The General meeting of the Cave Research Group of will be held in Geography Lecture Theatre of Bristol University on Saturday, 10th June at 5.30pm.  Tea may be obtained in the Museum refectory.

The programme for the meeting is not yet finalised, but Mrs. Winifred Hooper will be speaking on Batwork in the Devonshire caves.  A trip to G.B. is being arranged for Sunday 11th. June in connection with this meeting by the U.B.S.S.

We all members who can manage it to attend this meeting as Mrs. Hooper is an authority on bats and will have much interest to tell everyone, either those who already ‘bat’ or those who know very little about them.

It is unfortunate that several of us were committed elsewhere before the date for the meeting was announced, but that of course cannot be helped.

T.H. Stanbury

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Owing to pressure of examinations Angus Innes has had to relinquish his job as Hon. Librarian.  Hal Perry has taken over from him and will be Acting Liberian until further notice.  His address is 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.  He will be very pleased to hear from those who wish to borrow books.

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Ron Newman has followed up his climbing effort with the following: -

Snaffle-Plate Sonnet. 

By R.H.H. 
(Overheard in the Hunters by a Layman).

Bridge at Hunters Saturday Night
The boys are getting fairly tight
The bidding’s high the players too
There spades. Have you tried 42?

I have, but I’m not keen on it.
It overheats the doofer bit
And messes up the sprangle parts.
What’s that?  Oh yes – I’ll go four hearts.

A doofer bit that gets too hot
Will do no harm to my pot
It’s held down by the snaffle link.
Five clubs.  Whose turn to buy the drink?

I'm sorry chum, I don’t agree.
If snaffle links are running free
Then slurges form in darned great lumps.
I say did you bid five no trumps?  If slurges mix with sump juice grime
Your snag bolt has had its time.
The snag bar shackle surclip locks
And messes up the sprog oil box.

That’s not true, the shackle bar pin
Runs in a shim of phosphor-tin.
The snatch plate therefore can’t come out.
Who trumped my ace?  You horrid lout.

I still maintain that I am right,
A slurge won’t form with snap nut tight.
You set it firm with feeler keys.
Look, here’s Ben.  ‘Time gentlemen Please!’

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After one year in hiding at the belfry the H.A.U.H.W. announces that one gas cape; one Pr. yellow anti-gas trousers; one anti-gas hood.  These are believed to belong to a member of the London Section.  Would the owner please contact the Hon. Sec.

Programme.

You are reminded of the trip to Coombe Down Freestone Workings on Sat. 17th. June.  It is not often that we have the opportunity of visiting these workings.  Of special interest is the immense number of Cave Pearls to be found there.  We have a ‘Test Nest’ of pearls in these workings, and the rate of deposit has so far been found to be very fast.

Don’t forget the full Stoke Lane on Sunday 25th. June.  This is being led by Don Coase, the original discoverer of Lower Stoke Lane, and should be a very fine trip.

The tip scheduled for Sunday 2nd July to August Hole, has been put forward one day to SATURDAY 1st July, as there were quire a number who couldn’t make Sunday.

The Belfry

Although fewer in numbers than usual (due to a large party being on a climbing trip in North Wales) and a good time was had at Whitsun by the dozen or so at the Belfry.  At least three trips were run, two to G.B. and one a full Swildons, and also other members apart from those at the Belfry went underground.

The first Calor-Gas cylinder has been purchased, and the weekend saw the gas stove in use for the first time.  Those who used it vote it far superior to the Primusses.

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Even the Hon. Sec. went caving.  He, together with his two daughters, made a daring descent of Denny Hole.  There were no casualties.

Tackle

There appears to be quite a few outstanding items of tackle, (Ropes, shovels, picks, hammers, chisels, bars, etc.) in circulation amongst members.  At least we hope that they are.  A check up of all gear is in progress and any member who has, or knows where there is and of the above, should return it (or them) to the Hon. Sec. or Tackle Officer forthwith.

The ladder situation has improved enormously and we hope that by the time this Bulletin is printed to have another 60 or so feet of ladder well on the way to completion.  The material has arrived for the alloy ladders and manufacture will be starting on them very soon

Lantern Slides.

