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

Cover: Another Cave formation which appears to resemble A large pair of breasts - The Estellemight (if you ask her nicely..!)

 

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


 

Editorial

Its time for another Belfry Bulletin.  I am aware that there have been a few problems getting the BB to some members. I am not going to make excuses, but I would ask for your patience while I sort things out.  I have a backlog of this year's issues and will endeavour to circulate them to the relevant people.  If you know anyone who has not received them and thinks that they should, or are in that position yourself - please ask them to contact me, in writing, so I can get a list together and thus issue them.

Things have been fairly quiet at the Belfry of late, from my point of view it’s quite nice 'cos I can come up and get a bit of peace and quiet, but of course this means that the club is not taking so much in hut fees.  Seems a lot of people move into the area and therefore don't tend to overnight at the shed - but it is there for our use after all.

Many people tend to forget day fees as well as hut fees - so I would appeal to your sense of honesty with regard to this.

Car break ins have been happening again - so care is required at the obvious hotspots ... Burrington, The link etc.  I know some members had their van done a couple of weeks ago so even though it’s better than it has been in previous years - its still happening.  If you are going to these areas, do not leave valuables in the car, preferably leave someone with the vehicle.

Condolences go to Mike Willet who contracted weil's disease recently. In his usual inimitable fashion he met the situation face on and head butted the virus to death, so I'm told.  The level of sympathy within the club was quite moving - a whole blackboard full of sarcastic comments: my personal favourite being  .'Leptospirosis virus catches nasty case of Willet's disease, poor virus!'

I hear that Mike is now on the mend and will soon be back to normal.  (Actually that's a bit of a contradiction in terms.)

CDG 50th Celebrations.

 The weekend of 11/12 May saw the 50th anniversary celebrations of the COG at Wookey Hole.  A diving display was put on in the cave with divers using historical through to modern kit participating. Of particular interest was John Buxton diving in WHODD (Wookey Hole Diver's Drysuit) and Oxygen re-breather.  He had bottom walked from Chamber 9 back to 3.  He was also the only original pushing diver participating in the event.  There was a good BEC representation at the event.  Mike Barnes being one of the divers as well as Jingles and Dick-Fred providing musical entertainment.

The evening meal was a real one off.  Possibly the largest ever gathering of cave divers and certainly the only time that all these people would be together.  Many of the 'names' from the various decades were present including Balcombe, Sheppard, Buxton, Wells, Lucy, Leakey, Savage, Drew, Farr, Yeadon, Crossley and of course Dan Hasell (amongst many others).

The opportunity was not missed by many who wandered around getting their copies of the Darkness Beckons signed.  I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw Martyn Farr also collecting autographs in a copy of his book.  I think there's a few rather valuable copies after this.

The Belfry Boys sung one of their parodies lampooning many of the assembly and are currently awaiting the libel writs to appear - either that or a good kicking next time they are in Yorkshire!!

A superb event highly befitting this anniversary.  (If anyone's got any photos - can they let me know 'cos my camera decided to eat the film - I'll gladly pay to get copies done ..... Jx)

Birthday Wishes.

John Buxton (BEC/CDG/HDS) celebrated his 65th birthday and retirement from the ambulance service with a dive to Wookey 22 on 1.6.96. He invited various divers to accompany him including Chris Castle, and myself - these being the people he has dived with recently.

The evening saw a meal at the Miners Arms, the assembled company including Dan and Stella Hasell - most feasted on Priddy Oggie!!  I'm sure we would all wish John a happy birthday and retirement as well as many more years diving.  As far as I know he is the 2nd oldest active cave diver in the country - Owen Clarke having that particular 'Honour',

There will be a Wessex Vs BEC Cricket match on 6.7.96 - anyone interested please contact Jingles - we need to provide an umpire too, any volunteers??

Finally I will be taking over from Blitz as Charterhouse leader having been put thru' my paces by Vern Freeman (Cheers Vern). Anyone wanting trips contact me.

Ta ta for now ............. Jingles


 

Message From The Rescue Team Leaders

STOP PRESS

Owing to the demands of my work the Rescue Practice on June 29th & 30th has had to be postponed until JULY 5TH & 6TH

This will be a vertical Rescue Practice in Cuthbert’s on the Sunday, meet at the Belfry at 10:30 am, preceded by a demonstration of equipment and techniques on the Saturday afternoon.

Please let me know by June 30th if you are going to attend.  My contact numbers are .(removed).

Rob Harper

Working Weekend and Barbecue

22nd/23rd June,1996

Jobs to do (in order of priority)

Painting of main room and corridor

Fit new shower unit to left hand cubicle

Repair guest bunkroom firedoor

2 windows need fitting

Washing bay needs concreting

There are many other jobs to be done which were listed in the BB.

Barbecue free to those who help, although all welcome.


 

Uranium Series Dating Of St Cuthbert’s Swallet.

A.R. Farrant & P.L. Smart, University of Bristol.

Introduction

St Cuthbert’s is a major swallet cave developed at the contact between the Lower Limestone Shales and the Carboniferous Limestone.  The cave was the subject of a detailed study by Derek Ford (Ford, 1963). He proposed a sequence of development for the cave based on his observations which is summarised in Irwin (1991).  However, at the time of his survey, no reliable dating methods were known. Since then, modem techniques for dating flowstone and sediment have been developed.  This can be done in two ways.

1 Uranium Series dating.

This relies on the decay of uranium into thorium. In a nutshell, uranium which is soluble and present in dripwater, is incorporated into a stalagmite when it is formed.  Thorium however is insoluble and thus stalagmite, when formed contains uranium, but no thorium.  Over time the uranium changes at a constant rate by radioactive decay into Thorium (from 238U ® 234U ® 229Th). By measuring the ratio of 238U to 239Th, the age of the stalagmite can be calculated.  However, the sample needs to be free from detrital Th contamination from mud.  This contamination can be evaluated by measuring the 232Th content. Hence the need for clean samples. Furthermore, samples which have re-crystallised may lose some of their initial 238U and hence yield an anomalous ratio.  This method has a limit of about 350 ka (ka = thousand years).  For alpha-spectrometric dating, about 200g of sample is sufficient. If you have several million pounds to buy a mass-spectrometer, then less than 10 g can be dated with an accuracy of c. 1% up to 500 ka.

