All contributions to the Belfry Bulletin, including those from officers of the club do not necessarily represent the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the editor, unless specifically stated as being such.

Committee Members and Officers of the Club for 1976/77

A total of 7 members from last year’s committee expressed their willingness to stand again. Only one nomination was received by the Hon. Secretary prior to the A.G.M. bringing the total to eight.  As a result, there was no election, and the 1976/77 committee is thus, at present: -

Chris Batstone, Paul. Christie, Alfie Collins, John Dukes Tim Large, Mike Wheadon, Barrie Wilton & Graham Wilton-Jones.

Graham Wilton-Jones was not able to attend the October committee meeting.  It is hoped that he will continue as Tacklemaster. Assuming this, Club Officers are at present as follows: -

Committee Chairman and Editor, B.B.       Alfie Collins

Hon. Secretary.                                       Mike Wheadon

Hon. Treasurer.                                        Barrie Wilton

Caving Secretary.                                     Tim Large

Hut Warden.                                            Chris Batstone

Tacklemaster.                                          Graham W - J.

Belfry Engineer.                                       John Dukes.

The committee are formally advertising for a CLIMBING SECRETARY.  He is required by the club constitution to be a committee member, and any suitable volunteer will therefore be co-opted to the committee.

The committee are also looking for ASSISTANTS to the HUT WARDEN and to the BELFRY ENGINEER. Please contact any member of the committee if you think you can help, or come to the next committee meeting on Friday, November 12th.

ANGIE DOOLEY has resigned from being MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY and this is now being dealt with by MIKE WHEADON, who should be contacted for any matters which Angie used to deal with.




At the A.G.M., the club decided to follow up the suggestion I made and to form a team to produce the B.B. in the future.  Between now and the end of the year, this team will be getting itself set up and will become increasingly involved with producing the B. B. until the January B.B. becomes the first one to be fully produced by teamwork.

Before introducing the members of the team and their jobs one point should be made perfectly clear from the outset.  The idea of forming a team is not to give the present editor a whole lot of assistants. When the team becomes fully set up, the editor will be just one member of it and the team will decide such matters as any change of format or cover etc.  This, then, is where I step down from being a one-man-band (and not before time, I can almost hear you saying!)

Starting with the bloke in the front line - doing one of the most important jobs in the whole team, is ANDY SPARROW whose job it now is to collect enough articles, letters and other contributions from members to keep the B.B. going.  He will try to accumulate a reserve stock, so that if he has to be away for any reason, there is always enough to print the next B.B. Andy will be relying on all members to produce stuff for him and because this job is so important, it might pay to have a closer look at the nuts and bolts of it.

A 20 page sized B.B. needs about 15 pages of its pages to be filled by members.  This is about half a page EVERY DAY, and about 225 words.  It sounds (and is!) quite a job to persuade members to keep this up, but it has been done in the past by a handful of regular writers.  An interesting thought is that on average we get about a new member every fortnight, or 26 a year so if each member wrote a total of 7 pages for the B.B. during the entire course of his or her membership, this would be enough to keep the B.B. going for ever.  If you look at it this way, it is not an awful lot to ask for.  Ask yourself how you are measuring up to this standard. Have you produced your seven pages yet? Have a word with Andy and work something out.

The next member of the team is BARRIE WILTON who has agreed to look after all the supplies, ranging from paper to small items like non-reproducing pencils.  He will, of course, keep his Treasurer's eye on expenditure.

With supplies of articles and stationery arranged by Andy and Barrie, the actual preparation of the masters will be shared by ALFIE and MIKE WHEADON, who will, between them, be able to cover each other in case of holidays, sickness or absence.

Printing will be done by ALAN KENNETT, assisted where necessary by TONY CORRIGAN with ALFIE as a further back stop.  Collating and folding will still be done by MIKE and PAT PALMER and the postal side will still be done by BRENDA WILTON.

Thus, no less than nine members will shortly be running the B.B. between them.  If this arrangement can be work and stay that way, we should have the B.B. on solid footing for the future.

Whither The Club Dinner?

Perhaps more than the usual crop of grumbles will emerge from this year’s dinner.  Again, perhaps not. To date, the committee have received two letters - one complaining about the food, the service and the general standard of dress and manners and the other saying what a fine dinner it was and how much the writer had enjoyed it.

The committee are very well aware of the fact that the sheer size of the B.E.C. dinner is making any real choice of venue and caterer almost impossible.  In spite of the greatest number of enquiries ever made, ranging over a wide area, months went by without a single taker and the actual venue was only found at a late stage after a long and fruitless search for somewhere - anywhere - to hold it.

