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

Front Cover: An Original Cartoon By Chas Wethered.


1995 - 1996 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Ivan Sandford
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Estelle Sandford
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Floating                   Hilary Wilson



Well here we are again, a new club year, a new committee and yet another issue of the Belfry Bulletin. Hopefully this will please certain members whose only criticism of the Bulletin is that there are not enough of them. (This one's for you Dan!)


Those of you who were present at the A.G.M. will know that it was the usual blend of hilarity, bullshit and boredom ... although as usual we did manage to sort out a few things somewhere along the line, including the election of this years committee, as you will see from the preceding page.  As is normally the case there was a degree of disagreement over certain issues but, being the diplomatic and democratic bunch we are, we managed to beat the crap out of the dissenters.  Oops, sorry, I mean come to a civilized agreement of course.  I'm not going to prattle on about it further here, you can read the minutes and make of them what you will.  Thank God there's only one of these a year is all I can Say.


The evening of the same day saw the 60th anniversary Dinner at the Bath & West Showground. Thanks must go to Mr 'N' who did a Stirling job in the organization of said event, indeed has done so for some years, and hopefully feels rewarded by the response of the membership.  Thanks Nigel...!!

There was a pretty good turnout with several generations of cavers being represented. For myself, I met quite a few people I had only previously heard of in name and who to me are luminaries of the Club from years gone by.  I assure you there was quite a bit of 'living history' there on the night.

The guest of honour, Harry Stanbury, member number 1, made an after dinner speech recalling days gone by and I feel sure he has a few more tales to tell .... perhaps I can persuade him to share a few juicy titbits with me for this journal. .. ?

One particularly touching moment was the presentation of bouquets to members 1a & 1000a (Mrs Stanbury & Mrs Dors respectively) ­this was quite emotional and there were lumps in more than one throat...!!

Entertainment was provided by The Belfry Boys, followed by Kangy King et al, then the Old Belfry Boys joined the 'new' Belfry Boys for a four part set.  This was rounded off with a rendition of the 'Exploration Club', which most of those present participated in.

'Alfie' set up a stall, stage left, and dispensed copies of his new book 'A Strange Device', complete with autographs from himself and his tame artist Robin Gray!  Having read the book myself I can say it is definitely up to his usual humorous standard and even includes translations of the Latin for those of us wot isn't ejercatid like wot he are!!

The socialising continued and there were many members who had not seen each other for a number of years so there was quite a lot of catching up to do.

I have to confess that I elected to escape at this point but I gather that the evening continued nicely on a downwards slope towards drunkenness and debauchery and that things were taken back to the Belfry (as well as people) until the wee hours. There was apparently more than one sore head the following morning. Gosh ... what a surprise .. !!!


A request from the editor ......

I am currently working on a project which involves a certain amount of research into the exploration of Wookey Hole.  Obviously there is a lot of information available on this subject, which I have access to through the club.  What I do need however is copies of previously unpublished material and/or photographs, particularly of the divers' extensions.  I'm sure there must be some of you out there who can help me, possibly with personal log entries or old snapshots etc ... I would be most grateful for any information, even to the extent that I'd buy you a pint when I see you. I'm interested in anything that has occurred this century basically - so if you can help, please get in touch ..... Ta.


So, as will now be evident, I have the dubious honour of being B.B. Editor for another year. Thank you to those of you that wanted me to continue and were kind enough to express your thanks.

As I have said before, the rag is only as good as the articles I receive and although I have one or two in hand I can always use extra material. I wonder if we can persuade 'Pooh' to continue with the saga of the Belfry Boy .... how about it Dave .. ? There are others who are always threatening articles .... well here's your chance to see your work in print.

Anyway I've filled the page so it must be time to shut up and get on with it.  I will try to bring out more issues, but I need the help of you, the membership, to do it.

Till next time ..... Good Caving.



'Alfie' asked me to do a review of his book, so here goes .....

Read Alfie's Book It's Good

Details In previous Column

I pride myself on my imagination ... !!!!



Odds 'n' Sods:

As you will see from the minutes of the A.G.M. Rob Harper has been elected as the Club Rescue practise coordinator thingy.

There are two weekends set aside for rescue practises: the first being January 27/28 and the other on June 29/30.  See also following page for further details.

All members are encouraged to attend whether locally based or not.  As I understand it from Rob the format will be a practical session as well as workshops on various techniques.  I daresay there's an outside chance of a pissup as well though quite what makes me think that about the B.E.C ............ etc!!


Despite the lateness of this publication, for which I apologise and make no excuses, the date for subscription increase will still be 31.12.95. Up until this time single membership will be £20.00 and £24.00 thereafter.  The committee was directed by the AGM regarding this - there is actually no change from the past couple of years.  All payments should be sent to Richard Stephens at the address on the contents page, NOT left in the pub or given to other people to pass on.


Andy & Ange Cave have now departed for Mexico and Ivan & Becca have moved into Glenview.  Full address is on the front page.  Ivan is Hut Warden this year and has asked me to point out that any club ladders etc may be left in his porch after use if you can't get at a tackle store key.  The tackle store key is now kept in the key cupboard, keys for which are held by committee members.


Adrian Hole has agreed to take on the job of librarian and is currently sorting through everything. Hopefully he will be purchasing some new books soon.  I understand we now have a copy of the new Caves of South Wales for anyone interested.  He is also hoping to get the Descents up to date as well as catalogue other club publications.


New passage has been found in Wigmore Swallet, above the sump 3 pool.  An aven was climbed and about 100' of passage found.  One passage heading back towards sump 2, the other leads presently ending in chokes.

Priddy Green Sink has yielded further passage as a result of J-Rat 'Helping' Mother Nature to take its course!  Along with the likes of Ivan, Adrian Hole and Mike 'Shut-up' Willet.  There are high hopes to connect to Swildon's Hole in the future.  When this will happen is anybody's guess, but watch this space.


If anyone is foolish enough to be interested.  'The Belfry Boys' are performing as part of a new act 'Cantoris' with Mick Ryan and Pete Watkinson and will be at the Bath Arms in Cheddar on 28.1.95.  The following week at the same venue sees a rare appearance of Kieran Halpin ....  Not to be missed.  For details contact Snab & Anita.

Blitz, Estelle and Tony Boycott amongst others are in India caving at the moment - hopefully they will produce something for this rag on their return.


Quotes of the month ...


"I've got this dig in Yorkshire but it keeps collapsing and it's full of shit!"

Pete Bolt:

"Just like a B.E.C. member!"

Paul Brock:

"To get in the Attborough digging team, I had to bite the head off a chicken !! "

Paul Brock:

" ... 'Ere ... Does 'E ever have Karaoke in the Hunter's ??"

Alex Livingstone:

(When informed that every time a full bag was picked up there were two more underneath ... )

'Just like Women ... !!'


Address Change:  Martin Grass, Draycott, Somerset.





From the Belfry Table

Well that was the Dinner that was!  Only 2 persons short of the magic 200, and I believe a very successful dinner was enjoyed by all.  To hear No.1 in his account of "Genesis" and to hear him being barracked by No.4!

Many of you will now join me in wishing a speedy recovery to Harry Stanbury who just a few weeks later is recovering from a serious operation to correct an aneurysm near his heart, at a hospital in Plymouth, and also that our thoughts are with his wife Glenys at this time.    Get well soon

Harry, its only 11 months to your next BEC Dinner, and you have to return the "Boar trophy", perhaps to Dan for his interjections? !

Congratulations are again due to Bob & Mariyka Hill, our Omani ex-pats, on the birth of another daughter, I await confirmation of her name and details!

Rumours are rife on the Hill, of the discovery of nearly 1,000 feet of new cave in the Thrupe area, it echoes well Fred Davis's "Caves be were you find 'em".

The Committee are planning a "Belfry Bash" at Priddy village hall in March of next year; further details soon, tickets will be around £3 in advance to include Bread & Cheese supper.

Hon. Sec asks if there is anyone out there who fancies the idea of a Burns Night Supper in January at the Belfry, nothing formal, but Haggis, Neepes and Whisky prior to the Hunters on a Saturday night?

COMMITTEE MEETING DATES for the next year, At the Belfry on Fridays at 8.00pm are:-

December 7th 1995. January 5th 1996.  February 2nd.  March 1st.  Apri1 5th. May 3rd.  June 7th.  July 5th. August 2nd.  September 6th.

AGM & DINNER Saturday 5th. October 1996.  SUBSCRIPTIONS, subtle reminder pay now and save yourself £4 off the £24 annual fee, by the 1st. January 1996 to the membership secretary Richard Stephens.

My Apologies in advance, but I shall be absent from the December Committee meeting, away in sunnier climes, Martin Grass has actually welshed out on caving with me this time!

Bye for now from the Belfry Table! , “Mr. N”  J. Nigel Taylor, Hon.Sec.

Some late in the day additions which arrived today (24/11/95):-

There is a letter in this bulletin concerning "The Wharehouse, Gloucester, proposed artifica1 cave system, and their request for NCA support" as I feel that the membership should be aware, and again, I feel that there are strong concerns over such an idea, please let me have your views!.

ANNUAL DINNER 1996: I think that it is time for a change, I have organised the last six or seven dinners, and I think someone else might care to have a go, PLEASE SOMEONE Volunteer and let the Committee know as a venue will have to be chosen and booked very shortly

That’s all from the Belfry Table postscript!

Lastly a Very Merry and Speleological New Year to you and your families,

Nigel Taylor,  Hon. Secretary.


Message From The Rescue Team Leader

Much to my surprise I found myself volunteering for the post of BEC rescue team leader at the AGM.

My remit as far as I can gather is to organise at least two practice rescues during the year.  So that BEC members have at least a vague idea of what's going on when/if they are called out to help with a real rescue. It would seem to make sense, at least to me, that since as a club we are responsible for St. Cuthbert’s we should hold one practice rescue there.

The system that I intend to operate will be to have "PRACTICE RESCUE WEEKENDS". The Saturday will be for theory and familiarisation with equipment.  On Sunday after an evening in the Hunters a realistic, i.e. with a raging hangover, underground practical session will be followed by a discussion over a pint or eight.

So note these dates for your diary ............

JANUARY……………27th & 28th.

JUNE…………..………29th & 30th.

This is aimed to be as much social as educational and it would be good to see some of the newer members as well as the usual crowd.

Rob Harper

Warning .....    (Vet Alert!)

This man has been known to impersonate a responsible member of society ... Do not be fooled!!!


