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Hon. Sec: - A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 23 Campden Road, Bristol. 3.
BEC PUBLICATIONS: - B.M. Ellis, ‘Knockauns’, Combwich, Nr. Bridgwater, Somerset


All members requesting their first C.C.C. Period Permit should complete the indemnity Form and hand it to Phil Townsend, 154 Sylvia Ave., Bristol 3.  He will issue a Period Permit that is valid for ONE YEAR only.

Members already holding Period Permits should check and ensure that they are still valid.  The early permits were issued in 1964 and have a 3 year expiration period.

People holding Period Permits but are not members of either Member of Affiliated clubs have not the necessary insurance cover.  They are very definitely not allowed in any of the cave systems with a Period Permit. They can however obtain a Temporary Permit and go caving as guests of a Member Club.

The key for August/Longwood is kept by the Hut Warden (G.  Tilly) and is for the use of B.E.C. members only; the key should not be let to members of other clubs under any circumstances.  The loss of the key will mean that the club will have to replace the lock and the entire set of keys now held by Member Clubs – the cost will be in the region of £4.

Dr. E.K. Tratman has retired from the post of Hon. Secretary of the C.C.C. after seven years.  The new secretary is Tim Hodgson, 19 Alfred Place, Kingsdown, Bristol.

ACCESS TO G.B., Read’s Grotto and Tyning’s Great Swallet.  Members visiting these systems should use the new gateway to the field alongside the road from Charterhouse to Tyning’s Farm at Grid ST 47655631.  NO OTHER ROUTE MEY BE USED.  The road and long Barn can only be used with the permission of the new owner of Lower Farm – when it is sold.

Foot and Mouth

The northern part of the Peak District National Park is now in a controlled area, but this does not mean that precautions against the spread of foot and mouth disease should be relaxed. In and near infected areas walking, climbing, caving, ski-ing and angling is strongly discouraged on farm land to which stock have access.  It will be appreciated that open moor lands come within this category.  People from the rural parts of infected areas should be particularly discouraged from going on farm land elsewhere.

The Peak Park south of Bakewell and Buxton is still in an infected area, and visitors are asked to keep away.  There have been five outbreaks near the National Park boundary in the last five days, so the situation is still critical.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; The National Farmers Union and the Peak Planning Board wish to thank the public for their co-operation but emphasise that their efforts could easily be wasted if they were to relax too soon, and would urge patience for a little longer.  The situation is being kept under constant review.

It is reiterated that visitors to the whole of the Peak National Park are asked to avoid all agricultural land, moor land and footpaths.

Joint Statement issued by: -

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Nottingham.
National Farmers Union, Chesterfield.
Peak Park Planning Board, Bakewell.
15th February. 1968.

Quote: -

“There are more good caves in the USA than in the whole of Europe” (R. McKenny – Here’s England).

Persistent Damage in St. Cuthbert’s

Just over a year ago the large white stal. flow in the passage below ‘T’ Junction Chamber was badly smeared with mud.  Later Tony Meaden and others scrubbed the flow clean.  Tony reports that it has been badly dirtied again and he adds, “There is no need to touch it at all” (I fully agree. Ed.).  This is no one else’s fault but the leader of the party.  We all know that the Rabbit Warren extension is one of the more sporting routes through the cave but please need the parties go at express train speed through this section of the cave that has so many fine formations many of which are particularly vulnerable.

B.B. Developments

Photographs and Surveys can be printed by offset litho.  Those sending photographs (black and white only) should ensure that the prints are very contrasty.


Towards Wookey Hole

By D.J. Irwin.

The long discussions on ‘what happens’ beyond the Cuthbert’s Sump that take place at the Belfry from time to time has stimulated the author to set down some of his ideas where best to dig.  The aim of this article will first to discuss digs that will, we hope, eventually extend the cave beyond its present boundary in the hope of regaining the main stream way and secondly to discuss other possibilities within the cave system.

All the recent discoveries have been within the present boundary and up to the present only two sites show real promise of entering fresh lands; though, not forgetting ‘sods law’ that makes the final breakthrough in the most unlikely place. The two sites are the Sump and the dining room Dig.  Although these two sites have been mentioned specifically there are several other very good sites that I believe will eventually lead away from the present cave boundary.  Time is precious and the sites can only be worked at the pace governed by the available labour.  The main trouble is that there are not enough digging teams to attack all the sites, that number over 100, simultaneously.  All of these sites have been looked at recently.

