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The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: John Williams

Front Cover: “Earl Clarke with a handful” Pech la Vayssiere, Dordogne, France.
Photograph by Gary Cullen.

1995 - 1996 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Ivan Sandford
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Estelle Sandford
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Floating                   Hilary Wilson



April; and spring is with us. With spring comes not only a young man's fancy (which could mean anything in these so called politically correct times!!) but also .... The Belfry Bulletin.


Seems the club is starting to rev up for 1996.  I notice in the Belfry hallway there is a list of members offering caving trips to new and prospective members - something that was prevalent when I first joined the BEC.  In past years this seems to have died somewhat and groups of people have tended to do their own thing.  One of the things I always liked was that I could ask people if they'd take me caving and they'd say  'Sure ... where d’ya wanna go??!  I know these days I get asked for a lot of Cuthbert's trips but there are far more caves on Mendip than just that.  Maybe now we'll start to see a few more trips written up In the caving log - I certainly invite anyone to ask me for trips (and I don't mean LSD) and I know there are many other 'older' members who feel the same way.  I would also remind the membership - particularly newer members - that! we have a very competent and willing caving secretary in Jeff Price .... He only has to be asked and trips will be arranged.


The 60s/70s Disco on 9.3.96 organised mainly by Hilary Wilson, to whom all credit and thanks must go, was a resounding success.  I know there were others who put in a lot of effort as well and thanks are also due to them. What a brilliant chance to resurrect those clothes that have been living in dustbin bags at the back of the wardrobe for 20 odd years.  (Trevor Hughes actually looked quite smart - a shock to many a system).  More than this, it was amazing to see so many people taking advantage of the chance to do all those dances we haven't dared to for years. You know, the ones that make you look a complete prat when you think you're being dead cool.  'Saturday Night Fever at Priddy Village Hall'.  I noticed that there was however, an absence of platform shoes/boots, I guess we all learnt about broken ankles the first time round.  The turnout was much better than expected.  I would guess there were about 100 people there - so the event more than paid for itself.  There was some talk of the proceeds going towards 'digging funds'.

The club would like to thank Roger Dors for providing and tending the bar – I have a sneaking suspicion you quite enjoyed It Roger!!

Meanwhile, a little further down the drove, Priddy Green Sink, which should really be renamed Priddy Brown Stink if the state of the regular diggers is anything to go by ... is steadily yielding more finds to the 'gentle persuasion techniques' of Jarratt and Co.  The last report I had gave three probable leads after about another 150' of passage was found.  There was a 25' ladder pitch followed by three free climbs, totalling some 70’ in depth. Doubtless there will be more before I go to print, so this is probably out of date already.  This is probably the most exciting digging prospect on Mendip at present and hopes are high for major discovery in the not too distant future.

An interesting quote from Jane Jarratt when a team of diggers showed up to see Tony one Sunday afternoon, straight from the site ...

" You can come in if you don’t smell" .... I'm not sure if she was referring to the Cowsh encrustations borne with such pride by these fellows - or just their general personal hygiene!!


Still in Priddy ..........

Priddy Folk Fayre will take place on 14, 15 & 16th of June this year.  Based as usual around the Hall and school, Friday night's concert will include Cantoris, Fastest to Canada and The Yetties.  Saturday sees many events including dancing and a craft fayre with a barn dance and/or concert in the evening.  This has been a steadily growing event and this years has the makings of an excellent weekend.  Tickets are available in advance or on the day - tho' the Friday night concert may well sell out.  Further information from Yours Truly if required.


Finally, I have been asked by Charterhouse Caving Company Ltd to remind everyone of the necessity to obtain permits before going underground in Charterhouse caves and to please observe the No Novice rules.  There have been incidents recently where agreements have been broken. Not only does this compromise the BEC but also jeopardises access for all cavers in the future.


That’s about it for now .... I'm sure Spike will fill you in on some of the local gossip later. Thanks again to those of you that have provided me with articles.  Keep the stuff coming in .... I always need extra material for publication and the more I get, the More BB’s you get.

See you all around ..... Good Caving.                                                       Jingles.


Report From Clean Up.

A small group of people turned up to help with the clean up - many thanks to them.

We managed to clean the Belfry main room completely & deduced from this that the main room badly needs a coat of paint; despite bucketfuls of soup (I think she means soap ... but who knows??? .. ed) most of the grime is still on the walls & ceiling. We are hoping to paint it on 13th/14th April, any ideas for colour schemes, etc let me know. (Habitat revisited at the Belfry??? .. ed)

There are many other jobs badly in need of attention; the ones I have knowledge of are listed below. If you can offer any assistance with the jobs or provide cheap or free sources for the equipment needed to do the work, please let me know.


Rear Bargeboards: The ends need sealing ASAP but ideally the boards need replacing (the front bargeboards were replaced last year).

Windows: We have 2 new windows waiting to be fitted at the tackle shed end of the building- these are a priority job.  The window on the member’s bunkroom is poor, but the rest are OK for now but will need considering soon.

Outside Walls: Need a coat of paint. 

Woodwork: Needs treating and repainting.

Bunkroom Firedoor: Needs repairing or replacing- the wood in the panels is rotten.

Porch: The felting needs sorting, so the roof doesn’t leak onto the electric switch.

Outside Lighting: Any ideas?


Painting: Main room a priority.

Showers: Left hand one needs new shower unit fitted (we have a new one waiting to go in). Both showers desperately need a new coin meter does anyone know a good cheap source?

Central Heating: Needs a cage around it.  (Perhaps we should tame it then!).

Toilet: The one by the front door needs a new cistern fitted.  The old one leaks and keeps needing repairing.

Kitchen: Pipes need upgrading to copper ones on the 2 double rings.

If anyone has noticed any other work that needs attention let me know so I can add it to my list

The dates for the working weekends are: 13th/14th April, 22nd/23rd June, & 31st August and 1st September.  Please come along & help, the more the merrier and the better the partying on the Saturday night!



The History of Singing River Mine.

Altitude 495 ft - Depth 80 ft - Length 300 ft.

30 ft entrance shaft which requires a ladder, 2 ft belay and a lifeline doubled for the return.

In a field behind Folly Lane lies the entrance to what was a large calamine working with 300 ft of galleries, it is known locally as Singing River Mine.  The entrance to the shaft is perfectly circular, the most suitable form of construction, holding back 30 - 35 feet of clay which covers the ore bearing variety of different types of rock.

It was the last remaining mine in the Shipham (Known then as Sipeham) and Rowberrow area to be mined extensively through the 18th and 19th centuries for calamine, the ore of Zinc and Lead.

There is no real evidence down on paper, but it is possible that Singing River Mine, towards its end, was being worked for lead by a company, Messrs Barwell and Wright - and was later opened by Hussey and Vivian, again mining for lead.

In the mine there are shafts of up to 100 ft deep, climbs, traverses, squeezes, crawls, labyrinths, lakes, pools, canals and streams giving a wealth of information on the techniques of Mendip mining, especially about the underground water problems.

In 1961, Axbridge rural district council employed Messrs F.G. Clements & Co from Easton, near Wells, to drill for water in Shipham to add to the public supply.  They cleared a mine shaft that was filled in and drilled to a depth of 200 feet.  This was the "Singing River Mine".  They also changed a system of galleries into one large chamber for the reservoir, which produced 16,000 gallons a day.

The reasons for the fall of the calamine mining industry in Shipham and Rowberrow were poorly understood. One possible reason is the discovery and development of new mineral deposits elsewhere, although a more exciting tale for the historian (According to J.W. Gough) is that by 1830 the workings seemed to have encountered the two problems of poorer deposits and increasing water at depths at up to 200 ft below the surface.

The water in the mine came from the Singing River which flows through a natural stream passage which the miners broke into while extending the mine.

By 1853 all mining in Shipham, including the Singing River, had come to an end.

The passage ways which may be visited by cavers today are a mixture of mine workings and a natural cave system.

 (Article by Mark Riches - Shipham Scouts. Forwarded by Dr Andy Newton.)


That Sinking Feeling

Various reports were filtering through to me that Priddy Green Sink had gone or was 'going', to somewhere in Swildons 4 seemed certain.  Having never been in the cave or seen photos of it I decided to do my bit for caving journalism and rang J-rat one evening re access.  'No problem, dear boy,' was the reply so nearer the time I decided to get a bit more clued on what to expect.

'It's a collector's item - a bit tight - been down West End series?' I was told.  Somewhat committed by having persuaded Carl Jones of SWAG (South West Adventure Group) to join me and my camera I arrived at Tucker Street one Saturday morning for a final briefing.  With a crumpled Grade 0.5 plan 3 new batteries, an ersatz Petzl Zoom (I was warned waist mounted cells were a pain) and instructions to do the cave backwards Carl and I headed for Priddy Green.

The green seems quiet nowadays - have the entrance changes in Swildons deterred the weegies?  We rapidly changed and approached the unlikely entrance.  The short manhole shaft opened into a surprisingly roomy passage exuding a cowshy fragrance, from the walls hung festoons of 'slurrictites'.  We obediently reversed down the passage with Carl in the lead.

A short crawl from the steeply descending streamway led into a small high chamber - RAF aven - the site of the first breakthrough.  A descent over boulders led past a loose chamber (Hanwell Hall) through another crawl to a short rifty climb.  'OK so far' I thought as we entered a steeply sloping highly modified bedding - The Blasted Bastard.  I should have known better.  We dropped out of the BB into stand up passage.  A knackered drill battery case lay on a ledge and bang wire led up a rift which after reference to the survey we decided was Barrel Series.  A nice stoopingish vadose rift doubled back - Virgin One.  Carl scuttled round the corner and thrutching noises began.

Round the corner I could see why because he'd just passed a vice like speciality which clearly was diggers' dimensions but not perhaps mine.  The squeeze was like a funnel the narrow end nearest me.  Lying on my side right arm extended I expired (well - breathed out) thrutched and to my surprise and relief passed the crux.  Three metres later I was standing at the top of a short climb the sound of falling water ahead.  Down the climb Carl was inspecting the next obstacle.

A 5 metre ladder pitch dropped through a slot into a small damp chamber.  An awkward squeeze at floor level led off.  This was the one J-rat had suggested we approached illogically. Carl just did it.  I tried every which way cussing at two lumps both easily hammerable which I just could not negotiate.  Carl disappeared down the next climb the sounds of this progress fading while I spasmodically banged the knobbles feeling like Alice in Wonderland without the right edibles.

I noticed my lamp going dim - after 1 1/2 hours.  Show down at Bat Products later I decided.  Booming rumbling noises wafted up the shaft.  After 20 minutes I had got bored with sorting the camera and trying to enlarge the squeeze.  More booming rumbles - what the hell was going on down there?  I started to twitch - what if Carl had hurt himself?  I started shouting.  More rumbling for five minutes then incoherent shouts.  I did some incoherent shouting too.  The word 'light' seemed to echo back.  'You've got no light?'  I shouted. 'Yes!!!!!!!’  'Shit!' I thought.

It was now 2 pm.  I was supposed to be back in Chard by 5; not having to think about rescue callouts.  Thoughts of mutterings about 'guts' and 'garters' from Angie before I left prompted my next move.  I rashly (good word for what happened next) decided to try the squeeze again. Stripping to underpants and wellies I wriggled in and began thrashing about.  Talk about sado-masochistic acts.  I can see the headline 'GP gets rocks off grovelling in gravel'.  Two minutes of this and I had acquired a symmetrical line of abrasions down my body suggesting a night of passion with a grizzly and, even worse, I hadn't passed the squeeze.

Meanwhile Carl was groping his way upwards following the stream.  I began to assemble his spare light. I'd just begun to poke the spare lamp in its transparent BDH container (on the end of a handy rope) through the squeeze using a handy pry bar in the hopes that it would bounce down the pitch towards him when I heard him bellow that he could see my light.  He was soon back through the squeeze and I'd dressed decently again.

My lamp then dimmed faster than the lamps at the local Odeon.  To add to the fun Carl's spare packed up as well.  Groping around we found more batteries and by touch inserted them in the fake zoom.  And we hadn't even started the photography!

Dash and glimmer describes our exit.  If you find a bit of black plastic casing at the bottom of the ladder pitch it comes off Carl's slave flash which for some strange reason he started playing with in the dark.  Photos of a variable standard were taken.  The vice like squeeze is a sod for big people on exit - while in it I realised I would never have got out solo for a call out.  I needed a helpful shove to pass the end of the funnel.

I could have kissed the spacious floor of the Blasted Bastard - it meant we were virtually out of the cave.  Two more battery changes later and we heaved ourselves onto the green.

Things could have been worse.  Carl is the 'alleged PCG midget' who pushed the bottom of Longwood in the '70's.  He got to the end of the Virgin Series and then his collapsible chest allowed him further, the booming rumbles that I heard being boulders he shifted to move forward.  When I started shrieking down the pitches he'd been passing a particularly tight section ('must have been tight 'cos I never take my lamp off - and I did') and had had to go through and turn round.  At that point the cave was still going and enlarging.  If his light had packed up then the ensuing rescue would have been very interesting.

Some of the pictures weren't too bad as well!  I can recommend the trip as definitely being a collector's item.


Dordogne, France, Revisited.

There have been numerous articles written with varying descriptions of the caves available from previous B.B.'s so I'm not going to repeat our trip with complete write up's. Instead I'd like to mention a few changes and points that might be of interest to future trips.

Gary Cullen (BEC), Pete Guamaccio (Wessex) and myself met other friends out at Gramat.  We arrived with previous write up's from B.B.'s with literature from S.M.C.C and Wessex journals.  We had a possible itinery of about 50 caves.  I would like to thank Em Porter at this point for the information she provided us with which was extremely valuable.

Igue des Combettes.

Various articles just state there is a large imposing fence around the land the cave is sited on and they thought it better not to continue.  If you continue up the tarmac road to the second farm for permission there is no problem with access at all.  The owner even took us back to the fence pointing out the entrance and the gate further up for the access path.  This is a worth while trip descending a series of pitches on SRT to the horizontal streamway passage at the bottom.  We rescued a partridge at the bottom which had fallen down the series of entrance pitches.

Gouffre de Revillion

The description we had described access into the Grand Salle as requiring "combined tactics" to enter a high level passage.  A few years ago when I was down here the cave ended a short while after the second pitch, and we noted a possible climb but as there were only two of us we failed to climb it.  This time with climbers in our party we successfully climbed a wall to find it in fact went nowhere.  Continuing down the cave I was surprised to find the cave did not end in a mud and gravel choke as before but continued for a considerable way on.  We turned right at a junction and scrambled up a scree slope. From the top a short 15ft drop required a ladder, follow the passage to a tight flat out squeeze similar to ladder dig in GB.  As you get through, the passage ascends another scree slope but this time be careful because as you climb up you tend to fill up the hole you've just come through blocking your exit.  Continue climbing until you reach a horizontal passage which finally emerges in the Grand Salle.  Huge impressive chambers go in both directions, right finally ends but if you climb high into the roof and through boulders it continued in more of the same.  Left takes you to a free climbable mud ridge. Beyond the floor is like a dried up lake.  You walk across spongy mud which has dried to form hexagonal blocks with deep cracks and is quite unusual.

Gouffre de Roque de Cor

The information we took said the farmer has blocked the access path in several places leading to the entrance because his sheep (Mouton) keep getting out due to cavers. It suggested walking up the single track railway line to near the end of the cutting and climbing out on the right. This we did.  On returning and walking down the middle of the track I noticed a train coming in the cutting and unable to climb out, the train fast approaching, we dived to the wall before getting run down, much to the drivers amusement letting rip his air horn only feet away.  On getting back another group just took the blocked farmers path which is now obviously accessible.  Another thing we noted was an abundance of cave life.  Notably dozens of toads were in Gouffre de Revillion. Trout like fish in Gouffre de St de la Pucelle.  A Salamander in Igue de St Sol and a snake we rescued in Igue de Pendant along with the partridge from Igue des combettes.

We also met a French group which are building a club hut and offered us possible accommodation and contacts for the future.  They have also just published a book with 500 cave surveys and map references which although quite expensive is well worth purchasing as one of the main problems we found was locating the entrances.  One cave we did from this book was Pech la Vayssiere a short cave with three entrances and very pretty.  We did a photo trip and hence the interesting front cover of the BB.  Captions welcome!).

If anybody is interested in the data we have collated Gary has put it all on his computer and if you write to him he would be willing to pass the information on.  He is also able to give you the address in France if you wanted to purchase the book.


Return of the Son of 'Spike'

Howdy folks, I haven't been around for a while as I've been lying low due to death threats after my last contribution .... some people have no sense of humour!!

Seems the club is reviving itself after the winter hibernations and annual membership culling.

We seem to have had a fair influx of new members recently but I haven't managed to dig up anything suitably embarrassing on any of them as yet.

