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

1993 - 1994 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Estelle Sandford
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Tim Large
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Membership Sec.     Nigel Taylor


Not much from me this time as this is a real rush job to get it out before the AGM.  This issue has been cobbled together in great haste so please excuse any typographical errors or spelling mistakes.

One thing I'd like to mention is that Martin Grass will be standing down as Club Secretary this year and I'm sure you'd all join me in offering a vote of thanks to him for all the hard work he has put in over the years...... Thanks Martin.

There is no odds & sods page this time and 'Spike' is on holiday in Barbados so nothing from him either. (I can hear sighs of relief from here).

The first part of this issue is the reports from officers, but there’s some caving stuff after to make up for it!

Ta Ta for now



Hon. Sec.'s Report 1994.

M. Grass.

As I explained last year in my report, 1994 would be the last year I would remain as secretary as I believe 5 years in one position to be enough.  I recently worked out that in 22 years in the B.E.C., I had spent 11 years serving on the committee so I believe it is time for a rest.  1994 has been a very quiet year from the club's point of view - nothing controversial has happened and everyone has been doing lots of caving.  The hut is doing O.K. but I believe it is in need of some major renovation and I think that next year's committee should look at some form of fund raising to cover the cost of these repairs.

This year we did return half the amount pledged for the St Cuthbert's Report and sales still trickle in but I believe it could be many years before the rest is saved.

I wish my successor all success and look forward to serving on the committee again in a few years time.

Report of BEC Membership Secretary 1993/1994.

At 31st August 1994 the Club had 132 fully paid up members, of which there were 14 joint members i.e. 28 persons, and 104 single members.

58 members took advantage of paying the discounted rate of £20 prior to the January deadline. Virtually all the joint couples paid within that period in addition.

There have only been 13 new members welcomed to the club this year and one of those, having failed to pay any subscription, has been removed from the register.

We are 2 members short of membership number 1200.

The new membership applications are certainly on a par with previous years, and though giving no reason for complacency, I believe there is no need for undue concern.  Several long standing members in the 10 - 15 year membership bracket have decided to let their Club subscriptions lapse in the last year.  I have spoken to all of these persons and it is generally due to their individual domestic circumstances, such as unemployment, other club affiliations, or general loss of interest, that has placed them in this situation.  Certain individual members were permitted to make their payments on an instalment basis to enable them to maintain their membership.

Total subscription income totalled £2150.00.

I have explored the question of direct debit or standing order payments and these are not financially viable to operate due to banking practices.

I have attempted to reintroduce the issue of receipts and membership cards to all paid up members. However some persons may not necessarily have found theirs loosely included with their BB’s, should any member like a replacement copy please contact me accordingly.

I proposed last year at the AGM that the large life membership section of the BEC - which totals 42 persons -would be contacted regarding their willingness to now consider resuming some sort of contribution to Club funds.  The AGM supported this motion, but I have not written to the individuals, preferring a selective 'one to one' conversation with as many of these members as possible, and I hope to be able to advise the AGM of an outcome or general consensus.

I do not intend to run as membership secretary next year, unless the AGM instructs me, as I have an interest in another post on the committee, if elected.

May I give a general thanks to all those members who paid promptly.

'Mr. N'
Nigel Taylor.


Hut Warden's Report.

There has been an increase in hut bookings this year and takings have increased considerably. There has been lots of fun at the Belfry, mainly member’s nights (e.g. The Belfry Olympics) & lots of barrels.

A displayed debt list has made it easier for members to keep track of what they owe.  NOTE., it would be appreciated if debtors could all pay up by the A.G.M. so the incoming Hut Warden has a clean slate to start with.

Unfortunately due to expedition commitments I am not standing for Hut Warden but I am prepared to stand for something less committing.

Estelle Sandford.

BEC Caving Secretary’s report 1993/4.

St Cuthbert's

In April we had a Cuthbert's leader's meeting which was very well attended by BEC and guest leaders. At present we have 45 leaders & I think this is probably enough as most of these are active.  The main concern of the meeting was the state of the cave.  During the next three months there will be a major clean up operation.  Washing buckets and brushes should be in the cave along with tape for formations.  A list will be put up on the Belfry notice board of the leaders and sites to be cleaned. There is also now a guest leader’s log book by the outside porch.  The next leaders meeting will be in April or May next year.

Thanks to all the leaders who have taken trips in the past year, those who haven't - I'll be contacting you shortly with a list of 'duties'.  Don't forget to sell the reports, your cave key will give you access to some in the box in the main hallway at the Belfry.

Cave Bookings Etc ...

We are still members of CNCC so if anyone wants Yorkshire caves booked, or anything else, please let me know ASAP.

As from next February I shall be arranging some away weekend trips, starting with a Derbyshire weekend, details will be put in the BB.

As usual members have been all over the place ... France, Austria, Philippines, Scotland etc.

Members are as ever active digging .. Hillgrove Swallet, Eastwater Cavern, Wigmore will be looked at again by Trebor & co, and work on the entrance of Sand Pit continues.



There have been no applications so far this year, see the treasurer’s report for the balance.  The rules will be published in the BB following the AGM.

Jeff Price

1994 Tackle Master's Report.

This has been a relatively average year for tackle, nothing has been 'scrapped' ladder wise and two more new ladders have churned out of the factory.  We hope to make use of the rope testing rig which is now complete!! Anyone wishing to test their own rope supplies can do so at pre arranged dates.  The cost is 50p per rope for members, all monies going to the tackle fund.

I would like to thank the majority of responsible people who book the tackle in and out and I would also ask the irresponsible few to inform me where the f*** 12 ladders, 6 spreaders and 2 tackle bags are!!!

The lads and I who run the ladder factory can see no point in making ladders if they just disappear without trace!!  I personally would not like to return to the bad old days when there was just a few poor quality and questionable strength ladders in stock.

I have, however, enjoyed this year's work and hope to carry on.

Mike Wilson.

Tackle Inventory.

Total previous ladders     19

Total scrapped               Nil

New Manufactured         2

Total for 1995                 21

N.B. 9 ladders counted in stock.

12 ladders not accounted for!

Stock Ropes ... 2 x 75’   DYN

                        1 x 120’ DYN

                        2 x 26m DYN

Assorted stock .... 12 Spreaders, 11 Tethers

N.B. 6 Spreaders counted - 6 Missing!!

Exploration Store Stock.

Stock ladders    2 x 25'   New

Stock ropes

1 x18m Static

1 x20m Static

1 x36m Static

1 x67m Static

1 x35m Static

1 x54m Static

1 x40m Static

N.B. 1 x 250m coil scrapped on Austrian Expedition.

6 Tackle bags   5 Rope Protectors.

Mike Wilson.


B.B. Editor's Report.

Well quite what I'm supposed to report on here I am not sure of!  I can tell you that I have produced six B.B.s in the last year and that I would have liked to produce more but was unable to due to lack of a computer for three months and the fact that I was busy with work.

When I started, last October, I had precious few articles in hand.  This situation changed dramatically during the course of the year and my thanks go to all those of you who put pen to paper.

I have a stock of articles in hand at present for the next couple of issues but as always more are welcomed.

I would also like to thank certain individuals without whom I would not have been able to do what I have. Tony Jarratt has been invaluable in the distribution of the B.B. as many local members will know as they usually receive their copies in the Hunter's Lodge, thus saving the club quite a bit in postage.  For services rendered on his computer I want to say thanks to Dick-Fred, indeed he was responsible for typing a large portion of the last issue.  Finally to Elaine Stellyes, for lending me a computer to play with, though I'll probably spend more time playing 'Elite' than typing up the B.B.!!!

I have had a mixed bag of feedback from the membership over the year as to my 'style' of editing ranging from enthusiastic approval to downright rudeness.  There is one thing I have learnt above all else and that is that you cannot please all the people all of the time.  There have been times when I have felt that whatever I did it would not be right but there have also been times when I have felt quite satisfied. All in all have enjoyed the editorship very much and would be quite willing to continue next year if it is the wish of the membership.


Hut Engineers Report

The year started with many good intentions but unfortunately not as much has been achieved as expected.

The Belfry is now 25 years old and repairs and maintenance will be an increasing feature.  Several jobs are becoming progressively more urgent or desirable.  The usual small group of members have given of their time both generally and at the working weekend held in May.  The site is subjected to a lot of heavy use and abuse.  In order to keep it in good repair and maintain it in a desirable condition it needs a greater input from the membership.  This will help spread the workload and cover all the tasks that need doing.

The work done this year includes:

1.                  l. New time clock and heating element fitted to the hot water tank.

2.                  Repairs to the shower coin boxes.

3.                  Purchase of a new shower (still to be installed).

4.                  Repairs to toilet cistern.

5.                  On going repairs to the floor and wall tiling in the changing room.

6.                  Installing a rack in the drying room.

7.                  Repairs to the fire door in the main room.

8.                  Painting of the main room ceiling.

9.                  Wall washing in the main room.

10.              Installing passive ray switches to the outside lights.

11.              Cleaning of the drains and gutters.

12.              Emptying of the septic tank.

13.              Rubbish removal from the Belfry site.

14.              Grass cutting and general site maintenance.

15.              Cleaning of the main room/kitchen during the working weekend.

However there is still plenty of work outstanding.  A list of these has been displayed in the Belfry for several months which asks for volunteers to take on a task.  To date there has been little response.

I hope that members at the AGM can promote a positive way forward to ensure that our hut is kept in good repair.

Lastly I wish the new hut engineer every success.

Tim Large
September 1994.


Librarian's Report

After taking the Librarian's post at last year's AGM as no one else seemed keen to do the job I started with a fit of enthusiasm which although has slowed down has not diminished. The BEC library contains a very important collection of books and club journals dating back to before the war and, although is partly duplicated by the collections in other club libraries, it has a number of unique items. Importantly it has - or should have - a complete collection of all the publications (and caving logs) produced by the BEC.

My predecessor had recently produced a list of the books in the library and I felt that the most pressing task was to collate and bind all the exchange material and whilst doing so to produce a catalogue of all the journals.  After a year I am about 20% of the way through this task!  I am giving everything a unique "BEC reference number" so as to avoid re-cataloguing misplaced items; also this will help when checking the library contents in the future.  Disturbingly I have found that a number of recent exchange journals are not to be found having either not been received or taken from the library without being booked out.  I am making a list of these missing items and will publish this in the BB.  I intend to obtain duplicate copies if the missing items are not forthcoming.

As hinted to above I was very surprised to find that the club does not have a "reference set" of all its publications, or if it does, it is scattered throughout the library.  I feel strongly that the history of the club is extremely important and without a complete set of BB’s etc. our records are woefully incomplete.  During the year I have been given bound sets of many of the early BB’s which I will be placing in the library and intend to use one or more of the locked cupboards to hold a complete set of all BEC publications.

Attached to this report is a list of all items added to the library in the last year.

Dave Turner 14th September 1994.

BEC Library Additions 1993-4

Books and Guides

Avon & Cheddar (Climbers Club Guide) 1993

The Caves of the Little Neath Valley Oldham 1993

Caves of the Mellte Valley Ockenden 1991

The Concise Caves of North Wales Oldham 1991

Irian Jaya 1992

Speleo Nederland 1992

Mendip Underground Irwin & Jarratt 1993

Speleo Philippines 1992

Spelologie aux Philippines Deharveng 1980

Clubs publications etc.

Axbridge Caving Group Newsletter Su.l94

Bradford Pothole Club Bulletin Vol. 6 No.9 (Au. /93)

BEC Belfry Bulletin Nos. 470-474 (12/93-8/94)

BCRA Cave Science Vol. 20 Nos. 2, 3 (11-12/93)

BCRA Cave and Karst Science Vol. 21 No.1 (8/94)

BCRA Caves & Caving Nos. 61-64 (Au.l93-Su.l94)

The British Caver No.116 (Sp.l94)

Cave Diving Group Newsletter Nos. 109-112 (10/93-7/94)

Cerberus Speleological Society Journal Vol. 22 Nos. 1-5 (11/93-7/94)

Devon Speleological Society Journal Nos. 149,150 (1/94-4/94)

Die Hohle Vol 44 Nos. 3, 4 (1993)

Grampian Speleological Group Bulletin (3rd series) Vol. 2 No.5; Vol. 3 No.1 (10/93­3/94)

Hades Caving Club Magazine No. 33 (6/93)

Mendip Caving Group News Nos. 230-236 (9/93-3/94)

MNRC Newsletter Nos. 42-44 (10/93-4/94)

National Caving Association SpeleoScene Nos 10-12 (11/93-8/94)

National Caving Association Constitution and 1994 AGM minutes (1994)

Plymouth Caving Group Newsletter & Journal Nos. 119-121 (Wi./93-6/94)

Red Rose Cave & Pothole Club Newsletter Vol. 30 Nos. 2, 3; Vol. 31 No.1 (? /93­5/94)

Shepton Mallet Caving Club Journal Vol. 9 No.5 (Au.l93)

Societe Suisse de Speleologie Stalactite Vol. 43 No.1 (1993)

South Wales Caving Club Newsletter Vol. 43 No.1 (1993)

Speleo Nederland Pierk Vol. 9 Nos. 1,3 (4-7/94)

UBSS Newsletter Vol. 9 No.3 (11/93)

UBSS Proceedings Vol.19 No.3 (1993)

Wessex Cave Club Journal Vol. 22 Nos. 239-242 (9/93-8/94)

The West Virginia Caver Vol. 11 Nos. 5, 6; Vol. 12 Nos. 1-4 (10/93-8/94)

Westminster Speleological Group Bulletin Vol. 9 No.7 (4/94)

Westminster Speleological Group Newssheet Nos. 1-7 (5/93-6/94)


Assynt The Big One.

When you start a snowball rolling down a hill you can never predict what will happen - will it gather momentum and size, sweeping all before or will it crumble ignominiously after a few yards?  Five years ago Brian Johnson, Tony Jarratt and myself started such a snowball rolling. The momentum is picking up with the years and 1994 was vintage.  I knew things had really taken off after people started talking of taking a fortnight over the trip.  Trapped by the contours of my on call rota our little group suffered from the usual weather problems - never have I been so reluctant to leave Sutherland.  On with the story ...

Peter Mulholland and his girlfriend Myrna arrived a day earlier while Malcolm Stewart, myself and Trevor Knief in one car John Kidd and Pete Rose in another and John Buxton in yet another arrived on Saturday 23rd May ( St George's day for those north of the border).  We found the new (Grampian) hut in a state of semi civilisation and proceeded to turn it into a slum with bodies all over the living area on any soft surface they could find.  After a brief foray to the Allt bar where we drank them out of Bellhaven and scared the landlord off we bedded down for the night.

We were woken with morning tea from John Buxton (henceforth JSB - this was written all over his kit in white paint!)  All caving expedition should have a JSB ­cheerful reliable and great at providing tea at those chilly post-dive moments.  At a pinch he'll sherpa your kit up and downhill, pose for photos without complaining and even pump your dive bottles.  In fact to pump bottles required the combined efforts of the two Johns and a certain amount of tinkering with electrical before JSB's compressor worked without throwing the trip switches.  The three cave divers Mulholland, Stewart and Glanvill decided to warm up with a trip to sump 4 in ANUS cave.

A slow start but help from JSB got us to the entrance in the early afternoon.  The stream was thundering over the fall in the Cave of the Innocent Boy and pouring down the pit.  JSB settled to a long and patient wait.  Did I write warm up???  Hah!! Try diving in melt water when the last time your head submerged with a D/V in your mouth was in the Red Sea.  Tail end charlie with vis like cock-a-Ieekie soup and anaesthetized feet I blundered thru' the sump.  Progress thru' the crumbling fossil passages to sump 4 was swift and Mulholland thrust himself into sump 4.

Meanwhile Peter G looked up Moonmilk Aven, an inlet above the sump which turned out to be blind with the stream issuing from a tiny slit.  Malcolm then found Upholes Passage which is an unlikely hole in the roof a few yards back from Moonmilk Aven on the same side of the passage halfway up a mud slope.  He declined to follow Pete on the grounds that he was wearing his dive mask and couldn't see or breathe properly.  Upholes consisted of a short climb up into a couple of solutional domes which emerged in a steeply sloping and extremely crumbly chamber.  The crumble had a 1.5 metre trench running down it liberally decorated with the weird mud whisker formations unique to ANUSC and a shade of smoky grey.  A delicate scramble up the rubble face at the end of the trench ended on a ledge from which a bold step out over the ascent took me to a short ascent ending in a hole seemingly punched through the flat bedding roof.  More loose boulders lay strewn around me when I gingerly popped up into the bedding.  A low solutional tunnel in grey limestone meandered into the distance and I began thrutching along it until after a low wriggle I faced a squeeze.  My lamp flickered marginally and I suddenly felt very lonely up a climb beyond one of the longest sumps in Scotland.  Despite the fact that open passage and a possible sump 4 bypass loomed I backed out and returned to the others.

We spent the next half hour persuading my flash to function and after this another 25 minutes actually taking photos before meandering out.  All Pete's worst fears about the traverse were confirmed when a large flake on the floor fell on his foot on the way out.  The return through the sump was better with the current going with us and much to our surprise JSB was awaiting our return.  He even carried some of my kit down the hill.  Meanwhile team B i.e. the rest of the party went and did Quinag in the wind.

After a Mulholland gourmet meal we descended on the Allt and instructed the landlord's son (acting as temporary licensee) on what drinking up time etc. meant for us anyway!

The next day dawned bright, sunny and breezy.  We were all off to Achiltibuie to allow Pete Mulholland to get his revenge on YAD (Pete Rose) by taking him diving!!  A great spectator sport if you weren't actually diving yourself.  Myrna and John Kidd, the non divers, collected firewood while we slowly kitted up by Badentart pier.  JSB had actually dived here before using oxygen re-breathers and assured us of clear vis and vast numbers of scallops.  There might have been in the 1950's but there aren't many now - judging from Malcolm and my self’s experience they have largely metamorphosed into welly boots. After a 30 minute swim over sand occupied by the usual burrowing creatures we emerged frozen to collide with Rose slowly wittering his way down the pier's steps.  He survived the dive!!

The party split up with the arrangement that we would all meet at Kylesku later for a dive.  A leisurely drive along the coast road to Lochinver was followed by a session at Jimmy Crooks' to get air (he was spring cleaning, which seemed to mean that he threw everything into his shed before he threw it out) a wander around the fish warehouse to examine the denizens of the deep, shopping at the delicatessen and chandlers before another amble, in fact more of a brisk march, out to see the Old Man of Stoer, a spiky and prominent sea stack draped surprisingly, despite its seeming inaccessibility, with climbing tapes.

The long winding coast road got us to Kylesku just before high water slack, the perfect time to dive this particular site.  It was a still sunny evening and the limpid water lay still as the proverbial mill pond against the old ferry slip.  Tony Boycott suddenly appeared as we were contemplating the tranquil scene.  He and J-Rat had just arrived.  A quick change into damp kit was followed by a gentle slither into the embracing arms of Loch Cairnbawn by the indefatigable duo Glanvill and Stewart (the others hid in the pub).  I had plans to find the wall I had briefly visited a few years ago so set off straight for the bottom and veered seaward across the coarse sand.  This was dotted with clay pigeons and at least one car wreck.  Eventually a sloping wall at -20m was encountered.  We were gobsmacked when we rounded a corner at -30m to see it go vertical and plunge into the depths.  In the light of my torch we could see every inch covered in marine organisms - urchins, starfish, sea­squirts and feather stars.  Walls in the Red Sea aren't as colourful as this! At one point Malcolm received an unpleasant surprise when a long armed squat lobster I had caught earlier escaped from my goody bag.  A pink blur shot at his chest in a fashion reminiscent of the egg rupture scene in Alien - "Underwater no-one can hear you laugh!"  Eventually the cold sucked enough heat from our bodies to force our return.  A superb dive!

