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The gating of caves has been a subject of argument for quite some time.  Below a member states his views on the topic –

Lets have your opinion for the next B.B. –

“The ‘Anti Gaters’ are not going to like the latest news.  OFD I is being gated.  (The reason why is given on page 52 Ed).

When one hears their arguments it appears they have little to say when considered against the argument for cave preservation alone.  Of all the Mendip caves St. Cuthbert’s is the best preserved – even this is slowly being spoiled.  Can we not instil in cavers that a cave is a place of beauty; a place that ought to be treated as a piece of rare art.  Once formations are damaged there is little we can do to replace them – except perhaps to install a plastic replica.  The caves that are open are usually so filthy that a couple of sacks would not clear the places out.  If gating helps preservation; to end ‘Kilroy was here’ scrawled on the walls; broken formations and general litter then this is the only solution.  It takes time to educate the cavers during which the caves are open and being spoiled for future generations.  It’s our moral responsibility to safeguard our caves today – LOCK THEM TO SAVE THEM.


Many thanks to John Churchward for his generous gift of books and publications to the club library.

All the publications mentioned in ‘From other clubs’ are additions to the library.

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

Easter Caving in S. Wales

by Roy Bennett

The meet started in the Ystradfellte area where it was intended to visit Little Neath River Cave. The day was fine and sunny and subvasive suggestions made that the caving be done in the evening.  This arrangement was quite successful, and after some hill walking and looking at the local possibilities, the cave was descended.

A very enjoyable 2½ hour trip was had as there are both good formations and sporty bits.  The small entrance at river level and the low crawl which followed emphasised that this cave is for settled weather only.

The crawl led into a pleasing stream passage (Tributary Passage) which led eventually to a large chamber (Sand Chamber) where the main river was met.  After a quick look at the upstream sump into Bridge Cave we back-tracked along Tributary Passage to find the bypass to the Canal, a 400ft. long duck on the river.  This was were a small stream entered over a brown stalagmite flow, and led, via a rough crawl over some rather nice gours, back to the river at Junction Chamber.  Downstream the passage was mainly large and impressive with interesting collection of boulders in places, and soon sump 2 was reached, the end for non-divers.  The joys of the Canal were sampled on the return journey and further observations made of white fish that inhabit the river. One of these was seen in a small pool in Tributary Passage.  It was about 15 inches long with a trace of skin pigmentation, and showed little reaction to light or movement.  These fish were presumably washed in from the river outside and live on food from the same source.

The Saturday was spent on the surface, and the day after in Ffynnon Ddu II.  The top entrance was explored using a very rough line survey, and with the aid of this the party proceeded to go round in circles in various directions and visit interesting places.  It failed in its objective of finding the Main stream way however and the trip ended after 4 hours when the party returned to the surface rather hot and bothered.  (Wet suits not recommended!!!)  There are some good formations in this part of the cave including many stalagmites. Much of this unfortunately is rather vulnerable and it is hoped that the S.W.C.C. will be able to avoid damage with their present fairly easy access arrangements.

On the last day parties looked at Porth-yr-Ogof, the Taff Fechan and the Sychryd Gorge near Pontyneddfechan.  This last place is well worth a visit in spite of spoliation by mining and quarrying. The actual gorge is most spectacular, and there are several caves, mainly small.  The river appears to have once sunk before diverting by the industrial activities and there should be more caves to find here.


Monthly Notes No.13

By “Wig”

WATER TRACING – Phase 3 Results

The latest tests were carried out in the streams that flow into the BURRINGTON area:  Ubley Pot was also traced.  The lycopodium spores were put into the sinks in the first week of April by Dave Drew and the results are as follows: -








4 hrs. (100%)


4 hrs. (30%)

4 hrs. (70%)


15-19 hrs. (30%)

4-8 hrs. (70%)


15-19 hrs. (60%)

17-20 hrs. (40%)


43-47 hrs. (40%)

4 hrs. (60%)

The percentage figures represent the proportion of the stream flowing out of the resurgence. All other risings in the area gave negative results.



During Easter weekend vandals entered the cave and smashed most of the stal. formations within easy reach. They continued as far as Crystal Pool chamber.  S.W.C.C. are gating all the entrances to the system.

Access to O.F.D. II is to remain controlled.  A limited number of keys will be for visiting clubs.  Write to the Hon. Sec. – John Osbourne – giving at least 14 days notice. 

The connection between O.F.D. I and O.F.D. II just beyond Coronation Aven is still open but very unsafe.


The S.W.C.C. have accepted the following members to act as guides for B.E.C. trips to O.F.D. I: -

Roy Bennett, Dave Irwin and Tony Meaden.

N.B.  Leaders are not required for O.F.D. II and O.F.D. III.


