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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

Letters and articles published in the club magazine do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor the Committee or the club in general


Club News and Views

Members will receive a new Membership handbook with this issue which has been produced by Roz Bateman.  A lot of thought and work has gone into this small book.  New members especially will be able to draw on club history, leaders and a wealth of other useful information.  Well Done Roz!

All members are entitled to a yearly permit for Charterhouse Caves.  This permit must be renewed and signed every October.  I know, like me, there are many of you out there who have a permit but its 3 years out of date.  Your committee insist that all cavers using Charterhouse caves MUST have a signed permit yearly.  Sorry about that but YOU are NOT indemnified from claims otherwise.  Ed.

If you have not paid your subscriptions by 1st April this year, you will cease to be a member and will have to re-apply to the committee to join as if you are a prospective new member

Recent Break in at the Belfry

A mentally challenged person or persons thought that breaking in to the club house would yield something for the pocket.  A small amount of money was taken, the showers were wrecked and the overall effect is that you will have either NO showers - too dangerous electrically, or free showers - no coin box.  Please note- if a notice asks not to use the showers DO NOT USE THEM.  Hut Warden.

Withyhill and W/L caves are now open for visits. Please use the same procedure as for other caves in this area- contact Martin Grass before your trip.

Apologies to John Williams for not publishing his article about GS cave in the last issue- it arrived too late for printing.  You may have already read a similar article in Descent. John was able to go on this trip due to funds made available to him from the Ian Dear Memorial Fund.

The Ian Dear Memorial Fund offers financial help to cavers who wish to go on expeditions abroad, but who may not be able to foot the bill. Currently there are still funds available. Contact a committee member for further details of how to apply.

Mendip 2000 event - see later article - The club will be promoting open days during the weekend of 9-11 June, specifically for visits to St. Cuthbert's Swallet cave.  It is hoped to run a series of tourist trips into the cave and there will be a display in the Belfry relating to the cave.  Further details later.  Ed


Dachstein Caving Expedition 1999 Eisturen Hohle (G5)

By John "Tangent" Williams
Photographs by Joel Corrigan

Over the first two weeks this August, 11 cavers from various places based themselves at the wonderful wooden Weisberghaus (a bit like the Hunter's except at 1883m).  The main objective of this trip was to continue pushing Eisturen Hoble (G5) towards the Sudwestem series of Hirlatz Hohle in the hope of making a connection.  A quick look at the survey will show that no connection was made this year.  However, the cave was extended to a depth of approx. 520 m., with potential for further discoveries next summer still remaining very good indeed.  Several other cave sites were explored also, however, I'll write about those another time. This was my first trip to the Dachstein area, and my first time caving outside of the U.K.  What follows are some impressions of G5 and its caving.

"If it holds its own weight up it must be safe"

John and Chris Lloyd at the Entrance of G5

Chris Lloyd and I made the first visit to the cave of the trip.  A ladder was fixed in the narrow entrance and down we went.  The ambient temperature of the cave felt shockingly cold. I was surprised by this.  It was an entirely new experience.  Once off the ladder we moved down a short climb and then into a twisting rift.  Presently we found the way on at floor level blocked by ice.

A handy rock was found and the ice plug was slowly broken up.  The dry creeping cold that emanated from the ice began to gradually penetrate through my caving gear.  Lying sideways in the rift on a floor of ice, occasionally moving backwards chunks of ice that Chris had chipped away, I tried to distract myself from the chill by looking at the rock.  It was mostly a yellowy white colour with hints of orange in places, it appeared to be very crystalline, and was spikily sculptured by lots of small scallops. The way it reflected my torch light as I lay there it seemed almost to glow with cold.

Soon we were on the move again, and at a pitch head which we would rig and then call it a day.  This bit of passage was like Eastwater meets Wigmore, except on ice.  After passing Chris various bits of ironmongery he thrutched his way forward whilst I moved along behind to stuff the rope through a hole up on our right.

"Rich sure did a job on this one!" (vertical guru speak) exclaimed Chris as he moved backwards and forwards trying to move to near where the bolt hole was.

"John, why don't you try this instead ... " said Chris as he reversed from the passage for a rethink, which seemed to involve me.  "I haven't got my harness with me Chris, besides I haven't a clue how to rig stuff" I replied.

Chris tried the move again, "I'm thinking of Pacific beaches ... " (more vertical guru talk).

Meanwhile, I searched the passage walls for an alternative belay point.  Picking up some rocks I eventually persuaded one to become a chocks tone in the rift, a plan was formed.  With less ice than in previous years, an alternative approach to the pitch head was possible lower in the rift.  The rope was belayed to the newly created chockstone, another small rock was tied to the end of the rope to help us swing it, and grab at it as it went past the hole we were trying to thread.  I thrutched back up into position whilst Chris slid along on the ice below towards the pitch head.  The cowboy bit was done with the rope and after a bit of "Go, go gadget arms!" I caught hold of the line and passed it back to Chris to do some vertical guru knot work.  After some half hearted ice chipping in the approach to the pitch we made our way back out.  I returned to the surface certain that the next two weeks were going to be very enjoyable indeed (which they were!)

"My kingdom for a carbide rocket pack"

Huw Jones on the entrance Pitch of G5

On the next trip I finally had to put my rather theoretical S.R.T. skills into practice.  Waiting at the base of the "Action Reaction" pitch for my turn on the rope, time seemed to just stand still.

Once I'd managed to take most of the stretch out of the rope, and was left hanging just above the ground, the clock began ticking once more.  The passage of time was nudged forwards by the bounce of the rope as I slowly pulled away from the ground.  After a while the motion became routine and I found myself hanging in the harness kind of adrift.  I sat there spinning in the void barely conscious of the increasing exposure anymore wondering how long it might take to reach the top.

Occasionally I was jerked back to semi reality when my Croll would slip back down the rope, and I would have to pull the slack through the device.  Near to rock once more, I pulled a flake of ice from the wall and sucked on it. Feeling refreshed by this, I suddenly for the first time became acutely aware of where I was.  Far below me now I could see the faint flicker of a carbide lamp amongst some boulders.  All around was both the awesome and sickening panorama of rock, ice, and blackness, being briefly disturbed by the feeble glow from my lighting.  After looking about, I decided to hurry on upwards. Time jumps ahead a little at these moments. 

