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

Editor: G. Wilton-Jones

1983 B.E.C. Meets List

29.1.83 ROMAN MINE

One last look before this mine is sealed. (see Caving Report No. 15.)        M. GRASS


Rescue practice.            M. GRASS

5.2.83   WOOKEY HOLE

Evening trip to upper passages.   M. GRASS

19.2.83 DAN YR OGOF

Dali's Delight/Far North   T. LARGE, G. WILTON-JONES


Derbyshire w/end.  Staying at the Pegasus hut.    M. GRASS


Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut.           M. GRASS

1.4.83   CO. CLARE
10.4.83 CO. CLARE

Caving, drinking, and walking for three whole days.           M. GRASS, G. WILTON-JONES. P. ROMFORD for place on mini-bus

10.4.83 DEVON and
2.5.83   DEVON

Visits to all major caves plus some diving.            M. GRASS


Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut.           M. GRASS

28.5.83 PANT MAWR
29.5.83 OTTER HOLE

Camping at Crickhowell. M. GRASS


Top entrance to Smith's Armoury and out of One. G. WILTON-JONES.


Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut.           M. GRASS

17.7.83 to 29.8.83          NORTH WALES

Caving & walking.           M. GRASS


11.9.83  Through trip.      T. LARGE


Visit to Lower Series.     M. GRASS

1.10.83   B.E.C. A.G.M. & DINNER

Contact T. LARGE

22.10.83            SLEETS GILL
23.10.83            DOW/PROVIDENCE POT

Yorkshire w/end. Staying at the Bradford Pothole Club hut            M. GRASS


A trip to remember.

(For All The Wrong Reasons) 

by Bolt.





It had not been the most auspicious start to a trip, I pondered, staggering along at 8,000 feet under the weight of two fully laden rucksacks.  The four of us who were to attempt Yorkshire had arrived the night before to find the two tents already set up, my little solo tent having been erected on a small, grassy ledge with fabulous views, but which also contained, I later found out, an intrinsic convex curve that precluded sleep in any position!  Thank you lads!



The rain arrived shortly after us and we retired, the other group having an extra guest in the form of one of the Canadian Army boys who had arrived, begging to join us.

The following overcast and icy cold morning found us all looking decidedly rough, except me, who looked fabulous….well I couldn't see myself!  We broke camp and set off at 0900, feeling very weak and panting from unaccustomed altitude and arrived in the designated area half an hour later. It was a breakdown area with mounds of rubble everywhere and our search for the cave entrance slowly started spreading further afield as realisation hit us that no-one really knew where the opening was.  The first cave found was Mendip Cave ( ! ) closely followed by Derbyshire Pot, but eventually a voice from far away informed us that he had it and we set off to join him hence my two rucksacks.

Their weight hampered my progress and by the time kitting up was complete the rest had already entered the cave, so, squeezing down past the large snow plug in the entrance, I hurried after them.  Passing the medium sized boulder that represented my back up belay, I distinctly recall doubts at its ability to hold my weight and then, so help me, not even glancing at the main belay, but clipping on the rack I slid over the edge. Twenty feet down the 45 foot first pitch of Yorkshire Pot my main belay failed.  The sudden horrifying feeling of freefall was replaced almost immediately by the jerk of the rope as the back up held.  Musing on the feasibility of changing one's underpants came to an abrupt end as rumblings from above warned me of what was to come and I curled up into a ball on the rope.


What a stupid move that was! The chock-stone that has been the main belay subsequently hit the back of my neck sending my helmet spinning down the pitch.  Yells from below indicated that the helmet had caught the rest of the party up, even if its' owner hadn't.  Descending through waves of dizziness and nausea was fun but they passed and we carried on into the cave until shortly afterwards and not surprisingly, my carbide failed completely.

A spare carbide got us going again but we found most pitches required replacement bolts and the going was very slow.  The lead changed several times and at one stage, after inserting a bolt and abseiling down, I found myself ahead of the main group with the Canadian behind me. A small hole, a short constriction and my head popped out above the next pitch.  Ooer!  Trying to back out soon confirmed that the body really won't bend in all directions and it took 15 minutes of shouted instructions from my sudden best friend in the whole wide world before a sweaty Bolt re-emerged literally standing on his head. The pitch was then rigged by entering the hole feet first!

At this point we were joined by an expatriate caver, a Brit named Chas Young - ex Sheffield University Caving Club.  Here was experience and expertise indeed; he'd actually been down the cave before, in 1973 as it turned out.  He confirmed that the top of the first pitch had definitely altered in shape somewhat and suggested the return journey was going to be interesting as the rope now ran up a very tight rift.  Chas was a whippet type and with a roar of afterburners soon disappeared into the gloom. Time passed.  Rounding a corner, I found we had a bottleneck consisting or a smooth and very tight rift suddenly opening out above a nasty looking drop and crossed by a manky and very greasy old rope.  The bottleneck looked forlornly at me as I arrived….damn! Minutes later, reaching the far side, my standby carbide dimmed to almost zero candle power and could not be resuscitated.  Carbide was in the bottlenecked group, so I waited patiently for them to arrive. Many grunts, groans and curses later, but no arrivals, boredom set in.  The same manky rope appeared in the dim light to be tied around the large boulder that was my resting place.  Peering over the top, the knot of the rope was hanging against the vertical face of the boulder below me and the ground appeared about 6 feet below that. Reaching down and grasping the knot I slid over the top.  Never will I complain at carbide again. The sudden movement produced a transient spurt of light which illuminated the sight of the penultimate pitch of 130 feet, dropping away below.  A split second later I was standing on the safe side of the rock again, panting heavily. Pure magic.  How did I get there?  Don't ask me.

The top of the final 50 foot pitch was a steep and highly unstable boulder ledge wedged between high walls.  There was no belay worth the name and not enough rope left to feed back to a suitable place. Problems!  We tried all combinations while every now and then rocks would whistle down from those still descending.  Eventually, all spare cows tails, krabs, slings etc. were passed down to us, clipped together and fed round a nasty, smooth looking outcrop. The only back-up available was one of the outer ledge boulders, but this, unfortunately involved a 12 foot drop before coming into action.  Chas went down followed by me, eyeballs out on stalks, willing the belay not to slip. The rest now arrived at the top and after deep consultation a voice pronounced us as mentally deficient. No-one else, it said, was coming down and what's more, we weren't going back up until they'd sorted out the safety aspect.  The bottoming kit was now two pitches back (130 feet and 93 feet) and two men set off for it while Chas and I ate all our food.  A more secure belay was found that left our end of the rope 15 feet above the ground, but when I attempted to free climb up to it, the holds proved brittle, one snapping off 10 feet up and despatched me at speed back to the bottom. The bolting kit was not forthcoming and eventually a system was worked out that involved two men at the top taking part of the strain off the belay and us two getting up there but fast!  This we did, the decision was made - we turn back. Rigging the pitches had taken far longer than expected.  We reached the surface after nine hours and staggered down the mountainside to the pickup truck.  Down the track to the camp.  NO CAMP, NO FOOD, NO AINYTHNG.  They'd moved to another position 17km away. *? !=£ ..


Hut Engineers Report

After having taken up the post of Hut Engineer eight months ago several attempts have been made to organise working weekends, most of which have failed due to lack of enthusiasm by Club members.

However, certain jobs have been carried out in the last eight months, including the long awaited repair of the tackle store roof (which, I must admit, I have not checked for any leaks yet), the leaking toilet pipe, and the gammy lock on the tackle store door, etc., etc.

There are many jobs of great importance that still require completion: these include the missing slates on the roof, for which we are still trying to find a source of materials (i.e. pinching them off someone else's roof) and the new carbide store. This needs to be built before the proposed Belfry extension can begin.  The Belfry also desperately needs painting.

I have made a full list of all the jobs that require doing and this will be pinned on the notice board. I would like to see at least one job done every weekend by the people staying at the Belfry.  This, I think, should include non-members as well, but I know we've got no chance of that!

As most of you have already seen, plans for the proposed Belfry extension and alterations have been drawn up by John Gwyther.  We shall, in the next couple of weeks, have these plans submitted to the council for planning permission and building regulations approval, for the latter of which I have produced structural design calculations.

By next summer I hope we will have this extension well under way, so everybody's help is required.

It must also be noted that the Club committee have issued me with a cheque for £50 for the purchase of building materials.  In recent weeks this has proved most useful to me and has enabled me to get on and do jobs with much more ease.

Ian Caldwell

Caving Secretary's Report

At last year’s A.G.M. it was suggested that a list of meets was drawn up and sent to members.  This was published in the October/November B.B. and various reminders appeared during the rest of the year.

