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

1996 - 1997 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
Librarian                  Alex Gee
Floating                   Hilary Wilson



Well it’s been some time since the last edition of the bulletin.  This is largely due to the fact that once again I have been short of articles.  I can see little point in publishing a very small edition or inventing stuff myself to pad it out.  At the AGM I indicated that I would aim to produce at least four copies during the year, a target I am well on course for and will probably exceed.  So my message to those of you out there complaining that you don't receive enough BBs is ... Write something. Simple eh?  As I have said many times before the BB is only as good as the articles that are supplied to the editor, whoever that may be.   There are those that feel a change of editor would solve this problem, personally I am not convinced but there you go. Anyway thanks to those of you that have contributed.

For anyone who hasn't been there recently the Belfry has had a facelift this year and now boasts an alpine style bunkroom in place of the two separate bunkrooms of yore.  The work was done largely by local club members and is of a high standard.  The kitchen has also received quite a bit of attention and now has a pretty solid floor covering complete with 'Bertie' logo ..... a nice touch.

Sadly we have had three recent deaths in the club: Dan and Stella Hassell (see separate article) and Brian Murliss (see Belfry Table).  I'm sure we would all pass on our condolences to the respective families.

On a different note I have stood down as director for the Charterhouse Caving Company.  This was due partially to my feeling somewhat overcommitted but also the fact that other committee members felt I had a conflict of interest.  This has not been explained to me so I am still rather confused about it.  Suffice to say that Becca Campbell represented the club at the AGM of CCC after my resignation.  The BEC no longer has a director on the board of CCC as John Bell of SBSS was voted in, in place of me.  I may choose to air my views on this at a later date but do not wish to say anything until I am aware of all the facts.

'Tusker' of the Weegies informs me that there is to be a midsummer caver's bash at Crapnell Farm in June ... further details will be available from myself or him .... only a telephone call away folks.  Also Jeff East of the Shepton tells me that there will indeed be a Wessex Challenge type event in the autumn probably called 'The Mendip Challenge', this is to be hosted by the Shepton and I will announce details when I have them.

Swildon's 13 is once again under attack by Mike Barnes and Trebor.  I also know of several other divers who have expressed an interest in this project.  This is an extremely arduous undertaking as the dive is very remote indeed and 13 lies on the far side of a particularly nasty underwater squeeze.  Preliminary investigations lead the team to believe they are but one metre from air ... albeit one rather impassable metre at present. Best of luck guys.

Well reckon that's about it for now, once again apologies for the delay in publication ...... perhaps one or two of you will be spurred into literary action .... who knows??

Anyway regards to all, particularly those I have not seen for some time.

Cheers and good caving .... Jingles.


Tony Williams would like to invite members to his birthday celebrations at:

The Ring Of Bells, Hinton Bluett. Saturday May 17th all are welcome. Irish Band and P*ss *p!!


From the Belfry Table

I begin this page with sad news yet again for the Club.

It is with deep regret that I must inform the Membership of the recent deaths of Stela Hassall, and even more recently, of Brian Murliss.

Many of us shaken by Dan's recent demise will be further deeply saddened by the news of Stella following him so soon.

Brian Murliss, a keen digging member of the club and MRO Warden died tragically in early April. Although perhaps not even known to each other, both these people had a deep warmth of character, generous in heart and humour, both of them enriching  the  lives of those who knew them, each will be sadly missed by their many friends.  To their respective families we send our thoughts and heartfelt sympathy at this dark time.


A BCRA One day seminar, to be held at Priddy Village Hall on Saturday 7th.  June 1997, must surely be excellent value for £1.  The event opens at 9.30 am, and runs all day until 5.30 pm, Rich Whitcombe will speak on new finds in the Thrupe area, Tony Jarratt on Five Buddles dig, Dave Irwin, Maurice Hewins and others will give contributions throughout the day. Liquid refreshments are planed! Further details from the Belfry notice board, or Dave Irwin.

The MRO together with the Explosives User Group will host another technical day, hopefully at Westbury Quarry, the following day, Sunday 8th. June 1997.  The intention this time is to pride several different rock types, such as (Draycott] conglomerate, [Box Stone] Sandstones etc, to show their diverse natures as regards bolt fixation, stability, and susceptibility to effective explosive attack! It is hoped that matters covered in the two previous technical days can be built upon constructively at this one. Further details from NT.

Travelling to Penwylt or Ystradfellte?  If you fancy an alternative to the M4/132/A470 route via Aberdare/Mountain Ash/Hirwaun, especially on a busy Saturday morning, try staying on the M4, come off at J43, and shoot up the new dual carriageway, coming off at Glyn Neath instead.  It is longer, but can be much quicker, with fine scenery in the Vale of Neath.  In the last eight months I have tried several routes, except the newly opened one, on a daily basis, and I recommend it!

A new Mendip Cave Bibliography is being published by Dave Irwin, it can be seen at the BCRA event, at over 250,000 words, it is destined to be an informative work, and a must for any research into Mendips karst systems.

MRO activities & lectures dates coming up are: -

Saturday 17th.May. Box Stone Mines practice Rescue, Details Martin Bishop.  Sunday 18th.May MRO Wardens {Only} Meeting

MIDSUMMER BARBECUE?  The longest day [21st June] actually falls on a Saturday this year, plans are rumbling amongst the Wessex for a do of some kind this year, bear it in mind!

Roger & Jackie Dors have another grandchild, I expect the regular Belfyites are eager to help them wet the babies head! Congratulations to Helan & Nigel & Brother William!  Born on 6th May, a baby girl Alice Rose, she shares her birthday with her older brother William!  Some members were wondering earlier that if it was a boy would Helan & Nigel consider calling him Bertie, as we already had a BEC(ky).

BELFRY HUT FEES, have been sensibly raised recently, these haven't been raised for several years, and nearly half the present committee can't recall any previous rate!  The increases have been kept as low as possible, but reflect the view that the Belfry must be run economically, any excess profit if made, can therefore be ploughed back into further improvements and facilities.

FIVE BUDDLES DIG, now has a resplendent locked gate, to compliment its equally fine draft!  Tony Jarratt, Trev Hughes, Quackers and others are working hard on this site. Other members are hard at work at BARROW RAKE DIG, on a recent digging session here, Jake and Rich Blake believe that they heard Alex Gee diving at Wookey recently ....... no I jest.

BEC DINNER & AGM, Saturday 4th.  October 1997.  Details still to be finalised, but BOOK THAT DATE.

Remember to write that article for the BB, you keep thinking about it.

CHARTERHOUSE CAVING AREA.  You must have a valid permit, if you don't have one, ask any committee member and obtain one straight away, they are free to paid up members.  You haven't the right to lose what others have worked for.