After a fast change and a quick pint we headed back to Elphin where the mornings scallops were prepared and eaten without ceremony.  Then it was down to the Allt (or was it the Inch?).

Day three dawned dull and drizzly.  I did not fancy diving but did have plans to take photos in the Traligill Valley.  Pete M. persuaded Malcolm to dive in the waterslide sump while stalwart JSB offered to sherpa.  J-Rat persuaded Tony Boycott that there was nothing quite so nice in this world as digging in upstream Tree Hole.  Eventually we all arrived at Glenbain cottage and reluctantly got into our damp kit. The Rose team went for a drizzly fester while the diving team trudged up to the waterslide.  Water levels seemed high and we progressed gingerly but once out of the stream progress was swift.  Pete refrained from throwing kit down the passage this time.  Down at the sump Pete G took photos while kitting up went like clockwork.  The sump, last dived by Brian Johnson and myself 3 years ago had ended in an area of slabby breakdown which I thought might have needed a lump hammer to pass. Pete vanished into the sump to emerge triumphant 10 minutes later.  He had passed the narrow section with ease and the way on was open.  Malcolm submerged to reappear several times with bits of line left from the previous foray into the sump (when the line had been lost).  He laid line in crystal clear water and roomy passage for about 26m before returning. The site was a goer.  We left the cave in high spirits and taking advantage of the prevailing good mood, I lured JSB up to the rest of 'Knockers' with the promise of apple cake.  A very fruitful photo session followed free from the whingeing models I normally seem to acquire!!

Meanwhile the two Tonys had been busy excavating tree hole upstream and had completely exhausted themselves spoil hauling.  The dig looked promising but high water conditions threatened to cause difficulties.

The weather conditions continued to deteriorate as the afternoon slid into evening.  However Malcolm and I had a date with the Kylesku wall and left the warmth of the hut armed with JSB, a dive computer and the plan that we would do a bounce dive to -40m.  I had agonizingly dragged on my soggy suit in the hut but Malcolm retreated to the salubrious surroundings of the Kylesku public conveniences when we got there.  The water seemed marginally warmer in relation to the surface temperature. Plunging swiftly down the shingle slope I drifted to an abrupt halt after turning to see Malcolm waggling his hands and pointing at his ear.  The stick ear caused us to stay at -20m while we cruised along a wall which seemed to go on forever.  The creeping cold eventually dragged us back to the surface too quickly at one stage in the ascent according to JSB's dive computer.  After a chilly strip in the gents eased by cups from JSB's kettle we made our way 50 yards to the pub for the final 1m decompression.

The following day dawned sunny.  After a trip to Lochinver I dropped Malcolm off for a solo walk up Canisp before meeting Pete John and JSB for a photographic trip in ANUS cave.  Trevor had disappeared up the Traligill valley armed with optimism and a crowbar to examine a possible dig on the hillside. Pete and Myrna decided to visit Smoo and Loch Eriboll.

On the walk up the valley JSB's boot began to disintegrate - a new use for snoopy loops was found - sole retainers!  A pleasant tour of ANUS with giant flashbulbs was had by all and we departed the cave to find a fine rain cum drizzle was falling.  Taking advantage of JSB's kind offer to carry my kit down the hill I went off on a tour of the ANUS and Claonite sinks.  Having overshot the ANUS sink by half a mile I marched across quartzite slabs in the general direction of the Claonite feeder loch having failed to realise that the sinks are downstream of the loch.  Much bog hopping later I arrived at the silent black pool in the peat which absorbs the Claonite stream.  Some depressions beyond it contained some interesting holes and passing the rumbling but collapsed entrance of Heidbanger, I noticed another collapse which looked promising.  It was then downhill all the way to the car.  Back at the hut all had returned including a footsore Malcolm who had walked back from Canisp having failed to be recognised by Pete and Myrna as they passed him on the road.

The next morning dawned bright and sunny and the prospect of re-diving the waterslide sump began to look brighter.  A small party marched up to the waterslide entrance, took photos and deposited bottles. We then walked up to Uamh Cailliche Peirag (or something like that) an old resurgence cave for the water from Cui! Dubh.  A picturesque rock arch led to a short bit of cave and a chamber in which shafts of sunlight illuminated a small stream.  At present there is no way on.  Above the cave is a featureless peat covered plateau dominated by the grey snow covered peak of Conival. Pete M., myself, JSB and Malcolm then headed for Kylesku for a dive at low water slack. I had decided to launch my inflatable that day after the dive but things went from bad to worse during the preparations.  I went flying on the pale green low friction seaweed growing on the lower slip.  A bloody ripped hand did not improve my mood.  The vis was dingy during our photo session and by the time the boat was launched the tide was running.  The engine started, stopped, stalled and spluttered. A brief run upstream left us frantically paddling back to the slip where the boat was beached.  A 1500 mile round trip for 5 minutes in the water!  Such is boating.

J-Rat and Tony Boycott returned from their day's exploits in a very satisfied/satiated state having relocated the cave of the Deep Depression in the Traligill basin and then managed to get back into the streamway, a short but extremely energetic trip.  The quote of the day from J-Rat when we enquired about diving the sump was "I'm not a diver, I'm a drunk!"

Trevor Kneif won the trip's walking award by doing the 15 mile trek over Suilven to Lochinver.

Scottish weather did its usual dirty trick of deteriorating overnight.  A dive in the waterslide would be impossible.  We contemplated the grey drizzly landscape and thought festering thoughts.  Malcolm and myself decided on a dive safari in the north.  This is a grand name for a damp drive in search of sunshine.  Most of the others did the same.

After some cock-a-leekie and sandwiches at Riconnich we dug out the map and dive guide and headed for Kinlochbervie.  Road improvements are going on in a major way around here.  We headed for Oldmanshore glancing at a couple of sites from Ridley's book on the way.  The first two involved steep walks down fields to the water's edge and we passed on those in view of the prevailing weather conditions.  At Oldmanshore we went for a stroll across the wide white sandy beach collecting two fish boxes and an old net.  Finally we drove onto Chaligaig pier.  A deserted stone jetty swung out into a small bay with several offshore rocks over which a heavy swell pounded.  It was low tide and a pulpy soup of kelp stems washed around the end of the pier.  The dive guide's quote was "superb dive".

We kitted in a grey drizzle and trooped down the jetty.  The next 40 minutes consisted of a swim over whitish grey sand interspersed with kelp 'islands'.  Definitely no pinnacle caves or arches as the guide had promised.  After 30 minutes of boredom and two ascents to correct navigational errors the cold got to us and we crawled out.  "I've had better" I remarked as we stumbled up the jetty.  "I've had a lot better" Malcolm muttered.  A chilly change saw us back in the car and on the long drive back to Elphin. That evening the hut building team of the G.S.G arrived and were treated to a long overdue slide show of the caves. Various of the team decamped to the old hut, space being at a premium and we eventually settled for the night.

The next day dawned dull and uninspiring.  I had decided to acquire some scallops as a peace offering for Angie so headed off to the salmon farm on the Drumbeg road with Pete M. Trevor and Myrna.  It was high water giving easy entry but finding decent sized scallops was hard.  After 35 hypothermic minutes, I surfaced with a few scrawny side plate sized specimens and some marine creatures for the aquarium.  (These were later converted to bouillabaisse on the M6).  Trevor and co went off up into the hills while I went back and helped push wheelbarrows at the hut which was a veritable hive of activity. The weather was quietly getting on with improving, the day ending in a golden sunset boding well for the following day's cave diving.  Nick 'Gadget' Williams gave us all some light relief by annihilating a boulder with SLB although having Goon around with a 15lb sledgehammer seemed just as effective.

In the evening most of us decamped to the old hut where Pete M. cooked a meal by the light of his headset (not with his headset) and we drained the rest of the available alcohol before staggering into the darkness and down to the Inch for a game of pool - or was that the previous night?

The big one?  Oh, that happened after we left!  Ask Pete Mulholland.

Peter Glanvill May 1994.


New Discoveries in Cnoc Nan Uamh

Or What Happened When Pete and Malcolm Went Home!

On a typical showery April morning Peter Mulholland and Malcolm Stewart assisted by Peter Glanvill and super porter John Buxton headed up the valley from Glenbain cottage to Cnoc Nan Uamh.  In fairly high water conditions the four descended the ramp whilst Peter Rose snapped photos and bid us a final farewell.  We hate it when he does that!

The flow into the sump, it must be admitted, looked very intimidating.  Much time was spent finding a really secure first belay for the line so that if necessary the dive line could be used for the divers to haul themselves out of the water against the flow.

PM dived first coming back after just 3 feet - to make sure that he could!  Finding all to be satisfactory he swung back around into the sump.  Conditions were ideal with the high flow maintaining excellent visibility allowing PM to see that the passage was festooned with loops of Glanvill and Johnson's 1991 line (it was Brian's reel...PG).  PG had described a way on through slabs that needed modification with a lump hammer to make things safe.  PM warily observed the flow swinging up to the right of the passage and over a large boulder.  The line was secured and the diver reversed into the left hand side of the passage. Wishing to make sure of the way back he tied off his reel on weights and renegotiated the boulder constriction, this time keeping the line in his left hand and crabbing round the right hand side with brief pauses to rearrange hoses and bottles.  A much relieved diver raced back against the flow and with a big smile on his face shouted over the roar of the water to Malcolm that the way on was open and the boulder passed, neglecting to mention the old line swathing the sump.  Malcolm dived returning after a brief moment with fistfuls of line and a few clear but concise words for Pete.  Pushing off again he laid an additional 20m of line before tying off and cutting it.

During the next few days water levels rose higher, bottles were portered to the entrance by Pete, Pete and Malcolm but no dives were possible.  After PG and MS had departed south, PM persuaded Mike O'Driscoll to join him on the next dive in the now prevailing low water conditions. "All the bottles are up there and the sumps are wide open!"

Nick Williams portered some of Mike's kit to the entrance and all three were horrified to find a large group of RAF cavers complete with a diver flushed with success at his morning's discoveries, at the entrance to the cave.  It turned out to be a different sump into which 50m of line had been laid.  The GSG team then discovered that 2 bottles had absent bottle bands (they were in PG's car down in Somerset!) PM elected to dive using 2 50's thinking the boulder should be passable.  Mike was conned into portering for Pete in this underhand manner.  The boulder was passed without any hitches and the end of the line reached.  The reel was tied on and PM looked forward to a pleasant longish dive in the splendid clear sump.  After just 5m the diver noticed a) a too tight slot through which the water was flowing and b) a lot of air.  Unfortunately for Malcolm and fortunately for Pete the sump had been passed.  The next short section of passage was named after the hut's new 100 .... Straight Flush!  The passage ended in a new nice looking sump.  P.M. rough surveyed the dry passage, surveyed sump 1 out and with so much air in such a shallow sump was also able to remove all the old loose line pulling off the first belay in the process.  Bemused trout disappeared in a hail of rock debris when PM yanked on the old line bringing a chunk of roof down with the belay.

Celebrations were in order that night.  The next day Mike too had to depart leaving Pete to cajole Tony Boycott into making his first cave dive in 3 years.  Pete pushed Tony into the sump first to give the benefit of the best vis.  Tony joked "to make sure I can't back out!"

PM dived into 2, found an airbell after just 20m and ongoing passage after another 20m.  After the agreed 20mins, Tony followed finding an excited and jubilant Pete who had already seen about 200m of passage by this time but wanted some company before he looked any further.

The two found about 400m of passage ending in a sump and a superbly decorated high level phreatic bedding passage which was named "Northern Lights" being a rare and outstanding sight.  The two now very happy divers rough surveyed and headed out, PM surveying sump 2 on the way.

On their last visit the 2 divers elected to complete a grade 3 survey and photograph the Northern Lights. Having just completed the survey Pete noticed another possible way on downstream via a high level bypass that led on through a breakdown area to an impressive ramp down which the water thundered into a small frothing hole - Royal Flush Chamber.  The survey tape almost found the way on when the water snatched it.  A few metres above and to the side the white roaring streamway a bedding plane was pushed which must be the route the stream takes into lower Traligill in high water and must be only a few metres from Mike O'Driscoll's furthest point reached last year in that cave.

The two surveyed back and then began the slow process of delicately picking their way back through northern lights and photographing it.  Possible ways on were noted but not pushed to avoid damaging the forest of straw and stal formations.  The two exited after a memorable 8.5 hours.

It should be stated that if a connection with Lower Traligill is made then a through trip would be a bad thing.  There is no way diving kit could be moved through Northern Lights without causing massive damage.  Future dives should be made with a view to taping a minimal damage route through the pretties.  It may be possible during very low water conditions i.e. none on the ramp, to explore the hole through which water flows in Royal Flush.  If a connection is ever made in such conditions a kit exchange would be the way to avoid damage.

Peter Mulholland May 1994.


Austria – Dachstein ’94 G5 – Eisturnenhohle

Vince Simmonds, Rich Blake, Roz Bateman, Gary Jago


Snablet's already said he can't make it because of work commitments.  I'm getting stuff ready to load the van when Ivan turns up to say he isn't coming either, that leaves just 3 of us travelling to Austria to meet up with Rich who once again is spending summer working in the Weisberghaus (WBH).


Gary & myself left Wells at 4.15 am. arriving at Roz's by 4.30 am.  We then had to wake her up & were eventually on our way by 4.45 am. Drove to Harwich stopping en route for breakfast at a 'greasy spoon' at Little Dunmow, Essex.  The ferry was a half hour late leaving and I couldn't get any sleep.  There was quite a big swell which left Roz feeling a little queasy.  Once again we drove through the night encountering bad weather in the Frankfurt area.


No problems with the route & finally arrived in Halstatt at 8.30 am.  When we'd had a stroll lakeside taking coffee & pastries we phoned Rich at WBH.  He informed us the Seilbahn was ready and waiting so we got all the kit onto one load & began the rather warm walk up to WBH. Arrived at 2.30 pm to the usual hospitality ... Schnapps & Stiegl.  A good afternoon's & evening's session before I finally pegged out not having slept for 40 hours.


Extract from expedition log ... Gary ...

"Roz & I are alarmed.  Rich eats when he wants in the WBH, we cannot cook in the Glocken (fire risk etc.) & Vince isn't hungry - we think he has a stomach which can extract all the necessary nourishment from Stiegl & Schnapps."

Roz was a little the worse for wear after Schnapps Stiegl & Gluwein so her walk was a little unsteady as we carried kit over to G5.  We then had a walk over to G7 and up on to the ridge to view the valley beyond to see where G9 was situated.  Then back to WBH and the evenings festivities.

Extract from the expedition log. Gary ...

"The whole place is phenomenal.  This is Limestone City".


Had a late start over to G5 probably something to do with the amount of Schnapps Rich & myself consumed last night.

Rich & I started into the cave by 1.30 pm. & rigged up to the 50m pitch (ACTION REACTION). Roz & Gary started into the cave 1 hr later but caught us up at the 50m.

We then proceeded through such gems as "SWEATY BETTY" -"BUFFOONS R US" - "CHARLIE CAN'T SURF" -" DEVIL DON'T SCUBA DIVE".  Checking the ropes left in situ last year as we went.  Gary had a minor epic on a knot pass but Roz helped him to sort it out.

Roz & Gary started back to the surface while Rich & I went to locate the way on.  We soon found it & a 3m pitch was rigged a swing into a rift.  Another little gem of a passage later to be named "OI OI WOBBLY WOBBLY THRUTCH THRUTCH" led to another pitch of about 10m.  It was at this point that we decided to head on out.  Caught up with Roz & Gary & a steady trip back out.

I had a minor epic when, in a squeeze, my generator pipe pulled off & promptly burst into flames before Rich finally managed to extinguish it.  By the time we had changed & walked back to WBH it was 12.20am & everyone had gone to bed but had kindly left us 4 bottles of beer. Roz was complaining bitterly about being hungry so we found her some sardines & a tin of fruit salad from the stores & she seemed happier.

Went into the kitchen for some more beer and it was 5.00am before Rich & myself finally retired.


Somebody ran to the WBH with news of a heart attack victim somewhere near the Simonyhutte.  Rich & I went over to offer any assistance we could & we managed to beat the helicopter.  The said patient should not have been on the mountain - too fat & out of condition.  After advising the man to walk down to WBH he decided he would carry on up to the Simonyhutte.  We went back to WBH.  Next day the guy turned up at WBH and gave us 100Dm (40 quid!) which was promptly donated to our ever growing bar tab.

Extract from expedition log.  Gary ...

___ "God awful piss bollox Alpine weather!!".

All of a sudden the weather turned shit - just like last year.  Needed something constructive to do so went over to the climbing garden with Roz & Gary for some surveying practice.  After that we retired to WBH.


The weather's still crap so we all took a stroll over to Oberfeld to post some mail for Elfi - just an excuse to drink cheap beer in the military bar.  We then walked over to Gjaid Aim to drink more beer in the Schilcher Haus, a very slow stumble back to WBH.

Elfi was waiting at the door for us with the tragic news of Alan Box's death in Spain.  A phone call to J-Rat for confirmation and after that memory was lost.


Weather has not improved so went for a pleasant stroll to the top of Neiderer Ochsen - Kogel (2218m). Spotted an open entrance very close to the path, Rich isn't sure if it's been looked at.

As usual the rest of the afternoon & evening was spent imbibing in the amber nectar of life.


Rained a lot last night but it has improved this morning.  After a couple of beers caving has been binned.

Decided to have a look at a cave in the bottom of a cliff below Feuerkogel (Jageroart).  An interesting route through some Pinus Montana led to an impressive arched entrance.  Going up a steep muddy slope we arrived at a boulder choke where a couple of possible routes were noticed but lack of kit meant we couldn't get up to them.  We then completed an interesting circular route back to the WBH.

Extract from expedition log.  Gary ...

"As expedition boy, I (Gary Jago) must undertake to:

a)       fetch beer & return empty bottles whenever called upon to do so.

b)       accept the blame for anything.

c)       talk about utter bollox when pissed!

I must also learn the ancient martial art of drinking Stiegl.  Vince Simmonds and Blakey are well educated as to this way of life.  As the elder Vince must be my mentor as I tread the treacherous path of Stiegl & Schnapps hoping one day to assume the mantle of black belt Austrian alcohol drinker, a position of honour, respect and inability to stand up straight.  This is a mission of peril and great danger, of copious vomiting and severely blurred vision - but I must look to my destiny.  As Luke Skywalker learnt to be a Jedi and Grasshopper taught "thingummy-jig" to be a Kung Fu monk, I must learn the ways of Stiegl & Schnapps, guided faithfully by the true men who have followed this path before me."

"To see it all, in a drunken mist, a strangers hand, a Stiegls kiss".


Weather's good so by 10.00 am.  Roz Gary & myself were on our way to G5 arriving at 11.15 am & into the cave by midday.  Carried to the top of the pitch (3m) Rich & I had previously pushed, we then began to survey out.  Got to the rope with a knot pass where we were met by Rich.  He'd had a minor epic when his generator pipe split but luckily he'd picked up my knife on the surface and was able to make running repairs, all this at the top of the 50m pitch.

Roz & Gary continued the survey, Rich & myself pushed on.

Quickly arrived at the bottom of the 3m pitch, picked up the bags, struggled through "Wobbly" , rigged the 10m pitch seen previously, landed on a boulder and both fell over.  A traverse down & around a very interesting faulted rift led to a 20m pitch. Rich went on down only to find himself dangling upside down by a tackle bag when the ledge he was standing on decided to collapse.