The Cuthbert’s rescue practice attracted four Club leaders and one guest leader - not very promising. Some trips had to be cancelled during December and January due to bad weather but the Wookey dry trip had 16 members on it.  Trips to Bleadon Cavern, Peak Cavern and Devon were cancelled due to lack of support, but trips to South Wales have been well attended (although there is always plenty of room on the Dan-yr-Ogof working trips). These have been very regular this year and the Club has an official dig at the end of Dali's Delight.  All help is welcome.

There have been various comments this year on Club leaders for South Wales caves such as O.F.D., and I have contacted our leaders, who all wish to continue and say they never refuse trips for members.  The names of all leaders are regularly published in the B.B. and anyone requiring trips should contact them.  Brian Prewer has been nominated as an O.F.D. leader and Tim Large for Dan-yr-Ogof.

The Club has been very active on Mendip with digs at Cuthbert’s 2, the end of Tynings, Castle Farm, Manor Farm Swallet and Haydon Drove.  Help is always required, so contact the diggers if you feel like lending a hand.

Trips to all major caving areas have been made, including County Clare, and members turned out in force this year at the Bradford P.C. Gaping Ghyll winch meet, and helped with the radio-location carried out at the end of Ingleborough Cave.

Martin Grass.


Belfry Bulletin Editor's Report.

This has not been one of the best years for the B.B.

Partly due to the usual lack of response for articles from members, but mainly due to lack of editorial time, the majority of issues have been bi-monthly.  This latter fault should be eliminated now that I am living closer to Mendip.

Many members are not aware of the tasks performed by the Editor.   They are:

  • Possess space big enough to keep 100 or so reams of paper clean and dry;
  • Possess working space for a printing machine and its effects;
  • Ensure adequate stock;
  • Have about 20 hours spare time available per issue;
  • Cajole people into producing articles; (this includes being a regular, well known visitor to Mendip, and keeping in touch with the local, national and international caving scene);
  • Edit (correct and layout) articles and type onto printing stencils (typing skills are useful here);
  • Print 200 copies of each stencil;
  • Understand all the vagaries of the printing machine and be able to perform basic repairs;
  • Collate the B.B.;
  • Deliver to the distributors.

I owe many thanks to various people who have helped to relieve me of some of the burden:

The printing machine and paper will in future be housed in Trevor Hughes' house at Wookey Hole. Maybe he, or some other local person, might care to take over the printing.

Many people have helped with the typing, particularly Buckett, Jane, Blitz and Fi.  (Surely there must be other typists in the club).

Several regulars and weekend visitors to the Belfry, including guests, have assisted with or taken over collation around the Belfry table.

Jeremy Henley has organised the printing of diagrams, surveys, cartoons, and some typed work, at cost price.  I am sure everyone will have noticed the improvement in quality.  Although the cost by this process is doubled, I am sure that the quality of finish and the lack of hassle warrant the extra expense. I hope to 'use' Jeremy more next year.

Tim and Fi have handled distribution throughout the year, although Jane and I will probably take over this.

Dave Turner has offered to computer record and print the address list.  Labels can be made for B.B. envelopes.

The bi-monthly B.B. is only an interim measure.  I hope to return to producing monthly very soon.  I did hear Trevor complain that a 30 page B.B. is the maximum thickness for stapling!



Freke's Cottage Well

by Trev Hughes

Sunday 4th. July (American Independence Day) dawned at 10 a.m., sunny and clear.  I didn't feel very sunny or clear and the only thing I was independent of was a few more brain cells after the après pub barrel to celebrate Bolt's umpteenth birthday.  Eventually, after a 'Beans A la Hobbs' breakfast, Wormhole and I set off for the darker reaches of north Dorset. Wormhole's car was making some indefinable "oh,-it's-something-inside-the-engine" noises.  We nearly completed the journey without incident but, a couple of miles from Ted Humphries' superb, 300 year old house at Moorside, the car died on us, the battery totally flat.  Luckily the car started with a push and we eventually reached Ted's front drive.

Ted was on his front lawn clad only in shorts and sandals, leaping into the air emitting blood curdling curses amid a cloud of flying nastiness.  Ted, tired of mowing an already immaculate lawn, had decided to mow a wasps' nest, with the expected result.

We unloaded the long-suffering car of all the usual paraphernalia associated with a cave dive, and I started to get changed.  Wormhole, of course, had to tend to his car before anything else:

"Ted. Have you a battery charger I can use?"

I struggled into my wetsuit.

"Ted.  You don't happen to have a tyre pump, do you?"

Valve and bottle were readied.

"I'd better top up the radiator.  Ted, have you got a watering can?"

I made up a shot-line to plumb the well.

"It's a good job I had some 20/50 in the boot."

I honestly don't know how that car ever made it to Priddy, let alone round the north of France.

As I have mentioned Ted has quite a historical house: named Freke's Cottage after an MP sent to the Chiltern Hundreds for handing out boiled sweets to orphans, or after an unfrocked vicar, or somebody similar.  The house, and possibly the well, date from the 16th. century.  The well itself is about 3 feet diameter and stone lined.  It resurges, at ground level, at about 3 gallons per minute and the water forms a small stream at the garden edge.  A 1 foot high parapet surrounds the well.

Looking down the well into the crystal clear water it appeared that the stone ginging stopped at about 30 feet down and a roughly hewn, natural stone shaft of larger size could be seen.  We plumbed the well to 82 feet deep with the shotline.  I kitted up and, by weighting myself to be negatively buoyant, I went hand over hand down the line.  Natural light was lost at 30 feet and my newly converted nicad aquaflash proved its worth by providing a far stronger beam than is usual with such a torch.  By looking downwards I could see the stone ginging descending to the bottom - the appearance of an unlined shaft was an optical illusion.  The shaft bottom was covered with stones and thick, algal deposits.  Although the vis quickly dropped to zero I was able to see some modern oddments, including a short length of scaffold bar.

Wormhole dived next but, due to the poor vis, was unable to find anything of importance.  He recovered a paint tin and some milk bottles. Surprisingly, also, Wormhole managed to survive the dive without any of his kit falling apart, although he did manage to break some of mine.  (I had it welded up at work the next day!).

If the well is of a similar age to the house then excavation of the bottom may prove worthwhile from a historical viewpoint.  The local rock is a thickly bedded strata of oolite and is unlikely to contain natural, enterable passages.  Further dives using a wire shopping basket and hauling rope will be needed to remove debris from the bottom.

Ian's and my thanks must go to Ted's wife, who cooked us a superb, Sunday lunch, the timing of which was absolutely perfect for the completion of our diving activities.

And the drive back to Priddy.  Well, that's another story!


Monthly Notes

G.B. RESCUE. Since the 1968 floods and the collapse of the swallet above the head of the gorge, vast quantities of mud have been washed through G.B. to be deposited at the sump.  The water is liable to pond up more and more frequently as the deposits solidify and it is now often necessary to swim across to the climb to Ladder Dig.

On Sunday November 21st. three parties swam across the pool and visited the extensions.  There had been frequent, heavy rain and this continued while the parties were underground.  The pool rose and overflowed into Ladder Dig.  One party only just managed to scramble out as the passage sumped.  The other two parties were competently organised, experienced and well equipped.

Divers found the Ladder Dig to be sumped at three points, the third sump being choked with gravel as well, and not possible to clear in the confined space and zero viz. Fortunately, dye testing only three weeks previously had proved that nearby Charterhouse Cave water did not enter any of the known parts of G.B.  The Fire Service pumped vast amounts of water away into Charterhouse, and the Ladder Dig pool lowered unbelievably quickly.  It then became possible to bale the sumps and dig through the choked area.

The trapped cavers were none the worst for wear and what could have been a serious affair ended after only a few hours.

Dozens of cavers turned up, mostly on spec, having heard about the rescue from sources beyond/outside M.R.O., particularly radio and T.V., and many enjoyed a welcome beer back at the Belfry in the early hours of Monday morning.

WOOKEY HOLE. Having heard various conflicting reports on Martyn Farr's dive in Wookey, I have spoken with Martyn and I am now able to give a more detailed account of the push.

The sump descends steadily as a high rift, comfortable enough with side mounted bottles by descending slightly on one's side.  At about -150' the rift opens out to a 20' square tunnel, which continues a steady descent.  At about 450' from base, at a depth of -200', the roof begins to close down, eventually meeting the sandy floor as pendants.  The whole River Axe appears to flow through this gap.  Martyn is not sure of the width of the river at this point but he guessed at, at least 20'.  He investigated the left hand edge and reckoned that, in view of the sandy floor, a way could be forced through beneath/between the pendants.  Through a low, two foot wide gap there he could see the passage continuing its steady descent to at least -205'.