C.S.C.C AGM, 10.30 am, Saturday 17th.May 1997, at the Hunters Lodge Inn.

SNAKES ALIVE!  The recent warm spell has seen a spate of adder sightings, watch where you put your hands and feet most especially in gruffy areas, leave them well alone, they are a protected species, and they will normally leave you alone, but in case of being bitten Wells and WSM Hospitals carry Serum, stay calm and don't panic.  If your dog gets bitten, again kept it calm, and contact a local vet or Bristol University Vet School at Langford House, Langford who also keep suitable anti-venom treatment.

THEFTS FROM CARS, these are again being committed in beauty spots, don't leave valuables in your vehicles whilst caving! Burrington, and Charterhouse and Priddy pool areas are under constant attack, alternatively perhaps keep a pet snake in the car?

On that note, definitely time to leave the table!

Regards, Nigel. Taylor, Hon. Sec.   Thursday 1st.May 1997.


A Method for Reversing the Downward Trend in Membership Numbers of the BEC.

By Alex Gee.


At the 1996 AGM a concern as raised by Andy Sparrow over the decline in membership numbers of the BEC. This was generally agreed to be a common problem in caving in particular and not just confined to the BEC.  The feeling of the AGM, being that we do something about it: thus this is my proposal. ..


The local diving club, of which both my brothers are members, hold 'have a go' diving sessions several times a year.  These not only bring in revenue for the club but also attract considerable numbers of new members (on average 20 - 25 new members per annum).  Some sort of variation on this idea is what I propose the BEC adopt.


That the BEC hold a number of 'have a go' caving days per year (depending upon the success of the first one) to attract new members and to promote the club and its activities.


1)                  We hold the days on a Saturday; to attract the maximum number of potential participants.

2)                  WE offer each participant 2 novice grade trips, one a.m. and one p.m. of 1.5 - 2 hrs duration depending on the fitness and aptitude of the participants (to be determined by the party leader on the day).  To help continuity the same leader to stay with each party for each trip wherever possible.

3)                  The leaders of such trips to be BEC members and competent to take parties underground.


4)                  That we charge each participant £5 for the day: ... to include lamp hire and the use of Belfry facilities.  Participants to provide their own clothing and suitable footwear.  This fee will discourage those not genuinely interested as well as cover costs.

5)                  After the trips, a display of the clubs activities could be on show in the main room along with an opportunity for a chat with club members about caving and the club.


Obviously the proposed caving days cannot go ahead without the following ...

1)                  The support of the BRC membership.

2)                  The support of the Committee.

3)                  Adequate Cover/Insurance: Hopefully our current policy will cover it

4)                  Enough members willing to give up a Saturday to take parties underground, clean the hut, mount displays. etc.

5)                  Enough serviceable tackle being available.

6)                  Adequate advertising for the day.

7)                  EFFICIENT running on the day, as long delays in trips starting will cause nothing but disillusionment amongst participants and nullify any advantages to be gained from our efforts.

As well as the above, I feel the following minor items, if attended to in advance, would enhance our prospects of attracting new members to join the BEC.

1)                  If the Belfry is cleaned the day before and left in a tidy state, as well as the general Belfry environment.

2)                  To ensure enough lamps are available on the day we hire them from either Tony or Andy, or both.


This is only an idea and it is open to discussion and amendment.  Finally if the committee sees fit to approve the idea I am willing to undertake the organization.

Cheers .... Alex Gee.


Priddy Folk Fayre

This year Priddy folk Fayre is on 11'h 12'h and 13th July.

Acts include Friday:

Old Rope String Band,

Fred Wedlock,


plus dancing to: Eunice & the Red Hot Bayou Band.

Saturday features dance displays, craft fayre and the ever popular

'Festival of Mendip Talent'

(featuring many local musicians)


John Kirkpatrick, Eddie Upton, Chucklefoot, The Belfry Boys,

Jug  O’Punch, Macannabba, Humphrey's Flail, Andy James.

Plus more.

This event proved highly popular with attending members last year ... Don't miss it!!

Tickets and info from Jingles. Or Bevis/Jacky


Dan and Stella Hasell

The death of a friend leaves a void in the life of those left behind.  Just occasionally there is a personality so great that whilst the physical presence is missing, the character lives on.  It is really as if (as the words of comfort say ... ) "They have moved into another room."  This applies to Dan and Stella Hasell dying within a few months of each other towards the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997.  As Dan would have said, Stella always took longer to get ready for a big occasion than he did!

Cavers and divers all over the country knew Dan and Stella and are familiar with their contributions and advice they gave to organizations like the BEC and cave diving group, as well as with the stories and memories of exploits underground.  But there were other sides to Dan and Stella which with the caving and diving fraternity are probably unfamiliar and maybe they would like to hear about the courtesy Uncle and Aunt I knew for thirty seven years.

Dan and Stella lived in an old Somerset farmhouse in the village of Moorlynch, a few yards up the lane from the cottage where Stella was born.  She had lived in the village all her life but was far from being an introverted country lady.  Like Dan, her appreciation of current affairs was wide.  With no television, they listened to the radio and read newspapers and were able to comment on any political situation anywhere in the world. Dan. was probably the best read man I have ever met - able to comment and give advice on any part of English Literature, History, Maths, Physics and many other disciplines including the social structure of the miners in the Somerset coalfields where he worked underground for a number of years.

Dan was a mechanic. Most people on Mendip will be aware of that - but how many know that he was probably the finest diesel fitter in the south west of England?  Fleet owners had to join a queue if they wanted Dan to work on their lorries.  He worked with my father in a garage in Bridgewater, where he was reckoned to be better at tuning petrol engines than the 'new fangled' Krypton machine.

The couple were prominent members of the Burnham on Sea Motor Club and Stella always accompanied Dan on events.  She was not just there, as most wives were, for the dinners and parties, but took the trouble to turn out in the middle of the night to man checkpoints on all categories of events from small twelve car jaunts to major restricted rallies as well as hill climbs, sprints and circuit racing.  Speaking from both a navigator's and driver's point of view, it was reassuring and comforting to find Stella and Dan waiting in a sunken Somerset lane to stamp your card on a cold, wet muddy winters night.  Dan and Stella competed as well, with Stella navigating on daytime events.  I sat in the Hotseat for him one night and was greatly amused at how he drove - he talked to the car just as if it were a horse.

Both Dan and Stella came from country backgrounds, Dan spending much of his early life on his Uncle's farm in Herefordshire where he learned to work horses and the penalties involved if you if you brought them in late.  "You missed your dinner" he once told me.  "I was sent back to the yard to cool off and rub down Uncle's cob when I'd brought him home in a hurry so that I wouldn’t miss my meal. But then horses were much more valuable than boys!"