During the week after Easter Alan Coase and Dave Judson spent four days underground completing the CRG Grade 6D survey line.  A considerable amount of water tracing was also carried out.  The survey of the Far north (the farthest know point) appears to be far more east than was shown by their earlier survey published by the B.S.A.  The passages seem to end under PWLL DWFN.  Certain parts of the cave rise to within 100ft. of the surface.  It is hoped that a top entrance can be made.


The S.W.C.C. Committee and the show cave management have accepted the following as leaders for B.E.C. trips to Dan-yr-Ogof: -

Andy MacGregor, Phil Kingston, Kangy King and Colin Priddle.


The management of the Dan-yr-Ogof show cave are considering opening up tunnel cave as a second show cave. This presumably means the Davy Price Hall – a 400ft. long passage rarely falling below 25ft. in width and quite well decorated with stal. flows.

STOKE LANE SLOCKER and BROWNES HOLE - new access details.

All cavers visiting these caves should first call at Mr. MARKS at STOKE BOTTOM FARM.



During the Easter weekend Dave Drew placed a tracer agent in the stream sinking at Emborough Swallet. The result is that the water resurges at Guerney Slade.  The time to reach the resurgence is something in excess of 48 hours.  Whether Keith Franklin and Phil Coles will continue to dig remains to be seen.

Members interested in this subject will find full details of the Eastern Mendip and western Mendip water tracing results by Dave Drew in the club library.  The library is kept at Dave Searle’s at Dolphin Cottage.


Those wanting a regular trip into G.B. should contact Roger Stenner as he is collecting water samples once a week, usually on Sunday or Monday, for analysis and measuring temperatures.  The trip takes about 2½ - 3 hours.  Roger is prepared to arrange the trip to suit the rest of the party.

Two people have already asked to come along but anyone else interested should contact Roger as soon as possible.

The purpose of the work is to measure the ability of a stream to dissolve CaCO2 – measuring this on the surface and at several points in the cave to establish changes in this, correlation with discharge, temperature, time of year, etc.


During the Easter Holiday Alan Thomas, ‘Fred’ Atwell and others have been working at the dig.  The latest news is that it’s reached a depth of 20ft.  Still on digs it seems that HILLGROVE SWALLET is on the verge of going!  On Sunday 28th April a sizable rift was opened up in the well known Cornwell manner – bang, bang and more bang!  It looks as if John is near making his triple.


From Other Clubs

by Gordon Tilly

W.S.G. BULLETIN Vol. 5  No.8 

The main feature of this issue is Part 1 dealing with the caves of the Shepton Mallet District by K.E. Barber.  The remainder of the contents is the usual club news.

C.R.G. NEWSLETTER No. 110 (March ’68). 

32 pages ranging from C.R.G. News, publication reviews, a report on the Symposium on Cave Hydrology and a list of some 142 caves located in the Rana District of Nordland, Norway.


Makes good light reading and give one the impression that the G.S.S. is quite an active club with reports of their activities in the Forest of Dean, South Wales and Mendip.  There is also an interesting article entitled “Inside the Skycraper Rock” by John Acock in which he describes some 10 caves he visited in Gibraltar.

M.C.G. Newsletter No. 64 (Feb. ’68) and M.N.R.C. Newsletter No. 49 (Spring 1968). 

Both contain the usual club news.  The M.C.G. Newsletter contains a short article on Belgian caves.

A Return to Climbing

Mike Luckwill spent Easter climbing with some of the B.E.C. now in Edinburgh.

Good Friday found us hanging about Jericho Wall.  The previous day we had driven from Edinburgh and by lunch time camp had been set up on the bank of the River Coe, just below the bridge where the new road joins the old.  With not a cloud in the sky and at least six hours before darkness, we picked out a gully on the west face of Aonoach Dubh which appeared to still to contain plenty of ice, and quickly set off in order to make most of our four days.

On closer inspection however, the ice turned out to be mainly water and so we crossed over into Stob Coire nam Beith and plodded up a snow field onto Ant Sron.  Making ourselves comfortable on top we ate chocolate, admired the scenery and discussed plans for the weekend.  I had persuaded my companion, a well known climbing gentleman, to take charge of the more foolhardy end of a hundred foot rope in order that I might ascend some of the classic routes --- nothing too difficult, mind you, but classics nevertheless.  And in Glencoe we had plenty to choose from.

