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
Deputy Tackle Master: Mike Willett
Hut Engineer: Nick Mitchell
Hut Warden: Becky Campbell
Librarian: Alex Gee

Editorial

Hi. Oops.  I made a booboo in the last BB.  Several in fact!

The first was with regards to the song at the back of the BB, several people noticed that I had printed the chorus wrong in verse 2 and 3.  I am assuming that only three people mentioned it, either no one else knows the song or are not reading your BB properly! (Please look out for future tests of your reading of the BB!!)  My apologies for this (I was copying it at 3am so was obviously too tired, but I admit this is no excuse) and you will note the corrected version appears in this BB.

The second was with regards of the two letters of apology.  I forgot to put the disclaimer in, so here it is.

Letters and articles in the last BB and also in this BB are not necessarily the views of the Editor, the BEC Committee or the club in general.

The third was also related to the letters; I forgot to put in a brief note on the reason for their inclusion.  These were in the BB in relation to a committee directive that Ale and Becky were to apologise to the membership for their actions at the AGM, as part of the agreement to co-opt them back on to the committee.  The AGM minutes are included in this BB (thank you Nigel) should you required further explanations if you were not at the AGM. Nigel and Andy still reserve the right to reply, pending further discussion at the next committee meeting.

Anyway, enough of the apologies.

The cut off for the next BB is 4th April.

I need articles, so come on everyone, get writing.

Also, now that I can produce reasonable quality pictures in the BB, if you have photos that relate to your article please free to send them.  I will do everything I can to make sure any photos are returned after I have finished with them in the BB.  (I am also quite happy to receive scanned in photos or picture via e-mail or on floppy disc.)

Estelle

Meghalaya Photos

 

Krem Kot Sati in Meghalaya
Photo: Raphael Warji


Nasty looking caterpillar in Krem Lashing (purple in colour and that was the closest any finger was going to get to it!)                 Photo. Raphael Warjri


 

Caving and BEC News

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! There are quite a few trips listed on the notice board at the Belfry.

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

In case you didn't notice in the front of the BB, Andy has moved house to Street, Somerset.  His new phone number is 01458 xxxxxx.

White Spot Cave - the following appeared in the Bristol Evening Post on Tues. 16th Dec, 1997:

Man faces Ban from Bat Cave.

People are set to be banned from a cave in Cheddar - to prevent them from scaring the bats.

A metal grille could be going in at White Spot Cave, which houses a colony of Greater Horseshoe Bats.

Heating could also be installed for the Winter.

There are thought to be only 6,000 of the creatures left in Britain.

Hugh Cornwall, director of Cheddar Showcaves, has written to English Nature seeking formal permission for the barrier. Mr Cornwall said: "If the bats are disturbed from their torpor at any time during a cold winter it could cause the entire gorge population to 'crash' ."

The latest on the situation at White Spot Cave is that the ideas have been thrown out due to complaints from cavers and White Spot will not be gated or have heaters installed.

Cheddar Caves Access - The general access to caves in the Cheddar Gorge area has now been restricted to 'out of Bat season' - access is only available between 1 st May and 30th September.

BEC v Wessex Skittles Challenge.  There was a good turnout for this from both sides. Last year the BEC had problems fielding a team and we had to borrow members of other clubs to make up the numbers. This year a lot of the BEC turned up late, so as it was assumed we may have the same problem as last year, we ended up with a large group of MCG helping us out and a lot of BEC sat on the sidelines!! After a closely run match of three rounds, the Wessex won by 10 points in the end.  (We never wanted a gnome anyway, it would be too short for the BEC!!!)

GB Cave - Someone has dumped a load of used hypodermic needles and condoms around the car parking area by the gate at GB / Charterhouse.  As many as could be found have been cleared up by the Mendip Wardens, but the obvious warnings about needles still exist as there may still be hidden needles in the undergrowth there.

Speleoscene No 31 - This is available from caving shops.  (Free - but how about a donation to you local Cave Rescue Service.)  This issue contains a BMC report of the dangers of 'figure-8/karabiner combination' and 'maillon/Petzl Stop' problems. Information of Access and Conservation round the Regions.  A Training Bulletin, giving details of emergency kits to take underground.  Also a booklet on Interpreting the NCA Rope tests.

New Members.  The club would like to welcome Martin Selfe, Redruth, Cornwall as a new member, and the rejoining of Gwyn Taylor (Timpson) Ingleton, N. Yorks., Via Carnforth.

Ratified Member.  Congratulations on ratification to full membership to the following: Anette Becher, Tim Chapman, Clive Stell, Jeremy Dixon Wright and Ben Ogbourne.

I would like to thank the majority of members for paying their 97/98 membership subs before 1998.  All outstanding subscriptions please send to me A.S.A.P. so the Belfry Bulletin No. 494 and your new membership card can be issued.

I would also like to thank all members who have donated money to the B.E.C funds this year.

I hope you all like your new waterproof membership cards and I look forward to seeing you all at the BEC stomp next weekend (7tb Feb) SUPPORT YOUR TACKLE STORE.  Roz Bateman

Old Members News.  For those of you who knew them when they were members, Wobbly and Sally are parents.  They have adopted a 12 week old baby called Callum David Shand.  Parents and baby are doing fine.

Alan and Kirsten Turner are also parents; they have a baby boy called Robert David Turner.

Reminder - Photos are still required for the photo-board at the Belfry and also the Belfry Bulletin.

If you haven't visited the Belfry for a while, you will notice as you walk in next time, an informative notice board with a Cuthbert’s survey and photos of the cave, courtesy of Jake.

BEC Website - will shortly be available at www.mendipnet.co.uk/BEC

E-mail - From messages I have had from various members of the club, it has become apparent that a lot of the members who have e-mail, are on a works e-mail address, so do not want it publicised. For this reason we will not actually be publishing an e-mail list at this time.

One thing I am finding with the e-mail is that when I e-mail to say the BB is out, I am getting a lot of responses requesting me to hold their BB until they are down next time.  If you think this would be a helpful service to you, e-mail me and I can let you know as well.  (If you request that you do not want me to publicise your address, I will not forward it to anyone, without your permission).

Letter from India - This is part of the letter that was received by Tony Jarratt from Brian Kharpran Daly of the Meghalaya Adventurers Association on 15/12/97:

"After you all had left we had some more caving with Daniel, and of course there was nothing to beat Krem Lymput.  We have surveyed 2.75kms and it is still going on and on.  She really amazed me every time I visited her.  Big, spacious and simply fantastic.  We have not yet explored all the big passages, so we never had eyes for any crawls.  I know you will love her even if there are no crawls."

"The Indian Air Force (Eastern Air Command) - Adventure Wing, have affiliated themselves to our association, and they are very eager to go caving with us.  You know what, the next time we go caving and we need a helicopter for aerial survey, etc. we have one.  How about it!"

Sound like they're in for some fun during the expedition in February.  We look forward to an article.  See the photos on the preceding page and the next page. They were taken by Raphael from the Meghalayan Adventurers last February.

Stop Press - THAILAND 98

Tony Boycott and I spent 8 days in the Tai Romyen National Park in Surat Thani Province in Southern Thailand in company with Dean Smart (ex Orpheus and now working for the Royal Forest Dept.)  During that time 2.7 kms of caves were surveyed with another cave of >2kms left un-surveyed.  Most of the caving was either horizontal active stream passage or high level big abandoned fossil passages (usually stunningly decorated).

Rob Harper

 

Some of the misfits that ended up in Meghalaya, February last year!

L-R Rear: - Tony Boycott, Daniel Gebauer, Anand Jamatia, Brian Kharpran Daly, Andy Tyler, Kaiman C. Hiwol Passah.  Front: - Tony Jarratt, Estelle Sandford.

The Meghalaya Expedition found the most cave of any foreign expedition last year at 24.7km.  The photo was taken on the last day at the Circuit House in Jowai by Raphael Warjri


 

Recent New Caving Books

Below is a list of caving books which have been released in the last year. If any members have purchased any of these books, perhaps you would like to do me a review for publication in a future BB.  The list is compiled by Tony Jarratt, and he has advised me that all these books are available from a little caving emporium in Wells!!

The Complete Caving Manual - By Andy Sparrow  £14.99

Selected Caves of Britain and Ireland - Des Masshill and Donald Rust. £11.95

The Cave Rescuers Manual - Speleo Secours Francais  £6.50

Speleo Dans Le Vercors (New Edition) - Serge Caillaut et al £10.95

Darkworld - Martyn Farr  £15.95

Speleological Bibliography of South Asia - Daniel Gebauer et al  £30.00

The Caves of Fermanagh and Cavan - Gareth H. Jones et al £15.00

The Caves of the Isle of Portland - Mike O'Connor & Nigel Graham  £10.00

Cave Guide to Slovenia - Ian Bishop  £9.00

Speleo Guide Chartreuse - Jean Louis Fantoli  £15.00

Joke - Courtesy of Sett

What are bats most afraid of?

Diarrhoea

(from the Greek 'dia' meaning through and 'rhoia' meaning flow!!)


 

The BEC Song

Tune: Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill
Author: G. Weston
Source: Belfry Bulletin Vol XV No 10 Oct 1961

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 crowd who'll do you proud.
Go join the BEC".

Chorus:          Go join the BEC
                     Go join the 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 than sherry.
The Shepton brood are rude and crude
When drinking at the local.
But worse by far the Wessex are,
Exclusively teetotal.

Chorus:          We are the BEC
                     Down with sobriety
                     Throw out your chest cry "Beer is best",
                     And 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 them
By half past ten we're pissed again
And so ad infinitum

Chorus:          We are the BEC
                     And this we must confess
                     Whatever is worth doing
                     We'll do it to excess.


 

Tackle Store Report

From Mike Willett.

Before we go on to the tackle store, I am obliged to inform the membership of the recent change.  Richard Blake, who was voted to be Tackle Master at the AGM, is working in Egypt at the moment.  Before leaving, Richard asked me if I would run the tackle store, because of the length of time he was going to be away.  I said I would, and with the committee's approval, I am now Deputy Tackle master.  I'm just waiting for my shiny badge!

The contents of the tackle store at the moment are as follows. –

  • 2 x ten meter ladders.
  • 1 x eighteen foot ladder.
  • 1 x St Cuthbert’s entrance ladder (for that purpose only).  Tagged.
  • 3 x Spreaders.
  • 3 x Wire Belays
  • There is no lifeline, or it hasn't been booked out.
  • There is a stock of 8 exploration ropes ranging from 18 - 40meteres in length but these are over seven years old and have not been tested yet.  They will be, and any that fail can be used for digging purposes.

According to the last entry in the tackle masters logbook (beam me up Scotty) there are 11 ladders missing and 8 in various digs.  This has been the state of affairs for at least a year now.  The ladders in digs, I am accounting for and collecting.  I pulled one out from the bottom of Gladman Shaft in Eastwater Cavern on a recent trip, but it has to be destroyed because of its condition.  I suspect this will be the case for the majority of the 8 ladders that have been used in digs.  The general feeling on what to do about the 11 missing ladders is to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch, so that's what is going to happen.  However, as far as the missing ladders go, I'll just say this. -  If you have one put it back please, the key to the tackle store is in the key cupboard!  If you have one and you don't want to give it back, then you're a shit!

The tackle store for now will have to tick over with 3 ladders in stock.  This shouldn't be a problem if everyone books out his or her ladder and spreader, and return it to the tackle store. Preferably straight after their trip, and tick the book to say they've done so.  If everybody does this, then the tackle store should run itself.

As you all know the BEC Stomp is on the 7 February and the proceeds are being used to restock the tackle store.  Rope is what we are most in need of, along with materials for ladder making. A list of all money raised and tackle purchased will be included in the next BB tackle store report.  Let’s hope everyone has a thirst on that evening.

PS. While I'm here I'll take the opportunity to thank Jake for all his help, and also thanks to Mike Wilson for his encouragement and advice.


 

Where to in Wookey?

