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.

Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir,

The recent article by ‘Prew’ (Speech Communication Underground, November B.B. No. 248) raises a point of some interest. A grade 6 survey of St. Cuthbert’s implies that the position of the end of the cave (Gour Rift) in relation to the entrance contains a possible error of ±40ft. in the easting and northing.  If, by means of magnetic induction method, the position could be located to an accuracy of say ±10ft. or even ±20ft., the survey could be closed onto this position thus gaining considerable accuracy throughout the surveyed network.  It would therefore be interesting to know the accuracy of this method and also the likely effects of local magnetic disturbances due to be buried bedsteads and the like.  Clearly any method of improving the results of the magnetic survey of the cave is of considerable importance.

Mike Luckwill
Sedgeley, 9-1-69.

‘Prew’ has sent in the following:

Dear Sir,

I have read with interest Mike Luckwill’s letter referring to the use of the Magnetic Induction System I described in the November B.B. No.248, for checking the accuracy of the St. Cuthbert’s survey.

Firstly, if anyone is interested in the use of magnetic induction as an instrument of surveying I could recommend they obtain the article by Dr. H. Lord in the Proceedings of the B.S.A.  No.1, August 1963.  Dr. Lord describes in his articles the “pros” and “cons” of using Inductive System for pinpointing parts of a cave system on the surface.

Secondly, my own feelings on the subject are as follows bearing in mind the limitations of the system that I have produced.  At present the maximum range of the device when used with speech is only 300ft., however, if a continuous tone were used this could possibly be increased to 400ft. In order to obtain the degree of accuracy suggested then the range must be considerable reduced, say halved, as it would be impossible to pinpoint the underground transmitter accurately if the received cone were only just detectable.  Unfortunately Gour Rift is, almost certainly, outside the range of the present equipment.  There is, however, an improved version being designed at present and it is hoped that this will give considerably greater range of operation.

A second snag with the Magnetic Induction System is the use of rather large aerial coils, at least 10ft. in diameter for a range of 300ft.  If an accurate position is to be obtained then it is essential that the aerial coils (underground and surface) be rigid and that all the wires in the coil lie in the same place.  This presents quite a problem underground.  It is also important that the underground aerial is positioned accurately in the horizontal plane.

I think from the above remarks you will realise that at present accurate pinpointing of the parts of the cave can only be done, at present, where the areas of interest lie within 200ft. of the surface.


Just a Sec

With Alan Thomas

DURING the Dining Room Dig Meet on Tuesday, 25th February some b.s.a.d. stole a total of about £21+ from the diggers clothes in the Belfry.  One member alone lost £8 in notes….

At the February Committee Meeting it was decided to plant a thousand Christmas trees on the Belfry site as a profit making crop.  (Alan is taking orders for Christmas 1972!!! Ed.).

THE MAIN business of the February Committee meeting was the New Club Constitution which will be put to the 1969 A.G.M. as a Committee proposal.  The draft done by ‘Alfie’ was amended in accordance with detailed advice given by ‘Digger’ Harris and discussion by the Committee.  It is not proposed to send full copies to all members unless they especially request one by writing to me.  A summary of the proposals will appear in the B.B. later.  Copies of the full constitution may be seen at the Belfry or Waggon as soon as they are prepared.

Can anybody tell us the present address of R. Kitchen?  Correspondence to the address given in the B.B. is returned by the P.O.

I am told that an interesting event took place recently when Ted Mason, Harry Ashworth, Gerald Platten, Lord Waldegrave and others took a party of Venture Scouts from South London down Lamb Leer.

Have you any books, publications or surveys belonging to the Club Library?  As you know the last A.G.M. directed the Hon. Librarian to institute a system of fines.  This does not apply at present to books that were taken out before the system came into force, so if YOU have any items from the library, get them to Dave Serle, Dolphin Cottage, Wells Road, Priddy as soon as possible.  If you cannot get out to Priddy then give them to myself or Dave Irwin at the Waggon on Thursday evenings.

The Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee will be meeting this month to discuss the first application it has ever received.

IT IS rather novel to be able to blame the lateness of the February B.B. on neither the postal department nor the Editor; in fact the ink froze in the Gestetner machine!

JOHN RILEY is looking for someone to share the furnished house he rents at Chew Stoke.  A half share of the rent is £2-12-6 per week.

HAVE YOU ordered your B.E.C. caving report No.13 (Parts A -O) yet?  Part A is already published and selling out fast.  The only way to be sure of getting the whole report is to place an order with Bryan Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Nr. Bridgwater, who will send you each part with an invoice as soon as it is published.