From the bottom of the 20m the route split, we followed an upper canyon which quickly deteriorated into "All the nasty bits together" (Rich's quote).  Rich pushed along the bottom which sounded very interesting to say the least.  Rich managed to get himself stuck fast on the return but after a good deal of cursing he managed to extricate himself.  We then headed back to the 20 for a fag break before starting back out.  A battle ensued, another fag at the 50m before arriving back at the surface at 5.10am.  A welcome cup of soup - Rich had the sense to bring a flask with him - and a steady walk back to WBH ..... More Stiegl.


The day dawned with good intentions except it looked as if a storm was building. Knocks and bruises, aches and pains aside we eventually managed to talk ourselves out of caving. After several Stiegls the storm hit with a vengeance.  Drink more Stiegl.


Got up early although not as early as Rich who was already pacing the kitchen.  After several coffees Rich & I were on our way to G5 at 6.50 am.  Arrived at G5 at 7.40am.  8.30am into the cave.  Steady trip in until I tripped, went crashing into the wall and severely hurt my elbow. At the bottom of the 20m pitch "BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE" Rich noticed that his harness was three quarters worn through.  We then went back into the rift where Rich pushed some lower tubes reporting back that they would be suicide to follow - very flood prone.  We went back to the top of the rift and pushed on. I was limited by my elbow so Rich gallantly forged ahead.  The way on is through some desperately tight, technical squeezes leading down into more open passage and free climbable pitches before more squeezes and so on ... "ONLY FIT FOR GECKOES AND INSANE WORMS".

Returned to the 20m, emergency repairs to Rich's harness, a fag and then back out.  On arrival at the 50m I realised that my cows tails were half worn through (I'd already replaced my foot loops) so I was very relieved to be off at the top.  Back on the surface the sun was still shining so after changing and a weary stroll back to WBH where food & Stiegl was very welcome.

Roz & Gary probably had the best idea and went for a stroll up to Schoberl (2242m) in the sunshine.


Everyone got up at 5.30am for coffee etc.  Roz & Gary were to go into G5 for surveying and if they felt like it to start de-tackling.  The weather, however, had different ideas and it began to rain steadily, so caving was binned again.  Things were not looking good, Rich's knee is severely knackered, my elbow's giving me real jip, the cave is still rigged and we don't have enough people.  The only thing to do is to delay our return to the U.K. and pray for a couple of days of good weather.

Another storm is building ... we sought solace in the bar.

Extract from expedition log

Gary:    Cabbage makes you fart.

Roz:     What's the point in coming to Austria when the weather's so crap I can't go underground.

Gary:    Why Stiegl of course!!

Roz:     But just coz Rich & Vince can absorb energy from Stiegl.. .. I can't.

Gary:    Me neither, but I'm willing to learn! 

It's easier pushing down Stiegl’s than G5.

Shut up Gary!!

The day dawned bright and sunny at 5.10 pm.  12 hours after everyone had got up to go caving.


Happy birthday to me.

Spent most (all) of the day drinking.

Wolfgang, Elfi and Rich prepared an absolutely superb evening meal & then we carried on drinking .... Shit faced again!

Extract from expedition log Gary

Written diagonally across the page.

It’s down hill from now on,
So I’ll write on a slope.
Dancing at the disco pump up a loppop,
Wait a minute where's me jumper?
How thick can the varnish get?

The way things are I can almost smell the texture of the green canvas with the exquisite demure draperie.

Have a permanent smile, put a coat hanger in your mouth. 
Next year I'm bringing my diving gear.

It's pissing down.
It's my birthday and we might as well get well and truly ...

Let's get pissed again, like you were last summer,
Let's get pissed again, like you did last year,
Do you remember when, beer was slightly cheaper,
Yeah get pissed again, drinking time is here.

Gary Jago's song tribute to the birthday of Mr Vince Simmonds.

And a dilly - dilly strawberry oh!!


Cracked again.

More drinking.

Weather seems better but after yesterday's effort, not capable of caving.

27 & 28.8.94

6.30 am get up to go caving.

Looks like rain .. go back to bed. 

8.00am get up to go caving.

Starts to rain ... go back to bed.

Weather forecast and actual weather do not relate.

9.30 am get up, still raining.

Stay up & have breakfast.  Still raining.

1.0 pm. brighter but awaiting the forecast. 

2.0 Still haven't cracked & gone for the Stiegl.

Eventually & after much deliberation, mainly on my part, at 2.30 pm. we decided to go for it.

Rich is very pissed off because his knee is so bad he is unable to come with us.

Arrive at G5 about 4.00 pm. Roz, Gary & I into the cave by 4.45 pm. A steady trip in with a much increased volume of water, especially the 50m pitch ensuring a nice cold shower. I was getting cold, should have worn my thermals.

Surveyed from the top of the 3m pitch to the top of the 20m pitch.  It was then decided to begin the job of de-tackling.  Gary went down the 20m twice because the bags snagged & then I began the slow process of de-rigging and I was bloody freezing.

An Aside ...

On the way down Gary arrived at the bottom of one pitch, stepped aside to pull some rope through his rack, when a good sized rock decided to fall 30m and land where he had just been stood!  He didn't look too impressed when I arrived!

Caved throughout the night, de-tackling to the top of the 50m pitch.  I arrived at the entrance cursing because of complete light failure and during my darkness, jamming into the knot.  Roz was cursing her anti cave bag but the job was completed.  All on the surface by 4.00am.  Then after soup & sandwiches, began the trudge back to WBH taking 3 heavy bags of kit with us.  The weariness was somewhat compensated for by walking back in the most amazing sunrise.

Arrived at WBH at 6.25 am to meet Rich, who had been waiting since 3.30am to Stiegls & food, prompting the comment from other guests "They must be British!"  After that slumped into bed satisfied in the knowledge most of the cave had been de-rigged and all that's left to do is de-tackle the entrance series (not prone to weather conditions) and carry the rest of the kit back.

Extract from the expedition log

Roz: Carried out Ivan's home made white bag not designed for caving in Austria ­ was a complete bastard - on the side was written "handle with care" & "fragile" ­what a load of bollocks.

Vince said it was a nice bag - virgin etc ... - but he didn't take it for a trip in & out of the cave .... I did!!!

Gary: I like it because it's crunchy!
 Always get your feet metered!
 Drinking was binned in favour of caving today. 
 I got caught by the krabs in "Sweaty Betty". 
 Vince got cold.
 Roz was just stubborn.
 Got up at midday and had a very pleasant do - diddley day.


Weather's great - mist & drizzle, the intrepid trio go for it anyway.

Roz & Gary's mission was to de-tackle from the top of the 50m pitch out.  Mine was to see how much kit I could get into all the small gaps in my rucksack when packing 2 men's kit (Rich's & my own!).  When your rucksack is so heavy you can hardly pick it up add two caving helmets, loosely, to the top to assist in imbalance. Stumbled my way over to the top of the cliff and dumped my bag then returned to G5 to tidy up and await the arrival of Roz & Gary.  Very peaceful place when you are alone in the rain - perfect quiet.  When all were reunited on the surface, all the gear was packed and the slow, very slow slog back to WBH was started.  The damp grey weather was a godsend; the walk back would have been unbearable in the sunshine.

Duly arrived at the glocken and dumped our bags and went for several Stiegls.

Elfi prepared another glorious meal for us, chicken & veg soup, half chicken salad, Stiegl, Schnapps, Red wine etc ... fell asleep at the table .... YAWN!!

Extracts from the expedition log

Roz & Gary, (the de-rigging de-riggers of de-riggsville, United Kingdom of de-rigging) de-rigged G5 from the top of the 50m pitch in a de-rigging style with an overall de-rigging motif.

A major question ... if my rucksack and Vince's rucksack (I'm Gary) are both 75 litres - how come I look like a bloke with a rucksack and he looks like a rucksack with a bloke attached?

Oh Stiegl, Oh Stiegl my friend,
Oh Stiegl, Oh Stiegl you are our best friend,
Over boulders and bunder we blunder along,
Until Stiegl mountain we did run along,
Pushed new passage which Rich went pushing alone,
Surveyed to 20 and ten we are gone,
G5 is excellent and still going on,
Oh Stiegl, Oh Stiegl where did you come from,
A shame about the weather,
To sit on a table would be pleasure indeed,
But give me a bloke who would swallow a boat,
And I'll show you a table with screws instead of nails,
And feet with copious quantities of deep shag pile carpet,
And that's no word of a lie.


Finally all good things come to an end and this is our last day.  Spent the morning sorting all the kit out before it was time for lunch, chicken & veg soup, meats, cheese etc.

Then the very sad wrench of saying goodbye to Wolfgang, Elfi & Rich and the last Stiegl & Schnapps before the walk back to the valley.  As we were walking to the valley Rich was being whisked away to hospital by helicopter, to Bad Ischl to get his knee sorted.

Arrived at Halstatt to do some shopping in the Konsum for the WBH before going back to the Seilbahn to load the van including the 100kg of carbide Rich had ordered buried under all our wet caving gear - wise move.  On the road by 4.30 pm.


Again drove through the night, had a couple of breaks and arrived at the ferry port with plenty of time to spare.  Got the tickets sorted and boarded.  Quicker smoother crossing.  Slept a little, played cards.  A nervous time through customs before being on our way back to the Mendips by 6.30pm. Duly arrived after driving through bad conditions at 10.15pm.  Substitute Butcombe for Stiegl and carry on as normal.

The conclusion G5 -400m and still going.

An Aside ...

On watching Roz prepare porridge, Wolfgang would shake his head & smile saying ... "This is only fit for pigs to eat!"

Vince Simmonds.


Morton's Pot Dig. Eastwater Cavern.

Work has restarted on this exceptionally promising dig, which is likely to provide a deep vertical route into Southbank, at the very bottom of the cave.  It is essential that we take full advantage of the current dry spell to both dig at the end and remove full spoil bags - of which there are scores lying in wait at the present time.  Anyone visiting the site is encouraged to haul as many full bags out as possible and dump them in the approach to the traverse.  At least three persons are needed.  There is usually a good team digging on Wednesday nights but the more the merrier.  Pick an evening or part of a weekend and organise your own team!  You may be lucky enough to break through - hopefully before the winter rains flood the dig again.

All empty bags and strops should be either taken back to the end or neatly stacked for the next team. If two people are digging at the end, beware of CO2 build up.  One digger should be prepared to get wet.

Below is a diagram of the current operations.




Swildons Revisited

In common with many others I derive great pleasure from my trips into Swildons, and with each visit I always seem to find something new that I had not fully registered before.

With this in mind I feel that perhaps club members might wish to read of some earlier trips by keen explorers into Swildons, from 60 years ago.

My wife's father, E.J. Douglas, was an active caver in the 1930s, and a member of the Yorkshire based Cavern and Fell Club - who made their social base in the Hill Inn.  As Secretary of this club he retained copies of their annual records together with complimentary copies of the Mendip Exploration Society journals.  Following his death, these documents have now been passed on for safe keeping to my family.

By 1934 Swildons had been extended to what we now know as sump 2.  Indeed Savory mentions parties being led down to sump 1 in 1921, as well as detailing trips to the Hunter's Lodge for refreshments after these sessions.

60 years ago F.G. Balcombe was responsible for extending this area of the cave and submitted the following report to the Cavern & Fell Club of his adventures

Further Notes on Swildons Hole.

Somerset 1934           By F.G.Balcombe.

After the disappointment of the earlier attack with jumpers and gelignite, hope was never really given up. A sneaking idea that something could be done still lurked in our minds, eventually to form itself into a concrete idea.

There must be a way on big enough to crawl through - or almost 'must' - so if by any means we could crawl through it perhaps an obstruction would be found easier of removal than the barrier massif.  Hence, after toying a long time with the idea, the risks of diving seemed to grow less and less, until quite justifiable, and a Heath Robinson respiration outfit with 40 ft of garden hose was finally constructed and tested out in the domestic bath.  For the benefit of those who may consider rubber hose as a means of air supply for human consumption, it may well be mentioned that half an hour breathing through this foul smelling medium is enough to turn the strongest rather green.

The respirator itself was of very simple construction the seat tube of a ladies cycle forming the principal member.  This was cut down to suitable dimensions, 'Raspberry' valves fitted to either end, and the curved member hacked off to take the mouth tube.  Connection to the hosepipe, a face strap to hold the mouthpiece in situ, a nose clip, swim goggles, a head light and a rope round one ankle complete the equipment - save in one detail, just about as much 'guts' as one man can summon to his assistance.

The ghastly noises emanating from the devilish gear have to be heard down in the bowels of the earth, in misty dim lit surroundings, to be appreciated to the full extent.  But to the history of the job.  Three attempts were made to locate the exit and when found the respirator failed to respond at the depth necessary and it was impossible to pass through without inviting serious consequences.  An attempt was made by Jack Sheppard but alas the hose had been badly re-fixed and came adrift at the furthest point reached - about 20 ft under the rockshelf, it is to his exceptional underwater experience that I am not writing these notes to the 'In Memoriam' column.

Now two things had been learned from this escapade, first that the respirator must be pressure fed and second that waterproof clothing is needed as the low temperature of the water coupled with the blood circulation impaired by the inevitable nervous apprehension is more than the ordinary mortal can stand.

So with a record dash for the surface of the earth to try and restore our dangerously chilled bodies to normal warmth, the second phase in the attack closed.  But no.  There was an aftermath.  The excited tongues of visitor members wagged too rapidly and too loudly, the wily pressmen pricked up their ears and foul calumnies appeared in the Western press, over which we had better draw a veil.

Third phase opened assault and battery.  A charge of 10lb gelignite was laid against the roof of the newly opened arch and fired on time delay at 1.00 a.m.  A dull rumble as of distant thunder disturbed the thunder and the slumbering village shook and trembled.  A party went down the next day with ill concealed excitement to view the wreckage, but there was none, or only a flake looked a bit loose and the mud of a tidal wave was plainly evident.  Jack Sheppard, the most intrepid of the advance trio attacked with a crowbar and suddenly woof - splosh - the lights went out and time stood still - or nearly so - as something like the whole roof fell down before us almost scraping our knees and then drenching us with the splash.  A deathly silence followed – no one dared speak, until, the spell broken at last, we assured each other that we were untouched, and then lit up.  About 20 tons of rock had peeled off the roof and now lay half buried in the mud of the pool.  Thus was our objective brought a little nearer.

Another trip was arranged and loaded with 30lb of 'jelly' we wormed our way down to the pool and planted a shot in the mud at the far end in the hopes that it might dislodge the supposed obstruction.  Only a tidal wave resulted.  Another and larger shot was then fixed under the archway and shot off.  It was evident from previous experience that it was quite safe to stay below during the fireworks, and really, it seemed that more disturbance was caused at the surface than below.  We even managed to keep one of the many candles alight when the shot went off, though the air surged violently up and down the passage in which we were ensconced.  It appeared later that this shot went off during evensong in the village church above our heads.  Rumour hath it that the hassocks jumped six inches off the floor.  The congregation thought that perhaps the judgement day had indeed come and afterwards - according to our information - the vicar was heard to exceed his allotted vocabulary of "Dear me!" Tut - tut.

But we are straying. When the fumes had subsided a little, the damage was inspected.  The object of our attack was untouched - solid and immovable - but the adjacent rib of rock had shed an enormous pile of blocks and had utterly changed the configuration of the final chamber.

Alas doomed to this, another disappointment, we retreated once more to think it over.  The project was announced at the time as officially abandoned but "Hope will spring eternal" as the poets have said and we hope to have another look at it sometime later in the year.

Better that we leave it a while and let the spirit of peace settle once more on Mendip.  Let the press reports of earthquakes in the West be forgotten and let the inhabitants replace their broken crockery we venture forth again to the next attack.

"My former hopes are fled
My terror now begins,
I feel, alas, that I am dead
In trespasses and sins.

Ah! Whither shall I fly,
I hear the thunder roar
The Law proclaims destruction nigh,
And vengeance at the door.

I see, or think I see
A glimmer far away
I'll gaze upon it as I run
And watch the rising day.

(After Cowper).

Balcombe returned to Swildons in 1936 and I have details of this trip together with his 1935 Wookey Hole dives.  If any club member would wish to see these .... just ask!

John Freeman.

ref: Glimmering in the darkness. Balcombe.

Wells NHS Proceedings 1934 ( published 1935)

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

1994 - 1995 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Angie Cave
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Andy Cave
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams



Hello everyone.  This is the first BB of the 'Club Year' and is the Christmas issue.  My apologies for not having produced one earlier, this is due to ongoing computer problems and my thanks go to Dick Fred for his continuing patience and help in this area.

I've put it together as quickly as I can, as per request of certain Honorary Life Members (see elsewhere in this journal for details) and consequently have not necessarily included articles that certain individuals may have been expecting to see.  It also means that I have not had time to retype some of the contents, so please excuse the different typefaces etc.  My thanks go to those of you who have written articles in the past year as do my pleas to anyone who feels like writing something; I can always use extra material.

Some club business ..... Firstly from Mike Wilson ......

Some of the more observant members who frequent the shed may have noticed a strange looking metal tower 8'6" high residing next to the tackle store.  This is not a catenary tower for the next BEC space launch but the promised rope testing rig!  All the vital parts are locked in the inner sanctum of aforementioned tackle store. We hope to test all the expedition ropes and date tag them - giving us some kind of datum point to work from in the future - in the interests of safety!  Also the rig will be available for personal testing at prearranged dates/times and a nominal fee will be charged to help towards tackle replenishment. At the time of writing the rig is only good for factor 1 tests but we will have the components for factor 2 tests shortly.  Thanks go to the lads who have shown interest and support in this project and special thanks to the member who supplied the Avro Vulcan bomb release mechanism.  I hope the rig is well used. M.W.

Further on the matter of tackle, from the committee .....

The current tackle situation is that out of 22 club ladders there are only 3 booked out in the log and NONE in the tackle store!!!  This means that members have been repeatedly unable to have access to kit.  There has been little response to requests to return ladders, indeed some non-BEC and sub standard ladders were brought in instead of the original kit borrowed.

Would any member holding any club kit please return it to the tackle store or to any committee member by the February committee meeting so that a proper check and inventory can be done.

And from Jeff Price-(Caving Secretary).

St Cuthbert’s Swallet Tackle Fees.  If trips are arranged through the caving secretary, the club/group requesting a trip will have to pay the fees at the time of booking, otherwise leaders will still collect fees at the time of the trip.

O.F.D. Permit.

The OFD II (top) Cwm Dwr permit has been renewed.  Anyone visiting the above must have a permit with them (and have filled it in). Permits are kept at the Belfry and by Jeff and if anyone needs one urgently they can contact him on his home number 0272-499299 and a permit will be posted.  Please note these are only available to paid up members.

As was agreed at the last committee meeting, completed membership forms for prospective new members must be handed to either the proposer or seconder and presented to the committee by them.  This is to ensure that the applicant and his/her proposer/seconder are present at the committee meeting ..... .DF.

And Finally ............ SUBSCRIPTIONS DUE ....

As you will see elsewhere in this ish subs for 94/95 are now due and are ...

£20.00 single and £30.00 joint if paid by 31.12.94

£24.00 single and £36.00 joint if paid after 1.1.95


A Letter to the Editor

Dear Ed,

Reading last years article on the successes of people despite them being cavers, I was suitably amused with the subject lateral to caving activity, so here's a bit more ...

This then concerning the subtle criteria for choosing names for caves and parts therein being different to that used by climbers for routes and parts thereof, I suspect the last word in each case has something to do with it.