Club Meets List

January             20           Lost John’s System                       Yorkshire

                        27-Aug    B.E.C. Rescue Practice                 Mendip


February           24           Long Kin East.Rift Pot                    Yorkshire

                        24           P8 & Giants Oxlow                        Derbyshire

                        25           Alum Pot & Long Churn                  Yorkshire

                        25           Peak cavern                                  Derbyshire


March               9            Marble Steps or Bull Pot                 Yorkshire

                        10           Thatham Wife Or Goyden Pot         Yorkshire

                        30           Link/Pippikin                                  Yorkshire


April                 6            G.G./Flood/Stream                         Yorkshire

                        6            Penyghent Pot                               Yorkshire

                        7            King Pot                                        Yorkshire

                        20           Mongo Gill                                     Yorkshire


May                  18           Washfold Pot                                 Yorkshire

                        19           Hagg Gill or Ibbeth Peril                  Yorkshire


June                 8            Gingling Hole                                 Yorkshire

                        9            Kingsdale Master Cave                   Yorkshire

                        28-Sep    B.E.C. Rescue Practice                 Mendip


July                  13           Little Hull Pot                                 Yorkshire

                        14           Chapel le Dale Caves                     Yorkshire


August              10           Birks Fell Cave                              Yorkshire

                        11           Simpsons/Swinsto Exchange          Yorkshire


September        7            Langcliffe Pot                                 Yorkshire

                        8            Sunset Hole                                  Yorkshire


October            26           Juniper Gulf                                   Yorkshire

                        27           Alum Pot – SRT Day                      Yorkshire


November          9            Quaking Pot                                  Yorkshire

                        10           Black Shiver                                  Yorkshire

                        16           Lanc./Easegill                               

                                      (Cow – County)                              Yorkshire


December         7            Notts Pot                                      Yorkshire

                        14           Dan yr Ogof/OFD                           Wales

                        15           Rock and Fountain                         Wales

N.B.  Some dates are double booked as certain people wanted these specific dates.  Further details from Jeff Price.  2 Otter Hole dates still to be announced.


Minutes of the 1995 B.E.C. Annual General Meeting, Saturday 7th October.

The Meeting was opened somewhat late at 10.45am, by the Hon. Secretary, and he called for the handing in of any outstanding Ballot Forms.  The Secretary then requested nominations for a Chairman, and Bob Cork was proposed [P] by Stuart McManus and Seconded [S] by Brian Prewer, there being no other nominees, Bob Cork was duly elected.  The Chairman then called for nominations for Ballot Tellers, Betty Dawes [P: Martin Grass, S: Stuart McManus], Brian Prewer [P: Martin Grass, S: Chris Batstone] and Chris Batstone [P:Chris Smart, S: Nigel Taylor] and there being no further suggestions were duly elected.

Mike Jeanmaire then proposed that all officers' reports published in the Belfry Bulletin were to be taken as read, this was seconded by Estelle Sandford and carried nem.con.

Apologies were then given from Hon. Sec as follows: Stuart Sale, Nicola Bone, Barrie Wilton, Nigel Dibben, Emma Porter and Jenny Sandicott.  The floor: Brian Murliss, Tony Jarrat, Graham Johnson, Jeff Price, Nicola Slan, David Irwin, Mike Barnes, Peter Bolt, Mike McDonald, Kevin Gumer, Joc Large, Ali Cooper.

Forty-one paid-up members signed the attendance sheet, these are recorded as follows: - C. Smart, A. Hole, G. Munnings, H. Harper, R. Harper, M. Jeanmaire, M. Grass, D Bradshaw, J. Buxton, P. Hellier, T. Large, P. Romford, A. Sparrow, M. Torbett, C. Duberry, L. Dawes, R. Wyncoll, G. Villis, R. Mathews, D. Ball, E. Sandford, N. Gymer, R. Stephens, A. Cave, B. Williams, J. Williams, A. Gee, T. Hughes, R. Gray, C. Wethered, I. Sandford, B. Campbell, H. Wilson, M. Wilson Snr, M. Wilson Jnr, R. Cork, N. Taylor, M. Willitt, D. Tumer, C. Batstone.

Item 5, Matters Arising from the minutes:- Tim Large asked about Practice Rescues, Nigel Taylor replied that the outgoing committee had no firm policy on these.

Item 6, Hon.Secretary's Report:- (Published)

Tim Large then asked about the situation with the St. Cuthbert’s lease, and Nigel Taylor explained that he had this already in hand as the lease has only some four years left to run. Stuart McManus voiced concern that perhaps the club should have a management plan for the site, and Nigel replied that he had advocated the same point in his "From the Belfry Table" Articles in the B.B.  He added that he had been in correspondence with English Nature over the site, and that he was concerned as they had obviously gone direct to Inveresk to find out the lessors' identity.  Tim Large stated that he was aware that English Nature maintained an active and ongoing interest in all S.S.S.I.

[P: Rob Harper, S: Tim Large, Unanimous].

Item 7, Hon. Treasurer's Report:- (Unpublished)

Stuart McManus queried the repayments' program for the St. Cuthbert’s loans.  Chris Smart explained that with the exception of one creditor, all had been repaid 50% of their loan.  Stuart McManus felt that this was not in line with the 1994 AGM directive to the 1995 Committee that all creditors should be repaid equally. Nigel Taylor interjected that as several members had contacted him directly and asked for a full repayment of their loans this year, then if the committee had followed the directive to the letter then the club would have gone into the red and the committee should not have acted responsibly, thus they had acted in good faith and within the best interests of the club Stuart McManus asked that the new committee bare in mind the likelihood that any failure to repay the Loaning creditors, could well lead to dissatisfaction and problems later on.  Nigel Taylor suggested that they were well aware of the situation and felt that it was under control.

Chris Smart informed the meeting that he was concerned that despite several requests Gary Jago had still failed to provide the Club with a report, a standing condition of the grant of an ''Ian Deer Memorial fund loan".  Richard Stephens pointed out that Derek Targett is offsetting his subscriptions on a reducing basis against his loan to the St. Cuthbert’s Publication. Several members agreed that this appeared a good idea.  Nigel Taylor expressed the view that it would be important to ensure that if several members wanted to do the same, then this would have to include any annual subscription increase otherwise the club could suffer in the long term if a set amount/time scale was agreed at the outset.

The Telephone Call charges were then debated at length, several members claiming that it was extortionate and that they would rather drive to the village green and use the public call box.  Stuart McManus suggested that perhaps the rate charged should be reviewed and lowered to attract greater use.  Nigel Taylor was concerned that this could then become a drain on the club again and urged caution, however the mood of the meeting prevailed and the 1996 committee was told to examine the charges and act to increase phone use. [P: Martin Grass, S: Dannie Bradshaw, this was carried with 1 Against and 2 Abstain.].

The Non-Domestic Rate was then discussed with many comments and concerned views, and Chris Smart advised the meeting that Mendip District Council had sent him a pro-forma requesting details re our usual claim for reduced payments.  Martin Grass, Mike Jeanmaire, Stuart McManus, Dave Turner all expressed views upon this generally all in agreement and concern. Mike Jeanmaire suggested that if the rate reduction application went against us, then we should make an official appeal, Stuart McManus advised the meeting that the Government was looking closely at "Charitable Causes" with fresh zeal, there ensued much talk upon the subject, and the Treasurer was instructed to complete the application pro-forma and monitor the situation.

British Mountaineering Council Membership (B.M.C.):- Chris Smart stated that the Secretary had had several requests from Climbers within the BEC to see if we could renew our membership to BMC, lapsed at the direction of a previous AGM on cost grounds. Nigel Taylor asked that the AGM favourably consider this request as he felt that we didn’t give much special value to our climbing members, and that he felt that this was a small price to pay for them.  Both Trevor Hughes and Rob Harper added that there was also a useful benefit for members in Foreign matters and use of Mountain huts etc.

A proposal was raised that "Members could elect the option of paying an extra £3.50 upon their subscriptions in order to cover BMC Charges on a personally nominated basis".

[P: Robin Gray, S: Rob Harper. 37 For, 1 Against.].

The St Cuthbert’s Report: - Stuart McManus, Martin Grass, and others then asked questions relative to this matter, regarding sales, stock in hand, and the matter of pledge repayments again.  Nigel Taylor and Mike Wilson both advised the meeting that they had both attempted throughout the last few months, to obtain an up-to-date position on this, and that they still awaited advice from Mrs. Joan Bennett as to the location of stored books, no firm position could be assessed until they were in possession of these details, and they both assured the meeting that the matter was not only in hand, but had been monitored well prior to the AGM.  The Vote was then taken upon the Treasurers' report. [P: T. Large, S: N. Taylor. 34 For, 5 Abstn'].

Item 8. Hon. Auditors Report:- (Unpublished).

Nigel Taylor told the meeting that he had a letter from the auditor confirming that he had inspected the records and found them to be a true and accurate record.

[P: S. McManus, S: T. Hughes, Unan.].

Item 9, Caving Secretary’s' Report:- (Unpublished).

Estelle Sandford then gave a verbal "Acting Caving Sec." report, due to the absence by suspension of the Caving Secretary.  Stuart McManus praised Jeff Prices' ability respecting the organisation of St. Cuthbert’s trips and leaders, but felt that it was high time another leaders meeting was arranged, this was turned into a formal proposal. [P: S. McManus, S: D. Turner, 22 For,7 Abstn, 0 against, (several non voting)].  The meeting went on to fix Saturday 4th. November 1995 as the set date, location and times to be arranged by the Caving Secretary.

Tim Large went on to ask re the BEC position regarding the NCA Bolting policy, this was explained by Nigel Taylor who had much correspondence upon the matter with NCA and others, and the relevant letters were shown to Tim Large to save the meeting time.  Tim Large also asked about the latest position on D.Y.O, and he was advised from the floor that it was 'Situation normal' again.  Stuart McManus suggested that even though the Secretary had been in contact with C.S.C.C re the "Bolting Policy", he should pursue them again, and try to obtain a written policy statement.  Brian Prewer suggested that in the light of a recent MRO Callout and abortive search in Redcliffe caves that the BEC should contact Bristol City Council to establish a BEC Leader for the system, then formally proposed, [P: T. Large, S: B. Prewer, 31 For, 2 Against, 3 Abstn].  (No formal vote was taken on the report).

Item 10, But Wardens Report. (Published.).

Tim Large raised the issue of a sign he had seen at the Belfry, showing hut debtors of £170, he pointed out that the 1979 AGM (when discussing the Hon. Treasurers Report of that year) had voted that no monies were to be owed for longer than One Month or by that persons' next visit to the Belfry, whichever was the shorter.  The meeting instructed the 1996 Committee to enforce this directive.  Martin Grass spoke on the subject of the Belfry long-term users' and he asked the committee look into this as he saw it could become a problem.  Stuart McManus was in accord with this, and much talk followed involving the above, Dave Turner and others.  Nigel Taylor spoke in defence of some of those people who were using the hut on an extended summer holiday basis this last summer, and that they had in fact kept the hut in a very clean and tidy state unlike some short term users or members visiting for St. Cuthbert’s trips, and he added that considerable exterior work had been done by at least three of these persons, and that in fact he believed they did not stay continuously throughout the period, but conformed to the principle as best they could, in any event they also paid up their dues on time and he saw them as worthwhile members of the club. Nigel Taylor then asked that future Hut Wardens reports contain actual facts as to type of users, bed nights etc. as in previous years reports, albeit he understood the novel intentions behind the Hut Warden’s prose this year.  Business moved on to a proposal that all "Official Mail" sent unsolicited by the BEC to individual members to the Belfry should be returned" Not known at this address". [P: D. Turner, S: S. McManus. 19 For, 7 Against, 11 Abstn.].