The Variability of Limestone Hydrology

By R.D. Stenner

In the past few years results obtained by various researchers into limestone hydrology have been of great interest to cavers.  Perhaps for the first time the cavers are seeing some point in the scientific work being carried out in their caves.  Because the caver has in general been only interested in the results, the finer points in the interpretation of results, the qualifications and the limitations have not worried him.  This is natural and to be expected, but as a result muddled thinking and faulty reasoning are fairly widespread, for example in discussions about the time of water flow from Cuthbert’s - Wookey (in connection with digs in the stream passage) or in the comparison of the two hydrological studies that have been carried out in the Burrington area, wildly incorrect conclusions have been made.  In this article the author aims to point out to cavers the dangers of relying on a single water tracing experiment, making conclusions that may well be incorrect under different conditions.

Figure 1:  The time taken for water in a simple stream to flow from one point to another.

Figure 2:  The time taken for the water to flow between the same two points in a simple stream in high and low water conditions.

First, consider times of flow.  The very idea of a time may be misleading.  If water at given point A in a single discrete stream at a given time, is timed to a second point B some distance downstream, the result shown in figure 1 will be obtained.  This graph itself is the most meaningful expression of the time of flow, but for the layman the most comprehensible will be the times t1 and t2 (the time at which the water first reaches the point, and the time at which the majority of the water reaches the point).  The caver will realise that in practice the curve may be ‘flattened’ with no easily discernible peak and that oxbows will cause multiple peaks to be formed.

The time of flow will vary with discharge.  Figure 2 show the type of variation to be expected in a simple case between high water and low water conditions.

Secondly, the distribution of water in a complex system of interconnected water courses is likely to vary considerably. This variation may occur in several ways, and three will be considered.

1.                  The distribution of water in a network of courses may vary with the discharge.  As a stream rises increasing proportions of the stream will take alternative routes.

An example of this is the distribution of the surface stream at G.B. between the inlet at the N.E. corner of the Gorge and the stream in the Devils Elbow route.  Until the great flood in July 1968, the ratio of the sizes of the Devils Elbow and the N.E. inlet stream varied, with the ratio being determined by the discharge value of the surface stream.  In high flood the stream overflows into two other large inlets into the Devils Elbow route. (The N.E. inlet also contains water from a large unknown source).  The full details of this result will be published later.

2.                  A stream may spontaneously change its distribution between routes.

An example is water sinking near the pipe taking water into St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  Water from St. Cuthbert’s stream flows both into the E. inlet in Pulpit Passage and to the N.E. inlet in Arête Chamber.  Two years ago the majority of this water flowed into the E. inlet.  In July 1967 the majority of the water flowed into the N.E. inlet, and this was the case for about a year before reverting to the E. inlet.  The variation was not related to any possible variable, and was probably caused by changes within the boulder ruckle between the cave and the surface.

3.                  The distribution of a stream between routes may also change as a result of excavation or silting which can take place in a flood.

For example the pattern of distribution of the G.B. stream between the Devils Elbow route and the N.E. inlet changed considerably as a result of the 1968 flood.

In conclusion, the danger of relying on the results of a single tracing experiment can be seen in the following case.  In February 1968 water from St. Cuthbert’s stream was traced in the cave using Pyranine with activated charcoal detectors.  The dye was introduced 150ft. upstream of the dam, and very small streams with temperature and characteristics of percolation water gave positive results, but the Drinking Fountain stream gave a negative result.  In November 1968 chemical analysis showed with certainty that the Drinking Fountain stream was derived largely from St. Cuthbert’s stream, using a sink unknown in the St. Cuthbert’s Pool.  On this occasion the Pool was unusually deep because the top dam had been left in by accident.  The conclusion is that in high water conditions the Drinking Fountain stream comes largely from St. Cuthbert’s Pool, the source in low water is unknown.  Although when they are considered together the two sets of results give a reasonable picture of the hydrology of this part of St. Cuthbert’s could be misleading, the result of the variability of the hydrology of limestone areas.

February Committee Meeting

The February Committee Meeting was devoted to two subjects only: Alfie’s proposed constitution and Long Term Planning.  Regarding the Constitution: - this has been modified by the Committee and will be presented at the A.G.M. as a Committee resolution.  Copies will be available at the Belfry and the ‘Waggon’; for those who can’t get there to inspect it then spare copies will be sent to them.  LTP report will be appearing soon.


