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Castleguard, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park by Matt Tuck 2012 


Editorial

This issue a little thin again, using all the material that has been submitted to date.

This is issue is my last one of the year, however, there will be a special report published before the AGM hopefully. That report is Roger Stenners set of papers and descriptive material of cave chemistry. This is work he started in 1970, and is only now being completed. You should find it absorbing, especially if you have chemistry knowledge.

Most of this issue is reporting on Mendip digs, plus a retrospective on Buckett Tilbury, and some interesting material and photo's from Kangy. I had hoped for some material on foreign expeditions; perhaps that will be the job of the new editor to chase up.

It has been an interesting experience, and thank you all for submitting your valuable work.


Andrew (Mo) Marriot

Ed's note: You are probably aware that Mo Marriot passed away earlier this year. There has been no obituary forthcoming, however, Kangy has submitted this photograph of him:

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Caine Hill May 2011 to January 2012

By Stu Lindsay

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With the Mendip Migration now behind us for 2011 , May 4th  saw Paul, Phil, Dave and Stu haul 70 bags up to Son of a Pitch while Trevor drilled holes in the End of Dig, The same team a week later was rather disappointed when the bang was called off. So Paul and Dave descended into the bowels to clear rock, whilst the rest got 82 bags to the surface. NigelTnT presented himself with the makings on the afternoon of the 15th. 14 lengths of cord were pre cut and Trev and Stu proceeded to the 2 dig faces. 2 pleasing booms, the rift one much louder, and a 30 min session of CHAPS, will hopefully provide plenty of work  for the next descent. Third week, 18th May, on the trot for the same team plus John, (available 1 week in 3) who joined Paul and Phil to sort out End of Dig debris. Trevor Dave and Stu hauled from First chamber to Son of a Pitch. With the year flying by,  25th saw Stu an hour or so early improving the End of Dig with caps. The End of Dig still follows the dip, about 20 degrees,  with a nicely water worn floor and the usual infil floor to ceiling which we get on any passage with a downward trend, horizontal has an air space above. Numerous swirl pockets dot progress, these pockets in the floors,walls and the roof are probably all that remains of isolated washed out mineral deposits. The usual evenings work was hauling by Trev and Stu whilst Paul and Phil dug the debris created earlier.

BB544-caines2Jake made his first visit for quite a while, June 1st when encouraged by Stu they dug solidly adding to the 20 bags dug previously and getting all to the First chamber. There now seems to be 2 ways forward, down to the left and in to the right. The right hand side is just body sized and leaves little room to dig, the “pit” to the left likewise, if not tighter….more bang!  5th of June saw DuncanB join Trev and Stu for a very energetic assault on the rock shelf. First Trev was bombarded with shrapnel as he dug below, then Stu had the odd kilo size lump land on him as he lay sideways underneath drilling the next shot holes. 12TH  June,  JakeB TrevH and Stu on a horribly wet and windy day cleared the rift, and the upper reaches were quite wet, usually May to October THE CAVE IS DRY !

15th June in accompaniment with NigelTnT Stu, along with Trev  set up the End of Dig with 5 length’s of 40g, even though plugged the holes were found to be filled with water…self tamping! Paul and Phil spent the evening filling bags at SoaP and getting 6 out. A very pleasing booooom !

Again on the 15th Stu just managed to persuade JakeB  to do a stint, his reluctance was due to a 15mile run the day before. The 2 hour session did manage to bag up most of the debris and left some choice exposed areas to be attacked by the crowbar next visit on the 22nd by Trev and Dave. On the 29th Trevor on his 212th visit, Stu on his 202nd   with a very pleasant evening saw Paul and Dave complete the  team and haul out 112 bags.

7th July saw a visit by PeteH, joining Trev and Stu the evening combined hole drilling and getting bags to Son of a Pitch. The central part of the End of Dig now needs to be modified as the Pit is proving difficult to negotiate! The roof solution hole seems to go in and drop, this would put it behind the central area! Being up to 30cms across, this tube is horizontal whilst the lower water worn floor is dipping and spreading out slightly to the pit and the right handside.13TH and Stu, drilling shot holes was joined by Jake after a couple of hours. Trev did likewise in the rift and when holes completed went into hauling mode. The grand finale was when Stu sent up a couple of “rockery stones”..circa 30kgs. 19TH  with little to do,  all the usual suspects totalling 6 turned up, so hauled the 2 big ones out then cleared the cave with 49 bags to the surface. The following evening saw NigelTnT join Trev and Stu now both newly licenced,  bang both ends with pleasing crumps, Lucy, Tim’s daughter doing the honours with her finger on the button.

