial erratic.  The edge of the sea cliffs were littered with dead sea urchins and, nearer to the road, spring gentians grew from seemingly bare rock.  Having stopped to look at a well preserved 16th century castle, Gleninagh Castle, and a roadside Pinnacle Well, we drove through Ballyvaughan to see a turlough, the Irish equivalent of a polje.  Two miles from Ballyvaughan is Ailwee show cave, discovered by Dave Drew and opened to the public in 1976; the entrance buildings well deserved their architectural award and could certainly teach Cheddar Caves a thing or two.  Aillwee is famous for its bear hibernation pits.  Driving across country, away from the coast, we passed many archaeological remnants, particularly stone ring forts and the odd dolmen.

As we had spent much of the day sight-seeing we decided to do a few, short caving trips that evening. Pol-an-Ionain seemed a good idea as a first trip.  Having heard all kinds of tales of farmers dumping animal carcases and rubbish down the hole I was not looking forward to the crawling sections, anticipating oozing bags of giblets and mammoth sized maggots, none of which we found. However, there were some very suspicious looking black poly sacks, tied up with string.  I was very careful not to trend on any.  The Main Chamber, one of County Clare's biggest, was quite unexpected after the grovelly and uninspiring entrance. In fact, the only justification for doing the trip at all, in my opinion, is to see the very impressive Pol-an-Ionain stal.

Emerging hot and sweaty from the cave, we set off to find Faunarouska, carefully following the guide book.  After some time wandering over the moor land ferreting down many other holes we returned to the car and to a rather bewildered Glenys who, having seen us set off, then watched as helmets bobbed up and down and dark figures hovered on the skyline. We did not find the cave.

The campsite had all that we heeded in terms of loos and water supply.  The only thing missing was a shower.  Although it bore no resemblance to Chamonix in summer the cold water stand pipe that stood, caressed by Atlantic gales breezes, in the corner of the field served its purpose.  Not only were we much cleaner and less smelly but Martin had a batch of action-packed, good entertainment value slides.  (For the information of those of you privy to Mr. Grass's slide show, I was grabbing for Graham's towel).

On Saturday we crammed in yet more sight-seeing.  The Craggaunowen Centre has some excellent reconstructions of an Iron Age lake village and ring fort.  Quin Abbey is a well preserved monastic building with a ruined village clustered round its walls and now buried by grass.

To get to Cullaun 5, our first caving trip of the day entailed a drive across peat land and through coniferous forest.  The entrance was in a small collapse on the forest boundary.  Memories of this trip are of stooping, crawling and black, sticky mud.  On reaching the final bedding crawl of 80 metres there were plenty of pine needles in the roof, indicating that these sections must flood right up.  It is not often that I have come eye to eye with a frog but in part of the cave we met four.

In Cullaun 2 we followed the main streamway to the sump.  Although not as large as some of the caves we had visited Cullaun 2 still had a canyon-like main passage.  Chert bands and nodules were in abundance, as was iron staining in the stal, one of which was called The Bloody Guts.

Our last day, Sunday, was to have been a gentle drive back to Rosslare for the evening ferry. However, Graham in particular was very disappointed at not finding Faunarouska, and so we decided to visit the cave and then hurtle for the ferry.  It did not take long to find the entrance, going on directions from Tony Boycott, whom we had met earlier in O'Connor's Bar.  After ¾ mile walk we came to the large entrance.  Once again the passage was canyon like, but very narrow, twisting and turning for much of the way.  There are a few crawls and ducks under flowstone, with some quite pretty decoration.  The stream has exposed ledges and nodules of chert which, in a few places, have formed small cascades.  Eventually the cave changes to being phreatic.  Having reached the Letterbox we turned back and made a rapid exit, saving the rest of the cave for our next visit to County Clare.

A speedy change and an even speedier, but pleasant, drive across Ireland, squeezing in a visit to Dunratty Castle and Folk Park on the way, got us to the ferry just on time, which, in turn, got us back to England just in time for work on Monday morning.

We had been absolutely exhausted by five days of intensive caving, touring and pubbing.  As a first time visitor to County Clare I was very impressed by the scenery, the caves and the friendliness and generosity if the people, particular Gussie O'Connor and his wife, and Arthur the fisherman.

County Clare -  Easter 1983

We are currently planning a trip to Ireland for next year, visiting over the whole of the Easter weekend as well as the week after.

We are considering staying in a cottage, perhaps McCarthy's Cottage, although the campsite by the strand is perfectly good, provided that the weather is reasonable.

