From time to time, changes occur in the Mendip scene and the retirement of farmers Stock and Young is certainly on of them.  There must be few cavers who have not – over the last twenty years or so – had dealings with at least one if not both of them.  Those of us who remember the discomforts of the early days in Stoke Lane will recall with particular gratitude the difference that the copious supply of hot water provided by Mr. Stock made on emerging from the cave.  When we hear of the difficulties which cavers in the north of England have in their relations with some of their local farmers, we can appreciate how lucky we have been on Mendip to find ourselves amongst friendly folk. We wish both Mr. Young and M. Stock long and happy retirements and would assure their successors that us cavers are not a bad as we look!



Charging bank.

The Belfry now has a charging bank for NiFe cells.  Owners of such cells are also charged.  Cost is sixpence a go.


So far, in response to our appeals, ONE club member has donated a saucepan which happens to be no use.  It has been decided not to buy any saucepans yet.  Even in war, members could be found to donate them, What about it?

Monthly Notes No 2

by Dave Irwin.

YORKSHIRE (EASTER).  B.E.C., W.C.C., Chelsea S.S., W.S.G. and other Southern clubs invaded the Dales. Lost Johns, Notts Pot and Old Ing Cave visited by B.E.C. party.

LAMPS.  Settle – Ingleton team of C.R.O. have purchased the contents of the lamp room of closed Scottish Colliery.  Good opportunities to buy reliable alkaline lamps at 25/- each.  Contact. Mr. M. WARREN, BURNSIDE, GIGGLESWICK, SETTLE, YORKS.  Tel SETTLE 2164.  All faulty lamps will be replaced.

CAVE FAUNA.  Miss Mary Hazelton (Hon. Recorder, C.R.G.) writes in the March C.R.G. Newsletter “….the most interesting collection during 1966 was the capture of two examples of CRANGONYX SUBTERRANEUS BATE, a male and juvenile, in Gough’s Cave.  This rare crustacean was first described by Bate from a well in the New Forest.  It was subsequently found in Pant Canol (Ogof Ffynnon Ddu) by E.A. Glennie and later by Mr. Spooner in the Thames Valley with a power driven pump.  Mr. Thomas (“Tommy” Thomas – Ed) of the Bristol Exploration Club is to be congratulated for obtaining the record.”

SWILDONS.  Pete MacNab (Snab) found decorated chamber and fifty feet of passage opposite the twenty Foot Pitch.  Way on is blocked by a curtain.  (Easter Monday 1967).

IRELAND.  Members visiting Ireland should contact Mr. J. Childs, 26 James Drive, Harrogate, Yorks. in case the C.R.O. is needed.  Give dates of visit and caving programme.

DEVON.  If C.R.O. required in the Devon Caving Areas contact Col. I. Fraser, Outward Bound School, Holme, Ashburton, Devon.

BRIDGE CAVE ( SOUTH WALES).  Survey to be published later this year by U.B.S.S.

WET SUITS.  Available from £8 each.  Cleveland Marine Products, Prospect Terrace, Marske-by-the-Sea, Red car, Yorks.

STOKE LANE SLOCKER.  Changing accommodation in shed at back of farm.  Charge 1/-.  Vehicles NOT to be parked on farm premises.  Ownership of cave entrance (and Browne’s’ Hole) retained by Mr. Stock.

St. CUTHBERT’S.  Sump dug to length of 16 feet.  Surveyed length of cave approaches 7,000 feet.  Boulders above ‘U’ tube (Cerberus Series) believed to have moved.  Take care.

Greece 1966

by Alan Thomas.

I am not sure how long it took us to drive from Ostend to Ioninna.  We camped at Karlsruche the first night, and the next time we slept was at Skopje.  As these towns are about a thousand miles apart, I think we must have missed a night’s sleep.  The next night saw us in Ioninna.  German and Austrian roads are of course, excellent.  The Gross Glockner pass is impressive.  Yugoslavia has a surfaced one-lane-in-each-direction Autoput which goes from one end of the country to the other.  The accident rate in Yugoslavia is very high, apparently mainly because they seem only to replace tyres when they burst!  You never go many miles without seeing either an accident or someone changing a wheel.  Many minor roads in Greece are un-surfaced and plenty are worse than the Belfry track.

Military permits were necessary before we could continue our journey from Ioninna.  The drive to Papingon afforded some fine views of Astraka which, at first sight, is reminiscent of the plateau in Conan Doyle’s “Lost World.”  Papingon has a population of about 200 and is a kind of Greek Orthodox heaven. Sanitation, television and electricity are totally lacking; so, too are dishonesty, discourtesy and squalor.  We cooked in the middle of the churchyard and slept in the cloisters.  I noticed little things, such as that every time we sat down to eat, all the children hanging around went discretely away.  I wondered if this was for our convenience or because their parents did not want them to witness a twice daily display of bad manners.  If we left any of our kit lying about the village, somebody always brought it back to us.  Everyone washed and put on a clean shirt in the late afternoon.  And these people are poor.  It cost us three pounds to hire a man and four mules for a day which began at 4am. and finished at 10pm.

The first day (actually the 7th of August) we went up onto Astraka carrying all the ladder and rope. We had a fourteen year old guide called Dimitrios and had to keep calling him to come back because we could not keep up with him.  He led us first to what we called the Ice Cave.  There was a readily accessible plug of snow in it which – as we were in great thirst – we began to devour by the handful, despite the bird droppings in which it was covered.  After a couple of days we no longer suffered from thirst.