2. Palaeomagnetic dating.

A second method relies on the magnetic properties of fine grained sediment when clay particles settle out in ponded still water, the magnetic Fe-rich grains will align themselves in the direction of the prevailing magnetic field.  Every so often the Earth's magnetic field 'flips' from N-S to S-N.  This timing of these flips is well known from dating of magnetised lava flows elsewhere. The last time the magnetic field 'flipped' was 780 ka.  Thus if reversed polarity sediments occur, then they must have been deposited over 780,000 years ago.  Reversed sediment occurs in the upper parts of GB Cave (Double Passage) and in Shute Shelve Cavern, thus providing a minimum age for passage formation. This technique requires the collection of several sets of 6 sediment cores, 2 cm long and 2.5 cm in diameter from fine grained undisturbed mud deposits in the cave.

Why date St. Cuthbert’s Swallet?

As yet little dating work has been undertaken in the cave.  Derek Ford and Pete Smart attempted to date periods of gravel deposition in the cave from U-series dating of stalagmite (flowstone) deposited on and beneath individual gravel units in the Dining Chamber and Plantation Junction. The results are shown below.

 

These results show that most of the gravel deposits were emplaced during the last (Devensian) glaciation.  Compared to similar work done in G.B. Cave and elsewhere these dates are surprisingly young and must considerably post-date the actual formation of the cave. However, to actually date the time of cave formation is impossible.  Nevertheless, a good estimate can be obtained by dating the oldest stalagmite/sediment in the cave.  In most of St Cuthbert’s, much of the taped pristine stalagmite (e.g. Cascade, Curtain Chamber) is of recent (present interglacial) origin and hence useless for estimation the age of the cave.  Much of this stalagmite covers and hence post-dates the sediment infill and boulder collapse, and is the last 'event' to occur in the cave.  Hence, nearly all the white 'pretty' stal. in Cuthbert’s is too young to be of use.  Much older stalagmite occurs either buried by sediment (e.g. Rocky Boulder Series) or is inactive, broken or muddied - for example the thick stal. flow everyone climbs over between Pillar Chamber and Mud Hall.  This material is far better for estimating passage age.  Similar work has been carried out in Gough's Cave, Wookey Hole, G.B. Cave and Otter Hole (Farrant, 1995).  To understand why we would want to date the time of cave formation (other than wanting to know the age for its own sake), it is necessary to understand a little about the geology--aid geomorphology of the rest of the Mendips and the associated caves to set it in context.

The Mendips have been exhumed from under a cover of soft Mesozoic rocks (Triassic, Jurassic and younger).  At present, much of central and western Mendip has been completely stripped of the cover, but the eastern Mendips are still being exhumed.  This exhumation is mainly occurring though retreat of the Mesozoic scarp eastwards.  The scarp is currently located at Shepton Mallet.  Here the topography descends from a maximum of c. 200m at the crest of the Inferior Oolite scarp at Doulting to c. 150m where the Rhaetic and Uassic scarp occurs (Shepton Mallet) to less than 75m near Wells (on Triassic Mercia Mudstone) over a distance east to west of about 6km (Fig. 1).  Evidence from uranium series and palaeomagnetic dating of Mendip caves (Farrant. 1995) demonstrates that, at a given elevation, the caves in western Mendip are significantly older than those to the east Shute Shelve Cavern was drained to an elevation of approximately 45m O.D. by 780 ka. over 500 ka earlier than caves at a comparable elevation in the Cheddar area. By 780 ka. the water table at Cheddar was c.180m while at Westbury-sub-Mendip, it was probably above 245 m.  Thus there was considerable relief between Westbury-sub-Mendip and Shute Shelve Cavern at this time.  This is consistent with the model of progressive scarp retreat from the west (Fig. 2), rather than the gradual lowering following sea-level envisaged by Ford (1963).

Examination of the surface geomorphology supports this model.  It is clear that the western end of Mendip has suffered considerably more erosion than the eastern end, which has yet to fully emerge from its protective covering of Mesozoic rocks.  The retreat of the Rhaetic-Uassic and Inferior Oolite (Jurassic) scarps eastwards, along both the north and south flanks of Mendip, has progressively revealed the underlying limestone, beginning near the Bristol Channel coast and extending inland through time, thus the western end has been exposed longer and consequently suffered more prolonged erosion (and cave development). This has created a more fragmented karst landscape, exhuming the comparatively unmodified pre-Triassic landscape.  Further east on central Mendip, this process has yet to fully occur, only the Mesozoic rocks flanking the hills have been removed. Deep Triassic valleys, incised up to 100m into the limestone are still infilled with Triassic breccia and Jurassic Harptree Beds.  For example, Wigmore Swallet (ST 557526) penetrates over 100m of Mesozoic rocks infilling a deep Triassic valley, before meeting a major streamway, flowing along the Old Red Sandstone­Dolomitic Conglomerate unconformity.  Given time, removal of these Triassic rocks will produce a desiccated landscape similar to that seen in western Mendip today, and the eastern Mendips will emerge from their cover and develop into mature karst landscape.

To the east of the scarps, water-tables are generally high and the potential for significant cave development low.  The southern side of the Beacon Hill pericline is an example.  Here, the Mesozoic cover forms an impermeable dam to the south preventing significant groundwater circulation and cave development within the Carboniferous Limestone.  Some cave development has occurred in a few favourable locations such as the Saint Dunstan's Well area.  East of the scarps, surface and initial underground drainage is generally eastwards down dip towards the headwater of the proto-Thames (Stanton, 1977). As the scarps erode eastward, the surface and underground drainage patterns are reversed and begin to flow westwards towards the Bristol Channel. As the limestone is revealed, these immature phreatic cave systems progressively develop and mature as base-level falls. This sequence is admirably demonstrated in the Cheddar area.  The small high level phreatic tubes in GB Cave (Double Passage) and Charterhouse Cave, are the precursors for the development of a mature cave system graded to progressively lower base-levels.  Here, the initial (pre-scarp retreat) water-table was at 238 m G.D.  During scarp retreat, the water table fell 100m to 138m (Ladder Dig) as outlets at Cheddar became available.  Subsequent falls in the water-table were much smaller (18m from the Ladder Dig to the 120m level), and controlled by fluvial incision of the Gorge, following scarp retreat.

 

The lower elevation of the resurgences to the west at the foot of the scarps gave them a considerable hydraulic advantage over those to the east.  This may help to explain several anomalous dye traces, for instance the Tor Hole - Cheddar Risings trace (Fig. 1).  At Tor Hole, the resurgence would be expected to be located in the valley immediately down dip to the north­east at Chewton Mendip.  However, before scarp retreat and the dissection of the Mesozoic rocks, a thick impermeable cover at Chewton Mendip prevented the development of a simple down dip conduit linking the sink to a resurgence. At this time, the Cheddar Risings (west of the scarp) would have had a considerable base-level advantage, and the development of a link between the two was probably aided by the presence of a deep Dolomitic Conglomerate filled valley through the Old Red Sandstone pericline of North Hill through which water could drain west.  Water from the nearby Attborough and Wigmore Swallets drains to Cheddar via this route.