If you are interested in coming along - perhaps you have not yet visited County Clare or maybe you would like a change from Crickhowell at Easter, then contact Martin Grass ( Luton 35145).


 

Mendip Rescue Organization

Cave Rescues and Incidents for the Year ending 31st December. 1981

This account covers the calendar year 1981 and so starts by repeating the note on the lengthy rescue in Agen Allwedd, South Wales, ending my last report. The list below continues the format of the thirty year record also published last year.  It shows that we have now passed 200 incidents over half of which have occurred during the past decade.  I have not listed an incident in which some boys were lost in the so-called Devil’s Hole Stone Mine, Bathampton, last July because they were found by the local Police.  Nor have I included two call-outs of the Cheddar Cliff Rescue Team to Salthouse Cliffs, Clevedon, on 27th June and to High Rock, Cheddar Gorge, on 3rd October for these reports are best left to our climbing colleagues.  They have been to three cliff rescue calls in as many years.

The fourteen cave rescue call-outs during 1981 were as follows:-

l7/l9th Jan

14th Feb

15th Feb

5th Mar

13th Mar

6th June

11th July

28th July

1st Sept

13th Sept

20th Sept

14th Nov

14th Nov

29th Nov

Agen Allwedd, South Wales Longwood Swallet

Swildon's Hole

Swildon's Hole

Read's Cavern

St. Cuthbert's Minery

Swildon's Hole

Box Stone Mines, Wiltshire

 G.B. Cavern

Singing River Mine

Swildon's Hole

Goatchurch Cavern

Wookey Hole Cave

Swildon's Hole

1

1

?

?

2

?

1

3

4

3

1

1

1

4

Boulder fall, broken leg

Fall, badly bruised

Overdue

Overdue

Lost, lights f.

Presumed missing person

Fall, broken leg

Lost, lights f.

Overdue

Lost

Overdue

Fall, broken ankle

Diving fatality

Overdue

The details of each rescue given below are based upon the field reports prepared by Wardens during incidents.

Weekend l7-l9th January            Agen Allwedd

Three dozen Mendip rescuers went to help cavers in South Wales who were bringing out a patient with a broken leg from Southern Stream Passage. Another two dozen stood by.  The full report of this mammoth operation belongs to the South Wales Cave Rescue Organisation, of course.  However, we may record that the controller, Brian Joplin, found our radios a great help and the Little Dragon warm air breather proved invaluable.  We are especially grateful to the Warden of Crickhowell Youth Hostel for his hospitality to all from Mendip.

Saturday 14th February             Longwood Swallet

MRO was alerted to standby when an Oxford Polytechnic caver in a Wessex Cave Club party fell from an aven in the Upstream Galleries of the August Series.  It appears that unsound rock gave way when she was climbing.  In falling about 6 metres she was lucky not to be badly hurt and then plucky to get out with assistance from the Wessex party.  On being advised of the incident by Yeovil Police at 4.30 pm.  Brian Prewer stoodby parties at the Belfry and Upper Pitts by radio. Dr. Don Thomson was contacted and remained available until the underground party surfaced safely at 5.30 p.m. An examination at Wells Hospital revealed bruising to head, hip and foot.

Sunday 15th February                Swildon's Hole

A call was received concerning a party overdue.  It was not necessary for a rescue party to go underground.  No further details are available.

Friday 5th March                        Swildon's Hole

A call was received from Yeovil Police about midnight.  They had been contacted by a Mr. Pearse from the New Inn, Priddy, concerning a party of Venture Scouts who should have been out of the cave much earlier.  Brian Prewer telephoned the informant at Priddy and, during his conversation, the scouts appeared having under-estimated the time that their trip would take.

Saturday 13th    March               Read’s Cavern

Alan Dougherty from Wrington and Alan Hutchinson from Southville Bristol, went down the cave early in the evening expecting to return home by 8.30 p.m.  Both were experienced cavers.  They left their car off the track approaching the cave.  When they had not returned by 9.45 p.m., Mrs. Dougherty informed the Police at Weston-s-Mare, but their patrol was unable to locate the car in Burrington Combe.  A neighbour drove her to the area and she found her husband's Mini Clubman near the U.B.S.S. Hut.  She contacted the Police again at 11.15 p.m. to alert MHO.

Brian Prewer received the call from Yeovil Police at 11.20 p.m. and raised search parties from the Belfry and Upper Pitts by radio.  Bob Hill and Mike Duck took a quick look around the cave whilst Ken Daws and Chris Batstone checked out Rod's Pot and Drunkard' s Hole nearby.  These initial searches proved negative and so specific routes were followed.  Tim Large led a group to Z- Alley whilst Alison and Pete Moody covered the Browne-Stewart Series.  Radio links were set up on the surface.

