Club News

Foot And Mouth

The recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth (known as Hoof and Gob to some) did not reach the Mendip area, although there was a scare, when cattle at a farm just north of Bristol was suspected of having the decease, on Christmas Eve.

It appears that your Committee made the right decision by keeping the Belfry open to members living outside the restricted areas.  Other clubs made similar arrangements though some ‘closed’ their huts to members.

Caving Again!

Certain caves are open again following the Foot and Mouth outbreak.  At the time of writing (7-2-68) the following caves are open: -

1.                  a).  Burrington area.

2.                  b).  Charterhouse area.

3.                  c).  St. Cuthbert’s, Hunters Hole and Cuckoo Cleeves in the Priddy area.  Swildons Hole is NOT yet open.

Members wishing to visit any other cave should first contact the farmer before crossing fields. Remember to use foot baths if they are provided at the farm entrances.

Practice Rescue - St. Cuthbert’s.

The Wire Rift practice (Jan.21st.) organised by Keith Franklin was a complete success.  It had been thought the rift would have produced problems that could have been overcome by special equipment.  ‘Prew’ and Mike Palmer laid a telephone wire from the Belfry so that a complete log of events could be made.  Pete Franklin played the ‘victim’ so well that he is applying for a job as an instructor at the R.A.D.A.

The Club Needs Your Dollar

For the small sum of 5/- a week (two pints of beer) for three years YOU could help rebuild a new permanent Belfry – why not sign a Bankers order right away.  More details from Bob Bagshaw.

Annual Dinner & AGM – October 5th. 1968.

Make a note in your diary now.

January Committee Meeting

Main points discussed were a) Long Term Planning.  b) Foot and Mouth – it was decided to await the C.C.C. action.  c) B.B. – changes of format and cover design.  Cuthbert’s Guest Leader system – several clubs had replied and a meeting to be held in the near future.

Useful Addresses

Hon. Sec: - A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 23 Campden Road, Bristol. 3.
TACKLE MASTER – N. Petty, 12 Bankside Road, Brislington, BRISTOL.
PUBLICATIONS – B. Ellis, ‘Knockauns’, Combwich, Bridgwater, Som

Subscription

January 21st. – does that ring a bell?  It’s well known that it’s the last day of January but did you know it is also the time that the BEC SUBSCRIPTION is due?  Come on cough up.  Remember 25/- (under 18’s 15/-) and when you send it to Bob also enclose your membership card for endorsement.  To please Bob even more send a S.A.E. so he can return the membership card immediately.

Thanks From the Thanks Department

Many thanks to Juliet Parker for typing the January B.B. and to Barry Wilton for arranging the printing of the B.B. covers so quickly.

Late News

Members having a note of importance can get it into the B.B. providing that it is no longer than 150 words and in the hands of the Editor by the Saturday evening prior to the 1st. Sunday of the month.

All other material should be received by the Editor at least two weeks before printing.

Easy Recognition

In the past it has been difficult to locate any particular B.B. quickly.  It has meant searching through a pile of B.B.’s and looking inside the front cover to find the issue number.  To make things easier the B.B. number and month of issue is now typed in the top left hand corner of the first page.  Members wanting to use this as a quick reference need only fold over the back corner of the cover.

Christmas Puzzle

Only one answer was received – from Tony Meaden.  He has not found the most efficient method (which only needs a single question asked three times) but he will be bought a pint by Alfie when the occasion arises.

Address Changes: -

R. Broomhead, 14 Cedar Park, Stoke Bishop, Bristol. 9.
I.M. Daniels, ‘Handsworth’, Pilgrims Bay, Chilham, Canterbury, Kent.
T.H. Hodgson, 19 Alfred House, Kingsdown, Bristol.
D.J. Irwin, 23 Camden Road, Bedminster, Bristol.
W.J. Smart, c/o Richard Costain (CE) Ltd., N.E. Aprons Contract, Central Complex, Heathrow Airport, Hounslow, Middx.