By Pete Glanvill, January 1998

Although I haven't dived in Wookey for several years I still retain a healthy interest in others activities and wish the 25 pushing team the best of luck. However in the push to the end I feel that a number of leads have been neglected and as a number of finds 15 years ago were made after perusal of old diving reports I thought a run down on sites of interest throughout the system might generate some enthusiasm.  I have given some references but they are by no means complete.

Starting at Chamber Nine, I wonder why nobody has ever examined that soaring wall above the sump.  OK, everybody assumes that the old water exit to the surface was found by John Parker in 1970 and the water entered via the current 20-9 route.  But what if water flowed in from a higher level at some time? A bolt climb straight up that wall to its highest point would provide a conclusive answer.  There are plenty of climbers about capable of doing it and with current aids to bolting it wouldn't take long.  Whether the show cave management would like it is another matter entirely!

(A route across the top of it was started from the highest point - about 90ft up - some years ago but not completed - A.J. - See Appendix 1)

Between 9 and 20 there is very little hint of development not already found. I have examined 12 and 13 and Clive Owen forced the only going lead from there to a definite conclusion back in the mid to late '80's.

The 20th chamber still offers opportunity for extension.  An intimate inspection of the roof between 19 and the lake area on the 'upstream' side needs to be done sometime (see later description of Edmund's Chamber prospects).  Then, just beyond the lake, there is one of the most tantalising side passages in the system.  A short climb on the left hand side of the passage facing the way on into 20 enters an extensive and well developed series known as the 2 W's series after its explorers Woodward and Whybro.  It is little known, having been visited precisely four times - once partly by Brian Woodward and John Parker in 1970 then explored further by the 2 W's in 1983 (note 1) then visited by Chris Milne and Paul Whybro (note 2) and partly by Brian Johnson and myself (note 3).  The partly refers to a very tight bedding squeeze not far into the extension which acts as a formidable barrier to many individuals!

The 2 W's extension, about 50 metres beyond the lake in 20 is reached by a 3 metre climb (best done using combined tactics and a ladder although there used to be a doubled rope on it).  A nice stooping height tube ascends to a 4 metre scramble up a roomy fluted rift. The passage changes character here becoming a wide low decorated sloping bedding.  There is a challenging squeeze after 4 metres which Brian couldn't pass and which required me to remove my wetsuit to get through (although that was so unpleasant I managed to get back wearing it!).  Whether Chris Milne got through here on what was supposed to a surveying trip is debatable according to what Harpic told me.  Our trip was to photograph and survey it and somewhere I have some crude notes made on my solo exploration (the photos are a bit uninspiring - nobody in them of course).

Beyond the squeeze one can descend the bedding to a stony crawl in an area of breakdown.  There is a definite draught here and in fact the whole of the extension is draughty. Beyond the shattered section another roomy bedding crawl leads to a roomy aven chamber in limestone.  On the opposite side of the aven is a squeeze over boulders into a 2 metre diameter tube.  At the start of the tube is an interesting boulder run in which is a potential dig site and the quite well decorated tube slopes down to a mud choke - again diggable.

The aven itself has been climbed once by Woodward and Whybro who got to 15 metres height where a ledge and low arch gave access down a ramp into a chamber 4 metres across and 15 metres high.  They noticed several potential digs - a choked rift in the floor, a choked horizontal passage at the base of the chamber and an inaccessible tube 5 metres up the wall of the chamber.

This extension is, without doubt, the most significant in 20 apart from the short series of tunnels at the end which trend towards 24.  I do wonder if this near series is heading towards 20 - a dry link perhaps or another inlet? The draught hints at something and the passages are fairly large.  After 10 years perhaps the extension deserves its 4th visit, to be seen by more than the 3 or 4 people who have been there so far and to be surveyed properly!

The end of 20 has been well and truly dug since Jim Durston and I first had a prod many years ago.  It still offers a good chance of a dry link to 24.

The next port of call has to be Edmund's Chamber.  This was relocated by myself in 1984 on a dive with Clive Westlake. I couldn't believe I had entered virtually a new chamber in Wookey after all the diving that had been done beyond 22. That rediscovery is the raison d'etre for this article because there is only a 2 line reference to its original discovery, the diving that time being focused purely on getting upstream.  It was only my puzzlement when browsing through the Somerset Sump Index and seeing this reference that led to my diving exploration (note 4).  There is an unpublished Descent article about the ascent of Edmund's Chamber so I won't go into details except to comment that not all the above-water leads in Edmund's have been played out and that Beyond the Thunderdome, the high level passage off it, runs straight towards 20 and can only be 50 metres or less from it where it ends in breakdown - it is also well scalloped suggesting significant flow in the past.  This could be one of the sites to examine for a dry link between 20, 22, 23 and 24.  If you do go there don't use the rope on the final chimney climb.  It has been there for over ten years and is belayed to a single bolt!

22 has now been well explored.  The roof climbs are virtually completed and offer a link with Halloween Rift while in one corner is the side passage off which the dry link to 22 goes - Cam Valley Crawl where Trev Hughes and Rob Harper pipped me to the post all those years ago (gnash! gnash!) (note 5)  Jim Durston and I got the crap deal of surveying it which was grim I can tell you! It has also been surveyed to Grade V (appropriately on 1.4.84 by Clive Westlake, myself and (for the horrid bit at the end as revenge) Rob Harper) and the survey published in the CDG NL although I cannot remember which one!

There is no obvious dry route between 23 and 24 but the sumps are very short and shallow.  24 still offers scope for exploration and digging but as Rob Harper and Trev Hughes never surveyed (or drew sketches of ) their finds and they called them all 'Pleasant Valley - whatever day of the week that came into their heads nobody else has a clue what is really there - if you don't believe me you try reading the reports  (note 6). All I know is that the finds were made in the Oxbow Extension, apparently draughting, and possibly head towards 20 at a variety of levels.  I am quite sure there are other locations in 24 that haven't been examined such as the rift above where the stream can be seen for the final time before reappearing in 22 (and that is another mystery which Mike Barnes has started addressing).

So what needs to be done in Wookey?  Well some accurate surveying and publication of the finds made since the mid eighties would be useful (especially if used in conjunction with a mole phone).  Trebor and Pat Cronin supposedly started doing this in May 89 (note 7) - so where is it Trebor?  As regards survey notes I have used Willie Stanton in the past as a repository for these. This could usefully be followed up by looks at the leads I have mentioned. Food for thought is that Cam Valley Crawl, Beyond the Thunderdome (note 8), the Oxbow extensions in 24 and possibly 2 W's extension are all on the same level suggesting they are all part of the same development - but then I'm not a geologist.

Appendix 1 - By Andy Sparrow

Regarding Wookey Hole Chamber 9 - I had the same ideas about high level Wookey 9 and together with Brian Murlis bolted partially across from the landing at the top of the chamber a couple of years back.  We progressed about 15 feet and got a good look at the prospects. Straight on the rift closes down and the only possibility is to climb upwards into the roof but this appears to pinch out too.  There is still a chance there, but looking down into the chamber the walls are covered in huge scallops and there seems little doubt that the shaft/aven/chamber has been formed by phreatic uplift.  We abseiled down from our furthest point (a fabulous 25m pitch) on the traverse and had a look at the other rifts in the roof.  Again there are possibilities but only vague ones that would probably not justify the huge technical problem of bolting into them. Having said that, if anyone feels like returning and pushing to a conclusion give me a shout.

notes

  1. CDG Newsletter 68 page 26.
  2. CDG Newsletter 69 page 17
  3. CDG Newsletter 93 page 34
  4. CDG NIL's 39.20 and 74.38
  5. CDG NIL 71.12
  6. CDG NIL 69.17,94.30,108.27, 113.40
  7. CDG NIL 92.25
  8. Survey in CDG NIL 92.25


 

The Eifel Volcanoes of Germany

By Mike and Hilary Wilson

While Hilary and I were in Germany with Helmut and his family, we took the opportunity to drive south from Solingen past Bonn to the Eifel Region, approximately 100km from Solingen.  For anyone who is interested in geology and walking, this area must be one of the most geologically compact areas in Germany.

Do not expect to see large towering volcanic cones or huge lava flows because this is not the case.  The area has to be explored 'on foot' to uncover the secrets and appreciate how time, man and climate have managed to erode and conceal what must have been a spectacular landscape millions of years ago.  Don't worry though, the overall effect, although very 'soft' is still there.

The best base point to use would be an old town called Vulkanstad.  Here there is a volcano information centre here and several 'wanderwegs' (footpaths) radiating outwards.  Probably the most interesting one is the 'Laacher See' - a large volcanic lake, which again is not what it seems at first glance.  It is possible to walk around the lake on two levels: -

1.       Lakeside

2.       A higher level around what was the peripheral volcanic rim

Route 2 is forested and requires good route finding and a map (Wanderkarte 1/25,000 Osteifel mit Laacher See).  The whole area is good for walking and has the advantage of not being crowded like the Pyrenees.

The rest of the Eifel Plateau consists of some more volcanic lakes known as 'Maare'.  These are near the town of Daun.  Beyond these lakes, is the Mosenberg Volcano, with its four extinct craters.  It is about one hour hike from the road (don't expect a massif, it's only 1,800 foot high now!)

There are two more good reasons for staying in this region, one is the Numburgring Miric is very near and two the Mosel Wine region is only 50km away.

So go and find it for yourselves, we have managed several walks ourselves.

 

Village in the Eifel Region. Photo: Mike Wilson



 

Goodness me.  Has it been that long?

Swildons Hole's Sump 12 - as she now lies an account of the present position

by Trebor McDonald

Goodness me, has it been that long?  Nearly 33 years Messrs. Drew, Savage and Wooding reached Sump 12 on the 20th March 1965 and after 33 years it has still not been passed.  This just will not do.  There are 30 odd logged dives in this most stubborn of sumps and many man hours of work but still no luck.  With very few realistic sumps to work on in the Mendip area, this one needs to be sorted.

THE SUMP

On the 6th March 1965, Mike Wooding passed sumps 9 and 10 quite easily to stand up in the impressive Swildons 11 streamway, only to be hit with an awkward-looking duck.  He returned to the right side of 9 to join the others.  Dave Savage then had a go, reaching the duck in Swildons 11 to find a muddy high level by-pass to the duck which descended into the streamway just before Sump 11.  Another muddy tube could be seen ascending at this point with running water audible on the other side but a return to base was made. Sump 12 was subsequently reached by the trio on the 20th by by-passing sump 11.  Since then all efforts in sump 12 have produced a blank. Wooding, Savage, Drew, (John) Parker, Boon, Cobbett, Collett, Reynolds, Moody, Palmer, Solari, Farr, Fairburn et al., have all had a poke but with no success.  The main problems encountered were an unsureness of the way on, no indication of the layout of the sump, restrictions and silt, the place is full of the stuff.  In February 1969 after the great floods of 1968, Reynolds and Standing carried out an inspection of the streamway to assess flood damage and a quick dive in sump 12 revealed no indication of it having been opened up.  Most divers were merely doing one-off dives in the sump at this time and there was no concerted long-term effort.  As a result nobody was really getting to grips with the place and nobody really knew the layout of the sump.  As part of a request by me when up-dating the Somerset Sump Index in 1990/1, Pete Moody and Rob Palmer made the following observations:

"The two trips written up (Moody and Parker, 1972)….. do not give the whole picture.  The first squeeze mentioned by JP at 80ft did not really exist; however; the second one was pretty extreme.  Not only did you have to de-kit but it was a considerable struggle for a few feet before it opened out again.  I would not fancy doing it with twin kit.  The bang of the 27th Feb ('72) only removed a few chert nodules and did not have any effect on the squeeze.  Beyond, the passage at maximum depth choked out however but a rift to the left can be followed and a very brave person with a lump hammer might be able to force a route upwards.  What was so exciting about JP's find was that he definitely, absolutely and certainly had the whole of the Swildon's flow going through the squeeze which was a rock letter box off to the right of the main tube.  I cannot believe that Solari (1.6.74) or Palmer (20.2.82) were in the same place as us, unless it had silted up further back.  The problem is that everyone who has dived in there since Wooding and Drew have either done one-off dives or explored just a single underwater passage.  I do not think anyone really knows the layout in there.  From all the conflicting reports I wonder whether the flow actually changes over time with deeper routes silting up end then being scoured out by floods."

