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Just Like Old Times

By John (Menace) Morris

The other afternoon we received a surprise visit from Ron & Jean Newman, complete with their “Private Army”.  Our “Private Army” having been introduced to theirs we settled down to tea & Ron and I talked of Old Times of Caving & Climbing (Punctuated by much horrid laughter).

Ron then mentioned Haytor which is only about two miles from “Morris Towers” & there & then we decided to go & look at it, leaving the Private Armies engaged in battle, with our ever loving wives acting as umpires we pushed off over the murky moor.

In arriving at the foot of the hill we couldn’t see a thing for fog, so up to the rocks we pounded, at this point I should mention that Ron was attired in very natty gabardine trousers & sweater complete with highly polished leather soled shoes & myself in not so natty trousers & sweater & crepe soled sandals.

We battled up the rock via the easy way (severe in our rig) amid much sliding & the appropriate horrid language, to be nearly blown off the top by the gale, although the mist was as thick as ever.

Haytor I may add has several dozen routes from 15’ to 60’ & from easy to V.S. Standard.

Having scrambled down again I tool Ron off through the murk to see another cliff about 200ft. high consisting of overhanging boiler plates.  We worked out an improbable route (for suicidal maniacs) which was an ascending girdle traverse under all the overhangs.  Needless to say we didn’t attempt this, but left it for other B.E.C. lunatics well supplied with pitons.

We reached the top by the easiest route, just in time for some typical August weather.  Rain & hail lashed down & after deciding which way to run into the mist we tore off back to the car, to arrive drenched to the skin.

On arriving back at home we had a slight dispute with our ever loving wives as to whether we had been gone about half an hour which we said, or over two hours, which they said (Someone must have been wrong).

However after a long spell away from anything to do with caving or climbing I thought it was definitely quite like old times.

Menace

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It isn’t very often that we can see two articles about the same trip.  Here is Ron Newman’s account.

A Climb on Dartmoor

By Ron Newman

In order to enhance the festive spirit during the Regatta, the pubs in Dartmoor remain open until 11.30pm.

For this reason, the returning traveller must be excused if he feels, to say the least, slightly jaded and ready to welcome any opportunity to break the long journey.  Add to this the desire to look up an old friend, and it is not surprising that the Newman ménage (without an ‘rie on the end) jolted to a halt outside Johnny Morris’ house (the use of the word ‘jolt’ is no reflection on my car – the road is still unmade).

Talk inevitable shifted to climbing and cars.  Regarding the former, it seems that the Menace still keeps his hand on Hay Tor, a few minutes drive away, and has discovered a new face on which no climbs yet exist.  With regard to the latter, we were soon in his new car and roaring off down narrow Derbyshire lanes.

Seemingly of its won volition, the car took us to the road at the foot of Hay Tor.  There was a really thick mist and the threat of rain, and in open-neck shirts and slacks we were obviously not dresses for excursions on the moor.  In view of the Menace’s estimation of the distance at about two hundred yards, we were soon out of the car and swallowed up in the mist.

One or two more cars were parked in the same spot, and their occupants’ hearts must have beat a little faster as they perceived what must have seemed to them two desperate convicts continuing their flight on foot.

Visibility was down to about fifteen feet, if that, but Johnny led on unerringly and soon a large lump of granite loomed up out of the mist.  We gained the summit by one of the easier routes without ropes.  The fact that the rock was streaming and that we were wearing leather soled shoes and crepe soled sandals respectively, made the ascent rather amusing.  On arrival at the summit we met a gale that all but blew us off again so we descended, vanished in the mist again and soon stood before another granite face which Johnny located unerringly.  I might add that, after being able to lose a whole mountain in Wales for some hours in a mist, I have the most profound respect for the Menace’s navigation, twice admirably demonstrated not on whole mountains but comparatively insignificant outcrops.  This was the new face, as yet untried by climbers’ boot.  As far as I could make out in the mist, it is some 60’ high by 100’ long, though I may be sadly out.  It looks severe and above, the few existing holds being mainly in the wrong direction, so that progress will depend on leaning out on the arms on undercut holds with the feet supported by friction only – definitely for rubbers.  It might make a pleasant change from Wales and the local climbs, so I suggest anyone interested should contact Johnny Morris.

While pottering about on the lower part of this cliff such a rain and hailstorm began that even Wales would be hard put to equal it.  We fled, the Menace again finding the way back to the car with uncanny accuracy.

We returned rather sheepishly, absolutely soaked, to face the domestic storm.  We confessed to the crime of getting ourselves stupidly wet, then endeavoured to attend for our sin by pointing out that, although they had been left with four little girls – who were growing somewhat fractious by now – we had at least been away for a short time, certainly less than an hour.

“What,” they shrieked in unison, “You’ve been gone two and a half hours!”