 

O.F.D.

Since the opening of the Severn Bridge South Wales caving areas have acted as a magnet to Mendip Clubs.  Cavers from the Bristol area are now able to reach Aggy Aggy in about an hour and the Penwyllt area in something under two hours.

Our next article, written for the B.B., comes from Paddy O’Reilly (SWCC), one of the leading lights in the exploration of Ogof Ffynnon Ddu now the longest and deepest cave in the British Isles.  The Swildons v. Penyghent argument is quietly put to bed!

The road to Penwyllt winds steeply up over the grey limestone slopes and clings to the edge of the hill till it peters out in an ugly soar of spoil heaps and quarry debris. The view for the casual visitor changes as he climbs the hill.  The green slopes of Craig-y-Nos on the valley floor disappear from view as he climbs past the deserted quarry workings.  There is a wide gaping hole by the roadside that someone has thrown an old mattress into. ‘A cave’, he mutters, as he continues, unaware that the small cave segment is part of an enormous system of underground passages that stretch for miles under his feet and somewhere far over there on the moors, near Pwll Byfre.

The Byfre is a cliff face, which swallows a sizeable stream.  The stream is not seen again until it emerges several miles away at Ffynnon Ddu.  The resurgence at Ffynnonn Ddu attracted many cavers, but it was not until the newly formed Cave Diving Group attempted to force a way into it in 1946 that it seriously received attention. 

Peter Harvey dug in a small fern shrouded hollow nearby for some time before being able to negotiate a narrow crawl.  It led into a still pool, over six feet deep in places, with several passages on.  A week or so later he returned with a rigid wooden ladder to climb into the passages, but the excitement of the discovery led to disappointment when all the ways on appeared to peter out.  The cave, Pant Canol, was abandoned, and it was not until years later that it was proved to connect with the main cave.

Harvey persisted nearby however, and some time later broke into a large passage that ended in a sump at one end.  In the other direction it went on and got bigger till at last the roar of water could be heard – there was tremendous excitement and an archaeological digging party at Ogof-yr-Esgryn joined in the exploration; the stream way was followed until it was found to emerge from a small side passage which sumped.  On ahead the way went into a big boulder-strewn river chamber that was blocked by a huge boulder collapse, Boulder Chamber.

There was a certain amount of disappointment after the initial burst of enthusiasm – there was hardly a quarter of a mile of stream way, and the Byfre was more than two miles away.  Within a few months John Parkes(?) had climbed a waterfall and discovered an extensive network of high level passages that led off from the main stream passage that gave hopes of providing the bypass to the sump.  The series did not ‘go’ however.

Don Coase attempted to dive the sump, but was forced to give after a couple of hundred feet nor so when the passage narrowed and turned a right angle.

Another high level route was discovered, the Rawl Series, on the other side of the Main Stream and with it came hopes of a route beyond the sump.  A survey showed Starlight Chamber, a large collapsed chamber, was vertically above Boulder Chamber.  It seemed as if the only way to progress was by digging inside the cave.

Everything that happened in 1953 was overshadowed by the incident in which Bill Little and Lewis Railton were trapped in the Rawl Series by flood waters.  Foresight meant that they had dry clothes with them but their three day enforced encampment was a nerve-wracking experience for both.  The Byfre had to be diverted away from the sink in order to allow rescue workers to get to their shelter.

Despite this setback, diggers got to work and several successes were made – Pant Canol was connected into the main cave, posing the problem “had Ogof Ffynnon Ddu been extended by several hundred feet or had Pant Canol been extended by three miles?”

What appears to have been the first determined attempt on the boulders in Boulder Chamber was made by Dai Hunt and some others about 1953.  A small tube to the left gave access to a muddy pool which was baled but only led further into the boulders.  Digging in the floor led to a small chamber with a sump on the right which was called Hush Sump.  It was later found, that in cases of extreme flood the level of Hush Sump gradually rises till it overflows out to join the main stream.