Pete Moody, 1990.

Rob Palmer was sent the above account by me for comment and his reply was:

"My recollection of the place pretty well matches Pete's.  The pool drops away pretty steeply over a muddy floor with a bit of a trench in it, sloping down to the right as you go in.  At the bottom there is a rock-roofed slot in the right wall, about 6-7" high. with a pebble/gravel floor that seems to take all the flow.  This is probably Parker's' "second squeeze".  As Pete says, the first squeeze does not exist - I think he must have wriggled through a mud constriction at the side of the trench, very possible if he was following the left or right walls.  The last time I went there with Julian Walker (1985), it looked the same as in '82 being too tight to pass through.   At the other side you can feel a cross-rift, not too big, continuing up.  It has probably silted up since Parker and Moody and only the flow keeps a bit of it open."

Rob Palmer, 1991.

From all the odd distances, depths and descriptions set out in the various dive reports the above accounts are considered by me to be the closest to the opinions held by myself and Mike Barnes with the advantage of having carried out many dives in the last few years.  Some of the depths and distances mentioned above are very optimistic but that is not unusual.

We consider that we now know more about the sump than anyone else and as far as we are concerned the sump is roughly as shown in the survey sketches. From the reasonable-sized sump pool the approximately 2m wide and 1m square, mud-floored passage descends quite steeply at about 45deg for about 10m to a mud-covered end wall blockage.  By following the right hand wall however a gravel-bottomed trench/tube, a little larger than body size, bears off to the right. This restricted trench is about 2.5m long, perhaps a little longer, and has a definite solid right hand wall. The left side is a little more confused but there is a definite roof. At the end of the trench a squeeze comes into feel (not "view" as you cannot see diddly) corkscrewing down and to the right a little.  This is at the deepest point -7m.  By taking one tank off it is possible to wriggle through to stand up in a cross-rift, the squeeze effectively being behind you down by your heels.  The rift is perhaps 2.5m long and only 1m wide - you can touch the other side of the rift as you stand up from the squeeze. To the right the rift closes down quickly and there is believed to be a bubble connection with sump 12a from here. To the left the rift pinches out also. The way on is definitely vertically up (the lump hammer banging referred to by Pete Moody) and the muddy water can be seen swirling up past your face mask. However, the rift soon narrows due to nodules and ledges and the intention is/was to try and knock off these nodules to force a way up to the surface.  By clambering up the rift a short way, a depth gauge on an outstretched arm reads -1m, so not far to go.

CURRENT WORK

Over the last two years Mike Barnes and myself, and earlier Pete Bolt have been trying to consolidate the squeeze. Although we had already got through the squeeze on a few occasions it was a real wriggle and not very nice.  We knew it would always be a problem and if banging and hammering work was to be carried out in the ascending rift beyond we wanted to know that there would be a fair chance that our retreat would not be blocked. So in late 1997, when we thought the squeeze might be big enough, we decided to pass through to try and bang the nodules off the rift the other side. We thus spent a few weekends further digging out the squeeze and the trench that led to it leaving it nice and tidy for the appointed day when we were going to blow the hell out of the rift, like you do.  On arriving at the sump I set up the charges and Mike offered to lay them in the squeeze. Two minutes later an irate diver returned complaining that the squeeze had completely silted up again and he could not get near enough to lay the bang.  We had insufficient air to dig out the squeeze and then lay the bang so in a fit of pique the stuff was laid on the right hand wall of the trench and .... wallop.  "Too much bang methinks," I said to Mike before we turned and ran for the safety of sump 10.

On exit the previous weekend we were faced with a mega thunderstorm and no doubt, dear readers, you can imagine two knackered wet suited divers lying in the grass, as far away from the tanks as possible, hoping and praying whilst lightning crashed all around.  We thought then that that storm had caused the silting in the sump but now we consider that any flooding in the cave causes no change at all to the sump.  The sump just silts up naturally from week to week as already described.

THE PROBLEM(S)

a.          As you may have guessed from the above, the main problem is a combination of restriction and silting.  In a way, by widening the trench leading to the squeeze, we may have inadvertently caused our own problem.  With a wider trench the water flow through the squeeze is now greater.  The silt-laden water thus hits the far wall of the rift, stops dead and thus dumps its load effectively blocking the squeeze. The Swildons flow is not great enough to drive the silt through the sump, vertically up the 7m rift and thus on down the cave.  From Sump 2 onward the streamway is essentially horizontal and with numerous sumps and restrictions along the way any flood water that may make its way down the cave is greatly slowed.  So, by the time flood water reaches sump 12 it is merely a trickle and thus has no scouring action at all. Furthermore, the sumps and streamway are all quite heavily silted so the progressive movement of silt down the cave will always occur.

So, for practical, common sense and peace of mind reasons it will be necessary to widen the squeeze further, preferably in conjunction with some silt-prevention measures.

b.          A second problem is cold and wet suiting.  An ordinary caving wet suit is pleasant to cave in down to 12 but hideously cold whilst digging in the terminal sump and hanging around generally during a 7-9 hour trip.  A diving wet suit is nice in the sump but too hot to cave in!  We thus have to cave down to 12 with the top of the long-john rolled down to the waist making it a little awkward.

c.          Sump 12 is also a remote place and a little daunting and the slog out is unpleasant if not fully fit.

d.          Tank size is a big problem also and as usual there has to be a trade-off between tank size, portability and the need to make every trip as productive as possible. Taking two large tanks in every time is a nightmare so we have found the best compromise is to store a small 3 litre bail-out tank on the friendly side of sump 9 to use as a reserve through the longish sump 9 and while digging in 12.  We then take in and out a high pressure 7 litre tank each trip to use in the sumps to 12 and whilst digging in 12 as well.  This obviously gives us relatively limited air but dragging two large tanks in and out each time does not bear thinking about.  By free-diving most of the sumps, or judicious breathing, little of the air is used up on the trip down allowing maximum air to be used whilst digging.  Anyway, digging for 7 litres worth of air usually coincides with the onset of hypothermia and fedupness.

e.          Poor, invariably zero visibility is a big headache.  It is almost certain that the sump would have been passed years ago if divers could have seen what they were doing.  This is always the problem with downstream sumps.  In this case we have managed to see a little by one diver charging through sumps 9 and 10, to stay ahead of the silt generated, running down the passage to sump 12 (a comical site in full gear) and then charging into sump 12 and poling like mad to get a glimpse of the work place before the mists stirred up on the way down blots out everything.

THE SOLUTION

There are various solutions that we have devised, not necessarily in the following order (nay, definitely in this order!)

a.          Retire from diving.  Seems very sensible to me!!

b.          Give up and let some keen young blades with stamina, resilience and no brains have a go.

c.          Build a silt trap in the natural arch that spans the streamway some 10m back from the sump to try and prevent further silt from entering the sump itself.  This however does not resolve the problem of the ton of silt already in the sump.

d.          Blast the squeeze to Hell and see what happens.  However, with indiscriminate blasting you are never sure what hanging death there is.  We are still not sure of the damage from the last blast.  In zero viz. it is not nice blundering about in tight trenches and squeezes in the knowledge that there may be all sorts of nasty Henrys hovering above you.

e.          A combination of a) and b) or c) and d).

Finally, we have had half a mind (wags will say we cannot spare it) on what happens above the water line the other side of the sump.  With a tight ascending rift festooned with nodules and ledges, there is no reason to suppose that the rift will suddenly widen into nice ambling passageway (with Cafe!) directly above the water line.  If the rift continues tight up above the surface, we can envisage a frustrated diver surfacing with his helmet jammed tight in the rift looking down a long, bleak, narrow watery fissure for how long?  5m, l0m ... 50m?  We'll cross that bridge when and if we come to it.

Ho hum Happy Caving.

 


 

The Mines of Le Saut, near Meribel, Les Trois Vallees, Haute Savoie, France.

By Chris Smart

Last summer Blitz and family took off to Meribel, in the French Alps for a well-earned three week holiday.   Meribel, in the picturesque les Allues valley, in the Three Valleys area is situated close to Albertville, the site of a recent Winter Olympics. Some of you may know the area for its world class skiing and the thousands of tourists that it attracts every winter.  In the summer however, the area is much quieter and the lower mountain slopes are carpeted with a profusion of Alpine flowers.  There was a mention, in a book of local walks, of an old abandoned lead mine some hours walk from Meribel and I decided that this could be incorporated into an interesting days walk for myself.  It would also make an excellent winter's ski excursion using the profusion of winter ski lifts to gain easy access.

 

In the les Allues valley, the road ends at Meribel-Mottaret (1681 metres) and the Nature Reserve of the Lac de Tueda begins almost immediately.  I followed the rough jeep track alongside the main feeder stream for the lake up a series of switchbacks alongside thundering waterfalls and cascades.  After 200 metres of climbing one enters the broad flat floored Vallon de Fruit, a high (2000 metres altitude) Alpine meadow complete with the obligatory cows with their mixture of tinkling, clattering and booming cow bells.  It is also where you enter the Parc de la Vanoise.  This National Park is well known for its protected wildlife and the Aiguille de Fruit rising steeply to a height of 3051 metres on the left-hand side of the path is, according to the local guidebook, the home of wild Chamois.

An hour and a half after leaving Meribel-Mottaret I arrived at the Refuge de Saut (2140 metres) a private Alpine hut with limited accommodation.  There is now very little to see apart from some small spoil heaps and one entrance to the mine, a short climb up the rocky slope behind the hut.  The Mines of Le Saut were worked between 1758 and 1773 by a combination of up to 25 Germans and 25 men from the Piedmont area of what is now northern Italy.  According to the local walks guidebook, the mines produced the equivalent of 200,000 worth of gold French Francs from both Silver (11%) and Lead ore (18%).

The book suggests that the initial sorting and processing was carried out on site on site before a preliminary smelting in a wood fire.  The partly smelted ore was then transported to the north, on the backs of mules, to be further refined in the valley of Notre Dame de Brian~on, a few kilometres north west of Moutiers.  However the intense over exploitation of the forests to the north for heating the Salines Royales (Royal Baths) in Moutiers meant that the initial smelting on site was very soon not possible and the unrefined ore was then transported to the south.

This southward route was particularly difficult as it used the part of the Maurienne Path that leads eventually to the small village of Fourneaux, close to Modane on the River L' Arc.  It climbs up the valley from the mine, across the rocky moraines of the Glacier de Gebroulaz, which is often snow covered in summer, up to the Col du Souffre (2,819m = 9,229ft) before descending to the Refuge de Peclet Polset, now a Club Alpine Francais climbing hut at 2,570m.  Another ascent followed for the next hour, up to the Col de Chaviere (2,796m) before the long descent in the Chauiere valley to Fourneaux.  An early example of the economic dangers of the over exploitation of our forests?

As can be seen by the dates the undertaking was relatively short lived but there are some spoil heaps, the ruins of an inclined plane and two entrances remain open.  A local information board says that there are 400 metres of pitches and galleries.  The local Tourist Information Office in Meribel advises that entry to the mines is extremely dangerous without their accompaniment but despite this danger they will organise visits in the summer if enough punters can be found!  I had a short venture in the obvious entrance and was met with a howling gale of very cold air.  The initial passage almost immediately entered a small chamber with extremely friable walls and roof and a floor covered in fine gravel, representing the frost breakdown debris.  A low squeeze giving access to the rest of the mine has obviously been dug in the recent past but I chose this point to reconsider the sunshine outside.

The sunshine was however, to cause me a problem on the next section of my walk after I had retraced my steps back to the base of the Aiguille de Fruit.  A poor and little used footpath climbs steeply for the next hour and three-quarters before one arrives at the Col de Fruit (2516 metres) with its excellent views into the Courchevel valley. This was not my destination but opened up the possibility of a ridge walk.  As it turned out the ridge soon became very narrow, more of a cross between Crib Goch and Sharp Edge with a few isolated snow hollows.  It ended all too quickly close to the ski lift station for the Sommet de la Saulire.  This wasn't running and the next hour and a half's long dusty slog back down to Meribel was mind numbing.  If you want to repeat this walk I would suggest a day when this ski lift is working and then use it for the descent.

