The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: John Williams

Cover: An original drawing by Sally Humphries.

1992 - 1993 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
B.B. Editor               Ted Humphries
Hut Engineer            Tim Large
Membership Sec.     John Watson
Floating Members     Nigel Taylor

REMINDER: AGM & DINNER, FIRST SATURDAY IN OCTOBER.


 

Editorial

Hello fellow Belfryites. I volunteered at the August committee meeting to try and produce a Belfry Bulletin in time for the AGM in October, the point being to have the various committee Reports published.  At the time of going to print I have most of them so although this has been a bit of a rush job the intended results have been largely achieved.

I apologise for the lack of other material, I have included what I can, but sadly due to time restrictions this is not a great deal.

I would like to thank all those who have helped (too many to mention by name) and also to say that I would be quite happy to take on the editorship full time if this is the wish of the club membership .... obviously this would be decided at the AGM.

Lastly, I cannot finish without expressing my thanks to Ted Humphries not just for his help with this issue but also for his efforts as editor over the past years.

Jingles.

Hon. Secretary’s Report

Martin Grass.

Firstly I must apologise for not attending this years A.G.M. or Dinner but I will be attending a wedding in sunny Jamaica.  I will, of course, phone the AGM but due to time difference I could well be under the influence!  I will try and phone from the beach in true "In Excess" style.

Secondly I would like to say that this was my fourth year as secretary and although I am prepared to stand for 93/94 I would like to say that if I am voted in it will be my last year as I feel five years is long enough for one person to remain in the same post.

1992/3 has been a reasonably quiet year for the club.  I was disappointed that, having raised the subscription last year we have only produced three Belfry Bulletins.  These two factors may be the reason we have had about 40 lapsed members this year. To offer more value for money, it is hoped by the outgoing committee that we can send all members free of charge the Wigmore Caving Report.  We must, however, this year find someone with the time and enthusiasm to produce a regular B.B.  It is a slur on the club that one of the most active U.K. caving clubs cannot produce a regular quality Journal and a monthly newsletter similar to the one produced by Nigel Taylor recently.

Nigel has also been chasing unpaid members by phone and letter and has had a lot of success.  I think that this goes to prove that we need an aggressive membership secretary for '94 who will mug members for their money!!

This year saw the eventual signing of the St Cuthbert’s lease which, believe it or not will need renewing in about 3 years time!

The St Cuthbert’s Report has sold slowly this year and it is a shame that only a few members are really pushing it (I know of one new St Cuthbert’s leader who has sold a copy on every trip he has taken).  Earlier this year we realised we would not be able to repay in full the members' loans at this years AGM so I wrote to everyone asking if the loan could be extended to the 1994 AGM.   Most members said yes and many donated the loan to the club.   Approximately 3 asked for the money to be returned, mainly due to personal financial reasons.  The club has had enough to pay this back without any trouble.

Finally we have had 9 committee meetings this year up to August; attendance has been as follows:

T. Large  

C. Harvey

J. Price

9

5

7

C.S. Smart  

M. Grass

T. Humphries

6

6

4

N. Taylor

M. Wilson

J. Watson

7

7

8

I look forward to standing for one more year if elected.


 

B.E.C.  Tacklemaster's  Report.

1992 – 3    Mike Wilson.

Hello "Tackle Addicts":

This has been a steady year as far as tackle is concerned ­ the store has been tidied up - and we have scrapped some kit; one ladder and two ropes have been consigned to the bin!!

On the plus side the "Jake & Blake Ladder Factory" has produced four more ladders for general use.  We now have nineteen good ladders in stock for general Club use.  We intend to carryon at roughly four new ladders per annum, until we have a sound supply of numbered and dated stock!!

Two new tackle bags have been purchased for general use and we have acquired the correct number of test weights for the rope test rig.  Hopefully we can now build a rig with some help from club members.

We would like to thank all the members who have taken care of the tackle and returned it regularly.

I will continue to improve the equipment and do my best for the club and I intend to stand for Tacklemaster again next year.

Your Tacklemaster ..... Mike Wilson

B.E.C.   Tackle Report   &  Inventory.