As you, or most of you, know the collection of lantern slides owned by the club and used by the Hon. Sec. and others for lectures, was badly damaged at Christmas.  Amongst our members there are doubtless those who have suitable negatives that they would loan to the club for a short time to enable slides to be made from them.  Every care will be taken of any such negative loaned.  If anyone is willing please send them to Hon. Sec.

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We should like to express our thanks to the Wessex Cave Club for their recent gift of a large slow-combustion stove for the Belfry.

List of Members 1950 No. 3.

Eddie Cole                           174, Baginton Road, Coventry, Warwickshier.
John Bindon                         19, Morse Road, Redfield, Bristol.
Alfie Collins                          58, Beaconsfield Road, Mottingham, London, S.E.9.
Pat Woodroffe                      192, Heythorpe St., Southfields, London, S.E.18.
John Hull                             P.O. Box 100, Mackinnon Farm, , Africa.
Sam Treasure                      Stoke Lane Poultry Farm, Stoke St. Michael, Nr Bath, Somt.
John Ifold                             Leigh House, Nempnett, Throbwell, Nr. Chew Stoke, Somt.
Tony Needs                         62, Callington Road, Brislington, Bristol.
Miss Madelaine Thomas       6, Hill Crest, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Roy Ifold                              32, Coburg Road, Montpelier, Bristol. 6.
Mervyn Hannam                   14, Vyvyan Terrace, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Ted Masom                          11, Kendon Drive, Westbury,-on-Trym, Bristol.
Geoff Ridyard                       Archaeology Branch, Ordnance Survey Office, Leatherhead Road, Chessington, Surrey.
Miss Pam Richards              The Cottage, Wellsway, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol.
Reg Hazell                           34, Jubilee Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

These lists are published each month, so that correspondence between members will be a simple matter.

Caving in the Cevennes. No.2 l’Aven d’Orgnac.

by T.H. Stanbury.

My Biggest caving thrill was experienced in l’Aven d’Orgnac.  Orgnac is situated in the Cevennes (the Borrow country) near the village of Orgnac l’Aven, and about 26km. from Pont St. Esprit.

This is true Maquis country, the hill tops being covered with stunted bushes, the original maquis from which the French Resistance movement took its name.  Dry watercourses abound, but as the whole area is limestone there is no surface water except possibly after heavy rain.

We arrived at a small café situated about 2/3’s of the way between the village and the cave at about 11.30am.  The café seemed to be well and truly in the wilds and the maquis bushes grow all around it except there was only bare rock and no place for it to root itself.  It was a blazing hot day and we all raided the café which dispensed warm drinks in all directions.  I may add that a warm drink is very unusual in , as even the poorest of cafes serve drinks ice-cold.

Our drinks finished, we proceeded to change into caving togs.  The rock was almost too hot to sit on and we sweltered in our gear which was far more than we had been wearing for some time.  A walk of 250 yards along the road brought us to its end.

Here was a modern dwelling house and the building that housed the cave entrance.  In this building was a stall selling postcards, ice refreshments and all the usual impedimenta of a show cave.  The gate was opened and we started down a long flight of steps in an artificial tunnel.

Orgnac is of course a show cave, but there were non-tourist sections that we hoped to visit as well.  Reaching the end of the staircase we saw a gloomy opening on the left, whilst to the right was a large pile of debris.  Over all was a greenish light.  Vertically above the debris pile was a large open shaft and the green light was daylight filtering down through the ferns and creepers that were growing on its side.  The pile of debris was of course the rubbish that had fallen down the shaft through the ages.

Leaving the debris on the right we followed the path into a huge chamber and then stopped spellbound.  Never before had we seen anything like it – huge stalagmites by the score reared themselves before us – and strange in shape they were too!    Like huge flowers and piles of immense washers they towered around us.   The chamber itself, of immense size, fell away beyond the debris pile which stood revealed as an oasis of infilling surrounded by the glories of the underworld.  In general however, wonderful as these formations were, they lacked the sparkle of life, and in only one or two places could we hear the drip of water.