In conclusion - an excellent day walking on the hill.  With half an hour for lunch the complete circuit took 7 hours and for about a half of that I had the paths to myself. 


 

Welsh's Green Swallet - The Survey

(Or The Mud-pile Strikes Back)

by Trevor Hughes

20th July 1979 - Graham 'Jake' Johnson started dig (from surface!)

May 1989 - First breakthrough (into Washout Passage) - 190m

29/10/92 - Breakthrough - 61m

30/10/92 - Breakthrough - 23m

October/November 1992 were very successful months for diggers on Mendip. White Pit was finally going after an intensive effort by a host of diggers from many clubs, including a trip that included three German folk dancers!  Geologically speaking the most important breakthrough was the next set of extensions to Welsh's Green. Graham Johnson and team's initial entry into the 'Washout' section of the cave seemed to hold out the prospects of more discoveries but the breakdown section at the end, past the second aven, took nearly 3½ years and a lot of effort to pass.  The next extension of 60m was first entered on 29th October 1992, was actually predicted in the Hunters (where else!) on the night before.  A further extension of 23m was made the following day and since then approximately 10m of hard fought, torturous progress through an area of extensive block-fall has been engineered. Incidentally the White Pit diggers, of which I was one, had only to wait until the 4th November for their breakthrough into the well decorated upper series of that cave.

The prospect of surveying, not only the United Kingdom's longest Blue Lias cave but also one of Mendip's muddiest loomed.  My first trip into the cave was a couple of weeks after the May '89 breakthrough to explore and to dig the end.  My caving log states: "(a cave) .... of such muddiness as is hard to imagine".  For those of you who have not been down this cave, the rear cover of the guide book, co-authored by that well known spelling mistake - Mr. Jarrett, shows Nick Williams at Compost Comer, his chin appears connected to the blob that was once Pete Bolt's wellie!  The mud, nay sludge, level has somewhat diminished with the winter streams, but this picture will give the reader some idea of the conditions met with when surveying.

Initial survey work commenced on the 18th June 1989. Lisa Taylor, with myself as assistant, levelled the shaft collar from the OSBM on the Old Wells Road at Milton Lane.  I will not embarrass Lisa by mentioning the size of her vertical misclosure but suffice it to say that later Blitz and I repeated the exercise, double levelling across the fields and back (- 1km) with an 8mm misclosure.  This fixed the shaft collar at 168.00m A.O.D.  A theodolite surface survey of the entrance area was started but the thick undergrowth prevented much from being achieved.

Underground survey work commenced on Wednesday 3rd November 1992, hot on the heels of the latest breakthrough.  On that evening trip Graham 'Jake' Johnson and Rich Blake dug the very end.  Estelle Sandford, Vince Simmonds and the author started surveying back from the start of the terminal breakdown area.  The stream flowing down the cave enabled Estelle, recording the figures taken by Vince and myself, to keep the plastic survey pages clean.  The tight breakthrough point of 30th October had the double complications of deep water and steel scaffolding. Judicious use of forward and back bearings minimised the potential for magnetic errors but did little for the bodily warmth of yours truly.  The end of the 3½ year dig, the breakthrough point of 29th October, is a tight, ribcage wrecker, but carefully siting the survey stations we were able to avoid the squeezes and the considerable amounts of scaffolding holding up the roof.  We finished work at the passage junction to the second aven, 94m of passage surveyed, the longest leg being nearly 16m along the perfectly straight section of the extension, notable for the distinct vadose trench in the floor.

The White Pit breakthrough on the 4th November failed to hold up progress. On Sunday the 8th the Welsh's morning shift had fired a cortex charge at the end, the afternoon shift of Estelle and myself carried on with the survey.  It was slow, cold work with only two, but we managed 16 survey legs, a total of 75m of passage, to complete work as far as the Dripping Aven. My wetsuit zip bursting on the way out didn't much help the warming up process.

The MRO stomp and associated hangovers plus heavy rain delayed the next trip until the 18th November, again on a Wednesday evening.  Vince, Jake and myself surveyed 97m of passage that evening. The Compost Corner legs were most remembered - Vince managed, most successfully, to ensure that for virtually every survey station, to read the compass, I had to bung my somewhat hirsute chin into the mud, revenge I suppose for making him do all the outward trip backwards.  For those of you who know the Welsh's mud the results are not hard to imagine.  The last underground survey trip on the following Wednesday evening (25th November) was the wettest of the four, but starting at the first aven and working back through the dug section to the entrance, we made the Hunters with time to spare.  Tonight was Rich's turn to cave backwards finding the stations and taping up, Jake was the recorder.  In the course of two hours work we had surveyed 105m of passage.

The survey plan was computed and plotted fairly quickly.  The next stage III the proceedings was a radio location exercise and surface levelling.  This was carried out with the help of Nick Williams on the 29th December 1992.  Roz Bateman and Ivan Sandford drew the short straws and went to the end with the transmitter.  I plotted the end of my survey on the surface and marked it with a ranging rod.  J'Rat and myself then levelled the surface every 10m - following the strike (dug) passage to the first inlet and then the general line of the cave to the end where Nick was engrossed with his gadgets and gizmos, wandering around muttering to himself like the best of tribal witchdoctors.

The surface levelling combined with the cave survey gave the depth to the roof at the radio location point as 29m. However because of the strength of the signal and the limitations of the molefone, we were unable to check this. The very good news was the position of the radio location fix - less than 3m away from my pre-plotted point - later Ivan and Roz confirmed that their transmitter was not actually at my end station but 2m or so away in the same direction as the surface mismatch. This very accurate tie in was a most pleasing and fitting reward for the 27 'man' hours of underground survey work.

Notes:

Beyond the Grade 5 survey, there is a sketched Grade 1 section, drawn in by Jake and J'Rat. This section is a flat out crawl under breakdown, leading to a too tight to follow section of passage.

 


 

Cartoon – the Undergrounders

 



 

Dragged from Cuthbert's

- some background notes on rescue routes and aids by Dave Irwin

Fortunately, rescue of an injured caver from St. Cuthbert's Swallet has been a rare event during the forty-odd years since the cave was opened.  A full carry has never been necessary - all have got themselves out of the cave with the minimum of assistance.  Those that have occurred have been from sites never suspected of potential rescue.  So, what's new - they never are!  Practice rescues can be attempted from difficult points in the cave but never at the place of a real event.  A summary of important rescues is given elsewhere (note 1) and the formal accounts can be found in the MRO Annual Reports.

However, to estimate the practical problems of some of the more difficult areas of the cave from which to extricate a severely injured person I, as caving secretary at the time, initiated a number of local or mini-practices. They were (i) Catgut Rift (Cross-Leg Squeeze was patently impossible to manipulate an unconscious victim unless blasting was resorted to - and that is most undesirable!) September Ruckle and Coral Chamber.  The latter site is tantalising for it has a large number of entries/exits none were stable enough for the movement of a carrying party manipulating an immobile victim. Only one point was deemed suitable and that is very unstable at one point.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – The Cascade.  Photo Dave Irwin
St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – The Cascade.  Photo Dave Irwin

Before 1965 severe flooding of the depression was a regular occurrence and the writer developed an idea that had been circulating for some time.  The plan was to lay a series of pipes which would allow the overflow water to flow into an open drain. The water would rapidly flow through the entrance passages and Entrance Rift and avoid the ponding of the water in the depression.  Up to that time the cave was frequently closed for long periods during the winter months.  Also, severe summer storms could cause the water to rise rapidly when the ground was very dry and hard.  Run-off quickly filled Mineries Pool, though the retaining dam prevented a flood-pulse racing down the depression causing the havoc so regularly encountered in caves such as Swildon's Hole.  The dam meant that the stream flow remained high for some time after the other cave streams had returned to normal levels.

However, the water escaping from the Mineries Pool increased the flow along the surface of the western edge of the depression, being at high level the stream flowed into Plantation Swallet.  In so doing the water saturated the local area so causing seepage and breakthrough along its route allowing it to run down the sides of the depression augmenting the stream flowing down the depression from the Mineries Pool dam. One such escape route from the Plantation Stream is located above the South Swallet [or Maypole Sink] known to some as the Overflow Cutting; water flowing down this can clearly be seen in Roy Bennett's photo in the St. Cuthbert's publication although the original picture was slightly out of focus. (note 2)

Flooding at the entrance caused two major call-outs, both in 1960, when, following heavy bouts of rain, parties were trapped below the Entrance Rift requiring the need for the fire service to pump away water from the flooded depression. Accounts and comment can be found in various articles. (note 3,4,5,6,7) At this time the Entrance Rift had acquired a certain reputation and for some it could be 'an illuminating experience never to be forgotten. Remember too, that carbide lamps were still widely used; the wet suit and rechargeable battery lighting system was still some 4 - 5 years away.

 

Laying the land drains - 1965. Mike Palmer getting his hands dirty! Photo.: Dave Irwin


The trench. 1965 - Mike Palmer inspecting the work! photo. : Dave Irwin

Carbide lamp flames would soon be extinguished under the slightest shower of water and several ingenious devices were 'invented' to avoid this problem. One was a shield clipped to the reflector and another was an emergency lighting system driven by a small battery encased in a water-proofed tobacco tin attached to the rear of the helmet. This latter system became a requirement for Cuthbert's Leaders.  This system gave sufficient light to allow the caver to get out of most Mendip caves safely.  Even so without the full protection of water proof suits, though the goon-suit was becoming popular, climbing the Entrance Rift in spate was far from pleasant. Today, because of the surface drainage system, the rift is not often seen in heavy water; however, one of the checks of selecting a Cuthbert's Leader is that he/she is able to free-climb the rift under adverse water conditions and operate the surface 'water-works'.

The land drains were installed from a location near the natural sink to the base of the 'new entrance' pipes, work commencing in April 1965 and completed by about June of that year. (note 8) Since that time the cave has remained opened throughout the year.  However, there is one disadvantage to this method of draining the depression that ought to be kept in mind.  Though the flow of water is moving quickly through the entrance passage and the rift it is also flushing out the mud and gravel between the large, shalely boulders at the bottom of the Entrance Rift extending across to the roof level of Arete Chamber.  Any increased erosion in this area will eventually advance the risk of collapse. It appears that little water is going into the 'natural sink' and all the stream flow is permanently entering the cave through the land drain.  This has happened since the 'sluice' was modified during the 1980s.  The current leaders should think seriously about modifying the drainage pattern ensuring that when the stream flow is at its normal level it should all be flowing into the natural sink.  The change in stream pattern when passing through Pulpit Passage or Ledge Pitches will just be a redistribution of water volume.  In the case of Ledge Pitches the Showerbath will decrease a little; in Pulpit Passage there will be noticeable increase of water flowing down the bedding planes in the left hand wall making Pulpit Pitch agreeably wet.  The Entrance Rift and the boulders beyond will be relatively dry.  The land drains should be considered over-flow pipes and not a permanent way for the stream to enter the cave. This can easily be done by lifting the inlet pipe level at the 'sluice' dam.

Practice Rescues

The first practice rescue took place in June 1963 when exploratory techniques were tried in the Entrance Rift.  None worked satisfactorily (note 9) and required a complete rethink.

The first in a miniseries of rescues were aimed at studying problems from localised but difficult parts of the cave.  The first was from Catgut Rift on 1st May 1965.  There was no way anyone was going to get an injured person through 'Cross-legs Squeeze' and the only way out was up through the not too stable boulders above Catgut Rift at the beginning of the September Boulder Ruckle. (note 10)

Chris Howell's comments when stuck in the "Z' Bend of the September Ruckle, taken from B.B. No.294

Here I remained firmly stuck for some ten minutes or more - though it seemed like an age.  The final straw came when it was discovered that there was some difficulty in moving the carrying sheet back for another attempt.  Now, I have never suffered from claustrophobia, but at this point I must admit to becoming distinctly worried

However, a hiatus was reached at the narrow vertical ‘S’ bend which occurs beyond an inclined slab and is met some fifty or so feet into the ruckle from the High Chamber side.  Due to the constricted room at the front end, only two persons were able to get a purchase on the hauling ropes, and they were unable to provide sufficient pull to get the sheet round the vertical corner.