Cambrian Caving Council (Cyngor Ogofeydd Cymreig)

report by Dave Turner

The last meeting of the Cambrian Caving Conference was held on Saturday, January 25th 1969 at 10.30am at Penwyllt.  The purpose of the conference was to set up a Welsh Regional Council on the lines of similar organisations.  The B.E.C., although not invited, managed to have delegates appear at Penwyllt in close company with members of the Wessex and U.B.S.S. (also not invited) exactly at 10.30am. Paul Allen, Bob Lewis and others of the Severn Valley C.C. were found already installed and making their feelings known.

There were strong feelings amongst members of many Welsh based clubs that the new council should limit its members to those who are totally Welsh based or willing to forgo all interest on other regions.  It was this strong ‘closed-shop’ attitude which made the above Mendip clubs go to the Conference to ensure that all clubs who work in Wales should have some say on the newly formed Council.

After the customary reading of the minutes; election of the Chairman (John Osbourne, Hon. Sec. of the S.W.C.C.) etc., the next hour and a half was spent voting on who should be allowed to vote at the meeting.  (Ed. note: the first part of the meeting was the Cambrian Conference and after the discussion of the proposed constitution it would become the Cambrian Caving Council). Initially only the Welsh clubs who had been invited were allowed to vote and after some discussion it was decided that the Mendip Clubs should give reasons as to why they should be given the vote.  Valid reasons being a hut or headquarters in Wales or evidence of scientific work in Welsh caves in the recent past.  Paul Allen spoke first for the Severn Valley – they had just rented a hut in Wales and were doing work in the Hepste and Trefil areas – this was passed as O.K.

Pete Stanging spoke next for the U.B.S.S. – discovery, exploration and survey of Little Neath – this was queried by Mel Davis (I.C.I. Nylon Spinners) who considered that they had only found the cave by chance and weren’t really interested in it!! However other Welsh clubs were not swayed by this argument and so the U.B.S.S. could vote.

Next the B.E.C. – Dave Irwin spoke of the work (both discovery and exploration of Roman Mine) also of members work in the Chepstow area.  After Mel Davis claimed the discovery of Roman Mine for the I.C.I. Nylon Spinners, the B.E.C. were elected to vote.

Tim Reynolds justifying Wessex claims made reference to Warburton’s survey of Aggie (Agen Allwedd to the Welsh).  This news surprised Mel Davis and the other Aggie wardens as the Wessex had not applied for the key more than a couple of times in the last year.  It soon transpired that they were obtaining the key from the Chelsea cottage – ‘but this makes it a Chelsea survey!’ says David Leach (Hereford C.C.) With the other Mendip Clubs voting for them the Wessex were elected.

Now the business of the day could begin.  The motion to form a Cambrain Caving Council; was quickly passed and the tedious business of deciding on the constitution started.  A draft constitution based in general on that of the Southern council, had already been circulated and this was used as a basis.  First the name: - Cambrian Caving Council, Welsh Caving Council, Cyngor Ogoffydd Cymru – all combinations were proposed.  The Welsh members wanting the Welsh name first; the English wanting the English name first!  There being more English members present the English name comes first. Cambrian, we were told by experts is a bastard word and so no direct Welsh translation exists.  Cymru meaning Welsh.  Cymraig was suggested as the best translation and after ten minutes discussion as to the correct Cymreig won.

The objects and guiding principles were dealt with little more ease and then the meeting adjourned for lunch, The Gwyn for most and the Courage House half a mile down the road for the B.E.C.

The next clause to be discussed was considered by the Mendip Clubs to be the most offensive.  The draft constitution was worded “A club is eligible for membership of the Council if its major interests are in Wales and who wishes to be represented by the above Council only.”  The required changes were passed with far less opposition than had been expected. The amended clause reads “A club is eligible for membership of the Council if it has major interests in Wales and the Marches.”  This amended wording allows Mendip and others not based in Wales but who have interest there to have a say in the running of the regional council.

The clauses relating to the number of delegates, the officers of the Council and Council meetings were passed with few amendments.

Voting came again in clause 8.  The Southern Council have the right of veto but the chairman’s casting vote carried the motion not to have the veto.

Subscriptions took a while to be agreed upon, the final compromise was ten shillings a year and ten shillings entrance fee, but the Committee reserved the right to waive all or part of it at its discretion.

