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To remind you that all nominations for the 1951 committee MUST be in the possession of the Hon Sec by 30t November 1950.


In view of the continued busyness of Frank Young, Miss Sybil Bowden-Lyle has taken over the job of Assist Hon Sec. Her Address is 31 Highworth road, St Annes, Bristol. All correspondence, except that of a personal nature should be addressed to Miss Bowden-Lyle and not to the Hon Sec.

In accordance with the plan for the excavation of the site behind the Belfry. K.S. Hawkins has been appointed corresponding secretary: to the Archaeological Section. His address is 9 Quarrington Road; Horfield, Bristol, and all correspondence relating to Archaeology should be sent to him.

All articles for the BB either serious or otherwise should be sent to the Hon. Editor, c/o 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol, as before.

The size of the BB has been criticised for some time past, and a promise was made by the editor that all steps would be taken to expand it whenever possible. Since this however, a serious shortage of duplicating paper has become evident we are taking all possible steps to ensure that the BB will at least remain as at present and have placed an order with the suppliers for a large amount of paper which will act as a reserve, but do not, under the circumstances feel it advisable to exceed our usual six sides.

(This article has been on the shelf for some time, and has been part of the BB “Reserve Pool”) Ed..

Since its resurrection, the climbing section seems to be going from strength to strength; The BEC was even more strongly represented in North Wales recently. Members present were Gwen & John Ifold, Pat Brown, Johnny Bindon, Johnny Morris, Roger Cantle, George Lucy, yours truly and our affiliated members from Merseyside, Bob Crabtree, and Len Davies.

After two very wet weekends, the law of averages finally operated to our advantage, (except for a wet evening on the first day) and consequently the meet was highly successful - we had three days of rock-climbing.

By the time I arrived from Holyhead, the BEC was shaking itself reluctantly from the arms of Morpheus, to greet Phoebus coursing across the heavens in his fiery chariot. (i.e. the lazy blighters were just getting out of kip because the sun was scorching their eyelids.)

On this, the first day, Len, the Menace, Bob, Roger and I Loosened up on the Gribin, doing the Two-tree Route in two parties. There was only one highlight on this trip: Cantle opened his gob. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the Cantle gob opening, only at this particular moment his pipe happened to be in it. It nearly brained your boy Ronnie, who graciously retrieved it for him from a nearby ledge.

Just as we got to the top, it began to rain. Normally one doesn’t mind rain, but in North Wales there isn’t much room between the spots, so the Crabtree, Cantle, Newman outfit beat it quickly down to (there is an indecipherable word in the MSS ,Ed,) for some char. Morris and Davies, being philosophical types who believe that there is a saturation point beyond which one can’t possibly get any wetter, carried on and did a few more climbs, including one “severe”.

There was the inevitable session in the Royal afterwards, and the staff became rather dazed after a fill of the BEC’s songs and recitations.

There was some divergence of opinion as to which climbs we should do, so we split up into three parties to suit our tastes. Pat. Brown, J.B. and the Menace departed for Tryfan East Face, the main party went on the Idwal Slabs, while Len had a hankering to do Glyder Fach, so I trotted along with him. I must therefore be excused if I dwell too much on the doings of the Davies-Newman combination on Glydor Fach, since the exploits of the other two parties I know of only by hearsay.

The Tryfan party disgraced itself somewhat by splitting up and returning three hours overdue, while search parties fearing the worst, scoured the mountain for them.

The Idwal outfit, it seems, was not lacking in Interest. Cantle covered himself with glory by peeling off Saints' Wall. It appears that he was on a tricky move involving a blind grope for a hold out of sight around the corner; his blind grab missed, and off he came. The rope held and Crabtree was delighted at the spectacle - until he discovered that it was his new rope that Roger was dangling on, whereupon he waxed exceedingly brassed off! It was also reported that Johnny Ifold has devised a new slab technique, consisting of a breast - stroke swimming motion, with feet in the air and belly on the rock.

Meanwhile Len and I were having a wizard time on Glyder Fach. We went up the Alphabet Slab via Beta and continued on from there straight up Chasm Route, which proved a most enjoyable and satisfying climb. Holler-in-the-night Newman was particularly happy because he led up the Vertical Vice and got up it at the first attempt.

After Chasm we were in marvellous form and decided ambitiously to do a "severe" - either Hawk's West Buttress or Direct Route (while on Chasm we had made detours to inspect both the top and bottom of the Final Crack on Direct Route). Accordingly we shot down Main Gully, only to discover that both routes had been occupied in the meantime by other parties. So, instead, we climbed up and down Main Gully Ridge, practicing abseils and generally pottering about on the way.

It was then decided to start back to our rendezvous with the other two parties and to do a climb on Bochlwyd Buttress on our way. The sun was warm, and it was nice lazing about on boulders nattering idly, so somehow or other we never got around to doing Bochlwyd Buttress.

The day finished on not quite such a happy note as it might have done: instead of following our arranged programme, search operations were begun on Tryfan.

By Monday morning, two of the party found that they'd contracted Cantle's Disease, and this was attributed to drinking stream water. Later on in the day Newman was likewise stricken, and, failing to got a lift, had to walk from Capel Curig to Bethesda, thereby spending a most uncomfortable and exhausting night.

However, to return to the earlier part of Monday's proceedings. Five of us did Sylvan Traverse on Tryfan's Milestone Buttress, all in one party - Len, the Menace, myself, Roger and Bob respectively. The party was far too large, and the expedition assumed ridiculous proportions: for every minute one of us moved, fifteen were spent waiting for the other members of the party to move. However, it was jolly good clean fun, (apart from Roger dropping his karabiner) and we had quite an audience on the main road below viewing our antic; some of the spectators being armed with binoculars.

After our little duffy on Tryfan, the party broke up and went their respective ways. Finally for the first time in his life, Johnny Morris was scared stiff - and it was all Newman's doing. He lived up to his name of "Holler-in-the-night", only this time the yells wore accompanied by physical violence: Johnny was seized by the throat and almost strangled. As for John Ifold, he needs a national Health deaf aid, for, although the closest, he was the only one who slept through the commotion.

Don't miss the next thrilling account of the Climbing Section's adventures!!

Photographic Competition.

Your are reminded that the final date for receiving entries for this competition is November 30th. There has been a very poor response so far and we hope that this last month will see the entries pouring in.

Belfry Bulletin Christmas Number

Anyone having anything special in the way of articles that they would like included in the Xmas Issue, (which by the way, will be a double number) must send them to the Hon. Editor by the end of November.

Gentle Dizzie Part II

Our recent note about the other "Gentle Dizzie" has brought a "pome" from our own Gentle Dizzie God bless her.

Our Gentle Dizzie doesn't feed
on grass, as other Hippos do -
she much prefers to dine off crisps,
And guzzle beer and Belfry stew.

Her size, though large, is not as big
As many of her kindred souls,
But really is a useful shape
For crawling through those horrid 'oles.

Though lately we have noticed that
her keeness as a caver waning,
She takes to sunbathing instead,
While other members are Stoke Lane-ing.

Her mate - a Postle - makes amends
by now and then descending under,
But only after irate friends
Have shamed him into such a blunder.

So if on Mendip you should roam,
Preoccupied and very busy,
Don't run if you should see a shape,
It's probably "Our Gentle Dizzie".

For Sale

A number of members have suggested that there be a space allocated for a "Sales Column" for members. Anyone with white elephants for disposal are asked to write in to the Editor before the middle of the month for the entry to be included in the next month's BB. Here is the first entry:-

Car. Price £70. Taxed and insured to end of year. Make AUSTIN 16, (6 cyl.) 1931. Colour Black and dark blue. Maintenance:- a. Bodywork re-enameled two coats. b. inside and underneath metalwork all cleaned and painted with bitumen paint, c. Transmission sound, d. engine overhauled decoked & valves ground, e. pistons & con-examined - big-ends in good condition, crank shaft is of bearing type. f. interior of engine clean. g. reconditioned battery - starts easily, h. 4 new tyres, i. oil pressure 20 lb when hot, uses very little oil. j. seating - 5 with comfort - used to carry ½ a ton. Defects;- driving side windows damaged by sun and really need replacement. Brakes worn. Rear mudguards were worn -but have been welded and lined with aluminium. Price as standing £70; with, brakes and windows done £100. Apply to:- John S. Buxton, Calwich Gardens, Nr. Ashbourne, Derbyshire; Tele. Ellastone 78.