Brian Prewer complained that he had visited the Hut late at night on occasions, and found that mid-week overnighters were locking the main door from within, preventing key access, he was worried about MRO constraints that could be occasioned.  The meeting noted the concern.

A vote upon the Hut Wardens report was then taken, [P: D. Bradshaw, S: R. Harper. 34 For,6 Abstn. 0 Against].

Item 11, Hut Engineers Report:- (Published).

Virtually no debate, [P: John Williams, S: Mike Jeanrnaire. 30 For, 8 Abstn, 0 Against].

Item 12, Tacklemasters Report:- (Published).

Mike Wilson spoke upon his proposal as published in his report to restrict access to the tackle, Rob Harper suggested that some ladders be put by on open-access, and added that this discussion surfaced every year.  Stuart McManus suggested the club purchase its' ladders to make good the shortfall.  Chris Smart was against this as he had tried this proposal years before and it did not work. Andrew Sparrow reminded the meeting that St. Cuthbert’s required an available ladder, Bob Cork suggested the meeting vote upon the matter, [P: M. Wilson, S: Ron Wyncoll. 34 For, 3 Against, 2 Abstn.]  The Tacklemaster’s report was then voted on, [P: J. Williams, S: D.Bradshaw. Unan.]  A Vote of thanks to Tacklemaster was proposed by Trevor Hughes and seconded by Rob Harper.

Item 13, Librarians' Report:- (Unpublished).

This was presented verbally by David Turner, Martin Grass was critical that only £5 had been spent this year, and that was for a video. Dave Turner agreed.  Richard Stephens asked just how many reciprocal exchanges worked, no conclusive answer was available.  Stuart McManus queried the possession and location of library key holders.  Nigel Taylor read the full list to the meeting. [P: R Harper, S: Robin Grey. Unan].

Item 14, B.B Editors' Report:- (Published).

Andrew Sparrow asked why an article he had jointly submitted was not yet published.  John Williams replied that it would be, but stressed that he must retain "Editorial Override", Andrew Sparrow retorted that he was still accountable to the AGM.

[RHarper proposed Vote of thanks S: S.McManus].  Phil Romford asked if C.S.C.C material could be included if relevant.  Chris Smart, Nigel Taylor and John Williams all added that there was not much really available.  Andrew Sparrow insisted that we must obtain minutes etc for the BEC. P: R Harper, S: M. Grass. 36 For, 1 Against, 1 Abstn.].

Item 15, Membership Secretary’s' Report:- (Published).

Trevor Hughes asked when members would receive their membership cards; Richard Stephens replied that this was in hand.  John Williams proposed a vote of thanks, S: C. Smart. Voting on the report took place; [P: M.Jeanrnaire, S D. Bradshaw. 37 For, 1 Abstn.]

Item 16, Ian Deer Memorial Fund Report:- (Unpublished).

The only grant this year had been £150 to Garry Jago.  The debate on the floor suggested that no further transfer into the fund take place this year as a £500 bonus windfall had been gained by the C&G/Lloyds Bank merger. That No transfer be made: [P: D. Bradshaw, S: R. Stephens. 35 For, 2 Against, 2 Abstn.].

The meeting then adjourned for Lunch.

On resumption, the results of the 1996 Committee Ballot were announced: 67 Members had voted.  Nigel Taylor 65. Mike Wilson 61. Chris Smart 57. Jeff Price 57. John Williams 54. Hilary Wilson 44. Richard Stephens 44. Ivan Sandford 41. Estelle Sandford 41.

Three candidates were unsuccessful: Mike Willet 25. Alex Gee 23. Robin Grey 22.

Item 17, The Election of Officers to posts then was made as follows:-

Hon. Secretary:   Nigel Taylor.          Unan .                                                        

Hon. Treasurer:    Chris Smart.          Unan.                                                         

Caving Sec:         Jeff Price.              [P: Tim Large, S: Nigel Taylor]      31 Votes    Appointed

                          Estelle Sandford.    [P: Dave Turner, S: Dave Ball ]      4 Votes    

Memb; Sec:        Richard Stephens   Unan.                                                         

Hut Warden:        Ivan Sandford.        [P: Trev. Hughes, S: Mike Willit]   37 Votes    4 Abstn.

BB Editor:           John Williams.       Unan.                                                         

Hut Engineer:      Estelle Sandford.    [P: John Williams, S: Rob Harper] 18 Votes    Appointed

                          Hilary Wilson.        [P: Angie Cave, S: Babs Williams]                 7 Votes           

                          Ivan Sandford         [P: Tim Large, S: Rob Harper ]      5 Votes    

Auditor:               Barrie Wilton          [P: Chris Batstone, S: N. Taylor ]  35 Votes    4 Abstn.

Librarian              Mike McDonald      [P: S. McManus. S: R. Harper ]   30 Votes    Appointed

                          Alex Gee               [P: Angie Cave, S: M. Grass ]       4 Votes    

                          Mike Willit.            [P: J. Williams, S: Rebecca Campbell]           2 Votes           

The AGM Directed the 1996 Committee to look carefully at the position of Club Archivist, and to action accordingly.

Members of the New 1996 Committee were then asked to declare any Special Interests:-

a)        John Williams declared that he was "Descent Correspondent for Mendip."

b)       Chris Smart declared that he would be abroad caving all November/December.

c)       Nigel Taylor declared that he was now establishing his Explosives Demolition & Excavation Company "Mendip Demrock" and that this might involve some quarry work.  He assured the meeting of his strong conservation views notwithstanding.

Trevor Hughes was concerned at Nigel Taylor’s' activities.  The AGM however, accepted all of these.

Item 18, The Destruction of Ballot Forms:-

At the Direction of the Chair these were consigned to the Fire.

Item 19, Members' Resolutions:-

Andrew Sparrow proposed more practice rescues, and to re-institute a proper Team Leader for the BEC. Stuart McManus thought that it was necessary to balance these needs with conservation of St. Cuthbert’s. Considerable discussion took place, principally Rob Harper, Dave Turner, Stuart McManus, Martin Grass, Ivan Sandford making strong contributions. Martin Grass thought that it was important to remember that often Team Leaders were often later asked to become MRO Wardens, thus he felt a need for younger leaders should be remembered.  Andrew Sparrow asked how many MRO wardens had been BEC Team leaders, a show of hands revealed in excess of five.  Rob Harper called for a decision, a view echoed by Bob Cork as Chairman.

Several proposals and amendments rose and fell, Andy Sparrow: two practises a year, one to be in St. Cuthbert’s, [S; P. Romford] Stuart McManus amended: "To be held in any cave (Not specifying St. Cuthbert’s)" [S; M. Grass] 20 For, 9 Against, 2 Abstn.

A further amended proposal; "The club will carry out a minimum of two rescue practises each year" was passed 30 For, 4 Against, 3 Abstain. (As above P: & S:).

Nigel Taylor then proposed Rob Harper as BEC Team Leader, [S: Chris Smart]     15 Votes. (EI).

Stuart McManus proposed Alex Gee as a Team Leader,[S: Martin Grass]             11 Votes.

Babs Williams proposed John Williams, [S:Ivan Sandford]                                   2 Votes.

Nick Gymer was proposed by unknown P: & S:                                                  1 Vote

Tim Large then proposed that the 1995 Committee suspension on Jeff Price be revoked and wiped clean from the club records.  This was seconded by Trevor Hughes.

Nigel Taylor spoke upon this matter as he had been the last years' Secretary, and explained that much heart searching and agonizing had gone into the three suspensions.  He emphasised that though every committee member had their own personal feelings about the matter, they had all agreed to be seen as united in a firm response to the problem they were expected to arbitrate over, and that they would all have it only discussed within the BEC and not aired around Mendip and the Hunters.  They had been scrupulous about being fair and gave each member a full hearing at committee.  Personal feelings had been put to one side, and all three members had been written to by the Secretary and a full and frank explanation about their suspensions given to each, further he had advised all three of the right of appeal to an AGM, and none had decided to do so.  In fact all three appeared to him to admit their errors, and were all contrite and accepted their suspension, although not enjoying them.  Mike Wilson and John Williams supported this.

Considerable debate took place upon the matter, Rob Harper felt that Tim’s' proposal would place the value of one member above another, this he stressed was unfair.  Rob Harper felt that the AGM should ratify the committee decision, Dave Turner concurred.  Tim's proposal went to a vote, 4 For, 26 Against, 7 Abstain. A fiery debate ensued about Rob Harpers feeling that the AGM should ratify the decision, Stuart McManus strongly stating that he thought it unnecessary, as in fact that the last vote had effectively done this.  Several Committee members expressed their feeling that failure to support the committee made them feel that this was a vote of no confidence, John Williams and Nigel Taylor suggesting that they would probably now then resign on moral grounds.  The meeting was tactfully steered by Bob Cork out of stormy waters and no such vote was called for, on the grounds that the club had just re-elected those same people and that was the best show of support they could have.  Stuart McManus commented that since the Committee action there had been no further instances of violence or damage.

Nigel Taylor then Proposed "As a gesture of goodwill, all three members should have their bans actually suspended in a spirit of magnanimity in celebration of the Clubs' Sixtieth Year" [S: n/k]. 11 For, 21 Against, 4 Abstn.

Item 20, Any Other Business:-

Chris Smart as Treasurer proposed that there be no increase in Club subscriptions in the New Year. The meeting accepted this with great support.

Nigel Taylor as Secretary stated that the Next AGM would be at 10.30 am, Saturday 5th. October 1996, at the Belfry.

Bob Cork as Chairman then declared the meeting closed at 4.10pm.

Minutes recorded by, and later typed: Nigel Taylor Hon Secretary, Sunday 15th. October 1995


More Adventures of Another Pooh!!

When I read my article in the 60th anniversary BB, I could only think "Did I really write that Drivel."  I had liked it at first, but seeing it in print, somehow made me more critical. So, I was very chuffed, when just after Jingles had narrowly beaten me to some choice Albums, on sale by Andy and Angie Cave; he told me that several people had told him how much they enjoyed reading my offering. "Could I give him some more, within a week ?"

We left Pooh, at the tender age of eighteen, about to embark upon a rather disastrous academic career! We rejoin him ten years later; older, no wiser, but a seasoned World traveller! This is Pooh in his prime! .....