The trends in cave names appear to be dominated by geographical detail or locations whilst points therein are referred to more often than not by hydrological or descriptive attributes.  For the most part names of climbs follow the same rules.  The main exceptions in each case appear to be 1. a strong vein of humour both blasphemous and tongue in cheek for cave systems and 2. fictional futuristic and fantastic for climbing routes.  A dodgy speculation here may be that while the climbing fraternity are more often than not performing in pairs, caving is undertaken (pun intended) by larger groups which leads to a more prolific dissemination of humour in the socialising 'après descendre'.  Further dodgy speculation leads to the three Fs in route names of climbs pandering to spectator attention, their public is suitably awed as it were, this is something that caving, by its very nature, cannot enjoy.

I accept that several other factors are at work here, for instance cave names have the opportunity to describe more dimensions rather than being dominated by verticality, individual moves on climbs can be bloody desperate but not very different from the stamina sapping characteristics of a long caving trip, the terminology must therefore spring from some other source.  This leads to a most dodgy speculation that the lack of an audience in caving has been instrumental in the generation of aforementioned blasphemous annotation.

In conclusion then, it appears to be the public's fault.. .. as was thought all along!! Any more ideas anyone ... ???

            John King.


"From the Belfry Table"

This is just a brief note from Herr "Hon Sec," which hopefully Jingles 'The Ed' will see fit to publish.  The committee will try to keep a regular 'First Friday of the month' plan for meetings, so here is your official notification for all of you ardent waffle followers of the set dates ....   Nov 4, Dec 2, Jan 6, Feb 3, Mar 3, Apr 7, May 5, Jun 2 Jul 7, Aug 4, Sep 1.

My apologies in advance for missing the December meeting, the 2nd is my wedding anniversary and as it was good enough for the last sec, I will be on holiday in one of his hotels in Jamaica until Dec 14th, only trouble is he has threatened to turn up as well and take me caving!




COME IN NO 4 YOUR TIME IS UP .... Dan Hasell (Member No 4) was honoured at the AGM when the meeting supported the outgoing committee's proposal to give honorary life membership to 'No 4' for his long standing support of the BEC and Caving and Cave Diving over many years, indeed many of us were touched and humbled by Dan's acceptance speech.

Martin Grass was also honoured by the AGM and awarded one year’s honorary membership in gratitude for the sterling work over 14 years on the committee.  He has thankfully also offered to make a donation, not, I think, a bad idea ... do you?


The AGM further advised me to contact all life members and determine their current interest, if any, in the BEC, as rising costs and insurance premiums levied on each member, now lay heavily upon the paying membership of the club. This in no way detracts from the fact that these people made the club and the Belfry what it is today. We must never lose sight of that, however when they were called upon, they stood to be counted.  I also personally believe that they would not now want to be a drain upon the club. Unfortunately, this is the current position due to circumstances beyond our control. There is no intention for them to renounce their category of membership, but rather now we hope that they might consider making a contribution towards their BB, insurance etc., no one can deny that for the most part they have had an average minimum twenty five years membership for their respective contributions.  The club does not forget its debt, but must have due regard to the membership as a whole.

Anyway, hope to keep you all briefed, as long as there is food on the table.

Regards to all.    'Mr ‘N’ Hon. Sec.



Nr Billingshurst
West Sussex

5 October 1994

Dear Jingles,

A word is required on the BEC club dinner - Excellent.  What more could be said? Unfortunately - there is more!  From the moment we arrived back at the Belfry, our ears and stomachs were subjected to loud unexpected music over which conversation was difficult in the extreme.  Even this could have been tolerated if the volume was lower and the balance was not pure bass.

Knowing the general high spirits of the well oiled caver we had set our tent up in the snake pit so that when we retired for the night we could be well out of the way for a peaceful nights sleep, so that the party could continue until the last person dropped. Without disturbing us.  Even in our tent however the penetrating qualities of the music intruded.  Hence a disturbed nights sleep and the ruination of an otherwise enjoyable event.

On talking with various people in the morning we gather that the music was a ploy by a minority to wind some of the other members up.  This we think they managed to do extremely well, but we do not regard this within the context of high spirits.

But apart from that please keep up with the high standard of entertainment and good food that constitutes a BEC club dinner.

Congratulations to Nigel Taylor and The Belfry Boys.

            Yours sincerely

                        Dave Ball & Ruth Baxter.

PS So if after publishing this letter you would pass it on to the committee so they could look into this complaint we would be grateful and hopefully much relieved in the future.


Bristol Exploration Club 1994 AGM held at the Belfry 1st October 1994

Meeting Opened 1045 Hours

The secretary asked for nominations for Chairman.

Bob Cork Chairman.  No other nominations (30 For: 1 Against)

Jingles proposed 1993 AGM minutes taken as read and ratified.  Seconded Rob Harper.  Unanimously accepted.

Matters Arising

Chris Batstone asked if we ever got a Hut Warden's report for 1993 .. asking we never got one.  D. Turner said if we knew where the survey kits were.  M. Wilson reported all 3 kits were now in his possession.  B. Wilton reported the books had now been audited for 1993.

1994 Secretary's report

No matters arising.

Brian Prewer proposed a sincere vote of thanks to M. Grass for his efforts over the last 5 years. Seconded Mac. Report accepted. Proposed D. Turner.  Seconded R. Harper.  Carried Unanimously.

Caving Secretary's Report

Taken as read.   No matters arising.  Carried Unanimously.  Proposed Blitz.  Seconded C. Batstone.

Hut Wardens Report

Taken as read - no questions.  M. Grass proposed a vote of thanks as Estelle had taken more money than ever before mainly due to her collection technique.  Proposed R. Harper.  Seconded N. Taylor.

Hut Engineer

Tim sent his apologies. Report taken as read.  Ron Wyncole sent a report on the fire extinguishers (see attached).  Brian and Nigel voiced major concern that some of our fire extinguishers had been "loaned" to the Shepton Mallet C.C.  Although high spirits set off extinguishers our insurance would be invalid if we had a fire.  Setting off extinguishers should be dealt with severely by the Hut Warden. Proposed Jingles.  Seconded Mike Wilson.  Carried Unanimously.

Membership Secretary

Ted Humphreys asked why a membership list had not been published.  Nigel said it had taken a long time to get the records straight. One would be published in the next B.B. D. Turner asked about Nigel's proposal of getting contribution from Life Members.  Dan Hasell said we should write and ask if Life Members wished to remain members and still receive the B.B.  D. Turner asked that Nigel write to all Life Members as suggested at last years AGM.  Nigel said he had spoken to members rather than written.  Nigel agreed to write to selected Life Members.  C. Batstone asked how many members we had.  Nigel said he could not give an exact figure.  Proposed acceptance D. Turner.  Seconded Ted Humphreys.  All for one abstention.

Tackle Masters Report

Published.  As usual ladders were missing.  Bob Cork said should we not have ladders but hire them from someone.  The meeting said no.  Struen said we should try non-compatible c. links.  Brian Prewer said this wouldn't work as MRD may need to mix club ladders on a rescue.  It was decided to try and ensure ladders are tagged and are logged out.  Proposed C. Batstone.  Seconded Greg Villis.  Carried Unanimously.

B.B. Editor

Dan Hasell said could we have more B.B's Nigel Taylor said that since Jingles had edited the B.B. it had been excellent.  He said cost meant we could only have a B.B. every 2 months plus if he had enough articles he could do a monthly one.  Proposed Nigel Taylor.  Seconded Rob Harper.  Carried Unanimously.  1 Abstention.

Treasurers Report - Blitz read it out.

Members said we should have remained in the BMC.  Dave Glover said now there was a joining fee plus about £3.50 per member per year fee. M. Grass suggested next years' committee look at rejoining if it is not to costly.  D. Turner had proposed this at the 1993 AGM.  It was agreed to continue.  The telephone was not making money and we were about £52 per year down. Mr. N. said should we charge MRO for some line rental.  M. Grass said no as this was our contribution to MRD.  It was agreed to not put up charges but to continue subsidising the line rental.

Dave Turner was told by the Chairman that he could make the final statement.  He said he had said enough.  £250 was given to Trebor for the publication of the Wigmore report. Trebor reported that it would be published within the next 2 months.

Oil and electricity after much discussion about heating costs, Jingles Proposed, Seconded Mac that next years' committee put a locked box over the frost stat to stop people turning up the heating mid week.  Keys to committee members.  Brian Prewer Proposed.  Seconded Nigel.  That we go to a cheap Electricity plan for nights and weekdays.  Brian had done this at the village hall.  He will advise next year’s committee.

R. Harper asked why we had spent so much on cleaning materials etc.  Blitz said the previous Hut Warden had not always accurately accounted for all cleaning product expense.

St. Cuthbert’s loans - Blitz said we had made a profit on hut fees and that we could pay off some of the pledge money.

Auditors Report

Barry Wilton reported that the accounts were becoming more complicated and 4 weeks was not long enough to audit the accounts by the AGM.  D. Turner proposed that next years' committee is instructed to look at a constitutional change to the financial year.  Seconded Mac: 0 Against: 4 abstentions.  Carried.

The auditor will audit the accounts and report back to the next committee meeting and they will be published in the B.B.

Ian Dear Memorial Fund Proposed

Report published in the B.B. Proposed Mac.  Seconded Jingles. 0 Against:  2 Abstention.  Carried.

Librarians Report

Dave asked for a membership list to be put in the library. Blitz asked if any books had gone missing. He said he knew of none.  Proposed Estelle.  Seconded Andy Cave.  1 Against. 1 Abstention.

St. Cuthbert’s report selling slowly but steadily.

Nigel Taylor Proposed. Seconded BEC committee that due to his support of the BEC member No.4 Dan Hasell is accepted as an Honorary Life Member.  All carried Unanimously.

Election of committee

Nigel Taylor, Chris Smart, Mike Wilson, Jingles, Jeff Price, Andy Cave *, Angie Cave *, Dick Fred *, Estelle Sandford, had all said they would like to stand. All were voted on, on block.

* those marked * are new to the committee.








Hon Sec

Nigel Taylor

D. Turner

A. Cave





Chris Smart


N. Taylor




Caving Sec.

Jeff Price


C. Batstone





Mike Wilson






Hut Warden

Angie Cave


Rob Harper




Hut Engineer

Andy Cave






Membership Sec

Dick Fred


Angie Cave






D. Turner





The meeting understand and agreed that Estelle would take over as assistant treasurer.

Non committee posts:




D. Turner

Alan Thomas

B. Wilton

B. Prewer

T. Humphries

C. Batstone


M. Gr4ass

D. Turner




Proposed: Jingles Seconded Blitz that the librarian is instructed to find out from the Archivist what archives we have and where they are kept.

M. Grass was given Hon. Membership for one year as acknowledgement of his services to the club. Proposed N. Taylor.  That club has a position of President.  Much conversation continued: 9 For: 15 Against: 0 Abstentions.  Not carried.

Proposed R. Harper. Seconded Nigel that we have a Member to Excess which can only be awarded by the AGM.  26 For: 1 Against: 1 Abstention.  The committee to be instructed to look at a suitable award.

Any Other Business

A          Report from BEC rescue team leader. Read out by the Chairman.  Blitz asked Brian Prewer to comment.  Brian said all real rescues are insured by police, now practices are also insured.  The practice organised by P. Romford was not OK'd by the BEC committee.  Mac said Phil's report was wrong in saying it was for experienced SRT cavers only.  Mac asked that it is minuted that Phil is an experienced caver and has a lot to offer.

Brian Prewer said that the original purpose of Club team leaders is that they are generally young members who hopefully will become MRO Wardens.

Andy Cave proposed a vote of censure of no confidence in the current team leader as there was a deliberate intent not to inform the Club of the practice. 20 For.  9 Abstention.  0 Against.

M. Grass proposed that the position reverts back to Caving Sec. to appoint team leaders as and when required.  Seconded Estelle.  25 For: 2 Against: 2 Abstention.  D. Turner proposed that the next committee are instructed to issue a set of guidelines for Practice Club rescues.  25 For: 0 Against: 1 Abstentions.

Nigel Taylor said Kevin Fisher who stole Trebor’s car had now admitted the crime and will probably receive a custodial sentence.

Blitz said do we need a full balance sheet or partial.  A partial one was a good idea.

Next years' dinner and AGM 7 October 1995.

Meeting Closed 1555 hours.

1994 BEC AGM Present

M. Grass, B. Cork, Jingles, Stuan, Helen Harper, Rob Harper, Estelle Sandford, Mike Wilson, Any Cave, Angie Cave, Hilary Wilson, Babs Williams, Pete Hellier, Kevin Gurmer, Dave Glover, Ruth Baxter, John Freeman, B.J. Wilton, Ted Humphreys, Chas, Nigel Taylor, Chris Batstone, Chris Smart, Dave Turner, S.J. McManus, Dan Hasell, B. Prewer, Greg Villas, Emma Porter, Nick Gymer, Dave Ball, Rich Long.

Late Arrival, John Buxton.


The Case of the Corduroy Trouser

by Dave Irwin

Investigation Into the history of cave exploration can lead the speleological researcher into many unexpected dele avenues.  None more so than the 'Case of the Corduroy Trouser.' To lay the least this is the most unusual the writer has yet come across to establish the date of cave

The standard references to this cave all imply that interest in Lamb Leer Cavern waned after Beaumont's initial exploration.  Though 18th century county historians knew of the site none had visited it and the information they gave came from Lowthorpe's, 1705 edition of the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions and Collections, 1700. 1 By 1823 both Conybeare and Buckland commented that the cave was no longer open and by 1868, Woodward wrote that the location of the entrance had been lost and even the local inhabitants of the Harptree villages did not know of the cave's existence. 2 3 The train of events that followed the original exploration and mining activity in the cave, during the period 1675 - 1680, is one of great interest.  If the cave was not accessible in the 1820s when was it last visited?  A chance remark by the mining 'Captain' during the visit to the cave in July 1880 gives a clue to the answer.

The twenty-five year old John Beaumont of Ston Easton, near Chewton Mendip, first explored the cave about 1675 and fortunately he wrote of his experiences in the publications of the Royal Society 4 leaving detailed accounts of the cave including his study of the stalactite formations and the crinoid fossils that abound at the site. In addition to his descriptions he outlined his activities during his search for galena in the Main Chamber. He excavated a high rift passage. Beamnont's Drive. leading to what is now known today as the Cave of the Falling Waters.  The clay deposits also interested him as the red ochre mud was of use to him in his medical practice.

1                    Lowthorpe, J., 1705. Philosophical Transactions & Collections. To the End of ... 1100. Abridg'd, Vo1.2, 369-370. [Other editions published 1716, 1722 and 1731]

2                    Woodward, Horace B., 1876, Geology of East Somerset and the Bristol Coal-fields.  Memoirs of the Geological Survey. London. x + 271pp, maps :

p. 187-189- descriptive summary of caves at Westbury [ Bristol]. Durdham Down: Clifton ­Ghyston's or Giant's cave; Lamb Cavern, near East Harptree

 ... The lamb Cavern was a very lofty and spacious vault containing stalactites. The descent to it was by a shaft 70 fathoms deep.

No knowledge of it was possessed by any inhabitants of whom I inquired in 1868.  Messrs Buckland and Conybeare write in 1823, “1t is not now open, but appears from the description of it given in MATON'S WESTERN TOUR (see vol. ii p. 132) to be rather an old mine than a natural cave. 8 ... '

3                    Maton, William G., 1797, Observations relative chiefly to the Natural History ... of the Western Counties of England ... Salisbury: J. Sutton. 2 Volumes.

4                    The references and transcripts of the Beaumont papers are fuRly discussed in Shaw, T.R., 1962, Lamb Leer in the 17th Century.  UBSS Proceedings, Volume 9, No.3, pp.183-187

The limited value to the miners caused the site to be abandoned - hence its name - a Leer - an open cavity that was empty of ore.  During the next century the cave was often referred to by topographical writers, though most appeared not to have visited the site but simply plagiarised material from earlier writers.  At least one thought it to be an old mine.  Benjamin Martin, in his book.  The Natural History of Somerset, 5 included an erroneous transcript of Beaumont's account based on the abridged reprint of the Royal Society Philosophical Transactions and Collections, published various editions between 1705 and 1731.  Martin was not alone.  Collinson 6 and Woodward both state that the entrance shaft is 70 fathoms deep - a typographical error - the actual depth of the shaft was 70 feet. 7

At the time Woodward was preparing his book on the coalfields of East Somerset and Bristol, published in 1876 the mining company Bolton and Partners 8 took a lease from the Waldegrave Estates.  Between 1873 and c. 1886, extending from Compton Martin to Chewton Mendip in the hope that they might revive the flagging Mendip industry.  On Lamb Hill they set their operations in the search for iron ore, miners were employed under the experience of, Captain' Nicholls and his team.  During this time Bolton became aware of Beaumont's account of a great cavern in the vicinity and after careful research they unearthed his 17th accounts of the cave.  The detail they had available to them was vague and as Woodward had stated, local information would be of little help.  In 1879 the company decided that it would repay them to concentrate on the relocation of the cave and excavations began.  However by the autumn little progress had been made and hopes of finding the cave were wilting.  A shareholder in the Bolton Company, one Charles Algernon Moreing visited the workings becoming interested in the lost cavern.  Winter was now upon them but Moreing swotted the subject but gained nothing new that was not already known about the cave.  In the spring and early summer months Nicholls and his men continued searching encouraged by the reward of £2 and 3 shillings a day for the man who re-entered the cave - not as Balch claims in his well-known books that it was Waldegrave Estates who had offered £100 as a reward for the caves re-discovery.  Drilling and excavating continued apace hut again to no avail.  However, according to one of the miners working at the site, Andrew Lyon, one of the miners working at the site had had a grandfather who had told him of the location of the cave entrance.  Whether this is true or mere fabrication we shall never know but during June, 1879, a shaft had been sunk and at the depth of about 60ft found a hole that led them into a parallel shaft- known today as the Beaumont Shaft.  They had found the entrance passages to the cave. The Wells Journal and other local newspapers published an account of the re-discovery alerting the mining expert James McMurtrie to their discovery.  In addition to his responsibilities to the coal mines of the Radstock area, McMurtrie was also Agent for the Waldegrave Estates and one of his responsibilities was to ensure that the mining activity did not interfere with the other interests of the landowner, Earl Waldegrave.

This note has been re-printed from the latest newsletter of the BCRA Special Interest Group's Newsletter No.6 (with permission).

Many readers of the BB may not have heard of these specialist groups that cater for cavers interested in Communications, surveying, hydrology, explosives and Speleo-history.  Membership of the groups is open to all cavers including non-BCRA members.  There is a subscription differential of about 30% for non-members.  Further information can be obtained from Bryan Ellis, 20 Woodland Ave., Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset. TA7 0LQ Tel.: (0278) 691539

5                    Martin, Benjamin, 1759.  The Natural History of Somersetshire. Pub: W. Owen, London.  (The section given is from a collection of county descriptions published under the collective title of The Natural History of England: or, a description of each particular county. in regard to the curious productions of nature and art. For fun details refer to tv1endip Cave Bibliography. Part II, Books, Pamphlets. Manuscripts and Maps. 3rd Century to December 1968 by T.R. Shaw.  Pub.: Transactions of Cave Research Group of Great Britain, Vol. 14 No.3, July 1972 ~tem number 495]

Re-exploration of the cave took place.  A winch was installed at the entrance together with a wooden ladder.  At the top of the pitch into the Main Chamber, a pulley system was installed enabling a team of about five men to control to paying out of the rope at the top lowering the visitor down the 70ft pitch.  One has only to reflect on their difficulties; indeed not only these men but the achievement on the young John Beaumont. None of these men had the advantage of approaching the top of the pitch into the Main Chamber by creeping under the aragonite floor.  The approach was over the top through the awkward hole that would cause problems for today's SRT or laddering experts.

