The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor:  Estelle Sandford

Committee Members

Secretary: Nigel Taylor
Treasurer: Chris Smart
Membership Secretary: Roz Bateman
Editor: Estelle Sandford
Caving Secretary: Andy Thomas
Tackle Master: Rich Blake
Hut Engineer: Nick Mitchell
Hut Warden: Becky Campbell
Librarian: Alex Gee

Thanks to Chas for the ‘Xmas Bertie’

Editorial

Hi and welcome to the Christmas Bulletin.  This particular Belfry Bulletin is not meant to be setting a precedent for the size of the Belfry Bulletins for the rest of my term as editor – the trees can’t cope!! Even so, if people send me lots of articles, there’s no reason why we can’t keep it a reasonable size.

Cut off for the Next BB is the 31st January, 1998.  The BB will be available a week later.  If you give me articles too close to that date and they are not on disc or e-mailed, I will not have time to put them in, so please try to get everything to me as soon as possible.  I do have a few things left over for the next BB, but I still need more.

Many thanks for all the e-mails, letters and comments regarding the last BB, at least I know you’re reading it.  All complaints should be accompanied by an article, after all if you don’t like something, I need something to replace it with.

If you received you BB by post last time, this means you’re on the postal list.  If you are likely to be around Mendip near to the availability date, can you please contact Bat Products, and Tony Jarratt will hold your BB for you.  We need to do everything we can to try to reduce the postage costs of the BB (The Treasurer’s going to lynch me for this one!)

UNLESS YOU HAVE PAID YOUR MEMBERSHIP FEES BY 31st JANUARY 1998, THIS WILL BE YOUR LAST BELFRY BULLETIN.

IF YOU PAY BEFORE 31st DECEMBER YOU WILL STILL BE ENTITLED TO THE DISCOUNTED RATE OF £22 FOR SINGLE AND £34 JOINT.  FULL RATES ARE SINGLE £26 AND JOINT £38.

PLEASE GET YOUR CHEQUES/CASH TO ROZ BATEMAN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.


 

Reciprocal Clubs

We have a reciprocal arrangement with the following clubs:

Chelsea Speleological Society

Bradford Pothole Club

Pegasus Caving Club

Wessex Caving Club (for the vertically challenged)

South Wales Caving Club

Grampian Speleological Group

Craven Pothole Club

Northern Pothole Club

Orpheus Caving Club

Shepton Mallett Caving Club (Tea drinking society)

Caving and BEC News

White Pit - In accord with the access agreement, and spurred by a recent "break in", the fixed ladder has been removed from the entrance shaft, as has the small steel ladder further down.  A 10m wire ladder is now needed, which will reach the full length of this pitch.  The rigid ladders now grace Five BuddIes Mineshaft entrance.

There have been several complaints from ex-directory members, regarding the membership list in the last BB.  If you are ex-directory and do not wish to have you telephone number published in future BB's.  Can you please contact Roz Bateman and she will amend the membership list accordingly.

Roz has indicated that she is short of completed membership forms.  Some of these may be with previous Membership Secretaries or others. If you have any completed membership forms, can you please send them to Roz.  (Address in the front of the BB)

There have been 2 cave rescues recently.  The first was a young girl, who had lost the will to move through cold and fear, in Swildons.  A large team of rescuers brought her out of the cave, and after a soak in Butch's tub, she was none the worse for wear.  The second was an overdue party in Eastwater, who had under-estimated the length of their trip, and were met near the entrance.

We are trying to add an e-mail list of BEC members to the current membership list.  If you are on e-mail then please e-mail Estelle at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  I already have quite a lengthy list of BEC members, e-mail numbers, which is so much easier for communication.

Our Internet web page is imminent.  We will keep you posted.

Talking of e-mail; I received the below e-mail from Tony Boycott regarding his recent Pakistan trip:

"Good time in Pakistan extended one cave to 1 km, with passages that contained more bats than air!  Also evidence of lynx.  Some of the caves have porcupines, wolves, leopards, bears and hyenas but we managed to steer clear of all except the first (ask Daniel).  Simon had a snake fall on his head (helmeted) and writhed around at his feet (in sandals).  Both departed rapidly, luckily in opposite directions.  A bit too much travelling for my liking also an awful lot of dicking about. 

They're not known as the "midnight caving club" for nothing! Excellent experience nonetheless.

Also, the reply to the question  "What were you doing on the night of the GSG dinner, Simon?" is "Driving across the desert in a 4WD with a kalashnikov between my knees eating a pomegranate"

"Isn't that dangerous?"

"Yes, it's difficult to get pomegranate stains out of your shalwar qamiz!"

Hopefully we should have an article next BB.

I also received an e-mail from Phil Kingston from Australia; he has requested I put his e-mail address in the BB as he finds it a much better way of communicating.  His e-mail address is:  Phil. Kingston@[removed].au.

Caving - Andy Thomas is caving most Sunday mornings, and also Tuesday evenings.  If you want to go along, give Andy a call - any levels of caving ability can be accommodated on these trips.  Also contact Andy if you are interested in running trips, anywhere in the world or even just Mendip!

Andy has plans to book some Yorkshire/Derbyshire/Wales trips for next year; if you want any specific trips, please let Andy know.

In case you didn't notice in the front of the BB, Andy is moving house on 17th December, to 52 Leigh Road, Street, Somerset.  His new phone number will be available on the Belfry board, or from any other Committee Members as soon as it is available.

On the weekend of 22nd November, a group of BEC and Wessex spent an enjoyable few days in a castle in Belgium.  This would make a fantastic location for a BEC trip next year, so if you are interested, please contact Estelle.

As I'm sure many of you are aware Andy and Ange Cave have moved to the Dordogne to run a Holiday Gite/B&B/Camping hostel.  There are plans afoot for a BEC invasion next year sometime - we'll keep you posted. If you are popping down to the Dordogne for your hols, and want friendly BEC faces to stay with, they can be contacted at Le Grand Bost, 24410 Servanches, Dordogne, France.

Adopt-A-Cave

For those who are not aware, as part of the Adopt-A-Cave scheme, the BEC adopted Eastwater Cavern and St Cuthbert’s Swallet.  We are making plans for several organised weekend next year to have a clean up of these caves.  Let a committee member know if you are interested.

MRO Activities

31st December, 1997 - A 'Hands On' Equipment familiarisation at the MRO Store/Belfry.  10:30am

24th January, 1998 - Resuscitation Workshop.  Hunters Lodge backroom. 7:30pm

BEC v Wessex Skittles Challenge.  Yes this clashes with the Axbridge Stomp.  So come along to the Skittles Challenge early, enjoy a pint, and play skittles before going up to the Village Hall.  See advert in BB for more details.

New Members

The club would like to welcome two new members so far this year:

Roger Haskett Bridgwater, Somerset (Our faithful Tea maker for 30 Yrs) and the Shepton's only active caver.

Steve Heape, Bournemouth

And the rejoining of Fiona Lambert, Castle Cary

I would like to thank all members who have paid their 97/98 membership fee already and I look forward to receiving the fees from the rest of you before the end of the year. (Don't forget the fee increase by £4 on the 1st January 1998.  Roz Bateman (Membership Secretary)

Reminder

Photos are still required for the photoboard at the Belfry

 

 


 

Diggers Corner

From Mike Willett

The BEC has four digs going on at the moment, one of these being Five BuddIes Sink, run by our very own Tony Jarratt.  This has been the most work intensive due to the nature of the dig, and is our biggest club project at the moment.  I lend a hand over there myself occasionally and I can tell you that it's a most satisfying two hours work standing over a slippery hole, with a slippery rope, hauling buckets that Martin Torbett fills with more crap than your average elephant could shit in a few months.  There is a report on that particular dig in this issue of the BB, so needs no further mention from me.

Jake (Graham Johnson) has turned his attentions to Eastwater Cavern lately along with Gonzo (Mark Lumley) where they have been digging in Boulder Chamber and discovered a chamber set in solid rock about ten feet square.  They have also been digging in the roof of Boulder Chamber where Gonzo had a twelve foot long dig in clay, which broke through into an aven that Alex Gee had broken into earlier this year, by climbing above Kentish Cairn.

Hunter's Hole has also seen plenty of digging activity from John Walsh, Andy Thomas and Shaggy.  They have a few sites within the cave that are receiving attention, but their main dig is in Dear's Ideal, where they have a passage which ends in a muddy sump pool.  On a recent trip John pulled some boulders out causing it to drain.  They pulled out as much muck as they could at the time, but on their last visit it had refilled. Their work continues.

Some of you may have heard Nick Mitchell and myself talking about Hazelnut Swallet.  You'll find this in Biddlecombe Valley, the foot of which lies just outside of Wells, and rises past West Horrington.  It can be accessed at the top on the opposite side of the road from Pen Hill Mast.  This is a worthwhile walk because of its beauty and geological, etc. interest. Our dig is situated about halfway down-valley just past West Horrington in the left-hand bank; it has a grill over the entrance.  With our last efforts at this dig we had achieved some twelve foot of low, wet and ugly passage, which, via a calcite squeeze, broke through into a body-length section of passage with a small grotto on the right.  The way on is straight ahead and is going to need enlarging again, so it looks like more low, wet and ugly passage to come which Nick and I will be getting on with shortly.  I'll keep you posted.

 

Above are some members of the digging team just about to go digging!!!!

(For those who don't recognise these guys:- L-R Ivan Sandford, Guy Munnings, Richard Blake, Tony Jarratt and Nick Mitchell)


 

Letters

Wookev Hole
Wells
Somerset

Dear fellow BEC Members

You are all probably aware of the fact that at this years Annual General Meeting, Rebecca Campbell and myself resigned from our committee posts and walked out of the AGM.  The reasons for my resignation (and I wish to make it clear that that I do not represent Becca' s views here) were as follows.

1.  The proposal that the club have a second rescue team leader:- I thank the club for endorsing my continuing in the post, but I feel that with such a post it is essential to have a clear leadership direction (and I know both myself and Andy have differing views on rescue matters) and having two separate leaders that differ in fundamental philosophies will only create confusion, and have an adverse effect on the effectiveness of the clubs rescue training.

•    In addition I feel that by instructing a professional caver to be the clubs rescue team leader we could be opening a can of worms in respect of Insurance, health and safety legislation, etc and perhaps beginning to undermine the amateur ethos of rescue teams generally.

2.  The Club Secretary's motion that all proposals for individual expenditure above £500.00 should have the approval of the membership.

•    I whole-heartedly agree that the committee should be accountable to the membership for its actions. I think that some sort of consultation process for large capital expenditure by the club is a good idea.  As I said at the time all that is needed is for the committee to consult with the treasurer on the availability of funds and notification for feed back purposes, to be published in the Belfry Bulletin (obviously there would not be time for consultation if there were an emergency the committee had to deal with).

•    What angered me greatly, was I feel that the motion was proposed, not with the interests of the club in mind (a limit of this kind has never been needed in the past) but was just a petty, thinly veiled attack on the integrity and abilities of last year's committee.  Arising from a disagreement with the decision to renovate the bunkrooms and a refusal to let matters rest.

•    Renovations that along with the other works carried out at the time (several members including myself took a week off to carry the work out) have been well received by the majority of guests and members alike and were carried out in what the committee felt were the best interests of the club.

However at the Annual Dinner both Becca and myself were asked by several members to reconsider our position and as no one had expressed a contrary view to as at the time, we agreed to withdraw our resignations.

At the committee meeting of the 14th November 1997, we were informed by the Club Secretary that he had received a few complaints about our behaviour at the AGM from some members. After some discussion by the committee arising because there was no precedent for this situation, Becca and Myself in a spirit of conciliation (despite having withdrawn our resignations) agreed to submit ourselves to a vote by the committee.  The committee voted in favour of our continuing on me committee and we agreed to the condition set by the committee that we would apologise to those members that had been offended by our actions at the AGM.

So to those members that felt offended by me not following the correct procedure for resigning my committee post, I unreservedly apologise.

Cheers Alex.

Rebecca Campbell
Belfry Hut Warden
Wells
Somerset

To the Members of the BEC

Resignation at the AGM

I am writing to offer an official apology for my resignation at the AGM.  The resignation was rescinded during the course of the evening. However, the remaining committee did hold lengthy discussions at the first meeting as there had been some complaints over my behaviour from you the membership.

I regret any confusion that the situation may have caused and look forward to serving the club to the best of my ability for the remainder of the year.

Yours faithfully

Rebecca Campbell


 

Charterhouse Caving Company Limited

Extracts from the Director's Six Monthly Report - May to October 1997

A number of items concerning the Company's caves have been dealt with, or brought to our attention over the past few months.  These are therefore being circulated to all member clubs in this report.

G B Cave

  1. The p-hangers and associated chain have now been placed on the Ladder Dig climb as per the instructions of the AGM.  The remaining two petzl steel bolts and the old rawbolt and chain have been removed.
  2. Cleaning activities have been continued; mud and graffiti have been cleaned from the area near the Bridge by members of UBSS, and TCC have been working at the far end of Great Chamber.  Modifications have now been made to all pumps and they are available to any member who wishes to join this work.
  3. The lock gave trouble in October.  The spare has been fitted.

Gruffy Field Mine Shaft

After a site visit with SWT representatives, this was dug over the summer, mainly by members of Cerberus and UBSS.  No breakthrough has yet been made and work will recommence next summer.

Longwood Swallet

We would like to float the possibility of placing p-hangers at the head of Swing Pitch with the membership. These would be placed to facilitate rigging from the Christmas Crawl approach, avoiding the main force of the stream. We would appreciate feedback as to how most people rig this pitch.

Longwood Valley & Velvet Bottom

Negotiations are underway between Bristol Water and SWT for the purchase of this land by the latter body. These are, as yet, at an early stage and nothing concrete will occur for some considerable time to come.  It is envisaged that the Company will take a lease on the underground from SWT in the same way as has been done for Gruffy Field. This should cause us little in the way of problems.

Footnote:

Any comments on the Longwood Swallet pitch rigging suggestion should be sent to the BEC Committee to ensure that the Club Representative supports the views of the members they represent.



Cartoon

 


 

Stoke Lane Slocker - 50 years ago

a note by Dave Irwin

Having been persuaded by Estelle in her new post as Editor of the BB I've promised to supply a page or two from time to time relating to events of historic importance from the long history of cave exploration on Mendip and occasionally from elsewhere. In addition most members have accumulated books, photographs, booklets and leaflets (ephemera) and at times I hope to be able to discuss some of these collectibles.  However, to kick the series off I intend to sketch an event which involved club members some fifty years ago taken from various notes that I have lying around the place.

FIFTY YEARS AGO

During the years following the end of the Second World War cave exploration rapidly reached a peak on Mendip - culminating with vast extensions in Swildon's Hole and elsewhere.  The years 1945-c.1965.  In fact it was also to prove one of the great periods of cave exploration in the British Isles.  In Yorkshire Gemmell, Myers and Comes were among many that opened up now popular cave systems in the Yorkshire Dales including Lancaster Hole and Easegill. In Derbyshire Giant's Hole was its 'Jewel in the Crown'.  In south Wales the newly formed South Wales Caving Club were pushing OFD in an effort to push the likely sites in the area since access to Dan-yr Ogof was barred to all caving activity.  At the time of SWCC's formation the CDG came into being at the same camp meeting held during Easter 1946.  The latter sprang into action with a succession of diving meets at Wookey Hole and in the sumps of OFD.