The arrangement of dissolution was then discussed at length - completely unnecessary as it was pointed out by Dr. Oliver Lloyd that the Southern Council only have the clause on dissolution to avoid a veto if persistently used.  Not having the veto the clause became redundant.

At this stage the B.E.C. & Wessex left the meeting leaving the U.B.S.S. and Severn Valley to protect our mutual interest.  It was felt that the journey was not wasted as the Mendip Clubs had helped in the formation of a more useful and workable council than would otherwise have been the case.

The B.E.C. delegates were Dave Irwin, Martin Webster and Dave Turner.

Letter To The Editor

Dear Sir,

Before we know where we are it will be time to attend another A.G.M.   In common with other meetings of this type there are several faults as a result of following standing orders for procedure.    In the past these have only led to temporary feelings if disgruntlement, but at the present time, when the club is expanding in many ways, they could have more serious consequences.

Let us first consider the causes.  The problem is that there is a finite amount of time and apparently an infinite amount of business to be carried out.  Minutes and reports from the various club officers take up most of the time and when important business; motions and their discussion, has to be hurried and inevitable curtailed.

The remedy is simple and may I suggest that it is applied this year?  The reports of all club officers should be published and issued to every member, together with the financial statement.  They could be published in the B.B. (hmm – Ed.).  At the meeting the formality of reading the reports could be then be bypassed, discussion and voting on them would quickly be finished and ample time left for the more important business.

Improvement in the discussion of member’s resolutions would also occur if the example set by ‘Sett’ and Mike Palmer last year were followed, and members publish their thoughts on their proposals.  This would enable people who don’t get down to Mendip very often to go to the meeting with informed and up to-date opinions, where as at the moment they have to spend half the time at the meeting catching up with the thoughts of those who see each other frequently and can discuss these matters.

A case in point will be ‘Alfies’ constitution.  I am sure that I shall not be confronted with it at the A.G.M. and have to vote for or against, but I not only want to know what it is long before the meeting, I also want to hear other people’s views on it before the meeting.  Surely the B.B. is an excellent medium for propagating these views and if people just don’t write, may we have some ‘political journalism’?

                        Yours faithfully,
                                    Mike Luckwill

Ed. Note:          Thanks Mike for this interesting letter – I feel that there’s much in it for discussion.  I am prepared to keep aside a page or so a month for members letters on this subject so that your Committee can gather members feelings on this and associated subjects.


Monthly Notes No.21

By ‘Wig’


News from this popular caving area only seems to get into the columns of the B.B. on rare occasions although members of the Dining Room Digging team are arranging monthly trips to Yorkshire in the immediate future so something should be heard of their exploits up in the far north.  Until news is sent in from Martin Webster and Co., here are a few notes gathered from recent publications in the B.E.C. Library:-

FAWCETT MOOR: - W.R.P.C. have entered a wet bedding plane 4,000ft. long.

IREBY FELL CAVERN: N.C.C. have dug the boulder choke beyond the 1st sump and entered half a mile of winding passage.

PASTURE GILL POT: New pot explored.  340ft. deep including 130ft. pitch.  Above Yockenthwaite Farm, Wharfedale.

BIRKS FELL CAVE: Above Bucken; C.P.C. have entered 4,000ft. of stream passage.

RIGG POT - Langcliffe: Extended by 300ft.  Mainly low crawls.

SUNSET HOLE: High level series extended by 100ft.

SLAPE GILL – Coverdale: Y.U.R.T. have made two discoveries; one of 300ft. and another of 1,100ft.

EASEGILL: Small extensions made by Brook brothers near Nagasaki.

P2 (Newby Moss Pot): now 280ft. deep by 900ft. long.

Sheet’s Gill Cave: (Wharfedale) cave extended ¼ mile.

Growling Hole (Kingsdale) : New discovery including 250ft. pitch.

Langcliffe Pot: Now three miles long.

Hazel BUSH CAVE: (nr Arkengarthdale): 260ft. long.

Bradford Pothole Club Journal gives full description of Whitsun Series (including survey) found by them last year in the GG system.

On Mendip the M.C.G. have been working in the Longwood/August System and have made a small discovery in their dig in Sand Passage.  The length was just over 15ft. but ended in another boulder choke.  The January and February issue of the A.C.G. Newsletter contain an interesting article on the possibility of connecting Banwell Bone Cave and Banwell Stalactite Cave.