Our host was M. Robert de Joly, and he led us along a path that took us to the lowest part of the show cave.  Here steps had been cut and rails erected and the tourists could descend for a considerable distance into the cave.  Around the side of the funnel were great formations, but of a more orthodox type than those in the chamber itself.

The tourist cave ended at a small observation platform and, climbing over the rails surrounding it we clambered down the slope to another chamber, a little smaller that that of the show cave.  Here was a miniature canyon system cut in the hard mud of the cave floor.  Like the Grand Canyon viewed through the wrong end of the telescope, it was perfect in all its details; there were tributary canyons and mesas, all caused by the flow of tiny streams, the whole area being only about 6ft. wide and 20 long.

Passing under another arch we entered the furthest chamber.  This, too, was very large, being comparable in size to Lamb Leer, and the walls made no impression on the senses.  This chamber contained a number of huge formations one of which had been shattered by an earthquake and had fallen.  On this broken remnant had grown another formation about ten feet long, which showed how long ago the column had fallen.

M. de Joly lit up these formations with red Bengal Fire, and very splendid they looked in the flickering crimson light.  Feeling very impressed with our morning underground we retraced our steps to the show cave, and thence to the surface, where we stood helpless in the dazzling sunshine.  It was quite a few minutes before I could open my eyes so intense was the glare reflected from the white limestone.

After a hurried meal de Joly picked up a small party which he was going to take around the ‘plus dangerous’ parts of the cave, and I was lucky enough to be included.  We returned down the steps to the show cave and skirted around the debris pile, commenced to descend the funnel.

Ducking under a guard rail we left the path and traversing across a stalagmite slope put a barrier of stalagmites between ourselves and the show cave itself.  A rigid dural ladder was produced and carried along with us and in a few moments we came to a halt at the bottom of an encrusted chimney.  Our leader climbed up, using the ladder as a ‘stepping stone’ and soon vanished from sight.  After a considerable wait a dural and wire caving ladder came snaking down to us, and we ascended the chimney one by one.  The top of the climb brought us out on to a gallery running at a very high level over the funnel in the floor of the show cave and from various vantage points we could look down and see the show cave lights shining below us.

Our way led through a number of connecting tunnels all encrusted with formation, which here took the form of erratics that looked as if thousands of well-browned chips had been thrown against the walls.  In one place a black hole about 5ft. high and 2ft. wide gave access to a chamber that we were told was even larger than the main one, and was separated by only a thin wall of rock from it.  We had no ladders to tackle such a place, however, as the only way into the place was via the small hole which was set up near the apex of the roof in a similar manner to that of the entrance to the main chamber by which we had ascended and de Joly pointed out to us how some of the formations were had being rotted away by the action of bat’s urine.

With increasing frequency we were becoming aware of the nearness of the show cave as little galleries gave access to grottoes perched on the edge of the drop into it.  Our guide became narrower and narrower and soon consisted of only a wide ledge with a protecting ‘rail’ of stalactite pillars between ourselves and the ever increasing drop to the chamber below.   Our way lay over the ‘funnel’ and soon the ledge narrowed still further and the stalactites ended so that we were traversing a ledge no more than a foot wide and in places much less, that was over hanging a drop in the region of 230-300 feet high.  We were still following de Joly, but I for one way feeling far from happy with exposure of that magnitude.   He was carrying a light line over his shoulder and was followed by his head guide, and vanishing around a corner shouted for us to stop.   We stopped!!  Clinging to the walls by means of the projecting formations, I looked down at my feet, and noticed that the ledge on which we stood was overhanging and that there was a distinct gap between the ledge and the face.  In other words the ledge was peeling from the face.   I hoped that our combined weight wouldn’t finish it off, pushing the matter to the back of my mind, looked down into the show cave. The rest of the party  (those who were not lucky enough to be with us)  were down there and we could see their lights like glow-worms far below us.  There too, were the great floodlights used to illuminate the cave and these too, despite their size seemed tiny and remote from us.

De Joly had by this time completed his task, and called for us to come on.  One by one we approached the corner and vanished around it.  The remarks, in French and English that floated back to us were far from encouraging and we waited in a state of over-increasing apprehension for our turns to come.

