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Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas. Allens House, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Hon. Editor: - S.J. Collins, Homeleigh, Bishop Sutton, Bristol

Editorial

The Last Straw?

A friend of mine, a member of the M.N.R.C., went down Shatter last weekend, being particularly anxious to see the erratics for which this cave is noted.  He did not find them, and was told by the Cerberus that they had, unfortunately, gone in the way of the ‘streaky bacon’ curtain in Rod’s; the Golf Clubs and Bulrushes in Balch; the erratics in the First Grotto of G.B. and many other fine calcite formations which user to decorate Mendip.

A certain amount of ‘natural’ wastage of delicate formations is probably inevitable, And part of the price we must pay for the sheer number of cavers on Mendip today.  Nobody is perfect, and even the best caver may occasionally do a little unintentional damage.  It is said that a drowning man will clutch at a straw, and likewise a man who has lost his balance might well be excused a little damage in avoiding a nasty accident. The requirements of explorers must also from time to time conflict with the need to preserve the decorative features of our caves.

The damage which has been done in the past to some of the most interesting of Mendip cave formations cannot, unfortunately, be explained away by this reasoning, and deliberate vandalism or a degree of carelessness inappropriate to good caving become the only explanation possible.  I can remember a time when it was proposed to destroy a not very good formation in a very minor cave in order for further exploration to become possible.  Not until the formation had been photographed, and the prints considered good enough was the destruction actually carried out – and even then, with care.

If we are to have anything better on Mendip in the years to come than a series of muddy holes in the ground, without any relieving features, then steps must be taken now to conserve what we have and to protect any future discoveries from the word ‘go’. The diminution of interest shown in cave photography may well be due to the narrowing range of worthwhile subjects. At the rate we are going, it may soon be the rule that unless the photographer is lucky enough to get in on the original exploration trip down a new hole, he will know that it is probably not worth taking a camera down on subsequent trip.

Until somebody comes up with a better solution, the only answer seems to be rigorous policy of restricted access coupled with an efficient leader system since it must regretfully be assumed that the average party will contain at least one ‘couldn’t care less’ type.  Now that the spotlight has been focussed on the subject of pollution and of conservation of our environment, could we not include the preservation of cave scenery as part of this drive?

The B.B. Handicap

We are able to report progress on this race.  Delays due to the sudden and tragically unexpected change of Editor, and to the change of the printing arrangements have been overcome.  The next move was to get sufficient material to allow the B.B. to catch up.  This has now been done.  From now on, it is important that the B.B. comes out on time, as we have the A.G.M. beginning to loom up.  This can, and will be done with the B.B. at its present size of greater providing that you continue to send in material.

Regular Features

Readers will notice that ‘Monthly Notes’ and ‘Just a Sec’ are both absent from this issue.  Also, the feature on the Belfry has not yet appeared in a proper form.  Wig is in the states, but the ‘Monthly Notes’ will re-appear as soon as his substitute gets going.  Alan reports that there is insufficient material for ‘Just a Sec’ this month, and the Hut Warden is going to contribute to the feature on the Belfry.  Meanwhile, we start another regular feature – a monthly crossword.  Supplies are in hand for several months to come, but if any members wish to contribute, the required form is a 9 by 9 square puzzle, of symmetrical or skew-symmetrical design with clues mostly connected with caving or climbing and of ‘cryptic’ form.