Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas, Westhaven School, Uphill, Weston s Mare, Somerset.
Hut Warden: P.Townsend, 154 Syvlia Avenue, Bristol 3.
EDITOR:  D.J. Irwin. 23 Camden Road, Bristol 3.

The ‘Belfry Bulletin’ is available to non-members of the B.E.C. and can be purchased singly at the price stated for the month (normally 1/6) or by Annual Subscription of 18/6 post paid.

Clangers Department

Two errors managed to creep into the November and December issues of the B.B.

NOVEMBER B.B.  ‘Speech Communication,’ page 132, 5th para, line 5 should read: ….and the difficulty in obtaining larger transistors.

DECEMBER B.B. ‘Synthetic ropes,’ page 146, Extension table:


1¼” circ.



1⅜” circ.



1½” circ.



1⅝” - 1¾” circ.


The editor would like to offer his apologies to both authors for these mistakes.

Notes for your Diary

U.B.S.S. Lectures.  These are held in the Geography Lecture Theatre in University Road at 8.15pm.

14th Feb. (Friday) 1969: Assyria by J.G. MacQueel.

3rd March (Monday) 1969: Early Mendip Caving by Dr. E.K. Tratman.

C.R.G. Meetings: -

8th March (Saturday) 1969: Symposium on Cave Photography – details in January (No.250) B.B.  Book with the Secretary, Vaughan College, St. Nicholas Circle, Leicester.

19th April (Saturday) 1969: Southern Meeting, Wells, Somerset.  The B.E.C. are host club.  Lecture details to be announced.

21st June (Saturday) 1969: Northern meeting, Grassington.

Mendip Cave Bibliography for the year 1968.

A valuable piece of work carried out each year by Ray Mansfield and published in the Mendip caver. The work list all articles published by Mendip Clubs and outlines the contents of each.  The bibliography in January 1969 Mendip Caver – copy in the B.E.C. Library.


Avelines Hole Survey

By R.D. Stenner

The survey was made in six hours on the 2nd and 4th July 1968 with a party from Hartcliffe School, Bristol.

The instruments used were a Mark 4 liquid filled prismatic compass, an Abney level (Japanese manufacture) and a 50 x 0.05ft. fibron tape.  The instruments were tripod mounted, and the compass and clinometer were read to the nearest 0.05ft.  The target (a carbide lamp) on convenient ledges and projections.  Special care was taken in the choice of survey stations so as to minimise errors due to reading the compass while sighting downwards. Passage details were measured at all stations, and wherever necessary elsewhere by ‘raying’ from a station. Inaccessible details were measured by triangulation.

The centreline of the survey, including the side passages, was made of 15 legs, totalling 223.5ft.

The zero error of the clinometer was checked after use, and appropriate correction made to the measurements.  The compass was calibrated by taking bearings along a nearby straight stretch of the road. Six readings with a maximum spread of ±½0 were made, and the mean was recorded.  The bearing of the road was found from a 6” O.S. map, and all readings corrected to give the Grid North bearings.

The changes of co-ordinates were worked out using four figure tables and a calculating machine. The co-ordinates of a trig-mark carved at the top of a prominent boulder at the cave entrance was assigned the co-ordinates N= 50.00ft; E= 0.00ft; Ht= 324.82ft. above O.D.  Because of the small size of the cave no other fixed stations were left.

The co-ordinates of the centreline were plotted on graph paper checked for accuracy, and the passage details plotted and the drawing made.  The survey was traced onto stable detail paper.

The survey contained no traverse closures, but it is possible to check the precision of the survey. On 19th February 1967 a Grade 5 line survey of the cave was made by the author with Joan and Roy Bennett, and Eddy Welch, during a surveying course organised by the B.E.C.  The instruments were the same as used in the survey published here, used in a similar way, hand-held instead of tripod mounted.  On 30th August 1968 a further check was made by Brian Britton and the author using the same instruments mounted in a survey unit. The three surveys were compared, and the results are tabulated below.


SURVEY 1:  Survey published inn this report, 2-4th July 1968.

SURVEY 2:  C.R.G. Grade 5 survey 19 February 1967.

SURVEY 3:  Survey made with Surveying unlit, 30th August 1968.

Co-ordinates of a point at the end of the cave~:

























From the three close traverses were constructed: -


Slope Misclosure

Percentage Error










The conclusion is that the three surveys are all within the accuracy to be expected from an accurate magnetic survey of this length.  As the survey published within this report gave co-ordinates for the end of the cave which lay between those of the other two surveys, it was probably the most accurate of the three and no corrections were made based on the closure errors that were determined.