Easter saw a fair contingent of BEC in the Yorkshire Dales largely centred in Dent and I gather a good time was had by all.  Babs had such a good time she can't even remember Saturday night and I have witnesses to the fact that she was sick in Yordas Cave on Sunday ... Organic Caving???? Mike Wilson and JC were last seen heading in the direction of Bull Pot...tho if Saturday nite is anything to go by it was probably Bullshit Pot!!

The loudest noises on Saturday night were from Jeff Price, who tiring of the singing of other locals decided to regale us with .. "As I was walking through the wood" .... etc. He managed to silence the whole place temporarily ... or was that deafen??

I recently came across the following picture of one of our members, showing what he gets up to in his spare time.  I think this begs a caption competition so please send 'em to Jingles and he'll buy a pint for the writers of the best ones. (Must remember to tell him about that!).


The Wessex Challenge is coming up, its set for Saturday 8th May 1996 and will be at Priddy village hall hosted by The M.C.G. although as has been observed they really should be called the 'G' as none of them seem to be from Mendip and as for going caving .. well ... ???  Do we want to enter a team this year .... ? I guess it’s up to the membership.

Priddy Green Sink seems to be the hot news lately, as mentioned elsewhere in this rag.   Every time there is a deadline for this, or other, publications - P**ing "J•Rat II & Co. go and discover some more ..... the latest being a 70ft aven (although when this was climbed and actually measured ­ten feet was lost - making it a sixty foot aven!!) and I expect there'll be more as soon as this goes to print... .. No consideration for deadlines or publishers !!!!

People are mystified as to why Jingles has been diving in the lake in St Cuthbert's.  When I asked him why he replied .. .'Coz its got water in it!!  I s'pose it makes sense really as its a bit pointless carting diving kit down to a place where there’s no sump!!!

Roger Stenner demonstrated his water analysis techniques at the Belfry the other week to an interested audience.  Apparently the results were very interesting .... another article forthcoming perchance??

Although it is most out of character, I would like to pass on my condolences to Blitz who has apparently done his back in again.  As I understand it he's pretty immobilized and not in a very good way.  Incredibly 'm not even going to take the piss out of him about it.. .. I'll leave that to you lot...why break the habits of a lifetime etc etc ... !!!

Seriously tho' We hope you mend well soon Chris.

Enough from me for now ..... any decent gossip .... pass it my way & I'll try & get sued!! See Ya.



Fools Rush In

The phone call came on a stormy winters night there’s a rusting iron monster that might need some dynamite ........

There’s a rusting iron monster on the mendips for all to see where a gang of experts work there from the mendip demrock company.

These are no ordinary folk as they sweat and toyle for all to see.  The big explosion about to be ...... Some suger, some weed killer and the men from MDC.

"stand clear" for theirs going to be an explosion cried the "Demrock rep" looking out to West Harptree alas t'’was not to be !!!!!! .not a bang but more shit from "MDC".

Through the long days of spring time and while summer breezes flee, the rusting iron monster remains there for all to see.

"stand back". We'll give it one more try i'm sure that'll do it shouted the man from "MDC" ... Alas t’was not to be. But just more shit from the "Demrock Company"

Just one more try!!!!!! Shouts "Davy misfire".  This bastard will work its called "plan b"

Five hundred kilos of co-op, some superflex and 3 tons of "tnt". And a prayer for the men from "hdc" .........

While people looked on in sheer delight.  The "hooter"  did sound over this wonderful sight.  The word of "fire" echoed around to a thunderous roar that shook the ground.

Faces looked on in sheer surprise as the "rusting iron monster" disappeared before their eyes !!!!!.


The smoke had cleared t'was a sad sight for all to see. The "rusting iron monster" still there but no sign of the "Demrock Company" ... While up in heaven the angles flew.  The good lord looked down with glee.

"when i order armageddon i wont send for the

"Mendip Demrock Company"

But to be continued"

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: John Williams

Cover: Another Cave formation which appears to resemble A large pair of breasts - The Estellemight (if you ask her nicely..!)


1995 - 1996 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Ivan Sandford
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Estelle Sandford
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Floating                   Hilary Wilson



Its time for another Belfry Bulletin.  I am aware that there have been a few problems getting the BB to some members. I am not going to make excuses, but I would ask for your patience while I sort things out.  I have a backlog of this year's issues and will endeavour to circulate them to the relevant people.  If you know anyone who has not received them and thinks that they should, or are in that position yourself - please ask them to contact me, in writing, so I can get a list together and thus issue them.

Things have been fairly quiet at the Belfry of late, from my point of view it’s quite nice 'cos I can come up and get a bit of peace and quiet, but of course this means that the club is not taking so much in hut fees.  Seems a lot of people move into the area and therefore don't tend to overnight at the shed - but it is there for our use after all.

Many people tend to forget day fees as well as hut fees - so I would appeal to your sense of honesty with regard to this.

Car break ins have been happening again - so care is required at the obvious hotspots ... Burrington, The link etc.  I know some members had their van done a couple of weeks ago so even though it’s better than it has been in previous years - its still happening.  If you are going to these areas, do not leave valuables in the car, preferably leave someone with the vehicle.

Condolences go to Mike Willet who contracted weil's disease recently. In his usual inimitable fashion he met the situation face on and head butted the virus to death, so I'm told.  The level of sympathy within the club was quite moving - a whole blackboard full of sarcastic comments: my personal favourite being  .'Leptospirosis virus catches nasty case of Willet's disease, poor virus!'

I hear that Mike is now on the mend and will soon be back to normal.  (Actually that's a bit of a contradiction in terms.)

CDG 50th Celebrations.

 The weekend of 11/12 May saw the 50th anniversary celebrations of the COG at Wookey Hole.  A diving display was put on in the cave with divers using historical through to modern kit participating. Of particular interest was John Buxton diving in WHODD (Wookey Hole Diver's Drysuit) and Oxygen re-breather.  He had bottom walked from Chamber 9 back to 3.  He was also the only original pushing diver participating in the event.  There was a good BEC representation at the event.  Mike Barnes being one of the divers as well as Jingles and Dick-Fred providing musical entertainment.

The evening meal was a real one off.  Possibly the largest ever gathering of cave divers and certainly the only time that all these people would be together.  Many of the 'names' from the various decades were present including Balcombe, Sheppard, Buxton, Wells, Lucy, Leakey, Savage, Drew, Farr, Yeadon, Crossley and of course Dan Hasell (amongst many others).

The opportunity was not missed by many who wandered around getting their copies of the Darkness Beckons signed.  I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw Martyn Farr also collecting autographs in a copy of his book.  I think there's a few rather valuable copies after this.

The Belfry Boys sung one of their parodies lampooning many of the assembly and are currently awaiting the libel writs to appear - either that or a good kicking next time they are in Yorkshire!!

A superb event highly befitting this anniversary.  (If anyone's got any photos - can they let me know 'cos my camera decided to eat the film - I'll gladly pay to get copies done ..... Jx)

Birthday Wishes.

John Buxton (BEC/CDG/HDS) celebrated his 65th birthday and retirement from the ambulance service with a dive to Wookey 22 on 1.6.96. He invited various divers to accompany him including Chris Castle, and myself - these being the people he has dived with recently.

The evening saw a meal at the Miners Arms, the assembled company including Dan and Stella Hasell - most feasted on Priddy Oggie!!  I'm sure we would all wish John a happy birthday and retirement as well as many more years diving.  As far as I know he is the 2nd oldest active cave diver in the country - Owen Clarke having that particular 'Honour',

There will be a Wessex Vs BEC Cricket match on 6.7.96 - anyone interested please contact Jingles - we need to provide an umpire too, any volunteers??

Finally I will be taking over from Blitz as Charterhouse leader having been put thru' my paces by Vern Freeman (Cheers Vern). Anyone wanting trips contact me.

Ta ta for now ............. Jingles


Message From The Rescue Team Leaders


Owing to the demands of my work the Rescue Practice on June 29th & 30th has had to be postponed until JULY 5TH & 6TH

This will be a vertical Rescue Practice in Cuthbert’s on the Sunday, meet at the Belfry at 10:30 am, preceded by a demonstration of equipment and techniques on the Saturday afternoon.

Please let me know by June 30th if you are going to attend.  My contact numbers are .(removed).

Rob Harper

Working Weekend and Barbecue

22nd/23rd June,1996

Jobs to do (in order of priority)

Painting of main room and corridor

Fit new shower unit to left hand cubicle

Repair guest bunkroom firedoor

2 windows need fitting

Washing bay needs concreting

There are many other jobs to be done which were listed in the BB.

Barbecue free to those who help, although all welcome.


Uranium Series Dating Of St Cuthbert’s Swallet.

A.R. Farrant & P.L. Smart, University of Bristol.


St Cuthbert’s is a major swallet cave developed at the contact between the Lower Limestone Shales and the Carboniferous Limestone.  The cave was the subject of a detailed study by Derek Ford (Ford, 1963). He proposed a sequence of development for the cave based on his observations which is summarised in Irwin (1991).  However, at the time of his survey, no reliable dating methods were known. Since then, modem techniques for dating flowstone and sediment have been developed.  This can be done in two ways.

1 Uranium Series dating.

This relies on the decay of uranium into thorium. In a nutshell, uranium which is soluble and present in dripwater, is incorporated into a stalagmite when it is formed.  Thorium however is insoluble and thus stalagmite, when formed contains uranium, but no thorium.  Over time the uranium changes at a constant rate by radioactive decay into Thorium (from 238U ® 234U ® 229Th). By measuring the ratio of 238U to 239Th, the age of the stalagmite can be calculated.  However, the sample needs to be free from detrital Th contamination from mud.  This contamination can be evaluated by measuring the 232Th content. Hence the need for clean samples. Furthermore, samples which have re-crystallised may lose some of their initial 238U and hence yield an anomalous ratio.  This method has a limit of about 350 ka (ka = thousand years).  For alpha-spectrometric dating, about 200g of sample is sufficient. If you have several million pounds to buy a mass-spectrometer, then less than 10 g can be dated with an accuracy of c. 1% up to 500 ka.

2. Palaeomagnetic dating.

A second method relies on the magnetic properties of fine grained sediment when clay particles settle out in ponded still water, the magnetic Fe-rich grains will align themselves in the direction of the prevailing magnetic field.  Every so often the Earth's magnetic field 'flips' from N-S to S-N.  This timing of these flips is well known from dating of magnetised lava flows elsewhere. The last time the magnetic field 'flipped' was 780 ka.  Thus if reversed polarity sediments occur, then they must have been deposited over 780,000 years ago.  Reversed sediment occurs in the upper parts of GB Cave (Double Passage) and in Shute Shelve Cavern, thus providing a minimum age for passage formation. This technique requires the collection of several sets of 6 sediment cores, 2 cm long and 2.5 cm in diameter from fine grained undisturbed mud deposits in the cave.

Why date St. Cuthbert’s Swallet?

As yet little dating work has been undertaken in the cave.  Derek Ford and Pete Smart attempted to date periods of gravel deposition in the cave from U-series dating of stalagmite (flowstone) deposited on and beneath individual gravel units in the Dining Chamber and Plantation Junction. The results are shown below.


These results show that most of the gravel deposits were emplaced during the last (Devensian) glaciation.  Compared to similar work done in G.B. Cave and elsewhere these dates are surprisingly young and must considerably post-date the actual formation of the cave. However, to actually date the time of cave formation is impossible.  Nevertheless, a good estimate can be obtained by dating the oldest stalagmite/sediment in the cave.  In most of St Cuthbert’s, much of the taped pristine stalagmite (e.g. Cascade, Curtain Chamber) is of recent (present interglacial) origin and hence useless for estimation the age of the cave.  Much of this stalagmite covers and hence post-dates the sediment infill and boulder collapse, and is the last 'event' to occur in the cave.  Hence, nearly all the white 'pretty' stal. in Cuthbert’s is too young to be of use.  Much older stalagmite occurs either buried by sediment (e.g. Rocky Boulder Series) or is inactive, broken or muddied - for example the thick stal. flow everyone climbs over between Pillar Chamber and Mud Hall.  This material is far better for estimating passage age.  Similar work has been carried out in Gough's Cave, Wookey Hole, G.B. Cave and Otter Hole (Farrant, 1995).  To understand why we would want to date the time of cave formation (other than wanting to know the age for its own sake), it is necessary to understand a little about the geology--aid geomorphology of the rest of the Mendips and the associated caves to set it in context.

The Mendips have been exhumed from under a cover of soft Mesozoic rocks (Triassic, Jurassic and younger).  At present, much of central and western Mendip has been completely stripped of the cover, but the eastern Mendips are still being exhumed.  This exhumation is mainly occurring though retreat of the Mesozoic scarp eastwards.  The scarp is currently located at Shepton Mallet.  Here the topography descends from a maximum of c. 200m at the crest of the Inferior Oolite scarp at Doulting to c. 150m where the Rhaetic and Uassic scarp occurs (Shepton Mallet) to less than 75m near Wells (on Triassic Mercia Mudstone) over a distance east to west of about 6km (Fig. 1).  Evidence from uranium series and palaeomagnetic dating of Mendip caves (Farrant. 1995) demonstrates that, at a given elevation, the caves in western Mendip are significantly older than those to the east Shute Shelve Cavern was drained to an elevation of approximately 45m O.D. by 780 ka. over 500 ka earlier than caves at a comparable elevation in the Cheddar area. By 780 ka. the water table at Cheddar was c.180m while at Westbury-sub-Mendip, it was probably above 245 m.  Thus there was considerable relief between Westbury-sub-Mendip and Shute Shelve Cavern at this time.  This is consistent with the model of progressive scarp retreat from the west (Fig. 2), rather than the gradual lowering following sea-level envisaged by Ford (1963).

Examination of the surface geomorphology supports this model.  It is clear that the western end of Mendip has suffered considerably more erosion than the eastern end, which has yet to fully emerge from its protective covering of Mesozoic rocks.  The retreat of the Rhaetic-Uassic and Inferior Oolite (Jurassic) scarps eastwards, along both the north and south flanks of Mendip, has progressively revealed the underlying limestone, beginning near the Bristol Channel coast and extending inland through time, thus the western end has been exposed longer and consequently suffered more prolonged erosion (and cave development). This has created a more fragmented karst landscape, exhuming the comparatively unmodified pre-Triassic landscape.  Further east on central Mendip, this process has yet to fully occur, only the Mesozoic rocks flanking the hills have been removed. Deep Triassic valleys, incised up to 100m into the limestone are still infilled with Triassic breccia and Jurassic Harptree Beds.  For example, Wigmore Swallet (ST 557526) penetrates over 100m of Mesozoic rocks infilling a deep Triassic valley, before meeting a major streamway, flowing along the Old Red Sandstone­Dolomitic Conglomerate unconformity.  Given time, removal of these Triassic rocks will produce a desiccated landscape similar to that seen in western Mendip today, and the eastern Mendips will emerge from their cover and develop into mature karst landscape.

To the east of the scarps, water-tables are generally high and the potential for significant cave development low.  The southern side of the Beacon Hill pericline is an example.  Here, the Mesozoic cover forms an impermeable dam to the south preventing significant groundwater circulation and cave development within the Carboniferous Limestone.  Some cave development has occurred in a few favourable locations such as the Saint Dunstan's Well area.  East of the scarps, surface and initial underground drainage is generally eastwards down dip towards the headwater of the proto-Thames (Stanton, 1977). As the scarps erode eastward, the surface and underground drainage patterns are reversed and begin to flow westwards towards the Bristol Channel. As the limestone is revealed, these immature phreatic cave systems progressively develop and mature as base-level falls. This sequence is admirably demonstrated in the Cheddar area.  The small high level phreatic tubes in GB Cave (Double Passage) and Charterhouse Cave, are the precursors for the development of a mature cave system graded to progressively lower base-levels.  Here, the initial (pre-scarp retreat) water-table was at 238 m G.D.  During scarp retreat, the water table fell 100m to 138m (Ladder Dig) as outlets at Cheddar became available.  Subsequent falls in the water-table were much smaller (18m from the Ladder Dig to the 120m level), and controlled by fluvial incision of the Gorge, following scarp retreat.


The lower elevation of the resurgences to the west at the foot of the scarps gave them a considerable hydraulic advantage over those to the east.  This may help to explain several anomalous dye traces, for instance the Tor Hole - Cheddar Risings trace (Fig. 1).  At Tor Hole, the resurgence would be expected to be located in the valley immediately down dip to the north­east at Chewton Mendip.  However, before scarp retreat and the dissection of the Mesozoic rocks, a thick impermeable cover at Chewton Mendip prevented the development of a simple down dip conduit linking the sink to a resurgence. At this time, the Cheddar Risings (west of the scarp) would have had a considerable base-level advantage, and the development of a link between the two was probably aided by the presence of a deep Dolomitic Conglomerate filled valley through the Old Red Sandstone pericline of North Hill through which water could drain west.  Water from the nearby Attborough and Wigmore Swallets drains to Cheddar via this route.