The first full-scale practice was on 26th June 1965; the victim was located in Beehive Chamber. (note 11)  The practice was a great success but for the fact that the Entrance Rift became the stumbling block again.  However, it should be pointed out that although the 'victim' was hauled half-way up the rift before his helmet jammed.  The tired hauling/carry party, who had already hauled the victim up Arête Pitch and transported him through the boulders before trying to get him up the Entrance Rift, were not in a condition to organise the hauling.  All of these events contributed to the 'failure'. In addition to technique, logistics became the name of the game.

Following the rescue of a caver with a dislocated shoulder from the September Series (note 12) it was decided to continue the mini-rescues to develop the techniques in addition to brawn and pulling power.


Route of the victim through Catgut Rift. Reprinted from B.B. No. 207.

The next mini-rescue took place shortly after and was arranged to study the feasibility of getting an injured man up the Wire Rift. This worked reasonably well provided that the 'victim' was not too seriously injured. (note 13) Thus later that year when a full-scale rescue was organised Wire Rift was the chosen route out of the cave.  On this occasion the carry did not go entirely smoothly for two basic reasons - too long a carry, the parties becoming very tired and poor positioning of the carry team in the Wire Rift making movement of the victim difficult. On the plus side the victim was successfully moved through the cave and, apart from problems in the Wire Rift, hauled up the Entrance Rift and out to the cave entrance. (note 14)

One of the more difficult areas from which to effect a rescue is Coral Chamber - all of the approaches / exits from this impressive chamber are tight, or through unstable boulder ruckles.  There is only one route open to would-be rescuers - and it is the safest of the dicey exits from the chamber.  The route is to take the victim to the bottom of Coral Chamber and out into Rocky Boulder Chamber.  From here the only way out is up the 'half-pothole' in the north wall, through large loose boulders and on up a further 5m pitch into Boulder Chamber. This was tried in April, 1968 - the attempt was a success even though a few bouncing boulders added to the entertainment! (note 15)

A Challenge!

One of the most popular trips in the cave is to the September Series and, in particular, The Balcony formations.  There has already been one accident in the area - a dislocated shoulder, though not pleasant, the man was able to move through the cave on his own. Someone else may not be so lucky - so what if?  What if you have to get an unconscious victim out through the September Boulder Ruckle? Its been tried on two occasions and both attempts failed at the 'Z' bend just up-slope from the September Squeeze. (note 16)  Among the current clutch of leaders there must be a few wanting to make a name for themselves, perhaps they could gain fame by organising a trip, with a willing victim, a carry party complete with carry/drag sheet and solve this long outstanding problem.

Rigid stretchers

Several trials have been carried out in various Mendip caves but in general the carry (drag)-sheet has remained a firm favourite over the decades.  On one occasion the Paraguard stretcher was tried in St. Cuthbert's.  The route between Lower Mud Hall and Water Shute was chosen.  It had a couple of narrow and twisting sections.  It was possible to manoeuvre the stretcher, complete with victim, but was extremely awkward and it took longer than if the carry-sheet had been used. (note 17)

What resulted from all this work?

As a result of all this work several aids were put in, a specialist piece of equipment developed and the best routes determined for ease of carry and comfort to the victim.

Entrance Rift

Hauling up the Entrance Rift was always likely to be problematic.  The early success was by attaching ropes to the carry sheet's upper loops by the victim's shoulder and two men hauling with the use of a pulley slung from an iron bar fixed in the south wall of the rift.  However, this led to another idea and the 'baby-bouncer' came into being.  (note 18)This was constructed by the club and kept in the tackle store.  Therefore with the use of the baby-bouncer, hauling rope and pulley two men can easily get the victim to the top of the rift with the minimum of effort.

Pulpit Pitch

The New Route is the preferred route for an 'immobilised' victim.  Two rawlbolts have been positioned at the head of Pulpit Pitch to enable pulleys and hauling ropes to be attached (left hand wall facing the pitch). The bolt in the right hand wall should be used for rigging the ladder so that a man is climbing alongside the carry-sheet and keep it free from snagging.  When the victim reaches the top he is brought up via the stream channel low on the left side.  The ladder climber will have to manoeuvre his way over the 'rocking boulder' - a delight, especially if the ladder has jammed between the boulder and the rock wall !!

Catgut Series

No special equipment or hauling equipment is required here; just the drag-sheet and hauling ropes.  Movement through the rift is best done high-up and pass the victim across knees of bridged rescuers [See figure].  Once out into the sizeable opening just beyond the start of the rift [High Chamber end] a simple route through an eye-hole leads via a rift feature out into the bedding plane on the route back into High Chamber.  This way avoids the September Squeeze.

Coral Chamber

Hauling ropes laid down through the 'half-pothole' in the north wall of Rocky Boulder Chamber.  No pulley can be rigged and ropes drag over boulder edges.  Great care required.  Hauling takes place in the 'bouldery' chamber above Chockstone Rift. A second 5m pitch is slightly twisting and needs guiding but is an easy way to get the victim up into Boulder Chamber. A hole can be found in the wall, a metre above the head of the pitch, capable of taking a 1/2" Rawlbolt. Pull can take place out in Boulder Chamber provided a couple of men are placed on the ledges to guide the stretcher past these and the boulder wall.  All exits from Coral Chamber are either too tight (e.g. Coral Squeeze) or too unstable (e.g. boulder ruckle route to Long Chamber Extension) and the route described above is really the only practical route enabling a victim in a carry sheet to be successfully removed from this area.

Traverse Pitch

There are no particular problems associated with this 10m pitch.  It is on the standard 'rescue route' and is a quick way of transferring the victim down into the roomy streamway passages in the New Route.  Bolts have been placed on both sides of the passage a few feet back from the pitch head.  Again a ladder slung alongside the victim will enable a rescuer to prevent the uncomfortable spinning of the 'victim'.

The Basic Routes

Rescue from St. Cuthbert's Swallet is fairly easy if the site of the accident is on the main tourist routes of the cave [the exceptions having been discussed above] and movement of the carry party is through the 'centre' section of the cave.  The route from Boulder Chamber / Upper Traverse Chamber area to the entrance is fairly self evident.  To take the patient up through Boulder Chamber to Pillar Chamber and up the Wire Rift is not really practical for it is a route that contains a succession of tight sections, let alone the difficulty of carrying through the Wire Rift. Transporting through the short upper section of Ledge Pitches is not exactly straightforward. (note 19) Further, use of the Wire Rift is best left for transportation of equipment.

The obvious route from Boulder Chamber / Upper Traverse Chamber is to lower the victim down Traverse Pitch into Lower Traverse Chamber and on up the spacious, relatively straight-forward New Route.

If New Route is being used to carry an injured man/woman/person (whichever is politically correct!!!) then Traverse Pitch becomes the focal point for most routes from the upper passages.  Routes from the bottom of the cave, Plantation Junction and beyond, would be through the Rabbit Warren to Railway Tunnel and on through Harem Passage.  An alternative route and in many ways easier for all concerned including the victim, is to leave the Rabbit Warren by the 2nd Stal Bank and descend to the streamway just above Dining Room bringing the victim up through the spacious Everest Passage, Boulder Chamber and into Upper Traverse Chamber.  Personally I prefer the latter route in the case of a badly injured person.

Times can be important. Generally, once the carry is underway, the time required from Plantation Junction to the cave entrance would be about 3½ - 4 hours; 2 hours of which would be for the carry from Traverse Pitch via Pulpit Pitch to the cave entrance.

No mention of radio / telephone communication problems has been made as the technology has moved on and use of the Molefone has obviated the need to a wire laying party - thank goodness!

Since the time of the mini-rescues, several full-scale practices have been organised but for the caves sake unless there is an over-riding reason for carrying out a practice in the cave then all requests, including MRO, to hold general purpose practices should be refused.

Acknowledgements:

Grateful thanks to B.E. (Prew) Prewer for his helpful comments and criticism.

Dave Irwin, Priddy, 31st July, 1997

Additional Note on a previous article: If Dave Irwin needs to fill in some details of the early exploration of Stoke Lane I suggest he talks to some of the other people who were around at that time.  It is 50 years since I was last down there and memories are fading. I think I understand from Brian Ellis that the Shepton Caving Club was formed to forestall the BEC in removing the bones.  How did Sybil's back get bruised?  Where are the bones now?

(Editorial Note: The article in the last BB from Dave Irwin was a 50 year anniversary of the passing of the sump and was also a preview to a future Caving Report on Stoke Lane. If anyone does have any information, stories or old photographs from Stoke Lane can they please pass them to Dave and he may be able to use them in the Caving Report.)

Notes

  1. Irwin, David J. et ai, 1991, St. Cuthbert's Swallet. Priddy, Somerset, Bristol Exploration Club. ii + 82pp, map, illus, surveys (Oct)
  2. Irwin, David J. et ai, 1991, [as above]; photo no. 5
  3. Marriott, c.A., 1960, Cuthbert’s. BEC Bel Bul 14(144)2-5(Feb)
  4. Pritchard, Llew, Ellis, B.M. and Nash, Alan, 1960, Swildons and Cuthbert’s. BEC Bel Bul 14(15 J)3-7(Sep)
  5. Baker, Michael and Prew [pseudo B.E. Prewer], 1960, Mendip notes. BEC Bel Bul 14(154)15-16(Dec)
  6. Lloyd, Oliver C., 1961, This cave is liable to flooding. WCC Jnl 6(79)205-208(Apr)
  7. Rollason, Jill, 1961, Letter to the Editor. WCC Jn16(80)242-243(Jun)
  8. Irwin, David J., 1965, Rood Water Control. BEC 81. Cuthbert's Newsheet (4)[2](Apr)
  9. Franklin, Keith, 1963, A practice rescue in 81. Cuthberts, with a note by 8J. Collins. BEC Bel BuI17(184)1l-12(Jun), fig
  10. Irwin, David J., 1965, St. Cuthbert’s practice rescue in Catgut Rift. BEC Bel Bu1 19(207)7-8(May), fig
  11. Franklin, Keith, 1965, June mock rescue in St. Cuthbert’s BEC Bel BuI19(211)2-5(Sept)
  12. Franklin, Keith, 1966, Cuthbert’s rescue. BEC Bel Bu1 20(226) 1 09-11 O(Dee)
  13. Franklin, Keith, 1968, [Practice rescue in St. Cuthbert's] BEC Bel Bu122(239)26(Feb)
  14. Franklin, Keith, 1968, St. Cuthbert’s Practice Rescue. BEC Bel Bul 22(248)169-170(Nov)
  15. Irwin, David J., 1968, St. Cuthbert's practice rescue. Coral Chamber - Boulder Chamber.   BEC Bel Bul 22(242)79(May)
  16. Howell, Chris, 1972, Never mind the patient - watch that stal. BEC Bel Bul 26(294)80-83(Apr)
  17. Wig [pseudo David J. Irwin], 1975, Round and About. [MRO- Paraguard Stretcher]. BEC Bel BuI29(330)82-84(Apr/May)
  18. The 'baby-bouncer' well-known to modem cavers is a quite different piece of equipment. It is basically harness made of webbing used for general hauling.
  19. Irwin, David J. et al, 1991, [as above], p.79


 

Notes And Queries On Five Buddles

Roy Anthony Setterington (Tony Sett not Roger)

Following a discussion at the 'Hunter's with J-Rat when he postulated that the wheel in 'Wheelpit' was overshot, I checked with a copy of Harvey's 1884 catalogue.