This also explains the dominant westward orientation of other swallet-resurgence connections in the Mendips (Fig. 5.1).  This is especially clear with the St Andrews Risings in Wells which derives nearly all its flow from sinks to the east.  Similarly, most of the major dry valley networks drain west.  The only exception to this general rule is Wookey Hole which derives part of its flow from sinks to the north-west such as Swildon's Hole . However, this anomaly may be explained if Wookey Hole has captured water from the Priddy area which initially flowed west to Cheddar as originally proposed by Ford, (1963).

 

Swildon's Hole to Cheddar?

As the scarps eroded east, revealing limestone at progressively lower levels, a new outlet at Wookey Hole would offer a considerably steeper hydraulic gradient and favour capture of sinks in the Priddy area such as Swildon's Hole (Fig. 2b). Additional support for this hypothesis comes from detailed examination of the geomorphology of the major swallet caves in the Priddy area (Ford, 1963). Here, the swallet caves (Swildon's Hole, St. Cuthbert's Swallet and Eastwater Swallet) do not appear to share common phreatic levels as the Charterhouse caves do. Indeed, St. Cuthbert's and the nearby Swildon's Hole show markedly contrasting morphologies.  Ford (1963) argued that the phreatic nature of St. Cuthbert's was due to elevated water-tables held up behind a dam of impermeable Millstone Grit, prior to breaching to form the Wookey Hole resurgence. However, this 'dam' was breached in Triassic times and the valley subsequently infilled by Dolomitic Conglomerate.  Thus the water has always been able to pass though the Millstone Grit 'barrier' via the Dolomitic Conglomerate infilled Triassic valley.

In contrast to St Cuthbert’s which exhibits only one former water-table at > 200m, Swildon's Hole exhibits several such phreatic rest levels.  Ford recognised four major former water-table levels in Swildon's Hole at 168-183, 140-146, 127 and at 109m respectively.  These four former levels compare with only one major level at Wookey Hole.  It is interesting to note that if an hydraulic gradient of 7.1 mkm-1 (the Longwood-Cheddar gradient) is applied to the hypothetical Swildon's Hole-Cheddar conduit, then the elevations predicted (Table 1) for the 105-110 and 75m levels match with the two higher levels observed in Swildon's Hole.  The lower level does not match up. However, if the modem hydraulic gradient (9.3 mkm-1) between Wookey Hole and Swildon's Hole is used to predict former water-table levels in Swildon's Hole from those observed at Wookey (at 79-88 m; Ford, 1963), then an elevation of 105-114 m is predicted.  This matches with the 109m level observed by Ford (1963).  This suggests that upper two levels in Swildon's Hole were graded to Cheddar, while the lower levels (including the active streamway) were graded to Wookey Hole following capture.  Clearly, this is hypothetical, but it may be tested by dating both the Wookey and Swildon's Hole systems or by discovering the old high level routes - after all, caves are where you find 'em!

Resurgence Caves

Swildon's Hole

 

Elevation (m. asI)

Elev. (predicted)

Elev. (observed)

 (Ladder Dig - GB)

125-127

1941

-

 Great Oones Hole level.

105-110

178-1821

168-183

 Mushroom Ch. level

75

143-148 1

140-146

 Gough's Showcave

45

1201

127

 Gough's active conduit

23

961

87

 Wookey Hole (high lev.)

79-88

105-114 ~

109

 Wookey Hole (active)

61

87*

87*

Table 1.  Comparison of water-table levels in the Charterhouse - Cheddar Caves with those seen in Swildon's Hole.  Both observed and predicted elevations are given for Swildon's Hole.

1Elevations predicted from Cheddar using a hydraulic gradient of 7.1 mkm-1;

2Elevation predicted from Wookey Hole resurgence, 61m O.D. and a hydraulic gradient of 9.3 mkm-1.  (*Swildons-Wookey gradient)

Thus, instead of Ford's impermeable dam of Millstone Grit (Ford, 1964), it is suggested that the Mesozoic rocks formed the impermeable barrier, keeping water-tables in the Priddy area elevated.  The most westerly of the sinks, Swildon's Hole was able to drain to Cheddar in much the same way as Thrope Lane, in an analogous situation today, drains to St Andrews Risings.  When scarp retreat allowed the Wookey resurgence to develop, it subsequently captured water which originally drained to Cheddar.  Remnants of this early drainage system may be preserved as abandoned high level phreatic tubes in Swildon's such as the S.E. Inlets and other caves such as White Pit, south of Priddy.  If St Cuthbert's Swallet (Ford. 1963,•Irwin, 1991) originally drained south or east instead of to Cheddar, the scarp retreat model would explain the prolonged phreatic development and subsequent rapid fall in water-table observed following scarp retreat to the east.

Thus by dating the Wookey Hole catchment caves is should be possible to tell if the upper parts of Swildons pre-dates Wookey and thus drained to Cheddar and has subsequently been captured to Wookey. Furthermore, it should tell us if St. Cuthbert’s is significantly younger than Swildon's and the same age as Wookey as the model predicts. Preliminary results suggest that Swildons is indeed older than Wookey, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Rates of Scarp Retreat

The surface geomorphology and deposits cannot provide any indication of the rate of scarp retreat, whereas this is possible with dating evidence from the caves along the southern flank of Mendip.  The dating of Loxton Cave, Shute Shelve Cavern, the Cheddar Caves and Westbury Quarry Fissure enables the rate of scarp retreat to be quantified (Farrant, 1995). The modern Mesozoic scarps are presently located to the west of Shepton Mallet (Fig. 1), and remnants and outliers of these rocks occur along the southern flank of the Mendips as far west as Wookey Hole.  The Inferior Oolite scarp impinges onto the Carboniferous Limestone at Doulting, 2km east of Shepton Mallet.  Here, although the limestone has been exposed, no significant caves are known to exist.  Any caves that are known such as the Waterlip Quarry caves (ST 660445; Barrington and Stanton, 1977) are small and immature.  Former scarp positions can be identified by identifying the elevation and age of former water-table levels from caves.  At Westbury-sub-Mendip, 15km west of the scarp, water-tables were still above 250m until after 780 ka. In the Cheddar area, 20km west, the water table was at c. 180m at 780 ka (calculated from a base-level lowering rate of 0.20 mka-1).  Further west at Shute Shelve (23 km west), scarp retreat had lowered regional base-level to below c. 45 m by this time. Thus, at about 780 ka, the Rhaetic-Liassic and probably the Inferior Oolite scarps were located in the Cheddar area (similar to the situation at Shepton Mallet today).  Thus, the rate of scarp retreat is estimated to be approximately 20 (max. 30) mka-1.  Clearly, this is a gross estimate and does not account for shorter term variations due to climatic fluctuations.

