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Caving Programme.

October 9-10th.  Derbyshire.  GIANTS & NETTLE POT.  Accommodation at Magpie Cottage, Sheldon, Nr. Bakewell.

October 16-17th.  ST. CUTHBERT’S.  Working weekend for the completion of the flood control pipes.  ALL HELP REQUIRED.

October 23-30th.  IRELAND.  To investigate the Slieve Moor area in Co. Fermanagh.  Cost £13.10.0 from Holyhead includes food, transport, ferry etc. Further information from Dave Irwin.


November 21st.  CUTHBERT’S.  LONG CHAMBER & CORAL SERIES.  Party limited to six.



For further details apply to Dave Irwin or Keith Franklin.


There will be a  St. Cuthbert’s leaders meeting on Sunday, October 17th at the New Inn , Priddy at 2.15pm

Library Notes

C.R.G. Publication No. 13 – July 1965 – “Mendip Cave Bibliography, and Survey catalogue” (1901 – 1963) has just been received.  This book is presented in quarto size and is bound in a stiff paper cover with plastic comb binding so that it opens flat, and additional sheets can be added as new material becomes available and is published.  The bibliography is extensively indexed under caves and subjects and consists of the following sections: -

Catalogue of Publications (arranged under authors).
Survey Catalogue.
Subject Index.
Cave Index.

Each section is separated by a different coloured sheet and the whole consists of 164 sheets.  A copy will be kept in the club library and one will be available at the Belfry.  Further copies are available from the C.R.G. price 25/- for members and 30/- for non-members.  If anyone is interested in getting a copy, will they please order it from the Hon. Librarian (Joan Bennett) by the 2nd October together with 25/- please.

B.E.C. Caving Report No. 11 – ‘The Long Chamber/Coral Area, St. Cuthbert’s Swallet’ by Dave Irwin is now available – price 3/6.

June Mock Rescue in St. Cuthbert’s

A practice rescue was held in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet on June 26th.  An attempt was made to make the rescue as realistic as possible with the location of the victim not being disclosed until the last minute.  The only part to be organised before hand was the Rigging Party for Pulpit, Gour Passage and Traverse Pitches.  The alarm was given at approximately 11.45am that an accident had occurred in Beehive Chamber.  People on the Belfry site began to change and a message was sent up to the Hunters to notify B.E.C. Members there.

The first Carrying Party (CP1) assembled and consisted of Dave Irwin, Pat Irwin, Alan Coase and a fourth man.  (Dave Palmer and J, Manchip were already with the victim – Alan Thomas).  They were preceded into the cave by the Rigging Party of Bryan Ellis, Pete Franklin, Phil Kingston and R. Craig, who carried tackle for Pulpit, Gour Passage and The Water Shute.  As soon as Pulpit was laddered, Pete and Phil descended and continued down the cave laddering Gour Passage Pitch (20’ ladder) and the Water Shute (20’ ladder and 100’ rope).  Meanwhile, K. Franklin and Slavin had changed and entered the cave to augment CP1 and also carry tackle down for the Traverse Pitches.  This tackle was collected from the top of Upper Traverse Pitch by the Rigging Party who tackled the two pitches.  The Rigging Party reassembled at the top of Lower Traverse Pitch, continued down to the bottom of Maypole Series and waited for the arrival of the victim.

CP1 located the victim and tied him in the carrying sheet.  The route out was decided as Plantation Junction – across the top of Sewer Rift into the Rabbit Warren and down again to Main Stream Passage – along Everest Passage and across Boulder Chamber to Kanchenjunga and then to Traverse Chamber.  This was achieved in two and a half hours with little difficulty in negotiating most of the route, with the exception of the small stretch of the route in the Rabbit Warren between the stal. bank and the Main Stream.  The only problem was the tying of the victim in the carrying sheet. This was incorrectly done in the first place amended slightly, and finally done properly at the top of Upper Traverse Pitch, under the supervision of Oliver Lloyd, who joined the rescue at this point as an observer.   Points about this stage of the rescue were that about eight in the carrying party were sufficient – handling techniques could have been better with slower pulls rather than quick jerks.  With no real problems of negotiation experienced, the two and a half hours were quite a reasonable time (between 800 and 900 feet of passage length) and this could be cut down by having fewer stops, using Stal. Pitch and carrying on through the Rabbit Warren into the Railway Tunnel and Harem Passage (650 – 700 feet).

