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

1989 - 1990 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris (Blitz) Smart
Caving Sec.             Peter (Snablet) McNab
Hut Warden             Chris (Zot) Harvey
Tackle Master          Stuart McManus
B.B.Editor                Ted Humphreys
Hut Engineer            Nigel (Mr.N) Taylor
Membership Sec      John (Q.J.) Watson
                               Ian (Wormhole) Caldwell

1989 - 1990 Non-Committee Posts

Librarian                           Mike (Trebor) McDonald
Archivist                           Alan Thomas

Editorial

We have several new members again.  This time I've listed them in the complete, current membership list (Page 15).  If anyone finds any mistakes or knows of any changes please let me know as soon as possible.

Annual subscriptions to the B.E.C. are now due.  If you haven't already paid, please do so promptly.  The club needs the money.  The amounts are £14 for ordinary membership and £21 for joint membership.   Payments by cheque (made out to the B.E.C.) are preferred and should be sent to the membership secretary, John Watson.

We have lots of members in the Club but only a tiny minority ever contribute anything to the BB. Please write something for the BB. It is the club journal, after all, and should be the medium through which members can find out what other members are up to!


 

Tackle Master's Report

On taking over the job of tackle master my first task was to find the tackle!  There wasn't a ladder in the store! and as usual not one ladder had been booked out!  I had to borrow a ladder from the Wessex to go caving and on returning it they informed me they had two of ours!

Eventually over two or three weeks I managed to ear-bend, grumble and cajole people into returning the ladders and we have ended up with 10.  This has become the basic number held in the store throughout the year. The funny thing is they are not the same 10 ladders! that I inspect regularly.

Quite a few ladders have also come back from Hunter's Hole, Eastwater and Daren after quite a few months/years in the caves and have basically been scrapped.  I am in full agreement with the leaving of tackle in caves like West End and Daren due to the basic difficulties and the frequent visits.  However, I would recommend that we construct/buy 100' of ladder with S/S wire to enable them to stand up to the effects of being left underground for months at a time.

The basic 10 ladders appear to cover the needs of most people for caves locally though we have sufficient rungs etc. to construct another 6 when the need arises.  Thanks to Zot we now have a jig capable of setting up a ladder completely.

Thanks also to Nigel Taylor for obtaining and installing a key cabinet to hold the tackle store key - members should be aware that their Belfry key will open it.

The SRT equipment has been used on a few times for away trips and the system is working well.  It would be nice to see this equipment being used more frequently by members.

Finally, reflecting back over the year the tackle is being signed out and back by members at last but I am still puzzled by the way our ladders are cycled.  We have a 12" spacing ladder at the moment, could somebody exchange it for a good 10" spacing!

Mac 07-10-89


 

Hut Warden's Report (as received)

i   Bed night       Yes

loads of members have been staying.  Not many groups of guests

ii  Fabric of Hut

Showers are not working

The problem is not with the coin meters but the showers themselves.

Fire - This has been damaged and will need repairs.  Is this central heating by the back door?

Ceiling - need a fireproof ceiling & there is still work to do on the fire reg's.

Drying room.  Some work has been but there is still work to do - a coin meter?

Loads of work to do.

The list Dany did years ago is still endless and little progress has been made.

AD LIB

Finally my grateful thanks to anyone who has helped me over the last year.  I will be standing for the Committee but hopefully not as H/Warden.

Snablet


 

Secretary's Report

It's been quite a quiet year, Secretary-wise.  I've had a lot of written enquiries from various people about the Club, asking what the joining arrangements are, but as soon as I tell them it’s primarily a caving club they can't be seen for dust.  Our title as an "Exploration" club is obviously quite enticing but nobody seems to like the caving element.  I had one young lady who came down from Oxford by train via Weston to try her hand and she took one look at the Swildon's entrance and legged it back over the fields.  I don't know what people expect?  However, quite a few new members - mostly perhaps from other Mendip Clubs.

We've had some sad deaths, one of which is documented in the recent B.B.  Enough has been said and I feel and there is no need to expound it further here.  Bennett will be sorely missed.

The Poll Tax rears its ugly head in 1990 and I fear we may be hit very badly.  The Rating Department are unable to provide any figures or indications of the likely damage as even they don't know what they're doing, but I think it will be considerable.  This leads onto another point, that of charity status as a means of obtaining exemption from the Tax.  I've done some preliminary enquiries and am having discussions with the MNRC and Shepton who are charities I believe.  This can be taken on by the next committee.

Morale in the Club I sense has been a little down of late, for whatever reason.  It seems a lot more fragmented with small groups going separate ways at weekends and hut occupation down quite a bit.  There doesn't seem to be that active, busy and rowdy crowd around the hut at weekends.  I know Clubs all have little gangs that go off to do their own thing; ours just seems more pronounced and isolated to me.  Perhaps it's just a phase, with Mendip seeming a little quieter over the summer.

The Cuthbert's Lease is now close to completion and should be signed and sealed soon.  This will give us a 10 year tenancy of a roughly triangular piece of land between the Snake Pit and the Mineries pond closest to us. It obviously includes Cuthbert's Swallet itself.  Basically we are responsible for the well-being of this area.

Politics has thankfully laid low this year and the few CSCC meetings that I've attended have been quite tame compared to a few years ago at the height of the Nature Conservancy arguments. Long may this continue.  Down with politics, up with caving I say.

Trebor


 

Caving Secretary’s Report

All in all 1988/89 has been a healthy year for the club on the caving front.  A lot of commitment has been put into the various digging projects.

Bowery corner has been extended by the Wednesday nighters for another 100 soul destroying feet, following the shale/limestone boundary horizontally and showing every sign of putting up a good fight.

 

Graham Johnson's dig (Welsh's Green) has a 400ft extension in an exquisitely distasteful, mud filled bedding in the blue lias and carries one of the most enticing draughts on Mendip.

A fresh assault is being carried out on Wigmore and hopes are high for an extension here (sounds familiar!) as we soon expect to break out of the Red Marl.

Zot, Trebor, Mac and Mike Wilson have put a great deal of effort into the building of another dam in Cuthbert's and Mac has set the wheels in motion for another push on the sump in October.  (This was cancelled - ed.)

In Wookey, Stumpy, Trebor et al have been resurveying the system with a view to a dry route from twenty to twenty four.

In Daren Cilau, the Rock Steady Crew have extended the system for a few hundred metres and are just 60 metres from Aged Allwedd.  The main dig is now directed towards the unknown region beyond the Aggy sumps and hopefully off into the system under Llangynydr.

In Austria. Snablet and Mongo took part in the pushing trip down Orkanhohle, finally bottoming the cave at -? metres (let's hope we get an expedition report this year?)

A good time was had by all in Transylvania and Loopy would like to thank Rohan for the contraceptive properties of their zips!

Various BEC members have got everywhere this year - The States, France, Ireland and Australia to mention but a few, but the award for the most notably excessive member must surely go to Jim Smart for his 'high profile' capture by communist guerrillas in the Philippines.

I shan't be standing for the committee this year as I have other commitments.  I would like to wish the best of luck to my successor.

Mark Lumley


 

Meets List  (Provisional)

This is a brief list given to me by Snablet.  More details can be found at The Belfry or direct from Snablet.

Xmas/New Year

Jan 27th

Jan 28th

Feb 10th

Feb 11th

Feb 24th

 

 

Mar 10th

Mar 11th

Mar 24th

Matienzo

King Pot

Gingling

Dan-y-Ogof

Little Neath River Cave

Gower - caving, digging, learning to surf, climbing, drinking (and apparently there's a high viaduct en route!)

Penyghent

Nick Pot

O.F.D.

Spain

Yorkshire

 

South Wales

 

 

 

Yorkshire

 

 

Easter Apr 13-16 International Speleo-fest?  Caving in Belgium and the Ardenne?

Bits. Pieces and Snippets.

The author of "Mendip Fauna", in the August B.B., was Jingles.  This was not revealed at the time in case he might have to do a Salman Rushdie.  No death threats were received, however.  Jingles has, nevertheless, skipped the country and is, I believe, spending six months in Germany.