1.         TERMINAL SUMP

This is the obvious point to attack and, as it is being worked at the present time there is little to say except when the sump is passed and an extension found it is unlikely to be free divable; a bypass will have to be found. Surely it is better to commence looking for a way round the sump now rather than let the divers have all the fun.

2.         DINING ROOM DIG.

Although some 400ft. to the north west and about 50ft. higher than the sump it starts at the fault line and is following roughly the same direction as the sump passage (mean bearing 2160 Grid N.).

The first section of the excavated passage is distinctly phreatic with no noticeable signs of vadose action.  Beyond the ‘Arch’ the passage rises steeply (about 6-8ft. above the entrance to the dig) and levels out into a choked passage with about 6” of airspace. The section of the passage now being dug is about 18” high and some 10-12” wide.  This rather confined space is because the diggers have not removed sufficient infilling.  The next move is to open up the excavated passage to make things easier for speedy digging.

The digging area soon becomes ‘steamed’ up making conditions very uncomfortable but it is hoped to reopen the choked passage that connects D.R. Dig with Mud Ball Dig that was opened up by Bennett and others in 1966.  The connection is too small to cave through but it will allow air to circulate through the first section of the D.R. Dig.

A close examination at the start of the dig will show some small roof pendants pointing into the dig and just beyond’ faint markings can be seen on the right hand wall which ‘looks’ as if the water flowed into the dig – perhaps some expert would like to make an inspection of this section of passage and voice his opinion for our guidance.  For all we know it might be an inlet.

3.         END OF GOUR RIFT

The end of Gour Rift, just beyond the Duck, has been of interest to the writer for some time.  The rift closes down rather abruptly and is not rounded; a well developed pothole in the breccia above the end of the rift comes from a small and heavily stal’ed inlet passage – the Bank grill.  If the water had always flowed into the Sump Passage, as it does today, the end of the Gour Rift must have been rounded - which indicates to me at least – that the water has swept under the end of the rift and the terminal wall that we see today is merely the roof of the now choked passage.

There are two further points that lead one to suspect that water went under the end wall.  These are: - a) deposits of charcoal found down to a depth of 5ft. and b) the stream way is heavily goured and stalagmited from Stal. Pitch to the ‘Duck’.  At the ‘Duck’ the gouring ends abruptly as though the passage floor dropped away rapidly; this is now badly choked.  As the Sump Dig has only dropped four feet it is possible that the end of the rift is open enough to get a caver through with only a little digging.  Just prior to the Sump digging weekend in 1967 Barry Lane and the writer closely inspected the sump passage for charcoal deposits.  For over an hour we dug and searched but no charcoal could be found.  If none is found by any one else it would be fair to assume that the Sump Passage is a recent recapture and that the cave is choking itself again.

The initial part of the Sump Passage is heavily stal’ed immediately beyond the ‘Duck’ and appears as a whole to be rather immature.  Beyond the ‘Duck’ the passage opens into a round section as a result of the fairly large inlet in the roof and then forms into a rift with well exposed chert bands to finally degenerate into a wide bedding plane at the sump.

One of the troubles of the lower section of the Cuthbert’s streamway is that the rock floor is never seen after the Everest – Main Stream Junction and so one will never know the true depth of choking at the duck or sump, but it appears to some that the Sump Passage is merely the top of a very large passage – this is only a feeling and so should not be taken too seriously.

To be continued.


Multiple Flash Unit

By Jock Orr

This unit is intended for situations where it is inconvenient to use the ordinary flash lighting techniques.  In effect, it is a lightweight studio lighting outfit which enables the cave photographer to position his lights as and where he wants them.  The general arrangement is shown on the next page and the Central Box circuit diagram, also on the next page, is quite easy to follow.

The electrical components may be obtained from any amateur radio shop, and the flash bulb sockets from a photographic dealer.  The reflectors are made from scrap headlamp reflectors, and although the parabolic form of the reflector is designed to cast a beam, this can be altered to cause the spread of light by trial positioning of the flashbulb socket before final fixing.