I returned to England; in the summer of 1978; after spending nearly three years working as a labourer in outback Australia.  I had managed to save up a bit of money.  Some of it already spent, wandering around South-East Asia on my way to England.  I was planning to stay in the UK for perhaps three months and thought I would fit in a few caving trips during this period, just for old times sake, of course, and nothing very difficult or dangerous.  I had almost convinced myself that I had no desire to do any more hard caving, and as for cave diving, well that was quite out of the question.  I intended to return to Australia and make a lot of money in business, although my plans were somewhat vague in this respect.

Up on the Mendips, I went into the Hunters on a Friday evening.  As I walked in the door, I was greeted by several of my old caving mates shouting, "It's the Boy!!" and demands for pints owed from previous years. Roger Dors, greeted me as if I had last been in his pub the weekend before.  It was good to be back and very soon Chris Batstone of the BEC had offered to accompany me to Swildons sump 2 the following day.  We had a lot of fun, splashing around the streamway, which was in a sportingly wet condition.  I decided to stay up at the Belfry that night as I was having such a good time.

In the pub that evening, I heard that the NCC had pushed King Pot, in Yorkshire, to a series of pitches and crawls, that lead, eventually to the East Kingsdale Main Drain (or Master Cave!!)  Getting quite enthusiastic about caving, after a few pints, I told everybody that I would descend this new find at the first opportunity.  Shortly after this decision, I was delighted to see that Pete and Alison Moody had arrived.  They told me all about how Pete was planning to Dive a sump in Lionel’s Hole, the following day, but they were in need of transport.  I offered to drive them over to Burrington, and well, I could even help carry the gear down the cave!  The evening continued in a jovial fashion, and then Pete announced, that perhaps he didn't really want to dive all that much.  Would I like to do the dive instead?

"Definitely not"

''You wouldn't have to carry any of the gear"

"No Way, Bugger off Moody"

"I'm sure this sump will go, it's nice as well"

"Ohh, all right!!"

Come Sunday morning, feeling unwell, I was appalled to discover that Pete and Alison were still very enthusiastic about the trip.  Very soon, accompanied by several other cavers we were forcing our way down a horrible, cold, tight, muddy cave.  Mercifully it didn't take very long to reach the sump.  As far as I was concerned, the one redeeming feature of this cave was it's short length.  Lying in a squalid pond being helped to kit up by Pete, I resolved to only go in for a meter or two and then pretend the sump was too tight, if indeed it wasn't anyway, as seemed rather likely.

I entered feet first, on a base fed line.  Once under water I felt more relaxed and even though the sump was tight I didn't stop, as planned, but kept going and passed the sump after 6 meters.  After only a few meters of cave passage I reached another sump and dived again.  After going down vertically for 3 meters, the way on was too small to follow.  To my surprise I realised I was enjoying all this!!

We emerged into bright sunlight in Burrington Combe.  A family was having a picnic, outside the entrance.  I think they were a bit shocked to see us seemingly appear from nowhere.  As cavers will, we started to peel off our muddy rags.  We had no intention of causing a fuss, but I think our antics rather put the picnickers off their lunch as they quickly relocated, further up the road.  I was having a lot of fun being back with these outrageous caving friends and I realised that I was very quickly fitting back in to British caving.  I now wanted to do some hard trips!

A few days later I went to Yorkshire.  I met John (Lugger) Thorpe and Derek Crossland in the Craven Heifer, and they kindly agreed to show me their exciting new finds in King Pot.

I really enjoyed the several sporting wet pitches.  I was elated to be rediscovering caving, and although King Pot is actually quite a strenuous cave I felt quite at home in this newly opened system.  The crawls didn't seem too arduous really and the squeezes not ridiculously tight.  The loose boulders, I didn't like at all.  When we popped out at last into the East Kingsdale Main Drain I was a bit disappointed as it was smaller than The West Kingsdale Master Cave.  I soon became impressed again when we reached the upstream sump.  I really wanted to dive it!  The water was very clear and I could see straight down a wide flooded shaft. There was an excellent place to tie off a line, and kitting up would be so easy at the spacious sump pool.  I immediately started to enthuse about the possibilities of this site.  My enthusiasm was met with a cool response from my companions, who informed me that Derek was planning to dive both the upstream and downstream sumps and I would have to wait my turn, should I have plans to dive!

Back on the surface I found that Geoff Yeadon was interested in these sumps too, and I offered my services as support diver.  We both accepted that Derek should have first crack at them.  A few NCC stalwarts were prepared to carry for Derek, but not enough, for such a hard carry.  We were prepared to help the NCC carry the diving gear, in order to get involved in the operation.  Our motivation was, of course, far from altruistic and we planned to get involved in the actual diving as soon as we possibly could.

Dave Timmins and Bob (Henpot) Emmet were keen to join Geoff and myself in helping the NCC dive King. This meant that Derek now had enough carriers.  The date was set for the dive and we vaguely arranged with Derek and Lugger to meet in the Craven Heifer the night before, to discuss our plan of attack.  Nobody from the NCC actually turned up to this so called "planning meeting".  To make matters worse Geoff, Dave, Henpot and myself, drifted into a heavy drinking session.  We ended up more or less collapsing into Henpot's ramshackle caravan, to awake Saturday morning, feeling very ill indeed.

We found Lugger, Derek and other NCC wandering around Ingleton.  They still intended doing the dive but had failed to organise any air supplies!  Fortunately, Henpot had two 50 cubic feet bottles available and after a greasy breakfast and several pints of tea in one of the cavers' cafes we set off to King Pot.

I suffered a lot on the way down the cave.  We were all carrying heavy and awkward loads through this tortuous system.  Dave, Geoff and myself had very severe hangovers and someone complained that the air in the cave smelt of stale beer fumes. Unlike me and in contrast to my continual moaning, Geoff bore it all in silence.  Years later Geoff admitted to me that he really suffered on this carry, saying, “King Pot carrying bottles is quite horrible enough, even without a hangover".  I just could not get myself going into a relaxed flowing rhythm; so essential on long caving trips, and I was wasting energy thrashing around.  Derek and Lugger, as usual were caving very powerfully and had great fun pointing out that I only had myself to blame for my pathetic state.  I was in a dreadful mess by the time we reached King Henry Hall.  I lay around amongst the boulders, groaning.  Vowing to lead a more healthy lifestyle I concentrated on not being sick.  The NCC loved this melodramatic performance and in their delight, started to throw rocks at me.  I thought this so outrageous that I just had to laugh, I immediately felt a bit better, got to my feet and started to cave properly.

We reached the downstream sump quickly and Derek kitted up.  The sump looked very uninviting and intimidating.  The walls of the streamway were covered in slimy mud and the water was dark and cloudy with peat.  The sump pool was covered in froth.  I was glad I wasn't doing this dive.

Upon diving, Derek discovered he was wearing too much weight.  Unfortunately this realisation came too late as he had already begun a head first fall.  The sump was steeply sloping and Derek tumbled down, rapidly gaining depth and bouncing off small ledges as he went.  At a depth of 15m he was stopped by a wider ledge.  Derek could see the shaft going on down, but wisely chose to turn back.  He returned to base by pulling hand over hand on the line.

I think most divers would have felt they had had enough excitement for one day after such a frightening experience.  Derek, dedicated and determined explorer that he was, wanted to continue with the diving and we helped him walk fully kitted to the upstream sump.  He entered with less lead than downstream and had a much happier dive in two meter visibility.

He found the sump pool to be 8m deep and the way on down a shingle bank to a depth 11m.  A horizontal bedding led after 70m to a large circular passage which started to decrease in depth.  Derek, who was wearing only one wet suit was by now very cold and turned back to base.

We were very excited when Derek told us of his dive.  The end sounded most promising.  I was feeling a little hungry and remembered that I had packed a Mars Bar in my ammunition box.  I opened up the box and was confused when I couldn't find the Mars Bar.  I noticed that the NCC were watching me and that Lugger was grinning.  I came to the conclusion that they had pilfered my rations and accused them of this theft!  Nobody owned up, I started to get annoyed and tell the NCC that they really should be more organised and buy their own food.  Lugger responded by pushing me into the sump.

We decided to leave most of the gear in the cave, to be used for future dives.  We stored this equipment on a ledge, high above the stream, as a precaution against flooding.  We were well pleased with our efforts and made a rapid and enjoyable exit from the cave.  There was much hilarious banter as we raced against one another, all trying to be first back to the surface, with everybody attempting to get away with carrying as little as possible of the remaining diving equipment.  It seemed likely that the King Pot sumps would turn out to be long dives and so we unanimously decided that Geoff should dive next, wearing his dry suit.  This meant that we would have extra gear to carry in.  However, interest in these sumps was growing and we had no trouble getting extra people to join our team.

The following Sunday the original team along with many others assembled at Braida Garth.  Most of us had spent Saturday night at a disco in Ingleton, so we weren't all in prime shape.  I had somehow managed to strain a muscle in my leg, while attempting to dance to the Stranglers, and had a bit of trouble walking to the entrance. Once underground I was OK as King Pot is mostly crawling.  A fresh cylinder and Geoff's diving gear were taken down very quickly, due to the large number of people available to carry.

At the downstream sump, Geoff kitted up very smoothly and disappeared, slowly and in perfect control. He went down the shaft to a depth of 24m in very bad visibility to a point where he perceived the sump to be complex.  Geoff now had to return to base as he did not have sufficient air for a long dive at depth. Cutting the line, he deliberately left the end free, as he suspected that the line had been pulled into tight spots and would perhaps be impossible to follow if tied off at the far end.  He surfaced after five minutes underwater.

We then helped Geoff to walk fully kitted to the upstream sump.  While I was tying off his line, I foolishly put my ammunition box down and while I wasn't looking the NCC stole another one of my Mars Bars.

There was only just room at the sump to comfortably seat the large numbers of cavers who had turned up on this trip.  Geoff made another professional departure and we settled down to wait.  After about five minutes some of the group announced that they had pressing business to attend to on the surface, and set off out. Over the next forty minutes several more people apparently lost interest in the fate of our diver and disappeared without a word.  After an hour only Derek, Dave Timmins and myself were left.  Another, fifteen minutes passed, Geoff was now overdue and we were getting cold and starting to worry.  I started to hold on to the end of the line, hoping to feel it twitch. We turned out our lights, so as to be able to see the first faint glow of our Geoff's lights as he returned.  We started to say things like,  "Well either he has surfaced or he is about to run out of air".  I hate waiting for divers to return to base.