In comparison with some other clubs, whose dinners have been decreasing in numbers of late, the B.E.C. dinner has been expanding, and the club committee have naturally been loath to consider any major changes to what has seemed to be a winning formula.  However, the time might have come for changes to be looked into, and the committee have given themselves a month to canvass opinion as much as possible to see what, if any, changes club members might like to see put into effect.

To date, two suggestions have surfaced.  One suggests that hot soup could well be followed by a COLD main course with perhaps baked potatoes and a cold sweet.  Plates could be prepared while the pre-dinner drinks were going on, thus saving time in serving.  A place like the newly enlarged Priddy Village Hall is quite capable of seating the B.E.C. under these circumstances.

The other suggestion is that the dinner should cater for fewer people and be held in some place where 'plush' surroundings, good food and good service could be relied upon. It would, of course, be expensive, but this itself might help to limit the numbers.

Any other suggestions are, of course, very welcome and members are urged to contact the committee. The next meeting of the committee is on Friday, 12th of November as the first Friday is Guy Fawkes Day.  The success or failure of next years dinner could well depend on what is decided then, so make sure that your voice is heard!



Please note that members are obliged to collect 5p per head from non-members using club tackle. Leaders of parties should remember to collect any tackle fees.

An experiment in removing most of the cutlery and the crockery from the Belfry will be taking place soon in an effort to solve the washing-up problem.  Further details will be published soon.  This is a preliminary warning!

Owing to the higher cost of insurance, the committee have decided that the subscription for 1977 will have to be raised to £3.00 and the Joint member’s rate to £4.25.  The committee felt that it was better to make a relatively small increase to the sub to combat inflation as they occurred, rather than to wait until a large increase became necessary.  It is interesting to note that today’s £3.00 is worth approximately 6/- in pre-war terms, and the sub in those days was 10/-, so we are still on the winning side if that is any consolation in these hard times!

A scheme for paying annual subscriptions by BANKER’S ORDER will shortly be announced.  This will enable club members to forget about having to renew their sub.  The treasurer asks that any members wishing to pay this way please WAIT for instructions and NOT make their own arrangements with their bank.  Otherwise, he may not know who has paid by this method.

Members who were not at the A.G.M. may like to know that the new insurance arrangements, although more expensive than the old ones, GIVE LESS COVER FOR MEMBERS.  This will be spelt out separately, possibly in this B.B. If YOU are uncertain as to whether you are covered to the extent you would wish, BOB WHITE, our insurance broker, will be happy to advise you.  His address is R. White and Co, Insurance Brokers, 14 Broad Street, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2DN and his phone number is Wells 75077.  It is essential that Cuthbert’s Leaders arrange adequate cover, and they will be contacted by the Caving Secretary.

The Hut Warden wants volunteers to help on working weekends at the Belfry.  Please get in touch with Chris Batstone

Owing to the troubles which have hit the B.B. recently, we realise that some articles are now a bit behindhand in time but this one is still just as readable.


Whitsun in Yorkshire

Andy Sparrow describes his Whitsun activities in this account of a trip to Yorkshire

Yorkshire was the scene of more B.E.C. activity this Whitsun when John Dukes, Chris Batstone, Sue Jordan and Andy Sparrow decided to do some caving there.  We set off on the Friday evening and after the inevitable pub stop, reached the Bradford Cottage at 2.30 in the morning.  We attempted to communicate with the snoring lumps within, but with no success.  Deciding to pitch some tents, we drove off along an obscure road into the hills to find a suitable spot.  Flickers of lightning over Ingleborough and spots of rain encouraged us to stop and erect tents in the nearest field.  No sooner were we inside our pits when a cataclysmic thunderstorm broke.  Several times that night we thought we were about to lose our flysheets in the howling gale.

Next morning was dry and, after taking down the tents, we returned to the Bradford Cottage.  As it turned out, there was plenty of room and we stayed there for the rest of the holiday.  After some debate, we decided to go down Alum Pot via Long Churn.  We were soon at the top of the Alum Pot Lane, getting changed and sorting tackle. Much later found us at what we thought was the right entrance, so off we set.  We followed a fine streamway down some short wet climbs to the head of a very deep wet pitch, where Chris found Andy desperately scratching for handholds, screaming "Diccan!, Diccan!" in a high-pitched voice. Retracing our steps for two hundred feet we found a short crawl that soon led us into Long Churn proper.  A large passage led down a short climb to the head of the first 45 foot pitch.  Laddering this gave access to a large pebble floored passage emerging into daylight on a ledge halfway down the main Alum Pot shaft.