O.C. Wells dived in Hush Sump and returned with tales of a magnificent diving site ‘rivalling Wookey’, but it was several years until it was revisited.  There were two major digs going on at that time, the one in Boulder Chamber and one in Coronation Aven near Starlight Chamber – named partly because of the year in which it was discovered in, and partly because of what almost happened to many of the diggers.  That was a miserable dig – wet, cold and draughty and interest in it was spasmodic.

As the years dragged by there seem to be little progress in location O.F.D. II.  Many digs were started on the moors – the most likely of spots between Penwyllt and Pwl Byfre were examined again and again.  The Pros and Cons of digging where or there were thrashed out over pints of Vale of Neath in the Glyn.  Peter Harvey believed that if O.F.D. II were discovered it would be relatively underdeveloped. 

Nonetheless Cwmdwr Quarry attracted attention because a cave that was known to exist there; but had been filled in.  A systematic dig began and for many months Clive Jones and his fellow workers dug in narrow, constricted droughty rat holes to emerge into a large dry passage, Cwndwr Jama.  It ended in both directions in boulder chokes, but in the lower choke a small stream disappeared.  It was traced to O.F.D.

It was 1960 before divers returned.  Meanwhile the Boulder Chamber dig had produced some interesting results.  A way through had been found and a large circular passage followed down dip to end disappointingly in another sump – Dip Sump. A connection was proved between Hush Sump and Dip Sump, but it was on the latter that a big ‘push’ was made. Charles George and Brian de Graaf did a splendid series of dives through the sump which was 200ft. long, to an airspace, from which appeared to be several ways on.  The Shrimp Series, as it became known, was explored except for one or two high inlets.  The main stream entry, Oxygen Pot, was dived, but only a bedding plane, so the way on was not through there.

Attention turned away from sumps and digs.  The Hot Air Mine was found one snowy day, and a few efforts led to a chamber about 70ft. down, but again there seemed no easy way on into O.F.D. II.  Alan Coase discovered an aven in the Waterfall Series, Tiger Aven, that led through an interesting series of squeezes to a big pitch – it proved only to be a circuit and the pitch was back into Crystal Chamber. Bill Little discovered the Fault Series right by the entrance – a network of small interconnecting passages that lay undiscovered for so long, close to the entrance.

The summer of 1966 saw renewed activity in Dip Sump.  Charles George returned back to the Shrimp Series and climbed into one of the inlets left unexplored.  It appeared to go on into a small network of interconnecting passages.  Subsequent dives were backed up by John Osbourne and Terry Moon and a big pitch was found that led into a ‘big black space’.  It was obvious that O.F.D. II had been entered.

The big black space led to an intersection – Piccadilly.  To the left the passages grew in number and size until a big chamber – The Smithy – was entered.  Here the confusion really began.  A stream (later proved to be the Cwmdwr steam) could be heard below the Smithy and when followed it emerged as small inlets from a network of minute passages. Downstream, a canyon type passage meandered in till it widened out and joined near a low arch by a much bigger stream. On the day it was discovered it was in flood, nevertheless it was followed upstream for a considerable distance. The two elated divers returned through Dip Sump to announce that O.F.D. II had been found.

The effect on outside activity was fantastic.  Renewed efforts were made in Coronation Aven and a way through to the new cave was made, but after one person has been through, the whole thing collapsed, leaving the diggers scuttling for safety in the confined space.  The dig was abandoned after rescuing the trapped caver.

The bottom boulder choke in Cwmdwr was re-examined but no way through could be found.  Prospecting was carried out on the moor and a site for a shaft was decided on, near the old Engine House.