AVELINES HOLE based on C.R.G. Grade 6 survey by R.D. Stenner et. al.

(Ed. note:  This survey will be available through the Mendip Survey Scheme within the next few months).


Route Severity Diagram

By S.J. Collins

PART 3.  Constriction

Before we go on with the basic signs of the Route Severity Diagram, it is as well to remind ourselves that there are not really many things we have to learn.  There are only eight basic symbols, and we have already learned two of them, the signs for Passage and Pitch.   It is true that these eight symbols can be arranged to give a great deal of detailed information, but most of this information can be read from a Route severity diagram without bothering with too much detail. Just knowing the sign for Passage and Pitch will show you at a glance whether the cave is mainly vertical or horizontal for instance.

One of the main types of obstruction we encounter down Mendip caves is that of tightness, or Constriction.  The basic symbol for Constriction on the Route Severity Diagram is a sharp point partly blocking the passage like this……

…….and anywhere you see this sign, or anything like it on a Route severity Diagram, you will know that the cave is tight at that spot.

A tight passage will have a number of these signs along it, to remind you that it is still tight, like the ‘30’ signs which are repeated at intervals along a village street to remind you that you are still in a 30 limit.  The actual number of signs is not significant.  Neither is the way up they are drawn.  A Route Severity Diagram is not a plan nor an elevation of a cave, although it may be drawn to look more like one or the other.  Thus, all the signs we use have the same meaning whichever way they are drawn.    There is no ‘up’ or ‘down’ on an R.S.D. and directions have no meaning either.  The only thing that is ‘real’ about it is that if you come to a passage junction of two ordinary passages, the left turn and the right turn really do correspond with the turns you have to do in the actual cave.

Thus, all these signs mean ‘tight passage’……

What about tight pitches? Well, we have a sign for tightness and we have a sign for pitch.  Put them together and we will have a sign for a tight pitch.  The R.S.D. works like that, by building up simple designs to form a detailed picture of the cave in a convenient shorthand form.  Later on, we shall be able to describe things in much more detail.

Reads Cavern, Burrington

News has just reached the B.B. Office (!) that a collapse may have occurred in Reads Cavern.  Z Alley is reported to be blocked and two new chambers found.  The new chambers are reported to lie near the ‘Stone Age’ entrance.  The stream is also sinking near the cave entrance instead of well to the left of the cliff face.

Address Changes:

G. Selby, 913 West Olive Street, Corona, California, USA, 91720.
R.J. Price, G19 Test Equipment, English Electric Co., Kidsgrove, Staffs.
J.W. Manchip, 3 Blackthorn Court, Barnton, Edinburgh, Scotland.
E.G. Welch, 18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol.


Utopia, Here On Mendip?

By Terry Taylor

It was in the year of ‘Warlord’ that ‘the line’ was first noticed, whilst wandering, aimlessly, down the tourist-infested Gorge, dodging an occasional falling climber.

“Thou shalt not climb”, saith the Prophet (pron: profit) Gough, in his First Commandment of the Bye-laws of Cheddar.  “Thou shalt not get caught”, sez we.  Not that it worried me, as I staggered, plaster-legged, towards refreshment.  It gave me an excuse to daydream unlikely routes, up the leaning pinnacles, and overhanging arêtes.

“But……….what is that?................a huge mass of ivy, hanging down what looks like a big cave, or a chimney, or, or………...”

Before long, and without plaster boots, we were back to gaze.  Bill-of-the-Red-Beard and I, desperate unshaven fellows, laden with suspicious-looking clanking things, crossed the road and disappeared up ‘The Shoot’.

Not for long, though, because we soon followed the two ends of our rope over the top of the cliff. We abseiled three times, cleared a lot of ivy and found that it really was a huge chimney.

One week later, Dennis-one-Kidney was with me, as we swung down, stripping more of the green stuff from the cliff.  “Hmm! It’s a real natural one, Den, up this groove, round the overhand….Bob’s your uncle.”

The next visit was with “Mike-the-Poke” and Paul Leonard, and it rained and rained, just to improve matters.  We’d each failed once on the first greasy-green pitch, so I put on some nylon socks over my P.A.’s and taped them round the ankles.  “I’ll give it another try, never climbed in socks, wonder what’ it’s like?”