Cave Research Group of Great Britain.

The 4th Annual General Meeting of the C.R.G. will be held at the Church House, North Parade, BRADFORD, ?orks on Saturday 11th November 1950, followed by a descent of Ireby Fell Cavern on the 12th.  All persons contemplating going on this meet are asked to contact Assist, Hon. Sec. as soon as possible for details.

Annual Dinner.

The 1st Annual Dinner held at the Hawthorns, was successful beyond the organisers hopes. Fifty seven persons attended, including representatives of the W.C.C.; S.W.C.C.,. U.B.E.C; M.N.R.C: The Hon. Sec. of D.S.S. sent apologies that owing to the sudden illness of his wife he was unable to attend.  A good time was had by all, entertainment being provided by Messrs. R. Brain, R. Cantle, P. Ifold, R. Perry, R.A. Setterington, G. Lucy.

The verdict was that those that were elsewhere missed a really good show.

Calendars and Xmas Cards.

As usual there are Xmas Cards and Calendars available to members and friends. This year there are five samples to choose from. a. The Corkscrew Stalactite, Stoke Lane; b. Singsong around the camp fire at August Bank; c. Old Load Works, Priddy; d. Small Grotto, Stoke Lane; e. Party in Hunters (Lucy, Bindon, Cantle, Pat lfold, Hal Perry & Sett, all catching flies). Cost of Calendars is increased from last year's price to 3/- owing to rising costs. Cards are as before at 6d. each. ALL ORDERS MUST REACH HON. SEC, at 74. Redcatch Road, by the END OF NOVEMBER.

T.H. Stanbury.            Hon. Sec. 74. Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol.4. 77590
Miss D.S. Bowden-Lyle 51. Highworth Road, St. Annes Park, Bristol 4.
W.J. Shorthose           Hon. Sec. London Section, 26. Gatesido Road, Upper Tooting, London S.W.17.
R. Cantle                    Leader Climbing Section, 46 Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol.
H. Perry                     Librarian, 20 Northfield Ave., Hanham, Bristol.

Postal Ballot for 1951 Committee

The following persons have been nominated for the B.E.C. Committee for 1951.  You are asked to select the eight names that you think most suitable, and write them in the spaces provided on the attached voting form. This form MUST be received by Hon Sec. at 74. Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.. by FRIDAY JANUARY, 20th. 1951. Any forms received after that date will be void.

You are reminded that one of the names selected must, under our Constitution (amended at the 1949 A.G.M.) be a lady, but you can of course vote for more than one lady member if you so desire. The London section is represented on the Committee by a representative of that Section who happens to be in the area at the time.

Persons Nominated for 1351 Committee.

Bobbie Bagshaw; Roger Cantle; Ken Dobbs: Dan Hasell; John Ifold: Roger Ifold: Tony Johnson; George Lucy; Hal Perry; Tony Setterington: Henry Shelton: Harry Stanbury; "Postle" Tompsett.

Ladies:- Miss Sybil Bowden-Lyle; Miss Pam Richards; Miss Jill Rollason; Mrs. "Dizzie" Tompsett.

In the event of a person elected not being willing to take office, the next in order of voting will replace him/her. Frank Young has also been nominiated but has said that he does not wish to stand for 1951.

A number of nominations included the position to which it was desired the person nominated to be elected. This election is concerned with actual places on the Committee, the positions themselves being arranged when the result of the ballot is known.  It will be appreciated that if the various offices were voted for, in addition to the actual Committee Members, the result would be like a penny points permutation.

T.H. Stanbury. Hon. Sec.


1.       Belfry Charges, (see addendum)
a). Members:- 1/3 per night, 6d per day Cooking facilities.
b). Non-members, 2/3 per night, l/- per day Cooking facilities.

2.       No unauthorised persons may interfere with electrical, plumbing radio or gas fittings.

3.       Lights out from 1 a.m. - 7.0 a.m. when strict silence shall be observed. You are also expected to be as quiet as possible between 12 p.m. and 8.a.m.

4.       Everyone must do their fair share of the chores before departing, for any activity.

5.       Do not waste gas or electricity. These supplies are convenient, but also very expensive.

6.        No one must wear nailed boots or caving clothes in the New Belfry.

7.       Whenever you go underground leave a note in the Hut Log as to your whereabouts and the expected hour of return.

8.       All damage to the Belfry to be made good or paid for by the person responsible for the said damage.

9.       Children under the age of 14 years will in no circumstances be allowed to sleep in the Belfry or on the Belfry site.

10.   The last person to leave MUST be sure that:-
a). Electricity is off at the Main.
b). Gas is turned off at the Cylinder.
c). ALL water is drained off.
d). Windows are closed and the huts secured.

11.   The Hut Warden is in control of all matters connected with the Belfry Site, and in any dispute his decision is Final.

NOTE. Rule 9, is temporarily in abeyance, and so consequently there is the following Addendum to Rule 1:-

“Children under the ago of 14 years pay the appropriate members’ charge, providing that they are accompanied by their Parents, one of whom must be a club member“.


BB Numbering

This BB was published in error as No 41.

Annual General Meeting 1950 will be held On Saturday Jan. 2Oth.1951.

The Annual General Meeting of the Bristol Exploration Club will be held in Room 5 at St, Mary Redcliffe Community Centre, Guinea Street, Redcliffe, Bristol at 3.0 p.m.. All item for inclusion on the Agenda must reach Hon Sec by the 1st of January 1951. Each member will receive a Postal Ballot form and a copy of the Agenda will be sent to each member as soon as possible after this date.

Caving in the Vercors, No 1

by T.H. Stanbury

La Grotte du Bournillon

The Grotte du Bournillon is situated in the gorge of the River Bourne a. couple of miles from the hamlet of Choranche and on the opposite side of the gorge to the Grotte de Favot, which is a few miles further up-stream. When I visited the cave in 1948 we approached it from Choranche through the tiny hamlet of Vegor which is perched haphazardly on the sloping side of the gorge below the vertical face.

At a junction of two streams the road dropped down to the of the river and here the road ended at a power station. Although only small this hydro-electric station was very up-to-date, and was fed by water power brought down from further up the valley by means of tunnels through the rock. Here on a wall beside the station we changed into our caving togs, and, crossing the R.H. stream started off up a path.  Passing up through trees, we emerged on to a scrub-covered slope.  Below us we could see the stream foaming over its rocky bed, whilst ahead of us was a tremendous cliff.  Down the face of this cliff fell a waterfall several hundred foot high - a truly magnificent spectacle -. How unusual it was, to see surface water falling over a limestone cliff, the stream must have been very recent in origin or else it would have already found a subterranean course for itself.

Continuing towards the waterfall we soon found that it was only a small feeder for the main stream which we could see flowing towards us from around a right-band bend.  Passing over a rocky limestone outcrop, we plunged again into a grove of trees, emerging a few minutes later at a cliff face.  This face, here undercut and very weathered, reminded me of the photographs that I had seen of some of the larger of the French prehistoric sites.

Following this face downward to the left, we reached the top of a long slope that dropped away to the stream, which here had widened into a considerable pool.  A mighty arch spanned the water, and passing under it we entered the Grotto du Bournillon.  It was very hard to say at what exact moment we actually entered the cave, so immense was the arch, We estimated the entrance to be about 250 feet high and about the same wide, and we felt very small and insignificant wandering about under it.

There were two apparent ways in - a path led towards the stream; and another great arch under the main one and to the right, gave entrance to a chamber, the size of which, even from the distance we were from it, was immense. We followed the path to the stream, and soon we were threading our way beside it. The large entrance chamber had here undergone a startling transformation. The river was hemmed in between two rocky walls, whilst the roof was no more that 100 ft. over our heads. Ahead there was a very deep roar and a great turbulence of the river, and climbing along a very narrow path on the R.H. wall, with, only a single strand of wire between ourselves and the foaming depths, we saw ahead of us a hole about 6 ft. wide and 10ft. high through which the water roared. I have called the water flowing from the cave both "stream" & "river", but I must explain here that there was far more water flowing from the cave than there is at Wookey Hole in time of spate.

The river flowed through the hole with a noise like thunder, a spout of water over 8 feet long. It was the most impressive thing that I have ever seen in a cave. The path ended here at a tiny bridge and although we made a thorough examination of the rock around the hole could find no way through except where the water came out, and it was patent that nothing could force its way in through that foaming maelstrom.