Alan Thomas, the club archivist is desperately in need of a filing cabinet and asks whether any member can lay his or her hands on a second-hand one really cheap (or free).

Clare Coase is coming to England at the end of March accompanied by her son Damien and his wife Nan.  Damien will be going down St. Cuthbert's to see Don's plaque.

Overheard in the Hunters:

            Stranger            How do you get to drink out of a pewter tankard?
            Local    Buy one.
            Stranger            How much are they?
            Local    They're all different prices.
            Stranger            Oh. Well how much is that one?

contributed by Alan Thomas

Working and Social work day at the Belfry second Saturday in March 1990

One and all are urged by Mr.N - hut engineer to descend upon the Belfry for a "Working Day" on the second Saturday in March.  Working members stopping overnight will not be charged hut fees.  Non-workers double!  A "Belfry Binder" will be cooked on the Saturday night and hopefully a "Star" personality will entertain us with a lively slide show, prior to the evening session at The Hunters, followed possibly by a barrel. For further details contact Mr. N or Zot.

 



Jamaica - "Boonoonoonoos"

(or in the local patois, "Something Special") .

THE BIG BAMBOO RECCE EXPEDITION - JAMAICA '89.

Yet another Trebor/Stumpy wrecky/reccy extravaganza to Jamaica.  If you're off anywhere nice, seek out Trebor and Stumpy who'll recce it for you.

How nice to get away from Butcombe, sharky caving gear vendors and piddly Mendip caves.  Why waft across flat grass fields to Swildons when you can sweat through ganja-riddled, mongoose-ridden, rum-soaked jungle in the Cockpit Country of Western Jamaica?  Oh the joys of shorts and T-shirt caving amongst mountains of bat guano.

That's the silly bit over with.  Now some proper stuff.

China is not the only place with pinnacle or cone karst.  The Cockpit country is a quite outstandingly dramatic, beautiful and remote circular area of Western Jamaica, some 20 miles in diameter and about 15 to 20 miles inland.  Access into its heartland is very pedestrian - "Is this thing really a path?" Cockpit is a term used to describe a closed depression, perhaps on average ¼ mile across, with sides lobed convexly inwards making them almost star-shaped.  Numerous gullies run into the centre, usually dry but carrying streams after heavy rain.  The residual cones or pinnacles are rounded and quite evenly spaced giving a 'basket of eggs' appearance.  All of course is cloaked with thick matted jungle with the occasional clearing for sugar cane, pineapple or ganja.

The Cockpit or depression obviously provides a neat receptacle for water catchment and bedrock shafts at the lowest point of the depression are a feature.  Cockpits with steeper sides and a fair amount of exposed limestone resemble dolines.  Cockpit karst is generally found on pure, massive limestone.  Often a depression is linked at one point of its circumference with another depression, thus forming chains of 'glades'.  Annual rainfall in the area can reach about 250cms. so in the wet season flash flooding is a serious consideration.

Climate and vegetation is a very significant factor in cockpit karst, as it no doubt is in all tropical karst forms.  The forest covering conceals the more pronounced relief and floor litter, humus, roots and talus can cover shafts, fissures and caves.  It also makes perambulating very difficult.  Exposed limestone can usually be seen         on overhangs, cliffs and cuttings and here there is usually a profusion of stal forming externally.  Bauxite is also found in depressions and in some places is mined commercially for aluminium production.

The theory of depression shafts went out the window when we had a gander around what is called Windsor Cave, on the northern edge of Cockpit Country in a remote spot taking some finding.  At the end of an endless track in mid-jungle next to a river, you shout at a hut for Rastaman Franklyn who stirs himself to show you where this place is.  A brief sweat into the undergrowth down an apology for a path you come across a small cliff face with a stooping entrance leading into a magnificent entrance hall dripping with speleotherms.  It's all very old fossil stuff but immense. Maximum passage width noted was 50yds and max height possibly 100 ft.  Bats and their heaped deposits are everywhere.  Our Rastaman had some novel illumination - a big bamboo pole filled with kerosene and a rag stuffed in the end.  When the light looked as though it might die he merely tips it up to rejuvenate the wick.  It looked like a mortar, probably potentially explosive and the spewing fumes and black smoke not only gave the bats something to think about but soon had us on the retreat.  But, as he said, it lasts for days and no bulbs to blow.  It also had the added advantage of incinerating the myriad guano eating flies that get in every orifice.  I'll stick to my clean, anti-polluting petzl zoom.  Apparently there's 14 miles of passage but we've not come across any surveyor detailed account of the place and we doubt that Rastaman has done all of it, so we took this measurement with a bag of salt. Very impressive nonetheless.  He told us of another large cave nearby, Bethany Cave, but our time in that area was up.

Snippet of useless info'

As a point of archaeological interest, on the way up to find this cave we passed through miles of cane plantation.  'Parked' on the side of the road was a wonderful old cane crusher a bit like an old washer woman’s clothes mangle.  Made in Glasgow of all places.  Elsewhere throughout our travels we found much evidence of old cane works, such as a very impressive wreck of an overshot water wheel between Montego Bay and Lucea and numerous stone cone buildings, the remnants of windmills, scattered about.

Local Waffle

The inhabitants of Cockpit Country are loosely called 'Maroons', who are supposed to be the interbred descendants of escaped sugar slaves used by the British.  They were slightly menacing at first and mesmerised by us whiteys, and Stumpy in particular, scooting around is a beat up car asking about holes in the ground.  They soon softened up with a huge however when confronted by Stumpy, hands on hips going" 'ere wang, where's t'caves, pal?” The locals exhibited a remarkable phenomenon though, a magical codeword in the local patois - 'jayratt', which when uttered raised the price of everything they were trying to sell you.

Ipswich Cave was a real day out crunching along unbelievable 'roads' literally miles from anywhere.  We winced at every bang, rattle and thump as it only needed a tyre to blow or an oil sump to rupture and we would really be in the bat guano.  We were heading for the metropolis of Ipswich, a village spread out through the jungle high up in the cockpit and one of the few places to have the luxury of a 'road'.  We suddenly broke out into a clearing with, would you believe it, a station in the middle.  Stand back in amazement.

Taken aback we sought a cold drink and asked a local where we were.  "Swich maan" he said, "no problem, want sum ganja?". The railway line is apparently the link between Kingston and Montego Bay and rumbles through the jungle at this point.  A great piece of engineering hacking it through this lot. The line had been 'broken' for 6 months or so and they hadn't seen a soul for some time.  Luckily a local lady wanted a lift home to the other end of the village 4 miles away so she agreed to show us the cave's whereabouts in return for a lift.  After more bumps and rattles, we stopped where the railway passes across the road and hoofed it up the railway track in a northerly direction for three-quarters of a mile or so.  At the base of a big cockpit depression was a small cliff face with the entrance in the side of it.  To get there, you walk along the line as far as a small platform just before a big tunnel and then follow the obvious path down to the right.  It's a 'show cave' of sorts meaning it’s got a gate on. Apparently you can take a train ride tour from Montego Bay, part of which passes this way.  You stop at the little platform, leap out and gander around the cave.  Since the railway is bust nobody comes anymore but you can get the key from the station master at Cadapuda nearby.  An impressive place.  Pat poked his nose into a shaft on the side of the path and a dropped stone indicated possibly 80 ft.  No tackle though?  There is also a cave entrance actually within the tunnel itself independent of the main Ipswich cave.  Our lady guide was Icella Thompson and she obviously knows the area well. She lives on the outskirts of the village right by the track where it leads onto the road junction with the village of Ginger Hill.  Ask and most people will know her.  A useful contact.

