Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,

Why didn’t we have a competition for the new Bat design on the cover?  I’m sure mine would have won first prize!


Talking Point

Discussion, lately, has been dominated by the new Belfry.  It has been suggested that whether we get the Grant or not we go should go ahead and build the new Belfry this year.  It has been said that the new building as proposed,, might be priced as low as £2,000, and as Bob, our Honourable Treasurer, thinks that the money could be raised by May this year, the followers of this idea now say “Let’s get the building up ourselves this without the Grant we may not get”.

On the other hand the opposite view is taken.  That is to wait and see what the Official answer brings.  If it is ‘Yes’ then the club will have saved something up to 50% of the cost of the new Belfry – in the case of a £2,000 building - £1,000 saved! The rest of the money would then be available for other essentials such as car-park, interior fittings of the building etc.

If the former idea is accepted, then an E.G.M. will have to be called as directed by the 1967 A.G.M.




Hon. Sec: - A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Editor: - D.J. Irwin, 23 Campden Road, Bristol. 3.


Further Caving In Switzerland

The first three issues have included details of the new discoveries and this number continues on the same theme – this time exploration in north-east Switzerland.

by Mo Marriott.

Despite the rather general title of this article it is more or less devoted to the exploration of one system.  But first a brief picture of our caving activities here in the north-east of Switzerland.  Caving here is divided into two distinct seasons; from spring until the end of summer we amuse ourselves by exploring caves situated in the lowlands, some of these are found in small outliers of limestone and are partially solution in origin, while many others are formed in glacial deposits and are almost entirely erosional in nature.  In addition there are a number of abandoned lignite mines and stone workings, some of which are of considerable antiquity.  At all events none of these caves or mines are extensive – they are small, or very small by Mendip standards.

The second season starts at the end of August – weather and the previous winters snow conditions permitting – and ends with the general rise in temperature at the end of February. During this period we are able to get up into the mountainous Karst areas, where by far are the most interesting systems found.  At first we are restricted to the shallower pots and the meandering stream passages found in the Karst areas.  These meander passages are quite interesting, they run more or less parallel to the surface seem to form a pattern of drainage largely independent of the major vertical systems which pierce the limestone.  Stream capture between meander passages and shafts can be seen in a number of places, and collapsing of these shallow passages has produced extensive trench-like depressions which are characteristic feature of this Karst area.

By the middle or end of September the remnants of the winter snow have either vanished or the nightly sub-zero temperatures have reduced the melt streams to a minimum.  It is only then that the ‘serious’ caving begins, and that means the deep shafts.  Over the last two tears our attention has been centred on one system called “Kobelishohle” (literally Jacobs Cave).  This cave has been known to the local Senner (alpine herdsman) for many years as a steep sided depression at the bottom of a high rift entrance leads down into a high but narrow rift chamber – an extension of the entrance chamber.  After a further 40ft. the rift petered out in a horizontal direction but extended vertically downwards, forming the mouth of a very large shaft.  This shaft was plumbed and founds to be 530ft. deep and apparently quite vertical.

The first descent took place a few weeks later.  After many hours of transporting material; ladders, ropes, a winch, we were finally ready to tackle this very deep shaft (See B.B. No.217).  The shaft was truly vast, 30 to 40ft. in diameter, and tending to a double shaft profile with a figure of eight cross section near the bottom. The massive beds of cretaceous limestone were everywhere gentle fluted and scalloped and polished to a finish like marble.  Several promising ways on were seen at or near the bottom of the shaft, but in view of the lack of time, the small size of our party (five, including the people manning the winch) and the fact that the three of us in the shaft were now soaked from the constant spray, we were obliged to return to the surface.

In the few weeks of 1965 that remained we were prevented from making another descent, as the result of bad weather, and this situation continued in the early part of the year, so that the second trip did not come until September 1966.  We had benefited much from the experience of the first descent, so that the rigging of the shaft went very smoothly, although we were still plagued with lack of people, on this occasion – six instead of five!  Three of us were soon at the bottom of the shaft and we immediately set about the task of surveying the large hall which formed the bottom of the shaft.  On completion of this we turned our attention to the two obvious ways on from the bottom. We decided to tackle a “window” in the wall of the shaft first.  This hole was very conspicuous and about thirty feet from the floor.  We were quite easily able to enter the hole by climbing a little way up the ladder and swinging across.  We found ourselves at the head of a steeply descending rift, from ten to twenty feet wide, and in places more than sixty feet high, with some very nice stal. decorations on the walls.  The rift was quite tricky to negotiate, in some places we could climb, while in others we had to hang ladders, and our progress was steady but slow. At a point about 130ft. below the window we were disappointed to find that the rift closed down to an impenetrable slot, and no way on could be found.  We returned to the shaft and examined the second passage.  This was a very high rift breaching the south wall of the shaft but only two or three feet wide.  We followed the floor of this narrow meandering rift, which descended quite rapidly in a series of potholes of up to a depth of twenty feet.  The narrowness of the rift enabled us to climb down these pots by bridging against the walls, so we did not have to use ladders. 