Having satisfied ourselves that there was no entrance there, we retraced our steps towards the entrance, where two members of the party and myself stripped off and had a swim in the big pool under the arch. It was a very thrilling proceeding; we jumped in and them swam upstream in a backwater, emerging into the current and then swimming frantically for the bank before we were wept away. - another member of the party who saw us, tried a similar thing lower down the valley and being rather foolish, allowed himself to be swept into the centre of the stream, where he was whipped away by the current over some rapids before he could be rescued, eventually being saved, rather battered, and certainly much wiser, by others in the party. The current was so swift that even at ankle depth it was a problem to keep ones feet, and so the force of the column of water issuing from the cave can well be imagined.

Finishing our swim, we dried ourselves and then passed under the second arch mentioned earlier. We found ourselves in an immense chamber with a steeply sloping floor of boulders. As we climbed, the daylight gradually lessened and we completed the climb in darkness. Although we had been in the cave so long there had been no need for artificial lighting until that moment, as there was plenty of daylight coming in through the entrance arch. When we reached the top of the slope we found that the chamber was even larger that it had first appeared and the top of the slope was away from the further wall and a reverse slope led down again to it.

Passing along the apex of the ridge we entered another chamber at a high level and here we again heard the roar of the river again. We had entered the stream chamber through its “back door”. Perched on a stalagmite ledge high above the water, we could see the daylight shining in through the stream exit. Our way lay along the ledge, and in a few, minutes this widened out into a flat platform that terminated in a rounded tunnel, with the river, now at a much higher level, flowing smoothly along and ending at our feet, the water finding its way through a maze of boulders and then emerging about 25 yards from the exit, to foam over the boulders before precipitating itself into daylight. The water in the passage was deep, and so regretfully we halted. We were told that for 3 km, the tunnel had been explored, and beyond that no-one had ever been. - What a chance for a determined party. The majority of the party then retraced their steps to the entrance, but a party of four including the writer clambered down over the boulder strewn floor to where the water appeared.

Here we could see the water exit at close quarters and we also noticed that there was a second opening beside the first, although no daylight could be seen through it, we made every effort to reach this second hole, but the speed of the water had us beaten. We had half an hour‘s excellent fun in the foaming torrent, the power of which was amazing and we eventually gave up the attempt when we realised that the water would sweep us through the hole before we could have taken a couple of strokes towards our target.

We returned very wet and thoroughly happy via the upper route to the entrance, where we found that the rest had been taken into a high level system that ran parallel to the river passage and joined it at the point furthest reached 3 km from the entrance.

The most amazing thing about Bournillon is that a year later in 1949, club members went there from Valence and found the river dry. There was no water there at all and they were able to enter the cave via the water exit and to explore the main river passage. They reported a large passage with a floor strewn with boulders as big as a bus, at the end of which was a trap.

It is felt that the mystery of such places would soon be solved if the district could suddenly be transferred to Mendip or Bristol to the neighbourhood of Pont-en-Royans.

List of Members 1950. No.8

Derek Hunt                 Reed Cottage, Chilcompton, Bath, Somerset.
Fred Targett                Phillis Hill, Midsomer Norton, Nr. Bath, Somerset
Ralph Gregory            57, Gloucester Street, Upper Eastville, Bristol,5
Jock Berry                  25, Dennor Park, Hengrove, Bristol.4.
Jim Sims                    69, Kenmare Road, Knowle, Bristol.4
John Buxton               Calwich Gardens Near Ashbourne, Derbyshire
Mike Cook,3507129    AC2, Hut Y31, No 3 Wing, No 2 Radio School, R,A,F, Yatesbury, Nr Calne, Wilts.
Roger Hobbs              139, North Road, St Andrew; Bristol 6
Ted Farr                     6. St. David’s Cresc, St. Annes, Bristol,4.
Kenneth Long             3. Colston Parade, Bristol, 1
Norman Carr               35 .Kings Ave., New Maldon Surrey
Shag Matthews           112, Blagdon Road, New Maldon Surrey,
Dr J.D. Johnson          Crummock, Yew Tree Road, Dorking Surrey,
Paul Burt                    Insecticides Dept, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harptened, Herts,
Rosemary Beales       c/o 246 York Road, Bristol
Clare Ainsworth          16. Ninetree Hill, Bristol 1
Les Thompson            5O.Newnham Drive, Ellesmere Port, Wirral, Cheshire
R. Setterington           146 Sunny Gardens Road Hendon, London
R. Bennett                  37 Queens Road, Ashley Down, Bristol.7,
R.C. Davis                  119 Cromwell Road, Montpelier, Bristol
Alma Searle               55 Langton Park, Southville, Bristol 3


Congratulations to Angus Innes and Margaret Pope on their recent engagement. Good luck to both of you.

Climbing Section Report LLIWEDD

by “Holler in the Night” Newman

Once again the Climbing Section, the Death or Glory boys, succeeded in avoiding death and acquiring its alternative in North Wales. R. Newman, P. Ifold and R. Cantle departed from Bristol by car - for once having an uneventful journey - to join J. Morris and H. Crabtree on the spot. This expedition was unique in the conspicuous absence of rain consequently we have a lengthy line to shoot.

Day one was spent on Lliwedd, which boasts the highest cliff in and is on that account worthy of a fuller description. It is 1,000 feet high and has a character of its own. The strata run perpendicularly, so that the face consists almost exclusively of cracks and grooves. Furthermore, the rock overlaps in a boiler-plate formation and most of the holds are small and slope outwards.

As you may imagine on a 1,000-foot face, the exposure is great, and the climbs on Lliwedd are of a long and serious nature. It also has the reputation of being loose and dangerous, and most climbers regard it as experts’ ground. As a result, few people climb on Lliwedd, which suits us fine: nothing is worse than climbing on a crowded face and being surveyed by gormless people above and below or waiting for a party in front on the same climb to move on.

Why Lliwedd is not more popular is rather puzzling: the climb we did was on pretty sound rock. Even Bob had this fixation about avoiding Lliwedd, due to some nasty experiences on it in his early climbing days, and he had transmitted some of his misgivings to us. However, the Menace was keen and he gave us a convincing sales talk on Lliwedd, so we fell in with the Menace. Afterwards we were glad we did, and were so delighted with it that we discussed further routes on it.

One reason for Lliwedd’s unpopularity may be its inaccessibility: to reach its foot involves a three mile walk over a rough track followed by a long grind up scree slopes. We decided on “Route II”, classified as “very Difficult”, but in view of the high standards in the Lliwedd guide, it may be pushed up one stage to correspond with “severes” in the other guides,

We were in two parties; Morris and Newman leading through in the first, and Crabtree, Cantle and Ifold in the second. Finding one’s way up Lliwedd is quite a job: every groove looks exactly like its neighbour, and the Menace and myself often found ourselves balanced precariously halfway up a pitch, with guide books (open at page 56) in our hands, arguing about where we should go next. It doesn’t do to stray off the route, since our route crossed over or came very close to some “Very severes”.

One particular pitch on our route was up to F.N.I. standard. One steps off a bollard very delicately on to a few small outward-sloping holds and then endeavours to struggle up for several feet without either hand or footholds, until one reaches two “thankgod” holds (as the guide-book describes them) after which conditions ease. It had to be my turn to lead on this but after several attempts I could not get to the “thankgod” holds and had to retreat to the bollard. The Menace then produced rubbers and got up it, after a long and strenuous struggle. With the added security of a toy rope, I then flashed up it in a few seconds: I think I beat the speed record for that pitch!

After this difficult pitch, we carried on as before to the Great terrace, about two thirds of the way up, where Route II ended. We then carried on to the top by way of the Terminal Arete. Here the rock was loosed and the sense of exposure on the knife-edge of the arete was terrific: you’d fall almost a thousand feet before you hit anything at all, and after that you’d bounce down the scree for some distance. Yet we all felt on form and quite happy about it. There is no grander experience than leading a very exposed climb when you feel on form: conversely, there is no worse feeling when you don’t feel on form - as I found on Tryfan the very next day.

The lack of form on Tryfan may be attributed to fatigue as a result of somewhat overdoing things on Lliwedd the first day, after not having climbed for some time. A six mile walk, a graunch up a scree slope and a 1,000 foot climb involves a large expenditure of physical and nervous energy.