The returning divers pushed upstream.  The magnificent stream way continued on and on, past a series of potholes, round a great oxbow and on at last to a great waterfall 20ft. high, taking all the stream. Maypoles were carried through Dip Sump, and the waterfall scaled.  Disappointment was acute when the character of the stream altered almost immediately, and the lofty stream passage after two miles, degenerated into a miserable bedding plane sump.  On that particular trip the diving party had a narrow escape when returning towards Dip Sump.  The route involves crossing a chamber with an unstable floor.  The whole thing collapsed and trapped one of the party.  For a few moments it seemed as if he was lost completely but then it moved again and the boulder shifted so that he was thrown clear. The party came back safely through Dip Sump.

 

For a while the new cave was left alone until one day a party of divers went to search for a connection with Cwmdwr.  While eating sandwiches in the Smithy they were disturbed by a loud explosion. Smoke billowed out of a nearby boulder pile.  The divers split up.  John Osbourne followed one route and after some distance and extremely intricate squeezes emerged in a well water worn boulder collapse.  Half an hour previously Clive Jones had been digging there but had gone away disappointed.  John raced towards the entrance and followed the others to the SWCC headquarters where he had quite a job convincing those present that at long last there was a dry way into O.F.D. II.

Then the masses invaded the place.  The delicate floor formations rapidly disappeared under the eager visitor’s ‘vibram’ boots and the numerous side passages were pushed to their limits.  In the stream way at the Marble Showers, an area of beautifully flecked rock, an extensive series was entered and led to the head of a very large waterfall near the bottom of the stream.  Further upstream there was very little progress and the Top Waterfall was only visited and admired.

Convinced that there must be a way around the final waterfall and sump, Paddy O’Reilly and Colin Fairbairn maypoled one of the inlets about three quarters of the way upstream, to gain access to a network of interconnection rifts.  In several places there were passages floored with a peculiar white mud, like mochmilk, and thought at one time to be a clay mineral. It has never been seen anywhere else in the country and its origin is still unknown.

The Clay Series was visited on several occasions and its distance from the entrance meant that trips of fifteen hours or more were needed before any serious exploration could be done.  One particular trip Paddy O’Reilly and Susan Bradshaw camped near one of the best formations in the cave, The Trident, a 15ft. long stalactite, and with several others managed to follow a very large passage, the Chasm, to its ultimate end – a boulder choke.  There seemed every possibility that this passage might lead to the stream way beyond the Top Waterfall.  On the second day of the camp a network of large dry passages that criss-crossed again and again was found.  In one of them there was an aven below which was a pile of pebbly debris, with land-snail shells and bat droppings, indicating that is was close to the surface. The radio detection device was used and the spot located as being vertically below a scree slope on the surface. There was no indication of any cave underneath, but when digging began, with a party inside, a way through was cleared within three hours and the farthest reaches of O.F.D. II were again thrown open to the masses.

Again visitors came in droves and again much of the shine was removed from the virgin cave passages; so much duplication of effort was done on those first few weeks after the new entrance was opened that several passages were rediscovered again and again. The most important one was left untouched however for the original party to push it.  A traverse of about 200ft. over a deep rift led over the choke that had previously blocked passages and a way down into a large stream passage was found. Downstream it ended in a bedding plane sump and upstream a twelve foot waterfall barred progress.  The following week, a maypole defeated the waterfall, but the flood waters prevented the party from following the river all the way. By traversing at a higher level in places another half mile of stream way was explored; it ended in a sump. The sump was eventually bypassed but within a short distance a large river chamber was found.  It ended in a very final boulder collapse.

So the exploration has ended.  Perhaps only for a while, for there are undoubtedly many for thousands of feet to be added here and there.  A preliminary survey of the major passages has been started and the total passage length of O.F.D. is likely to be in the region of 15 miles.  The final chamber now reached is no more than several hundred feet from Pwll Byfre although it is still south of it.  The character of O.F.D. III is very much different from O.F.D. I or O.F.D. II; the usual; cascading stream is only met occasionally, and for most of the part the passage is wide, meandering and nearly horizontal. In its length, O.F.D. III hardly drops 100ft, while O.F.D. II drops nearly 600ft.  From the new entrance to the level of the water in Gothic Passage, the vertical distance is almost 850ft. making the system the deepest in Wales and certainly deeper than any in England.