The missing pair were found at the lower end of Z-Alley and brought safely to the surface at 2.25am on the Sunday.  It appears that they had lost the way when lights gave trouble and then failed. They huddled together in a polythene bag to keep warm and this appeared to be effective in the circumstances. All search parties returned by 3.00am.

Saturday 6th June          St. Cuthbert's Minery

Wells Police called Brian Prewer at 3.30pm concerning a report of an abandoned tent and sleeping bag on Mr. M. Cotter's property bordering the minery.  Mr. W. Foxwell suggested that it had been there for about a week and so the Police were concerned that the missing occupant may have gone caving and failed to return.

Tim Large was contacted at the Belfry.  He inspected the site for signs of caving equipment and made further enquiries from local residents and cavers.  This investigation indicated that the camping gear was unlikely to belong to a caver and no one had been reported overdue from a caving trip.  The Police were advised of this at 4.30 pm and no further action was taken.

Saturday 11th July         Swildon's Hole

Phillip Casemore, aged 37, from Crawley, Surrey was returning from Sump I on his first caving trip when, on approaching the Old Grotto, he stumbled and fell headlong. He sustained a fracture to his right leg below the knee and was in considerable pain.

Dave Irwin received the alarm through the Police at 2.15pm and alerted Stewart McManus, Chris Batstone and Alan Thomas to organise rescuers at the Hunters' Lodge.  Since the informant was unsure exactly where the incident had occurred in the Upper Series, Alan and Trevor Hughes searched the Dry Ways and reported the site to a team consisting of Martin Bishop, Mike Duck, Ross White, Tony Jarratt, Roger Gosling and Phil Hendy.  Dr. Stewart Parker was called from Bristol and arrived at 4.15 p.m.  Meanwhile, Martin Bishop had plastered the leg and a routine haul out was in progress.  A relief team of Wessex cavers was organised by Glyn Bolt.

The patient reached the surface at 4.35 p.m. and was met by the ambulance that had been guided across the fields by Jim Hanwell and Oliver Wells.  He was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary for treatment.

Tuesday 28th July                      Box Stone Mines, Wiltshire

Brian Prewer received a call from Yeovil Police at 6.21pm.  They had a request from Devizes Police for assistance in finding three boys missing down the mines.  Apparently, the mother of a 13 year old had reported that her son had gone with two friends, aged 13 and 11, to find the Cathedral via the Back Door.  They had failed to return and only had one torch.

Bob Scammell and Chris Batstone were alerted to organise search Parties.  Several members of the Oolite Mines Exploration Group took part, their knowledge of the area being invaluable.  A radio link between the Quarryman's Arms and the Belfry was established and Alan Butcher and Dave Irwin were asked to standby.

At 7.30 p.m. it was reported that a search to the Cathedral had been negative and so two parties had set out to cover the B12 and Jack Workings respectively.  The missing boys were eventually discovered by Bob Scammell’s Party at the Four Ways Junction.  They were lost and their torch had all but faded.  By 7.55pm that had been brought to the surface unharmed but, we must hope, rather wiser.

Tuesday 1st September              G.B. Cavern

At 2.30 p.m. Brian Prewer was told by Weston-s-Mare Police that a party of four cavers had been reported overdue from a trip down G.B.  Six members of the 1st Greenford Scout Troop, London, aged between 15 and 17 had entered the cave about 11.30am with M. Day and R. Wheatley as leaders.  They split into two groups to follow the Mud Passage and Devil's Elbow routes.  When the Devil's Elbow party failed to make the rendezvous in the Gorge, Day left the cave, telephoned the Police and then returned underground.  This meant that MHO had no details to help in alerting rescuers.  Tim Large went to the cave followed by Brian Prewer and Jim Hanwell.

Apparently, the Devil's Elbow party had traversed across the top of the pitch because they thought the chain was too short and did not indicate the way on.  They retreated on being unable to continue and met Day on his way back after raising the alarm.  All were safely out of the cave at 5.00pm to explain what had happened to Tim large.  He was told that the trip had been arranged by the London Ambulance Service Caving Club.

Sunday 13th September.            Singing River Mine

Paul Sutton and Graham Sweeper collected the key to the mine from the Belfry at about 4.00pm.  As they were camping in the area, they left details of their trip on the Belfry board and estimated that they would be back by 7.30pm.  When they had not returned by 10.00pm, Chris Batstone and Bob Hill went to Shipham and found that their car was there and the entrance shaft was still laddered. They alerted the Belfry and search parties with equipment set off at about 10.30pm.  Jim Hanwell informed the Police of' the incident and Dr. Don Thomson was asked to stand by.