This also explains the dominant westward orientation of other swallet-resurgence connections in the Mendips (Fig. 5.1).  This is especially clear with the St Andrews Risings in Wells which derives nearly all its flow from sinks to the east.  Similarly, most of the major dry valley networks drain west.  The only exception to this general rule is Wookey Hole which derives part of its flow from sinks to the north-west such as Swildon's Hole . However, this anomaly may be explained if Wookey Hole has captured water from the Priddy area which initially flowed west to Cheddar as originally proposed by Ford, (1963).


Swildon's Hole to Cheddar?

As the scarps eroded east, revealing limestone at progressively lower levels, a new outlet at Wookey Hole would offer a considerably steeper hydraulic gradient and favour capture of sinks in the Priddy area such as Swildon's Hole (Fig. 2b). Additional support for this hypothesis comes from detailed examination of the geomorphology of the major swallet caves in the Priddy area (Ford, 1963). Here, the swallet caves (Swildon's Hole, St. Cuthbert's Swallet and Eastwater Swallet) do not appear to share common phreatic levels as the Charterhouse caves do. Indeed, St. Cuthbert's and the nearby Swildon's Hole show markedly contrasting morphologies.  Ford (1963) argued that the phreatic nature of St. Cuthbert's was due to elevated water-tables held up behind a dam of impermeable Millstone Grit, prior to breaching to form the Wookey Hole resurgence. However, this 'dam' was breached in Triassic times and the valley subsequently infilled by Dolomitic Conglomerate.  Thus the water has always been able to pass though the Millstone Grit 'barrier' via the Dolomitic Conglomerate infilled Triassic valley.

In contrast to St Cuthbert’s which exhibits only one former water-table at > 200m, Swildon's Hole exhibits several such phreatic rest levels.  Ford recognised four major former water-table levels in Swildon's Hole at 168-183, 140-146, 127 and at 109m respectively.  These four former levels compare with only one major level at Wookey Hole.  It is interesting to note that if an hydraulic gradient of 7.1 mkm-1 (the Longwood-Cheddar gradient) is applied to the hypothetical Swildon's Hole-Cheddar conduit, then the elevations predicted (Table 1) for the 105-110 and 75m levels match with the two higher levels observed in Swildon's Hole.  The lower level does not match up. However, if the modem hydraulic gradient (9.3 mkm-1) between Wookey Hole and Swildon's Hole is used to predict former water-table levels in Swildon's Hole from those observed at Wookey (at 79-88 m; Ford, 1963), then an elevation of 105-114 m is predicted.  This matches with the 109m level observed by Ford (1963).  This suggests that upper two levels in Swildon's Hole were graded to Cheddar, while the lower levels (including the active streamway) were graded to Wookey Hole following capture.  Clearly, this is hypothetical, but it may be tested by dating both the Wookey and Swildon's Hole systems or by discovering the old high level routes - after all, caves are where you find 'em!

Resurgence Caves

Swildon's Hole


Elevation (m. asI)

Elev. (predicted)

Elev. (observed)

 (Ladder Dig - GB)




 Great Oones Hole level.




 Mushroom Ch. level


143-148 1


 Gough's Showcave




 Gough's active conduit




 Wookey Hole (high lev.)


105-114 ~


 Wookey Hole (active)




Table 1.  Comparison of water-table levels in the Charterhouse - Cheddar Caves with those seen in Swildon's Hole.  Both observed and predicted elevations are given for Swildon's Hole.

1Elevations predicted from Cheddar using a hydraulic gradient of 7.1 mkm-1;

2Elevation predicted from Wookey Hole resurgence, 61m O.D. and a hydraulic gradient of 9.3 mkm-1.  (*Swildons-Wookey gradient)

Thus, instead of Ford's impermeable dam of Millstone Grit (Ford, 1964), it is suggested that the Mesozoic rocks formed the impermeable barrier, keeping water-tables in the Priddy area elevated.  The most westerly of the sinks, Swildon's Hole was able to drain to Cheddar in much the same way as Thrope Lane, in an analogous situation today, drains to St Andrews Risings.  When scarp retreat allowed the Wookey resurgence to develop, it subsequently captured water which originally drained to Cheddar.  Remnants of this early drainage system may be preserved as abandoned high level phreatic tubes in Swildon's such as the S.E. Inlets and other caves such as White Pit, south of Priddy.  If St Cuthbert's Swallet (Ford. 1963,•Irwin, 1991) originally drained south or east instead of to Cheddar, the scarp retreat model would explain the prolonged phreatic development and subsequent rapid fall in water-table observed following scarp retreat to the east.

Thus by dating the Wookey Hole catchment caves is should be possible to tell if the upper parts of Swildons pre-dates Wookey and thus drained to Cheddar and has subsequently been captured to Wookey. Furthermore, it should tell us if St. Cuthbert’s is significantly younger than Swildon's and the same age as Wookey as the model predicts. Preliminary results suggest that Swildons is indeed older than Wookey, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Rates of Scarp Retreat

The surface geomorphology and deposits cannot provide any indication of the rate of scarp retreat, whereas this is possible with dating evidence from the caves along the southern flank of Mendip.  The dating of Loxton Cave, Shute Shelve Cavern, the Cheddar Caves and Westbury Quarry Fissure enables the rate of scarp retreat to be quantified (Farrant, 1995). The modern Mesozoic scarps are presently located to the west of Shepton Mallet (Fig. 1), and remnants and outliers of these rocks occur along the southern flank of the Mendips as far west as Wookey Hole.  The Inferior Oolite scarp impinges onto the Carboniferous Limestone at Doulting, 2km east of Shepton Mallet.  Here, although the limestone has been exposed, no significant caves are known to exist.  Any caves that are known such as the Waterlip Quarry caves (ST 660445; Barrington and Stanton, 1977) are small and immature.  Former scarp positions can be identified by identifying the elevation and age of former water-table levels from caves.  At Westbury-sub-Mendip, 15km west of the scarp, water-tables were still above 250m until after 780 ka. In the Cheddar area, 20km west, the water table was at c. 180m at 780 ka (calculated from a base-level lowering rate of 0.20 mka-1).  Further west at Shute Shelve (23 km west), scarp retreat had lowered regional base-level to below c. 45 m by this time. Thus, at about 780 ka, the Rhaetic-Liassic and probably the Inferior Oolite scarps were located in the Cheddar area (similar to the situation at Shepton Mallet today).  Thus, the rate of scarp retreat is estimated to be approximately 20 (max. 30) mka-1.  Clearly, this is a gross estimate and does not account for shorter term variations due to climatic fluctuations.

However, this estimate is significantly higher than other rates recorded in the literature.  Rates of between 6.7 and 0.5 mka-1 are recorded from the Colorado Plateau in the USA, while rates of 6 mka-1 have been obtained from the Red Sea coast in Egypt.  Considerable further work is still needed to refine the estimate of scarp retreat rates, and to understand why the rates in this area are so high, if that is the case. The extreme susceptibility of the Lias clays to periglacial weathering and erosion (Stanton, 1977) may be a key factor.  This may account for the high rates of scarp retreat.  Dating work at Wookey Hole should confirm that the system is significantly younger than the Cheddar system and establish whether Swildon's Hole originally drained to Cheddar or Wookey Hole.  The absence of a series of former high-level resurgences here suggests that the Wookey system may be relatively immature compared to Cheddar. Preliminary examination of Thrupe Lane Swallet, between Wells and Shepton Mallet, which feeds St Andrew's Springs in Wells even further east (and therefore younger still?) suggests it too is immature.  Other swallet caves feeding St Andrews Risings should also be immature, e.g. Crapnell Swallet.

Thus dating of the Wookey Hole - St Cuthbert’s - Swildons system may potentially answer many question on the evolution, not only of the caves themselves, but of the whole Mendip landscape.  This information can only help to strengthen the case for conserving the Mendips landscape. More information can be obtained from my thesis (Farrant, 1995) which can be obtained from either the UBSS Library (contact Dr. A. Boycott) or the ACG library (contact Chris Castle). Other copies are available from myself, the Mendip Society (c/o Hon Sec, Mrs P. Farrant, Millcourt, St Andrews Rd, Cheddar) or the University of Bristol Library.  In addition, the Mendip Society in conjunction with the Bristol Naturalists Society, is publishing a book on the Mendips, including a section on the evolution of the landscape which should be out later this year or early 1997. Furthermore, the 'Geological Conservation Review of Caves and Karst' (ed. A.C. Waltham), to be published this autumn also has several sections devoted to Mendip Caves.  It is available at a pre-publication price of £45, otherwise it will cost over £100 - keep your eyes open!


Ford, D.C., 1963. Aspects of the geomorphology of the Mendip Hills. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Oxford.

Farrant, A.R. 1995. Long-term Quaternary chronologies from cave deposits. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bristol. 275 pp.

Irwin; OJ., 1991. St Cuthbert's Swallet. Bristol Exploration Club. Wells, Somerset, 82 pp.

Stanton, W.L, 1977. A view of the hills. in Mendip.  The complete caves and a view of the hills. Eds. N. Barrington and W.L Stanton, Cheddar Valley Press, Cheddar, p. 193-235.


Assynt Descents

Who is the 'Rubber Man'? What was the mysterious substance in the blue bottle that rendered Estelle comatose?  What is a Goonlet?  How to eat curry and prepare a charge simultaneously.  Who vivisected his PowerMac on the kitchen table (easy)? What about Tav's secret life as a rock star?  Who likes crunchy hear bones?  What would Mulder and Scully make of the horrors in Claonite 7?  What was Jake's nocturnal surprise?  Why did the fisherman freak out at Waterfall Rising? Don't care?  Don't read!

Some kind of attempt at co-ordination meant most of the Southern invasion was contemporaneous (buy a dictionary).  Peter Glanvill and Estelle had an uneventful drive up in record time in daylight while Tave Jake and Richard found themselves held up by a crash near Manchester in the wee small hours.  J-rat and Julian Walford came up with Tony Boycott and Gadget (Nick Williams) chose to be an independent traveller.

Day one ended (like most) in the Alt the GSG's current watering hole.  Eric the new landlord is extremely sociable and his partner cooks a mean Rogan Josh (Chicken Konna etc ....... ).  Richard proceeded to get as near legless as is possible before attempting to dance to music provided by Dangerous Dave a passing accordionist reminiscent of Morcambe and Wise's 'not now Arthur'.  He'd (Richard not DD) lost vertical hold and colour vision by the time we left when he tried climbing into my silver Volvo in mistake for Jake's red van. A somewhat anxious and smelly drive back that with four up in the back seat.

The next day dawned dry but cloudy.  Digging in the Allt naIn UaInh valley was the plan.  Virtually everybody except Ivan and Pete who were recovering from activities in Claonite set off up the valley.  Water levels were falling and continued to do so all week.  Jake's team attacked the impressive DaInocleaIl dig while the rest of us visited Rana Hole now re­named The Poo Mine.  An hour or two hauling gritty peat saw the team into a horizontal draughting rift.  RaIla lived up to its name when Tony rescued a small frog which was photographed to prove it by Pete.

Pete then persuaded Julian and Estelle to enter Claonite as far as Sump 1 for photography.  A dampish trip followed with some variable photo results. A strange whining noise at one point proved not to be a flash gun recharging but Estelle complaining about having to stand waist deep in water holding a slave flash.  Still the end results were worth it I hope.

Pete changing at the trout farm put his watch on the bonnet while we slurped some welcome soup (3 packets of cup a soup to a litre of hot water is the magic quantity).  That's why Estelle saw something fly into the heather as we rounded the first bend on the way back to the hut.  Even a police style finger search failed to locate it so bye bye watch.  Another familiar evening in the Alt eating BSE burger and drinking 80/- was enlivened by Tav telling us about his one man attempt to get a re-write of Mendip Underground done in record time by discovering as many caves as he can on East Mendip.

Using an alarm clock (shock horror) I woke early for a day's diving out of Achiltibuie.  A bit of cut and paste from another article follows. The diving day began at 9.30 when we met at Badentart Pier accessible at all states of the tide (and worth a shore dive in itself).  We dived from the MV Heron run by Andy Holbrow of Atlantic Diving Services.  My companions were a bunch of divers from Bury (Lancashire) which turned out to be Dave Savage's old club.  My first dive was on the mature wreck of the lnish Duror a timber carrier sunk in about 30 metres.  Visibility was relatively poor, the culprit being 'May water' plankton, but still good compared to the conditions I often encounter down south. The wreck lies flat on the sea bottom with its timber cargo still visible.  One can peer inside the engine room and examine the wheel house but I must confess to a patrol around the hull's perimeter snapping the marine growths before a leisurely retool to the surface.

Welcome cups of coffee were served by Andy as we emerged from the depths and, as we chugged away to our next site, he efficiently recharged our tanks from the bottle baI1k in the hold.  The bank is neatly in its turn kept topped up from a compressor run off the Heron's engine. This arrangement certainly cuts down those bottle stacks you usually get cluttering up dive boats.

Between dives we had a chance to eat snack lunches and admire the superb scenery.  Mountains loom over the coastal villages, some inland being snow capped in the cold conditions we had this year.  I was happy to stay in my drysuit and shelter occasionally in the spacious wheelhouse watching the echo sounder.  At times depths between the islands reach eye popping figures (over 100 metres at one point) rarely attained even by technical divers.

The second dive of the day seemed right up my street - a cave dive on Tanera Beg.  Much wittering from the rest of the dive party but this was an open water diver's cave - big enough to take a boat in and with airspace above.  In the swell surging back and forth our visit was fairly brief but sufficient to take in tile vari-coloured carpets of dahlia anemones trembling in tile current.  The kelp smothered gulleys descending from the cave were festooned with maroon feather stars, sun stars and big edible urchins.

Ambling into the rocky bottom at about 20 metres we could see thousands of brittle stars while on the bigger slabs were meadows of oaten pipe hydroids (Tubularia) covered in spawning nudibranchs.  Following tile skippers instructions and with no current to speak of we were able to dive without the encumbrance of SMB's and still be picked up rapidly after surfacing.

At day's end I darted down to Ullapool to do a shop discovering later I had bought identical supplies to the two Tony's.  Back at the hut I launched into a major culinary assault on TVP and vegetables which ended up as a not half bad spaghetti bolognaise - the remains were recycled through the rest of the week.  A combination of cider beer and whisky that evening gave me something of a hangover.  Meanwhile the work at The Poo Mine and Damoclean continued after an epic session transporting by wheelbarrow a gas powered generator drill etc. to the aforesaid Poo Mine.  Damoclean was going slowly apparently~ the lads seemed to be building a chamber and chasing an elusive draught.

Hangover or not I went diving again tile next morning.  Andy had planned a wall dive.  Described in Gordon Ridley's guide to diving in North West Scotland as 'not being a dive for the faint-hearted,' it lies on the shaded north side of Isle Martin at the entrance to Ardmair Bay.  We idled up the channel between mainland and the sheer lichen encrusted cliff’s which plummet straight to the water.  Buddies nervously discussed depths they were prepared to go to, tables and computers were earnestly discussed and torches checked.  We were dropped in at the cliff base where it was possible to perch on some convenient boulders before submerging.  Once we were in a short swim led us over slabs to the drop off.  Below us, instead of the normal darkly fading green was a daunting inky black 'stargate' void.  The shallower sections of the wall are studded with cup corals and the gleaming eyes of long armed squat lobsters twinkled in crevices.  In a slow motion free-fall we drifted down squirting air into our suits and buoyancy aids.  At 38 metres I could only determine my depth with my torch - we were in utter darkness.  Landing on a silt bank 1 decided to slowly retool although others passed the bank to more wall before turning back at 53 metres.  The water near the surface felt a delightfully warm 6 degrees on my return!

When I checked the site description at a later date I found the wall in fact drops to 143 metres which goes a long way to explain the sensations one gets from going 'over the edge'!

After some coffee and lunch to recover our shattered nerves we headed for the Fairweather, a relatively recently sunk trawler lying in about 20 metres.  The wreck is well preserved with all the superstructure present and cabins safely accessible to those confident about fuming in confined spaces.  Descending the shot one sees a ghostly white shape looming out of the emerald haze for the entire wreck is smothered in a fluffy shroud of plumose anemones, including the mast.  This was one of the most enjoyable wreck dives I have ever had and was only marred by the less than perfect visibility - those wretched plankton again.  After a leisurely fin around the deck I poked my nose inside the bridge to examine the navigation gear.  On deck the hoses still lie coiled in reels and most of the hatches are open and the hold accessible.

My final dive of the day was a working dive.  We had been asked to check the local salmon farm nets for holes.  Having been under a farm I was curious to see one at close quarters and plunged into the chilly waters for the third time armed with strands of string for any gaps we found.  It was quite odd watching huge shoals of salmon circling only inches away from.  It was also quite oppressive swimming up the narrow 'canyons' between the nets but made interesting by my noticing that the Tubularia encrusting the nets was providing a feeding ground for hundreds of tiny red gilled nudibranchs.

All in all it was an excellent couple of day's diving and has wetted my appetite for a further visit next year.  Incidentally the minimum number needed for ADS to do a dive trip is four.  As a single diver I was taking advantage of a space on a pre booked boat.