The Bath Field Club 9 heard or read of the re-discovery and applied to be able to visit the cave. So, within a month of the caves' rediscovery, they paid a visit on July 13th. 1880.  It was also to be James McMurtie’s first visit to the cave. Prior to the descent of the cave Nicholls outlined the work involved in the relocating of the cave - in fact some 37 borings had been made - indicating the considerable effort afforded by him and his men.  Nicholls stated that one of the first points of interest he noted was the mark of a corduroy trouser in the mud.  This then was the all important clue to when the cave was last visited.  When did men begin wearing trousers made of the corduroy weave.  Some searching took place and eventually with the help of individuals associated with the Wells Museum, it transpired that the weave had been invented in 1789 and was patented in 1795.  Here was the all important answer.  For it meant that the entrance to the cave was accessible in the post-1795 period.  For manufacture and marketing of trousers made of this material would have taken some time to become readily available in the clothing outlets and implies that the cave was still open, probably as late as 1800.  Thus the comment that the entrance was no longer open in 1873 meant that the site was sealed within the first two decades of the 19th century.  The lack of interest in the cave from the date actually coincides with the down-turn in mining activity on Mendip during the early 19th century and this may well have been the cause of the entrance slumping and eventually becoming blocked.  The Speleo-historian has to question every little statement and leave nothing to chance. Such is life!

6                    Colinson, John, 1791, The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset, ... Bath: R. Cruttwell, 3 volumes. [Lamb Leer reference Vol 3, page 587]

7                    Balch also used this erroneous transcript, refer to

Balch, H.E., 1937, Mendip. Its Swallet Caves ... , Wells, Clare, Son & Co., ltd. p.74-75. [19.(8 2nd edition, London: Simpkin, Marshall, (1941) Ltd. p.38-39]

8                    The company underwent several name changes during its activities on Mendip.

9                    Anon, 1881, Secretaries Notes and Excursion Report. Proceedings of the Bath Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club, Vol. 4, p. 363-365 and 316-382



BFPO 344

At Sea - Off West Falkland

16 March 1994

I am currently serving onboard HMS NORFOLK.  One of the Royal Navy’s Type 23 Frigates.  During our South Atlantic patrol we visited Punta Arenas in Chile for a short stand off.

In the course of this visit I was able to take a two day expedition to the Torres del Paine National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty the Patagonian Andes (famous world-wide for the imposing Towers which the park its name).

During the visit to the park I made a brief visit to the Cueva del Milodon (Caves of Milodon) a show cave which I found to contain a number of fascinating speleological features.

The cave was formed by the erosive action of glacial melt-water on the conglomerate which forms the side wall of a deep U-shaped glacial valley.

As shown on the sketch map below the cave is situated on the side wall of the valley at the point where the glacier snout formed the terminal moraines.  The entrance is about 100 m across and about 30 m high.  The cave floor rises at an angle of about is degrees and two distinct "bedding planes can be seen.  The outermost being the lower (and presumably the more recent watercourse).  Both bedding planes are now choked with loose boulders.   The inner section of the cave is filled with a fine glacial silt which still bears the traces of Ion Age habitation in the form of hut foundations.

Unfortunately the caves touristic value has been 'enhanced' by the addition of a ten foot high fibre-glass Milodon (a prehistoric bear) which has become the focus of the cave with little in the wav of speleological explanation being available from the park wardens.

The cave ceiling has a number of eroded formations.  Most of which have been badly damaged by the smoke from the fires of the caves early inhabitants.

Sketch showing the general topography of the valley.


Sketch of plan and elevation views of cave




Caving In The Falkland Islands

On Saturday 23 April a team of six cavers from HMS NORFOLK conducted a reconnaissance expedition to the Paloma Sand Beach area of East Falkland.

This area is reputed by local legend to have been the hideout for eighteenth century smugglers and as such is well recognised to have a number of caves.

Paloma beach is a remote bay located at the North-westerly extremity of East Falkland (position South 51,25,40 West 059,01,30).  Bordered by sandstone and shale cliffs on both sides the beach is a flat expanse of white sand stretching for 3 km (see map).

Locally obtained information suggested the presence of at least one cave entrance in the rocky outcrop at the centre of the bay.

Using the ship's Linx helicopter (361, Pilot Duncan Matthews, Observer Sean Rowley), an aerial reconnaissance of the cliffs surrounding the bay was undertaken; a number of small cave entrances were noted along the base of the cliffs, but unfortunately time and tide did not allow for these to be explored.

After landing on the beach a search was made of the outcrop; two caves were identified.  One cave fitted obtained from the locals of a cave known locally as Beach Cave, the other cave was later established to central rocky the descriptions Paloma Sand be a new discovery.

Geological Features

The rock in the area is a metamorphic sandstone with a very high silica content (a full geological analysis of specimens taken by the expedition is currently awaited).

Paloma Sand Beach Cave

The cave entrance is an angled rift which slopes at about 45 degrees for a distance of 25 meters into a thirty meter bedding plane.


New Cave (named Sandy Hole by the expedition).

The cave entrance is a small (1 x 0.75 meter) opening in the left hand side of the rocky outcrop at the centre of the beach.  The cave consists of a single passageway which slopes down at an angle of 30 degrees for 25 meters.  The cave is partially filled with wind blown sand.





Although it is unlikely that any major speleological challenges visited are certainly of geological of a visit by cavers who find themselves

Permission to visit the caves should be sought from the landowners at San Carlos Settlement.

Andrew Newton
Duncan Matthews
Sean Rowley
Andy Whitehouse
Jan Portwood
Garry Langler






In February '94, I was fortunate enough to spend a month in Meghalaya, North East India, with seven other cavers.  After several days spent negotiating restricted area permits and establishing where we could and could not visit we decided to explore in three main areas. Firstly Cherrapunjee / Mawsynram (East Khasi Hills), secondly Siju (South Garo Hills) and lastly Balpakram (South Garo Hills).  It was also decided to separate into two teams of four; this would help with the logistics of transport and give us more freedom to cover our chosen areas.

17th. Feb.

The sun was already well up when our two jeeps set off from Lower Siju to Baghmara on route to Balpakram.  We were leaving Siju a day earlier than had been planned due to a collapsed bridge on our route (most bridges in Meghalaya are not recommended for those with a nervous disposition or any imagination).  The bridge over the Chibe Nala ( Chihe River), a complex of latticed timbers, could still be crossed on foot by balancing on remaining beams.  However, the jeeps had to ford the river.  We had heard reports that upstream of the bridge were two caves, so having crossed the river we set off up a 'seriously' rutted track to investigate. Four kilometres of bone jarring, body bruising travel brought us to a point where the other team could walk in to their site.  Unfortunately we had another four kilometres to drive before we could escape the ordeal of off road travel.  At the end of the track we arrived at the village of Nengkong and before we had time to extricate our battered dusty selves from the jeep we were surrounded by dozens of villagers all eager to see and maybe touch the strangers in their midst.  It appears that we were the first Europeans to have visited the village in living memory and the eight kilometres we had travelled from the road had, somehow, changed us from interesting curiosities to very important people.

Despite our desire to get changed and head off to explore caverns measureless etc., we had to observe the rituals of social niceties.  A meeting with Hemason M. Sangma, the village head man (Noc-Ma), regarding the caves, involved several glasses of tea and offers of beetle nut. Eventually it was agreed that the Noc-Ma would lead us up river to the cave.  The walk-in takes about an hour, the route at first crosses paddy fields and then enters the jungle following the Chibe Nala gorge.  The Noc-Ma, a short wiry man dressed in flip flops, shapeless trousers rolled up to the knees, ill fitting jacket and carrying an ancient single barrel shot gun tied to a piece of string over his shoulder, lead us up the river.  We followed over large banks of sand and shingle, the river soon narrowing into a gorge, its steep, craggy, limestone walls, jungle clad, alive with birds and monkeys.  We passed two hot springs (32 and 35 degrees Celsius) before the river became a succession of isolated pools as it started to play that exciting game of hide and seek that quickens the pulse of any cave explorer.  Eventually we arrived at a spectacular stretch of the Chibe Nala, the river here runs in a series of deep, blue-green pools, liberally decorated with huge blocks of limestone and pure white sand banks.  The eastern side of the gorge consists of massive slabs of rock rising almost vertically and set with impenetrable jungle; the western side is a continuous wall of rock in which the almost round 'Hobbit’ hole entrance of Tetengkol is to be found.

TETENGKOL : Alternatively interpreted as " Dwarf Cave", " Earth Spirit Cave" or " Elf Cave".

At the entrance we hurriedly kitted up and as I was ready first I rushed in to have a quick look around. The entrance passage, clean washed, finely scalloped and approximately 1.6 by 1m reached a small stream after about 10m.  I set off upstream in slightly larger passage traversing about 150m of joint controlled development, stopping when it diminished to less than 1 m high, then rushing back to meet the others.  On my return the rest of the team had not arrived so I pushed on downstream.  The passage runs almost parallel to the Chibe Nala, slowly diminishing in size, until after 130m, I, having been reduced to flat out crawling in the stream, returned.  When I met Jenny, Shoon and Daniel, they were already busy with the survey and as there was not enough room for more than three to work I went off to push the upstream passage.  Passing several side passages I soon arrived at the previous limit and pausing just long enough to check on the local young man who decided to accompany me (dressed in white shirt, slacks, slip on shoes and no light) we pushed on.  Some twenty or thirty metres of stooping later, the passage began to enlarge and we were soon trolling along a two metre tube. This fine passage ended suddenly at a junction with a superb river-passage ( Brook Street).  This jocking piece of cave, 8 to 10m high and 5m wide zoomed off into the darkness. Now completely gripped with exploration fever I rushed up stream, closely followed by my loyal companion whose lack of light and inappropriate clothing seemed to present no problem. We covered about half a kilometre, passing many side passages, some of them beautiful 3m tubes.  Deep pools had developed wherever the passage changed direction and it was while negotiating one of these that I decided that we ought to go back and let the others into the good news.  My companion (standing chest. deep in water, broad grin splitting his face) was still keen to go on but I could not wait to share this exploration with the rest of the team.  On returning and passing on the news, we all had to keep our exploration fever under control while we got down to surveying the complexities of the entrance series (Daniel's Topo Teaser Series).  Slowly, leg by leg, the survey progressed up to the point already reached.  Jenny, who was now scouting ahead reported that 30 or 40m ahead the passage ended at a 6m waterfall which had a big black space above it. At the base of the fall a break was taken to allow for lamp "fettling", survey leg additions, Bombay mix consumption and any other of those underground rituals cavers get up to. During the break I tried to climb up to the higher level.  Having negotiated a route I found myself in a very large chamber (The Planetarium) some 60m long, 30m wide and 30m high.  With a quick shout over my shoulder of "I'm up", I gave in to exploration madness and set off across the chaotic mass of boulders which was the chamber floor.  The boulder pile proved to be "interesting", for at one point whilst descending the unstable 50 degree slope I found myself "surfing" a table sized slab into the unknown.  On the far side of the chamber a huge passage ( Upper Brooks Street) 20m wide and 10m high curved away into the distance, this was followed for about 60m before a return was made.  The cave was surveyed to just beyond this point, before, with great reluctance, we had to return to the entrance.  The only way we could bring ourselves to leave such impressive ongoing passage was to keep telling each other that we would return the next day.

The journey out of the cave and back to the village passed in a euphoric haze, dreaming of caverns as yet unseen.  The excitement however was not over for the day, as on our return to the village we were to be treated as honoured guests and invited to eat at the home of the Noc-Ma. After a superb meal, lots of tea and several Biries (a small cigar, hand made out of Birie leaves with dubious effects) we were ready to leave.  As it was now late and we had 8 kilometres off road and 20 kilometres of appalling road to drive before we could sleep, we were keen to be going, but, the Noc-Ma had other ideas.  Apparently one of the village hunters had just returned with a Barking Deer and we, as honoured guests, must have a share of the kill.  Simon and I were taken to a house where the deer was skinned and jointed using nothing but a razor blade and an old bamboo knife.  Later, after shaking hands (yet again) with what seemed like the population of a medium sized city we set off, very tired, very happy and with about 2 kilos of fresh meat.

18th. Feb.

After an all too short night (at the Circuit House in Backmara) and a breakfast of Puries and Channa Dhal we were again heading for Nengkong.  The twenty eight kilometre journey was uneventful but: uncomfortable and by mid morning we were engaged in the elaborate game of trying to change in front of 30 or 40 villagers who were all desperate to find out if we were white all over.  During these gymnastics we were in conversation with the Noc-Ma who gave us information regarding other caves in the area: - Matchakol ( Tiger Cave), Balwakol ( Wind Cave), Dobhakol ( Bat Cave) and Matrongkol ( Goat Cave).  Resisting the temptation to rush off and examine the new leads, we returned to Tetengkol.  On entering the system Simon and I set off to have a quick look at some of the side passages leading off Brooks Street.  Taking separate routes Simon and I met in a series of large passages and breakdown chambers running parallel to the streamway.  We were soon back in Brooks Street with the rest of the team and heading for the previous days limit.  As we moved through the cave I remember thinking how quickly familiarity changes one's perception, the Planetarium which only yesterday had seemed awe inspiring was passed as “just" on the way to somewhere else.  The final survey station was reached and the now familiar sequence began, however I must admit that I find exploring and surveying at the same time very hard, to be on the end of a tape with unexplored passage calling you on is difficult to resist.  The ongoing passage was followed until it suddenly ended in a complex area of cross rifts and smaller passages.  We all set about looking for the way on, unfortunately many of the passages ended in "hanging death" boulder problems.  However Simon followed one through an area of breakdown to reach a clean washed vertical rift about 10m deep; having no rope we were unable to descend and had to reluctantly abandon this lead.  Whilst poking around above the rift 1 found a route through the boulders and after a short crawl entered another large chamber. Following one of the passages leading off of the chamber Daniel walked into a massive passage (Paula's Parallel Universe) running parallel to ( Upper Brooks Street).  We surveyed down this passage clicking off 30m legs until it bifurcated.  To the right was a smaller, clean washed and descending passage, to the left it continued large but partially choked with banks of sand.  We followed the left hand passage for a few metres until the in-fill forced us to crawl, leaving it ongoing, we returned to the junction.  The right hand route continued in fine style, passing one major junction and finally opening into an impressive chamber high in the roof of Brooks Street. Having no means of descending from this point we returned to the last junction and tried the alternative route, this led eventually to the Planetarium.  Time again was getting late and as an hour's walk down a jungle river in the dark is not a healthy pastime we had to start heading for the entrance.  As we were due to head for Balpakram the next day it was with great reluctance that we left the cave.

19th. 20th. 21st. 22nd. Feb.

The next four days were spent in the Balpakram area where our team was singularly unsuccessful in discovering significant new cave, despite close encounters with vanishing rivers, moving boulder chokes and large spiders.  However, that, as they say, is another story.

23 Feb.

We returned to Nengkong with the intention of staying in the village for the next few days thereby saving on travelling and having more time for caving.  The villagers were very pleased at our return and soon found us a place to sleep (the mustard seed store).  We soon dispensed with the necessary niceties (several glasses of tea and endless hand shakes) and were once again tramping up the Chibe Nala. This time we stopped to examine Matrongkol ( Goat Cave).  The entrance is to be found some 8m above the western bank of the river at the end of a rocky, jungle clad gully.  By the look of this gully a sizable stream must resurge in wet weather.  The walking sized entrance was found to be blowing a gale and was well decorated with dry calcite formations.  I followed the passage for about 40m to where it descended into what must be a sump in wet conditions.  I went for another 20m in sandy passage before deciding to postpone further exploration until I had more than a head torch.  We never got enough time to return and the picture of that ongoing passage lives on in my dream.

On our return to Tetengkol we first surveyed the maze of joint controlled passage in Daniel's Topo Teaser Series, before moving on to Brooks Street.  The next task was to examine the complex of un-entered passages running off the upper end of Paula's Parallel Universe.  On the way we decided to have a closer look at the passages running parallel to down stream Brooks Street, we quickly passed through the area already visited and dropped down through breakdown to a 2 by 3m ongoing passage.  This fine passage was followed until standing water was encountered; we pushed on in a deepening canal, when on rounding a bend we saw daylight through a wide arch.  This entrance fitted the description we had been given of Balwakol ( Wind Cave).  As this turned out to be the case, the complex of passages just traversed became known as the Balwakol Series.  Returning to Brooks Street, we paused only to climb into the two high breakdown chambers either side of the stream way (Toad Hall) and confirm that they closed down, before pushing on to our objective for the day.  From the head of Paula's Parallel Universe (P.P.D.) all of the large rift passages soon ended in massive boulder problems and although big black voids could be seen it proved impossible to reach them.  Next we turned our attention to a passage that Simon was keen to explore; it was a 4m tube entering P.P.D. 2m above a blue-green lake. Having gained entry we rushed off for about 60m to confirm it was "going", before returning to start surveying (Simon's Series).  The fine tube continued past inlets before becoming a wide bedding plane with an uncomfortable quantity of cobbles partially filling the passage.  After a few metres of crawling we entered a complex of high rift passages, mostly ending in the now all too familiar boulders. One rift however continued to where one huge boulder seemed to be blocking the passage, closer examination revealed a low space beneath the boulder.  It's amazing when passing a massive boulder with no visible means of support, how one can negotiate a 6m crawl without disturbing a pebble (or even breathing).  We were now at a T-junction- to the left was about 20m of fine cave to a partial calcite fill almost blocking the passage.  As further progress would have required "proper" caving, we tried the other direction.  This soon developed into a lovely little streamway (Hidden Streamway) about 3m high by 1m wide, waist height ledges well decorated with columns added to its appeal. We followed for about 120m until further progress would have required crawling before returning to Simon's Series to look at some of the wide open (walking sized) leads.  The first passage we tried soon became partially blocked with gravel reducing it to 1.5 by 3m.  Following gently down slope we encountered standing water and although the passage size remained the same the air space slowly diminished.  Expecting the passage to sump at any moment, I cautiously pushed on; after about 60m the air space had reduced to 10cm and I was about to give up when the roof started to rise.  Unfortunately it was only a junction chamber, to my left an uninviting passage lead back towards Simon's Series (later confirmed) and on the far side of a deep pool a low wide passage lead on.  Retuning through the low air space canal, my lamp started to play up.  Just when I was beginning to feel a little bit lonely, a VERY LARGE white fish, panicked by my presence, rushed straight at me like something out of "The Black Lagoon".  This generated some colourful expletives and a name for the passage (Brian's "biggest white fish ever" Passage).

Again time had beaten us so we returned to the village, happy that we still had more leads than you could throw a stick at.

24th. Feb.

The tasks for the day were to survey the Balwakol Series and to examine all the un-entered leads off Brooks Street.  The survey of Balwakol Series turned up two 'unnoticed passages.  One lead through a joint controlled maze to a fine passage ending in the roof of Daniel's Topo Teaser Series and the second one, discovered by Jenny, lead through a chamber, well decorated with multi-faceted calcite formations (Jenny's Jewel Box) to two other daylight entrances.  A low, wide passage, completely lined with sharp calcite crystals was found heading north from Jenny's Jewel Box but it was only pushed for 20 painful metres.

Having finished the survey of the Balwakol Series we moved up Brooks Street; several impressive inlets were entered, all, however, closed down within 30 or 40m.  One, uninspiring passage was entered and surprisingly went on to yield 200+ metres of new cave.  This passage (Hole in the Roof Passage) runs parallel to and in several places connecting with Brooks Street; it also possesses a frustratingly un-entered passage at the top of a smooth 4m aven.  Having surveyed all the new stuff we had again run out of time, without even going beyond the lower cave; we had, however, discovered over 500m of new cave.

25th. Feb.

