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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Martin Torbett

Committee Members

Secretary: Nigel Taylor
Joint Treasurers: Chris Smart, Mike and Hilary Wilson
Membership Secretary: Roz Bateman
Editor: Martin Torbett
Caving Secretary: Rich Long
Tackle Master: Mike Willett
Hut Engineer: Toby Limmer
Hut Wardens: Vince Simmonds, Bob Smith
Librarian: Alex Gee
Hut Bookings:  Fiona Lambert

Any alterations, additions or mistakes are entirely due to copy spacing-Ed

Editorial

Hullo folks, welcome to the first issue produced by your new editor.  Not many changes you may say.  Well, I discussed changes with a number of people and finally came to the sensible conclusion that there is little point in changing things when the previous Editor produced such a good magazine.  All that I can try to do is to produce a similar quality product and that is surely what you want.  However, I cannot do this without articles from YOU the membership.  So, please send in those pictures, write up that report, or jot down that anecdote.  If you can send it to me on disc with a hard copy, so much the better.  I can be E-mailed but my line is usually busy with other users so replies may take a few days.  Articles can be dropped off at the Hunters Lodge or at Bat Products if that will help you.  I can scan pictures if you wish to put an article on disc and include pictures that you cannot scan yourself.  I am aiming to produce issues in March, June, September and December with a deadline for issues about the 20th of the month before e.g. Jan 20 for publication about February 15th.  If you send me enough material there will be another issue, so your help is needed NOW!

Martin

Cuthbert’s leaders- An appeal to younger members out there who may wish to become leaders.  Some of the current leaders are wearing out their weekends doing tourist trips. Others are withdrawing into the warmth of the pub for the winter season.  The club relies heavily on the goodwill of a few to keep this superb cave accessible to visiting cavers.  If you think you might be able to get up to leader standard soon, please let the Rich Long/ Mike Wilson know.  Also new leaders for Welsh caves needed. -Ed

A cartoon inspired by a conversation between the old ed. Estelle and the new ed. in the Hunters one night

 

I have had a request from a Mr. Teagle of Wells.  Phone 01749 xxxxxxx.  He says a member has borrowed some of his photos of caves and caving and not returned them. This was a few years ago. Anyone out there got them?

Stop press -Barrel Assured! 150 ft passage found in Balch cave by John Walsh

Finally, have a good Christmas and lets have those articles please- especially those of you who roam now you no longer work!!- Martin


 

Club News and Events

Conservation conversation at the Hunters Lodge

The evening of November 20th saw an interesting event held in the backroom of the Hunters (with thanks to mine host Roger).  Speakers Dave Irwin and Graham Price presented separate views to do with caving and conservation.  Dave spoke about the Mendip Cave Registry first implemented in the 1950's and which continued until about 1968.  Its task was to record all the Mendip sites of caves and karst features, which were currently known.  By its cessation this quest had resulted in the production of 12 copies of a complete cave registry.  This was all done in the days of pre-computer when everything to be copied had to be laboriously done on Gestetner stencils - resulting in the impressive and highly valuable document known as the Mendip Cave Register.  (Costing £70 then).  He went on to discuss developments in the Registry which came about by his own research from 1995 onwards whilst compiling information for the production of Mendip Underground.  By then technology had advanced to the point where computers were a valuable tool.  He now uses the power of cross-referencing databases to store and correlate the mass of data needed for a new registry. He has now restarted the Registry and already produced and published a bibliography of cave references compiled from the press.  The registry has been widened to include Wiltshire, Devon, Bath and Bristol. A number of areas have already been completed with regard to known cave features and this work continues.  As well as the mammoth task of recording cave features, the survey work done by all the major caving clubs on Mendip either as survey sheets or in club magazine is to be cross-referenced with the registry. This will be produced on CD-ROM within the next 2 to 3 years.

Questions followed and then Graham Price spoke about cave conservation and the work done by the NCA in association with bodies such as English Nature and Scottish Nature.  He has been conservation officer for 16 years. In 1986, it was agreed within the NCA to increase people's awareness of cave conservation.  A policy for cave conservation was worked out to enable statutory bodies to "measure conservation".  (My words-ED).  A number of initiatives were proposed including a cave conservation handbook, an educational pack and a film- the lost caves of Britain was made by Sid Perou.  He discussed the problems that had to be overcome to enable the production of a cave conservation policy.  A cave conservation handbook has been produced which should help other conservation officers and interested people to produce their own conservation plans for particular caves.  Guidelines for many associated activities such as camping, digging and walking and including how to look after the flora and fauna in the area near to a cave have been produced.  Graham talked widely about the conservation handbook and how it could be used.  He talked about the work of the NCA as a co-ordinating body for cavers working for the good of cavers.  This was followed by a short break and then an open forum under the chairmanship of yours truly took many interesting questions from members of the audience.  A good discussion followed this lively debate with all retiring to the main bar at 10.15 p.m. Many thanks go to Vince Simmonds who organised the whole event, Dave Irwin and Graham Price for their time. Let us hope that we have other similar events in the future.

Fairy Quarries

Pete Rose writes the following account of his exploits leading up to the discovery of the new passage in Fairy Quarries.

On the 21st September I drove Pete Glanville up to Mendip, via Tesco's Chard for some batteries for his flashgun. We collected the keys from Prew.  The trip was marred by the usual incidents ... I had brought two left boots with me - I used my walking boots instead.  We opened up the grill over the entrance ... swore we could hear a stream there.  By Diesel chamber Pete's light failed.  At Tor Hall we detoured for piccies.  The first flashbulb went off in Pete's face, the 2nd in mine, the 3rd in mine when I strategically placed a slave gun on a ledge.  The 4th in Pete's hand- burnt fingers.  After a count of 9 bulbs going off by themselves I took some pictures of my own.  I led him back to the entrance, hear that stream again Pete?  He then fell on me while I was locking the grill - fell off a rock and damaged a thumb.  I told him not to buy lottery tickets for a while, as his luck was out (ask him about car engine warning lights sometime ... he ignores them!)  He rang me the following day ... Lucky he had forgotten to put a film in the camera he said.  The 10th of October loomed .... I was leading the Orpheus down Shatter. Pete G. took Nigel Cox (brother in law) and some Orpheus, I took my nephew Jonathan and some Orpheus.  We all stopped at the entrance .... Stream rumbling somewhere.  Pete took photos that worked.  I bet he bribed everyone to tell me that! We returned on 31st Oct. to look for digs, with Nick (nine lives) Chipchase and Mark Faulkner and Martin Webster.  Yupp, same stream at the entrance.  We went to Tor Hall and beyond.  Nick scrambled up a rift to look at 20 ft of passage trending back to Tor Hall, and then Chippy proceeded to attack the entrance chamber, while I looked around the next chamber.  He could hear the stream all right.  A rift opened up while he was sitting on it.  Pete G. had a homemade light on a cable to lower (he thinks it works most of the time) - definitely rifts measureless to man.  These things tend to become smaller on subsequent visits so we thought 20 ft deep would be O.K. to taunt people with.  We could have descended but for a ladder.  I had a rope to lower Pete G. on.  (It was an early rope from the 70s and I tow the car from time to time with it).  He thought a few feet lower down and decided against it.  The top of the rift certainly was loose.  We could always get Nigel or Martin Grass down it next week! As it was 4 ft or less from the entrance, we thought of the next party disappearing down one by one ... you sit down in the entrance and back into the cave and slide ... so we put a small sheet of corrugated iron over it.  That stream certainly roars at you!  It must head towards Conning Tower (but there is only a small stream in there) but what was upstream?  Next Sunday and a bolting kit would solve it.  Pete G. can write the descent up.  (Or down).

Shatter

Exciting new dig in Shatter, very recently opened by Pete Rose, Nick Chipchase et al. Warning.  The dig is very close to the entrance.  Don’t fall in.

 

The picture below shows the actual rift descent – decent eh!



 

The Undergrounders

By Rich Long

Well, here we go again on another trip to wonderful Yorkshire - and not learning from previous experience I took Zot again!  No, honestly, only joking!

The last time we went it was only Zot, my chum Tommy and myself on the trip and everything was planned to split second military timing.  Unfortunately, when we got to Zot's house, only five minutes after speaking to him on the phone and telling him we were coming, we were greeted by the distinguished Mrs. Harvey who said "Sorry, Chris has just gone to Camerton to water his tomatoes"!

Well, who can argue with that?  It was a great trip though, with the help of the solid and imperturbable Mr.Wilson - who, with whatever Fate throws at him, conquers all (even me and Zotty descending on him asking for a trip).

So this time I used a cunning ploy.  Instead of going on Friday evening we went early on Saturday morning and this time I was late - Zot actually phoned me and wanted to know where I was!

Well: Zot snuggled down in the back of the van and slept like a baby (you know, breaking wind and dribbling) until we almost got to Settle where we stopped for the traditional Lottery ticket purchase, breakfast and a leisurely visit to Alum Pot - then all of the pubs that we could think of in the area.

We had been advised to go to the Gamecock in Austwick by Big Roy - which we duly did.  However, the landlord's manner was very similar to that of Basil Fawlty.  When asked by a chap along the bar from us "Could I order a meal?" he looked up, glanced around the totally empty restaurant and said, "If you haven't reserved I will see if we have a table".

I looked at Zot, then at the tables with serviettes and several sorts of cutlery and said, "I don't think so Chris".  He heartily agreed and we left Basil to his one customer and empty restaurant.

However, it didn't take Chris long to upset a poor little waitress in the Golden Lion who had unfortunately brought him the wrong end of a chicken for his tea.  "I specifically asked for a wing, not a leg. Kindly take it back!"  She did and I am sure that I could hear her sobbing in the back room for hours.  When our food came we quickly checked it for spit and broken glass but none was found and it was excellent.  Next day my party set off for Gaping Gill for a nice trip on the Craven winch meet and Chris jacked up a trip to Swinsto, taking Toby and Guy with him, and I believe a great time was had by all.  I am not saying that they had difficulty gaining access to Swinsto again (perhaps you read the previous article on our Swinsto trip) but I think it was beneficial for all concerned that Mr.Wilson just happened to be passing on his way to the Three Men of Gragareth.  Mr. Harvey, however, vociferously denied being lost, and I believe him - (tee heel).

So, in the evening it was the landlady of the Crown whose turn it was but she won the contest with Zot hands down.  I believe that she has had her sense of humour surgically removed.

In the pub tales were filtering back of the Craven members' outrageous behaviour towards the Ingleborough slug population.  Last year they were competing in the amount of slugs that could be balanced on their heads - I believe that 27 was the winner - and at least the poor little chaps could slither away to enjoy whatever slugs get up to.  This year the Craven had begun to devour the cuddly little creatures between hunks of bread!  Apparently several have been reported seeking asylum in Kosovo. Wow - what seven or eight days on the fell does to people!

So, once again the trip was a great success and we all lived to tell various versions of the same tale - and that is a success in my book.

P.S. Thanks to Estelle for her excellent BB’s (ooh, er) and her editorship of the Belfry Bulletin (!)


A Bounced Czech! Tomas Svoboda e-mailed to say that he is home in the Czech Republic due to a sprained ankle received after jumping down the first waterfall in Claonaite, Sutherland.  He is hoping to arrange a two-week trip back to Mendip, S.Wales and Yorkshire next year along with his fellow club members. He sends his regards to all, especially Roger Haskett, J.Rat, Mike Wilson, Jim Smart, Keith Savory Gary Cullen, Joel Corrigan and little John (who he?).  His Internet address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rich Long and Zot's adventures continue next issue -Ed



 

Stock's House Shaft - Part the Third

By Tony Jarratt

Continuing the series of articles from BB’s nos. 502 and 504.

Ten digging trips during the last two weeks of August '99 saw the Shaft bottom and all four levels being further cleared of tailings and 526 loads of spoil reaching the surface. On one memorable occasion Mike Willett winched up 183 in one session!  Lots of new diggers were recruited and others assisted in a variety of ways.  A rough survey was done by the ex -Camborne School of Mines contingent to establish the position of the downstream choke - named by Trevor "the Rat Trap". Here the fridge¬ sized boulder which had slid onto AJ was demolished after four shot holes packed with cord were fired over two trips.  Revenge is sweet.

The smaller choke some 25ft along the Upstream Level was cleared to allow AJ access to an apparently natural aven some 15ft high with the choked level continuing beyond.  (It would seem that all the open spaces above the level have been formed by relatively recent collapse along natural rifts or joints due to the failure of the Old Men’s stemples.  These obviously did a magnificent job when first installed but time has caught up with them!)