At last it was my turn.  The man in front vanished around the corner and I stepped up to take his place.  I peered round the corner and wished I was home with mother – at the corner the ledge ended; there was a gap of about four feet and then there was a small hole about the size of the Drain Pipe in Goatchurch.  In the centre of this gap, which dropped sheer into the funnel, 300 feet below, was a small sliver of rock about as big as my hand and about the same shape.  This I found, upon touching it, to be loose.  Through the hole and across to where I stood ran the line, but except for psychological purposes it was useless.  At the most it gave an ‘Outside edge’ to the drop, and no-one on Mendip would have dreamed of crossing it without a lifeline.  However, for the glory of England, and because I couldn’t go back anyway, I lowered myself very carefully on to all fours and scuttled across the gap, throwing myself like a terrified rabbit into the hole on the other side. 

Breathing again, I joined the others who were in various stages of amazement at having reached the other side in one piece.  It was very amusing, after we regained the surface, to recall how our interest in formations had mysteriously evaporated from that time.

From the gap our way lay along a broadening gallery into a grotto that ran back at right angles to the main cave wall.  This we thought was the end, but de Joly had another shock in store for us.  Strolling out to the spot where the grotto mouth overhung the main chamber, he swung himself up by some sleight of hand, down over the overhang and up again intop another grotto running parallel to the one we were in.  I must here put on record the cool courage of Frank Frost of the W.C.C. who was the leader of the English section.  Without hesitation he followed de Joly and swung himself down and then up and reached the second grotto safely.  Following was a Swiss who took one look, and said ‘mon Dieu’ and came back; after that no one else would attempt it.

We found an alternative route between the grottoes and arrived at last beside the two human flies in the terminal chamber.  This was noted for the white formations there and also the strange shape of the gours on the floor.  These, instead of being more or less smooth were like tiny reproductions of the ‘flower like’ stalagmites in the show cave.  Here de Joly broke off some of these and gave us one ach as a memento.  On the return journey we all used the ‘safe’ route between the grottoes and then set off back towards the gap.  Hoping that there was an alternative route we found ourselves getting nearer and nearer to it.  In one place there was a small boulder, and de Joly told us that it were moved we could get back to the chimney that way, but as he much preferred the other route and that he had no intention of moving it, and that anyway we were the first, besides himself and the guides that had ever been there.

On reaching the Gap, it appeared to be even more impassable than from the other side.  The hole sloped downwards to the drop and the main difficulty was that one was apt to slip right through the hole which was really a small tunnel, and go sailing off into space, and the only means of braking was to spread ones feet and

Hope.  Another trouble was that it was impossible to see the end of the ledge from this hole as it was around the corner, and so out of sight.

When my turn came I slid into the hole with my heart in my mouth, and reaching out put both hands on to the loose rock.  Transferring my weight to my hands, I balanced on them and then brought my feet across so that I was balanced on all fours, or rather on all threes, as the rock was not wide enough to rest both feet.  I felt like a bird on a perch and had a horrible feeling that the rock would pull away from the face, and then by some means threw myself outwards and around the corner to the ledge, where I scrabbled frantically for a couple of seconds before finding a hold.

From here to the entrance was just routine, and we emerged again into daylight feeling very proud of ourselves.  The others that had been in the show cave said that they were amazed when they saw us crawling about so high up the wall, and were astounded when we told them that there were no safety lines used there.  To them it seemed that we were like flies crawling on the ceiling.

The fragment from the gour given to me by de Joly is now one of my most treasured possessions, a memento of the most exciting caving trip that I have ever had.

You lucky people. Fancy a whole double page extra.  And all because the Editor couldn’t edit properly.  Although this extra page has paid havoc with the paper quote, the next BB will be of the standard size.

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Any offers from members to lead trips during September, October and November would be appreciated.  Send in names to Frank Young.

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T.H. Stanbury             Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4. (Bristol 77590)
F.W. Young,               Assist. Hon. Sec. The Barton, Stanton Drew, Nr. Bristol
W.J. Shorthose,          Hon. Sec. London Sect. B.E.C., 26. Gateshead Road, Upper Tooting, London, S.W. 17.
Hal Perry,                   Acting Librarian.  20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.