Arriving back at the hut that evening I found Gadget staring at the vivisected parts of his laptop which were strewn across the kitchen table.  Apparently he had tried to deliver some E-mail via the phone box across the road but found interference on his acoustic coupler.  He was now busily trouble shooting.  Muttering to himself he decamped to a bunk room with a pile of exotic electrical gear.  I started converting the spag. bog. into a curry with assistance from Jake and other members of the team as they drifted in from digging.  I'd brought up a bottle of sherry (Bristol Cream) which partly went into the curry.  Estelle decided to sample it after returning from the Alt.  ''It's not bad" she remarked after the third tumbler.  I warned her nobody drinks Bristol Cream and thinks it's OK.  We scoffed supper while Julian stuffed an almond smelling substance into copper tubes wearing a yellow rubber Marigold on one hand.  It wasn't dessert unless it was a variation of Bombe Surprise with Cordtex jammed in it.  Incidentally I discovered the next morning that writing the log can give you a headache if you use the wrong pen.  Estelle disappeared later and after some strange noises in a wash basin was seen to be lying in the recovery position in state of unconsciousness from which she didn't wake until the next day.  Moral: don't drink beer with Bristol Cream chasers.

During the previous day two Geordie roofers from Durness appeared.  They were working on a house in Elphin.  Their cooking style revolved round the frying pan which resulted in visibility being reduced to 2 metres by a dense fat haze and (on this evening) regular bleeps from the smoke alarm.  To add to the fun Mr and Mrs Trevor Knief appeared so things were getting cosy.  Down at the Alt Mrs. Trevor spent 30 minutes politely nodding to a totally incomprehensible local.

Mayday dawned.  Several of us headed to Lochinver for shops and a timber haul - why can you only find left-handed gloves?  Northern Lights was shut so bang went my sales pitch for Dr. Nod's Toxic Feet and their new album Death Defying Feet (want to hear it ask J-rat). Some yummy pies were purchased before Tony Julian and myself headed for RaIla which now looked like a BT manhole from which a giant black slug frequently emerged.  Much bucket hauling was achieved before Gadget could start drilling again.  Tony Julian and yours truly then headed for Claonite.  Pete noticed little bits of rock dropping through the entrance which was a prelude to a large boulder attempting to entomb Tony.  Some nifty work with some old props saved the day but it's all object lesson in how quickly something looking stable can turn into a death trap.  The three aspirants for Claonite 7 then zipped down to Sump Three Carrying bottles in dry grots - a chilly experience hence 45 minutes to the sump and 25 minutes out.  Back to Gadget and a satisfying boom before heading to the Inch and the rest of tile Damoclean diggers.

Estelle had planned a sea dive at Kylesku but drinks and diving don't mix so that was postponed. We drove back to the hut on a golden evening the roadside dotted with herds of deer.  While the spag. bog./curry was converted to chilli com carne Gadget put on his leather mask and massacred some manky logs with his chainsaw (his van's like a tekkie horn of plenty).  The rest of the evening seems to have passed in a pleasant haze.

Julian decided on a day of 'rest' i.e. not doing Claonite 7 so as the next day seemed nice to start with we nipped off to Lochinver for some money and pies before a walk up Ben More Assynt.  The Damoclean diggers went to Damoclean while the Tony's and Estelle relaunched the attack on the perched sump at the bottom of the Waterslide.

A steep trudge from Glenbain cottage straight onto the plateau was followed by a fruitless search for the remains of a plane which crash landed here over 50 years ago.  The occupants survived the landing only to die in the inhospitable terrain.  There is a memorial cairn which we also failed to find.  The weather started to deteriorate as we headed for Conival via a superfluous cairn which Julian proceeded to vengefully demolish.  At the summit of Conival sunlight breaking through the clouds produced dramatic views but the approaching clag from the north looked ominous.  We scrambled along the ridge to Ben More Assynt over some interesting snow. During lunch on the summit it began to snow in earnest and the climb off was made in 20 yard visibility while being blasted by frozen rain carried on a force 6 wind.

Down the bealach from Conival things started to clear so we made a detour round Cuil Dubh which I confess to never having visited before.  The flood overflow channel was impressive and the Cave of the Deep Depression was possibly open Julian thought.  We gradually wended our way back to the Inch where Estelle was saving herself for me with orange juice.  An evening dive seemed to be on the agenda.

The golden evening light was magnificent as we dropped down to Kylesku.  The tide was in water was slack and the sun was out. Excellent for diving but unfortunately after two attempts Estelle gave up trying to clear one obstinate ear.  I cruised down to 35 metres past some car wrecks and hand basins (dug the Salvador Dali taps which had feather stars growing off them) got mildly and transiently narked then returned for a welcome pint ferried out from the bar by Tony Boycott.

Having changed Tony and I were asked to perform impromptu surgery on a man in the bar who had rammed a large splinter into his finger (we blame J-rat for informing all and sundry that we were doctors).  We pleaded lack of equipment so the reluctant patient was dragged into the kitchen by the chef (hope he wasn't the one from the Muppet show).  Some grilled langoustines appeared later - no connection.

The next morning Julian had run out of excuses so the 3 amigos headed for Claonite.  Rapid progress in low water was made to the Sump where two things happened.  My HP hose was noticed to be leaking and Tony couldn't clear his ears.  Yes, you've guessed, I got Tony's valve and Tony took an early shower.  Many thanks Tony for use of the valve.

The other side of Sump 3 the desperate duo dragged bottles and weights camera, smoke bomb and first aid kit to Sump 5 which turned out to be a free dive.  There was a substantial inlet stream flowing into the sump from the far side.  As neither of us had ever been in the Treen Scene 5 minutes search for it ensued following by solid cursing at its point of entry.  To cut a long story short we were eventually assembled at the true Sump 6. This turned out to be an easy dive in a trench made difficult only by Simon Brooks' snoopied boulder at the far end. The chamber at the far end is gobsmacking after the narrow confines of Claonites 4 to 6.  After a brisk dekit and a couple of oatcakes we set off downstream.

Rounding some boulders I realised I was at the base of Belh Aven and, simultaneously that something sinister was coating the floor and walls next to a section of smashed drain pipe. Real X-files stuff this or if you're older, Quartermass meets Goon.  What has happened is that the blood Goon's spilled has given life to a filamentous mould which is just wailing for him to reappear.  The speed at which its developed leads me to warn him that it may have teeth when he gets there.  Of course a sample of this would be of interest.  After penicillin what next - an antibiotic extracted from a mould growing on the blood of a Scottish cave diver in a remote Sutherland system? Reminds of that number - Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict (Ummagumma - Pink Floyd 1969).

After a bouldery trip into Belh Aven to take photos we ambled downstream following the wide sloping bedding passage to a point where a large funnel shaped void was entered. The silt slope was circled to a scramble through large suspended boulders onto a ramp and superb waterfall which rivals those at the bottom of the Waterslide in height and width.  The stream sinks in the floor and a low tube leads down a 4 metre pitch into continuing streamway and Sump 7.  After some abortive attempts to get one of the slave guns working we made our way up to the aforementioned void.  Climbing up the side opposite the stream past boulders covered in fragments of old vegetation we entered passage reminiscent of East Bloc - the start of the Great Northern Time Machine.  This really was impressive with massive silt banks and some very nice splash and stal. deposits.  Either taping or a path needs to be put in because although as has been stated footprints do leave a trail it is not always as obvious going one way as another.  Several photos and a tour of the vicinity later saw us heading upstream along the low wide fossil passages.  We found Legless Highway and scuttled along it noticing a small stream inlet entering on the right from a boulder choked tube.

Back on the main drag I had just remarked to Julian that we didn't know where the bones were when he spotted one and then delivered the immortal words, 'And you are standing on one!' Five minutes were spent building a great wall around the remains and in the process Julian found the skull, noteworthy for the huge ridges around the eyes.  Unfortunately much of the jaw had gone so somebody will need to hunt out the teeth next tune.  Photographs were taken and came out fairly well.

Checking the time we realised it was time for fireworks so a rapid return was made to the sump pool where after a ceremonial eating of Angie's apple cake and some more photographs Julian rapidly hurled himself into the sump leaving me to light an enormous smoke bomb.  Fully kitted I read the instructions and tentatively rubbed the sandpaper across the black blob on the top.  There was a splutter and 'whoosh' followed by a Vesuvian plume of smoke which shot alarmingly from the vent tube.  I waited no longer but followed Julian's example and dived.  In fact I was in such a hurry I realised, surfacing at the far side, that I hadn't seen the line for the whole sump!

The trip out was the expected plod but we managed to get all the kit out in one go.  Sadly we were 20 minutes out with the smoke bomb and everybody had cleared off the hill although an imminent conection seems unlikely as Julian poked his head in Rana on the way home without seeing anything.  We changed in daylight but the weather did the usual dirty by swapping blue skies for snow on the way home.

We opted for curry at the Alt that night in view of an anticipated invasion by Glaswegian climbers and Aberdonian cavers.  Arriving back at the hut I shovelled in antacids and a sleeping pill and bunked down. Even Richard Blake jumping on me from the top bunk that night failed to faze me.  Jake got a shock when he pitched into his usual pit - on top of 2 Aberdonians who were probably only marginally less confused than he was.

The next day looked nice. A walk seemed on the agenda and I suggested Sandwood Bay reputed to be one of the best beaches in Britain.  Tav Julian and Estelle thought this sounded a sound move so off we went.  To get there drive north then take the Kinlochbervie turning and keep going until you see the signpost and car park.  A 4 1/2 mile plod across a rather featureless landscape led to the bay. Said to have a haunted bothy, Sandwood Bay has a superb setting.  A small loch feeds past a dune system onto a broad 2 mile long beach of white sand backed by 60 metre cliffs.  To the north, Cape Wrath lighthouse can be seen peeking from behind a low hill while an interesting sea stack guards the southern end.  Behind the bay looming white capped in the distance was Foinaven. Hardly a soul could be seen as we sat munching pies on a convenient rock.

Lunch completed we headed for the southern cliffs passing the tracks of a lone seal which had obviously basked for a while before chasing the falling tide.  Under a cloudless sky we tramped along this wonderful coastline stopping to study the sea stack which proved to be covered by the inevitable climbing tapes before making our way slowly inland and back to the car pausing to admire immaculate views of Foinaven, Ben Arkle and Ben Stack. ‘Funny how they named all those mountains after racehorses' remarked Tav as we sauntered into the evening sun.

Another curry at the Alt brought us back to an even more crowded hut and the appearance of Goonlet who would like it to be known that she is called Susan Jeffreys and has a shirt with her name on it to prove it!  She seemed to be a shaving from the same plank as Goon so we warned her about the thing in Claonite 7 (especially as Goon does not like 'things').

My log began to fade about Saturday - about when Simon Brooks and Mike O'Driscoll appeared - no connection I am sure.  Mike and Simon decided on a trip into Claonite on the Sunday and we laid ambitious plans to do Northern Lights on the Monday after I'd 'sorted' the line out in the Waterslide Sump.  The diggers went digging and Tony Boycott and I headed for the Waterslide with bottles, a dry suit, drills and stuff in cylindrical packets.

Delicately I inched my way to the sump wearing my nice clean dry suit and while Tony drilled I kitted up with some difficulty. Once into the sump apart from buoyancy problems the dry suit gave me a definite psychological edge.  Simon's reel was tied on and reeled out to a belay point where two more lines were visible.  One orange one led to a cut end and was the washed in end from the main belay at base while Pete Mulholland's original line led onwards securely belayed from the break point.  I followed the sump to a gravel slope and then over a slab to the left.  Keeping Pete's line at arms length I manoeuvred to the left and in deteriorating visibility suddenly popped into a hole in the floor feet fist.

'Great, '1 thought: I've passed the constriction but how do I get out.' as I clung to another frayed and cut end of line.  The line in, clearly stoutly belayed, was, however, running through a letter box like slit.  To add to the fun one of my fins came off and disappeared.  The dry suit helped.  I sat patiently for a minute and as the current washed the silt away saw the way out to my right and a few seconds later was back in spacious sump passage. Picking up the line reel and broken orange line I returned to base retied the belay and decided to check out the route once more - as much as I could do with my now low air reserves. The next day we tried making the base belay even more flood proof but we'll only know how that's worked after some really wet weather.

On the way out Tony banged the dig - nice reverberating boom.  Having finished early Tony and I drove over to Lochinver for air and then on to Achmelvich Bay where the limpid waters had persuaded one brave young lady to take a dip.  I congratulated her on her bravery.  Morticia the bar maid in the Inch was missing when we called in and sensing an imminent punch up between the barman and a stroppy customer some of us left.  A TVP casserole with sautéed spuds by Julian rounded the day off.  Estelle was heard muttering about wanting 'real meat' as she headed for the Alt.

Simon and Mike reappeared in the dead of night having brought out some vertebral fragments from Claonite 7.  Simon passed Sump 7 finding 20 metres of canal in Claonite 8 ending in a deep dark sump with no belays.  He returned to find an almost hypothermic abraded Mike who definitely needs a new wetsuit!

The Damoclean diggers were feeling chuffed.  They had abandoned their main dig and located the way on - unfortunately through some hanging death.  It's only a matter of tune before a breakthrough here is made.

On my last day we revisited the Waterslide with Eric and friend from the Alt.  More banging was carried out with Eric pressing the button and then I made the mistake of following the two Tony's into Tree Hole. Never will I moan about my Devon dig. 30 metres of flat out crawling and squeezing in old peat ended in a short bit of hands and knees stuff a glimpse of streamway and a choke.  A bit of Sutherland I am happy to pass on in future.  Still I did get the piccies.

The caving day ended with a good drenching at Waterfall Rising to clean off kit.  Earlier in the day an unsuspecting trout fisherman minding his own business in the same pool had turned to find a fully kitted Simon Brooks ask if he could dive in a corner of same pool.  He was heard later in the pub telling an incredulous audience how the diver had ‘just disappeared'.

An early night to pack the car was followed by a start south the next day in the frozen dawn.  The drive back was as smooth as the drive up enlivened during the later half by Estelle's newly purchased classic rock selection.

Over to you Tav!  I haven't mentioned possessed cheese, Brevilles or your secret life.

Peter Glanvill May 1996



Song - Bottom That Hole

This song was 'performed' by 'The Belfry Boys' at the CDG 50th celebrations, to the sound of impending lawsuits.  We figured if we're gonna get busted for it, we might as well make it worthwhile and publish it too.  Why settle for slander when you can have libel as well??

'Bottom that Hole'

Tune: Fathom the Bowl (Trad.)

Come all you bold heroes lend an ear to my song,
We'll sing of cave divers - it should not take long,
There's many brave divers have been down below,
And at some of you we will now have a go,
We'll now have a go, We'll now have a go,
We think you might recognize some people you know.

We'll start off with Balcombe, a very nice bloke,
But not the one sung of from down Rodney Stoke,
He started cave diving down in Swildon's sump,
He breathed all his air from a bicycle pump. (not),
A bicycle pump, A bicycle pump, .
Him getting the credit gave Jack Sheppard the hump.

So what then of Sheppard when he had a look,
We've read all about it in Martyn's big book,
He got disconnected and lost his hosepipe,
Despite all the bubbles his language was ripe.
His language was ripe, his language was ripe,
He cursed the equipment - a load of old Cripe. (Sic).

So then some years later came Buxton and Wells,
All dressed up in rubber to cover the smells,
They dived at the Mineries and frightened the coots,
Buxton wore flippers * and Wells he wore Boots.
And Wells he wore Boots, and Wells he wore Boots,
The smells we referred to - Old Farts in wetsuits.

(* Yes we know they're called fins and that flipper was a Dolphin - but it didn't Scan.)

Now Grass he do disturb me as I lay supine,
He says 'Morning Men' - in his nasal whine,
A diving examiner - put beer in his glass,
When you take your test you're assured of a pass.
Assured of a pass, assured of a pass,
But we all think privately he's a pain in the ............. !

Now talking of Martyns there's another one here,
And some say its not just his methods are queer,
Dived in 'Damn near killed I' and out through Elm Hole,
In Wales's green valleys he's digging Farr Coal. *
He's digging Farr Coal*, he's digging Farr Coal, *
We think he's been drinking that beer Felinfoel.
(* Try it... we dare you!)

Now Charles George and Brian found Oxygen Pot,
A fait accomplis despite water not hot,
Van der Graaf generated power we know,
Was this how he lit up his hand held A.F.L.O.
His hand held AF.L.O.his hand held A.F.L.O.
Without which he'd never find his way out of O. (F. D.)

Well Savage and Wooding and Drew (Now old men),
Were certainly quite independent back then,
They studied at Bristol and learned how to spell,
The words that they used to describe O.C.L.
Describe O. C. L., describe O. C. L.
But this was long after they had found Swildon's Twel (ve).

