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Caving Secretary’s Report.

The year got off to a slow start with regards to discoveries on Mendip, diggers plans still being thrown off course by courtesy of the NCC.  However, BEC diggers being resourceful types, crowbars were wielded in more obscure, remote sites where the so called powers that be hadn't poked their grubby little noses.

Wigmore was dug on a regular weekend and Wednesday night basis throughout the autumn and winter and we progressed slowly but steadily through a bedding in the marl.  The site still looks good but attention has been diverted elsewhere for the time being.

Hunters Hole has received a large amount of the club digger’s attention and Sanctimonious Passage has been extended for about 100ft to a tight, wet constriction.  The bad air in this section has turned it into a fortnightly dig in recent weeks (J. Rat's face turned blue from excess of CO2)!

The Cheddar caves contingent of the BEC claimed fame in two ways earlier this year, Andy Sparrow, breaking into 500ft of stream passage in Pierres Pot with the cave family Moody. Meanwhile Chris Castle, made history by being the first man to be rescued from 2 show caves in one day!

In Eastwater 50ft of new passage and the possibility of a new route appeared with J’Rat & Co's discovery of Aven Skavinsky just off Ifold series.

John Watson & Lawrence Smith have been tentatively probing a horrific rift in Manor farm while the Eckford factor has pushed Halloween Rift closer to Wookey Hole.

Meanwhile, the Rock Steady Crew staged a 9 day camp in Daren Cilau and subsequently broke into 1200ft of gruelling passage heading towards the Clydach Gorge.  The club also obtained its own Aggy key and began a long term dig at Midnight Passage.

More recently Andy Sparrow, Tom Chapman and Snablet managed to break into a new chamber in Goatchurch which has a promising site for further extensions.

The Keynsham crowd are determined to get back into caving as soon as the Hunters is drunk dry and there's a race on between the Worcester Boys to see if they can get through Swildons Three before the turn of the century.

One of the major club projects of the past few months has been the stabilising and subsequent push of Bowery Corner Swallet.  The site was in a sorry state when we started, with the loose, shale sided depression threatening to undermine the adjacent field.  With a labour intensive effort under the supervision of Stumpy the Rocksmith we erected a solid, breeze block foundation with a 12ft entrance pitch through three concrete pipes.  The site is now stable and we have mined a passage through the shale for about 50ft into a natural stream washed rift.  Hopes are high for the near future- the way things are going it looks as though the Wexeys will be buying the digging barrel this year!

The club expedition to Austria was a great success this year.  Jagerhohle (last year’s discovery) was pushed to a sump at minus 700m. Orkanhohle is now over 300 metres deep and still going strong while the Croydon’s new discovery, Magnumhohle is down to 200 metres deep with the way on still open.

I shall be in Mexico for 3 months next year; consequently I don’t feel that I will be in a position to do the job of Caving Secretary efficiently.  I'll stand down therefore and wish best of luck to my successor.

Mark Lumley.