We spent the day going to look at another cave Dobhakol, ( Bat Cave) further up the Chibe Nala.  The difficulty experienced in reaching this site led us with just enough time to survey the main passage. However, in the short time available, we did manage to clock up over 1.5 kilometres of new cave.

26th. Feb.

This was to be our last day in the Nengkong area, so despite many passages not pushed to conclusion in Tetengkol, we decided on the following plan: one, to try to descend the rift found by Simon, two, to tie up several survey loops in the upper end of the cave and three, to spend what remained of the day photographing the cave. We had just failed to achieve our first objective and were starting on our second when I looked under a low arch at the side of the passage, and there between easily movable boulders was a big black space.  Having dispatched the boulders and ascended an easy climb I found myself in another huge chamber (Brian's "I'm sorry I think I've found a way through the boulders" Series).  With the floor of this chamber consisting of huge slabs some 5m across and the roof a large unsupported malevolent presence, it is not surprising that conversations were carried out in whispers.  We commenced surveying the new-chamber but the sound of falling water enticed us into a side chamber where a small stream was found tumbling into a shaft which occupied most of the floor area.  Traversing around the unstable lip we entered a fine stream passage, this was followed passing several (un-entered) side passages for about 200m.  At this point the passage had diminished to a high, narrow, inclined rift, requiring sideways travel.  Just when we were about to give up we popped out at the base of a clean washed, elliptical shaft, its fluted walls rose sheer for at least 20 m, the stream reduced to fine spray by its fall from passages as yet unseen. Returning to the big chamber (Agoraphobia Chamber) we continued our survey only to be seduced yet again by the sound of a stream.  This time the stream passage only went for 30m to a wide, high rift, with the water cascading from an obvious large passage about 10m above. Completing the line survey of Agoraphobia Chamber we found ourselves in an impressive passage about 10 to 12m square, this was followed to where it split into several smaller passages, none of which were pushed to conclusion.  As we were fast running out of time and, as yet, had not taken a single photograph in the cave, we made the difficult decision to leave many ongoing passages unexplored.  We photographed back to the entrance wishing we had more time to do the job properly and it was with great reluctance that we finally left the cave.


Tetengkol is now the longest cave in the Indian subcontinent, having over 5 kilometres of surveyed passage, it has at least 27 ongoing leads so the possibility of doubling its length is quite high.

The Chibe Nala area also offers Matrongkol (not fully explored), Dobhakol (not fully explored), several cave entrances seen but not entered, a massive resurgence (not closely examined) and a 3 kilometre totally unexplored limestone gorge.  Needless to say, I for one wish to return.

Expedition members involved in the Tetengkol exploration were Jenny Brooks, Simon Brooks, Daniel Gehauer and Brian Johnson.

The other members of the Meghalaya '91 expedition were Tony Boycott, Helen Harper, Rob Harper and Chris Smart.


02 February to 02 March 1994:

Simon BROOKS, Tony BOYCOTT, Jennifer BROOKS, Herbert Daniel GEBAUER, Helen HARPER, Rob HARPER, Brian JOHNSON & Chris SMART












Alt +

State of mapping

Text print










Mahadeo Chirenkol


17.29 (-0.88, 16.41)







18.30 (-2.81. 15.54)







16.54 (0.00, 16.54)












Krem Phyllut


29.21 (-8.54,20.67)





Mawnluh-Aven (30,21)


11.42 (0.00, 11.42)





Mawnluh-b (598,35)


15.05 (-11.24, 3.l81)





Mawnluh-Fossil (265,82)


23.27 (-23.27, 0.00)





Adds to Mawnluh (3607,3)


Total length: 4501.7m












Bok Bak Dobhakol


31.64 )-13.74, 17.90)







14.66 (-3.73, 10.93)







45.32 (-0.51, 44.81)












Krem Dram


13.98 (-





Krem Phusjasim


13.82 (0.00, 13.82)





Krem Lumsymper


3.28 (-0.98, 2.30)












Shit Pot


18.49 (-18.49, 0.00)





Dobhakol-a (131,85)


1.80 (0.00, 1.80)





Dobhakol-b (517,57)


26.38 (-5.04, 21.34)





Dobhakol-c (49.24)


9.02 (-6.66, 2.36)





Adds to Dobhakol (2900)


Total length: 3198.8m














2.2 (-0.00, 2.2)














Metres surveyed length






Membership Matters!

Mem Sec:- Dick-Fred, Cheddar. Somerset.

When Jingles asked me to write this for the next issue of the B.B. I must admit I sat staring at an empty screen for a while.  Finally the words began to flow .......

Having recently taken over the job of Membership Secretary for the B.E.C. I suppose I ought to direct my comments in that direction.  Firstly I would like to thank Mr. N. for the job he has done over the past few years, he has managed to get the membership details in such a well organised state that has made it easy for me to slide gently into the role.

Then I would like to thank Jingles for actually having the patience and time to enter onto computer the complete list of paid up members as at the A.G.M. this year.

Now seems the time to remind the membership, myself included, that subs are due and to remind you that up to the 31st of December 1994 subs are £20 single, £30 joint. After that the subs rise to £24 single, £36 joint.

There is always a period of grace for those who do not pay their subs, as they will receive only one or two further B.B. 's after the start of the next year before they are then removed from the distribution list.  (This is normally at the discretion of the B.B. Editor and the Membership Secretary.)

On the following pages you will see the current membership list.  Inclusion on this list does not mean you have paid your subs!  If your details are wrong, or you know that somebody else's are wrong, please let me know.  I feel it is very important that your details are kept as up to date as possible and I will try to publish updates in every B.B.

Please send your subs and information to either the Belfry, for my attention, or my home address at the top of the page.

Ciao for now,



Bristol Exploration Club Membership List ’94 – ‘95

987 Dave Aubrey                       Salisbury, Wiltshire.
20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw               Knowle, Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker                    Henton, Wells, Somerset
1150 David Ball                         ConeyHurst, Billinhurst, West Sussex.
1151 Ruth Baxter                      ConeyHurst, Billinhurst, West Sussex
1145 Roz Bateman                    East Harptree, Bristol Avon.
818 Chris Batsone                     Tynings, radstock, Avon
1079 Henry Bennett                   London.
390 (L) Joan Bennett                 Draycott, Somerset
1122 Clive Betts                        Clapham, Bedfordshire.
1125 Rich Blake                        Priddy, Somerset
731 Bob Bidmead                      West harptree, Bristol
364 (L) Pete Blogg                    Chaldon, Caterham, Surrey
1114 Pete Bolt                          Cardiff, S. Gamorgan
145 (L) Sybil Bowden-Lyle          Calne, Wiltshire
1104 Tony Boycott                    Westbury on Trim, Bristol, Avon
868 Dany Bradshaw                  Haybridge, Wells, Somerset
751 (L) T.A. Bookes                  London
1140 D Bromhead                     Worlse, Avon
1196 Dave Bryant                      Salford, Bristol, Avon
201 John Buxton                       Flitwick, Beds.
956 Ian Caldwell                        Redland, Bristol, Avon
1091 A Curruthers                     Whitehole Hill, Holcombe, Bath
1014 Chris Castle                      Axbridge, Somerset
902 L M Cavender                     Westbury-sub-Mendip, wells, Somerset.
1184 Sean Chaffey                    Banwell, Avon.
1197 John Christie                     Brompton, North Allerton, North Yorks
211 (L) Clare Coase                   Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia
620 Phil Coles                          Totterdown, Bristol
89 (L) Alfie Collins                     Draycott, Somerset
1175 Ali Cooper                        Goring on Thames, Treading, Berks
727 Bill Cooper                         Totterdown, Bristol
862 Bob Cork                            Pen Hill, Wells, Somerset
1062 (J) Andy Cave                   Priddy, Somerset
1142 (J) Ange Cave                   Priddy, Somerset
680 Bob Cross                          Knowle, Bristol
870 Gary Cullen                        Southwater, Nr Horsham, West Sussex.
1165 D Cunningham                  Windlock Beach, East Sussex.
405 (L) Frank Darbon                 British Columbia, Canada.
1166 Arron Davies                     Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1167 Malcolm Davies                 Shepton Mallet, Somerset
423 (L) Len Dawes                    Minster Matlock, Derbyshire
815 Nigel Dibden                       Holmes, Chapel, Cheshire
164 (L) Ken Dobbs                    Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon
829 (L) Angie Dooley                 Harborne, Birmingham
710 (J) Colin Dooley                  Harborne, Birmingham
1000 (L) Roger Dors                  Priddy, Somerset
830 John Dukes                        Street, Somerset
322 (L) Bryan Ellis                     Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset
232 Chris Falshaw                     Crosspool, Sheffield
269 (L) Tom Fletcher                 Bramcote, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
404 (L) Albert Francis                Wells, Somerset
1159 John Freeman                   Upper Radford, Paulton, Bristol, Avon
1182 Alex Gee                          Swindon, Wilts
835 Len Gee                             St. Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire
1098 Brian Gilbert                     Chingford, London
1069 (J) Angie Glanvill               Chard, Somerset
1017 (J) Peter Glanvill                Chard, Somerset
647 Dave Glover                        Basingstoke, Hampshire
790 (J) Martin Grass                  Wookey, Somerset
1009 Robin Gray                       Draycott, Somerset
1123 Ian Gregory                       Bedford
1089 Kevin Gurner                     Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
1088 Nick Gymer                      Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam             St Annes, Lancs
1156 Brian Hansford                  Weeke, Winchester, Hants
1186 (J) Helen Harper                Wells, Somerset
999 (J) Rob Harper                    Wells, Somerset
581 Chris Harvey                       Paulton, Somerset
4 (L) Dan Hassell                      Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset
1160 Nick Hawkes                    Nempnett Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol
1078 Mike Hearn                      
1117 Pete Hellier                       Nempnett Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol, Avon
974 Jeremy Henley                    Shepton Mallet, Somerset
952 Bob Hill                              PO Box 82, Sultanate of Oman
691 Dudley Herbert                   
1174 Kevin Hissey                     Twerton, Bath, Avon
905 Paul Hodgson                     Burcott, Wells, Somerset
923 Trevor Hughes                     Bleadney, Wells, Somerset
855 Ted Humphreys                  Wells, Somerset
73 Angus Innes                         Alveston, Bristol, Aven
540 (L) Dave Irwin                      Priddy, Somerset
922 Tony Jarratt                        Priddy, Somerset
668 Mike Jeanmaire                  Paek Forest, Buxton, Derbyshire
51 (L) A Johnson                       Flax Bourton, Bristol
995 Brian Johnson                     Ottery St. Mary, Devon
1111 Graham Johnson               Wells, Somerset
560 (L) Frank Jones                   Priddy, Somerset
567 (L) Alan Kennett                  Charlton Musgrove, Wincanton, Somerset
884 John King                           Wisborough Green, West Sussex
1105 Jo Hills                             Wisborough Green, West Sussex
316 (L) Kangy King                    Pucklechurch, Bristol, Aven
542 (L) Phil Kingston                 St. Mansfield, Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen                     Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon
667 (L) Tim Large                      Shepton Mallet
1162 Joc Large                         Shepton Mallet
1171 Rich Lewis                        Weston-super-Mare, Avon
1129 Dave Lennard                   
1137 Bob Lewis                        Odd Down, Bath, Avon
1180 Rich Long                         Stoke St. Michael, Somerset
651 Pete MacNab (Sr)               Cheddar, Somerset
1052 (J) Pete MacNab (Jr)          Cheddar, Somerset
1071 Mike McDonald                 Knowle, Bristol, Avon
550 (L) R A MacGregor              Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants
725 Stuart McManus                 Priddy, Somerset
558 (L) Tony Meaden                 Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset
704 Dave Metcalfe                     Whitwick, Leicestershire
1044 Any Middleton                   Hardington-Mandeville, Somerset
1172 (J) Sean Morgan                Clevedon, Avon
1191 (J) Lorna Berrie                 Clevedon, Avon
1053 Steve Milner                      Broadview, S.A., Australia
1194 Nick Mitchell                     Ash, Aldershot, Hants.
1195 Struan McDonald              Waterbrook Mews, Devizes, Wilts
1183 Andy Newton                    Worle, WSM, Avon
936 Dave Nichols                      Camborne, Cornwall
396 (L) Mike Palmer                  Yarley, Wells, Somerset
1045 Rich Payne                       Orpington, Kent
22 (L) Les Peters                      Knowle Park, Bristol Avon
1134 Martin Peters                    Chew Stoke, Avon.
1107 Terry Phillips                     Denmead, Hants.
499 (L) A. Philpot                      Bishopston, Bristol, Avon
944 Steve Plumley                    Burrington, Bristol
337 Brian Prewer                       Priddy, Wells, Somerset
886 Jeff Price                            Knowle, Bristol, Avon
481 (L) John Ransom                 Patchway, Bristol, Avon
1126 Steve Redwood                 Draycott, Somerset
662 (J) John Riley                      Chapel le Dale, Ingleton, Via Carnforth, Lancs.
1033 (J) Sue Riley                     Chapel le Dale, Ingleton, Via Carnforth, Lancs
985 (J) Phil Romford                  Shepton Mallet, Somerset
986 (J) Lil Romford                    Shepton Mallet, Somerset
921 Pete Rose                          Crediton, Devon
240 (L) Alan Sandall                  Nailsea, Avon
359 (L) Carol Sandall                 Nailsea, Avon
1170 Andy Sanders                   Peasdown St. John, Bath, Avon
1173 Estelle Sandford                Wells, Somerset
1178 Ivan Sandford                   
237 (L) Bryan Scott                   St. Jean Cap, Ferrat 06230, Cote D’Azur, France
78 (L) R Setterington                 Taunton, Somerset
213 (L) Rod Setterington            Harpendon, Herts
1128 Vince Simmonds               Wells, Somerset
915 Chris Smart                        Nr. Bradford on Avon, Wilts
911 Jim Smart                          c/o The Belfry
1041 Laurence Smith                 Priddy
823 Andy Sparrow                     Priddy, Somerset
1 (L) Harry Stanbury                  Bude, Cornwall
1192 Carmen Smith                   Sherborne, Dorset
575 (L) Dermot Statham             Warkworth, Northumberland
365 (L) Roger Stenner                Weston super Mare, Avon
1084 Richard Stephens              Wookey, Somerset
1187 Mark Tanner                     Fishponds, Bristol, Avon
583 Derek Targett                      East Horrington, Wells Somerset
772 Nigel Taylor                        Langford, Avon
284 (L) Alan Thomas                 Priddy, Somerset
348 (L) D Thomas                      Bartlestree, Hereford
571 (L) N Thomas                      Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.
699 (J) Buckett Tilbury               High Wycombe, Bucks
700 (J) Anne Tilbury                   High Wycombe, Bucks
74 (L) Dizzie Thompsett-Clark    Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex
381 (L) Daphne Towler               Bognor Regis, Sussex
1177 C R Tozer                         Worle, W-S-M, Avon
382 Steve Tuck                         Dousland, Yelverton, Devon
1023 Matt Tuck                         Eastfield, Edingburgh.
678 Dave Turner                        Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
912 John Turner                        Tavistock, Devon.
1154 Karen Turvey                     Welloington, Somerset.
635 (L) S. Tuttlebury                  Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey.
1096 Brian van Luipen                Wick, Littlehampton, West sussex
887 Greg Villis                          Weston super Mare, North Somerset
175 (L) D. Whaddon                  Taunton, Somerset.
949 (J) John Watson                  Wells, Somerset
1019 (J) Lavinia Watson             Wells, Somerset
973 James Wells                      Loisville, Kentucky, USA
1055 Oliver Wells                      Yorktown Heights, New York, USA
1185 Chas Wethered                 Welling, Kent.
1118 Carol White                      Castlehead, Pately Bridge, N. Yorks.
1092 Babs Williams                  Knowle, Bristol, Avon
1068 John Whiteley                   Heathfiled, Newton Abbot, S. Devon.
1087 John Williams                   W-S-M, Avon
1146 Les Williams                    
1075 Tony Williams                   Temple Cloud, Bristol, Avon.
1164 (J) Hilary Wilson                Keynsham, Avon
1130 (J) Mike Wilson (snr)         Keynsham, Avon
1153 Mike Wilson (jnr)               Whitchurch, Bristol
559 (J) Barrie Wilton                  Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
568 (J) Brenda Wilton                Haydon, Nr. Wells, Somerset
721 G Wilton-Jones                   Watton, Thetford, Norfolk
914 Brian Workman                   Catcott, Bridgwater, Somerset
477 Ronald Wyncoll                  Holycroft, Hinkley, Leics.
683 Dave Yeandle                     Greenbank, Eastville, Bristol.
1169 Chris York                        Kettering, Northants


Alternative Glossary Of Caving, Mining & Underground Rescue Terms

ABSEIL                                    Hand & bollock warming technique

ADIT                                        Smug look on caver's face on Sunday morning

ANCHOR                                  Act of fancying a Casualty Bag (see below)

AMMO BOXES                         Large cigarette carriers

ASCENDER.                            Opposite to Headender

AVEN                                      Light-swallowing phenomena which goes nowhere

BANDMASK                             Hi-tec euthanasia device

BATTERY BELT                        Technical term for switching on light

BEDDING PLANE                     Conjugal accommodation for dwarfs

BELAY                                     What students hang their tackle on having previously ascertained its instability

BELAY BELT                            The act of kicking a belay to check its strength

BLACKDAMP                           Found on inside walls of caving huts.

BLUEWATER                           Only thing certain Cave Divers will be seen in

BODY HARNESS                     Used to remain upright at bar

BOLT                                       As in "Last Orders!"