That was probably the attitude to life that made Dan and Stella so great.  They never put themselves first. I don't think they were ever happier than when they were seeing other people enjoying themselves or making something of themselves.  There are many young (and not so young) housewives who owe most of their cooking skills to Stella and successful businessmen, academics and mechanics have all benefited from Dan's advice and teaching.

You might think from this erudition, that Dan was a model child at school.  He wasn't.  He was educated at Dr Morgan's school in Bridgewater, but according to his stories, he seemed to have spent more time on the docks, messing about amongst the coastal trading vessels than he ever did behind a desk.  Probably he learnt more from the old sailors he met than he ever did from a schoolmaster and maybe it was from them that he got his first taste for adventure.

He could not up sticks and head for Valparaiso, but he did head underground and he did travel the country on his cycle.  Stella did too.  Dan was a competitor in road races and it was Stella who ferried the spare cycles around for him, perched high above the crossbar and pedalling up and down hills that would daunt most of us.  They competed together in tandem events and always maintained an interest in cycling. Dan was still challenging people to ride his old racing tricycle until a few years ago.  He advised people to cross their hands on the handlebars so as not to fall off on the comers!

Dan and Stella had no children of their own, but had scores of honorary nephews and nieces, my own children included.  They were always assured of a welcome at Moorlynch and were treated equally, there being no room for favourites in their philosophy as they sat beside the warm Aga to be fed with currant buns and teas.  If it was early in the year, visitors were encouraged to collect green walnuts to pickle and if it was late autumn, hard nuts went home with you in a plastic bag.  If you were very lucky, Dan would pick you a ripe fig off the tree that grew just outside the back of the house.

Sitting out on the front lawn on Summer afternoons, both Dan and Stella would tell tales of skating into Bridgewater across the frozen fields of Sedgemoor in the good old days when the moor was allowed to flood to improve the quality of the pasture, and in November, children would be treated to bonfire parties that they will never forget.

The stories about Dan and Stella are legion.  Dan was the one that you thought was in control, but it was Stella that would come quietly up with the solution to a problem, as she did when we had dinner at Harvey's in Bristol and were astounded by the bill and Stella bailed us out. Nothing ever fazed her.  I have a sneaking feeling that even at the last, it was Stella who got it right.  She always said that Dan was in too much of a hurry!

Keep them in your memories. Talk about them and laugh.  They would want you to do that.  After all, as with all great people, they and their influence are still very much with us.



Ramblings In The Philippines

January 1997


The trip this year was mainly a consolidation visit trying to finish off the Odessa-Tumbali system first looked at by Speleo Philippines '92 and extended ever since.  Odessa is in the Penablanca region of Cagayan Province in northern Luzon, not far from the provincial town of Tuguegarao.  In 1996 a few more passages, sinks, resurgences and other related features were encountered at the bottom end of the system so it was decided to go back and finish all these off so the cave could be knocked on the head once and for all.  If this was carried out and no huge leads were found then a detailed article for "International Caver," complete with photos and surveys, could be produced.  Furthermore, a very large resurgence was found in 1995 some 2kms around the escarpment from the Odessa resurgence indicating another system in the same plateau. It was hoped to push on into this to see if it connected, or had anything to do with, Odessa.  As a side show it was proposed to dive a large resurgence down in Antique Province, Panay Island poked at last year with goggles and a rubber ring.

I've produced this article in diary form, the verbage taken verbatim directly from my own day-to-day Log.

9th January

After a day or so collecting and fettling diving gear on the coral island of Boracay, just off the coast of Panay, we set off in Vince Villarosa's "Company car" to have a poke at this big resurgence at Malumpati near Pandan, a small town on the Panay mainland only 50 mins drive from Boracay.  A spine of reef limestone mountains runs down this particular seaboard of Panay (already attracting interest from marble quarriers) and the resurgence is at the junction of the mountains with the coastal plain.  I was joined by Matts Johncke, a Swedish PADI dive instructor, and his girlfriend Jessika who were friends of friends on Boracay and who secured some gear for me.  They fancied a few days off and came along for the ride.

From Malumpati (three huts and a sari-sari store) an idyllic amble alongside the river through butterfly-infested coconut groves leads after 2kms to a spectacular 40m diameter crystal resurgence pool fringed with palms.

The dive was intended to be only a recce using two small 6ltr. tanks and no buoyancy.  It was naively expected that the gaping hole in the pool bed would go down for a few metres or so and then flatten out into large passage boring off into the hillside to emerge in mega-dry passage that I could skip and dance up for 25kms. to a 50m entrance shaft.  Chance would be a fine thing.  The beautiful 5-6m diameter fluted shaft just kept on going until a vast boulder slope loomed into view and I alighted on a load of big Henry's at exactly -30m.

A large wedged coconut tree provided a convenient tie-off point.  Ahead of me lay a big black void. With small tanks, no line and no buoyancy it seemed sensible to retreat for a beer.

The team (Fred "Amigo" Jamili, Jaylin Thorman "Geek" Salazar, John "Snake" Delleva, Venus Guadalupe, Matts Johncke, Jessika Swahn and I) thus returned to Boracay for a day to get some 12ltr. tanks from Matts' dive place and also an ageing, rusting, hulk of a portable compressor held together with string, gum and a prayer.

11th January

The shaft was rapidly descended the next day in a wonderful free-fall.  Tying on I set off down the boulder slope only to encounter a big wall at -40m.  A little puzzled I searched to and fro and realised I was in a large domed chamber full of mega boulders.  A circular sweep of the place revealed no obvious way on.  Reasonable sized holes amongst the boulders may have been a route but with mounting decompression on the computer, big tanks and common sense I decided not to poke around them too much.  A retreat was made with pleasant 15 minute deco stops at -6m and -3m in a sunlit shaft.

With some air left I invited Matts to have a swim around the pool and to look at the top of the shaft but as he was enjoying himself and quite obviously very competent he went to the bottom of the shaft on his first cave dive.

On return to base at Malumpati village we found the locals had chopped a big green evil-looking snake in half and curled it up on our compressor.  Very droll.  A nightmare 4 hour pump of the tanks ensued on the apology of a compressor which hopped around the village trailing the tanks after it.  Surprisingly the air was quite clean and tasty with not a hint of petrol or exhaust.

12th January

The compressor gave up the ghost at 175 bar so with slightly low tanks we returned to the pool to have another look around.

To the side of the main pool is a smaller 5m diameter static pool, clearly a flood overflow.  I thought this may drop down beyond my limit in the main shaft.  Matts used a mask and fins to duck-dive down and see what was what but he only found a muddy bottom with a small passage leading off.  With a single tank he investigated this passage only to pop out into the main shaft about 13m down.