An insane worm or Gecko in G5

Then a rebelay loomed ahead. As it approached, the world I had briefly glimpsed shrank back to become just the few inches of rope in front of my face, as the procedure for a changeover flooded back into my mind. Time stood still once again, whilst I concentrated on completing the changeover, and then to my surprise shouted, "ROPE FREE!"  I had learnt a few things on the ascent and time had made another jump forward.

The Cast of Characters

(In order of appearance)

Chris Lloyd (the token Canadian a.k.a. Vertical Guru), Pete 'Snablet' MacNab (the one responsible for this gathering) Joel Corrigan, John 'Tangent' Williams, Rob Garrett, Mike 'Quackers' Duck (as surface support 'cos TSA don't make oversuits large enough anymore) Ian Wilton Jones, Peter Wilton Jones, Chris Densham, Huw Jones, & Peter Hubner.


John Williams relaxing after his trip

Thank you very much indeed for the hospitality and support of Wolfgang & Alfi at the wonderful wooden Weisberghaus. "PROST!" to Pilz Robert for flying the B.E.C. flag, and sharing a drink or two with us.

The Ian Dear Memorial Fund for helping me get there in the first place.

Plan survey of G5 – I have only printed this part of the survey as the complete A3 survey would have been too small on reduction.  Ed.


Passages Named Pooh

by Dave Yeandle

During the summer of 1972 I spent several weeks caving in the Pierre St Martin in France.  At the time it was the deepest cave in the world.  Our Expedition planned to make it even deeper.  One day Dave Gill, Paul Everett and I were pottering around near the bottom of a series of shafts called the Maria Dolores.  These shafts were completely separate from the Puits Parment series of shafts, which led to the deepest point in the cave.  Our plan was to push the bottom of the Maria Dolores to below the depth of the Parment and become "The deepest men in the world".  On an earlier trip Dave had found a pitch in amongst some nasty boulders at the bottom of a 35m pitch called Puits Sauron.  On that occasion he did not have sufficient ladders to explore further. As Dave now prepared to descend the new pitch I decided to have a look around the boulder choke.  I found that I could do a tricky, traverse over the new pitch and reach a continuing rift.  My carbide light was very dim by now so I stopped to fettle it.  To my mild surprise I soon had a lovely bright light and could appreciate the nastiness and exposure of the traverse I had just done. I was glad I had had such a poor light earlier as I seriously doubted whether I would have made it into this continuation had I appreciated what I was actually doing.  Still, new cave beckoned so I set off to explore.  After a few metres I reached another pitch.

I set off back to Dave, quaking a lot this time on the traverse.  By now Dave had laddered his pitch and set off down.  I quickly followed and we explored several short, sporting wet pitches to a rift that became too tight.  Still keen for more exploration we rushed back up the pitches and over the traverse to the new pitch.  We hung a ladder down and I set off.  At first it was tight and I thrashed around to make downward progress. Soon though the rift widened and I excitedly zipped down the ladder for 20m to a fair sized downward sloping passage. The walls of the cave were clean white limestone and decorated with pretty cave flowers and calcite crystals. I was very pleased with myself and scampered off downwards.  Soon I came to another pitch, but I had run out of ladder and that was it for the day. This was great, a wide-open cave that was obviously going to go deep.  The icing on the cake for me was that we would not have to carry all the ladders back out as we would clearly be returning.  Unencumbered we could make a rapid exit to our wonderful little world of campsite, sun and cheap wine.

Back at Saint Engrace, word soon got around that we had broken through in the Maria Dolores. Soon a group of most of the cavers in our rag tag expedition were gathered around to hear our tale.  I felt really chuffed for amongst this group were some of my caving heroes; Dave Brook, Mike Boon and Mike Wooding.  I gave a dashing account of our explorations and announced that the word depth record was going to be ours.  This produced a round of cheers.

"Hooray! Well done Pooh" exclaimed Mike Boon.

"We'll call the new pitch, Puits Pooh," announced Dave Gill.

"Good old Pooh, Puits Pooh!" the whole group shouted.

Caver in PSM

All a bit over the top really, but that was how we used to carry on and we were happy enough!  Guess what, we didn't actually break the world depth record.  In fact it all went a bit pear shaped and ended in epics on dangerous, but not deep enough pitches and silly grovellings in passages that refused to go.  At one stage Boon ended up lowering me over the edge of a 30m pitch on a rope because we both thought that we were only above a short drop.  This caused me great alarm and it took a while to sort the problem out.  Boon thought it hilarious.

It was a good expedition though and we had many caving adventures, found quite a lot of new passage and kept getting very drunk and falling over in the field in St Engrace. Apart from that there is a little bit of France that will forever be Puits Pooh.

In 1975 I dived two sumps at the bottom of Pippikin Pot.  These dives happened as a result of a heavy drinking session I had at the Hill Inn with Tony Boycott, Bob Churcher and Tessa Pearse.  After too many pints I had mentioned that I would like to dive these sumps some time in the future.  Somebody outside of our group must have overheard me and started a rumour. Imagine my surprise when later in the evening a guy came up to me and offered to help me carry my bottles on my diving trip down Pippikin the following morning!  The conversation went like this.

"Are you Dave Yeandle"

"Afraid so"

"Can my friend and I come on your trip down Pippikin tomorrow.  We'll help you carry your gear"

This was shocking! " Thanks mate, but we haven't got enough ladders to do the trip"

(Relief an excuse!)

"We have plenty of ladders, don't worry we'll ladder it for you"

Very worried, "Oh great, see you tomorrow"

In the morning I managed to scrounge a line reel off Bob and eventually we got going.  The party consisted of the two guys we met in the pub, Tessa, Tony and myself.

I think our two new friends (J Fox and J. L Preston) were a bit disappointed by the disorganized nature of the venture they had so kindly become part of.  In any case they set off to Leck Fell ahead of us to start laddering up the tight entrance series.