The sculptured head of William Beard on his gravestone at Banwell is in grave danger of disintegrating. Officials of the Weston Museum have offered to restore the work providing it is kept indoors. The argument that has arisen that if the head is removed then a replica will be required by the villagers – but who pays?  Perhaps the Mendip Preservation Society could help here.

PEMBROKESHIRE: new cave discovered at Saddle Head.  Over 400 feet long with many magnificent formations.  Called Ogof Govan.

SOUTH WALES: Dan-yr-Ogof – Divers have been exploring the Mazeways and have followed the submerged passage for over 950ft. from base.

MENDIP: Sludge Pit – Tony Jarrett of the Axbridge is planning a prolonged attack on the terminal sump.

MENDIP: St. Cuthbert’s – Dave Irwin and Martin Webster have found an interesting extension in the Rabbit Warren.  Though only 70-80ft. long there are many fine crystal groups and a group of ‘lipped’ gours covering the floor of an unexplored passage that heads into the blank area of the Rabbit Warren.  The entrance to this passage and the crystal formations are being taped off in the very near future.

The survey of the Rabbit Warren is now complete and the total passage length is about 2,800ft.

SWILDONS: Tim Reynolds (WCC) and Pete Standing have found an entrance to what appears to be a large passage above the streamway in Ten, but as time was short and they wanted to get on to Twelve they left it for another occasion – so further developments may prove very interesting.

Two collapses have occurred near Cuckoo Cleeves, one of which is going to be the WCC summer dig.

To ensure that the club records are kept in safe keeping Bob Bagshaw is arranging a box to be kept at the bank.  This will house club log books, title deeds and other important papers that have been given to the club including Jack Waddons manuscripts which contain useful information on the caves of Derbyshire and Devon. Anyone holding material of this kind are asked to give it to Bob as soon as possible.  The Committee are chasing the known ‘holders’ of this material. Once the material has been collected then a list will be available from Dave Serle and appointment may be made through Bob Bagshaw enabling members and other interested people to inspect the contents.  The material will not be taken from the bank.  Members wanting copies can make arrangements with Bob to have what they require Photostatted at their own cost.

Hillgrove Water Tracing Results

I recently received a note from Tim Atkinson (WCC & UBSS) giving the water tracing results. He says “The swallets traced were, from west to east, Hillgrove, Easter Hole, Whitsun Hole, Doubleback Swallet (Zoo Swallet), Rock Swallet.  Lycopodium spores were employed in all cases, 2kg. per sink.  An artificial stream had to be created at Hillgrove Swallet, using a fire pump to pump water from the pond into the sink.  The water was directed down Balch’s Shaft, which is known to connect with the shaft dug by Frank Frost and others.  Spores from all of the swallets were recovered, though in very small quantities from some.  The results, including the minimum time of arrival of the spores, are given in the table below. In a few cases, single spores were recovered from springs other than those mentioned, these are put down to chance contamination.

Because of the complexity of the flow pattern and the small numbers of spores recovered on this occasion (January 1969) it is by no means certain that the results would appear precisely the same if the tests were repeated.  Unfortunately, to repeat them using lycopodium spores would be too expensive, but it is hoped to repeat at least some of these tracings using dyes, and also to trace some of the other swallets in the area.

As seems to be usual in water tracing with lycopodium, the results raise several problems to do with the hydrology of limestone terrain, and it is proposed to discuss these at more length in the full report of the operation.



TIME hours


Wookey Hole

Biddlecombe West


2 – 3

Easter Hole

Wookey Hole

8 – 11

Whitsun hole

Wookey Hole

Biddelcome West

Biddlecombe East


2 – 3

8 – 10

Doubleback (Zoo)

Wookey Hole

72 –77


Wookey Hole

92 – 98

April issue contains articles of interest to all – Walking in the snow covered mountains in Wales; plans of the Cuthbert’s Sump Operation later this year; Caving log; Dining Room Dig report with survey and cartoon by Jock Orr.


Cavers Bookshelf

By Mike Luckwill

Many readers will be delighted to hear that the first edition, or Old Series of the Ordnance Survey, 1” to the mile, maps are being republished.  Prompted by the Napoleonic Wars it was decided that a reliable map of Great Britain was required and during the first half of the Nineteenth Century the survey was carried out.  Sheet 1 ( London, north of the Thames, about the same as sheets 160 and 161 of the Seventh Series) was published in 1805 and by 1869 all of England had been covered.    Although the original engraved copper plates were first made as early as 1805 in some cases, they remained in use until 1890 and were continually revised up to that time.  The present printing will contain these revisions, which are mainly railways and canals built during these years to transport coal; they will thus be of considerable interest to the student of archaeology in Somerset.