Total previous ladders         16 assorted
Total scrapped                   1
New manufactured             4

Stock Ropes In Store

2 X 75’ dynamic
1 X 120’ dynamic
2 X 26M dynamic

Asst Stock

12 Spreaders
11 Tethers

N.B. 1 X 130’ dynamic & 1 X 120’ static ropes scrapped.

Exploration Store

Stock Ladders

2 X 25’  new

Stock Ropes

1 x 250m  coil
1 x 18m  static
1 x 20m  static
1 x 36m  static
1 x 67m  static
1 x 35m  static
1 x 54m  static
1 x 40m  static

Plus 6 tackle bags and 5 rope protectors


 

Editor's Report.

Ted Humphries.

This year I have failed miserably as BB editor, there have been only three of them!  John 'Jingles' Williams has volunteered to take over the job and I wish him success.

I have been editor now for five years and I think it about time that a new hand took over.  I have quite a few articles in hand but new ones are always welcome, please keep sending them.  Jingles is producing this BB and the address to which future articles should be sent will be on page one (I hope).

Many thanks to all those people who have contributed to the BB over the years.  I have met and/or corresponded with many BEC members and other cavers since I've been BB editor (I've had letters from all over the world!) and although sometimes the job seemed somewhat invidious, I would not have missed the experience for anything.  I would like to give a special thank you to all those people who have been so supportive over the years but they are too numerous to name so I can only thank you all from A(lfie) to Z(ot).

The BB is the club journal and should reflect all opinions within the club.  Please write on any topic to do with the club.  (Exceedingly rude ones may be left out at the discretion of the editor.)  Best of luck Jingles.

Librarian's Report.

Trebor

1993 has been a relatively quiet year in the library, probably because everything has been relatively ship shape and Bristol fashion.  Virtually everything is logged and catalogued now and a printout of all the books hangs on the back of the door.  I purchased one more cabinet to house the growing collection of other clubs' Journals, another cabinet will be needed within the next year I think, if finances permit.

Due to financial constraints I have only purchased a few new books which I felt worthy enough and some people, like Blitz, have kindly donated guide books they have found lurking in shops on their various trips abroad.  Not many good, relevant, worthwhile books come onto the market these days, so I have spent the limited money on keeping the guide books up to date and buying covers, binders and other paraphernalia to tidy up the myriad loose reciprocal Journals.  We also need to properly bind our collection of BBs as well, just for posterity.

I am glad to say the theft rate seems to have dropped.  At least we now have a printout of what we actually should have, which was not the case hitherto, so if anything goes missing we should get to know about it.

I shall not be standing for the Librarian's post in 1994 as I still have to find work and I may end up in Timbuktu, Sydney or Scunthorpe.  Far better for somebody else who is guaranteed to be around to do it.  It's not exactly a taxing job, especially as it is now tidy and in reasonable shape and order.  Anyway, if I don't get a job by Christmas I may just throw my hands up in the air, Bull­Roar my frustration and retreat back to the Philippines to attack all those lovely warm, clear sumps floating with coconuts.....

Cheers, Trebor.


 

Caving Secretary's Report.

Jeff Price.

BCRA Bristol:

We had a stand at the conference, in September, to try and sell some Cuthbert’s Reports.  Thanks to Babs and Jingles for organising this.

St Cuthbert's Swallet:

Guest trips still come in about one per week; this may increase as the new Mendip Underground is now published.  An average of eight trips per week are going into the cave (don't forget to push the reports).

Most of our leaders have taken trips, one or two haven’t..... I shall be chasing them..... !!!

A lot of old digging rubbish has been cleared out.

STAL REPAIRS:  Thanks to Trevor Hughes for the use of the epoxy cement, it has worked very well and Tim Large and myself will tidy up some loose ends shortly.

A St Cuthbert's leaders meeting will be sorted out shortly, and don't forget the rescue practice on Saturday 30th October.... see Tim Large for details.

I.D.M.F.

See the accounts for balance

Jake's Speleo Philippines report is almost ready for publishing.

CAVE KEYS ETC ...

Our system seems to work well (one set of keys for members and one set for guests) ... Don't forget to issue permits and book keys out please.

PEN PARK HOLE. Southmead Bristol.

Trips into the cave are going ahead, see Blitz or myself for a trip...... It's well worth it.

CAVE MEETS

Not so well attended as I had hoped for but members go off and do their own thing anyway.  Next year I will book Peak Cavern, Notts Pot, Penyghent as well as the usual DYO, OFD Etc...