DAN YR OGOF. We are now banging the boulders at the top of an aven above Falklands Pot (at the end of Tubeways).  Scalloped flow markings indicate that Tubeways water came from this region, but the passages seem immature (although Windy Way and the Long Crawl are both immature i.e. small).  A survey and brief description of the Falklands Pot area will appear in the B.B. soon - when I give the rest of the figures to Phil Romford!


Charterhouse Caving Committee

The Bristol Waterworks Company are the owners of several square miles of land in the area surrounding Charterhouse-on-Mendip.  Numerous cave entrances and sites of speleological and archaeological interest are located on Company property.  During the latter 1950s the Company placed a restriction on caving and made a request that cavers who wished to visit sites on Company land should rationalise their activities under a corporate body with whom the Company could negotiate a set of conditions under which caving could be continued.  An agreement amongst Mendip caving clubs, the Charterhouse Caving Committee was formed.  It comprised representatives of eleven caving clubs and an Honorary Secretary/Chairman.

The Member Clubs are:-

·         Avon Scout Council

·        Axbridge Caving Group

·         Bristol Exploration Club

·        Cerberus Speleological Society

·        Charterhouse Outdoor Centre

·        Mendip Exploration Group

·        Mendip Caving Group

·        Mendip Nature Research Committee

·        Shepton Mallet Caving Club

·         University of Bristol Speleological Society

·         Wessex Cave Club

The Affiliated Clubs are:-

·         South Bristol Speleological Society

·        Toby Caving Club

·        Unit 2 Cave Research Group

The first meeting of the Committee took place in December 1959 and it set about the task of negotiating an acceptable access arrangement with the Bristol Waterworks Company based on three main requirements:-

a)                  That the Company should be indemnified against any claims arising out of caving or archaeological activities on its land.

b)                  That persons taking part in these activities should hold a permit to be shown on demand to a Company representative or tenant of the land involved.

c)                  That no fresh excavations should be made on, or under the surface of, Company land without written permission.

After protracted discussions, the Company granted the Committee a licence in 1963 giving it sole rights concerning caving and archaeological interest in the area; exploration, excavation, photography, publication and the issuing of permits. A sub-licence granted similar rights to the UBSS with respect to G.B. Cave.  The Licence requires the Committee to:-

a)                  Insure the Company against all possible claims.

b)                  Bear any expenses incurred, including the upkeep and repair of entrances and the proper legal expenses of the Company.

c)                  Maintain a register of permit holders and accept responsibility for compliance with the conditions stated on the permits and the regulations governing the use of the land. Member Clubs are required to return all used Permit Counterfoils to the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer.

Having due regard for its obligations, the Committee has made every effort to simplify access arrangements.  However it has not been possible to escape from adopting a certain amount of formalised procedure.


Permits may be issued by anyone of the eleven Member Clubs to their own club members and guests. Each club maintains its own public liability insurance which provides cover for members and guests.  Permits may also be issued by the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer to:-

a)                  Cavers wishing to visit the area as guests of the Committee, i.e. those who are unable to make a guest agreement with a club.

b)                  Members of caving clubs who choose to become affiliated to the Committee and maintain an insurance policy covering members and guests.

The Committee maintains a public liability insurance to indemnify both itself and Bristol Waterworks against claims arising out of caving activities.  This policy extends to cover guests.

Guests may obtain a Temporary Permit to cover a period of 14 days at a cost of 25p each.  Members of Affiliated clubs may obtain a Period Permit, valid for one year at a cost of 50p.  These charges provide a source of revenue which helps defray the costs of insurance and other expenses; the majority of such expenses are met by a subvention from the Member Clubs.  The Permit issuing system ensures that holders of either permit are covered by the necessary insurance.  Applications for permits from Minors (16-18 years) must be accompanied by an Indemnity Form signed by the Parent/Guardian, Member Clubs hold a supply of these.

Note: Members of the member clubs are entitled to 5 year permits which are free.  These are only valid whilst still a member of the issuing club and cannot be transferred.


To comply with the regulations under the licence and sub-licence, caves in the area are required to be gated.  However, there is no difficulty in obtaining a key for the caves concerned:- G.B. Cave, Longwood/August, and Rhino Rift.  A leadership system is in operation for Charterhouse Cave.  Other smaller gated sites include Timber Hole and Longwood Valley sink.  Reads Grotto Dig is not gated.  Although there is no formal booking system, cavers visiting the area as guests of the Committee are requested to write to the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer giving one months notice and stating the following, so that the necessary arrangements can be made:-

a)                  Full names, address's and ages of party

b)                  Cave

c)                  Date of proposed trip

d)                  Enclose £5 returnable deposit

e)                  25p each per permit

Address to which applications to be sent is 53 Portway, Wells, Somerset.


All Member Clubs hold a key for use by their members and guests.  Affiliated clubs and guests may also obtain their key from the Honorary Secretary/Treasure (see above section).

a)                  The Cave is to remain locked at all times and parties must lock the door both on entry to and departure from the cave.

b)                  It is the responsibility of the caver to satisfy himself with any tackle used in the cave; particularly the rawbolts placed to facilitate the club up into Ladder Dig Extension.

c)                  The use of acetylene (carbide) lamps is not permitted in the cave.

d)                  The Party is limited to SIX persons including the leader.

e)                  NOVICES and UNDER 16' s are NOT PERMITTED.

It must be noted that responsibility for G.B. Cave is held under sub-licence by UBSS.  Excavation, photography and publication are not permitted without authority from UBSS. Permits are countersigned for G.B. Cave by a UBSS signatory.


WARNING:        Under conditions of prolonged and/or heavy rainfall, some active sections of the cave (notably August Hole Streamway) are liable to become dangerous or impassable due to flooding.  Pumps that take water from the springs at Charterhouse will stop pumping automatically making the cave more prone to flooding.

RHINO RIFT    (As G.B. Gave).

WARNING:        The cave is almost entirely vertical in character and care must be taken when on pitches to avoid dislodging boulders. Do not wait unnecessarily at the foot of ladders/ropes and beware of falling debris.


This cave formally known as Reads Grotto Dig was discovered in April 1982.  This cave has many fine formations and in an effort to conserve this system in as good a condition as possible whilst still maintaining access the Committee has set the following rules:-

a)                  Access is available through approved leaders.  Each Member Club has two 

b)                  Each Member Club has one Key to be shared by the leaders.  Party size is restricted to 4 including Leader.

c)                  No Carbide

d)                  No Novices

Applications to visit this cave may be made either to the Hon. Secretary/Treasurer or a Member Club. At least SIX weeks notice is required. The BEC's two leaders are:-

Phil Romford, Coxley, Nr Wells, Somerset.

Jane Clarke, Wedmore, Somerset.


a)                  Applications to dig anywhere on Charterhouse controlled land or in any existing cave must be made to the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer who in turn will obtain permission from Bristol Waterworks Company.

b)                  If permission to dig a specific site is granted either above or below ground it is not transferable to another site.

c)                  Explosives are not permitted without specific permission of Bristol Waterworks Company.


The Committee is deeply concerned that maximum regard is given to cave conservation and the Bristol Waterworks Company insist that activities in and around the caves do not constitute a health hazard.  All cavers are required to: -

a)                  Do not leave any litter in or around the caves.

b)                  Do not damage or disfigure any part of the cave or calcite formations.

c)                  Do not urinate or defecate in the caves.

d)                  Do not commence any new digs (see section entitled DIGGING)

e)                  Be considerate towards others who may be using the cave or area especially in Longwood which is a nature reserve.

f)                    Do not install bolts or fixed aids in the caves without the express permission of the Committee.

The Committee exists to ensure the continued use of the Charterhouse caving area by all cavers and relies upon their cooperation.

Tim Large, Honorary Secretary/Treasurer Charterhouse Caving Committee October 1982


Monthly Notes (Continued)

TACKLE. Equipment is still going missing.

Until now the rule has been:-

When you borrow tackle, use the Tackle Book to list what is borrowed, name the cave, sign the entry and date it.  Tackle should be signed back in and this entry dated also.  Since this simple method is obviously failing - cavers are borrowing equipment without signing the book - a stricter system of control is to be introduced.

If you don't like stringent methods of keeping tabs on our tackle, yes OUR tackle, then stop borrowing it without signing it out…..and bring back the gear you left in your car boot, your garage, your cave dig, or wherever…..and don't leave it in the drinking pond and expect it to crawl back to the store of its own accord.