BOULDER CHOKE                   Any inorganic matter rammed & tamped into inquisitive reporters oesophagus

CARBIDE LAMP                       Device used to extract jammed cavers

CARRYING SHEET                   What you have to do when its your turn to empty the Elsan

CARTGATE                              Rustic door

CASUALTY BAG                      CRO groupie

CAVE                                      Something not to be seen dead in

CAVE DIVER                            Something not to be seen alive in

CAVERN                                  Posh name to rhyme with "Tavern" in caving songs

CEAG                                      Celebrated Electrical Activity Generator

CHAMBER                               Receptacle in which to store spectacles, teeth, spare d iced carrot, etc under bed

CHEST HARNESS                    Ring Miss Smotherem for details

CHIMNEY                                 Play equipment for cavers supplied in most pubs

CHOKE                                    Realisation that its your round

C-LINKS                                   What walls hold up

CLINT                                       Ethnic Yorkshire ankle-breaker

CLOG                                      Anti-squitter medicine

COE                                        Pratt in running shorts

COFFIN LEVEL                        Scale of noise made by smoking cavers

CONTROLLER                          Receptacle for abuse, car keys, reporters bribes, etc

COW'S TAIL                             Grip for use whilst keeping arm warm in bovine heat-pack

CRAWL                                    Saturday night auto-pilot

CROSS CUT                             Very annoyed bleeder

CURTAIN                                  Device to prevent Constabulary observing after-hours activities

D-RING                                    Noise D-phone makes

DEADS                                    Retired Controllers

DESCENDER                           Person sending letter from .Jamaica

DOLINE                                    Queue at DHSS Off ice

DRAG SHEET                          Crap found in bottom of Mexican stretcher

DRIFT                                      Course brain steers on Saturday evening

DRY SUIT                                 Clothing for first 10 minutes in bar

DUCK                                      Sheep substitute

EDGE ROLLER                        Go-faster device for lowering stretcher

ELECTRON LADDER                Detumescent ascending device

EXIDE                                      Elephant's-foot waste paper basket

EXPOSURE BAG                      Heat-pack with big tits

FAULT                                     Something a Controller never, ever has

FIREDAMP                               Found in cavers sleeping bags

FIGURE OF 8 DESCENDER      Large bottle opener

FLAT                                        Pre-pubescent female speleologist

FLUORESCENCE                     Adrenaline rush induced by realisation that you forgot to ring the Weather

FLOWSTONE                           Whiteboard for caver’s graffiti

FLOURESCEIN                         St. Patrick’s Day Guinness dye

FLYGT                                     Service offered on Soho notice boards

FOREFIELD                             Just behind the foreshore in the Goddam Isles

FORMATION                            Underground clothes pegs

FURRY SUIT                            Last year's club dinner suit Centre

GALENA                                  Irish ABLJ filling

GATE                                       Part of dry-stone wall to avoid

GINGING                                  What the Gang do with their Goolies

GROTTO                                  Disreputable Spanish caver

GROVE or GROOVE Caver listens to "Leonard Cohen sings AC/DC"

HADE                                      What Goon keeps falling on

HAND JAMMER                        Person who runs out of Andrex

HANGER                                  Irate Hut Warden

HARNESS                                Fluorescent purple/green Petzl truss

HEADING                                 Bit at the bottom of rescue report in

HILLOCKS/HILLOCKING            Guardian misprint

KARABlNER                             West Indian jet-setter

KARST                                     Term used to describe limestone area when applying for grant for foreign holiday/booze-up

KEYHOLE PASSAGE               Double-deck passage - lower level for Wessex

KIBBLE                                    80g food

KRAB                                      Krustacian

LEG LOOPS                             For use in cases of extreme constipation

LEVEL                                     Most East Anglian caves

LIFELINE                                  A four- pack carry-out during rescue

LITTER                                     What you put rubbish cavers on

LITTLE DRAGON                      Opposite to Fucking Big Aardvark

MAILLON RAPIDE                    Device for slowing down rigging

MASTER CAVE                       Any NHASA-found cave over 2' high

MOLEFONE                             What Jasper Carrot should have had

NElL ROBERTSON                   Inventor by Appointment to Spanish Inquisition

NICAD LAMP                            Hidden bit of an FX2

OGOFONE                               Downstream from Ogoftwo

OLDHAM                                  Book vendor from the wilds of Wales

OLD MAN                                 Anyone who remembers the Swildon's Forty

OPEN                                      Passage that someone else always finds

OPEN RAKE                            What Vietnamese do - Open rakeaway

OX-BOW                                  Humane killer for club barbecues

PARAGUARD STRETCHER       Pretty stretcher for use when TV cameras

PETZL                                      French manufacturer of bespoke bondage gear

PIPE or PIPE VEIN                   Where cavers store exotic vegetation

PITCH                                      Always lacking in singing cavers

PITON                                      Recycled cut-down hangers

POT                                         Most important caving accessory

POTHOLE                                Groove worn in bar counter

PRUSIK                                   Heaven for rope fetishists

RACK                                      Wessex ladder

RAKE                                      Shit-stirring at committee meeting

RAFPEL                                   Frenchman with hot hands & bollocks

RESURGENCE                         Wrong end of Swildons

RIG                                          Dave Irwin (Wig) in China

RISE                                        That early morning feeling

RISING                                     What a gentleman cavers does before 4 pm

ROCKET TUBE                         Bit they kick you up when you get a rocket

ROOF TUBE                             Concrete tube sticking into dig

ROPE WALKER                       Twatt with big boots at pitch head

RUCKLE                                  Crowded bar

SERIES                                   What happens when Sid Perou makes a half hour film which runs for 105 minutes

SHAFT                                     Saturday night horizontal clogg dancing

SHAKE or SHAKEHOLE           Farmers waste bin

SHUNT                                     Wizard prang chaps

SINK or SINKHOLE                   Diced carrot & tomato skin receptacle

SHUNT                                     What happens if you puke whilst pissing in bath

SIT HARNESS                          Truss designed by Barbara Woodhouse

SKED                                      Decoration with in Y fronts

SLING                                      What to do with hook after farting in pub

SOLE                                       Arse

SOUGH                                    Flat wet bit of mine

SPAR                                      Late Nite pie & booze vendor

SPREADER                             Conjugal stemple

SQUEEZE                                Bit of cave that keeps shrinking

SRT                                         Sexual Relief Technique

SRT HARNESS                        Rubber band and pipe cleaner

SRT RIG                                   Rubber band and pipe cleaner with feather

STARDRILL                              Famous divers parade for the Media

STEMPLE                                Conjugal knee stretcher

STITCH PLATE                         Used by students as pulley

STOP (PETZL)                          Heartfelt plea by other equipment manufacturers

STOPE                                    Olde Englishe for above

STRIKE                                    Geological feature that buggers up cave passage

SUMP                                      No room for any more beer

SURVEY                                  Caving very, very slowly

SWALLET                                Baby swallow

SWALLOW                              At least 9 pints

SYSTEM                                  Any NHASA dig over 50’ long

TACKLE                                   Any important equipment - as in Wedding Tackle

TAILINGS                                 Bits left in trap when mouse gets away

TALKING ROPE                        Warning you've had too much Strong Ale

TAPE                                       Flat string

TETHER                                   Bit that Controllers are always at end of

TIRFOR                                    Stretching device for trapped cavers

TRAVERSE                              Wasting time at top of pitch

TROLL                                     Wessex member

TUBE                                       Shaft lying on its side

VADOSE TRENCH                    Scar left by burst vadose veins

VEIN                                        Famous caver/diver

WARDEN                                 Failed rat-catcher and lobotomized caver

WATER GATE                          Flat bit of water over sump with no key hole

WATER TABLE                        Theory without a leg to stand on

WAY BOARD                           Committee of cavers who decide on dig's direction

WETSUIT                                 Drinking kit at end of evening



Snab has recently come into possession of some 600 odd buckets!!  All these buckets have a hole drilled in the bottom of them (Dear Liza Dear Liza ... ) and there is in fact a Bona Fide reason for this.  If anyone knows the true reason for this they can tell Snab and he might buy them a pint, although he is far more likely to have a two word conversation the second word being ‘off!’

The competition prize, however, will go to the most original, inane, insane, inventive, innovative, idiotic, idiosyncratic or incredible idea for possible usage of aforementioned articles (not necessarily all 600 at once).  Anyone daft enough to want to enter should post their entries to the editor (address inside front page) to arrive no later than January 31st 1995. Winner of the 'Mystery Prize' will be chosen at the editor's discretion (though some would say there is nothing discreet about your beloved editor).

Also on the following page is a crossword compiled by Angie Cave.  The first person to get a correct solution to Angie or Jingles will win one of Snabs Buckets and if they are lucky a free pint!  (Wow ... how can you resist such an offer.)

Crossword on Next Page



2          (&3) UDDER [3,4]

3          THE ENTIRE CAVE WE HEAR. [4]

6          (& 38) BLACKHEAD?  NO. THE REVERSE [5,3]

7          SEE 41A

8          (&3) TRENCH [8,4]

11         CALL YOURSELF A CAVER? [3,6,9]

12         PURE CAVER?  [6]

13         (& 35A) GUANO [3,8]

14         (&3) EARTH [5,4]

16         SEE 41A

18         GOES INTO GROTTO, RIGHT? [5]

20         SEE 32A

22         (&33D) A SORT OF NOVICE? [8,4]

24         (&3) DISOWNS, BUT LEFT INSIDE [8,4]

26         SEE 41A

29         SEE 17D

32         (& 20A, 37A) 20 PAST 11 [8,2,4]


35         SEE 13A

37         SEE 32A

39         SEE 41A


41         (&7A, 39A) GO IN 3 DIRECTIONS BEFORE PUB [3,3,3]

            (&16A, 26A) SHOT OF THE BATS HERE FIRST

            (&15D, 38D) ASK THIN PETE IF IT’S OK TO CAMP HERE [3,5,3]

42         3 IF YOU’VE GOT THE RUNS? [7,4]

43         3 THAT YOU SEE IN 42 AFTER 32? [4]




4   CHINA SEA? [9]

5   SEE 11A



10  (&3) WHICH 3 DID YOU SAY? [6,4]


15  SEE 41A


19  SEE 36D

21  SEE 8D

23  SINK 3 [7]

25  SEE 30D



30 (&25D, 3) ‘E GOT NO EARS APPARENTLY [5,5,4]

31 (&3) 3+13D=) 31DE+3 PERHAPS [7,4]

33  SEE 22A

36 (&19) EXERCISE WITH NO ROPE? [8,5]

38  SEE 6A, 41A

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

Cover: An Original pastel drawing of St. Alcitites Hall, White Pit.  By Mark ‘Gonzo’ Lumley

1994 - 1995 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Angie Cave
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Andy Cave
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams



Well, it's BB time again ... seems like only weeks since the last one, probably because it is!  As you will see from the table of contents this one is packed with goodies and my thanks go to all those who have contributed. As ever I would plead with you, the membership, for more articles as my supply is running short and the BB is only as good as you make it.

Since the last issue I can tell you that an amount of work has been done at The Belfry, including the installation/erection of a new porch (Thanks to Nick Mitchell and Mike 'Shut-up Mike' Willet .... or 'mousetrap' as he is known to some, for reasons I won't go into here.)  The bunkrooms have received the once over and no longer smell like a toxic waste dump ... I have it on good authority it's actually safe to sleep in them now ... well health wise anyway.  Thanks go to all of you who turned up on the day but especially to Andy & Angie Cave for their stirling efforts and organisation.  The working day was rounded off with Belfry Olympics, including Gladiators events and much drunkenness .... nothing new there, apparently a good time was had by all.

I know that there is a lot of caving going on too, some of which is reflected in the articles in this here rag.  For my own part a knackered shoulder has put paid to a lot of my subterranean activity, but I've still managed to get down and have a look at the new stuff in White Pit and well worth it was.  See also article by J-Rat including photos.  As I understand it Estelle and Trevor are continuing to dig there.  The slightly better weather will hopefully see more activity on the digging front and I hope to print details of what's going on in the next issue.

Recently the Belfry Boys were requested to sing at the MCG dinner and provided a ½ hour after dinner spot in their own inimitable style.  It seemed to go down quite well despite the none too veiled insults (albeit in song) to various 'luminaries' of aforementioned club.  It was noticed, however, that Mr 'N' beat a hasty retreat before their set.  I daresay they'll fix him at the 60th dinner this year though!

A subject of current discussion at committee meetings at present is this years Wessex Challenge (or whatever the bloody hell its gonna be called this year!)  If anyone is interested in helping out with this - and help is needed - perhaps they can contact me or another committee member to offer their services.  It's currently set for the weekend of July 1st with an Indiana Jones theme.  Plenty of scope for fun and games there I feel.

That's about it for now I think, so on with the show ......... Jingles.


Jingles the world’s first diving dog can be found exploring the underwater world around Grand Cayman in the Caribbean.  He uses his own custom made helmet and oxygen pipe which is attached to his owner, Dwane Foilsom.


St. Alactite's Hall - White pit.

This article follows on from "The waist of Thyme - White pit" (B.B.468, August 1993) which described the dig and open sections of cave discovered between the entrance and the short inlet passage on the bend some 30 feet beyond the Forty Backs Pitch.

Due to problems with bad air this dig tended to be left alone in the summer and worked for a couple of months during the winter.  Over January and February 1994 some 300 skiploads of spoil were dragged from the dig and tipped down the Forty Backs.  Both siphoning and the use of compressed air cylinders were experimented with but failed to noticeably improve the up to 3.5% C02.  A length of conveyor belting was installed in the first section of the dig which made skip hauling in the atrociously sticky conditions much easier.  During this session Vince, Jake and Matt broke into a small but well decorated aven with an attractive crystal floor which was left hanging as they tunnelled beneath it.  From the bend the passage was now some 15 feet long and was a roomy, descending phreatic tube which had been in-filled with clay and the occasional small rock. Small plastic buckets were used as spoil containers and a democratic system evolved whereby everyone had a turn at digging, hauling, tipping, etc.

The next short digging period was in September 1994 when 110 loads were dumped and the passage length from the bend increased to 25 feet.

The final burst of enthusiasm took place in January and February 1995 - mainly due to the very wet weather keeping us from our other digs.  Air conditions allowed for about two hours digging and just before the breakthrough things were becoming intolerable.  It was planned to install a battery powered vacuum cleaner to pump the C02 down the Forty Backs but luckily this was not necessary.  Digging sessions took place on Sunday afternoons, Monday mornings and Wednesday evenings and a total of over 400 skip loads were added to the spoil heap giving us a new passage length of 40 feet.

The bucket system was superseded by the now traditional digging bags to the disgust of the "democratic" diggers who correctly argued that this system led to people having to haul loads of bags filled by other diggers.  Unfortunately due to the length of the dig and large number of solo/two man sessions this was the most logical working method and operated admirably. On 10th January conditions at the face began to change with shattered wall rock appearing and the sand/clay infill giving way to calcited rocks and breccia.  Several sessions were spent painfully hacking at the face and ceiling of the dig in an attempt to break through into the surmised airspace either ahead or above.  On occasions the foul air was somewhat freshened when tiny gaps in the fill were opened up but most diggers suffered aching lungs and bad headaches when recovering in the relatively fresh air of the Hunter's bar.

On 27th February the writer was digging solo at the face and opened up two small, black holes reminiscent of the eye sockets in a skull.  After several hours of desperate hammer and chisel work (partly relieved by a lunch break!) he was able to squeeze backwards through the body sized hole created and down 20 feet of ladder belayed to a wedged crowbar.  The dig had broken out in the face of a flowstone cascade at least 50 feet high in a chamber some 20 feet long by 10 feet wide. The superb variety of pure white formations and date of the breakthrough prompted the naming of the chamber as "St. Alactite's Hall" - ask Alfie Collins for details of this patron saint of cavers.

The floor of the chamber consists of a slope of boulders, breccia and calcite and will need a lot of work to yield a way on but at least the air is relatively fresh.

Above the breakthrough hole a superb flowstone slope was later delicately climbed (in clean socks!) to reveal 65 feet of beautifully decorated inlet passage -"Where Angels Fear to Tread"- including a 20 foot aven.  This is heading for Masters' Aven but a connection will not be dug here and this area should be avoided to preserve the formations.  It has been surveyed by Trev Hughes and photographed by Pete Bolt.

On the second visit to the extensions Mark Lumley claimed a "first" in this day and age by sketching the new chamber in preparation for the masterpiece depicted on the cover of this B.B. Martin Torbett and Robin Gray have photographed the place to death and Trev has completed the survey - an adaptation of which is included with this article.


A Grotto in St. Alactites Hall.       Photo Robin Gray  5.3.95

On 11th March Vince dug for half an hour in the small grotto below the pitch, through mud with a thin layer of calcite on top, to enter a gently upwards sloping phreatic passage. This was some 3 - 5 feet in width and about 30 feet long with a fine array of pillars, curtains, straws, flowstone and helictites.  It is only about 2 feet high and should also be avoided to preserve it.  The passage ends in a boulder choke that looks pretty hopeless and much damage would result if it was dug.


Looking upwards towards “Where Angel Fear to Tread” from Alactites Hall.  The breakthrough hole is on the right.         Photo    Robin Gray    5.3.95

Work is continuing at the bottom of the chamber where a muddy dig under the eastern wall may yield a way on.  The spoil dump below Forty Backs will be tidied up and stabilised with boulders and various cleaning up operations are in progress throughout the cave.  The dug passage length from the bend is some 45 feet, over 850 skiploads having been excavated.  This took around fifty digging sessions each lasting about two hours and averaging seventeen skiploads per session.


The total dug length of Waist of Thyme from its start near the 1st Pot is 115 feet.


The regular diggers were Rich Blake, Matt Tuck, Graham Johnson, Vince Simmonds, Ivan Sandford, Estelle Sandford, Tony Jarratt, Trevor Hughes, Pete Hellier, Chris Duberry, Martin Torbett, Robin Gray and Davey Lennard with many other members and friends assisting occasionally.

Tony Jarratt.  Vince Simmonds.   21/3/95

REFS:- White pit. BB 466, Dec 1992.   The Waist of Thyme - White pit. BB 468, Aug 1993.


Snablet's Travels.

(Part Two)


A ridge of limestone mountains form the spine of the eastern peninsula of Sulawesi. They are set back about 10 from the southern coast.  These mountains are very steep and covered in dense primary forest.  Streams resurge at the base of the mountains.  The limestone is rarely exposed to the surface but the caves we visited were easily found (walk up the river, over lots of gour pools and stal cascades, then enter the large railway tunnel at the base of the mountains - it couldn't be easier.)  The rest of the land down to the coast has been deforested in attempts to cultivate it. The rock here is softer reef limestone.



From the village of Kamumu a 3km walk north to the base of the mountains, through forest.  A large stream resurges from behind boulders.  10m behind the resurgence a small dry entrance opens into a stream passage. The stream way (average passage dimensions 4m x 5m) is clean and flowing.  A major stream inlet enters from the left.  This inlet has only been partially explored for over 200m to a fork in the passage.  Exploration had to cease because we had a bus to catch back to Luwuk.  Further up the main stream a small passage leads off to the right which ends in an unpleasant sump.  A short distance further up the main stream several high level roof passages can be seen.  The main streamway continues on for over 400m until eventually the roof lowers and the water deepens.  A short swim leads to a small archway (0.5m x 1m) with 2cm of air space.  Ducking through the archway takes you into the terminal chamber where a large and deep sump drops straight down beneath your feet. We surveyed the main stream, its length totalled 845m.

Surveyed by: J. Smart, A. Becher, P. McNab. Dec 94.


From the village of Kamumu, follow the main road south for approximately 2km.  A footpath to the left leads away from the road and descends steeply through the forest to the "Sangai Biak" (river). The path crosses the river and follows the smaller tributary upstream for a couple of klicks.  The stream way is very calcited.  There are a couple of small resurgences along the banks of the stream, they were all very small with lots of water coming out (un-entered). The stream way eventually leads to a hill with a large cave entrance 4m high x 3m wide) appearing from within the ivy. The cave winds its way up into the hillside.  The white rock is very sharp and brittle and the stream flows fast down small cascades and swirl pools.  A 3m waterfall has to be climbed to gain access into the final bat filled chamber, then onto the terminal sump. Approx 500m long and 30m vertical range.

A.Becher, J.Smart, P.McNab. Dec 94.


We were awoken early in the morning by a small earthquake.  Unfortunately our early start was wasted, due to lots of red tape and bureaucracy at Kintom police station and army barracks.  Eventually we were able to set off.  We walked for 5km up river from Kintom to Lobang Boa, where 30m high calcited waterfalls cascaded into the river.  (We had asked to see caves with stalactites and a river inside - they showed us rivers and stalactites, unfortunately they were not underground).  Large limestone boulders, double-decker bus size, were in the river bed.  The gorge itself looked to be some sort of conglomerate. The water coming down the falls had a very high calcite solution content, evidence of this could be seen where recently fallen leaves were being calcited to the flowstone.  Goa Babi is apparently a days walk through the forest from this spot.

We had some bad luck on our way back to Luwuk which put a stop to any further caving for a few days. The driver of the Bemo we were travelling in managed to roll the Bemo on a straight road.  Luckily we were in the very back of the Bemo so we were slightly protected from being thrown out of the door when it rolled, or through the windscreen when it hit the wall, we were lucky to get away with only minor cuts and bruises.  An ambulance arrived on the scene in no time, the badly injured were loaded on, then loaded off, then some villagers got on and were rushed off to the fish market before it shut!  Indonesians have a strange sense of priorities!

Some other caves in the area that we found out about or only partially visited –


1km north of Asaan on the road to Pagimana there is a small field on the east side of the road.  At the base of a limestone knoll at the back of the field there is a cave entrance. A 2m climb down to a ledge gives you an ideal bolt placement site for the next 6m pitch into what looks to be a chamber.  There are two possible routes for descent.