Again August was quiet TrevH, JakeB, PhilC, JohnN and StuL appearing on the 31st when Rift clearing was the order of the day.

September and holidays done and dusted, the 7th saw Jake do a good job clearing up the cave of oddments and had a tidy up on the surface whilst Trev and Stu yet again drilled the Rift and End of Dig. 14TH collected the makings for the twin bangs, Stu EOD, Trev the Rift, which in the acompanyment of Jake were duly set,  and the sweet crumps sealed yet another successful venture. 4 days later Trev and Stu found the entrance to have a faint smell of the fumes, rewinding the firing wire they didn’t seem to get worse as we descended, in End of Dig the floor as expected had not reacted to well,  but the rest had done its stuff, a dozen bags and as many rocks the reward so far. The pit is bigger but not digger sized! However if the way on was clear it would be big enough even for me to progress. An early start on the 21st before being joined by Trevor saw capping the floor demoralising, like the bridge now some 6/7 metres back,  it just absorbs the shock or the hole finishes in mud or soft calcite/mineral. In the meantime Trev had cleared a lot of his bang debris and also had stuff still in situ that would need more effort, maybe next time more than just cord.. Trev did a solo on the 25th and the planned bang on the 28th was postponed so Jake Trev and StuL had a hauling session.

5th of October saw Ivan Elliot make his first visit, and was put to good use by helping Trev and Jake clear all the bags from the rift to First Chamber whilst Stu drilled holes in EOD. Using perinite for a change  the 9th saw Trev, Stu and a rather “nervous” Ivan fill the holes at EOD before Trev departed to do the rift whilst Stu finished off the EOD. C H A P S was employed for an hour on the 11th (first time the cave had NG fumes residing  for so long). The next day  would see a safe environment for JohnN, Trev, StuL and Ivan to clear the debris but instead they decided to   haul 64 loads out to the surface. The 19th was a disaster with Trev being late went to Lockes, so Trev went down and cleared EOD…..Bad news on the 26th Tim the landowner had been the victim of a heart attack, but was reported to be OK. Ivan and Jake did the rift whilst Trev and Stu assessed the EOD, looking grim, way on seems to have fizzled to a number of small tubes so will drill it and hit it hard with a couple sticks of Perinite, if this doesn’t open it up then the likihood is The Rift will once again be our main target..

Start of November saw JohN drilling a couple of the shot holes in E O D along with StuL, 6 in total should sort out the annoying little tubes one way or the other, Meanwhile Trev pulled down a lot of loose rock before his drilling concluded the session. The 13th was Stu and Ivan at EOD, Stu filling the holes with NG based chemical persuasion. It became apparent that the slowing down of the hole priming was due to the tamping rod sharpening into a point! However, the 6 holes were duly primed. Joined by Trev, who had done a similar operation in the rift bottom, all was tidied up and the 2 wires taken to the surface where boom boom heralded a successful venture. 23RD saw PaulB attend for a rare visit and assisted the clearance of the EOD with StuL…IT LOOKS BLEAK! Mean while TrevH and Ivan E managed to sort out the rift bottom and around 50 loads from both sites found their way to First Chamber, a good night and 2 ½ hours labour! Last day of the month and JakeB clearing the rift now a real live prospect, whilst StuL tidied up the last of the debris in EOD..now looking to be a daunting prospect with micro holes seemingly the way on!!!!

3rd of December and another year almost gone. Trevor and Jake went down the rift and continued with progress whilst Stu did a capping session in a vain hope of expanding the EOD potential..a lost cause…I think so at the moment. Leaving an extremely dry cave into a real blowy night, the coldest so far was quite invigorating. 2 weeks later in the first snow of winter Trev and Stu  gave the last rights to the EOD, amazingly the sloping water worn floor just stops, minute cracks and tiny holes seemingly the only way out of the small pit. All nooks and crannies checked, maybe a couple little tubes in the middle might succumb to desperate measures …the Rift rules!