More Waffle

a)       Pat invented some new cocktails: 'Bovril Driller', 'Shirt Lifter' and 'Uphill Gardener'

b)       Take care not to succumb to the three G's  - ganga, grog and guano.

c)       The 'restaurant' at our hotel was called "The Seething Cauldron". All it seethed was Americans and cockroaches.

d)       Instant hair dryer - just stick your head out the car window.

e)       For a while we saw loads of ferrets leaping across the road in front of us.  Now Pat likes ferrets and was thus very disappointed when they turned out to be mongooses (or mongeese).  There are two types of snake; both very shy and you are very unlucky to come across them. So they say.  There's also an evil snake thing in the sea which bathers ran away from but in fact it's only a snake eel; blissfully happy, friendly, non-toxic and turns belly-up for a tickle when encountered.  Jamaica has no known sea snakes.

f)        We saw some limbo - a slip of a girl getting under 6".  A hell of a squeeze.  We'll recruit her for the next caving expedition.

g)       Bars had interesting names; one with a corrugated iron roof called 'Silver Thatch', another called 'The Hunters Bar' and another 'No Problem Cafe'.

h)       If you go to Negril on the west coast where we were, the best taxi chap is Leroy.  Ask anyone for him honest and reliable.  He has a brown car and is usually parked outside the Negril Beach Club.

Local Waffle

Whoever named many Jamaican villages was a real joker and obviously quite a lad.  What warped mind dreams up "Barbeque Bottom", "Good Design", "Maggotty", an area called "The district of Look Behind", "Sherwood Content", "Quick Step", "Big Bottom", "Gutters", "Alligator Pond" and "Wait a bit"?

Perhaps the most fascinating speleological/geological and hydrological bit we saw was the Roaring River area at Petersfield, not far from the largish town of Savanna-la-Mar on the south western coast.  To begin with, a stonking 8 ft. wide river, 2 ft. deep issues straight out of the side/base of a cockpit cone.  Too powerful a current to dive in against but a days digging could reap dividends.  The river then flows down a valley for ½ a mile until it widens into an area that can only be called an oasis - palms, trees, ferns etc.  Quite magnificent.  In the widened section, a hole in the river bed 10ft.       across literally churns with up-flowing water - obviously some sort of underground sump/passage.  Again too powerful to dive in against.  Immediately adjacent to this area, but apparently independent from, is a so-say 6 mile cave system which we had a quick shifty round.  Hydrologically and geologically we couldn't work the place out but then these subjects have never been our strong point.  Some local kids were messing around in the entrance chambers with illumination a bit like Franklyn's in Windsor Cave but these were milk bottles filled with kerosene, lit and held high to decimate the bats.  A Molotov cocktail if ever I saw one.  We again retreated.  An outstanding area though.

Little has been done in the cockpit except a good six week effort by Liverpool University speleos in 1977, based at Troy on the south eastern edge.  Their one main find was Still Waters Cave at 11,800 ft. mapped length. We feel the area is still wide open but would need 15 people minimum to cover the terrain.  Locals say lots of "scientists" have been over the years but not many speleos it seems.

Runaway Bay and Arawak caves, between Ocho Hios and Montego Bay on the northern coast were real collector’s pieces.  Not too far above sea level, they were of magnificent white limestone. Amazing passage configurations, possibly sea eroded at some time.  Runaway Bay Cave stretches inland for some distance, some say 14 miles but as usual we've learnt to take these distances with salt.  A feature is the profusion of tree roots which descend as far as 100 ft. underground like tentacles searching for moisture.  Quite bizarre.  Some as thick as your leg.

Arawak Cave was little more than a large single chamber, possibly sea eroded. The rastaman who lives in a hut outside and who is trying to make it into a show cave, has a party trick of leaping off a ledge 40 ft. up on some aerial roots which dingle-dangle to the floor. We found the large, resident white snowy owl more interesting.

The final gem we unearthed was, for want of a better word, a "blue hole" in the back garden of Hedonism II Hotel at Negril.  At first sight it's just a lily pond but on closer examination it has a limestone rim.  It's only 50-60 metres in from the shoreline.  We had minimal cave diving gear so Pat made a spectacle of himself by donning two 80 cu. ft bottles, borrowed hand torches and a water ski tow rope for a line.  He parted the lily's and descended into the crab-infested murk.  At 10 metres he returned when silt from the underside of the lily's blotted out visibility.  Worth another good look with proper gear.

There's a box file in the library containing all notes maps and other info we possessed.

References:

a)       Karst Geomorphology by Jennings Jamaica Underground by Fincham

b)       LUSS expedition report by McFarlane

c)       Trebor July 1989


 

Daren Cilau - First Impressions

by Jingles

I first heard of "Daren" in February 1985, when, in Whitewallls, after having introduced me to Agen Allwed and listening to me moaning about having to crawl for what at the time had seemed ages.  Duncan Price told me that "If you think that was fun you should try a little hole further down the mountain called Daren Cilau!"  He then proceeded with a description of the entrance crawl that made me tired just hearing it.  I made up my mind there and then to avoid this at all costs, it did not sound like the sort of thing I saw myself doing at all.  Indeed, the more I heard about it from others over the next couple of years only served to ingrain my conviction even deeper.

It was only as I got to know the people "intimately involved" with the ongoing pushes in the further reaches of the cave that I came to realise the futility of my stance. Slowly but surely it became clear that sooner or later I would sample its delights first hand, although I continued to fight against it doggedly for some time.  Until a short while ago, when I realised that my time had come...... !

And so it was that one fine Saturday morning I found myself rising early (at 6.30 a.m. no less!) to set off for Crickhowell and my appointment with destiny.  (or is that Fear???)

It was fitting that I was accompanied by Stuart Lain, himself a recent addition to those "caving elite" the Rock Steady Crew, as he had done his first ever trip with me and for some strange reason I felt that today was my first trip!!

We arrived at Crickhowell just as the cafe opened and spent a convivial hour breakfasting, shopping and generally procrastinating before heading up to Whitewalls where we killed another hour chatting etc ... while waiting for Ted Humphreys who had said he may join us. (Hunter's talk - Ed.!)  At 11.00 we decided that Ted wasn't coming and so got changed and headed off for the cave, my head ringing with last minute excuses "not-to" and wondering if I'd ever see Mendip again.!

One has only to look at the entrance hole to Daren, to get a sense of what lies ahead, and indeed the amount of work that has gone into the place over the years.  "Christ Stu, they even had to dig out the bleedin' entrance!" I said incredulously.  "Yes mate" said Stuart with an evil grin!  Well he knew what we were in for didn't he.

Armed with a tackle bag and a couple of BDH's, just to make the trip a little more fun, we got down on our bellies and in the time honoured fashion, in we slithered!  Ten seconds, and less than three feet later, I was getting soaked - what a thoughtful place to put a puddle, right in the middle of the first crawl/squeeze. The first thing you notice is how much effort is involved in moving even the shortest distance, but you haven't got time to think about it 'cos your too busy with the bloody BDH's.

Two hundred feet and a whole lot of cursing later we arrived at "The Vice" and what fun it is too! Having been warned by Stu of the tackle eating hole half way through, I naturally saw to it that the BDH's found their way straight into the deepest part of it.  A happy few minutes were spent retrieving these and extricating myself from its calcite clutches.  I remember Hank telling me he'd had a whole bundle of fun with this as he's so thin he just slips right into the trench that runs along the bottom and gets stuck. I've never been so glad to have a bit of a beer gut as I was then I can tell you.

It was now that Stu decided to inform me that it’s at this point most people consider the true beginning of the crawl to be.  We'd taken nearly twenty minutes to get this far (200 ft or so) - I nearly cried!  A nifty bit of mental arithmetic revealed that at this rate it was gonna take nearly three hours to get through.  I quickly changed my line of thought.  On with the slog though as there really is little alternative than to keep plodding on.

It’s at about this point that you realise what people mean when they refer to Daren as "The Cave of a Thousand One Armed Press Ups!" Could this be why regular "Darenites" have bulging bicep muscles on one arm??? - and I always thought it was to do with the lack of female company on prolonged camps!!!  I must remember to go in on my other side next time, just to even things up a bit!