Descending another short ladder pitch brought us to the point where the huge flirt of the main shaft narrows, forming ledges on either side.  Following one of these brought us to the Bridge, a huge block jammed across the shaft at an angle of 45O.  Climbing down over the Bridge to the head of the next pitch provides one with a fine view of the shaft.  Twin waterfalls cascade at each end of the rift and shower down for over a hundred and fifty feet.  Descending the next pitch of 45 ft brought us to the bottom of the Main Shaft, where some short, wet climbs led to the head of the last pitch of 115 feet.

From the base of this pitch, the view up the Main Shaft is memorable and most spectacular.  Beneath the pitch, a brief section of streamway descends to where the 120 ft deluge from Diccan thunders down.  From here, the sump follows immediately, rather a sad end to an easy but very impressive trip.

Returning up the pitches, we followed Long Churn upstream and found a delightful half mile walk up a fine streamway.  So pleasant, in fact, that we ran up and down it three times.  That night found us in the Helwith Bridge supping Tetley's, where we met a strong contingent of Wessex notables.  For some strange reason, we then phoned the Belfry; so that we could insult people we had gone three hundred miles to get away from!

On Sunday morning, we spent an hour trying to decide which cave to do.  We finally decided to do the Northern equivalent of Goatchurch - Calf Holes. MUCH, MUCH later when we eventually found the entrance - it proved very impressive.  A huge stream was pouring down the side of an elliptical rift, thirty feet long and deep.  Close by was an alternative dry shaft which we laddered and descended.  Moving upstream and passing under the main waterfall in waist deep water, we entered an inlet passage.  This proved quite uninteresting, so we set off under the waterfall again and went downstream.  This passage, we knew, would take us out through Browgill Cave if only we could find the connection.  We followed a long, knee-deep canal for several hundred feet to where the water vanished under one wall.  After crawling the wrong way, up a long nasty bedding plane full of wellie boots and dead sheep, we found the connection, and regaining the stream, we followed it to the head of a twenty foot waterfall.  This, we by-passed on the right hand side and from its base we followed a large passage out into daylight at the Browgill entrance.

Returning to Calf Holes, we amused ourselves for an hour by laddering the main waterfall.  Passing fell walkers were at a loss to understand why we were climbing up and down in a torrential downpour without bothering to get off at the bottom.  We were starting to wonder ourselves!

Next day was meant to be a classic trip down Gaping Gill via Bar Pot.  However, on arrival, we found Bar to be full of people boot-to-helmet all the way down, so we changed our minds.  The reason for all the people was the G.G. winch meet.  The head of the Main Shaft was like a circus.  There was even a chap with sandwich boards selling Gaping Gill posters.  So we ended our weekend with a ten mile walk over Ingleborough.  Low cloud was just skimming the summit as we arrived at the top. Ignoring the crowds of luminous hill walkers cowering behind the summit shelter we sat on top of the highest cairn and ate sandwiches and mint cake.  Between the passing patches of cloud, we could just discern the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside.

The long walk back to Clapham and a cup of tea in the Pen-y-Ghent cafe made a satisfying finish to the day and the weekend.

Editor's Note:     The cairn mentioned - if it's the same one that I remember, is a memorial to Keith Asquith, a very good friend of the B.E.C.


From the Caving Log

extracted by Any Sparrow

23.5.76. Agen Allwedd.

Tim Large, John Dukes, Bucket Tilbury, Graham Wilton-Jones with Ken Gregory, Graham Price and three other Cerberus members.

Grand Circle, anticlockwise. The third and fourth boulder chokes do not seem particularly unstable and the Biza connection appears to be in little danger of collapsing.  Water conditions were low.  Biza Passage appears to be quite complex by Aggie standards.  Southern Stream gets longer every time you do it, I swear. Three of us had a. look at the Cliffs of Dover and. then got out only ten minutes behind the others.  6¾ hours. G. W-J.

2.6.76. A Sea Cave, Bosheston, Pembrokeshire.

Ian and I had a look at the area round St. Goran's Chapel (SR 167929) a couple of years ago at high tide. Today, at low tide, I managed to walk further round the cliffs to the left.  At 9665 9285 interesting cave with large entrance leading to squeeze, then further chamber.  Unfortunately, I was without a light, so, if the army ever moves out of the area, something must go.  Meanwhile we'll have to stick to a rubber boat.          G. W-J.