I then made a detailed investigation of the main shaft, spiralling my way down with powerful lighting but nothing of interest was found.

I can only assume that the flow wells up through the bouldery floor.  As the chamber is large and the January water levels quite low the flow cannot be felt.

13/14th January

A while was spent wandering around in the hills above the resurgence dropping various shafts to see if there was a top way in to the system.  As is usual in the Philippines, all the shafts were blocked with run in, boulders and trees.

Monday 20th January

Arrived in Tuguegarao in Northern Luzon for my main project in Odessa to be met at the airport by my host and partner, Jun "Criminal" Ocampo.  He said "I have a surprise for you". Thinking he meant cases of cool beer we wandered across the car park.  Over yonder in an airport-side bar was Mr James Smart Esq.  Stanley had met Livingstone after all.  He had been up in Sagada in Mountain Province for a month or more and decided he had enough time in his schedule to mozey across to meet up for a chinwag.  He had a superb time.  Sagada is a wondrous place apparently, rather like the old Raj hill stations in northern India.  A completely different country than the rest of the Philippines with pine trees, pine-clad lodging rooms, air you can cut with a knife, mist rising at dawn and a blanket required at night.  Lots of well known caves there but the French in general and Monsieur Mouret in particular seem to have done all those back in the 80's.

In the pm myself, Jun Ocampo and Efren Munoz packed up and made the arduous 30km trip to base camp at Tumbali.  Normally the trip would be made easily by jeepney but the pesky October typhoon had knocked out the road which was only fit for mad dogs, Englishmen and water buffalo. The jeepney got so far and then we had to hoof it.  A kindly village Kapitan lent us his buffalo and sledge so we buffalo-taxied the rest of the day at a gentle plod.  We had temporary respite from James as he had visa problems so made the overnight 'bus trip down to Manila to sort it out, hoping to join us later on.  True to form he asked us to transport his gear to Tumbali.

On arrival at our host's house, Segundino Tuliao, at Tumbali we found his bamboo house had been destroyed in the typhoon.  He had re-built the salient parts but the outbuildings, piggery, knife-sharpening area, kitchen and gin-drinking parlour had not been attended to.  We thus just set up the Ginebra (Filipino gin) operation in the courtyard adjacent.  As last year, locals began appearing out of the shrubbery to swell the circle to a dozen or so for a celebratory arrival session.

The plan was to look at, survey and finish off the resurgence end bits of Odessa and drop the shaft found last year which may connect with Odessa.  Depending on what happens, to then go around to Noodle Doodle (looked at by Blakey and Henry in '95) above the other resurgence to try and get down the pitch into the main river the other side of the resurgence sump.

Around the gin table tonight was renewed talk of the mythical "16 Chamber Cave". Our host, his sons and locals all talk of this place but nobody seems to know how to find it.  It almost certainly exists but where is it?  Fingers point in the vague direction above Noodle Doodle - anything in this area is of great interest as it may drop down behind the Noodle Doodle resurgence sump and thus into the system that undoubtedly exists in the plateau.  Last year we looked at a huge collapsed doline feature up on the hillside used for some years as an NPA guerrilla hideout.  I wondered if they thought this was 16 Chamber Cave?

Tuesday 21st

Visited the Alum Pot-type shaft already referred to, locally known as Bittu Cave.  The area had changed for the better since last year as the October typhoon had knocked a large tree over part of the shaft allowing a decent belay point.  One of the problems last year was a lack of safe belay points due to rotten rock and calcite but even now we had to use some outrageous deviations and "Expedition rigging" to get down safely.  The shaft dropped into a fine 10m wide chamber via a small ledge two thirds of the way down and then into pleasant walking passage, with several wet bits.  After 200m or so a 4m pitch was met with a small lake at the bottom.  With no ladder and the Filipino's calling for lunch we had to call it a day.  This was an exciting prospect as the cave seemed to be heading towards Odessa.

On the way to lunch I persuaded the guys to detour for an hour to check out one or two things I wanted to see.  It seems caving in this place is controlled by the stomach.  I am looked at with incredulity when I say I don't want anything to eat.  Trips can never be more than a few hours long.

In the pm Fred Jamili arrived from Iloilo City down on Panay Island.  He is boss of a Western Visayan group of cavers and had been with me during the diving at Malumpati.

Wednesday 22nd

Intended to carry on the exploration of the Bittu shaft descended yesterday but a change of wind direction brought in cooler wetter air.  I even had to sleep in a sweat shirt of all things.  A bit of rain that night and a cloudy morning persuaded me to leave Bittu alone.  It clearly flooded to the roof but I had no idea how it reacted to water.

So, we decided to try and get down the pitch in Noodle Doodle which Rich and Henry got to in 1995. Last year I did not have enough gear but the prospect looked exciting with a big black gaping void and a lake visible at the bottom.  I knew last year it was the other side of the huge resurgence sump that can be seen from the outside but obviously it was upstream we wanted to go.  However, I was also a little concerned that I could not feel a decent draught or hear running water.

We took loads of tethers and tapes and in the end fashioned a safe enough belay to descend the slightly awkward 13m pitch straight into out-of-depth water.  This place was wonderful - a 30m long lake (the upstream pool of the resurgence sump) with a lovely cascading river dropping into it. Myself, Mark Dia and Jun Ocampo thus skipped up this streamway for 50m until three large circular lakes were met. Swimming across these I found myself faced with a big blank wall in every direction.  Swimming through a small hole I popped out into two more lakes but with no dry way on.  Half an hour searching for a way on revealed nothing.  Another crashing disappointment.  The way on is obviously underwater, hence no draught felt at the top of the pitch?  This would make a really great diving project though.

On the way back to base we stopped on a grassy knoll to ponder the escarpment before us and conclude that the only way into the undoubted system that exists in there is either by diving or by searching the top of the plateau for a shaft or top way in, as with Odessa.  Its forest and thick scrub up there and would be hard going but that's what has to be done. Our host, farmer and guide thinks he knows of a cave some locals used to go bird nesting in but when you ask him about the next day he's forgotten.  We'll have to grab him during one of his lucid moments.

Fred Jamili, on arrival here at Tumbali from our diving exploits at Malumpati, said two of his caving group went down the submerged shaft at the risings after I had left, the first two Filipino cave divers.  They were competent sea divers and regular cavers so thought it safe to just go down the shaft and back.  They both survived.

The wind had shifted back to its normal position and the day was clear and hot so we decided Bittu cave was safe enough today.