Throughout the war years students at Bristol University had limited time to continue the work of the society at Burrington and Charterhouse making several new discoveries.  East Twin Swallet extended, Rod Pearce and others opened up Rod's Pot.  All this was in addition to a full exploration of G.B. Cave and the preparation of a survey. Pupils at Sidcot School also played their part as members of Sidcot School Speleological Society (SSSS).  Willie Stanton, Chris Hawkes and other SSSS members were carrying out limited work on Western Mendip.  Sidcot Swallet had been extended by the discovery of Paradise.  In 1944 SSSS began work at the active swallet in the Longwood Valley.  They opened the cave but when they reached the head of the climb into Main Chamber they decided that it was too dangerous to continue alone.  The Stride brother invited members of UBSS and WCC to accompany them to complete the exploration.  This was in early April 1945.  When Stride left the school for Bristol University, work was carried on by the Speleological Society eventually opening up August Hole - a misnomer if there ever was one!

On Mendip, caving club memberships were increasing and various parts of Mendip were being pushed in a way never before experienced by the cavers of the pre-war years.  WCC and MNRC members were re-examining Eastwater Cavern which was to eventually lead to the exploration of Primrose Pot.  The same groups were also examining the far reaches of Swildons Hole that eventually led to the opening up of the Black Hole Series in 1950.

The BEC located at The Belfry, initially near the Beeches and then transferred to a new site - that currently owned by the Club.  Digging in the St. Cuthbert's Depression was at first sporadic, but eventually St. Cuthbert's Swallet was entered in 1953 - the largest single discovery ever made on Mendip

STOKE LANE SLOCKER

Eastern Mendip was the 'Cinderella' area for cave exploration.  No doubt its distance from Wells was a contributory factor.  Though there was a bus service in the 1930s, bicycle or pony and trap was the main mode of transport in the earlier decades of the century.  Time and money was at a premium and though Balch was well aware of the swallets in the area he made little attempt to exploit any of the sites.

The St. Dunstan's Well resurgences and Stoke Lane Slocker were well documented since c.1880.  The earliest known exploration of the Slocker took place sometime during 1905 by cavers from Downside Abbey.  The cave ended at what today is known as Corkscrew Chamber.

Fifty years ago the discovery of Browne's Passage, in June 1947, was the great break through that began the real exploration of the cave.  Previously the cave had been simply considered an alternative wet trip to that offered by Swildons Hole.  F.B.A. Welch, the well-known geologist, explored the cave in August 1930. The cave ended at a terminal sump, where the water flows under the choke at Corkscrew Chamber.  It was impenetrable and further investigation of it had to wait until after the second world war before the 'younger generation' came along to find a slot in the caving work being carried out on Mendip.

DISCOVERY OF STOKE LANE TWO

Pat Browne, from Frome, joined the BEC in 1946 and living on the eastern fringes of Mendip it was natural that his main interest lay in caves and potential sites located in the now classic east Mendip area - Stoke St. Michael and Oakhill.  It meant that he could cycle easily to Stoke St. Michael and the surrounding villages to fully explore sites that could be found.

Berman of the MNRC reported in the 1947 Report (note 1)

An outstanding discovery due to Pat Browne, of Bruton School, and members of the Bristol Exploration Club, is a large and important cave system at Stoke Lane. When examining the old "slocker" cave of that valley, he discovered an extension of the streamways from Stoke Lane to St. Dunstan's Well, leading into an unexpected upper system, following the steeply dipping Carboniferous Limestone, which passes under the Radstock coalfield. Its approach is made difficult by a highly polluted sump or trap in the streamway, and efforts are now being made to open a dry approach from the surface not far distant.  There are human and animal bones in this cave awaiting excavation, and there are very fine stalactite formations.

Pat Browne wrote of his success to Balch and in his account he catalogued the sequence of events. (note 2)

THE OPENING OF STOKE LANE SLOCKER
The series of expeditions which have led to the discovery of a vast system of subterranean wonders.
? May 1946 Leader P. Browne Party A.J. Crawford
Old cave fully explored. About 800 feet from entrance of cave, beyond the point at which the main river is seen for the last time, a small stream was noticed to be flowing in the opposite direction to that of the main one. This stream disappeared amongst a pile of massive boulders covering the floor of a small chamber. Suggestions of a cave system beyond were made but nothing found.

It was to be another year before Browne returned to the cave and on May 31st 1947 he descended with two companions D. Sage and J.H.H. Mead all from Bruton School. (note 3)  They returned to the boulder pile and gave it another close inspection.  A short period of digging removing a boulder (note 4) and a way on was found. Browne squeezed down into it and found that the passage continued:

…..for about 250 feet. The way led through a series of low water tunnels, and encrusted grottoes, the passage ("Browne's Passage") ends in a water trap.(note 5)

In fact it was the significant breakthrough that had been required to focus attention on this cave for further exploration despite the fact that it was extremely wet, muddy, subject to severe flooding and most of all it was some distance from the centre of Mendip caving activities. In the days of restricted transport a visit to this cave required prior arrangements with fellow cavers who were lucky enough to have personal transport.

Thrilled by the new discovery he immediately contacted two BEC members to form a strong party to descend the cave the following weekend, 3pm on June 7th, Roger (Sett) Setterington and Don Coase readily agreed and joined him for the descent.

On the appointed day the stream level was high following heavy rain during the previous four days. The normally dry entrance was now taking a high volume of water. Browne recorded: (note 6)

... but that day the water was thundering over the boulders and pouring into the narrow opening, and on into the darkness beyond.  All being in readiness for the adventure I abandoned all thoughts of personal comfort for the following four hours and crawled into the uninviting gateway to the strange world under the hills.  Within seconds I was forming an admirable substitute for a leaky drainpipe, with the icy water pouring up the legs of my boiler-suit & emerging by means of vents above the knees!

Moving on down the through the entrance passage with it's once leech infested pools the party met the fast flowing streamway.  A unanimous 'mud please' was the reply to Browne's question at the Duck - partial submersion or mud via the oxbow?  A re-inspection of the 'old cave' found several points of potential extension, which was to eventually become Ridyard's Link and Fingertip Squeeze. (note 7) From there they moved on into Browne's Passage. Browne wrote:

... D. Coase found a mud aven leading from 'Cairn Grotto'.  A by-pass to the Nutmeg Grater was discovered by P. Browne, who also found a large tooth in the "Cairn Grotto".

Pat Browne was to later to comment upon the notorious squeeze. (note 8)

... we crept along a narrow, arch-shaped tunnel for a considerable distance until we were suddenly faced with the 'Nutmeg Grater', a very nasty squeeze. On the return journey we found a by-pass to this section of the tunnel, but unfortunately this afforded us no greater degree of comfort than the 'N.G.'

Arriving at Cairn Chamber, Browne's limit on the first trip to this section of cave, it was noted that there appeared to be two possible ways out of it. (note 9) The first was an ascending muddy tube ending at a small muddy grotto, obviously prone to prolonged flooding. The second was a narrow, wet, rift, having three foot depth of water.  Browne chose to investigate the rift (note 10)

.. . I dropped into the icy water, beyond a low arch called 'Disappointment Duck', under which I was forced to submerge to my neck, the tunnel suddenly turned to the left and I found myself in small chamber in which the water was about 5 ft. deep.  A short distance beyond this the walls closed in and the roof dipped below the surface of a dark & horrible pool.  Spluttering and cursing, I made my way back to my two companions in 'Cairn Grotto'.

The move into the end chamber before Sump 1 intrigued Coase, who at that time was busily involved with the activities of the recently formed Cave Diving Group.  Here was a challenge the potential for extension seemed great and so a meet at the cave was arranged for Sunday 22nd June.  Pat Browne was able to be present, but the strong party of Coase, Harry Stanbury, Miss F. Hutchinson, R. Woodbridge (all from the BEC) and Graham Balcombe, then one of the countries leading cave divers, set off to investigate the sump.  The carry of the cumbersome diving equipment took some time, particularly through the end section of Browne's Passage, a series of low tunnels and the notorious squeeze 'The Nutmeg Grater'. (note 11)  Hammering away an awkward projecting flake of rock in Disappointment Duck Coase made his way to the sump. He noted later: (note 12)

... I then went on to the trap which is a miserable hole, a rift 6ft. high by 2ft. wide with water 3ft. deep.  After paddling around I found a very jagged hole just under water on the left-hand wall. By immersing in the water up to my neck I managed to put my arm through the hole and wave my hand around in an airspace on the other side.  With the aid of a stick, I extended my reach and confirmed my earlier impression of there being enough room the other side to get my head above water.  As I had only an acetylene lamp with me, Balcombe came through the duck with an electric torch ....

Balcombe's description of Coase passing the Duck and approach to the sump is more 'spicey' and amusing. (note 13)

... Then Don Coase, leading adventurer, went forward, squawking vociferously as the cold water rose above his belly then his armpits, and he disappeared round the comer.  We waited rather anxiously.  After a few moments he called back for an underwater light and another 'bod'.  I happened to be next in line and, regardless of my protests that I was only a guest, I was pushed in.  I found him standing up to his neck in the pit and with a grin of glee from ear to ear.  He had found a hole and thought he could feel surface at the other side. Yes, he was sure of it and struck the wall on the other side with the lamp.  It rang low and clear ....

Coase continued his account thus; (note 14)

.... Just as I was going to take the plunge Balcombe suggested that it would be advisable to use the chinstrap on my helmet in case it came off.  Doing so, I started off but hardly got under water when the helmet jammed against the rock and the chinstrap nearly strangled me. Coming up spluttering, I discarded the helmet and had another try, this time having better luck.  Once under water I slowly pushed myself through the jagged hole & rose above the water on the other side.  One nasty moment was when the back of my boiler suit got hitched as I started to come up, but luckily it tore itself free.  Shining the torch around I expected to find myself in a poky [sic] little hole like where I had started from, but no, this was a chamber about 15ft. across with a low roof & water waist deep.  The Main stream, which disappears from sight just before the beginning of Browne's Passage, comes in on the right under a low arch over a gravel bank and on the way down a 6ft. high rounded tunnel stretching into the distance! ...

Stoke Lane II

The downstream side consisted of a deepish pool in the 15ft wide chamber.  From the right the stream that disappears before Pebble Crawl makes its reappearance (note 15) and flows downstream into fine, beautifully scalloped, 6 ft. high tunnel heading into The Sewer.  The Stoke Two stream continues for several hundred feet before encountering a high rift feature and Sump II.  Coase returned through the 'trap' as it was known at the time and called to Balcombe and Stanbury to follow him through the 2ft. long sump.  Their excitement of the possibilities overcame the cold from the freezing water and the intrepid explorers made their way into the water course.  The passage continued, dropping quite rapidly causing the stream to flow through a combination of cascades, boulder piles, large chambers, a high rift before the passage swung to the left and a boulder pile was encountered.  An easy climb over the boulders soon regained the stream and the second sump was reached.  At the first boulder fall a large chamber, Main Chamber, was noted but not explored at this time; neither was any attempt made to force the upstream section of the active streamway which gives way to Sand and C.B. Chambers. (note 16) The party made their return to rejoin their two comrades in Cairn chamber. (note 17)

... Then "full speed ahead" for daylight, where brilliant sunshine greeted us ....

An enthusiastic party reached daylight and anther trip was arranged for the following weekend to follow up the leads they had seen.  On this occasion, happily, Pat Browne would be able to join the party.  Had a fairy godmother told them of what was in store on that trip they would have just laughed!

Pat Browne's account of that trip is perhaps the greatest understatement of that decade

June 28th, 1947
Leader: P. Browne (1st halt) D. Coase (2nd halt)
Party - G. Lucy, J. Pain
Browne and Coase dived the trap and made their way into "a gigantic series of caves far superior in size and beauty to anything as yet seen beneath the Mendip Hills".  Boulder choke broken through, cave ends in trap. 6 main chambers were discovered together with the fragments of a human skeleton were discovered by P. Browne (also charcoal)

A consolidation trip was held on the 29th June but nothing noteworthy was found.  However, on July 6th, another BEC party consisting of Browne, Coase, D. Gommo and Angus Innes further investigated the new chambers including Bone Chamber, discovering a human jawbone and a connecting passage between the two large chambers.

The discovery created much enthusiasm in the press, a detailed account was published, together with some of Coase's (note 18) superb photographs, in the Bristol Evening Post (note 19) Browne also kept Balch informed of progress at the site and in August 1947 sent him a sketch plan of what had been discovered. (note 20)

Above Main Chamber the explorers moved through a succession of chambers until they finally dropped into the magnificent 'Throne Room' bearing two large stalagmites 'Queen Victoria' and 'The King'.  The chambers discovered contained some of the finest formations ever seen in a Mendip cave and the then contemporary cavers were struck by their beauty and were admirably described by Stan Treasure of the BEC in 1949 (note 21):

 ‘…..There are about eight chambers of immense size, with pure white banks of stalagmite cascading towards the cavern floor ... and in some of the caverns the floor, walls and ceilings are completely covered with stalactite and stalagmite formations .... The "Throne Room" is an impressive sight, the chief feature being two huge stalagmites which have been likened in appearance to Queen Victoria confronted by a pageboy.  Making our way across the slippery floor studded with "candlestick" stalagmite formations we came upon a charming grotto - a real gem of the cave system.  The whole cavern was just as a child would imagine fairyland to be, with banks of "Snow" and hundreds of little "icicles", and the floor covered with stalagmites of many hues .. , '

Today sadly, a mere fifty years or so after the chambers were first entered - I wonder how many visitors gain the same impression as Stan Treasure did in 1949?

COASE SURVEY

During the Autumn of 1947, Coase, Stanbury, Geoff Ridyard and Browne surveyed the cave to CRG Grade 2. From what can be gathered at this time interval the survey was never published.  Though a low grade it was using the grading system later used in a publication on the topic published by the Cave Research Group. (note 22) Later, at the end of July 1949, Coase with the help of Ratcliffe and Ridyard, undertook a resurvey of Stoke Lane One to CRG Grade 4.  This replaced the original 1947 survey of the same set of passages. A mock-up survey of the CRG Grade 4 Stoke Lane One and CRG Grade Two surveys was pieced together from two separate dyeline prints but never redrawn to that standard.  For whatever reason the survey was never published.

Notes

1.                  Berman E., 1950, Report for 1947. MNRC Rep (40) in WNHAS Report for 1947-49, 9-11.

2.                  The report was duly pasted into Balch's Badger Hole Diary, now housed in Wells Museum Library, and he, Balch, added at the top of the page "Pat Brown's Account of his important discovery at Stoke Lane May June July 1947 and of persons contributing to the work.' Browne also sent Balch a second, more detailed, report (undated) after the main exploration had taken place. This report too is in the Badger Hole Diary

3.                  All were students from King's School, Bruton, Somerset

4.                  In the floor of Corkscrew Chamber.

5.                  The water trap was not Sump I but the outlet at Cairn Chamber. 

6.                  Browne, Patrick M., 1947, Stoke Lane Slocker BEC Bel Bull(5)1-3(July) also reprinted in the following:
      Browne, Patrick M., 1949, Stoke Lane Swallet, on Mendip. Brit Cav 19,35-37
      Browne, Patrick M., 1959, Stoke Lane Slocker BEC Bel Bul Digest 1(1)3-7(June)
      Browne, Patrick M. and Hasell, Dan H., 1974, Stoke Lane 1947. BEC Bel Bull(317)47-52(Mar) [History reprinted from Bel Bul (5), 1947]

7.                  So-called following the discovery of a circular route, the two ends were separated by an impossibly tight squeeze which allowed cavers to tough fingers but not pass through

8.                  Brown, Patrick M., 1947, [as above]

9.                  Brown, Patrick M., 1947, [as above]

10.              Brown, Patrick M., 1947, [as above]

11.              In the early 1950s post winter floods slowly modified the stream route. Though it disappeared at the start of Pebble Crawl, it began to reappear at the start of Stoney Crawl, during the post winter high water levels it gradually began flowing towards Cairn Chamber giving the caver a thorough wetting when passing the 'Nutmeg Grater'.
Cheramodytes [pseudo O.C. Lloyd], 1956, Mendip Notes. WCC Jn l4 (55) 40-43 (Mar)

12.              Coase, Donald A., 1947, Stoke Lane n Brit Cav 17, 43-45

13.              Balcombe, F. Graham, 1987, [as above]

14.              Coase, Donald A., 1947 [as above]

15.              Since that time the Bailey-Ward Series, 600ft of extremely low and wet passages have followed the missing section of the stream course. Only passable in low water conditions. Originally dug into by Avon Caving group in 1971 and pushed to its limit by West London Caving Club in 1974. A through trip is not possible.