The whole of the Shaft bottom was gradually excavated and Jake Baynes was inspired to dig the tiny stream inlet adjacent to the Upstream Level.  This turned out to be yet another (short) choked level in a calcite vein with a boulder choke above.  After some careful but exciting digging this was passed to reach a 15ft high by 15-20ft long collapse chamber.  A couple of possible ways on were dug at a later date - see below.  Jake's earlier fervid rantings about an imaginary lost cavern called the "Treasury of Aeops" gave it its name! (Sad in one so young .... )

September started well with 200 loads hauled out in the first eight days and lots of press-ganged new diggers.  The Rat Trap choke was banged several times and on the 6th September some "brown trouser" inducing work with a long crowbar saw the whole lot collapse with a mighty roar!  It was then possible to look up into a large, c.20ft high chamber and not the expected collapsed shaft. One more bang was fired to clear the access point.  A Wessex team took photos of the mine for use in a Mendip digging talk at this year's B.C.R.A. Conference.

Due to a constant trickle of water from the Upstream Level a foot deep pool now covered the floor of the Downstream Level making digging and hauling more unpleasant than usual.  This problem was solved on 7th September when RL and AJ took down a hand operated diaphragm pump and got it working on the first attempt (a miracle).  The ponded water was pumped forwards through the choke and into the level beyond. Further clearing of the boulders gained access to the 20ft high chamber but a lack of shot holes or other signs of previous visitation led to the conclusion that this wide rift was formed by yet another collapse of the walls of a natural joint into the Old Mens' level below.

The level beyond the choke was re-entered on 8th September after TH had been allowed to play with a 10lb sledgehammer for an hour or so.  Unfortunately he was slightly too big to pass the boulder squeeze beyond and had to be content with watching AJ ambling down the classic mine gallery ahead and admiring its single remaining stemple wedged across the passage while he counted the adjacent shot holes.  The point previously reached on 27th August was re-examined to find that the sink hole in the floor was merely a step down through banks of grey mud which partially block the level.  Tonight the draught was strong and blowing inwards and this, combined with the natural look of the passage ahead, shows great promise.

Between the 12th and 20th September there were seven more clearing trips with banging operations at the Rat Trap choke, the partial choke just beyond and the heap of large boulders in the Upstream Level aven.  Another 91 loads of spoil reached the surface and a vast amount more was stacked at the Shaft bottom.  On the 19th some dismay was suffered when two streams were found to be entering the mine from the Upstream Level and Treasury of Aeops, resulting in the Downstream Level being flooded to within a foot of the ceiling as far as the Rat Trap.  The debris pile here was lowered a foot or so and the stream gaily plunged forwards to the end of the level where it flowed onwards to the huge cave system, which doubtless lies beyond.  There was no sign of it backing up.


With no hope of the place drying out until next summer it was decided to take advantage of the high water to assist in spoil removal.  After failing to get a too large orange lifebelt (H.M.S. Defence) down the entrance pipes a 2' x 1'4" blue grot bin was successfully taken to the Downstream Level and tied to the centre of a 60ft rope.  Wet-suited diggers then shoved two full spoil bags/boulders inside and rammed on the lid.  Non-wet-suited diggers then towed the "Semi-submersible Skip" back upstream with considerably more ease than the dragging methods previously used. On the 22nd some 40 loads were shifted in an hour or so.  Even Trevor was impressed!  More clearing was done here on 29th with Paul Brock joining the team.

Two days later AJ, on a solo trip, dug in the floor of the Treasury of Aeops (continuing on from a previous dig by TH) to reveal the ongoing level below

This was followed upstream on hands and knees for 30ft to a collapsed shaft.  The stemples had rotted here to leave the stone ginging hanging wedged together with large boulders filling the shaft centre above.  A large stream poured down the shaft that had been flourescein tested to come from the flooded gully across the road.  This gully also feeds Five Buddles Sink. Further work here will require major shoring and ideally dry conditions.  It may be too close to the road for comfort but is still 20-30ft deep.

RL and AJ were back downstream on October 4th and after filling and dragging back many bags of mud they used these to form a temporary dam around a Cuthbert's type steel valve. The stream way could then be turned off at will to allow drier digging at the end.  When the valve was closed the sump at the end of the level rapidly drained with encouraging gurgling noises.

On the 6th a large team hauled out another 100 bags and dug at the end and the following day a second dam was constructed near the end of the Downstream Level by AJ and Jake (Johnson). This was made from a 6ft length of 6" diameter plastic drainage pipe with an adjustable pipe bung and was found to be more effective than the first dam, so much so that the steel valve was later replaced by another pipe and bung system.  Water levels had dropped slightly due to drier weather in the middle of October so a fair amount of digging was done at the end.  A grade 5 survey was also started which revealed that the downstream end is situated beneath the deep rake 75ft NE of the Shaft. The positions of the two upstream passages can be seen on the enclosed surface plan.  Both may lead to buried entrances across the road (HGV drivers take note!). Roger Stenner took water samples from these streams for analysis. The end of the Upstream Level was banged to reveal a 2ft long extension and miniscule sump!  It will be looked at again in dry weather as it may be diggable.

With the onset of winter and disappearance of light-fingered low life from the area it was time to install a powered winch.  Bob and Greg retrieved Alex Gee's "lawnmower" winch from the temporarily abandoned dig at Hallowe'en Rift and it was ensconced in its new home. By 27th October it had lifted 127 loads out - slower than man hauling but a lot easier.  The whole site was fenced off to stop tourists garrotting themselves on the cables.

On 25th October a third temporary dam was begun at the mouth of the Upstream Level utilising the steel valve and three days later a clay pipe bowl was discovered amongst spoil on the surface.  (Tentatively dated to c181O-more information to follow) Work from November onwards will be documented in the next BB article.

Left: Looking up the 50 foot entrance shaft.  Note the shot holes



Artefacts

The almost complete bowl of a clay pipe was providentially found on top of a surface spoil heap, having been partially cleaned of mud by recent rain.  It obviously came from underground but the exact location is unknown. Robin suggests that it is from 1865-1870 and further opinions will be sought on this.

Amongst the piles of crushed and rotten wood at the base of the Shaft was found a 350mm X 90mm X 178mm lump of timber with a wrought iron bracket-like attachment.  This is thought to be the top section of one of the "stillions" or windlass supports from the Shaft top.  (These are also called "stillings" or, in Derbyshire, "stows").  They were in general use from at least the 16th Century up to the 20th essentially unchanged - and can still be found on some wells.  There is a more modem, single example of one of these in a west Mendip ochre mine and the windlass from the stillions used on the miners 1880 Lamb Leer exploration is in Wells Museum (a photo of this in use can be found as plate 16 in H.E.Balch's "Mendip - Its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters" and on p.97 of "A Man Deep in Mendip").


"Two timbers a little longer than the shaft are placed beside it, the one in the front of the shaft, the other at the back.  Their extreme ends have holes through which stakes, pointed at the bottom like wedges, are driven deeply into the ground, so that the timbers may remain stationary. Into these timbers are mortised the ends of two cross-timbers, one laid on the right end of the shaft, while the other is far enough from the left end that between it and that end there remains suitable space for placing the ladders.  In the middle of the cross-timbers, posts are fixed and secured with iron keys.  In hollows at the top of these posts thick iron sockets hold the ends of the barrel, of which each end projects beyond the hollow of the post, and is mortised into the end of another piece of wood a foot and a half long, a palm wide and three digits thick; the other end of these pieces of wood is seven digits wide, and into each of them is fixed a round handle, likewise a foot and a half long. A winding-rope is wound around the barrel and fastened to it at the middle part.  The loop at each end of the rope has an iron hook which is engaged in the bale of a bucket, and so when the windlass revolves by being turned by the cranks, a loaded bucket is always being drawn out of the shaft and an empty one is being sent down into it.  Two robust men (or one Willet!) turn the windlass, each having a wheelbarrow near him, into which he unloads the bucket which is drawn up nearest to him; two buckets generally fill a wheelbarrow; therefore             when four buckets have been drawn up, each man runs his own wheelbarrow…..and empties it.  Thus it happens that if shafts are dug deep, a hillock arises around…the windlass. "

Geogius Agricola, De Re Metallica, 1556 (1912 translation)



In the sides of the solid level, just before the Rat Trap, the observant John Williams noticed a fine set of stemple hollows cut in the opposing walls.  These are identical to those noted by Willy Stanton in Grebe Swallet Mine, Charterhouse (Stanton 1991), who refers to them as "egg" and "slot" hollows, dating those he found to the 1750s.  The circular "egg" depression measures 50mm in diameter and is 25mm deep, the "slot" is 120mm high by 50mm wide and also 25mm deep.  A wooden stemple (in our case 755mm long) had its pointed end inserted in the "egg" and the other, squared off end was beaten down into the "slot".

 

Stanton experimented to find that a simple hollow could be battered into limestone in about five minutes. Those in Stock's House Shaft are in softer (?) Triassic conglomerate.  There are more of these in the downstream level beyond the Rat Trap.

Shotholes in the workings have been measured at c.20mm diameter and up to 300mm deep (long) compared to those found by Stanton in Grebe Swallet Mine which he measured at 23mm diameter with lengths of up to 480mm (Stanton 1983).  He also dated them to the late 18th century.  (Those interested in Mendip mining should read all of Stanton's exceptionally well researched papers on the subject).


ADDENDUM:-  The picture shows Trevor demonstrating some mid-air Morris steps to a confused Gwilym while Tangent entertains Simon with an obviously fascinating conversation (wow).  Above, Bob asks Toby where he should drop the full airsick bag and in the background J. Rat gets his revenge.

References

STANTON W.I. 1983 Shot holes Containing Lime in a Mendip Lead Mine.  Proceedings of the University of Bristol Speleological Society, 16 (3),185-189

STANTON W.I. 1991 The Habitat and Origin of Lead Ore in Grebe Swallet Mine, Charterhouse-on-Mendip, Somerset. Proceedings of the University of Bristol Speleological Society, 19 (1), 43-65

AGRICOLA G. 1556 De Re Metallica (1912 translation, re-published 1950 and reprinted c.1980)

Additions to the Digging Team

Matt Head, David Blayshaw (Australia), Mark Smith (Macclesfield), Ryan Moor (CSMCC), Chris Morris (CSMCC), Phil Massey, Stuart "Mac" McManus, Dave "Wig" Irwin, Greg Brock (ESCC/BEC), Kevin Tomlinson (Essex Scouts C.C.), Jonathan Driscoll (E.S.C.C.), Paul Brock, Bob Lewis (Tone Valley C.C. - Doncaster), John Renner (T.V.C.C.), Paul Johnson (T.V.C.C.), Alex Livingstone, Anthony Marsh, David Loefler, Tom Chapman.

Additional Assistance

John Cornwell (Bristol Mining Archive), Peter Burr ( Germany and ex-ULSA), Mark Helmore, Dave Edge, Mike Holmes (W.C.C.), Roger Stenner, Alex Gee (unwittingly!), Tony Oldham, Jim Smart.

Research and article by A.R. Jarratt

 


 

Mendip Mines of Long Ago

LEAD AND COALS

Further material on mines in the Mendips was researched a while back and passed on with the editorship post.  This I am now printing as it bears relevance to Tony Jarratt's excellent article on Stocks house and many others previously published in this magazine.

Being extracts from the Agreeable Historian, or the Complete English TRAVELLER: by Samuel Simpson, GENT. from LONDON, printed by R. Walker, in Fleet Lane, 1746.
COMMUNICATED BY MR. R. STANTON CHURCHILL

Now quitting Cheddar Rocks, again we rise
On Mendip Hills, and breathe serener skies

THEY are called in old records Moinedrop, from the many knolls or hilltops there, and the steepness of their ascents.  Leland calls them Minerary Hills.  They stretch out a great way, both in length and breadth, and are the most famous in Britain, both for lead and coals.  They were anciently a forest, till, as Bishop Godwin writes, they were disforested at a great expense, by Ralph de Shewsbury, Bishop of Bath and Wells. As for their lead mines, any Englishman may work in them who has not forfeited his right by stealing any of its ore.  The Grooviers (for so its miners are called, as the pits they sink are called grooves) living at some distance, leave their ore and tools; open all night upon the hills, or at least in a slight hut.  If any of them be found guilty of theft, he is shut up in a hut, which is surrounded with dry furze, fern, etc., and set on fire; when the criminal, who has his hands and feet at liberty, may therewith pull down the hut, and make his escape through the fire and begone; but he must never have more to do there.  And this they call burning the hill.