 

Although they have chosen an impressive 50ft wheel for advertising purposes the basic design is common to all sizes and we have the evidence of the recovered plates from the sides, undershot wheels only have paddles.  (In a catalogue mainly devoted to beam engines I suppose the Freudian slip in the typesetting is excusable).  J-Rat calculated that the wheel was 10 ft + in diameter.  Since a range of wheels were available it would be sensible to have patterns for, say to, 12 and 15 ft sizes and go up one size, turning it into a high breast shot wheel.  Undershot wheels usually produce less than one HP which would blow a small forge but wouldn't run a set of 5 buddIes.  A 10 ft wheel 30" wide would generate around 5 HP given an adequate water supply. Did the other two sets of buddles on the Chewton Mineries site end in a waterwheel?

Five buddles?  There are 5 smaller circles on the map and two larger on the roadside site.  The other two sets on the St Cuthbert's Lead Works have 10 smaller buddles which makes me think they were running in parallel.

The photocopies from McMurtrie remind us that there was a perpetual problem on Mendip of too much water underground and not enough on top.  Gough enlarges on these problems (p157-166) when it appears as if mining on Mendip was so marginal that a toll of one half of the ore raised was excessive and the traditional miners revolted against the incomers.  I make the point that if Bushell planned to drain pits which were already 5 fathoms deep into Chewton minery swallet it would have to be deeper (Gough, p161 - 'by pursuing a Drift as a Common-Shore, from the Concaves of a natural swallow twenty fathom deep').  Some protracted digging will be required if Bushell's swallow is the same one as drained Five Buddles and is now full of rubbish.

AT A MYNERY COURT, holden at Chewton the Fifteenth day of October in the Year of our Lord God 1658, it is ordered by John Radford & his Fellows as followeth.

90.  For carrying ye Water in Row pitts. – WHEREAS there was a Complaint made unto us of this July of this Jury for ye Waters drawing in Row Potts to have ye Workmen to work for the publique good of ye Lord and workmen, wherefore we of this Jury do order, and make this decree, that ye Partners and Owners of Several Grove there, Shall be at ye Charge of carrying their Water in Sufficient Stream, where they do ye Same to ye Main Stream, or Streams which runneth to Chewton Minery, at their own Self and particular Charge, upon pain of fourty Shillings, the One half to the Lord, ye Other half to ye Party grieved, ye Shall justly prove ye Same and no man Shall deny him or them to carry or convey ye Same away under ye like Pain.  And we do further Order that ye Main stream or Streams Shall be Sufficiently repaired, at ye Charge of ye Lord and Workmen, according to ye Judgement of ye Jury, for ye time being as they Shall Order and appoint, and unto this we all agree and have Subscribed our hands, ye day and Year first above written.

AT A MINERALL COURT holden at Chewton ye 8th day of July, 1671, I was contended and approved of as followeth, by us whose names ar hereunto Subscribed.

97.  Mr. Bushell’s Order for water works. – WHEREAS Thomas Bushell Esq hath (not long since) to his very great Charge and Expence, endeavoured by his Audits and Swallets, to draine ye deserted Works of Sr. Bevis Bulmer, in Rowe Pits near Chewton Mynery in ye Forest of Mendip, which by reason of inundations, and breaches of Waters into ye Said Works they Yield not the Tenth part of ye Profits, which otherwise they might not have done, & whereas for his better encouragement to persist in ye Carrying on of So expensive and dangerous a work, the King’s most Excellent Majestie in ye 14th Year of his Reign, together with ye Consent of ye Lords Spiritual and Temporall assembled in Parliament, did then and there Enact, that the Said Thomas Bushell, his Excec’s Adminis’s and Assigns Should have the full power to make Audits and Swalletts, and all Such Groves, as he or they Should thing fitt, for ye draining of ye Said Sr Bevis Bulmer’s deserted works in ye Lead Mines in Row Pitts, and Green Oare in the Said Forrest of Mendipp in ye County of Somersett.  And undertakings of dreining ye Said Works or any of them by Audits Swalletts, Suffes, Draynes, or by any other Means, whatsoever, So as ye Respective Myners, any work, and draw Oare without any Charge of draining & Clearing the Water, and Shall be So adjudges by ye Minerall Grand Jury Court, belonging to ye Jurisdiction wherein ye Said Mines So drayned Shall be for ye Respective Miners for Time being, & that by his and their workmanship, the Said Myners are and Shall be freed form ye inundation of their Waters, he ye Said Thomas Bushell, his Exectrs Administrs and Assigns, bearing half ye Charge of Digging ye Said Oare, Shall have take, and receive one full moietie, of all ye Oare that Shall be drawn, and Landed, by all and every ye Respective Myners, and Undertakers there, and in all and every ye Respective Shafts, Cross-Rakes, By-Rakes, or other Mines within ye Said Mines of Rowe-Pitts & Green Oare, with Liberty to work ye Said Mines from time to time, for Raising and getting ye Oare therein, and to drive through and Sink shafts, in any Such Rakes of Ground, delivering all the Moiety of ye Oare gotten in all or any ye Said Drifts and Shafts unto ye Owners thereof, they ye Said Owners paying ye full Moiety of ye Said Charge; And whereas Sev of ye ,ost concerned Adventures there, have heretofore (for ye like encouragement) Subscribed their Assent to ye performance of ye premises, as by writings under their hands may appear, And whereas ye Said work hath hitherto proved not only Very Costly and Expensive but also very ineffectuall and unprofitable; Yet notwithstanding ye Said Thomas Bushell together with Sr. Edmund Wyndham, Knight & Marshall &c. Purposing and intending, by their Ingenuity and expences to Carry on ye Said work accordingly; We of this Minerall Grand Jury Court for ye Liberty aforesaid for ye time being together with ye Consent, and approbation of Sev of ye Adventurers there whose Names are or Shall be Subscribed as aforesaid, do really conceive & hereby declare & allow, that from henceforth they ye Said Thomas Bushell, & Sr Edmond Wyndham, their Exectrs Administrs & Assigns, Shall have, Receive, take  and Enjoy (bearing halfe the Charges as aforesaid) One full Moiete of ye Oare, that Shall be drawn, and Landed, by all and Every ye Sev & Respective Miners and Undertakes, there and in all. By rakes or other Mines, within ye S Liberties, & precincts of Rowe Pitts and Green Oare where, and in Such places only as they ye Said Thomas Bushell & Sr Edmond Wyndham, their Exectrs Administrs & Assigns, Agents or Workmen Shall make it appear to ye Said Minerall Grand Jury Court for ye time being, that they by their Ingenuity, Labour and Expences, have drained ye Same; And further We seriously Considering ye Premises and ye Work in question being (by God’s blessing) brought to be Effectuall and that ye advantages thereof will then redound, and accrue, to a generall Good; We therefore (So much as in us lyeth) do declare, allow and Confirm, unto the Said Thomas Bushell, & Sr Edmond Wyndham, their, and either of their Exextrs Administrs, One full Moiety of ye proffitts aforesaid by and under ye Terms and Conditions aforesaid And Shall br ready to give them any lawfull Encouragement and Assistance theirin.

References:

McMurtrie J. Notes on the Forest of Mendip, its Mining Customs and Ancient Laws, London and Newcastle, 1900.

Gough J.W, The Mines of Mendip. Newton Abbott, 1967

A Map surveyed in 1884, published in 1886, showing the Five Buddles Sink Area.

1.                  Probably a holding tank.

2.                  The Five Buddles by Five Buddles Sink Entrance.  (The square is probably a workman’s hut)

3.                  Snake Pit Hole

4.                  The Waldegrave Pond

5.                  The Cornish Shaft entrance to Five Buddles



 

BEC Cave Leaders

Charterhouse

Chris ‘Blitz’ Smart

Craig y FFynon (Rock and Fountain)

Martin Grass

Dan yr Ogof/Tunnel

Martin Grass, Mike ‘Trebor’ McDonald, Tim Large, Graham Wilton-Jones, Rob Harper

Ogof Fynon Ddu

Martin Grass, Graham Wilton-Jones, Brian Prewer, Greg Villis, Tim Large

Pen Park Hole

Jeff Price, Mike ‘Trebor’ McDonals

Reservoir Hole

Jeff Price, Martin Grass, Graham Wilton-Jones, Dave Irwin.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

BEC Leaders

Ian Caldwell, Chris Castle, John Dukes, Peter Glanvill, Martin Grass, Pete Hellier, Jeremy Henley,  Dave Irwin, Kangy King, Tim Large, Mike ‘Trebor’ McDonald, Stuart McManus, Mike Palmer, Brian Prewer, Estelle Sandford, Chris Smart, Andy Sparrow, Nigel Taylor, Dave Turner, Greg Villis, Graham Wilton-Jones, Mike Wilson, Brian Workman.

Guest Leaders

Graham Price (CSS), Malcolm Cotter (MCG), M Barrington (MEG), Jeremy Gilson (MCG), Mark Sims (SMCC), Anthony Boycott (UBSS), Ray Mansfield (UBSS), Ric Halliwell (CPC), Vern Freeman (WCC).

If you wish to go on a trip to any of these caves (or any other caves) please contact your Caving Secretary - Andy Thomas, Street, Somerset.  Phone No. 01458 xxxxxx


 

BEC Membership Reciprocal Rights

The list of clubs with whom the BEC held reciprocal rights for accommodation is inaccurate and I apologise for this error on behalf of the Hut Wardens past and present and hope that it has not caused any embarrassing situations to BEC members over the past few years.

The revised list of Reciprocal rights is as follows: -

Bradford Pothole Club

Bracken Bottom
Horton in Ribbledale,
North Yorkshire

Contact: Martin Baines

First night £2.00
Each additional night £1.00

Chelsea Speleological Society

White Walls
Llangattock Escarpment
Chrickhowell
Nr. Abergavenny, Wales

Contact: Arthur Millet

Each night £1.50

There are many other clubs with whom we have no discount.  We have listed some of them below for Membership information:

Club

Contact

Fee per Night (£)

Craven Pothole Club

Steve Pickersgill

2

Grampian Speleological Society

Peter Dowswell

4.5

South Wales Caving Club

Ian Middleton

3.5

 

 

(camping 2.50)

Northern Pennine Club

Andy Goddard

3

Orpheus Caving Club

Jenny Potts

5

Rebecca Campbell, Belfry Hut Warden


 

