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Report Of A New Discovery In Cuthbert’s

by R. Bennett & J.A. Eatough.

On the  6th,May, 1962, Roy Bennett and I were making a thorough investigation into Coral Series, when we came to the conclusion that ...further passages probably lay above the then known limits of Coral Series, and so a systematic search was made.  During this search, many, small holes were probed.  In Long Chamber, I managed to find a way into a boulder ruckle, and pushed through into what was obviously a very large chamber.  I immediately went back for Roy and together we made a preliminary investigation.  This large chamber was found to lie along the fault which forms the western limit of the St. Cuthbert’s system, in a position between Curtain Chamber and Coral Series and thus fills a gap in the survey.  We soon found that the chamber was of considerable size and in places was divided into smaller chambers by a tremendous confusion of boulders lying against the hanging wall of the fault as shown below....

 

We went into the boulders at the north end of the chamber into a further large chamber, then into more boulders which have so far halted progress to the north.  We left a cairn at this point.

Back in the second boulder ruckle we entered, we found a pile of stones which, after much discussion, we decided might be a cairn left by a previous party, but a very careful search revealed that no previous party had entered the system by the way that we had entered it.  We decided that further investigations were required.

On the way out of this chamber we had a quick look at the boulder ruckle at the south end of the chamber, noting a small passage which was not entered, but we did see a very fine nest of cave pearls and quite a lot of good formations.  Following the discovery of this chamber I made two more trips to the area, this time accompanied by John Attwood and Kangy. During these trips, we pushed on in several directions and found quite a lot more passage including a finely formed and finely decorated solutional passage which ascended steeply to a stal barrier as shown below.....

 

This was some sixty feet up. While Kangy was having a look at the barrier and the chamber visible beyond, I managed to find a parallel passage and bypass the obstruction.  After a flat out squeeze, I got into the richly decorated chamber.  On my fourth trip, John Attwood and I took some photographs in this last discovery and of the pearls.

On the 28th October 1962, a party of eight of us went down to push downwards through the boulders, in an effort to find a way on and solve the mystery of the cairn.  We pushed on downwards, past the cairn and suddenly came to a large passage which was discovered to be Fracture Rift, above the way into Coral Series.  Due to the extremely dangerous state of the boulders here, we did not push through into the passage, but left a lighted candle, then beat a hasty retreat and went to look for the candle from the Annexe Chamber end of the passage, from which the candle could be seen.

This, then, is a preliminary description of the latest St. Cuthbert’s discovery, which can be safely said to be the most important since the discovery of September Series, and one which has added some five to six hundred feet to the total length of the cave.

Much remains to be done here, but would be explorers are warned, of the extremely dangerous nature of the huge piles of boulders, many of which have no visible means of support. This is most certainly the diciest part of the cave system so far found.

We have decided that the cairn was probably left, in the early Cuthbert’s days, by a party who climbed into the boulders from the Annexe Chamber end, noted the danger built a cairn and then left, having come within a hairs breadth of finding the new chamber, which is probably the second largest in the cave and may well prove to be the largest.

We have named this chamber Upper Long Chamber provisionally.  Exploration, photography and surveying are continuing.

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All of which goes to show, amongst other things, the importance of WRITING UP trips where future exploration parties can read them and compare notes!   Ed.