Obituary – Ian Dear

It is always a sad occasion when we have to inform members of the death of a club member, but particularly so when that member has been as well known and well liked like as Ian.

A keen caver and active caver throughout his long association with the B.E.C., Ian was always ready to help younger members and many of today’s experienced cavers must look back with gratitude to their early trips with Ian and remember his happy knack of imparting caving knowledge in a tactful and pleasant way.  Although he spent much of his time on Mendip introducing novices to caving, he still found the time to do much work underground and will be particularly remembered for his work in Hunters Hole.  Now ‘Dear’s Ideal’ must join other underground places such as Browne’s Passage, C.B. Chamber and Don’s Delight as reminders of the work of B.E.C. members who are no longer with us.

For some years, Ian served on the Club Committee and was Tackle Officer.  His help to the club however, went further than this and on many occasions he generously donated sums of money to help build up the amenities we now enjoy.  The club was always in his thoughts and his last act has been to donate a very large sum of money to the club in his will.

To his family we offer our sincere condolences.  His passing we are sure will be deeply felt by all his many friends amongst caving clubs on Mendip.

Practice Rescue

The purpose of this article is to describe the sequence of the practice rescue in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet, for the benefit of those who were unable to attend the trip.  The accident was assumed to have occurred in the lower part of September Chamber.  The first “victim” went into the cave in company with two others and made for the scene of the “accident”.

Shortly afterwards, a party of six people followed taking with them the carrying sheet plus all its associated bindings etc., some of the hauling ropes and ladders for the short pitch from Upper Traverse Chamber to Maypole series and the Traverse Chamber Pitch. The main section of this party went straight into September Series, while the tail enders paused in Traverse Chamber to ladder the two pitches mentioned.

In September Chamber, the victim was laced into the carrying sheet and the rescue proper began, along the normal exit route through the boulder ruckle.  On this section, the pace of the rescue was steady if somewhat slow and, although one or two places were found to be a bit awkward, no serious difficulty was encountered until the final section of the ruckle, near the entrance to Catgut Series.  This tortuous and constricted section took some time to negotiate, largely due to the lack of room for the helpers rather than the actual tightness of the section. Once clear of the boulder ruckle, the pace became quite rapid, and the victim was soon brought to the top of the first short ladder pitch.

While all this was going on, a second party of seven people has descended taking with them the remaining heavier hauling ropes, plus the ladders and the lifelines for Pulpit and Gour Passage Pitches.   This party took charge of the rescue at Traverse Chamber, starting with the descent into Lower Traverse chamber, where the victim was changed. 

The first party remained to take the tackle off the Traverse Chamber Pitches and then some left the cave, while the others waited at the top of Pulpit Pitch to assist in the hauling. The second party continued the rescue to Gour passage Pitch, and at that point handed over to a third party of six people.  While the third was moving towards Pulpit Pitch with the victim, the second party left the cave.

At Pulpit Pitch the third party, assisted by the remaining members of the first party succeeded, after one or two delays in the rigging of the hauling ropes, in getting the victim to the top.  It was then decided to call it a day, and everyone returned to the surface.


It can be concluded that the rescue problems posed by St. Cuthbert’s are not as fearsome as had been expected, since the rescue party chosen encountered a range of situations representative of most parts of the system, and no insurmountable difficulty was experienced.

It is important that considerable care should be taken when strapping the victim in the carrying sheet, otherwise adjustments may have to be made during the course of the rescue, and these can be very time consuming.

A helping party of seven or eight seems to be about the right size for Cuthbert’s, while a minimum of three such parties will be required for a full rescue.

It is not necessary to employ complicated systems for hauling in St. Cuthbert’s, since a single hauling line with a strong hauling party proves to be the simplest and most snag-free arrangement.  The only exception to this would be in the Entrance Rift, where the size of a hauling party would be restricted by the available room.

In view of the soaking experienced by the victim on Gour passage and Pulpit Pitches, the question of the Wire Rift as a rescue route is still open.  However, this should be resolved by a further practice rescue along this section only.

Finally, it remains to thank all those who turned up to assist.  In particular the victims for their patient co-operation and Oliver Lloyd for valuable service.

C.A. Marriott.

A Quiet Whitsun

by R.S. (Kangy) King.

Well named, the Exploration Club, enabling examination of the Pembrokeshire coastline to proceed with a clear conscience even though the activity that drew us there was not specifically climbing or caving.