Here we were able to make rapid progress, surveying as we went, and we were soon around 120ft. below the floor of the big shaft.  Then we came to the second disappointment of the day, but a rather different barrier than the first.  The rift widened suddenly to around eight feet and appeared to ascend slightly or at least the floor of the rift.  On closer inspection we found that this was only a local widening of the rift, and a narrow slot continued steeply downward.  One of us squeezed into the slit whilst another climbed up into the widening which formed a sort of gallery along the rift axis.  About one minute later the discovery of the second shaft was announced, by the man in the narrow slit who had found himself peering out a little way down one wall, and by me when I found myself looking straight down into the mouth of the shaft.  It was a big one, and we were not sure that our ladder would reach.  The plumbing settled the matter, the shaft was 200ft. deep to the first landing, and we had only 160ft. of ladder with us.  We made the long grind back to the head of the big shaft, and began the equally long task of de-tackling the cave and transferring the material over the mountain.  In the ensuing months the weather was again against us and three attempts at descending the hole were frustrated by excessive water.  It was to be almost exactly a year before another trip could be made.

In the beginning of October last year we were able to get a reasonable party together for a further attempt at pushing Kobleishohle.  On this occasion five people descended the shaft equipped with an extra 250ft. of ladder, which with the ladder on the big pitch comprised our entire stock – some 800ft. The rigging of the 200ft. shaft proved quite a problem since the polished rock in the rift at the head of the shaft offered nothing in the way of natural belays, and cracks scarcely wide enough to fit a razor blade – let alone a piton.  Eventually we installed two somewhat doubtful pitons and the first man descended.  The plan was for three people to scout ahead and see what lay in store for us, the other two people descending using a double lifeline when they were required. The 200ft. shaft, although somewhat smaller in diameter than the big shaft was equally impressive.  Almost circular in section and some twenty feet in diameter, the rock was quite black in contrast to the deep browns and yellows of the big shaft.  Our hopes were very soon shattered, when, only a very few feet below the floor of this shaft, a further pitch was found.  We were praying that that our fifty feet of ladder would be long enough, but the time for stones to fall down the shaft was ominously long.  The shaft was not quite vertical, a smooth ledge at thirty feet obscured our view of the bottom.  We lowered our last ladders into the shaft and one of us descended.  The ledge was very round and smooth, and did not offer a very good footing, certainly not good enough for a second belay point.  By clinging to the ladder and leaning out one could see the end of our last ladder swinging in space a long way from the bottom.  Once again the plumb line was brought into use – the pitch was 90ft. total. It was decided to leave all the tackle in the cave, with the intention of returning within a week or two.  This at least made the return to the surface less of a slog.

It was six weeks before another trip could be made, but the weather at the end of November seemed to becoming more stable, and we had high hopes.  However, an unseasonal snow storm occurred 24hrs. before the trip and we were faced with a long climb up into the mountains through five feet of very soft snow. In fact we started the climb but gave up almost exhausted after three hours, and after the prospect of at four more to reach the cave.  The end of the year approached and the weather remained atrocious.  By now we were getting a little worried about the condition of the equipment in the cave, since most of the ladders were hanging in very damp conditions.  A further attempt was made at the beginning of January, this time the cave was reached on ski, but even so, it required five hours of climbing.  When we reached the cave we were horrified to find the depression almost filled with drifted snow, we were faced with the prospect of having to dig more than twenty feet to reach the floor of the entrance chamber. It took us the entire weekend to ‘open up’ the hole, the snow in the lower part of the entrance (probably the November snowfall) had compacted almost to ice and we had to chop it out with an axe.  On top of that the snow had drifted into the crawl for some distance, almost filling it. We covered the ‘snow shaft’ with some wooden planks to prevent the snow from drifting further into the cave and returned to the valley.  Three weeks later we made a ski trip into the mountains again, this time with a strong party reinforced by some colleagues from the French speaking part of Switzerland.  This was to be something of a do-or-die attempt, not so much to push the exploration but rather to recover the equipment from the cave before the Spring melt began – to have left the tackle in the cave during this period would have meant writing it off, what isn’t hopelessly corroded by the water would have swept away.  This time we and a further 150 feet of ladder with us, and an extra 650 feet of lifeline. We made record time on the big shaft and just under two hours we had five people on the bottom.  The 200ft.

shaft was also quickly descended and the 90ft. pitch was rigged.  The bottom this pitch proved to be very roomy, with a very large rift passage leading off to the north.  At least, it seemed, the cave was starting to level out. But not for long!  After 50 feet of gently descending passage we were again staring forlornly down into the mouth of yet another shaft – another big one! 200ft. to the first landing the plumb line told us, and at the same time told us that we were about 100ft. short of ladder.  Time was very much against us and after toying with the idea of lowering ladders from some of the higher pitches we decided to call it a day and shift all the tackle out of the cave.

