Belfry Bulletin

Search Our Site

Bristol Exploration Club Climbing Section HQ North

We are very pleased to announce that the club has a Hut in North Wales

c/o Mrs Jones, Blaenant Farm, Idwal, Nr, Bethesda, Carnarvonshire, North Wales.

The Hut is situated about half a mile off the main road from Idwal. Turn down a track passing the Idwal Cottage Youth Hostel, past a Chapel and carry on down the valley until you come to the first farm off the track almost a the bottom of the valley, Blaenant Farm. The hut, a stone building, is part of the outhouses belonging to the farm. A concrete floor has been laid and the place is very dry, snug and warm. The place is locked and the key must be obtained from the farm. One double bed and several bunks have been installed - a table chairs, cooking utensils, lighting, primus and climbing gear, etc. are kept in the hut.

Hut Rules

1                     All members arriving after 2100 hours must write to Mrs Jones and arrange for the key to be left out.

2                     A charge of l/6 a night per person is paid for the use of the Club N. Wales Hut.
( 1/- to the farmer, 6d/ to the Club).

3                     The Club hut is only large enough for six persons - any overflow can stay in the Farm itself or the barn. Any women staying at the farm must sleep in the farmhouse only.

4                     Members must be careful about noise after 2100 hours- (Farmers go to bed early).

5                     Club members must prove that they are members of the Bristol Exploration Club to enable them to gain admittance to the Hut. (n,b, This is to safeguard the members’ own interests).

6                     Club Members are asked to sign the Log Book and report on their climbing trips for record purposes.

7                     If members use club equipment, it must be left as it is found.

8                     It is essential that the hut is left clean It is not our property.

9                     Care must b e exercised with personal kit - i.e. ropes, slings, books etc. left in the hut.

10                 Any person requiring to use the Club N. Wales Hut must first contact the Hon. Sec. Climbing Section so that the arrangements can be made. This is important.

Climbing Section Reports

A Snow Ridge Climb,
Y-Gribbin; Glyder Fawr: Clogwyn Du; Devil’s Kitchen,
J.R, Crabtree, R.W.G. Cantle, Sunday 17th Dec 1950,

Leaving the Hut at 10:45 on Sunday, we tramped through the snow up past Idwal cottage and then up through Cwm Idwal. Scrambling across snow-covered boulders we arrived at Y Gribbin.

Looking across Llyn Idwal snow plumes were blowing off Y-Garn giving the whole scene a truly Alpine appearance, whilst the upper rocks gleams with Verglas and ice. We climbed Little Gully without much effort, clearing the holds with our only ice axe. We then trudged up across the ridge, steering a fairly wide course around many snow cornices which we met in our path. The view from here was magnificent and looking out across the whole of North Wales everywhere was snow. Tryfan looked awe inspiring in its mantle of ice and snow and the ridge looked externally sharp.

From Y-Gribbin we traversed round to Glyder Fawr where we encountered an extremely fierce blizzard.  Visibility was so bad that we almost passed unseen another party coming along the ridge in the opposite direction.  Courtesies were exchanged, and we carried on to the summit of Glyder Fawr.  We had a light snack, a few minutes breather and a pipe of tobacco.  With this necessary refreshment we pressed on round over Clogwyn Du and eventually glissading and sliding, we arrived at Twll Du (The Devil’s Kitchen) and in a cloud of snow-dust we roared down to Lyn Idwal, eventually arriving at the floor of the Gribbin.

Looking at our watches we observed that we had then only taken an hour from the summit of the Fawr.  We arrived back at the hut and after a hot meal and a steaming cup of coffee, the day was declared a great success, in fact, one of the finest ridge walks experienced, with the scenery unsurpassing in its beauty.

Christmas 1950 – Connistion – Lake District

A very enjoyable Christmas was spent in the Lakes, where a party of eight members stayed at Holly How Youth Hostel.  The weather, although extremely cold, was excellent, and activities were numerous.