The missing pair were found on the route to the Stinking Gulf and all were safely out of the mine by 11.10 pm.  It appears that they had not been down the system before and had failed to find their way back from the Gulf.

Sunday 20th September             Swildon' s Hole

Brian Prewer received a call from Yeovil Police at 2.54pm that a Mr. Wick at Bath had reported his Son overdue from a trip by about 2 hours.  No further details were known.  However, when Brian telephoned the informant, he discovered that the son had already rung home to say that his party was out of the cave.

Saturday 14th November             Goatchurch Cavern

Richard Wright, a Scout aged 33 from Hove, Sussex, led a party of' four novice and one caver with some experience down the cave at about 2.30pm.  On his way to the Boulder Chamber, the leader mistook the route avoiding the Coal Chute.  Instead, he found it and fell off the climb into the Upper Chamber sustaining a Potts fracture to his left ankle.

Dave Irwin was alerted of the call-out by Brenda Prewer at about 3.15pm.  He immediately contacted Chris Batstone at the Belfry and a party led by Tony Jarrett left with medical and hauling equipment.  A radio relay was set up from the cave entrance to the Belfry. The patient was strapped up by Bob Hill and carried out to the awaiting ambulance in about 45 minutes.  He was taken to Weston-s-Mare General Hospital for treatment straight away.

In a letter of thanks, Richard Wright compliments those who helped him and and recalls the morals: “never treat familiar cave with the familiarity that breeds contempt; always look before you leap, and always obey the rules you teach others”.

Saturday 14th November             Wookey Hole Cave

Keith Potter, aged 22, from nearby Wedmore and a medical student at Exeter College, Oxford, drowned when diving to Wookey 20 during the afternoon.  He was a member of the Cave Diving Group and, apparently, had done the route once before.

Martyn Farr, Ray Stead and Keith Potter arranged to dive to Wookey 24 whilst other divers were training with Doctors Peter Glanvill and Tony Boycott in the Show Cave.  Keith was given the benefit of the clear water and chose the Deep Route from Wookey 9 to 20.  Martyn followed along the Shallow Route and found Keith without his gag about 4 metres below the sump pool entering the chamber.  He brought him out and immediately started resuscitation.  Ray then arrived to help but they were unable to revive Keith over a period of about two hours.  Eventually, they returned to Wookey 9 with Keith and were assisted by the two doctors in alerting those concerned. Peter Glanvill retrieved equipment left behind in Wookey 20 the next day.

At the Inquest, Mr. Fenton Rutter, the East Somerset Coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death although exactly what went wrong remains a mystery.  In giving this conclusion, the Coroner noted that explorers throughout history had taken risks, and that the world would be a poorer place without them.

Sunday 29th November   Swildon's Hole

At about 2.30 a.m. a Police Patrol car arrived at the Belfry.  Someone in Bristol had reported that a Mr. R. Lewis had gone caving on Mendip with three young ladies and had not returned when expected.  The Police had apparently driven from Bristol to search for Mr. Lewis' white Marina car. Fiona Lewis from the Belfry (no relation) accompanied the patrol on a search of cave sites visiting Eastwater and Upper Pitts before finding the car on Priddy Green.

Pete and Alison Moody were aroused to start a search of Swildons for the overdue party.  Before this got underway, however, Lewis' party returned safely having spent a lot of time lost in the Upper Series.  It must be noted that the correct call-out procedure through Yeovil Police Was not used by those concerned, nor had Lewis left word of the cave being visited.  Such time wasting would be serious in other circumstances.

Calling out Cave and Cliff Rescuers through M.R.O.

Visitors to caves and mines in Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire should note the following procedures for calling out MRO. Climbers in Cheddar Gorge use the same system to alert cliff rescuers.

In the event of an emergency, go to the nearest telephone, dial 999 and ask for the Police.  When in contact with the Police, request that the Mendip Rescue Organisation is called and give them EXACT DETAILS OF THE INCIDENT, ITS LOCATION AND THE TELEPHONE NUMBER FROM WHICH THE CALL IS MADE. INFORMANTS MUST THEN STAY AT THAT PHONE UNTIL CONTACTED BY A WARDEN OF MRO FOR FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED.  Whilst a few minutes may seem an age at the time, there must be a short delay before being contacted by a Warden and this is a vital step in initiating a successful call-out.  Please resist the understandable desire to leave the phone after alerting the Police because your personal knowledge gives MRO a better opportunity to organise a speedier response with appropriate rescuers and equipment.  Time must not be wasted.  In almost all cases rescuers will arrive within the hour.