The development of the cave is difficult to trace.  The Clay Series contains some very large passageways that seem to follow on from O.F.D. III and appear to be cut off; it has been suggested that an original cave system existed with passages extending from the Clay Series, downwards towards Cwmdwr Jama and the Smithy thence to the Rawl Series.  It will however be many years before any theories can be properly formulated at any rate not before the system is properly surveyed.

Paddy O’Reilly, Penwyllt.


 

Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir

I would like to thank all those concerned with the presentation which was very much appreciated. This gave me an excuse for non-caving, as I can now claim that the carbide chamber of my lamp has two holes drilled in it and I couldn’t take it down a cave as this would spoil the plating.

The remainder of the ceremony was not so enjoyable, but I would like to say how much I appreciate the thought behind the presentation which will always remind me of my time as B.B. Editor.

 “ALFIE”

Outdoors with “Hedera”

The risk of catching a cold on a nasty wet rock or foot and mouth from a wall eyed mountain sheep begins to diminish and our scene begins to swing.

As does D. Targett Esq; Derek, reporting little recent activity apart from Avon Main Walling has two limestone areas in mind for a swinging ’68.  Last year a speculative poke at a newish face at Swanage yielded an as yet un-named A2 route and promises more while at Wintours Leap he tied up with a party to put up “Flight” a new route on Fly Buttress.

Ed Ward-Drummund’s proposed code giving a detailed description of a climb is said to prove a) useful b) useless.  My impression is that if a climb is hard then any description is useful (including where it is S so I can avoid it).  Ed. W-D has departed for Bangor, presumably to paint white lines from the Red Cliff to the Padare Lake Hotel.

Two new routes to try out on the 24th March on the Frome Valley Sandstone.  Derek Targett’s introduction to the area resulted in “Direct” H.V.S. (in technique) on Bridge Buttress.  This takes the line directly above the Cave.  Start on the right wall of the Cave and take the wide crack in the roof of the Cave.  Pull over two overhangs to the thin wall to the left of The Ramp and then indulge in a spectacular finish over the final big overhang.  The other route completes (I think) Cave Quarry with “Middle Slip”. Extreme in technique.  Climb “Dusty Ledge” to the impossible bulging wall with the diagonal scratch and climb it.  Obviously.

B.E.C. joined Insman in Corwall in mid January at the O.C. Hut, Bosigran.  BEEOOTEEFUL weather smirked Peter Sutton, Bob Sell and Fred Atwell. Back in the Old Days Cornwall attracted HUGE meets basking in balmy Easter sunshine with mighty man Sandall playing throwing Kangy or Bennett (or anyone to hand).  I once even saw Norman Petty with his coat off!  This year we go to on 18/19 May, sez Eddy.  TIP Mark James has regained his Big Van……….

Nice to see Terry Taylor at the Waggon though unfortunately his North Wales activities are curtailed.  Which reminds me that the February meet will probably be in the Lakes instead of North Wales if, as it seems likely, the current restrictions remain.

 “Hedera”

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The following books are in print or will be ready soon available from WEST COL PRODUCTIONS, 1 Meadow Close, Goring-on-Thames, Reading, Berks.  MONT BLANC RANGE (Vol.1) from Col de la Seigne to the Col du Geant by R.G. Collomb and P. Crew, Vol.2 – from Col du Geant to the Fenetre d’Arpette – same authors.  Price Vol.1 35/- Vol.2 28/-.  PENNINE ALPS Vol.1 (35/-).   Saas Fee and Zermatt by R.C. Collomb Vol.2 – Arolla and Western ranges (28/-) by Collomb.  olomites by P. Crew (25/-).  DAUPHINE ALPS AND VERCORDS by J. Brailsford and E.A. Rangham (28/-).  BERNESE ALPS from the Lotschenpass to the Grimselpass by Collomb (30/-).  BREGAGLIA WEST - Sciora, Badile and Cangalo and Crew (16/-).  GRAIANS WEST – Tarantaise and Maurienne by Collomb (25/-).  Maritime Alps by Collumb (18/-).  DENTS DU MIDI REGION Tours Salliere-Ruan-Tenneverge (18/-).  ENGELHORNER AND SALBITSCHIJEN includes Wallhorn and Scheidegg Wetterhorn by J.O. Talbot (21/-).