So this is the situation up to date.  We now have face the long wait until the autumn and colder weather.  During this wait we will all be wondering about what waits in store for us at the bottom of the latest shaft.  A chamber?  Another big pitch – another five hundred footer would be by no means improbable. A big passage?  This time next year we will know the answer, I’ll let you know then.

 “Mo” Marriott.

P.S.  According to the survey the bottom of the latest shaft, or at least the landing struck by the plumb line, is about 1,250ft. down.


B.E.C. Caving Expedition 1985

                        - Start planning NOW!

Recent theories on the structure of the Moon suggest a highly porous surface layer ‘honeycombed with caves of all sizes, by comparison the greatest grottoes of the Earth are mere pinholes!

…from a recent issue of The New scientist.


Have you paid you Sub yet?.................send it to Bob NOW!

Monthly Notes No.12

by ‘WIG’

Council Of Northern Caving Clubs:-

Address changes –

ASS. SEC. responsible for meets on Leck, Casterton and Fountains Fell:-
                        J. Morgan, 23 Runnington Ave., Colne, Lancs.

ASS. SEC. for Penyghent, Fountains Fell (except Mr Coates’ land) and Mongo Gill:-
                        J. Rasdell, 6 Monkroyd Ave., Barnoldswick, Colne, Lancs.

C.R.G. Library.

All British periodicals are being transferred to Mr. P.A. Haigh of Halifax.  Enquiries should still be address to Brig. E.A. Glennie.

New Digging Spades.

The Committee have purchased 2 lightweight spades that should take the backache out of constricted digging.  Being much shorter and smaller it is easier to manoeuvre.  If these are found to be satisfactory by the digging teams then more will be purchased.

Austria – The Ahnenschacht 1968

Members interested in going to Austria to have a bash at bottoming this great shaft should contact Alan Thomas as soon as possible.  The trip is planned for sometime in August.  Also, if anyone is interested in another trip to Greece Alan is prepared to organise a trip to the very deep shaft – about 2,000ft. –Proventina. Again get in contact with Alan as soon as possible.

Cuthbert’s Report – the position.

Exploration of S. Cuthbert’s. – Is in for its final re-write.
COMPLETE SURVEY & SECTIONS – Will not be complete until 1969.
NEW & OLD ROUTES – Survey nearing completion.
MAIN CHAMBERS – Line survey only.
RABBIT WARREN – All survey lines complete. 50% detailed.
GOUR HALL – Final drawing completed.
CERBERUS & MAYPOLE SERIES – Both surveys complete except for minor passages.  Drawings not started.
RABBIT WARREN EXT. & CATGUT – Line survey only.
SEPTEMBER SERIES – Line survey only.
LONG CHAMBER AREA – Line survey through the main route only.
CORAL AND ROCKY BOULDER SERIES – Only partially surveyed.

Other parts of the report in various stages of preparation.

Length of passage so far surveyed nearly 11,500ft.

The depth of the cave to the sump = 411.9ft.

Cuthbert’s Tourist Trips.

Leaders are reminded that all visitors to the cave are charged 1/- tackle fees – except when they are on working trips.  Since the cave was re-opened in January it has been a regular event to hear of someone being pulled up the Entrance Rift.  Recently two parties from a University Club had nearly 50% of their number pulled or assisted up the rift.  It must be pointed out once again that Cuthbert’s is definitely not a novice cave and club secs. planning visits to the cave should make sure that all their members have sufficient experience.

Happenings At The Belfry

March at the Belfry has been a month of gradual recovery from two months fester.  Not only has climbing and caving been on the increase – several members have lent a hand and preliminary work for the new Belfry got underway.  The first job was the re-piping of the Drinking pool stream way.  The old pipes were replaced with larger, and stronger, concrete pipes.  Alongside the pipes was laid a telephone cable for communication between the Belfry and the cave below in times of emergency etc.  It also is now in a much safe position – before it was slung ‘high’ over the Belfry track and attached to the clothes line post.  Unfortunately it wasn’t high enough because it almost threw Walt Foxwell from his tractor!  What did I hear you say?......

On 16th March, Fred Owen and his bulldozer cut a track along the inside of the Belfry site south boundary. This will provide a separate approach to Walt Foxwell’s small holding at the rear of the Belfry resulting in a cleaner car parking area.  The total cost of this exercise is reported to be in the region of nearly £60.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet (Mendip!)