Fred Jamili, Jun Ocampo and I descended to the previous limit and dropped the 4m pitch into a nice lake with a very pleasant white flow stone marking an inlet on the right, a change in the rock type and some nice marbling.  The passage turned 90 degrees to the left, away from Odessa unfortunately, reduced to low wide bedding and ended in a filthy sump pool 50m further on. Another disappointment.  The unknown leads in downstream Odessa are all wettish with flowing water but this cave was dry apart from static pools and canals so God knows where this one goes.  Dye tracing required again.  We surveyed out totalling 450m or so of nice cave but it really hadn't added to Odessa. On return to the pitch we noted with amusement that our rope had disappeared.  Efren, our erstwhile companion and observer from the DENR (Dept of Natural and Environmental Resources) who looked after the rigging had pulled it up to adjust some rope protection and the end was lying on a little ledge.  Much shouting and toing and froing eventually retrieved it.

Friday 24th

Now that most of the Odessa resurgence area loose ends had been tied up we turned our attention to the hill and plateau above Noodle Doodle.  Our Wednesday descent into the main cave beyond Noodle Doodle confirmed the obvious presence to a sizable system.

Segundino, our host and guide, suddenly announced last night at supper that some years ago he had gone bird nesting in a big cave on top of the hill above Noodle Doodle and it had a river in it.  We said “that'll do nicely” and he said he would take us.  However, having experienced his memory before we were not entirely confident.

An hour's hike in the hot sun (even at 8.30am) reached the welcome relative cool of the forest and then the fun began.  I was told we were on an old logging trail but I was damned if I could make it out. After 30mins of hacking up this “trail,” Segundino said “Tarry a while my good fellows, I'll go and find the cave", or words to that effect.  So we sat down for a breather in dense undergrowth and waited, and waited ........... Two hours later we were getting a little worried.  We had no idea where we were and each way looked the same. Not much we could do really, get lost or wait.  He probably thought he had only been gone 10 minutes.  After another hour matters were getting ridiculous so we slowly headed off in the direction we thought he had gone and after a few hundred meters came across our lunch sitting in a clearing.  Segundino had obviously dumped the bag to wander off unhindered.  We thought this was a reasonable place to wait and have lunch so a bit of leaf litter and a few sticks of valuable hardwood were thrown together and the rice billy was soon puffing away.  The smoke also drove the mozzies away.  A rather bizarre sight dear readers - one BEC, three Filipino cavers and a DENR goon sitting lost in a gloomy sweaty little clearing covered in anti-mozzie smoke brewing noodles and rice.  Not only that, but the iron pot to cook in, two cans of pork and beans, five tin plates and cutlery .... and the kitchen sink.  Unbelievable these guys.

A crashing of undergrowth, a swish of a machete and a few oaths in Tagalog heralded Segundino's return out of a bush just in time for lunch.  He had not found the cave.  We asked him when he had last been bird nesting there and he said 40 years ago. No wonder he couldn’t find the place, he normally has trouble working out what he did yesterday.

So, a hot trudge back to base.  On arrival, one of 'Dino's sons said he knew where the cave was.  We nearly throttled him.

Saturday 25th

A local bloke (but not from Rodney Stoke) said he knew of a doline/wide shaft-type thing with a more or less horizontal entrance.  This was more like it, if it was true. Anything vertical in these parts is likely to be choked, a la Dachstein snow plugs, so what we wanted was a horizontal entrance at the bottom of a wide shaft or depression which was less likely to be filled, as with Odessa main entrance.

Off the intrepid team set at 9am to beat the worst of the heat, up on to the plateau through quite difficult terrain zapping with poison ivy.  After two hours of numerous choked shafts our guide confessed he could not remember where this fabled place was either?  Amnesia seems to be a local trait.  Again out came the rice pot, noodles and Pork & Beans and a pow-wow was had amongst the smoke of the fire (to keep the mozzies at bay).  You can picture the scene no doubt, dear readers. I said shaft bashing was OK as far as it went but I did not want to make a habit of it as 99% were going to be choked. From past experience we could have been there all week but I knew just as well that you have to force yourself to do as many as possible as that last one may just be the way in.  After a few more shafts were called it a day and retreated.

We reached base Camp to find that James had arrived from his Visa exploits in Manila, three days late. He was rapidly told that caving here had finished and we were re-locating back to Tuguegarao in the morning for R & R, fresh clothes and regular food and drink.  He was not too disappointed.

The other team had gone back up on top of the hill above Noodle Doodle with Segundino's son who had said the evening before that he knew where this birds nest cave was, you know the one with the big river in it.  Apparently they found this place but it turned out to be a squalid little hole 5m long with a fetid pool at the end.  A typical Filipino caving occurrence this.

Tuesdav 28th

Jun Ocampo had heard about cave potential a little further north from Tumbali in the Baggao area. This area was also on the western flanks of the Sierra Madre and in fact only 20kms or so north of where we have just been in Tumbali.  However there were no passable roads north from Tumbali so we had to make a two hour regular 'bus ride to Baggao from Tuguegarao.  We eventually ended up in the nice little town of San Jose.  A friend of a friend of Jun's lived in San Jose, Edilberto "Chit Chit" Herrero, and he knew something of the area so we descended on him for a chat and some grub before tricycling the 5km or so to the even nicer little village of San Miguel nestling beside the huge Pared River at the foot of the mountains.

Wednesday 29th

A kindly Sari-Sari store owner put us up in San Miguel, which pleased James as it had a good stock of liquor, and over a beer we planned to make a quick recce to a known river cave nearby.  The very impressive Pared River runs out of a gorge and on to the San Jose flood plain at this particular point, although at this time of year the flow is well down and only about 1/4 full, just nice enough to wade across.  The river bed is actually about 300m across, an awesome sight in the rainy season.  On the far side of the river from the village an impressive resurgence issues out of a 30m high limestone cliff.  A short swim across a crystal pool and through the entrance arch leads to a magnificent enclosed doline 40m high, ringed with trees and encircling a sunlit area of limestone boulders and clear pools.  The cave-proper starts immediately in a 30m wide and 20m high passage.

As it was mid-morning and the guys did not want to start work straightaway we just went in for a short way for a look before starting serious work on the morrow.  After 300m or so the dry land disappeared and we were faced with a 5m wide canal running between soaring cliffs, most of it out of depth.  Captain Speleo (as I became know for some reason) swam off trailing Filipino's behind, it was too difficult to resist.  After 100m or so of swimming we alighted on a large jammed tree only for a few of the guys to say they were getting cold.  It seemed nice and warm to me!  Then Jun got cramp, then a non-swimmer started to sink ........ Things started to look a bit dicey so I ordered a retreat and we limped out in varying degrees of cheerfulness. I had my pecker up by now and wanted to make a start so after lunch.  Fred Jamili and I returned to start surveying and sketching the entrance doline and first section of passage to the canal.