If you want bookings or permits please let me know ASAP.

Wednesday nights digging seem to be as active as always ... ... just turn up at the Belfry by about 7.30.

COMMENTS PLEASE

I'm thinking of introducing a welcoming letter for new members consisting of:  A brief history of the club, digging action, cave leaders lists with tel nos, publications and meets lists etc.  Do you think this is a good idea.... ???


 

Membership Secretary's Report

John Watson.

It doesn't seem like six years ago that I was persuaded into becoming membership sec.  A lot of things have changed over the intervening years but not, unfortunately, the attitude of certain members as regards the payment of subs!!

I think in hindsight it was a mistake to put the subs up to their present level - a rash move by an enthusiastic AGM, but I wonder how many members who agreed the amount failed to pay their subs.

Some members have pleaded poverty - times were hard - but to put things in perspective the subs work out at approximately fifteen pints of beer!!  (For some - a couple of sessions!!).  Surely being a member of the best caving club in the country is worth far more than that.

But enough of all the gloom. The club is still attracting new, keen membership and is caving, if not financially, healthy.

I have decided to stand down from the committee and hope to see some fresh faces elected this year.

One final note; I hope the next membership secretary takes a hard stand on non-payers and to all those who have not paid this year and are hoping to get a years free membership. Do the club a favour, PAY UP!!!

Car Break Ins.

Some of you, I hope, have been aware of the car break-ins occurring on Mendip for some time.  Well, the situation is getting worse.  It would appear that more and more people are coming out of Bristol and the areas surrounding Mendip to steal clothes, caving gear and Wallets etc., from cars parked at secluded spots.

Some of us from the B.E.C. have had a chance to try to prevent these thefts.  This has been a case of turning up on spec. and hiding in the bushes.  This has been limited but in every case so far ... successful.

We now feel that the time has come to organise, in conjunction with the Police and the Mendip Wardens, some form of "Hillwatch".  This would basically need to be done on all known "Hit" sites covering weekends.  To this end I have organised a meeting on Friday 1st October in the function room at The Hunter's Lodge at 8pm to discuss the situation.  Les Davies from the Mendip Wardens and Pete Knowles from the Cheddar Police will be there to advise and let us know what help they want from us and what facilities they can give.  I am hoping that somebody from the local Ramblers Association will also attend.

I have also informed other clubs on Mendip through C.S.C.C. and contacts at The Hunter's that this meeting is taking place and so hope to have an interesting meeting.

I look forward to seeing anyone who is interested in helping.

Dick-Fred.


 

The Droves Of Priddy.

SUNG TO THE TUNE "THE STREETS OF LONDON" WITH APOLOGIES TO RALPH McTELL.

SIMILARITIES TO ANY PERSON LIVING OR DEAD IS ENTIRELY INTENTIONAL

Have you seen the old scrote who hangs out at the Belfry,
Dirt in his hair and his face in Rags (The dirty pervert),
He ain’t got time for walkin’, He just keeps right on talkin',
Collecting his hut fees in two carrier bags ....

So how can you tell me you’re a caver?,
When you know down there that the sun don't shine,
Let Glenys take you by the gland
and lead you down the droves of Priddy
Till at the Hunter's it is opening time.
 
Have you seen the chappy in his flatcap and his transit,
His Sherry little dog and his EE-HAW laugh,
All ladies should be careful around this fertile local,
Everywhere he goes kiddies spring up in his path ....

Chorus

Have you seen the batty bloke with his shop down there in Wells
It is full of caving gear and advice he often tells,
He's open on a Sunday, but never on a Monday,
This is so he can recharge all his knackered cells ....

Chorus

Have you seen the Nightmare who comes up to the Belfry,
Only on a Friday night, they call him Biffo Bear,
When he comes up to the hut and gets himself right pissed up,
We know in the morning there'll be no furniture left there ...

Chorus

So come and join the boozy crew who hang out at the Belfry,
Often on a Saturday night we'll down a barrel or two,
On a Sunday morning at a quarter past eleven,
When breakfasts on the cooker you can watch those cavers spew!!

So how can you tell me you’re a caver,
When you know down there that the sun don't shine?,
Let Glenys take you by the gland,
and lead you to the promised land (sic)
Till at the Hunter's it is opening time.

