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Swildons Six

Our congratulations to the team who took part in the operation on June 17th.  For the benefit of those members who are not able to visit Mendip regularly, we hope to include an article in the near future, if we can persuade our representative - Frank Darbon - to write it up for us.  Until then, it appears that Six is some 240' in length, there are two or three side passages, and Sump Five has now been lowered so that, at any rate under low water level conditions, it is now a passage with air space all the way.

Club Ties

These have now arrived.  It is expected that there will be a great demand for them, so get YOUR order in to Bob Bagshaw as soon as you can, otherwise you may have to wait for the next batch to be ordered from the makers. You will find the price of the ties later on in this B.B.

Cave References.

To assist anyone who may be doing any serious work of research on Mendip caves, a list of all the references to original cave exploration and other serious work on Mendip which have appeared in the B.B. has been compiled.  A small number of these lists will be duplicated and will be obtainable from the Editor on request.

Supplies for the B.B.

We should like to record our thanks for the gifts of paper which have been received lately. Especially for the reams of Spicer’s Paper - which is at the moment being jealously guarded for the Christmas B.B. Further donations however, are urgently required, and will be greatly appreciated.  To those of you who had B.B.'s last month printed, on alternate sheets - Sorry, but this was due to the use of inferior paper which did not go through the duplicator properly.


Archaeology - Lundy

Several members of the B.E.C. are going to Lundy early in July to undertake an excavation on behalf of the Lundy Field Society.  The site, which is in a paddock called Bull's Paradise is probably a Dark Age Medieval cemetery and it is hoped to find any associated buildings which may be nearby.

During the latter half of the last century, a number of human burials were discovered including two of a "gigantic nature", the larger measuring 8' 2" in length. The site became known as the Giant's Graves, and a number of beads found with the giants have been associated with the Dark Age Irish type and are now on display at Bristol Museum.  Other relics of the period include a carved memorial stone and occasional shards of imported pottery.  There is historical evidence to suggest the presence of an early Christian chapel on the island, but the history of this and of subsequent chapels is very confused and it is not at all certain that the known chapel ruins are in fact those of the original building.  It may be that the early chapel stands on the site to be tackled in July.

It is hoped to convene a meeting of members interested in archaeology at some date before the A.G.M. in order to discuss the extent to which archaeological activities should be carried out within the club.  Personally, I do not wish to see the B.E.C. organising excursions or lectures which nobody attends and I would prefer merely to leave the club as a medium for active digging etc - but if anyone is interested in. those activities, it would be useful to learn of it.

K.S. Gardner.

Caving Log for 1961

6th May.  Cuthbert’s.  Leader Richard Roberts.  Party C. Hawkes, C. Smith, B and A. Lorder.   Short trip to Cascade Passage and Curtain Chamber.  Leader Frank Darbon.  Party Ron Wyncoll, Jim Morris, Anon, John, Ann Myrko.  Trip to Gour Chamber.  Alfie's torch makes a good clobbering tool if dropped from a great height.  Just missed Richard who was following.   Shame I missed!

7th May. Goatchurch.  Leader John Ramsome.  Party Mike Calvert and Gordon Tilly.  Tourist trip. Gordon had trouble with his boots. We looked in Avelines and a weegee asked if that was where we went potholing and was it dangerous.  A second trip there was done by Jim Hill and Paul Mack (to Goatchuch that is).  Eventually managed to find the drainpipe and had some difficulty finding the Tradesman’s Entrance.

7th May.  Mineshaft.   2 miles from the Castle of Comfort on the Burrington Road.  Party Tom Sage and Pat Irwin.  The Pot, covered by two spike harrows, is 40' deep.  At the bottom, the right hand passage ends in a 10' drop and the left hand one goes 15' on the vertical plane and finishes 10' away from the 25’ drop at the end of the passage.  Very pungent smell at bottom of first drop, probably due to rotting sheep.

6th May.  Cuthbert’s.  A. Sandall + 5 and Frank Darbon +5.

6th May.  Cuthbert’s.  Steve Wynn-Roberts and Bryan Ellis.  Surveying in the Rabbit Warren.  Completed the survey of major passages in this part of the cave.

7th May.  Cuthbert’s.  Mike Holland and Bryan Ellis.  Two parties of Wessex members taken round on tourist trips.

7th May. Swildons.  Dave Causer and Jim Giles.  Inspection of the damage done by blasting in the 40'   rift passage described on 29.4.61.  The upper hole in the constriction is now a lot easier, but it will take a few more trips before access to the passage on the other side is gained.