The victim was lowered down Upper Traverse Pitch by CP1 and received by CP2 (R. Bennett, R. Meadon, R. King, C. Harvey, D. Searle and J. Hill) who then lowered him down Lower Traverse Pitch with the aid of the Rigging Party.  Telephone communication had been set up ( B. Lane, R. Biddle plus 1) to the surface from Upper Traverse Chamber.  The telephone party then followed the rescue out and at the appropriate moment, B. Prewer entered the cave to bring the other end of the telephone to the top of Pulpit.  Oliver Lloyd, Dave Irwin and Keith Franklin also followed CP2 out to the bottom of Gour Passage Pitch as observers and to give a hand if necessary.  The Water Shute was accomplished without any difficulty, but Gour Passage Pitch was a different matter, and requires a definite technique to be worked out for the sake of both the rescued and the rescuers! This also applies to Pulpit where a double rope was used through a pulley at the top of the carrying sheet. This pulley was a swivel type and, with a construction of a new hauling rope which tended to untwist itself, cause it to jam up with the rope and prevent movement either up or down.  The communications were poor, as the telephone arrived rather late at the bottom of the pitch, and verbal conversation degenerated somewhat.  The salient points at this stage of the rescue were that a dam across Maypole Stream was enough to keep the pitch dry in normal circumstances (so should a permanent dam be built?).  Gour Passage and Pulpit Pitches need more serious consideration about rigging. Wire Rift ought to be tried as an alternative.  A permanent telephone needs to be put in, with tapping points.  The rigging party had two hours to wait at the top of Lower Traverse Pitch, so could be used either to augment CP1 or to leave the cave.

From the top of Pulpit, the victim was pulled up Arête Pitch.  This was more difficult than expected, as the hauling room was restricted and the rope was slippery with mud and water.  It needed five people to be on the hauling rope.  Also the ladder constricts the top of Arête and had to be manoeuvred to a better position. 

The passage though to the bottom of the entrance pitch was negotiated without problems, but the victim could only be pulled half way up the pitch.  The rescue was abandoned at this point.  The difficulties experienced at this point could be obviated by a fresh party in the cave to haul up Pulpit, Arête and Entrance Pitches and not anybody left in the cave from CP1, CP2  or the Rigging Party.  Finally, a practice hauling a victim up the Entrance Pitch in a carrying sheet.  Most of the trouble was caused by the victim’s helmet jamming across the rift.

The total time of the rescue was six hours and in spite of the fact that it did not achieve the object of removing the victim from the cave, it was successful.  If the problems raised by the third mock rescue could be resolved quickly, the B.E.C. could feel confident that at least has a rescue system worked out which could cope with most of the possible accident situations in Cuthbert’s

K. Franklin.

Editor’s Note:    Firstly, an apology to the author re absence of a proper heading to this article. Secondly, we feel that the active cavers are to be congratulated for the work put in this year on Mock Rescues. With this experience, and the completion of the Flood Water Control System, we can surely claim to have taken all possible and reasonable precautions to prevent any serious situation from developing in St. Cuthbert’s.  It seems a pity that the public who are fed lurid accounts of danger in caves, cannot be informed via the press of the less spectacular work which goes on to reduce the dangers as far as it is humanly possible.


Since only one nomination for the committee was received by the date required by the Constitution, there will be no election this year.  The names and posts of the 1956/66 committee will be published in next month’s B.B.

Showcaves in Switzerland -part 2

by ‘Mo’ Marriott.