Attending: - J.R. Crabtree; R.A. Setterington; L. Davies; G.T. Lucy; H. Perry; C.Ainsworth; D. Ainsworth; R.W.G. Cantle

Climbs.

Sunday 24th Dec. The whole party climbed on Dow Crag.  D. Ainsworth, L. Davies and R. Setterington climbed Easter Gully and Black Chimney, conditions were extremely fierce for rock-climbing as the whole of the upper cliff was verglassed and frozen over.  Although these climbs were only ‘diffs’, they were pushed to the extreme.

J.R. Crabtree, R Cantle & H. Perry climbed C Buttress.  This climb was turned after 250ft. with only two pitches to go.  An ice slab proving far too formidable as the party were without ice axes.  An honourable defeat and a tricky abseil and the party climbed off.

After these climbs the parties congregated at the cave at the bottom of the cliff for a meal, hot tea and wine.  Fun and games were then on hand on Goats Water which was frozen over.

Monday 25th. Christmas Day.  It was decided unanimously by all that the day should be spent ridge walking.  The whole party proceeded up past the old mines on to the Old Man of Conniston, (2,555ft.) and then round on to Dow Crag. Glissading and snow-scrambling was had by all and many photographs were taken.  D.  Ainsworth and R. Cantle climbed Easy Gully on Dow Crag, kicking steps all the way.  Another day well spent.

Fun and games was had each evening at the Hostel and at the Black Bull.  The food throughout the holiday was excellent, and all present voted for a return to the area.

*******************************************

We would very much like to print reports of caving trips as well, but none are ever sent in, the Editor hastens to assure those members that are in doubt, that B.E.C. members DO sometimes go underground.  We should be delighted to allocated a certain amount of space each month to current caving reports, so come on, you caving types (and there are plenty of you) what about it?

Archaeological Section.

Bulletin No.2. Belfry Site.

The proposed trial excavation which was to have been started at the Belfry Site on Dec. 9th. was postponed owing to the services of Ted Mason being required elsewhere on another project.

Due to the inclement weather, it may not be possible to start excavating now until some time in the New Year.

Members will be advised of the date set by Ted Mason as soon as I receive it from him.

K.S. Hawkins,
Archaeo. Corres. Sec.

For Sale,

Golden Retriever pups.  3 male, 5 female, age ten weeks at time of printing.  Price to Cavers £5 female, £7  male, to others, - £6 & £8.

1948 Royal Enfield 350cc W.D. Model but not W, D.  £55 - owner has purchased a new bike.

For further particulars on either of above apply:- John Ifold, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.

Caving in the Vercors No. 2. La Grotte de Favot,

By T.H. Stanbury.

Favot is becoming well known to the B.E.C.  The first club member to visit it was the writer in 1948, but in 1949, 13 members who went to the International Convention were taken there.

The is situated in the Dauphine region and in the Vercors area.  It stands 1,000ft. above the road from Pont-en-Royans to Villard de Lans about 9km. from Villard.

It was a blazing hot day in 1948 when I visited the cave, and the 1,000ft. climb up a 60 degree slope seemed endless.  Arriving at the entrance we changed and then sat and rested.  The entrance is about 10ft. high and about 40ft. wide and is rectangular.  We were all very hot and breathless and had no water with us, so the only way of relieving our thirsts was to find a comfortable position under one of the drips and catch it in our mouths.  The ration was one in the eye, one down the neck, and one in the mouth, but if one had patience the result was fine.

Having cooled down we lit our lamps and moved off into the cave.  After about 200ft. the roof dropped and the cave earth floor rose, and we had to crawl on all fours for about 25 feet when we saw daylight ahead and emerged on to a ledge on a vertical cliff face.  All around this second cave mouth grew pine trees, each one rooted precariously in the crevices in the face.