We'll now sing of Crossley - a Yorkshire'" man he,
Filmed rescue in Dido's for thee Bee Bee See ...
He answered the three nines emergency call,
No mug shots - just three words, Huh - it's not much at all,
It's not much at all, It's not much at all,
No fame for a lad thought so handsome, but small.

('" Again 'Lancashireman' didn't scan. As I explained to 'Mr C ' - Scanning is something 'Northern scum' doesn't do!)

Now Carter and Cordingley dive in Malham Cove,
Their taste is impeccable in Wetsuits of Mauve,
Their finds down in Malham are from Heaven sent,
But John up in Derbyshire was MAGNIFICENT.!
He goes down so well- we suspect that he's bent. "'.!!

('" Read what you will into that. We of course refer to decompression sickness.  At least that's what our solicitor has advised us to say.)

Now your chairman Fish - he don't dive any more,
Just talks about bikes and God what a large Bore!!
He rides his Ducati to France for the Bol,
Not bad for an old fart who lives on the dole.
He lives on the dole, he lives on the dole,
Lifelong unemployment is his personal goal.

(No fear of lawsuits on that verse .... its all true!)


Any similarity to persons either living or dead is entirely intentional.  Any offence caused through these Iyrics ...... is a bonus.

The Belfry Boys Apologize Unreservedly to anyone they've left out. ... we'll get you later.  If you want revenge ...... it was all Fred's Idea ... !!

Copywrong.  Belfry Boys ™1996.

A 'Jingling - Dick' production for 2XS enterprises.

Return of the son of the film of the book of 'Spike'.

Yo' dudes it's Spike time again.  Seems The Belfry Boys have been vying with me for who can get the most lawsuits filed against them this month.  They gave a fairly good account of themselves at the Wookey Hole Divers Shenanigans the other week and now have various people toting lumps of wood and crowbars etc. enquiring as to their whereabouts.  Well if you don't upset a few people you aint doing it right eh??

One of the sights on the night was Estelle 'Poured into' a leather miniskirt - or was it sprayed on ??? I think it raised the pulse rate and temperatures of a few of the 'wrinklies' present.!!

A little birdie tells me that on his birthday dive at Wookey Hole, Mr Buxton experienced a few problems with his Wings' Buoyancy Compensator and had to be 'rescued' by Jingles before he became stuck to the roof near the 'lip' at Ch 11.  Various comments involving divers and water wings spring to mind at this point!!!

The club dinner this year will be organised by Jingles, Jeff and Babs .... watch this space for details of booking forms, venue etc.

Ross White is off on his travels .... America then possibly New Zealand.  There is a 'climbing weekend' in Cornwall to 'see him off. Any decent gossip about this will be dutifully reported I'm sure.

Rumour has it that Andy & Ange Cave have returned from Mexico along with vast amounts of 'Ethnic Stuff' ... work that out yourselves.  Doubtless they will have many tales to tell, some of which are bound to end up in print in this journal.

We've finally managed to get rid of Peter Bolt!!!  As I understand it he's off to Kurdistan, or some such godforsaken place, mining for humbugs or something.  He is unlikely to reappear for two months or so .... 1 suggest you make the most of this rare opportunity.!!!

Lastly ... Priddy Folk Fayre is upon us once again. 14/15/16 June.  An event usually well attended by BEC members.  Weekend tickets or day tickets are available from Jingles or Brian Prewer.  The Friday night lineup includes Cantoris (Belfry Boys + 2), Fastest to Canada and the Yetties.  Rob Gray will MC the Saturday Concert and there is also a Barn Dance with 'the Backroom Band' (Jingles/Alfie and the Miller/Carter contingent.)

If you’re around that weekend its well worth pooping up to the village hall.  The beer tent will be Manned by Alan Butcher and probably populated by the likes of Trevor Hughes. (Somehow that comes as no Surprise.)

That's it for now. See you soon ..... 'Spike'.


Priddy Green Sink Connects!

Stop Press!

After 38 years of climbing, digging, and blasting the connection was finally made on 5th June 1996. An exchange trip was made by Rich Blake, Mike Willet, Adrian Hole and Brian Woodward (SMCC) who went from the Sink to Swildon’s Hole and Ivan Sandford and Tony Jarrat who did it the opposite way.  Both parties took under 3 hours and then spent about the same time celebrating!

It is a trip for the connoisseur.

A full report with surveys and history will follow as soon as possible

Tony Jarratt




The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: John Williams

1995 - 1996 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Ivan Sandford
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Estelle Sandford
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Floating                   Hilary Wilson


Disclaimer And Apology

Due to the facts that

a)       my computer is down and I'm using Dick-Freds on very short notice

b)       that I have to get this to the printers tonight or it won't be out in time

c)       I have been in hospital all day and have bugger all time left. ..

there is no contents page ....

There is little other than the committee reports for you to read in the small room

I can only apologise for the above.

I had wanted to do a decent sized issue but alas this is not to be.

Hopefully the next issue and editor will make up for this.

Regards to all ....... Jingles.


So we reach the final BB of the club year - which follows the last in quick succession due to the fact that I want to print the committee reports and thus save hours of waffle at the AGM.  (Well that's the theory anyway).

Of note this time is the fact that Sean Chaffey and Sharon Penney - have got married.... congratulations go to them, along with my apologies for not making the festivities. This due to the fact that I was organising

Pete Mulholland's stag night.  Although not a BEC member Pete is known to many of us through the Grampian connection. A strippagram was ordered for him at the Wessex .... Mike York thoroughly enjoyed it!!

Best wishes to Pete and Myrna.

J-Rat, Jane, Babs & Jeff have been in the states at the International Speleo symposium thingy, doubtless we'll hear all about it upon their return.  As well as the planned trip to Carlsbad Cavern.

On the digging front, Alex Gee continues to progress in Wookey 22 up some godforsaken aven he's happily been blasting the buggery out of, he tells me its looking good.

There is still interest in upstream Wigmore from Blakey & Co and there seems to have been quite a few Priddy Green - Swildon's round trips going on.

Brian Prewer tells me that the pumping station is now on permanently so this will affect the water levels in Swildon's Hole i.e. they will now be low.

The tackle situation is a bit dicey at the moment (See also Tacklemaster's report) and I would appeal to any members who have club tackle to please return it ASAP.

Can I remind you that I will need Dinner orders for the club dinner as soon as possible in order to confirm numbers with the hostelry management?  The order forms were on the back page of the last BB which you will have received a couple of weeks ago.

I can't think of anything further at present save to say that this is probably my last editorial - I'll actually miss doing these believe it or not!!

I don't know if 'Spike' has anything further to say as he hasn't been in touch for a while.  Maybe he'll give me something before I go to press.

Anyway regards to one and all, see you at the AGM.

Good Caving ......... Jingles.


Hut Engineer’s Report

We have attempted to have four working weekends this year.

The first one had five people turn up, and the hut was well spring cleaned.

The second one was cancelled due to poor publicity and bad timing .

The third one was a great success, 17 people turned up and we managed to paint the main room, corridor and outside walls, fit two windows, (almost in one piece!!), the washing bay (or patio!!) was finally concreted, only a year later), the guest bunk-room door was temporarily repaired and the place was generally tidied up.  The barbecue (organised by Mr N.) was much appreciated.

The fourth one was really well supported!!  One non-member turned up in the morning and fitted the new shower, (only two years after it was bought) - many thanks Steve, and welcome to the club.  A couple of others helped after lunch to clean the hut up.

Many thanks to the 19 individuals who turned up to help on the various working weekends, your work was much appreciated.  (19 out of the total memberships not many is it??)

There are still plenty of jobs that still need doing in the Belfry.

The priorities are:

Treating & Painting the main room floor

Treating or painting all the woodwork

Fixing the felt on the porch

Rear barge-boards (repair or replace)

Rear guttering

Replace the two fire-doors

Fit a 'fence' around the boiler

Tidy up workshop

Tidy up tackle shed

Fit new cistern for toilet by font door

Kitchen plumbing on gas rings needs replacing

Fit the rest of the kitchens surfaces with stainless steal

Some of these jobs really need doing this side of the winter.

If anyone can supply any materials for any of the above jobs, please let me or next years hut engineer know.

Just remember whose club it is, it doesn't repair itself!

Estelle Sandford


Membership Secretaries Report

Firstly I would like to thank all those members of the club who have managed to excel themselves in paying late again this year, causing me no end of irritation and headaches trying to get the membership list as complete as it can be at the time the B.B. goes to press.  Yet some of you who pay late then moan you don't get your B.B's on time if at all. Oh dear, how sad, what a shame I say.

New membership cards were finally issued.  It seems that the S.W.C.C will not be letting anybody down O.F.D. if they are not a member of a recognised caving club so you can show it to them if they don't believe you. There are various other organisations you can claim exchange rights for and a membership card should ease any dispute to this.

This year I was looking at changing the cut off date for renewing your membership to the end of the year, only to find after consulting the clubs constitution that it already had been reduced by a previous A.G.M. and that in fact I had been allowing some of you to receive the clubs excellent magazine many months after you should have. This won't be happening again if I get re-elected.  If you haven't paid your subs by the end of the year you will get no more B.B.'s after the Christmas issue.

Unfortunately we had another spot of bother with members going beyond what the committee feel to be the level of decent behaviour and the committee had to suspend three members of the club, one of whom was a probationer.  One of those suspensions has now been removed, the other two sill being in force until they present themselves before the committee.  I am happy to report that one of the suspensions from last year has been removed earlier than its expiry date because of the good conduct of the member concerned.

In general I suppose membership things have been quiet, we had a bit of a blitz with six new members joining the club in the first two months of the year and one more joining at the August committee meeting so I hope you will extend a warm welcome to them all.  Yet we have an overall drop in membership because there have been more lapses in renewal than new membership applications.  At the time of writing this report we have 148 paid up and Life members.

I am still looking for a computerised database package which will ease the handling of name and address details and the production of membership lists, so if any of you computer buffs out there have any ideas please let me know I am always open to suggestions.

I will close now with many apologies for the length of this report and my thanks to J-Rat for the sterling job he does in distributing the B.B,'s for free reducing the overall cost to the club of the production of each issue.  See you at the A.G.M.

Richard Stephens (Dick-Fred) Membership Secretary.


1996 Tacklemaster's Report

This year has not been any different from previous years.  There is still a chronic shortfall on ladder availability.  See inventory.

Generally very little ladder construction has taken place.  This has been due to personal problems as well as a lack of funds and our low rung stock.  I am trying to rectify the situation with a bulk cheap purchase.

Next year we hope to build six more ladders (this will exhaust the existing rung stock) and possibly some fixed steel ladders for digging purposes.  These will be 5' X 9" (sod the metric system) boltable std sections.

All three survey kits have been well used this year.  2 kits are in fair condition while one requires some cleaning and reconditioning.

I personally intend to run for the Committee this year whether as Tacklemaster or not depends on general opinion.

It would be good to see you members taking an interest in the running and goodwill of the club.

With regards to the change of access in the tackle store, perhaps the AGM could discuss the issue.

I feel that initially there was a general improvement, but this situation has tailed off in recent months.

Now for the facts…        



11 accounted for



10 accounted for




12 accounted for

6 ladders in stock

5 booked out

12 missing

3 in stock

7 booked out

13 missing

2 in stock

2 booked out

8 in various 'digs'

11 missing

It seems that the average per month is 11 missing or being held wittingly or unwittingly by club members. This is sad as the majority of members do book kit in and out.

As an addendum can I say that I feel the club ought to put its past differences behind it and move forward cavers and diggers together to make this club strong and vibrant again.

Mike Wilson.


Total previous ladders                 19

Total scrapped                            3

New manufactured                      4

1 spare added                             1

Total 1996                                 21

August stock count…..

Accounted for                             8

Missing                                      9


Spreaders                                  4

Belays                                       6


8 spreaders and 5 belays missing.

Stock rope count August……..

1X75'     dyn


1X75' dyn

1X120' dyn

N.B. Missing means not in tackle log.

Exploration stock 1996.  

Stock ladders    1

1 transferred to tackle store.











Tackle bags 6

Rope protectors 4

Survey kits 3 (1 under repair)

The spare expedition store ladder will be moved across to the Belfry tackle store and labelled 'for St Cuthbert’s use only'.

---Let's hope it survives the Idiot users.


1995/96 Hut Warden's Report

Officer: Ivan Sandford

I hereby submit the annual Hut Warden's report to the members of the Bristol Exploration Club.

This report has been compiled to review hut income and discuss the club's progress during 1995/96 and prospects for future years.

The schedule attached illustrates the income received from the hut, together with details of other revenues that have been collected from the Belfry safe.  The 1996 figures relate to the year ended 7 August 1996, whilst the comparatives relate to the year ended 7 August 1995.

Note: These dates do not fall in line with the club's accounting period and therefore will not agree with the disclosure in the accounts.

From the table it is immediately apparent that the Belfry has suffered a bad year on the hill.  The number of guests staying at the hut has plummeted by 35%.  This can be attributed to three factors.

1. Reduction in visitors to Mendip.

We are not the only club to be faced with a marked decline in the number of people visiting Mendip. Student groups account for a high proportion of the guest fees.  The student caving clubs are increasingly feeling the financial pressures of restricted grants and reduction in sports club funding.  In addition to this, other caving areas have increased in prominence. The discovery and continued exploration and extension of Ogof Draenan has increased interest in South Wales in particular.

2. Competition from other club huts

We are meeting increasing competition from other clubs, especially the Wessex.  The Wessex have undertaken extensive work on their country club in the past year, including installation of a stainless steel kitchen (yuk!).  Admirable work has been undertaken on the Belfry in the past few months by Estelle et al. This work has covered some much needed maintenance and made the hut a more pleasant place, but it has not substantially improved the service that the Belfry offers.  With a reduced market the Belfry can no longer afford to be complacent. It must form a strategy on how to compete, or it may become a liability and constant drain on resources better spent elsewhere.

3. Reduction in Hut policing

Due to pressure of house & work etc, I have not been able to give as much time to my post as I would have liked, nor been able to chase after people who have forgotten to, or not been willing to, pay their hut fees.  In my opinion, it is up to every member who stays at the club to ensure that all occupants have documented their visit.  Every bed night that an individual stays in the hut without paying is costing the club £1.50 or £3.00.  This soon adds up and reduces the funds available for the important things in life, like equipment.

The movements in other income show a good increase in revenue from CCC permits.  It seems that this year most of my time at the Belfry has been spent filling in permits and giving out keys.  I suppose it serves me right for living and working so conveniently close.  However, it does help to emphasise that the system of retaining the tackle store key in the key cupboard can easily work.  This protects the tackle in the store whilst maintaining it's accessibility by the nearest key being situated at Glenview (Andy Cave, Angie Cave and Andy Sparrow's ex-residence, sans hangers) or Priddy Garage.  Perhaps now all the SRT rope can be moved into the store, where club members will have better access to it.

One other point on permits. Maybe we should consider charging a nominal administration fee per party, as does another club less than a rocket flight away!

Cuthbert's fees have also increased mainly due to Chris Castle, who must easily account for 70% of the fees received.  Keep 'em coming Chris!

It can be seen from the table that the telephone revenue has increased.  However, the figures shown have not been adjusted to reflect the lowest point of the year.  At some point in June or July someone managed to pick the lock on the telephone and stole the contents therein, amounting to £62.60. It would be futile to accuse anyone of this act, as the suspects in all fairness should include every member who holds a key to the Belfry.  To avert a witch hunt, and as I feel so guilty that there was so much money in the phone, it being my job to empty it, I am donating £30 towards the phone bill. To ensure that this does not happen again, I shall see if I can construct an additional brace for the telephone, to improve its security.

It has been one of those years.  What is more, with demand for caving accommodation on Mendip decreasing, we must find new ways of ensuring that the Belfry stays on the map in the future. The BEC does not need to promote itself, but for the sake of its members it must promote its hut.  Already some active cavers are threatening to join the Wessex, due to lack of tackle and general support from their club.  This situation must stop, and with the help and guidance of the club's members, both old and new, it will.

Finally, thank you to the people who have made the hut a more hospitable place.  Well done Estelle et al.  My greatest thanks go to Becca without whom my job would have been almost impossible.

BEC Income Summary


Hut Usage


% of Hut Total income

% (Decrease)/Increase























































 Hut Totals









 Hut fees as %

 of total income








 Other Income









 Cuthbert’s Fees









 CCC Permits









 Cuthbert’s   Reports













































 Total Income










Belfry Bulletin Editors Report.

This year has been an interesting one for me in my capacity as editor and committee member.

I have had difficulty with the distribution of the BB for various reasons to do with time and professional commitments.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr 'N' the Hon. Sec. for taking on part of the distribution in addition to his own responsibilities ... Thank You Nigel.

I have done my best to catch up with the backlog, but if anyone is missing copies, please let me know, I have a small stash of spares.  My thanks also go to Dick-Fred for keeping me updated with the membership lists and to Tony Jarratt who has once again done a sterling job distributing the local copies.