2012 ONE WAY TO GO NOW….down the rift, the small tube/s that have had periodic chemical attention,  whilst the main effort centred on the End of Dig,  is our main hope now. First thing to change with the  prospect of large amounts of debris and mud was the rift hauling system. This was done with a new rope and hauling from the bottom by Trev and Stu at top on the 4th January. In no time at all we had 34 bags up and deposited at the growing stack in First chamber.11th was a busy session, bags were moved up to base of entrance shaft, Trev pulling,  also we moved bags from first chamber to Corner, Corner to SoaP, and as a finale before Stu’s birthday bash the 2 of us,  then got out the bags at base of entrance adding  16 to the pile. Hauling on the 18th saw Trev and Stu get 45-50 up from the First chamber. Double  our number on the 25th when joined by PhilC and JohnN who stacked at the SoaP before whizzing down to do a quick recce with Trevor into the rift bottom and were notably impressed!

First day of leap year February saw temp at -4 degrees or less,  it was nice to get below ground, Trev attacked the way on whilst Stu moved 20 -25 loads back from Rift to first chamber. A short trip on the 15th tidied up all the loose ends and Trev made final  preparations for chemical persuasives in the holes he drilled on the 12th. The 29th of February and just Trev and Stu to haul a few bags from First chamber to S oa P also noted a break in the C H A P S  pipe, this type of thing could have dire consequences if we descended after a pumping session assuming C H A P S had removed al the toxins!!

Pics… by StuL…. DaveB digging hard: Shot holes drilled and plugged ready:

The aftermath: Stats: Man hours……169 approx………bags ……. 315 poor!.......... Distance gained 5metres


Two Hundred and One Years in Swildon's Hole

By Graham (Bassett) Wilton-Jones

BB544-swildons1Buckett was 70 in February.  For those of you who don’t know Buckett, he was member no. 699  (and his wife Ann no. 700).  His membership only lapsed because the BEC membership secretary never reminded him to pay his subs, that and he took up windsurfing, racing at top level in national events most weekends. But he never lost interest in caving, so when he retired this year he decided he fancied a nostalagic trip to Mendip.  Where better to go than Swildons, where he’d spent many a mud-soaked day exploring in the pre-wetsuit era.

Right: Buckett in his grots and fibre helmet; the shopping bag holds the ladder!

Having caved with Buckett since the early 70’s, I was asked to go along.  We also invited Colin Shabter (Wessex) who caved with Buckett in the 60’s, with High Wycombe scouts.  Ashford Spelaelogical Society (there’s a few of us still active), one of the oldest caving clubs in the UK, still had some bits of tackle stored in Buckett’s garage.  Years ago, when we constructed our own ladders, we had two twenty foot bits of wire for the last ladder, but there were only twelve rungs left, so we made it with 18 inch rung spacing; we were younger and fitter, and much more flexible then; this ladder would be ideal for the Swildon’s Twenty.  We could use that today, along with our “travelling line”, a length of 1960s hawser-laid nylon.  With the three of us having a combined age of 201 years, a lifeline on the Twenty seemed wise.

It was a fine April day as we walked across the fields from Upper Pitts.  The thunderstorms, which developed considerably during the day, were tracking further north, missing Mendip altogether.  We remarked on the size of the trees by the entrance: whilst the old ash tree already looks old in the 1898 photo of the entrance, we remembered the rest as mere saplings.  Now there are the beginnings of a wood! 

BB544-swildons1Buckett was intrigued by the massive rock movement underground, between the entrance and Showerbath; clearly there is a lot of change still to take place in the not too distant future.  It has become difficult to know what to touch, in case it all starts moving while you are on it, or under it; and when is the ash tree finally going to succumb to the depths?  These trees only live for about 200 years.

At the Twenty, someone had rigged the pitch in exemplary style: double belayed traverse-line of new-looking static rope leading to both pitch-head bolts; pulley and double life-line from the top bolt; shiny new ladder hung from the lower bolt.  We left our shopping bag of ancient tackle on the shelf in case it was needed, and wondered what any potential rigger might think of it.....            or whether they would even bother to put it on the pitch for us.

BB544-swildons3After the flood (of 1968, not Noah’s deluge; we are none of us quite that old) the Double Pots were scoured out to considerable depth.  We noted that, should you fall in now, you would be more likely to break a leg than get totally drenched.  In essence, Swildon’s is just the same trip that it has always been, but there are so many little, and not so little, changes, not least at the end of Swildon’s 1.