16.              This led to a small sandy floored chamber, Sand Chamber and above it the C.B. Chamber [CoaseBrowne Chamber], another connection with this chamber is via the 'Changing Room' a small dry alcove a little down the active streamway an ideal place for the early explorers to change into more comfortable gear

17.              Coase, Donald A, 1947, [as above]

18.              Don Coase was not only an outstanding cave diver of his era but was also well-known for his photographic ability.

19.              Hucker, William, 1947, Most Beautiful of all Mendip Caves /I With Skeleton of Primitive Caveman and This is New to You.  Bristol Evening Post, 9th July [Stoke Lane Slocker -Stoke 2 discoveries; photos of Coase, Innes, Browne]

20.              Balch, H.E., 1949, Badger Hole Diaries, 1942-1953

21.              Treasure, S.G., 1949, Can you find a Better Hole'.  BEC Belfry Bulletin 3(25)2-4 [July,1949]

22.              Butcher, Arthur L., 1950, Cave Survey. CRG Pub. (3)


 

Bats Off To A Life Of Luxury

SCIENCE BRIEFING - The Times. November 10 1997 BATS OFF TO A LIFE OF LUXURY

By Nigel Hawkes

BAT-LOVERS may soon be winging it to Johnson City, Texas, where the world's largest artificial bat cave has been built in a ranch belonging to J. David Bamberger, the former boss of a fried chicken chain.  Mr Bamberger, an unashamed bat enthusiast, told The New York Times, "Bats are going to overtake dinosaurs in popularity."

The cave consists of a series of linked igloo-shaped enclosures made from a framework of steel reinforcing bars covered in a form of concrete called gunite, whose nobbly texture evidently suits bats.  It is likely that the bat hotel, or chiroptorium, will be occupied by Mexican Free-tail bats as soon as it is finished as they already colonise virtually every building in the vicinity.  More than a million roost under a bridge in nearby Austin.

As a further temptation, Mr Bamberger - who has spent $250,000 (£150,000) on the cave's 22 tons of steel bar, 10,000 square feet of metal lath, and 250 square yards of gunite - is providing a temperature-controlled environment and a layer of bat guano on the floor.

Mexican Free-tailed Bats

Chris Smart

The following is reprinted from the "Science Briefing" of "The Times" newspaper of November 10 1997.  Grateful thanks are due to the original author, Nigel Hawkes and to Mike Murphy the Managing Editor of News International Internet Publishing for permission to reprint.

It concerns the insectivorous Mexican Free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) that is sometimes known as the Guano Bat, a fast flying member of the Molossidae family. According to the Bat Conservation International, Inc., a bat conservation body of the USA, there are approximately 1.5 million Mexican Free-tailed bats in Austin, Texas where they provide a spectacular fly past every evening in summer.  However, this number pales into insignificance against the biggest bat colony known, the reported 20 million Mexican Free-tails from Bracken Cave at San Antonio, Texas which consume approximately 250 tons of insects every night.

World-wide, bats are the most important natural enemies of night-flying insects and it has been calculated that the huge population of Mexican Free-tailed bats in Texas may account for more than 6,600 tons of insects per year.  They apparently will sometimes fly up to two miles high to feed or in order to catch tail winds that carry them over long distances at speeds of more than 60 miles per hour (> 100kmlhr).

Mexican Free-tailed bats are born furless and have to cluster together for warmth.  The pups are born with their eyes-open and feet-first. They have been observed as apparently beginning to groom themselves with their feet even before they have fully emerged from the birth canal.

In the neighbouring state of New Mexico the well-known Carlsbad Cavern is famous for its colony of 300,000 Mexican free-tail bats.  In summer, at dawn and dusk, visitors are treated to a display of huge flocks of the bats that dive and swirl in their daily hunt for food. Their exodus from the cavern can last as long as two hours, with huge columns of bats spiralling out of the darkness.

Blitz

 


 

A Weekend In Belgium

By Chris Harvey (Zot)

I suppose it was my fault really for getting up late, but wouldn't you if you had been drinking Trappiste the night before with this set of crazy Dutch alpinists who were posing as cavers for the weekend.  Anyway, when I finally emerged from the bunkroom of the hostel where we were staying, there they were all arguing and sometimes raising their voices, but all the time giving me black looks.

When I asked them what was wrong they just told me to go to the galley and fix myself some breakfast, which I did with not the greatest of enthusiasm!  But then nor would you if you had drunk as much Trappiste as I had the night before, anyway, I went away and cooked my breakfast which later proved to be inadequate.

When I had finished it I went back to see how the shouting match was getting on and I found to my surprise that everyone was smiling and happy and it had all been sorted out.

When I asked what was wrong for the second time that morning it turned out that the leader of the party thought it was too late to 'do' the cave we had planned to do, and he thought it was a very poor show if grown people could not go to bed and go to sleep like any other normal people, I think he was forgetting one important fact, he had a member of the B.E.C in his midst.

Actually it was not all my fault, because we all went to the bunkroom in really high spirits and the majority of us really did not feel like sleeping at all.  So, when we got to the bunkroom, all hell broke loose and we did not get to sleep until about 4 in the morning.  Everyone started playing around with the lights and then someone said they were hungry, so we had to try and break into the galley, that was locked when the staff went to bed, but this proved too much, even for a B.E.C. member, and so we all turned in around 4 am.

The next thing I knew, through the veils of a alcoholic haze someone was shaking me and saying in an urgent voice, “Please get up Chris, its 10 o'clock and if you don't Henk will be very annoyed."  But I really did not feel like getting out of my nice warm sleeping bag, but then nor would you if you had a little man inside your head with a jack-hammer seeking liberty, so that was how it all started.

It was an hour's journey to the cave and we started out in two cars about 11 am.  Travelling in the first car were Ron Hoogstadt, Edmond Stamm, and Henk Van Dyke, while I travelled in the other car with Willy Stamm, Agatha Van Dyke and Kees Hoogstadt, who sadly, is no longer with us.

We had been on the road to the cave for about 50 minutes, when suddenly we pulled on to the forecourt of a transport cafe.  Kees then left the car to speak to the driver in the other car which was being driven by his brother Ron.  After about five minute’s discussion and pointing at a map, Kees came back to the car and said. "We think we know where the cave is, but since we were here last, they have built some new roads and it all looks very different, but I am sure we will find it eventually".  So, off we drove back in the direction we had come from, then about half a mile further on we left the road and took to the hills and that's where our troubles really started.

Well, it wasn't troubles really, it was just that our intrepid leader and the rest of the party could not agree as to the proper way to the said cave.  We came into a village and they decided to ask some of the locals the way to "La grot" and there was much pointing and nodding of heads, then they all shook hands, got back in the cars and we shot off down the road again.

A little way down the road there was a sign saying "TO THE CAVE" so we set off to the cave, down an unmade road that made the Belfry track look like the M6, then they decided "this is not the way", so we had to turn around again shoot back the way we had come, back through the village and out the other side.

Then we stopped at a farm to enquire the way.  To my surprise the whole lot of them got out and went to the farm and again there was much nodding and waving of hands and lots of pointing, then finally they all came back to the cars and off we sped again.

We had to turn around once more, go back though the village and down the valley to the bottom of the hill, along the valley bottom for about 1 kilometre and then up the next valley to a little village called" Mont-Sur-Meuse " where we stopped for a cup of coffee at a local caver's pub called "AU SPELEO".  When we had finished the coffee, having read all the dirty postcards that covered one of the doors and having discovered the right route to the cave we sped off once more.

The entrance to the Trou Bernard is in a depression approximately 5 metres deep.  To my surprise the entrance was not gated and there is a plaque dedicated to the lives of two cavers who died of exhaustion in the cave in 1963.  The first pitch is of 10 metres depth and is just 2.5 metres into the system.  Henk laddered the pitch and asked me if I would like to go first so I said OK, having descended for about 5 metres into a very solutional tube 1 metre across.  Deciding to look to the bottom of the pitch I discovered that the ladder was too short by at least 5 metres.  I don't think Henk believed me when I called back up the pitch and told him. "Stay there" he called to me "and I will come down and look for myself," so down he came and had a little look.  When he had satisfied himself that it was too short he decided that we would have to put a rope down and use our descenders.  After I had finished on the rope Henk lowered the ladder down the pitch which was to be used on another pitch further into the cave, and then the rest of the party came safely to the bottom of the first pitch.

The translation of "Les Chicanes" is "The Tricks" and it lives up to its name by the tricks you have to perform to get out of the bloody place as you will learn later, after "Les Chicanes" comes the "Passage Superieur" which means upper passage and is quite small, not dissimilar to the Drainpipe in Goatchurch in size and length.

At the end of the upper passage we came to the top of the"Salle du Bassin ou des Cherunees" or "room of the basin or chimneys", which is a 10 metre pitch, where again we used S.R.T.  Then we had to negotiate an awkward little squeeze at the head of another 10 metre pitch, which was duly laddered as we had used all of the short lengths of rope we had with us, and we descended into "Salle du bec ou de la Vierge" or "Room of the beak or the Virgin".

On crossing to the other side of this chamber and climbing up around a big boulder, we came to the head of a 40 metre pitch called "Ie nid d'aigle" or " The Eagle's nest."  Grand Puits ou, The Big hole, or "Salle de la Cathedrale".  "The Cathedral Room," as it is in English, and I can assure you it is really as big as its name sounds.  Henk was to go first, followed by myself, then Agat, Ron, and Edmond, with Kees bringing up the rear.  Henk clipped the rope into his descender and with a cheerful "see you downstairs" he was gone, it was quite a while before he shouted back to say that he had landed safely.

So it was my turn, as I clipped the rope into my descender and looked at the Belay.  (Did you know that over there that nearly all the belays are bolts, and over there, when they are doing a cave with a pitch in it, they always have to carry a spanner and a flimsy little piece of bent tin to hang the ladder on, not like wot we got over here: nice chunky hangers, well that's what it looked like to me anyway.)

The worst bit, if one could call it that, was going over the edge, but once I had got that over with I just laid back and enjoyed myself.  I don't suppose it took more than a minute to make the decent, but it certainly felt longer, but I can't explain why.

I landed a few feet below Henk, who was standing behind a big boulder, so I unclipped and joined him. After we had all landed safely on a big wide ledge I noticed that the rope continued on down for maybe another 6 or 7 metres into the beginning of the "labyrinth", which is another part of the cave that really lives up to its name.  Apart from going round in circles it’s bloody tight that is why I declined the offer to look at that bit of the cave, cos I ain't as small as I used to be.  I think the other three went to the sump, at least I assume they did from all the grunting and talking in Dutch that was going on.  When they all came back from the sump we had a quick look round, decided there was no more to be seen and it was time to be heading out.

So there I was 2 feet off the ground at the start of this 40 metre pitch hanging in these bl**dy prussic loops that I knew already to be to long and to make things even worse I hadn't ever done any S.R.T. up before.  (Oh yes, I can hear all you young tigers sat back in your rocking chairs laughing and spilling your beer all down the front of your pants but this was just not funny.) As I started upward all these crazy things started going through my mind.  "What if the rope breaks?"; "What if my harness breaks?"; "My slings are to long?"; "I could do with a drink"; "Its hurting"; "What if my lamp fails?"; "I could still do with a drink"; "What if I want a piss?"; "What if ?"  Then all of a sudden I was staring at this little piece of bent tin that was holding everything up.  I was never more glad to see a piece of bent tin in all my life.  So off the top of the pitch I got and flopped back against the smooth limestone wall to let my pulse rate go down a bit.  When it had settled down, I called back down the pitch that everything was alright and I was clear of the top of the pitch so all the rest of them came up safely.

But that was not the end of the epic.  If you can remember on the way in, we passed a place called "Les Chicanes". Well, we still had to negotiate that yet, and it's more difficult getting out because you have got to climb up it in the bottom of a phreatic trench, and it's just a little bit awkward and not to mention the tightness of the beast!  Well it's not tight really, but you see I had this chest harness on, and try as I would I just could not get up the bl**dy thing with it on.  I had about half a dozen attempts, I just could not make it even with a handline looped around a natural belay, so off came the chest harness and it was a piece of cake after that.  All the time I had been messing about in this thing which was quite a while, like about half an hour.  All the rest had been talking in raised voices to Renk, who was leading at this time, saying that they were getting cold and why couldn't this crazy English caver get his arse in gear and get a move on out of the bl**dy place, then we could all go and drink some more Trappiste!

At long last I was clear of the obstacle and then I sat at top to watch the others up and it did seem strange to me that they did not seem to have as much trouble as I did.  Then when they were all safely up I suddenly realised why.  When they had seen the trouble I was having by keeping my chest harness on they had seen the good sense in removing theirs.

When we were all up ok, we stopped for a snack and for a stock check of our condition and well being, and it turned out that we all seemed to be alright, despite the fact that when we started that morning we were not in the best of health.  Still I would hate to be a Teetotaller because when you wake up in the morning you realise that's the best you are going to feel all day!

The rest of the trip out was quite uneventful, except when we arrived at the entrance pitch, I was quite surprised to see a ladder hanging there.  Apparently what had happened is that when the people at the back of the party had heard that the ladder was too short had gone back to the car to get some more, which I did not know was there, and had dropped it in without me knowing.  We had a ladder and a rope on the pitch, so we were able to self-lifeline up the entrance pitch.

And so that was the end of a most enjoyable trip but only just the beginning of another memorable evening in the local hostelry on the stuff that vaguely resembles Guinness but does twice the amount of damage!

(I can vouch for the damage - While editing this article I was enjoying supping a bottle of Trappiste I brought back from my Belgium trip - Ed!!!)

Chris Harvey 1992

It has taken me about 18 years to finish this article, and hand it to the Editor so I hope its been worth waiting for.


 

A To Z of The Bristol Exploration Club

(This was compiled in the Hunters, by a selection of members, on one drunken Saturday night!!!!)

A          Aroma (See Q) Also Jake & Gobshite + most cavers after a trip!

B          Beer/Barrel/Belfry (All Related)!

BB        Belfry Boy!

C          Carnal Knowledge -The Vetting of Young Members!

CC        Crockery Cricket!

D          Digging (See J) Destroyer of Roads!

E          Explosions (See Q)!

F          Fire Breathing on Request!

G          Gonorrhoea-Goitre-Gout!

H          Hunters Lodge - The Only Place To Be!

I           Ignite - e.g. Furniture, Farts, etc!

J           Jarratt's Roadslide (See D)!

K          Kounterfeit Kondoms - Issued On Request!

L          Lockheed Tri-Star (Quackers) Wide Bodied With Jet a Engine at the Rear!

M         Members (No Women) Only Members!

N          Noxious Gas (See Q & F)!

O          Open All Hours!

P          Anywhere You Like!

Q          Quackers - Glutinous Maximus Emissions!

R          Rugby - All Donations Of Sofas Greatly Appreciated!

S          Sex and Travel!

T          Temperance At All Times (At The Shepton & Wessex)!

U          Underwear - Complete With Skidmarks!

V          Violation (See BB)!

W         Willie - See Mike Willett!