SNIEZNAJA PIESZCZIERA ( SNOWY CAVE). Moscow cavers and the U.S.S.R. academy of Sciences have pushed this system to a depth of -1335m ± 25m.  The present end is a boulder choke.

NAPRA.  A depth of -970m. has been reached here, and the potential depth is nearly 2,300m.

These two caves are in the Bzybskyi Range of the Caucuses.

Caving International No 14.

CAVING INTERNATIONAL. At last No. 14 is out, with some interesting news but a lot of it is rather dated.  There's an interview with Julia James (if you’ve never heard of her, let me just say that she could drink you under the table any time and probably cave harder than you any time too) two articles which are heavy on archaeology, more on equipment, yet another spiel about the Andros Blue Holes, the Toohey Ridge Cave System, near Flint Ridge-Mammoth, and a strip cartoon which is fun but rather a waste of space in an expensive, fairly serious magazine.

Wig is our Mendip agent for C.I. so, if you want a copy, ask him.  You'll find him under a pile of postcards at Townsend Cottage.

WELCOME IN THE HILLS. If you stand in the entrance to Rock and Fountain and look out across the Clydach Valley you see the village of Llanelly Hill.  Ian and Annie Wilton-Jones have now settled in to the village and anyone is welcome to drop in (phone call first, please - Gilwern 0873 831182 )

If you fancy breakfast there on your way to Dan-y, or wherever, they'll do it for a fraction of the cost of the little chef down the road, or if you want a bit of floor space for the night, or if you just want a natter - all cavers are welcome.

To find the house, just follow the signs for Llanelly Hill from the bottom of the Clydach, find the Jolly Collier and then ask (for the local wild-life park!!).

Ian & Annie, Llanelly Hill, Gwent.

CONCRETE MIXER. The Club now owns a concrete mixer (which broke during the capping of Charterhouse Cave but should soon be functional again).

It is available for hire, at rates well below the usual.  If you want to borrow it, apply to any member of the committee.

P .S.  Ian & Annie have camping Space available, they are three minutes walk from the pub, and can sometimes provide milk and eggs (straight from the pump!).


Wildlife And Countryside Act 1982

The Wildlife and Countryside Act received Royal Assent on the 30th October 1981.  Prior to this its passage through the House of Commons aroused considerable interest and in excess of 2000 amendments (a record number) were tabled to it.  It was considerably strengthened during this process, and although much of the interest, both in and outside Parliament, related to wildlife and habitat conservation it nevertheless could have considerable bearing on the future protection of caves and their environments.  For the purpose of this review comment will be confined to those parts of the Act that might have some direct bearing on caving activities.

The implementation of the Act will essentially fall to the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC), and generally strengthen the statutory provisions for nature conservation in Britain.  It also modifies the National Parks and Access to The Countryside Act 1949 which provided most of the NCC's original powers.  Particularly the Act increases the ability to safeguard sites from threats which do not constitute development as defined in planning law, for example agricultural improvement and afforestation.

The Act is split into four parts covering Wildlife (Part 1), Nature Conservation, Countryside and National Parks (Part 2), Public Rights of Way (Part 3), and Miscellaneous and General (Part 4).  A list of Schedules relating to the Act is also included and primarily consists of lists of species covered under Part 1.

Part 1 - Wildlife

The only, sections of this Part with bearing on caves are Sections 9-12 entitled 'Protection of other animals'.  In respect of, caves this includes bats.  Previously only the greater horseshoe and mouse-eared bats were offered any statutory protection, but the Act now gives full protection to all species.  The provisions of the Act make it illegal to intentionally kill, or injure or take any of the scheduled animals, or to be in possession or control of any whether live or dead.  Furthermore it is illegal to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place or structure which the animal uses for shelter or protection and/or to disturb any such animal while it is occupying a place or structure for that purpose.  Certain exceptions can be made to the above where the persons doing so are appropriately licensed.

Part 2 - Nature Conservation, Countryside and National Parks

The Town and Country Planning Act already gives some protection to SSSI's in that local authorities are required to inform the NEC of, and thereby give them opportunity to comment on, applications that might affect these sites.  The new Act however stipulates that the NCC must be consulted over activities that can be undertaken without planning consent where these activities have been specified as likely to affect the scientific interest. To enable compliance with this, Section 28 requires the NCC to re-notify all existing SSSI's, and to notify all new ones, to owners, occupiers, local planning authorities and the Secretary of State.  This notification must now define the reason for scheduling and provide a list of all activities likely to damage the scientific interest.

The owner/occupier is allowed a three month consultation period after notification and is then required to obtain NCC's agreement before undertaking any of the activities specified. Without this agreement the owner/occupier is legally prevented from carrying out these activities unless they form, part of an already, existing management agreement, or unless three months has elapsed without a formal management agreement being reached.  In the event of a dispute or the inability to reach agreement, the Secretary of State can make an order under Section 29 of the Act extending the negotiation period to twelve months and specifying the determination of compensation consequent to this.  Basically the new provisions allow early warning of any damaging activities and gives the NCC the opportunity to act.

Section 34 is the next of interest and allows for the .protection of limestone pavements. Previously the extraction of limestone for agricultural use, for example building walls etc, was permitted, whereas commercial extraction, including taking stone for rockeries or other ornamental purposes, required planning permission.  The Act now offers total protection to Limestone pavements which have been notified to the local council.  Limestone Pavement Orders can be made either by the Secretary of State or the local planning authority, and once in effect extraction of stone for any purpose will be illegal.

Section 38 is of particular note.  This supersedes Section 3 of the NCC Act 1973 and enables the Council to give a grant or loan towards projects "conductive to nature conservation or fostering the understanding of nature conservation".  Such grants or loans are subject to approval by the Treasury, and certain conditions may be imposed.

Part 3 - Public Rights of Way

This section covers a number of minor aspects referring to public rights of way.  It states a duty to keep definitive maps and statements under continuous review, refers to making changes, additions and updating public rights of way 1 and requires reclassification of roads used as public footpaths.  Also included is a section prohibiting the keeping of bulls on land crossed by public footpaths, but excluding those bulls under ten months old and those of a recognised dairy breed kept with a herd of cows or heifers.

Part 4 Miscellaneous and General

This final section covers minor items such as definitions and minor amendments to various previous Acts. It contains nothing of relevance.

Graham Price
Conservation & Access Officer (CSCC)


Monthly Notes (Continued)


Down to a Sunless Sea – Mike Boon
Caving and Potholing – Dave Judson & Arthur Champion
The Caves Beyond – Joe Lawrence & Roger Brucker
Caves of South Wales – Tim Stratford
Discovering Caves (new edition) – Tony Oldham
Ghar Parau – Dave Judson

plus all the latest Mendip club newsletters and old and new publications from other clubs.

Donations still most welcome.


T-SHIRTS. There: is just one small B.E.C. T-shirt left.  Contact Trev Hughes, 8, West Bank, Wookey Hole, or at the Belfry.

WANTED (it's very late and I'm tired but that is meant to say "WANTED".  Storage Heaters for the Belfry.  The old ones have had it.

SOUTH WALES LEADERS. Tim Large is now a Dan yr Ogof leader and Brian Prewer is an O.F.D. I leader.

CLUB LOGS. Been caving recently?  Don't forget to write up your trip in the log. Our log books go right back to the very early trips made by club members, and these books are kept in the Club library.

MORE RUSSIAN CAVES.  In Soviet Weekly, Apr. 18th '81, is a report on the cave TOR LIANI (W. Georgia/Soviet Trans Caucasia) which is claimed to be the third deepest in the world, with a depth of just under 4000’.  Is this just another name for SNOWY CAVE, perhaps?

It contains a 545' waterfall, and has a constant entrance temperature of 0° C, rising to 60 C at -3200'. There are now 500 known caves in Georgia, including Tsonskaya, 7000' asl and the highest site of prehistoric human habitation in Europe.

SHEPTON BUFFET. As usual this was an excellent affair, differing mainly from previous years by having a disco instead of 'The Band'.

In the competition Trev Hughes and Hartin Grass put all their pennies in the cups, and Edrich, son of Sid, exceeded all the opposition's expectations by consuming three shredded wheats, dry, quicker than anybody else.  We won, but of course, S.M.C.C. did as well.  The food was superb value, the wine and beer flowed freely food flowed (and some freely over certain people's heads), and every other person spent the evening firing aerosols of plastic spiders' webs at everyone else.

Many thanks to all the organisers.

