The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Ted Humphreys


Well, I seem to have messed it up again!  In the last B.B.  I put in the names and addresses of several new members.  I got their names right but got Richard Blake's and Nicholas Cornwell-Smith's addresses and telephone numbers wrong!  These will be in the next B.B. (in the complete address list!). The worst offence of all, however, was to leave Vincent Simmonds out altogether, sorry Vince!  Vince's membership number is 1128, his complete address etc. will be in the next B.B., due out in time for Christmas.

Unlike Alfie, who used to produce B.B.’s every month, I have only managed five this year.  This one, however, is only a month after the last one. I can thus give what I know of the recent news.

The latest from Daren is that digs are still draughting, Spade Runner, at the very end, looks promising but needs large amounts of BANG before significant progress is made. Other digs in the loop passage (near Spade Runner) also look promising with healthy draughts.  The crew are having a party at Milliway's on the 2nd. of December, I'd love to go but suspect that I'm not fit enough to make it!

Mendip has been fairly quiet recently though attacks are due in Cuthbert's and in Cheddar.

Alan Thomas had a dinner party recently for those who contributed to 'The Last Adventure'.  I happened to be at the Hunter's at the time (how strange I hear you say!) and have never met so many famous cavers in one go before.  My copy of the book is now personally signed by most of the authors (could this become a collector’s item?).

This seems to be a fairly sparse amount of news!  What I need is some club reporters.  How about it. all you out there!


Editor's Report

This is the end of my year as Editor of the Belfry Bulletin.  As usual, the major problem has been the shortage of material.  Now, however, for the first time, I find myself with one or two articles in hand.  Is this a ploy, I ask?

As I mentioned above, I have only produced five B.B.’s this year.  In the old days this would have been unacceptable.  If there are any volunteers to produce more, apply here!

If, however, the club accepts the situation, I am prepared to continue for another year.  You never know, I may get articles, anecdotes and news items by the dozen!

Ted Humphreys

University of Bristol Spelaeological Society Sessional Meetings 1989/90

I received the following letter ages ago, requesting that be published in the B.B., and produce it as it came:-

I would be grateful if you could publish the following illustrated talks in your newsletter or periodical with an invitation to members/readers to attend.  The meetings will be in the UBSS Spelio Rooms at the Students Union (2nd floor), Queen’s Road, Bristol between 8pm and about 9.30pm on Wednesday evenings.

1 November 1989.  “The History of Cave Photography" by Chris Howes.

6 December 1989.  "Caving in Australasia" by Dick Willis.

14 February 1990. "The Black Holes of Mexico" by Mark Lumley.

9 May 1990.   "Recent research into Calamine mining and some by-ways in Cave Archaeology in Western Mendip” by Chris Richards

Your co-operation is much appreciated.

Yours sincerely,  Bob Williams


The LADS in Ireland 1984-1986

This article by Steve Milner and Pat Cronin was submitted to the Editor of the BB way back in 1986, unfortunately it was lost for many years but here it is at long last!

The LADS were active in Ireland digging around poking their noses here there and everywhere.  They were Pat Cronin, Trebor McDonald, Mark Lumley and Steve Milner.  Their discoveries are as follows: -

Pool an Tobar
Grid ref: Clare 4 79.9E/42.9N
(Cave of the Holy Well)
Length: 96m
Altitude: 280m

Poll an Tobar was discovered on the 17th April 1984, close to the depression of E1.  The water from E1 joins the cave briefly at the most westerly point of the cave, not to be seen again until Pollapooka 1.

The cave, with evidence of much flooding has a few flowstone formations in low canyon passage.  From within the cave five holes to the surface were found, one of which was impassable.  At the most easterly part of the cave the bottom of the well Tobar an Athar Calbhach was discovered.  Many religious articles were found as well as many coins that date between 1913 and 1949. These relics should not be disturbed. There is no evidence of the well from the surface.  SJM.

Grid ref: Clare 4 50.7E/20.4N
(Hole of the LADS)
Length: Approx 80m
Altitude: 230m

Pollnagarsuin, found by Gonzo on the 13th April 1985 is a cave similar in nature to others in the Ballynahown Townland.  It is 405m north of the Townland boundary which crosses the road at the cattle pen. The initial exploration was halted by a formidable oxbow squeeze 70m into the cave.  This was passed in 1986 by Steve after digging the Yoga Bend.  A few meters further on another yoga bend prevents further access to the cave.  SJM.

Milner's Brown Holes
Grid ref: Clare 8a 2.3W/34.5N
Length: Approx 60m
Altitude: 0m

I didn't name them, honest. They are situated north of the Green Holes and west of Pollcraveen.  The caves were found during a rising tide and the original exploration was carried out as the caves were flooding with sea water, perhaps this is where the name came from.  The interconnecting phreatic tubes are extensive and are full of marine life. More passages can be seen past boulders and the careful use of a crowbar would extend the caves.  SJM.

Grid ref: Clare 4 20.5E/9.3N
Length: Approx 50m
Altitude: 3m

This cave is longer than described in Caves of County Clare.  The total length is approx 50m; there are two holes to the surface: one after 8m and the second after 36m.  The cave trends in a NNW direction.  SJM.

Poll an Phuca (Ai)

In April 1984 our attention was drawn to this shaft.   Situated on the north side of Slieve Elva, the cave consisted of an impressive 26m shaft to a floor of boulders.  With no apparent way on and no draught anywhere, what impressed the LADS at the time was the colossal amount of water being swallowed by the boulders.  In April 1986 we decided to allow two days work at this site.  We were rewarded within half an hour by exposing a tremendous draught between the boulders.  Work continued to a depth of 4m where a streamway could be seen.  At this point we had the risk of undermining the boulder pile. This subsequently collapsed.  We had run out of time so we prepared the site for future work and will come back next year.  Pat Cronin.

We never went back, so this exiting lead still remains for future explorers.  SJM.

Curtin's Cave

Curtin's cave is in a small depression at the end of a shallow dry valley.  This hole takes the overflow water from the upper stream. The sink is situated in the garden next to Mr Curtin's cottage.  Permission was granted to the LADS to dig the hole but no work has yet been done. Access is very sensitive hence the vague location.  Pat Cronin.