So it was that having risen at a reasonable hour, breakfasted well, and wandered up to the foot of the Clachaig Gully, we managed coincide our arrival with that of the sun, which was beginning to illuminate the east walls.  Shaded from the wind as we were, we could look forward to several hours of delectable conditions.  The first pitch is a waterfall and the green and black slime undoubtedly made its standard about XS.  However it offered us no difficulty at all, and as we refreshed ourselves with some sweet water at the top we remarked that the state of the route surely indicated that everyone has also followed the path that meandered through the saplings on the west wall!  A couple of short pitches showed us why the water had seemed so sweet – the inevitable dead sheep.  Further upstream we had another little drink and roped up for a rather grotty series of slabs.  This led us to the foot of the Great Cave Pitch.  We were very interested to note later on what is in effect a series of awkward, but not too steep slabs, appears from the vantage of the west bank of the gully to be a plane, vertical wall; this would perhaps make for some spectacular cine-photography.  So we came to the Jericho wall.

I should explain at this point that my companion was of much smaller stature than myself and an awkward move some ten feet up the pitch, combined with the black slime which coated the lower parts of the wall led him to believe that I would enjoy the day much better if at that particular point I took the opportunity of leading what, after all, was “only a v. diff and the conditions are superb”.  Having received such a challenge what could I do?  There was no choice – I tied the rope on firmly and said, “No, you have another go”.  However in the end it was my length that proved the necessary and after basking in the sun for half-an-hour at the top my nerves were more-or-less back to normal.

The next obstacle, a short cave pitch was to turn the tables however.  Without bothering to rope up my companion was quickly sitting at the top waiting for me to come up.  But here my length and the sack in my back forced me further up into the roof of the cave as I attempted to get out of it.  After three attempts my arms were beginning to weaken and I requested the moral support of the rope and was then able to extricate myself at the next try. Looking at the next pitch we realised that this was a caver’s climb; straight up a waterfall.  Similarly with the one that followed.    And so we came to the Red Chimney.  Here the waterfall was nearly the route not to take.  The left hand wall offered a path of sorts over very loose rubble but the right hand wall had a clearly marked route for two thirds of the way.  My companion set off on the latter route and was soon surveying the last third of the climb; straight up was impossible, to the right the holds were too sloping and greasy, he must go to the left, into the water!  At first he managed to straddle the water but finally he disappeared form sight, right under the water and emerged a short time later on top. Needless to say, he was very wet. Meanwhile at my leisure, I had been able to spot all the holds he should have used and it was quite clear that I would be able to ascend, straddling the main jet of water and so remain comfortably dry.  With great confidence I ascended to the critical point.  To my great disappointment, but I must say, not to my very great amazement, I saw that my carefully planned holds were all in fact steeply sloping downwards, a fact concealed by the unwary observer below. Still, I thought, I must use the advantage of my height again and entered the water.  Each step took me into the water more and more and in the end I was forced to give up the struggle and entering the water I ascended as quickly as possible.  Drying ourselves in the sun at the top, we reflected what a superb pitch this would make underground – rather like an eighty foot version of the Swildon’s Forty. So we neared the end of a very fine day.

The next day in search of somewhere quieter that Glencoe, we drove round into Ardgour with the intention of climbing the Great Ridge on Garbh Bheinn.  Following the main road alongside the River Tarbert we left the car by Lochan a’Chothruim and walked up over the col to the ridge which is on the east side of the mountain.  To our surprise there were two other parties waiting to make the ascent, but having somne trouble in locating the start of the climb.  With an air of condescension we started them off on the rote and watched their labours in the initial stages which did seem to be a little out of keeping with the grading.

After they disappeared from view we consulted the guide book again and found the correct start was some way round the corner!  Our misdemeanour was justly rewarded a little later however.  Although we located the correct start and chose not the mossy chimney to the left but the slabs to the right.  I suppose a succession of slings, pegs and nuts left behind by others might have warned us, but as it was we soon reached a bulging boulder which turned out to be last possible point of return.  Above this there were no belays of any value and the festoon of slings carefully arranged on the odd pinheads of rock came off when I decided to belay sitting down rather than standing up!  However the lack of belaying points precluded abseiling off and so we, or rather my companion, had to go on.  The crux was difficult to say the least and as the second the only protection I could offer was a series of prayers to all the gods I could think of.

Living to tell the tale, we soon regained the correct route, which is, as the guide book says, not difficult, but full of interesting situations.  At the top we met up with many others and we were very pleased that our forethought had provided us with the shortest route back to the car, and a bottle of lemonade that was cooling in the stream near the road.  Next morning we moved to Glen Nevis. Unfortunately the weather broke on Monday and although we went up to Allt a’Mhuilim with the intention of climbing it, it was quite clear that the wind alone would have made the ridge impossible.  Despite this upset in our plans the weekend was an excellent return top climbing.

Mike Luckwill


Cavers Bookshelf

By B.M. Ellis

SHROPSHIRE MINING CLUB YEARBOOK, 1965/6.  Obtainable from D.R. Adams, New Era, Princess Gardens, Newport, Salop.  7/6 (+8d postage).  58 quarto pages.