Apart from the major expense of the cables, the cost of the unit amounts to about £3, and while a description of its construction may be of general interest, it will only be of a particular interest to the serious cave photographer who will recognise immediately the technical advantages to be gained form this equipment.

N2/P2  Battery 22½ - 30 volts

N1/P1  Battery 22½ - 30 volts




Switches ‘UP’ 25v fires 1 to 3 Flash.


Switches ‘DOWN’ 50v fires 4 to 6 Flash.

Switch ‘A’  Double Pole

Switches ‘B’ & ‘C’  Instrument switches

R1 – Resistor 3,300 OHM

R2 – Resistor 5,600 OHM

C1 – Capacitor (electrolyte) 25-30v. D.C.  100mf

C2 – Capacitor (electrolyte) 50-60v. D.C.  100mf

S.W.1  Miniature Press Switch.

S.W.2  Miniature Press Switch

L.1  Miniature Signal Bulb

L.2  Miniature Signal Bulb

The control box consists of two tobacco tins soldered together with cut-outs for mounting the components shown in the circuit diagrams.  All sockets and plugs are standard 2 pin, flat body, ex-Woolworth’s. All electrical connections should be soldered.  The cable and flashbulb circuits are SERIES.  Operating instructions and suggested layouts will appear in a later issue of the B.B.


Monthly Notes.  No.11

by “WIG”


On 2nd February 1968 ‘Fred’ Atwell, Dave Light and Sam Powell ‘found’ a very tight squeeze leading to a decorated chamber.  Only ‘Fred’ could get through and he writes, “….. a very tight squeeze which I had tried six months ago.  I wriggled my way through the squeeze into a large chamber….The formations are white and quite untouched…. I found a passage on the right hand side which went up a little way but came back because the others could not get through the squeeze” (readers will understand why when they realise that ‘Fred’ is about 5’ nothing and proportionally as small the other way round!  Ed.). A sketch plan of what he entered is sown below – does any reader know of this passage?  If you do please send a note to the B.B.


On Saturday 17th February 1968 the 19th Chamber was found by Dave savage (C.D.G.).  The chamber lies about 250ft. further on from the 18th and is very near the resurgence level.  To get to this point involves not only a very long dive but that the diver has to swim to a depth of 70ft. and then rise steeply to the 18th chamber and then on to the 19th at a depth of -10ft. below the show cave water level. It is certainly to be hoped that open passage is not very far away.  When this happens does it increase the length of Swildons or St. Cuthberts’ or Wookey? – It’ll give the club politicians a heyday sorting the problem out.


The Wessex are actively digging two recent collapses in the Hillgrove and Green Ore area.  The first is behind Green Ore Garage and the second in a shake behind the W.C.C. H.Q. at Hillgrove.  From all accounts a short spell of digging at the Hillgrove site showed sizable gaps between the boulders.  After all the hard work put in by the Wessex in this area they certainly deserve some success there. One of the main diggers is John Cornwell who, it would seem is after his ‘triple’.


On 26th November (now it can be told! Ed.) Mr. Glass, the owner of Rookham Wood, came to the Belfry and asked whether anyone was interested in old mineshafts.  A mass visit of festering (because of Foot and Mouth Restrictions) B.E.C. members was the result as soon as the Sunday closing hours permitted!  Members crowded around the top of the hole and soon had the shaft laddered.  It was about 25ft. deep.  Watched by the Glass family Jock Orr and Bob Cross descended the shaft with ‘Wig’ and Kangy taking turns to lifeline where necessary.  At the bottom it sloped away but a mixture of animal skulls, bones, assorted tin cans and other rotting matter prevented Bob from getting far although he became suitably ‘muddied’ in the process.

Later, after some more probing, Alan Thomas persuaded a boulder to disintegrate enabling the cavers to get by.  By courtesy of the W****x C.C. sheer legs were erected above the shaft in February and the following weekend saw several members ‘assisted’ by the climbing section of the B.E.C., Messrs Sell, Sutton and Rees, digging at the bottom of the slope, entered another, but larger, shaft.  On breaking through the others on the surface heard their voices coming up through the ground some little distance from the open shaft.  The three below climbed towards the surface and found that the shaft was capped; this was soon removed and the shaft opened up once more to the light of day.  The depth of the new shaft is 80ft.; 40ft. down to the entry from the shorter shaft. Digging is continuing at the bottom.