After what seemed like an eternity of endless twists and turns in the passage, which had by now "ballooned" to a majestic 18 inches or so across, Stu called back that we had reached the first Canal.  I didn't remember anyone saying anything about canals, I thought that was Dan Yr Ogof, but I was so hot that anything with water in it was fine by me.  Indeed my enthusiasm at this point was so great that I lost my balance and ended up face down in the water ..... still breathing in ... not too clever!  One coughing fit later, my breakfast decides that it wants a first hand look at what’s going on and hurtles up my oesophagus out of my mouth and into the canal.  (No bits of egg stuck in my nose this time though Stuart!!!)  You think that’s bad ... you should try lying in it when it’s still warm!!!!  The Henry Bennett school of caving ....

Once again the passage shrank and the roof dropped and it was over onto one side again for a few more press ups (in water).  I was nicely cooled by the other end of it.  Then, guess what, more crawling!

We'd been going about an hour when we reached the first inlet where we stopped for a rest and a gratefully received drink of Ribena.  Stu reckoned we were about a third of the way here, which was in keeping with my earlier estimate of three hours in total.  It’s not the sort of place you want to hang about in, so pretty soon we were off again.

There are three more canals in between the first and second inlets, each progressively more awkward than its predecessor.  The final one having a strategically placed "s" bend about half way through!! It’s quite low at this point which makes it difficult to manoeuvre but its not too bad, unless you happen to have long legs!  I'd heard some horror stories about this from taller cavers, one claiming to have been stuck there for half an hour before getting through, but was quite surprised at how easy it seemed to me.  Until I got stuck that is.  The trouble with lying flat out in freezing cold water in a confined space is that it makes you over eager to get out of it, a case of more haste less speed!  It took me a couple of minutes thrashing around and making sure that any part of me that was still dry wasn't for much longer, before I relaxed.  Then Hey Presto - I wasn't stuck any more.  (There's definitely a lesson in there somewhere I'm sure of it!!)

More crawling, more "s" - bends, though dry this time and bigger, even more crawling and then we were at the second inlet.  Apparently there is usually a small stream comes in here, from which we intended drinking, but alas zilcho!  This meant that the cave was quite dry - could've fooled me ¬there was enough water in those canals alright!!!  God, what's it like when it's been raining??? - Wet that's what!  So no drink available we once again set off on the last leg and me just about on my last legs (sic).

Something had changed - I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first, then it dawned on me - I could almost stand up.  The passage had become almost human sized - quite uncanny.  What a pleasure it is to be able to move at more than ten feet a minute, actual progress no less.  But - alas - it was not to last, pretty soon and it’s back to the more familiar "rock in face" type stuff.  I was quite happy until we got to " Play School!"  There I was thrutching along (not so) merrily in passage so small I wondered that I could move at all, when on rounding a bend I was faced with a circular squeeze so small all I could do was laugh!  "The Round Window" - kiddies!

Fortunately there is a sort of trench thingy in the bottom for the old "Malham" generator to go in - (as well as a goodly portion of the old "Nuts!!") - without which I wouldn't've stood a hope of getting past it.  So with a wiggle and a kick and a few choice phrases, through you go only to be confronted by the square window!!!  Again I nearly cried, I'd thought the round one was tight - bloody hell!  I had much more fun with this one what with getting my arms caught up, my helmet jammed; light failure etc etc et bloody cetera!

Eventually after a small eternity I emerged on the other side (I swear I heard a popping sound too) feeling as if I’d just been born ..... actually that would've been far less traumatic.

Great, only 200 feet to go I thought famous last words again!  Those last 200 feet are the worst of the lot what with bloody great rocks in the middle of the "passage".  The passage being no larger than it was before!!!!  Twenty minutes later, five of which were spent trying to dislodge my helmet yet again, we emerged into a very small chamber from where I managed to lead us the last six feet out of the crawl into a passage that we could actually walk in.

It took me a minute to realise that we'd actually made it and for the third time in as many hours - I nearly cried!


 

Letter

I received the following letter from Dizzie Tompsett-Clark earlier this year, addressed to J'Rat, the librarian at the time.  I mentioned it to Alfie and discovered that he used to get lifts from London in Postle's magnificent machine at that time.

Also enclosed with the letter was a generous donation to the B.E.C. - Thanks Dizzie!

Sept.8th 1989

Dear Tony,

I was so surprised at seeing my name in print in the recent B.B. (re additions to the Libraryvia the intrepid  Angus) that I have been inspired to send a few more booklets to you.

My memories go back to Main's Barn time around 1945, and Postle's triumphant arrivals from the Admiralty Establishment in Surrey in his fabulous sporty Lea Francis.  On high days and holidays (mostly Saturday nights) kind friends used to remove the distributor before a booze up, as otherwise Poth had a penchant for roaring around Priddy Green as a finale to the evening - an occupation looked on with some disfavour by local hard-working early-rising country folk.

Anyway all Good Wishes to the B.E.C. - long may it live!

Yours sincerely

Dizzie


 

The Voyage of "The Calypso" The Dordogne. France

So set sail the good van "Calypso", a monstrous vessel packed with a full hold of cargo - 12 * 80 cu.ft. 10 litre bottles, buoyancy jackets, line, grotts, compressors, lights and other bits and pieces.  She was on course for the Dordogne with a motley crew of two, Trebor McDonald and Nick Geh (S.W.C.C.)  The other scallywags, Pat Cronin (B.E.C.) and John Adams (S.W.C.C.), wisely went by separate means.

THE AIM:  To confirm the obviously erroneous and previously held view that French sumps were long. deep, and crystal clear.  We all know British sumps are the best in the world, with their tight and murky countenance.  We just had to find out about these pretentious French things.

The secondary aim was to increase our knowledge of these sumps and the diving potential generally, following good work by John Cordingly, Russell Carter, et al.

THE AREA:  The limestone plateau centred around the Padirac system, roughly between the Dordogne River and the Cele and Lot rivers further south.  Many of the dive sites and prospects involve the very influential Padirac system and its numerous resurgences.  The local base was Gramat.

Full marks to John for obtaining some good and useful sponsorship from Remar Diving in South Wales, in the form of bottles, valves, lights, jackets, compressors and decompression computers.  Also batteries, courtesy of Ever Ready.  The length and depth of the diving precluded usual British diving equipment, requiring bottles than the ubiquitous 45's and buoyancy jackets to maintain any one position in the huge passages.  Decompression computers allowed instant and trouble free indications of the stop times and decompression information rather than having to work out the dive profiles laboriously beforehand.  The use of back-mounted gear also became most viable, again due to the size of passageway.  Plenty of air could thus be carried if required, a maximum of 30 litres of air.

LE MANS.  Well worth a visit on the race south.  We got the fully laden Calypso up to 60 mph on the Mulsanne Straight, slightly less than the 220 mph some other vehicles reach at certain times of the year.  The pits, grandstands and motor museum can all be visited.

Assorted members of the team rumbled into Gramat over a two day period, Pat having a trip fraught with stops, courtesy of "le filth".  He couldn't face erecting his tent that night so booked into a local hostelry.  A leisurely fettle of all the gear and we were ready for a splash.

The first dive was to FONTAINE SAINT GEORGE, a very impressive, sun-soaked Wookey-like resurgence pool in the side of a hill below Montvalent.  It's one of the Padirac resurgences and most scenic.  After initial buoyancy problems and mis-understandings as to which flashgun was to go where, all four set off on a photographic excursion into the deep first sump to some -23m.  Although initially clear, the place soon silted up with all the thrashing around and it became reminiscent of Wookey, something we had come here to avoid. At a mud bank at -29m., photography was getting silly so three exited while Nick Geh proceeded to look around and on to rise to -8m. and still going.  All retired gracefully after this initial dive with Trebor nipping back to lay line as a parting shot for a possible repeat on the morrow.

Next day, Nick Geh and Trebor returned to go a little further and to get into the bigger, clearer passage we knew was further in.  Some way in Nick had an attack of the "Why the hell am I here's?" and beetled out, leaving Trebor rather lonely to continue for a bit. Line left in the entrance 200ft. or so, to connect up with the French line encountered just beyond the first elbow.