The Green Holes

Divers: Pat Cronin, Steve Milner, Mark Lumley, Mike McDonald.

With the discovery of the Milner's Brown Holes, one mile north along the coast we decided to investigate the similarities between the two sites.  Though short of air there was enough time to satisfy ourselves of the relevance of one to the other.  This was the first dive for MM and ML.  Pat Cronin.


Many of the above discoveries and efforts by the LADS have been written into the UBSS Cave Notes, County Clare 1986.  This is the second supplement to the book: Caves of County Clare (Self 1981).

Boycott, A. Soc., 1986, and Wilson, L.J., Proc. Univ. Bristol Spelaeol. 17(3), 343-354.

Steve Milner.
July 1989.


Royston Henry Bennett

Having taken early retirement last year he, with Joan, sold their house in Bristol and moved to Newtonmore, in Strathspey, to be close to the hills and ski resorts they both loved.  Tragedy struck when he met with a skiing accident on 22nd June this year.

Roy had such a rich and varied life that we decided to combine our memories of him.  The result is that this account is in three parts, recollections of early activities, hang gliding and his latest climbing and skiing interests.

Kangy starts

I can't remember when I first met Roy.  I think I knew him at school.  He was a few years ahead of me, one of the big boys at Cotham Grammer School, Bristol Roy was a contemporary of Archie Milton (who was our School Captain), Dave Allen and John Mortimer.  Remarkably all three played cricket for England and even more remarkably Archie Milton got an England cap at Soccer as well.  And I would rate Roy with them.  All were fine sportsmen.

We often climbed and caved together and he consented be godfather to one of my sons.

My first caving trip with Roy was by happy chance.  I was with another party, we intended to do a quick Eastwater, we went to the Hunters and met Roy and Don Coase having a drink and looking for help to put a permanent ladder on Arête pitch in Cuthbert’s.  The result was the epic described at a later date in the BB for August 1967.

Another unforgettable experience shared with Roy was in Eastwater.  We had bottomed Primrose Pot and Mo Marriott was stuck in the steep tight Primrose Path.  Roy's technical abilities were demonstrated. He flashed up and down the constriction as if it wasn't there.  He was calm, he invented, he placed knobbly dogs and foot loops, all the time keeping up a steady sensible stream of encouraging commentary.  (Mo made it in the end by stripping to his skin.)


Roy joined the Club in 1949.  He was not a committee man, nor indeed was he a man who wrote much.  But when he was persuaded to do a job he did it conscientiously.  Within the Club he held the positions of Caving Secretary, Climbing Secretary, was a member of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee and was a Club Trustee.  He was also a MRO Warden for many years.  The only political controversy that he was ever involved with was the expansion of the Cuthbert's Leader system to members of other clubs at a Club AGM in 1967. Despite strong opposition the motion was eventually carried and has remained ever since.  Besides St. Cuthbert's, Roy knew Mendip intimately.  Having been a member of the Club for over 40 years he was one of the few who has remained consistently active during that period of time. He was caving before joining the BEC and I remember he told me that his first cave was Goatchurch, after cycling out from Bristol, and it took him three trips before finding the way to the bottom!


One of Roy's outstanding contributions to an early BEC Dinner was a sketch entitled 'Through the Stalagtite Barrier' - or something; the story varies in detail because those who were there had taken the precaution of topping up at The Hatchet under the impression that there would be no drinking licence whereas in fact there was.  Using his chemical experience (he was an Associate of the Royal Institute of Chemistry) he experimented to find a way of producing a civilised bang. One that could be used in the Whiteladies Restaurant with its Cinema in Bristol.  The intrepid explorers having mimed a tortuous way through a make believe cave reached the make believe stal which barred their path.  The climax of the show arrived as the explosive device was brought up to blast the barrier.  The resulting B-A-N-G was not make believe, dimmed the lights, halted the Dinner and emptied the adjoining Cinema.  "The management were not very keen on having us back!"

His career as a motor cyclist was legendary.  In the late forties he wore a sort of rubberised yellow overall and was known as the Yellow Peril.  Alfie remembers being given a lift back to Bristol by Roy after one weekend on Mendip.  The next Thursday at the Waggon and Horses Alfie was asked how he got on.  “Well” said Alfie, “We carne off twice in Burrington”.  “Ah”, said the inquirer, “That would be at the top two bends, he always comes off there!”  And in the days before the Wells road was tidied up and when the BEC would compete to reduce the Belfry to Bristol time, a notorious curve was known as "Bennett's Bend" because Roy went straight through the Whitchurch sign, taking it with him. He never seemed to hurt himself (He once broke his arm - Joan).


In 1964 a trip into Cuthbert's was arranged to sort out what was known of the Long Chamber area. Quite a lot of work had been carried out already.  Having reached Long Chamber to continue upwards to look at the newly discovered Chandelier Passage the party paused for a few moments.  Someone said "Where are we?"  "Annexe Chamber" said Wig.  "No, it's Long Chamber" said Roy.  Wig retorted, "John Cornwell assures me that this is Annexe Chamber". "Well he's wrong" said Roy, "It's Long Chamber.  I ought to know, I found it!"  Roy was one of the few who knew St. Cuthbert's intimately and was involved in all its important exploration phases since the opening of the cave.  He was the prime mover to restart the digging at the cliff face above the Old Entrance in 1952 and when Coase joined the diggers with his wealth of experience, success was eventually met.  Roy was the first to descend the Entrance Rift in 1953.  In conversation with him later Roy reminisced on the day that the exploration took them up into Boulder Chamber and Railway Tunnel where they first saw The Cascade.  "It was an incredible sight.  Nothing like this had ever been found on Mendip before." He initially opened up Long Chamber area; jointly organised the 1967 Sump I digging weekend; dug regularly at the Dining Room Dig; opened up Mud Ball Dig and discovered the Long Chamber Extension area with John Attwood in 1962.  He stirred up interest to dig Sump I in 1969 when it effectively dried up and was on the party that finally broke through into St. Cuthbert's II.  For many months through 1970 and 1971 he and the Tuesday Night Digging Team looked at every nook and cranny to find a way around Sump II.  No way-on was found and long trips were made attacking Sump II by building a series of dams and using the Bennett bailing device.  Progress was slow and interest eventually waned.