There has been a good response from the membership with regard to articles, including much foreign stuff.  As I have always said, it is YOUR bulletin and it is only as good as the articles YOU write.

I have had a number of complaints from individuals who seem to think they should receive the BB regardless of whether they pay subs or not.  Some of these have been quite personal and although I do not wish to name people I’m afraid I have little sympathy.  If you want BBs ... pay your subs!!!

As I have come to expect, I have come in for an amount of criticism for the way I produce the journal and again have been surprised how personal some people are prepared to make their comments.  In one sense this is water off a duck's back but in another a little upsetting.  It seems that people forget that committee members don't get paid but give their time voluntarily.

There have also been the usual problems of members and committee members assuming that I will tailor publication deadlines to suit their ideas ..... dream on .... this is the real world and there are more people in it than just you. (Unless I've got it wrong and the world really does revolve around you .... but I don't think so!)

What has really irked me this year, though, is the criticism that has gone on behind my back from various souls.  My answer is, if you think you can do better - then put up or shut up!  Well now is your chance as I do not wish to edit the BB next year.

The main reason for this is that I do not know where my personal and professional life is going to take me in the next twelve months and I don't want to take on the BB if I can't guarantee providing the best service I can.  The editor’s post requires much time commitment and I don't know if I'll be able to do it this year.

Having said which, if there are no other viable takers I would be prepared to give it a go rather than leave the club in the lurch.  I also feel I would rather quit while I’m ahead, having held the post for three years and, in general, enjoyed doing it.  I am happy to stand for the committee in another capacity, e.g. floating member, if the club sees fit to vote this way .... guess that's up to the membership.

I have had to do much soul searching on various committee matters during the year, which has not been easy but I now know this goes with the territory and will not complain about it.

Whatever the outcome of elections etc., it has been my pleasure to serve the club these past three years and I will look back with fond memories.  I will hopefully continue to enjoy many years of BEC membership, if not committee posts.

Thank you to all those who have helped me - even if only to say you like what I do with the BB - encouragement goes a long way .... a lot further than bitching!!!!

Finally I would like to thank my fellow committee members for their support and friendship and in most cases, constructive criticism.  We all have our reasons for taking on posts and I think that the vast majority of this years' committee were there for the right reasons.

If I don't serve next year I wish the ensuing committee all the best and would help any future BB editor as best I can.


The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: John Williams

1995 - 1996 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Ivan Sandford
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Estelle Sandford
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Floating                   Hilary Wilson



Hello Folks ....

B.B. time again. Firstly there is some business to take care of, namely it will soon be time for the AGM, hardly seems like a year since the last one does it?  I therefore must request from all committee members that they send me their annual reports as soon as possible in order that I can publish them in the next BB prior to the AGM thus saving much time on the day.

Also on this subject I wish to inform the club that I would like to stand down as BB editor this year. I have held a committee post for three years now and have given much time to the club.  I feel that if I continue now I would not be giving my best and I would rather retire on a pleasant note.  I hope there is someone out there interested in doing the BB next year; I have heard mumblings in the pub to this effect.  I will refer to this further in my report next issue.

The annual dinner is set for the night of 5.10.96, and will be at the Cross Ways in North Wooton see the back page for booking forms.

Please note that tickets are ONLY obtainable by booking in advance - there will not be any 'spares' on the night.. ... BOOK NOW to avoid disappointment.


Not much to report clubwise for several reasons, firstly that I haven't been around on Mendip that much recently due to other commitments and also to the fact that it’s a quiet time of year anyway.

Good to see several members at the Priddy Folk Fayre in June, although not a caving event there are connections with MRO, I gather £100.00 was donated to the MRO from the takings.  Spotted outside the hall with a craft stall were Andy & Ange Cave - selling their 'ethnic products' - seriously - I never knew you could make rucksacks out of Hemp fibre!!!


Digging seems to be progressing as usual with continued interest in Ogof Draenen and of course the breakthrough in Priddy Green Sink.  Hopefully there will be articles forthcoming in the near future.

I hear that there are various projects afoot in Wookey Hole, the recent push on 25 suffered due to equipment problems but further attempts are planned.

Efforts are being made in the avens in ch 22.  I have yet to speak to those concerned to get details of progress.  Alex Gee informs me he has removed the boulder that was blocking progress and has gained another 20' of passage.  He has been being helped by Nick Mitchell and doesn't plan to do any more solo trips as the environment is somewhat committing.  (Beyond two long sumps and high up in Wookey 22 .... I should bloody say so .... ed.)


I am aware that this issue is somewhat smaller than usual - there's a rush to get it out and the next one will be a bumper edition

That's it for now as I have to rush to get this to the printers.

Good caving one and all.. ..... Jingles.


From the Belfry Table

Thursday 11th. July 1996!!!!. and its only 12 weeks to go to the AGM & Dinner on Saturday 5th. October 1996!

This year's dinner is being organised by Jingles, Babs & Jeff Price, please support them in their efforts as it requires much time and work to make your dinner an enjoyable experience.

Committee 1996/7:

Hon. Secretary herewith calls for nominations for election to the BEC committee, these must be in writing, and seconded by another member, and must be received by the Hon.Sec

no later than six weeks before the AGM in case an election is required.  Its' your club, why not play a part in its running and direction?

The position of Hon. Treasurer:

We have been well served over several years by Chris Smart, and unfortunately he now wants to stand down as Treasurer. Nominations are required now for this particular post, in order that the successful applicant can both run parallel to Chris now, and can go forward as a committee nomination for the post so that the clubs interests are ensured by certain election to that post.  Please indicate your interest directly to Hon. Secretary, you do not need any seconder now, as the committee will act later as such. You should be prepared to be co-opted onto the committee at an early date. Applications no later than Friday 2nd. August  1996, when a decision will be made.

1996 A.G.M:- Saturday 10.30 am. 5th. October 1996

Another famous Belfryite!

Hon. Sec.'s new found computer skills caused him to purchase the July edition of "PC Magazine”, where on page 30, an article caught his eagle eye featuring Mike Cowlishaw (No: 827 [1974]).  "A real challenge to Visual Basics' reputation as the universal programming language is to emerge from the unlikely source of IBM's Hursley Park research centre, following a Java-based breakthrough by IBM Fellow Mike Cowlishaw .... etc.etc".  Well done Mike, whatever this all means!

Priddy Green S(T)ink.

Congratulations to Jay-rat, Rich Blake, Ivan, and all .. now perhaps a sweeter digging site can be found, and the Hunters will be a fresher place!  Members should be justly proud of the efforts of the diggers in making, .. or should it be quarrying?. the long awaited connection into Swildons

Charterhouse Caves.

Remember you must have a valid permit to access these systems, all the old type are out of date, and you must comply with the access agreements.  Free to paid-up members, invalid if not!

Regards to you all, time to clear the table,

Nigel T.


Agenda For The 1996 Annual General Meeting

To be held at 10.30 am, Saturday 5th. October 1996, at "The Belfry".

1                    Collection of outstanding Ballot forms (Subject to there being more than 9 nominees).

2                    Election of the AGM Chairman.

3                    Election of Three Tellers (Subject to an election as above).

4                    Apologies for Absence.

5                    Minutes of the 1995 Annual General Meeting.

6                    Matters arising from the 1995 AGM.

7                    Hon. Secretary's Report.

8                    Hon. Treasurers Report.

9                    Hon. Auditors Report.

10                Caving Secretary's Report.

11                Membership Secretary's Report.

12                Hut Wardens Report.

13                Hut Engineers Report.

14                Tacklemasters Report.

15                B.B Editors Report.

16                Librarians Report.

17                Ian Dear Memorial Fund Report.

18                Result of the Committee Ballot, (If an Election has been held).

19                Election of Officer's for the 1996/7 Committee.

20                Destruction of Ballot forms (If an election has been held).

21                Members' Resolutions.

22                Details regarding the Annual Dinner Tonight.

23                Any other Business.

Nigel Taylor, Hon. Secretary 1995/6.


Wot i Did in mi sumurr holeedaz

buy jingulls
form 2b
the belfree borstul skool.

i did went to scotlund on mi sumur holeedaz with mistre OW Dirscull to doo sum dyving in thee cavs there.

i drived to yorksheer onna thursdee nite to stae with my frend helen at hur farm with hur dogz.

i coodnt do diving ther bcoz thee cavs were ful ov derty worter so i went to thee pub insted. Aftr that i did went too scotlund to see mi frend miyckle who livs in edinbru with sum more cav peeple from thur grampeen speelogillicll grroop, thay wur funee peeple they tor ked all diffrunt to me and were a bit mad, they did say see yoo jimmee and lots of wurds i dint no. The men in scotlund were dresses and no nickars a bit like the ladeez in Saint porls in Bristul that mr wi/sun is frends with, but thay dont Iy down for munnee tho like the gurls in Bristul doo. Myckle isunt scottich he iz orstayleen and he torks funnee too but i can unnerstan him bettur a bit cos hee is fat. he iz cor led blubber the bush kangroo, i dont no wot that iz but he plaes with a boomrang and sez cobber a lot.

We did go in scotlund mor me and myckle to go too the cavs in the north bit corled elting wher ther is a mad man corled gooon but wee dint see him pecoz he is braked his arm in ther cay and carnt go now.  We taked helins dogs with us for ther holeedaes too so they can have fun too. We gott to effing quiet late in ther nite coz it woz a longg wae to dryv in ther car and we is tiyud when we get ther so we went to slepe onna flore coz orl the beds is ful ov uthur peeple and Myckle did sae some rood wurds abowt them. hee woodn tell me wot a whankurr iz but sed that wun ov the peeple was a rite wun ov them.  The dogs dint wont to gosleep an they wer lying on myckle wiggling ther bottoms he sez that his girltren duz this an shez a dog too, i dint no wot he meenz. we did 10k them in ther car cuz thay wer bad dogz he sez an they wiggle ther bottomz on his leg too.

in the mornig we god to ullupowl to bie things an then carry them for myles to the cay corled clayonite it iz neer to a cay corled anus an Myckle sez it givz him ther rs howl.  We wer in ther clayonite cavan took orl ther dyving stuff to ther sump.  It woz hevee an ther woz lots ov worter an it woz co wId an Myckle sed a lot ov rood werds to ther worls. wee poot orl ther kit by ther sump for tomowow an did go owt agen and then clym down ther hi! agen to ther car.  We wen to ther pub cor led aline irinu Altnearlgr bugge.  We wen to ther pub aftur the cay in it woz Eric the lanloud he iz nyce man.  He givd me sum cowkcola an Myk hay sum bere. Mykle hay a lots ov bere an he start to wobll a lot an torks sillee.  Then he is sik an we go hom to elting. the dogz wiggld on his leg wen he wuz slepeng agen.

in ther necks day we gow to ther cay agen to dyv but myks wessoot is brokn an hiz botom is forling out ov it, i took a pchur ov it an Mykl sez anus iz cum to clayonite. he sed bolicks too. he iz norty man sumtymz. we worked down ther hil agen an lookt in ther strim for howls.  Myckle sez they is resuges or sunfing but its wher ther worter cum up owt in ther groun like at ther elifun trapp. ther dogz did swim here coz wee made them doo it . Myckle sez that teech ther bastids to shog his legs wen he is slepeng an he pix them up an thro them inna ther eltintraps and he larit lots.  We did fine sum mor hols in a strim beds and dugged out ther stons ther and fownd mor stons so wee dig them up too an fine evun mor stons an now ther hol is deep but it woz gud an we can go an dig sum mor with jayratt Myckle sez.

wee wen to ther pub i carnt spel agen an Myckl had mor bere but no asmuch as beefor.

wee wen to nokkers ther necks dae with sum peeple an i dyved inna sump inna worterslid but i carn fine a line sow i din go vere far. mi boot cum off inna worter sow i had to luk for it but i foun it ok. i climbe out up ther worterslid it woz wet an i fel ovur alot but it woz fun.  Mykl anaa peeple wen in ther othur bit ov nokkers sow i waytid for them inna sun with ther dogz but they din wiggle ther bottoms on my leg lik with Myckl.  I thing that thay like Myckle, he sez he alway get ther dogz but at lees thay shog. i dono wot shogging is but myckle sez he Iyks it wiv dogs. ther man inna pub sez myckle Iyk shogging sheeps too coz his orstraylien.

tonite we is tyrd so we gobbed erlee so we can go in clayonit tomow.

tomow we woz to tyrd to go inna cay so we did dryv orl over insted and we wen to klyskeskoo but ther boats woz in ther wae to dyv. we wen to 10k bolloch or sunfin onna dumbreg rode an dyvd ther insted.  It was cloudy inna wortter but kwyt deep i thing it woz 15 meeters an mi wate bel keept cuming off but its ok coz i pute it bak onna gane. wun ov my bottils gose negertivlee boyunt wen its emtee so i had wate on wun side not ther uthur an i swim roun on my side.  Myckle neerly dyed coz he woz larfing at me so much he breeth the worter. i thing he is Iyk ther dogs ... a bastid. i thing he iz a whankr to.

inna pub tnite ther man with ther gittar din come so i had too plae mine for ther peeple.  Eric sed he Iyk me to plae geetur mor for him so i will necks tym. then we wen hom to bed. i slip in my ten tonite coz myke wan to shog ther dogs agen. he carn fin sheeps in scollund.

ther necks dae we gow to clayonite agen.  Wen we gets ther Myckle sez his bak is hurting so he carn go inna cavan i hay to go on mi owun an get orl ther bottils an erverthing. I use his new wurd an sae BOLLIX to him he is not hapee.  I gon inna cay aneewae an i go on mi owun to ther sum three.  Wen i am ther i thing ill dyv an hay look at ther uther side of it. i use Mycks little bottil he corls zig. It is 2 leetur bottil an ver smal. Is good sump tho coz it goz down then it goz up agen an you cum out in a poowl inna chaymbur. If you gos furthur yoo can crorl under ther roes a long wae to unuthut sump but i din go ver far. I goz back inna sump three.  At ther botom ov it ther is sum bowldurs yoo can skwees thru an i foun a litel chaymbur ther, i don thing aneebudee foun it befor coz its nor on ther mapps at ther elfing howse so i thing i foun a noo wun. i wanoo corl it jinguls bel but myke sez i got mayuk shur nobudee foun it befor first. i hop not coz then i can drore it for ther mapps.  I wen fur nothur dyv to mayk shur i no wer it is fir necks time i thing its is 3 meeters long an too meeters hi an about fower meeters wiyed. inna corner it look Iyk a blak howl gon up but i coont see proplee coz ther worter is go orl clowdee an i dint wanna let go ov the Iyn or russel carter will be cross with mee an he is a big mann an i don wan him tobe cros with mee. Then i carid orl the stuf owt in ther yello bag an it woz hevey but i dun it ok. wen i cum owt myckle was lookin fer sheep to shog agen but he coon fin anee.  Probly ther dogs wood get jellus aneewae. we wen bac to elfing so i can pak ther car to go hom to yoksheer an tayk ther dogz bak to hellin. I din leev elfing till nine or clork an i woz tyred.  We wen to ther pub first to sae bye bye to eric an it woz merows berthdeed he iss sevntee todae. hape berthdeed merdow.  He is a nice man.  Myckle sez hes got a nyce but. he must werk out he sez. i dono wot he is torking abowt ... probly shogging agen i espect.

I dryvd alia wae to yorksheer an it woz ver late wen i got homo

Inna morning i goz to ingllspursts an bie things for dyving.  I seed my frens in ingleston then i wen- to ther hillin pub to see ther band. it woz gud.

Onna las dae i dyvd in hurtlpot with my frens stivn an nevell an hellins son kevin.  It woz ver col an my ear woont cleer proply an it hurt. ther dyv was a sortooth prowfiel wich mayks it bad for ther eers aneewae but i thing i hay som snot in my yoostayshin toob an my eers won go pop Iyk wot they shood. inna nite ther eer startid to hurt reely bad an i hay to goto horspiddle wen i cum home to sumaset. ther doktur get cross with me so i told him to piss off Iyk myckle done wen Eric sed about ther sheep . I dono wot this is but ther doctur got ver cross so i wen home.

i Iykt scollun ver much it is a gud plays to go for holeedaes an i lyk to go ther agen sune. Myckle sed if i bringa dogs agen he wil stick them wher the sun don shin.  I thing he meens in ther clayonit cay but im not shur.

it woz a ver good holeedae an i lernt abowt shogging an sellotape from myckle. he sez ther hamstur won burst if you put it in sellotape.  Thee en.


Wanted:  Photos

We now have a photo board and we need some photos to fill it.  If anyone has any Caving photos less than five years old, they can donate or lend to us, can you please send them to Richard Blake at Allen’s House, Priddy, Nr. Wells or Adrian Hole at the Chestnuts, Dulcote, Wells or drop then into Vat Products in an envelope labelled for one of the above.  We will be trying to update the photos on a regular basis, but that depends on you!

Donations are preferable so we can build up a photo album for the library when they are out of date for the board.