4.6.76. Cave Sites, Penderyn.

South East of A 4059, near 952 114.  Several collapses through grit into Limestone shales and upper limestone.  Someone is looking at these, and so did I.     G. W -J.


The new insurance arrangements will mean that an annual list of members will be sent to the insurers. This will mean PROMP PAYMENT in future! Just an advance warning!



‘True Tales from History’

A Reminiscence sent in by Jill Tuck.

Editor’s Note:  Although I was far too junior a member to be on the Committee in those days, I can remember this tale being told with great glee at the time.

Once upon a time, a B.E.C. caving party headed for the inoffensive environs of Bath to have a look at some of the stone mines.  We changed in an adjacent school and descended an old shaft actually in the children's playground to the immense interest of the local schoolchildren.

These mines lie only a small distance below the surface the main routes being large enough to walk through in comfort although many of the side passages are low and constricted. We took compass bearings, as some guide to finding the return route, as parts of the mines are fairly involved. As we walked through the passages, our lamps sometimes picked up a distant white pillar which appeared ghost-like as the shadows changed.  I found the atmosphere rather eerie because of this, and the effect was increased by the occasional miners stool which still lay just where the worker had abandoned it.

Along a stretch of wall, for twelve feet or more, a huge colony of bats was hanging, some under a thin stream of water which ran down their legs, soaked their furry bodies, and dripped off their heads.  Why they chose to sleep there, instead of in a dry patch was a mystery.  Presumably even the animal kingdom has its masochists. The sight of hundred of bats doing a comical knees bend act with different timings as we passed, stays in my memory. The whole wall appeared to be in motion.

Eventually, it was time to return, but the compass was no help.  None of the passages went the way we needed to go.  We spread out down various side passages looking for daylight.

At last, a small semi-blocked passage to the surface was found, and we gardened enough rocks away to make egress possible.  George squirmed through on his stomach, stuck his head out into the open air, and told us that he was in a grassy depression, which restricted his view.  He wriggled out further, and then pulled back hastily. He had found that he was in a private garden and that a woman was just coming down the path.  As bad luck would have it, his hasty move loosened some rocks and the woman, curious about the noise, changed course towards the depression. George backed again, as he did not want to alarm her with the sight of his body less head, resting on her garden like some grotesque; cabbage or John the Baptist's on the usual platter.  More stones dropped with his movement.  Really curious now, the housewife stepped into the depression and peered into the new hole now revealed.  George, a gentleman born, raised his caving helmet politely and said "Good afternoon, Madam!"

There was a shriek, nearly audible in Bath, which was followed by a torrent of unladylike rhetoric, interlarded with assertions about our intentions of stealing her raspberries and vegetables.

We did get our bearings and arrived back at the entrance eventually, but it had to be by an underground route.  And the raspberries were just ripe!


An Unusual Ascent of the Scafell Pikes

Another episode in the career of Bob Cross.

Many well known paths climb Scafell and Scafell Pike from the radial valleys of Borrowdale, Eskdale, Wastdale and Langdale.  I have ascended a few of the better known routes and enjoyed them all - in particular the Corridor Route from Sty Head Pass via the head of the spectacular Piers Gill.

During a midweek stay in Langdale in the late spring of 1974, I was invited by two friends to join them on an unusual round trip of the Scafells.  One of' these friends, Mike Rose from Leeds, is an authority on Lakeland fell walking and his company on the fells is both informative and jovial. Andrew Sagar, my other companion, is an accomplished rock climber, a born optimist and a very enthusiastic walker. Needless to say, I found myself in rather superior company.  We were all encamped on the National Trust site at the head of Langdale and our walk started and finished there.

It was a warm spring morning with a clear sky, good visibility and the promise of a settled day. After a good breakfast we started off, the time was a quarter to ten.  Our path lay across the flat pasture land surrounding Stool End Farm, through the outbuildings and across the open fell side to the foot of the Band, a long spur running East/West down .from the summit of Bow Fell.  The Band is a steep, rocky ascent of a mile and a half, and the path leads you to the col between Bow Fell (2,960’) and Crinkle Crags.  In the col are there small tarns, called simply ‘Three Tarns’ but a more apt title would have been ‘Three Puddles.’  From there, we got a fine view of our objectives, Scafell (3,162') Mickledore and Seafell Pike (3,206') overlooking Yeastrigg Crags.  Below, and to the south, we could see the head of Linecove Beck in an area of lush, marshy ground befittingly titled Green Hole.  We followed a feeder stream down the heathy hillside into the hole, getting a boot full of slime and sphagnum moss on our way. A halt was called here in order to empty this sludge from our footwear.  Rather a wild spot was Green Hole - surrounded by dark crags and silent apart from the gentle murmur of the beck and the faint swishing of the breeze through the tussocks.  The apparent illogicality of our route had dawned on me by now as I stared - blinking up at the thirteen hundred feet of hillside we had come down and the three hundred feet we were just about to go up.  I began to think my companions were a pair of lunatics.