On one occasion, he was showing me the newly entered Cuthbert's Two.  There had been one or two incidents and we were very anxious not to be trapped.  The stream was dammed, we went rapidly through the drying sump and I peered earnestly at sump two and looked about while Roy kept a watch on the 'dry' sump one.  As I arrived back we dived into the narrow crawl. We both heard the rumble of water on the move and went like scalded cats racing up the passage and flinging ourselves over the Gour Passage dam.  Such was the tension that once safe we became hysterical with laughter as we realised that our panic stricken flight was caused by the echoing noise of our bodies scraping over wet gravel.


Digging was one of Roy's pastimes.  It was always taken very seriously.  Areas where few people had looked was always the sites he chose. The Mouton Brook near Chepstow was one particularly interesting series of small cave entrances that were thoroughly investigated and later the resurgence at the foot of Piercefield Cliffs north of Chepstow.  He dug here for several months mainly with Phil Kingston fully convinced of the existence of a tidal cave lying beyond the statagmite choke that he was blasting. Unknown to him the Royal Forest of Dean cavers had also spotted the site and dug in a lower passage and broke into what is now Otter Hole.  Grievances overcome Roy joined the RFD cavers and jointly explored the system with them.

During the mid-1960's and 1970's he caved in the Raucherkarhohle ( Austria) and in Co. Mayo and Co. Clare in the Republic of Ireland.  When visiting Ireland he read Coleman's Caves of Ireland and came to the conclusion that the Aille River sink near Westport. Co. Mayo had to be a good bet to look at. Though unknown to us (Roy, Joan and the writer) the Craven PC had looked at the site earlier that year but were stopped by flooding.  On the occasion of our visit over 2,000 ft. of very enjoyable and very wet passages were explored and surveyed.

The Yorkshire pots always held a great attraction to him and many of the classic trips were done including bottoming the GG main shaft by ladder in 1966.  South Wales too was regularly visited and on a trip from Top Entrance of OFD to OFDIII his sense of humour showed itself.  I was crossing the first section of the Traverses which requires edging oneself along one wall over an 80 ft. drop just before the long straddling rift.  Finger-tip holds were the order of the day.  There was silence as I traversed towards Bucket Tilbury, the first man across, when Roy shouted "Don't bite your fingernails now Wig, you'll fall off!"  After the Traverses, is the only squeeze in this area of the cave, and again his fruity comment was, "In a cave of this size this damn thing ought not to be here!"


The 1970 BEC Balague expedition was to a little caved area of the Ariege in France Roy's report covers the action but misses his determination and drive to do a good job.

The climax of the trip was laddering a 200-odd metre shaft.  French teams had used a powered winch, it was at the end of the ladder era and we did the pitch with only a pulley powered safety rope.  Roy and several others bottomed the shaft by ladder, explored, and later learnt that we had gone further than previous parties.

Roy loved rock climbing and instigated a Thursday evening meet in the Avon Gorge before we went to the Wagon and Horses to shout noisily to the caving crews about the weekend.  We climbed what we could there, went to North Wales as often as we could and went to places like the Dewerstone.  I have a cine film of Roy taken there which shows his rapid but sure technique well.  He would comment endlessly on the task.  It was just Roy thinking aloud and as difficulties increased the more active he got and the faster he chattered.

On one climbing holiday in the Austrian Alps, Roy was equipped with the latest technology, a pair of massively ferocious front pointed crampons.  He fitted them at the start of a coulour and led out and diagonally up.  He failed to find a good stance and so Joan followed him up, still no suitable stance so Ann moved on up after Joan.  I fed out the rope seeing Roy getting higher and almost across the slope and still no stance.  We had to do something.  Everyone got their axes in while I moved out onto the slope to make more rope available. Then I slipped slightly and tugged Ann off.  Ann tugged Joan off and Joan tugged Roy off.  I had enough time to get my axe in and whipped the rope round it as first Roy then Joan then Ann shot past me down the steepening snow.  Mercifully they were stopped.  The only damage was to Roy who gashed his calf with the front point of a crampon. He said nothing.  Later, one winter in Wales I noticed that Roy had sawn off the front points.

Roy did the British mountaineering classics in his own time.  He eventually did the Cuillin Ridge with Alan Bonner and while he rated it highly he reckoned that he had a harder time on the Fourteen Welsh Three Thousands.  Alan said about the traverse that they had attempted it in 1980 from the Slicachan end but had to abandon after Alan found he had left his boots behind!  All went well at Whitsun 1982.  They bivouacked in Coire na Banachdich and Ivy and Joan collected their gear later. At five thirty in the morning they joined a queue at the Tearlach Dubh Gap but enjoyed a "nice sunny day". The ridge is sharp and as they came to a wider flatter bit Alan remembers Roy bursting out with "Bloody Hell! That’s the first time today that I could have strolled along with my hands in my pockets and not fallen three thousand feet if I'd slipped!"

John Hunt gives this account of Roy's Hang Gliding days:-

During the BEC dinner of 1975 at the Blue School, Wells, Roy and myself started to talk to Pete Sutton and Derek Targett.  As my main interest was caving and Pete and Derek were climbers I had not met them before. However they were both now very interested in the very new sport of Hang Gliding.  So it was that on the Sunday, Roy, Joan and myself set off to see this sport in action.  Following a false start, in which we set off for Mere in Somerset instead of Mere, Wiltshire, we eventually arrived.

Pete and Derek were already there with a glider belonging to a syndicate of BEC members.  This machine had been built at the Belfry and in various members’ homes.  Jenny Sandicott and Graham Phippen were also present.  One or two people could actually soar back and forth along the ridge and I believe that there were even a few top landings.  Pete and Derek were not quite up to this standard yet but demonstrated firstly the art of chain smoking, followed by the take-off technique and landing.