After a large breakfast in Bernie's Cafe; Tessa, Tony and myself drove up the road to the Lost Johns car park and staggered down Leck Fell to the entrance.  We were laden with diving gear and wondering how on earth we were going to manage it all underground.  We were very pleased to find our new friends at the entrance who informed us that they had teamed up with two other cavers.  They did not know who they were but they had volunteered to help.  These new people had gone on ahead into the cave and were laddering it up.  So now we had five of us to carry the diving gear and the ladders for the lower pitches. This trip seemed to be just happening on it's own.  All I had done was to say I was going to dive both sumps at the end of Pip.  People were so willing to help me that it was now actually getting done.

We just seemed to zip down the cave and the diving gear was not a problem.  I suppose we were young, fit and on form.  It was all going rather well.  At the junction with Ratbag Inlet we caught up with our new members and made our introductions.

"Pleased to meet you Pooh, I'm Dave Savage"

I was astonished. "Not the Dave Savage, who pushed Wookey Hole!!"

"Well yes, I haven't done much caving for a while, I fancied a look at Pippikin but we didn't bring enough ladders; it was lucky for us we met up with your party."

I was getting even more amazed now.  Here was one of the cavers who along with Mike Wooding had been first to Swildons 12. He had been one of my schoolboy heroes. Now he was helping me to do a dive and he seemed to be nearly as disorganized as I was; and also a really nice bloke.  Upon reaching the final pitch we discovered that we were still short of one ladder. Dave Savage was still above the previous pitch and agreed to stay where he was and lower a ladder from that pitch, to enable us to reach the dive sites.

I decided to dive downstream first.  The sump was tight and wide and becoming disorientated I did a U-turn and started to swim back the way I had come.  I surfaced one metre away from where I had entered the sump.  I did not know this though as my friends upon seeing that I was coming back had hidden and turned out their lights.  My light was a bit dim and I did not realize what was going on. Even so I could hardly believe that I had broken through so easily so I tentatively called out, "Can anybody hear me".  After the inevitable merriment at my expense I dived again and found the way on into an apparently large underwater passage, which I followed in poor visibility for about 100m.  I turned back before reaching the third margin in my 40 cubic foot bottle, in order that I would have sufficient air for a dive in the upstream sump.

The summer had been dry and water levels in Pippikin were low.  This helped with my second dive of the day as the upstream sump started much further along the inlet passage than it had back in 1970 when I had been with a party exploring this part of Pippikin.  When it did sump, it did so decisively and I easily followed a small but comfortable sump, in good visibility.  I passed two air-bells in mounting excitement and reached a slight upward constriction, about 50m from where the sump had begun.  I had now almost reached the third margin of a bottle that had been well depleted on the previous dive.  A desire for self preservation now started to dampen my urge to continue.  I felt very strongly that I was about to break through into something big and yet I knew I would be taking a big risk going into what may turn out to be an underwater squeeze, with a low air supply.  My explorations were usually like this, an almost schizophrenic battle between two personalities; one needing comfort, safety and an easy life. The other needing massive adrenaline hits, success and adventure.  Pooh version one won this little battle and I turned back.

I returned to base, I think in retrospect, near hypothermic but then feeling weak and despondent at having turned back.  I gave an account of my dive to my excellent supporters.  Tessa gave me some of her food and a hug and we set off out; everybody but myself well pleased with our efforts.  We made a short side trip on the way leaving the narrow streamway and climbing up into the spacious Hall of the Ten.  This is the place where my mates from the Happy Wanderers had realised that they had hit the jackpot with Pippikin Pot.  While resting, I told my newer friends some stories about the Wanderers and my adventures with them, underground and on the surface in the Dales, in Europe and in Asia.  As I spoke it dawned on me that I loved this crazy game called caving and that I was soon to combine this with my passion for world travel.  In a few days time I was finally leaving for New Guinea as an expedition member.  I now felt not so bad for having turned back in the sump.  New adventures beckoned.

It was three years in later, in 1978 that I returned to England and I was fortunate enough to get involved with the filming of the Yorkshire TV film, The Underground Eiger.  Better know to us as "The Keld Head Film"

During the period we were involved with filming in Kingsdale exciting discoveries were being made by the Northern Pennine Club over in Easegill.  They had dug open a shaft in Easegill Beck and dropped into a large passage that they rapidly explored to the top of Echo Aven in Lancaster Hole. Meanwhile other passages in this new cave they had named Link Pot were being discovered and some of these were heading towards Pippikin Pot.

Andy Eavis had a few years previously climbed Echo Aven and if at the top he had only entered a hole over the other side he would have found Link Pot.  Not wanting to miss out in a similar manner I felt I should return to Waterfall Chamber in Pippikin and do another dive in the upstream sump. This dive kept on getting delayed partly because I was busy with the filming and partly because I had trouble getting enough helpers.  I knew I had probably left it too late when I heard that Bob Hryndyj had dived at the end of a passage called Easy Street in Link Pot and got through to an underwater passage which sounded from his description to be the same place I had been in 1975.

One Saturday morning, shortly after hearing about this imminent connection between Pippikin and Lancaster / Easegill / Link, Geoff Yeadon and myself were in our sleeping bags at Henpot's caravan.  Once again Henpot had given us accommodation after a night in the Craven Heifer pub.  I was not feeling well and things got even worse for me when Bob Hryndyj unexpectedly burst into the caravan and said to the already arisen Henpot:

"Hey Henpot, can you lend me a line reel?  I need it to clinch the connection from Link to Pippikin before Pooh has a chance to do it the other way, upstream from Pippikin".

He then noticed to his surprise that the very same Pooh was glaring at him from a horizontal position in a sleeping bag.  Somewhat embarrassed at this discovery Bob for once was lost for words.  Unlike me Henpot was most amused and was laughing too much to reply to Bob's request.  I could hear quiet chuckling coming from the direction of the Yeadon pit.

"Go on, let him take it Henpot", I said in ill humour.  "I'll get my revenge on you Hryndyj," I added in frustration. "Now get out of here and leave me to die in peace".  I concluded illogically in reference to my unmanageable hangover.

Bob made the connection that day and I never did "Get my revenge".  A few years later Geoff pushed the downstream sump in Pippikin. The one I had dived immediately prior to doing the upstream sump.  He broke through to a dry passage and named it "Pooh's Revenge."