The water from the Main Stream that flows into the pool under Cerberus Hall has now been proved to flow on into the Lake.  Although not proven presumably on back-up cave to the static sump that lies under Curtain Chamber.  After all the arguments that took place before the final test Roger Stenner must be pleased with himself in proving his ideas to be correct.


Trips from the Caving Log

Edited by Phil Coles.

Caving is finally finding its feet again as the F & M restrictions are lifted.  First trip of the New Year was on 20th January – a photographic trip in Hunters Hole, coupled with a look at digs.  Dears’ Ideal would appear to be most promising, a boulder floor rising to a few inches of the roof at the constricted point.  A few weekends work, and maybe a bit of bang, is all (ALL? Ed.) that seemed to be needed.

St. Cuthbert’s was officially reopened on the 21st January with a successful practice rescue in the Wire Rift (see B.B. Feb. 1968).  Subsequent trips have been two water sampling trips by Roger Stenner on 26/1 and 10/2, return to Sump Dig on 4/2 by Phil Kingston and Barry and sherpas.  Phil was pleased to find that despite a prolonged absence from the sump, it hadn’t silted up.  Thoughts have also turned to digs again after a prospecting trip on 3/2 by Dave Irwin, Alan Thomas and others to the end of Gour Rift.  The Dining Room Dig has been dug on one occasion – 28/2.  On the 4/2 a party comprising Keith Franklin, Dave Irwin, Howard Kenny and Oliver Lloyd inspected the possibilities of carrying out a practice rescue from Coral Chamber.  They did not state their conclusions (the rescue will take place as planned on the 21st April.  A simple route was found – Ed).  They say that the average age of the party was 40!  (Heavens only knows what it would have been if ‘Old Man’ Meaden and Alan Thomas had been on the trip.  (38 – Ed). There have been twelve other trips into Cuthbert’s including a photographic.  One such trip in Long Chamber Tim Hodgson slipped and dislocated his knee.  Fortunately it righted itself before Tim came to rest.  After a ‘ciggy’ he was able to get out under his own steam.

Hunters was visited for the 2nd time on the 28/1 but no digging.  On the 3/2 ‘Fred’ Atwell explored Cuckoo Cleeves and found the cave very loose!  On the 7/2 bods had a look around Redcliffe Caves. Other caves visited have been New Balch & G.B. (photographic) Burrington and Nine Barrows, all one each.

The main event so far has been the opening of the mineshaft in Rookham Wood by Bob Sell & Co. Little need be said here as Bob is writing an article on it.  (see letters - Ed).


On Monday 18th March it was announced that Mendip was now regarded as an area of outstanding natural beauty.  (From B.E.C. and Press reports).

Buckfastleigh Area – Devon.

On the 11-3-68 the Guardian reported that over the previous weekend that 200,000 (yes 2 hundred thousand) feet of new passage had been discovered!  Minor checking found the Express and Telegraph with the correct length – a mere 2,000ft.  Apparently the cave concerned is Bakers Pit.  The extensions have deepened the cave quite considerably.  Finally, the Shepton got hold of the news and published it in their Newssheet before it appeared in the D.D.D. Journal – weren’t they mad!



The cave was re-opened to cavers on Thursday 14th March.  At first it was only to cavers known to Mr. Maine but by Sunday it was business as usual! 35 cars were counted on the Green outside the farm.


That Bat!



We have had so many letters congratulating us on the new Belfry bulletins that it is quite impossible to print them all.  Quite a lot of comments have been made about the new cover design; in particular about the BAT.  For instance:-


Dear Editor,

I don’t think much of your new bat.  It looks as if it has just received a charge of buckshot up the backside!



I’m a keen student of bats, and I must say that this looks as if you have discovered a new species.


Dear Sir,

I think a more energetic looking bat would have been in keeping with the spirit of the B.E.C. Why not a Bat – Rampant showing its teeth instead of the timid mouse-like decoration on the cover?


Long Term Planning

In response to many members request Alfie and Bob give the up to date position regarding the New Belfry.


The paperwork has been transferred from the Department of Education and Science to Somerset Playing Fields Committee.  The normal time which elapses before the receipt of paperwork and the provision of a grant is about a year but we have been told that we shall probably receive a grant in about nine months.  Confirmation of this is expected in April.


Plans of the proposed building have been submitted to a number of builders for estimating purposes. At present it looks as if the price will be somewhat less that our original guess.



Dear Members,

To give you some idea of the present position regarding finance of the proposed New Belfry I have set out below some of the pertinent details.







In hand 31-8-67





Bankers Orders to 12-3-68





Other Donations.