Please note that 999 calls in the region are routed to Police Division Headquarters at Yeovil (Priddy-Wells-Frome), Taunton (Axbridge Cheddar-Charterhouse), Weston-s-Mare (Burrington-Blagdon-Banwell), Bath (Harptree-Bath) and Devizes (Box-Corsham).  All have details of MRO and switch emergency calls for cave and cliff rescues to Yeovil.


 

Hanging Chamber - Again

by "Kangy"

The esteemed Alfie Collins could never understand a lack of articles.  He reckoned that if one could be written then that formed the basis for three:

1) "St. Cuthbert’s - A trip into a Supersystem"

2) "St. Cuthbert’s – revisited";

3) "Caves I have known – St. Cuthbert’s".

This may be my second comment on Hanging Chamber.  I cannot remember my first.  It was probably something like, "Coo! Lummy! Gosh!" or maybe we had simply had too much beer - that at least cannot have changed.

Hanging Chamber has changed; at least, it has in the imagination.  When we first violated it with a maypole it seemed vast and mysterious. It was always a damp and chilly trip, time consuming and difficult.  We persevered because it seemed the best hope to extend the Maypole Series.  Always, away up in the darkness beyond our acetylene flames, were the dim promises of high holes to climb into and, seemingly, a huge aven poised so high and so far above that we, with our limited resources, were content just to dream about it.  This is the stuff of Romance!

Jonathan and I were at the Belfry early in the year waiting to take some Boy Scouts or Wessex or something on a tourist trip.  They did not turn up.  With a low profile we hurriedly took the opportunity to join Bassett and Jane.  They intended to recover the gear from the oxbow passage which had been climbed into from Hanging Chamber.  Intriguingly this was that "inaccessible aven" which had haunted my imagination for years.  By all accounts it was an opening which formed a high level loop back into Maypole Series.  Yet another oxbow to tick off from possible extensions to St. Cuthbert’s.   We eagerly seized the chance to see the area again.  I hope to read about it too! (see previous B.B., Ed.)

The huge canyon which is the start to Maypole has retained its impressive character and the same draughty dampness.  From the bottom of Maypole Pitch the dark wall climbs in two large steps to the curved lip of Hanging Chamber about sixty feet above.  Previously we had left a wire hanging off a bolt for use as a pulley. This had been replaced by a wire ladder which we climbed easily to Hanging Chamber.

By the excellent light given by my Nife Cell the wall looked free climbable.  I enjoyed taking my time and looking around.  Everything looked amazingly near.  Graham got on with the job of Prusikking, Jumarring, Clogging, Gibbing, or whatever it is, up the hanging access rope and rapidly climbed the thirty feet to the hole.  This was our mysterious hole, now easily seen in the sum of four powerful electrics. Its position was now seen to be vertically above the landing ledge of Hanging Chamber.  Certainly it was too far to maypole but it is much nearer than we had thought.  Just opposite was the "ledge" where Pete Hiller and Fred Davies had hung off slings managing the bottom of the maypole.  It was scarcely a ledge, more a mud slide and tremendously exposed. Bloody optimists, I thought.

Snug in my furry suit, enjoying the well lit spectacle, I suddenly remembered how it was when Fred Davies and I stood looking for a way on.  Two skinny, shivering blokes in wet, floppy, muddy boiler suits, peering short-sightedly into the gloom cast by fitful acetylene flames.  We could not see the "aven" from the landing of Hanging Chamber and from the next level up it seemed to be far away over the gut-gripping drop into Maypole Pitch.  To get where we had had meant exceeding the current technology of Maypoling. This had been a consequence of failing to free climb to Hanging Chamber.

I had managed to free climb to within 2 few feet of the lip but the crux quite put me off.  It was a long way up un-roped.  It was wet and I kept wondering what the hell I would do if a drip extinguished my light.

We were obliged to find a way to avoid this climb.  We succeeded by maypoling from the ledge opposite but, once in the chamber, we simply could not see any way of using one to get into the "aven", even if we could see it.  We speculated about hydrogen balloons and went home.

S.R.T. is neat and powerful and, with good, warm clothing has opened out a lot more cave.

The moral must be - keep up with progress!