FONTAINE SAINT GEORGE, MONTVALENT, DORDOGNE.  IGN Blue Series map, 2136 East.  Grid Ref. 3910-3288.  Follow N.140 from Gramat northwards towards Martel and the Dordogne River itself.  Pass through Montvalent and after about 1 km downhill a track cuts back on the left, signed "Fne. St.  George" (the sign later nicked by 3 scallywags).  About 200m. down this track there's a barn on the left and the sump pool is obviously located set back in on the left just past the barn at the head of a small stream.  No permission required of which we are aware.  A dive at mid-day allows the sun to penetrate deep into Sump 1.

Upon exit after the first days dive in St. George, we met a young lady who approached us at the dive site introducing herself as Veronique Le Guin.  She and husband Francis were diving Fontaine du Finou just down the track a ways.  After pumping the bottles we went along to say hello. A quite remarkable duo who have done some incredible diving over the years, most recently reaching vast distances in Cocklebiddy in Australia and also in Finou.  More of them later.

The following day it was to FONT DEL TRUFFE, down near Lacave.  Another resurgence system spewing out into the Ouysse with entry via a most unlikely conical depression in the woods usually full of water but after the drought only partly full of rancid stuff.  "Truffe" means truffle, which abound in the woods apparently. In French, a truffle hunter is a "caveur".  Quite poignant I thought.  Whilst we were kitting down, an old chappie in a battered van came along.  Expecting a rollicking for trespass, he went round and opened up his van doors and, instead of the double barrelled shotgun, produced dirt cheap figs, grapes, peaches, doughnuts and other goodies - a big bagful for a £1.  He turned out to be the owner of the area.  With a "bon grotte" from us, he departed smiling and happy.

The entrance wriggle into Truffe, over a boulder and under a gravel squeeze, was quite hilarious under-weighted, with thrashing fins in thin air trying to propel the body downwards. However, once through, it was the proverbial 'wallop' - mega crystal clear passage some 5m x 5m at least in places. Further in, in Sump II, we met white limestone which made us feel like flying through marble halls.  Quite magnificent.  A load of photos were taken for the sponsors, with Pat the Page 3 model, Trebor as assistant deputy flash wallah, John Adams as Lichfield and Nick Geh as forward deputy back-lighting flasher.

No problems encountered on the way of any significance, although the rancid entrance pool obviously affected Trebor's deco computer which failed to work in Sump 1 and one or two high pressure leaks to Nick Geh had to be DIY'd.  We had a good look at getting out at the end of Sump II to do III and beyond, but the low water conditions and the awkward spot made exiting fully kitted a nightmare.

Now back to the Le Guen's. A most pleasant couple we met while we were down St.George and they were pushing Fontaine du Finou, more specifically Sump 5 which they finally passed during our stay by a further 200m. dive to make Sump 5 about 600m., very deep diving for sustained lengths with some constrictions and cold conditions.  They were diving with vast amounts of gear and were usually unable to kit up out of water due to the weight.  Mostly two back mounted 20 litre bottles with one or two bottles of tri-mix and a few tackle sax.

Francis has developed his own techniques for eating underwater, pumping in the nourishment to keep out the cold, keep the muscles going and to raise morale.  He said he eats peanuts by letting them go beneath him so they float up and at the propitious moment he whips out his gag and inhales deeply!  We still don't know whether he was joking.

Sump 5 in Finou was passed to a dry passage with a huge mud cone in it which he climbed to descend to another sump not entered.  On the return he slipped down the cone, tore his dry suit, injured a leg and lost his watch. Veronique lost a fin.  They had a long, slow, cold swim out!  Just as well he didn't injure himself more seriously as at that depth and length not many people would have been capable of rescuing him.

Veronique has also just spent 4 months underground doing Siffre-inspired experiments on deprivation, bio-rhythms and other such silly things, mainly to try and counter jet-leg. Francis is a professional film-maker and photographer, so we got some good tips on the subject.

FONT DEL TRUFFE, LAC AVE , DORDOGNE.   Leave Gramat on the Montvalent, Martel and Dordogne River road and head for Rocamadour.  There, follow the signs to Lacave.  Descend into Lacave with an impressive chateau on a rock bluff opposite.  Turn left at the junction in the valley floor and travel away from the village for ½ a mile.  Just round a left hand bend, right opposite the chateau and before a bridge, take the only track on the left.  Go up 300m. to a right fork and ignore the 'no entry' sign which only says "no access to river bank".  Pass through an archway where a farm building straddles the road and continue for 3 km. along the left bank of the Ouysse until you get to an obvious conical depression, on the left by the track, full of water.  Beware the odd "road train" which takes punters to see the sump pool as part of the Lacave show cave tour.

The following day, Trebor and Nick took a quick gander down St. George again to try and get a little further without the encumbrance of camera gear.  Pat and John went along to see Padirac to swan about in the very impressive show cave opened by Martel - one hell of a dig.  You can almost imagine where he started digging at the base of the huge entrance doline.  Later, Nick and Trebor accompanied Peter Harvey (SWCC and co-founder of OFD, Cuckoo Cleeves and Hunters Hole) down a 'dry' cave - Gouffre du Saut de la Pucelle, right by the road between Gramat and Montvalent.  A most impressive flood entrance, dry thankfully most of the time, leading to some very pleasant active streamway with plunge pools, cascades and, so they say, "fine situations".  In very low water a bit tame but in remotely moderate conditions quite an undertaking we imagined.  We encountered the French equivalent of Andy Sparrow, trailing a load of character-building businessmen wearing life jackets though the place. We quickly ran in the opposite direction.

GOUFFRE DU SAUT DE LA PUCELLE.   Leave Gramat on the N.140 towards Montvalent, Rocomadour and Martel.  After about 3-4 kms. on a long stretch of road there are two lay-by's on the right.  Pick the second one, nip over the wall and descend into the large and very obvious tree-lined depression.  The entrance in fact is almost directly under the road.  Walk into the railway like tunnel for 100m., pass through some static pools and ducks and then turn an obvious left into big stuff.  Walk along for 50m. and then duck left before a big mud bank into stooping passage.  Then just follow your nose as there's nowhere else to go but down.

Depending on the water flow, you can get away with one or two ladders, handlines and tapes, plus a few hangers and crabs.  Certainly a wet-suit job.  Nice formations.  Plaque at bottom to Martel who found the place 100 years ago.

Back to diving, with Trebor and Nick having a shufti at the Source de Moulin de Cacrey (Creysse, Lot) a quite spectacular dive site and as beautiful a place as you can imagine.  A 13th C. mill backs onto a lovely scenic sun-drenched pool fed by the massive Cacrey resurgence.  You merely kit up on the sluice gate wall. keel over into the water and paddle across to the large overhanging cliff base and descend into the crystal entrance with the sunlight following you in for quite a way.  Decompression is wonderfully relaxed - just perched on a boulder 3m. under in lovely sunlight watching the frogs frolic about.  A magnificent dive with two pots to descend, one 6m. deep and the other 9m. deep.  Mega passage with fine situations and as always crystal clear water. Trebor reached -26m. some 280m. in and Nick got to about -31m. some 300m. in.  The place continues on for frightening distances at silly depths, and is still going.

The most bizarre trip of the lot came next, the Emergence du Ressel at Marchilac sur Cele on the Cele river, south of Gramat and about a 25 min. laden van drive.  The resurgence is actually in the bed of the river Cele and in normal water conditions the crystal clear uprising water gives the entrance away.  In drought, however, the sump water is probably static so the murky river water predominates.  Great fun was had trying to find the entrance via a tatty minimal line tied onto a submerged tree root on the river bank.  A few seconds grope through zero vis river water and you break out into the magnificent crystal entrance door and arch.  From then on, a very pleasant photographic dive passing two junctions, both being the two ends of the same large loop.  Due to gymnastications whilst photographing Nick. John and Pat met thirds at or about the second junction 270m. in at -22m, whilst Trebor continued on to 300m.+ at -25m., just short of a magnificent pot which takes you down to -45m.!?  The vis on the return was horrible, only 25m. instead of 30m.!  All decompressed at -9m. and -3m., the latter stop being courtesy of a tree trunk wedged across the pot which you clung onto.  It could take 4 divers before starting to lift off the bottom if everybody breathed in at once. Dive time 64 mins.