Thursday 30th

It did not seem necessary for all five of us (plus the guide) to proceed upstream so Captain Speleo, Fred Jamili and Efren Munoz intended to carryon surveying upstream from yesterday's work whilst Jun Ocampo, James and Mat Batang, our guide, were going to hike up the hill to look at the top entrance and hopefully cave downstream to meet us.

As I suspected, on reaching the canal it became very obvious that surveying the out - of - depth canal would be a nightmare, especially as Fred could not swim.  Although Fred had a good buoyancy jacket and Efren had a 1 gallon gasoline can strapped to his bulk, bobbing around surveying was a lot different than merely swimming.  So, we decided to abandon the surveying for the time being and just go exploring. Capt. Speleo and Efren thus assisted Fred through the watery bits by Speleo swimming ahead to provide Fred with a beacon to aim at and Efren swimming alongside him.  Good fun was had by all and Fred even got to learn a bit about swimming.  Around several corners we espied daylight, half-illuminating the passage we were swimming up 30m high and 10m wide with lovely banded limestone - Tiger Limestone as Efren poetically put it, a brilliant description which should be entered in the Karst dictionary toot - sweet.  The daylight marked another doline collapse, again some 40m high and 15m in diameter.  This also coincided with a nice little waterfall and was a good place to rest after the swimming exertions and to re-charge the carbide.

Whilst Capt. Speleo was standing in the doline sketching, a "yoo-hoo" from the upstream darkness heralded James's arrival, his unmistakable silhouette ruining the lovely curves of the passage.  Speleo waded across to say hello (Stanley always seemed to be meeting Livingstone) and it was clear he was on his own, Jun and the guide not fancying the swimming after the previous days wetting.  We thus continued surveying out to the entrance where we met up with Jun and the guide.  A very pleasant lunch was had on a massive boulder sitting in the huge sink entrance, darkness beckoning on one side and sunshine on the other.

The upstream section of cave actually continues here; the river water takes a dive to the downstream left further up the valley to gouge its way through a smaller section of cave before entering the large main passage downstream of the existing dry entrance.  This was looked at but time forced a retreat until the morrow.

Friday 31st

The six-man team decided to go back up to the sink to survey and investigate further.  A nice day up in the river gorge with lunch, lounging about on boulders and doing a little caving and surveying seemed an ideal way to spend a Friday.

Various activities were carried out; I and two others continued surveying the cave and also a surface traverse to link the various cave features and entrances together, whilst others did some photographing and one or two lay about on the rocks.  A leisurely lunch was had amongst the boulders and a doze in the sun. We shuddered to think what this gorge must have looked like in the October floods.  James's caving sandals broke so he caved barefoot for a while.  Never a dull moment with Speleo Philippines.

In the pm your correspondent and Jun went to look at another large entrance a little further up the valley, obviously once connected to Dubba.  A vast dry sandy and guano tunnel bored off into the hillside, our guide announcing as we left there was a little stream at the end ........... After an hour's surveying we came to this "stream", a thundering river obliquely hitting the dry passage and then sumping.  Knowing we did not have time to survey it I followed this upstream for 10 minutes whilst Jun waited.  What a place - superb stream passage that just seemed to go on and on. Out of time we just continued surveying the main dry passage for another few hundred metres to a large dry overflow entrance, daylight and some very angry bats.

On the way back Jun ran out of water for his carbide so my wellies that everybody laughed at came into their own.  Imagine dear readers this quality hunk of British caving manhood lying on his back in the guano while his companion filled his carbide from the water and urine mix pooling in his left wellie.


That was it for your correspondent, end of holiday.  A few chores and enquiries in Manila were required and then Lufthansa beckoned.  A return was made to Tuguegarao as some of the others had to go back to work and see families.  I then returned to Manila by the overnight 'bus (never again, now I know why I usually fly around) with Fred "Amigo" whilst the others stayed in Tuguegarao.  They were planning to go back to Dubba a few days later to finish exploration and surveying.

Once in Manila, Fred and I tried to find a) a source of Flourescein and b) a tame Geologist who could enlighten us further.  I have come to the conclusion that you can spend a lifetime caving in the Phils but 90% of the time down Caribou holes. or grotty places with not much depth or length. You can find caves virtually everywhere but what I am after is the big one.  It therefore makes sense to identify the type of limestone that is capable of sustaining decent cave systems ego Dubba, and then look for areas in the country where that limestone predominates, just to give us a head start. The majority of the reef limestone is like clinker and seems unable to span more than 4m or so.  The more I see the more I think the Odessa-Tumbali system was just a fluke to be where it is amongst generally naff limestone.  You thus find lots of breakdown, blocked shafts and small caves.  We thus went up to the University in Quezon City, Manila but the Geology Department was deserted.  Some local cavers will be continuing on the search for a Geologist.  A source of Flourescein was found via a Chemist somebody knew so that looks like a project for the guys for next year.

As far as reports and articles are concerned I have a busy three months ahead of me writing up recent data and finishing off various reports already in production.  Various reasons combined to delay the Speleo Philippines 95 expedition report so I've decided to convert the draft of that expedition on my Word Processor into a weighty tome covering all caving activities between the end of the inaugural 1992 Expedition and 1997.  This will cover recce work by Alex, Rich et al in 1994, the 1995 Expedition to Mindanao, my solo trips in 1996 and 1997, and those wanderings made by James Smart over the aeons.