This is the fifth yearbook published by the S.M.C. and continues in their unusual but interesting form of being a printing of their trip reports.  The S.M.C. has a relative small membership but the amount of ‘caving’ carried out would be the envy of some larger organisations, especially as they are based away from all the caving areas.  This type of publication might be unusual but is has much to commend it; all of their members are informed of everything that has been going on in the club and all the working trips are published even if very little or no progress has been made.  Each issue so far has also contained two of three articles in addition to the log entries.

The year covered by this issue deals with a wide range of trips.  There are accounts of more than forty caving trips expeditions to North Wales (almost all of them working trips over thirty visits to mines, ten caving trips to Yorkshire and nine elsewhere, and reports on more that twenty meetings. Although the price is a little high when compared with most caving publications, it is interesting reading, is worth in place in any club library and is a must for anyone interested in the caves of North Wales or the mines around Shropshire.

The S.M.C. carry out most of the work on the Derbyshire caves and with the exception of the Shepton are the only club who bother to publish what they have done there.



A late night reading of “The Hard Years” showed that Joe Brown’s uniqueness can survive even ghosted writing, tape recording and spine cringing doggerel.  From the early years of questing experiment, through hair raising adolescent escapades, with apparent inevitability there emerges the ultimate climber.  Since Brown began his big climbs we can no longer believe that anything is invulnerable.

Brown has become a legend in his own lifetime and one examines the legend more closely, the more clear it becomes that he has every right to be so.  There is scarcely a development in almost two decades in which he has not been in the forefront.  Excess on Gritstone, the New Cloggy, Himalayan rock climbing, British grade sixes, steeple jacking and currently Anglesey Cliffs.

Not only in technique but also in attitude is he there.  The informal group if friends rather than the formal club.  The more thrusting drive of group motivation rather than the individual idealism of Classic Times.  The single minded week by week erosion of the climbing problem.  All have added up to this ultimate professional.

I suppose, as with “The History of Mendip Caving”, that a proper appreciation will eventually be written. Until then read “The Hard Years” and wonder.

“But we live in the most regimented society even in this country.  You practically have to have a licence to breathe.  You cannot move without people asking what you are doing.” I read that in a newspaper, the Duke of Edinburgh was carrying on about something or other.  It rang true and reminded me that walking back to Ogwen after a benighted incident and a very pleasant chap with “INSTRUCTOR” across his jersey asked us if anyone in the club had a Mountain Leaders Certificate. Well what do you say?  At the time we muttered about “years of inexperience” and “it’s a nice night” and “did he come here often” and thank goodness it was dark – it hid our blushes.  I suppose a better answer would be to ask how Joe Brown managed without one or, could you abseil from it?  Yes, of course, intensive instruction can help but who would you rather be with on the Coollin in a storm, a well balanced, fit mate who had worked it all out or someone who had been to all the lectures but hadn’t actually done any climbing this year?

Another thought provoking snippet from the press – “Four naval apprentices, on a weekend training exercise en route from Aviemore to Blair Atholl via Larig Ghui, became exhausted by evening in artic conditions and could not go on.  They stayed together and got into sleeping bags. Rescue teams alerted by other apprentices found and carried them to Braemar.  The victims were praised for sticking to the rules”.  Presumably the organiser was praised for exposing the apprentices to such conditions in the first place.

MORAL, don’t be organised. If you can’t avoid it, join the B.E.C. We individuals must stick together.



St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

LAKE CHAMBER: problems solved and unsolved

a)         Problems solved

Water leaves the main Stream at the site of a dig a short distance upstream of the Dining Room.  In low water conditions the dig can swallow the whole of the Main Stream.  Underneath Cerberus Hall is a pool of variable dimensions, usually about twelve feet long, one to three feet wide and three feet deep.  Water enters the pool through an impenetrable crack about two feet above the water level at the eastern end of the pool and leaves through a mud choked sump at the north-west end of the pool.  It was thought by many leaders that water in the pool came from the mainstream and went to the lake, but this view had its opponents.

Water temperature and hardness measurements by the author showed that the Cerberus Pool must certainly have come from the Main Stream, and the Lake was thought by the author to be made of water from the Main Stream mixed with percolation water from another source.  This was proved to be true when Pyranine was added to the sink at the Main Stream on January 26th 1968.  The connection with Cerberus Pool was proved visually, and a fortnight later the water in the Lake was seen to be coloured with Pyranine, to the surprise of the author who had expected the dilution to be too great for visual detection.  Thus it was proved that water from the Main Stream flows via the Cerberus Pool to the Lake – to the North, flowing in the opposite way to the Main Stream.

b)         Problems unsolved

No pattern has yet been found to explain the variation of the water level in the Lake, and the possible connected variation of the water level of the Cerberus Pool.  The Lake would appear to be fed from below, although it does receive water from a heavy drip.