However, this estimate is significantly higher than other rates recorded in the literature.  Rates of between 6.7 and 0.5 mka-1 are recorded from the Colorado Plateau in the USA, while rates of 6 mka-1 have been obtained from the Red Sea coast in Egypt.  Considerable further work is still needed to refine the estimate of scarp retreat rates, and to understand why the rates in this area are so high, if that is the case. The extreme susceptibility of the Lias clays to periglacial weathering and erosion (Stanton, 1977) may be a key factor.  This may account for the high rates of scarp retreat.  Dating work at Wookey Hole should confirm that the system is significantly younger than the Cheddar system and establish whether Swildon's Hole originally drained to Cheddar or Wookey Hole.  The absence of a series of former high-level resurgences here suggests that the Wookey system may be relatively immature compared to Cheddar. Preliminary examination of Thrupe Lane Swallet, between Wells and Shepton Mallet, which feeds St Andrew's Springs in Wells even further east (and therefore younger still?) suggests it too is immature.  Other swallet caves feeding St Andrews Risings should also be immature, e.g. Crapnell Swallet.

Thus dating of the Wookey Hole - St Cuthbert’s - Swildons system may potentially answer many question on the evolution, not only of the caves themselves, but of the whole Mendip landscape.  This information can only help to strengthen the case for conserving the Mendips landscape. More information can be obtained from my thesis (Farrant, 1995) which can be obtained from either the UBSS Library (contact Dr. A. Boycott) or the ACG library (contact Chris Castle). Other copies are available from myself, the Mendip Society (c/o Hon Sec, Mrs P. Farrant, Millcourt, St Andrews Rd, Cheddar) or the University of Bristol Library.  In addition, the Mendip Society in conjunction with the Bristol Naturalists Society, is publishing a book on the Mendips, including a section on the evolution of the landscape which should be out later this year or early 1997. Furthermore, the 'Geological Conservation Review of Caves and Karst' (ed. A.C. Waltham), to be published this autumn also has several sections devoted to Mendip Caves.  It is available at a pre-publication price of £45, otherwise it will cost over £100 - keep your eyes open!

References

Ford, D.C., 1963. Aspects of the geomorphology of the Mendip Hills. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Oxford.

Farrant, A.R. 1995. Long-term Quaternary chronologies from cave deposits. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bristol. 275 pp.

Irwin; OJ., 1991. St Cuthbert's Swallet. Bristol Exploration Club. Wells, Somerset, 82 pp.

Stanton, W.L, 1977. A view of the hills. in Mendip.  The complete caves and a view of the hills. Eds. N. Barrington and W.L Stanton, Cheddar Valley Press, Cheddar, p. 193-235.


 

Assynt Descents

Who is the 'Rubber Man'? What was the mysterious substance in the blue bottle that rendered Estelle comatose?  What is a Goonlet?  How to eat curry and prepare a charge simultaneously.  Who vivisected his PowerMac on the kitchen table (easy)? What about Tav's secret life as a rock star?  Who likes crunchy hear bones?  What would Mulder and Scully make of the horrors in Claonite 7?  What was Jake's nocturnal surprise?  Why did the fisherman freak out at Waterfall Rising? Don't care?  Don't read!

Some kind of attempt at co-ordination meant most of the Southern invasion was contemporaneous (buy a dictionary).  Peter Glanvill and Estelle had an uneventful drive up in record time in daylight while Tave Jake and Richard found themselves held up by a crash near Manchester in the wee small hours.  J-rat and Julian Walford came up with Tony Boycott and Gadget (Nick Williams) chose to be an independent traveller.

Day one ended (like most) in the Alt the GSG's current watering hole.  Eric the new landlord is extremely sociable and his partner cooks a mean Rogan Josh (Chicken Konna etc ....... ).  Richard proceeded to get as near legless as is possible before attempting to dance to music provided by Dangerous Dave a passing accordionist reminiscent of Morcambe and Wise's 'not now Arthur'.  He'd (Richard not DD) lost vertical hold and colour vision by the time we left when he tried climbing into my silver Volvo in mistake for Jake's red van. A somewhat anxious and smelly drive back that with four up in the back seat.

The next day dawned dry but cloudy.  Digging in the Allt naIn UaInh valley was the plan.  Virtually everybody except Ivan and Pete who were recovering from activities in Claonite set off up the valley.  Water levels were falling and continued to do so all week.  Jake's team attacked the impressive DaInocleaIl dig while the rest of us visited Rana Hole now re­named The Poo Mine.  An hour or two hauling gritty peat saw the team into a horizontal draughting rift.  RaIla lived up to its name when Tony rescued a small frog which was photographed to prove it by Pete.

Pete then persuaded Julian and Estelle to enter Claonite as far as Sump 1 for photography.  A dampish trip followed with some variable photo results. A strange whining noise at one point proved not to be a flash gun recharging but Estelle complaining about having to stand waist deep in water holding a slave flash.  Still the end results were worth it I hope.

Pete changing at the trout farm put his watch on the bonnet while we slurped some welcome soup (3 packets of cup a soup to a litre of hot water is the magic quantity).  That's why Estelle saw something fly into the heather as we rounded the first bend on the way back to the hut.  Even a police style finger search failed to locate it so bye bye watch.  Another familiar evening in the Alt eating BSE burger and drinking 80/- was enlivened by Tav telling us about his one man attempt to get a re-write of Mendip Underground done in record time by discovering as many caves as he can on East Mendip.

Using an alarm clock (shock horror) I woke early for a day's diving out of Achiltibuie.  A bit of cut and paste from another article follows. The diving day began at 9.30 when we met at Badentart Pier accessible at all states of the tide (and worth a shore dive in itself).  We dived from the MV Heron run by Andy Holbrow of Atlantic Diving Services.  My companions were a bunch of divers from Bury (Lancashire) which turned out to be Dave Savage's old club.  My first dive was on the mature wreck of the lnish Duror a timber carrier sunk in about 30 metres.  Visibility was relatively poor, the culprit being 'May water' plankton, but still good compared to the conditions I often encounter down south. The wreck lies flat on the sea bottom with its timber cargo still visible.  One can peer inside the engine room and examine the wheel house but I must confess to a patrol around the hull's perimeter snapping the marine growths before a leisurely retool to the surface.