X          X-rated - Average Saturday Night!

Y          Yawn - As In The Technicolor Variety!

Z          Zot - QUOTE "There's Nothing Wrong With Nudity Fellas!"

 


 

Wookey 1997

By Clive Stell

Throughout 1997 Tim Chapman, Jon Edwards and Clive Stell have been exploring the end of Wookey Hole. The current end is formed by a chamber at a water depth of 50m and a low bedding continuance leading down to -70m or more.  The last advance was achieved by Rob Parker in 1985 when he push through the Martyn Farr's limit and attained a water depth of 67.5m in a tight inclined bedding with a dangerously lose gravel floor.

During the early months of the year the team undertook a number of Air and Mixed gas dives in the terminal sump and attained depths of over 60m.  It was decided that operating at these depths on air and in such a trying environment was not safe due to Nitrogen Narcosis, a drunken effect caused by breathing air at depth, therefore a series of mixed gas dives were planned for the summer months.

On 29 June the task of moving equipment into Wookey Hole and on to the advanced dive base in Chamber 24 began.  Approximately 30 cylinders were carried through to Chamber 24 with a total weight in the region of 300 Kg.

The plan was that each diver should make two Trimix dives during the third week in August.  For the dives into the terminal sump two side mounted 7 litre cylinders of Trimix 19/35, a chest mounted cylinder of Nitrox 50 and a hand carried cylinder of Nitrox 80 were employed.  The Nitrox 50 was used as a travel mix and breath down to a depth of 18m and then clipped to the line ready to be picked up on return. The divers then switched to the Trimix which was breathed below 18m.  When returning to the surface the divers switched back to the Nitrox 50 at 18m and started the decompression.  At -9m the divers started breathing from the Nitrox 80 cylinder which had earlier been staged on the line.  The uses of the Nitrox mixes resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of decompression required.

The emphasis throughout was on reducing the kit to a minimum.  Each diver had a relatively short bottom time (between eight and ten minutes), but it was hoped that with streamlining the equipment each dive would make progress though the tight bedding plan.  A relatively lean mix of Trimix was used, thus enabling the divers to use the Trimix to inflate the drysuits without causing the cooling effect of the helium to become unbearable.  Decompression was extremely chilly, but this did not represent a serious problem.

After the completion of the main week of diving and the removal of the kit the divers have continued their exploration and will carry on, when the weather permits, through out the winter.

The following log represents our years diving at Wookey Hole:

22nd Jan

Climbing in Chamber 25 and carrying Tanks into Chamber 24 for Trimix dives.

9th Feb

Two air dives in the terminal sump achieving a max depth of 61.7m.

22nd Feb

Looking for possible ongoing passages out of the chamber at -50m in the terminal sump.

5th April

Cylinders for Trimix dives carried through to Chamber 24.

12th April

Two Trimix dives in the terminal sump.  The squeeze reached on previous air dives was passed.

13th April

Equipment left on previous dive was removed.

Due to the Wookey Hole Slide Show and the Witch Magic Cavern being set up in Chamber 9ii the following dives were undertaken either from Chamber 3 or at night.

29th June

Equipment dived from Chamber 3 to 22.

12th July

Equipment dived from Chamber 9ii to 22 (evening).

13th July

Equipment moved from Chamber 22 to the advanced dive base in Chamber 24.

19th July

9ii re-opened to divers.  More cylinders taken into Chamber 24.

20th July

Three air dives to the next squeeze in the in the terminal sump were planned.  Only two dives were undertaken due to a dry suit getting ripped and flooding in Chamber 24 which resulted in a very wet exit.

27th July

The third air dive was undertaken with a repaired dry suit.

2-3rd Aug

The first of the Trimix bottles were taken through to Chamber 24.  One diver had to abort when the A-Clamp on an old regulator became dislodged from the bottle and dumped all the air.

10th Aug

Photographic trip.

16-17th Aug

Remaining Trimix bottles taken through to Chamber 24.

Trimix Dive;
The Diver hit the squeeze and examined two possible window slots.  The line leading to the main route forward was embedded in deep gravel and was not passable without substantial digging.  A low arch to the right was tightish and looked to continue in a similar fashion. On the left was a slightly more open squeeze, beyond which the roof appeared to rise.  The diver spent a few minutes tidying up the line and tying on a new line reel.  He then kicked a way through the gravel in the left hand squeeze and exited leaving the reel for the next diver. A return was made to the surface after a dive of 43 minutes.

19th Aug

Trimix Dive;
The diver followed the line down to -40m in very poor visibility, being only half an hour after the above dive.  At -40m the water cleared.  After considerable digging the diver had cleared sufficient gravel from the left hand slot to allow access through the squeeze. He backed though and realised that there would be no possibility of securing the line on the other side.  The Moving gravel floor and the smooth ceiling did not offer any belaying opportunities.  The diver regained the surface after a dive of 43 minutes.

21st Aug

Trimix Dive;
On reaching the squeeze the diver backed through the slot and picked up the line reel.  The speed of the descent and the lean trimix left the diver experiencing rather unpleasant nitrogen narcosis.  Backing down the bedding the way on became unexpectedly tight.  The lack of possible belays was also causing concern.  It was noted that as the diver passed through the slot that gravel from above moved down filling the space thus making it necessary for the diver to dig his way out. In the low visibility caused by digging and with the possibility of the line moving because of the lack of belays the diver considered the probability of trying to dig out through an impassable slot.  A safe exit was then made with the narcosis subsiding at -40m.  The total dive time was 45 minutes.

21st Aug

Trimix Dive;
The diver laid a further section of line past the squeeze proceeding sideways down the slope until the route became too tight to continue.  It was felt that the line was now at the wrong side of a roof projection.  Again the diver was concerned that the line was moving down the bedding plan into tighter areas.  A careful retreat was made in low visibility with a dive time of 45 minutes.

23rd Aug

Further Trimix dives were planned but due to the loss of a bag, between 9ii and Chamber 22, containing the decompression schedules and a dive computer the trip was postponed. The bag has now been found.

30-31st Aug

Photographic trip.

25th Oct

Trimix Dive;
Due to valve failure in the terminal sump, the decompression mix was unavailable to the diver.  The Decompression was therefore reassessed (guest) and a shallower dive was made to examine the chamber at -50m.  On reaching the chamber the diver tied off a search reel and ascended to a dark slot in the roof.  The diver passed through the slot into a small chamber above the main chamber but no way on could be found.  The diver broke the surface after 40 minutes and showed no ill effects after the guest decompression on the wrong gas mix.

2nd Nov

Trimix Dive;
The final dive of the six Trimix dives planned for the summer was made.  After the dive on 21st Aug Mendip had unseasonably heavy rain, which resulted in numerous postponements of attempts on the end.  The diver was surprised by the changes that had occurred at the end during this time.

9th Nov

Moving empty cylinders from Chamber 24 back to Chamber 22 and general tidying after the summer flood.

15th Nov

Cylinders taken out of cave from Chamber 22.

Now as the winter draws in and the weekends when the conditions are suitable for diving are fewer, we start to plan for next year.


 

The BEC Song

Tune: Sweet Lass of Richmond

Author: G. Weston

A local bloke from Rodney Stoke
More fond of beer than labour
Was recommended by a friend
To go and be a caver
He said, “Your thirst is not the first
Of such capacity.
I know a crown who’ll do you proud
Go join the BEC.”

Go join the BEC, go join th BEC
That boozy crew will do for you
Go join the BEC

The M.C.G. brew splendid tea
Which makes them rather merry.
The Speleo’s look down their nose
At tipple less that sherry
The Shepton brood are rude and crude
When drinking at the local.
But worse by far, the Wessex are
Exclusively teetotal.

Go join the BEC, go join th BEC
That boozy crew will do for you
Go join the BEC

Each Friday night, we all get tight
As soon as we are able.
By half past eight we lie in state
Beneath the Belfry table.
By nine o’clock, our knees may knock,
We stagger out despite ‘em.
By half past ten, we’re sloshed again
And so on ad infinitum

Go join the BEC, go join th BEC
,
Whatever is worth doing, we will do it to excess.


 

Beer Quotes

•           You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline-it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. --Frank Zappa.

•           Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk.  That will teach you to keep your mouth shut. --Ernest Hemmingway.

•           Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me. --Winston Churchill.

•           He was a wise man who invented beer.--Plato.

•           Time is never wasted when you're wasted all the time.--Catherine Zandonella.

•           Sir, if you were my husband, I would poison your drink. --Lady Astor to Winston Churchill. Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it. --His reply.

•           If God had intended us to drink beer, he would have given us stomachs. --David Daye.

•           Work is the curse of the drinking class. --Oscar Wilde.

•           When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading. -- Henny Youngman.

•           Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. --Benjamin Franklin.

•           If you ever reach total enlightenment while drinking beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose. --Deep Thought, Jack Handy.

•           Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza. --Dave Barry.

•           The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind. --Humphrey Bogart.

•           Why is American beer served cold?  So you can tell it from urine. --David Moulton.

•           People who drink light "beer" don't like the taste of beer; they just like to pee a lot. --Capital Brewery, Middleton, WI.

•           Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world. --Kaiser Wilhelm.

•           I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer. --Homer Simpson.

•           Not all chemicals are bad.  Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer. --Dave Barry.

•           I drink to make other people interesting. --George Jean Nathan.

•           They who drink beer will think beer. --Washington Irving.

•           An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools. --For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemmingway.

•           You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on. --Dean Martin.

•           All right, brain, I don't like you and you don't like me - so let's just do this and I'll get back to killing you with beer. --Homer Simpson.

•           Beer makes you feel as you ought to feel without beer --Henry Lawson.

•           For a quart of ale is a dish for a King --Shakespeare (The Winter's Tale).

•           The track o' life is dry enough, an' crossed with many a rut, but we'll find it longer still when all the pubs is shut. --Henry Lawson.

•           A man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated, has not the art of getting drunk. --Samuel Johnson


 

Meghalaya 1997

By Estelle Sandford

The state of Meghalaya lies in Northeast India, south of Assam and north of Bangladesh. Anglo-German-Meghalayan Adventurers teams had undertaken four previous trips.  The first two were very restricted, as Meghalaya had a Restricted Area Permit applied to it, which involved a lot of paperwork to get in. By the third trip this permit had been lifted, and a team from the Meghalayan Adventurers joined the expedition.

These three trips had explored the state as a whole, to find the best limestone areas, as the state gradually became more accessible.  A short fourth trip concentrated on the Jaintia Hills area of Lumshnong. Lumshnong had already been identified as a major caving area, so our plans were to concentrate mainly on this and the surrounding areas for trip number 5.

The Team

British: Simon Brooks, Tony Boycott, Estelle Sandford, Tony (J'Rat) Jarratt, Paul Edmonds and Andy Tyler.

German: Daniel Gebauer, Georg Baumler, Samm Uwe Scherzer, Richard (Ritschie) Frank and Werner Busch

Meghalayan Adventurers: Brian Kharpran-Daly, Kaiman C. Hiwol Passah, George Lyngdoh, Donbok Syiemlieh, Colonel Fair-Weather Mylliemngap, Nicky Thapa, Spindro Dhkar, Raphael Warjri, Roilang Lyngdoh, ThyWilIBeDone, Marcos Mukhim, Spirit Lamare, Worlin Lamare and Anand Jamatia.

Saturday 8th February

Expedition fever is setting in. The kit is all packed and we assemble in the Hunters for our last night. A good quantity of ale is drunk, so as we don't forget what it tastes like!!

Sunday 9th February

Final sort out of kit, a fax sent to book our rooms in the Astoria in Calcutta, and it's off to Bristol to meet Simon and Jenni.  Graham Mullan and Jenni gave us a lift to Heathrow, where we met Paul.  We were lucky we turned up early - our Air India flight was overbooked and we might not have got on if we were much later.  We picked up 2 bottles of Jamesons at the duty free - 1 for Brian and 1 for the first km.

Monday 10th February

Arrived in Calcutta at lunchtime.  Offloaded our kit into the Astoria hotel, and off to the Khalsa Punjabi restaurant for lunch. Simon rang Brian and was advised that there was a Bandh (strike) in Shillong and the borders were closed for the next 2 days.  We had a choice: keep our original flight to Guwahati, Assam, and spend the next 2 days there, or change our flight to Thursday and stay in Calcutta.  We decided on Calcutta, on the grounds we know it has a reasonable nightlife!

Tuesday 11th February

Went and saw Mr Khrishna at the Indian Tourism office.  Steak in The Park lunchtime, and Thai in The Oberoi for evening.  Got locked out of the hotel and Tony B. had to climb in to get them to let us in.

Wednesday 12th February

Took in most of the tourist spots in Calcutta, including the site of the Black Hole (which isn't advertised as such!).

Thursday 13th February

4:30 start to catch the Guwahati flight. Caught the bus to Shillong - I think we will be paying the extra next time for a taxi!  Arrived at the Embassy Hotel and met up with the 5 Germans.

Round Brian's for a party later.  We all had too much to drink and Andy put a new meaning to the phrase "Fancy an Indian?"!!!  We got locked out of our hotel again and had to wake the staff up.

Friday 14th February

Loaded up all our kit into minibus and trailer and went to Lumshnong, to a bungalow that was to be our home for the next couple of weeks.  14 of us plus our cooks made our little bungalow very cosy!  Sampled several bottles of the local beers.

Saturday 15th February

At last - Caving.

Split into four teams. Estelle, Georg and Ritschie went to check out potential high level passages in Krem Urn Lawan above the streamway. A 900m maze was found after an easy climb up from the Urn Lawan streamway, with most of the passages ending, over-looking one of the stream passages.  One of the passages was named Cauliflower passage, due to the resemblance of the formations to said vegetable.  Spam, provided by Ritschie was much appreciated at lunchtime.

Simon, J'Rat and Tony made the first connection in the attempt to link up Krem Kot Sati to Krem Urn Shor and Krem Urn Lawan, when they succeeded in connecting Krem Kot Sati to Krem Urn Shor, by J'Rat's Mendip style, boulder pile disassembly from the bottom, method!  The connection added 150m towards the total.

Paul and Andy went to try to push the downstream end of Krem Urn Lawan; they descended a 10m pitch, but they were soon prevented from making any further progress by a large collapse, which absorbed the entire stream.

Daniel, Brian, Samm and Werner were checking out some streamway leads, they found and surveyed 400m.

Our total for the day was well over the first km, so we smugly drank the Jamesons.

Sunday 16th February

Estelle, Georg, Ritschie, Daniel, Werner and Brian went fossil passage hunting again, this time at the top end of Urn Lawan streamway.  The area was very collapsed and only a small amount of passage was found today. Some of the Shoulder Maze was also surveyed.

Simon, J'Rat and Tony made the second connection when they joined Krem Urn Shor to Krem Urn Lawan. The passage totalled about 500m, and consisted of a lake which they used the inflatable boats for, a duck, more streamway, and joined Krem Urn Lawan near Put Lyer entrance after descending a 10m pitch.  The Lumshnong System was now some 13 km long.  Paul, Andy, Samm, Kaiman and George went to Thangskei to a cave called Krem Labbit and surveyed 800m of reasonable sized passage.

Monday 17th February

Estelle, J'Rat, Tony and Paul went to a cave at Thangskai, called Krem Malo.  About 5 years previously, a coal lorry carrying 7 people had fallen down the entrance.  The locals had built a bamboo ladder and had brought out the bodies and the useful bits of lorry.  This must have been some feat, as once we had descended the shaft; we discovered that the pitch was 50m.  (We had experienced using bamboo ladders in Siju cave in previous trips, and they feel extremely precarious at 10m, so it would be almost unimaginable what they would be like at 50m!)  The lorry was neatly located the right way up in a chamber that it fitted perfectly into; it was still just about recognisable as a Tata.  We explored the largest passage off the entrance chamber, and soon found a streamway and a maze of dry passages.  Realising that this was probably going to be quite a big system, we split up into twos and went exploring, hoping to find an easier, alternative entrance, so we could return at a later date with a larger team. After exploring for some time we decided we had better do some surveying and exit the cave.  We surveyed only the main streamway and the entrance chamber, but still managed nearly 500m.  There is a lot of work left in here for a future trip.

