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Monthly Notes No.30

by ‘Wig’

Herbert Balch Centenary is being celebrated is being celebrated by the Wxssxx C.C. by publishing and occasional paper on the life and work of the great man of Mendip.  The publication is being published sometime during November; originally planned to be published at their Annual Dinner but postponed due to late delivery from the printers.  The publication is edited by

Dr. William Stanton and many of the well known caving names of Mendip have contributed to it.  It also includes several important photographs previously unpublished together with a full bibliography of his written works complied by Ray Mansfield.  Price about 10/- & 12/6.  Whilst on the subject of the Balch Centenary – the B.E.C. contribution is the publishing of John Etough’s book of photographs of Balch Cave in Fairy Cave Quarry (now largely destroyed).  This publication is due sometime during mid-1970.

GARGILL POT (!)  formerly Twin Titty.

As was mentioned in my last set of notes the Thompson organisation commonly known on Mendip as N.A.A.S. (for the uninitiated – North Hill Association for Spelaeological Advancement) drove a 25ft. deep shaft near the site of their original dig during the Autumn Bank Holiday.  Within a few weeks they met as certain amount of success.  A small hole at the bottom of the shaft was forced and they entered some 150ft. of sizeable passage.  The game of draught chasing began again but apparently the choking is substantial and too many points that can be dug.  The site of the dig is particularly interesting (for the benefit of older members – it is situated very near the Don Coase dig at Cross Swallet).  The present trend of the passage is northerly and may well be following the large Cheddar River Valley towards Cheddar Gorge.  A sketch survey by A.D.O. is reprinted from Mendip Caver with thanks.


CUTHBERT’S TWO – important notice.

Because of the unsettled state of the first sump we cannot guarantee any trips into the new series for the immediate future.  The sump soak away is at the moment far from stable and only after a considerable amount of work will it be safe for tourist parties.  It would be appreciated if intending parties would refrain from asking to visit the new area for at least three months.

At the time of writing the water flowing into the sump has been piped through and allowed to continue down the Cuthbert’s Two passage.  Various moves are being made to clear the constriction in Sump 1.  When this is complete and the sump is been passed as being safe work will commence on Sump 2.  In the meanwhile the many high level passages will be ‘pushed’ and an interesting site, just downstream from Sump 1 is being dug.

In the case of an emergency, The Gour Rift Dam together with three other dams (Mineries Pool Outlet on the surface; Traverse Chamber and Main Stream Dams) can be used to reduce the water level in the sump should the pipe burst whilst cavers are on the downstream side.  The 1st Sump is far too constricted to allow free diving.  Even if the sump were to be cleared deep enough for possible free diving there are two dangers that rear their heads.  The first is that the approach to the sump and the floor in the sump is of gravel and choking will inevitably occur and secondly the dive will involve a fairly sharp bend along the caver’s path.

The continuation of the new St. Cuthbert’s Survey is being started almost immediately.  So far, the surveyed length (from very rough and ready survey carried out on November 1st with a calibrated compass and tape) is 850ft. along the main passage and another 100ft. along a steeply ascending rift just inside the first sump.  The depth has been estimated at about 30ft. but may be considerable more bringing the total depth of St. Cuthbert’s to about -435ft. from the entrance.

From time to time sketch surveys will appear in the B.B. of any new finds in the area based on the accurate outline now being produced for the St. Cuthbert’s report.

Now that Cuthbert’s 2 has been discovered the Index of the report of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet will be increased and, provisionally, Part P will include full details of Cuthbert’s 2 and its side passages – if any!  Part ‘O’ will be revised in the very near future and will include details of the whole cave known at the time of publication.

For the benefit of St. Cuthbert’s leaders not involved in the new discovery several tourist trips will be arranged so that they can see the area for themselves and any snags that may arise and the precautions that should be taken.

In the event of a party being trapped in ‘2’ an emergency box including food and first aid equipment is being installed – details later.