We were very relieved when we saw light coming from the bottom of the sump pool.  Geoff emerged shortly afterwards, somewhat surprised by the lack of carriers remaining.  He explained to us how he had surfaced after a dive of 80m in an underground lake in a large chamber.  A clean washed walking size streamway wound on for 250m to another sump.  He had noticed a low wet inlet and a dry side passage but explored neither to any conclusion.  A superb find.  We stored about half the gear for future use and set off out carrying very heavy loads. We eventually emerged totally shattered after a twelve hour trip ...........

That's your lot for now! If you want to find out more about our adventures in King Pot you will have to buy the book.  I intend to use any money I make from the venture, saving Rain Forests and don't want to cut profits by giving everything away for free!!

Dave (Pooh) Yeandle


Streams Feeding St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

R.D. Stenner, Jingles, Estelle Sandford.

An article in the August 1994 B.B. explained how the latest stream studies started, and how the first analyses of the first set of samples had produced new information.  The article was low in actual data, and the aims of the studies were not explained.  This article aims to rectify these deficiencies.

Connections between surface sinks and inlets in the cave were discovered by a variety of methods between 1960 and 1972 (1). Until 1969, Plantation Stream sank spectacularly in Plantation Swallet (now filled in).  The streams were first studied intensively from 1965 to 1973.  From 1966 to 1968 a rectangular-notch weir was used in the old Plantation Stream (close to where the stream passed under the Ladywell Stream aqueduct).  Water samples were taken, and water temperatures measured.  The methods used have been discussed elsewhere (2).  A summary of the results is given in Table 1.

On 5 occasions, enough measurements were made between Traverse Chamber and the Entrance to work out the distribution of the streams in the cave, ignoring the small stream in Rocky Boulders series, which has no connection with the rest of the stream system (and which is thought to be joined in The Lake by minor seepage from the Main Stream at Mo's Dig).  The calculation of the distribution depended on two assumptions:

1.                    changes in the measured factors during the trip were negligible; and

2.                    that the discharge value of the inlet stream at P.1. was equal to that of Plantation Stream at the surface.

Evidence to support these two assumptions follows:

1.       On 26.11.67, the surface streams were sampled three times at four-hourly intervals. Temperature differences were 0.9T and O.TC, but salts showed no measurable changes.  This gave qualified support to the first assumption. In a 32-trip study in G.B. Cave in 1968, this assumption failed once, when there was a downpour during the trip.  Nevertheless, to maximise the chance of this important assumption being valid, it was recommended that stream surveys should be made in the shortest possible time, moving upstream (2).

2.       On 10.2.68, the size of Pulpit Passage East Inlet was measured directly, with a polythene sack, watch and measuring cylinder. Stream ratios along the stream passage to P.1. gave a value of 165 1/min for Plantation Inlet.  This was close to the value of 151 1/min given by the Plantation Swallet weir. Chemical changes between Plantation Swallet and P.1. were small (Table 1).

Chemical changes between the Pool outlet and Plantation Swallet were much greater (Table 1).  It was possible that somewhere in the marshy ground below the Pool, a separate stream was mixing with Plantation Stream. However, there was another possibility. The stream might leak into the marsh, become enriched with C02 from decaying vegetation, and seep back into the stream.

On 4.11.68, a change in the situation at Plantation Swallet was noticed.  Water was leaking to the Maypole Sink, which was unusual in relatively low flow.  But in addition, Plantation Stream was visibly shrinking in size between the Maypole Overflow corner and the weir.  Pulpit Passage East Inlet was again measured directly.  Stream ratios along the stream passage gave 140 1/min for Plantation Inlet at P.1., compared with 45 1/min at the weir, giving a measure of the leakage between the Overflow Corner and the weir; 95 1/min.

In 1969 and 1970, Dr. Tim Atkinson measured surface characteristics of Plantation Stream and St. Cuthbert's Stream weekly, part of a larger study of swallet and resurgence streams of Mendip.  His data (3 and 4) agreed well with those of Stenner.  During Atkinson's study, there was serious deliberate damage to the stream ways.  The leak through the stream bed increased, and much more of the water now sank close to the overflow corner.

In 1973, the bank at the corner was dug open, so most of Plantation Stream flowed down into the valley. The safety aspects of this action were discussed in an article in the B.B. of April 1974 (5), which contained the observation that the situation "need not be dangerous provided that it remains possible to put the stream rapidly back into Plantation if necessary."  But Plantation Swallet was filled in during the summer of that year.

For an uncertain number of years, Plantation Stream sank at the Maypole Overflow corner in dry weather, overflowing into the depression in normal conditions.  Dye tests proved that the stream still reached its old route through the cave.  At some date between 1978 and 1989, there was a major change.  At the site of old sluices which once fed water into the leadworks, the entire outflow of the Mineries Pool was diverted into the depression, joining the smaller St. Cuthbert's Stream to flow down the valley to the cave.












































































Plantation Swallet















Maypole Sink















Soak away Sink






























P.S. Weir






























Pulpit Pass. E. Inlet















Pulpit Pass. W. Inlets















Pulpit Pot















Disappointment Pot















Drinking Fountain















Old Route Stream















Maypole Stream















M.S. Traverse Ch. Choke















M.S. upstream of P.J.















Plant. S. upstream og P.J.















M.S. d’stream of P.J.













































Pulpit Pot : Old Route















M.S. :  Plant. S. at P.J.













































Pool Exit















Plantation Swallet















Plant. S. upstream of P.J.






























Pool Exit to P. Swallet















P. Swallet to P.J.















Table 2. The distribution of the streams on the surface and in St. Cuthbert's Swallet in 1994 and 1995; estimates of discharge at each site (l/min), and changes in Total Hardness between some sites (ppm CaC03).





















Pool Exit





St. Cuthbert’s










Maypole Sink





Soak away Sink















Pulpit Pass. E.Inlet





Pulpit Pass. W.Inlets





Pulpit Pot





Disappointment Pot





Drinking Fountain





Old Route Stream





Maypole Stream





M.S. Traverse Ch. Choke





M.S. upstream of P.J.





Plant. S. upstream of P.J.





M.S. d'stream of P.J.










Pulpit Pot : Old Route




1: 1000

M.S : Plant. S. at P.I.


1: 1.67







Pool Exit





St. Cuth's Stream Culvert





M.S. upstream of P.J.





Plant. S. upstream of P.J.





However, regular winter flooding (which had seriously hindered early attempts to enter the cave) has not returned as a result of this diversion, thanks to the effectiveness of the culvert.  Completed in 1965, the culvert vastly improved control over the drainage of the valley.  If it becomes choked, there will be a high risk of catastrophic flooding.

In spite of the complete diversion of the stream from its previous route, the stream inlet at P.J. continued to flow strongly.  There were two possible explanations:

1.       An unknown stream had indeed previously joined the old Plantation Stream, somewhere upstream of the Maypole Overflow comer. This unknown stream had in the past caused the majority of the chemical changes in the water between the Pool overflow and the Maypole Overflow pool, and was now the sole source of the P.J. Inlet.

2.       Under the new regime in the valley, Maypole Sink takes much more water than before.  Maypole Sink is known to be complex, feeding Maypole Series, Disappointment Pot, and Drinking Fountain inlets.  It is possible that the supply now swamps the previous routes, activating a new route intercepting the old Plantation Swallet to P.I. route, feeding water from the Maypole Sink to P.J.  This explanation looks attractive if the survey of the cave is looked at, noting the proximity of Disappointment Pot to Plantation Swallet.

The second phase of sampling started with the aim of describing the present hydrology of the major stream sinks, and to find out more about the present P.J. Inlet. Differences caused by the diversion would be quantified.  Sets of samples were taken from the cave, and from the surface streams.  The size of the surface streams was to be measured by salt dilution.  A standard KCI solution was added with a simple constant flow apparatus, and samples were analysed for potassium by Flame Emission Spectrophotometry.

Results from 1994 and 1995 are summarised in Table 2.  It was gratifying, and amazing, that the very first set of samples (25.5.94) gave results which were conclusive. The present P.J. inlet is indeed much smaller than in the first period of study. Its water is also much harder.  In its earlier state, the stream had been described as an over fit in the cave passages through which it flowed, and there was evidence of re-solution of stal. by the stream.   It was now often super-saturated with CaC03 at PJ. (capable of depositing stal).

The first set of results, shown in Table 2, eliminated the possibility that the present P.J. inlet might be flowing from the Maypole Sink.  The P.J. stream is much too hard to allow this possibility to be true.

However, the size of the inlet stream at P.J. is still a major stream.  Hardness measurements indicated a source which is much harder than the old Plantation Stream.  Furthermore, this previously unknown source had previously joined the Pool overflow stream ON THE SURFACE, somewhere upstream of the Maypole Overflow comer.

The old stream bed upstream of the Maypole Overflow comer was looked at regularly.  It remained suspiciously "soggy" in July 1994 (a hot dry month), and throughout the wet August and September of 1994. Then on 9.11.94, following a period of sustained heavy rain, a stream was seen flowing from a deep pool. Augmented by water overflowing from Ladywell Stream, the stream joined the former course of Plantation Stream a few metres upstream of the pool at Maypole Overflow comer.

On that first occasion, the flow was sufficient to overflow into the Maypole Sink, but it quickly shrank. On 12.11.94 it was still flowing, but no longer overflowed into Maypole Sink. By 28.11.94 the flow was reduced to isolated pools of open (but flowing) water, separated by stretches of marsh. After more very heavy rain, the stream was flowing strongly on 22.1.95, once again overflowing into the Maypole Sink. Still more heavy rain followed, and the stream was still flowing on 27.2.95 and 29.3.95.  By 30.04.95, surface water was no longer visible, and the stream bed reverted to a soggy marsh.  At the end of May 1995, more heavy rain increased the flow of the stream in the valley, but it was not enough to restart surface flow of the Plantation Swallet relic stream.

On 22.1.95, when the discharge value of St Cuthbert's Stream was the highest ever measured (it was certainly bigger after the great rainstorm of July 1968, but no measurements were made), two smaller intermittent stream were found, both of which flowed into the old Plantation Stream bed near the aqueduct.

Water temperatures on 22.1.95 confirmed that the newly found stream was spring fed ( Plantation stream 7.7oC, Pool Exit 5.00C).  This fact, together with the high Total Hardness of samples (145.7 ppm on 15.1.95), settled the matter beyond doubt. 

This stream was:

(a)     responsible for most of the changes in Plantation Stream between the Pool Exit and Plantation Swallet between 1966 and 1973, and

(b)     the main source of the inlet stream now entering the cave at P.J.

Stenner considers that water held in and underneath the marshy stream bed feeds water to the stream at P.J. when the stream has ceased to flow at the surface.  In this respect the situation is similar to that at Maypole Sink (where water held in an in filled depression under the sink continues to feed water to the Maypole Series many weeks after Maypole Sink becomes dry).

The suggested explanations are consistent with all the results of the previous water tracing experiments.