Andy, Samm and George went back to Krem Labbit and the cave finished after less than 200m Simon, Daniel, Georg and Brian went to investigate the Lukha valley, which is one of the areas, where Krem Urn Lawan water might resurge.  They found several small caves, but not the cave that the locals were reputed to put the logs into in the monsoon season and they come out in Bangladesh!

Tuesday 18th February

Estelle, Tony, J'Rat, Simon, Brian and Paul went back to Thangskai village to try to find some more caves.  Looked at a large depression with choked entrances all around its edge (Krem Thangskai) but no ways on.  We went to twin depressions with 2 caves (both called Synrang Skei) several coal mines and a waterfall which came out of the cliff about half way down in one side. The cave that took the waterfall was small, wet and full of frogs (and where there's frogs there's snakes!) it is probably one of the sinks for Krem Malo.  The second, complete with a large number of big trees in the entrance passages, was big, dry and ended in a drop with a choke at the bottom; it was 50m long.

The other depression had quite a lot of entrances, all but one choked.  This one was called Krem Urn So, and had a spectacular entrance with trees wedged in the wall 15m above the entrance.  Paul went on as scout, while Tony, J'Rat and I surveyed our way in. Paul came back reporting a sump 30m beyond, and then went on out to join Simon and Brian.  We continued and found the sump, complete with the high-level sump bypass, named Lost Opportunities in respect to Paul.  The cave was quite big; it followed one main passage for most of the way, occasionally finding pools and streamway.  We surveyed 600m and left our kit (ready for tomorrow) at a big 3-way junction.  Simon, Paul and Brian didn't find anything else around the Thangskai area.

Daniel, Ritschie and Samm found 400m in the canals in Krem Kot Sati.  Georg and Andy checked out several local sites and found nothing significant or worth pushing.

Wednesday 19th February

Estelle, Tony, J'Rat, Simon and Paul went back to Krem Urn So.  We arrived at the junction from yesterday and Simon realised he'd forgotten to bring a tape!  We took 10m off the sole tape so they could do some surveying, even if the legs were a bit short.  Estelle, Tony and J'Rat went through a big collapsed chamber and found a big streamway, named The Dream Stream, which continued for some way before sinking into a small hole in the floor, just beyond a 25m entrance shaft.  A crawl followed and after much protest from Estelle and Tony, J'Rat disassembled another boulder choke and we continued along a streamway; this one ended in a spidery boulder choke, probably near a resurgence entrance.  The ceiling was a mass of legs and green eyes, so we didn't hang around for long! We went back to the starting point for today and met Paul and Simon, just going off up another passage.  We started on out, checking all of the small question marks from yesterday.  One small passage soon opened up and revealed 2 very well decorated, 25m+ avens, named them Gemini Silos.  Between us we surveyed about 800m in total in Krem Urn So.

Georg, Brian and Andy failed to find any thing at Musianglamare village, as they couldn't find a person to tell them where the cave was.

Daniel, Ritschie and Samm found 500m in the Western Inlets area in Krem Kot Sati.  It is now Western Inlets bypass as they connected it to the canals at the halfway landing point.

Thursday 20th February

Estelle, Paul, Tony and J'Rat had a day off and did a tourist trip!  We went in Lake inlet of Krem Urn Lawan, up Virgin streamway, up the pitch, taking the ladder as we went, through Krem Urn Shor (nice duck - you meet some interesting rubbish in the streamway!) on through the boulder choke and into Krem Kot Sati.  Nice swim/stroll through there and finally the 270m swim up the canals to Synrang Taloo (top sink entrance).  Excellent through trip; it took us 4hr 20mins to do approximately 4½-5 km of classic cave; we were very grateful for the life jackets in the canals.

Simon, Georg and Brian experimented with a bamboo maypole, with a wire ladder attached to the top; it worked brilliantly and they found 350m today with prospects of many other high level leads.

Andy, George and Spindro found a cave called Synrang Pamiang at Musianglamare and surveyed 350m with going leads.

Daniel, Ritschie and Samm found 200m in the canal area of Krem Kot Sati.

Friday 21st February

Estelle, Simon, Paul, Georg and Brian went Bamboo maypoling in Virgin Streamway in Krem Urn Lawan, and found 250m.

Colonel, Nicky, Samrn, Daniel, and Andy went back to Synrang Pamiang and surveyed another 700m; it still has lots of going leads.

Tony, J'Rat and Ritschie went back to Synrang Skei and pushed it to its entirety, all of 50m deep, to a Mendip digging session. They also went into Krem Urn So and tidied up a couple of leads we had left.

Saturday 22nd February

Estelle, Simon and Samm went back into Krem Urn Lawan to Virgin Streamway.  We looked at Dalmot Dome and decided our Bamboo pole wasn't long enough, so we continued upstream to one of Daniel's question marks, which he had pencilled in as joining Dalmot Dome.  This was not to be; we surveyed 750m heading back towards Urn Lawan streamway, nothing went anywhere near Dalmot Dome.  We named our find Georg's Dream Series, as it was everything Georg looks for in a passage! (Big, dry, fossil passages).  The formations were exceptional; there was a lot of gypsum crystals and beautifully coloured stal, some of which had obviously suffered earthquake damage, judging by the directions which they were choosing to grow. Georg and Colonel found a new, big cave just down the road from the Urn Lawan system (One for tomorrow.)

Tony, J'Rat, Daniel and Ritschie found a small amount in Krem Kot Sati, while after the trip our intrepid doctor tried to cut his finger off with a Leatherman (available from Bat Products!!) he failed, he only managed to cut down to the bone!

Paul, Andy and Brian went on a photographic trip in Krem Kot Sati.

We have discovered the reason for our food being so late each night.  Brian brings out lots of beer first and they won't feed us until we've drunk it all; we try our hardest, but it is hard work when the Germans mainly drink rum and the locals drink whisky, so it's down to us Brits to drink it! !

Sunday 23rd February

Estelle, Tony, J'Rat, Georg, Daniel, Brian, Paul and Colonel went to the new cave, Krem Urn Khang.  It was nicknamed porcupine cave after the presence of a rather smelly dead porcupine.  Krem Urn Khang has 2 main entrances off the big passage.  The rest of the cave appears to be mainly full of collapse.  J'Rat used a 'knotted rope in crack' technique to climb up into a high level passage, which he, Georg and Paul then went off to survey.  This passage continued seemingly forever in the unpleasant 'Austrian style', and then came out in a doline with several other entrances, known as Krem Urn Kharasniang.  They explored some of the other entrances and discovered that several met up, but left several needing pushing.

Simon, Andy, Samrn, Kaiman and Ritschie went to Synrang Pamiang again and surveyed another 600m; it's still going.

Monday 24th February

Estelle, Tony, J'Rat and Kaiman went on a relatively unsuccessful jungle bashing exercise for an hour, followed by a dig (using a crowbar) in Krem Urn Kharasniang.  The dig broke through very quickly and we soon found ourselves back by a smelly porcupine.  Tony had lost the pencil so we couldn't survey the cave today, so we photographed the musical stal in one of the other entrances and went and had tea.

Andy, Simon and Brian looked at a new cave in Lumshnong, just behind the church, called Krem Liat Rati. The story behind this one was, a few years ago; an elephant had fallen through the ceiling.  (Rati means elephant.)  It consisted of a cave that went into a coalmine, then went into another cave - Krem Mawiong (coalmine cave), which ended in a pitch.  The pitch was left for another occasion.

Simon, Georg and Brian then went into Krem Urn Lawan 2 (not connected to rest of system as yet) with a bamboo maypole.  They found an easier way in and some passage with leads.  Daniel, Samm, and Ritschie went into the canals in Krem Kot Sati and found about 200m

Tuesday 25th February

Estelle, Tony, Kaiman and Samm went back up the bamboo maypole into Georg's Dream series in Krem Urn Lawan. We found a connection to the streamway at Steel Drum Bypass.  We found a daylight shaft in Desperation series, which was about 10m and had a large sandstone boulder perched precariously in the top.  We also looked at a 5m pitch we had left and found that connected to known passage in Georg's Dream.  We surveyed about 300m and then we used our short cut out to Steel Drum Bypass, to Virgin Streamway.

Simon, Ritschie, Georg, Brian and Raphael went into Krem Urn Lawan 2 and connected it to Krem Urn Lawan near Surprise exit.

J'Rat, Andy, Spindro, George and Paul surveyed 200m in Krem Pohshnong at Lumshnong and looked at other local sites.

Wednesday 26th February

Estelle, Tory, Kaiman and J'Rat went to Urn Satad village, walked to Urn Stein village, and then on to a cave.  The cave was called Krem Wah Stein, where we surveyed about 80m of passage, christened Arachnophobia, due to the large number of dinner plate sized spiders, whose green eyes stared at us the whole time we were in there.  We found a boulder resurgence, near to the dry riverbed known as Wah Lariang (or Wah Tharang, dependent on which village you speak to). There is a chance that the resurgence could be from Krem Urn Lawan, but due to the general direction of Krem Urn Lawan, it is more likely to be resurging in either the Lunar or Lukha Valley. We saw several small sites on our way back, but nothing significant.

Paul, Simon, Andy, Brian, Samm and Raphael went into several of the Lumshnong caves photographing and checking out the odd lead.

Daniel, Ritschie and Georg went into Kot Sati to try to scrape together 200m to make the caves total up to 18km; they just about managed that.

Thursday 27th February

Simon, Paul, Georg, Ritschie, and Samm left for Shillong and home.

Tony, J'Rat and Brian went to Krem Urn Sahi and Krem Urn Kharasniang to try pushing the extremities to connect to Krem Urn Lawan.  They found several ways off, but nothing to connect to Krem Urn Lawan.  They found a big shaft, which they got really excited about until Daniel told them it was Rift Pot entrance to Krem Urn Lawan, and also found a large shaft behind the garage.

Daniel, Andy and Kaiman went to Chiehruphi and surveyed 250m in Krem Pyrda.  There may be fewer of us, but we're still expected to drink the same amount of beer.

Friday 28th February

Estelle, Tony, J'Rat, Brian and Spindro went into Krem Urn Khang chamber entrance and pushed every conceivable hole to try to connect it to Krem Urn Lawan and got nothing.  We looked at Krem Urn Kseh, and Tony and I'Rat went into Krem Nianglartham (scorpion cave named after the resident at the end of the cave).  We then went into Lake Entrance of Krem Urn Lawan with a 10m bamboo pole; there was nothing before the lake, but we found a few nice sites beyond the lake. Unfortunately none went any distance, so we went to the bottom of the cascades to a boulder choke and then went out. Rift pot was a bit interesting; the quarrymen use it as a rubbish dump for their unwanted rocks, so we had to dodge the flying boulders as we went past.

Andy, Daniel and Raphael went to Krem Urn Synrang at Musianglamare and surveyed 840m.

Saturday 1st March

Estelle, Tony, J'Rat, ThyWillBeDone and Marcos went down a 10m entrance pitch at Garage Pot.  The boulder floored pothole had a pitch off each side; we went for the easiest, a 5m pitch with ongoing passage, after another 5m pitch we found a streamway that resembled Urn Lawan stream, and then found the nail varnish, which meant the Germans had already put their towels here! We had connected it to passage near surprise entrance and Krem Urn Lawan 2.  Back to the entrance chamber at Garage Pot and we descended the other pitch; this one was 15m and a bit awkward, but it didn't take long to recognise Desperation when we saw it; I'd recognise that sandstone boulder anywhere. We had connected to Desperation series in Georg's Dream.  We went back into Desperation and surveyed some passages we had left in the area with a sandstone roof; these were superbly decorated with gypsum crystals, large areas of black crust gypsum and wonderful coloured formations and we surveyed 400m.

Daniel, Brian, Raphael and Kaiman surveyed 200m in Krem Urn K wu in Lumshnong.

Andy, George and Roilang surveyed a further 300m in Krem Urn Synrang at Musinglamare; it still has going leads.

Sunday 2nd March

Tony, J'Rat and Andy went down to the first pitch in Krem Mawiong, which was 15m, only J'Rat descended the pitch, the other watched the coal pillar belay point!  J'Rat found another pitch, which he didn't descend as it was breakfast time, and they were stopping the coal-miners from working. The first pitch was rigged from a pillar of coal in the mine and they couldn't get their trucks past the rope! The mine has about 50m of 1m high passage, mined only by using picks and chisels and candles for light.

We had been told about a cave just behind the timber yard.  Just behind the timber yard turned out to be about 2km behind the timber yard. The cave was called Krem Urn Rymphoh. Andy, Raphael, Spirit and Wodin went down the two pitches, to pools and then low wet passage, which then got too tight to follow.

We walked back to the tea shop and then split into 2 teams; one went photographing in Lake Entrance and one went walking to check out surface areas near to where the end of Krem Urn Lawan should be.  On the way back we were shown 4 entrances, all called Krem Urn Lawan, and all unknowns to cavers, at this stage.  One choked, and the other three had pitches just inside the entrances.

Monday 3rd March

Raphael, Anand, Kaiman and George went on a photography trip into Krem Urn Khang.  We were leaving Lumshnong with Krem Kot Sati/Krem Urn Lawan as the longest and deepest in the Indian sub-continent at 18.67km long and 200m deep, thus establishing India as a worthwhile caving area in comparison to the rest of Southeast Asia.

We packed our kit up and waited for the jeep to pick us up.  Eventually we left Lumshnong for residency in the circuit house in Jowai.

Tuesday 4th March

Early start and it's off to Krem Lashing at Pdengshakap.  We had two main leads in the cave, so we split into two teams and went surveying. Estelle, Daniel, Brian, Donbok, Raphael and Anand went to the area which Daniel, Simon and Chris had left in 1995; it went for about 160m and ended in a boulder choke.

Tony, J'Rat, Andy and Kaiman fared better, they went through the boulder choke which was where we had stopped in 1995, and found a streamway and more big passage.  They surveyed until the water got chest deep and time was running on anyway.  We had our last tin of Spam, on puris; German Spam tastes far better than the stuff you get in the UK.  The local shower, a split water pipe, was much appreciated; must bring the soap tomorrow.

Wednesday 5th March

Estelle, J'Rat, Tony, Daniel, Anand and Raphael went back into Krem Lashing and continued surveying. The main passage ended in a big boulder choke, so we went back and surveyed the inlet and outlet passages. Centipede passage was named after the nasty looking 20cm purple centipede in the start of it.  One of the outlet passages was very deep water, but we were all right with our buoyancy devices!  Total surveyed was 500m.  We clambered up the entrance 'mountains' and came out and washed of and went to Charles Slong's place for dinner. (the ex-head man who was very helpful in 1995.)

The rest of the team had been prospecting all day and had not found much.  Our total cave to date = 19km

Thursday 6th March

Back to Shillong, to bad news, that Brian's 16 year old nephew had had a cardiac arrest and died after a swimming accident.  Went to Brian's for tea and to say farewell to the rest.  Raphael gave us a video of us caving, which he'd taken during the last 2 weeks.  Andy disappeared with his young lady friend.

Friday 7th March

Taxi to Guwahati airport (minus Andy - he's catching us up at the airport tomorrow) we got our flight and into Calcutta.  We opted for staying at the Fairlawn Hotel, which was owned by a very English, old couple called Mr and Mrs Smith, and had not had any major changes since before the Raj lost India to independence.  The rooms were very quaint with all the English luxuries; real beds and a bath went down a treat.