We boarded the coaches, and were soon on our way, but before finally returning to Zurich, a visit was paid to another cave near Zug – thr Hollgrottem bei Baar.  This system is in complete contrast to the Hollock, both in size and formation.  The cave is at about 2,000 feet O.D. and has been formed in Tuff on the edge of a shallow wooded valley.

The system consists of a series of small grottoes and cambers connected by passages – some natural and others excavated.  The feature of the cave is that these chambers are packed with formations in something like the same degree of profusion as in Balch Hole.  The first and smallest chamber was about eight feet high and the roof was covered with a fine display of betroidal stalactites with colours varying from white to deep brown and red.  I noticed in this chamber and in the next – the “Straw Room” – that there were hardly any corresponding formations on the floor.  I asked if these had been removed and was told that, surprisingly, this was the original condition of the cave.  I was particularly impressed by the length of some of the straws, and the fact that some were deep brown and red in colour.

The next chamber was called the Petrified Forest.  A standard enough name for a show cave, but a name with special significance as I later learned.  This was the most impressive chamber, the main feature being a cluster of perfectly parallel columns riding from the centre of the floor into a chimney in the roof.  These pillars were between twenty and thirty feet long and some were only six to eight inches in diameter – almost like gigantic straws.  As in the case of Straw Chamber, I noticed that these pillars had developed almost entirely as stalactites, since there was little or no build up of flowstone at the base.  In another part of this chamber there were several stalactites of over ten feet in length which had almost reached floor level, yet there was no trace of flowstone beneath it.

We moved on to the next chamber where, Professor Bogli assured us, the origins of these odd formations would become obvious.  The name of the chamber was the ‘ Underground Forest’ and this name proved to be very apt.  In the centre of the chamber were a number of what appeared to be very very thin, dark brown pillars.  Closer inspection showed them to be tree roots!  These roots were about thirty feet long and from one to three inches in diameter, perfectly parallel and smooth with a dense cluster of hair-like roots at the point at which they touched the floor.  Professor Bogli explained to us that, because of the porosity of the Tuff, the fir trees standing on the slopes directly above the cave have to send down long tap roots into the rock to finds enough water. When they reach the cavity, the roots carry on growing until they reach the floor where they send out thousands of fine roots to collect water.  Once the roots have reached the floor, the growth rate drops almost to zero and a thin film of stal. begins to form at once over the root.  This film soon develops into a thick case and forms the columns of the Petrified Forest, and in fact, of most of the vertical formations of the cave.

The depth of the rock above the cave varied from five to fifty feet so that some of the roots sent down by the fir trees could be as much as eighty feet long – probably greater than the height of the tree.

Apart from the trees, the other inhabitants of the cave were bats and spiders – in fact the cave was absolutely infested with spiders.  The final chamber had formerly been half filled with water to form a large calcite basin.  However, a nearby water scheme for Zurich had cut off nearly all the seepage supply so that the basin was now empty.  This did give on the opportunity to examine the walls of the basin (which had been about six feet deep).  The walls were covered with fine Dog-tooth Spar, with some interesting calcite flower formations at the old water level.  On the floor, were several large chunks of petrified wood that had been similarly coated with Dog-tooth Spar.

The temperature in this cave is somewhat higher than that in the Hollock, and this was particularly noticeable when we made our exit into the teeth of a full-blown snowstorm! Thus ended a visit to two very interesting Swiss Caves.

Annual General Meeting and Dinner


As announced in last month’s B.B., the Annual General Meeting and Dinner will be held on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2ND.

The Annual General Meeting will be held at 2.30pm in St. Mary Redcliffe Church Hall, Guinea Street, Bristol. PLEASE try to turn up promptly as it holds everyone up if we have to wait a long time for a quorum.

The Dinner will be held at the Cave Man Restaurant, Cheddar at 7pm for 7.30pm.  The price of the dinner is 16/6 and applications should be made AT ONCE to Bob Bagshaw TOGETHER WITH THE MONEY.  His address is: -

699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4

We know that there is very little time between your receiving this B.B. (due to staff holidays and absence) and the actual date if the dinner, but please write PROMPTLY to Bob.