 

Charterhouse Cave

by Graham Wilton-Jones

Sixty years ago U.B.S.S. first paid attention to the swallets and shakeholes around G.B. and one of their first successes came with a breakthrough in the easterly, active swallet. This was Read's Grotto, named after the same Reginald Read of Read's Cavern.  The grotto itself, several tens of feet in through a restricted entrance passage, marked the end of the cave - the boulder chokes were considered a waste of time.  Twenty years ago the entrance fell in and an undisturbed chaos of brambles and weeds conceals the shakehole.  Only a few feet away from Read's is an outcrop of limestone split by a wide cleft. Boys from Sidcot School dug here for some time, revealing a number of narrow passages, small chambeers and loose boulders.  In 1976 the last digging trips were made and interest waned - the loosest of the boulders had won.

Earlier this year Pete and Alison Moody had a look at the abandoned digging site and Alison pushed on down a narrow rift below loose boulders to arrive at a three inch wide slot through which the draught blew.  Two bangs and they were into another rift from where the way to the present end of the cave was wide open.

After the squeeze, which is now gated, the rift drops gently as walking height passage until stals and some false floors in the roof force you to crawl beneath.  Already much of the stal is becoming muddied as it is very vulnerable and great care is needed in this and several other sections of the cave. The discoverers have put in protection tapes in a number of places and have also taken in water containers and scrubbing brushes to use as necessary.  Beyond the crawls it is possible to stand again for a while.  The rift passes a smaller rift on the right through which a beautiful white stalactite is visible - the main route passes this a little more closely later on.  A second passage on the right is the way on but when Jane and I visited the cave we continued straight ahead and thence up through a dig in gravel and false floor deposits to enter a much larger passage.  This has only recently been found.  It is thought to be the old entrance passage to the system, deriving from a glacially obliterated swallet.  It is well decorated and ends in breakdown and stal having headed out towards Longwood.  The passage can be seen from further down the cave but cannot be entered from there. Back at the way on it is necessary to grovel through a shallow pool and then pass underneath the beautiful white stalactite.  After another rift with a pool is a drop into a larger rift leading down cave, and there are now no complications in the route.  The passage gradually enlarges and soon enters a big chamber about half way between the floor and the roof.  The chamber is about 80 feet high and 40 feet long.  On the right is a near vertical well of mud, boulders and stal, beneath which the floor slopes steeply away over mud and large boulders.  Clearly there has been a monumental collapse in the not too distant past.  On the left hand overhanging wall, some twenty feet down from the roof, perches a precarious pile of mud and boulders.  On the right water running down the wall is just be beginning to wash off the mud and gravel to reveal clean white stal underneath.  There are passages at the top which could prove quite awkward to reach.  At the bottom of the chamber the main passage continues to drop quickly, often over boulders, sometimes across small potholes, and after a short distance there is a slight, left hand bend.  Climbing up here leads to the top of the main chamber and the route to Pearl Passage. Carrying on downwards shortly drops to the base of the Main Chamber underneath a G.B. type bridge of large boulders.  The roof quickly comes down to form the end wall of the chamber but a crawl among stal leads to the final chokes, which seem to lie under the edge of the Great Swallet.  It may be that a way around these chokes can be found and dye tests have been carried out to determine whether this would lead back to G.B. or into the great unknown.

The climb up into the top section of Main Chamber is a slightly awkward overhang - at present many of the holds here and elsewhere in the cave are liable to drop off at the mere mention of their presence.  Above the climb a passage leads past good mud formations to an excellent view of the Main Chamber.  This has been estimated to be about three quarters the size of G.B. Main Chamber.  There is a good vantage point for viewing the chamber and its very good stal.  This is at the end of a mud and rock floor close to the edge of the lower passage. A path has been made through the floor formations but most of the other stal will remain inviolate, being high up in the roof.  One of the alcoves has been reached high up at the south-western end.  Other passages at roof level remain to be entered.  At the beginning of the chamber, up in the right hand wall, is Pearl Passage.  The pearls and the passage in which they lie are to be taped off, but an aven beyond leads to passages that lie within a few feet of Devil's Elbow in G.B.

Like all the caves in the G.B. area Charterhouse Cave is on Bristol Water Works land and is controlled on their behalf by the Charterhouse Caving Committee.  Our rep on this committee is Tim Large who is also C.C.C. secretary.  C.C.C. have decided that, in view of the vulnerability of the formations in the cave, the site shall be gated (this has already been done) and that each member club of C.C.C. shall hold a key.  Each member club shall supply two leaders for the cave, presumably for their own club and for trips requested by non C.C.C. clubs.

All trips at the moment are working trips - exploration, taping, surveying, etc. and tourist trips are not yet possible.

Congratulations to Pete and Alison on this fine discovery.  They surely deserve something like this as a result of their efforts instead of those tight, muddy grovels in that love of their life, Swildons.

