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In spite of the reduction in size compared to last month, the flow of articles continues, for which the editor would like to thank all responsible.  The reason for the smaller size of this issue is due to the attempt being made to get back to publication date somewhat nearer the intended ‘first Thursday of the month’ and this month has been chosen as there is an article on the proposed Cuthbert’s Rescue trip which would be pointless if read by members after the actual trip had taken place.

The committee have asked that an appeal be included in this B.B. for volunteers to come forward who would be prepared to and design the necessary plumbing installation in the new changing hut, so that cavers may have hot water and other luxuries on returning from a trip.  The Hut Engineer and Hut Warden have been kept very busy on improvements to the actual Belfry and so we need a new source of willing hands (and brains!) to take on this extra job.  With the high cost of labour nowadays, it seems too much like flinging the club’s money away to have the work done professionally and with modern plumbing there is no longer any need to master the mystic art of making wiped joints before volunteering as a plumber.  After all, the fact that the editor can’t type or spell doesn’t stop the B.B. from being published.  How about a couple of younger members having a go?

Also requested to be announced in this B.B. is the fact that Phil Townsend how holds a Tackle Store key previously held by Roy Bennett.  Intending borrowers please note.

“Alfie”

Castle Farm Swallet

A weekend in intensive digging will be held at Castle Farm Swallet over the Whitsun Holiday.

It is hoped that a strong working party will be present at the dig on each of the three days of the holiday.  There will be plenty of jobs to be done, including digging, boulder removing and shoring.

Castle Farm Swallet holds considerable promise of a discovery but this will only be realised if plenty of work is done on the site – it won’t open up by itself!  If you can manage a day at this dig or even half a day, then get in touch with Gordon Tilly, ‘Mo’ Marriott or Dave Irwin and let them know which day you can manage.  Don’t let Castle Farm Swallet joining the ranks of the digs that have been ‘abandoned due to lack of effort’.

Other Caving Meets.

Pinetree Pot.

A trip (or trips) will be run to Pinetree Pot on Sunday15th June.  For more details contact Caving secretary (’Mo’).

Derbyshire.

It is hoped to hold a caving meet in Derbyshire on the last weekend in June or the first in July.  More details will be announced later.

A Mock Rescue in St. Cuthbert’s

In the “Merry Month of May”, it is proposed to carry out a mock rescue, in order to iron out the difficulties that would obviously arise from such an event.

I would like to make it quite clear first of all, that this programme will not necessarily be agreeable to everyone, but as it has been left for me to organise (and quite rightly so) most of it will be based on my own ideas and, as far as possible, those of other leaders.

Ideally it would be best if this rescue were supported in the main only by St. Cuthbert’s Leaders who have speedy access to Mendip in such an emergency.  Obviously there is a small nucleus of leaders who, being attached to telephones (not literally so) would be called out first.  It is these members that the previous paragraph is particularly directed.  Other than full leaders, there are very few probationary leaders and ordinary cavers in Cuthbert’s at the moment, but these would be very useful in an emergency and are encouraged to help in this mock rescue.

The idea of specifying the people required is because inevitably a load of cavers turn up, there being far more than is necessary for the purpose in hand, who just clutter up the cave etc., making it difficult to assess requirements.  Further, it is no advantage to have a whole band of cavers carrying out the mock rescue, only to find that when the real thing occurs, most of them live in Timbuktu, for instance.  Members will of course appreciate that the above points apply to St. Cuthbert’s only.

Firstly, the ‘Sperahed’ of leaders will be sorted out whose names and phone numbers will be given to the M.R.O.  These persons will, more or less, form the initial rescue party, ahead of anyone else, their aim being to establish contact with the victim as quickly as possible (probably carrying some form of emergency rations) and to relay necessary action back to the surface.  A further ‘working’ party will then take down any necessary equipment, stretcher, etc., and will proceed with the rigours of rescue.  Obviously a doctor will, if needed (yet to be asked) go down with the ‘working’ party.  The above procedure will not be necessary for the mock rescue, but is suggested in case of the real thing.