On the bitterly cold afternoon of the initial inspection Phil Kingston and ‘Wig’ found a small, choked, hole that was emitting warm air.  This site is further down the valley and could possibly connect with the shaft that is now being dug.  Has anyone details of the shafts in this wood?  As far as I know there are several noted by older members of the B.E.C. just after the 1939-45 war.


To help raise money for the ne Belfry ‘Alfie’ has very kindly given the club copyright of all his Speleodes.  It is intended to publish these in booklet form.  They are being illustrated by Jock Orr.  Further details will appear in the B.B. when available.  Those interested in purchasing a copy should get in touch with Alan Thomas so that he can get some ideas of the likely demand from Club Members. Just think – you can have the ‘Caving Machine’ and ‘Percy Pound’ in your own home.


 - the editor’s deliberate mistake!  To those who did he would like to offer his sincere apologies for putting the time back a month – to those who didn’t well……….!  A reasonable excuse going to be offered by the Editor was that he was experimenting with a fortnightly B.B.! Oh! by the way in case you did not spot the error just glance at the front page of B.B. No. 239 and you will see that it reads ‘January’ instead of ‘February’.



with ‘HEDERA’

Two indoor, outdoor events worth having this month.  A B.E.C. radio programme on climbing and Ken Wilson’s Cloggy lecture.

The B.E.C. effort, “Arêtes, Faces and Cracks” was an hour long.  Why do it?” with answers ranging from Mallory’s “Because it is there” to a frank female opinion that “Women are in it to get a Man”; and if that doesn’t frighten you then you must be married.  Bar or Apres Grimpagne noises were pretty dreadful with, “She’ll be coming round the Mountain when she comes” etc sung with tremendous apathy by a Holiday Fellowship group making merry on cocoa.  Though I must admit Tom Patey’s Ballad of Joe Brown (see The Hard Years) and particularly one about Bill Murray were intriguing.  I liked the blow by blow live recording of a snow climb too. Very real.  As was the advice given by Longstaff, a very old man:. “Take all precautions, take all the precaution you can, but once you have started don’t be put off.”

Ken Wilson’s lecture was different entirely.  He knew precisely why he wanted to climb Clogwyn du’r Arddu, this was reflected in the precision of the account of the cliffs development.  There is to be a book.  It must compare in technical content to Graham Brown’s masterly account of the Brenva Face, but I imagine that if the lecture is anything to go by then it will also be humorous.


The Feb. 17/18 must have been a good W/E for travelling.  B.E.C. went to the Lakes, joining the Insman at Langdale, and to North Wales.  A careful evaluation showed that conditions were better in Wales and there were 30 consecutive photographs top prove it.  Reports suggest that mattresses left for months are better used with a groundsheet and that a mattress sandwich is worse than a sleeping bag.  Easy gullies were climbed to the absolute stunner of the tops in sunshine.  Fantastic! There was no time for beer on Saturday for the flowing reason: -


A B.E.C. party of seven having climbed Y Garn in superb snow conditions were in a dilemma.  The day was bright, the snow was good, there was sufficient day light remaining to continue to Glyder Fawr by way of steepish snow.  However, two of the party were without ice axes, one of then had in fact been discouraged from buying an axe that day “Because he wouldn’t use it much”.  These two decided to descend the tourist route into Cwm Idwal.  Though one was familiar with the route the conditions were unknown.  So, should the party have split?

Two descended, five climbed the Fawr then glissaded and walked back to Idwal arriving about an hour or so after nightfall.  At the Slabs they apprehensively discovered that the two were climbing, rather slowly, up the Ordinary Route.  While the leader had little mountain experience, he had climbed hardish rock easily and is a competent caver.  His second was not completely fit and had done very little climbing.  They had completed about two pitches and communication was difficult but it was established that the leader knew the way off. What could be seen of the rock was dry. They had about 400ft. to go and time was short.  Should they have been made to come down?

The five decided to stay warm by returning to the cars at Ogwen and waited.  Should they have waited at the Slabs?