Well, I got up, not without some difficulty.  “Good hard VS, in the wet, Mick” (Historical note: Manchester Gritstone C.C. on 1959 did a route here.  “Great Unwashed”, 450’ VS, goes off right just above the overhang, at an ancient peg.) Mick followed, with two interruptions, as he didn’t have socks.  We went on to the ivy-ledge, and in one very wet abseil reached the ground.  Round 3 to them.

The next visit was on a sunny evening.  Paul and I couldn’t fail this time, surely.

“Oh Christ!  I’ve forgotten my P.A.’s” sez I.  Dismal thoughts of failure yet again, second searchings and multicoloured curses, all failed to materialise my boots.  “S’pose I’ll have to wear my Kastingers then, Paul, better than nothin’.”  So, off we go, seconds out, Round 4!

Paul led Pitch 1 up to the ivy-ledge, and we were at the limit of our previous attempts, below the huge overhangs.  The next pitch was up over some poised blocks, into a splayed open chimney-type groove.  “Very good jams here, Paul.”  This took us up to a big ledge, thirty feet to the side of the roofs of “Paradise Lost”, (VS, no sign of the bolts though).

The next pitch, “the chimney”, was a ‘gem’.  Up over several small overhangs into the chimney proper.  “Huge chock runners, no need for pegs here, hmm!  Quite a bridge….sh!  A nice little thread there…..lovely!

“Below!  Jesus!  That was lucky.  D’you see that Paul (not that he could miss a rock the size of his head).  A bloody and ‘old came off, hit my right boot standing on nothing much.  Phew! That was close.”

There were no other ‘events’ (thank Gawd!)  and we were soon standing at the top.  We decided to call it “Utopia”, for us it was of a sort, there were two big peg routes to the left (Paradise Lost” – VS and A3; and “Paradise Regained” - VS and A”) and we had only used on peg, and that as a belay.  And it was good climbing.

P.S.  A B.E.C. party, D. Targett and R. Sell, did the second ascent in late 1968.  Is this an omen (at last) of a ‘real’ climbing section in the B.E.C.?  (Ed. Note:  I hope that Terry is right and that the climbing section will put their achievements onto paper!)


Cavers Bookshelf

By R.D. Stenner

Mendip Karst Hydrology Research Project, Phase 3. W.C.C.  Occasional Publication Series 2 No.2 by D.P. Drew, M.D. Newson, D.I. Smith, ed. J.D. Hanwell.  (December 1963).

Series 2 No.1 (Phases 1 & 2) published over a year ago (reviewed in B.B. 239, p21) was concerned with the hydrology of both Eastern Mendip and Central Mendip.  It was an extremely successful publication, partly because of the very large number of cavers who had helped in the field work and partly because the results were of direct interest to so many cavers.  The new publication has more limited objectives, the establishment of the catchment areas for the Langford Rickford risings.  Those who have seen Series 2 No.1 will know what to expect, good quality reproduction of text and figures by offset litho, but a few of the photographs suffer from lack of definition or contrast.  27 pages including 7 photos, 10 diagrams, 6 figures and 3 maps, giving an indication of its large factual content.

The results (published in B.B. No.242, p51) are very much more complicated than those found in Phases 1 & 2.  The results of the traces, and the results related physical and chemical characteristics of the water, are very clearly presented.  The report has been written with clarity and brevity.  Perhaps the brevity has led to a crucial omission. There is no discussion of the relevance of the results to caves, and no discussion of the results in relation to those published in 1963 by Professor Tratman (UBSS Proc. Vol.10 No.1, p22-57). To sum up, an important publication with an interesting section on mechanical erosion (not studied in Phases 1 & 2) but because of its more limited appeal I doubt if it will sell as well as its predecessor.

Monthy Notes No. 21

By “Wig”

Moles at work!  Great new discoveries are being sought for with undiminished enthusiasm but little has resulted in way of new cave here on Mendip for over eighteen months.  Who’s prepared to open a book on digs at present being purged!

NORTH HILL is still being worked on Wednesday evenings and to date has reached a depth of nearly 100ft. and a length of the same amount. To ensure that this team gets a chance in the stakes have commenced another just beyond Priddy Green at a site, Twin Titty, and if I might comment, a very impressive site.  The shaft is over 20ft.deep, following two solid walls that show good signs of past water action.  A slight but definite draught has been reported to be felt at the bottom emerging from a small, tapered, hole between the solid wall and clay side. The entrance to the shaft shows a marked anticline, which, say the diggers, if it goes will branch out in two directions, one to Wookey via Swildons and the other to Cheddar thus proving both Ford and Stanton to be right in their respective arguments regarding Swildons and its resurgence!