[If you wish to have the photos returned, please mark your name,  address, and that you wish them to be returned, and we will endeavour to do so (although being the Belfry there are no guarantees against damage so make sure you keep copies or negatives of any valuable shots).  Can you also send and S.A.E. if you are not local or an envelope with your name on it if you are local, either needs to be marked with the quantity you want returned.]

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: John Williams

Cover:  ‘Gonzo’ in Soft Rock Cruise (The Sand Swims) Daren Cilau
Photo by: Peter “Just One More” Bolt


1996 - 1997 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Becca Campbell
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Ivan Sandford
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Librarian                  Alex Gee
Floating                   Hilary Wilson

                               Estelle Sandford



Okay so here we are again, the first BB of the club year.  Hopefully from now on I will be able to produce a more satisfactory rag than the last couple of issues, given that I have more time on my hands and better computer access.

First off, as some of you will already know, I have moved.  I am now living in Very North Somerset....Chapel le Dale in fact...see address list at front of rag.  Its just conceivably possible if you are up my way that I could be found at the Hill Inn .... but don't listen to rumours ... they are often untrue.  Let me know if you are about though.

Sadly one of our oldest members passed away recently ... Dan Hasell.  He died peacefully whilst having a nap.  The club was well represented at the funeral and the turnout was a testament to the respect in which Dan was held.  I had only recently got to know the man but liked him immensely as did many of us I'm sure. It was rather nice that he had attended the club dinner recently.

I'm sure we would all pass on our commiserations to Stella at this time.

The AGM and Dinner were as usual….the AGM and Dinner.  For details see the minutes published later in this edition.  The dinner was held at the Cross Hands Inn in North Wooton and was attended by approx 100 people, a fairly good turnout considering it was the 61st year.  Malcolm Cotter of MCG was the guest speaker and provided an interesting slide show after dinner ... thank you Malcolm.

Snab proposed the toast to absent friends remarkably well considering Jingles had rigged the PA so he sounded like he'd been breathing Helium one minute and speaking in slow motion the next much to the hilarity of those present.  Added to which a rather inebriated Lil Romford was determined to find out what he had under his kilt.. .. work the rest out yourselves.

It seems a good evening was had by all and was only slightly marred by the absence of beer back at the Belfry afterwards.

What else???

Congratulations go to Dick-Fred and his New Wife Jacqui, married on 15.11.96 .... kept that one quiet didn't they.

Can't really think of much else at this stage.  I understand that work is still going on in Five Buddles and also in Barrow Rake when its dry .... keep me informed you guys.

Finally ... as usual I am in need of articles to publish, and am loathe to publish issues just for the sake of it....so those of you who moan that there aren't enough BBs .... this is your chance ... put pen to paper and write something this ish we have articles from Mr Wand Alex Gee ... thanks lads .... perhaps we could have a few more bits for the Xmas issue.

Anyway I'm off diving in Hurtle Pot now, which is a mere 5mins walk from my front door .... how sad eh???  No more freezing my B******s off.  Mind you Keld Head is still a bit of a hike .. (2 Miles) .. can't have it all though .... or can you???

See you all soon ...

Good Caving.



From the Belfry Table

I write this note with great regret, as it gives me no pleasure to inform the Membership of the passing of one of it's founder members, and a man who I have always regarded as "One of Life's Gentlemen".

Dennis (Dan) Henry Hasell Honorary and Life Member Number 4, died peacefully on Thursday, 24th October, 1996.

The Club I know will extend its deepest sympathy to Dan's beloved Stella, and as one of those fortunate enough to be able to attend his funeral at St. Mary's Church, Moorlynch on Friday  1st November,  there was some

pleasure at least in seeing nearly fifty BEC members from across the broad age spectrum from the club. Each person there, as well as those who could not attend, had been touched in same way by Dan's radiance. His sometimes gruff, but always well intentioned and far sighted advice and interest in club affairs will be missed by many.  His keen and intense concern in the welfare of the BEC, Cave Diving group and his Motor Club would be a hard match for anyone to follow.  We know that Stella will miss him, the BEC will miss him, you and me will miss him, for we have lost a true friend, farewell, and thank you Dan.

The BEC Committee 1996-1997, The Election, and the AGM.

If you were one of those thirty odd people who made it to the AGM, thank you!  If not, why were you not there please?  So few people actually attended, that for most of the AGM, we were not quorate, in fact for a period of some thirty minutes we actually became quorate, then people drifted away again, it will be necessary to adopt all the AGM business at the 1997 AGM as a result.  It is your club, your chance to have your say, if you could not be bothered to attend, then fine, but don't expect the BEC to make another sixty years, and don't gripe about matters at some later date. The 1997 AGM will be held at the Belfry at 10.30 am, Saturday 3rd. October 1997.

The 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, AGM's and Annual Dinners will always be on the first Saturday in October of each year. Have you understood that?  Make a note now in your diary, your head whatever, please, I am fed up with people saying "I didn't know the date of the AGM/Dinner so I missed it!"

Again as you will note from the AGM minutes, I was concerned with the poor response or return of voting forms.  These I had produced and passed out for circulation with the BB in the required time scale.  Many members said that they had not received them, but as I am assured that all of these were sent out, perhaps the Post office industrial action was to blame? The result is that all eleven contenders for the election were put-in by the floor of the in-quorate AGM as a caretaker committee for 1996-1997.  Now, though not constitutionally correct, as technically no meeting business can be held without the AGM being quorate, it would have been an insult to those same thirty odd individuals who bothered to attend if I had not started the AGM, and under Bob Cork's excellent chairmanship, we had not attempted to bring some order to the potential chaos that would have otherwise occurred.  The eleven member committee will continue to act as a caretaker committee unless members call for an EGM and fresh ballot, given that there are no objections, I am sure that these people will do their best for the club.

Nigel Taylor, Hon. Secretary.


Germany - Sauerland Notes.

Having tackled Bullshit Pot it was time to be serious for once.

Hilary and I were cordially invited to visit Helmut Posch his Wife and daughter and their home in Solingen.  They live near a limestone region called the Sauerland which is east of Dusseldorf and embraces the Towns of Wuppertal and Hagen on the West and Warstein and Brilon on the East of the caving region.  The area is approx 50K east of Solingen with Koln and Dusseldoerf being the two major cities.

We travelled from Bristol via the Ramsgate Ostende ferries, cheap at £110 return, including a cabin. From Ostende the most direct route is via Brussels and Koln, total mileage approx 430.

Within the region there are cheap air fares to Dusseldorf and cheap Bus and Tram fares locally based on a Zonal fee.

The areas we visited with Helmut and his family were Ennepetal and Wuppertal with one visit to Hagen.  In Ennepetal at the side of the road on the outskirts of town lies a caving system called Heilenbecke Hohle.  This is one of the larger systems "Well decorated and Locked." Helmut, myself, Annete and a local caver called Stephan took a trip in this system. 3915m in length.

The cave lies in a 10m thick bed of limestone capped with a layer of solid slate.  The limestone runs down dip and in several places the system has a slate roof with obviously interesting formations resembling what I call Hairy Armpits .. .'Most Unusual'.

At the end of the system, Stephan showed us some blue lakes, quite small but one is worth diving coz the local lads reckon it is the only way on!!  Perhaps this region holds more interesting caves worth diving.  I know of one more called Kluterhohle with an interesting water system as yet un-dived due to the owner not being co-operative.

The other caves in the region number about thirty of which 15 or so are worthy of a visit.  There are more caves being explored and surveyed at the time of writing.  Please note that anyone wishing to visit the region would be advised to contact the two main local clubs.

To carry on with the caving ....

Anther quaint trip is situated in the town of Wuppertal near the botanical gardens.  It is called Harthohle and the entrance is in a road near the gardens.  You have to stop the traffic in your oversuit (Only Mike Wilson could have traffic in his oversuit....ed) and hop in quick before you are run over like a passing frog!! Also there is more than one manhole so be sure you pick the right one or you'll end up in the sh**!!

At 4000m long the cave is a 2 dimensional maze still being dug and only recently linked between 2 levels. A new survey is being prepared at this moment.  I have seen the proof copy.  It is an odd system and route finding could be tricky due to the exit routes being small and hard to locate, whereas the central system has large interconnecting passages.  Well worth a visit even if only to try your skill at exiting in traffic.!!

Another interesting Arvo wander (What??? .. ed) is Kluterhohle .. .'Mainly for tourists'. The majority of the cave has been converted into a sanatorium for Athsma sufferers.  Although the system is fairly large it is only possible to visit a third of it due to the inmates not taking too kindly to being leered at by grockles. There is a small river in this cave which was used as a refuge during the war ... Dare I mention the War??? .. Yes!!

Finally for those with an engineering or fairground interest, Wuppertal hosts a large suspended tram system which is quite unique and was built in the 1900’s.  It runs from Vohvinkle to Barmen (???) and is called the Sweiberbahn.  We confess to riding on it for a whole morning but didn’t join the 10m Sweiberbahn club though.

To finish there are surveys, journals etc deposited in the BEC library for all to read and make use of.

Mike Wilson.



Recent Exploration In 'Wookey'

Alex Gee
(Foreword by Jingles)

During the course of 1996 there has been a fair bit of activity at Wookey Hole one way and another. There have been several pushing attempts on sump twenty five by Mike Barnes and Petes Bolt and Mulholland ably assisted on various occasions by BEC members myself, Nick Mitchell and Alex Gee amongst them.

This year also saw the Jubilee celebrations of the CDG at what has become a kind of cave diver's Mecca. A not to be repeated event this was possibly the largest ever assembly of cave divers in this country and certainly there will never again be such a gathering of divers from right through the decades.

With all this in the limelight it is easy to forget that there is always a fair degree of exploration going on in the farther reaches of Wookey Hole.  Most of us only ever get as far as the gantry overlooking what to dry cavers is the terminal sump pool; but what to divers is the start of the cave 'proper'.  Sump 9b.

The Somerset section of the CDG has a fairly high percentage of BEC members amongst its number, most of whom are active if not pushing divers.  The following pages document the efforts of Alex and others over the past eight months in chamber 22, high up above the static pool.

This aven was originally climbed and bolted by Rob Harper in 1966 (I think ... ed) but has been pushed considerably further by Alex.  Speaking to Alex since he gave me this article, he informs me he has in fact continued working here and now reckons to be within 15m of the surface and although probably 100m away horizontally he is within 3m of the vertical level of Halloween Rift.  Perhaps Mr Hughes will start digging again and meet him half way??

What is not to be forgotten is the degree of organisation and commitment in a project such as this. Getting to the dig site involves two fairly deep dives (as one) giving a 'sawtooth' dive profile.  The dives are fairly long ... it takes approx 10- 15 minutes to dive from 9b to ch 22 .... and its COLD.

Once at chamber 22 Alex has been climbing up into the roof for heights approaching 60m and then wrestling with boulders.  (Why??? is a question that readily springs to mind!!)

A lot of work has gone into this project thus far and I am sure  Alex would thank all those who have assisted.

It is to be hoped that there will be an update on this in the not too distant future .....


Alex Gee Personal Diving Log.


Wookey Hole.
Ch22 Aven.  Static Pool.

April 1966.
Divers: N. Mitchell.  A. Gee.

Took climbing gear to 22 to investigate the limit of Rob Harper's attempt to climb the aven above 22 static pool.  Dumped gear then investigated why Nick hadn't appeared.  Found him in 9:2. He had lost a bottle en route and then got a line tangle his pressure gauge having become wedged between two rocks.

May 1996.
Divers: N. Mitchell. A. Gee.

Nick belayed me while I aid climbed up to Harper's limit.. .. Scary stuff ... I wouldn't have liked to have bolted it first!!  Nick then joined me while I climbed up another 10m in parallel roof tube which closed down.  Good draught. Tried to remove boulders blocking main way on.  Then large coffin sized piece of wall peeled off.  Most impressive.


Back again this time with Keith Savory and Carol Tapley.  I climbed up and levered several boulders off (while the others hid in a sand crawl). The way on was now open.


Just myself.  First Solo trip.  Slightly unnerving.  Reached previous limit then free climbed another 6m on shunt self line to boulder blockage.  Can see the way on beyond.  Adrian Hole helped in 9:2.


Solo trips to try to remove boulder.  Drill not working as bloody Blakey had given me the wrong drill!!  Keith and Adrian helped in 9:2 again.


Solo trip, this time drill bit broke!!  This is F*&I\%ng  jinxed.


Solo trip.  Success at last, drill worked and boulder removed. Light went out on return to 9:2. Adrian and Nick Gymer helped to 9:2.


Solo.  Jo waited in car.  Surveyed damage from last trip.  Spent 90mins trying to squeeze and hammer way up into alcove above.


With Nick then without Nick due to bad hangover. (Mine slightly better) went to 22 and managed to squeeze into alcove.  Part of large rift, can see 5-10 m in both directions and 10m upwards to roof that runs full length, can't see top.  3ft possible vadose passage runs along top but only 6 inches wide unfortunately.  De rigged for another date .... 24 next I suppose.

Total 10 trips.  7 Solo trips.



Although this project has not resulted in a great deal of passage being found (20-30mtrs so far) it has brought to light the following interesting facts.

1.                  The flooded passages from 9:2 to 22 do not head directly into the hill but follow the contours until 22 static pool, consequently they lie at a much shallower depth than the passages beyond 22 and more likely to have a surface connection.

2.                  The altitude of the water level in Wookey Hole Cave is approximately 60mtrs and the land overlying 22 is approximately 150mtrs.  Which means that when the aven height above water is 55mtrs there is only about 35mtrs between the aven and daylight.

3.                  On most trips I have observed a good draught at the top of the aven (cigarette smoke dissipating instantly even in the smaller passage.)  Another possible reason for a surface link.

So we conclude that there is a good reason for reactivating old digs such as Halloween Rift (which lies on the 130mtr contour in the vicinity of 22) and having a good look for other openings in the same area.  As a link here would allow easy access to 24 and the potential there via Cam Valley Crawl to 23.

So anyone fancy a dig? cheers Alex.


Minutes of the 1996 B.E.C Annual General Meeting - Saturday 5th.October.

The meeting was started almost on time at 10.35 am, by the Hon. Secretary, {Nigel Taylor} and is customary, he called for the handing in of any outstanding Ballot Forms.  The Hon. Secretary then addressed the meeting with his grave concern that he had only received fourteen returned ballot papers in total, and further that although he had prepared and handed these on for distribution some six weeks prior to the AGM, he was not happy that he could advise the club to accept these as a valid and representative expression of the clubs' members, he then suggested that although the meeting was not quorate they should commence business without further ado, and he called for nominations for a Chairman, there being one nominee, Bob Cork was duly elected.

It was agreed that Tellers were not required, and the Chairman proposed that the AGM will elect a caretaker committee, comprising all nominees" and further, "That all fourteen returned ballot papers should be placed in a sealed envelope, in the event of objections, and kept by the Secretary for three months then destroyed" This was carried nem.con. (25).

The Secretary had received apologies from: Emma Porter, Jeff Price, Andrew Newton, Estelle Sandford, and Rob & Helen Harper, whom he advised the meeting, were celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary.  Apologies received from the floor on behalf of: Nicola Slan, Graham Johnson, Tony Imalt, Steve Ostler (Later attended) Rich Blake, Adrian Hole, Jeremey Henley ,Brian Prewer, Stu McManus, Dave Irwin.

Twenty five paid-up members signed the attendance sheet, these are recorded as follows:­ Chris Smart, Nigel Taylor, Dany Bradshaw, Alex Gee, Martin Grass, Barrie Wilton, Brenda Wilton, Peter Franklyn, Joyce Franklyn, Greg Villis, Nick Mitchell, Andy Thomas, Andy Sparrow, John Buxton, Nick Gymer, Chas Wethered, Babs Williams, Hilary Wilson, Mike Wilson, Ron Wyncoll, Ivan Sandford, Rebecca Campbell, Bob Cork, Robin Grey.

Later during the course of the meeting, five more members arrived:- John Williams, Henry Bennett, Mike ODriscoll, and Steve Ostler, and after lunch some members left the meeting to be replaced with five more members: - Graham Walsh, Colin Dooley, Angie Dooley, Mike Jeanmaire, Richard Blake.  Some of these arrived towards the end of the meeting, and in effect the meeting only became quorate for one brief period of half an hour.

 [NOTE:- Our Constitution as amended at the 1986 AG.M Paragraph 4. Section d] states “That a quorum shall consist of 30 members or 25% of the membership whichever is the lesser. No business shall be transacted without a quorum" There being 109 paid-up members and 42 life/Honorary members, Thirty has to be the minimum objective, THIS YEARS AGM BUSINESS MUST NOW BE RATIFIED IN 1997, I have recorded the number of members present at anyone time in brackets after the voting figures.  Nigel Taylor, Hon. Secretary.]

Martin Grass [MG] then voiced his strong criticism that several committee members were not present at the AGM.  The Hon Secretary defended the position of the three missing members, two were due to their having to work, and the third having to repair her car for work.