B.E.C. Membership List as at 8/3/97

1212 Julian Aburrow                  Southampton, Hampshire.
20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw               Knowle, Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker                    Henton, Wells, Somerset
1150 (J) David Ball                     ConeyHurst, Billinhurst, West Sussex.
1145 Roz Bateman                    East Harptree, Bristol Avon.
1151 (J) Ruth Baxter                  Coneyhurst, Billingshurst, West Sussex
1227 (P) Suzanne Becher          Churchway, Ifley, Oxford, Oxfordshire.
390 (L) Joan Bennett                 Draycott, Somerset
731 Bob Bidmead                      East Harptyree, Nr. Bristol, Avon
1125 Rich Blake                        Priddy, Somerset
364 (L) Pete Blogg                    Chaldon, Caterham, Surrey
1114 Pete Bolt                          Cardiff, S. Glamorgan
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle          Calne, Wiltshire
1104 Tony Boycott                    Westbury on Trim, Bristol, Avon
868 Dany Bradshaw                  Haybridge, Wells, Somerset
751 (L) T.A. Bookes                  London
1196 Dave Bryant                      Salford, Bristol, Avon
201 John Buxton                       Flitwick, Beds.
1214 Rebecca Campbell            Priddy, Somerset
1014 Chris Castle                      Axbridge, Somerset
1062 (J) Andy Cave                   Gurney Slade, Nr Bath, Somerset
1142 (J) Ange Cave                   Gurney Slade, Nr Bath, Somerset
1197 John Christie                     Brompton, North Allerton, North Yorks
211 (L) Clare Coase                   Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia
89 (L) Alfie Collins                     Draycott, Somerset
1204 Julian Collinson                 Pemboa, Helston, Cornwall
1175 Ali Cooper                        Goring on Thames, Treading, Berks
862 Bob Cork                            Pen Hill, Wells, Somerset
870 Gary Cullen                        Southwater, Nr Horsham, West Sussex.
405 (L) Frank Darbon                 British Columbia, Canada.
423 (L) Len Dawes                    Minster Matlock, Derbyshire
1229 (P) Jeremy Dixon-Wright    West Pennard, Glastonbury, Somerset
164 (L) Ken Dobbs                    Exeter, Devon
829 (L) Angie Dooley                 Harborne, Birmingham
710 (J) Colin Dooley                  Harborne, Birmingham
1000 (L) Roger Dors                  Priddy, Somerset
830 John Dukes                        Street, Somerset
322 (L) Bryan Ellis                     Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset
269 (L) Tom Fletcher                 Bramcote, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
1218 Stephen Flinders               Burrington, Somerset
404 (L) Albert Francis                Wells, Somerset
569 (J) Joyce Franklin                Staffordshire
469 (J) Peter Franklin                Staffordshire
1159 John Freeman                   Paulton, Bristol, Avon
1182 Alex Gee                          Swindon, Wilts
835 Len Gee                             St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
1069 (J) Angie Glanvill               Chard, Somerset
1017 (J) Peter Glanvill                Chard, Somerset
647 Dave Glover                        Basingstoke, Hampshire
1006 Edward Gosden                Twyford, Winchester, Hampshire
790 (J) Martin Grass                  Draycott, Somerset
1155 Rachael Gregory               Pentir, Nr., Bangor, Gwynedd
1088 Nick Gymer                      Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam             Semington, Trowbrdge, Wiltshire
1186 (J) Helen Harper                Wells, Somerset
999 (J) Rob Harper                    Wells, Somerset
1117 Pete Hellier                       Nempnett Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol, Avon
974 Jeremy Henley                    Shepton Mallet
952 Bob Hill                              Port Gentil, Republic de Gabon
373 (J) Sid Hobbs                      Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
736 (J) Sylvia Hobbs                  Priddy, Wells, Somerset
1221 (P) Mark Howden              Street, Sometset
1219 (P) Sean Howe                  Frampton Cotterell, Bristol, Avon
923 Trevor Hughes                     Holcombe, Bath, Avon
73 Angus Innes                         Alveston, Bristol, Aven
540 (L) Dave Irwin                      Priddy, Somerset
922 Tony Jarratt                        Priddy, Somerset
668 Mike Jeanmaire                  Paek Forest, Buxton, Derbyshire
1111 Graham Johnson               Wells, Somerset
560 (L) Frank Jones                   Priddy, Somerset
567 (L) Alan Kennett                  Charlton Musgrove, Wincanton, Somerset
316 (L) Kangy King                    Pucklechurch, Bristol, Aven
542 (L) Phil Kingston                 Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen                     Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon
667 (L) Tim Large                      Brislington, Bristol
1199 Alex Livingstone                Clevedon, Avon
1180 Rich Long                         Paulton, Bristol, Avon
1057 Mark Lumley                     Stoke St. Michael, Somerset
1052 (J) Pete MacNab (nr)         Iffley, Chrchway, Oxford, Oxfordshire
1071 Mike McDonald                 Knowle, Bristol, Avon
550 (L) R A MacGregor              Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus                 Priddy, Somerset
558 (L) Tony Meaden                 Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
704 Dave Metcalfe                     Whitwick, Leicestershire
1210 Guy Mannings                  Croydon, Surrey
553 Bob O’Malley-White            Wells, Somerset
1228 (P) Ben Ogbourne             Westbury-sub-Mendip, Somerset
1226 (P) Stephen Ostler            Nailsea, North Somerset
396 (L) Mike Palmer                  Yarley, Wells, Somerset
1134 Martin Peters                    Wells, Somerset.
499 (L) A. Philpot                      Bishopston, Bristol, Avon
1193 Emma Porter                    Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
337 Brian Prewer                       Priddy, Wells, Somerset
886 Jeff Price                            Knowle, Bristol, Avon
481 (L) John Ransom                 Patchway, Bristol, Avon
985 Phil Romford                       Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1208 Stuart Sale                       Romsey, Hampshire
240 (L) Alan Sandall                  Nailsea, Avon
359 (L) Carol Sandall                 Nailsea, Avon
1170 Andy Sanders                   Gurney Slade, Nr. Bath, Somerset
1173 Estelle Sandford                Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
1178 Ivan Sandford                    Priddy, Somerset
237 (L) Bryan Scott                   Cote D’Azur, France
78 (L) R Setterington                 Taunton, Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington            Taunton, Somerset
1036 (J) Nicola Slann                 Draycott, Somerset
915 Chris Smart                        Nr. Bradford on Avon, Wilts
911 Jim Smart                          c/o The Belfry
1 (L) Harry Stanbury                  Bude, Cornwall
575 (L) Dermot Statham             Warkworth, Northumberland
365 (L) Roger Stenner                Weston super Mare, Avon
1084 Richard Stephens              Wells, Somerset
583 Derek Targett                      East Horrington, Wells Somerset
772 Nigel Taylor                        Langford, Avon
284 (L) Alan Thomas                 Priddy, Somerset
571 (L) N Thomas                      Oulton Broad, Lowestoft, Suffolk
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark    Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex
1216 Martin Torbett                   Cheddar, Somerset
381 (L) Daphne Towler               Bognor Regis, Sussex
1023 Matt Tuck                         Plymouth, Devon.
678 Dave Turner                        Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
635 (L) S. Tuttlebury                  Buck Hors Rd., Farnham, Surrey
1096 Brian van Luipen                Wick, Littlehampton, West Sussex
887 Greg Villis                          Weston super Mare, North Somerset
175 (L) D. Whaddon                  0
1220 (P) John Walsh                 Glastonbury, Somerset
949 (J) John Watson                  Wells, Somerset
1019 (J) Lavinia Watson             Wells, Somerset
1185 Chas Wethered                 Axbridge, Somerset
1068 John Whiteley                   Heathfiled, Newton Abbot, Devon
1092 Babs Williams                  Knowle, Bristol, Avon
1087 John Williams                   Gurney Slade, Nr. Bath, Somerset
1164 (J) Hilary Wilson                Keynsham, Avon
1130 (J) Mike Wilson (snr)         Keynsham, Avon
559 (J) Barrie Wilton                  Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
568 (J) Brenda Wilton                Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
877 Steven Woolven                  West Chillington, West Sussex
914 Brian Workman                   Catcott, Bridgwater, Somerset
477 Ronald Wyncoll                  Holycroft, Hinkley