However, we thought it was worth it - especially when we reached the top and gazed around at the magnificent view. We could see as far south as the Pembrokeshire coast, which, according to my old battered school atlas in the junk-box upstairs, is quite a long way. We had intended to carry on along the col at the top to Snowdon, but decided against it, which is perhaps just as well, since we only reached Capel in time for one rapid pint afterwards. After our quiche noggin we whiled away the remaining daylight on small slabs near the barn. I was so tired that night, that I didn’t even holler!!!

Weathers, by Pro Bono Beco.

This is the weather the caver likes,
And so do I;

When drivers are falling off motor-bikes,
And swear-words fly:

And would-be songsters sing and coo,

And pints disappear at the Hunters’ too,
And gone are the days of the Belfry stew,

And spelios dream of the G.B. glue,
And so do I.

This is the weather all BECites hate,
And so do I;

When swallet rivers are in spate,
And nothing’s dry:

And heroes swim in icy pot,
Grovel in streams and mud, I wot,

And even the draughty air gets hot,

As madmen squirm through every grot,
- But not so I!!

Letter about Three Mile Cavern circa 1780

A copy of a letter written on Tuesday August 15th, 1780, on exploring the Three Mile Cavern in Derbyshire, which is supposed to communicate with Peak’s Hole, vulgarly called the Devil’s ----- in the Peak, submitted by Jill Rollason.

“The last place I parted with ye was from Peak’s Hole, and there you will naturally have concluded that our under-ground workings had been at an end! But alas! my friend Fate had otherwise ordain’d it; the Spirit of Curiosity had warped our rational Faculties; danger had become familiar to us, and we therefore determined upon a Plan which wizor men would have shudder‘d at the idea of. This was no less than exploring the Three Mile Cavern which I have already mentioned. Summoning therefore a Pose-comitatus, of all the miners of the place, we in brief told them our intention. Astonishment at first prevented them from answering us; none but two or three had ever ventured upon a Trial, custom even had not reconcil’d the others to so hazardous an enterprise: a promise of reward however, prevail’d upon the whole, and they accordingly agree‘d to attend us in the morning.

In the mean time a Messenger being dispatched to Sheffield for torches, we began seriously to prepare for our descent, this was soon accomplished. A paper of Memorandums was left in our escritoirs and a card in case of accident, telling who our friends were and where they were to be found, was left upon the Table in the Inn. Thus guarding against the worst that could befall us, at least so far as it respected matters which we might leave behind, we early next morning, accompanied by a chosen set of our near guides, repaired to the top of the Mountain where the Fissure open’d itself about three feet in diameter. Provided by the Miners with proper dresses, we then stripp’d Ourselves of our own outward Apparel and putting on each a pair of Canvas Trowsers, a flannel Jacket, and over that a Canvas Frock, with a Handkerchief over our Heads, and a Miners cap, we all proceeded one by one down this dread Abyss, for the distance of about 420ft. perpendicular.

Imagination can scarcely form a descent more perilous than this was. The only Steps to tread on, or things to hold by, were bits of oak stuck into the sides by the inhabitants of that place since it was first discovered., and which from want of use it was natural to suppose might have either rotted or loosened themselves in the Earth; moreover, a false step hurled: one inevitably to destruction; fortunately all was firm, and we arrived safe at the bottom, unhurt.

From thence renging ourselves in order, with a large bundle of candles and Torches, independent of the Candles we each of us carried we proceeded on with tolerable facility, thro’ two or three lofty and most beautiful enamoll’d Caverns of Spar. This we conceived as an earnest of future delight, and the Tablets were accordingly set at work; but alas; how great was our mistake. Here our difficulties were to commence. Following the Guides who, besides another who was with us, were the only two of the Party who had ever penetrated before we forced our way with infinite struggles, thro’ a narrow space between two rocks, and thence getting on our Hands and Knees were for the full distance of a Mile, obliged to crawl without ever daring to lift up our Heads the passage being too low. Filled with Mud, Dirt and a multitude of bits of Rocks, our progress was painful indeed, we still hoped for something better.

On we accordingly proceeded, ‘till a dreadful noise rumbling along the Crevices of the Cave, gave us to understand that we were near a River, to this then we according hurried. But description is inadequate to anything like a representation of this Scene. A vast Ocean seemed roaring in upon us; in some places bursting with inconceivable impetuosity, and others, falling through dreadful Chasms, naturally formed to give it vent; through this our journey was to continue. A cry of Light however alarm’d us, the confinement of the Air, and the narrowness of our Track, had extinguished all our Torches the candles too, all but one small end, were totally expended. We knew not what to do, In vain the Miners hollowed for the supply which was to have come behind; no answer was to be heard. Our fate seemed now inevitable; but we who were the Principals, fortunately express’d no fear. In this extremity a gallant Fellow, who was yet ignorant of the place, but from experience knew the danger we were in, suddenly disappeared, and after groping a considerable time in the dismal Horrors of the place, at length returned to us, with a fresh supply of Candles, having discovered his Companions unto who they were given in charge, almost petrified with fear, and unable to continue after us from their apprehensions.

Repriov'd in this manner from a Death which seemed to await us, in its most horrid form, we proceeded with fresh Recruits of Spirits, and plunging into the River above our waists, scarce tenable from the impetuosity of the Torrent, we cautiously plck'd our steps, and at length, after four hours most unspeakable fatigue, arrived at about 300 yards beyond the spot where the subterranean passage we had the dry before explor'd, was expected to find an entrance into this dreadful place. Here, then we were obliged to stop; a fall into a yawning Gulph in which I was providentially saved by a corner of a Rock catching me by the knee, had hitherto given me an inconceivable degree of pain, but I had not spoke; it now became scarcely bearable; out, however I was to crawl, and that too, upon this tortured limb. The retreat accordingly began: but-no Anguish could surpass the excess Torment I was in. Often did I wish to remain where I was, no Succour or Assistance could be given me; every man was painfully busied in charge of his own safety. At length having almost worn out the other knee, and torn both my sides and back by forcing myself in those positions I was compelled to call out for help as we happily came to the first opening where I could be raised.

Languor and Faintness from what I had suffered, had totally deprived mo of my Strength. I was accordingly seated on a rock, but in a few minutes having collected myself as much as possible, I totter'd through the rest of the Cavern, helped where Assistance could be given me, and in that manner got to the blessed Sunshine of the Day. All the rest however were tolerably well, excepting two of our Guides, one of whom had received a violent contusion on his Head from a Rock, and another several bruises from a fall, in his climbing up the last aperture. Altogether the depth we had descended was about 140 fathoms or 980 feet, and the length about 3 miles, according to the Minors' calculations. Neither at this distance were we at the end, a passage still continued, but so filled with water, and so full of Peril that the Miners themselves were averse to further trial. And here, my friend, I will take my leave of you for the present. The pains in my limbs are still excruciating; but a little time will set all to rights again. All I have to say is, that I never wish even the greatest Enemy I have in the World, to be so unpardonably led by curiosity as to tempt destruction, where indenendent of the Dangers of the place, the falling of a single Stone might bury him in Eternity for Ever."

Note:- All grammar, punctuation and spelling as in the original!! J.R. (Except the usual typesetting errors, Ed.)


The Following X-Word has been sent in by Alfie Collins.


Across :-

9     should be easy for Club Members to solve(3).

5     One of these would look rather out of place in a window, however (10,7)

11    First word of a Mendip Caving Club's motto (2).

12    You might get the Ab-Dabs if the first part did this down a cave.

13    An essential part of a caver's equipment,

14       If you get 2 down it doesn't do to this do

15       A caver’s drinking this are supplied by Ben,

Down: -

2      Part of a cave suggesting one way travel-(8 )

3      If it gets too 4 down you may get this down a cave.(5),

4      You can get this at the Hunters or it can get this down a cave (5).

6      Lamb this on Mendip

7      It often requires a lot of “good honest work” with a new cave (2,4,2,2)

8      There used to be one of  these in the entrance shaft in Longwood (5.5).

9      If your this you won't get 3 down,

10    You don't tie this sort in a rope (3 ).


No prizes are offered, but have a go, it'll be good fun.

British Caver

STOP PRESS, Vol 21 of the British Caver will be published early in December. Send for your copy now to G. Platten, Rotherfield, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants. Price is 6/3 post paid or a ream of 10x8 paper.

Archaeological Section, Bulletin No.1. 11/11/1950, Site at Belfry,

The “site” was located and surveyed on October 22nd 1950, by E.J. Mason aided by several other members.