September Series has been decided on as the scene of the rescue, because it is one of the main tourist routes and because it will present the most difficult rescue problems.

Did I hear cries of abuse? Long Chamber Extension; Coral Series and Rocky Boulder have not been overlooked but as only EXPERTS venture there at present, rescue problems for that area will have to wait.

Unless anyone can turn up with an escalator, the route out will be September Chamber – High Chamber – Upper Traverse Chamber – Traverse Chamber Pitch – Lower Traverse Chamber – Chain Pitch – Gour Passage – Gour Passage Pitch – Pulpit Pitch - New Entrance. By-Pass Passage was considered but ruled out as being, if not impossible, a time wasting route.

The victim will be imagined suffering from broken neck or spine injury, thereby making it necessary to carry him out strapped to a plank, medical advice being sought at this point. The question of carrying sheet/stretcher will no doubt cause a lot of argument.  I believe we have a few experts on this subject in the club and would appreciate their advice.  One point of interest is that the P.C.G. have designed a carrying sheet/stretcher which they have already used quite successfully on several occasions in Buckfastleigh.  I have a copy of the plans.

The question of rescue in St. Cuthbert’s opens up another field to the experts in the club, that of communications.  Help from this angle would obviously be of great value in such a cave.

That seems to cover most of it, except for the date which is the 31st of May.

C.A. Marriott, Caving Secretary

A Caving Meet in South Wales

The weekend arranged for the B.E.C. meet to South Wales was the 24th to 26th April.  After some last minute reshuffling of transport arrangements and a few minor navigational errors en route, the party succeeding in reaching the cottages of the South Wales Caving Club at Penwyllt on Friday night.

The support given to this caving meet was exceedingly good.  No less than 26 people spent the weekend at Penwyllt, including wives and children of some of the members present.  It was also heartening to see the younger element of the club well represented.

On Saturday, trips had been arranged to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu and at about 10.30am two parties entered the cave. Kevin Abbey, Tony Meaden, Roy and Joan Bennet and myself under the leadership of John Dryden and John Attwood, Ron King, Frank Jones, John Major and Sue under the guidance of Gwynne Saunders. The trip into Ogof Ffynnon Ddu was extremely interesting and worthwhile, being the first for most of the B.E.C. party. The trip commenced with a leisurely stroll through the spacious entrance series, with one small diversion to examine some fine mud and stal. formations.  Evidence of an abortive plan to commercialise the cave was seen in this part, in the form of concrete floors, railings etc., although much of this has been destroyed or damaged by the stream when in flood.  At this point the presence of the stream was heard as a distant rumble.  We were assured that the stream was running at normal level, although at a distance it sounded ominously large.  A short descent through some well sculpted solution passages, with fine solution pendants and spongework, brought us within sight of the stream. The rest of the stream passage was accomplished, after some high level detours, by a series of wire rope traverses high up in the stream rift. The noise from the stream was quite considerable even in normal conditions; I should imagine that these wire traverses would be quite spectacular when the cave is in flood. The final section of the traverse – Bolt Travers – led into Bolt Passage and from there into the lofty dry passages of the Rawl Series.  In this part of the cave, a certain similarity to the large dry passages of Agen Allwedd could be seen, although some members of the S.W.C.C. would probably hotly contest this.  At any rate, the similarities ended when formations were taken into consideration, there being no lack of formations in this cave.  Although one noticed a certain lack of large flowstone formations, such as are seen more frequently on Mendip, there was certainly no shortage of the more delicate forms, straws, erratics, etc., and it was a pleasant change to visit a system where the helictites are common.  Most of the large passages are well decorated with a profusion of helictites – including the famous ‘fingers’ which must be familiar to anyone who has glanced through British Caving.

The trip into the Rawl Series was completed with an excursion to Starlight Chamber, which takes its name from the glittering crystalline surface of its high roof. The party then retraced its steps into the Rawl Series and followed a descending rift to meet the stream, just downstream of its point of emergence from a large boulder choke.  In this region, the bulk of the water issues as a clear, fast flowing stream from a small sump.

