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In this issue of the B.B., you will find the annual list of member’s names and addresses in the form of a supplement fixed into the centre pages.  It has been decided to include this in the November B.B., rather than the Christmas edition, as this will give members longer time to have these before Christmas.

There is plenty of space for adding new addresses or changes of address during the year - you will find the first few of these alterations in this B.B., and it is hopes to print more in each B.B. during the coming year.  You will also find a list of useful addresses of committee members etc.

In spite of our publishing the list in this B.B., it is still hoped to make the Christmas B.B. its usual size.

“Alfie”

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It has been suggested that a competition will be held at next year's dinner for a Photographic Essay on a caving or climbing subject.  The essay should consist of between ten and twelve photographs.  The essay may be either a black and white essay or a colour slide essay. In the latter case, it should be accompanied by a short 'script'.  Suitable prizes will be awarded.  It is appreciated that the preparation of such essays will take some time, so this is a first announcement giving nearly a year's notice.  Further reminders will be issued at intervals during the year.

Notice

Please note that the address of the Editor is NOT as given in the supplement of members names and addresses.  THIS IS IMPORTANT, as it is doubtful whether correspondence addressed as shown in the supplement will be recognised by the postman.  The correct address is: -

S.J. Collins,
c/o “Homeleigh,”
Bishop Sutton,
Somerset.

Caving Programme.

December 11/12  Yorkshire.  Easegill.
December 11/12  Mendip.  Lamb Leer.

Access to St. Cuthbert’s.

Parties requiring trips into St. Cuthbert’s should write to Pete Franklin, 20 Clayton Street, Avonmouth, Bristol, giving at least 4 weeks notice.  Please make this widely known to all cavers.

St. Cuthbert’s Library.

Phil Kingston still requires photographs, notes, logs, etc.  Please give him any details you may have.

Whitsun in Pembroke

The article which follows was submitted some time ago, and it has unfortunately had to wait until now for a suitable space for publication.  We apologise to Kangy and others for its lateness, but rust it will bring back pleasant memories to those who took part, and prove useful to those who may be thinking of a holiday next year along similar lines.

It was noticed on a visit last year that the area of limestone coastline between Stack Rocks and St. Govan's Head abounds with caves and potholes.  The potholes very often have a sea connection and "blow" in stormy weather.  The cliff height is of the order of 150 feet and the strata are mainly horizontal. The area is also an army range.

This year, two of the most interesting pots, the first for its promise and the second for its sensation, were laddered by Alan Thomas, Eddy Welch and Kangy.  Our leisurely campaign was brought to an unexpected conclusion because the range was closed after two days, forcing us to sunbathe idly on a beach while Thomas went to be psychological somewhere in St. Cuthbert’s.

The first pot, laughingly called B.E.C.1 for want of a local name, is the furthest inland of two potholes midway between St. Govan's head and Stack Rocks (Map Ref: 151/947938). The first forty feet is roughly circular and shattered in cross section after which it becomes more solid and rectangular.  An enormous quantity of ladder was assembled and lowered into the hole and belayed to outcropping rock.  There was an awkward start for the first twenty feet, then a free section to a ledge at forty feet.  The next eighty feet was free after the initial few feet although quite close to a fine wall.  This is very similar to the last pitch of Primrose Pot, Eastwater.  Sufficient light filtered down the shaft to show us the bottom with its sandy floor, driftwood and old iron.  To seaward there is a low crawl which was not pushed. Opposite the ladder was a slit like passage leading to a chamber with aven and a low crawl which seemed blocked. Inland, the interesting direction, the line of weakness led to a narrow rift.  The rift was a tight fit for twenty feet and then opened up into two consecutive small chambers, the final one of which ended in a small aven and contained small calcite flows and stalactites.

The leading dimensions are: - Depth, 120 feet, laddered in one pitch and 100 feet of passage inland from the ladder.  The second pot attempted, by precedent laughingly called B.E.C.2 is the obvious narrow slot near the edge of the cliff at the greet hole between Elegug Stake and Flimstone Ray (Ref: 929946).

This is a 150 foot pitch and not really a laughing matter.  The ladder was laid from a stake driven into an odd foot of top soil.  It followed four distinct sections.  After approximately thirty feet of crumbling limestone, it twisted onto about twenty feet of earth and stones at the angle of repose to a ¬boulder wedged into the earth at the narrowest point of the shaft. Below the boulder, the shaft continues vertically and the ladder hung by a wall similar in composition to the previous earthy section, except here it is vertical.  Twenty feet below the boulder and eighty feet above the floor, the shaft opened out into the side of a wonderful hall or tunnel in massive limestone open at both end to the sea.  The final eighty foot section twisted initially and then hung free.

Because of the danger of falling stones, only one descent was made.  The first section was descended slowly removing most of the loose stones within reach and sending them crashing below.  The sloping earth was treated similarly.  The boulder gave rise to much thought.  To remove it was to remove a bung holding up a mass of debris. As the ladder had to rest against it to climb below it was to risky disturbing it.  Emotion receded as experiment showed that the weight of the ladder put to boulder into compression, so it was alright.  Emotion still demanded a rapid climb down to section of the junction of shaft and tunnel where what fell, fell clear of the ladder.  All continued well until with about twenty feet to go, the lifeline jammed. Shouting failed.  Jerking the line failed.  A pause then a careful look around showed that it is possible to reach this part of the cave by swimming in from the sea.  This determined, the ascent began, clipping on to the rope to take up the slack every twenty feet or so, being cautiously aware of each rattling stone.

Once at the surface, the ladder was retrieved - a protracted and difficult manoeuvre which released even more stones.  We bemoaned the lack of a suitable transmitter and receiver and hand hoped that the Club Dachstein party would have these for their convenience and safety.