Welcome cups of coffee were served by Andy as we emerged from the depths and, as we chugged away to our next site, he efficiently recharged our tanks from the bottle baI1k in the hold.  The bank is neatly in its turn kept topped up from a compressor run off the Heron's engine. This arrangement certainly cuts down those bottle stacks you usually get cluttering up dive boats.

Between dives we had a chance to eat snack lunches and admire the superb scenery.  Mountains loom over the coastal villages, some inland being snow capped in the cold conditions we had this year.  I was happy to stay in my drysuit and shelter occasionally in the spacious wheelhouse watching the echo sounder.  At times depths between the islands reach eye popping figures (over 100 metres at one point) rarely attained even by technical divers.

The second dive of the day seemed right up my street - a cave dive on Tanera Beg.  Much wittering from the rest of the dive party but this was an open water diver's cave - big enough to take a boat in and with airspace above.  In the swell surging back and forth our visit was fairly brief but sufficient to take in tile vari-coloured carpets of dahlia anemones trembling in tile current.  The kelp smothered gulleys descending from the cave were festooned with maroon feather stars, sun stars and big edible urchins.

Ambling into the rocky bottom at about 20 metres we could see thousands of brittle stars while on the bigger slabs were meadows of oaten pipe hydroids (Tubularia) covered in spawning nudibranchs.  Following tile skippers instructions and with no current to speak of we were able to dive without the encumbrance of SMB's and still be picked up rapidly after surfacing.

At day's end I darted down to Ullapool to do a shop discovering later I had bought identical supplies to the two Tony's.  Back at the hut I launched into a major culinary assault on TVP and vegetables which ended up as a not half bad spaghetti bolognaise - the remains were recycled through the rest of the week.  A combination of cider beer and whisky that evening gave me something of a hangover.  Meanwhile the work at The Poo Mine and Damoclean continued after an epic session transporting by wheelbarrow a gas powered generator drill etc. to the aforesaid Poo Mine.  Damoclean was going slowly apparently~ the lads seemed to be building a chamber and chasing an elusive draught.

Hangover or not I went diving again tile next morning.  Andy had planned a wall dive.  Described in Gordon Ridley's guide to diving in North West Scotland as 'not being a dive for the faint-hearted,' it lies on the shaded north side of Isle Martin at the entrance to Ardmair Bay.  We idled up the channel between mainland and the sheer lichen encrusted cliff’s which plummet straight to the water.  Buddies nervously discussed depths they were prepared to go to, tables and computers were earnestly discussed and torches checked.  We were dropped in at the cliff base where it was possible to perch on some convenient boulders before submerging.  Once we were in a short swim led us over slabs to the drop off.  Below us, instead of the normal darkly fading green was a daunting inky black 'stargate' void.  The shallower sections of the wall are studded with cup corals and the gleaming eyes of long armed squat lobsters twinkled in crevices.  In a slow motion free-fall we drifted down squirting air into our suits and buoyancy aids.  At 38 metres I could only determine my depth with my torch - we were in utter darkness.  Landing on a silt bank 1 decided to slowly retool although others passed the bank to more wall before turning back at 53 metres.  The water near the surface felt a delightfully warm 6 degrees on my return!

When I checked the site description at a later date I found the wall in fact drops to 143 metres which goes a long way to explain the sensations one gets from going 'over the edge'!

After some coffee and lunch to recover our shattered nerves we headed for the Fairweather, a relatively recently sunk trawler lying in about 20 metres.  The wreck is well preserved with all the superstructure present and cabins safely accessible to those confident about fuming in confined spaces.  Descending the shot one sees a ghostly white shape looming out of the emerald haze for the entire wreck is smothered in a fluffy shroud of plumose anemones, including the mast.  This was one of the most enjoyable wreck dives I have ever had and was only marred by the less than perfect visibility - those wretched plankton again.  After a leisurely fin around the deck I poked my nose inside the bridge to examine the navigation gear.  On deck the hoses still lie coiled in reels and most of the hatches are open and the hold accessible.

My final dive of the day was a working dive.  We had been asked to check the local salmon farm nets for holes.  Having been under a farm I was curious to see one at close quarters and plunged into the chilly waters for the third time armed with strands of string for any gaps we found.  It was quite odd watching huge shoals of salmon circling only inches away from.  It was also quite oppressive swimming up the narrow 'canyons' between the nets but made interesting by my noticing that the Tubularia encrusting the nets was providing a feeding ground for hundreds of tiny red gilled nudibranchs.

All in all it was an excellent couple of day's diving and has wetted my appetite for a further visit next year.  Incidentally the minimum number needed for ADS to do a dive trip is four.  As a single diver I was taking advantage of a space on a pre booked boat.

Arriving back at the hut that evening I found Gadget staring at the vivisected parts of his laptop which were strewn across the kitchen table.  Apparently he had tried to deliver some E-mail via the phone box across the road but found interference on his acoustic coupler.  He was now busily trouble shooting.  Muttering to himself he decamped to a bunk room with a pile of exotic electrical gear.  I started converting the spag. bog. into a curry with assistance from Jake and other members of the team as they drifted in from digging.  I'd brought up a bottle of sherry (Bristol Cream) which partly went into the curry.  Estelle decided to sample it after returning from the Alt.  ''It's not bad" she remarked after the third tumbler.  I warned her nobody drinks Bristol Cream and thinks it's OK.  We scoffed supper while Julian stuffed an almond smelling substance into copper tubes wearing a yellow rubber Marigold on one hand.  It wasn't dessert unless it was a variation of Bombe Surprise with Cordtex jammed in it.  Incidentally I discovered the next morning that writing the log can give you a headache if you use the wrong pen.  Estelle disappeared later and after some strange noises in a wash basin was seen to be lying in the recovery position in state of unconsciousness from which she didn't wake until the next day.  Moral: don't drink beer with Bristol Cream chasers.

During the previous day two Geordie roofers from Durness appeared.  They were working on a house in Elphin.  Their cooking style revolved round the frying pan which resulted in visibility being reduced to 2 metres by a dense fat haze and (on this evening) regular bleeps from the smoke alarm.  To add to the fun Mr and Mrs Trevor Knief appeared so things were getting cosy.  Down at the Alt Mrs. Trevor spent 30 minutes politely nodding to a totally incomprehensible local.