The two did not return within the estimated time and so the party returned to the Slabs with torches and ropes and warm clothing.  One member was left to warn the Rescue Post as a precaution.  At the Slabs two lights were seen, high in the Cwm, descending. Shouts were answered by one of the two so a runner was sent back to Ogwen with the good news.  When the two arrived they were seen to be with two rescuers with torches.  The rescued pair had been calm and had decided to sit it out until, eventually, they saw lights in the Cwm and naturally requested aid which was willingly given.

Of the pair, the leader wore wet Masters (for the Ordinary Route, his other boots were rubbish) the second’s boots were more suitable for walking.  It was seen that the second’s screw gate snaplink was unscrewed with the gate uppermost; the classic position for the running rope to slip through. They had no spare clothing to face a freezing night and had allowed no time for unforeseen difficulties, in this case snow filled cracks and the way off obliterated by snow, and of course without torches.

There go I.

Is a life worth a little forethought, a few quid on the right gear and not minded being thought a nagging old twit?  Not to mention selflessness.

Good reading, get it now, nag Dave Searle for it.  The lesson is taken from “mountaineering” – a Penguin Handbook by Alan Blackshaw (a good bloke) at 18/6.  Oh, and have a look at your gear – now.  Rope worn? Boots bloody awful?  Anorak, have you even got one, let alone warm trousers?

 ‘HEDERA’ (nagging old twit)


(A complete list of books in the B.E.C. library is being published in the April B.B.  Ed.)


From Other Clubs



Contains a summary of the recent finds in the Craven Area.  This lists 29 different sires including Mongo Gill Hole which has now been connected with Stump Cross Cavern and Southerscales Pot, Chapel le Dale which is given length of 4,000ft. and connects with Great Douk Cave via a 45ft. sump.

For those interested in climbing there is an account of the second ascent of Trolldind Wall, Norway and also an attack on Lowfell Buttress.

There is also a technical article on the manufacture of carbide by G.P. Benn which may be of interest to members.

N.C.G. Newsletter No. 62 & 63. Nov. and Dec. ’67 and Jan. 68.

These two publications contain miscellaneous information concerning the N.C.G.


A well produced journal containing articles as “Some observations on Helictites” by P.W. Francis and a description of the O.F.D. II Clay Series complete with a survey.


This edition deals mainly with the N.P.C. experience in Norway last year.  Also details of their new committee.

M.N.R.C. Caving Publication.  Vol.1. No 4/5.

The most interesting item in this bulletin is an article on The Results of a Map Dowsing Survey relating to Lamb Leer by P.A.E. Stewart.

S.V.C.C. Newsletter.  Dec. ’67 & Jan. ‘67

List of trips carried out by the S.V.C.C. and A.G.M.


“ Pleistocene Bone Caves with special reference to the Mendip, Somerset.”  by E.K. Tratman.  “Features of Cavern development in Central Mendip.” by Derek Ford.  Report of the Leeds University P.E. Dept. Expedition to some caves on the Djurdjuru Mountains, Algeria, July 1966? by Alistair J. Milner.  Some examples from the South Hars Region of Cavern Formation in Gypsum by Eric Hensler.


Cavers Bookshelf No. 3

by B.M. Ellis

University of Bristol Speleological Society Proceedings.  Vol. 11. No.2.  1966 – 1967. Price 13/-.

This publication reports on both the archaeological and speleological activities of the society and although at first sight this appears to be a good thick volume for the price, closer examinations shows that only a third is of interest to the caver. In the 111 pages there are only two caving articles, one on the geomorphology of Longwood Swallet, and the other on the Little Neath River Cave in South Wales.  The remainder consists principally of two long articles of archaeological interest; the Priddy Circles are described by Dr. Tratman, and the excavations carried out at Gatcombe by Dr. Cuncliffe.  If the speleological third could be obtained at one third of the price it would be extremely good value but the economics pf printing don’t work that way unfortunately. Although this is not possible, both of the caving articles are at present available as off prints at 5/- each and for most cavers this would be the best value.

Atkinson’s paper on Longwood Swallet continues the work done in other caves by Dr. Ford.  It describes the structural geology, geomorphic history and modern hydrology in the system.  As regards the Little Neath River Cave the Society are to be congratulated on producing a report giving a description, geological notes and a grade 5 survey within 12 months of the discovery of the cave.  Other clubs could very well copy this example.  All measurements are given in metric units which takes some getting used to but this is something we shall have to do very soon.