The results were examined for evidence of changes in temperature or solute concentrations during the flow of streams through the cave.  The conclusions were the same as those from G.B. Cave in 1968 (6):

Along Mendip-size streamways, significant changes take place in only four circumstances;

(1) In boulder chokes between the surface and inlets in the cave;

(2) At stream junctions;

(3) In percolation water trickling over flowstone formations;

(4) When the size of the stream is changing rapidly because of a rainstorm.

(Note; circumstances are different in the very long stream passages in other caving regions, where there is sufficient time for slow reactions involving humic acids to take place, as George Bray has demonstrated in O.F.D. (7)).

On 11.7.95, a sampling trip took place very soon after heavy rainfall.  Temperature and hardness changes were noted in the stream between successive sampling points, which were not caused by stream junctions.  They had been caused by the same exceptional circumstance that had been noted in G.B.  Cave, and warned about earlier.

For example, differences were found between the top of Pulpit Pitch and the bottom of Gour Passage Pitch.  However, the time taken to move between these two stations is much longer than the time taken to measure and sample at each stream junction.  For this reason, the stream discharge estimates for the trip are considered to be valid, except for the reservation about discharge values at PJ., for a different reason to be discussed later.

In a trip on 3.09.95, Estelle collected a set of samples when the cave was spectacularly dry.  The size of the surface stream at mid-day had been only 21 1/min, the lowest measurement of the summer.  Before the surface streams could be sampled by Stenner, there was a tremendous rainstorm, and by 7.30 that evening the stream size increased almost ten-fold to 204 1/lmin.  Fortunately, Estelle had made direct measurements of stream sizes, so the results of the sampling trip were not invalidated.  Instead, the results documented some of the effects of the storm. These will appear in a full report later.

Apart from the consequences of these rainstorms, no other instances of changes in chemical or physical changes along the stream courses were detected.  It is this stability which makes it possible to use solute or temperature changes at a stream junction to calculate stream size ratios. Beyond the present specialised application, the authors are confident that this discovery is of potential value in cave exploration, because:

If at any point in a streamway, a sudden change in temperature or water chemistry is measured, then that point marks a confluence of waters from different origins.

As the study progressed, it became clear that the rainfall pattern was very unusual.  In a secondary study, surface streams have been sampled regularly, giving data for comparison with earlier data, and with any future data. This study continued through the wet spring of 1995, through the unusually hot and dry summer which followed, and into the period of sustained wet weather that ended the drought.

In the summer of 1994, the bank of the stream entering the culvert was reinforced with mud-filled sand bags.  This prevented water sinking at the soak-away sink under the North bank, which was the main supply for the Pulpit Passage inlets and the N.E. Inlet in Arête Chamber (the last-named inlet sometimes split its flow between Pulpit Passage and the Showerbath at the Ledge Pitches).  Water from the Culvert flows via Arête Chamber to the Old Route Stream. Results from 11.7.95 confirm that the surface changes have changed the distribution of the stream between the Old Route and the New Route.  The effectiveness of the total drainage of the valley has been reduced, which must be weighed against any better control over the stream.

The prolonged period of unusually high flow in the winter and spring of 1994-5 had an unexpected consequence in the cave.  Water leaks from the Main Stream at Mo's Dig (just upstream of the Dining Room). During the earlier studies, the size of this leakage was assessed from the far side of the dig, under Cerberus Hall. It was (at that time) far too small to affect the stream distributions shown in Table 1.  Since the winter floods, a major part of the stream now leaves the Main Stream at this point.  By 23.08.95, the stream bed between Mo's Dig and P.J. was dry.  A small dam was built in September to encourage flow through Mo's Dig, which may assist future work at Sump 2.  There are three thoughts:-

(a)     it would be worth looking at the effects of the extra leakage from the other side;

(b)     it would be worth keeping an eye on the Lake - with a great deal more water going through, well you never know!;

(c)     although on 11.7.95, Estelle made an effort to divert all of the flow back into the Main Stream, the assumption that the discharges of the Main Stream at Traverse Chamber and at The Sewer are equal is no longer true.

Finally, on 3.09.95, Estelle noted that Pyrolusite Stream was flowing so strongly that it was making a significant contribution to the stream in Gour Passage.  Kanchenjunga Drip and Dining Room stream were also flowing well.  The three percolation inlets had continued to flow throughout an earlier period of major drought, from the summer of 1975 to the autumn of 1976.  Mineries Pool Outlet had been dry since 13.08.95, and on the same date flow from Ladywell had ceased.  Although the Pool Exit stream restarted on 8.09.95, Ladywell had still not restarted on 26.09.95, despite the heavy rainfall since the end of August.


1.                    Irwin, D.J., 1991, St. Cuthbert's Swallet, B.E.C., pp 82.

2.                    Stenner, R.D., 1971, The measurement of the aggressiveness of water towards calcium carbonate Parts II and m., CRG Trans 13(4),283-296.

3.                    Atkinson, T.C., 1971, Hydrology and Erosion in a Limestone Terrain, University of Bristol, PhD Thesis (unpub).

4.                    Atkinson, T.C., 1995, Personal communication.

5.                    Collins, S.J., 1974, Water into Cuthbert’s, BEC Bel Bul(318), 70-72.

6.                    Stenner, R.D., 1973, A study of the hydrology of G.B Cave, Charterhouse-on-Mendip, Somerset. UBSS Proc 13(2), 171-226.

7.                    Bray, L.G., 1975, Recent chemical work in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu system: further oxidation studies, Trans BCRA 2(3), 127-132.


On Climbing in Rhino

Herewith a very short article to stop anyone else bothering to climb the aven above the last pitch in Rhino Rift.

This climb had fascinated me from my first view of it sometime in the early '70's.  At that time I was in the Wessex and in company with such luminaries as Rich Websell and Al Mills had done some climbs above the second and third pitches. I had one abortive trip to climb the aven above the final pitch when we failed to get significantly off the ground and my companion refused to prusik up a rope used around a boulder thrown up and "jammed" into the crack on the right wall.  Judging by the ease with which we retrieved the rope he probably had a point

However I finally got things togetherish in October of this year and in the course of two trips Rich Websell and I managed to reach the roof.  Encountering two pitons, an old bolt, an old tatty sling and some scratched initials en route.

Facing down the cave from the 4th pitch it is a relatively simple climb on the left-hand side. There are a couple of bolts and pegs for protection.  At the level of the first ledge the shaft splits into two.  The right hand aven becomes too tight and the left can be followed to the roof where it becomes a short choked rift passage above the 4th pitch.

Who is on for the dig at the bottom?

Rob  Harper – 30/10/95



From the bottom of the 4th pitch easy bridging leads to step left onto sloping ledge.  Go up the ledge to obvious crack at the right of the stal. Then traverse right into alcove/ledge. From here bridge up until it is possible to step left onto a small ledge on a corner and swing around into another alcove with a short, 2m, passage at the back.  From here move up left stal-coated rift passage with a boulder floor which closes down after approximately 9 - 10m.


A Day In The Life Of An Expedition


Beethoven's Emperor Concerto was playing at full volume somewhere inside my head as I struggled up the steep earth track through the undergrowth in the 90 degree plus temperature with the humidity hovering somewhere around the 99.999% level.  I find thinking of a tune helps to give a rhythm to walking when things start to get a bit grim.  But you have to get the right tune, I once made the mistake of mentally playing Bat Out Hell and got to the top of a hill with my heart threatening to burst its way out between my ribs.

I stopped and glared up the track at Snablet and Helen who seemed to be moving with metronomic case and barely a trace of perspiration.  Looking back down the track I could just make out the hairy mushroom which was the top of Tony Boycott's head.  He looked almost as bad as I felt.  It was mid-October 1994 and as the advance party of the BEC we had been in Sulawesi for nearly three weeks prospecting for caves so we should have been acclimatised yet here I was doing my amazing-melting-man impersonation.

The first ten days had been spent in an almost cave-free environment in the granite scenery of the Mamasa river valley following rumours of caves and underground rivers.  We had been suckered in by one small cave in a limestone outcrop at the top of a hill in Masawa on the first day.  Thereafter we had a great time trekking through the Indonesian jungles and staying with locals who were all mystified by our purpose but with gentle courtesy and much amusement were prepared to humour us. For anyone who is interested in piles of granite boulders I can thoroughly recommend the area.

After that we headed off to Rantepao in the Saadang river valley passing through spectacular karst scenery en route.  Here in only four days we investigated numerous caves as well as introducing Cossack dancing and Pogo-ing at the local disco.

As we had to liaise with the second party back in the capital ( Ujung Pandang), we decided to bead slowly back looking at some of the caves we had seen on the way up.  First we had to send some requests back to Mac and JRat in Britain.  Two hours of diligent searching by our driver located a fax machine at a large hotel where they agreed to let us fax home.  Two hours of diligent dialling got no response.  However the receptionist at the hotel remembered that there were some caves near his village and wrote us a letter of introduction to the Kepala Desa (roughly translated as headman).

Once we had overridden our driver’s objection and lurched up the track to this village, Pasang, we were made welcome in the K-D's house - a I5m square bamboo structure precariously balanced on stilts which swayed alarmingly at the slightest movement.  A large crowd assembled in the room oblivious to the ominous creaking of overstrained bamboo and Subhang, the local English teacher, was pressed into service as translator' and guide.   Plans were laid for an early start to try and look at three caves in one day.

We woke early.  The men all had to go to pre-dawn prayers at the mosque so the women all had to be up an hour or so earlier to cook the little sweets and coffee which start the day.  By the time water had been poured, wood chopped and an the local scandals thoroughly aired by the women behind the bamboo screen next to our bed we were wide awake.  In our innocence we gobbled down coffee and fried coconut doughnuts and got into "go mode".  Not so. We had to wait for our guide and our driver kept whittering on about how difficult it was and that we would haw to sleep in the hills.  Helen got so annoyed with him that she had to go outside to cool down.  She stalked up and down on the verandah.  If she had been a cat she would have been swishing her tail menacingly.  Eventually Subhang arrived and once again we were galvanised into activity.  Only to be called back in for breakfast.

Thus it was we were walking down from Pasang apparently vertically to the village of Labale at 9:00 am.  At Labale we collapsed in puddles of perspiration and drank pints of boiled water while Subbang found the man who knew the exact location of the cave. This elderly gentleman pressed chunks of palm sugar on us and then disappeared only to re-appear with his caving kit including a large metal helmet.  The cave, Lo’ko' Labale, when finally located was too extensive to do more than a cursory run around.  When we located the heads of two major pitches we realised that we would have to return to the area.  The epic nature of this exploration was somewhat diluted when we were joined by practically the entire adult population of Pasang who came in for a saunter around and then an impromptu picnic back at the entrance.

We were totally knackered and we had two others to inspect that day plus a waterfall.