Mayday dawned.  Several of us headed to Lochinver for shops and a timber haul - why can you only find left-handed gloves?  Northern Lights was shut so bang went my sales pitch for Dr. Nod's Toxic Feet and their new album Death Defying Feet (want to hear it ask J-rat). Some yummy pies were purchased before Tony Julian and myself headed for RaIla which now looked like a BT manhole from which a giant black slug frequently emerged.  Much bucket hauling was achieved before Gadget could start drilling again.  Tony Julian and yours truly then headed for Claonite.  Pete noticed little bits of rock dropping through the entrance which was a prelude to a large boulder attempting to entomb Tony.  Some nifty work with some old props saved the day but it's all object lesson in how quickly something looking stable can turn into a death trap.  The three aspirants for Claonite 7 then zipped down to Sump Three Carrying bottles in dry grots - a chilly experience hence 45 minutes to the sump and 25 minutes out.  Back to Gadget and a satisfying boom before heading to the Inch and the rest of tile Damoclean diggers.

Estelle had planned a sea dive at Kylesku but drinks and diving don't mix so that was postponed. We drove back to the hut on a golden evening the roadside dotted with herds of deer.  While the spag. bog./curry was converted to chilli com carne Gadget put on his leather mask and massacred some manky logs with his chainsaw (his van's like a tekkie horn of plenty).  The rest of the evening seems to have passed in a pleasant haze.

Julian decided on a day of 'rest' i.e. not doing Claonite 7 so as the next day seemed nice to start with we nipped off to Lochinver for some money and pies before a walk up Ben More Assynt.  The Damoclean diggers went to Damoclean while the Tony's and Estelle relaunched the attack on the perched sump at the bottom of the Waterslide.

A steep trudge from Glenbain cottage straight onto the plateau was followed by a fruitless search for the remains of a plane which crash landed here over 50 years ago.  The occupants survived the landing only to die in the inhospitable terrain.  There is a memorial cairn which we also failed to find.  The weather started to deteriorate as we headed for Conival via a superfluous cairn which Julian proceeded to vengefully demolish.  At the summit of Conival sunlight breaking through the clouds produced dramatic views but the approaching clag from the north looked ominous.  We scrambled along the ridge to Ben More Assynt over some interesting snow. During lunch on the summit it began to snow in earnest and the climb off was made in 20 yard visibility while being blasted by frozen rain carried on a force 6 wind.

Down the bealach from Conival things started to clear so we made a detour round Cuil Dubh which I confess to never having visited before.  The flood overflow channel was impressive and the Cave of the Deep Depression was possibly open Julian thought.  We gradually wended our way back to the Inch where Estelle was saving herself for me with orange juice.  An evening dive seemed to be on the agenda.

The golden evening light was magnificent as we dropped down to Kylesku.  The tide was in water was slack and the sun was out. Excellent for diving but unfortunately after two attempts Estelle gave up trying to clear one obstinate ear.  I cruised down to 35 metres past some car wrecks and hand basins (dug the Salvador Dali taps which had feather stars growing off them) got mildly and transiently narked then returned for a welcome pint ferried out from the bar by Tony Boycott.

Having changed Tony and I were asked to perform impromptu surgery on a man in the bar who had rammed a large splinter into his finger (we blame J-rat for informing all and sundry that we were doctors).  We pleaded lack of equipment so the reluctant patient was dragged into the kitchen by the chef (hope he wasn't the one from the Muppet show).  Some grilled langoustines appeared later - no connection.

The next morning Julian had run out of excuses so the 3 amigos headed for Claonite.  Rapid progress in low water was made to the Sump where two things happened.  My HP hose was noticed to be leaking and Tony couldn't clear his ears.  Yes, you've guessed, I got Tony's valve and Tony took an early shower.  Many thanks Tony for use of the valve.

The other side of Sump 3 the desperate duo dragged bottles and weights camera, smoke bomb and first aid kit to Sump 5 which turned out to be a free dive.  There was a substantial inlet stream flowing into the sump from the far side.  As neither of us had ever been in the Treen Scene 5 minutes search for it ensued following by solid cursing at its point of entry.  To cut a long story short we were eventually assembled at the true Sump 6. This turned out to be an easy dive in a trench made difficult only by Simon Brooks' snoopied boulder at the far end. The chamber at the far end is gobsmacking after the narrow confines of Claonites 4 to 6.  After a brisk dekit and a couple of oatcakes we set off downstream.

Rounding some boulders I realised I was at the base of Belh Aven and, simultaneously that something sinister was coating the floor and walls next to a section of smashed drain pipe. Real X-files stuff this or if you're older, Quartermass meets Goon.  What has happened is that the blood Goon's spilled has given life to a filamentous mould which is just wailing for him to reappear.  The speed at which its developed leads me to warn him that it may have teeth when he gets there.  Of course a sample of this would be of interest.  After penicillin what next - an antibiotic extracted from a mould growing on the blood of a Scottish cave diver in a remote Sutherland system? Reminds of that number - Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict (Ummagumma - Pink Floyd 1969).

After a bouldery trip into Belh Aven to take photos we ambled downstream following the wide sloping bedding passage to a point where a large funnel shaped void was entered. The silt slope was circled to a scramble through large suspended boulders onto a ramp and superb waterfall which rivals those at the bottom of the Waterslide in height and width.  The stream sinks in the floor and a low tube leads down a 4 metre pitch into continuing streamway and Sump 7.  After some abortive attempts to get one of the slave guns working we made our way up to the aforementioned void.  Climbing up the side opposite the stream past boulders covered in fragments of old vegetation we entered passage reminiscent of East Bloc - the start of the Great Northern Time Machine.  This really was impressive with massive silt banks and some very nice splash and stal. deposits.  Either taping or a path needs to be put in because although as has been stated footprints do leave a trail it is not always as obvious going one way as another.  Several photos and a tour of the vicinity later saw us heading upstream along the low wide fossil passages.  We found Legless Highway and scuttled along it noticing a small stream inlet entering on the right from a boulder choked tube.

Back on the main drag I had just remarked to Julian that we didn't know where the bones were when he spotted one and then delivered the immortal words, 'And you are standing on one!' Five minutes were spent building a great wall around the remains and in the process Julian found the skull, noteworthy for the huge ridges around the eyes.  Unfortunately much of the jaw had gone so somebody will need to hunt out the teeth next tune.  Photographs were taken and came out fairly well.

Checking the time we realised it was time for fireworks so a rapid return was made to the sump pool where after a ceremonial eating of Angie's apple cake and some more photographs Julian rapidly hurled himself into the sump leaving me to light an enormous smoke bomb.  Fully kitted I read the instructions and tentatively rubbed the sandpaper across the black blob on the top.  There was a splutter and 'whoosh' followed by a Vesuvian plume of smoke which shot alarmingly from the vent tube.  I waited no longer but followed Julian's example and dived.  In fact I was in such a hurry I realised, surfacing at the far side, that I hadn't seen the line for the whole sump!