Those employed in melting the lead, if they work in the smoke, are subject to a disease that will kill them, as it does the cattle too that feed thereabouts; for which reason the owners set persons to keep them off.  And Dr. Beaumont writes that they who live near where the lead ore is washed, cannot keep either dog or cat, or any sort of fowl, but they all die in a short time; and that children some times in those houses have did suddenly.  When the miners have got the lead ore, they beat it small, wash it in a running stream, and sift it in iron rudders; then they set a hearth, or furnace, in the ground, made of clay or firestone, and on it put some young oaken Gads, which they light with charcoal, and blow with bellows that are worked by their feet.  When the fire-place is hot they throw the lead ore upon the wood, from whence it melts down into the furnace; and then, with an iron ladle they take it out and throw it upon sand where they cast it into what form they please.  The veins of some of the mines have been known to run into the roots of trees, which, neverthe¬less, look as well at the top as other trees.

The air here is moist, cold, foggy, thick, and heavy; the soil is red and stony, and the stones are either of the nature of firestones or lime¬stones with not the least of clay, marl, or chalk.  The trees near the mines have their tops burnt, and their leaves and bark dis¬colour'd and scorched, and grow to no bigness.  The stones that are washed by the brooks and springs are of a reddish colour, and ponderous.

Snow, frost, and dews stay upon Mendip longer than upon any of the neighbouring grounds, except near the mines, where snow and frost melt quickly; and thunderstorms, nocturnal lights, and fiery meteors are more frequent here than elsewhere.  Sometimes when a mine has been very near the surface, the grass has been yellow and discoloured.  Damps are seldom met with in these mines.  If in sinking, they come to a Moorish earth, they expect a jam, i.e., a black thick stone that hinders their work, and to be closed up with rocks.

Their grooves are supported by timber, a piece of which is no bigger than a man’s arm, will prop up ten tun of earth and last a long while.  For a supply of air they have air boxes exactly closed, of about six inches in the clear, by which they carry it down above twenty fathom.  They make use of leather bags of eight or nine gallons apiece to draw up by ropes to free the water, and if they finds a swallet, i.e., a quantity of water breaking in upon them, they drive an adit, or a new passage upon a level until it is dry.  When they can’t cut the rock they anneal it with a fire made of wood and coal, so contrived that they leave the mine before it begins to operate and take not to enter the groove again before it is quite clear of smoke, by which some have been killed.

Their beetles, axes, wedges, etc., unless so hardened as to make a deep impression upon the head of an anvil, are not fit for their use; and yet they sometimes break them in an hour, other last three or four days as it happens.  They work in frocks and waistcoats by light of candles of 14 to 15 to the pound that will last three or four hours if they have air enough, which if they want to keep in the candles the workmen can’t stay there.  A vein being lost, they drive two or three fathoms in the breast, as the nature of the earth directs them.  White, yellow, and mixed earth are the leaders to the country, as they term it; changeable colours always encourages their hopes.  They go sometimes 12 fathom deep before they meet with stones.  A black stone they reckon a bad sign and leads to a jam, the nearness of which they also guess at by short brittle clay.  They carry out their materials in elm buckets, which hold about a gallon and are drawn by ropes.  Their ladders are also of ropes.  The ore runs sometimes in a vein, at other times it is dispersed in banks and lies many times between rocks.  Some of it is harder and some softer.  There is spar and chalk about it and another substance they call crootes, a mealy white stone, marled with ore and soft.  The spar is white, transparent, and brittle like glass; the chalk is white and heavier than any stone.  The clearest and heaviest ore is the best, and 3,600 of such of ore may yield a tun of lead.  The hearth for melting the ore is about five foot high, set upon timber, to be turned as a windmill to avoid the inconvenience of smoak upon a shifting wind. It will hold half a bushel of ore and coal.  There’s a sink upon the sides of the hearth into which the lead runs, that holds about one hundred and half.  They have a bar to stir the fire, a shovel to throw it up and a ladle made red hot to cast out the melted metal, which, when formed into what the miners call sows and pigs, is conveyed to Bristol, and form thence exported elsewhere…… On the highest part of these hills, which is a flat of some length, there are several swamps, very troublesome and dangerous to man and horse; and in some places are grooves, into which drunken fellows sometimes fall.

As to the coal mines, of which there’s the greatest plenty with five miles of Stone-Aston, we shall make use of the words of the learned Dr. Beaumont, who was born there, lived amongst the Mendip Hills, and made such frequent visits to the dark worlds in the caverns of Mendip, that no man upon earth was better qualified to satisfy the curious with respect to these mines than he was.  About two miles to the S.E. of Stone Aston at a place nearly bordering on the Mendip Hills, begins a running of coal of several veins, which extends itself to the east for miles.  There is much working in this running, and fire damps continually happen there, so that many men of late years have been killed, many others maimed and a multitude burnt.  Some have been blown up at the mouth of the works.  The turn-beam which hangs over the shaft has been thrown off its frame by the force of the blast.  The middle and most easterly parts of this running are so very subject to these fiery damps that scarce a pit fails of them.  To prevent mischief, the colliers keep their air very quick and use no candles in their works but those of a single work, 60 or 70 to the pound, which, nevertheless give as great a light there as those of 10 or 12 to the pound do in other places; and they always put them behind them and never present them to the breast of the work.

 

Drawing photographed at the Charterhouse Centre – original believed to be in Weston Museum.


 

Caving in Burrington during the 1960's

I was living in Hengrove during the 1960's and was lucky enough to hang around with a reasonably adventurous group of people.  Transport was always a problem.  Basically all of us were on poor money; some of us were apprentices (including me). None of us could afford a car, so we cycled everywhere or thumbed lifts where possible!  One of our more bizarre stunts was to regularly race from the Bali Cafe in Union street Bristol (the IN place to be) to Piccadilly Circus in London starting when the cafe closed at midnight.  The idea being to get there by walking and thumbing lifts.  The last person to arrive would have to stand a round of beer in the White Lion pub at midday (in those days quite a dive).  My friend and myself never managed to arrive first but we used to run to the BRS depot in Bedminster and cajole drivers to take us as far as the infamous Golden Arrow cafe on the A4 in their clapped out lorries (quite an experience and mega uncomfortable!)

Back to the Combe!  We had very little money, but possessed a 1 inch to 1 mile ex army map of Somerset, a grotty cotton tent, and an American Army sleeping bag which my Uncle Bob had brought back from the Korean War.  We carried our rag tag camping kit in an old rucsac - the canvas and leather type.  One Friday night my pal Gary Moulder and 1 decided to thumb and walk to Burrington Combe and find the caves marked on the map.

By the way I still possess the aforementioned map (sadly I have mislaid my early Caving Log.)  We were forced to walk up the main Wells road as far as Whitchurch but just beyond the humpback bridge two men, who were going out drinking gave us a lift to Blagdon - which was rare luck in those days. Stopped for a beer in the Live and let Live (it's still there but much cleaner now) then walked the rest of the way to Burrington past the Cafe which in those days was just a grubby shed with dirty windows. Past the Rock of Ages and up towards Goatchurch, making camp on level ground partway up the valley near the stream. By now my shoulders were sore due to the pack straps rubbing and Gary had blisters on his heels.  Having brewed up I climbed into my luxurious sleeping bag while Gary, muttering about jammy buggers, rolled himself up in a grey blanket complete with blanket pins (Who remembers those?). Dawn arrived with a frost covering everything.  We cooked breakfast over the highly dangerous meths stove and drank our tea which was real leaf tea and sweetened tinned milk (I still have a soft spot for this kind of milk probably because it can be spread on bread and eaten while it drips down your arms).  Warning. My brother, a few months later tried to refill the same stove while it was still alight (hard to tell the difference in daylight ).  The pint bottle of meths erupted burning his hands, he dropped the bottle inside my tent and the lot burnt down in about 11 seconds flat.  Luckily we were outside trying to cook a meal.  All that was left was two charred tent poles, some metal eyelets, one half burnt guy rope and some partially burnt sleeping bags (they were probably damp which saved them.)

Back to the trip ... We caved in grots in those days - dirty old clothes and the lighting consisted of two old Raleigh cycle battery tubes with 3 U2 batteries in.  These were connected to cap lights by thin cable.  We were lucky to have 2 very battered Miners hats which a neighbour of mine had given us.  He was going to put them out for the dustman!!

Three spare U2 batteries in the combi jacket pocket and off we go.  Combat jackets had just arrived in the surplus stores due to the end of the Korean War.  They were very cheap and if you bought one with holes in which could easily be sewn up they were dirt cheap.  Gary said he knew the way to the cave so we walked up the streamway which was quite overgrown in those days looking for a cave on the left.  It took four attempts at climbing up the left hand bank before eventually we found the lower entrance.  Luckily we then walked up higher to find the main and what used to be a tourist entrance complete with some steps and a hand rail - now missing.  Pull on an old pair of trousers over the good ones, put on an old pullover tie light tube to belt with string, spare batteries in pocket and in we go.  What an adventure!  Reaching the bottom of the tourist bit we slid left into the cross passage and cautiously went right onto the end then ascended left and to our surprise emerged into daylight at the tradesman's entrance.  My first round trip!  Bloody Hell said Gary, have we tramped all this way just for that!  So we sat and had a fag (I smoked in those days).  While we were debating whether to go down again and risk getting lost in the huge labyrinth a man arrives with 2 young lads.  He is a youth leader from Bristol at the old Co-op Hall behind Redcliffe Church. Nice guy who kindly offers to show us the cave proper so we go underground again and discover the coal chute the maze the coffin lid water chamber etc.  On the way back down the valley he shows us Sidcot swallet and describes Reads Cavern.  We thanked him for the trip and brewed up at the tent then decided to walk to Reads Cavern on Saturday afternoon and locate it.  This proved to be a question of thrashing about in undergrowth until the stream way was located.  From then on it was simple to approach the rock wall and find the cave.  The main chamber was explored and a note was made of the passages leading off but we decided to explore it properly at a later date. Pottering back to camp we packed up and walked down the Combe to the main road.  As it was opening time we decided that the Plume at Rickford would do and then we would walk as far as we could that night.  Lo and behold! a van stopped and offered us a lift to Chew Magna. What a piece of luck!

So we ended up at the Crown at Chew - quite hard to find near the old Gas Works.  Wobbling out of there just before closing we walked through Chew Magna to the cricket ground and crashed out there in our respective bags - Gary still using his grey blanket with blanket pins.  The wall was an ideal place to sleep unobserved from the road. Woke up at dawn cold and damp brewed up tea with no milk.  It was common practise in those days when walking to liberate milk from doorsteps but only if there were more than two bottles as this implied that the occupants were probably stinking rich.  Sadly the milkman was late that day.  Nipping over the wall we tramped back to the Happy Landings on the Wells road in time for last orders midday.  Home Brewed or Simonds being the popular brews.

Having caught the Bug we returned many times to the Combe and eventually met Zot who took me on what was a big trip in those days down Swildon's via the 40 foot pitch to sump 1. On the way back I really struggled on the 40 trying to climb up in grots and a large waterlogged mohair sweater my wife Hilary had spent hours knitting.  This magnificent article of clothing unfortunately reached my knees -Zot was not impressed with my final feeble thrust to the top (because he had been standing in the dreaded hole soaking wet to his waist lifelining me. Still it was the beginning of a lengthy friendship and we have caved off and on for a long time now.

We had great fun in those days and some of us are still having fun now.  I hope that my modest meanders on Mendip have not proved too boring for all you tigers in the club.

PS. Meths stoves are still dangerous nowadays despite soothing noises from the manufacturers.

MISTER WILSON

 

Mr. Wilson refers to past days within memory, but Robin's cartoon below needs some small explanation, so for all of you tigers who haven't read "Ten years Under the Earth" by Casteret, here is a small clarifying extract.

... Being hardened to cold water and to the negotiation of difficult underground passages, I did not hesitate to pursue the watercourse on its way under ground. Undressing completely (clothes hold water, catch on projections, and are hampering and dangerous in caves) I slid head first into the descending fissure which swallows the brook.



 

Past exploits of a (not very bold) caver

by your Ed.

Like many other people, my first experience of caving was at college, when 1 decided to try a taster course from one of the many sport and club activities on offer to freshers.  It was with some trepidation that I joined the hard men of Portsmouth Poly cave club and braved the journey over to the Cerberus SS cottage in East Mendip.  Along with a number of other students-long hair, old boiler suits and a pair of ex¬army boots from Sams we were shown the delights of caves such as Hillier's and Conning tower in the quarry, with a trip down Swildons Hole on the Sunday.