It would be extremely difficult to prove conclusively that water from the Lake does not resurge into the bed of the Main Stream somewhere downstream of Plantation junction, but the probability is that the water from the Lake does not re-enter the known system.

It is not known whether the pools discovered last year to the north of the Lake are part of the drainage from the Lake, or part of another inlet to the Lake.

A passage in Lake Chamber remains unexplored; the entrance is usually submerged. It should not be neglected because of the possibility that the Gour-Lake Fault is breached here.  When the Lake has been completely empty a gravel floored passage has been seen at the bottom.

c)         The possibility of an undiscovered breach of the Gour-Lake Fault.

The intermittent streams draining the area west of Rocky Boulder Passage and north of Curtain Chamber are not thought to enter the known Main Stream, and water from the Lake would seem likely to breach the Gour Lake Fault.

The diagram published by D. Irwin (B.B. No. 241 p 47) also raises the possibility of two separate drainage systems being developed along the same fault, with an exit at the Duck and an exit somewhere between marble Hall and the Lake.

The unknown breach at Lake Chamber, with drainage from the areas mentioned above also feeding the Lake, or it may be that water from the Lake has to flow further north along the fault until the breached is reached.  The author favours the later possibility because the hardness is so close to that of the Main Stream, indicating a mixture with relatively little percolation water.  Another possibility is that yet another breach for the drainage not accounted for. The answer may not be known for sure until the Sump or the (dry) breach of the fault at the Dining room Dig is passed. It will be ironic of an open hole into known cave is discovered from the other side of the fault.

R.D. Stenner
18th April ‘68

APPENDIX – Results 10-2-68.


Concn. X 105(M) (M= ppm CaCO3)




Permanent Hardness

Temp oC

Main Stream Dining Room





Pool, Cerberus Hall










Pyrolusite Stream, Gour Hall






Precision of results:

Bicarbonate ± 1.5 ppm Permanent Hardness ± 2 ppm Calcium ± 1 ppm Temperature ± 0.03oC

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet – Latest Discovery

On Saturday th April 1968 Mike Luckwill discovered a new chamber in the CANYON SERIES.  He suggested that the new chamber be called FORBIDDEN CHAMBR as to reach it means passing a nicely decorated passage which would soon be ruined.  The chamber is said to be quite big.


Letter to The Editor

Dear Irwin,

I have read with great interest your article ‘Towards Wookey Hole’ (first part).  I think the Dining Room Dig is a good bet.

If this passage goes up and down again beyond the sump it will confirm to the Swildons Hole by-passes and be what the Poles called a ‘corkscrew’ passage working up from a clay choked stream way to rejoin it later. (Thousands of years in the process). Once completed and rejoined to the stream beyond the sump, there will be a strong flow along the corkscrew passage until a sucking action by the sump it is cleared.  So don’t be dismayed if you find that the passage jinks about a lot with right-angle bends according to the jointing.  There should be flow markings on the walls and the directions of your digs should follow the indicated current direction all the way, and if necessary dig a window to the wall at intervals to see the marking.

The ‘rock pendants’ near the roof are probably due to seepage water working down at the top of the clay fill after the passage was choked.  This may indicate an aven or open joint etc. opening to the top of the passage.

I find the best way to test current markings which are faint is with the fingertips.  Rubbing gently in direction of flow gives the feel  of a slight edge down, then a smooth section and another edge down, and the opposite of course against the flow direction. With a torch, with a narrow beam, shine it against the current direction to get narrow brighter lines, but none if you shine it in the other direction.

Use candles to detect bad air, one placed ahead of the dig i.e. in the air space above the clay and others further along the passage.  NO ACETYLENE LAMPS.  Electric torches for good viewing.   If you are digging in a rising and there is a ‘pool’ of CO2 further on the routine of digging and passing clay down the open part may act like a pump and drag bad air down the excavated passage.  I found this in a dig in India – working up a clay filled passage from draughty, well ventilated passage below.  After about 45 feet, the dig sloping up the passage levelled off and then dipped gently into a wider area.  It was quite sinister to see the candles ahead go out, then 10 seconds later the one just behind me and 20 seconds later another at a bend would go out!  Then, the digging party would go out and return in ten minutes or so.  After a couple of more digs like that the dig was abandoned.  The floor beyond was a circular basin of clay evidently full of CO2 and no continuing passages.  I have met with pools of CO2 on many occasions and great care is need in any dig.

Yours sincerely
E.A. Glennie (C.R.G.)


Cave Rescues and Incidents.