These other two turned out to be at the village of Limbuang another two hours walk away and about 300m higher - just what you want at 2:00 pm when you are only a few miles south of the equator!  Somehow we got there all feeling ill to a greater or lesser degree.  Our speleo-enthusiasm revived somewhat after hot sweet coffee.

The first cave, Lo'Ko' Tapaann, would have been a pleasant ramble around a well-decorated little stream cave but for the large party that insisted on accompanying us complete with a gun for shooting bats.  It adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the low wet crawl when there is a loaded gun only a few centimetres behind.

Somewhere between the back entrance to Lokko Tapaann and the front entrance to the next cave, Gua Posolloa, Tony Boycott finally grasped what expedition caving is all about. Sitting on a convenient boulder he gasped, “You go in.  I'll wait at the entrance.  As long as one of us gets there we will have succeeded."  He did not actually say he was going outside and might be some time but the emotion was there.  All he lacked was snow!

Fortified by such selfless sacrifice the remainder of the party headed on in.  Tony had not missed much.  Big dry sandy-floored passages filled with bats, small children & graffiti were all rapidly inspected with varying degrees of interest.  We already knew that we had to spend some time in the area to get the other caves surveyed so it was a quick scamper round, then out.

Back at the village of Limbuang we settled down at the headman's house, washed and demolished an excellent meal under the impression that we were to spend the night there.  Somewhere along the line something had been lost in the translation.  Our guide waited until darkness was just about to fall before leaping to his feet to drag us back to Pasang in the, (relative) cool of the evening.  Even better the village headman knew a shortcut.  Thus it was that a weary and footsore party were to be found stumbling down an overgrown track through the jungle.  In and out of small steep slippery stream gullies in almost pitch blackness.  Someone - I suspect Boycott but he will probably deny it an - suggested that we should avoid putting on or Pertzl zooms too early to preserve our night vision as long as possible.

After what felt like a fortnight but which turned out to be only an hour we were back on the main track. From here it was only a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.  I tried to think of a slow tune -the best I could come up with was "Tubular Bells".  From tired little soldiers, each cocooned in a pool of light and lost in their own thoughts, plodded down a never-ending hill towards the light of the village way below in the valley.  As always seems to be the case these never got any closer until suddenly they were only a few yards away.

Everyone was stunned to see us back.  The KepaIa Desa had to keep squeezing Helen’s thigh and remarking that she was a strong woman!  However there was more caver-reviving coffee followed by a cool wash and another excellent meal.  Then the finale.  The villagers all crammed into the room to watch Snablet getting into his bivi-bag. Much amusement and comment along the lines of bringing his own cave with him.  When we returned the following week for a few days this became such a popular turn that we could probably have financed the entire expedition by selling tickets.

Overall the trip was Sulawesi was reasonably succcssful with 63 cave sites explored and over 6kms surveyed.  But if you want the full a.p. then buy the report.  Available soon from all good caving shops in Wells

Rob  Harper – 6/10/95


A BEC Practice Rescue in Rhino Rift.  24th September 1994.


Roz Bateman           BEC (casualty)

Chris Castle             BEC

Sean Chaffey           BEC

Steve Flinders          Hippos

Brian Murlis             BEC (MRO)

Phil Romford            BEC

Dominic Sealy          WCC

Andy Sparrow          BEC

Chris Tozer              BEC

Les Williams            BEC

Organizers:  Phil Romford, Andy Sparrow and Brian Murlis.


To extract a live casualty in a rigid stretcher, from the bottom of the third pitch, using vertical lifting techniques by a safe and easi1y rigged method.  An essential part of this exercise was to involve the above people in using methods that made use of modern equipment and techniques developed in recent years.  We consider this practice to be the first of a series, to both develop the theme, and to involve other club cavers in the technicalities of vertical rescue.  The methods used are a combination of old and new techniques, taking what we considered to be the best of both.

Rhino Rift has one particular hazard to be avoided at all costs; that being the unstable boulder slope at the head of the third pitch.  In order to avoid this hazard we chose to use part of the Right Hand Wall route, from the bottom of the third pitch to the head of the second pitch. The first pitch was hauled direct, via the standard route.  Speed, efficiency, casualty comfort and safety were our major considerations.

The right hand wall route was rigged for SRT down to the top of the second pitch, with a short length dropped down to the ledge on the normal route.  It was found to be a convenient route to get personnel up and down the cave without being in the way of the rescuers.


To assist in the understanding of this, please refer to the accompanying sketch.

The fundamental principle that we adopted was to attach two Blue Water static ropes to the stretcher, but, not to specifically designate one as hauling line and the other as life line. In this system, either rope can be hauled on or used as life line, or indeed both may be deployed in hauling and deviating simultaneously. Hence, it is essential that both ropes are securely tied to the head of the stretcher and, that one or both is extended down to the casualties sit harness, allowing a small amount of slack for comfort.

The casualty was stretchered in the standard MRO manner at the bottom of the third pitch.  One line was taken to the 'safe' area at the head of the second pitch, whilst the other was taken to the eagles nest, 3 way 'Y' hang, out from the top of the second pitch (main hang on right hand route). Both ropes were deviated down to the bottom of the third pitch, through pulleys.  The hauling party at the head of the second pitch used jammers on lanyards, as is standard practice. A counterbalance system and pulley/jammer were set up at the eagles nest, this being simple and very efficient, one average weight person can lift a 10 stone casualty.

The first part of the haul to what can be considered the top of the third pitch, was via two releasable deviations with pulleys for each rope (see sketch).  The lower deviation had approx 4 metres of cord attached using a locked off Italian Hitch; this being released to allow the stretcher to hang below the upper deviation.  The upper deviation had approx 7 metres of dynamic rope, again attached by a locked off Italian hitch.  To this point, hauling was done at the head of the second pitch via a Petzl Gri-Gri rigged as a back stop, the counterbalance system was operative.

 From the head of the third pitch traverse, the stretcher must be transferred laterally by approximately approx 9 metres, so that it is now directly below the counterbalance.  The upper deviation is slowly released whilst the second pitch hauling party act as life liners, and the counterbalance lifts the stretcher. Actually, this is a lot easier than it may sound.  However, there must be one person calling the shots.  The stretcher was then lifted to a point above the lip of the second pitch, from where the counterbalance stops lifting and allows the hauling party to elegantly land the casualty, releasing rope via a Petzl STOP, or similar device, as necessary.  At no time was the angle between the lines allowed to exceed 120 degrees, thus minimizing excessive Tyrolean loadings.

Time of haul 15 to 20 minutes.  Total time to assess methods and best rigging points, and to load/haul the stretcher approx 2 1/2 hours.


The basic system was virtually the same as used on the lower pitches.  The stretcher was rigged identically, one rope was taken directly to the back of the pitch head through a Gri-Gri back stop with 5 haulers using jammers.  A counterbalance and pulley jammer were set up at the pitch head 'Y' hang.  A third rope, used as a guide rope, was attached to the hang bolts and taken down to a thread belay point at the top of the stal slope at the bottom of the pitch.  This guide rope was tensioned up using an Italian Hitch, to ensure that the stretcher was kept well clear of the walls during ascent.  Using the Italian Hitch as an adjuster means that the tension can optimised at all times.

The stretcher ran vertically up the guide rope on a pulley fixed at the head.  As the stretcher neared the pitch head, the guide rope tension was released allowing it to hang directly below the counterbalance. At the pitch head, the stretcher was secured by a cowstail while the counterbalance rope was moved to another 'y' further up the slope.  This ensured double rope protection while manhandling the stretcher over the lip of the pitch.


MRO Mager stretcher and drag sheet

MRO pulleys, 3 off

Blue Water static rope.  2 x 60m + 250m for rigging 

Other rescue pulleys, 4 off

Petzl Gri-Gri

Petzl Stop

Slings, various

Hangers, 30

Karabiners, 20

SRT gear, all personnel

Various lengths of 10 or 11mm line for deviations etc.

11mm line for deviations etc.


The only part that was relatively hard work was, the haul at the head of the second pitch.  With limited hauling personnel, a 'z' rig would offer a 3:1 mechanical advantage.  There was also a good deal of friction on this line where it comes over the lip of the pitch.  It was suggested that a deviation with pulley may improve this, however, it would require further practice to assess this.


The participants were deployed as follows:-

Brian Murlis oversaw the rigging and procedures on the third pitch.

Brian Murlis and Andy Sparrow jointly oversaw the second pitch.

Andy Sparrow oversaw rigging and procedures on the first second pitches.

Phil Romford oversaw stretcher loading, line safety and general safety procedures.

Roz Bateman was a superb, uncomplaining victim.

All other participants were involved at various stages.

Third pitch haul.  4 in pitch head hauling party, 1 at counterbalance, 1 barrow boy, one at bottom of pitch, 3 stretcher  handling at third pitch.

First pitch haul.  1 at counterbalance, 1 stationed mid pitch, 2 at bottom, 5 hauling.


  1. The conventional route down the 2nd and 3rd pitches were avoided due to unstable boulders.  However, if an accident occurred on the 4th or 5th pitches, it may be deemed necessary to rig these pitches to speed up a rescue.
  2. A 3 metre long cowstail attached to the stretcher, with clip in loops every 30cm. would be very useful.
  3. Only a few local cavers are known familiar with the right hand wall route - their support would be invaluable.
  4. A barrow boy accompanied the casualty during the lift up the 3rd pitch only.  On a rescue proper, it may deemed necessary to use a barrow boy at all times.


It should now be clear why the two rescue lines are both static, and not designated for a specific task throughout the hauls.  We have demonstrated that the load is transferred from one line to the other during the haul on the second pitch.

Although our methods were relatively technical, the amount of equipment required is probably no more that required by traditional methods.  Furthermore, the techniques are simple to use, safe, and worked extraordinarily well on this exercise.

Everyone left the cave having learned a great deal, and were appreciative of having had the opportunity to take part.

B Murlis, P Romford, A Sparrow


Council Of Southern Caving Clubs

Minutes of the meeting of the Council Of Southern Caving Clubs held on Saturday 9th September 1995 at 10:30 am.

1.                  ATTENDANCE

a.                    Present: Nigel Denmead (CCG/Avens/Chairman), A. Summerskill (Treasurer/WCC), A Butcher (SMCC/NCA Rep), Les Williams (WCC/Equipment), D.G. Cooke (WCC/Secretary), G Price (CSS), S. Cottle (UBSS), Dave Tuffery (MNRC), J.C. Goddard (MCG), John Flauagan (ISG), John Dobson (ACG), Dave Morrison (WCC), Vern Freeman (WCC), D. Crossland (Avens), M.J. Nicholson (Avens), Debs Morgenstern (WCC), Paul Johnson (CCG/Avens), Mike Grenham (CCG/Avens), Lyn Yeatman (CCG/Avens),

b.                    Apologies: None

2.                  MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING

a.                    None available.


a.                    None.

