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Letters To The Editor

Dear Sir,

There can be no real argument against the gating of caves.  Quite apart from the preservation angle, one must also consider the safety factor.     It has been suggested many times over that if Swildons, for instance was properly gated there would be a great reduction in the M.R.O. callout figures.  “Ah but”, you may say, “This does not prevent accidents!!”  This I agree, but is does reduce the risk of people entering caves against the advice of the local landowner when the weather is very unsettled and the risk of flash floods is greater.  Another point to remember is if that all caves were gated and application for the key had to be made to either the farmer or an appointed club, at least the farmer would be able to receive his ‘bobs’ more regularly and more important the owner would know how many parties were in the cave at any time.

Gordon Tilly
1st June 1968

Dear members,

With the sudden change of weekend weather it was necessary for the M.R.O. to be in action, yet again, on two successive days.

In both cases, the cause was due to inexperience of caving under conditions that exist in Swildons during wet weather, but in particular it was a complete underestimation of the severity of the system.  Coupled with this, it was necessary for one of the parties, having missed their way on the trip through “Double Troubles” and had to return by the same route.

Whereas this situation is easily summed up by the general caving society with word like, “so what!” it is time that more serious thought was given to the obvious need for control of access to Swildons Hole.

There are undoubtedly many arguments that support and reject this proposal, but at the moment Swildons has the highest (and almost the only) accident history in any Mendip Cave.

I believe it is true to say that Swildons is the only major system on Mendip that is not controlled.

It would seem that with the ever increasing popularity of caving, there is certain to be a high density of novices, so it is time for the major, responsible, caving clubs on Mendip formulated a simple system of control; I see no reason why the B.E.C. should not start the motion in this respect.

The control need not in fact be any different to several systems that already exist for caves such as G.B., Lamb Leer, St. Cuthbert’s etc.

This may sound, at first, to be rather “Northern” in attitude, but why wait until another fatality is added to what at present is a short list in the history of Swildons, but one which is very likely to increase because “WE” have done nothing about it.

Michael A. Palmer
30th May 1968

Well there you are. Do you want a gated Swildons? Perhaps there are among you wishing for a fixed steel ladder on the 40’ – lets have your views – there must be several who disagree with this month’s letters.