Item Five, Minutes of the 1995 AGM:- That the minutes of the 1995 AGM be taken as read was proposed [p:] by Dany Bradshaw [DB] and Seconded [S:] by Andy Sparrow, carried nem.con.

Item 6.  Matters arising from the Minutes:- The Secretary pointed out that these had been printed in the BB directly after last years AGM, and there being no questions from the floor, he read a list that he had prepared, to the meeting which raised the following points:-

1]. To look at the position of club archivist and act accordingly.

2]. To carry out two rescue practices annually.

3]. Repayments of St. Cuthbert’s Loans, Stock Position, and Sales Report.

4]. Examine and act to increase telephone use.

5]. Committee to enforce rules re hut debts.

6]. Ladder for St. Cuthbert’s to be made available.

7]. C.S.C.C minutes to be included in BB if relevant.

With regard to these actions, the Secretary explained that he spoken with Alan Thomas who wished to continue as Club Archivist.  Item 2 had been effected, as had the repayments in 3 above, but he added that the Hon Treasurer would speak on this later, as well as on item 4 above. Items 5 ,6, & 7 had been dealt with appropriately.

Item 7, Hon Secretary's Report:- Nigel Taylor then read this to the meeting as he had not wanted all of its' contents published in the BB and seen subsequently by outside interests or non members.  There was much debate on Nigel’s comments re St. Cuthbert’s, with contributions from MG, DB and Rebecca Campbell [RC]  the meeting was in accord with his proposals and his report was carried nem.con. with one abstention ,(25) P: Ron Wyncol {RW}, and S:Greg Villis {GV}

Nigels' proposal "That the BEC set up a St. Cuthbert’s Fund to enable the future tenure and associated legal costs to be met," was seconded by Chis Smart and taken out of sequence as it went with his report, carried nem.con. (25).

Item 8, Bon Treasurers' Report: This was read to the meeting by Chris Smart, and one the question of telephone usage, MG suggested that the club write-off the annual loss as the club simply need a phone.  Babs Williams {BABS} suggested the committee contact Mercury for an alternative cost or a more sympathetic view of the clubs status.  Barrie Wilton {BW}asked about BMC membership, Chris explained that only two members had taken up the Committee offer on this.  NT suggested that we still continue this proposal as it was a tiny return for those climbing section members within the club, the meeting concurred.  NT then asked Treasurer if he felt cheques were being received and enchased fast enough, CS thought they were generally, Richard Stephens {RS} felt that people did not always pay up on time.  Alex GEE {AG} asked if we received sufficient interest on club accounts.  Chris replied that in today’s financial climate, it was as good as we could expect.  The report was then voted on, P:DB, S:Ivan Sandford{IS} and carried 23 For, 2 Abst'n. (25).

Item 9, Hon. Auditors Report: Barry Wilton apologised to the Club, that as he had not yet had open-access to the books, he had not been able to audit them, further that he would still do so and report to a future committee meeting.  Deferred Vote, Audit awaiting.

Item 10, Caving Secretary's Report: Kindly read to the meeting by Babs Williams, on behalf of Jeff Price in absentia.  Martin Grass spoke upon the thorny issue of ex or lapsed members masquerading as full BEC members to gain access to controlled caves.  The meeting noted his concern, and NT pointed out that Jeff had acted quickly on this and circulated "Sister/Access Controlling Clubs" with up-to-date membership lists in event to stem this abuse.

The meeting expressed it's gratitude to Babs for the delivery, P:NT, S:John Williams, {JW},and carried Nem Con. (27).

Item 11, Membership Secretary's Report: Richard Stephens {RS} spoke strongly on this subject, he expressed his intension not to mollycoddle members, they must be responsible and pay up on time.  He did not intend to chase up members, if they failed to pay, he would delete them as per the club rules.  NT interrupted and stated his view that we did not want to lose any members, he thought every and all members were important, and he asked the Membership Secretary to pursue a policy of reminding them that their subs were due. John Williams echoed NT's sentiments, and Martin Grass concurred.  Brenda Wilton raised the potential of Direct Debits and Standing orders, NT advised that he had looked into this and though any members could set-up a Standing order, Direct Debits were not economically viable.  The Membership Secretary re-stated that though members could be asked to pay, he didn't want to go chasing them.  Andy Sparrow commented that since ten years ago (sic: 1986) we had lost fifty members, and warned against complacency, most members were now over thirty years of age.  Martin Grass again echoed these sentiments, and added that we should be actively recruiting new members as they came onto the scene.  John Buxton then spoke on the general state of the Belfry whenever he visited it, saying it "Always seems a tip".  NT quickly advised the AGM of the strong line with regards to discipline being taken by the out-going {And now re-appointed) Committee. Members called for membership cards, RS stated already in hand. P:JW, S:Mike Wilson {MW}Voting: 26 For, 1 Abst'n .(27).

Item 12, Hut Wardens Report: Published in the B.B.  Andy Sparrow asked Ivan to comment on Hut usage, Ivan agreed that it was in decline, Martin Grass noted that as many members now lived locally, they were unlikely to use the Belfry overnight, however it was probably these same persons who mess it up on their post-pub visits.  He added that things might improve if members were to stay again. Robin Grey voiced his concern - which was also shared by many members ­with regard to the "Trashing reputation of the B .E. C" Most especially known in Yorkshire.  Nigel Taylor swiftly replied that "Trashing will not be tolerated under any circumstances by this Committee". Henry Bennett complained about what he saw as a regular lack of ready cleaning materials to hand at the Belfry. NT suggested that a cleaner and tidy hut could still go in hand with the hut being used for caving purposes and result in attracting back members.  Mike Wilson suggested that members should try to stay at the hut, perhaps on a rota system, this met with a mixed comment from the floor.  Andy Sparrow suggested that we advertise in "Descent". Chas Wethered thought that all members could help spread the message of a new era at the Belfry by word of mouth in order to attract back guests frightened away by the bad reputation.  After much comment in similar vein from the floor, P:MG, S:CW, Voting: 26 For. 1 Abst'n.(27).

Item 13, Hut Engineers Report.  "Published in the B.B.  The meeting felt that it was unfortunate that Estelle was not present.  Comments from the floor centred on the need for the Belfry to be habitable.  MW asked if perhaps the Hut Engineer needed an assistant.  The report was then put to the vote, P:MW, S:RC, Voting: 23 For, 4 Abst'n. (27).

Item 14, Tackle Masters Report:  Published in the B.B. Chris Smart asked about SRT Rope, Mike Wilson {Tacklemaster) advised that it was now five years old and would soon need replacing, albeit it had only limited use.  AS suggested that we needed a thorough testing regime.  MW advised that restricted tackle introduced at last years AGM has not worked, and he wondered if we should revert to our open access arrangements of former years.  This was roundly supported by NT, who spoke fervently for the right of open access to tackle by each and every member as their entitlement, although the AGM did not in turn support his views, as then voted upon, P:NT, S:MW Voting: 4 For, 18 Against and either 2 or 3 Abst'n.  Mikes report was then voted upon, P:Ron Wyncoll {RW}, S:AS, Voting: 26 For, 1 Abst'n. (27).

Item 15, B.B Editors Report:  Published in the B.B. The Chairman stressed that the late publication! non-publication of the BB and Ballot forms had caused a major problem.  RC queried that perhaps this should be the Membership Secretaries job, NT stated that it was the job of the Hon. Secretary, and reiterated that he had called for nominations on time, produced the ballot forms on time, and passed these on for distribution to the B.B team, and he accepted their explanation that it could be the Royal Mail's industrial action that was to blame. In any event, the floor concurred that this should be the Secretaries job, and MG suggested that in future perhaps the Secretary himself would post out all ballot forms directly and separately from the B.B to paid--up members John Williams made clear his interest to continue the editorship if none else was willing, but was at pains to state that his personal circumstances might be liable to change at short notice and the meeting must make its choice later with this fact in mind.  The report was then taken: P:BABS, S:NT, Voting: Nem.Con. (27).

Item 16, Librarians Report: Presented by Ivan Sandford on behalf of Adrian Hole in absentia. The Chairman reminded the meeting that despite comments in the report about changing the structure in the Library, that it was in fact now a "Memorial Library,” and this was supported by many members from the floor.  The meeting also reiterated that Guide books are NOT to be loaned out, (Sic - Members are expected to provide their own for field use.)  The report was then put to the vote, P:Robin Grey {RG}, S: AG, Voting: Nem.Con. (27).

Item 17, Ian Deer Memorial Fund:  Already presented to the Meeting with Caving Secretary's report.  The Treasurer suggested no transfer of funds into the Fund this year to top up.  This proposal was voted on: P:CS, S:JW, Voting: Nem.Con. (28). Peter Franklyn was asked by NT to inform the meeting on some history regarding Ian Deer, and Peter kindly gave a humorous and well informed account of his personal knowledge relating to Ian prior to his untimely death.  Ron Wyncoll also added to this from his experiences.  The Report was then taken, P:Peter Franklyn {PF}, S:RW, For 27, 1 Abst'n. (28)

Item 18, Result of Ballot: (Ballot decreed by meeting as invalid.  No further discussion).

Item 19, Election of the 1996/7 Committee:  As is customary, this was done from the floor of the meeting, and was as follows:-

Hon. Secretary: Nigel Taylor. Hon. Treasurer: Chris Smart. Tacklemaster: Mike Wilson.  Hut Warden: Rebecca Campbell.  Hut Engineer: Ivan Sandford.  Membership Secretary: Richard Stephens.  Caving Secretary: Jeff Price.   B.B Editor: John Williams.  Librarian (Purists will comment not normally a Committee Post, but filled by one of the new 11 strong committee) Alex Gee. Hon. Auditor: Barrie Wilton.  Non-Post Holden: Hilary Wilson, Estelle Sandford. The position of the post of Club Archivist was then raised, and a vote between Alan Thomas and Peter Franklyn was made, Peter being appointed.  Nigel Taylor then proposed that the club gave Alan a sincere vote of thanks for his past work, this was seconded by the whole meeting, and obviously carried nem.con. (28).

Item 20, Destruction of Ballot Forms: (Those returned forms to be held by Hon. Secretary in case of any appeal. No further discussion.).

Item 21, Members Resolutions:

The earlier proposal re St. Cuthbert’s had been dealt with prior to this time, during the Hon. Secretary's report discussion.

A further proposal by NT and seconded by CS as follows:

"That prospective members joining at any time in the year, pay on a quarter basis of the full subscription, and not as present on the monthly basis".

Nigel explained the need for his proposal as the problem currently that we have had some new members join in the last month or so of the club year, these persons have paid approximately only £2 or so, paid for a key, and then had full and uncontrolled possible access to the Hut, and never continued to remain members in the following year.  He was worried about this, also that a quarter rate proposal was a probably a constitutional change, but was none the less an important point needing airing. The Treasurer fully supported the need for this proposal.  The Chairman ruled that it was in fact a Constitutional change, and therefore could not be enacted this year if the meeting approved the proposal.  Dany Bradshaw, Steve Ostler, Ron Wyncoll amongst others contributed to much discussion upon this, but the Chairman correctly halted further discussion upon it, however the prevailing guidance from the floor was that the Committee had the discretion to charge a "Joining Fee" if necessary.

The AGM was asked by NT to give him an indication of its view on the proposal purely for guidance, which is not binding, but was as follows: 21 For, 2 Against 3, Abst'n. (26).

Nigel then stated that he was formally submitting it for airing at the 1997 AGM as a Constitutional Change, at this time.

Andy Sparrow then made the following proposals from the floor:

I].The Club publishes a Mendip Meets List. (p:AS,S:RG, 30 For, 3 Abst'n [33?]).

2]. The Club address a policy to encourage new members.

3].The Club appoints a Training Officer.

Andy spoke eloquently on these three proposals, and much discussion was then entered into.  DB spoke strongly against having a "Training Officer", he felt that" we should keep the Club as it is. The BEC has a lot to offer through its' individual members.  BABS questioned the need to formalise such a role, suggesting that such formalisation was alien to the club.  This met with much support from the floor.  AG stated that he was "Very against this, idea stinks!  Current system works".  Colin Dooley spoke firmly upon the subject and the need to be progressive, and cautioned the club against not moving with the times and harbouring too blinkered a viewpoint,  Andy interjected his agreement in this.  Colin then spoke passionately on the need to go out and find new members.  Colin proposed the amendment that the title "Training Officer" be dropped from Andy's proposal, seconded by unknown, voting: 22 For, 5 Against. 1 Abst'n. (28)  A further comment by NT was then changed into an amendment that "The Committee nominate a novice contact officer" This was seconded by Richard Blake, and put to the Vote 22 For, 5 Against (27)

Andy Sparrow then proposed" The BEC advertise itself for prospective members in Descent, etc"

No seconder recorded, however voting: 14 For, 11 Against (25)

Peter Franklyn commented that if the club's reputation is bad, we will not get new members, Colin Dooley, Alex Gee, Dany Bradshaw, and NT all expressed their views on this subject, Richard Blake commented that he had been chosen to join the BEC as a mark of his esteem and caving prowess, this caused some confusion amongst certain members and the Chairman had to restore order.  John Williams put forward the amendment that the "BEC advertise its' accommodation only" This was seconded by The Treasurer (CS) 18 For, 4 Against. (22).

Item 23, Any Other Business: Chris Smart as Treasurer, formally proposed "No change in current subscriptions."  This was heartily seconded by the Meeting and carried without objection.  Nigel Taylor as Hon. Secretary, announced the details and date of the 1997 AGM, as 10.30 am, Saturday 3rd.October 1997 at the Belfry.  Bob Cork as Chairman then declared the AGM closed at 4.13 pm. (Less than 17 members left in room).

Minutes recorded by, and later typed: Nigel Taylor Hon. Secretary, Saturday 6th. October 1996.



With regard to articles for this ‘ere rag… quite apart from the fact that they are always needed not to mention welcomed .... some of you seem in doubt as to how to present them. I don't mind at all and am happy to accept anything in any form.  For the record the easiest from my point of view is to receive them on 3.5 inch floppy discs in either Word/WordPerfect or ASCII text formats, although. it is always wise to provide a hard copy along with this.  “Camera Ready” i.e. pre printed sheets are next best as this obviously saves me time.  However those without the necessary technology but blessed with the ability to write are welcome to simply scribble on a bit of toilet paper (or copies of the Sun ...same thing really) and forward them to me and I will retype them, or in some cases translate them back into English.  So there you have it.  Knowing the BEC, not the blindest bit of attention will be paid to this ... but never mind.  Articles for the next ish would be much appreciated cos a cover and a contents page maketh not the Xmas BB.

Hut Renovations.

Becca Campbell informs me that in the New Year plans are afoot to re-floor the Belfry completely. This will involve the temporary closure of said premises for approximately one week.  If anyone has any particularly strong feelings about this Perhaps you would inform the committee of it.  The idea is to use some sort of hard wearing epoxy resin, as purchased from pig farm suppliers .... Highly appropriate some would say .... hopefully this would last a not inconsiderable length of time. Personally I think this is a good idea and long overdue .... any thoughts???

Saturday 23.11.96 saw a day of activity at Priddy Village Hall organised by the MRO.  This consisted of demonstrations and instruction in the use of various equipment items, including the new 'Little Dragon' hot air machine.  Some 30 people attended, a reasonable turnout and considerably better than the previous event.  It is suggested that newer members or others not having attended MRO lectures before may like to do so in the future as there is no substitute for practical demonstration of rescue equipment and in the long run is in every caver's interest.

The evening saw 'The Stomp' which started in a restrained manner and as usual livened up considerably after the 'Broomstick Game' accompanied by skiing practice and flying beer!!  Just for a change it ended in mayhem as opposed to tears.

If any of you are planning on heading North in the near future and need accommodation at reasonable rates .... give me a ring as I have made various contacts and can arrange fairly good deals.  Also anyone at a loose end at New Year might like to come up to the Hill Inn Bash which I am helping to organise.  A liking for loud rock music is a definite advantage in this case .... Jed Thomas Band plus Surprised Guests will be performing and a great night is guaranteed.

Guess that's all for now ... see you all soon.



Bristol Exploration Club

Annual Subscriptions are now due for the year 1996/97 .......

The current subscription rates set at the 1996 Annual General Meeting are .....

£24 for Single Membership

£36 for Joint Membership

A discount of £4 for Single Membership and £6 for Joint Membership is available for those memberships if renewed BEFORE December 31st 1996.

If you have not already been given an envelope to return your subs in or you are a Life Member, there should be one included with this copy of the Belfry Bulletin.

Please put your cheque, made payable to the Bristol Exploration Club, inside, put a stamp on it and send it back to me. I will not accept envelopes that have no stamp on the outside as it costs 40p to get them from the Post Office, and I'm not a millionaire.  Please do not give your cheques/cash to other Committee Members, leave them at the Hunters Lodge or Bat Products.

A receipt will then be sent out with your next copy of the Belfry Bulletin.