The following is a shortened version of Dr. Oliver Lloyd’s Annual Hon. Secretary’s report to the M.R.O.

SWILDON’S HOLE (26-3-67)

Two Derbyshire cavers descended the 40’ on a knotted rope – on return one too tired to climb back up. Ordnance Survey C.G. obtained help. Both were brought out safely up the pitch without the MRO.  Corner (Surrey Y.C.) says “Nothing more was heard from him or even a word of thanks. How anyone can be so stupid as he I just don’t know…”


Member of party became stuck when moving through from Traverse Passage into the Upper Traverse Passage.  He had entered the smaller of the two passages.  MRO called.  Slight adjustment of his clothes soon had him free.

SWILDON’S HOLE (11-6-67)

Three Londoners – Hawkins (24), Eswin (23) and Hammond (23) descended about 10am.  Caving not too frequent for 1 year.  Had good equipment except no ladders.  They were rather good at climbing and used a single rope on the 40’.

Whilst climbing the 20’ Hawkins fell and fractured his left femur.  His handhold broke.  MRO alerted 12.20pm.  Hanwell took charge on the surface.  Craig (SMCC) organised the rigging of the 40’.  At 2.00pm Kenny and Thomson went down with medical supplies.  Additional help required.  O.C.L. notes.  “Sunday afternoon is the worst time in the week for finding cavers”…  By 4pm Hawkins was at the top of the 40’.  Progress was slow because he was suffering much pain. He reached the surface at 6.15pm.

SWILDON’S HOLE (14-10-67)

At 5pm the 40’ flooded due to heavy rain.  Member of a team of bath students was unable to climb the ladder.  UBSS party rigged the 40’.  Hauling was done from the bottom of the pitch.  The subject was able to get out under his own steam.

SWILDON’S HOLE (28-10-67)

Flooding.  Parties were known to be below 40’.  MRO on standby.  At 3pm half of Harrow Moles party came out of the cave leaving other half down there.  At 5pm party of 7 descended the cave to 40’ Kingston and Lewis descended 40’ and made contact with Moles. It was difficult to determine the number of parties in the cave – in fact there was only one.  Bristol waterworks started the pumps at 5pm at a rate of 22,000 gal/hr.  Operation complete 10.30pm.  OCL notes, “It is difficult to know who is down Swildon’s since many parties do not let Mr. Main know beforehand.  If no party could get down without first obtaining a key from Mr. Main, then the problem would be easier”.

LAMB LEER (29-10-67)

Univer. of Surrey P.C.  Girl (19) descending main pitch when, owing to a misunderstanding with her lifeline, fell about 20ft. and hurt herself.  Time about 3pm.  MRO called. Hanwell took charge on surface and Thomson underground.  Subject was suspected of having a fractured pelvis though not the case.  OCL notes, “Life lining is no mere formality.  It should occupy the full attention of the life-liner”.

SWILDON’S HOLE (8-11-67)

 Party of 4 went to Mud Sump.  On return one man (21) cold, wet and tired, unable to climb 40’.  “The party had split into two, and it is agreed that had they remained as one party, enough help on the lifeline could have been given in the first place to help subject climb it”.  Davies and Thomson went down and rigged 40’ and hauled him up via ledge on the other side.



This council was established at a meeting held at Settle on 24.6.67, under the chairmanship of Mr. John Plowes, at which representatives were present from the C.R.O., M.R.O., Gloucester C.R.G., South Wales C.R., Durham C.R.O., Derbyshire C.R.O., together with Mr. Norman Thornber.  Not present, but supporting the principles were the Upper Wharfedale F.R.A. and the North Wales C.R.

The Council is to be the representative body for cave Rescue Organisations for the purpose of: -

a.                  Obtaining national recognition for cave rescuers.

b.                  Allocating coverage for areas as yet without effective means of performing cave rescues.

c.                  Helping to establish rescue facilities in those areas needing help.

d.                  Providing the liaison desirable to supply additional strength to areas, or even countries, in the event of major incidents and where the areas or countries concerned request it.


a.                  The Council shall never become a rescue Organisation in itself.

b.                  It shall have no powers to interfere in the affairs of its constituent members.

c.                  It shall only act unanimously.

d.                  Its members shall only be appointed by the organisations they represent. 

No co-option is permissible but any relevant adviser may be invited to assist.

The Hon. Sec. was requested to contact the Irish C.R.O.  Also to make representations to the Home Secretary for the purposes of furthering the objectives.

The second meeting of the cave Rescue Council was held in Bristol on 30.9.67.  Dr. Oliver Lloyd was elected to the chair.  Eight C.R.O.’s were represented, together with Supt. Glenning of the West Riding Constabulary.