8th May. Swildons.  Ron Sago, Pat Irwin + 3 to Sump I.

7th May.  Swildons.  Leader K. Dawe.  Party Fred Davies, Mike Grimes, R. Boakes, R. Robberts + 1.  Slow trip to the ‘kitchen’ carrying lead weights for the diving op. Brought out suspect oxygen cylinders. Quite a wet trip into IV.

13th May.  Cuthbert’s.  Riohard and Roger.  Bug hunting trip.

14th May. Cuthbert’s.  Mike Baker, Mike Palmer, Dave Morgan.

14th May.  Longwood.  Pete Baker and Paul Mack.

14th May. Cuthbert’s. Norman Petty, Gordon Peckham,   Sunil Sinha & Stuart Tovey.  Returned to first pitch to find ladder removed and cave locked.  The climb was surprisingly easy and loud cries of “Help” brought a weegee to fetch the key.

15th May. Goatchurch & Rod’s.  Roger Stenner + 3 schoolboys.

22nd May.  Top of Swildons.  Roger Stenner + 2 schoolboys.

24th May.  Swildons.  B. Lynn and party to sump I.

25th May. Swildons.  Roger Stenner + 2 schoolboys round top.

25th May. Cuthbert’s.  Richard Roberts and party.  Intended trip down new route.  Near Bypass Passage there is a high aven with a heavy drip coming down. This might be worth pushing,

27th May.  Cuthbert’s.  D. Ford, R. Stenner, Steve Grime.  To sump,  D. Ford did geological work, while Steve and Roger roamed round the Rabbit Warren.  Rediscovered Don’s Helictites.  An interesting dig found with good possibilities.

27th May. August Hole.  Ray and Pete,

28th May.  Swildons.  Trip into Swildons II.  Water surprisingly warm.  Len Dawes, Jim Giles, George Pointing, Dave Berry, P. Oldfield and 5 Wessex types.

Whitsun.  Bar Pot and G.G.  Mo, Norman Petty, K. & P. Franklyn, Jim Giles, Tierney and Yorke did a through trip from Bar to G.G. and up on the winch.

Whitsun. Alum Pot.  Above party plus Alan and Carol Sandall and minus Tierney visited Upper and Lower Long Churn and Alum Pot.  Only half the party were able to use the Alum Pot way out as the White (?) Rose took their ladder out.

Whitsun.  Borrins Moor Cave.  Mo, Norman, Jim Giles, Alan Sandall, P. & K. Franklin & Yorke.  This is an interesting swallet not far from Alum. Also found a small swallet flooding Alum Beck not marked in Pennine Underground.

Barometers In Caves

by Roger Stenner.

This is a short article intended as a postscript to the original article (which differed slightly from what I had written on one or two important matters) published in the Christmas B.B. for 1959.

A capsule aneroid barometer was taken through St. Cuthbert’s Swallet in a trip deliberately lengthened to give a more severe test of the instrument on the 2nd of August 1959. There was a five hour interval between two measurements at one particular station, and the corrected pressures were exactly the same. Although this was promising, there was still a possibility of error.  In other words, although common, sense backed up by a fair bit of scientific work - said that the method was sound; the case was not statistically proven.

However, it is now possible to evaluate the results in the light of more recent work by Mr. D. Ford, who has surveyed a large section of the cave to a C.R.G. Grade V.

Mr. D. Ford

M. R. Stenner


Highest point, floor of Gour Hall.

Stream outside Dining Room


0 ft.





Lip if Great Gour.

Dining Room Table






As the survey continues, more comparisons will be available.  Bearing in mind the difference in altitudes of two of the stations (think long - think wise - think clear) the agreement is, I think, remarkably good.  It is now clear that a barometer of the type used in Cuthbert’s would fix the altitude of any given station to ±2 foot (or possibly 1’) provided that the weather be stable, and that the trip be made as quickly as possible.

R. Stenner   31.5.61.


Can You Tie Knots?  A series of illustrated descriptions of some of the more useful knots for caving and climbing starts next month in the B.B. Our continued apologies to those others who still have articles waiting for publication.  It's all this dreaded caving that takes up all the room!


Nick Barrington’s “Caves of Mendip" is going to be revised and reprinted.  This bigger, better, and right up to date edition will be worth getting even if you have one already.  We will tell you when it becomes available.

Letters to the Editor of the B.B.

Dear Sir,

I was pleased to learn from the current B.B. that the committee is considering a proposal to ensure that only active cavers and climbers be admitted to full and permanent membership of the club.  Let it be made abundantly clear that the only acceptable reason for seeking admission to the B.E.C. is a keen desire to take an active part in exploration.  A candidate whoso capabilities in some, or other, active field of exploration is in doubt, should not got as far as full member ship.