Jumble Sale





Interest to 31-12-67





½ Annual Subs. Since 31-1-68









                        Outstanding on Bankers Orders   £472
                        Other anticipations:-       Donations   £200
                                                ½ Annual Subs £50 per annum.
                                                ½ Belfry Dues  £75 per annum.

Including the balance of £446-2-6 on the Hut Fund the Clubs position is as follows:-

Lloyds Bank Deposit A/C 12/3/68                        £336-15-4
Post Office Savings Bank A/C 18/3/68     £340-14-11
Cash 18/3/68                                         £  32-10-10
                                                                        £710-  1- 1

If you have not already done so, would you please let me know immediately if you are willing to contribute by Bankers Standing Order or in any other way.

Yours hopefully,
R. Bagshaw.  Hon. Treasurer.


Letters to the Editor

Dear Irwin,

In the north corner of Rookham Wood, in 1933, there is a nice little climbing shaft which I descended (Back and Knee).  It is surrounded by 4 trees – at its base there is a right hand turn to another steeply descending sledge-way, boxed with wood, leading down some 40ft. or more; as far as I went being on my own.

Mr. Balch told me ‘that there were several deep shafts lower down the valley towards the Rookham Spring.’ But I did not find them.

Yours sincerely,
Gerald Platten.  16/3/68


Dear Sir,

During recent weeks conversation in certain quarters of the club has turned to the purchase of a barn on the opposite of the Cuthbert’s depression from the Belfry site (some people have expresses themselves very forcefully).

I do not at this stage propose to go into the Why’s and Wherefores concerning the Committees decision to purchase the Barn except to say that at the time I thought it was the right thing to do.  The reasons were: - a) it would giver us extra accommodation and b) and investment.

Since then however, the Long Term Planning Committee have produced their excellent report and had their plans approved for the New Belfry at the last A.G.M.

The questions now remain: - What are we going to do with the barn?  Is it worth spending money on?  Now that we have purchased the barn should we demolish it and use the stone work and wood for our own purposes and try to sell the land to someone prepared to obtain the necessary planning permission to erect a building of some sort?

My own view is that we must take the cheapest way out by demolishing the building and using the materials for the New Belfry.  Whether we keep the land or not is immaterial at this stage.  What is important is that we should not waste money which could otherwise be used for the New Belfry.

G.D. Tilly  16/3/68

Wedding Bells

From B.E.C. members everywhere “Very best wishes” to Joyce and Pete Franklin who were married in Bristol on Saturday 30th March.

Members may be interested to know that at long last the B.E.C. contingent north of the Border has contacted the B.B. with news of their most recent activities – well part of them at any rate!  Most will remember that we lost some of the regular visitors to Mendip last year when John Manchip, Steve Grime, Pete McNab (Snab to most) and Derm. Statham went north to Edinburgh in search of their fortunes.  Here is what they have been doing.


The B.E.C. North of the Border

By Steve Grime

Since leaving the ‘sunny’ south the activities of the ex-Mendip population have been limited mainly to consuming vast quantities of Ale (after dole day!) talking about last summer and planning for the coming summer.

However, some of the less slothful members of the fraternity have managed to get away ‘on the hill’ every weekend since September.  Caving first – although there is not much to report in this field owing to Foot and Mouth etc., in November we made two trips to Yorkshire to do Kingsdale Master Cave – a really superb cave.  Also we had a go at several other pots.  On the first weekend I got clobbered for the tragic Sunset Hole rescue (see below – Ed) which was a classic at underestimating the difficulties in bringing a body out of a ‘moderate’ pot.  The next trip on the following weekend featured Jefferies (of the Grampians S.S. – Ed) with new wife and McNab.  We were a potential aven climbing party, but on inspection the ‘old Cuthbert’s snag of dissolving stal. to quite a depth showed that golos were the only way up. In a water fight in the beck McNab got a pegging hammer embedded in his skull and spent the next few weeks wailing about chronic headaches. After this trip Foot and Mouth took and all meets were cancelled. Biddle (HE’S not in the the B.E.C. – Ed) went north for a week with his new wife and a new bang licence but to no avail!  A practice rescue was held in one of the Fife Mines and went very well to our amazement and the awe of the visiting club.

On to juicier stuff – climbing.  This started with a bang.  On the weekend of September 16th (1967) Derm Statham, Lynn and myself managed to smash off 9 Munroe’s in 28 hours.  After that things slowed down a bit but every weekend, except when caving, at least one Munroe or classic has ‘gone’.  Standing out are Tower Ridge in filthy conditions, wet, heavy snow, cloud and half a gale; also Aonach Eagach in a blizzard with soft snow over-lying verglas.  Result – crampons points now ¼” shorter.