The subtle demands of family tend to modify the routines of Mendip or Wales, not without compensation, because parts of the country previously unvisited can now be explored.  The recently increased party that went to Pembrokeshire at Whitsun was made up of the Eatoughs, the Attwoods, the Quickes and the Kangies – a dozen in all.  The purpose of the trip was to reconnoitre the country, particularly the coast, from the naturalist and sporting point of view.  As always, good weather ensured success.  Several days were spent camping at St. Gowans Head.  The site we chose on the Saturday for its superb situation and isolation was vacated on the Tuesday evening.  A timely call by that virtuoso of the blower Attwood, had revealed that the army training area we had camped on was due to be shattered by R.A.F. high explosive on Wednesday.  We left without regret and commended the site to the brave.

Standard excursions from this campsite are Broadhaven, with limestone scenery and beach, where attacks by oyster catchers are to be expected, especially when one is clinging to thin slab, and white winged black Terns (I know!) are to be seen; to Stack Rocks, where the Guillemots are disguised as Blegugs and the Green Bridge of Wales doesn’t go anywhere.

The cliff scenery is splendid and the sporting opportunities boundless.  In the more massive limestone, horizontal beds containing many voids broken into by the sea.  The more spectacular blowholes have free ladder pitches of 150’ or more and the vertical and overhanging cliffs have few easy routes

While this sort of cliff scenery with simple geology may be an acquired taste, the Cardigan Bay coast is bound to appeal.  There is plenty to see all along the coast, particularly North of St. David’s Head, which is a National trust Area.  Our campsite at Littlehaven was Weegee but pleasant, good view, fresh loos and water and flushing toilets for only 3/- per outfit. Tortuously convoluted O.R.S. with sea caves added interest to a colourful coast with the further attraction of islands and a famous drowned river valley at Solva.  Sport as we know it is lacking – a hungry look at Myndd Prescelly was disappointed by the rounded nature of the beast, but they tell me the surfing is good.

Editors’ Note:    Some additional facts to would-be campers in the area (which are probably out of date by now) are that you can camp free a bit further along the cliff top from Littlehaven  –  that the

Café at Littlehaven is (or was) run by an ex-Wessex member and that it is most inadvisable to run out of petrol halfway up the hill out of Littlehaven village!

Book Review

by Dave Irwin.

Volcanoes- In History, in Theory, in Eruption.  By F.M. Bullard, Ph.D.  Published by Nelson 1962 Price 45/-

Following the excellent film shown by W.C.C. earlier this year, the book outlines the classification of Volcanoes (derived from the word VOLCANO – an active volcano in the Lipari Islands north of Sicily) with detailed descriptions of the many examples to be found throughout the world.  He also deals with the historic volcanoes such as Vesuvius, Stromboli, Krakatoa and Pelle which destroyed a town in 1902 having a population of over 30,000 in less than 2 minutes.

The book, although written for the layman, is packed with detail.  The text of over 440 pages is accompanied by 37 plates and 71 line drawings.

Club Trip to Derbyshire (June 27 and 28th)

by K. Franklin

Seventeen to eighteen people said they would be going on this trip, but the number finally dropped to nine.  These were Roy and Joan Bennett, Dave, Mary and Helen Quicke, Keith and Peter Franklin, Dermot Statham and John Dryden.  Roy and Joan arrived first in Buxton, located the Eldon Pothole Club and decided to camp at Stanley Moor.  Keith, Peter and John were next and, as it was dark stayed in the Eldon Club. Dermot, who travelled up with the Quickes, also stayed but the latter went to find the Bennetts.  Despite several interruptions in the night by the Eldon lot returning from a party, some sleep was possible and the party assembled in the forecourt (mark you!) of the Hardwick Hotel on Saturday morning to await the arrival of the Eldon Secretary, Chris Ineson.  As there was no sign of him by 11.45am, a decision was made to camp at Router Farm, at the top of the Winnats Pass, for the rest of the weekend.  This was accomplished and then came the difficult job of deciding how to spend the rest of the day.  The original intention of the trip to do Giants Hole on Saturday (with Chris Ineson) and Nettle Pot on Sunday. The lack of numbers made it imperative that all the fit and able members should go caving, but as some of them had different ideas this presented a problem.  After acrimonious discussions and preliminary exploration to find Nettle Pot and Oxlow House Farm (both failed) the weather closed down and a decision was taken to do one of the largest pitches in Derbyshire, viz.  the 200’ free pitch in Eldon Hole as a training exercise for Castle Farm Pot Series