The Hon. Sec. (John Plowes) reported that the Home Secretary had referred him to Mr. J.A. Willison, the Hon. Se. of the Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales, whom he visited on 9.9.67.  The discussions resulted in the following procedure:


1.                  The Cave Rescue Council to confirm base central base or central points of Police contact for each Area Rescue Organisation in its membership.

2.                  Agree allocated coverage of less frequented areas.

3.                  Establish an inter-area call out system for additional help if requested by the “Local” area concerned.  This would be via the “Central Police Points”.


The Association of Chief Police Officers to deal with the conveying of the information throughout the Police Service with the authority for its inclusion in the “Emergency Instructions” for the guidance of all Police personnel.

Mr. Plowes had summarized the two main concerns of the Cave Rescue Council as:

1.                  Risk that cave rescue services might not be requested by Police in areas which knew nothing about them.

2.                  Financial stringency.

Discussion of this report resulted in the following recommendations being made by the Council:

1.                  That the information to chief constables should remind them of their authority to reimburse “out of pocket expenses” of the people called to assist them.

2.                  The Hon. Sec. should ascertain the Scottish system of cave Rescue operation.

3.                  Overlapping areas should consult and devise the coverage required.  It was estimated that out of the 45 Police Districts would be concerned.

4.                  Co-operate with International Commission.

It was agreed that the Irish C.R.O. was a full member of the council, but of course it was necessary for them to make their own arrangements with their police.


Don Coase’s Log for 1945

Continuing reprints from the Coase log the following gives some idea of how the BEC weekends were spent on Mendip in Victory year – 1945….

Fri. 9th Mar. – Caught train from Paddington to Wells.  Started to cycle to Priddy via Wookey hole.  Arrived at barn approx. 1 o’clock a.m.  Mr.Maine had left milk, wood, bread and eggs.

Sat. 10th Mar.  Was woke at 9 by ‘Shorty’ informing me that tea was ready.  Had breakfast.  Then a general clear up.  Visited Vic. And cycled to G.B. arriving at about 12.30.  Found G.B. locked so Shorty and I went into Read’s Grotto and took a couple of photos.

Came out, found gang had arrived from Bridgwater by car.  They tackled lock on G.B. meanwhile I took Ron and Charles down Read’s Grotto.

Rest had opened G.B. so they went on, Betty, Shorty, Charles and I ate our sandwiches and then didn’t feel energetic enough to do G.B.  However once we were inside the cave we felt better.  Took several photos.  Devils Elbow comparatively dry, 2” or 3” water at the far end.  Met rest of party in Gorge just above Bridge.  So all went to Stalagmite Bridge and sat on it while Shorty and I took a photo of them.  As we were using some flash powder fired by safety fuse that went off with an almighty bang.  Expected someone to fall off the bridge but although, they jumped they didn’t come off.

Then the four of us parted from rest and proceeded to the sump.  Bristol Speleo.  Have done quite a bit of digging there recently.     Then went back to bottom of the Oxbow,  back through the oxbow,  Loop and so to

Rumba alley.  Then we returned to the surface which we reached about 8.15.  It being a pitch dark night.  We cycled back to Priddy in our damp things, feeling rather chilly and went straight to the Vic. Till 10.  Then went back to the barn and started cooking a stew, which we eventually consumed – about 1 am.

Sun 11th Mar.  Got up about 9.  Cooked breakfast, visited Vic. about 12.  Went to Cross Swallet with 2lb. P.E.  Put 1lb. in fissure at bottom alongside some P.E. that didn’t detonate when fired on Sun. 4th Feb.  Whole lot detonated nicely.  The fumes seemed to clear quicker than usual and when I inspected the damage I found an open fissure about 3” high and 2” wide with a fair drought blowing out.

I placed the other 1lb. P.E. in the fissure and fired it.  The fumes again cleared quickly.  I went down again and had a look around and removed one of the two boulders the P.E. had blown out.  Suddenly I heard a boulder crash down several feet and looked around to get out of the way, but nothing in the hole had moved.

Shorty was halfway down and he heard it as well.  It must have been inside the cave again.  Judging by the noise I estimate is was only 2/3ft. away and only about ½ cubic foot. It seemed to roll down a slope for about 3 of 4 ft.

Then I returned to the barn and demolished the rest of the stew and other vittles.  Washed up and put the barn tidy and then it was time for the others to leave for Bridgwater.  I cut myself some sandwiches for the train and packed up my stuff up. My caving clobber I arranged to leave with Mr Maine so I was fairly light loaded to cycle back.

It was then about 8 so retired to the ‘Vic’ where I spent a very congenial evening.  One of the locals told me that in connection with boring in the spring above Swildon’s they put fluorescent in the water and it appeared at Draycott also that some time before the war, the road near green Ore sunk away and he put a concrete slab about 7ft.thickm over the hole which seemed to be 100ft. or more deep.