 

Ahnenschacht

by Roger Stenner

A REPORT OF SCIENTIFIC WORK CARRIED OUT DURING THE 1967 EXPEDITION

I was invited to join the expedition to organise a programme of scientific work that could be carried out during the exploration of the cave.  This work would not be such as to hinder the purpose of the trip, the descent of the shaft.  In Austria, I was to maintain a surface base camp with telephonic communication with the parties in the cave.

 

Scale is Depth in Metres

SURVEYED BY V.L.H.O. 1961

The provisional plan was to analyse water samples collected from the surface and from the cave for carbonate, calcium, magnesium and aggressiveness towards calcium carbonate (these analyses to be made at the base camp using transportable laboratory) to collect water samples for a comprehensive analysis in England; to check progress in the cave using an altimeter with a second altimeter at base camp to give the necessary corrections; to study water and air temperatures in the cave; to collect rock samples for analysis in England.  The provisional plan relied on members of the exploration and tackling teams being able to collect samples, measure temperature and altitudes and during the making of the plan, this did not sound unreasonable.

This was the plan, however, in practice there was no surface water to study, and because of the difficulties met within the cave only two sets of water samples were collected, and one water and air temperature measured in the cave.  Springtails were seen but none collected.  After returning to the valley a resurgence was examined but it is not known whether a water connection exists between this and the Ahnenschacht.

The altimeter work was more successful.  The measurements at the base camp were started in clear hot weather.  A thunderstorm swept the mountain that night. The following day was dry and windy, but the night brought another thunderstorm, and the ten hours of heavy rain put an end to the assault on the shaft.  The surface altimeter changed 178ft. in this time.  Three sets of readings were duplicated at different times, giving a check on the method of correcting the results.  (See footnote 1).

Readings were taken at the foot of the tenth pitch illustrate the method of correcting readings.  The values off the corrections were obtained from a graph by plotting readings made at the base camp with the second altimeter.

FOOTNOTE 1.   For further reference B.B. Nos 148, 161, and to the section on the use of a barometer in the book on Cave Surveying now being prepared by members of the Mendip Survey Colloquium.

FOOTNOTE 2.   The method of measuring the aggressiveness of water towards Calcium Carbonate devised by the author is explained in a paper in the course of preparation.

STATION

ENTRANCE

FOOT OF 10th PITCH

 DATE

23-8-67

23-8-67

24-8-67

25-8-67

TIME (HRS)

18.15

23.45

09.40

02.50

ALTITUDE (FT)

4942

4590

4640

4695

CORRECTION (FT)

0

-45

-115

-16

CORR. ALT. (FT)

4942

4545

4525

4530

DEPTH (FT)

0

450

470

465

The altitudes quoted are relative to an arbitrary value of 5,000ft. for the base camp.  The altimeters are graduated to 20ft., and the readings were estimated to 2ft.

RESULTS:-

1.                  Pool at Schachthalle:  Water 3.5oC., Air 4.6oC.

2.                  Drip feed above pool at ⅓rd. pints/min.

3.                  Resurgence: Water temperature 6.8oC.

 

SITE

 

1  (POOL)

2  (DRIP)

3  (RESURGENCE)

 

Calcium…………………

70

68

79

Magnesium……………...

22

19

29

Bicarbonate……………..