The trip out was the expected plod but we managed to get all the kit out in one go.  Sadly we were 20 minutes out with the smoke bomb and everybody had cleared off the hill although an imminent conection seems unlikely as Julian poked his head in Rana on the way home without seeing anything.  We changed in daylight but the weather did the usual dirty by swapping blue skies for snow on the way home.

We opted for curry at the Alt that night in view of an anticipated invasion by Glaswegian climbers and Aberdonian cavers.  Arriving back at the hut I shovelled in antacids and a sleeping pill and bunked down. Even Richard Blake jumping on me from the top bunk that night failed to faze me.  Jake got a shock when he pitched into his usual pit - on top of 2 Aberdonians who were probably only marginally less confused than he was.

The next day looked nice. A walk seemed on the agenda and I suggested Sandwood Bay reputed to be one of the best beaches in Britain.  Tav Julian and Estelle thought this sounded a sound move so off we went.  To get there drive north then take the Kinlochbervie turning and keep going until you see the signpost and car park.  A 4 1/2 mile plod across a rather featureless landscape led to the bay. Said to have a haunted bothy, Sandwood Bay has a superb setting.  A small loch feeds past a dune system onto a broad 2 mile long beach of white sand backed by 60 metre cliffs.  To the north, Cape Wrath lighthouse can be seen peeking from behind a low hill while an interesting sea stack guards the southern end.  Behind the bay looming white capped in the distance was Foinaven. Hardly a soul could be seen as we sat munching pies on a convenient rock.

Lunch completed we headed for the southern cliffs passing the tracks of a lone seal which had obviously basked for a while before chasing the falling tide.  Under a cloudless sky we tramped along this wonderful coastline stopping to study the sea stack which proved to be covered by the inevitable climbing tapes before making our way slowly inland and back to the car pausing to admire immaculate views of Foinaven, Ben Arkle and Ben Stack. ‘Funny how they named all those mountains after racehorses' remarked Tav as we sauntered into the evening sun.

Another curry at the Alt brought us back to an even more crowded hut and the appearance of Goonlet who would like it to be known that she is called Susan Jeffreys and has a shirt with her name on it to prove it!  She seemed to be a shaving from the same plank as Goon so we warned her about the thing in Claonite 7 (especially as Goon does not like 'things').

My log began to fade about Saturday - about when Simon Brooks and Mike O'Driscoll appeared - no connection I am sure.  Mike and Simon decided on a trip into Claonite on the Sunday and we laid ambitious plans to do Northern Lights on the Monday after I'd 'sorted' the line out in the Waterslide Sump.  The diggers went digging and Tony Boycott and I headed for the Waterslide with bottles, a dry suit, drills and stuff in cylindrical packets.

Delicately I inched my way to the sump wearing my nice clean dry suit and while Tony drilled I kitted up with some difficulty. Once into the sump apart from buoyancy problems the dry suit gave me a definite psychological edge.  Simon's reel was tied on and reeled out to a belay point where two more lines were visible.  One orange one led to a cut end and was the washed in end from the main belay at base while Pete Mulholland's original line led onwards securely belayed from the break point.  I followed the sump to a gravel slope and then over a slab to the left.  Keeping Pete's line at arms length I manoeuvred to the left and in deteriorating visibility suddenly popped into a hole in the floor feet fist.

'Great, '1 thought: I've passed the constriction but how do I get out.' as I clung to another frayed and cut end of line.  The line in, clearly stoutly belayed, was, however, running through a letter box like slit.  To add to the fun one of my fins came off and disappeared.  The dry suit helped.  I sat patiently for a minute and as the current washed the silt away saw the way out to my right and a few seconds later was back in spacious sump passage. Picking up the line reel and broken orange line I returned to base retied the belay and decided to check out the route once more - as much as I could do with my now low air reserves. The next day we tried making the base belay even more flood proof but we'll only know how that's worked after some really wet weather.

On the way out Tony banged the dig - nice reverberating boom.  Having finished early Tony and I drove over to Lochinver for air and then on to Achmelvich Bay where the limpid waters had persuaded one brave young lady to take a dip.  I congratulated her on her bravery.  Morticia the bar maid in the Inch was missing when we called in and sensing an imminent punch up between the barman and a stroppy customer some of us left.  A TVP casserole with sautéed spuds by Julian rounded the day off.  Estelle was heard muttering about wanting 'real meat' as she headed for the Alt.

Simon and Mike reappeared in the dead of night having brought out some vertebral fragments from Claonite 7.  Simon passed Sump 7 finding 20 metres of canal in Claonite 8 ending in a deep dark sump with no belays.  He returned to find an almost hypothermic abraded Mike who definitely needs a new wetsuit!

The Damoclean diggers were feeling chuffed.  They had abandoned their main dig and located the way on - unfortunately through some hanging death.  It's only a matter of tune before a breakthrough here is made.

On my last day we revisited the Waterslide with Eric and friend from the Alt.  More banging was carried out with Eric pressing the button and then I made the mistake of following the two Tony's into Tree Hole. Never will I moan about my Devon dig. 30 metres of flat out crawling and squeezing in old peat ended in a short bit of hands and knees stuff a glimpse of streamway and a choke.  A bit of Sutherland I am happy to pass on in future.  Still I did get the piccies.

The caving day ended with a good drenching at Waterfall Rising to clean off kit.  Earlier in the day an unsuspecting trout fisherman minding his own business in the same pool had turned to find a fully kitted Simon Brooks ask if he could dive in a corner of same pool.  He was heard later in the pub telling an incredulous audience how the diver had ‘just disappeared'.

An early night to pack the car was followed by a start south the next day in the frozen dawn.  The drive back was as smooth as the drive up enlivened during the later half by Estelle's newly purchased classic rock selection.

Over to you Tav!  I haven't mentioned possessed cheese, Brevilles or your secret life.

Peter Glanvill May 1996

 


 

Song - Bottom That Hole

This song was 'performed' by 'The Belfry Boys' at the CDG 50th celebrations, to the sound of impending lawsuits.  We figured if we're gonna get busted for it, we might as well make it worthwhile and publish it too.  Why settle for slander when you can have libel as well??

'Bottom that Hole'

Tune: Fathom the Bowl (Trad.)

Come all you bold heroes lend an ear to my song,
We'll sing of cave divers - it should not take long,
There's many brave divers have been down below,
And at some of you we will now have a go,
We'll now have a go, We'll now have a go,
We think you might recognize some people you know.