Roy was keen to have a go and so an area was chosen for his initiation into the commitment of aviation.  No matter how hard he ran or how much he pushed the result was always a total inability to leave the ground.  After some 3 to 4 attempts, each of which ended in a dive headlong into the ground, Derek decided to try from the same spot.  His success was no greater.  Looking back on that day with hindsight it is obvious that it was a totally unsuitable area, being very shallow in slope and right behind tall trees. Roy and myself started to attend meetings of the Avon Hang Gliding Club and shortly after this Roy bought a 17 ft. Argus Hang Glider.  I remember many Saturdays and Sundays spent helping and teaching Roy to fly at such places as Hinton, Cam Long Down, Dundry and Mere.  I had previously bought into a syndicate of 12 and had semi taught myself to fly.

This would have been early 1976.

Although I don't remember all the dates there many fragmented memories of days spent flying with Roy.

A Friday afternoon on the Garth, near Cardiff, Roy was a little light for the Argus and flew twice as far as everyone else that afternoon.  That meant he had to walk twice as far to get back to the top of the hill.  He also ended up perilously close to a row of high trees on several occasions.  Many hours were spent discussing the weather conditions early on weekend mornings before deciding the best place to go.  There were many long days spent flying the Malverns and trips to Hatterall Hill in the Black Mountains.

Roy later sold the Argus and progressed to a McBroom Lynx.  He then proceeded to sit on top of everyone else at Bossington and North Hill.  On this he taught himself to fly prone and progressed to longer flights and thermal flying.

Roy always wanted to climb bigger hills and fly and enthusiasm this led him to climb Skiddaw.

Joan reckoned that one of the highlights of Roy's hang gliding days was when he launched himself off the top of Skiddaw.  Roy saw the possibilities of hang gliding as a means of extending his mountaineering passion.  He had the idea of carrying his machine to the top of a mountain and proceeding across country in a series of climbs and glides.  No one else was much interested in that much effort but he had the loyal support of his best friend Joan.  They got permissions from the local farmers and motored round the back of Skiddaw on a beautiful clear still day.  Roy carried seventy pounds of hang glider and Joan followed up with the 'bits and pieces'.  It might have been possible to ridge soar but Roy wasn't very experienced at that.  He assembled the machine, chattering more and more rapidly, then gulped, "It's a long way" and at four o'clock launched himself into the unknown.  Amazingly he flew down in about ten minutes and like a true pioneer was instantly surrounded by small boys who seemed to appear from nowhere.

Others were not so keen to join these types of adventures due to the enormous exertion required and I think this probably led to Roy drifting away from the becoming a little disenchanted and drifting away from the sport and back to climbing.

I believe that a second factor was the very nature of hang gliding is such that decisions on the correct site are left until the last minute.  Roy was very methodical and liked to have all details sorted out well in advance in his other interests.  In caving, trips were always planned carefully days before, equipment checked and ready.  Hang gliding also involves many hours of wasted time and this probably was also a deciding factor.

One of the last places that I flew with Roy was from the hill overlooking Shute Shelve.  Roy and myself were both Sites officers for the Avon Hang Gliding Club and as such spent a lot of time looking for new sites.  Roy thought that this would make an excellent new South West site and cleared permission from the landowner at the bottom for a landing field.  So we set out one weekday evening and climbed to the top of the hill along the Public Footpath which led to the take off area. Conditions were not good but we both flew down making several beats of the ridge as we went.

As we derigged we both agreed that the site had some limited potential and were quite pleased.  Then the "commoners chairman" arrived. He taught us language that even Roy hadn't heard before and insisted that we would adversely effect his Riding business.  We never did return there again, mainly because we discovered that this gent had stood trial for attempted manslaughter on a past trespasser.

I do remember well the last time that Roy flew. Strictly speaking it was not hang gliding but Microlight flying.  Roy had long since sold all his equipment and I rang him and asked if he would like to try my Trike.  We went to a small strip near Shepton Mallet and after a few initial problems taxiing the Trike, due to his short legs not reaching the steering properly, he took off.  Roy flew around for some 20 minutes and came in executing a hard landing which damaged one wheel.  I don't suppose he was that impressed because that was his one dalliance with the sport.

I suppose that hang gliding started with long climbs up hills for often short ground skimming flights down.  It was almost as much a sport of walking as flying.  When it lost the walking element something was lost for Roy.  The latest sport of Parapente flying has, for the moment, regained that walking element without the encumbrance of 75 lbs.  I suspect that this would have been another sport that would have appealed to Roy and believe that he even possibly tried it. I shall always remember Roy as a great sport who was always willing to try something new.  (Yes, Roy did a course - Joan).

Paul Newman (Avon M.C.) remembers Roy as one of the great characters of the Avon Mountaineering Club.  He first appeared in the club in September 1982. For several club members, their first memory of the famous van, of Joan, and of the two dogs, comes from Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, in May 1982.  The van and its occupants clearly made a lasting impression on all concerned.  And it started to appear regularly at club meets, always parked for the night in some favoured spot a little way away, where the dogs could not upset the campsite; but always re-appearing next morning to take a larger-than-life part in the weekend's activities.

Roy was keen.  By the end of a year he had already been on several club trips to Wasdale, Tremadog, Cwm Cowarch, Snowdonia, Cornwall, and other climbing haunts.  One of his most regular climbing partners, Pete Hudd, recalls;

'It would appear that Roy and myself rapidly assumed the reputation of arriving back after dark, sometimes as a result of some minor epic.  One such incident was during the Lake District meet of August 1984, when we only just made it back to the campsite before midnight, after under-estimating the time required to complete a route on Pillar Rock.'

A very famous escapade occurred in the Avon Gorge on a drab autumn evening in October 1986.  Roy and myself had been so-called "pioneering" on the Giant's Cave Buttress area.  It had already got dark (that was not unusual for Roy and myself) and it was one of those cold, damp autumn evenings.  We eventually found ourselves abseiling off from the cave, but as luck would have it the ropes would not pull through.