We soon located the hole we called Provetina.  Actually that is the name of the area – proveta means sheep, and soon put five hundred feet of ladder down.  Jim Eyre went down about four hundred feet and said that the ladder did not reach the bottom.  Thus somewhat excited, we returned to Papingon.

The next day was supposed to be a rest day, but Tony and I left about midday to see the resurgence in the Vicos Gorge.  This proved much more difficult than we thought and we were gone seven hours and when we returned, I was exhausted.  The water from the resurgence enters the gorge from the North East. Beyond the resurgence, there is a dried up stream bed which continues to the South east.

Leaving at 4.30am with the mules, we went up to the Katathygien, or mountain hut that we were allowed to use.  It was superb and had only been opened the previous month.  The mules went as far as towards Provetina as Toderca – their owner – would let them.  Another day was spent lugging the gear the rest of the way towards the hole.

The winch which we had, proved unworkable, so we never did get down the hole.  We contented ourselves with going various distances down the ladder.  On the 12th, Malcolm Smith and I used the winch cable to measure the depth of the hole. It proved to be 572 feet to the ledge. There is definitely a second pitch which would seem to be of the order of three hundred feet, but we were unable to measure it.  Malcolm and I spent that night in a rock shelter that had a dry stone wall windbreak in front of it and was cunningly constructed because we were very comfortable in spite of a howling gale which sprang up.  Next day, we surveyed the Ice Cave.

Getting ourselves and the gear back to Papingon involved a few more adventures, but that was Provetina for 1966.

Afterward, I spent a few days on Olympus on my own.  Olympus is mainly limestone and abounds in holes. I found nothing of any size, but I feel sure that a thorough search would be rewarding.

In Yugoslavia, we visited the magnificent show cave of Postojna, and afterwards contacted the Karst Research Institute with whom we went caving.  It was called Polaka Jama and it was the 3,000th cave they had explored since the foundation of their institute.

Two more show caves, and that was the end of August.  The Eisriesenwald is too famous to want any description.  To those unfamiliar with ice, it is a very fine experience. Lastly, in Belgium, having seen the magnificent Grotte de Han before we visited the nearby Grotte de Rochfort.  What this lacked as a cave was made up by a son et lumiere spectacle and a u.v. artificial waterfall.

I understand that two teams are going to attack Provetina this year.  One will be led by Jim Eyre and the other by Frank Salt.  I wish them both impartially the best of luck.  If by any chance, neither get to the bottom, I shall have a go next year.  It is a magnificent shaft, well worth descending, even if it leads no further.

Vertical Section of Provetina. Scale 1 : 1,500.
Based on sketch by J. Eyre.

From the Hon Treasurer

As members are aware, the club is seriously considering the erection of a new Belfry.  Amongst the many questions which the Long Term Planners are no doubt considering, the question as to what sort of sum of money the club can raise must be perhaps the most important.

By next Annual General Meeting, we shall all know what the planners have in mind, and will have the opportunity to vote in favour or against, but meanwhile, some idea of the way in which members are likely to respond to appeals for loans and/or gifts must be found.

A Deposit account has therefore been opened with Lloyd’s Bank at Bristol as a Building Fund.  Any contributions made to this fund will be accepted on the understanding that they will be returnable to the contributors if the project is not put in hand.  It will not be possible to return interest on individual contributions, however.

Quite a few members of club are paid monthly, by cheque straight into their bank accounts.  Many people who are paid by this method, do a check against their estimated balance every time they receive a statement from the bank, and, provided their account balances within a pound or so, remain reasonably happy.

Such members might be prepared to make out a Standing Order to credit the B.E.C. Building Fund with, say, a pound a month.  Such Orders from 25 members over three years would bring a sum of £900 to the fund.  Members may, alternatively, make a gift or an interest free loan to the fund.

There will, no doubt, be other methods of raising money in the Planning Report, and members contributing to the Building Fund need not be afraid that they will be called on to bear all – or even most – of the financial burden.  However, by getting the fund going NOW, we shall be in a better position to gauge the financial side of the job by the time the A.G.M. comes round.  We cannot start a variety of fund raising schemes at this stage, because the club has not yet voted for the plan.  We can, however, start the Building Fund, because all the money can, if necessary, be returned to the contributors.

Please take this appeal seriously.  If the scheme is voted down at the A.G.M., it will have proved a convenient way for the contributors to have saved up for the Dinner and for Christmas!

If you are willing to contribute IN ANY WAY, please write to R.J. Bagshaw, Hon. Treasurer B.E.C., 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4, enclosing your cheque or money and stating whether it is a gift or a loan, and if you have signed a Standing Order at your local bank (Payable to BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB) at Lloyd’s Bank, Bristol, please write and tell us how much your order is for, how often payable and for how long.

Yours Hopefully.
            Bob Bagshaw


G.B.  The Caving Secretary would be glad of any volunteers to take trips down G.B.  Please get in touch with Roy Bennett if you can help.


Arrangements are being pursued at making the B.B. more legible by having it printed by a better process.  These arrangements depend on the editor being able to guarantee a B.B. of adequate size by a deadline date.  A reserve pool of articles etc. would be a great help.  How about it?