Four weeks ago S.C. Gully was really good but the snow didn’t start until half-way up.  All in winter conditions have been terrible although Manchip and I took advantage of some peerless weather in November to climb Carn Toul (4,000ft. – I think) and then walked back to Braer through the night on an iced up path where Biddle picked us up the next day.


At present Steve is back in hospital again but not for long as he intends to be on Mendip for Easter – the club meet is in South Wales – just in case you are interested!  He carries on in the letter to suggest a B.E.C. climbing meet at one of the Bank holidays in Scotland to climb faces such as the Ben Nevis North East Wall and adds “…We do have two and three lane roads in Scotland and one could always fly up and then hire a car from Inverness, it’s only 60 miles from there.

Sunset Hole Rescue.

On October 7th Eric Lockhurst died after falling off a 40ft. pitch.  Said to have started up the climb without the lifeliner knowing what he intended to do.  He died from fractured ribs puncturing the lungs.

Late As Usual!

Some of you are no doubt wondering why the B.B. is arriving late ‘as usual’.  The fact is that it is not being published late – the Feb. B.B. appeared during the second week of Feb and March was published 7th March! – it’s because YOU probably have not returned the wrappers that were enclosed with the Christmas B.B.  To ensure that your B.B. arrives on time send the wrappers to Phil. Townsend, 154 Sylvia Ave., Bristol 3 – pick your pen and send then NOW.

Caving and Climbing Meets

Caving Meets: -


21st. Apr. ST. CUTHBERT’S Practice Rescue – Coral Chamber.

12th May.  G.B. Committee Members must attend – come along and watch the fiasco!


Climbing Meets

Apr. 28th  WYE VALLEY




Anyone interested giving a hand on any of these digs should contact the people concerned at the Waggon on Thursday evenings.

ST. CUTHBERT’S          Gour Rift Dig – Dave Irwin or Keith Franklin.
                                    Dining Room Dig – Dave Irwin.

HUNTER’S HOLE          Dear’s Ideal – Phil Coles or Keith Franklin.


EMBOROUGH SWALLET – Phil Coles or Keith Franklin.

Cavers Bookshelf

by B.M. Ellis & D.J. Irwin

EXPEDITION ’67 TO THE GOUFFRE BERGER:  Report by R. Watkinson and others.  Published by the Pegasus Club, Nottingham.  10/-

At the start it should be pointed out that this is a report on the expedition by the Pegasus Club and not the more publicised expedition led by Ken Pearce; the latter suffered from’ moral trouble’ and many of the team left the cave and refused to re-enter it. Pegasus Club, assisted by a few from Pearce’s party, did manage to reach the bottom of the cave.  The report is divided into sections on the Preparation, the Expedition itself, Medical, Communications, Food and Photographic reports. One aspect which I, for one, was pleased to see was that part from the list of expedition members, the text does not mention a single person’s name and this made a pleasant change when reading the report.  The exception for me was the communications report which fell between two stools in that it gave no technical details but was still too technical for me to follow it easily.  This is a small criticism on a very well produced report that contains some 29 photographs, most of them excellent.  It is hoped that other expeditions will follow this lead in producing an easily obtainable report of their exploits.


Some Preliminary Observations on the Geomorphology of the Dan-yr-Ogof System by A.C. Coase.  (Reprinted from Proceedings of B.S.A. No.5. 1967).  14pp. + photographs and line drawing.  Separate survey (plan) at scale approx 1” = 166ft.

The whole work is printed by offset litho.  The contents are divided into three sections: a) Location b) Description and c) Formation. The distance to the farthest part is 2½ miles and is said to be rather strenuous.  The survey seems to have been reduced from a much larger scale drawing, though quite clear a magnifying glass would help to read the very small print. In the time available since the discoveries Coase and Judson are to be congratulated in producing the survey so quickly.  The text is very readable and the photographs appear to be taken from colour transparencies – hence their flatness and lack of detail.


CAVES AND CAVING – A guide to the Exploration, geology and Biology of caves by Marc Jasinski, with English adaptation by Bill Maxwell. Published by Paul Hamlyn. 1968. 5/-. 160 pages (Not available from BME)

It is easy to criticise a book of this nature but examination of the criticisms that come to mind shows that they are only of a minor character and very often only differences of opinion.  The sub-title very aptly describes the nature of the book and its contents – it is an introduction to caving is all about.  There are five sections to the book.  The first, of forty pages, deals with equipment (individual and club), exploration technique and dangers.  The second section, thirty three pages, describes the geology of cave formation and formations.  A brief introduction to biospeleology makes up the third section of fifteen pages, and the fourth (twenty five pages) covers caving activities.  This is mainly concerned with cave photography but there are shorter sections on water tracing, archaeological digging, surveying and looking for caves.  The last section, ten pages, is a very brief summary of the caving areas in Britain and extremely short notes on the rest of the world.     Finally there is the bibliography of 29 books; an apparently very arbitrary list of 12 caving clubs; a list of the “major caves and potholes in Britain” (the only one for North Wales is, in fact, a mine); lists of the longest and deepest caves in the world; and a glossary of caving terms.