After a gentle, uneventful amble we stopped at the sump for Easter eggs, and decided that none of us was prepared for a complete soaking, so Swildon’s 2 could wait for another visit (ten years time?).  Voices came and lamp glow appeared through the air-space, then someone emerged, crawling through the sump, preceded by tackle bag.  Three more figures came through, young ladies clad in identical yellow plasticized coveralls, their faces beaming smiles; clearly all this new gear makes sumps and ducks a pleasurable experience.  Whatever next?  

We reminisced about “proper” caving gear: we used to wear whatever we could find that would not matter if it got dirty or torn, or what could be thrown away afterwards.  I recalled that my first proper caving trip, in Ogof Pen Eryr, was in old army boots and anorak, with second-hand scooter helmet and a rubber torch.  I had previously explored the caves of Dovedale in cycling plimsoles, shorts and a bicycle lamp, but that wasn’t real caving.  Today, the nearest thing of Buckett’s apparel to “caving” equipment was his coal-miner’s helmet.  He had trainers on his feet, he was wearing his carpenter’s trousers (with obligatory paint splatters), and he had a ten-quid head torch from his local builders’ merchant. 

After a brief diversion into Tratman’s Temple we were soon back at the Twenty.  Our ladder had been rigged, but was into the groove in the stal.  At least the lifeline was there, after a fashion.  Buckett was first up.  He happens to have an artificial hip, and there is less flexibility in these than in the real thing.  Perhaps 18” rung spacing is not such a good idea.  Buckett and I found the climb “challenging”; Colin maintained that it turned a pleasant little trip into one of the most dangerous he had undertaken.  I think it was a joke but maybe he was serious.

We emerged, unscathed and like happy little boys after a morning’s mischief.  On the surface we met Mrs Sparrow, who was about to take a small party underground.  We advised her against it, as it was still such a lovely day, but they all went down anyway.  Such is the lure of caves. 

Buckett will be back.

Bassett  April 2012


Toothache Pot, Longwood Valley, Mendip

By Robin Gray

Very brief History. The site was discovered by David (Tuska ) Morrison and Chris Bradshaw early in the 1980s. It was a shallow depression with some rock surrounding it. It looked like an old mine shaft. Three other sites were noted nearby. It got the name Toothache, because Tuska’s wisdom tooth was coming through.

It was originally dug by Robin Gray and Tony Atkinson with help from MNRC members and the BEC but always remained under the control of Dave Morrison. Stu Lindsay remembers well, digging through bucket loads of hazel nut shells. It had a winch in place then and diggers were plentiful. It was pleasant working in the summer sunshine.

It was dug to about 20 ft and interest waned somewhat. The MNRC went off to build their new hut, the BEC were into other digs and Robin’s mate, Nigel Mogg was away at sea. 

Permission was given to Unit2 who had a hut at the end of the valley to take over. In fact Tuska sold it to Unit 2 for a couple of pints one night in the Hunters. They dug it for a few months without making much progress and then abandoned it. Robin Gray and friends dug it occasionally until about 1989.

It was examined again in 2011 by Robin Gray and Barry Hulatt who decided it was worth another go. Permission was sought and obtained.

Access.  Access is now from above. From Black Rock Gate: The track is followed to the left of the entrance to Longwood Valley and the field fence is scaled using a portable style. This protects the farmer’s fence and also our caving suits. From just below the inner fence which is low enough to step over, a hand line is in place. This leads directly to the dig. The hand line makes getting to and from the site easier, especially in wet weather, and also restricts diggers from moving sideways where there are many interesting plants that need to be conserved. These are Blue-bells, Herb Paris, Tooth Wort, and the usual woodland species found in the valley.

The dig site is fenced with warning signs.

Progress. Progress has been downward and the shaft is now 60feet deep. There are signs of mining activity but there are also signs of natural cave formation. It would appear that the miners were following a calcite vein which can be seen in the shaft. At the bottom of the shaft, water flows away freely and a corner discloses a tantalising air space. However it would be unwise to create a wormhole just to follow the way down and it has been decided to remove the entire fill in order to progress safely and to understand what is going on. It is possible that diggers will use lifelines in case of a collapse.