He also told me the same thing happened in ’41 at the top of Rookham hill on the verge of the road. They dropped stones down which down for some seconds before hitting anything.  They had sent to Wells for some people to explore it (I presume Mr. Balch’s crowd) but nobody came so they covered it with 2 or 3 feet of concrete.

At 10 went back to the barn, settled up with Mr. Maine and set off for Bath. Dry, slight tail wind and dark. Arrived Bath 12.20.  Took 1¾ hours – a record for night time.  Train didn’t arrive till 2.00a.m.  Bloody cold waiting on platform as had no mac. Or coat.  Train packed.  Couldn’t lie down in the corridor as too wet with condensation off windows.  Arrived Paddington 5.30 am and cycled home.


St. Cuthbert’s Practice Rescue: -

Coral Chamber – Boulder chamber – April 21st 1968.

The second of three practice rescues planned for this year took place on April 21st.

Coral chamber – often visited by tourist parties has seven entrances; all are constricted or menaced by dangerous boulders.  The route for the practice was from the ‘Hole in the Roof’ area in Coral Chamber to the boulders leading to rocky Boulder Chamber.  From rocky Boulder Chamber a rift to the east off the chamber was rigged for hauling to a small boulder chamber below the northwest corner of Boulder Chamber.  A 15ft.pitch was rigged to allow the subject (Keith Franklin) to be hauled up into the Boulder Chamber.

The carry went well until a bank of brittle stalagmites gave way as the team was lowering the ‘subject’ down to the lower part of the chamber.  The remainder of the party remained at the head of the first pitch. A little difficulty was experienced in the boulders near Rocky Boulder Chamber.  Further snags were met when

feeding the ‘subject’ into the small hole at the top of the first pitch.  The haul up the second pitch to the Boulder Chamber presented no problems except a watchful eye was kept on the boulders at the top of this pitch. A few minutes before there had been a small collapse of boulders from the top of the pitch.  The time to carry from Coral Chamber to Boulder Chamber was just over 1½ hours – more experienced party would reduce this time considerably.

Several observations should be mentioned: m-

1.                  Most of the people taking part had not been on either a real or practice rescue before – this is extremely  useful. At some time in the future most if not all will be involved in a rescue of some form.

2.                  Slight modification of the rigging of the first pitch will help reduce the difficulty in feeding the subject through the hole at the top.  A rawlbolt and a pulley would be very useful at this point.

3.                  The top pitch needs ‘gardening’ before hauling.

4.                  The rawlbolts are not a permanent feature of the head of the second pitch.  The bolts will be found in the MRO locker at the Belfry should the occasion arise when they are required.

Dave Irwin


Quote: -

“You should take up caving professionally Dave.  I’m sure there are plenty of people who’d pay you to stay underground”

(from MCG Nlt. No.54)


Caving and Climbing Meets - May - June 1968


SPRING HOLIDAY         Yorkshire – Disappointment Pot and other Gaping Gill entrances, Alum-Diccan.  Camping at Skirwith Farm, Nr. Ingleton.

June 9th – Sun.             Stoke Lane and Browne’s Hole.  Meet at cave entrance.


June 22/23        NORTH WALES

Caving Sec.       A. MacGregor, Railway Arms, Station Road, Theale, Reading, Berks.
Climbing Sec.    E. Welch, Frenchay Lodge Bungalow, Malmains Drive, Frenchay, Bristol.


You all know what they look like –

Have you seen the club ICE AXES?


If you have please contact Eddy Welch as soon as possible.


C.R.G. 29 JUNE            Southern Meeting – Llangattock/Crickhowell.  St. Edmuund’s Hall – programme –

Dr. G. Black – “Caves and the Nature Conservancy.”

Dr. H. Lord – “Making Cave Movies.”

INCIDENT from Langdale Mountain Rescue Team Report 1967.

A soldier on an initiative exercise, phoned Sid Cross in a panic.  He did not know where he was; he had been going from Langdale to Borrowdale and the mist had come down and the sun was in the wrong place and he was starving and he was cold and wet and could Sid tell him where he was.  Sid let him ramble on – he was in a narrow valley, a tree was on his left, a big wall on his right, etc.,  Sid got tired of all this.  “Look man,” he quietly told the sergeant, “Will you what I tell you – are you ready?”  “Yes” came the quiet weak reply, then said Sid, “Look above the telephone, let your eyes drop slowly down to the phone, do you see the white disc on the phone – what does it say?”  “Oh, I’ve got it,” cried the boy soldier, “I’m in Wasdale”.

Spike Rees

It is with deep regret that we announce the death of SPIKE REES after a long illness. Our deepest sympathy go to Pam and the two children.