Jingling Dick '93.


 

Assynt Again in August

Due to the Success of the May trip to the Scottish Highlands another Mendip team took the ten hour drive North over the August Bank Holiday.  Jake, Estelle, Alex Gee and J Rat were accompanied by Nick 'Gadget' Williams and Tav (WCC) who, on arrival in Elphin, met a similar sized team of Grampian members.  Unfortunately, the overcast, drizzly weather, high water conditions following weeks of rain and over abundance of man eating midges played havoc with our plans but some good work was done.  See last BB for previous write up.

Uamha a' Bhrisdeadh-duile:

This was revisited with intentions of diving the upstream sump but the low crawl (The Compan Sucker) was itself sumped and therefore too dangerous to pass, even with diving gear.

Inclined Rift Cave:

Situated above Lower Traligill Cave this site had potential for a connection with the divers' extensions.  J Rat and Tav extended the cave some 60 ft or so by pushing through squeezes to an impassable and beautifully decorated area.  This seems to be located above the entrance series of Lower Traligill Cave and so a connection would be both vandalistic and pointless.

Damoclean Dig:

The Eastwater-like swallet is interestingly located between the Alltnan Uamh Stream Cave and Uamh an Claonite.  A couple of days were spent banging and digging here but we were defeated by collapse of the huge boulders walling the sides of the dig.  Gaps in the floor, easily swallowing the stream provide hopes of a breakthrough here if suitable shoring can be installed.  It was left to consolidate itself over the winter.

Waterfall Rising:

Alex Gee J Rat and Mike O'Driscoll (Australian Cave Diver) spent a total of some two hours digging underwater at this promising site.  The rock and gravel infill was dragged out to give us an easily diveable and solid cave passage some 15 - 20ft long with a view onwards for another 10 ft or so. Digging will continue in May should the Grampian divers not continue in our absence.  The coldness of the water here precludes lengthy immersion but the potential for a considerable amount of (probably flooded) cave passage is excellent.

Uamh Cul Eoghainn:

Tav did some solo pushing in this cave but only really succeeded in proving that everything got too tight.

Jake and Estelle visited their dig near Croc nan Uamh but were put off from further visits by the midges. Alex inspected the Bone Cave and a dig near the Alt Bar was written off as hopeless. Drink was taken in the 'Inch' (80/-), the 'Alt'(Belhaven), The Wheelhouse Lochinver (Murphys!!) and the Phoenix Bar, Invernen (McClays 80/-, Orkney Dark Island).  The latter was the best of the lot.

A good time was, as usual, had by all despite the climactic and insectivorous conditions.  Book now for next May - divers, diggers and surveyors all required.

Tony Jarratt.

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THOMAS MOTORING:

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VISITING MASSAGE:

Executive stress?  Call Glenys, on Essex 121212.Executive relief a speciality.

PUB SALES DOWN?

Call Gobshite Guzzling Co-op.  'I’m here to drink your beer!' tel: Butcombe 123

CROSS CLEANING!

Specialists in industrial and domestic cleaning.  No job too small. (Or Hut!!!)

BLEADNEY DEMOLITION:

T. Hughes, expert in all forms of demolition & destruction, simply add beer for best results.


 

Wigmore's   Death   Throes

Following on from recent articles, this is a final piece on Wigmore Swallet drawing some of the threads together and describing the last bit of exploratory work.

On 23rd May, Dig Hastilow and myself had an eventful trip to the terminal boulder choke beyond Sump 9 in the end bit of Vindication Streamway.  I had yet another high pressure leak in Sump 4 en route - this place really is jinxed - and had to go back to dive base to pick up one of Alex Gee's large tanks.  The din fit valve on the tank had suffered a hernia on the carry in and a proper seal could not be achieved so I had to improvise a bit with lots of banging and swearing.  Hand-holding my depleted tank and wearing the other two I re-joined a (im)patient Digger at Sump 5 and we wallowed on to the terminal choke with no further mishap. Digger was impressed with the scenery in Vindication Streamway and especially with the long Sump 7 which he thought worse than Sump 5 - strange fellow is Digger.