Thanks to D. Hasell who has been in contact with the owner of the land, permission has now been granted to go ahead with the trial trench, which is scheduled to begin on the second weekend in December 1950. The Sec. of the Archaeo, Sect. Takes this opportunity to appeal for help in the excavation dept..

Much as we like the casual visitor, we would appreciate the consistent workers the most, as they are more efficient and can be depended upon to turn up regularly.

If this Site turns out as we hope, there should be several years work there, so you will appreciated the points that I have made.

These reports or Bulletins will appear in the BB each month for as long as the Site is being worked.

(signed) K.S. Hawkins.

Corres. Sec. Archaeo. Sect..

French Holiday

There are plans afoot for a Caving-cum-sightseeing trip to the Dauphine region of next summer. Will those interested please write to Hon. Sec. and let him know. No details have yet been considered, they will depend on those wishing to go, and also if there is the rumoured Convention in or near Paris.


L'Aven Grotte de Marzell

by. G. Fenn

(This is one of a series of articles, submitted by Gordon, on caves visited during the 1949 Convention at Valence. Ed.)

Thursday 25th. August 1949

This was the first day of the second part of the Congress.  (The first part was of course the Convention meetings themselves in Valence. Ed.)  We were up at 05.00 hours, breakfast and away from our H.Q. at the Seminaire at 06.45.  We went through Loriol, Rochemaure, Viviors-sur-Rhone and Bourg-St. Andial.  We climbed upwards from here along a rough track of a road through miles of rocky scrub land.  We stopped at 08.55 and could see nothing but this rocky scrub for miles and miles in all directions.

There was rough wooden sign near a hut which read ‘Aven Grotte de Marzell’.  It seemed the most unlikely place for a cave.  As we jumped out of the coach we were covered by thousands of tiny white flies which crawled everywhere and irritated but did not bite.

The entrance was just down a hole under some rocks with newly made concrete steps leading down.  The first party of six entered at 09.20 and I happened to be the first of these.  After walking down a staircase of wood in spiral fashion for some way (wearing shorts, shirt, and with no lights, as we were told to take no lights or overalls) we reached a jumping off stage.

A slip knot was put around my throat, and I was being pushed backwards down a sloping tunnel.  I half crawled and half slid down this and then looking around saw a light far below me.  This was Ageron & de Joly, who were lighting my way down.  I lowered myself down an electron ladder and then as it swung over the drop changed on to a wooden ladder.  I climbed down this and released the rope, sending it up for the next man.  The ladder drop was about 50-60 feet, the chamber being 120 feet below the surface.  When we were all down, we left this chamber and descended, following Ageron and de Joly.

The route was marked out, so that we were not to disturb the bones and formation.  We came to a small chamber of extremely pretty formation and beautifully coloured.  It was the moist magnificent coloured cave we saw.  We stooped around under small arches and de Joly pointed out some large ‘leopard’ spots covering the coloured floor.  The formation was dead but contained many crystals which sparkled under the powerful electric light, supplied from a petrol generator on the surface.  We then returned to the first chamber and Ageron explained, whilst we were waiting for the next party, how he intended to light the cave and how it would be stair-cased.

On the way back the electron ladder broke whilst Roy Ifold was climbing it.  He carried on to the surface, and a new ladder was put down for the rest.  We reached daylight at 10.50 hours and the other parties continued in lots of six until we moved off again at about 13.15 hours.

Note: - The cave was originally discovered by E.A. Martel, and then lost, to be rediscovered by Ageron years later.


T.H. Stanbury,                 Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Miss D.S. Bowden-Lyle,   Hon. Assist. Sec., 31, Highworth Road, St. Annes Park, Bristol. 4.
W.J. Shorthose,              Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
R. Cantle,                       Leader Climbing Section, 46, Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol.
K.S. Hawkins,                 Sec. Archaeological Section, 9, Quarrington Road, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
H. Perry,                         Librarian, 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.

We very much regret that this issue of the Belfry Bulletin has been seriously delayed by various changes that have taken place in the Club organisation. We hope that this issue will be followed by the April number shortly, and that things will return to normal with the May number.

Club Organisation

The Committee has to announce with the very deepest regret the resignation of Mr T.H. Stanbury from the position of Secretary which he has filled for so many years. Sybil Bowden-Lyle has also resigned as Assistant Secretary The Club offers these members a great debt of gratitude for the grand work they have done, much of it quite unknown to members outside the Committee.

A very considerable re-organisation of the Committee’s work has been called for by these resignations. The present set-up is as follows :-

General Secretary                       D.H. Hasell
Caving Secretary                         M. Hannam
Climbing Section Secretary          R.W.G. Cantle
Ladies Representative                  Miss J. Rollason
Hut Warden                                R.A. Setterington
Librarian                                     J.W. Ifold
Editor BB                                    W.J. Shorthose (London Section)
Publisher BB                               K. Dobbs
Tackle Officer                              G.T. Lucy

In addition to the above who constitute the Committee, R. Ifold is acting as Sales Secretary.

This list, with addressees, is reproduced on the back of the library list circulated with this Bulletin, and all members are asked to ensure as far as possible that they address their enquiries to the right official in the first instance.

Annual General Meeting

Owing to the re-organisation mentioned on the previous page, we regret that no report of the Annual General Meeting is available for this issue, but we hope that it will bo possible to include it next time.

The Growth of Stalagmites and Stalactites - Part II

by R M Wallis

In the first part of this article we showed that the change in pressure which a water drop undergoes on appearing on a cave roof must be considered an essential part in the forming of a stalactite. This feature can only occur once to each drop, so how is it that stalagmites are formed? We have seen that the calcium carbonate appears in the drop as very small particles which are drawn into a ring round the edge. This process of course takes time and if the rate of drip is relatively fast only a small amount of carbonate will be left on the roof. The rest will fall with the drop, which will then trickle over the stalagmite and the rest of the carbonate will be deposited. The relative sizes of the -mite and -tite are thus seen to depend on the rate of’ drip . A slow drip will give a large stalactite and a small stalagmite; a fast drip vice versa.

Flowstone and other deposits covering large areas occur in the same way as stalagmites, the water appearing in some crack in the wall and the carbonate being deposited as the water trickles down.

Helictites are fascinating objects and their formation is very much of a mystery. In the past people have tried to explain them by suggesting their growth as followed spiders’ webs or has been deflected by draughts and many unlikely explanations. One theory which has some evidence to support it is as follows:- down the centre of all stalactites is a fine tube through which water is delivered to the tip. If this tube is relatively large so that more water is delivered than can evaporate, a normal straight pendant is formed. But if the tube becomes blocked so that evaporation is more rapid than the delivery an erratic appears. This theory is based on laboratory experiments in which stalactites were grown using saturated solutions of various salts, but not, of course using calcium carbonate as the experiments would take too long. No account was taken of the drop in pressure effect and it is difficult to see how this would apply in this case. Saturated solutions were also used which do not necessarily occur in caves. This is, however the only theory which has anything to recommend it, and it may be that Helictites can only occur where evaporation can occur to a considerable extent.

Cave pearls are rather caver’s treasures.  They are formed by the deposition of successive layers of carbonate round a nucleus – often a grain of sand.  They occur under drip which must be within a closely defined degree of heaviness as it has to fulfil two functions; 1 to allow deposition to occur round the nucleus and 2 to rotate the pearl so that deposition occurs evenly.  The drip therefore must be fairly heavy but if it is too heavy deposition will not occur.  This also accounts for the well defined limit to which pearls will grow, as when they get too big they will not rotate and become cemented into a general mass of stalagmite and disappear.

Crystal pools are among the most beautiful of cave formations.

The crystals are formed actually in the water.  A basin in the floor catches drips – generally a well concentrated solution and a slow drip will be needed.  Evaporation must occur from the surface of the pool, sufficient to maintain the water level more or less constant, so that a saturated solution builds up in the pool.  Carbonate is therefore deposited from the water and crystals grow around the sides and spread out over the surface.

There is still a great deal of work to be done in investigating the mechanism of dripstone formation, for facts on which to base arguments are lamentably few.  It is hoped that some time, some energetic people with plenty of time will get down to finding a few more, when present theories may be strengthened or new ones have to be produced.

1950 Photographic Competition

Those who were unable to attend the A.G.M. may be interested to hear that last year’s photographic competition was a great success.  The general standard of the prints submitted was quite encouraging, and the meeting voted unanimously in favour of running a similar competition for 1951.  So get busy, you budding Mortimers, and those of you with five-bob Brownies.  Further details in next issue.