The next leg of the mystery tour took us across the Southern end of Yeastrigg Crags and into upper Eskdale at the back of Scafell.  t proved hard going.

A bite to eat; a mash of tea, followed by a footbath and a nap.  What more could a weary mortal want?  That was our dinner break, and we took it at the foot of the well-known Carn Spout Waterfall, a perfect spot for camping or bivouacking.  At this time, the waterfall was in spate, and a fine sight it made.

Upper Eskdale lies between the Scafells, Esk House and Yeastrigg Crags.  The back of the valley is flat and composed largely of moraine, the result of the glaciation and frost shattering of the surrounding peaks.  In dry weather, the infant Esk sinks into the pebbles a quarter of a mile below its confluence with Carn Spout.  The vegetation is almost entirely tussocky grasses and bracken.  In the winter, the whole place is one huge bog when the overlying peat becomes saturated with floodwater.  The most striking feature of the valley is Dow Crag - better known to climbers as the Esk Buttress and situated on the lower slopes of Scafell Pike.

I remember the ascent from Carn Spout to Scafell as being exhausting but nonetheless interesting and very worthwhile.  The first stretch was over steep, sharp rock at the side of the Spout.  This was followed by steep to moderate scree and boulders that led directly to the Col of Mickledore.   After approximately a thousand feet, we turned left off the main path and started up a steep gulley, full of loose blocks which brought us to 'Fox's Tarn'.  Again, like Three Tarns, nothing more than a puddle.  From here, a steep, coarse scree of about three hundred brought us to the summit of Scafell (3,162').

Scafell stands at the Southern tip of a huge arc of mountains that overlook Wastwater.  The summits along the arc could all be seen clearly.  Starting with Haycock (2,618') we could see Scout Fell (2,760') Pillar (2,927') Kirk Fell (2,630') Great Gable (2,946') and finally Scafell Pike.  Features such as Calder Hall Atomic Power Station, the Isle of Man and the Pennines could also be seen.  The green undulations of Cumberland’s coast with wide expanses of sea provided contrast to the frowning mountains.

We got as close as we could to the sheer cliffs of the Central Buttress and gazed down at the jumble of boulders at its feet, called Hollow Stones.  Somewhere down there was the traverse known as Lord's Rake, along which our path was to take us.  Actually, the descent and traverse of Lord’s Rake was not too hairy.  There seemed to be more danger from loose rock and rotten snow than from exposed heights.  In all, about eight hundred feet is lost by the time you have descended to the foot of the Rake.  The traverse across to Mickledore is short and sharp, albeit a little loose and slippery.

Lord's Rake at the time seemed to be a by-word amongst Lakeland fell walkers.  It had been a scene of tragedy as recently as last Christmas, when a schoolmaster and his son had died in the snow while trying to cross it. I recall a feeling of mild satisfaction at having negotiated it safely.  Rock climbers and walkers with a head for heights can descend from Scafell to Mickledore by Broad Strand.  I've looked at it from both directions, but haven't yet dared to venture forth. Rather a well known member of the B.C.R.A. reckons to have descended Broad Strand clad in gum boots and without an ice axe in January!  That’s what he told me, anyway.  For information, there is a Mountain Rescue Kit box strategically positioned below Broad strand.

From Mickledore, our walk took us up over a boulder field to the cairn atop Scafell Pike, England's loftiest spot.

At this point, we must leave Bob until next month!  (Ed.)


Monthly Crossword – Number 68


















































































1. Tread, rather than pealed in caving use. (4)

2. Direction and rock found on Mendip. (9)

3. Nylon 8 down becomes this on applying (e.g.) net load. (9)

4. Describes timber in Mendip cave? (4)

5. Fill ill in magnet superseded by vibrams? (5)

6. Dangering?  Quite the reverse – making safer! (9)

7. A taster we visit on Mendip. (9)

7. Reflection noticeable in some large chambers. (4)

8. See (3). (4)

9. This ground gives cave’s location. (5)