I hope that some of you readers enjoy reading these adventures.  If you think you can put up with more of this sort of thing, why not visit The Adventures of Another Pooh Website at

Left A photograph of the EDF hut which is inside the tunnel bored by EDF to harness the waters of the underground river- they don't use the tunnel apparently! !

Right La Vemain in PSM


An Excursion To Harptree Combe And Mines

O/S EXPLORER MAP 4 (Orange series)

By Vince Simmonds

Start in the village of West Harptree.  Take the footpath (5614/5684), next to the local shop, in a south-easterly direction to the combe.  Follow the path through the combe, taking note of some very good outcropping of dolomitic conglomerate, until reaching the aqueduct beyond which is an obvious fork. Take the left-hand path (towards Proud Cross) follow for approx. 200m where Mine No.1 is located in the right-bank approx. 20m from the path at the base of a large beech tree.

Mine No.1 (5619/5566)

A short mine of approx. 11m (4.5m of which is open gully).  It is 1m wide and up to 1.6m high.  There is a vein of dog-toothed spar, which has been blackened, and some small geodes of calcite.

On the way up to the mine a series of sinkholes are passed these are most probably linked to the line of works that run down this valley.  There is a gated conduit that flows into the main combe where the two meet near to the aqueduct.

Back at the fork follow the path up-valley for approx. 200m where Mine No.2 is located, in the right-hand bank approx. 10m above the combe floor.

Mine No.2 (5603/5576)

Twin Passage Mine

Two parallel passages approx. 7m in length 0.75m wide and up to 1.75m high.  At the end both passages are joined.  The most southerly passage has a pool of water and ends in boulders.

To the south and above the mine is an open rift approx. 20m in length.

Directly opposite Mine No.2, in the left-hand bank, are Mines No's.3,4 and 5.

Mine No.3 (5606/5574)

Rift Mine

This is the largest of the mines and is approx.30m in length although the first 10m is an open gully where the earthen roof has collapsed.  The single passage is 0.75m wide and up to 6m high.  The roof through most the mine consists mainly of earth. It ends at a large chamber with obvious workings and along its length shot-holes are visible

Mine No.4

10m south of No.3 another rift mine approx. 11m in length (5m of open gully) with a solid roof

Mine No.5

10m south of No.4. Single passage approx. 13m in length 1m wide and up to 2m high.

Mine No.6 (5603/5568)

70m south of No.5 and 25m up left-hand bank.  Follow steep gully upwards, the mine is just below the top.  It is 5m long, up to 1.5m and 0.75m in width.  The roof is entirely made up of earth and numerous roots.

Between Mines No's 5 and 6 a footpath up the right-hand bank (west) leads across fields to a track. Follow the track to where it meets Ridge Lane turning right into the lane (downhill) will take you back to West Harptree.

Alternatively you may wish to explore the rest of the combe or take the path to the left (east) of the mines and look around the site of Richmont Castle before heading back.  The Castle has some interesting sites that look to have been worked at sometime.  It is possible that some of these excavations could date back to the mid-1500's when calamine was used in the brass industry, a valuable commodity being used for arms in the war against Spain.



Haines - Nutt. R. Frank & Mulvey. Christopher

1963 Not in Barrington - or Oldham

WCC (Jnl) 7(90)199-207(Jun)

Hendv. Philip G.

1967 Mines of East Harptree Combe

SVCC Newsheet (9)(3-4)

1968 Analysis of rock samples from mines in East Harptree Combe

SVCC Newssheet (2)(2)(Feb)

1971 Qualitative analysis of rock samples from E.H. Combe

SVCC NIL (9-11) (Dec 1970/Jan 1971). Map

Oldham. Anthony D.

1963 Mines of East Harptree Combe I Richmont

SVCC NIL 1(2)3-4(May)

1963 Mines of Harptree Combe, with a brief reference to Richmont Castle, the animal life in these mines and the geology of the combe.

MNRC Jnl. 1(1)14-17(Jan)

Budd. Jon

East Harptree. Times Remembered Times Forgotten


Caves At Branscombe

Rob & Helen Harper

Branscombe, which is between Seaton and Sidmouth in Southeast Devon, is the most westerly place that chalk sea-cliffs occur in England.  In the chalk and the calcareous sandstone of these cliffs there are a number of short sea caves.  Most of these are the result of enlargement of faults or fissures and none is of any great length, at least so far!  This article is the result of a spare afternoon during a week's break last May.


Although these caves may have local names we have just numbered them from west to east.  These are just the caves at beach level, there is another small rift system on the cliff above as well as numerous extensive stone mines in Beer.


NGR SY225879

The first obvious cave at beach level when walking west from Branscombe Mouth.   Large oval entrance followed by an inclined shingle floored rift which quickly becomes too narrow for further progress.



NGR SY225879

Low entrance approx.1.0 x 0.5m about 50m west of Beer Head leads to a shingle floored rift with dimensions approx. 0.6 x 1.8m quickly narrowing to end after 20m.  All level and on a bearing of 005 deg.


NGR SY226879

20m west of Beer Head an obvious large entrance at the top of a 3m rubble slope next to a sewage pipe. Sandy floored chamber with two rift passages leading off both of which quickly narrow.


NGR SY228879

An oval opening in the cliff face on the point of Beer Head approx. 1m above the high water mark. The 1.5 x 2m entrance leads into a small chamber with another smaller entrance on the right.  Straight ahead is a 'T-junction' at a rift approx. 1m x 4m. To the left a short climb goes up to another entrance and to the right a scramble down leads to yet another entrance with or without a pool depending on the state of the tide.


NGR SY228880

A large rift approx. 50m east of Beer Head.  The impressive entrance soon lowers to a crawl after 10m and becomes too narrow after a further 4m.  Shingle floor throughout.


NGR SY228884

The most interesting of all these caves.  About 80m east of Beer Head next to an obvious cliff fall a slightly inclined shingle floored rift about 2m high and between 0.5 and 1m wide leads after 10m to a boulder pile in a small breakdown chamber.  The passage continues beyond this boulder pile as a crawl with a very strong draught.  This has not been pushed to a conclusion.