But there is another aspect of the problem.  How best can the club make use of its potentially active members?  These so often have to sit about the Belfry for long hours waiting for a chance to do something.  If one does not bring ones own caving companions, or fails to get in touch with the right people at the right time, it is all too easy to go home on Sunday night having achieved nothing more than a sore posterior and a thick head.  The club has many projects afoot on Mendip, but how does one get on to them without wasted hours?  There is obviously a great deal of work to be done in Cuthbert’s and, as I have kept my long stove side vigils, I have often heard it said that there is a lack of manpower. Yet, even to members of the B.E.C. of some years standing, Cuthbert’s can be the most elusive cave on Mendip. If a member has proved himself an experienced caver, and if his sense of moral responsibility vis-a-vis formations etc. is beyond question, then I can see no valid reason why that member should not be encouraged to get on with some useful work without having to pay for it first with futile hours of waiting.  If a person has not so proved himself, then he ought not to be a full and permanent member of the B.E.C.

May I suggest as follows? (1) The publication in the B.B. and on the Belfry wall of a complete list of active Cuthbert’s leader's; a list of those in charge of the various departments and the syllabus for the guidance of candidates for Leadership.  (2) That members who are not leaders, but who wish to work in the cave be given free access to the cave provided that their competence and integrity is beyond question.  This for the purpose of undertaking special tasks under the general direction of the member in charge of the appropriate department.  After my very long awaited single Cuthbert’s trip, my knowledge of the geography of the cave is obviously extremely limited, but to say that I am incapable of going down to a dig and getting on with the job is just silly.

As regards projects other than Cuthbert’s, may I suggest that a list with the names of those in charge be put in the Belfry?  As far as possible, means should be found of letting members get on with the various jobs.

I hope what I have written, will be taken as constructive suggestions.  I am not advocating unlimited access to Cuthbert’s.  I am not having a dig at Cuthbert’s Leaders. Those that I have been able to identify I know to be most excellent chaps.  Finally, while I am at it, what about a library of useful surveys etc. at the Belfry?  Or must this remain one of the services for which we are traditionally dependant on the Shepton?

Yours Faithfully, Ray Winch.

Editor's Note.     These are the sort of subjects that are hammered out pretty often at the Belfry.  Does anyone feel like answering them in the B.B.?  I would personally say that initiative had something to do with it. All the work which has been done in the past has rarely been 'officially' run by the committee, but the subject wants answering properly.  Any offers?





Whitsun in Yorkshire

A party of independents from the B.E.C. consisting of Alan and Carol Sandall, John Lamb and Garth departed from Bristol at 6 pm on Friday the 19th, bound for the “Flying Horseshoes".  The party arrived at the “Shoes” at five to one.  Norman's tent was built and slept in for seven hours.  G.G. the next day was quite impressive but in some places a little disappointing.  The walk to and from the caving area was pleasant but long.  The winch and its general arrangements were most impressive. There is a distinct lack of mud and sand in Mud Hall and Sand Cavern respectively.  Henslers Passage looked to be a decent bit of cave.  Prew ventured from the end of Sand Cavern to West Chamber and just missed walking into a bottomless pond of 'oggin.  Alan Sandall managed an interesting traverse over the top of the pond.  I turned chicken and went back through Sand Cavern.  As usual, Jonah was letting off flashbulbs all over the Main Chamber.

After an hour and a half wait, we emerged into brilliant sunshine.  On the way back to Clapham we intended to give Ingleborough Cave a look over, but the guide was not available, so that thought was abandoned.  A quiet drinking session was held in the “Shoes" on Saturday night.  Sunday, we wandered over to Alum Pot.  Quite small, but can be strenuous.  A nice 110' climb in very pleasant sunlight.  Carol quite enjoyed it.  A really good evening was had by all at the “Shoes” and afterwards at the Dump.  On the way home on Monday, we turned weegee and went over to Malham Cove and Gordale Scar. The trip home was uneventful except for an amusing traffic jam at Gloucester whore we stopped some crafty ?:/”% from jumping the queue.


(Besides the above party, 25 people arrived by coach and did the same trip as described.  Prew.


The Belfry Bulletin Editor,  S.J. Collins,   33, Richmond Terrace,   Clifton,   Bristol 8. 
Secretary.   R. J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road,  Knowle, Bristol 4.
Postal Department.   C.A. Marriott,  718, Muller Road,   Eastville,   Bristol.