This book has only one rival in its field.  “Know the Game – Potholing and Caving” by D. Robinson which gives greater detail of caving techniques.  It is thought that Caves & Caving is better value for money.



From Other Clubs

by Gordon Tilly

Mendip Caver Vol. 3 No.12.  March 1968.

A 14 page edition, presumably to celebrate to celebrate the completion of the third volume.  It contains reports on digging in St. Cuthbert’s Sump and Dining Room and Hunters Hole, (both these reports have been extracted and adapted from the original B.B. reports).  A survey of recent work carried out by the C.S.S. in Holwell follows. Also included are descriptions of some East Devon caves with six pages of surveys.  The January edition of the B.B. is one of the Club Journals features in the review section on Page 150.

WESSEX CAVE CLUB JOURNAL VOL. 10.  No.115. Feb. 1968.

The main features of this edition are: - the report of the clubs A.G.M., “The New Survey of Read’s Cavern” by W.I. Stanton, “Early Days in Read’s Cavern” by Dr. E.K. Tratman, “Discovery of Browne-Stewart Series – Read’s cavern” by C.H. Kenny, and finally “A Caving Holiday in Rumania” by Tony Aldham.


Continuing the saga of the discovery of Contour Cavern.  This newsletter contains a reprint of Clive North’s article that appeared in the January B.B.

N.P.C. Newsletter No.24.  February 1968.

Contains the usual club news, a report on the C.R.G. Symposium on cave Hydrology and water Tracing, a list of members, etc.

EXETER U.S.S. Newsletter Vol.4.  No.4  March 1968.

If you like reading letters to Harold Bear, A Girls Guide to Mendip, The Dirty Dozen and their experiences sleeping in the Eastwater Hut with a slight caving interest by the mention of Longwood, wetsuits and Christmas Crawl followed by the words of the song ‘Down Below’, then this is the paper for you.  Nuf said.


Towards Wookey Part 2

by D.J. Irwin

4. Beehive Chamber

Another good point for a good muddy dig is just off the stream way under Beehive Chamber.  This has been dug on a number of occasions. It is a choked phreatic arch of quite large proportions.  One of the disadvantages of this site is that bit is on the same level as the stream way and so has quite a drainage problem.  This passages seems to have been draining down from Pyrolusite Series before the formation of Beehive Chamber – which is a collapsed feature now heavily stal’ed over.  Before the water drained across this route it appears to have flowed upstream.  At the top of Pyrolusite chain the vertical wall above the roof of Beehive Chamber is markedly vadose.  The old stream bed is well marked at the point where one climbs to the top entry of Beehive Chamber and itself lies some 10 to 12 feet above the present stream way.  The level is the same as the point where struggle Passage makes its entry at Plantation Junction.  Is there a way out at Plantation?

5. Plantation Junction

There are several side passages at the top right of the Junction – just above the point where the Plantation Stream makes its appearance.  All are choked with coarse infill but in the short distance that they can be followed they appear to run along the strike; although the lowest of the group turns a corner as if it were spiralling downwards.

6. ‘100ft. a day’ Passage

Just below the Choke and opposite Bypass Passage is this dig.  Dug in recent years by Petty.  It is low, wide phreatic tube that is well choked except for a couple of inches of airspace.  Its interest lies in the fact that it is running along the strike, and being well below the Rabbit warren, could well lead to an abandoned stream way.  It well may have been the original route of the Rocky boulder stream that drained down bypass Passage.  The infilling has a considerable quantity of charcoal in it. Just an idea – will the passage take the full flow of stream if diverted into it?

What Lies Below?

Several areas have many things in common, but when all the points have been related to one another it would appear that there is a level at about -350ft. from the Entrances.  The Cerberus series lie at this level and does not appear to be directly related to the Rabbit Warren.  The water opening up these passages must have come from elsewhere. Derek Ford suggests a flow from Everest passage.  Is it possible that a large flow from Everest could have formed the Cerberus Series?

Just off Lake Chamber a passage has been forced and followed for about 150ft. last year.  It terminates in a static sump.  The general direction is along the fault line.  Recently the water from the Main Stream was found to connect with the Lake via the pool under Cerberus Hall.  Does this water, in turn, flow from the Lake to the static sump?  Of it does it must mean that a large volume of water is flowing slowly ‘up cave’ along the fault.