The party moved downstream for a short way, then entered the Waterfall Series by a high traverse along the right wall.  As the name implies, a subsidiary stream joins the main stream at this point.  The Waterfall Series ascends steeply from the main stream, high and riftlike at first but later broadening out into a series of high vaulted passages with a number of large chambers.  The features to note in this part of the cave are the large amounts of Tufa (cave milk) and the exceptional acoustics.  The stream passage was then rejoined and followed downstream almost to the lower boulder choke.  The downstream trip proved to be one of the most exciting bits of the whole day, the stream meanders down a high rift passage and the force of the water in the floor of the passage is quite strong.  Evidence of flooding can easily be seen in the highly polished black rock along the walls of the stream passage.  Most members of the party were quite content to wade through the swiftly flowing waters but one (who shall be nameless) insisted on straddling the stream at every opportunity.  This was rather unusual behaviour because considering that he was wearing a wet suit. (I’ve heard the song “And her bathing suit never got wet” – but this is ridiculous!).  The caving trip was finally completed by a short climb out of the stream passage and thence to the surface via a curious elbow shaped pool called Pluto’s Path.  This pool is about ten to fifteen feet deep and is negotiated by a rather wide straddle. However, the agility of the B.E.C. proved to be up to standard and nobody fell in, much to the disappointment of the leader, John Dryden.  The parties left the cave at about 5pm after a thoroughly enjoyable visit to a fine system.

The remainder of the caving party, Norman Petty, Dave Quicken, Roger Stenner and Joyce and Brenda plus three lads form Bristol (prospective member?) spent the Saturday exploring the recesses of Cwm Dwr Quarry Cave, which is only a stone’s throw from the S.W.C.C. cottages. The delights of this cave include a long flat-out crawl in a sand filled passage, and a large and impressive main chamber.  Saturday night was spent in the usual manner at the Gwyn Arms, where we were treated to some fine singing by Oliver Lloyd and company.

Most of the party were up and about before 9am on Sunday morning and preparing for their days recreation (?).  Some spent the day walking on the moor land around Penwyllt, while four others spent and enjoyable day in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu under the guidance of Oliver Lloyd – who took them into the Eagles Nest which involves an interesting crawl through a very wet passage.  Two of the walkers, John Major and Sue, also managed a trip into Cwm Dwr.  The remaining eight intrepid members of the party set off for Pwl Dwfn, which is about as hard to find as it is to pronounce. An hour of feverish activity on the previous night had enabled us to assemble enough tackle to do this pothole, only after loans of private lengths of ladder and rope kindly made by messrs Attwood and Meaden.    After changing near the Gwyn, the party set off for the cave, festooned with a great assortment of ladders etc.  The entrance lies in the dry valley above Dan-yr-Ogof, and is notably insignificant. However, the entrance was located without too much difficulty and a start was made in laddering the first pitch about 11am.  Pwll Dwfn is different from O.F.D. as can be imagined and is a true pothole with five ladder pitches (20, 45, 30, 70 and 55) following almost immediately after one another, with very little horizontal development in between.  The laddering of this pot went very smoothly although one or two snags were encountered with the general looseness in places.  Water was only a trickle and did not stop the five people form bottoming the pot.  The final 55’ pitch led into a blind pot at a depth of 310’ with a small lake chamber running off to one side.  We were told that diving operations here had met with no success.  The exit went without a hitch and the party set out for the main road at 6pm after a memorable weekend of caving.  Our thanks are due to the South Wales Caving Club for their warm hospitality and their assistance for finding guides for the excellent trips to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu.

 ‘Mo’ Marriott

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Please DON’T leave old caving gear around in the Changing Hut.  This applies particularly to WET gear, which become rotten and COULD even start a fire by spontaneous combustion.  Any gear which looks as though it has ‘had it’ (even if it hasn’t) will be thrown out!

We must apologise to our readers for the lack of our regular writers – Sett, Barry Lane’s Caving Log and of course ‘Stalagmite’. We must also apologise to those three gentlemen – or is it two gentlemen and one lady? for not being able to include their usual features.  Back to normal next month – We hope!  Editor.