CRAVEN POTHOLE CLUB JOURNAL.  Vol.4, No.1.  (1967). Price 10/6.

For nearly 20 years the C.P.C. Journal has been one of the ‘quality’ caving magazines, this issue is no exception.  In fact with 80 pages it is one of the largest they have ever produced and by accepting advertisements they have kept the price down.  There is the usual range of articles which should be found interesting although admittedly there are none of special interest to the Mendip caver. There is a description of the discovery and exploration of the Aille River Cave, articles on caving in Africa and New Zealand, various meet reports, book reviews (including the only complimentary one yet seen for ‘History of Mendip caving’) and expedition reports to various foreign lands, as well as some more general articles.


(Autumn 1967)  Price 1/-

Like many club magazines, this has a strong club flavour and some of the content deals with club affairs. This is a ‘complaint’ of almost all caving publications (with notable a few exceptions) but then you can’t go very wrong at a shilling!  And this is much better than most ‘school’ club journals.  What is more, the money from any sales is donated to the Mendip Cave Registry.  This issue, in addition to several club trip reports, a report of their A.G.M, etc, does have an account of a further expedition to Norway which includes descriptions of several caves.

Caving and Climbing Meets


Mar. 10, Sun



Bridge Cave & O.F.D. I & II.

April 21, Sun.

Practice Rescue – Coral Chamber.

May 12, Sun.

G.B.  (Committee MUST attend – Pints Rule).


Disappointment Pot & others to be arranged.



Further information from:-

The Caving Secretary,


R.A. MacGregor,


The Railway Arms,


Station Road,




Reading, Berks.


Mar. 24, Sun.

Frome Valley.

April 28, Sun.

Wye Valley.

May 18/19


June 22/23

North Wales or Lake District.



Further information from:-

The Climbing Secretary,


E.G. Welch,


Frenchay Lodge Bungalow,


Malmains Drive






LONG TERM PLANNING. :-  ‘Alfie’ will be giving a short report in the April B.B.


TACKLE STORE KEYS are held by: - Dave Irwin, Andy MacGregor, Norman Petty, Dave Searle (for mid-week caving), Alan Thomas and Gordon Tilly.


Guest Leaders System

The scheme is being introduced as an experiment and will attempt to widen the source of Cuthbert’s Leaders.  Up to the present time the B.E.C. whose agreement with Wookey Paper Mills makes them responsible for the controlled access, have drawn the leaders from their own members.

Various Mendip clubs have been invited to submit names of their own members who would make suitable leaders.  The clubs are: - Wessex Cave Club, Shepton Mallet Cave Club, Mendip Caving Group, University of Bristol Spelio. Society, Westminster Spelio. Group, Mendip Nature and Research Club, Axbridge Caving Group and Severn Valley Caving Club.

The outline of the plan is as follow: -

1.                  A meeting is being held 24th March to explain the procedure and answer any queries.

2.                  The Guest Leader will have to carry through the 5 ‘test’ trips (also a requirement for B.E.C. members) and be familiar with all main tourist and escape routes.  The B.E.C. Caving Secretary (Andy MacGregor) will make all the arrangements.

3.                  All parties (including B.E.C.) will sign a special Cuthbert’s log book to ensure the rules applying to the cave are understood by all entering the system.

4.                  The Guest Leaders will not be issued with keys and the cave will only be available to them at weekends.

5.                  Guest Leaders will be expected to take all their club trips and one of the B.E.C. arranged trips with their clubs.

6.                  All visiting clubs, other than the clubs having members as Guest Leaders, will still book trips through the B.E.C. and not any of the clubs in the Guest Leaders Scheme.

7.                  Once the Guest Leader has completed the record form he will be able to descend the cave at will during the course of a weekend BUT the final decision to accept him on a permanent basis is left to the Leaders meeting (usually held in September) and the B.E.C. General Committee.

8.                  As St. Cuthbert’s is the only large cave system on Mendip still in pristine condition the B.E.C. hold the right to cancel this experiment without notice should the B.E.C. Leaders feel that there has been, during the trial period, a noticeable deterioration in the condition of the cave.