We'll start off with Balcombe, a very nice bloke,
But not the one sung of from down Rodney Stoke,
He started cave diving down in Swildon's sump,
He breathed all his air from a bicycle pump. (not),
A bicycle pump, A bicycle pump, .
Him getting the credit gave Jack Sheppard the hump.

So what then of Sheppard when he had a look,
We've read all about it in Martyn's big book,
He got disconnected and lost his hosepipe,
Despite all the bubbles his language was ripe.
His language was ripe, his language was ripe,
He cursed the equipment - a load of old Cripe. (Sic).

So then some years later came Buxton and Wells,
All dressed up in rubber to cover the smells,
They dived at the Mineries and frightened the coots,
Buxton wore flippers * and Wells he wore Boots.
And Wells he wore Boots, and Wells he wore Boots,
The smells we referred to - Old Farts in wetsuits.

(* Yes we know they're called fins and that flipper was a Dolphin - but it didn't Scan.)

Now Grass he do disturb me as I lay supine,
He says 'Morning Men' - in his nasal whine,
A diving examiner - put beer in his glass,
When you take your test you're assured of a pass.
Assured of a pass, assured of a pass,
But we all think privately he's a pain in the ............. !

Now talking of Martyns there's another one here,
And some say its not just his methods are queer,
Dived in 'Damn near killed I' and out through Elm Hole,
In Wales's green valleys he's digging Farr Coal. *
He's digging Farr Coal*, he's digging Farr Coal, *
We think he's been drinking that beer Felinfoel.
(* Try it... we dare you!)

Now Charles George and Brian found Oxygen Pot,
A fait accomplis despite water not hot,
Van der Graaf generated power we know,
Was this how he lit up his hand held A.F.L.O.
His hand held AF.L.O.his hand held A.F.L.O.
Without which he'd never find his way out of O. (F. D.)

Well Savage and Wooding and Drew (Now old men),
Were certainly quite independent back then,
They studied at Bristol and learned how to spell,
The words that they used to describe O.C.L.
Describe O. C. L., describe O. C. L.
But this was long after they had found Swildon's Twel (ve).

We'll now sing of Crossley - a Yorkshire'" man he,
Filmed rescue in Dido's for thee Bee Bee See ...
He answered the three nines emergency call,
No mug shots - just three words, Huh - it's not much at all,
It's not much at all, It's not much at all,
No fame for a lad thought so handsome, but small.

('" Again 'Lancashireman' didn't scan. As I explained to 'Mr C ' - Scanning is something 'Northern scum' doesn't do!)

Now Carter and Cordingley dive in Malham Cove,
Their taste is impeccable in Wetsuits of Mauve,
Their finds down in Malham are from Heaven sent,
But John up in Derbyshire was MAGNIFICENT.!
Was MAGNIFICENT, was MAGNIFICENT.!,
He goes down so well- we suspect that he's bent. "'.!!

('" Read what you will into that. We of course refer to decompression sickness.  At least that's what our solicitor has advised us to say.)

Now your chairman Fish - he don't dive any more,
Just talks about bikes and God what a large Bore!!
He rides his Ducati to France for the Bol,
Not bad for an old fart who lives on the dole.
He lives on the dole, he lives on the dole,
Lifelong unemployment is his personal goal.

(No fear of lawsuits on that verse .... its all true!)

Disclaimer:

Any similarity to persons either living or dead is entirely intentional.  Any offence caused through these Iyrics ...... is a bonus.

The Belfry Boys Apologize Unreservedly to anyone they've left out. ... we'll get you later.  If you want revenge ...... it was all Fred's Idea ... !!

Copywrong.  Belfry Boys ™1996.

A 'Jingling - Dick' production for 2XS enterprises.

Return of the son of the film of the book of 'Spike'.

Yo' dudes it's Spike time again.  Seems The Belfry Boys have been vying with me for who can get the most lawsuits filed against them this month.  They gave a fairly good account of themselves at the Wookey Hole Divers Shenanigans the other week and now have various people toting lumps of wood and crowbars etc. enquiring as to their whereabouts.  Well if you don't upset a few people you aint doing it right eh??

One of the sights on the night was Estelle 'Poured into' a leather miniskirt - or was it sprayed on ??? I think it raised the pulse rate and temperatures of a few of the 'wrinklies' present.!!

A little birdie tells me that on his birthday dive at Wookey Hole, Mr Buxton experienced a few problems with his Wings' Buoyancy Compensator and had to be 'rescued' by Jingles before he became stuck to the roof near the 'lip' at Ch 11.  Various comments involving divers and water wings spring to mind at this point!!!

The club dinner this year will be organised by Jingles, Jeff and Babs .... watch this space for details of booking forms, venue etc.

Ross White is off on his travels .... America then possibly New Zealand.  There is a 'climbing weekend' in Cornwall to 'see him off. Any decent gossip about this will be dutifully reported I'm sure.

Rumour has it that Andy & Ange Cave have returned from Mexico along with vast amounts of 'Ethnic Stuff' ... work that out yourselves.  Doubtless they will have many tales to tell, some of which are bound to end up in print in this journal.

We've finally managed to get rid of Peter Bolt!!!  As I understand it he's off to Kurdistan, or some such godforsaken place, mining for humbugs or something.  He is unlikely to reappear for two months or so .... 1 suggest you make the most of this rare opportunity.!!!

Lastly ... Priddy Folk Fayre is upon us once again. 14/15/16 June.  An event usually well attended by BEC members.  Weekend tickets or day tickets are available from Jingles or Brian Prewer.  The Friday night lineup includes Cantoris (Belfry Boys + 2), Fastest to Canada and the Yetties.  Rob Gray will MC the Saturday Concert and there is also a Barn Dance with 'the Backroom Band' (Jingles/Alfie and the Miller/Carter contingent.)

If you’re around that weekend its well worth pooping up to the village hall.  The beer tent will be Manned by Alan Butcher and probably populated by the likes of Trevor Hughes. (Somehow that comes as no Surprise.)

That's it for now. See you soon ..... 'Spike'.


 

Priddy Green Sink Connects!

Stop Press!

After 38 years of climbing, digging, and blasting the connection was finally made on 5th June 1996. An exchange trip was made by Rich Blake, Mike Willet, Adrian Hole and Brian Woodward (SMCC) who went from the Sink to Swildon’s Hole and Ivan Sandford and Tony Jarrat who did it the opposite way.  Both parties took under 3 hours and then spent about the same time celebrating!

It is a trip for the connoisseur.

A full report with surveys and history will follow as soon as possible

Tony Jarratt