(See pic at end of article for definitive student wear).  My memories of the first few trips are vague, but 1 soon found myself caving with the likes of Rose, Price and others from the Poly.  It must have been 1968/9 and Eastwater was the cave to be in.  I think I did a large number of trips into the cave but cannot ever remember my way through the boulder ruckle.  I clearly recall sliding across the traverse with an old NiFe cell strapped to my waist, pursuing some incredibly slim and lithe leader who seemed to vanish into a hole. Who he was I do not recall.  My caving continued for by now I had got the bug, bought a lead acid Oldham and risen to the heights of equipment officer.  This largely involved getting your fingers all soft and gooey as you checked the alkaline cells and neutralising them when you serviced the Oldham.  It was better this way round!  I had also purchased at great (student) expense, a plan and neoprene sheet and glue to make my own wet suit.  With a fellow student, Paul Buckley (where is he now, I wonder?) we put together two suits and bootees.  I chose Paul because he was the same size as me and we could measure the cut but unglued sheets alongside each other.  I upset the landlord of my digs here, not because of the glue on the carpet but more because it had a back panel shape cut out of it where the Stanley knife bit through the neoprene and into the carpet below.  (Actually he didn't discover it for quite some while). Having constructed two grand suits, it seemed that caving took on a new (warm) dimension.  I recollect quite clearly my first time going down through sump one in Swildons.  Standard wear apart from the articles mentioned earlier was a pair of old jeans and a woolly sweater.  The trip out (and in for that matter) involved balancing on ledges above the streamway and the water at the junction above the well was always knee deep at least. The old 40 had gone just before I "arrived on the scene" so I have no recall of that but I spent at least thirty minutes at the twenty pushing a motley collection of people up the ladder.  The way out was always via the letterbox and then the zig-zags - which I was usually quite glad to see.  Although I never really suffered from a right soaking and chilling, the new wetsuit was a marvel.  My status in the club reached dizzy heights now for with a few Swildons trips logged I was now a "leader".  This largely consisted of taking the best looking birds down the streamway until they began to quake and then assisting them out with appropriate après cave gratitude and pints in the Hunters Lodge.  Yes, I had discovered the dread drink and really went to town caving weekends with Rogers roughest cider, which was about all I could afford (I drank too much).  Memories of the pub come over very strongly on the side of masses of singing and getting pissed on 8 pints of beer for a quid.  We were still resident at the decrepit Cerberus hut and it was now winter. A dreadful "genny" supplied the light in those far off days.  One of the first jobs on arrival at the hut was to set about the "genny" with spanners, bits of pipe and so on in an attempt to make the bugger start.  It usually took to its task once the carb had been stripped down, the plug warmed in the fire or someone's car.  It was started (laugh) on petrol and you had a two way or was it three way tap to change it to paraffin.  Often a "new boy" would be set the task of subduing the genny and they would spend hours trying to start it on paraffin.  It certainly warmed you up pulling the cord which ALWAYS broke and skinned your knuckles on the shed door.  Two particular experts were Trevor? (now deceased) and Tony - he was the lithe thin one.  Another great expert caver, raconteur and drinker was Tony Powell, whose father owned a pub in Portsmouth (the Volunteer?).  Perhaps someone reading this will know him.  The other way of staying warm was to gather wood locally and get the f**cking awful useless stove to light and bum.  This produced much smoke.  Had it produced even equal amounts of smoke and heat it would have been bearable, but no. Finding the axe and chopping wood was one of the other first jobs you did.  There was also trying to get the water to work but I am vague here.  Our nearest non driving pub was the Jubilee Inn - called something else then and now.  Coming home quite pissed and wobbly with a few other reprobates one afternoon and finding the stove OUT (a great sin) I recall someone took a swipe at the bloody thing with the axe.  This bounced off the stove and bit a large hole in the back wall.  On trying to remove the axe - pissed and with the usual precision of the drunkard - the bit of wood panelling got ripped out to reveal a very old, dirty but highly serviceable range which was lurking behind the panel.  Someone cleaned it up and we never saw the old stove again.  I believe I may have a photograph of same.

 

     Note interest in fire- desperately lacking in old one! Ed.

Back to the caving. There was always someone attempting to push a tiny slit of an entrance called St. Dunstan's Well cave, although I can comment with hindsight that even then when I was a bit slimmer could never have got into it.  I needed bigger caves.  Since they were so local, I delighted in the quarry caves.  Shatter was absolutely stunning and I suspect that it is due another trip by me soon now access has been re¬granted.  Although strictly forbidden for some unknown reason, I still have somewhere a set of slides of this very beautiful cave.  The originals were lent to someone.

There was one particular incident that I remember well-very lucky at the time.  I was down Swildons with two or three others on a trip to the Black Hole.  The water was quite high and necessitated care at the lavatory pan.  I was wearing my new wet suit so didn't mind being the bung for a while.  I passed through a ladder and two ammo boxes then moved on to negotiate the quite tricky duck that it was.  Forging forward on the held back water I was rammed through the hole and firmly wedged under water in the streamway.  My companions were a little way on and didn't immediately see my plight.  Finding myself under water wasn't too much of a problem for I was an excellent swimmer but the wedgedness of my situation demanded action which I performed in the way of actually twisting myself out of the vice like grip of the rocks.  In doing so I severely damaged my sacro iliac joint (where the back joins the pelvis I think) and widened the cave slightly.  At the time it didn't hurt and my companions helped me up and asked how I was.  I said OK and carried on.  A few minutes later, I asked them if they wouldn't mind stopping as I needed to empty the water out of my boots and proceeded to unlace one boot. Very wisely they both realised the gravity of the possible situation and helped me out back to the entrance via the short dry way.  On reaching the surface it took me nearly half an hour to walk across the fields doubled up with pain.  An evening of blurred liquid painkiller followed.  On getting back to Pompey, the doctor declared all was well and gave me pain killers which I was on for 6 months.  I only discovered the extent of my injury some 15 years later when it seriously flared up again.  It nags a bit now and then but what should I expect?  Daft bloody caver!!  I hope to bore you with more reminders of the past next time.  By the way, we used to get the key for the cottage from a Brian Prewer, I wonder if he is still around?!


      A trip down Eastwater sometime in the late 60's


 

THE LOST CAVES OF MENDIP

An overview by Dave Irwin

It has been sometime since anyone has published a review of the lost caves of Mendip - that is, in my definition, sites that have been recorded in the past but whose location is now unknown.  Some sites are well known because of their inclusion in the commonly used references such as guide books, but others are new to caving publications, details of them only recently coming to light as a result of researching early documents and publications.  It is worth noting that records relating to some of these sites deserve a more detailed examination in the hope that the odd fact might just give that lead necessary to 'home in' on the entrance location.

There has been surprisingly little written on the subject, most seemingly contented to accept what has been published, mainly writings associated with Balch.  The only other person to write on the subject was Howard Kenney of the WCC. (note 1) His coverage of the topic was superficial and fearing to upset Balch failed to analyse the topic any further than that taken by him.  John Beaumont in his letters to the Royal Society during 1676 and 1681 said that he knew of many caves, excepting Wookey Hole, on Mendip but the largest of them all was to be found on Lamb Hill. (note 2)

Our Miners in digging daily meet with these Caverns, which are of different widenesses, some of them being very large, but the most considerable Vault I have known on Mendipp hills is on the most Northerly part of them, in a hill call'd Lamb, lying above the Parish of Harptry ...

Only five of the lost caves are truly legendary: Maskall's Wood Cave which is said to lie in the wooded area between Cheddar and Draycott; Elborough Cave near Banwell, Rickford Lost Cave and the lost caves in Burrington Combe and Ebbor Gorge.  As far as I am aware there is no written evidence that these legendary caves ever existed, only reports based on local 'hearsay'.

Tales, which are related to the 'shaggy dog' stories that suggest that Cheddar caves are connected to Wookey Hole, or Ebbor Gorge to Wookey Hole, are not discussed in this article.

When the author commenced this paper it was thought that there were a dozen or so sites that came within the definition set above - however, surprise, surprise the number almost trebled!

Burrington Combe and neighbourhood

Blagdon Fissure

A bone fissure excavated in 1872 and located (note 3)

‘ ... near the top of Blackdown ridge, above the village of Blagdon .... '

Miners, searching for iron ore, accidentally broke into the fissure at a depth of 40ft.  Pleistocene bones were removed from the site but the entrance has since become blocked and its exact location is now unknown.  E.K. Tratman of the UBSS searched for it but was unsuccessful. (note 4)  Shaw suggests that it may be one of the fissures in Swancombe Wood and Morecombe Wood. (note 5)  References to the archaeological finds are given in the UBSS Proceedings for 1953-54, 1964 and 1988. (note 6,7,8)  The site is also mentioned in BSA Caves and Caving. (note 9)

Burrington Hole

Previously listed as an unidentified BEC dig during 1945 - 1946.  Now shown to be Lionel's Hole, Burrington Combe.

Snogging Pot

The earliest reference to this site may be an entry in the BEC log for the 31 st March 1946  (note 10) and was simply recorded by R.A. Crocker as 'Burrington Hole 2'.  At this time Crocker, D. Howell and Chas Lloyd made' ... a strenuous attempt on the large boulder blocking the way ahead .... '  The only other reference to this site is to be found in the same caving logbook and the visit dated 11th May 1946.  Don Coase made the following entry:

A trip to Swancombe  (note 11) for survey followed by a [?] to Burrington.  Snogging Pot was examined also the U.B.S.S. Dig.  D.A. Coase & THS examined entrance to East Twin Swallet. ...

UBSS Burrington digs at this time were scattered around the Burrington and Charterhouse area.  They included Bath Swallet and Plumley's Hole so little help from the location of these sites.  A further dig was made later in the summer.  The log entry by Don Coase is headed 'Burrington Hole, Snogging Pot, Sidcot Swallet & the Tunnel in W. Twin Valley.  Sun. 18th Aug 46' .

... The Snogging Hole was inspected.  Hasell getting stuck & after various manoeuvres he retreated. Coase & Pain went down & came straight out with emphatic ideas of what to do with the 'ole ....

Harry Stanbury, the founder member of the BEC in 1935, is sure that Snogging Hole was named after H.S. 'Snogger' Hawkins, a post-war club member who was known to be a misogynist!

Guy Hole

An unpublished manuscript housed in the county archives at Taunton by John Strachey, c.1736, tells of a cave lying below the fortifications at Dolebury near Burrington Combe.  He wrote: (note 12)

... under this fortification is an hole or Cave called Guy Hole, altogether as remarkable as that at Woky but the former being near a City & this remote from any place of Entertainment is not often visited by Travellers ...

A discussion, with extracts of Strachey's work, was published in 1987 and shows that Guy Hole was known to him as early as c.1720. (note 13)  It is difficult to place this site but in the view of the author it is likely to be Goatchurch, for it lies below the Dolebury fortification, i.e. at a lower level, and travelling up the West Twin Brook valley would have been the most direct approach to Dolebury itself.  Further it was compared with that of Wookey - and not unfairly for the entrance passage with its stalagmite deposits and the immediate lower chambers which would appear quite large in poor light.  No other record of this cave has been found.

Further, Williams, in his discussion relating to the this site, and another known to Strachey as Goechurch, came to the conclusion that both names were alternatives for the same site, that which is known today as Goatchurch Cavern.

Dolebury Cavern

There was extensive mining activity on and around Dolebury; several mining sites and shafts may be seen close to the hillfort.  In 1830 the Reverend John Skinner recorded in his extensive diaries (note 14) details of a lead mine adit at Dolebury.  This site may subsequently have been called Dolebury Cavern.  Today the mined tunnel, half way up the valley from Rowberrow, is known as Dolebury Levvy.

Knight in Heart of Mendip records a deep mine shaft midway from the fort to the eastern end of the hill which he thinks was opened up for lead. (note 15)  He also outlined the horizontal gallery driven during the period 1829-1831 and infers that at the time of writing (1915) the entrance to it was blocked.  This is probably the same site referred to by Skinner, i.e. Dolebury Levvy.

A tiny cave was found, c.1975, on the hillside above the adit, whose very small entrance had been walled up.  This was explored by Chris Richards and the writer.  The total length of this site is barely 50ft and the floor is covered with thermoclastic scree.

Lost Cave of Churchill

There have been rumours of a lost cave at Churchill but the writer can find no evidence that such a cave existed, excepting those that lie on Dolebury itself.  There is a 20-30ft long cave in a little quarry at the rear of the houses that line the edge of the A38 at the Churchill cross- roads. This is known as Churchill Cave. (note 16) A small cave, whose entrance was once closed by an iron gate, was mined for brown ochre and pyrites about 1865. (note 17)

Lost cave of Burrington - 1: the 'famous' one!