The climber and hill walker will no doubt be attracted towards sheets of North Wales and the Lake District, made so attractive by the fact that the maps are hachured and not contoured.  The reviewer is particularly looking forward to seeing some of the Scottish sheets; imagine being stranded somewhere in the Cairngorms or the Cullins with nothing to guide one but one of these maps.

As with many other publications of interest to cavers, and lovers of the West Country, we have the publishing house of David and Charles to thank for making these sheets available. They are being published throughout the next two years ( England and Wales; Scotland to follow) and cost the extremely reasonable sum of 15/- each (flat of folded).  The flat version includes notes by the editor, Dr. J.B. Harley of the University of Liverpool, and will arrive in the post on the day of publication to all those who place an order.  Details may be obtained from David and Charles, South Devon House, Newton Abbot, Devon.

Address Changes and Additions

R. Kitchen – address unknown.
B.G. Hewitt – delete from address list.
R. White, 33 St. Cuthbert’s Street, Wells Somerset.
R.S. King, (Kangy) letters can be sent through Eddy Welch, 18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol.
T. Hodgson, 26 Dorset Road, Henlease, Bristol.
J. Cornwell, 26 Russell Road, Fishponds, Bristol.
C.Clarke, 18 Churche Lane, Bedminster, Bristoil, BS3 4NE.


August/Longwood Key

The key to August Longwood Swallet is available from Dave Irwin.  Members wishing to obtain the key should drop a line to ‘Wig’ and arrangements can be made to let you have it either through the post of at the Waggon on Thursday evenings.

Charterhouse permits are available from Phil Townsend.

It Had To Happen - Blood Chits For Cheddar

The M.N.R.C. now controls access to all caves on the south side of Cheddar Gorge, except the show caves. To enter any of the caves and rock shelters you must first have a permit that has been issued to you by Colin Venus, the caving secretary of the M.N.R.C.

The caves affected by this scheme: -

Cooper’s Hole
Flint Jack’s Cave (R.S.)
Greta Oone’s Hole
Honey Hole (R.S.)
Long Hole
Pig’s Hole (R.S.)
Reservoir Hole
Say’s Hole
Soldiers’ Hole (R.S.)
Sow’s Hole (R.S.)
Totty Pot (R.S.)
White Spot Cave
Whitebeam Slitter Cave

Access to the caves is limited to the period November – March and the ‘Blood Chit’ only covers one for this period – if granted at all!  No digging or the use of explosives in any of the caves and all cavers visiting the caves are held liable for third party claims and the cost of any damage that they may do – in the cave or walking across the land to reach the cave is not clear. The charge levied for each cave that is visited is 1/- per person per cave! – quite an expensive day’s outing.  The real crunch, or nerve, is the statement at the bottom of the blood chit which reads:  this form must be submitted to Mr. Colin Venus…..whereupon consideration will be given to the issue of a permit.  How Venus can access your capabilities as a caver without having been caving with you I’ll never know – still that’s his problem as the restricting access to the caves without gating them.

Because of the loose way in which the ‘blood chit’ has been compiled and the fact that the Hon. Secretary of the M.N.R.C., when contacted recently, knew nothing of the scheme the best advice  that can be given at the moment is don’t sign any paperwork regarding access to the Cheddar Caves.  A meeting is being held in Bristol shortly by the Committee of the Council of Southern Cave Clubs who will no doubt have some advice to give cavers generally of this position.

CRG Meeting

Cave Research Group of Great Britain – SOUTHERN GENERAL MEETING in WELLS

SWAN HOTEL (Ballroom) 4.30pm    Saturday April 19th 1969


4.30      The frequency of Severe Storms over the Mendip Hills, Somerset – Jim Hanwell

4.50      The Ahnenschact – Alan Thomas

5.10      Route Severity Diagrams – ‘Alfie’ Collins

5.30      Aspects of the new St. Cuthbert’s Swallet survey

8.00pm a dinner to be held in the Parrot Room of the Swan.  Tickets from Alan Thomas at 21/- each.  Hurry along and get yours now, numbers are limited!

4.00pm Tea – cost 2/- per head.

B.E.C. Exhibition on Caves and Caving at the Wells Museum for a fortnight from April 14th.  Open daily 10.00am – 6.00pm.  admission 1/6d.


A.W.  +  J.G. =  S.S.D.