More descents of other pots had been planned including shooting a film of B.E.C.1, but the “good old Territorials wot fave death wiv a smile” had the range for the remainder of our holiday, and so that was that.  We are intrigued to know more of these pots.  The locals could not help, and we thus welcome information.

“Kangy”

The Mendip Cave Registry

The Mendip Cave Registry is a collection of all known references to Mendip caves.  The actual registers are thick “twinlock” binders and may be inspected at the Bristol reference Library on College Green and the Wells County Public Library.

It must not be supposed that the Registry is a sort of super guide book to the Mendip caves.  It does not itself contain any but the briefest information on the caves themselves.  What is does contain is the most complete set of information as to where you will find published information on any particular cave.

All the caves are listed under map references, and a complete set of maps of the Mendip area is included in the Registers themselves, so that the whereabouts of every cave may be found and the information looked up.  For many year now, a group of Mendip cavers have put in a great deal of work to bring the Registry up to its present state, and it may well be wondered how useful is all this information to the average caver.  The purpose of this article is to try to explain how the ordinary caver can make use of this information, which is by far the most complete for any caving area in the British Isles, and possibly in the world.

The caver who is doing some form of research will obviously find the Registry of great use.  Let us suppose that some caver has the idea of writing an article (or even a book!) on the Exploration of Swildons Hole.  He will no doubt be familiar with the early writings of H.E. Balch, but may well be at a loss to sort out the bewildering amount of exploration carried out by so many clubs in parts of Swildons since the last war.  On consulting the Registry, he will find nearly six feet of entries on single spaced typing all dealing with this cave, and all will have brief notes beside them as to what they are about.  All he then has to do is to copy out those which have something to do with exploration, and he is then armed with a complete list of published references to the exploration of Swildons Hole.  Many of the books referred to may be obtained from the reference libraries, and he should remember that any library will obtain books for from any other library. Some of the books might be a little more difficult to get hold of, but at lest he will know what he has to obtain and where it may be found.

On the other hand, the caver may have been wandering on Mendip and seen a likely looking depression or swallet.  His enquiries may not produce anyone who knows whether it has ever been dug in the past. A visit to either of the libraries will rapidly show whether there is any known reference to the site (since the register is arranged in order of map reference, it becomes a very easy matter to look up a site which may well have no name or no ether way apart from the map reference of describing it).  A good example of this was the enquiries made by cavers some years ago about Emborough swallet.  This is a fine looking swallet containing an active stream, and it seemed unlikely that it had never been investigated.  Nobody who was asked had even heard of the place.  Eventually - much more by luck than by judgement – a reference was found in an early edition of the 'British Caver'.  This reference was not under the heading of the cave name, but a reference to it in some miscellaneous notes on Mendip generally.  To find this sort of reference, you would have to comb' through all the caving magazines you could think of and this could well take months. This has all been done, once and for all, by the registrars of the Mendip Cave Registry and it is continually being kept up to date.  If the B.E.C. restarted work on Emborough, within a few weeks of an article or reference to this cave being made in the B.B., an appropriate note would appear in the books in the libraries at Bristol and wells.

It is possible that you have no actual object in mind apart form a desire to read up a bit more about Mendip caves.  Perhaps you have already read Balch’s books and are wondering what other books there are to be read.  A browse through the Registry will show you what books are being referred to for what caves and this will give you a very good idea as to what you are likely to find in any book mentioned.

It is hoped that this short article has given some of the uses of the Registry.  If interest is shown, another article will follow explaining things in more detail.

"alfie"

Notice

Estimated Times Out.  Will leaders please try to keep to the estimated times out as shown on the Belfry blackboard.  There have been a number of cases recently where the party has been overdue, and a rescue has been contemplated.  Please remember that the details shown on the blackboard are important.

Overheard at the B.E.C. Dinner

Three cavers, belonging to the Wessex, the S.M.C.C. and the B.E.C. respectively, were discussing what clubs they might have joined, if things had turned out differently for them.  Said the Wessex member, “Before I joined the Wessex, I was thinking seriously of applying to the Shepton.”  To which the Shepton member replied, “If I hadn’t joined the Shepton, I should have certainly joined the Wessex  The B.E.C. member, listening to this drivel said, “If I hadn’t joined the B.E.C., I’d join the B.E.C.”

Letter

19 Greencroft Ave.,
Northowram,
HALIFAX,
25.10.65

To the Editor of the Belfry bulletin.

Re. the pipe in Swildons

Dear Sir,

When I first came to Mendip fresh form the tumbling waters of Lost John’s, Rumbling Hole, etc, I thought “What a weegee idea to have a pipe in a cave at the top of a pitch!” As it happened, this was the summer of 1959 when Swildons was bone dry anyway, so the pipe to my superior northern eyes looked even more ridiculous.  However, after a few trips in a wet Swildons, I began to change my mind, particularly when I had met some of the amazing collection of odd bods who manage to stray down under all conditions.

It was therefore with alarm and disgust that I read of the removal of the pipe, just as I was thinking of fitting one to Gaping Gill Main Shaft.  Must the so-called tigers take it upon themselves top do such anti-social things? The pipe had been there for years – accepted as part of the scenery.  Why, then, remove it?  Surely, if you want a really sporting climb, then hang your ladder over the end of the pipe – thus getting the full force of the water where it will do most good.  If the tigers must spend their time removing things from caves, let them make a start on carbide and old sardine tins, not on things serving to make a cave a safer place.  Having removed the pipe, I suggest the tigers take the next logical step and do without ladder.  One must not be artificial!

Yours faithfully
D.D. “Grassy” Greenwood.