SHORT GILL RISING Barbondale, Cumbria.  The sump here was blocked with lots of loose boulders, but these have been removed, particularly by pushing them down the underwater boulder slope.  A much larger passage has been revealed.  Prospects sound good, in spite of only 10 m progress into the sump after several dives.          C.D.G. Newsletter No. 65 (Oct '82)

STOKE LANE SLOCKER. Wormhole, Pete Moody, Chris Milne et al eventually pushed their way to Stoke 8, and when the water levels are lower, sometime next year, it is hoped that they will have a go at the very end. Wormhole will be made to promise to write an article.

STENKRITH PARK.  Northern Dales.  Earlier this year Martin Grass, Geoff Crossley, Jane and I looked at the short, but aqueous and sporting Devil's Grinding Milll, not knowing that M.S.G. had discovered a similar cave, the 1400 foot Angel's Drainpipe, in the same outcrop of Brockram, only a few months earlier.       Caves and Caving. No 18 (Nov ’82).

LUNEHEAD MINE CAVERNS. The entrance to these is totally blocked by a landslip of many tons of large boulders, which will take a lot of shifting.

BOGG HALL CAVE.  Kirbymoorside, North York Moors. Scunthorpe Caving Club have extended this through two short sumps to over 600 feet.  At the end the River Dove emerges from a flooded rift at least 40 feet deep.

Caves and Caving No 18.

Also in the same issue of Caves and Caving are reports of expeditions to Norway (Glomdal), Austria (Totes Gebirge), Spain (Picos de Cornion and Matienzo), and Andros.  Other interesting international news includes a note about St. Pauls Cave, Palawan, Philippines, where a 4¼km river passage, tidal throughout its length and often over 10 m. wide, can be traversed entirely by canoe!

EAST TWIN. South Bristol S.S. are continuing their work here, and the dig from the Third Chamber now extends over 65 feet. Digging is assisted by a monorail.

Descent No 52.

Not a bad copy of Descent this time around, with articles on Russet Well, Aude Gorge, S.R.T., S.R.T., S.R.T. etc.

The PAUL ESSER MEMORIAL LECTURE for 1983 will be delivered by Dick Renshaw on Wednesday, 2nd February, at 8.15 pm. in the Physics Lecture Theatre, University of Bristol.

Here is the Lecturer's summary.

In March this year, a team of six led by Chris Bonnington set off for China to attempt the unclimbed East-North-East ridge of Everest.  The team consisted of four climbers - Chris Bonnington, Joe Tasker, Pete Boardman and Dick Renshaw, with Charlie Clarke and Adrian Gordon as their support team.

It marked the return after an absence of forty years of British Mountaineering to the north side of Everest.  The objective was a very challenging ridge, the crux of which was just below 27,500 feet, where it joins the North-East Ridge, the line taken by the earliest British expeditions, including the attempt by Mallory and Irvine in 1924.

The idea was to climb without oxygen and without high altitude porters.  After reaching a high point of 26,700 feet, Dick Renshaw had a mild stroke and had to return home.  As Chris was exhausted, Pete and Joe decided to go for a summit attempt after a short rest at Base Camp.  On 17th May they were at a height of 27,100 feet, and were last seen at 9.00 pm., still climbing and presumably looking for a place to pitch their tent.  They were never seen again.

Dick Renshaw tells, with slides, the story of this expedition and of their journey through Tibet.

Admission is free, but parties coming from some distance may reserve seats by writing to the Trustee, Dr. Oliver Lloyd, Bristol, BS9.


An Obituary To Stan Gee (1933 - 1982)

Members present at the Annual Dinner this year will remember hearing the news that Stan Gee died on September 11th at a Ceilidh in Stockport.  He had a severe heart attack at the end of a particularly vigorous dance.

Stan Gee, BEC member No 265 since 17th August 1952 (although his membership did lapse for a while) was born in about 1933 and has always lived in the Stockport area.  His caving started around 1948/49 and he was associated with the Orpheus Caving Club (Northern Section) at the time and continued caving with the Derbyshire Caving Club in 1959 when it was formed as a splinter group of the OCC.  There is a description of Stans work in Oxlow and Maskhill mines in BB No 72/August 1953.

Most of his caving was in and around Derbyshire as travelling in the 1940's early 50's posed considerable problems.  Stan used to tell of an early trip to Alum Pot when the expedition left Stockport for Manchester Victoria Station riding on the back of a coalman's horse drawn cart.  He did his National Service in the Fire Service at Aldershot and it is probably at this time that he first visited Mendip.

After the formation of the DCC, expeditions started to go to the Cordina area in Italy and Stan soon became a regular participant. Within a few years he had taken over the organisation of the expeditions and continued to go to Italy every year thereafter making many close friends.  This led to reciprocal visits by the Italian Cavers and Stan's house was often home from home for itinerant cavers.

Throughout this time Stan kept two other outdoor activities going, rambling especially in Derbyshire and archaeology at places such as Elder Bush Cave and Fox Holes as a member of the Peakland Archaeological Society. The Latter activity continued until very recently when Stan was digging at Pooles Cavern in Buxton.

Stan was never happy if he wasn’t organising something and the range of his activities was wide, from black magic to New Year Parties, stunts like the creation of the English Republican Army (raiding Welsh Castles on St Davids Day) to the reopening of Alderley Edge Copper Mines at Alderley Edge and non-caving activities in Sutherland.

For many years Stan combined his caving and rambling activities with folk singing and playing. He played the guitar, accordion and harmonium and was part of a jigband called Slipper Alley Sidewalk Stompers in the 1960' s.  This band became the Bullock Smithy Folk Group which gained local and national fame with appearances on radio and northwest TV programmes.

His latest venture after Bullock Smithy, packed in were with folk dancing and. the formation of a women's Morris Dancing team called Fiddler's Fancy.

Stan was married for a while but for many years shared a home with Ethel Burton.

Nigel Dibden   23rd October 1982


British Spelaeological Expedition To Mexico

J-Rat, Bob and Dany are currently with the expedition, near San Cristobal in Chiapas.  In a four day recce several caves have been found, including one of 2000 feet (length?) and rumour has it that some members were captured by Indians and ransomed: for several thousand pesos!!  Full report on progress next month.


Alan Thomas was knock down by a vehicle in Wells on Saturday (18th.) and is presently in Bristol Royal Infirmary.   We wish him a speedy recovery.

Hallowe'en Rift

by Trev Hughes

It seems that so far this year new caves on Mendip have been found by chance or fairly easily, viz Hole in the Road and the extension of Reads Grotto Dig, now called Charterhouse Cave. Little did I know that what I initially labelled simply 'Unnamed Dig' in my caving log was to follow a similar pattern.

I came across the site while studying the wooded slopes in the area above the village, three fields away from the bottom of my garden.

Initially all that was visible was a moss-lined, widened joint, hidden under brambles and hawthorn, in a low outcrop of dolomitic conglomerate.  Spotting a spider's egg cocoon similar to those found in many caves I decided to return the next day to investigate the area with suitable digging equipment.

Saturday October 30th saw the start of work.  The first job was to remove the dense brambles covering the area.  Suspecting that any cave passage might follow the joint roughly northwards I started digging a hole at the edge of the outcrop to give space to allow progress to be made horizontally.  Very quickly it became apparent that I was digging in a rectangular shaft filled with jumbled rocks and sandy subsoil.  By the end of the day's work I had a 1 x 1.3 m shaft, 1.5 m deep, which I suspected could be a mine shaft, although there was no evidence to support this, such as shot-holes, etc.

I worked solo on Sunday morning but after lunch J-Rat and the Hut Warden's husband, Phil, came along to help.  We worked steadily throughout the afternoon and as the sky was darkening Phil opened up a clean walled rift in the northern part of the shaft.  This was narrow at the northern end but widened to 0.3 m towards the still covered southern end.  The rift walls were lined with old stal/flowstone and the deepest point appeared to be about 4 m below surface level.  As it was Hallowe'en the name of our embryonic rift cave was easily chosen.

My next visit (solo again) was on November 3rd.  I spent the afternoon digging out the infill from the southern side of the shaft and opened up a widening rift.  I was able to clear away the overburden without too much of it falling down the rift, which is about 0.4 m wide as it undercuts the southern wall of the shaft. After three hours work I was able to descend this rift to a small, stony-floored chamber, the walls and roof of which were thickly covered with massive (but mostly shattered) stal, not to mention some huge spiders.  By rearranging the stones on the floor I was able to peer into a larger, low chamber to the east of the entrance rift.  Due to problems with my nife cell I decided to finish for the day.  Open cave passage had been entered after only 17½ man hours of work - quite reasonable progress.