NGR SY229884

Walking east along the beach from Cave 6 pass through an obvious rock arch and the entrance to Cave 7 is easily seen at beach level in the next point.  A short section of shingle floored rift (another low entrance on right) leads into a rock floored walking sized passage with a pool in the floor. Just beyond the pool a short (2.25m) aven leads to daylight.  Straight ahead is a three-way junction.  Right leads out to the beach through a low shingle floored arch and straight ahead leads via a constriction to a small shingle floored chamber with no way on.


NGR SY229886

Obvious entrance about 3m above beach in cliff approx. 40m east of cave 7.  A level tubular passage in rock initially 1.0 x 1.0m becomes too narrow after 8m all on a bearing of 349 deg.



Surveys have been attempted of all of the caves whose termination could NOT be seen from the entrance.  A grade of 2b has been claimed for the surveys.  Compass bearings were measured using a hand held "Silva" walking compass measured to the nearest two degrees.  Distance was measured to the nearest 5 cms. using a fibron tape. Inclination was estimated.  The notes were written at the time of surveying. Subsequently centre line and passage wall plots were drawn using "COMPASS" survey software. These plots were then imported to Corel Draw and the detail added.


Shatter Cave - Exploration Fever

Pete Glanvill and John Walsh both write about different discoveries in Fairy Quarry that occurred within a few days of each other.  Ed

On Sunday November 7th 1999 a rather large and optimistic party assembled outside Shatter Cave.  It comprised Pete Rose Nick Chipchase Martin Grass Jonathan Chipchase Nigel Cox (Pete G's brother in law) and Ken Passant.  We still hadn't established a name for the new series we were about to enter, nomenclature having varied from the topical (Viagra Rift) through the descriptive (Halloween Rift, Shatter Pot) to the memorial (Ellis Pot).  I felt it would be nice to commemorate Brian Ellis in some way by naming a bit of cave after him.  He was instrumental in expanding my knowledge of Devon Caves when I was a callow schoolboy by indicating where they were and how to visit them.  He also supplied me with all my original cave surveys and exchanged notes over the exploration of Holwell Cave.

Intrepid caver entering new rift

Anyway back to the 7th of November and the top of the new rift.  After Martin had driven in a bolt and some gardening had been done it was decided to let Nigel descend first - the more sensible assembled having relatively little enthusiasm to be first down a shaft possibly overhung with boulders. After a short interval some mutterings from the base of the 5 metre pitch confirmed our fears.  After a short look over some boulders one way and a peep the other Nigel decided to return leaving the indestructible Chipchase to descend closely followed by yours truly.

The rift drops over jammed boulders to a mud floored boulder pile sloping downstream to a roaring streamway all of 2 metres long.  Although the stream seemed to be entering a sump, one could see and hear by lying full length in it that the passage was an impossibly constricted duck beyond which it continued - presumably into Conning Tower Cave where intriguingly there is, at present, no apparent flow.  Below the entrance climb and beneath some nasty looking hanging death boulders the rift continued upstream and the muted roar of the stream could be heard from its depths.

Peter Glanvill cautiously weaved his way over and under the dodgy boulders and slithered the 6 metres to the bottom of the rift where the stream could be heard under a low choked phreatic arch.  After some desultory digging his glasses steamed up and after a worrying thrutch he managed to re-ascend the rift without rearranging the boulders.

Back at the cave entrance a council of war ended with PG re-descending armed with a bolt kit and a crowbar, moral back up being provided by Chipchase.  A decent belay for a ladder was then constructed to avoid the really hairy boulders before Pete got back to the digging face.  Ten minutes work enabled him to slide feet first into another 2 metre long stretch of streamway.  Downstream the water gurgled into the boulders while upstream a very constricted duck/sump would admit a boot.  There might be scope for a dig here as the floor of the stream consists of loose boulders.  Skinny cavers with a resistance to hypothermia should apply.  The streamway is very immature with little signs of sculpting by the water at stream level.

Exploration completed we removed the ladders but left the bolts and hangers in situ.  Prospective visitors please note that if you visit the new series first you can forget about doing the rest of the system unless you have a complete change of kit.  A trip to the bottom coats you in a nice layer of mud.

So there you have it. Shatter Cave now has 2 - 6 metre pitches and 4 metres of streamway!

Peter Glanvill November 21 st 1999.


Another Breakthrough in Fairy Cave Quarry

by John Walsh

Tuesday 16th November.

Myself, Andy Thomas and two prospective BEC members, Helen Hunt and Mat Davey were exploring a muddy little tube on the right side of Bullrush Way in Balch cave.  After moving a large rock in the mud floor, I managed to squeeze through into a six foot long mud wallow.  I reluctantly crawled through only to come up in the quarry!!

Friday 19th

Mat and myself returned to have a look at Erratic Passage.  Halfway down on the left hand side a small slot under the wall looked interesting. After moving some mud and rock we could see a drop. I threw a pebble down- it sounded like a fair drop.  We were unable to proceed due to lack of equipment.

Tuesday 23rd

With the aid of pick and bar, and Andy's sweat and blood, we opened the slot enough for me to squeeze through.  It dropped straight down a sloping twenty foot water worn chute into a small chamber. On the right was a phreatic tube about three feet in diameter running down dip for about one hundred feet, with a lot of shattered formations in the floor.  About half way down the tube there was a twenty foot pot with a jammed boulder halting progress.  On the opposite wall of the small chamber a hole at floor level presented another surprise - a forty foot deep water worn pot about ten feet in diameter.  Due to lack of tackle and time, we retired to the Hunter's to celebrate.

Sunday 28th

Helen, Mat and myself descended the forty foot pot to find a mud floor taking water- no way on there yet.

At the bottom of the tube there is a slot.  Through this there is a flat out crawl at floor level that needs to be dug; also, an S bend with a ten foot climb at the end to a small terminal chamber.

John Walsh


No chance of metrication in Fairy Quarries it seems. Ed


Bats and Basques in America

by Rich Long

If anyone is expecting a lot of technical information on caves and caving techniques from my trip to America, YOU DON'T KNOW ME VEWWY WELL!!