The first prize went to Tim Kendrick for a photograph taken in Swildon’s Hole, for which he receives a year’s season ticket to the Belfry.  The second prize went to R.M. ‘Pongo’ Wallis for his picture of Tratman’s Grotto.  He won’t have to worry about his B.E.C. sub this year.  In the non-caving section, the only prize awarded, a Belfry season ticket went to R.A. ‘Sett’ Setterington.  The third prize, a week’s Belfry fees, went to G. ‘Tom’ Ratcliffe.  Congratulations to the four of them!  There was also a special prize of ten shillings worth of photographic supplies for Ken Dobbs who took the best photograph with a cheap camera.  To Ken we offer our sympathy.

The judges have made the following general comments on the entries, and they are reproduced here in the hope that they will prove helpful.

"There are a few criticisms that can be levelled against many of the prints submitted.  Firstly it is clear that many of the entrants who did their own printing should pay far more attention to matching up the grade of paper used with the negative.  This is clearly seen by reference to some of the better prints where the quality is excellent.  Much more care is also required in most cases in ‘spotting’.  In many cases no ‘spotting’ has been attempted, and where it has been carried out, with two notable exceptions, it is very clumsily done and the final result is probably worse than the original print.  The standard of mounting generally was extremely low.  Most of the mounted prints submitted would have been better left unmounted.

It docs not require any great skill or experience to trim a print so that the edges are straight and the corners square, and attention to this point would amply repay the trouble involved.  The drawing of lines round a print after it is mounted is very much to be recommended and helps to make a finished job, but here again, spacing is important.  Where prints are titled, this should be done neatly.  If this is beyond the capacity of the individual it is far better to put the name on the back”.


Court Circular

Hearty congratulations to Angus Innes and Margaret Pope on their recent marriage.  Our best wishes to both of them and some sympathy too!  We hear Angus did it while on embarkation leave.

Our best wishes also to Ron (Holler-in-the-night) Newman and Jean Treble who also recently got into double harness.  Some sort of editorial comment seems to be called for…. One “BB”, four members of the Club, two weddings….Is this a record?

Addresses of Club Officers

General Secretary.............................. Mr D.H. Hasell
1 Stoke Hill
Chew Stoke
Nr Bristol                                       Tel Blagdon 432

Caving Section Secretary................... Mr M.N. Hannam,
14 Vyvyan Terrace,
Bristol 8

Climbing Section Secretary................ Mr R.W.G. Cantle
46 Cherington Road
Bristol, 9

Sales Secretary................................. Mr Roy Ifold,
32 Coboury Road
Bristol 6                                        Tel Bristol 58545

Ladies Representative........................ Miss Jill Rollason,
137 Pen Park Road
Bristol 1

Librarian............................................ Mr J.W. Ifold
Leigh House
Chew Stoke
Nr Bristol                                       Tel Blagdon 432

Editor, Belfry Bulletin......................... Coarse and Shorthose
26 Gateside Road
Upper Tooting,
SW17                                           Tel Balham 7545

O/C Belfry Bulletin Circulation............. Mr K.Dobbs,
55, Broadfield Road,
Bristol, 4

Hut Warden....................................... Mr R.A. Setterington,
21, Priorswood Road,

London Section Secretary ................. Mr W.J. Shorthose (Address above)

Archaeological Section Secretary........ Mr K.S. Hawkins,
9, Quarrington Road,
Bristol, 7,

Climbing Section Committee :-

R.W.G. Cantle, (Hon. Sec.)
J.R. Crabtree, (Hut Warden.)
J.V. Morris
P. Ifold
R.A. Setterington.

Members may wish to remove this page from their copies of the Belfry Bulletin and keep it for reference when writing to Club Officers. The space below may be useful for noting any changes which appear in the Bulletin from time to time.

Bristol Exploration Club Climbing Section HQ North

We are very pleased to announce that the club has a Hut in North Wales

c/o Mrs Jones, Blaenant Farm, Idwal, Nr, Bethesda, Carnarvonshire, North Wales.

The Hut is situated about half a mile off the main road from Idwal. Turn down a track passing the Idwal Cottage Youth Hostel, past a Chapel and carry on down the valley until you come to the first farm off the track almost a the bottom of the valley, Blaenant Farm. The hut, a stone building, is part of the outhouses belonging to the farm. A concrete floor has been laid and the place is very dry, snug and warm. The place is locked and the key must be obtained from the farm. One double bed and several bunks have been installed - a table chairs, cooking utensils, lighting, primus and climbing gear, etc. are kept in the hut.

Hut Rules

1                     All members arriving after 2100 hours must write to Mrs Jones and arrange for the key to be left out.

2                     A charge of l/6 a night per person is paid for the use of the Club N. Wales Hut.
( 1/- to the farmer, 6d/ to the Club).

3                     The Club hut is only large enough for six persons - any overflow can stay in the Farm itself or the barn. Any women staying at the farm must sleep in the farmhouse only.

4                     Members must be careful about noise after 2100 hours- (Farmers go to bed early).

5                     Club members must prove that they are members of the Bristol Exploration Club to enable them to gain admittance to the Hut. (n,b, This is to safeguard the members’ own interests).

6                     Club Members are asked to sign the Log Book and report on their climbing trips for record purposes.

7                     If members use club equipment, it must be left as it is found.

8                     It is essential that the hut is left clean It is not our property.

9                     Care must b e exercised with personal kit - i.e. ropes, slings, books etc. left in the hut.

10                 Any person requiring to use the Club N. Wales Hut must first contact the Hon. Sec. Climbing Section so that the arrangements can be made. This is important.

Climbing Section Reports

A Snow Ridge Climb,
Y-Gribbin; Glyder Fawr: Clogwyn Du; Devil’s Kitchen,
J.R, Crabtree, R.W.G. Cantle, Sunday 17th Dec 1950,

Leaving the Hut at 10:45 on Sunday, we tramped through the snow up past Idwal cottage and then up through Cwm Idwal. Scrambling across snow-covered boulders we arrived at Y Gribbin.

Looking across Llyn Idwal snow plumes were blowing off Y-Garn giving the whole scene a truly Alpine appearance, whilst the upper rocks gleams with Verglas and ice. We climbed Little Gully without much effort, clearing the holds with our only ice axe. We then trudged up across the ridge, steering a fairly wide course around many snow cornices which we met in our path. The view from here was magnificent and looking out across the whole of North Wales everywhere was snow. Tryfan looked awe inspiring in its mantle of ice and snow and the ridge looked externally sharp.

From Y-Gribbin we traversed round to Glyder Fawr where we encountered an extremely fierce blizzard.  Visibility was so bad that we almost passed unseen another party coming along the ridge in the opposite direction.  Courtesies were exchanged, and we carried on to the summit of Glyder Fawr.  We had a light snack, a few minutes breather and a pipe of tobacco.  With this necessary refreshment we pressed on round over Clogwyn Du and eventually glissading and sliding, we arrived at Twll Du (The Devil’s Kitchen) and in a cloud of snow-dust we roared down to Lyn Idwal, eventually arriving at the floor of the Gribbin.

Looking at our watches we observed that we had then only taken an hour from the summit of the Fawr.  We arrived back at the hut and after a hot meal and a steaming cup of coffee, the day was declared a great success, in fact, one of the finest ridge walks experienced, with the scenery unsurpassing in its beauty.

Christmas 1950 – Connistion – Lake District

A very enjoyable Christmas was spent in the Lakes, where a party of eight members stayed at Holly How Youth Hostel.  The weather, although extremely cold, was excellent, and activities were numerous.

Attending: - J.R. Crabtree; R.A. Setterington; L. Davies; G.T. Lucy; H. Perry; C.Ainsworth; D. Ainsworth; R.W.G. Cantle


Sunday 24th Dec. The whole party climbed on Dow Crag.  D. Ainsworth, L. Davies and R. Setterington climbed Easter Gully and Black Chimney, conditions were extremely fierce for rock-climbing as the whole of the upper cliff was verglassed and frozen over.  Although these climbs were only ‘diffs’, they were pushed to the extreme.

J.R. Crabtree, R Cantle & H. Perry climbed C Buttress.  This climb was turned after 250ft. with only two pitches to go.  An ice slab proving far too formidable as the party were without ice axes.  An honourable defeat and a tricky abseil and the party climbed off.