4.                  OFFICER REPORTS

2.1.       CHAIRMAN

a.                    The BEC have reported that they have not received recent CSCC agenda and minutes: Dave Cooke confirmed that items for the BEC are now sent direct to their representative Nigel Taylor in Langford rather than the BEC hut.

b.                    Nigel Denmead thanked Dave Cooke for taking on the post of Secretary.  However this leaves the training post vacant.

c.                    English Nature are happy with the progress at Compton Martin Ochre Mine.  But not so happy about the two dead bats recently found in the entrance.  Dave Morrison has spoken to English Nature regarding the bats.  He also said that the dead bats could not be due to cavers since none had visited the mine recently.

2.2.       TREASURER

a.                    The CSCC has £408 in the current account.

b.                    21 members are paid up, 10 since the circular.

c.                    We have paid the NCA subs. and we are awaiting some money back.

2.3.       SECRETARY

a.                    The Loxton Parish Council have contacted the CSCC since they wish to put a gate on Loxton Cave and would like the CSCC to administer access. John Dobson said he would talk to Mr Popple (Clerk to the Council) about the matter.  An arrangement similar to Singing River was envisaged.  We do not want a combination lock.

b.                    The new CSCC Handbooks have been published.  They cost £ I and are available from the secretary (Dave Cooke, 33 Laverstoke Gardens, Roehampton, London SW15 4ffi) if you enclose an A5 stamped addressed envelope.  They are also available from Bat Products, Wells.

c.                    Dave Cooke said he would start keeping Club phone numbers to add to the next revision of the handbook.

d.                    The Southern Sports Federation AGM is on 1/10/95.  No one wished to attend.  Dave Morrison said that we should be more involved with the regional sports council and let them know we exist.


a.                    The Cavers Fair in June made £600 profit.  150 - 200 people attended.

b.                    The NLI Officer post has been filled by Bruce Henry, 19 Gaskell Road, Penworth, Preston PRI 9RJ

c.                    The NCA Conservation Policy is now being circulated.  Graham Price noted that there had been a very poor response from CSCC members.  A summary leaflet has been printed which will be circulated to the CSCC members, this will hopefully improve things.


a.                    Alan Butcher felt that conservation information was not widely distributed.  It was suggested that the Conservation and Access Policy should be advertised and local cavers be better informed, through the actions of local clubs' own Conservation and Access Officers. Alan also suggested there should be an open meeting on the C & A policy.

b.                    Dave Morrison proposed that each Club should nominate a C&A Officers by the next CSCC meeting.  A date will be set for those officers to meet.  That meeting will share out the task of producing management plans for the SSSI caves to the various Officers/Clubs.  If we don't produce these plans then English Nature will employ non-cavers to do them soon.  It would be helpful if the Club C&A Officers could attend the next CSCC meeting. The Cerberus expressed a wish to do Stoke Lane, the WCC Swildons and the MCG Upper Flood.

c.                    Dave Morrison formally requested the cave SSSI information from Graham Price.

d.                    Quaking House in Milverton is now gated.  Permission and keys can be obtained from Farthings Farm.

e.                    The UK Cave Conservation Emergency Fund loaned £300 for fencing around Triple Hole (Sandford) to the Avens.  Paul Johnson reported that the work was harder than predicted, but he expected it to be finished within a fortnight.

f.                      Graham Price reported from the Mineral Working Group that the Gerny Slade Quarry Company will not challenge any depth restrictions - a good result.  Mear Head Quarry's application to quarry an area that it previously agreed not to quarry has been passed.  This jeopardises the drainage lines of nearby swallets. Watley Quarry's application has also been passed - more bad news.  See Graham for details.

g.                    Somerset County Council are now producing a new Minerals plan.  David Seton attends, providing us with some input and feedback.

h.                    The NRA Lower Bristol Aven Management Plan has now been produced.

i.                      Bristol Water have started pumping the Swildons Stream again.  Is this causing the movement of the boulders in Swildons entrance? Dave Morrison will speak to Paul Hodge.

2.5.       EQUIPMENT

a.                    The latest draft of the NCA Bolting Policy is going to Council for ratification.

b.                    There are currently 3 resin anchors in Swildons and 12 in Thrupe.

c.                    CCC Ltd have asked for a proposal to bolt the Left Hand Route in Rhino Rift.   CCC Ltd to fund.

d.                    Hilti have discontinued the C50 resin used to fix bolts.  The new resin is being tested by CNCC. Verbal reports so far is that it isn't as good.

e.                    The NCA rope test results suggest that storage and treatment are more important factors to a ropes well being than age.

3.         TRAINING

a.                    A Training Officer is required. Can Clubs put an advert in their Journals?

b.                    The Gloucester Artificial Cave project has asked for NCA support. People’s views are invited. Please direct them to Alan Butcher. There was a general discussion with views in favour and against.

c.                    It was noted that Caving is now on the National Cirriculum.  This has to be bad for caves and caving in general.

d.                    The Young Persons Act in its current form should not affect Caving Clubs.  Clubs can still have under 18 year old members.  They can take parties of under 18s caving so long as it is informally.  The act is aimed at organisations operating for profit.


a.                    The Avens Cave Exploration Group were admitted as members of the CSCC. They have a membership of 10 and have been very active in some of the Councils conservation projects.

b.                    Les Williams visited the owner of Burrington Cafe Adventure Caving.  He reported that it seems well run, it will only operate in Goatchurch, it has the Commoners consent, and the leaders are LCA qualified. We should not be concerned.


a.                    The next meeting will be the 2nd December 1995 at 10.30 am in the Back Bar of the Hunters Lodge, Priddy.

b.                    The date for the rest of the year are 24/2/96 and the AGM on 18/5/96.


The Warehouse, Gloucester.


Some of you may have heard of the proposed artificial cave being proposed as part of the indoor climbing centre called The Warehouse in Gloucester.  The proposals involve the construction of a horizontal and vertical "cave" system behind the climbing walls. This will offer pitches up to 13 metres as well as horizontal/vertical combinations of varying degrees of difficulty.

John Cliffe and myself attended a presentation on the scheme at The Warehouse on 14th July, this was also well attended by local cavers and others.

The proposals are well put together and would offer, in the vertical context at least, good training facilities provided that any training was carried out by an appropriately qualified (CIC) instructor.  There is an acute shortage of good facilities for SRT training in the country and the NCA Training Committee can see no problem with supporting this side of the proposal.

It is the horizontal side of the proposal where we have difficulties.  With the main "target" market for this facility being stated as for youngsters in full time education, concern has been expressed by John Cliffe and myself, by local cavers and Gloucester Cave Rescue about the consequential effect on local caves and mines.

Whilst the proposal will offer an as realistic as possible "cave" environment it cannot duplicate the hazards found in "the real thing" and must, for safety reasons, offer easy access to all parts of the system which are not, of course, available underground.  With caving equipment easily obtainable the dangers are:

that youngsters having experienced one or two trips may be tempted to visit local caves with inadequate equipment lighting, etc.

that those having gained experience in an artificial environment may attempt trips which may be beyond their capabilities or without regard to flooding or other hazards.

that access arrangements may be compromised by such trips.

that conservation issues may be ignored by such trips.

Whilst any approval could be conditioned by a request that those seeking further "real" caving experience be directed toward local clubs, there is no guarantee that this would be effective. For instance, The Warehouse already offer "real" caving trips on a commercial basis and there is no reason to think that these would be deferred in favour of local caving clubs.

The NCA will receive shortly a request for support or otherwise from The Sports Council.  It does not wish to tread on local or regional toes on, what is, a complex matter where feelings may run high.

The NCA Training Committee on behalf of the NCA therefore seeks your views urgently on this matter prior to a final decision on whether to support or otherwise the application.

Please forward your comments either to me or John Cliffe at the addresses below.

Alan Butcher
NCA Training Officer.

John Cliffe,


Council Of Southern Caving Clubs

The next meeting of the CSCC will be held on Saturday 2nd December 1995 in the back bar of the Hunters Lodge at 10:30 am


1.                  Attendance.

2.                  Minutes of the last meeting.

3.                  Matter arising from the minutes.

4.                  Officers reports

a.         Chairman.

b.         Treasurer.

c.         Secretary.

d.         NCA Representative.

e.         Conservation and Access Convenor.

f.          Equipment.

g.         Training.

5.         Any other business.

6.         Confirmation of the date of the next meeting.

Please note:

The post of Training Officer is vacant.  If anyone wishes to apply for this job could they let one of the Council Officers know.

Management plans need to be produced for the SSSI caves by cavers before English Nature employs non-cavers to do them.  Could each Club nominate a C&A Officers by the next CSCC meeting.  A date will then be set for those officers to meet. That meeting will share out the task of producing management plans for the SSSI caves to the various Officers/Clubs. It would be helpful if the Club C&A Officers could attend the next CSCC meeting.  The Cerberus expressed a wish to do Stoke Lane, the WCC Swildons and the MCG Upper Flood.

The new CSCC Handbooks have been published.  They cost £ I and are available from the secretary (Dave Cooke~ 33 Laverstoke Garden, Roehampton~ London SW15 4JB) if you enclose an A5 stamped addressed envelope.  A 19p stamp is sufficient for one handbook.  They are also available from Bat Products in Wells.


Letter re: St. Alactite


With reference to the recent correspondence regarding this venerable Patron saint of Cavers, I was bitterly disappointed by the pitifully inadequate reference to some of the other Saints of Mendip.

It is all too easy to look down on the diminutive figure of St. Uckfast (who epitomises Wessex caving techniques so well)

What of St. Out and St. Rengbow those beloved, Saintly characters whose praises are reverently sung beneath the tables of Mendip alehouses?

Could the author not have enlightened his readers with the legendary tale of the union in the Belfry bunkroom of St. Onker  (otherwise known  as  St. Iffy the Upright)  and  St. Rumpet, resulting in the creation of that patron Saint of Seamen St. Ains?

The Shepton will no doubt be offended by the omission of their benefactors St. Upid and St. Ubbern the Illegitimate!

St. Atic and St. Agnant, the saints associated with water tables (and local brews!) surely deserve a mention.

The angelically heaving twin beauties of St. Unning and St. Upendous are another fine pair to keep abreast of !!

Perhaps other Belfryites could enlighten us further on this fascinating subject.

Yours irreverently Gonzo

Editorial Note:

It would seem that the possibilities here are endless ..... e.g. Patron Saint of Wessex Members ...... St. Unted.

The twin saints of speech impediment (Butcombe induced) ......... St.St.St.St. Utter and St. Am-Am-Am-Ammer.

And of course the Patron Saint of Caving Politicians ... Cupid St. Unts!!!

All contributions welcomed for the St. Ockpile of B.B. Articles & St. Ories