One (or Alfie’s Hole? – Ed.) and then Giants Hole on Sunday (to get into training for the Lower Extension of Castle Farm ) so, being led by a local bloke – not from Rodney Stoke, but Derby. Dermot Statham, Roy, John, Dave, Keith and Peter attached 200’ of tackle and lifeline to themselves and set off across the misty moor.  After completing a circular tour and rapidly approaching Giants Hole, it was realised that Eldon Hole had been moved to some safer spot which was duly located and tackled up.  Then we waited, looked at each other, looked down the 200’ pitch, looked at each other again – and waited.  Eventually Peter’s nerve broke and he volunteered to make the fisrt descent. Dermot and Dave Quicke followed soon after.  The intrepid Bennett decided to abseil the pitch and after a couple of abortive attempts reached the bottom much to the amazement and admiration of those below. During this interval a rescue had been performed and two very weak jackdaws were placed in a sack and pulled to the surface.  Roy climbed up the pitch and Keith, who had been lifelining, went down.  John decided that 14 and a half stone was too much to expect anybody to pull out of Eldon Hole, and took over the lifelining.  This proved very prudent as the ascent turned out to be very arduous for most of the party, emphasising that Nettle Pot would have been foolhardy to attempt by such a ladderwise inexperienced party.  Eventually everybody was back on the moor, the pot de-tackled, the jackdaws released and the way to Router Farm found without difficulty.  After a good meal of three or four pints in Castleton, the happy cavers settled down to a good night’s sleep, broken only by the ear-splitting yell from Dermot who ‘fell off’ while climbing with ‘Mo’ fast asleep in the Bennett tent.  He now ‘pegs’ himself to the tent pole to prevent further recurrences!  On the Sunday the weather improved greatly, and breakfast was enjoyed in the pleasant sun.  Roy and Joan were going walking with Dave, Mary and Helen went into Nottingham.  This left Keith, Peter, Dermot and John to do Giants Hole.  They arrived at the cave at about midday, expecting to find the sump bailed out, but this turned out to be a false hope.  However, the B.E.C. bailing team took over, the sump was lowered sufficiently to leave an eight inch airspace.  This proved enough for the Mendip cavers who entered the cave first and proceeded to the first pitch – a fine pot with a 30’ fixed ladder.  This led to the Giants Crab Walk which is a meander passage extending for three quarters of a mile.  The meanders are so abrupt that the last person hardly saw the person in front until the party reassembled at the end of the long passage. The first sump was reached soon after and steps were retraced to find the junction leading to the Geology Pot Series. Here the wrong turning was taken and when the way was barred by a sump (St. Valentines Sump) it was decided to call it a day and get back to the surface and some sun.  The sump was about four inches higher on the way out and the first dam would have been a pleasant swim but for the texture of the water!  Coffee was provided at Giants Farm as part of the 2/6 fee, if a point was made of asking for it!  The camp was then broken up, with Keith, Peter and John leaving first, Dermot waited for the Quickes to return from Nottingham, and Roy and Joan stayed on until the Monday.  A pleasant weekend, in spite of early disappointments.


Our regular contributors seem to be getting a rough deal lately, and the latest “victim” is Sett. The Editor has unfortunately mislaid one page containing vital information on Sett’s Puzzles and so the next instalment will have to wait until Sett can be contacted.  Meanwhile, here are some anagrams sent in by Dave Irwin….


1.                  B.E.C.. v Gran. (2,6)

2.                  Cave men Ll.B. Rare?  (4,4,6)

3.                  Tip cat here! (5,5)

4.                  I see early mops (7,6)

5.                  Wells can rate this bus T.T.  (5,9,7)

6.                  Top toy off tor. (5,4,3)

7.                  Gerald B. Hoe (6,4)

8.                  A western Vat Race  (9,6)

9.                  Stop me, Prior! (8,3)

10.              Initials are important here.

11.              Is this worth £100?

12.              Possibly awkward if you have short legs!

13.              Could be May Day.

14.              Is this consecrated ground

15.              Things ain’t what they sem.

16.              Animals hideout.

17.              Chinese water?

18.              Cave garden.