83

84

101

Permanent Hardness……

9

4

7

Chloride…………………

0

0

0

Aggressiveness………….

0

+6

+1.5

pH……………………….

8.0

7.6

7.1

Saturated pH…………….

8.0

7.8

7.4

All values expressed as 105 conen (M).  (105 x Molar Concentration).

The following cautious observations can be made: -

1.                  Water temperatures are lower than those met in British caves.

2.                  Calcium to magnesium ratios are unlike those met within the major caving area of Britain.

3.                  Absence of chloride, if this is a regular feature, may have unexpected biological consequences.

Analysis of rock and water samples brought back to England is not yet complete.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

If it at all possible a separate party should be available with the sole purpose of being responsible for the collection of samples and data.  It is not fair to exploration teams to ask them to undertake this extra work.

The author has information on the choice and package of chemicals and apparatus for expeditions, and has first hand knowledge of the special problems of carrying out chemical analysis in primitive working conditions.  I will be very happy to share this knowledge, either by direct correspondence, or if the Editor wishes this, by means of a B.B. article.


 

Cuthbert’s Practice Rescue

The first of a series of practice rescues in St. Cuthbert’s planned for this coming year took place on 21st. January……

One of the problems associated with cave rescue in St. Cuthbert’s is what to do in the event of an accident occurring in or near the Wire Rift.  It is feasible to take the victim on up the Old Route or it would be necessary to go back to the New Route with the added complications of rigging Upper and Lower Traverse (these would be omitted if an accident occurred near Lower Mud Hall and the victim taken down the bedding plane top the top of the Water Shute), Gour Passage and Pulpit Pitches.  The question was partly answered on January 21st. when a practice rescue was held from Mud Hall to the bottom of the Arête Pitch.  The victim was P. Franklin with a carrying party of R. Bennett, P. Coles, B. Ellis, K. Franklin, P. Kingston, Dr. O. C. Lloyd, C. Priddle, D. Roberts and S. Tuck.  A telephone party of B. Prewer and M. Palmer used the practice rescue as an exercise in line laying techniques and communication with D. Irwin and R. King as surface link in the Belfry.

The “accident” site was in Mud Hall and there the victim was tied into the carrying sheet.  The rescue route decided was a two stage pull up from Mud Hall to a high level carry across to the end of the Wire Rift.  Then on above the Chockstone via the false floors followed by a drop down to just above the ladder guarding Waterfall pitch. From here a stream level carry was thought best to the beginning of the rift; again a two stage pull up Ledge Pitches to the bottom of Arête Pitch.  The time taken was 1½ hours but this could probably be cut by half an hour so giving a comparable time to that taken in the New Route.

There were several points arising from the practice.  The hauling party for Mud Hall Pitch should be right up in the high level passage and the pitch split into two parts, first using the steel ladder as a guide up to the ledge then on up with two people below the victim and one above for manoeuvring purposes.  The drop down to Waterfall Pitch ladder proved a bit difficult in that the victim had to go down feet first so he had to be brought out above the pitch across two people braced over the drop and then guided back down.  The stream carry was most easily effected by a hauling party providing the forward movement helped by one person directly above the victim giving a small upward lift.  This person should give the instructions to the hauling party as to when to pull. Odd bods should be stationed in the various pots up the rift to provide a smooth path as possible.  Again at the Ledge Pitches the hauling party should be right at the top of the pitches and the ladders used as a guide.

This practice rescue showed the feasibility of the Old Route provided the injury sustained is not too serious (a fair bit of manhandling is involved) and that the carrying party are ALL experienced and competent cavers.

K. Franklin

From Other Clubs

by Gordon Tilly

U.B.S.S. Proceedings.  1966 – 67. No.2   Vol. 11.  This edition contains two archaeological reports.  “The Bridge Circles, Mendip, Somerset.  Henge Monuments” by Prof. E.K. Tratman and “Excavations at Gatcombe, Somerset, in 1965 and 1966” by Barry Cunliffe.  There is also a paper by T.A. Atkinson:  “The Geomorphology of Longwood Swallet, Charterhouse-on-Mendip” which is well worth reading, and finally a report on “The Little Neath River Cave, South Wales” by M.G. Norton, D. Savage and F.A. Standing. This report includes some photographs and a CRG Grade V survey.