R. Newman.

Future of the BB

In this, the first issue of 1957, I feel the time is appropriate to discuss the B.B. its past, its present & its future.  When the Belfry Bulletin was first published in Jan 1947, just 10 years ago – we set out to make it amongst the foremost club periodical in the country.  As our field of interest widened so did the B.B.’s, and I would refer you to the issues of 1950 to 1955, when both material & reproduction were good, some copies, naturally were not so good as others from both respects but in general although there was a singular lack of local caving news (a tradition of the B.E.C.!!!) there was something of interest in each issue.

Today the picture has radically changed – the amount of copy arriving is small & the reproduction standard has gone to hell.  In the past it was always possible to hold a “buffer” stock of variegated material from which a selection could be made to ensure that there was variety in each and every issue.  Now, as readers are aware, the situation is such that at times we have had to suspend issues altogether owing to a complete lack of material.

The fall in reproductive quality is very worrying – the Stencils are being cut in the same manner & on the same machine as in the past & so it can be assured that unless there is a variant in the Stencils themselves, they are the same as always.  This leaves two possible causes of trouble – the machine or the slaves that work it.  The machine, an Ellams Rotary Duplicator was purchased in 1947, but has actually done very little work (the B.B. is 99% of its job) compared with the use it would get commercially, but like a child it needs coaxing & looking after.

Alan who is the master slave, spent some considerable time with K. Dobbs on B.B. production before he left Bristol, so it again can be assured that the work he does is up to standard, especially as quite a percentage of the prints are excellent.  He has overhauled the machine & can find nothing wrong.  For some time he has been complaining about “Blue” on the Stencil & and this blue seems to be the root of the trouble – it started with the last batch of Stencils & it appears that the carbon supplied is of a softer nature than heretofore – leaving a thick deposit on the back of the Stencil.  This deposit is oily, would inhibit the passing of ink through the Stencil & could be the cause of the trouble we have been experiencing.  I have now scrapped all the blue Carbon Paper & we shall see what happens next.  If the matter is settled in this way all blue Carbon Paper will be avoided like the plague in future.

I recently had the opportunity of chatting with several members about the B.B. and found that in a number of cases it quickly found its way into the waste paper basket as being unreadable (literally) or uninteresting, or both, members feel that it is a waste of time sending articles to anyone that cannot be deciphered, or even if it can be reads is of very low literary standard.  I was told that in the past members went to a lot of trouble to ensure that their articles were of a high standard, but nowadays “anything” is printed.

What of the future?  The B.B. is the only link between many members & the club.  As it is at present it is a liability & not an asset – it consumes an amazing amount of the club income & as such should be worthy of us.  There are several solutions.  The easiest one, closing down, is the last one we should take.  We could have the B.B. duplicated commercially, but this would put up the cost a lot – we could have a printed cover like certain other clubs, again at a higher cost – BUT all these things will not put up our literary standards.  Only the members can do that.  The present method is a “snob” one – “My article is too good for the B.B.” – such an outlook is deplorable & indefensible.  How on earth can we improve if those capable of improving it won’t help? – once we can get a steady flow of good material coming in, I can afford to reject, as in the past, those that do not “measure up”.  If members will co-operate, I can promise an improvement in literary quality very quickly, although it must be appreciated that miracles cannot happen overnight.

I have already been noted for my plain speaking and if this article will lift the B.B. from its present all time low, the coals of fire that will be heaped on my head will burn quite painlessly.

Finally I would like to issue a special appeal for articles to start the process of rebirth – news items from Mendip – news of members – articles of a technical & non-technical nature & so on, & I would like to thank that very small band of writers whose efforts have helped us along in the past.  I would like too, to receive suggestions as to how we can progress, and also criticism.  If an issue is bloody tells us so – we shall know that you are reading it.

T.H. Stanbury    (Hon. Editor).

Why I’m Glad I’m Thin

By R.S. “Kangy” King

As the traffic in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet thickens, the likelihood of someone of portly dimensions, sticking in the entrance pitch increases.

Not to worry.  The following method of extraction was used at Whitsun.

  1. First wedge your victim.

  2. Fasten a lifeline under their armpits.
    This pitch is usually climbed without a lifeline because it is tight but in a case of exhaustion it is probably of help to safeguard the reluctant cork.  Climbing to the victim should be done, using the ladder as little as possible as possible to avoid overloading it.  While the line is being tied, advantage can be taken of one’s proximity to the cork to mutter encouraging words, such as Beer of Percentage Proof.  (Though these were found to engender frustration).

  3. The ladder can then be drawn up with the victim on it.

  4. We were amazed how easy it was.  Two could just manage to raise the ladder while three hauling brought it up like a lift.

The ideal number at the top of the pitch is four, one manipulating the lifeline and three hauling the ladder.

Someone in a fainting condition was extracted in this way while morale was boosted by shouting the seventeen stone bloke wot we pulled out last Micklemas.

The method could be extended to rescuing unconscious victims by tying them to the ladder; in this case guides in the pitch would probably be necessary.  This we haven’t tried.

R.S. “Kangy” King.

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T.H. Stanbury.  Hon. Editor B.B.  48, Novers Park Road, Bristol 4.