If you have ever had to catch an early morning flight from Heathrow you will already know that the booking in hall and seats were designed by the Marquis de Sade and his even more degenerate chums.  By three o' clock in the morning and check in time I was completely crippled.  My neck was now stuck at a ninety degree angle, my right knee had become disjointed and had taken on a life of its own, locking up or giving way as it wished.  Hobbling along slumped across my dribble soaked luggage and attempting to steer my little trolley, with one half closed bloodshot eye my fellow travellers were strangely quiet and gave me a great deal of room.  Even the kind baggage lady asked "Would I like some help to board the plane and would I care for a wheelchair?"

"Nooo, Nooo, Fank you!"I said from numb, slobbery lips as I limped away to the next wait in the departure lounge, behind me I heard one of the passengers say "Oh, isn't he brave to attempt such a trip alone, in that condition. " I turned to see who she was talking about but there was no one there, our eyes met, well her eyes met my one open eye and she waved.  I returned the wave and grinned; she gasped and fell back against her husband who said "Christ!"

We boarded the plane, I got a nice aisle seat near the toilet, I find you suddenly get an enormous bladder problem if you are blocked in at a window seat.  My next seat traveller turned out to be a young lad about 8 years old who took great delight in telling me all about Jumbo jets, while his Dad snoozed, until we hit an airpocket somewhere over Newfoundland.  We dropped like a stone, the cabin crew all fell over.  Some prayed, some wept, I did both of these and cursed with every swear word I had ever heard at the top of my voice.  This seemed to work as the plane suddenly ascended as quickly as it had fallen.  There was silence for several minutes after this as all of us adults came to terms with a near death experience.  I came out of this quite quickly as I am used to caving with Zotty on a regular basis.

So, we landed in Dallas. I collect my baggage, a rucksac as big as a small bungalow and phone Jay Jordan, the guy-I have been e-mailing for about 2 months- the phone doesn't answer!  No matter how many times I ring he is not there!  (The BEC reputation has gone before me?)

Nothing for it, book into a Motel, sleep, eat and see what turns up.  Two days in Dallas and I am going insane, it is mobile phone land, get out NOW!

Well the trips in Texas are dead, so New Mexico here I come!

Flew into Carlsbad and the lady at Hertz rental was so nice she actually shut up shop and took me into town to find a Motel, American hospitality or what!

I got to Carlsbad Caverns and met Stan Alison and Jason Richards, who sends best wishes to you all, they remember some of you, you know who you are!

Now my luck started to change a little.  I met a great guy called Curtis Perry, who is a lighting technician, climber, caver and store owner and he invited me to go on a filming trip to Cottonwood cave.  I had to understand that I wouldn't be in it, as he said they were only making a nature movie and not Return of the Living Dead IV.  I would just be carrying batteries and lights but I would meet some of the top cavers in the U.S. and get some more trips from there.

Next day, Curtis brings his friend Gus Widen- a man who, I found out later, could climb up glass. Gus was so good at climbing they had him try to escape from the bear compound in the Living Desert Zoo.  This was because the bear himself was a bit of a Houdini and he kept getting out and raiding the local cabins.  Well the keepers would drag him back and lock him in and then he'd get out again.  They put up an electric fence, he still got out.  Well, they stuck Gus and a few other local climbers in and Gus got out. So did Aaron, another human fly, but the rest were captive along with the bear.  So, a second electric fence was put in and up to now the bear hasn't escaped but, I watched him study those fences and that wall, it's only a matter of time!

Anywhoo, back to the story. That day was the weekend for hunting so everywhere along the road across the desert and up into the mountains were guys with red hats and big guns, Texas hunters.  Some just sat in their trucks and let fly at anything.  Not too many ramblers about that weekend!

On the journey to the cave we were unfortunate enough to hit a cattle guard and bust one of Gus's bearings on his pick up- just what you need on rough mountain roads.  We limped up to the mountain top and met the film crew who were doing the interviewing of the principal players.

Eventually we got to enter the cave carrying huge packs, the entrance was about 30 feet across and an easy zig-zag path down into it.  The formations started immediately at the entrance, huge stalagmites 40 to 50 foot high, massive flowstone.  I was off but Tom Zane, the director, soon advised me of my position in the scheme of things.  Alright, I am a Limey but I do know who both my parents are!

The filming went great, there were even some Mexican long tailed bats still flying in to roost, so we had to be very careful not to disturb them.  Everything was over by about 8 pm and watching the huge lights illuminating the formations was a magnificent sight.  We exited the cave to look at a star studded sky with no light pollution - it was absolutely fantastic.  Then we sat round an old Apache mescal pit and had a barbeque. Whereupon, my new found friend Gus and I managed to demolish some tasty American beers and a litre bottle of Chivas Regal between us before we both nearly did headers into the fiery pit. It was decided bed was the safest option!

Now, there is a saying in New Mexico," you can tell when an Englishman has had enough to drink, you can smell his skin burning! "

Next day after finding all my clothes and boots which seemed to have been scattered all over the clearing we headed out to Sitting Bull Falls, my new mountain home.

To be Continued.  Ed


Armchair Caving for the Alcoholic

by Tony Jarratt

The Editor's request in the last BB for more cave theme beer labels inspired me to delve into my collection of "speleobooze" ephemera - both subjects being dear to my heart. I came up with the following and I know that there is a vast amount more available worldwide.  Serious students should consult the pages of the Belgian published bulletin Collections (now defunct).  To keep in with the current interests of some members I have included mines as well as caves.

Beer - Cans and Labels

Canned Anchor Beer, Archipelago Brewery Co., Malaysia.  The can bears a tourism logo (Mystic Sarawak) including a tiny picture of a cave scene and the words "The Sarawak Chamber, Mulu National Park".

Liquan Beer, Guilin Brewery, China. The label has a coloured photo of Elephant Trunk Cave, Guilin.

Belfry Brew.  The blue and gold label commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the BEC and sports a gold "Bertie Bat" .

Rescue Ale (Morland's Old Speckled Hen).  The label has a Balch drawing of Eastwater boulder ruckle to celebrate the British Cave Rescue Council Conference, Priddy, 9-10 July 1994.

Association of Bottled Beer Collectors, August 1989, Hunter's Lodge Inn, Priddy.  The back label bears an old engraving (c.1750) entitled "A View ofOkey Hole".  (This society was run by the writer's brother, Dave Jarratt and the above two label designs were suggested by the writer. Barrie Wilton produced the end results).