By Martin Webster

To some the name Juniper Gulf will mean nothing more than a rather deep pothole set in one of the more remote areas of the Allotment, on the flanks of Ingleborough Hill in Yorkshire; the sort of place one should steer clear of if you want to stay healthy.

The description in P.U. does little to encourage the inquisitive; dangerous traverses; long drops; vast amounts of tackle; the long walk across the moor and the very excessive grading all help to deter the would be explorers!  While looking through a certain caving magazine, some months ago, I came across an article by a well known Yorkshire caver which described the final 200ft. pitch as one of the finest in the country, so, spurred by this thought and rather ‘hoggy’ crew at the Hunter’s it was decided to book it up for the end of February.

At one time we were almost forced to call it off because of heavy falls of snow a few days before the fateful day.  By Friday night it was all melting rapidly and so the team of six, Brian Woodward, Brian Talbot and Derek Harding of Bath University, Bob Craig (S.M.C.C.), Colin Priddle and myself (B.E.C.) all piled into the Bath university ‘Transit’ and set off.

The camp site at Skirwith only had a thin layer of snow covering it when we arrived at 12.30am with a gale force wind sweeping across the hill resulting in our tent collapsing in the morning, rudely awakening all inside.

We had decided to get to the cave from a point on the Ribblehead – Horton road as this would be about a mile shorter than the walk from Clapham.  We soon sound a suitable parking spot, got changed and started to sort out the tackle.  It was of course pouring with rain by this time and the high wind also helped to make things even more pleasant!  Some time later, after ploughing our way through high level snowdrifts and crossing the tricky limestone pavements, the entrance shaft was reached.  There was found that the normally 100ft. long chasm was completely covered, except for a 5ft. round hole by a huge snow drift!!! Again there was much running about and sorting of tackle, but eventually, we laddered the 70ft. entrance pitch and started down it.  At the bottom was a 20ft. high snow pile which made the usually easy walk into a difficult ice climb!  The walls of the shaft were encrusted with enormous icicles and, on looking up, we noticed that what we had thought was solid ground at the top, and had been leaping about on, was in fact just part of the snow plug suspended above an 80ft. drop!

Suitably shaken we made our way down the ice climb, across a very fragile snow ‘bridge’, which had the nasty habit of starting to dissipate whenever anyone stepped on it, through a very cold 3ft. deep pool of water which had large iceberg floating on it and so on to what is described in P.U. as ‘dangerous traverse at high level’. This, as far as the end of the 40ft. pitch was probably the easiest part of the cave and although we looked around we failed to find the ‘dangerous traverse’ at ‘high level’ – if anyone has seen one lurking around would they please return it to: - Juniper Gulf, c/o The Allotment, Yorkshire!  What is described as an awkward 40ft. pitch in fact turned out to be two very easy 20ft. pitches both of which have a very convenient flake belays (perhaps it was the wrong pitch).  From the bottom the stream ran through a small chamber and then sank to the bottom of a 20 – 30ft. deep rift.  This was the first difficult traverse we had encountered and this was only because we were carrying over 300ft. of ladder, 400ft. of rope, belays, krabs, pulleys etc. The traverse was rather longer than we had expected, so, at the first reasonable looking 80ft. drop we came to we laddered up.  As it turned out the actual 80ft. pitch was some 60ft. further along the rift.  When Bob descended he found that the ladder was 10ft. off the ground.  Returning to the head of the pitch Bob and the rest of us re-laddered.  This time there was ample ladder for the pitch, unfortunately our lifeline was now too short to double lifeline and the last man down had to remove his lifeline while still 30ft. above the floor and the procedure was reversed for the return trip up the pitch.  This is not recommended.  The pitch was, in fact, quite well situated as it came down into a small chamber with quite a nice cascade falling to the left of the ladder.  Sixty feet on the down passage we came to where the pitch is normally laddered.  Positioning of climbs however do not really matter in this cave, unless it floods.

At the end of a short, wide traverse we came to a boulder blockage.  The easiest way pass was a climb over the top, although a very tricky traverse underneath can be done but is not recommended as two of us nearly peeled off.  On the far side we entered a large dome shaped chamber with a hole in the floor, which was obviously the head of the 200ft.pitch.  After a short rest the pitch was laddered and then the first lucky lad was thrust forward and forced over the edge.  No time was wasted on this drop for as soon as one person was down the previous one was brought back up.  In this way the ladder was always in use and there was a large hauling party at the top.