After these climbs the parties congregated at the cave at the bottom of the cliff for a meal, hot tea and wine.  Fun and games were then on hand on Goats Water which was frozen over.

Monday 25th. Christmas Day.  It was decided unanimously by all that the day should be spent ridge walking.  The whole party proceeded up past the old mines on to the Old Man of Conniston, (2,555ft.) and then round on to Dow Crag. Glissading and snow-scrambling was had by all and many photographs were taken.  D.  Ainsworth and R. Cantle climbed Easy Gully on Dow Crag, kicking steps all the way.  Another day well spent.

Fun and games was had each evening at the Hostel and at the Black Bull.  The food throughout the holiday was excellent, and all present voted for a return to the area.


We would very much like to print reports of caving trips as well, but none are ever sent in, the Editor hastens to assure those members that are in doubt, that B.E.C. members DO sometimes go underground.  We should be delighted to allocated a certain amount of space each month to current caving reports, so come on, you caving types (and there are plenty of you) what about it?

Archaeological Section.

Bulletin No.2. Belfry Site.

The proposed trial excavation which was to have been started at the Belfry Site on Dec. 9th. was postponed owing to the services of Ted Mason being required elsewhere on another project.

Due to the inclement weather, it may not be possible to start excavating now until some time in the New Year.

Members will be advised of the date set by Ted Mason as soon as I receive it from him.

K.S. Hawkins,
Archaeo. Corres. Sec.

For Sale,

Golden Retriever pups.  3 male, 5 female, age ten weeks at time of printing.  Price to Cavers £5 female, £7  male, to others, - £6 & £8.

1948 Royal Enfield 350cc W.D. Model but not W, D.  £55 - owner has purchased a new bike.

For further particulars on either of above apply:- John Ifold, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.

Caving in the Vercors No. 2. La Grotte de Favot,

By T.H. Stanbury.

Favot is becoming well known to the B.E.C.  The first club member to visit it was the writer in 1948, but in 1949, 13 members who went to the International Convention were taken there.

The is situated in the Dauphine region and in the Vercors area.  It stands 1,000ft. above the road from Pont-en-Royans to Villard de Lans about 9km. from Villard.

It was a blazing hot day in 1948 when I visited the cave, and the 1,000ft. climb up a 60 degree slope seemed endless.  Arriving at the entrance we changed and then sat and rested.  The entrance is about 10ft. high and about 40ft. wide and is rectangular.  We were all very hot and breathless and had no water with us, so the only way of relieving our thirsts was to find a comfortable position under one of the drips and catch it in our mouths.  The ration was one in the eye, one down the neck, and one in the mouth, but if one had patience the result was fine.

Having cooled down we lit our lamps and moved off into the cave.  After about 200ft. the roof dropped and the cave earth floor rose, and we had to crawl on all fours for about 25 feet when we saw daylight ahead and emerged on to a ledge on a vertical cliff face.  All around this second cave mouth grew pine trees, each one rooted precariously in the crevices in the face.

Behind us was the passage from which we had just emerged in front of the cloud flecked blue of the sky, whilst on our right was the entrance to the main system of Favot – and what an entrance – sloping down at an angle of 45 degrees was a gigantic tunnel with a smooth cave-earth floor.  I had the impression of a giant Aveline’s Hole diving down into the heart of the mountain.  Almost square in section, with a roof carved by the immense pressure of water of bygone ages, this passage, about 100 yards long and dead straight except for a sharp r.h. bend at its far end, took us into a large chamber.  I have one memory of this chamber, although its size was impressive, and that there was the dust – Dust!  It lay in profusion over quite a large part of the chamber.  The stalagmites rising in solemn majesty all around us told me that once the chamber had been alive and sparkled with wet, but now, alas, all that was left was a shadow of its former scintillating glory.

Steps had been cut in the side of the shoulder, and, climbing them we found ourselves standing on the shoulder itself, which was about 2 feet wide and fell steeply away on each side. 

The top of the large stalagmite was about 8 feet higher than where we were standing and we scrambled to its top.  Here the size of the chamber could be most fully appreciated – beyond us it extended into the darkness on the left.  Below us was the Pit, a black yawning opening effectively sealing off the further chambers except by the route we had taken, whilst to our right was the way by which we had come, and here the other party members could be seen as tiny spots of light winding their way across the boulder littered floor.

Climbing down from the big stalagmite was a far stickier proposition than getting to the top.   On all sides it fell away increasingly steeply and we had slide down its face, hoping that our feet would reach the narrow shoulder safely and not be diverted to cause us to travel at ever increasing speed and eventually land very much the worse for wear 60ft. below.  However, we all accomplished the ‘Glissade’ successfully, and climbing down the reverse side of the shoulder, reached the extension seen from the column’s top.  Here were pools of water and formations reminiscent of , this part of the cave system being very much alive.

The cave ended in a choke and we retraced our steps over the ‘hump’, using a different route on the far side.  As I have previously mentioned we originally climbed to the shoulder by means of steps cut into the stalagmite.  These steps were very congested on our return, so two or three of struck out along a ledge, and after climbing over and around a number of stalagmites we scrambled down a very fair rift, arriving back at floor level before the other who were using the more orthodox route.

Returning to the first chamber we split up into small groups, and I followed a tunnel very similar to Swildon’s Short Dry for a considerable distance, turning back before reaching the end, as time was getting short. 

I found that this passage was situated directly above another similar one into which I dropped through a convenient hole in the floor.  This lower passage had several side ones, some of which gave access to others, and some to small chambers – but over all this part of the system was the same dust and lack of water that was so noticeable in the first chamber – in the narrow tunnels my clothes collected it and it rose in clouds when I brushed myself down later in the day.

Passing through a labyrinth of small tunnels I eventually regained the slope at the bottom of the entrance passage, and here I stopped speechless.  I could look at right angles into the end of this passage, and the whole of my field of vision was filled with golden light.  I suddenly realised it was the sunlight – the sun was very low in the sky and was shining straight down the passage, the light being reflected by the myriads of dust motes present as a result of our movements.  It was one of the most extraordinary things that I have ever seen in a cave.

A seemingly endless climb up the 45 degree slope brought me out on to the ledge, and, turning left I regained the entrance and changed back into shirt and shorts.  With another member of the party I started the descent to the road, and a few feet from the entrance we saw a scree slope.  Riding the scree all the way, bouncing off the larger trees and pushing smaller ones aside, we reached the road at a phenomenal rate, the slope extending to just above the road.  Things like bramble bushes we ploughed straight through – we had no option – as once we were on the move, gravity ensured that we couldn’t stop.  It was a good thing for us that we knew there were no cliffs between us and the road.


T.H. Stanbury,                   Hon. Sec. 74, Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Miss D.S. Bowden-Lyle,     Hon. Assist. Sec., 31, Highworth Road, St. Annes Park, Bristol. 4.
W.J. Shorthose,                 Hon. Sec. London Section B.E.C. 26, Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. 17.
R. Cantle,                          Leader Climbing Section, 46, Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol.
K.S. Hawkins,                    Sec. Archaeological Section, 9, Quarrington Road, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
H. Perry,                           Librarian, 20, Northfield Avenue, Hanham, Bristol.


As members will readily understand, there has been some delay in getting the new set up fully into top gear. We are therefore combining the April and May numbers of the Belfry Bulletin, and hope that members will bear with us in our difficulties, and look with a tolerant eye on our shortcomings. There is one other way in which members can help in the present circumstances. When this edition has been put to bed, there will be nothing at all awaiting publication. It follows therefore, that unless Club members get to work with their pens or pencils, the Belfry Bulletin is going to get very thin in the next month or two. . . ..The remedy is in your hands.

Warning “GB”

On Sunday, 23rd April 1951, a serious accident was narrowly averted in “G.B.”. The chain holding the ladder into the boulder chamber below the Devil’s Elbow was found to be rotten. All members visiting the cave should therefore exercise great care at this point.

London Section Meet

It appears that the next organised activity by the London Section will be the Annual Meet over the August Bank Holiday. At present, there has been no final decision whether this will be at the Belfry or in South Wales. Members of the Section are asked to let W.J. Shorthose know as soon as possible what preferences they have if any. It is hoped to give final details in the next issue.

Sack-cloth and Ashes Department

Sorry, we omitted to mention in the list that we published last time that the club Treasurer is now Mr. R. Bagshaw, 11 Hill Crest, Knowle, Bristol, 4. Please correct your list accordingly.