Members will remember, at least those at the Annual Dinner, C. Wyndam Harris when he gave the club a copy of a fascinating plan of a possible cave system running from Eastwater area to Wookey Hole.  A map of the area had been divined by one of the world’s greatest authority on the subject, Lt. Col. Kenneth Merrylees and the result is shown on the opposite page.

I’ve recently been told that ‘Gaff’ Fowler will be back in England at Easter when he will be letting the club have his ‘black-box’ that can be used for tracing cave systems the scientific way!  (Also, he has promised an article for the B.B. on the subject – Ed)  It might be suggested that the area in the Lower Pitts Farm may well repay investigation not only as a result of this map but because small collapses have been reported in this area on several occasions; one such occurred after the thaw in January 1962 along the road near Priddy stores.

Swildons Hole – watch those cuts!

Your reporter recently received a letter from John Manchip.  In it he mentions that one of his party developed a poisoned hand.  “It was a small cut that caused the trouble sustained while crawling though the keyhole in Barnes Loop.  The interesting thing is that a nasty gash received at the Forty (or 10ft. or whatever) which was kept out of the water in Barnes Loop was O.K.  This presumably shows that the water in this part of the cave is even more foul than I thought it was.

As I have never heard of anyone actually getting the lurgi here beforem I thought I would pass the word on.”  Thanks John for the info, all I wish to add is just this – if anyone hears of this type of news and other caving news that it will interest members let the Editor have it please, it helps get over the problem of keeping large B.B.’s that people seem to want.


MORE CAVE PAINTINGS FOUND IN SPAIN.  Reported in guardian as being as important as finds at Altamira and Lascaux.


Long Term Planning report NEXT MONTH


Just a Sec

With Alan Thomas

When Gaff Fowler returns to this country in the Spring he is going to lend the Club his earth resistivity meter so that we can discover caves without going underground!  He is also going to write an article for the B.B. on the construction and use of the formation given in the dowsing map (see page 18, Ed) that Digger Harris produced at the Club Dinner.  Let us know of any good sites you may think of for the instrument.

Norman Petty and helpers have planted a hundred Norway spruce trees on the Belfry site.  They will need to be kept free of grass in the Spring until they are big enough to fend for themselves.

To Bob and Lynne White, a son, Mark Raymond, 6lb 14½ oz., born 20 December 1968.

The A.G.M. of the Southern Council was held in the Geography lecture theatre.  The B.E.C. was represented by Gordon Tilly and myself. An account of the meeting by Gordon is to be found elsewhere.  It struck me a ominous that stringent qualifications were being laid down for professional caving instructors, irrespective of the caves into which they take parties.  I fear that if an accident occurs involving an amateur caving instructor he may be expected to measure up to the same standards.  Very few people are good general cavers – they either don’t like water or ladders or squeezes or something.  The standards for professional caving instructors could be very dangerous document in the hands of a coroner.

I have heard from Austria that the Authority for the Protection of Architectural and natural Monuments (particularly Dr. H. Trimmel) wants to visit the Ahnenschacht this Summer. The Research Group of Upper Austria express thanks for what we did in the Ahnenschacht in 1968.  All the Austrian cavers that some members met on the International Raucherkar Expedition in 1966 wish to be remembered to them.

You can find out about the next attempt on St. Cuthbert’s sump in the March B.B., but can anyone put us in touch with a manual pump capable of shifting about a hundred gallons a minute, either to borrow, hire or buy cheap, that is unless anyone wants to give us one?  Remember the entrance rift is only 9” wide, to the pump may have to be stripped down.

If you go in the Hunters often enough and for long enough you stand a very good chance of meeting everybody you have ever met in there before.  Ben told me Gerald Platten was there about a month ago and one evening this month (January) who should come in but Max Unwin on a brief visit to this country. Not only was he surprised to see the alterations to the bar but he war surprised to see electric light!  Among people he wished to be remembered to were Dan, Sybil, Harry Stanbury and Tommy Thomas.  We had a very interesting chat about some of his old digs such as (dare I say it front of P.C.)  Emborough and Thrupe.  He also drew me a sketch showing the locations of one or two other digs he recommended on Eastern Mendip.