We decided to drive up to the top of the Gorge and abseil over.  Darkness was well and truly upon us, but as we neared the Observatory lookout a plan evolved.  We would climb up the scaffolding that was temporarily erected around the Observatory, climb down the other side, and enter the tunnel that lead to the cave lookout.  Roy was in his element, groping his way along the dark and meandering passage (we had no torches).  All seemed to go well; the ropes were retrieved, and we made our way back up the tunnel towards the confines of the Observatory.

However, unbeknown to us, we had been spotted climbing over the scaffolding by the tollgate keeper on the bridge.  Fearing the worst, he immediately contacted the police.  Just as we were about to climb back up the scaffolding on the inside, the squad car arrived, his blue flashing light working overtime.  Roy and I crouched low on the scaffolding as they shone their torches all around, the beam just missing us on each occasion.

Not content with this, the two policemen started to make a closer inspection, and it would have been only a matter of time before we were seen.  Fearing this would raise undue suspicion, we gave ourselves up and climbed down the other side.

It would be an understatement to say that the two officers concerned were not amused.  We eventually convinced them of our story (it was too hideous not to be true) but this did not save us from a severe telling-off, of which I think Roy took the brunt, purely from the fact that he was the first to climb down and reach the waiting policemen.  Not too often was Roy lost for words, but on this occasion he reminded me of a naughty schoolboy being told to stand in the corner.  Apart from recording our names and addresses we were free to go.

 Another much-loved side of Roy's character was that he could talk.  But not, it seems, in a way that annoyed people Ross Barber put it like this;

One characteristic of Roy's was that he talked, particularly in the mountains.  I talked too; I've got my ideas and notice things here and there, but as a talker Roy left me way behind.  He talked about everything; the view, the weather, trends in skiing, climbing, politics, and most characteristically about the latest modification he had made to his equipment.  I could hold my own on most of these, but on equipment he was out on his own.  When he got launched into the latest strap adaptation my role was reduced to the occasional grunt of agreement. This often suited me well because I used to wonder where he found all the energy to walk, talk and think about all these things at the same time.  I was generally quite happy to be able to concentrate on keeping up.  I remember one occasion when we were nearly benighted on the top of the Cairngorm plateau at the end of a twelve-hour day and Roy still had the energy to think about the modifications he was going to make to his bindings next time.  I was getting really worried and didn't know if there was going to be a next time for either of us.

The list of places he visited around the British Isles with the club is considerable.  The Lake District and North Wales figure prominently. So do the "local" crags of the Wye valley, and he was frequently to be seen at sea-cliff venues such as Cornwall, Baggy Point, the Gower, and Anglesey.

Another passion of Roy's, equal if not greater than his climbing, was ski mountaineering.  Of course he loved the wilds, and cross-country skiing gave him access to wonderful places in marvellous winter conditions. In common with some of his closest friends he shared a distaste for the noisier elements in mountaineering. Ross said;

Only occasionally would we join the brightly dressed crowds on the chairlift and the piste; we preferred the secluded valleys beyond the (Cairngorm) plateau or above Glen Einich. We would spend hours plodding uphill, chatting away ( Roy particularly) for the possible reward of a short downhill run.  From the outside it is difficult to understand the attractions of these days. For each hour of uphill trudging we probably enjoyed a mere five minutes or so of downhill running, and sometimes in the most dismal conditions.  Yet I never felt discontent at the end of the day.

Snow forecasting was one of Roy's strengths. From an old copy of "Slessor", and from personal examination, he had acquired a very extensive knowledge of which Cairngorm slopes had snow in various weather conditions.  Over time I'd learnt to trust his judgement and we'd often set out across most unpromising acres of heather and bog, carrying skis, to find snow high up more or less where he had said it would be, and more or less in the condition he had anticipated.  I enjoyed many fine slopes on Braeriach, Carn Ban Mor, and Craig Mheagaidh which I would never have found without his knowledge.

Another feature of ski mountaineering with Roy was the dogs.  He was always keen to take one or both of them and, indeed, they are very handsome animals, Norwegian sheepdogs, and look well in the hills.  I wasn't always so keen though; there could be disadvantages. The main drawback was that one or the other of them would almost invariably disappear on the scent of deer, or hares, or practically anything on four legs.  So, in calculating time and distance, you could allow twenty minutes or half an hour's rest while Roy rushed about searching for them.  On occasions I must admit that I was grateful to the dogs for the enforced pause, for Roy, though small, was very energetic, and at the end of a long day I was quite happy to have stored up some remnant of energy to be able to keep up with him.

Finally, in this brief account of some of the characteristics for which Roy was known in the club, there is his interest in things technical.

I suspect that my indifference to the possibilities of the latest gadgetry must have irritated Roy.  To his more active imagination it was a niggling irritant to be using a strap or a binding which could be replaced by a more efficient one.  So, underlying our companionship lay a kind of subdued competition in which my objective was to display the practical usefulness of tried traditional equipment and techniques, in resistance to the pressure applied by Roy upon me to update.

Towards the end of 1988 Roy and Joan moved from Bristol to Newtonmore, among the Scottish Highlands that they both loved so much.  It was by no means the end of their association with the Avon Mountaineering Club. Several people have received a warm welcome at their new house, and in February 1989 a large party stayed close by at Alvie House for a week of walking, climbing and skiing.  By a lucky chance this week produced the first real snow of the winter and everyone had a fine old time.  Roy and Joan joined in the activities with their own inimitable enthusiasm.

Joan wrote;

June 22nd may seem an odd time to be involved in skiing in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, Roy had managed some ski-mountaineering each month since October, and it is a custom for Scottish skiers to try to find some snow to ski on at the solstice.  Although the- winter had not been good for the downhill skiing, it produced some good spring snow for late skiing (spring snow is snow which has melted, and refrozen into a granular construction.)

Roy had done most of his late skiing on wraithes of snow on convex slopes, on fairly narrow, not too steep gullies, like the Red Burn on Ben Nevis.  The snow on Braeriach was in the form of patches high up on the steep Coire slopes.  Roy was skiing down one of these patches, and his tracks showed he had negotiated most of the slope, when he lost control, and was not able to recover before he slid into the rocks at the bottom of the slope.