In 1964 Marble Hall and Marble Pot were discovered.  Below Marble Hall a series of phreatic tubes were found though they were mostly choked with coarse infilling they lay at about a depth of about -350ft. from the entrance.  The depth was established by the use of a altimeter which read -300ft. on the floor of Marble Hall.  Marble Pot ends at a similar depth but stones have been heard to fall a fair distance below the choke level.  The pot, about 25-30ft. deep shows signs of having been choked to the roof.  The infilling has now slumped the depth of the pothole.  Although it cannot be proved until a survey of the area has been made, but Marble Pot and Coral Pot appear to be on the same drainage line.  An energetic, more important, a strong party, could well commence a dig at the bottom of the pot with a good chance of finding a continuation of the development along the fault line.  A strong party is required because of the difficulty of returning through the squeeze at the top of the pot at the end of a digging session.  It may be that another way across the fault line lies in this area.

An Open Hole

A high level hole has been known for some years to a small number of leaders and is going to be attacked in a few weeks – the details will be reported in the B.B. when available.

It lies about 80 – 100ft. above the stream way by the Great Gour.  It has so far only been viewed from a distance – some 25 – 30ft – but is described a sizeable and appears to be running along the line of the fault. It is an inlet or the way over the sump?


Other Digging Sites and Holes.

All of the following sites will be most likely to lead to new cave but all within the present boundary.

1.                  Octopus Chamber – high level holes.

2.                  North end of Illusion Chamber.

3.                  South end of Continuation Chamber.

4.                  Aven above Hanging Chamber.

5.                  Rift in roof of upper traverse Chamber near Upper Travers Pitch.

6.                  Hole in roof of terminal chamber in Canyon Series.

7.                  Floor of far side of Extension Chamber.

8.                  Aven on the far side of Lake Chamber – entrance sumped most of the time.

9.                  Aven in rift off chambers in Pillar Chamber Extension.

10.              Tight squeeze leading to chamber on roof of Long Chamber Extension.

11.              Passage in large chamber in roof of Long Chamber Extension not pushed beyond crystal pool.



with Hedera

February/March is usually a Good Time for Outdoors and this year its been splendid.  Three or four consecutive weekends with snow sports.  North Wales being in particularly good condition with the cognoscenti climbing pretty well every major gully.  Imagine cramponing from the bottom to the top of Great Gully on Craig-yr-Isfs or even snow enough to enable Slanting Gully on Llewedd, climbed for the first time in 1897, to suffer its first recorded winter ascent.  Even Cloggy was attempted.

Brecon, our local Alp, was beautiful.  The Bennetts came back on 25th February with enthusiastic reports and an impromptu meet was organised for 3rd March.  Quite a large party (including Ifold and Attwood who would seem to have a nose for the best meets) climbed a steep, shallow face gully from Bry-teg and then traversed the Beacons taking in odd gullies on route.  Ifold insisted on including a sensational traverse below the crest of Corn Du.  “How Brave” we thought as we waited basking in the sun, until, looking back, we could see Ifold and Bennett striking magnificent photographic poses for each other. Perfect weather.  The descent was made slowly, with late sunshine suffusing rock and bracken with golden colours.

The continuing sun tempts the rock men and Avon Gorge activity seems to be back to normal, though it’s cold enough when the sun vanishes.  Winter frosts have considerably loosened your favourite handholds – so watch it.

Hard Man, swinging vigorously all over The Turn of the Screw with an impressive array of technique and equipment, was heard to complain bitterly about the piercing wind.  The Hard Man Image prevented him from rolling down his sleeves apparently.  A little later we heard a resounding “XXXX the Image”, and down the sleeves came!

Roger Boston, of whom you have not heard, made his debut with the club on Brecon W/E and later made his first rock climb with Pete Sutton and Roy Marshall.  Another one indoctrinated.  This pair, with Malcolm Holt and two newcomers raked Eddy Welch out on the afternoon of Sunday 17th March and got him to show them the Frome Valley routes.  No second ascent of Derek Targett’s “Middle Slip” but Pete Sutton has established another line on Ivy wall.  Kangy, out for a walk in that area found another outcrop of promise.

For those hardened in the game there is a party off to the Oertzal and Bernina this year.  Details from Edward but briefly – 22 June to 6 July ’68, leader Terry Taylor.  Transport by car to Dover – Ostend, then motorways, turning right at Munich and returning via Luxemburg and Ardennes.

Terry Taylor of course is guiding professionally at very reasonable rates and can be contacted at the Waggon.

“If you’re lost and off the route
With a left foot in each boot
Don’t go to sea and be a sailor
Put in a peg and call for Taylor”


BEC Sales

Car Badges and Ties available from Bob Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.