SPEPEO. Vol. 6.  No.1 Autumn 1967.  Newsletter of the S.W.E.T.C. Caving Club dealing maily with reports of club meets. The most interesting being their visit to Norway in 1967.

Exeter U.S.S. Vol. IV.  No.2. This newsletter gives general information on the activities of the society.  There were no articles of any particular interest.


 

Swildons Not Yet Open

Many people have been enquiring of Farmer Maine when he intends to re-open Swildons Hole.  As far as I can gather the cave will be open when the National restrictions are lifted as a precaution against the spread of Foot and Mouth.  It has been reported that he is not opening the cave until the main door of the blockhouse has been fixed into position.  Rumours are rife at the moment; the worst being that the cave may not be re-opened.  All, it seems, that we can do at the moment is to wait and see what happens.

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ADVERT from a South Wales local newspaper:  “INDUSTRIAL SCRUBBER for sale; offers invited.  Contact secretary – Garalydan Social Club.  Ebbw Vale.”  Should the B.E.C. make an offer for the Belfry?  Must be cheap at 3/- a night!

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Members requiring a copy of “Caves of Wales and the Marches” or any of the Dalesman publications (Mendip, Derbyshire and P.U.) and should contact Dave Irwin by the end of March.  Dalesman offer generous discounts to clubs making ‘bulk’ purchases – the profit will enable the Librarian to purchase more books for the library.

New Balch Cave (Mendip).

Discovered by quarrying in Fairy Cave Quarry.  NGR. ST65764763.  Located in S.E. corner of the quarry.  Gated by Cerberus S.S. on instructions of the quarry management. Members wanting a trip should contact ‘PREW’ Prewer.  The new passage lies under Crystal Chamber that was part of the now destroyed Balch Cave.  A full description of the cave will be published, with a survey and photographs in the B.B. later this year.  Photographers should note that the formations are superb and if they want a trip they are advised to get a trip in as soon as possible – the best formations are particularly vulnerable to damage.

Cavers Bookshelf No. 2

by B.M. Ellis.

Mendip Karst Hydrology Research Project:  Phases 1 & 2.  by T. Atkison, D. Drew and C. High.  Wessex Cave Club, Occasional Publications, Series 2, Number 1.  Price 10/-.

The only two criticisms of this work are its title and the numbering of the series.  A simple title on the lines of “The tracing of Swallet Waters on Eastern and Central Mendip” might not sound so impressive but it would have given a much better idea of the contents. Similarly, numbering of this “Series 2, Number 1” immediately gives rise to the question, what was series 1?  The answer is that it has yet to be written and published.  The report is in fact very interesting and informative on some very important Mendip field work.  For years the resurgent sites of many Mendip swallets have been the cause of much discussion and argument.  Now the streams disappearing into a number of swallets on Eastern and Central Mendip have been traced to their resurgences using the latest technique of lycopodium spores.  The work covers the major cave systems of Swildons, Eastwater, St. Cuthbert’s, Longwood and Stoke Lane, together with a dozen or so of the smaller slocker streams.  The report is well written, giving full details of the new technique, the results and the preliminary conclusions.  It is likely to become a ‘classic’ in its field. 

The price is not particularly high as it is extremely well produced and contains 19 pages of closely printed text, 25 tables, maps and diagrams and eight photographs.  Each full page contains about 900 words which is equivalent to nearly double that on the pages of most other reports, and production is by good quality offset lithography.

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M.R.O.  Would all members prepared to help in cave rescue fill out the form attached so that the club records can be brought up to date. Please send the form back to either Keith Franklin or Dave Irwin.