Roy was a man who knew where the limits were better than most and lived right up to them.  He was a joy to be with.  It was a privilege to have shared life with Roy and he will be greatly missed by many friends.  To Joan we offer our continued friendship and love.


This is a list of items that Roy had printed in the BB or elsewhere for the BEC.

In the BB (sole author)

1962 (Dec)        Weekend in North Wales 16(178)14-16
1963 (Nov)         Climbing 18(189)2-3
1964 (Apr)         Easter in Cornwall 18(194)5-6
1964 (Aug)        Climbing News 18(198)8-9
1965 (Oct)         On crossing the Gour Hall Fault 19(212)11
1966 (Nov)         Four to Gaping Gill 20(225)8-9
1968 (May)        Easter - caving in S. Wales 22(242)64
1968 (Dec)        Synthetic Ropes 22(249)184-187
1969 (Jun)         Cavers Bookshelf [Caves of NW Clare] 25(255)82-83
1969 (Dec)        Ireland 1969 23(261)211-213
1969 (Dec)        The discovery of St. Cuthbert's 2. 23(261)224-227
1970 (Jul)          Swinsto/Kingsdale 24(275)82
1974 (Dec)        Otter Hole - a note 28(326)253-254
1977 (Aug)        Some peaks in the north-west highlands 31(352)70-72
1981 (May)        Static in the Cairngorms 35(397)2

In the BB (joint Author)

1963 (Dec)        & J.A. Eatough. Report on a new discovery in Cuthbert's 16(178)11-13
1965 (Dec)        et al. Skiing on Blackdown 17(190)25-26
1967 (Jul)          & J. Bennett & D.J. Irwin. Austria, 1965 19(214)13-28
1962 (Dec)        & D.J. Irwin. Ireland - June 1967 [ Aille River Cave] 21(232)44-52

BEC Caving Reports

Nos. 2, 7, 13F and 13G et al.  All on St. Cuthbert's Swallet
No. 14 Balague '70


A.G.M. Minutes 1988

Those Present :-

P. Cronin,  M. McDonald,  Snablet,  Bob Cork, Steve Milner, M. Lumley, Mr Nigel, C. Smart, B. Hill, A. Jarratt,  B. Wilton, C. Dooley,  D. Turner,  B. Workman, Laurence,  Lavinia , J. Watson,  A. Knutsen, A. Thomas,  A. Sparrow,  S. Mendes,  N. Gymer,   J. Smart,   S. McManus,  N. Sprang,   T. Humphreys,   H. Bennett, Bassett, Sarah, D. Bradshaw, R. Stephens, B. Luipen, T. Hughes, Jingles, S. Lain, B. Williams, J. Dukes, J. Turner, M. Grass, G. Grass.

Election of Chairman

D. Turner was asked to take the chair.

Proposed Bob Cork
Seconded M. Lumley
Carried Unan.

Appointment of Tellers :-

Alan Thomas, Steve Buri and Jane Russel were appointed.

Apoloqies for Absence :-

C. Batstone, Brian Prewer, R. Bennett , Mongo, Wormhole, K. Smart, P. Romford, R. Brown, R. Clarke, A. Butcher, J. Bennett, B. Tilbury, A. Boycott, A. Tilbury,

Matters Arising from Minutes of 1987 A.G.M.

(i)                  It was agreed that a copy of the mining log should be made.

(ii)                Martin Grass has obtained a new lock for St. Cuthbert's and will fit it in the near future. The Caving Sec. was asked to publish a list of leaders in the B.B. and investigate the necessity for third party insurance for leaders.

(iii)               The new secretary was asked to write to Tim Gould, expressing to him the concerns of the meeting reference the monies owed to the club.

1. Secretary's Report

This was presented to the meeting and accepted.

Proposed N. Taylor
Seconded S. McManus
Carried Unan.

2. Treasurer's Report

Report published in B.B. and was taken as read.

2.1 A discussion arising from the treasurer's report brought the following motions : -

The new committee to investigate methods of rationalising electricity usage.

Proposed T. Hughes
Seconded Chris Smart
Carried Unan.

New committee to investigate losses on telephone.

Proposed S. McManus
Seconded N. Taylor
Carried Unan.

Acceptance of the report was proposed by D. Bradshaw, seconded by M. Grass and carried with a vote of thanks, unan.

3. Auditor's Report

Pre-published and taken as read.


Proposed D. Bradshaw
Seconded A. Jarratt
Carried Unan.

4. Caving Secretary's Report.

Read to meeting.

Acceptance with a vote of thanks was proposed by A. Jarratt, seconded by N. Taylor and carried unan.

4.1 A vote of thanks was also proposed to Mike McDonald for his work in cleaning up St. Cuthbert's

Carried Unan.

5. Hut Warden's Report ;-

Pre-published in B.B. and taken as read.


Proposed A. Jarratt
Seconded N. Taylor
Carried Unan.

6. Tacklemaster's Report ;-

Published and taken as read.

6.1 A vote of thanks was proposed to Tom Chapman for his efforts during the tacklemaster's absence.

6.2 A. Sparrow was asked to return the club’s battery charger.


Proposed D. Bradshaw
Seconded M. Lumley
Carried Unan.

7. Hon. Editor's Report :-

Published and taken as read. Acceptance with vote of thanks

Proposed T. Hughes
Seconded S. McManus
Carried Unan.

8. Hut Enqineer's Report :-

Dany pretended to read his report to the meeting, but was rudely interrupted by M. Grass who remarked on his Bristol accent.  This caused a chuckle coming from a man who does voice-overs for 'Eastenders'.  When Dany regained his composure he went on to explain the ever growing list of jobs to be done and his plans for the drying room and shower benches.  He also explained that these would be his last projects as he was not standing for re-election and he wished his successor 'The best of luck'.

Acceptance with a vote of thanks was proposed by B.Cork. seconded by S.McManus and carried unan.