Behind us was the passage from which we had just emerged in front of the cloud flecked blue of the sky, whilst on our right was the entrance to the main system of Favot – and what an entrance – sloping down at an angle of 45 degrees was a gigantic tunnel with a smooth cave-earth floor.  I had the impression of a giant Aveline’s Hole diving down into the heart of the mountain.  Almost square in section, with a roof carved by the immense pressure of water of bygone ages, this passage, about 100 yards long and dead straight except for a sharp r.h. bend at its far end, took us into a large chamber.  I have one memory of this chamber, although its size was impressive, and that there was the dust – Dust!  It lay in profusion over quite a large part of the chamber.  The stalagmites rising in solemn majesty all around us told me that once the chamber had been alive and sparkled with wet, but now, alas, all that was left was a shadow of its former scintillating glory.

Steps had been cut in the side of the shoulder, and, climbing them we found ourselves standing on the shoulder itself, which was about 2 feet wide and fell steeply away on each side. 

The top of the large stalagmite was about 8 feet higher than where we were standing and we scrambled to its top.  Here the size of the chamber could be most fully appreciated – beyond us it extended into the darkness on the left.  Below us was the Pit, a black yawning opening effectively sealing off the further chambers except by the route we had taken, whilst to our right was the way by which we had come, and here the other party members could be seen as tiny spots of light winding their way across the boulder littered floor.

Climbing down from the big stalagmite was a far stickier proposition than getting to the top.   On all sides it fell away increasingly steeply and we had slide down its face, hoping that our feet would reach the narrow shoulder safely and not be diverted to cause us to travel at ever increasing speed and eventually land very much the worse for wear 60ft. below.  However, we all accomplished the ‘Glissade’ successfully, and climbing down the reverse side of the shoulder, reached the extension seen from the column’s top.  Here were pools of water and formations reminiscent of , this part of the cave system being very much alive.

The cave ended in a choke and we retraced our steps over the ‘hump’, using a different route on the far side.  As I have previously mentioned we originally climbed to the shoulder by means of steps cut into the stalagmite.  These steps were very congested on our return, so two or three of struck out along a ledge, and after climbing over and around a number of stalagmites we scrambled down a very fair rift, arriving back at floor level before the other who were using the more orthodox route.

Returning to the first chamber we split up into small groups, and I followed a tunnel very similar to Swildon’s Short Dry for a considerable distance, turning back before reaching the end, as time was getting short. 

I found that this passage was situated directly above another similar one into which I dropped through a convenient hole in the floor.  This lower passage had several side ones, some of which gave access to others, and some to small chambers – but over all this part of the system was the same dust and lack of water that was so noticeable in the first chamber – in the narrow tunnels my clothes collected it and it rose in clouds when I brushed myself down later in the day.

Passing through a labyrinth of small tunnels I eventually regained the slope at the bottom of the entrance passage, and here I stopped speechless.  I could look at right angles into the end of this passage, and the whole of my field of vision was filled with golden light.  I suddenly realised it was the sunlight – the sun was very low in the sky and was shining straight down the passage, the light being reflected by the myriads of dust motes present as a result of our movements.  It was one of the most extraordinary things that I have ever seen in a cave.

A seemingly endless climb up the 45 degree slope brought me out on to the ledge, and, turning left I regained the entrance and changed back into shirt and shorts.  With another member of the party I started the descent to the road, and a few feet from the entrance we saw a scree slope.  Riding the scree all the way, bouncing off the larger trees and pushing smaller ones aside, we reached the road at a phenomenal rate, the slope extending to just above the road.  Things like bramble bushes we ploughed straight through – we had no option – as once we were on the move, gravity ensured that we couldn’t stop.  It was a good thing for us that we knew there were no cliffs between us and the road.

***************************************

T.H. Stanbury,                   Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Miss D.S. Bowden-Lyle,     Hon. Assist. Sec., 31, Highworth Road, St. Annes Park, Bristol. 4.
W.J. Shorthose,                 Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
R. Cantle,                          Leader Climbing Section, 46, Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol.
K.S. Hawkins,                    Sec. Archaeological Section, 9, Quarrington Road, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
H. Perry,                           Librarian, 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.