Membership List - Paid up members at 31/1/98

20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw               Knowle, Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker                    Henton, Wells, Somerset
1145 Roz Bateman                    Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset.
1227 Anette Becher                   St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.
1079 Henry Bennett                   London
390 (L) Joan Bennett                 Draycott, Somerset
1122 Clive Betts                        Clapham, Bedfordshire
731 Bob Bidmead                      East Harptree, Nr. Bristol, Avon
364 (L) Pete Blogg                    Chaldon, Caterham, Surrey
1114 Pete Bolt                          Cardiff, S. Gamorgan
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle          Calne, Wiltshire
1104 Tony Boycott                    Westbury on Trim, Bristol, Avon
751 (L) T.A. Bookes                  London
201 John Buxton                       Flitwick, Beds.
956 Ian Caldwell                        Redland, Bristol, Avon
1214 Rebecca Campbell            Wells, Somerset
1014 Chris Castle                      Axbridge, Somerset
1197 Tim Chapman                   Stubbington, Fareham, Hampshire
1197 John Christie                     Brompton, North Allerton, North Yorks
211 (L) Clare Coase                   Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia
89 (L) Alfie Collins                     Draycott, Somerset
727 Bill Cooper                         Knowle, Bristol
1233 (P) Paul Craggs                Uffculme, Cullompton, Devon
870 Gary Cullen                        Southwater, Nr Horsham, West Sussex.
405 (L) Frank Darbon                 British Columbia, Canada.
423 (L) Len Dawes                    Minster Matlock, Derbyshire
1229 Jeremy Dixon-Wright         West Pennard, Glastonbury, Somerset
164 (L) Ken Dobbs                    Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon
829 (L) Angie Dooley                 Harborne, Birmingham
710 (J) Colin Dooley                  Harborne, Birmingham
1000 (L) Roger Dors                  Priddy, Somerset
830 John Dukes                        Street, Somerset
322 (L) Bryan Ellis                     Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset
269 (L) Tom Fletcher                 Bramcote, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
1218 Stephen Flinders               Burrington, Somerset
404 (L) Albert Francis                Wells, Somerset
569 (J) Joyce Franklin                Staffordshire
469 (J) Peter Franklin                Staffordshire
1159 John Freeman                   Paulton, Bristol, Avon
1182 Alex Gee                          Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset
835 Lenard Gee                        St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
1069 (J) Angie Glanvill               Chard, Somerset
1017 (J) Peter Glanvill                Chard, Somerset
647 Dave Glover                        Basingstoke, Hampshire
1006 Edward Gosden                Twyford, Winchester, Hampshire
790 (J) Martin Grass                  Draycott, Somerset
1155 Rachael Gregory               Pentir, Nr., Bangor, Gwynedd
1089 Kevin Gurner                     Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
1088 Nick Gymer                      Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam             Semington, Trowbrdge, Wiltshire
1186 (J) Helen Harper                Wells, Somerset
999 (J) Rob Harper                    Wells, Somerset
1234(P) Roger Haskett              Bridgwater, Somerset
1235(P) Steve Heape                 Bornemouth
1117 Pete Hellier                       Nempnett Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol, Avon
974 Jeremy Henley                    Shepton Mallet
952 Bob Hill                              London
1221 Mark Howden                    Street, Sometset
1219 Sean Howe                       Bradley Stoke, Bristol
923 Trevor Hughes                     Holcombe, Bath, Avon
73 Angus Innes                         Alveston, Bristol, Aven
540 (L) Dave Irwin                      Priddy, Somerset
922 Tony Jarratt                        Priddy, Somerset
668 Mike Jeanmaire                  Buxton, Derbyshire
1111 Graham Johnson               Wells, Somerset
560 (L) Frank Jones                   Priddy, Somerset
567 (L) Alan Kennett                  Charlton Musgrove, Wincanton, Somerset
316 (L) Kangy King                    Pucklechurch, Bristol, Aven
542 (L) Phil Kingston                 Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen                     Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon
958 Fiona Lambert                    Castel Cary, Somserset
667 (L) Tim Large                      Brislington, Bristol
1199 Alex Livingstone                Clevedon, Avon
1180 Rich Long                         Paulton, Bristol, Avon
1052 (J) Pete MacNab (Jnr)        St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
1071 Mike McDonald                 Bath
1195 Struan McDonald              Devizes, Wiltshire
550 (L) R A MacGregor              Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus                 Priddy, Somerset
558 (L) Tony Meaden                 Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
704 Dave Metcalfe                     Whitwick, Leicestershire
1044 Andy Middleton                 Hardington-Mandeville, Somerset
1194 Nick Mitchell                     Priddy Somerset
1210 Guy Mannings                  Croydon, Surrey
1183 Andy Newton                    Shipham, Nr Cheddar, Somerset
1232 (P) Andy Nunn                  Uffculme, Cullomton, Devon
553 Bob O’Malley-White            Wells, Somerset
1228 Ben Ogbourne                   Westbury-sub-Mendip, Somerset
396 (L) Mike Palmer                  Yarley, Wells, Somerset
1045 Rich Payne                       Orpington, Kent
1134 Martin Peters                    Wells, Somerset.
499 (L) A. Philpot                      Bishopston, Bristol, Avon
1193 Emma Porter                    Witmore, Wolverhampton
337 Brian Prewer                       Priddy, Wells, Somerset
886 Jeff Price                            Knowle, Bristol, Avon
481 (L) John Ransom                 Patchway, Bristol, Avon
985 Phil Romford                       Shepton Mallet, Somerset
921 Pete Rose                          Hookway, nr Crediton, Devon
1208 Stuart Sale                       Romsey, Hampshire
359 (L) Carol Sandall                 Nailsea, Avon
1170 Andy Sanders                   Gurney Slade, Nr. Bath, Somerset
1173 Estelle Sandford                Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
237 (L) Bryan Scott                   Cote D’Azur, France
1236(P) Martin Selfe                  Bosleake, Redruth, Cornwall
78 (L) R Setterington                 Taunton, Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington            Taunton, Somerset
1036 (J) Nicola Slann                 Draycott, Somerset
915 Chris Smart                        Nr. Bradford on Avon, Wilts
911 Jim Smart                          c/o The Belfry
1203 Bob Smith                        Havant, Hampshire
823 Andy Sparrow                     Priddy, Somerset
1 (L) Harry Stanbury                  Bude, Cornwall
575 (L) Dermot Statham             Warkworth, Northumberland
1230 (P) Clive Stell                    Bathford, Bath
365 (L) Roger Stenner                Weston super Mare, Avon
1187 Mark Tanner                     Fishponds, Bristol
583 Derek Targett                      East Horrington, Wells Somerset
1110 Gwyn Taylor                     Ingleton, North Yorkshire via  Carnforth
772 Nigel Taylor                        Langford, Avon
284 (L) Alan Thomas                 Priddy, Somerset
1224 (P) Andrew Thomas           Street, Somerset
571 (L) N Thomas                      Oulton Broad, Lowestoft, Suffolk
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark    Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex
1216 Martin Torbett                   Cheddar, Somerset
381 (L) Daphne Towler               Bognor Regis, Sussex
1023 Matt Tuck                         Plymouth, Devon.
678 Dave Turner                        Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
635 (L) S. Tuttlebury                  Farnham, Surrey
1096 Brian van Luipen                Wick, Littlehampton, West sussex
887 Greg Villis                          Weston super Mare, North Somerset
175 (L) D. Whaddon                  0
1220 (P) John Walsh                 Glastonbury, Somerset
1185 Chas Wethered                 Axbridge, Somerset
1118 Carol White                      Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire
1092 Babs Williams                  Knowle, Bristol, Avon
1164 (J) Hilary Wilson                Keynsham, Avon
1130 (J) Mike Wilson (snr)         Keynsham, Avon
559 (J) Barrie Wilton                  Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
568 (J) Brenda Wilton                Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
877 Steven Woolven                  West Chillington, West Sussex
914 Brian Workman                   Catcott, Bridgwater, Somerset
477 Ronald Wyncoll                  Holycroft, Hinkley, Leics.
683 Dave Yeandle                     South Horrington, Wells, Somerset


 

Minutes of the 1997 B.E.C Annual General Meeting, Saturday 4th October .

The meeting was started late at 10.55 am by the Hon. Secretary (Nigel Taylor) and is customary, he called for the handing in of any outstanding Ballot Forms. The Hon. Secretary noting that 32 members were present, then called for nominations for a Chairman, there being one nominee, Bob Cork was duly elected.

Bob Cork being duly installed as Chairman, then called for the election of Tellers, three being appointed they left the room to count the ballot papers.

The Secretary had received apologies from: Alison Cooper, Andy Cave, Angie Cave, Tim Large, Nick Gymer, Kevin Gurner, apologies were given from the floor for: Jeff Price, Trebor, Dany Bradshaw, Martin Torbett, Tim Chapman, Angie Dooley, John Freeman, and Clive Stell.

The attendance sheet however was later destroyed by the Chairman's enthusiasm by handing it with the ballot forms for destruction in the Belfry stove by a pyromaniacal Mike Willett.

Item Five, Minutes of the 1996 AGM:- The Hon. Secretary reminded the meeting that the 1996 AGM has been mostly inquorate, and that this meeting had now to ratify that meeting.  That the minutes of the 1996 AGM be taken as read was proposed [P:] by Rob Harper [RH] and Seconded [S:] by Ron Wyncoll [RW], carried 32 For, 3 Abst.

Item 6, Matters arising from the Minutes: - The Secretary pointed out that these had been printed in the BB directly after last years AGM, and there being only one question from the floor regarding St. Cuthbert’s, to which he replied that there was nothing to report.

Item 7, Hon Secretary's Report: - Nigel Taylor had published this in the B.B.  There was surprisingly no debate upon this, and the report was carried nem.con. with two abstentions (34 For) P: Rich Blake [RB], and S: Chas Wethered [CW]

Item 8, Hon Treasurers' Report: This was read to the meeting by Chris Smart, and much talk ensued involving Trevor Hughes, Rob Harper, Mike Jeanmaire, Rebecca Campbell, and Nigel Taylor.  Trevor Hughes [TH] wanted an appraisal of the clubs assets to be shown in the accounts, and he then made a formal proposal for this, and Mike Jeanmaire [MJ] seconded this, voting: 13 For, 14 Abst, 9 “Don't knows” No vote or abst.  The Treasurers report was then voted on: P:TH, S: Mike Wilson [MWN],25 For, I Against, 2 Abst.

Item 9, Hon. Auditors Report: Barry Wilton then discussed this with the meeting.  Voting then was P: MJ, & S: John Buxton [JB], 27 For, 0 Against, 3 Abst.

Item 10, Caving Secretary's Report: was read to the meeting in absentia of Jeff Price who had sent his apologies.  No discussion being provoked, P:RH, S: RB, and carried: For 29,0 Against, 2 Abst.

Item 11, Membership Secretary's Report: This had been published in the BB by Richard Stephens [RS] Again no discussion prevailed, and voting: P: Chris Smart [CS], S: Roger Stenner [RS] Voting: 23 For, I Against, 6 Abst'.

Item 12, Hut Wardens Report:  Published in the B.B. NT asked the Hut Warden [Rebecca Campbell RC] if she felt that a resident hut warden would assist the situation if there was such an assistant or person in residence at weekends at the Belfry.  He added that it was strange that both the Shepton [SMCC] and MCG always seemed full in contrast to the Belfry.  Andy Sparrow [AS] complained that two parties that he had recommended to stay at the Belfry had been insulted and not allowed any sleep at night.  NT asked AS if he had a solution.  RH suggested that a resident Hut Warden would instil the discipline that was apparently lacking.  RH then went further and suggested that the late-night curfew was re-introduced.  NT spoke strongly of the Bunk room changes of which he was against - albeit he admitted that he had offered to assist in when persuaded that the committee had fully endorsed the plans - and his concern that the abolition of the separate members room might scare away newer guests whom he saw as potential members.  Andy Sparrow agreed with him, Rich Blake countered this and expressed his view that it was a good change.  There was both approval and disapproval for these works amongst the floor of the AGM.  Alex Gee [AG] thought that the increase in Hut fees was a very badly conceived decision. NT pointed out that most members of less than five years membership in the club had not known an increase, and that the Committee had acted responsibly in raising the Hut fees, by effectively the price of a half pint of beer or less, in order to protect the interests of the club, and further, that previous AGM's had directed that the Belfry generally ought to run itself at a profit.  JB commented that the hut figures had been falling over several years, and asked what the committee was doing about it.  Bob CORK [BC] expressed his view that these were real problems which needed looking into.  The Chairman then called for a vote upon the report: P:RB, S: JB, 32 For, 0 Against, I Abst.

Item 13, Hut Engineers Report.  This had not been published, and Ivan Sandford [IS] was asked by the Chair to present his report to the AGM.  Ivan declined to do so.  The meeting felt that it was unfortunate. There being no report, RC ruled there was therefore no discussion, and no vote.

Item 14, Tackle Masters Report:  Published in the B.B. Rob Harper [RH].  Asked about going back to the easy access system MWN repeated his 1996 AGM comments and advised that restricted tackle introduced at the 1995 AGM had not worked, and he wondered again if we should revert to our open access arrangements of former years.  This was roundly supported by NT, who spoke fervently for the right of open access to tackle by each and every member as their entitlement, and he asked the AGM to reconsider.  NT noted that Martin Grass [MG] had expressed the view to him and that Martin who was not as yet present at this AGM asked it to be mentioned, NT asked if the AGM agreed? A proposal for an open system for tackle was then put to the AGM: P:CS, S:NT, 5 For, 17 Against, 10 Abst.

A further proposal was that "A system of limited 'open-access' be set up. P: Peter Hellier [PH] And S:CS, Voting: 22 For, 1 Against, 9 Abst.  In the turmoil, Mikes report was not voted upon!.

Item 15, B.B Editors Report:  Published in the B.B. The report was then taken: P:MWN, S:MJ, Voting: 14 For, I Against, 14 Abst.