9. Librarian's Report

The librarian gave a brief resume on the state of the library.  The following motion was tabled: -

The last signatory in the loan book shall be responsible for the said book until it is returned and signed in.

Proposed N. Taylor
Seconded C. Smart
Carried Unan.

Acceptance of report was proposed by D. Bradshaw, seconded by S. Milner and carried unan.

10. Membership Secretary's Report :-

The new secretary was asked to investigate 'Direct Debit' as a method of payment of subscriptions.

Proposed N. Taylor
Seconded S. Milner
Voting: For - 39. Against 2. Motion Carried

It was suggested that other clubs be advised of non-members so that such persons do not receive benefits afforded to club members.

11. I.D.M.F. Report ;-

The committee had nothing to report.

12. Results of Ballot for Committee ;-

The tellers returned the results as follows, in order of votes cast;-



A. Jarratt

T. Humphreys

M. Lumley

M. McDonald

S. Milner

S. McManus

Votes Cast










D. Turner

P. McNab

J. Watson

P. Romford

N. Sprang  

R. Stevens

Votes Cast








Therefore Messr's Jarratt, Humphreys, Lumley, McDonald, Milner, McManus, Turner, McNab and Watson were duly elected to the committee.

13. Election of Committee Posts ;-













Caving Sec.

Hut Warden

Hut Engineer

Membership Sec.

Hon. Editor


M. McDonald

S, Milner

M. Lumley

P. McNab

A. Jarratt

J. Watson

T. Humphreys

S. McManus

M. Lumley

A. Jarratt

A. Jarratt

P. Cronnin

M. Grass

L. Smith

A. Jarratt

L. Smith

P. Cronnin

P. Cronnin

P. Cronnin

A. Jarratt

D. Bradshaw

N. Sprang

S. McManus

T. Hughes









Committee Member – D. Turner

*    There were two nominations for the post of Membership Sec.









John Watson

Dave Turner

L. Smith

Rob Harper

N. Sprang

A. Turner



ABS. 3

Therefore John Watson was elected.

13.1 The meeting instructed the new committee to co-opt N. Sprang at their first meeting.

14. Appointment of Hon Auditor ;-

Mr. B. Wilton was proposed as Hon Auditor.

Proposed N. Taylor
Seconded D. Bradshaw
Carried Unan.

15. Club Trustees

Due to the resignation of Roy Bennett as a trustee of the club, Barry Wilton was asked to take up the position.

Proposed Bob Cork
Seconded N. Taylor
Carried Unan.

A vote of thanks was recorded to Roy Bennett for his dedication and work on behalf of the club over many years.

16. Life Membership

A long discussion took place on the subject, from which the following motion was put to the floor: -

The new committee be asked to formulate a constitutional amendment enabling absent members to gain 'overseas life membership’.

Proposed T.Hughes
Seconded Chris Smart
Voting  For - 11, Against - 4, ABS. – 10.  Motion Carried.

17. Members Resolutions.

Committee Resolution to the A.G.M.

That St. Cuthbert's Swallet may not be used by any body for the purpose of any activities from which there may be any direct or indirect financial or material gain, without the written permission of the committee; who will not normally grant such permissions except in exceptional circumstances where due consideration has been given to any legal implications associated with the granting of such permissions.

Proposed          Bob Cork (Hon. Sec. for the committee)
Seconded          T.Hughes
Voting   For - 20, Against - 2, Motion Carried

18. A.O.B.

18.1 St. Cuthbert's Report ;-

D. Turner read D. Irwin's report to the meeting.  D. Turner was asked to progress the report as quickly as possible.

18.2 Commercial Caving ;-

P. Cronin made his views on the subject clear to the meeting, pointing out the effects such activities may have on the club and caving in general.  A. Sparrow replied, explaining the difference between commercial caving and professional caving.  He also advised the meeting that the problems were particular to Goatchurch and Swildon's hole.

18.3 Appointment of Librarian: -

T. Jarratt was asked to continue in the position, he agreed.

Proposed S.McManus
Seconded B.Cork
Carried Unan.

18.4 Cave Keys ;-

M. Lumley brought to the notice of the meeting the fact that cave keys controlled by the club may be used for commercial purposes.  Further discussion on the matter suggested that such use would be frowned upon should it occur.

There being no other business the chairman closed the meeting at 14.30 hours.


Anecdote from Bassett

While staying at Awatiro, the Auckland Speleological Group hut at Waitomo, for a search and rescue seminar last weekend, I heard the following tale:

A member of the Cerberus was visiting New Zealand, and he spent a week down at Waitomo doing a spot of caving. He stayed with A.S.G. at Waitomo, which is an old farmhouse occupying a windswept spot right on the top of the Waitomo limestone block.  There are magnificent views from the hut, particularly to the south, where the volcanoes of Tongariro are visible on clear days, and to the east, where the village of Waitomo nestles in the valley far below.

Now Kiwi tramping huts often have a loo with a view, and Awatiro is no exception.  A large ceramic pipe is set in concrete above a deep-dug pit, and this is topped off with standard loo-seat and cover.  A brightly-painted, wooden sentry-box affair, open to a somewhat lesser view to the north, but thus sheltering the user from prevailing winds and frequent rain, completes this dunny.

The Cerberus bod arrived at the hut in the dark, wind howling bitterly across the open plateau, and rain driving horizontally.  Very soon he asked directions for the toilet:

"Just follow that little path there - you can't miss it."

A few minutes later he returned. soaked and dishevelled, and proclaimed: -

"I'd heard you Kiwi cavers were tough, but that bog some takes beating."

The locals were a little puzzled by the remark, but thought little of it except, perhaps, to take him for another whingeing porn - until the morning, that is.  In the calm after the storm, morning light revealed all. At the edge of the paddock a ceramic pipe emerged from a concrete plinth in the grass.  The strong winds had ripped the sentry-box from its mountings and had blown it, along with the seat and cover, away down the hill.  Hard Kiwi cavers indeed!