Tim Large had kindly given me a back-of-a-fag-packet bang lesson, so Dig wisely waited way back up the passage whilst I set the stuff up with shaking hands.  Martin Grass's nuclear powered, ultra bang box cranked up the power something rotten so the stuff couldn't fail to go off.  How glad we were; I was not looking forward to sending Digger back to check out why it hadn't gone off.  An hour's wait for the fumes to disperse followed - it's amazing how the draught is directional and follows the stream, a gale at water level but as still as night 2m higher up in the choke.  I then gingerly returned to the devastation, gardened a bit and then wormed through dubious boulders to get back down into the stream again.  Along a bit, up into a fair sized chamber, back to the stream, on a bit and then whang, straight into a very large muddy boulder choke with the stream disappearing down a narrow rock letter box at its base, suitable only for an anorexic whippet with gills.  Mud, bits of twig and cowsh 3m up the wall did not bode well; the place obviously backs up horribly in wet weather.  Half an hour looking around revealed no way on.  The letter box is definitely too small and anyway has the whole flow going through it.  We reckoned there was no hope - some 25-30 banging and digging trips might force a way through, but work could only take place in the summer months because of the backing up and the end is not a place to make 30 trips to.

Digger had his mega-light so an examination of avens and shadows was made on the return but with no promising leads.  Visibility in the sumps was quite a bit better on the return for the lead diver, the best so far but that is all relative.

A disappointing end. Thanks very much to Andy Dennis and Steve Redwood for the carry in.

Later on in the summer, in late July, I returned on a spur of the moment, ill-judged, stupid impulse to have a final look at Keith Savory's upstream Sump 3.  I had been in there a few times before and Keith had said he could not find the way on.  Over the spring and early summer months the slot at the bottom of the ramp in the first section of sump had silted up - a strange place for silting to occur?  I suspected the vis would be very poor so I had two ridiculously overblown tanks so I didn't have to worry too much about trying to look at my contents gauges.  Vis was indeed completely zilch, a little strange in an upstream sump.  Water cannot flow through the slot fast enough so the water the other side doesn't clear as it should and just mills around, not helped of course by thrashing feet and groping hands.  Five minutes spent gardening out the slot allowed a wriggle through to Keith's limit (as far as I could tell) - he's done a good job in there in difficult conditions. I spent a good twenty minutes feeling around all walls of the sump beyond the slot, found Keith's little air space, but could not find any way on.  I reckon the place continues in a series of tight rifts, perhaps dividing the flow as I could detect no flow against my face or a glove-removed hand. Not good prospects.

Earlier in the summer, on 4th June, I had dumped an awful lot of Flourescein in Tor Hole, some 1,800m east of Wigmore as the Aardvark trots.  Tor is the main sink in the area and there was always the possibility that it would flow towards Wigmore at least, especially as Attborough Swallet had proved positive to upstream Wigmore.  This trace was negative.  Enough dye was inserted to make the trace pretty foolproof so I reckon it was a "true" trace.  Perhaps the Tor water really does swing around behind Eaker Hill towards the north as Willie Stanton suggests, the Wigmore and Attborough water joining it much further downstream of the present Wigmore limit.  This makes passing the upstream Sump 3 in Wigmore a little less important as it most likely only goes to Attborough.  This upstream passage is likely to get smaller and smaller, so perhaps not too many prospects.  Perhaps, as Willie suggests, the considerable Wigmore flow is indeed made up of drainage and seepage water from the large surrounding catchment together with the relatively small flow from Attborough Swallet.

I shall not be going back in a hurry; my knackered knees kneed a rest, I have to replace the diving and caving gear the place eats with relish and also enthusiasm, sherpas and money have waned.  If anyone wants a few banging trips downstream, please feel free - it's still five miles to Cheddar.

A BEC Occasional Publication or Caving Report thingy is currently being produced, charting everything there is to know about the place.  Since J-Rat was stupid enough to open up the place in June 1977, a lot of people have put in a huge amount of grinding work and dedicated digging so I thought it warranted a publication of some sort.  We haven't produced an Occasional Publication or Report for some years.  The text is mainly done and the photos are ready, I am just waiting for corrections/contributions etc. on the geology bit from Trevor Hughes et al.  One thing I do not have is an accurate survey.  Trevor did a good job of the survey of the dry bits, but vis has been so poor in the damp bits that I haven't been able to do an accurate survey of the downstream sumps.