Saturday 8th March

Went to India Museum and then to the Hogg market, where J'Rat had a beard trim, in which he lost most of the hair on his head and also got a massage.  Went to airport and met up with Andy, and waited for our flight. Midnight, four hours after we were due to leave, we were told the Air India plane wasn't going to turn up, and were ushered off to the Airport Hotel.

Sunday 9th March/Monday 10th March

We endured 2 days of indecision from Air India, stuck in the hotel, apart from a brief trip into the city, to give the Air India office some grief.  Finally, on the Monday night we were taken to the airport and put on another Air India flight.  This one went smoothly and we actually arrived in the UK 5mins early; but 52 hours late!

Tuesday 11th March

Back home and back to reality!

Daniel, Brian and Lindsay (Brian's son) have since spent a further 3 weeks in the Cherrapunjee area and the Douki area where he surveyed 2 more significant caves.  They surveyed 2.75km in Krem Lymput, near Douki, which apparently has China Caves sized passages.  Krem Lawkhlieng, 6km North of Cherrapunjee yielded another 2km of passage. The total for the February/March 1997 expedition totalled 25km, with 14 new caves surveyed and extensions in 2 existing systems (taking Krem Kot Sati/Krem Urn Lawan system as one cave now).

This makes the total caves explored in Meghalaya to 85 and the total length of mapped passage to 69.8km, and as all the people who have visited this wonderful part of India will vouch, there is plenty left to do.

A return trip is planned for early 1998.

 


 

Unfinished Business in Daren Cilau

by Gonzo

By the mid 90's the Rock Steady Crew had been pushing the far reaches of Daren Cilau for nearly a decade. Underground camps had been going on for most of this time on a bimonthly basis with a nucleus of diggers remaining underground for several days at a time.

The Crew's primary objective (apart from having riotous subterranean orgies, gang raping local resident's sheep***, flashing at passing hill walkers and crapping through letterboxes!) had always been to extend the system rather than to connect with other known caves in the area.  The group had considerable success in this, with Spaderunner and Dweebland arguably the most remote dry locations in British Caving.  However, with most of the sites available at the end of the cave having been dug to a reasonable conclusion, the number of regular diggers dwindled as did the frequency of the camps.  Activities beneath Llangattock were further hit with the discovery of Ogof Draenen taking more people away.

There were still, however, a number of enticing blank areas on the survey with associated sites in Daren that could be hit quite hard on one day trips from the surface.  Of most interest to me was the triangle between Big Chamber Nowhere near the Entrance, The Cliffs of Dover and Eglwys Faen. This area could also take in the water sinking at Llangattock Swallet and open up the system in a variety of levels.

I decided to have a go and started off with a day’s solo digging in the region of Eglwys Passage (just beyond Big Chamber).  Although I only found a few metres of tight crawling I was encouraged by the lack of attention that these sites had received.

A number of digs ensued in the Big Chamber area, sometimes solo, sometimes with the welcome company of Tony Boycott, Henry Bennett and Charles Bailey.  Most sites soon choked, but on one occasion, on our third visit to a site, Charles broke through a loose choke with Henry and I hot on his heels to a chamber with passages going off in all directions.  A celebratory war dance by myself was suddenly halted by the realisation that we had actually rediscovered Man in the Roof!

Mutiny ensued - back to the solo digs.  I investigated the inlets on the right hand side of Approach Passage (leading up to the 65 ft. ladder) but never got more than 50 ft. before coming up against a boulder choke on a fault line.  Tony Boycott and I then looked at the last inlet, just beyond the ladder.  There were one or two slight clues that this could be a better site - the howling draught, the booming echo, the fact that it is 60 ft. high and heading into no mans land.  Tony gave the formidable choke a good talking to (hmm….interesting) and on the next visit Charles and I were able to wriggle in to a few body lengths of brown trousered, brain off passage.

This really is a promising site but it requires a lot of scaffolding to make it safe.  (Bars over 4'6" don't fit through the entrance crawl, I've tried it).  Negotiations are currently under way with gullible aquatic colleagues to bring the bars in through the sump.

Up the ladder to our next site where with Charles, Henry, Estelle Sandford and friends * we gained 40 ft. of passage, the last 10 ft. of which was an amusing game requiring a crowbar tied on a rope, hands that don't shake too much, a rectal cork and blind faith, - "if I die I'll come back and haunt you Gonzo you bastard."

Over the last year Henry, Charles and I made 60 ft. of progress** in a passage by the rope traverse, despite the unwelcome overtures of a particularly nasty piece of cave fauna known as the Daren Tool Thief.  This specimen delights in squirreling away crowbars, chisels and trowels that don't belong to him, trashing supplies of drink left in situ and scrawling 'bollocks' on the wall above the dig.  It has raided our supplies at least 2 times and will get a nasty surprise if it tries again.

A few months ago, Henry and I gained about 100 ft. of passage after a short dig in Eglwys passage.  More recently, Henry, Tony and I broke into a tight rift opposite the rope climb in White Passage where a trapped Henry did a convincing impersonation of the 3 legged Manx motif in a frantic attempt to extricate himself from a tight squeeze.   So there you have it.

After years of digging we have got absolutely nowhere.  The mountain is still ahead on points and we continue to dig optimistically, in the hope of finding that elusive lucky breakthrough that will open the system up. In the meantime I'm hoping for a major advance in skeletal surgery as, after 100 trips through the entrance crawl I've got a left hip bone you could use to iron shirt collars!

* All names have been changed to protect the innocent.

** Survey details are a bit vague because we couldn't be bothered to do any.

*** The author would like to point out that with regard to the sheep it was just kissing, and no tongues at that.


 

Five Buddles Sink -- A Lost Cave Rediscovered -Part 1

"Dedicated to the Old man*"

Introduction:

In BB 481 the writer outlined plans to excavate the shallow, partly walled depression adjacent to Wheel Pit, Chewton Minery (ST 5481 5138).  The possibility of this site being Thomas Bushell's "lost swallow" (see appendix 1) was put forward as was the theory that the name Wheel Pit originally applied to this intermittent swallet and not that named by Willy Stanton for Complete Caves of Mendip.  The following article sums up the digging progress to date, the breakthrough into the Old Men’s cave/drainage level and documentary research which helps support the latter theory.  It is intended to be updated and published as a separate Caving Report when the dig reaches a conclusion.

A Brief History.

Lead has probably been worked in the Stock Hill area (Chewton Minery) since pre-Roman times but the main period of exploitation was during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Between 1657 and 1674 the renowned mining engineer Thomas Bushell attempted to drain the flooded Row (Rough) Pits and Small Pits - now well hidden in the forest - by means of an adit level driven from the "Concaves of a natural swallow twenty fathom (120ft) deep".  This scheme apparently failed due to the antagonism and vandalism of other miners.

The area was still being worked in 1709 when mining, buddling and smelting were in progress and a map published in 1782 has the name Wheel Pitts prominently marked (see below).

Between 1859 and 1910 the Minery was the scene of buddling, smelting and occasional investigative mining by a confusing series of small companies - notably Edward H. Barwell and the Mendip Hills Mining Co. Cornish miners and techniques were used and most of the visible remains date from this period.  The lead was smelted at the Waldegrave Works just down the track towards the rival St. Cuthbert's Works in the adjacent Priddy Minery.

In 1860 a case came up for trial between the two Mineries concerning water rights and a map probably dating from this event clearly shows the buddIes, labelling them "washing works" and shows the "swallet hole" at their NE end. There are indications that these buddIes were out of use by the mid 1870s.

c.1930-1945 saw the filling in of the shaft in the edge of the (now) forest opposite the sink entrance.

Old batteries and rubbish were tipped into the wheelpit (sink) entrance, probably in the 1950s.

In 1996 the B.E.C. arrived to dig it all out again!

* Old Man - A metalliferous mining term for previous generations of miners and their workings in Derbyshire:- "T' owd Man"

The Dig:

Permission to excavate was obtained from Nigel Pooley, estate manager of Chewton Farms, on 29th July 1996 and with the added blessing of the tenants, Somerset Trust, work commenced the same day with the fencing off of the depression and proposed spoil dumping area.  Digging started on 25th August with a six man team spending three hours clearing spoil, rocks, lead slag, bricks and rubbish to reveal a parallel mortared wall 6 feet SE of that visible at surface.  The following day a large team reached a depth of some 6 feet to uncover two lines of sloping red bricks laid on top of rotten wooden beams.  Four segments of a broken, bevelled iron gear wheel and a possible short segment of iron water wheel rim were recovered along with other unidentifiable objects.  Much of the spoil was transported to Waldegrave Pond for use by Somerset Trust workers in repairing the dam.

 

MHMC Share certificate signed by Edward H. Barwell. 

Davey Lennard at the Sink in February 1995. All the ponded flood-water; sinking at his feet. Wheel Pit is to the left of the Landrover, Waldergrave Swallet is behind the central group of trees and Snake Pit Hole is to the front to the right of the Landrover.

Photo A. Jarratt

The stone-lined pit was soon revealed to be 6 feet 6 inches wide by 13 feet long and by the end of the month a water washed sink was being excavated at the N.E. (roadside) end through a filling of cans, bottles and the remains of 1950's accumulator batteries - as used at that time by legendary cave digger Hywel Murrell at the nearby Miner's Arms!  The excellent weather and impossibility of actually getting underground ensured a continuous supply of keen dig gets and hordes of visitors.  Detailed logs were kept of the work as was a regular photographic record.

By the 1st September we had uncovered a culvert running from the SW wall halfway across the pit and capped by the beams and bricks found earlier.  This appears to have been roughly constructed on top of many feet of lead tailings filling the SW half of the pit.  Unfortunately as depth was rapidly gained the unstable nature of the N.E. wall became frighteningly apparent and on 6th September £80.00 worth of railway sleepers were purchased and installed as shoring.  More unidentifiable artefacts were exhumed as we progressed downwards and a steady draught began to flow from the hole under the unstable N.E. wall.  On 12th September a flat, consolidated rubble floor was reached below this wall at a depth of 18 feet below the N corner of the pit.  This was the base of a timber-lined and floored tailings pit some 6 feet square occupying half the area of what we now assumed to have once been a wheelpit.  In one corner a 6" square block of wood may have been the sawn off base of an upright support beam and a 26 1/2" long forked iron rod found nearby was possibly used as a handle to raise a sluice gate to flush water from the tailings pit into the cave beyond.  The similarities to the tailings pit found in the entrance of Blackmoor (Upper) Blood Swallet, Charterhouse (Stanton 1976) were noticeable - hardly surprising as they were probably constructed by the same "slaggers", the Mendip (Hills) Mining Co. Ltd. around 1860.  This firm also used Waterwheel Swallet as a tailings disposal site (Stanton 1987).

Digging and shoring continued throughout September and at a depth of 18 feet an apparently collapsed "level" was opened up leading from the tailings pit under the horrific N.E. wall.  By the end of the month construction of a cemented stone shaft had begun within the confines of the wheelpit walls and across the end of the culvert.  Luckily bedrock had been uncovered on both sides of the pit to which the shaft was keyed.  A motley assortment of frogs, toads, newts and lizards were regularly liberated from the bottom.

October and November saw the team gradually building up the shaft walls and removing the shoring. Cement and concrete were mixed at the Belfry and transported to the site in large plastic buckets donated by the Wessex Cave Club.  Many people, either knowingly or otherwise, donated sand and cement to the cause and their generosity is hereby acknowledged.  In the background research was being carried out at Taunton Records Office and elsewhere by the "white collar workers" of the team.

By December the shaft was almost complete, the road hadn't collapsed and all the excavated rock had been re-installed.  The closest of the five buddle pits had been cleared out to reveal a central pit and a cast iron wall block with the word FLOORLINE in attractive raised lettering - this item later causing some embarrassment to a passing tourist who was enthusiastically explaining to his friends that the circular stone pit was a Romano-British hut circle when it was gleefully pointed out to him!

With the onset of wet weather a small stream was found to bubble up from the base of the shaft and flow on into the dangerous boulder choke behind the N.E. wall.  The "level" was built up and cemented for some 15 feet into this choke.

At last we were underground and we celebrated this by pulling out a couple of the Old Men’s iron bars protruding from the choke.  As tons of rock rained down we realised why they had been put there in the first place! Work then concentrated on concreting up loose rock in the roof of the level and digging in the floor where a vertical step down appeared to be the edge of a second tailings pit - as was found in Blackmoor Flood Swallet.

The SW end of the wheelpit was excavated for several feet below culvert level through pure tailings (on which the culvert rested) but no obvious inlet was found so it was back-filled. The culvert was partially reconstructed, slabbed over and covered with some 6 feet of spoil. It remains accessible from the entrance shaft.

Throughout the winter the solid wall on the left hand side of the level was followed in an attempt to get around the choke. Various collapses had by now "crowned" through to the surface leaving a large crater within 10 feet of the road edge and so the writer deemed it advisable to contact the County Council and own up. Luckily they were not at all perturbed and just asked to be kept informed of any likely problems.  Wise diggers, though, drove on the other side of the road and parked well away from the site.  The collapse was later infilled and grassed over following grouting of the choke, a handy supply of material being available from building operations underway in the writer's backyard!  Underground, a buried wooden wall, held in place by a large horizontal timber, was partially removed and replaced with concrete facing as we steadily worked our way around the left side of the choke.  A smoke bomb was fired at the choke and Snake Pit Hole was checked for a possible connection.  There was none and the smoke had been rapidly sucked into the choke, never to be seen again.

During January hundreds more bucket loads of tailings were hauled up to the surface and the continuously collapsing choke was probed further - not without a couple of narrow shaves when the digger became partially entombed in rock and earth!

 

Over £80 worth of timber was installed so stop the collapse of the NE wall. 

Photo: Paul Stillman 



The winter weather and Meghalaya expedition then curtailed our activities and in early May a 5 inch deep stream was observed flowing from the culvert into the shaft!  There was no significant backing up.

On 4th April a hinged steel tube lid (ex R.A.F.) was installed on the shaft top and much work was done on concreting and tidying up the entrance area throughout the month. A possible collapsed mineshaft just behind the fence on the opposite side of the road was prodded with an iron bar but was not thought to be particularly inspiring.

Sporadic digging and shoring trips occurred over the next month or so and on 7th June a party of visitors was escorted around the site following a brief talk by the writer at the B.C.R.A. regional meeting.  One of those present was dowser John Wilcock who, after a perambulation with his bent welding rods, declared that a breakthrough should be imminent. (See appendix 2).

The Breakthrough:

Two days later he was proved correct when, after a couple of hours work at the choke the writer was able to gingerly creep through, below lots of "hanging death", into some 50 feet of dry stream passage ending in a choke and adjacent, partly mud-filled, crawl.  The remains of two of the Old Men’s shot holes (8" x 5/8" and 12" x 1 1/2") pointing back towards the wheelpit showed that the passage had been enlarged to walking size - probably from a second entrance.  Thankfully the ceiling was relatively solid throughout as the cave passes directly under the road at a shallow depth.  Old timbers littered the floor and in places protruded from the dolomitic conglomerate walls.  Occasional wooden wedges in the roof were presumably placed there about 130 years ago to hold up loose sections.  They now have the consistency of a wet Cadbury's Flake and should be left severely alone!

Later that day the writer returned with Tony Boycott and Quackers Duck and digging commenced in the crawl through thick, soft, grey and no doubt highly toxic tailings mud. Conditions started as squalid then deteriorated as the B.E.C.'s "reverse Midas Touch" curse struck again (everything we dig turns to shit).