The climb was everything we had hoped it would be.  The ladder hung free for 195ft. of its length and the clean and beautiful coloured water worn walls gave the whole abyss a look of magnificent, wild beauty which I have yet to see in another shaft.  Half-way down a large waterfall could be seen across the gulf, cascading down and disappearing into the vault below. 

The bottom was a like huge spray swept vault, with the stream falling down another 10ft. drop into the final rift.  This proved to be 200ft. long and ended in a large sump.  A fitting end for such a superb pothole.  The ascent of the shaft was quickly completed.  The fastest ascent of the day was by Brian Woodward, who shot up the ladder in 3½ minutes – 20 seconds faster than his nearest rival! The return trip went very smoothly and by the time Brian and I, who had stayed behind to de-tackle the double 20’s, arrived at the entrance shaft, most of the party had reached the surface. They had decided to practice the age old art of ‘hauling’.  This consists of a hefty group of cavers racing across the moor with the rope when someone is tied on the end; any shrieks or howls which issue up the shaft are, of course, ignored.

Unfortunately they became a little carried away and I was dragged over the lip at very high speed. Brian was even more unfortunate as he was lifted bodily off the ground and hardly had time to touch the ladder!!

The equipment was soon packed away in the tackle bags and we set off across the fell, and soon became lost! After an hour of tripping over rocks and disappearing into snow drifts we found our way back, by a piece of brilliant navigation (pure luck) to the wagon, and was soon to be consuming vast quantities of liquid refreshment and convincing ourselves that our ‘super-severe-day’ had really been enjoyable.


Extracts from the Caving Log

By Dave Irwin

The Caving Log (from 20th September 1968 to 1st March 1969) gives an interesting breakdown.  Out of a total of 138 trips; 98 were in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet!  Looking back in the log it is the first time that Cuthbert’s has logged so many trips in a similar period.  But there is also a great difference this time – out of the 98 trips were working trips; surveying, digging, photographic, pushing various holes, dam building, replacing of tackle and laying of guide lines in Victory Passage.

The Dining Room Dig has been continually dug on Tuesday evenings (anyone interested in helping are welcome to come along – 6.45pm at the Belfry) and during the last four months the dig has been lengthened by over 60ft. to a total length of 120ft.  On 6th October, Dave Yendle and Colin Priddle (the day after the Annual Dinner as well!) tried unsuccessfully to push a very tight hole in the Sump Passage Oxbow.  A fortnight later ‘Pope’ and Tim Hodgson hammered their way into a small extension just off Upper Traverse Chamber opening up some 20ft. of new passage. The people that were also worried by the apparently poor fixings of the Beehive Chamber chain can now relax in their armchairs and take a pill from Norman Petty. Norman has replaced both of the chains in the Gour Hall area (10-11-68).  At the request of the leaders at their last meeting in November, Mike Palmer and ‘Prew’ have laid guide lines through the beautifully decorated Victory Passage. It will be hoped that leaders do not become too inquisitive when they see a passage they had noted and cross the stal. to see it more clearly.  Victory Passage has been thoroughly searched for any possible extension and the result is that all of the possible extension points have been blocked by stal. or solidly jammed boulders at the very end of tight passages.  Most of the work mentioned above can be read in more detail in the April B.B.

The variety of tourist trips has been expanded and although the nearest competitor to Cuthbert’s is Swildons (18 trips) the others have ranged between Yorkshire and South Wales.  Martin Webster, ‘Pope’ and others have been leading the spearhead into the Yorkshire potholes and slowly the SSP’s are crumbling before this formidable force!  Penyghent, Juniper and Gaping Ghyll have been the attractions.  Rumour has it that some mighty tough trips are being arranged for the immediate future which should make interesting reading in the B.B.  In South Wales, OFD and DYO have been visited; on one occasion the ‘leader’ of the party couldn’t find the top entrance to OFD II having only visited it two months before! In mid-Wales area the old favourite Aggy Summertime appears in the log again.  In ‘near’ Wales, Roy Bennett and Co. Ltd. have been active at the Chepstow dig – anyone wishing to give Roy a helping hand on Wednesday evenings should phone (after 2pm) no: OBR2/627813 and make the necessary arrangements.

At home on Mendip, members have been down Cheddar Caves, Longwood, Goatchurch, Cuckoo Cleeves (surveying) Stoke Lane and diving in Wookey Hole.  Roger Stenner has logged five more trips into G.B. on his marathon water tracing study of this cave.