Item 16, Librarians Report:  Published in the BB.  Alex Gee added that he would welcome new additions, and hoped to improve the Library next year if re-elected.  Voting: P: NT, S: RB, 32 For, 1 Abst.

Item 17, Ian Deer Memorial Fund:  Already Presented to the Meeting with Caving Secretary's report.  The Treasurer again suggested no transfer of funds into the Fund this year to top up. This proposal was voted on: P:CS, S:RH, Voting: 32 For, 0 Against, 2 Abst.

The Hon. Secretary then excused himself from minute taking in order to prepare the AGM lunch, and Chris Smart stepped into the minute takers position:

Item 18, Result of Ballot:  The under mentioned were then duly elected, unfortunately the Chairman again erred in handing the voting figures to Mike Willett's furnace, albeit the names of the 52 members who voted were recovered just in time from where they had been abandoned safely in the Library by the Tellers. In alphabetical order those elected were:

Roz Bateman, Richard Blake, Rebecca Campbell, Alex Gee, Nick Mitchell, Estelle Sandford, Chris Smart, Nigel Taylor, and Andy Thomas.

Item 19, Election of the 1996/7 Committee: As is customary, this was done from the floor of the meeting, and Nigel Taylor declared a possible 'conflict of interests' to the meeting prior to any vote.  He stated that his explosives business was working in Limestone areas, and although he had turned down a large contract because it would have caused damage to caving systems, he was aware that it could be a conflict of interest. The AGM declared this laudable, and agreed that they did not see it as a conflict of interest.  Voting for the posts then followed:

Hon. Secretary: Nigel Taylor.
Hon. Treasurer: Chris Smart.
Tacklemaster: Rich Blake.
Hut Warden: Rebecca Campbell.
Hut Engineer: Nick Mitchell.
Membership Secretary: Roz Bateman.
Caving Secretary: Andy Thomas.
B.B. Editor: Estelle Sandford.
Hon. Auditor: Barrie Wilton.
Non-Post Holders: Alex Gee - Librarian (Purists will comment not normally a Committee Post, but filled by one of the new 9 strong committee)

Peter Franklyn was reaffirmed in the position of the post of Club Archivist. P:NT.S: IS nem.con.  Barry Wilton was also reaffirmed as Auditor, P:NT, S: RH, nem.con.

There was then much discussion on the question of Club Rescue Team co-ordinator. It was known that both Any Sparrow and Alex Gee were keen to undertake this role.  This culminated in the proposal that they could be joint co-ordinators, P: MW, S: NT, this was put to the vote and carried unanimously.  Alex Gee P: TH, S: IS, Andy Sparrow, P: Roz Bateman [RBN],S: Peter Hellier [PH].  In view of the earlier proposal, no vote was taken and both accepted the post, Andy declaring his "Professional Caver/Business interest" The AGM again had no problem with this.

Item 20, Destruction of Ballot Forms: P:TH, S:RH, carried nem.con.

THE MEETING BRIEFLY ADJOURNED FOR LUNCH, AND RESUMED WITH:

Item 21, Members Resolutions:  A proposal by NT and seconded by CS as follows:

"That any unusual club expenditure in excess of £1000 should be referred over two monthly committee meetings for full discussion, or, to an Extraordinary or AGM".

This caused considerable discussion, with Alex Gee, Ivan Sandford, and Rebecca Campbell speaking very strongly against the proposal.  RC accused NT of raising the motion because he was against the December 1996 committee meetings democratic decision to rip out the bunk room in order to improve the Belfry facilities with an Alpine Bunk.  This view was supported by IS and AG.  Nigel agreed that he had been forcefully against the decision as it was raised in his annual absence (Holiday abroad) and also that of the Treasurers.  He agreed that he also tried to make the committee reconsider with caution their decision which he had regarded as hasty and lacking financial costing.  However he added that whilst strongly against that scheme, he offered at the January meeting to assist in the works, and was told that his offer was not needed as those persons required had already offered their skills.  Nevertheless, he was at great pains to assure the meeting that his proposal was to protect the club from any future 'quick decision' and the consequent risk of financial problems, and not as Alex, Ivan and Becky were now accusing him of 'sour grapes'.  He did admit however, that he was concerned that no final accounts of that particular expense had been given to date, despite his and the treasurers requests. Both IS, RC and AG felt strongly that his proposal was a bad one, as it would both 'Tie up the committee' and further implied a very unfair 'Vote of no-confidence' in the outgoing committee. Despite NT's protestations that this was not the case, and that he just wanted to ensure a responsible line was set by the AGM as a future guide to future committees, it was apparent that primarily these persons still felt strongly that Nigel's motives were suspect. Accordingly, before any further discussion could take place Nigel withdrew his motion stating,  'That it was not his intention to upset or hurt anyone, and as this obviously aroused some strong passions in a few members, he felt he had to withdrew it, in order to preserve harmony within the BEC.'

Babs WILLIAMS [BW] then re-proposed the above motion and lowered the limit to £500, adding that: "Any such expenditure must go before a full committee, with full costing, and consultation with the Treasurer, and with one months thought going into the matter (i.e.: over two committee meetings" The Chairman decided that sufficient debate had already taken place, and he intended to put this to a vote, P:BW, S:RW, voting: 21 For,8 Against, 1 Abst-(Hon. Sec)

Ivan Sandford then proposed an amendment that "except in exceptional circumstances.” This was then put to the vote: P:IS, S:CS, 2 For, 20 Against, 6 Abst.

Rebecca Campbell and Alex Gee stated their total objection to this AGM decision, and forcefully walked out of the AGM announcing their immediate resignations from the Committee as they left the room.

NT then withdrew an unconnected proposal that he had submitted at the start of the AGM, and raised his third resolution, which the Chairman reminded the meeting was a Constitutional change approved and passed at the 1996 AGM, and therefore it had to be raised as per our constitution at this AGM.  The proposal being: "That prospective members joining at any time in the year pay on a quarter basis of the full subscription, and not as present on the monthly basis."  This having been P:NT, and S: The 1996 AGM, It was Voted upon, 26 For, 0 Against, 2 Abst.

Colin Dooley [CD]  Then proposed that" Committee members attendance records be published." Peter Franklyn [PF] added that this had been done in the past and queried why it was not done nowadays.  NT explained that figures had been collated with this in mind, but two members hotly disputed their alleged low attendance, and therefore as no firm or accepted figures could be agreed upon, he certainly had not intended publishing disputed attendance records.  The proposal was voted upon: P:CD, S:PF, 26 For, 1 Against, 1 Abst.

Hon. See NT then resumed minute taking from Hon Treasurer CS.  Brenda Wilton [BrW] then proposed that Guest Clubs should be given Two Guest Dinner tickets per club, this was S: Angie Dooley [AD].Both members spoke strongly upon this motion.  NT tried to counter the proposal by warning the AGM that this would impose at least an extra £2 per ticket, i.e.; £4 per 'couple-purchaser'. He asked that this not be accepted, and pointed out that the single invite system had been fully endorsed by a previous AGM.  The motion was voted: 25 For, 6 Against, 0 Abst.

Item 23,Any Other Business:  Trevor Hughes then voiced his anger and concern at what he saw as an abuse of use of the BEC Club Logo by the 'Belfry Boys'.  He went further by stating that he felt that the BEC should ask them for money for royalties of their use of the club logo. Much banter then ensued, and it was hard to make much sense in the clamour, so the Chairman put it to the vote, P:TH, S: Roger Stenner [RS], Voting: 2 For, 22 Against, 2 Abst.

The Treasurer then started to intimate that he felt subscriptions could remain the same for 1997/8, but TH Proposed, and NT Seconded that an increase of £2.00 per member be levied to keep pace with the cost of living.  Some confusion arose due again to banter as to the true voting figures of 21 For, 5 Against, and 3 Abst, the Chairman requested a recount, and these figures were: 19 For, 4 Against, 1 Abst.

NT then spoke warmly of the efforts and commitment undertaken by Mike and Hilary Wilson who were stepping down from the committee, and he proposed a 'Vote of Thanks', this was seconded by Chris Smart, and was given total support by the AGM.

RW expressed concern re the non-fireproof state of the Belfry, especially the new bunkroom, and fire signs which required up-dating to the 'Running man' Symbol.  He offered to supply some signs for this.  The meeting noted his concerns and the Chairman asked that the new Committee take this on board.

Nigel Taylor as Hon. Secretary announced the details and date of the 1998 AGM, as 10.30 am, Saturday 3rd.October 1998 at the Belfry.  Bob Cork as Chairman then declared the AGM closed at 3.24 pm.

Minutes recorded by Nigel Taylor and Chris Smart, and later typed: Nigel Taylor Hon. Secretary, Saturday 3rd.October 1997.


 

From the Logbook

Nice to see a bit of fresh input into the BEC logbook – here are some snippets from the digging in Eastwater:  (the Five Buddles work goes in a separate logbook which I will take snippets from next time)

1/11/97 Eastwater – Gonzo

Solo trip to breakthrough at Kentish Cairn to assess boulder choke on ledge at top of aven.  Chickened out, then looked around Baker’s Pit.

2/11/97 Eastwater – Gonzo

Solo return to rift next to aven by Baker’s Pit (or what people call Baker’s Pit). Hammered up tight, friable rift for a couple of body lengths.  Progress would require a drill, but you can see a way up with an encouraging echo.

22/11/97 Gonzo and Graham Johnson – Eastwater, Boulder Chamber.

Big Breakthrough into chamber, big enough to squeeze 4 people in at a shove.

7/12/97 Gonzo and Jake  – Eastwater. Dig above Kentish Cairn/Boulder Chamber.

Took down the Grunter phone.  Dug about 45 mins (like prodding an epileptic poltergeist!) then set up phone to locate dig with Brian Prewer and John Attwood on the surface.  The dig threw itself at the aerial throughout.

A stable new entrance is there for the taking if it’s wanted, but the main dig looks as though it’s heading for the depression further over the field.

11/12/97 Gonzo and Jake  – Eastwater dig.

Last bang brought down 5 tons.  Mostly shifted into Boulder Chamber now.  Placed another charge in base of mud wall.  Can’t find crowbar which is still buried.

17/12/97 Gonzo and Alex Gee  – Eastwater dig.

Alex climbed most of the aven, then we cleared over a ton of spoil.  About another 5 tons down from last bang waiting to be shifted – easy digging.

17/12/97 Gonzo and Alex Gee  – Eastwater.

Fire hose positioned through entrance choke and Woggle Press to redirect stream to wash silt and mud through dig (bottom of boulder Chamber – far right hand side).

Fire hose 30ft shorter than required.

Dam constructed in stream above entrance to funnel water down the pipe – further work required.

21/12/97 G. Johnson  – Eastwater – Boulder Chamber.

Took down more pipe and further work required.

14/1/98 Gonzo and Jake  – Eastwater.

Diverted stream into slot on left of entrance.  Comes in at rift dug by Gonzo and J’Rat above Woggle Press.

Checked dig above Boulder Chamber; there has been a major collapse.  Sorted out pipe to dig below Boulder Chamber and exited.  Checked Molefone peg above dig on surface.  Whoops! – There’s a surface collapse corresponding exactly with the dig! (First fence post down from SW corner).


 

Rolling Calendar

6/2/98                        BEC Committee Meeting

7/2/98                        CSCC Meeting

3/3/98                        The Cheddar Gorge Lecture,  Bath Arms, cheddar.  7.30pm Martin Torbett

6/3/98                        BEC Committee Meeting

26/3/98                      Become a better naturalist, Wells Museum. 7.00pm Martin Torbett

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

18-20/9/98                  BCRA Conference, Floral Hall, Southport

30/9/98 – 14/11/98      ISSA ExhibitionSt. David’s Hall, Cardiff, ISSA

3/10/98                      BEC AGM and Dinner

18/11/98 – 28/11/98    A Brush with Darkness – Paintings of Mendip’s caves.

Wells museum.          ISSA

26/11/98                     Undergroud painting techniques/demonstration, Wells Museum 7.30pm Robin Gray