Earlier in the week I had been to see Dr. Frank McBratney, the manager of Wookey Hole Cave on whose land this cave lies.  He voiced no objections to the dig although he wished to consult that other Wookey Hole resident, Jim Hanwell, on the whys and wherefores before giving the full go-ahead.  (This has now been done and permission given).

J-Rat and I next marked at the site on l Nov. 5th and, with Tony heaving up buckets of stones and me loading them, we lowered th floor of the first chamber by some 0.6 m.  Not surprisingly, the inevitable J-Rat dry stone wall appeared!

With the floor of the chamber lowered I was able to determine that the opening on the eastern side, first noticed two days before, was only an alcove measuring 2 m. x 3.m., but away to the west a low passage (a half tube in the roof of a low bedding plane) could be seen.

After about 3 m. this passage appeared to open up.  The floor was composed of uncompacted sandy mud and broken pieces of calcite floor. By wriggling into this passage, pushing the mud to the sides and then reversing out with as many lumps of calcite as possible, progress was quickly made.  Three such operations opened the end up to passable size.  After hauling out the last of these blocks Tony joined me at the bottom of the rift.  Once into the half tube a noticeable outward draught could be felt.

With Tony hot on my heels I squeezed into the larger bedding passage beyond.  To the left the passage sloped away down dip and straight ahead the low bedding, now 4 - 5m. wide, continued.  The floor is mostly sandy mud and the roof generally 0.5m high.  This area of the cave was christened Guy Fawkes Chamber for obvious reasons.


From the survey it can be seen that the passages are joint controlled and the bedding continues to the east although it is filled to the roof with mud.  At this stage we estimated that we had 30m of passage with two obvious dig sites.  The total digging time to date: 24½ man hours.

The next day Tony and were joined by Chris Batstone who, unfortunately, decided that the narrow entrance was not for him.  His part in the day's proceedings was to haul spoil up the entrance rift while I cleared out the bottom. J-Rat and I started digging at the two sites within the cave; both are low beddings and work is tiring on the arms.

Jane Clarke, Bassett and I completed a Grade 3 survey on Nov. 7th.  With a strong pencil beam light the dig nearer the entrance can be seen to open up after 6 - 7m.  Beneath the 0.2m space soft mud overlays a calcite floor resting on more mud.  A crowbar can be used to open up a trench in this to give a workable roof height.

On Nov 10th. Quackers and I did some more work clearing out the entrance rift floor and the choked northern side - it may well continue northwards at passable size.  It is far larger than the other rifts in the bedding roof (on 3150) within the cave and is therefore well worth clearing out.

The latest trip at the time of writing was on Nov. 16th. when, again solo, I continued working at the eastern dig site.  By blocking the edges of the bedding with spoil I revealed that a draught, roughly comparable with that leaving the entrance crawl, comes from the low arch now only a couple of metres away.  The calcite blocks extracted from this dig are hampering further work and must now be properly removed.  The low roof makes this vital.  Work continues and more discoveries may have been made by the time this article appears in print.  All help is most welcome.

Finally, what of the other, more well known, cave in this area?  Well, does the idea of a dry grots trip to Wookey 22 appeal to anyone?


Tourist Caving Abroad

from Bryan Scott

The two articles reproduced below were sent in by Bryan, who has visited Harrison's Cave and thoroughly recommends it.  If you should be lucky enough to travel to Barbados, take a few B.E.C. stickers with you - Bryan didn't have any!

He also says that the caves on the island of Rodriges (east of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean) are well worth a visit, and adds:

The B.E.C. get everywhere - OK!

For those who would rather not trek to the back of beyond merely to "get away from it all," but who still want to have an exciting and educational experience, some memorable vacations are to be had right here in Western Canada.

Discover Canada April ’81

by Joanne Macdonald

Take caving, for example. Uncommon, true, yet it can be ideal for everyone from families to special interest groups.  Paul Griffiths, president of the B.C. Speleological Federation, a public interest group involved in cave conservation and cave-related resources, says that public tours offered in various locales over the past few years have been hugely successful, largely because often they can be geared to the groups' specific interests.  Accompanying guides advise on caving techniques and the cultural and geological points of interest, as well as such areas as underground photography. Such tours, while sponsored by the BCSF, are actually organized by other groups around the province.

The Regional District of Mount Waddington is one.  From May to September (high season for caving), Mount Waddington arranges tours four days per week.  Specialized caving equipment is provided, and participants bring their own sturdy work boots, gloves, pants and a warm sweater.  Last year's cost was a mere $5 per day, and may be slightly higher now. Cavers are expected to find their own accommodation.

As an offshoot of the BCSF, Speleolectours, a company catering to the public interest in caving, has been operating since May, 1980. According to Griffiths, who advises the company, Speleolectours is the headquarters for weekend speleologists, providing information on cave tours on a year-round basis.  For more information on recreational caving, contact Speleolectours' Karen Bischoff at 283-2691, Gold River, B.C.

Barbados 1982, Canadian Travel Press.  Timothy Baxter (Editor)

For years visitors to Barbados have been captivated by quiet beaches and abundant sunshine.  Now they can also plunge below the surface into a world of darkness, cascading waterfalls, pools of clear, cold water, and cream coloured caverns that glisten with thousands of stalagmites and stalactites.

The Government of Barbados officially opened Harrison's Cave here recently, after spending vast sums of money and five years preparing it for visitors.  The opening was festive, with Prime Minister I.M.G.M. "Tom" Adams officiating.

The tour of Harrison's Cave is unique in the Caribbean.  It begins at the Visitors Centre, with a short colour slide show that will prepare the visitors for the journey into their cavern experience.  Also in the Centre are some fascinating artefacts of the island's first inhabitants: the Arawak Indians.

Visitors then board a 36 passenger electric tram that transports them down into the cool earth and away from the hot, bright sun.  Indirect lighting has been installed in the cave to enhance the magnificent scenes as well as for safety reasons.

Sights on the tour, which lasts about an hour, include the 150 foot long Great Hall, with a 50 foot view downward, full of stalagmites and stalactites; the Explorers Pool, a long passage leading to the Twin Falls, two glistening water cascades which plunge to the cave’s floor and then disappear from sight.  As the tram crawls further into the caverns, winding along streams, pools, and waterfalls, it reaches the deepest point of the journey; Mirror Lake, a clear and still pool which reflects the detailed formations on the cave's ceiling.

Then the tram halts, allowing visitors to walk around and explore the cavern.  For the daring, walks under the 40 foot high waterfalls are possible, while for the less adventurous; strolls by the greenish-blue pools are encouraged.  Visitors then proceed to the highlight of the tour; The Rotunda Room.  This is a stunning chamber 250 feet long, 100 feet high and wide - composed of white and cream coloured formations that glitter like crystal.

Harrison's Cave was known to exist in the parish of St. Thomas for hundreds of years, and was charted in a document dating from 1760 by a group of English travellers.  It was only in 1970 however, when Ole Sorensen discovered the beautiful Rotunda Room after a series of heavy rains opened a passage to it.  It is now believed that this may be the only cave in the world where running water is found in connection with clear crystal-like formations.

In 1971, Sorensen suggested that the cave be developed as a tourist attraction.  The Barbados Government began the project in 1976 under his direction.

Tours of Harrison's Cave are given daily on the half hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Entrance fees to this national treasure are about $3.50 ($7 Bds) for adults, and $1.50 ($3 Bds) for children.


The Conversion of Aquaflashes to take Nicad Rechargeable Batteries.

by Trev Hughes.

A standard aquaflash, using three cells, gives a light output of 1.35W when using a standard bulb but, if converted to take rechargeable nicad batteries the light output is increased to 3.6W.  I have a catalogue advertising 4 Ah cells for about £4.50.  A normal dry cell costs about 35p so the increased light output is not the only advantage.

The actual conversion process is quite simple and can be done on the kitchen table (if you're a bachelor, Ed:).  The only tools required are a saw (for cutting plastic), a small rat-tail file and a craft knife, plus a sheet of sandpaper.  The operations are as follows:

1)         Mounting the Bulb

A pre-focus/screw thread bulb converter is required (I have plenty to spare) and a metal washer cut as shown in fig la.  These allow a 3.6V 1 A bulb to be fitted to the standard reflector.  The plastic bulb holders must be adapted to fit into the reflector's back.  The inner hole is enlarged to the external diameter of the bulb converter and, to allow for the extra thickness of the washer an equal amount must be removed from the end of both pieces (fig 2).