Beware.  Silly photographers who fail to remove lens caps whilst carrying out well rehearsed action shots in the entrance pot.

Jochen Hasenmayer has dived silly lengths and depths in Ressel, without concluding the place, so it's still going after 2.5 kms.

Later that week, whilst returning from a dive elsewhere, we passed Ressel and saw the Le Guen's pantechnicon parked on the roadside.  They were just off into the cave to finish off filming some documentary or promotional shots with the help of a Cocklebiddy battery powered scooter.  It was quite bizarre to see them motor up the river like a WW2 limpet mine team, trim the guiding blades downwards and submerge into the entrance.

Visit Padirac. A very impressive place but spoilt by the tourist or rather, spoilt for the tourists. A feature is the ride by canoe/gondola/ barge along the river, piloted by very adept gondoliers.  You are well chaperoned so there's little scope for taking illegal photos or scything off from the crowd for an illegal look round. All French show caves seem pretty good.

Following a quick nip down Pucelle to take some photos it was back to our last dive dow Le Trou Madame at Ceneviere, Lot.  Pat and John had left early for home and to do some sightseeing on the way so it was down to Nick Geh and Trebor and also Dig Hastilow to go and have a look-see. Dig is a CDG member working in Switzerland so he came up for a few days for a swim or two.  His fancy car had tyres which were slick on the outside and treaded on the inner side to get the best of both worlds.

A very attractive resurgence entrance, dry at this time of year, with a 50m, stooping walk to the start of a long, crystal canal.  It's an easy swim but so as to save air you really need a snorkel until you reach the sump proper 100m. along the canal.  Presumably in normal wet weather, the canal shortens and Sump 1 lengthens. There's a good 2.8 km. of diving to be done, at unusually shallow depths with the roof often being no more than -3 or -4m's.  There are several sumps, interspersed with various air spaces and passages but due to the drought conditions we didn't have a clue which air space was which and which sump we were in at anyone time.  We think we got 50m. into Sump 4 but we can't be sure!  After a number of dives in mega crystal clear sumps we confess we were getting a little bored with the size of the stuff, so the return was livened up with Trebor visiting every little air space he could find in the roof and also changing gags every 10m. for something to do.  You really need a waterproof book and automatic paddle legs, or preferably a scooter.  Dive time 70 mins.  This vicinity was mind boggling for lepidoptera, damsel flies, hornets, purple emperors and other wildlife, some of which were very brave and had a good go at Trebor's armpits.

So endeth the trip, with a brief look at Lasceax on the way back - I thought it was much bigger - and a gander at the impressive Bayeux tapestry.  Some very good experience under the belt, very clear, scenic sumps we only dream about here, loads of potential for anyone that can dive 2.5 kms. plus at -45m. and a good chance to tryout gear we don't normally use in the U.K.  Some very good dry caving too with few access problems.  Roll on 1990.

Trebor


 

The Berger, 1954

Whilst surveying a monstrous edifice in Bristol, Trebor had cause to crawl about in the roof space.  There he found a News Chronicle dated September 28th, 1954. One small snippet therein ran as follows:

"DOWN, DOWN - HALF A MILE DOWN"

For the first time in history, man has penetrated over half a mile below the Earth's crust.

A team of eight French cave explorers claimed the record yesterday.  They said they descended 2,962 ft in the Berger cave, near Grenoble.

"It was easy", said M. Fernand Petzl, who led the team.  "We passed through magnificent natural rooms on the way".

West Brecon Cave Rescue Team – Vehicle Appeal Fund

Halifax, W. Yorks,

Dear Secretary,

I am writing to you as Hon. Secretary of the above Appeal Fund in the knowledge that members of your club cave in our area from time to time.

The West Brecon Cave Rescue Team was formed in 1975 and as part of the SWCRO deals with all cave rescues in the western part of the South Wales caving region.  This role has made us one of the busier teams in the UK since the ever popular Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, the flood prone Little Neath, and the easy access Porth yr Ogof all lie on our 'patch'.  Since our formation we have relied on an ancient Land-Rover made available to us by the South Wales Caving Club.  This vehicle can no longer be relied on and we have set about raising funds to replace it.

We have an immediate target of £10000 and the caving community in South Wales has already contributed nearly £3000 towards this. Whilst we hope to raise much of the remainder from local industry, student rags and charitable trusts we are also extending our appeal to cavers and caving clubs from other areas.  I am therefore asking if you would be willing to bring this appeal to the notice of your members and also if you would raise with your club committee the possibility of your club making a donation to the fund direct.

Yours sincerely,

R. A. Hall
Fund Secretary.


 

Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List 18/12/89

828 Nicolette Abell                    Faukland, Bath
987 Dave Aubrey                       Salisbury, Wiltshire.
20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw               Knowle, Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker                    Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon
818 Chris Batsone                     Radstock, Avon
1079 Henry Bennett                   London.
390 (L) Joan Bennett                 Newtownmore, Invernesshire
1122 Clive Betts                        Clapham, Bedfordshire.
769 Sue Bishop                        Tynings, Radstock.
1125 Rich Blake                        Horfield, Bristol
731 Bob Bidmead                      Leigh Woods, Bristol
364 (L) Pete Blogg                    Chaldon, Caterham, Surrey
1114 Pete Bolt                          Cardiff, S. Gamorgan
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle          Calne, Wiltshire
1104 Tony Boycott                    Westbury on Trim, Bristol, Avon
868 Dany Bradshaw                  Haybridge, Wells, Somerset
751 (L) T.A. Bookes                  London, SW2
1082 Robin Brown                     Cheddar, Somerset
1108 Denis Bumford                  Westcombe, Shepton Mallet
New Steve Bury                        Worcester
924 (J) Aileen Butcher               Holt, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
849 (J) Alan Butcher                  Holt, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
956 (J) Ian Caldwell                   Clifton, Bristol
1036 (J) Nicola Slann                 Clifton, Bristol
1091 William Curruthers             Holcombe Bath
1014 Chris Castle                      Axbridge, Somerset
1062 Andy Cave                        Lower Limpley Stoke, Nr. Bath
902 (L) Martin Cavender             Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.
New Richard Chaddock              Butleigh, Wooton, Glastonbury
1048 Tom Chapman                  Cheddar, Somerset.
1030 Richard Clarke                  Axbridge, Somerset
211 (L) Clare Coase                   Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia
89 (L) Alfie Collins                     Litton, Somerset
377(L) Dick Cooke-Yarborough   Address unknown for some years
862 Bob Cork                            Stoke St. Michael, Somerset
1121 Nicholas Cornwell-Smith    Oldham Common, Bristol
1042 Mick Corser                      Norwich, Norfolk
827 Mike Cowlishaw                  Winchester, Hants.
890 Jerry Crick                          Leighton Buzzard, Bucks
896 Pat Cronin                          Knowle, Bristol
680 Bob Cross                          Knowle, Bristol
1132 Robert Crowe                    London
405 (L) Frank Darbon                 Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. VIT 6M3
423 (L) Len Dawes                    Minster Matlock, Derbyshire
815 Nigel Dibden                       Holmes Chapel, Cheshire
164 (L) Ken Dobbs                    Exeter, Devon
829 (J) Angie Dooley                 Harborne, Birmingham
710 (J) Colin Dooley                  Harborne, Birmingham
1000 (L) Roger Dors                  Priddy, Somerset
830 John Dukes                        Street, Somerset
996 Terry Earley                        Wyle, Warmister, Wiltshire
322 (L) Bryan Ellis                     Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset
New Stephen Ettienne               Hayes, Middlesex
232 Chris Falshaw                     Fulwood, Sheffield
269 (L) Tom Fletcher                 Bramcote, Nottingham.
404 (L) Albert Francis                Wells, Somerset
569 (J) Joyce Franklin                Stone, Staffs
469 (J) Pete Franklin                 Stone, Staffs
897 Andrew Garwood                 Pulborough, West Sussex
835 Len Gee                             St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
1098 Brian Gilbert                     Chingford, London
1069 (J) Angie Glanvill               Chard, Somerset
1017 (J) Peter Glanvill                Chard, Somerset
1120 Alan Goodrich                   North Cray, Kent
1054 Tim Gould                         Newhaven, Edinburgh
860 (J) Glenys Grass                 Ridgewell, Essex
790 (J) Martin Grass                  Ridgewell, Essex
1009 Robin Gray                       East Horrington, Wells, Somerset
1123 Ian Gregory                       York, Yorkshire
1124 Martin Gregory                  Clapham, Bedfordshire
1113 Arthur Griffin                     Alperton, Wembley
1089 Kevin Gurner                     Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
1088 Nick Gymer                      Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
432(L) Nigel Hallet                     Address unknown for some years
1119 Barry Hanks                     Has moved – address unknown yet.  c/o Belfry
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam             St Annes, Lancashire
999 Rob Harper                         Wells, Somerset
581 Chris Harvey                       Paulton, Somerset
4 (L) Dan Hassell                      Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset
893 Dave Hatherley                   Cannington, Bridgwater, Somerset
1078 Mike Hearn                       Bagworth, Axbridge, Somerset
1117 Pete Hellier                       Nempnet Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol
974 Jeremy Henley                    Shepton Mallet, Somerset
952 Bob Hill                              Assen, Netherlands
1105 Joanna Hills                      Billinshurst, W. Sussex
373 (J) Sid Hobbs                      Priddy, Wells Somerset
736 (J) Sylvia Hobbs                  Priddy, Wells Somerset
905 Paul Hodgson                     Burcott, Wells, Somerset
898 (J) Liz Hollis                       Batcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
899 (J) Tony Hollis                     Batcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1094 Peter Hopkins                   Keynsham, Bristol.
971 Colin Houlden                     Briston, London, SW2
923 Trevor Hughes                     Bleadney, Wells, Somerset
855 Ted Humphreys                  Wells, Somerset
73 Angus Innes                         Alveston, Bristol, Aven
540 (L) Dave Irwin                      Priddy, Somerset
922 Tony Jarratt                        Priddy, Somerset
668 Mike Jeanmaire                  Peak Forest, Buxton, Derbyshire
1026 Ian Jepson                        Beechen Cliff, Bath
51 (L) A Johnson                       Flax Bourton, Bristol
995 Brian Johnson                     Ottery St. Mary, Devon
1001 Graeme Johnson               Cosby, Leicester
1111 Graham Johnson               Wells, Somerset
1127 Bruce Jones                     Northville, Bristol
560 (L) Frank Jones                   Priddy, Somerset
907 Karen Jones                       Marshfield, Chippenham, Wilts
567 (L) Alan Kennett                  Henleaze, Brsitol
884 John King                           Wisborough Green, West Sussex
316 (L) Kangy King                    Pucklechurch, Bristol, Aven
542 (L) Phil Kingston                 Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen                     Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon
946 Alex Ragnar Knutson          Bedminster, Bristol
1116 Stuart Lain                        Yeovil, Somerset
667 (L) Tim Large                      Shepton Mallet
1129 Dave Lennard                    Wells, Somerset
1015 Andrew Lolley                   Kingsdowm, Bristol
1043 Andy Lovell                       Keynsham, Bristol
1072 Clive Lovell                        Keynsham, Bristol
1057 Mark Lumley                     Englishcombe, Bath
1100 Sarah McDonald               London
106 (L) E.J. Mason                    Henleaze, Bristol
651 Pete MacNab (Sr)               Cheddar, Somerset
1052 (J) Pete MacNab (Jr)          Alexandra Park, Redland, Bristol
1071 Mike McDonald                 Knowle, Bristol, Avon
550 (L) R A MacGregor              Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus                 Priddy, Somerset
558 (L) Tony Meaden                 Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
1106 Simon Mendes                  Droitwtich, Worcestershire
704 Dave Metcalf                       Whitwick, Leics.
1044 Andrw Middleton               Earlsfield, London.
1053 Steve Milner                      Felixtow,  Australia
936 Dave Nichols                      Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
852 John Noble                         Paulton, Bath
624 Jock Orr                             Sturton-by-Stowe, Lincoln
396 (L) Mike Palmer                  Yarley, Wells, Somerset
1045 Rich Payne                       Sidcup , Kent
22 (L) Les Peters                      Knowle Park, Bristol Avon
New Martin Peters                     Chew Stoke, Avon.
1107 Terry Phillips                     Denmead, Hants.
499 (L) A. Philpot                      Bishopston, Bristol, Avon
1037 Dave Pike                         Yarley, Wells, Somerset
337 Brian Prewer                       Priddy, Wells, Somerset
1085 Duncan Price                    Earl Shilton, Leicestershire
886 Jeff Price                            Inns Court, Bristol.
1101 Christopher Proctor           Radstock, Bath
1109 Philip Provis                      Paulton, Bristol
1109 Jim Rands                        Stonebridge Park, London NW10
481 (L) John Ransom                 Patchway, Bristol, Avon
1126 Steve Redwood                 Banwell, Nr. Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
343(L) Tony Rich                       Address unknown for some years
662 (J) John Riley                      Chapel le Dale, Ingleton, Via Carnforth, Lancs.
1033 (J) Sue Riley                     Chapel le Dale, Ingleton, Via Carnforth, Lancs
1070 Mary Robertson                Stonebridge Park, London, NW10
986(J) Lil Romford                     Alcantarilha, 8300 SILVES
985(J) Phil Romford                   Portugal
921 Pete Rose                          Crediton, Devon
832 Roger Sabido                      Lawrence Weston, Bristol
240 (L) Alan Sandall                  Nailsea, Avon
359 (L) Carol Sandall                 Nailsea, Avon
760 Jenny Sandercroft               c/o Barrie Wilton
237 (L) Bryan Scott                   Winchester Hnts
78 (L) R Setterington                 Taunton, Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington            Harpendon, Herts
1046 Dave Shand                      Address unknown as yet c/o J’Rat
1128 Vince Simmonds               Eat Harptree, Avon
915 Chris Smart                        Nr. Bradford on Avon, Wilts
911 Jim Smart                          Has moved.  Address unknown yet.  c/o The Belfry
1041 Laurence Smith                 West Horrington, Wells, Somerset
823 Andy Sparrow                     Priddy, Somerset
1063 Nicholas Sprang                Leigh Sinton, Malvern, Worcestershire
1 (L) Harry Stanbury                  Bude, Cornwall
38(L) Mrs I Stanbury                  Knowle, Bristol
New Johnothon Stanniland         Worlebury, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
575 (L) Dermot Statham             Westcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
365 (L) Roger Stenner                Weston super Mare, Avon
1084 Richard Stephens              Address unknown.  c/o Trevor Hughes
867 Rich Stevenson                   Wookey, Wells, Somerset, Somerset
583 Derek Targett                      East Horrington, Wells Somerset
1115 Rob Taviner                       East Harptree
1039 Lisa Taylor                        Weston, Bath
772 Nigel Taylor                        Langford, Avon
1035 John Theed                       Farmborough, Bath
284 (L) Alan Thomas                 Priddy, Somerset
348 (L) D Thomas                      Bartlestree, Hereford
571 (L) N Thomas                      Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.
1067 Fiona Thompson               Fishponds, Bristol
699 (J) Buckett Tilbury               High Wycombe, Bucks
700 (J) Anne Tilbury                   High Wycombe, Bucks
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark    Chelmsford, Essex
381 (L) Daphne Towler               Bognor Regis, Sussex
382 Steve Tuck                         Coxley, Wells, Somerset
1023 Matt Tuck                         Coxley, Wells, Somerset
1136 Hugh Tucker                     Wedmore, Somerset
1066 Alan Turner                       Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
678 Dave Turner                        Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
912 John Turner                        Tavistock, Devon.
635 (L) Stuart Tuttlebury            Farnham, Surrey
1096 Maurice van Luipen            Hayes, Middlesex
887 Greg Villis                          Banwell, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
175 (L) Mrs. D. Whaddon           Taunton, Somerset
1077 Brian Wafer                      St. Pauls Cray, Orpington, Kent
949 (J) John Watson                  Somerset
1019 (J) Lavinia Watson             Somerset
973 James Wells                      Has moved.  Address unknown yet.  c/o Oliver Wells
1055 Oliver Wells                      New York, USA
1032 Barry Wharton                  Yatton, Bristol
553 Bob White                          Bleadney, Nr. Wells, Somerset.
1118 Carol White                      Cheddar, Somerset
878 Ross White                        Address unknown as yet c/o J’Rat
1092 Babs Williams                  Knowle, Bristol, Avon
1068 John Whiteley                   Newton Abbot, S. Devon.
1031 Mike Wigglesworth            Wells, Somerset.
1087 John Williams                   Address unknown as yet c/o The Belfry
1146 Les Williams                     Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1075 (J) Tony Williams              Soon moving to Portugal
1076 (J) Roz Williams                Leigh on Mendip, Bath
1130 (J) Mike Wilson                 Keynsham, Avon
559 (J) Barrie Wilton                  Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
568 (J) Brenda Wilton                Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
850 (J) Annie Wilton-Jones         Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
813 (J) Ian Wilton-Jones             Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
721 G Wilton-Jones                   Address unknown as yet c/o The Belfry
1112 Catherine Wood                Address unknown as yet c/o The Belfry.
877 Steven Woolven                  West Chilington, West Sussex
914 Brian Workman                   Bridgwater, Somerset
477 Ronald Wyncoll                  Hinkley, Leics.