The 'lost' cave of Burrington is a superb example of researchers relying solely on secondary sources thus perpetuating the errors.  However, Boon and Donovan, carried out independent research and arrived at the same conclusion.  The standard references commonly used for information relating to early cave discoveries are Balch and Knight.  In the case of the Burrington 'lost' cave these authors used Rutter as their principal source.  Several cavers have written about the lost caves of Mendip, notably C. Howard Kenney, in the 1950’s but most seemed to have spent more time in the field rather than inspecting the written evidence which changes the picture dramatically.

Rutter outlined the discovery of Aveline's Hole and then makes the, now well-known, statement: (note 18)

... About half a mile distant another of these curious places of sepulture was discovered, which was calculated to contain not less than one hundred skeletons; and higher up the Combe, not far from Goatchurch, is

AN EXTENSIVE AND INTRICATE CAVERN

but little known.  Its entrance on the side of the hill is small...

If one reads this note carefully it becomes clear that Rutter is not inferring that the other burial site is higher up the combe as assumed by Balch and others.  He is simply changing his subject matter and point of reference to another part of the combe called Goatchurch and the cave entrance that exists there - today known as Goatchurch Cavern.  Note the all important semicolon that divides the topics.

During their researches, Boon and Donovan located a copy of Seyer's Memoirs of Bristol  (note 19) which included an account of the discovery of Aveline's Hole and a reference to the source material is given.  The result of their research is reported in the 1954 UBSS Proceedings. (note 20)  An independent search for the 'lost cave' was carried out by Lennon of the Wessex CC and he arrived at the same conclusion quite unaware that the answer had been found some eight years previously. (note 21)

Lost cave of Burrington - 2: Axe-head Cave  (note 22)

Shortly after the discovery of Aveline's Hole in 1797, (note 23) not 1795 as stated below and in a number of other publications, (note 24) a second site some 50 yards away was explored and a bronze axe-head was found on one of the side ledges.  Reference to this site, now lost, was given in Mr. Urban's column  (note 25) in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1805. (note 26)


The instrument was found in a natural cavern, 28 feet below the surface, on a ledge in the rock at Burrington Coomb [sic], in Somersetshire, about five miles from Stanton Drew.

Within 50 yards of it, in 1795, was found in another cavern, 80 feet deep, an ancient catacomb or interment of the dead, consisting of near 50 perfect skeletons lying parallel to each other, some of whose bones were petrified.

It is of Corinthian brass, and weighs full 8 1/7 times its bulk in water, and I apprehend was an interment of war.

Yours, &tc. H.W.

This reference is of particular interest in two ways.  It records an unknown cave site and illustrates an important bronze tool. Who found this and where the instrument is currently stored is unknown.  The location of the cave clearly indicates it not being Aveline's Hole or Fairy Toot but another site that was probably located in the zones of the two quarries that were worked either side of the promontory in which Aveline's Hole is located.  One wonders why Aveline's was not quarried away - possibly a requirement placed upon it by the landowners of the day, Whalley and, later, Somers.  There are fragment caves in the immediate area such as Pseudo Aveline's - a small vertical feature at the top of the quarry face immediately east of Aveline's Hole entrance.  It is highly unlikely that Pseudo Aveline's is the 'lost' site as cave explorers of this period would not have penetrated such a small feature; their principal use of caves was for the purpose of discovering bone material which might be associated with the Diluvian ideas of the late 18th century. Further, it is not Plumley's Hole for this cave was not opened up until December 1874.

Lost cave of Burrington - 3: Mystery Cavern

In 1948 H.S. Hawkins published an extraordinary article on a new 'lost' cave of Burrington. (note 27)  Entitled 'New Mystery Cavern in Burrington Combe, Somerset', Hawkins claimed to have unearthed a previously unrecorded site, the details of which were embedded in a paper published by the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society in 1864.  The paper was written by William Boyd Dawkins entitled 'On the Caverns of Burrington Combe' (note 28) and in it Dawkins described the work carried out by W. Ayshford Sanford and himself at four Burrington caves, namely, Aveline's Hole, Foxes Hole, (note 29) Goatchurch Cavern, and Whitcombe's Hole. (note 30)  Hawkins wrote two papers dealing with the 'mysterious' elements of west Mendip caving and patently did not know that there were two Plumley caves in Burrington Combe. The upper, Foxes Hole [Plumley's Den] and the lower site, Plumley's Hole - the cave where poor Joseph Plumley met his untimely end. (note 31 32)

Hawkins failure to realise that there were two caves named Plumley created his illusion of a lost site and so his argument that Dawkins had used the name Plumley's Den, in error, for the upper cave which he, Hawkins, knew as Foxes Hole falls apart at the seams.  He further argued that Dawkins and Sanford's Plumley's Den could not be Foxes Hole for the latter had three chambers, whereas the site described in the SANHS paper had only two. There is a low extension off to the left of the first chamber, which undoubtedly Hawkins classifies as the third chamber. However, the Dawkins survey is an elevation, which shows the chambers in which he had excavated.

Lost cave of Burrington - 4

To the south (left) of The Link, leading to the Plain, lies a shallow valley.  In it a cave was said to have been opened and filled almost immediately.  It is thought that the information relating to the site came from the late E.K. Tratman. No other details are known.

Lost cave of Burrington - 5

In his well-known ' Swallet Caves ... " Balch in his delightfully vague manner discusses the probability that the famous lost cave of Burrington was not in the Combe but in the valleys.  However, his final thoughts on the matter related to a thirty foot deep hole - but is described without any definite point of reference.  However a clue is gained from the preceding paragraph where he explains that the lost cave of Burrington might be located in the Twin Brook valleys.  Balch wrote: (note 33,34)

There is a hole, however, on the other side of the Combe, in solid rock, with evidence of much wear by passing of feet, which might expand below its present depth of 30 ft., if some clearing were undertaken ....

If this assumption is right and that the 30ft deep cave is on 'the other side' then the hole could be one of two mined shafts  (note 35) that can be located east of Foxes Hole: Toad's Hole and Lizard Hole.  Both of these are 'opposite' the East Twin Brook valley. J. Harry Savory, in 1911, also refers to a site opposite Ellick Wood. (note 36)

It is three quarters way up cliff opposite Ellick Wood just above S curve above E. Brooklet.  It shows a bush of yew and some bare rocks from the road.  After zigzagging up to it over loose surface scree we found it to be a vertical drop slightly inclining in to the cliff, avo 5-6 ft diameter all the way down, silted up at the bottom, resembles Plumley's Den but larger, 30 ft deep shown by reflected sunlight, shows promise of further galleries from one or two recesses now choked, a little work might clear these ....

One wonders whether Balch had the details of this site from Savory - the descriptions are too close for comfort!

Lost caves of Burrington - 6: Boyd Dawkins' Hole

J. Harry Savory noted the following in his diary -  (note 37)

Balch had told me of Boyd Dawkins' hole on opposite side of W. Brooklet to Goat-church.  We looked for this and found a promising crack among loose boulders and in the nettles 15 ft above foot of path leading to Goatchurch, could see but a few feet in here and there, imperfectly examined by B.D., might get in by excavation. Took photo but it wants a distant one taken with morning light from other side of stream.  We then took immediately below this the swallet at present acting for W. Brooklet.  When this cannot take all, there are one or two subsidiary swallets further down W. Brooklet gorge.  We took higher road to Morgan's and had tea.  We were looking for Squire's Well and M [Morgan] reported this to be beyond lake at Rickford, but we could only find a dry trough, which takes drainage of wood on W. of Blagdon Combe.  Still to do swallets behind Mendip Lodge Wood and Squire's Well.  Found no other signs of caves.

In all probability this was the jumble of boulders that now mark the entrance to Sidcot Swallet.  The path to Goatchurch gently ascends from a point on the east side of the valley today cavers generally take the 'direct' route further up-valley.  A photograph, taken by Ralph Reynolds in 1925, clearly shows the Sidcot site before excavation began. (note 38)

Rickford Lost Cave

A cave has been rumoured to have been open in the area.  No other details are known.  It is possible that the site is one of those recorded near Blagdon.

Swancombe Hollow Dig [Hole] (note 39)

Active diggers of the BEC were working at a small site in Swancombe Hollow, near Blagdon.  Members, including the late Dan Hasell worked at the site on 22 December 1945, 10th February and 11th May 1946.  A survey was made on the latter date but this has not been located; the exact spot of the entrance is unknown.

The area was extensively mined and a number of sites have been recorded by Stanton  (note 40) including Swancombe Hollow Hole - it could be this site and may also be the lost cave of Rickford.

Central Mendip

Cheddar Hole

The first note of a cave on Mendip is to be found in the many versions of the book Historia Anglorum by Henry of Huntingdon who wrote his work, in Latin, about 1135. (note 41, 42) The famous description of the cave at Cheddar occurs in the section dealing with the four wonders of England; Cheddar Hole is listed considered the third wonder

Tertium est apud Chederhole; ubi cavitas est sub terra, quam cum multi saepe ingressi sint, et ibi magna spatia terrae et jlumina pertransierint, nunquam tamen ad finem evenire potuerunt.

The English translation reads:

….The third is at Chedder-hole, where there is a cavern which many people have entered, and have traversed a great distance under ground, crossing subterraneous streams, without finding any end of the cavern ...

Recorded as 'Chedre Hole'  (note 43) in the Domesday Book it is also the 12th century name of the modem village of Cheddar.  The earliest reference to this site in caving literature was in Balch's 1935 Cheddar book (note 44) and since that time it has become known as the 'Lost Cave of Cheddar' - a purely 20th century invention.  There are no caves in the Cheddar area that fulfil the 12th century description and, though there is a sizeable stream flowing from the risings near Gough's Cave it is quite impossible to follow any stream underground, except by diving the underground river at Gough's Cave, this having been first explored in the mid-1980s.  It is most unlikely that Henry actually visited the area, let alone the cave but gained his information from an earlier unknown source or by word of mouth.

There are many interpretations of his writing, but two of them are worth mentioning.  Willie Stanton suggests that the description given may have referred to the Cheddar Gorge.  Before the Enclosure Act in the 1790s the gorge would have been so overgrown and full of scrub that it could have been quite dark and cave-like before goats and sheep were allowed to roam freely removing most of the vegetation. Jim Hanwell, on the other hand, has suggested that building of the waterfall by the hotel, at the time of it being a grist mill, has artificially raised the stream floor between it and the risings by some 10ft or more.  If the stream were lowered to its original level access to some of the river passages in Gough's Cave may well be gained.  However, these explanations are really 'shootin' from the hip' without any serious investigation of the historical evidence.

The Wonders as written by Henry, were plagiarised / copied into many other manuscripts of the 12th - 14th centuries.  These include the 40-odd copies of Historia Anglorum, now in the British Library, and also in a miscellaneous collection of manuscripts collectively known as the 'Wonders of Britain'.  These were written at various dates mostly in Latin, but some were also written in Norman French and Welsh all of which include details of the Four Wonders including the Chedre Hole reference. Shaw has summarised these documents in Mendip Bibliography Part II. (note 45) Polychronicon (Many Chronicles) by Ranulph Higdon (1327) was copied / published in a number of editions.  The first English translation of Higdon (1480) by John Trevisa was the earliest printed reference to an English cave. (note 46) 

The final reference to list the Wonders is to be found in William Harrison's  (note 47) contribution to Raphael Holinshed's The First and Second [and Third] Volumes of Chronicles, 1577.  The Wonders were not repeated again in any topographical book of the 17th-19th centuries; excepting of course 19th-20th century reprints. Why did such a famed site become lost to local memory, let alone its claimed national importance, so suddenly? During the course of the 16th-18th centuries many travellers kept private diaries of their tours of the country - very few of these had any contemporary influence upon other travellers as their notes were not published until much later, generally during the 19th century.  Significantly none of the travellers who had visited Cheddar and its Gorge make any mention, let alone describe, the Wonder cave'.  Further, the earliest note of caves having been explored in Cheddar Gorge is to be found in the letters to the Royal Society by John Beaumont in 1676 and 1681. Possibly earlier than Beaumont, John Aubrey of Chippenham described and prepared a map of Long Hole, c.1670. (note 48)

(note 49) In the early editions of Camden's Britannia, first published in 1586, there is no mention of any caves at Cheddar or in the gorge.

Coincidentally as the demise of Henry's cave came about an increase in the available information relating to Wookey Hole is to be found.  William of Worcester  (note 50) visited the cave in 1478 and outlines the cave features and that guides were available.  The names of the three principle chambers are as we know them today; permission to enter the cave though had to be obtained from 'Mr. Porter', an upright stone at the cave entrance!  The fact that the cave appears to have been a place of tourist interest for some time and that it had in the 'dark ages' been used as a place of sacrifice and burial would imply that the cave was well rooted in local memory and that its fame had spread far and wide before William made his visit at the end of the 15th century. All of the diaries and topographical books of the 17th and 18th centuries relating to Somerset have a description or at least a mention of Wookey Hole (in all its various 'ancient' spellings).  I have long held the view that it is more likely that Henry was referring to Wookey Hole, a mere five miles away and that a cave in Cheddar Gorge does not exist.  The large wide passages and river would fit his note that many:

... have traversed a great distance under ground, crossing subterraneous streams, without finding any end of the cavern ...