2)         Fitting the converted Reflector

When mounted in the reflector the bulb protrudes past the edge.  A spacer must be made to ensure that the bulb clears the screw down torch lens. A piece of plastic drainpipe or similar to the sizes shown in fig lb is used.  It is most easily made by sanding down the rough sawn annulus on a sheet of sandpaper resting on a hard, flat surface.  To compensate for this spacer the torch body must be shortened by a similar amount to ensure that the "0" seal does not leak.  To complete the job the brass contact strip is shortened by the same distance.

I have tested my converted torches in Wookey Hole and Freke's Cottage well to 80 feet, and to 110 feet in the sea off Poole with no leaks.

If anybody requires 4Ah nicad batteries (U2 size) I have the details.  If a large order can be sent then the unit cost is reduced.



Bonfire Night.


(With apologies to Phil Hendy, manufacturer of fireworks & sometime member of the Wessex.)

Come 'itherall you Belfryites,
I pray you lend an ear.
This tale I shall relate to you
Will bring forth mirth and cheer.

'Tis of the Wessex cattle grid
The truth I shall unfold.
So them with guilty consciences,
Turn over - or be bold.

'T'was on one dark November's night
(Most nights are dark y'know.)
When the Mendip rain did rain quite wet
And the Mendip wind did blow.

The 'Hunters', having served its' last
Cast out a merry rabble,
Who made their way to the Wessex hut
For fireworks and a barrel.

The Wessex, being the folk they are,
Hid their barrel well and good.
So everyone went back outside
And round the bonfire stood.

The blaze it was a goodly one.
The flames they were quite wild.
Apart from the wind and the wet all about,
I suppose you could say it was mild.

Suddenly there was a blinding flash,
As the sky turned from crimson to gold!
The crowd cast their eyes to the heavens
And forgot about beer and the cold.
Our appetites whetted, we all leaned forward
And eagerly looked for another.
But "Hendy" made fireworks being what they are,
Had to rapidly look for some cover.

The "bought ones" went off with a hell of a zip
And erupted with colour up high.
But poor Phil's bangers, rockets and whizzers
When lit, would just smoulder and die.

Now in order to be fair to the lad
And give praise where praise is due,
At least ONE of his fireworks actually went off
And being generous, perhaps even two !

The display being over, the fire almost out,
We all went inside for refreshment;
Jacket potatoes and hot apple pies
And of course, brown liquid contentment.
Amidst the laughter and sociable chat,
There was some rebellious talk
And a group all wearing Bertie Bat badges,
Disappeared off for a walk.

What happened next I'll leave up to you,
But suffice it just to say;
A hole appeared in the Wessex track
Where the cattle grid used to lay.

An older group of Wessex men
Soon left the hut for their cars
And groping their way down the darkened track,
Were met by a hole without bars.

Said one, a loyal Wessex chap,
“It's the B.E.C. doing, I can smell 'em.”
Said another, “Lets not be hasty now.
Our Committee 's inside, let's tell them.”

When the news was told, great clamour broke out!
Someone called an Emergency Meeting:
And all agreed that the terrible deed
Was beastly, unfair and unsporting.

"The grid must be restored at once!"
There were volunteers aplenty.
One man offered to lead the troops;
The gentleman's name was Hendy.

They made their way to the edge of the pit.
"Do you think if we dig, it might go?"
They peered down over the 18 inch drop
And told Pete Moody "NO!"
"Come on. Let's shift this damn grid back."
And they grunted, heaved and they strained.
Ten minutes later, all thirty sat down,
Decidedly weakened and drained.

"There must be something we can do to outwit them!
Let's see what we've got in our pockets."
So they all rummaged deep, then Phil Hendy cried;
"I've just found my last home-made rocket!"

They looked at each other with vacant expressions
And some scratched their heads quite a bit.
Some staggered off to fill up their glasses
And some disappeared to their pits.
"Don’t worry 'bout them." said one lone voice,
But Phil, he'd not noticed a thing.
He was too busy tying the stick of his rocket
Round the end of the grid with some string.
All thought, "Gosh! What a grand ideal"
And were just going to let out a cheer,
When a few remembered the display they'd just seen
And yet more disappeared for some beer.
"Now come on lads" said Phil commanding,
"Come 'ere and give us some light."
One bent down and struck a match
And the touch paper glowed livid white.

The rocket, being shocked by its' untimely launching,
Began to smoulder and splutter
And those that were left still stood round the hole,
Began to giggle and mutter.

"Don't worry!" said Phil, "This is one of my specials!"
"You're in for a big surprise!"
And as he spoke the rocket shuddered
And the cattle grid started to rise.

The rocket roared and the string it strained
‘Till it looked nearly fit to bust.
Then the cattle grid raced off up into space,
Leaving only a cloud of dust.

Then Phil sat down, his head in his hands
And wailed, "Oh woe is me."
"This is the end now.  I'll be banned
Can I join the B.E.C.?"

And what of the Wessex cattle grid?
Now it's only seen at night.
It's taken a place in history,
As the first Mendip satellite!

by A.N any-Mouse.


Rumblings In Tynnings Barrow Swallet

by Phil Romford

It was all Biffo's fault! After a digging trip to 'a day' he took it into his head to poke this enormous boulder with a short stick.  I expect you know the one, just down from the Aardvaark Trap.  He prodded while I held him by his belt ready to pull him clear.  It fell, but gently and all too easily, all twenty tons of it. The route was under that!

Since Biiffo's joyous day Tim and I have been back to stabilise the remaining loose bits in the roof. Hairy stuff this, prising off lumps we had blasted while sitting under them.  It seems that, upon reaching 40, one gets sillier - my wife agrees.  On Saturday (before August Bank holiday) Tim, Andy Lolly (who is joining the B.E.C.) Fish and I went back to finish removing loose stuff and blast a new, safe route through.  To make sure the way over the dropped boulder was not passable we slid a large slab over the hole and prised some more slabs from the roof. This caused major heart attacks for all, as we thought the whole roof was going to drop on us.  It's true, adrenalin is brown!

Fish decided to take over the banging exercise from Tim.  He placed ¼lb on a thin slab to knock a corner off, we fired it, and went straight back for a look.  Much to Fish's embarrassment it had only blown the dust off the surface.  He is now known as ‘The Expert’.  ½lb later the offending corner was removed. *

With a little more work the cave should be safe again.  Beware, however, in the meantime.

* Since this event Tim and I have prodded the loose wall above Pyramid Pot.  One prod from Tim is as good as a couple of pounds of bang. Now that is all about to fall down too!



Jobs To Be Done On The Belfry

In spite of a limited turn out for the latest working weekend much valuable work was done, particularly by the regulars.  Many thanks to all who turned up to improve/repair/maintain OUR hut.

Much still remains to be dealt with.  Why wait for the next working weekend. T ake your pick from the following list, and try and do at least one job next time you're at the Belfry.

1. )       Repair or replace men's bunkroom door-frame;

2. )       Treat men's bunkroom ceiling with fungicide;

3. )       Paint men's bunkroom doers;

4. )       Fit envelope box to hut fees box;

5. )       Fit fire extinguisher in kitchen;

6. )       Make duck boarding for shower-room and changing room;

7. )       Paint female toilet;

8. )       Board up window partition by female quarters;

9. )       Re-fit ceiling light cover in female bunkroom;

10. )      Fill in gaps around ceiling in female bunkroom and re-paint;

11. )      Re-felt roof of wooden shed;

12. )      Check and repair plumbing in loft;

13. )      Lag all plumbing an~ check water tank;

14. )      Fit new tiles (2) on Belfry roof;

15. )      Make and fit shower 'curtain to female shower;

16. )      Wire in extension to M.R.O. radio to library;

17. )      Install coin slot meter in ladies shower;

18. )      Completely service all gas fittings;

19. )      Paint floors with appropriate floor paint;

20. )      Clear out and rearrange tackle store;

21. )      Expose, lag and re-cover rising main;

22. )      Replace damaged chimney pipes;

23. )      Mend joints in chimney with fire clay.

If you have a locker at the Belfry and wish to keep it for next year then please let me know (at the Belfry or on Wells 75407) and also pay for it (50p/small locker, £l.00/large locker).

In January unclaimed lockers will be opened, emptied and reallocated.

Many thanks to Andy Nash for the donation of a 'fridge'.

WANTED: Usable single (2' 6" wile) mattresses for Belfry bunkrooms.

Phil Romford, Hut Warden.



Full Membership - £10                            Joint Membership - £15

Sent now to: Fi Lewis (or complete standing order and present to your bank)

Before  31st  Jaunary 1983


Letters To The Editor

Wookey Hole,

16th Nov  ‘82

Dear Editor,

I would like to comment on some editorial misinterpretations appearing in the last B.B.  Firstly, I have never quoted a figure of "30 diving members" of the B.E.C.  I believe an accurate figure to be 19 or 20 (of whom only 12 were at the A.G.M.). Secondly, the motion to set up a diving section only failed because of the constitutional requirement to have a 75% majority of those present to change the constitution.  The meeting was quorate and it is interesting to note that the greater proportion of those for the motion were non-divers.