On 11th June Trevor Hughes, the writer, Jeremy Dixon-Wright and Pete Hellier continued work here, the blancmange-like spoil being dumped in the main passage.  The sticky mud and confined nature of the dig ensured that this was exhausting work but eventually Jeremy forced himself around a comer for 15 feet or so to report that the passage went downwards and more digging was necessary. Quackers photographed the shotholes and timbers and the breakthrough choke was stabilised with "Ker- Plunk" scaffold shoring!

A solo dig by the writer on 13th reached some 6 feet depth at the end to a small open passage which needed more clearing to enter fully, two teams almost accomplishing this on 15th when the passage was found to contain a pool or sump on the right hand side. More work was done here on 17th by Vince Simmonds and Jeremy while the writer used the Grunterphone transmitter for a radio location fix of the terminal choke by Brian Prewer who was in the edge of Stock Hill Forest above.  The final location point was 4 feet NW of the possible collapsed mineshaft across the road from the entrance thus supporting our theory of a second entrance and adding weight to the possibility that this shaft could be Thomas Bushell's twentieth trial shaft - sunk to discover the swallet from which his adit would be driven (Gough 1930).  Gunpowder having supposedly been first used on Mendip around 1683 (Gough 1930) the shothole at the base of this shaft is obviously of a later date when widening of the original shaft, if that is what it is, would have been deemed necessary.

The writer, Trev Hughes and Pete Hellier dug and hauled spoil again the following day, having little success in the lower passage where the pool apparently sumped and three other possible ways on were thoroughly choked with tons of incredibly gooey lead tailings and old timbers.  At the base of the choked shaft Pete spotted a "pig's tail" like iron hook sticking out of the mud.  Careful excavation revealed it to be one of the haulage hooks of a 16" x 14" x 10" deep wooden skip or sledge lying upside-down on a flat wooden board.  It was in superb condition and after a decision was taken that an in-situ photograph was unnecessary it was very carefully exhumed and removed to the surface for cleaning in Waldegrave Pond.  It was apparently dragged on two wooden runners and judging from its condition has seen little heavy usage. Its actual purpose is not yet known but it may have been used to clear tailings from the low natural passage, remove broken rock from the main passage enlarging operations or, indeed, as a digging skip for dragging spoil from the sumped area - exactly what is now happening with the use of a similar size polythene object!

Vince and Jeremy continued working the lower passage but the wet conditions of June and early July ensured that the place was temporarily left alone.  The writer concentrated on the main choke above.  A series of short digging sessions - each lasting until major collapse threatened when the place was left to "dig itself.  The solid RH wall partly arched over to the left as half of a phreatic tube meeting loose boulders and clay.  The choke directly above was gradually brought down and the surface collapse in the edge of the forest also dug out for some 4 feet depth without revealing solid rock or miner’s ginging (stone shaft lining). Throughout July, August and September work continued at the choke - both below ground and on the surface.  Bags of mud were painfully dragged out of the cave only to be carried across the road and stacked ready for dumping back down the shaft as infill.  Several large boulders were "popped" to enable them to be removed and a selection of old Bovril jars, broken Codd bottles, Brasso tins and other rubbish was despatched to the surface.  Much of the broken rock was temporarily stacked underground and should not be confused with miner’s walling.

Following heavy rain the stream began flowing at the base of the entrance shaft on 2nd September, creating a 15ft long pool before the breakthrough point.  The stream was next seen some 20ft from the end choke where it then poured into the lower (choked) passage without backing up to the high level.

From 5th September work progressed on the surface excavations of the shaft.  Many gallons of water were poured in to loosen up the fill and digging eventually resulted in revealing the solid rock walls of a typical Cornish 7ft diameter shaft (Stanton & Clarke 1984).  RSJs were wedged across some 6ft down and a section of concrete pipe installed on these.  Concreting and back-filling were rapidly done and the team became International with the assistance of cavers from U.S.A, Australia, Vietnam, Mexico and Germany. On 17th September Quackers and Rich finished off the shaft top and emplaced an official looking steel inspection cover.  A week later serious digging in the shaft began with the spoil being distributed around the forest in the manner of a Colditz escape project!  The roadside wall was rebuilt with rocks from the dig - many of these having probably been part of this all in the past.

Over the next two months the shaft was gradually emptied of it's infill of rock, clay and rubbish. Avid diggers kept a lookout for "stone" ginger beer bottles and other "collector's items." An, unfortunately broken (but later repaired) gallon jar from a Wolverhampton "botanical" brewery bore the imprinted date 1928 proving that the filling of the shaft has occurred since then.  This has been confirmed after research by Robin Gray on the dates of many of the glass bottles found suggests that infilling took place between the early 30s and mid 40s.  Other rubbish taken out and distributed around the wheelie-bins of Priddy included old tyres, milk churns, hundreds of assorted bottles and various bits of rusted metalwork.  Following the removal of many tons of spoil and the demolition of the occasional bigger lump, the shaft reached a depth of over 20ft and by the beginning of November the open passage below could be seen through a hole in the floor.  Official permission to dig was requested from the Forestry Commission (apparently now Forest Enterprise) at the request of the local Forester.

On 19th November, a voice connection was established to the cave passage below and five days later a strongly draughting hole was opened at the shaft bottom, giving a view of the digging tools in the active streamway below.  A rigid steel ladder, removed from White Pit, is being installed in the shaft and a surface/underground survey will soon be undertaken for the next BB.

On 1st December, the mineshaft was physically connected to the Five BuddIes Sink stream passage. This was strongly flowing with no sign of backing up.

Work continues here to completely clear the shaft in the hope that there is a continuation beyond. If not then we will still be able to dig the lower natural passage.  There is no evidence yet of Bushell's adit but the mined passages discovered so far are of historical interest and leave us with many questions to be answered. The writer would be grateful for any additional information on this site, criticism and suggestions.


Adrian Hole and Guy Cummings working below the SW wall in August 1996.  The original exposed stonework is above Guys back and the starting lever of the dig can be seen by grass level on the left.

Photo: A, Jarratt


Andy Tyler inspects a broken bevelled gear while Martin Grass (left) holds what may be a segment of waterwheel rim.  These items we found just above the level of the brick lined culvert – just visible in the centre of the photo.

Photo: A. Jarratt.


Looking down the exposed wheelpit, September 1996, showing the culvert terminating halfway down. The draughting way on under the unstable NE wall can be seen on the RH side

Photo: A. Jarratt.


Timber showing in place to hold up the NE wall.  In flood the stream overflows from the RH side and also bubbles up from the pit bottom. A workman polishes the overseer’s sandals!

Photo: A. Digger


Some of the artefacts recovered from the site including bevelled gear wheels, water pipe and flow adjusted (centre) nails, pieces of iron gratings, bricks and forked lifting handle.

Photo:  A. Jarratt


The completed entrance shaft showing the tailings pit floor.  The culvert is on the RH side (where the plank is resting).  The entrance to the level and cave is on the LH side at the bottom.

Photo: A. Jarratt


Harry Savory’s photo labelled:

“Wheel Pit Swallet Priddy Mines Aug (1912)”

The Name.

Five Buddles Sink was named as such by Willie Stanton in the early seventies.  He also recorded the large swallet just to the north as Wheel Pit on the advice of an older MNRC caver, Clement Richardson (Barrington & Stanton 1977 and Witcombe 1992).  On the Day and Masters Map of 1782 the annotation "Wheel Pitts" is shown on the other side of the road but this may be due to the mapmaker’s use of available space.  It may also have, by this time, developed from a descriptive to an area name.  The main evidence for the application of the name to our project site comes from the diaries of Harry Savory (Savory J. 1989). On the 25th August 1912 he " .... photographed Wheel Pit and Priddy mines swallets, the latter was encroaching on the road badly.  The third swallet in this group, 'the little swallet under pines', was choked by another small fall of earth with little water running away.  "The latter is the present Waldegrave Swallet."

"On 27th (August 1912) they cycled to Wheelpit Swallet,..."

"30 August 1916." "Down on the road, the Wheelpit Swallet was dry, the big one running a little but was dry a week ago."

"3 August 1921." "Then on to the minery round the ponds to the Wheel Pit and Road Swallets."

Thanks to Martin Torbett the original glass lantern slides have been tracked down in Wells Museum and copy negatives have also been made during conservation work by Chris Howes. The photograph taken on 25/8/12 shows a site "encroaching on the road badly" - Priddy Mines Swallet, the current Wheel Pit.  It is the "big one" of the three "in this group" and could also be described as the "Road Swallet."  It is therefore proposed that the site now called Five BuddIes Sink is the original Wheel Pit or Wheelpit as indicated by the mortared stone pit and associated artefacts recently excavated.  The slide actually labelled as Wheel Pit Swallet, Priddy Mines shows a healthy stream pouring over rocks but does not reveal enough of the swallet to make it identifiable as Five BuddIes.

The information on pp 90-91 of Rich Witcombe's "Who Was Aveline Anyway?" is incorrect in that apart from the name being applied to the wrong site the waterwheel pit was, in fact, associated with Chewton, not St. Cuthbert's (actually Priddy) Minery.

I suggest also that the wheelpit contained a broad bladed waterwheel used to operate a set of bellows in an adjacent slag house (smelter) around the mid 1700’s.  It was later adapted by the M(H)MC as a tailings pit for their line of buddIes.  This will only be proved by archaeological investigations.

The "Road Swallet" (now Wheel Pit) has a tunnel at the bottom with a tramway rail roof. This would appear to have been constructed during the repair of the roadside collapse - post 1912 - using material available locally.

The Team: Diggers, Researchers, Photographers, Advisors, etc

"Quackers" Duck, Rich Blake, Tony Jarratt, Jake Johnson, Adrian Hole, Guy Munnings, Jon Attwood, Mark Curry, Nick Mitchell, Martin Grass, Kate Lawrence, Andy Tyler, Estelle Sandford, Trevor Hughes, Mike Willett, Paul Brock, Robin Gray, Ben Ogbourne, Jeremy Dixon-Wright, Chas Wethered, Pete Hellier, Ivan Sandford, Dominic Sealy, Emily Davis-Mobley, Brian Prewer, Martin, Ed and Jim Torbett, Davey Leonard, Vince Simmonds, Pete Bolt, Jeremy and Nick Gilson, Stuart McManus, Karl Friedrich, Simon Brooks, Roz Bateman, Phil Collet, Andy Pringle, Paul Craggs, Andy Nunn, Alex Gee, Bob Smith, Roger Haskett, James Calloway, Steve Milner, Dr. Vu Van Phai, Nick Hawkes, John Williams, Jake Baynes, Jim Smart, Dave Breeze, Roger Dors, Mike and Rachel Thompson, Chris Howes, Dave Walker and Wells Museum Staff, Dave Irwin, John and Jenny Cornwell, Ray Mansfield, Roger Stenner, Maurice Hewins, Jeff Price, Dave Morrison and Dave Speed of the Wessex Cave Club (Building Materials Dept.), Nigel Pooley, John Boyd and Somerset Trust officers, Sally Allison, Frank Jones, John Wilcock, Roger Stenner, Willie Stanton, Dave Irwin, Anne Oldham and Dave "anyone for spoof?" Bennett - provider of continuous advice and bailer twine.

APPENDIX 1

On Thomas Bushell and attempts to unwater Row Pitts, Mendip. Mercurius Publicus, 22,340-341 (May 1662). Anon.

Briftol May 26.

We exceedingly rejoyce to hear the long lookt for news that his Majefty hath given the Royal Affent to the Bill confirming Agreements between Tho. Bufhel Efquire and the Miners of Row-pits in the County of Somerfet for recovering thofe drowned and deferted works. It feems that Act paft among other Acts of Parliament the 19 of this inftant May, by virtue of which fupreme Authority all men have a firme foundation to proceed on, fo as we doubt not by God's bleffing to make it manifeft to the world, that thefe Mendippe Works will be what the People themfelves ufually ftiled them, the Englifh Indies for Lead Ore; and we defrre that the honour of this great work may redound to God's glory, and the Lord Chancellor Bacon's Philofophicall Theory in Minerall difcoveries, which (tis confeft) did light the frrft candle to thefe and all other Mines of like nature.  Thofe who faid Mr. Bufhel was poor in purfe, doe now begin to perceive why he refufed all Partnerfhip in that affair, being confident from the practick of his own experience to repair by this the ruine of his fortunes fufteined in thefe laft broken times, and prove a fufficient fupply to perfect his enterprize of difcoveries in foraign Parts; which we can confIdently fay, although this Work of Row pits was generally reputed to have been the overthrow of forty rich Families that went before him in the same enterprife, and were efteemed able Artifts in Mineralls.  This we doubt not Mr. Bushel will accomplifh, fInce we never knew him to undertake any defigne, but what was accounted defperate in the judgement of others, and yet at the end reache his own defrres by the fame means he now proceeds in this, which none will deny when they remember the erecting thofe Groves and Grottoes at Enftone in Oxfordfhire, all in one year, to entertain the late King and Queen the next, and that as perfectly as if they had been planted 20 years before: His cutting through five Mountains in Cardiganfhire at the loweft Level, to recover rich Minerals out of the deferted Works, which induced his late Majesty, as a reward for that action to grant him a Mint to coyn the filver he had already got, and fhould get hereafter:  His carrying aire through the Mountains by pipes and bellows without the vast charge of frnking Shafts; His faving wood by melthe lead Ore with turffe and fea (coal charko?); His c10athing the Kings Army at Oxford with the fame Minerals procede and bringing the faid Mint to ferve his Majefties prefent occafIons in that Royall Garrifon, when his other Mint in the Tower of London was denied him, with divers other fervices, all which we have feen attefted under his late Majeftie's hand and feal. Thefe particulars are well known to the Miners and others who have read Mr. Bushels Rememberance to his now Majefty; fo as his own experience in Minerall affairs forraign and domeftick ought to be cherift by all good Subjects, as it hath already been by his Majefty and both Houfes of Parliament, efpecially fince the Honor and Staple Trade of this Nation doth fo much confift in profecuting the recovery of thefe Works, as well for a Precedent to the future, as for the prefent publick good.

APPENDIX 2

Hypothetical Drainage Routes in the Priddy Area by John Wilcock.

Based on fifteen years of dowsing observations the appended map shows parts of the following drainage systems:

  1. Windsor Hill / Little Crapnell / Thrupe Lane / Slab House (two routes via Wells Hill Bottom Farm, and via Haydon) to St. Andrew's Well, Wells.
  2. Hillgrove Swallet (possibly also Windsor Hill / Little Crapnell / Thrupe Lane / Slab House via Wells Hill Bottom Farm) and Rookery Farm Swallet via Cuckoo Cleeves and Stockhill Fault to the Waldegrave area.
  3. Waldegrave area via St. Cuthbert's to Wookey Hole, and via Priddy Fault to Rodney Stoke.
  4. Swildon's Hole, Eastwater Cavern and St. Cuthbert's feeders to Wookey Hole.
  5. Sherborne spring catchment.
  6. Tor Hole Swallet, Wigmore Swallet / Attborough Swallet, and Greendown Farm via All Eights Mine to the region of Bowery Comer Swallet then near Lodmore Hole to Velvet Bottom and Cheddar.

John believes that the dowsing phenomenon is due to some as yet unexplained physical field (perhaps electromagnetic or electric in nature) which is detected by the human body, affecting the central nervous system and causing twitches in the arm muscles, which in turn are mechanically amplified by whatever rods are in use.  (He uses bent wire from dry-cleaning hangers, certainly a cheap method).  The thick black lines on the diagram are the mapped dowsing reactions.  The width of these reactions may be related to depth, to the strength of the field, or to the actual width of bedding planes, for example.  He believes that faults, flowing water in caves, and large dry caves (but not small dry caves) are all detected.