Further, Henry admits that many visitors had visited this site prior to the production of his book for he says:

... there is a cavern which many people have entered ...

Henry does not mention Wookey Hole at all in his manuscript,

Daccot's Hole

Alexander Catcott, 1725-1779, a Bristol vicar in his later years, amateur geologist and brother of George Symes Catcott of Pen Park Hole fame, made a lifelong study of geology and in particular the formation of caves.  He recognised that the caves had been formed by water action and concluded that they were formed during the rising and draining of the waters of the great flood of Noah.  Catcott was a supporter of the Diluvian ideas, outlined by Hutchinson, and he summarised his field work studies in his book, more so in the 2nd edition that was published in 1768. (note 51)

Catcott had spent much of his time wandering the Mendip Hills and explored the, then, newly discovered caves in the Bleadon and Hutton ochre mining area, fully describing them in his Diary of tours. (note 52)  On the 10th August, 1756 he, accompanied by Mr. Gore of Charterhouse  (note 53) visited Blackdown after which he wrote a long description of the hill, (note 54) the valleys descending into Burrington Combe and the mining area then known as Pits Close, today best known to cavers as Groffy Field.  In August 1757 he revisited the area with a ' stranger' to show him the wonders of Cheddar Gorge and the local hills.  On this occasion he met a miner by the name of Will Hares who was at that time digging for ore in the caves that had been opened at Pits Close. The cave was briefly described stating that water was met with and that the caves' depth was about 40 fathoms (240ft). Catcott wrote:

…. One Will Hares told me that he was digging for ore in Daccot's Hole in Charterhouse Mineries .. , he came to a spring of water, in which they threw all the rubble, which so muddied the spring at Cheddar, that it could not be used ...

Of the three caves known in Gruffy Field could Daccot's Hole be one them?  Both G.B. Cave and Charterhouse Cave show signs of being worked by these miners.

Dick Turpin's Cave

A fabled cave said to exist on Shute Shelve.  A friend of John Chapman's father, named Faulkner, living at Axbridge, remembered when as a child playing in a cave (c.1900) which they knew as Dick Turpin's Cave. Its exact location is unknown.

Green Ore Cave

The single reference to this cave is in a travel guidebook first published in 1856. (note 55)  The cave is mentioned in passing and is said to exist on Green Ore Farm.  In the vicinity of the farm a number of mineshafts have opened up and have been recorded from time to time; all are now effectively capped.  The lost site may well have been one of these.

Lost cave of Axbridge

Miners recall that in the 1920s a cave was opened with a chamber as large as Axbridge Square. Members of the ACG accompanied one of the old men in order to locate the cave.  This resulted in the opening of Triple-H Cave in 1952 and Large Chamber Cave in 1954; both of these sites were shown not to be the site of the lost cave.  However, in 1992, the ACG systematically searched Shute Shelve for any possible sign of the lost cave.  One particular site, at the base of an old ochre working gave good results leading to a cave with large chambers and signs of the 'old man' - Shute Shelve Cavern.  This discovery is now assumed to be the lost cave.

Maskall's Wood Cave

A rumoured cave said to exist in Maskall's Wood [ST/470.537], east of Cheddar.  No written evidence has been traced of this site.

Priddy Lead Works Shaft

During the August Bank Holiday week, 1944, members of the UBSS commenced digging at Plantation Swallet. Though they achieved little they managed to investigate another site - its location was not recorded.  The log entry for the 7th August, 1944 contains the following note:

… The shaft opposite the old mine workings was also examined and found unpromising ....

Can anyone offer any information?

Rift Cave, Compton Martin

A general account of the 1921 UBSS Christmas holiday activities, appeared in the Wells Journal for the 12th January 1922. (note 56)  Twelve members were present and on one occasion they went on a cycle ride visiting a number of cave sites including inspection of Lamb Leer Cavern entrance, which was then in a poor state and was blocked.  Embedded in this account is a visit to a quarry owned by a Mr. Bath at Compton Martin where a number of holes had been exposed.  One of these emitted the sound of a running stream.  It would appear that the UBSS worked at this site for the next five years, how frequently and what results were obtained is unknown for their logbook covering this period was destroyed in the Bristol blitz early in the Second World War.  It can reasonably be supposed that not very much was achieved for no mention of the site was made in the Field Work notes that appeared regularly in the UBSS Proceedings during this period.  The only reference to establish the fact that members of the Society actually worked at the site is recorded in their Logbook Volume 4 1927. (note 57)  Which quarry is unknown but it is likely to be one of the group to be found at the lower reaches of Compton Combe on its western fringe.  The writer is carrying out further research.

Rowpits and Small Pits

In the forested area of Stockhill lies the Chewton Rabbit Warren.  This area was extensively mined for lead in the 16th and 17th centuries. Between 1657 and 1674 Thomas Bushell sunk up to 20 shafts in the area but regular flooding severely hampered work. In order to drain the water, an adit level was driven out from a natural passage at the depth of 120ft.  Currently, the BEC have opened a site on what Stanton thinks is the lower edge of the working area in the hope of entering this lost swallet.  A report of the current situation has been published. (note 58, 59) (see also the recent series of articles on Stock House Shaft in BB’s. Much of this is natural cave enlarged by the Old Man -A. Jarratt)

Site near St. Cuthbert's Lead Works found and closed by miners, c.1900

C. Howard Kenney in his article on the lost caves of Mendip written in 1953 suggests that a cave had been found by the miners at about the time they had excavated Plantation Swallet around 1900. He wrote:

... It seems that the miners at the old Priddy Lead Works discovered a cave or chamber, but owing to the lawsuit Nicholas v. Ennor, (note 60) restraining the miners from polluting the Axe at Wookey Hole, they were anxious that its discovery should not be known. and they hastily concealed it. ...

Kenney's source material came from Balch's Swallet Caves of Mendip  (note 61) and there we find that the location of the site is fairly well described.

The miners had regular problems of flooding in the floor of what is now known as St. Cuthbert's Depression. About 1900 they opened up Plantation Swallet but failing to excavate a successful drainage path for the water overflowing from the Mineries Pool they turned their attention first to the South Swallet [now commonly known as the Maypole Sink for it is the stream sink of that which flows through the Maypole Series in St. Cuthbert's Swallet] and then to the lowest part of the depression.  This section of the depression still floods in wet weather conditions to the east of the present entrance to St. Cuthbert's Swallet. After clearing out the lead bearing mud a collapse occurred revealing a passage or chamber.  This was quickly filled for fear of infringing the High Court Injunction granted at Wells in 1863.  Two collapses have occurred here since that time. (note 62)

Ubley Farm Rift

In his wide ranging paper on the bone caves of Mendip, the Reverend William Jones outlined the frequency of bone bearing fissures opening up in various parts of Mendip.  He wrote that in some cases  (note 63)

... the fissures are open and on the surface.  An instance of this kind occurs in a field on Ubley Hill farm, on the Eastern side of the range.  A stone dropped into the hole may be heard for several seconds in its downwards course ....

The site location was not given except that it was not far from the farm buildings but an indication of what Jones had observed may be related to an exploration by the MCG close to Ubley Hill Farm.  In November 1984 Tony Knibbs et al explored a 5m deep shaft that had opened up and found that it was part of an open rift aligned 15° - 195°. Knibbs wrote that the ‘…. magnetic bearing of the rift corresponded to surface indications of a filled-in rift and it was concluded that the hole had been caused by slumping of this infill ....’ (note 64)  Similar occurrences of this type may account for the 'lost' caves of Blagdon and Rickford.

Eastern Mendip

Emborough Cave

The only reference relating to this site is to be found in an article written by E.E. Roberts in an early British Caver published in 1943, entitled 'Legends, Dead & Alive.'  (note 65)  It appears to have been brought about by a prank played by Platten on Devenish and Roberts.  No other reference to the cave has been found.

Fairy Slatts

These natural fissures were first recorded by Collinson but can hardly be considered caves. (note 66) Partly natural, partly mined, open fissures said to be up to 21 ft deep.  They were partially filled about 1860 to protect livestock.

Poking Hole

John Strachey records a cave at Great Elm the so-called Poking Hole. (note 67)  This appears not to be natural for, he writes, ‘... but made with hands ... '  The description indicates that it is on the north side of the Wadbury Valley. Williams has suggested that it could have been one of the Clinker Caves, but this seems unlikely that such a small feature would have been recorded for such a publication as Strachey's planned 'Somersetshire illustrated.'  (note 68)

Stoke Lane Fissure

Balch noted in the 1907 Netherworld of Mendip  (note 69) that he had been notified of a potential bone fissure above Stoke Lane Slocker and that it might possibly connect with the cave below.  The slocker cave had been first explored about 1905 and its extent known.  In 1909 Balch and Troup recorded that an excavation had been carried out at the spot but no bone remains had been found. (note 70)  Its location is now lost though it is possible that it is Stock's Hole opened by MCG in 1961. (note 71)

Western Mendip Bleadon Cavern

This cave has been rediscovered and is currently open to cavers.  It was discovered by Beard and Williams in 1833.  They originally entered the cave via an entrance on land within the Hutton Parish boundary.  Instability problems forced the excavators to sink another shaft nearby but within the parish boundary of Bleadon - this is the entrance open today.  Once the 19th century excavations were complete the entrance collapsed and was lost until being reopened in 1969.  At first it was thought to be the lost Hutton Cavern - 1 but later proven not to be.  A full report on this and other sites in the area has recently been published with a bibliography and so no further discussion is required. (note 72)

The Gulf, Sandford Hill

The earliest record of this site is to be found in two letters from the Rev. David Williams of Bleadon to the vicar of Shaftesbury - William Patteson, dated 4th January and 16th February, 1829.  Rutter used the latter letter as the source for the information relating to the lost cave in his book. (note 73)  Summarising the sites found by the miners at Banwell and Hutton Williams continued:

... The mouth of the largest, which the miners call the "Gulph," lies, they say 80 fathoms, or 480 feet below the plane of the Hill.  They also affirm they have let down a man, with a line, 240 feet deep, but that he could see neither top, sides, or bottom. Miners, like other men in their station of life, are very superstitious and wonder-working, when they meet with any thing like this fissure, which they cannot fathom ....

Though so well known surprisingly little has been written about this site.  Various ideas have been proposed as to the likely known sites that may be the whole or part of the lost cave.  The most persuasive argument put forward has been that of Stanton which states that the dimensions must be wrong or that the rift feature in the Levvy might be part of the lost cave. The plane of Sandford Hill is only about 420ft OD and the water table only some 20ft below the lowest part of the valley beyond where it is near sea level. Therefore there must be something wrong with the figures!  However, in 1981 the writer, accompanied by Marie Clarke of the ACG, surveyed the hill using the Williams' measurements in the way in which they were intended to be interpreted.  Oh ! you may well say - if the entrance lies 480 feet below the plane of the hill and the height of the hill itself is only 420 feet how can you mistrust the Stanton argument?  Simple.  Up to and well into the early 19th century the height of a hill was commonly measured by the distance you have to walk up it!!  Hence Blackdown is about one mile high, though today we would say it was some 1000ft vertically above OD.  During the earlier centuries a vertical measurement is frequently referred to as being 'in the perpendicular' .

Using this rule of measurement, the late Marie Clarke and the author surveyed the hillside and found that Mangle Hole was 470ft from the edge of the plane of the hill - measured down the slope of the hill. However, that still leaves the 240ft of line used by the explorer.  Letting a man down on a 240ft long rope does not necessarily imply that was the vertical range of the descent - it could also mean that the man penetrated into the cave that distance.  A full discussion will be found in an article on the subject published in 1984. (note 74)

Hutton Cavern - 1 and Hutton Cavern - 2  (note 75)

The lost Hutton Cavern -1 has been searched for since the 1930s by a number of societies including ACG, UBSS and WCC.  None found the elusive cave.  However an intensive period of digging by the ACG between 1970 and 1974 produced some good results, Hutton Caverns -3 and -4.  They succeeded in reopening the lost Bleadon Cavern [q.v.] and two other natural sites, both of which had been worked by the ochre miners of the 18th century. (note 76)  Alexander Catcott became aware of Hutton Cavern -1 being a source of bone material in late 1756 but it was not until 10th June, 1757 that he actually visited the site.  There are three accounts of the cave, the first written about 1761 in the form of a letter to an unknown recipient. (note 77)

From the 16th February, 1829 letter of Williams to Patteson we know that the cave was lost and it was not until a miner pointed to the spot that workmen were hired and excavation work commenced.  The cave was re-entered in 1828 and the results of their work reported in the letter. Since that time location of the entrance has been lost.