Caving Songs

I received the following plea from Nick (see Editorial)

Oldland Common

I am interested in hearing from any member who has details or copies of caving songs.  The aim is to collect together as many as possible from all over the country to form the basis of a national caving song collection. Eventually I hope to be able to arrange for them to be published with the profits going back into caving in some way, and not for personal gain.  To date I have approximately 170 songs and thanks must go to those who have helped me so far.  I am looking for any song that concerns caving, cavers, caves or clubs. If anyone has details, please contact me either at home, The Hunters or The Belfry. Thanks.

Nick Cornwell-Smith


BEC Accounts for the Year Ending 31-08-89.

This year has been fairly quiet from a financial point of view. All of the financial priorities for 1988/9 have been completed. The only major expenditure has been the installation of the dehumidifier and the purchase of a two more library units. The IDMF is growing steadily and the Cuthbert’s Report Pre-sales account is quite healthy.

Notes on Expenditure.

General Account.

1)       The Belfry Bulletin printing, postage and stationary costs have been much the same as last year, with five issues being produced in this financial year.

2)       The BCRA insurance was much the same as the previous year.  The Belfry insurance was twice as much; this was due to the payment of an outstanding bill for the 1987/8 year.

3)       Very little has been spent of caving equipment this year!

4)       The telephone charges are absolutely correct; it is very expensive to rent a payphone.  The returns are also correct, so no one is fiddling the machine.  In view of the high costs of renting this essential piece of equipment the committee are currently costing the purchase of a coin operated telephone.

Sales Account.

5)       The loss is due to the purchase of a load of stickers and metal badges.  They should last for a year or two, so we can recoup the costs over this period.

Belfry Account.

6)       The electricity has been overpaid this year, this has been going on since late 87 and it has at last been rectified.  We are now £229 in credit.

7)       The insurance was high this year, see note 2 above.

8)       The repairs and improvements this year include the fitting of the dehumidifier (£438) in the drying room and tidying of the changing room.  The Belfry has been painted and some work has been done to the car park.

9)       Two library units have been purchased; the library is now nearly complete.

10)   The Belfry account has broken even this year, any deficit can be accounted for in the credit with the Electricity Board.

Notes on Income.

General Account.

1)       The subscriptions have been paid a little more promptly this year.  The higher income is due to the late payment of the subs of 26 individuals (£312) from the 1987/8 year!  The total income due to subscriptions is £2251 compared with £1678 from the previous year.  Please pay your subs as soon as possible in October 1989.

2)       Donations are higher this year.  The greatest part of this sum is from anonymous individuals staying at the Belfry.

Belfry Account.

3)       The income from the bednights this year is £1890 from 48 hutsheets.  The 4 hutsheets from August 1989 had not been submitted in time for the close of accounts. Overall the income would be up on last years' and the account would be in credit.

4)       The income from the Cuthbert’s Fees was £9.25. Did only 31 people go down St Cuthbert’s this year?  Come on you leaders, get your money heads on!

General Savings Fund.

This fund now stands at £859.

Ian Dear Memorial Fund.

As there was no income from the 1987/8 year, £200 was added to the account in 1988/9 and the balance now stands at £538.  No requests for grants were received this year.

St Cuthbert’s Report Pre-Sales Account.

There has been a little injection into this account over the year and the balance is currently £828.  If the club is to fund the entire cost of the publication then a considerable input into this account has to be made before the book goes to print.  The club may need to borrow a sum of money to bring the project to fruition.


I feel that the financial priorities for the coming year are: -

The publication of the St Cuthbert’s Report.

The replacement of old worn-out caving tackle.

Further improvements to the BEC library.

Further improvements to the car park.

A long term project to be considered is the possible installation of central heating and instant showers, this will be expensive and a proper evaluation of this should be made.

The expenditure of the club has now exceeded the income for two years running and it may be time to consider either increasing the subs or the hut fees for 1990/1.  Certainly, if we are to continue with the hut improvements and maintain the quality and quantity of the BB we would need to increase the income.  This should be discussed at the AGM (7/10/89).

So long as there is no major expenditure in 1989/90 the BEC accounts should tick over nicely for the year. There will be extra income from the Wessex Challenge but this cannot be counted upon. The publication of the St Cuthbert’s Report is a special case and an alternative method of funding is required.

The BEC accounts are now whoever it may be.  I am live in Adelaide. So, to you are in my part of the ready to hand over to my successor, resigning my post as I am going to all you BEC who get everywhere, if world, pop in and say hello.

Steve Milner. 12-09-89.

BEC Accounts for the Year Ending 31-08-89.





General (Current) Account - INCOME












Gain from Dinner/AGM



Gain from Wessex Challenge






Building Society Interest









General (Current) Account - EXPENDITURE






BB Printing



BB Stationery and Postage



Public Liability Insurance



BCRA Insurance



Belfry Insurance (50%)



Rates – General & Water (50%)



Tackle, Cave Keys, Permits (CCC) Purchased



Less Tackle Fees & CCC Permits Sold



Other Subscriptions and Donations



IDMF Transfer



Carbide Licence



Library Purchases



Misc Postage and Stationery



Telephone Charges



Less receipts






Net Sales Loss/(Profit)



Transfer to Cuthbert’s Account



Net Belfry Account Loss/(Profit)


















General (Savings) Account – Nationwide Building Society.






Opening Balance



Interest                                                                                     (Approx.)



Closing Balance.









Sales Account
















Sweat & T-Shirts





Badges & Stickers








Net Profit/(Loss)















Belfry Account - INCOME






Bednights (not including August)



Other Receipts



Special Item (Insurance for Tackle Store)









Belfry Account - EXPENDITURE















Household Goods & Miscellaneous



Belfry Insurance (50%)



Rates – General & Water (50%)



Repairs and Improvements



Fixtures and Fittings



Purchases of Library Units









Net Profit/(Loss)









St. Cuthbert’s Report – Bristol & West Building Society






Opening Balance



Pre-Sales Income



BEC Contribution






Less Expenditure



Closing balance.












Ian Dear memorial Fund – Guardian Building Society






Opening balance



Transfer from General Fund









Closing Balance