The setting up of an independent diving group is progressing.  At the moment Chris is waiting to hear from the S.A.A.

To change tack, the Cave Digs section of Lifeline in the same E.B., especially as it covers work for one third of the year, is somewhat partial in its approach, not to say flippant in its attitude!

Reading this article it would seem that there are only half a dozen active diggers/pushers in the B.E.C. and those a very select closed shop.  Apart from the erroneous inclusion of Twin T's and Wigmore an update on Castle Farm Swallet could have been included.

A few other sites worth mentioning that I have worked on this year are as follows:

1)       St. Cuthbert’s:  Rob Harper and I were never given credit in the B.B. for the Jerusalem Oxbow bolt climb;

2)       G.B.: Rob, Quackers and I carried out a desperately thin three hour aid climb into a well decorated roof passage named Salisbury Hill;

3)       Wookey Hole:  Rob and I are again working here.  So far we have forced a squeeze by digging at the top of Wookey 20 to give a round trip in the upper section, discovered what might prove to be an important side passage off Coase's Loop Extension (although bad vis of late has prevented any accurate survey work), and, for our latest project, have started work un a major bolt/free climb at the far end of 24.  Rob has been very tied up with work lately and this has delayed progress here. Maybe the local divers can find the way on in Wookey where others have failed;

4)       Hallowe'en Rift:  This latest B.E.C. find has, of course, taken up a lot of my time lately and a full discovery report and survey will be published as soon as possible, hopefully in this issue of the B.B.

5)       Swildons 12,  Triple Aven:  It is a bit unjust and unnecessarily flippant to describe this dig as 'playing with a boulder ruckle'.  The trip to 12 and back is a reasonable undertaking on its own - about a five hour journey.  To work at the bottom of a boulder ruckle at the far end of Desolation Row does require a greater expenditure of energy and adrenalin.  I consider that Ross and I did quite enough to open up a metre square hole into open passage on our last visit.  As we found sandstone cobbles and are only 60 metres below the surface the importance of this dig should not be underestimated. Ross is very busy with his promotion course.  Would any other B.E.C. members care to lend a hand.

In between these and other underground forays, plus, of course, most of those mentioned in the Cave Digs article, I have still found time to squeeze in a fair amount of ale, sea-diving weekends and even a couple of morris tours.  So come, Tim, on behalf of those missed from your article, there are a lot more diggers active than your article seemed to indicate.

Yours, for impartiality,

Trev Hughes.



Japanese Spelaeological Reconnaissance of England,
Gatwick Airport, London

Honourable Editor,
Banzi Exploration Club, Tokyo,

10th November, 1982.

Most Honoured Master,

Be pleased to receive most worthless despatch flom humble self on last day of vely interlesting Nippon spelaeologioal reconnaissance of Ingerand.

Last night I blivvy at Wookey Hole Clave entlance having had velly interlesting time with pair of Ingerish clave dlivers.  Ah! Dlivers most supplised to find me sitting on rucksack slipping olange squash by light of candle at clave door.

So! Dlivers carry plenty equlipment and dressed in wetsuit - not like pearl dliver at home; lot less pletty as well!  Wun dliver, him called Ar Pic and fellow, him called Blif Oh.  Me thought all Ingerish called Smlith or Bloggs, most strange

As there no clave dlivers in Japan me ask to join such noble company.  "Please to come claving with you,” I say.  "Of course" say dlivers and we glow to chamber tree to see clockodile.  Ah so!! Blitish clave dlivers vely blave! Not only witches in clave but clockodiles in sump!  Next we glow to chamber nine to where rest of kit put on and then to nine wun, where dlivers enter water.  Most cold, but where is blass monkey they speak of?

Dlivers say they look for passage off Cloases Loop Extension but 'vlis' bad and they not find it for sure. What of most noble Master is a 'vlis'?

Dliver Ar Pic him glow to nine wun and. black and then to tree flom wun in nine but Blif Oh him glow to tu in nine flom wn in nine but then glow off again flom wun in nine to search for plassage but only flind offerings to clockodile to spend on saki. Ah, all this most confusing but glad to slay dlivers not join honourable ancestors.

Blif Oh him say real Glod of Wookey Hole, him 'Welshman called Flarr' and him bloldly glow where no man glow before - maybe him another shark or clockodile or even, but me not see him.  I offer yen to water to please this Glod.

Ar Pic and Blif Oh take me black to entlance and they say gloodbye.  They go for saki in ghiesha house at Pliddy.  Ah sol At least in some ways mad Ingerish claver same as noble speleo of Japan.

Your humble servant,

Wun Hung Lo.

(See, I said that I’d print anything! Surely YOU can better this rubbish article.  Well, its Christmas isn't it!" - Ed.)


Is Caving Hazardous To Your Marriage?

What prompted lie to write this article?  My own marriage being on the rocks and caving being mentioned prominently in the list of complaints, it made me wonder whether caving is perhaps a cause of the break-up of marriages.

To answer this we need to look at sate statistics.  Unfortunately my sample is very small and consists of only nine couples or ex-couples. The reason is that these are the really hardcore cavers - people who have been at it for many years.  I could not count those ex-cavers who were with us for a few months and then decided to do something else (and in any case I have lost track of most of them).

Of these nine couples, five are ex-couples.  This sounds very high.  Well, lets have a closer look at these figures.

From the South African Statistical Year Book.  (1980) I calculate the average divorce rate as 2,4 for the period 1973 to 1978.  This means that roughly two in five marriages will fail and end in divorce.  From the sane book I compiled a graph (Figure 1) indicating the duration of broken marriages. This shoes that the probability of divorce is highest between the second and the fourth year.


This allows us to calculate the probability of divorce for a couple during tenth year e.g. the probability of divorce in their tenth year of marriage is: -


Figure 2 shows the accumulative distribution, which allows us to calculate the probability of a couple getting divorced before they are together for ten years.  This is :

2,41-1 x 0,68 = 0,28

Using this method of calculation I could get to work on the sample and calculate the expected number of divorces.  Naturally I have to withhold the names of the couples so I call them A, B, C etc.


Years Married

Probability of Divorce





























This means we could have expected 2,4 divorces in the sample but, in fact, we had five.

Before we go further, let us test whether this is a significant difference or whether it could have arisen by chance.  We do this by testing the hypothesis with a one-tailed test at the 0,05 level of significance.  If the absolute value of 2 is larger than 1,645 we accept the hypothesis that 5 divorces in our sample is significantly different from the 2,4 expected.

Z =                                 =         = 1,33

Z =        = 1,95

We therefore conclude that five divorces is significantly above expectation and it appears that caving is hazardous to your marriage!

From here on I can only speculate.  Why should caving be bad for your marriage?  What about other sports and hobbies such as golf, deep sea fishing, Scuba diving, etc.  They also take hubby away from the family.  Or is there perhaps something special about the psychological make-up of cavers which makes them difficult spouses?  I don't know.

H O Miller

(Taken from "FREE CAVER" No. 11 ( South Africa)

Colin Priddle who sent this article suggests that as Mr. Miller got only a small sample from his own club that be would be pleased to receive a larger sample from a bigger club - B.E.C.!  Please help this important spelaeological research all you divorced Belfryites and send details, date married, length of marriage to Tim Large (divorced once) at the Belfry.


Friday Night Trips, 1983





































































































































































































Nine Barrows/Sludge


Tynings Barrow


St. Cuthbert’s


Charterhouse Cave


Manor Farm


South Wales


Charterhouse Cave


Lionel’s Hole


to: be arranged!!


Swildons - Black Hole


North Hill


Burrington (barbeque)






South Wales


Lamb Leer


Charterhouse Cave


to be arranged!!


St. Cuthbert’s


Reservoir Hole


South Wales


Fairy Cave






















































3 only






3 only – alt. Longwood




















3 only – alt. Manor Farm






4 only



(L) = a number limit

If you are interested, then ring B.E. Prewer (Wells 73757) or G. Villis (W-S-M 412770 - work).  It is advisable to ring on the THURSDAY before a trip to confirm that the trip will take place.  Meet at the cave at 7.30 p.m.  Three trips to the new Charterhouse Cave are provisionally planned.  Each trip will consist of a leader plus three. Preference will be given to regular Friday Night Trippers.



(where we hope you're discovering caverns measureless)

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