Le Casque (The Helmet).  Biere artisanale naturelle. Brasserie La Binchoise, Binch, Belgique. The label has a blue caving helmet and Petzl carbide unit.

Krugman, Attendorner, Hohlentropfchen. Sauerland.  The label bears a small coloured photo of a grotto - presumably in a show cave.

Canned John Davey's Cornish Ale, Redruth Brewery, Cornwall. Carries two small, identical logos of a Cornish engine house.

Shakemantle, Freeminer Brewery, Forest of Dean.  Label has a drawing of an iron miner.  The beer is named after the deepest iron mine in the Forest.

Freeminer Bitter, ditto. Label shows the famous mediaeval Forest iron miner logo.

Deep Shaft Stout, ditto.                                    ditto.

Slaughter Porter, ditto.  (I have no label for this beer - named after Slaughter Stream Cave - as the name was changed soon after due to its unfortunate appearance at the same time as the infamous Fred West murders!) It is now back on draught with the original name.  Freeminer Brewery produces other mine inspired tipples - see the Good Beer Guide 2000, p.472 for more details.

Pick Axe Pale Ale, Tommyknocker Brewery, Idaho Springs, Colorado. The main label of this American micro-brew shows a working gold miner (or a "Tommyknocker" - a fairy miner) and the neck label sports a miner enjoying his ale!

Beer - beermats

Jenolan Caves Resort, New South Wales, Australia. Shows a stalagmite and stalactite, the Cave Hotel and visitors admiring parakeets.

Miners Arms Brewery, Own Ale, Brewed in Westbury-sub-Mendip, Somerset. Has a drawing of a miner's safety lamp similar to the model lamp hanging on the end wall of the (now defunct) Miners' Arms restaurant, Priddy - original home of this (also now defunct) brewery.

Tinners Ale, St. Austell Brewery, Cornwall.  Two different beermats bearing drawings of Cornish engine houses.

Beer - beer cooler

Shades of Death Cave, Murrindal, Buchan, Victoria, Australia. A neoprene "tube" cooler with a bat logo.  (Essential Australian caving equipment!).

Whiskey - label

Mammoth Cave Brand. Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Stitzel-Weller Distillery, KY. This 1940s label has a superb coloured drawing of the cave entrance.

Wine - labels, bottle and cork

Clamouse 1987 Shows a b/w photo of this fantastically decorated show cave.

Clamouse 1993, Two labels bearing coloured photos of different scenes in this cave

Cotes du Vivarais, Orgnac, The label bears a coloured photo of the immense stalagmites in this famous show cave.

Cotes du Vivarais, Orgnac, Cuvee de la Speleologie Robert de Joly.  A 1.5 litre bottle with coloured, stencilled wording and a b/w photo of the stalagmites on the reverse.

Cuvee du Centenaire de la Speleologie 1988.  Shows a drawing of two cavers on one SRT rope!

12eme Congres international de speleologie 1997 La Chaux-de-Fonds.  The label design appears to show an antique statuette of two men enjoying their wine. Helmets, lamps and a bat have been drawn on for effect!

Cuvee des Grottes, The main label shows a scene in the Grottes d'Arcy-sur-Cure show cave ( Bourgogne) and the neck label has a small drawing of a cave guide with an instruction to "follow him".

Vin du Pays du Caverne, Perigord. The label shows stylized prehistoric cave paintings.

Chateau de Lascaux.  A stylized Lascaux horse is shown on both the label and cork.

Equus.  The label shows a stylized horse cave painting.  (Available from Tesco!).

Grotte du Grand Roc.  Shows a photo of helictites in this show cave at Les Eyzies, Perigord.

Cuvee des Grottes Petrifiantes.  Bears a photo of the show cave (ancient underground stone quarry?) at Savonnieres.

Carlsbad Caverns.  The label has a very fine reproduction of a painting of formations in this immense New Mexican show cave.


Bisonte.  A Spanish brand with a coloured drawing of a bull cave painting from Altamira on the packet.

Zhijintiangong.  The packet has a coloured photo of a Chinese show cave scene.

and for the driver:-

Naktigone.  A very unpleasant Lithuanian soft drink with a "Bertie" type bat on the label!

Endless Caverns Premium Mountain Spring-Water, Shenandoah Valley, New Market, Virginia.  The label has a tiny drawing of a cave pool.


Well, that's enough of that - I'm off down the Pub!!!!!  Cheers,         J.Rat

ADDENDUM: It seems that B&T Brewery of Shefford, Beds., produce both "Black Bat" and "Old Bat" winter beers.  Plans are in hand to sample this brew.


Stock's House Shaft - A Winter's Tale

by Tony Jarratt

Continuing the series of articles from BBs nos. 502, 504 and 505

"Failure is not an option."
The film "Apollo 13"

Enthusiasm for the dig tailed off as winter approached and surface hauling became a bitterly cold chore. During November 1999 a total of 166 loads were winched to surface.  Some half-hearted dowsing was done above the conjectured courses of the three stream passages but the results of this will only be known when they have been excavated and followed underground.

The Parallel Upstream Level was cleared of Old Men’s backfilling for some 6-7metres (20ft) to a blank wall and the recently uncovered passage (Loop Level) opposite the Treasury of Aeops partly emptied of its fill of sandy tailings and backfilled to rejoin the main Downstream Level after some 5 metres (15 ft) - see updated plan. Along with these projects continued clearing of the Shaft bottom area took place.  In the Treasury itself a boulder blocked rift in the ceiling was banged and cleared to reveal some 4 metres (12ft) of natural passage, becoming too tight.

On 29th and 30th November the end of the Downstream Level was attacked after the water had been pumped back behind the 2nd dam.  Digging conditions were atrocious but eventually enough tailings were cleared to produce an airspace and strong draught.  Considerable amazement was felt when the apparent noise of a falling stream was heard ahead!  This was when the Five BuddIes stream was not flowing and the Stock's House stream was dammed.  Could it be the Wheel Pit water?  More banging and clearing was done in the Rat Trap and plenty of full bags stored awaiting removal.