AH        Alfie's Hole
AEM     All Eights Mine
AS        Attborough Swallet
BRS     Barrow Rake Swallet
BL        Bishop's Lot
BCS     Bowery Comer Swallet
CFS      Castle Farm Swallets
CS        Cross Swallet
CC        Cuckoo Cleeves
DC        Dallimore's Cave
EC        Eastwater Cavern
EAC     Eighteen Acres Cave
FF        Fairman's Folly
FBS      Five BuddIes Sink
FP        Flower Pot
FP        Frog Pot
HR        Hallowe'en Rift
HS        Hillgrove Swallet
HLH      His Lordship's Hole
HOS     Hollowfield Swallet
HH        Hunter's Hole
HYH     Hymac Hole
LD        Limekiln Dig
LH        Lodmore Hole
NBS     Nine Barrows Swallet
NS        Northill Swallet
OR       Orchid Rift
OCM     Ores Close Mine
PS        Plantation Swallet
PB        Priddy Borehole
PGS     Priddy Green Sink
RF        Rookery Farm Swallet
St.CS   St Cuthbert's Swallet
SAH     Sandpit Hole
SLPH    Sludge Pit Hole
SPH     Snake Pit Hole
SHMC   Stock Hill Mine Cave
SH        Swildons Hole
TH        Tankard Hole
THS      Tor Hole Swallet
TTC      Twin Tittie's Cave
US        Unnamed Sinks
WGS    Waldegrave Swallet
WGS    Welsh's Green Swallet
WP       White Pit
WS       Wigmore Swallet
WOH    Wookey Hole

 

APPENDIX 3

The methods of the Mendip Mining Company included the re-working of the old black slag, of which great heaps remained, and which, it is said, had already been smelted twice over, and the treating of metalliferous earth, especially from the Town Field. In the latter process this earth was thrown into large circular pits, lined with masonry, and varying from about twenty to about thirty feet in diameter, many of which are still to be seen. In each of these, which were supplied with water which in some cases was brought a long distance by means of a wooden aqueduct, there was a sort of vertical paddle-wheel turned by a horse walking round and round on the grass at the edge of the pit.  The earth and water being thus thoroughly stirred up, the heavier and more metalliferous particles sank, while the lighter and less valuable portions were swept away with the overflow, which disappeared down a swallet-hole, coming out again at the lower end of Cheddar Gorge.  This "mindry-water," as it was called, although not holding enough lead to be thought worth recovering, contained quite sufficient to poison the fish in the streams below, which it did all the time that the works were in operation.

When one of these slime-pits was full of solid matter, the wheel was stopped and the water shut off. The contents of the pit, after having been left for a time to get rid of some of the moisture, were dug out and carted to the blast-furnaces, whose fan was worked by the driving wheel of an old locomotive engine.  The resulting lead was run into moulds and cast into pigs, while the smoke from the furnaces, heavy with lead vapour, was conducted through stone galleries, on whose roof and sides it condensed in a solid and stone-like and very heavy deposit, which was chipped off from time to time and re-smelted.

F.A. Knight - The Heart of Mendip. 1915.  (The above refers to the operations at Charterhouse by the same company, who used similar methods at Chewton Minery).

APPENDIX 4A (by Robin Gray)

Further thoughts on the Five Buddies Mineshaft

Diggers at the filled in mineshaft excavations, across the road from the original Five BuddIes shaft have unearthed numerous artefacts.  These are important as they can be used to pinpoint when the top of the shaft was filled.  Making life difficult for all concerned were a large number of rusty and tangled barrel hoops.  It has been suggested by some that the barrels were dumped into the shaft in order to fill it and thus make it safe, the wood having long since rotted down. However this can be disputed since there is no evidence of rotten wood associated with the hoops.  Much other rusted iron has also come to the surface. This gives little clue as to age, since iron reaches a stage in decomposition which remains fairly static for many years.  Dump diggers will confirm that old iron artefacts from tips of the 1870's are very much like those from dumps of the 1930's!  It is difficult without much effort to say what most of this iron was. However, a few metal items have come to light which are worth a mention.

The lower half of a Spelter baby wearing a nappy was unearthed.  These baby boxes date from Edwardian times and it is probable that it was thrown away because the top portion had been broken.  A well preserved turf cutter was brought up on Wednesday 29th October and Pete Hellier who found it is conserving it.  This traditional peat cutting tool has been in use long before Victorian times and like the baby cannot be used to date the filling of the shaft since they would only be dumped when no longer of use.  Not so the bottles.  The oldest bottle so far unearthed is a stone "botanical" beer bottle found by J'Rat and dated 1928.  Another old type was the lower half of a Codd bottle.  Codds patent globe stopper bottles were introduced in the 1870's.  The fizz in the mineral water held a glass marble against a rubber ring in the neck of the bottle thus sealing it. These bottles were in use until the 1920's, however, and in some remoter parts of the UK until the 1940's!  Unfortunately then these two finds are also of little help in the dating.  Just take a look around the tool shed.   Many of the jars and tins used to hold oils, nails and screws are 20 or more years old. Thus our 1928 stone "botanical" beer bottle merely proves that it didn't go in before that date.

Of more interest are the many other glass items unearthed. These glass bottles and jars can be viewed as zone finds which will date the filling of the shaft to a period of 10 years. Among the bottles unearthed were numerous meat extracts such as OXO and Bovril.  These jars were sealed with a metal "crimp top" between 1905 and the 1930's when the closure was replaced by an external screw thread moulded into the glass.  Both closures are in evidence together suggesting that the containers date from the changeover period.  Stone jam jars as used by Robertson's for Golden Shred were phased out in the mid 30's to be replaced by half pound and pound glass jars.  Both types are in evidence but with glass jars the more common. Also present are numerous round top (corked) "inks'.  These little bottles also held Carr's Gum and it is astonishing just how much gum seems to have been used during the 1930's and 40's!  The sauce bottles and Camp Coffee have both cork and external thread closures.  Again this changeover took place about 1935.  Little bottles of lemonade powder "Eiffel Tower" brand also show both top types with screw thread bottles pre-dominating. Again change over date mid 30's.  By far the most common find, were potted meats and pastes by such well known firms as "Shiphams".  These "treats" were very much a speciality of the late 30's 40's and early 50's as older members will, I am sure, remember from Sunday School treats. They lost their popularity in the 1950's.  Among these paste jars is one of note, namely a potted meat by Bordin of Paris.  It would seem unlikely that this jar would have been around during the War years as it most likely dates from the 1930's and French imports were supposedly non existent during the Occupation.  If these finds point to a time immediately prior to the outbreak of War it would then seem reasonable to suggest that the upper portion of the hole was filled sometime after 1986 but before 1950. Styles changed markedly in the 1950's with the introduction of plastic tops, aluminium caps and more durable closures which one would expect to find.  A ten year period of between 1935 and 1945 would seem a fair estimate.  At present the bottles and iron have given way to rocks which may well point to earlier attempts to fill in the shaft. Settlement would have caused the shaft to open again by the 1930's thus accounting for the lateness of the top filling.

References: Robert Opie Museum, Gloucester.

The Art of the Label: Robert Opie.

Collecting Old Bottles: Fletcher.

R.E. Gray

 

Photo: R Gray

APPENDIX 4B - By Tony Jarratt

The three "stone" bottles in my possession are labelled:-

•           Prior and Co. Midsomer Norton. Mineral Waters and Cordials. Absolutely Pure. (Stamped Price, Bristol)

•           Sherwood & Morris Botanical Brewers, Cartright Street, Wolverhampton, 1928. (Stamped Price, Bristol)

•           Allen's Superior Ginger Beer Works, Evercreech. (Stamped Powell, Bristol. An enamelled Car Badge bearing the following:- Supplied by L.A. Lower. Phone 153, Portway Garage, Wells. Lubricate this car with Texaco Golden Motor Oil.

Scores of assorted glass bottles have been left outside the tackle shed at the Belfry for junk devotees to "Pick their Own".

Bibliography.

ALLISON C. (ed) 1996 Upper Flood, Exploration to 1996, Mendip Caving Group Occ. Pub. 4. (Tailings pit in entrance, digging notes and photos).

ANON. 1662 (May) Mercurius Publicus 22,340-341. (On Thomas Bushell and attempts to unwater Row Pitts, Mendip. Reprinted here as Appendix 1).

ANON. 1860 Mining Law - Right of Water. Wells Journal 30th June 1860 (The Ennor v. Barwell case).

BARRINGTON N. & STANTON W. I. 1977 Mendip, the Complete Caves and a View of the Hills. Cheddar Valley Press. (Wheel Pit, Waldegrave Swallet and general mining information).

BURT R; WAITE P. & BURNLEY R 1984 Devon and Somerset Mines. University of Exeter. 126, 132-133. (Ownership and re-working details of Chew ton Minery and Waldegrave Works, 1860-1881).

CALVERT J. (date unknown) The Gold Rocks of Britain and Ireland. Goldpanners' Assn. (facsimile reprint). 95-98. (On T.Bushell and the unlikely possibility of his having mined for gold on Mendip).

GOUGH J.W. 1930 (reprintedI967). The Mines of Mendip. 2nd edn. David & Charles, Newton Abbot. (The main reference work on Mendip lead mining and resmelting history. See particularly; Bushell's adit pp 157-166 and Barwell's workings pp 181-205).

GOUGH J.W. 1932. The Superlative Pro dig all, a Life of Thomas Bushell. Bristol.

GOUGH J.W. (ed) 1931. Mendip Mining Laws and Forest Bounds. Somerset Record Society Bristol. vol 45. 68, 75-77, 88-91.(Row Pitts, Small Pitts and Bushell's adit. A reprinting of the original 17th century Minery Court cases).

IRWIN D.J.; STENNER R.D. & TILLY G.D. 1968. The Discovery and Exploration of St. Cuthbert's Swallet. B.E.e. Caving Report 13, Part A 5-8. (General information on the Mineries and Ennor v. Barwell case).

JARRATT  A.R. 1995. In Search of Thomas Bushell's Lost Swallow - a Proposed Dig at Five BuddIes Sink, Chewton Minery. Bristol Exploration Club, Belfry Bulletin 48, 481,49-50 (and also 21-25 -- The Snake Pit Hole Dig - 1969-1995).

JARRATT  A.R. 1996-date MSS Log Vol VII. (Complete diary of the dig).

JARRATT. A.R. et al. 1996-date MSS Log:- Kept at Hunter's Lodge Inn. (Complete diary of the dig).

KENNY. H. 1985. Caving Log 1942-1950. Wessex Cave Club occ. pub. Series 1,3. ("We fIrst visited the Priddy Lead Mines. The Last Swallet was in action and also the neighbouring BuddIe Swallet" . November 24th 1946).

KNIGHT F.A 1915. The Heart of Mendip. Dent. London. 509-510. (Describing the buddling methods of the Mendip Mining Company at the Charterhouse works - see appendix 3).

MOOR C.G. 1928. Tin Mining. Pitman, London. 62-63. (A good description of contemporary Cornish buddling).

MORGANS T. 1901. Notes on the Lead Industry of the Mendip Hills. Trans. Fed. Inst. Min. Vol. XX 478-494. (Re-working of slag, Chewton Warren, etc:- particularly on p. 491; "At one or two points, the company have exposed the underlying Conglomerate and begun testing it for lead-ore by means of shafts. Some lumps of galena have been found.  The ground is hard and requires powder").

PAGE W. 1911 The Victoria History of Somerset, Constable & Co. London. Vol. 2, 375-376. (Bushell's adit).

PALMER M. & NEAVERSON P. 1989. The Comparative Archaeology of Tin and Lead Dressing in Britain During the Nineteenth Century. Peak District Mines Historical Society Ltd. Bulletin 10, 6, 316-353.

PEPPIATT P. 1997 Descent magazine 137 p12.  (Mendip news report and photograph of entrance).

SAVORY J. (ed) 1989 A Man Deep in Mendip. Alan Sutton, Gloucester. 52, 54 108,126.  (References to visits and photographs of Wheel Pit, Five BuddIes Sink and Waldegrave Swallet but under different names;- Priddy Mines Swallet, Wheelpit Swallet, Road Swallet and "the little swallet under pines",- undertaken by Harry Savory, Herbert Balch and others between 1912 and 1921).

STANTON W.I. 1976 The dig and deposits at Blackmoor Flood Swallet. W.C.C. Jnl.14 No.167, 101-106.

STANTON W.I. 1981 Some Mendip Water Traces. W.C.C. Jnl. 16 No.185, 120-127.  (Including positive, negative and doubtful traces at Five BuddIes, Wheel Pit and Waldegrave Swallets).

STANTON W.I. & CLARKE A.G. 1984. Cornish Miners at Charterhouse on Mendip. Proc. Univ. Bristol. Spel. Soc. 17, 1, 29-54. (Re-working slags at Charterhouse by Mendip Hills Mining Co. and the Ennor v. Barwell case).

STANTON W.I. 1987 Waterwheel Swallet, Charterhouse-on-Mendip. Proc. Univ. Bristol Spel. Soc. 18, 1, 3-19.  (The excavation of the wheel pit, waterwheel and tailings pit in this cave).

WILCOCK J. 1997 The Mendip Caving Scene, 1997. Caves & Caving mag. 77, Autumn 1997, 36-7. (History, dowsing and breakthrough).

WITCOMBE R. 1992 Who Was Aveline Anyway? pp 90-91.

WOODWARD H.B. 1872. The Lead and Zinc Mines of the Mendips. Mining Mag. and Review.  March 1872 196-202.  (Mentions active re-working of slag at Stoke (sic) Hill, etc.).

1782 DAY AND MASTERS (Shows Wheel Pitts in what is now Stock Hill Forest).

19??  (Section of Chewton and Priddy mineries, Mendip, showing “Mouth of Swallet by Opening near Stocks House” and map detailing the water courses of the two Mineries and delineating the washing works, buddle pits and the swallet hole at Five Buddles.  This may have been made for the Ennor v. Barwell case).

Photo: M. Torbett

Digging in progress in the “Cornish Shaft.”

Depth at this point: 20ft.

 

Photo: M.Torbett

Mention should also be made of the collection of glass lantern slides held at Wells Museum and the following maps:


 

Rolling Calendar

31/12/97                MRO ‘Hands On’ Equipment familiarisation.  MRO Store/Belfry.  10.30am.

2/1/98                   BEC Committee Meeting.

3/1/98                   BEC v Wessex Skittles Challenge, New Inn, Priddy.  7.30pm start

3/1/98                   Cavers Stomp, Priddy Village Hall organised by Axbridge Caving Group. Tickets from Hunters/Bat Products £5 in advance, £6 on the door. Gwen, Cindy ,Andrea

24/1/98                  BEC Practice Rescue. Cuckoo Cleeves 10am. Alex Gee

24/1/98                  MRO Resuscitation Workshop Hunters Lodge 7.30pm.

25/1/98                  St. Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting Hunters Lodge 2pm. Andy Thomas

6/2/98                   BEC Committee Meeting

7/2/98                   CSCC Meeting.

7/2/98                   BEC STOMP Priddy Village Hall Roz Bateman

7/2/98                   CSCC Meeting.

6/3/98                   BEC Committee Meeting.

3/4/98                   BEC Committee Meeting.

1/5/98                   BEC Committee Meeting.

15-17/5/98             NAMHO field meet Nenthead Village Hall, Nenthead, Alston, Cumbria

16/5/98                  CSCC Meeting.

5/6/98                   BEC Committee Meeting.

3/7/98                   BEC Committee Meeting.

4-5/7/98                 Cavers Fair, Mendip.

7/8/98                   BEC Committee Meeting.

4/9/98                   BEC Committee Meeting.

3/10/98                  BEC AGM and Dinner.