Hauling systems have continuously been improved and it is hoped to have some sort of winch in place before too long. We also expect to install fixed iron ladders for the length of the shaft already excavated. Our plans to get the metal ladders to the site, have been thwarted by the weather, but once the ground up from Black Rock Gate dries up again, Martin Grass will be able to drive them up in his Land Rover. We have enough ladder to reach the current digging depth and beyond, so once in place, life will get easier, and even those who do not relish the thought of the 60ft climb on wire ladder after a half hour hike, will be able to go down.

The black space below increases weekly and its position makes the prospect of great discoveries, very exciting. Sadly we are usually only a team of three or four and could use help with work on the surface. Anyone interested in going down would be welcome but that is usually left to Robin, or Steve Pointon and Barry Hulatt from the CCC  

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The new buckets. Stu hauling.

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Looking up the shaft which is very square until the bottom is reached  


Reservoir Hole - 7th Update

By Peter Glanvill

There was mutiny shortly after the discovery of the Silo. Nick and Nigel declared that Topless Aven was the place to dig but not with the pool in place and that the roof needed bringing down into it. Have stacked what felt like tons of rubble up there I was not so keen but eventually it was ‘be it on their own heads’ hopefully not too literally. Around the same time I took some interest in the roof and wall of the passage that leads into Grand Gallery noting that the flat roof was heavily scalloped and that the true passage height was obscured by fallen slabs. Digging commenced here and has continued intermittently helped by Tony Boycott’s dynamic contributions. However it may still prove to be a deep undercut although it does emit a faint air current. I named it Gluhwein Passage as first efforts were made after our pre-Christmas mulled wine and Stollen cake banquet in the cave.

The Silo has not been abandoned.  As the roof consists of cemented boulders and lies only 20 metres below the road an attempt to go up was deemed inadvisable on several grounds so after shuttering in the remaining spoil on one side we are attempting to reach the presumed phreatic passage that should exist about 3 metres below its base. Progress is slow and we are thinking along the lines of another ‘Stanton’s drive’ to intercept said passage and avoid much excavation of mud and cobbles.

Meanwhile Nick and Nigel achieved the impossible by removing the roof in TA dig above the pool and created stable diggable passage. They have progressed another 3 or 4 metres using a combination of cement, walling and strategically placed scaffold bars to stabilise the route. They have also removed a couple of irritating constrictions in the earlier parts of the passage to enable spoil removal to proceed more smoothly. Stacking space is at a premium so Stanton type walling has been required along with the installation of a mini-winch to haul spoil up to Alison’s Alcove, a space 3 metres up the Climbing Shafts on the way to Golgotha. The current limit reached on 17th April is a point where the floor drops slightly and the roof visible through gaps seems to be clear of fill. The draught continues to tantalise.

Active diggers over the last few months were  Nick Chipchase, Nigel Cox (the pair being referred to as NC2), Peter Glanvill, Alison Moody,Tony Boycott, Rob Harper, Mike Moxon, Andrew Atkinson,  and Linda Wilson, and there have been 15-17 digging trips since the last report.

Peter Glanvill April 2012


Tale Piece

The Tale Piece is for anecdotes, people profiles, or any other interesting item that you like and, of course - tales. Ideas and suggestions are always welcome.

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RSK BSA Belfry 1950's

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Do you know where this cave is? I went again after 38 years! Photo:Phil Romford

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North  Wales 1954. The team

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North  Wales 1954. Dave Radmore. Notice nailed boots!

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Roger and Jackie Dors proudly hold the Olympic torch.

Committee Members

Secretary Faye Litherland (1331).
Treasurer Rob Harper (999)
Membership Secretary   Hels Warren (1354)
Hut Warden Phil Rowsell (1275)
Hut Engineer Stu Lindsay (930)
Caving Secretary Stuart Gardiner (1347)
Tackle Master Henry Bennett (1079)
Editor Phil Romford (985)
Floating Stuart McManus (725)

Non-Committee Posts

Librarians Tim Large & Rich Smith
Auditor Chris Smart
BEC Web Page Editors   Henry Bennett and Rich Smith
Club Archivist John “Tangent” Williams
Club Trustees Bob Cork, Martin Grass, Nigel Taylor, Mike Wilson

Castleguard, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park by Matt Tuck 2012

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