December started optimistically with a strong team digging at the end and 232 bags were hauled out by the 8th.  The "lawn mower winch" was deemed to be not man enough for the job and was replaced with the M.C.G. power winch - unfortunately proving to be inoperable and resulting in the continued use of the man-powered winch.  A third dam was constructed in the Upstream Level and a fourth just downstream of the 2nd dam.  Being ridiculously optimistic that we could cope with lots of water we took a bottle of "champagne" down to cool ready for the big breakthrough! Needless to say the weather conditions at the end of December were the worst for months with much of Chewton Minery flooded.  There was some 4 metres depth of water in the Wheel Pit depression.  Despite this the Stock's House stream only backed up a couple of feet.

In the meantime work continued in the more accessible passages.  On 10th, 12th and 13th the Rat Trap was further cleared to reveal a gallery heading south.  This was named Greg's Level and was emptied of backfill for some 3 metres (10ft) to a blank wall.  On 15th another 130 bags were hauled out and clearing continued.  P.B. found a 3" long curved metal spike that may have been one of the prongs of a rake.  More clearing of the Rat Trap was thwarted when, on 26th, a minor roof fall was found here with a large boulder almost blocking the level at the 6m aven just beyond. This was unfortunately the "shape of things to come" with a whole series of collapses caused by floodwater washing out clay seams in the fault above - exacerbated by the shock waves from bang used to break up large fallen boulders.

On 27th the Parallel Downstream Level was the next to be cleared of miners' backfill.

Yet again a blank wall was reached after some 3 metres (10ft) and this very short level may have been blasted out to act as a "manhole" or refuge for the Old Men when they fired their black powder charges further downstream.  A tiny trickle of water bubbled up from the floor at its end.

The following day discouragement reached a new height when another major collapse was found in the Rat Trap and the writer had to beat a swift retreat as a further one occurred while he was clearing it.  One load was winched out that day and another 100 the day after when the Wednesday Night Team were treated to "Major Dick White's Levant Mine Punch". This concoction was based on a Dorset recipe involving Jamaica rum, cognac, Benedictine, lemon, sugar and boiling water and was distributed to the Adventurers at the Count House dinners at this famous Cornish mine in the 1890s - " .... so potent that the smell of it a quarter of a mile away would knock any man blind drunk".  Our two new Wessex recruits were suitably impressed. Another 22 loads reached surface the next day.

The last day of the 20th Century saw a boulder banged near the 6m aven.  It was revisited on 2nd January to find the bang had done a good job - too bloody good in fact!  Just beyond this point was now a blank rock wall where the Downstream Level should have been.  A massive roof fall had completely blocked off the last 30ft of this passage but the stream was still gaily flowing on underneath it.  Utter despondency soon gave way to the realisation that this lot would otherwise have eventually fallen on its own - with probably fatal results.  Resigned, the diggers started to clear the collapse .....

Throughout January work was concentrated on this problem.  As the huge boulders slumped down they were blasted at floor level (seven bangs) until an 8 metre (25ft) high chamber resulted.  This was so impressive that it earned the name Heinous Hall (from the climbing cartoons of Canadienne Tami Knight).  A total of 325 loads of rock and mud were hauled out during the month and lots more remains underground awaiting removal.  WARNING: High in the ceilings of both the Rat Trap and Heinous Hall are several huge and suspect boulders apparently defying the force of gravity!  DO NOT HANG AROUND IN THESE AREAS!!  It is intended to construct some form of protective roof here using RSJ’s once the level has been cleared.  On 30th January the continuation of the level was re-entered and found to be in good condition

Work continues and the Champagne bottle is still unopened (but perfectly chilled).

Thoughts on the Hydrology.

Willy Stanton considers that all the swallet streams in this area (Waldegrave, Wheel Pit, Five BuddIes and Stock's House) feed the Cheddar catchment via the dolomitic conglomerate filled basin or valley containing the Wigmore Swallet drainage.  He suggests that this is partly proven by the Chewton Minery streams not having polluted Wookey Hole during the period of the washing and smelting.  At this time Cheddar Risings were permanently polluted - partly by drainage from West Minery (Charterhouse).  It is hoped that U.B.S.S. will soon conduct a series of water tracing experiments to solve this for once and for all.  Volunteers to test the risings at Cheddar, Wookey Hole and Rodney Stoke will be required. Collection of samples every six hours over several days will be needed.  Anyone interested please contact the writer.

The 1874 drawing of a Charterhouse lead miner (BB 505) is one of only a small number of representations of the Old Men.  Here are a few of them taken from various publications.  There are others in the small but excellent Mendip mining display at Weston-Super-Mare Museum.


From a Somerset map of 1612.  A spade wielding" groover" opening up his rake

From Thomas Bushell's "ABRIDGMENT Of the Lord Chancellor BACON'S PHILOSOPHICAL, THEORY IN Mineral Profecutions." 1659.  A 17th century miner with pick/gad, leather (?) helmet, breeches and unknown object (ore sample?).

From a 16th century map of Mendip

1) Three working miners with pick, hammer and borer

2) Miner with pick

Additions to the Digging Team

Paul Warren, Tim Large, Jesse Brock, Guy Munnings, Anthony Butcher (SMCC), John "Tommo" Thomas (WCC), John Williams (WCC),

Additional Assistance

Dr. Willy Stanton, Chris Richards ( WSM Museum),

Tony Jarratt, 27/1/00

The Editor writes please can you let me have articles for the next issue of the magazine as soon as possible.  This issue is a bit thin and if material is not very forthcoming I will have to write a boring article about how the Bulletin is produced and why it seems to take so long.


Rolling Calendar

Date                          Details -  Contact

19/2/00                      A night out with the MRO -  Priddy Village Hall 8pm

26/2/00                      MRO Resuscitation workshop -  Hunters Lodge Inn 7.30pm

03/3/00                      Committee meeting -  Belfry 8pm

17/3/00                      MRO General meeting -  Hunters Lodge Inn 8pm

25/3/00                      MRO lecture Casualty Care -  Hunters Lodge Inn 7.30pm

7/4/00                        Committee meeting -  Belfry 8pm

15/4/00                      MRO Lecture-Use of Molephone -  Hunters Lodge Inn 7.30pm

5/5/00                        Committee meeting -  Belfry 8pm

6/5/00                        Underground rescue practice venue to be arranged - this date is subject to change

2/6/00                        Committee meeting -  Belfry 8pm