Not so well known is the second site, Hutton Cavern - 2, explored by Alexander Catcott - it lies some 40 yards west of the Hutton Cavern - 1 entrance.  But until Hutton Cavern -1 has been rediscovered this site, too, remains lost.  It could have been the second of the two ACG sites, Hutton Cavern - 4.

Lost cave of Elborough

The background to this site was given to the author by John Chapman of Cheddar.  He recalls, when a lad, that a man living at Canada Combe, Charles Ponsford, told him of a cave that was said to exist near Elborough ' ... which goes back under.'  The cave is supposed to lie close or in Benthill's Wood.  Mining activity was undertaken in the area in the early 19th century; it is possible that the cave was an old mine working.

Loxton Cavern

There is often confusion between the lost cave and the cave known today as Loxton Cave.  However, there are two caves known to exist on Loxton Hill, the second, quite different, site being the lost cave - Loxton Cavern.  The cave was famed in its day for its copper stained formations.  For the record the lost cave was first recorded by Alexander Catcott in 1757. (note 78)  The second, that open today, was found by quarrying in 1862 and its discovery was widely reported in the local press; it bears no resemblance to the lost site.

The lost cave was found by miners associated with William Glisson of Loxton and who accompanied Catcott on his visit on May 19th, 1757.  An outline description of the cave is to be found in Catcott's Diaries The cave was still accessible as late as 1794 when C.I.H. [name unknown] made a descent. His account of experiences and an outline description of the cave was published in the Gentleman's Magazine. (note 79) Accompanied by the farmer on whose land the cave entrance lay C.I.H met the guide who cleared the brambles spanning over the entrance.  Once done and a rope belayed to a stake, the party commenced the descent.

... Our guide (whose father was the discoverer of the cave about fifty years ago) went in first; and, as I had been told there was no difficulty or danger, I readily followed; and, having slid down a steep slope for about six yards, found myself at the mouth of a very awkward black-looking pit, down which I was to swing by means of the rope.  I got down a few yards more, where, fixing my feet in the crevices of the rock, I stood astride the gulph; and there I thought I must have given up the scheme.  I could see nothing but a dark chasm, which appeared to be bottomless .... [At the bottom of the shaft] we then lighted our candles, and followed the guide, who carried us along an narrow passage towards the West. The sides of the rock were here covered with beautiful stalactites, very similar to what I have seen in a cavern at a village in Italy called Palo, near Folingo, but much more delicate.  Having explored the passage for some yards, we turned aside into a small chasm, just large enough to admit my body with a great deal of squeezing, and which, as we advanced, did not permit me to go on all fours. I was obliged to crawl like a snake, and could not have proceeded much further, as I found my breath getting short from the fatigue and heat of the place; but was at last relieved by reaching a large arched room most beautifully covered with sparry incrustations. The rock (a limestone) was so hard, that our tools were unequal to procure me the specimens I wanted, and I was sorry to find those we saw had been much defaced by Cornish miners, who, in trying for copper a few years ago broke off the finest pieces to send to their friends.  For the satisfaction of your readers, who delight in the Quixotic and marvellous, let me assure them, that I here saw the Magician of the Cave, in the form of a bat, clinging to the cieling [sic] of his crystal palace.  That our return might be prosperous, I would not suffer him to be disturbed .

... Our descent was difficult; our return neither arduous nor dangerous; perils once known are half conquered. However, I made a firm resolution never to make another attempt to explore the place, in which I was joined most heartily by the farmer, who by no means liked crawling ten fathoms underground. we visited the other branches, diverging in different directions from the main shaft; they contained petrifications more or less beautiful, and of different colours, as tinged with iron or copper, of both which there are veins in the cave.

Having been buried alive for more than two hours, I was glad to revisit the regions of mortality, though completely bruised and battered in every part of my body.

Rutter's account is based on a transcription of Catcott's Diary made by David Williams.  From the past tense in the account it would appear the cave was closed at the time of publication of

'Delineations' in 1829. (note 80)  Neither Williams nor Beard are known to have visited the site.

Sandford Bone Fissure

This site was opened by William Beard of Banwell on 29th January, 1838, having been, no doubt, prompted by the knowledge that bones had been found there in the 1770s.

Beard had his men, Robert Brown and William Cuff, working for him removing bone material until the 29th May, 1838. For this they were paid 1I6d. a day (7Y2p). (note 81)  The site was still open in 1863 at the time of James Parker's visit.

There are many trenches and mined features along the plane of Sandford Hill that it would be difficult to identify the actual pit, many of which were worked as late as the mid-20th century.  Some persons claim to have identified the site but this is far from proven.

Lost cave of Worlebury Hill

Sometime during the late 1940s a local caver recorded that he had explored a cave on Worlebury Hill which contained stalagmite formations.  The note is to be found in the Local History Library at Weston-Super-Mare.  Although an intensive search has been made the cave has not been found.

Somerset - general

Cothelstone Hill Cave.

Not far from Holwell Cavern lies Cothelstone Hill Cave.  This, it is reported, was an inhabited rock shelter. (note 82)  Recent work in the area by Pete Glanvill and Trevor Knieff have uncovered a small cave (ST/1866.3199) but it does not resemble the lost site. (note 83)

Dodington House Cave

During the late 18th century Cornish miners migrated to the Mendip area in search of work.  A mining agent, William Jenkin left a wealth of mining records including details of work in the Somerset area.  Among his records is a reference to a cave in the Quantocks ' ... a little above Dodington House.'  A selection of Jenkin's records was published in 1951 edited by AK. Hamilton Jenkin in which the following extract of a letter may be found.

Extraordinary Somerset Cavern.

To Scrope Bernard Esq. 19th Dec. 1795

The surprising cavities and large caverns we have discovered under the beech grove a little above Dodington House are beyond my power of describing.  One in particular which is about 28 yards in length and from 4 - 12 yards high and wide, the top of which is 14 yards below the surface, strongly indicated that this spot must have undergone some wonderful convulsion, and the cracks and fissure we find in the walls of the cavern are no less wonderful, through which fissures come strong currents of air, to the great refreshment of the labourers ...

Oldham noted that the cave must be located in the area on the seaward side of the Quantock Hills where there is a small outcrop of Devonian Limestone [ST/173.405] at an altitude of 400ft. (note 84) Oldham continued:

... The beech grove mentioned still remains above Dodington House.  At the western end of the grove is an old quarry (probably excavated after the account was written), the greater part of which appears to be off the limestone.  At the eastern end of the grove is an old copper mine building, probably constructed after 1795, which also appears to be just off the limestone. The easternmost end of the quarry appears to have bisected an old shaft in the limestone ....

No doubt the idea of rediscovering one of these lost sites will intrigue cavers for many years to come. However, to do so will entail many hours of researching old records lodged in county collections and archives.  The very best of luck!

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Ray Mansfield, Chris Hawkes, John Chapman and Chris Richards for their helpful comments.

Dave Irwin,

Priddy.

Originally published in Shepton Mallet Caving Club Journal Series 10 No.3 (Spring 1998) and BCRA Speleo-history Group Journal No.2 (revised version, 18th August 1998)

notes

1.                  Kenney, C. Howard, 1953, "Lost" caves of Mendip. WCC Jn12(39)12-14(Apr)

2.                  Beaumont, John, 1681, "A Letter of Mr. John Beaumont Jun, giving an account ofOokey Hole and feveral other Subterraneous Grottoes and Caverns in Mendipp-hills in Somerfetfhire, etc.", Phil. Collections, [Royal Society], No.2, pp 1-8; extract from pp 4-5

3.                  Anon, 1876. Geological Section. Proc Bristol Nats Soc., Ser 3 1,137-140(1874-1876) pp137-138

4.                  Tratman, Edgar K., 1945. University of Bristol Spelaeological Society Field Work Log. Bristol: Quarto MSS, 2 vols., surveys

5.                  Shaw, Trevor R., 1972. Mendip Cave Bibliography. Part II Books, pamphlets, manuscripts and maps, 3rd century to December 1968. CRG Trans 13(3) viii + 226pp(Jul)

6.                  Donovan, Desmond T., 1954. A bibliography of the Palaeolithic and Pleistocene sites of the Mendip, Bath and Bristol area. Proc UBSS 7(1)23-24(1953-1954)

7.                  Donovan, Desmond T., 1964. A bibliography of the Palaeolithic and Pleistocene sites of the Mendip, Bath and Bristol area. First supplement. Proc UBSS 10(2)89-97(1964)

8.                  Mansfield, Raymond W. and Donovan, Desmond T., 1989. Palaeolithic and Pleistocene sites of the Mendip, Bath and Bristol areas. Recent bibliography. Proc UBSS 18(3)367-389(Nov)

9.                  Jackson, J. Wilfred, 1937. Schedule of Cave Finds. BSA Cav Cav 1(2)48-51

10.              BEC Caving Log, Volume I, 1943-1946

11.              The survey has not been located.

12.              Strachey, John, c.1736. Somersetshire Illustrated. MSS held at the Somerset County Archive, Taunton. Ref .. No. DD/SH.I07 (1-2) and DD/SH. 108 (1-3)

13.              Williams, Robert G. J., 1987.  John Strachey on some Mendip caverns and antiquities in the early eighteenth century. Proc UBSS 18(1)57-64(Nov)

14.              Skinner, Rev. John, 1788-1832. Journal of Travels and Parochial Matters. Quarto MSS, 98 vols., maps, illus. BM Ref.: Add MSS 33717 Vol. 85 ff182a

15.              Knight, Francis A., 1915. The Heart of Mendip. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., xvi + 547pp, maps, illus., figs [p.2IO]

16.               Barrington, Nicholas and Stanton, William 1.,1977. Mendip: the complete caves and a view of the hills. Cheddar: Barton Productions with Cheddar Valley Press, 236pp, illus., maps

17.              Knight, Francis A., 1915. [as above] [p.2IO]

18.              Rutter, John, 1829, Delineations of the North Western Division of the County of Somerset. Shaftesbury: printed and published by the author., xxiv + 349 pp, map, plans, sections, illus. [p.118]

19.              Seyer, Reverend Samuel, 1821-23, Memoirs Historical and Topographical of Bristol and its neighbourhood. 2 Vols. Vol. 1 : xx + 535pp, maps, illus. [Published 1821] : Vol. 2 : 603pp, maps, illus. [Published 1823]. Bristol: Printed & Published by John Mathew Gutch.

20.              Boon, George C. and Donovan, Desmond T., 1954. Fairy Toot: the 'lost cave of Burrington' Proc UBSS 7(1)35-38(1953-1954)

21.              Lennon, I.G., 1960. The lost cave of Burrington. WCC Jnl 6(76)28-30(Nov. 1959/ Mar 1960)

22.              So named by the author.

23.               Bristol Mercury, 16th January, 1797, page 3, column 4, Vol. VII, No. 360 [account of the discovery of Aveline's Hole]

24.              Irwin, David J., A History of Aveline's Hole. [in prep]

25.              The equivalent of the modern ' Peterborough' or Aunt Agony column that appear in newspapers and magazmes.

26.              H.W., 1805, Mr. Urban. Gentleman's Magazine Pt. II, p.408-409, illus. ; reprinted in Gomme, George Laurence [ed.], 1886, The Gentleman's Magazine Library. Archaeology. London: Elliot Stock, 2 volumes [Vol. 1, p.22-23]

27.              Hawkins, H.S., 1948. New mystery cavern in Burrington Combe, Somerset. Brit Cav 18,29-31

28.              Dawkins, W. Boyd, 1864. On the caves of Burrington Combe, explored in 1864 by Messrs. W. Ayshford Sanford, and W. Boyd Dawkins. SANHS Proc 12(2)161-176(1863-1864), surveys

29.              Foxes Hole was known to Dawkins as Plumley's Den - a name that has fallen into disuse because of its confusion with Plumley's Hole, a short cave located at the bottom of Burrington Combe.