 

Speleo Reconnaissance : Municipality of New Escalante, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

Jim Smart

Apart from all the usual hassles (the insurgency "problem", a new language to tangle with - there are over eighty distinct dialects in the Philippines and the difficulties of explaining the joys of caving to the local populace) my visit to New Escalante in the former province of Negros del Norte was hampered by unseasonally heavy rain.  I arrived on the day of a national holiday and, in the mayor's office, was able to meet many of the local barangay (village) Captains.  After some pretty standard cautionary advice the Mayor gave me a written letter of introduction granting me permission to travel at will within the Municipality.  By the time I had completed my work in this area I had made many good friends: it took me two days to recover from a beach party held in my honour on the day of my departure.

Baranqay Libertad

People spoke of "many caves" here including river caves.  A preliminary visit revealed limestone crags rising 200 ft. or more above the muddy cane fields.  But before I could reach them the rain started again and I took shelter under a banana leaf cut for me by a former guano miner, Dimitrio Dimitria.  Midday brought out the sun and a quick recce revealed vertical limestone cliffs, eroded pavements, small conical hills, enclosed depressions and a few small caves and pots.  Things looked promising and I arranged to lodge with Dimitrio's family at a later date.

My return trip was a disappointment.  I was shown only small fossil caves and many deep shafts that we could not descend de cause a promised rope did not materialize.  Dimitrio showed me the "best" caves first and as the day progressed and the quality declined I realized there were to be no tinkling river caves here.  So I curtailed my explorations and turned my attention across the Binaguiohan River to Bgy Binaguiohan.

The Caves of Bqy Libertad

All guano miners have to register their claim with the Philippine Bureau of Mines who then allocate a number to the site.  In the brief descriptions that follow I have listed the caves by these numbers except where a local name for the site was already in use.

JS ~ l.  A 35 ft. diameter shaft, 60 ft. deep, free climbable except for the last few feet.  Exploration incomplete.  Feb 27/89.

JS ~ 2.  A couple of 25 ft. vertical shafts located in a 200m. by 100m. polje.  Unexplored due to lack of equipment.  Feb 27/89.

BoM ~ 5.  Large rock shelter with two entrances & no dark zone. Mar 1/89.

BoM ~ 8.  Hidden in thick bush.  Spiralling entrance passage descends to main chamber 100 ft. long x 40 - 60 ft. wide and up to 60 ft. high.  Some short side passages and three alternative vertical entrances.

BoM ~ 12.  On summit of hill near old winding machinery used in guano extraction.  A deep vertical shaft reputed to lead to a chamber of two hectares area.  Feb 27/89 plus BoM ~ 8

BoM ~ 14.  A gaping hole in the side of a doline; unexplored. Mar 1/89

BoM ~ 30.  Shaft c. 75 ft. to unexplored cave.  Mar 1/89

Lapuz-lapuz Caves - A series of arches and short caves in an area of extreme limestone erosion and poison shrubs.   Feb 27/89.

Ome Cave A single chamber & alcove open to the elements.  The site of human habitation until just a few years ago.   Mar 1/89.

Pang pang Tuti - A 60 ft. long tunnel passage of spacious dimensions.  Almost entirely man-made (guano mine).  Mar 1/89

Siyawan Cave - Muddy cave about 220 ft. long; the home of cave swifts. Mar 1/89

Baranqay Binaquiohan

Disappointed with the Libertad caves and with four hours of daylight left I asked Dimitrio to show me the best cave in Bgy Binaguiohan.

Binaquiohan Cave ~2

Length c. 200 ft.  A muddy entrance chamber to walking-size passage with some small formations and alcoves.  While pretending to be impressed by one of these alcoves I heard the distant hammering of rock.  To my surprise guano miners miners were at work in the cave.  I'd always thought guano was mined with pick and shovel but it's not: it's hammer and chisel work and very hard work too.

Before I reached the working face I came upon a small boy about 10 years old - exiting the cave with two baskets of the stuff suspended from a pole over his shoulder.  Twelve men comprised the team working here, three of them sub-teenagers.  They each earn US $4 per ton delivered to the entrepreneur's truck a few km. away.  In the rainy season that truck can be a long, long way away.  On a good day the team will extract about half a ton.

BARANGAY LANGUB

"Langub" = "cave" in local dialect, so the place seemed worth a visit though I only expected a sea cave or two.  Langub is situated on the coastal plain near the sea 4 km. from the nearest "road".  My time was limited: the last jeepney home to Escalante passes Langub Crossing (= "junction") at 3 p.m. and my early start was delayed by torrential rain. It was gone noon when I arrived at the house of the Barrio Captain.  I had only two hours to locate and explore any caves, a pity cos I found a big-un.

Lanqub Cave

Situated about 2 km. from Langub, the enticing 15 ft. high x 30 ft. wide entrance opens onto a shallow valley.  Inside the large entrance chamber the cave was less enticing.  Despite the heavy rains of the previous few days the deep water that confronted me was stagnant and filthy and floating a asum of batshit. About twenty people had accompanied me to the cave whooping with delight at the fun of it all and never for a moment believing I'd venture inside.  Looking at that filthy water (and with one eye on the time) I was inclined to head back to Escalante but my audience were expecting a show so I changed into my swimming gear.  An old guy elbowed his way to the front of the crowd and volunteered himself as my guide.

The water turned out to be no more than waist deep; the slime and silt beneath the water was calf deep. I tried not to think of leeches and Weil's disease and followed my guide who was equipped with my only spare lamp. The entire cave was horizontally developed and ran very close to the surface.  After maybe 250m. we came to a collapse where we were able to climb out of the water and engage in some crouching and crawling until the passage regained its normal size.  A couple of man-made shafts here led to the surface about 20 ft. above.  I guess these shafts were constructed for guano miners. A little further on the passages became small, flat-out and very noisome.  We turned back, exploring several flooded side passages on out way out.

Back on the surface my audience was now filled with enthusiasm for cave exploration and miraculously remembered two more caves in the area.  Don't worry about the time, they said, we can arrange a boat to take you home.  So we went in search of these other caves, only one of which was located.

Buda de Franco Cave

When finally located this turned out to be a simple tunnel cave about 200 ft. long with a skylight entrance at the far end.  Lots of kids followed me into this cave, the tiny ones un-shyly holding on to my clothes and hands as we groped along with my one tiny lamp.  At the far end of the cave guano miners tallies are scratched onto the wall.

Cebu City.
March 1989