At the risk of putting a bat among the stalactites, condolences to Sidcot schoolboys (who should really be spending time on their studies, anyway!).


 

Bi-Monthly Notes

THE BELFRY. Various members have spent some time tidying between the Belfry and Walt's track.  It has been raked free of stones and has been mown.  If you fancy a mow when you are visiting, bring a pint of petrol.  Please do not park your ten-ton trucks on the lawns.

There is talk of acquiring a Belfry croquet set!

The Drinking Pond has been enlarged, presumably to accommodate those larger or wilder members who have occasion to be thrown therein.

Walt Foxwell has replaced his old man-hole cover near the Pond with a new one, and has autographed the cement surround.  He said something on the lines of, “Oi maynt remember you buggers, but youm buggers 'll remember Oi”  He has also agreed to act as the Club marriage guidance councillor.

Don't forget to make a few newspaper pulp bricks for the stove using our Brick-making Machine, next time you’re at the shed, and keep bringing those newspapers.

Members: Bolt celebrated his birthday at the Belfry recently with a Barrel but, the highlight of the evening was surely watching him try to blow out his own trick candles - they light up again immediately of their own accord.

Fi did a special cake for the event, and she also made one for Tim's birthday, a few weeks later.

Trev Hughes is now permanently on Mendip (heaven help us all) and is living at Wookey Hole (in a house).

Brian and Lucy Workman have now moved onto Mendip and are living at Oakhill.  So that should be two good house-warnings soon.

Several members gave caving and digging a miss recently (so what's new) to help Mac build an enormous set of concrete steps concealing the front of his house.  Each step is individually sized to accommodate all states of inebriation in his visitors.

CLUB LIBRARY:  This is being 'fettled' and many gaps in series of journals; newsletters, etc. have been noticed.  The Librarians would be most grateful for any old caving books or publications by any clubs.  Spring clean your bookshelves, my pretties, and help fill up the Belfry shelves.

Any duplicates are passed on to W.C.C., M.C.G., S.M.C.C. and M.N.R.C. to ensure that all the Mendip Clubs' libraries are up to date.

Many thanks in anticipation,

J-Rat.

N.B. Collection can be arranged - just phone the Belfry

B.B.'s - vol's 3, 9, 19, 20, 21, 24, 29 & 30 are missing from the library.  W.C.C. journals nos. 43 - 59 are also missing.

Many thanks to all those who have donated old publications already.


 

Golden Oldies On The Isle Of Skye!

from Kangy.

The Black Cuillin Ridge is the finest and most difficult mountaineering expedition in the British Isles.  It stretches for six miles, has climbs on it graded V. Diff. which are not easy to avoid, takes anything from a record 4 hrs. 9 mins. to two days, and is succinctly described in "Classic Rock."

To their credit, Roy Bennet and Alan Bonner have just completed it in sixteen hours.  They went from Gars Bheinn to Sgurr nan Gillean in good weather on the 3 rd. June 1982.  They share over one hundred years of age between them!  They reckoned the hard part was the continuous concentration required to avoid falling off the extremely exposed ridge.

John Stafford and John Attwood did the ridge in May 1956.  Stafford wonders if anyone from the Club has done it in between times.

T.G.O.F. Finds In County Galway.

Around Easter time this year Ken Jones and Pat Cronin, both of T.G.O.F., were in Western Ireland, caving in County Clare and doing some exploratory work near the Galway - Clare border.

They explored and surveyed five sites altogether:

Poul a Crab;

Poll behan;

John Quin's Cave;

Poll blath Gairdin;

Poll E Puthe Kittleon.

Pat tells me he has been dying to use this last name on an Irish site for ages. 

The deep pool in Poll behan remains to be explored.

The caves vary in character from a small solution hole, 4 m. deep, which is John Quin's Cave, to the vertical depression of Poll behan which is 28 m. deep to water level, and the 23 m. deep Poll E Puthe Kittleon, with its 4 m. x 4 m. 450 passage ending in a suicidal ruckle and the sound of a stream beyond.  Pat and Ken both plan to return to the area around the first week in November.


 

Long Chamber Extension

- an extract from the Cuthbert’s log, 18th April

Pushed bedding plane of chamber 47* (above Long Chamber Extension).  A low trench with many fine formations leads up to a slot on the left onto more confined passage.  This was followed for 40 feet to a 20 foot wide chamber.  This chamber is very well decorated. The flow being white stal with many crystal pools.  Beyond this chamber is a 20 foot climb up a decorated rift, ending in stal chokes or an upward crawl and a tight squeeze into a final bedding plane.