A Mr Caxton has also asked that we should express his regrets that somme off ye pagef of ye laste issue were pryntedewithe ye fronte side where ye backe did properly ought to have bin, and vice versa.

Motor Cycle Enthusiasts

There is a suggestion that a Motor-cycling Section should be formed. Those interested are invited to write to Tony Setterington, who is acting as Secretary of the proposed Section until it gets properly under way. At present there are three events in mind, as follows:-

1.       Don’s Derby, Sunday June 10th, a main road trial run by the Dulwich M.C.C.

2.       A.C.U. National Rally, Saturday-Sunday July 14th - 15th. This again is all main road work, and involves covering as many miles as possible, up to 702 between 9 am on Saturday and 11 am on Sunday. If the B.E.C. can enter a team, there is a chance of its winning a team award.

3.       A hill climb is proposed to be run somewhere on Mendip later in August, for standard motor cycles in standard trim. The course will be chosen so that it will not damage the machine in any way. Dan Hasell has already promised to act as chief timekeeper and handicapper.

In connection with Item 1 above, it is hoped to run a club trip to London for the festival exhibition, travelling up on Friday June 8th, and returning after the Derby on the Sunday. Those members entered for Don’s Derby will be provided with Sleeping accommodation by the Dulwich club, provided they carry fug-bags with them, and the first three others to write to the Hon Sec, London Section can be accommodated in Tooting. A Trip to Stone Farm Rocks or something similar might be arranged for, those not interested in motor cycle trials, if they wish.

The Club Library

The Club Librarian is very concerned that his set of Belfry Bulletins is far from complete. He appeals to those members who may have back numbers that they do not really need to send them to him to help complete the Club records. The missing numbers are as follows:-2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29 and 31.

He has asked also that we should reproduce the conditions on which books are loaned to mcmbers:-

1.       Books will be issued for a period of one month.

2.       Books may be obtained either by Registered post from Librarian, or personally on the first Thursday of each month at Club, provided that prior notice is given to the Librarian of the titles required.

3.       Books must be returned to the Librarian either by Registered post or by handing them in personally.

4.       The person to whom the book is issued will be personally responsible for it, and must not transfer it to any other person.

5.       The person to whom the book is issued must make good any loss or damage occurring before it is returned to the Librarian.

For the benefit of those who did not read the last “BB”, the Librarian is Johnny Ifold, and his address Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr Bristol, and Phone number, Blagdon 432.

A New System in Eastwater Cavern,    J.W IfoId

If Harris’s passage is followed up-stream, the canyon formation merges into a steeply inclined bedding plane, which is sectioned off by loose and dangerous boulder chokes. During Easter 1951, the author removed a small boulder choke and penetrated into further extensions. Whether these extensions are of the same bedding plane or not can only be settled by a survey. At present the system appears to penetrate for about four hundred feet, and there are possibilities that it may be further extended.

An interesting observation is the presence of two streams which seem to disappear in a North Westerly direction. Another feature unusual to Eastwater is the presence of large eroded stalagmite sheeting. This is eroded not only on its upper surface, but at many points is completely hollowed out from beneath. Its markings include scalloping and several concentric circles, which are possibly the remains of completely eroded stalagmites. This discovery led to a discussion of the complete absence of stalagmitic formations in Eastwater as compared with the abundance in nearby Swildon’s. An interesting point is the phreatic sponge-work, smaller that that in Ffynnon Ddu, but otherwise very similar.

One member of the party advanced the theory that at one time Eastwater had taken a very much larger proportion of the North Hill drainage than it now does, while near-by Swildons was left comparatively dry. This heavy flow might have caused very rapid and complete erosion, thus explaining the almost complete absence of formations in Eastwater, and these strangely eroded sheets.

The direction of the system leads to the belief that it is under the boulder maze, but it is possible that the two small streams at the end of the series may come from the 380 foot way.

This system may yield to further exploration.

Caving News

The new extension to Eastwater, described above was visited by four members of a party of twelve Club members and three visitors from Birmingham. After a routine trip to the end of the cave via Dolphin’s Pot, these members explored about four to five feet of passage and bedding plane…..

A number of caving trips have been undertaken during the last few weeks, including an expedition to Steep holm with members of the South Wales Cave Club and a number of archaeologists. Although nothing spectacular was discovered, a good time was had by all concerned. Meets were also held at Swildon’s Hole and Axbridge Ochre Cave. Two “digs” are in (active) progress near Bristol but at least two Mendip digs are mouldering. THERE IS PLENTY OF SCOPE FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN CAVE DIGGING. Will members willing to help please give their names to the caving section secretary.

Log Sheets

An attempt is being made to keep a log of caving activities. A number of log sheets is to be kept at the Belfry, John Ifold’s house and at Redcliffe. Trip leaders are asked to take one or more of the sheets and enter an account of the expedition , passing this to the caving secretary.

Caving Trip Card     June - August

June 2nd                      TOP of Swildon’s                  Leader J, Rollason, 3pm at Barn.

June 16th                    August Hole                         Leader J.Ifold

June 22nd..24th             Caving trip to Buckfast          details from M. Hannam

June 31st                    Long Wood                          Leader R.Bennett 3 p m at Lower Farm.

July 15th                     G.B.                                    Leader M. Hannam 2.30 p m at Barn

July 28th-August 6th      Caving meet in Yorkshire.

August 19th                 Eastwater                            Leader M. Hannam 1 2 noon at Belfry

August 26th                 Bath Stone Workings,

All members intending to join any of the above trips should notify the caving secretary. Numerous trips are arranged on an ad hoc basis on Thursdays.


The BEC's series of caving reports cover a wealth of knowledge and experience.Most of these were written many years ago but still contain very pertinent information covering many aspects of the clubs activities.


Been down St Cuthberts? Buy the report and get a free survey!

Less well-known than many of Mendip's other major cave systems, St. Cuthbert's Swallet offers much to those whose interest extends beyond mere sporting activity. Not only does it contain fine pitches and streamways but it has numerous large chambers, some beautifully decorated, intricate phreatic mazes and up to seven distinct levels. It is without doubt Mendip's most complex cave system and, not generally realised, it contains perhaps the finest and greatest variety of formations in the area. Among its displays are found magnificent calcite groups such as the 'Curtains', 'Cascade', Gour Hall with its 20ft high gour, 'The Beehive', Canyon Series and the 'Balcony' formations in September Chamber, all of which are without peer in the country. There are also superb mini-formations including floating calcite crystals, over twenty nests of cave pearls, and delicate fern-like crystals less than four millimetres long; a variety that few other caves can boast.

Access is strictly controlled by the Bristol Exploration Club. Conservation was the prime reason for wishing to control access to the cave. To achieve this aim it was decided by the BEC at their 1955 Annual General Meeting to introduce a leader system. St. Cuthbert's Swallet was one of the first caves in the country to be so protected. This action has often been the centre of controversy. However, the fact remains that, after thirty years, the cave is essentially still in pristine condition and proven justification for the leader system.

The St Cuthberts report was written and compiled by D.J. “Wig”  Irwin with additional material by Dr. D.C. Ford, P.J. Romford, C.M. Smart and Dr. J.M. Wilson. Running to 82 pages and containing a vast array of photos and a wealth of information this doesn’t just deserve to be on every cavers bookshelf, you should get one for all your friends too (well maybe).

Copies can be purchased from the Belfry or Bat Products for a very reasonable sum.

Also Available as a PDF download from the downloads section from the publications menu

The monthly newsletter will remove ‘internal’ members items from the regular Belfry Bulletin and hopefully be able to update our members more frequently on news, BEC events, local caving related events, any internal stuff members may like to know, dig updates, gossip, etc. etc. It will also contain a rolling calendar which will list both BEC and member events and any other cavers related events on Mendip and the wider community where appropriate.

The newsletter is totally internal to BEC membership and will not be distributed outside of the club, unlike the BB which is exchanged with other clubs and  eventually published publicly on the website.

{loadmodule GoogleCalendar}

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The Belfry Bulletin is the journal of the Bristol Exploration Club.

The current editor, always welcomes articles and pictures as this journal is what the members make it by sending in contributions. As well as his postal address published in the Belfry Bulletin, he can also now receive articles by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The entire archive of back issues is available here entirely due to Andy Mac-Gregor. Over a period of four years Andy has scanned and converted to text via OCR every single issue. When you consider that most of these were printed on a Gestetner duplicator you'll appreciate the scale of this achievement.