Don’t forget the C.R.G. Southern Meeting on April 19th.  It is to be held at the Swan Hotel, Wells and the B.E.C. is acting as the C.R.G.’s host. There will be an evening meeting followed by Dinner at the Hotel.  We also hope to arrange a number of caving trips on the Sunday and it would help in this connection if as many Cuthbert’s leaders as possible could make themselves available and let Andy know.  We are running a public exhibition in Wells Museum from 12th to 26th April; some offers of help have already been forthcoming but more can also be used.

Need I remind members of Kay Mansfield’s letter that appeared in the January B.B.  It really does need your help and if you feel that this is what you would like to do – then contact Kay, or Ray, ‘Tiny Kott’ Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset., OR attend a meeting in Phil Romford’s caravan at the Regent Garage, Townsend, Priddy on Saturday 8th march 1969 at 6.30pm.

Does anybody know the present address of Tom and Rusty Neil, George Honey or John Bulger?  Please, if you change your address send your new onto me.

We don’t want to be caught on the hop of and when the new postal codes become compulsory so I have started adding them to my copy of the address list.  It would be just as well if members started telling me their postal codes when they know them.

The U.B.S.S. has been having difficulty with the G.B. LOCKING SYSTEM.  Recently the cave has twice been left open.  On the first occasion a set of keys was stolen, involving the U.B.S.S. in expenditure of £12 and on the second occasion when the cave was left open for a fortnight they could have incurred legal proceedings by Bristol Water Works.  NO MEMBER OF THE B.E.C. SHOULD OBTAIN THE KEYS OF G.B. UNLESS HE IS FAMILIAR WITH THE RULES AND INTENDS TO OBEY THEM.  In future anyone who applies to Phil Townsend for a permit will be given a copy of the rules.  Anyone else wanting a copy of the rules can obtain one for me.



By Roy Marshall

To break the caving monopoly in the B.B. – a group of B.E.C. climbers with some others visited Swanage on the weekend of 9-10 November 1968.  The party included out illustrious Climbing Secretary Malcolm, Pete Sutton, Margaret, Celia, Dick and myself with Roger Scull and Howard.

Pete, having a nose for these things immediately on our arrival found the grottiest dive in Swanage! This turned out to be the ‘in’ place. After closing time we drove out to Tilly Whin caves where we intended to camp.  Dick found one of his many and widespread friends and we were able to round off the evening with coffee in civilised surroundings.

No B.E.C. climbing trip is complete without its hairy mini-race.  This took place around the Tilly Whin car park and surrounding lanes. This three car race increased to four in the closing stages.  The new arrival was one of your actual Swanage constables.  He turned out to be human and after a brief friendly chat haired off at a ridiculous rate.  On the Sunday we broke camp and went into Sawnage for an early breakfast (about 10.30) where we were joined in Fortes by many local climbers.  After scrounging a look at a guide book (none of us had one!) we set off for the light house.  The rock is limestone and all the routes are on the sea cliffs.

These range from the Tilly Whin caves (for the benefit of our caving members – these are artificial caves) at one end to the area known as the ‘cattle troughs’.  This covers about 1½ to 2 miles of sea cliff.  The hardest grade of climbing is V.S. and these are under-graded.

To get to the routes one wanders along the cliff top until one is over the routes that you wish to climb. Tying the rope to the very insecure fence one abseils down to either the large ledges or in our case a boulder ruckle.

The base of the boulder ruckle climbing area is reached by a 150ft. free abseil.  On this Sunday the waves were striking the boulders sending spray 15 – 20ft. into the air.  Pete and I tried Jericho Grove.  A severe with, what I found, an extreme approach to its start.  It required jumping onto rocks before they were covered by massive waves.  Needless to say it took me some time; getting soaked twice in my efforts.

Friction is fantastic, so much so that one takes layers of skin off one hands.  Holds consist mainly of jams and lay backs.  The thin flakes give the impression of being fragile but are remarkably strong.  The top pitches are very loose but this is obvious when one reaches them.  All one can be is treat the rock respectfully. At the top of the climbs the steep grass is hairy in the dry – desperate in the wet.  Protection consists mainly of nuts, though a few pegs were in place.

Roger Scull and Howard put up what they thought to be a new route.  This is up a thin crack taking a small bulge free.  The bulge is the crux and is climbed on small finger jams. Roger kindly left a trail of blood to follow after cutting his finger in the finger jam.

After all had followed up this route we made for Bath – the Bell to be precise – Malcolm’s van needless to say could not stand the strain and he struggled in last (well before closing time).

On the whole and enjoyable weekend; the sea noise takes some getting used to, once this is overcome it is very enjoyable climbing.