Extracts from the BEC Logbook

11.1.97 - Goughs Cave                         T Chapman, P Bolt, Alex Gee, Clive Steel

PB & AG went to Bishops Palace.  PB had no buoyancy.  AG had gear problems, so PB & AG carried TC & CS's bottles to Sump 2, then TC & CS went to Shepards Crook.  Then CS went to 36m in sump 3 and TC went to 40m.  Time: AG & PB - 3 3/4 hours.  TC & CS - 4 3/4 hours

11.1.97 - Swildons                    Estelle, Nick, Guy, Mike Willett

Swildons to sump 2 with the reprobates.  Passed a few wee-gees on the way.  Very dry even the wet way.

11.1.97 - Eastwater                   Jeremy Dixon-Wright, Ben Ogborne

Dolphin Pot - 13 Pots - West End Series.  Nice ice formations near entrance, smell of sewerage Harris Passage, very loose rock at top of free climb above Dolphin.

12.2.97 - North Hill Swallet                   Mike Willet & Goblet (Anthony Butcher)

No bad air because cave was very wet, so we were able to get to the end.  Nice sporting trip.  A good worthwhile dig at the end, if some sort of silt trap installed and if air breathable.  Would make good winter dig.

Jan - Feb 1997 - Dominican Republic              Rob Harper, Helen Harper

1 .        Cuevas los Patos - Los Patos, Barahona

Caves in cliff above river resurgence at beach level.

Large entrance and passage approx 30m in length leading to second entrance and several low crawls all ending in bat guano chokes.

Rift entrance above comes into roof of left about 10m in from 1st entrance

2.         Marble Cave, Cabo Samana

Single large chamber, approx 20x20x15m, easily visible from track. Possible high level extension over stal. flow approx. 10m up.  Needs ladder bolt.

There are other small caves in the area

3.         Los Haitises National Park

Three caves entered on standard tourist trip.  All stunning and well worth revisiting.

4.         Cueva del P***t, Parc Nacional del Este

Follow the track until it is no longer negotiable except on foot.  Then follow the only path and the wooden signs to the cave.

Entrance leads to 15x15m well decorated fossil passage to second entrance. Side passage to another entrance.

There is a continuation of the cave on the other side of the entrance depression.  All in all about 500m.

 (Transcribers note - apologies for any spelling errors, writing style most interesting)

09.02.97 - Wookey Hole                        Tim Chapman, Clive Steel

CS & TC carrying tanks to 24, TC dived terminal sump to 51.7m to gravel choke.  Time 5 % hours.

22.02.97 - Manor Farm                                     Nick Guymer, Mr Wilson, Mick Wilson

Trip to NASA Gallery dig. Quite wet. Formations in good condition.  Farmer still in charge of entrance fees.  Time 2 % hours

01.03.97 - Stoke Lane Slocker              Becca Campbell, Mike Willett, Guy Mannings, Nick Mitchell

Water fairly high and f . .f . .f . .freezing.  Formations stunning.  Secca's first trip down and Mike Willett very helpful in sump.  Especially when he tried to drain it for her!  Very good trip, enjoyed by all.  Time: Approx 2 hours


Interim Hut Warden's Report


Submitted to the Members of the Club by Rebecca Campbell

I have decided to publish this report to the members of the Bristol Exploration Club on the grounds that there have been significant changes within the first six months of the club's current financial year.

January 1997 saw extensive work undertaken on the hut.  The floor was painted throughout.  Alpine bunks were installed in the bunkroom.  The kitchen gained a new sink and work surface, together with tiling around the sink area.

The response to this work has been very promising.  Visitors have commented on the comfort of the new bunks and the changes to the hut have instilled a greater degree of cleanliness in its users.

I must offer my thanks to the individuals who gave up not just 2 weekends, but in some cases long hours during the two weeks the work took to complete.  Special thanks go to Richard Blake, Ivan Sandford (Hut Engineer), Nick Mitchell and Alex Gee (Librarian), who painted the Bertie Bat.

The Hut Engineer and myself intend to continue improving the hut, throughout our terms of office.  We would be grateful if any club members can procure the following items:

Kitchen work surfaces for completion of the kitchen Microwaves

Fridges of standard size for fitted kitchens

Shelving wood for constructing a large rucksack kit storage unit in the bunkroom

Dry stone walling stone

Large wall mounted water heater

Please contact us if you have any of the above and we can arrange collection, if necessary. Suggestions by all members for improvements to the hut are more than welcome. (Tel: 01749674795)

Ivan Sandford mentioned the withdrawal of visiting cavers from Mendip generally in his annual report last year.  To add to this dilemma our active Mendip caving members have continued to move into the immediate area, which as can be seen from the table below has had a fairly catastrophic effect on the income from Members.





























Day Fees







CCC Permits







Cuthbert’s Fees








71. 04













Fig 1. Table displays hut usage during the first 6 months of the 1996/97 period together with comparative figures based on the hut usage for the first six months of 1995/96.

In the circumstances, the committee made a decision to raise Hut Fees by more than the R Dors Index. The new rates are:

Members (sleeping indoors or outside)                 £ 2.00

Non-Members - Indoor accommodation                £ 3.50

Non-Members - Outdoor accommodation             £ 2.50

Reciprocal Club Members                                   As per BEC Members

These new fees will come into effect as of Sunday 9 March 1997.

I know that this is a large increase, but there has been no increase in the level of fees for some years and inflation alone accounts for much of the amount.

I should also like to take this opportunity to request that more of the more mature members, and that means all of you, considered staying at the Belfry instead of driving home and abstaining on the booze at the weekends.  To bring the current level of income up to last year's totals, I (being a very sad accountancy type person) have calculated that we need to attain an average level of 15 member nights per week and 11 guest nights per week, for the last six months of the year.

On the other hand, I must stipulate that the hut will remain, as in the past, a cavers' caving hut. Children under 16 (actually, not mentally) are not welcome without prior arrangement with myself.

I am in the process of addressing the hut's marketing strategy and although I can guarantee that this will remain a bad year for the Belfry, I hope to increase the property's future prosperity significantly for the 1997/98 season.