30.              It was Dawkins who named this site. Who Whitcombe was is unknown.

31.              Plumley's Hole was not discovered until December 1874.

32.              Dougherty, Alan F., Irwin, David J. and Richards, Christopher, 1994. The discovery of Plumley's Hole, Burrington Combe and the death of Joe Plumley. Proc UBSS 20(1)43-58(Dec), illus., table

33.              Balch, Herbert E., 1937. Mendip - its swallet caves and rock shelters. Wells: Clare, Son & Co., 21lpp, illus. figs, surveys [p.121]

34.              Balch, Herbert E., 1948. [as above] [p.97]

35.              Howell, Christopher, Irwin, David J. and Stuckey, Douglas L. 1973. A Burrington Cave Atlas. BEC Cav Rep (17)35pp(Jul), map, illus., surveys

36.              Savory, John. 1989. A man deep in Mendip. The Caving Diaries of Harry Savory 1910-1921 Gloucester: Alan Sutton, xviii + 15Opp, maps, illus., figs, surveys. [p.15-16]

37.              Savory, John. 1989. [as above], [p.16]

38.              Howell, C., Irwin, D.J. and Stuckey, D., 1973. A Burrington Cave Atlas. BEC Caving Report 17, 35pp, illus., surveys, maps

39.              Hasell,D.H., 1947, Swancombe Hollow [Dig]. BEC Belfry Bulletin 1(2)3(Mar) 40Barrington, Nicholas and Stanton, William I., 1977. [as above]

40.               Barrington, Nicholas and Stanton, William I., 1977. [as above]

41.              Henry of Huntingdon, c.I135. Historia Anglorum.

42.              Forester, Thomas [trans & ed], 1853, The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon, comprising the history of England ... London: Henry G. Bohn, xxviii+442pp, illus. [first translation in English]

43.              There are many different ways in which Cheddar has been spelt in the past. For the purposes of this paper only one version has been used - that used by Thomas Forester in his translation of Henry's document in 1853.

44.              Balch, Herbert E., 1935, Mendip - Cheddar, its Gorge and Caves. Wells: Clare, Son & Co., Ltd. The Cathedral Press. 177pp, illus., figs, surveys [p.23]

45.              Shaw, Trevor R., 1972. [as above] [877]

46.              Trevisa, John [Higden, Ranulph], 1480, Policronicon ... descripcion of Britayne according to the translacion of Treuisa. [ Westminster] : William Caxton.

47.              Harrison, William, 1577, An Historicall Description of the Island of Britayne ... [in] Holinshed, Raphael, 1577, The Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande ... London: John Harrison

48.              Boycott, Antony, 1992, Cave References in John Aubrey's Monumenta Britannica. BCRA SHG Newsletter (OS) (4)2-5(Aut), illus.

49.              Irwin, David J., 1992, A thought about the John Aubrey Long Hole survey. BCRA SHG Newsletter (OS) (4)5(Aut)

50.              William of Worcester, c.1478. ltinerarium sive liber rerum memorabilium. Cambridge MSS Corpus Christi College, no. 210. [Refer to Shaw, Trevor R., 1972 for details [see above]]

51.              Catcott, Alexander, 1761. A treatise on the deluge ... London: Withers, xiii + 296pp, illus. ; Two editions and a supplement exist, 1761 and 1768. Full details of each and the Mendip cave content in Men Bib Pt II, No. 169A & B, 170.

52.              Catcott, Alexander, 1774. Diaries of tours made in England and Wales. MSS; 11 sheaf of loose papers, various sizes bound together. 17.5 cm [1748-1774]. Sheaf1138p, sheaf 5 44ff : Bristol Ref.. Library. B 6495. Strong Room IB3. A bound photocopy is available for general inspection.

53.              Mr. Gore lived at Lower Farm, Charterhouse. His coat of Arms may be seen above the front door.

54.              A transcript of the Blackdown description is given in: Richards, Christopher, 1979. Early observations on the Cheddar catchment at Charterhouse. BEC Bel BuI33(372-373)24-27(Apr/May)

55.              Anon, 1856, A Handbook for Travellers in Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire. London: John Murray, 1st ed., [iii] + 235pp, map. At least five editions of this book are known published between 1856 and 1899.

56.              Wells Journal, 12th January, 1922; page 8, column 3. Mendip Caves // Underground Stream near Compton Martin.

57.               University of Bristol Spelaeological Society 1927, General Log IV: 19th April 1927 [p 58 - 59] and 8th May 19/27 [p 67]

58.              Jarratt, Anthony R. et ai, 1997. Five BuddIes Sink - A lost cave rediscovered - Part 1. BEC Bel BuI50(494)37-63(Dec), map, illus.

59.              Jarratt, Anthony R. et ai, 1998. Five BuddIes Sink - A lost cave rediscovered - Part 2. BEC Bel BuI50(500)39-45(Dec),illus., survey

60.              This is an error - should read [Nicholas] Ennor v. Hodgkinson.

61.              Balch, Herbert E., 1937. Mendip - its swallet caves and rock shelters. Wells: Clare, Son & Co., 211 pp, illus. figs, surveys [p.170-171] AND
-- 1948. Mendip - its swallet caves and rock shelters. London: Simpkin, Marshall (1941) Ltd., 2nd ed., [vi] + 156pp, surveys, illus. [p.135-136]

62.              Irwin, David J. et ai, 1991. St. Cuthbert's Swallet. Priddy, Somerset, Bristol Exploration Club. ii + 82pp, map, illus., surveys, (Oct)

63.              Jones, William Arthur, 1857, On the Mendip bone caverns. SANHS Proc 7,25-41(1856-1857); p.33

64.              Knibbs, Antony J., 1984, Ubley Hill Farm Rift. MCG Newsletter (174)8-9(Dec), survey (elevation)

65.              Roberts, E.E., 1943. Legends, Dead & Alive. Brit Cav (10)95-97

66.              Collinson, John, 1791. The history and antiquities of the County of Somerset, collected from authentick records and an actual survey by the late Mr. Edmund Rack ... Bath: R. Cruttwell, 3 vols. : Vol. 1 : Iii + 45 + 277pp, Vol. 2 : 507pp; Vol. 3 : 650pp; maps illus.

67.              Strachey, John, c.1736. [see above]

68.              Williams, Robert G. J., 1987. [see above]

69.              Baker, Ernest A. and Balch, Herbert E., 1907. The Netherworld of Mendip. Bristol: J. Baker, Clifton, xii + 172pp, illus., map, index

70.              Balch, Herbert E. and Troup, Reginald D., 1909. Report on cave research MNRC Rep (3)23¬27

71.              Cowley, Alan, 1962. Stocks Hole. MCG Jnl (3)58-59, survey

72.              Irwin, David J. and Richards, Christopher, 1997. The Bleadon and Hutton Caverns, West Mendip - a reassessment. BCRA Speleo-history Group Jnl (l)14-23(Autumn), illus., surveys.

73.              Rutter, John, 1829, [as above]

74.              lrwin, David J., 1984. 'The Sandford Gulf A new look at an old problem. BEC Bel Bul 38(426)3-7(Oct)

75.              The numbering system is that adopted by the Mendip Cave Registry to identify the four different caves each known as Hutton Cavern! Refer to Irwin, David J. and Richards, Christopher, 1997. [see above]

76.              Irwin, David J. and Richards, Christopher, 1997. [see above]

77.              Catcott, Alexander, n.d., Discription [sic] of Loxton Cavern. MSS. c.1761. Transcribed by C.J. Harford. Photocopy presented to Bristol Central Reference Library 1974 by Dr. H.S. Torrens, Dept. Geology, Keele University. 66ff 4to, illus. MSS belonged to Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution.  The location of the Catcott original letter is unknown, presumably lost.

78.              Catcott, Alexander, 1774. [see above]

79.              H[ ], C.I., 1794, [Loxton Cavern exploration] Gents Mag 64(1)399-400 [author is possibly C.l. Harford, a geologist]

80.              Rutter, John, 1829. [refer above], p.163

81.              [Beard, William], 1824-1865. [Manuscript Note Books on the caves at Banwell, etc.]. Taunton: Somerset Record Office. No. D/PIban/54/C1l93

82.              Page, John Lloyd Warden, 1890. An Exploration of Exmoor. London: Seeley, [ii] + xv + 318pp, map, illus., index

83.              Irwin, David J., 1997. Howell Cavern, Merridge, Somerset. BCRA Speleo-history Group Jn1. (l)1-13(Autumn), surveys, illus.

84.               Oldham, Anthony D., 1968. The Mendip Caver. Men Cav 4(7)9pp(Oct/Nov)


 

Belfry Extension

Planning permission has been granted for the clubhouse extension.  Ideas for fundraising are required (not stomps)  The target is a cool £8000 which would allow a margin for equipping with up to date utilities.

Completely Bats Beer

 

A sensible name for a beer that all Belfryites should liked-e-mailed by pete Rose.

Can we have some more please – Ed.  (pictures of cave theme beers that is)


 

My Photographic Off Day

I hadn't been underground for some months so rang Pete Rose who organized a 2-man trip into Shatter Cave.  The night before I started hurling flash bulbs and guns into my camera box and checked out my nicads.  Then came my new pride and joy - a genuine Firefly bulb flashgun and the insertion of its new battery.  Pete arrived at the appointed hour and after a trip to Tesco's for more batteries and a detour via Clarke's Village in Street for Pete's new shoes we were heading for Bryan Prewer's.  Bryan handed over the keys with detailed instructions and drawings as to how to open and lock the gate securely.  Twenty minutes later we were getting changed by Fairy Cave quarry.  During changing (when Pete found his usual boots were missing) various witticisms were exchanged about my light - which I ignored even when he pointedly put a spare Petzl zoom into an old carrier bag before leaving for the cave.

After a trek past a pond complete with bull rushes and through the evolving wood which is now Fairy Cave Quarry we arrived at the gated entrance which lies beneath a cliff which has been threatening to collapse since it was last blasted 30 years ago.

This was Pete's first visit for many years and he was certainly savouring it.  First a bit of comparative gynaecology was needed to persuade the cave to open its portals.  After some fiddling with the key the padlock's metaphorical G spot was hit and we were able to coax the bolts back and slide into the welcoming darkness.  The distant musical gurgle of a stream could be heard somewhere tantalizingly below the boulders that smothered the floor.  After a false start we entered the First Chamber and, first mistake, dumped the spare light.  A detour was made to West Chamber beyond Diesel Chamber for Pete to show me a potential dig (incidentally a couple of weeks later a turn of the century ginger beer bottle was found in here suggesting a surface connection at some time in the recent past) before we scrambled on past Diesel Grotto into Helictite Chamber en route to Tor Hall.

As everything went dim in front of me a voice behind said 'Well at last it made half an hour' with an accompanying Rose-like snigger.  I switched to pilot, cussed and we headed into Portcullis Passage for our photo session.  The pilot got dimmer.

 

At the end of the short tunnel cameras and guns were extracted from boxes and the serious stuff started. The new Firefly was given to Pete and the shot set up.  The slave refused to fire and after various fiddlings a disgusted Rose handed me a bulb with a pink spot and we started again.  A case of premature bulb ejaculation then turned the air blue and Pete blind.  2 attempts later I gave up that particular shot.  The next one was framed.  I pressed the shutter - 'Click' - no flash - no nothing.  The camera batteries had picked that moment to die. 'Oh well' I thought (you wouldn't want to read what I actually said) I'll go onto manual. Several Rose sniggers later and the tally was: successful shots 2, prematurely ejaculated bulbs 4, and burnt fingers.  I gave up and let Pete try.  He was having a good day so after a few images had been collected by him we set off back to Tor Chamber where after more attempts I realised my light had packed up pilot and all.


Pete wandered off into Pisa Passage while I sat grumpily in the dark.  There was a dull thud from Portcullis Passage - god knows what that was! Rose appeared and we left the cave, Rose snapping pics and me attempting to do so.  Back at the first chamber Pete dug out the Petzl- not a flicker - time for me to snigger.  We signed off and left.


We popped out of the cave no doubt scaring the living daylights out of a group of kids mountain biking in the twilight.  I completed the day's proceedings by falling on the gate while Pete was locking it and succeed in bruising my thumbnail.  Rose continued to snigger in the pub but that wasn't the worst of it.  Three days later I realised I hadn't put a film in the camera!

Peter Glanvill October 1999


 

Rolling Calendar

Date                          Details -  Contact

12/12/99                     Redcliffe caves trip - Vince Simmonds

7/1/00                        BEC Committee meeting

4/2/00                        BEC Committee meeting

5/2/00                        CSCC meeting - All at the hunters Lodge 10.30

20/2/00                      Deadline March BB – Editor

3/3/00                        BEC Committee meeting

7/4/00                        BEC Committee meeting

8/4/00                        CCC AGM - 10.30 AM Hunters Lodge

6/5/00                        CSCC AGM - Ditto

1/1/2000                     Columns open day OFD

14/1/00                      ISSA meet Derbyshire - Robin Gray

31/1/00                      Deadline Ghar Parau grants