Andy Sparrow and Andy Cave

 

* ref. Wig’s Long Chamber Extension Preliminary report for numbering system of chambers.


 

Bi-Monthly Notes, continued.

LARGE POT: While N.C.C. were digging the old N.P.C. dig of Little Pot, near the bend in the Turbary Road, N.P.C. attacked Large Pot (within spitting distance) and broke through to a series of shafts leading down several hundred feet.  This is of particular interest because it is directly above the drainage route from Marble Steps to Keld Head, so its potential must be considerable.

GAVEL: Ian "Watto" Watson has dived the sump here towards Pippikin and Beck Deck Head for 1,500 feet, at an average depth of 20 feet, apparently without breaking air-surface.

HURTLE POT: Geoff Crossley hoped to lay lots more line in the sump here, but the route dropped through a slot from its average depth of 90 feet and has now reached a depth of 115 feet.  It now has the deepest average  depth of any sump in Britain.

GOUGHS CAVE: Chris Bradshaw & Co. are digging here, and its about time Chris had written something about it for the B.B.

DRAYCOTT CAVE: The Army have been digging here, but I cannot imagine what for!

CASTLE FARM DIG: Work continues here on sunny, summer weekends.  Glenys was struck by flying debris the other month, and proudly showed her bruise to all.  How about a note from the diggers, on progress and potential?

DAN YR OGOF: The 40 foot pot, banged into at the end of Tubeways, has been called Falklands Pot. The narrow streamway at the bottom, Exocet Passage, had to be banged a second time to allow the passage of bigger-than-Jane sized cavers.  At first it headed a short distance southwards, but then curved around and dropped down two pitches, 10 feet and then 15 feet.  At the bottom is a static sump and the stream gurgles away in a low passage which has yet to be pushed.  Disappointingly, it seems to be heading north, away from Mazeways.

RENASCENCE EXTENSION – SWILDONS HOLE

 

Entered by two tight squeezes over a static sump, the passage enlarges to join a large rift. Downstream there is a short distance to a choke.  Upstream, awkward traversing in a large rift, is followed by steep ascents to a 40 foot aven, which is stal choked at the top.  A very tight side passage goes to another aven where a twig was found. Other side passages are being banged. There is, apparently, an old swallet passage terminating below Swildons dry valley, with the possibility of a new entrance.


 

The Diggers' Song

(Dedicated to a rare body of men and, in particular, to the stalwarts of St Cuthbert’s by KANGY)

I wanted to go down a cave
And now my ambitions I've got 'em,
In Cuthbert’s I'm all the rave
At the dig in the hole in the bottom.

Digging away, digging all day, dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,dig,.

I only went out on a spree,
Thinking to sup and be off, when
I encountered a crowd, BEC
All lewd and licentious and tough men.

Digging etc"

They said - -Young man it will go
If you carry these ladders and drop 'em
Into a hole that we know,
That's not really too much of a problem.

Digging etc"

Now the entrance pitch is divine
So long as you're skinny and narrow,
The walls are all covered in slime
From the drippings of Walt's old wheelbarrow.

Digging etc"

We continued on down the Arête
The shaky old ladders appalling,
But, as the other bloke said
“Its a ruddy sight better than falling”

Digging.etc"

Two ladders and then the Wire Rift
Were next on the menu they brought me,
To traverse I needed the gift
That my ape-like ancestors had taught me.

Digging etc"

Mud Hall and Sta1 Chamber too
And Boulder with boulders abundant,
My mates disappeared from my view
As they hurried to show me what fun meant

Digging etc"

A hole at the end gave the clue
Leading to Everest and gravel.
We slid down the scree in a queue
More or less in the right line of travel.

Digging etc.
I staggered along in a daze
Dimly noting the Sewer in passing
They'd knotted me up in a maze
When I suddenly noticed the splashing.

Digging etc ••

A wall immense and quite tall
Traversed the passage we trod in.
Blocking the flow in the Hall
And changing the level of Oggin.

Digging etc ••

At the side stood a large bucket wheel
Fixed in it’s bearings by packing.
This fiendish device seemed to deal
With the drive of a pump double-acting.

Digging etc ••

So sloshing the water about
It pumped from one place to another.
A muddy great hole was washed out
Without any effort or bother.

Digging etc ••

A spade all corroded and rough
I was given to my consternation.
They invited me kindly enough
To get digging and start exploration.

Digging etc ••

So now I'm a digger of note.
To be found at my post every Tuesday.
On cave exploration I dote -
I'm sure I'll be digging till Domesday.

Digging away. digging all day. dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.dig.