A.Becher, J.Smart, P.McNab.


Reported to be a cave with fossils and water in it.


Reputed to be a cave with stal in the forest near Sangai Lamba.


A cave used by the Japanese during WWII 3km north of the village.


A cave our guide for Gua Betan was going to take us to.


Told of by our guide for Gua Betan.  There is also reputed to be a cave above the hills of Batui.  Also reputed are caves at Liang (which is local dialect for 'cave') on Peling Island.

Practicalities and Access.

Accommodation in Luwuk is not a problem.  There are at least 10 Hotels, Wismas and Losmen and in the country there is always someone willing to put you up.  Carbide is readily available in the hardware stores in Luwuk.  There is also a photocopying shop which can copy A1 and A0 size paper - very handy for drawing up surveys.  There is cold beer available in a couple of restaurants as well as Dragon Whisky in a couple of shops.  (It's half the price of the beer!)  There is a coastal road and a road that cuts across the spine of the peninsula.

Footpaths and horse tracks service the rest of the land.  River beds are also good for getting inland.  It is always possible to find someone willing to guide you to local caves for around 500RP per day.  Very little English is spoken on the Eastern peninsula so you have to learn some Bahasa Indonesian, especially in the villages.


A bus service exists between Poso and Luwuk, which runs on a daily basis.  There are also weekly buses from Palo and VIP.  Several Bemos run daily between Pagimana and Luwuk.  Bemos and buses constantly service the coastal villages on the road.


Ships come from Bitung and Kendari every two weeks.  A ferry runs between Gorontalo and Pagimana every other day.  Regular cargo vessels and boats travel up and down the coast on a regular basis and take passengers.


Luwuk has a small airfield with regular flights to Manado and VIP.


The Southeast peninsula covers 38000 sq Km, an area the size of Ireland, a large percentage of which is reported to be limestone, this hopefully gives a bit of scope for cave exploration.  The main road cuts the peninsula in two, the majority of the limestone hills are to the North and this area is fairly inaccessible.  A road is still under construction linking Wa???? to Asera then on to Tambua, so far the road is still very bad, we had to get out and push the Bemo on the steep bits!  Asera to Tambua road is still only passable by foot.  These roads are being constructed to service new transmigration sites.




The cave is situated approximately 60m from the road.  A small path leads to the first entrance.  A low stooping passage leads off but soon enters a bat filled chamber with lots of Guano.  A passage to the right leads steeply up to a second entrance.  There are a few small side passages but all soon choke with mud and boulders, 150m long.


Located 20m North of GL one, at the same altitude.  A dry Guano covered entrance reveals a pleasant walking passage, which leads to the main drag to the right (downstream).  An extremely bat filled passage leads to a second main resurgence entrance.  To the left the roomy passage soon deteriorates into a wet stoop.  Past a spacious chamber on the left through a low stony scramble into an unpleasant crawling passage strewn with flood debris.

A U tube is encountered leading into a very pleasant passage with large calcite bobbles.  To the right approximately 4m up, a small passage enters above a flowstone (so far un-entered).  A rope and protection would be handy for the ascent.  To the left a fine passage continues to a short climb. After an awkward thrutch through a window, you end up in a well decorated chamber.  (A howling draught comes out through the window).  In the chamber there are two high level passages. The right hand side aven was climbed but to no avail.  The left hand side aven requires a bolting kit and Etrieres.  We presume the draught comes from this aven, it is also the only promising lead we saw in the cave.  Survey length 330m.


We hired a Johnson for the day from a Mr Hatta in Wawalalindu, as the only way to get around this area is by boat on the river Lalindu (no roads!).  A 2½ hour boat journey to Desa Dinolnojo.  Padalere our guide could unfortunately, not find the cave (Gua Tanggesa).  We did have an impressive ride up a limestone gorge, approx. 100m high, with limestone mountains towering above, sporting large white cliffs and covered in primary rain forest.  According to our not very accurate Nelles map the Matarombeo mountains reach a height of 1551m.  The peaks are very jagged and look like limestone tower karst.  (But it would be impossible to tell without hacking your way through the jingle with a machete to get there!).  We noticed three large entrances and one small one in the cliffs but it would take much effort to reach them, unfortunately our guide didn't know the way and lacked enthusiasm, plus no climbing gear.  It looked a very interesting area.  The limestone resembles that found in Beteleme (Ref 1989 cave reconnaissance, C.Boothroyd. C.Sulawesi.) except here there is another 1000m of mountain towering above, which also looks like limestone.

Approximately a 2 hour back down stream, we took a tributary for 2 hrs.  A very large entrance in the mountain can be seen.  This is called Gua Tawalarondo in Desa Lamonai (Landawe). From the village a ½ hour unpleasant walk through a swamp followed by a ½ hour climb hacking up through dense forest and limestone cones and pinnacles.  We found ourselves completely lost.  We eventually came across a largish entrance which didn't have much in the way of cave within it ... Stal choke!  Our guide tried to tell us that this was the entrance that we had seen from two miles away.  It was not. You could hardly see out past all the trees and it was a tenth of the size.

This area looks really good, lots of limestone with high cliffs and high mountains. The Matarombeo would be an ideal site for an expedition bit it would need to be well funded as the only mode of transport is by chartered boat (Johnsons).  The locals know of lots of caves around their villages, but the majority of the area is uninhabited and covered in forest.  No English is spoken.  We spoke to the local English teacher and we could speak 10 times more Indonesian than he could English!


As with Luwuk, Kendari is a major port and easily accessible, with plenty of accommodation and hostelries.  Bemos run from Kedari to Asera (5 hour journey) or boats run from Kedari to Wawalinu and Tinobu once a week.



No land routes to the rest of Sulawesi.


Daily flights from U/P.


A daily ferry runs from Bone to Kandlo.  Ships run to Bau-Bau and Kendari on a regular basis.



More ramblings in the Caribbean 1993.

By Martin Grass.

During 1993 Martin, Glen, Tony and Jane Jarratt returned to Jamaica for their annual holiday.   Glen spent most of the time on the nude beach, joined by Jane after she and I had been on our daily dive.  In addition to this somewhat relaxed mode of lifestyle (Tony was drinking Pimms while we dived!)  Tony and I did manage to look at a number of cave sites.  We spent the first week on the north coast at Runaway Bay and the second week in Negril.  For those planning a trip to Jamaica, the north coast is by far the best place to stay for cave exploration.


These 2 caves are situated in the parish of St Anne, about a 20 minute drive from Runaway Bay.  Thatchfield cave is over 4500 feet long and is the longest single passage in Jamaica.  A low arch and crawl lead to a climb down into a large passage filled with stal and bats. After a few hundred feet a large daylight shaft of 80 feet leads to the surface.  From here a steep slope leads to more passage and a low crawl.  Beyond this the passage again reaches an impressive size and after about 3000 feet ends in a 200 foot blind pit.  All of the cave including the only side passage is full of large stalactites and stalagmites as well as thousands of bats. Progress is normally made in ankle deep guano.  Like all caves in Jamaica, Thatchfield is very hot and a light overall is all that is needed plus lots of bottles of water.

Old Thatchfield cave is connected by a tight crawl to Thatchfield cave but also has its own entrance full of swiftlets.  The cave is a few hundred feet long and is full of stal and bats.  The rock is very crumbly and a small climb at the bottom of the entrance slope needs a little caution.


Named by Tony this is a 4 foot long cave in the grounds of Noel Coward's house, Firefly.  It is said that it leads to the sea and was used by pirates.  The usual tale, I know, but it is very near to a 300 year old house known to have been used by pirates.  Food for thought.  (Or a tropical dig site.)


Situated in the parish of Portland and away from other known caves.  A show cave consisting of a series of decorated chambers (with bats) to an artificial exit.  About 250 feet long.  Our guide was a very pregnant young lady.


We wanted to look at this world famous cave so set out early one morning from Runaway Bay.  As it turned out we found it only took us about an hour and a half on reasonably good roads and through spectacular limestone scenery.  We called at the local police station to ask if they knew of a big local cave.   They said that they did and that due to local drug growing problems we were liable to be shot!!  So joined by 2 policemen and a hanger on, we proceeded to the cave (in an orderly fashion? .... ed).  One was armed with a hand gun, to add to the fun.  We put a handline down the steep slope leading down into a massive depression. From here the whole team followed the river downstream to the first pitch.  J-Rat went down this, found the water out of depth and tried to avoid drowning. (He must learn to swim!!).  He went as far as the second pitch.  Having looked at a few side passages we exited. We had a real Jamaican lunch with the policemen in a tin shack with a few Red Stripe beers and then returned home.


This is on the main coast road between Runaway Bay and Montego Bay.  You can't miss it.  A local Rastafarian takes you in with no lights and proceeds to explain about the history of Jamaica.  He then climbs some boulders and proceeds to swing off vines growing in from the roof. At this point he is about 40 feet off the ground!!


Tony and I visited the show caves, which are full of bats and a bit nondescript, on our second day on the island.  What did make them better was the reggae band playing in the cave and 2 topless Swedish girls swimming in the lake.  I joined them but unfortunately as J-Rat doesn't swim, he had to stay in the boat with a group of Americans .... Oh Well!!


J-Rat and I canoed into these, no dry passage.


(Ron’s rock top cave.) This cave is situated at Cousin’s Cove and Ron extracts guano to sell locally.  For lighting he uses a milk bottle full of petrol with a rag in it!! With our lights he could see the full extent of his cave, which is quite interesting with some stal and a deep green pool which may be worth digging as it could lead to the sea.  We left Ron and his kids with a lamp and a pair of boots.


After getting to a very small village and being introduced to some local lads in a bar, they arrived with some machetes and took us to the cave.  It is a complex flood prone system with 4 entrances.  Some flood overflow passages were full of mud and old flood debris. Some good stal and some crawling with lots of nice cockroaches and, of course, bats.

This was the end of our caving except that whilst in Runaway Bay we tried to find Anisfield cave.  The write up in Jamaica underground says it is unexplored beyond a low pool.  We could not find the site but it sounds very interesting.


During a recent business trip to Cuba, I managed to get hold of my old friend Ercilio Veado and he arranged a trip to Gato Vivaro Cave in Vanadeo.  This system is about 5km long and is situated near the Bellamor show caves in Matanzas province.  Ercilio and I were joined by Maytle Cuay (a sort of urban Estelle with lumps in all the right places!!) we found the main entrance no problem and changed inside.  It was here that I found that Ercilio always carries a gun during his caving expeditions. The cave is very dry with some good formations.  Parts of it are being built in as an underground shelter for the locals, however the rest of the cave has not been spoilt.  One chamber contains about half a million bats and the smell and heat is intense.  The cave changes from being a series of large interconnecting passages to one long passage which changes from rift to breakdown chambers to crawls.

A very interesting system.

Martin Grass.

Point of Interest.

This mainly to fill up this bit of page rather than waste space ............ !

In her article Emma mentions the winch meet at Gaping Ghyll and I'm sure many of us have been up to this event over the years.

Just in case anyone does not already know, this year marks the centennery of Martel's descent of the main shaft.

I know there are several members intending to go up and abseil it.  This is an experience not to be missed I am told.  It takes place the weekend of May bank holiday and is organised by Bradford Pothole Club.


Caving in the Lot.

By Emma Porter.

Sitting on the ferry to Cherbourg I felt very nervous as I sat listening to various Shepton and Wessex members talking about their caving experience (Ha Ha Ha ... ed) and expeditions abroad.  There were just six of us, Graham Bromley, Martin Ellis, Dom Sealy, Mark Simms, Ed Waters and myself.  I felt extremely out of my depth, having only been caving seriously for nine months, only done 12 SRT trips (most of which had been a couple of pitches), never having caved abroad and suffering recently from a confidence knock in Meregill ... so bad I found myself thinking for the first time 'why the hell do I go caving?' But here I was stuck on a ferry in the middle of the sea; there was no getting out of it.  What was worst was that I'd just been made an honorary man and an honorary Wessex member ... what insults!!

After hours of travelling in some ridiculous temperature, buried under gear (most of which admittedly was mine) we eventually reached our base for 2 weeks - Caniac du Causse, in the Lot region of France.  The campsite was in the middle of nowhere but had showers, bog, drying room and as much electricity as you wanted - all for a quid a night.  Bargain!

Our caving in this area was based on some short articles by various British clubs and a few French surveys. However, a lot of this area does not seem to have been explored too much by British cavers, well definitely not written up.

Monday 25/7

My first foreign cave.  Immediately a problem was created when the rest of the team banned me from using my harness.  Okay, it looked a bit used, my friend having given it to me (being a poor student I'd not been able to afford a new one).  Instead I was lent a new one, not used by the owner as it was so uncomfortable, but identical to mine - I too was soon to discover how painful a Petzl Rapide harness can be!

After studying the survey of IGUE DU PENDANT, I decided a wetsuit might be useful as there were some long unpleasant looking ducks.  However everyone else put on dry gear.  I soon regretted my decision due to 50m of entrance pitches and ducks that were barely puddles.  At the bottom, one passage led to a sump but bad air prevented us from continuing. The main way on was quite impressive, with a large passage and canyon but disappointingly ending in a small muddy stream.

Shopping, beer, food and GROTTE DE LA DEVEZE.  In the process of finding this, managed to scare off what M.E. thought were funny looking sheep, later realising that they were in fact goats.  Only a 5 minute trip, nice roof pendants and what looked like an archaeological dig.

Got back to the campsite, still full of energy and enthusiasm, managed to persuade G.B. to go and find some more cave.  Walked from the village to an area of forest/scrubland but night time caving trips were soon abandoned, when in the still of the night, the silence was shattered by something howling.  I don't like dogs (especially after being bitten by the Alsatian at the Hill Inn ....... (Sadie to her friends ... ed) but this sounded evil and there was more than one!  We legged it to the relative safety of the road.  Yet another lesson learnt that day - don't cave at night cos of wild dogs and Boar!

Tuesday 26/7

IGUE DE PICASTELLE. This had been left rigged by WCC but was hard to find, especially in the boiling heat and with M.E. running off with a net to catch butterflies.  There were some very large patches of flattened land, probably wild boar - I wonder where they go in the daytime?

90m of pitches with not much at the bottom, except a large lizard which M.E. trod on and rescued along with a toad.  I fed the lizard some orange juice, which it seemed to like at first but then it attacked the straw - I decided not to help lizards again.

Tried to get down IGUE DES COMBETTES but access seems impossible due to a very big fence with warnings.  Went to the entrance of IGUE DE SIMON but it didn't look very inspiring.

For our evening trip we went down IGUE DES CORBOUS.  Access was difficult and confused, no one speaking English.  We were directed to the farmer's house, who didn't seem too happy but we got permission. (This may be denied sometimes judging by his reluctance) 60m of pitches, of course I got into a mess by talking too much and abseiling into a rebelay (surely not .... ed), but the bottom was disappointing.  A sort of scree slope leading to a big chamber with loads of bones and black sheep matter .... yuk.  The survey showed a supposedly pretty chamber, but it isn't pretty at all!

Wednesday 27/8.

IGUE DE PLANAGREZE. This is a bit of a tourist attraction with a large sign and a survey outside.  Pitches go to -190m, where the sump, dived to -270m, is reached.  I was very nervous, the deepest pot I've done but once on the rope I enjoyed it, except for there being an adder on a ledge (which M.E. managed to tread on, he obviously likes reptiles!)  The next few pitches were more technical but after all my problems, everything was running smoothly.  On the return, my prusiking was dead quick ... the influence of a certain adder on a ledge.  This was well worth going down, being the best trip so far.

Thursday 28/7.

IGUE DE L'AUSSURE. Left rigged from the previous day by the WCC when they ran out of rope!  It was an amazing pot, spiralling down in the most fantastic way ever.  It consisted of vertical pitches mixed in with slopes of 70 - 80 degrees and was extremely technical, rebelay after rebelay, using a ridiculous number of bolts.  We reached the point where the WCC had run out of rope and put a new bolt in, jumped over the edge for about 9m into a sump!  They'd been Ghar Parau'd.  We wondered if the sump had been dived, it looked extremely deep, a dark turquoise almost black colour.  The worst aspect of this cave is that there were no horizontal ledges, nowhere to take pressure off your harness-it was agony.  This 6 hour trip, of a very approximate depth of -270m was top of my list for this area.  The way it had been formed was incredible and it is well worth a trip.

Friday 29/7.

I felt a bit harness sore, so had an easy morning and visited PECHE MERLE showcave, famous for cave paintings of animals.  (But requiring a lot of imagination.)

IGUE DE VIAZAC. Entrance pitches were 30m, 30m and 80m with some impressive formations for this area.  One way had a wire traverse, Gibbs ascenders required (apparently the point where most people wimp out!), leading to an 81m pitch.  I did half the traverse to the point where I'd been told it was very difficult and lots of arm strength was needed.  My arms were dead and I couldn't be bothered to wait hours for them to rig the next pitch, so I explored in the opposite direction and exited out to IGUE DE PAIZATS.  This took 1 hour to find, 1/2 hour to do and wasn't worth it!

Saturday 30/7.

While looking for caves we spotted some cars and found the first evidence of active cavers we saw all fortnight in this area.  Descended IGUE DE DIANE with them, 30, & 6m, and I got a jolly "tres bien" as I whizzed down their 9mm rope.  Formation wise, pretty impressive with smart columns (reminding me of parts of Lancaster). Got info from them and I generated much interest with my Oldham lamp.

Sunday 31/8

IGUE DE CARBONIE. Recommended by the French.  Pitch of 16m to junction, followed the main route to 10m pitch (don't use a 90m rope on this like we did, it is not recommended) but it didn't go far.  Continued on the main route, climbed over large stal boss to end.  Exited to worst hailstorm ever!  Looked at LA PESCALARIES resurgence and small grotto, then IGUE MATHERIN.  Once past two short pitches, very pretty with many helictites but blackened and spoilt by use of carbide.

Monday 1/9.

IGUE NOIR.  Descended 30m pitch.  10m climb up with extremely impressive view of shaft.  A small climb led to pitches, becoming tight, ending in a chamber which was a scene of mad panic to remove my SRT kit because I was desperate for a wee. (Men don't realise how easy they have got it!)

Tuesday 2/8.

Spent 2 hours looking for a cave in the midday sun, wearing full SRT kit plus over & undersuits. Got bad heat exhaustion and was completely lost and disorientated and by myself in a forest - it was scary!  It was ages before I found anyone & I was feeling very unwell.  Visited GROTTE DE LACAVE (Showcave.)

Wednesday 3/8.

Ran out of local potholes, so did tourist trips in the Dordogne. GOUFFRE DU SAUT DE LA PUCELLE, near Gramat was a large scale Swildons, very popular with the French until they get wet.  Many small pitches, swimming - definite wetsuit trip.

GOUFFRE DE REVILLON, 2nd largest entrance in France - amazing!  Old show cave, only went as far as I could in shorts, handtorch and canvas shoes.

Thursday 4/8.

PADIRAC showcave, well worth a visit and the GROTTE LA PRESQUE (Showcave).  This was our first rest day, went to GROTTE DE REVILLON again and for the first time all holiday ... got pissed!  (Cos the passage was sumped.)  Also did THEMINES.  I didn't like this, bad air and dirty canals to swim in.

Friday 5/8.

Travelling back, still fitted in GROTTE DU GRAND ROC.  This has the most amazing helictites!  We ended up in the speleo museum.

Saturday 6/8.

Home. Rest.. . .I needed another holiday to recover.

This trip definitely opened my eyes to caving abroad and gave me more confidence in SRT. Abseiling GG main shaft at the winch meet seemed nothing compared to what we did in France.  (At one point I used to hate heights and wouldn't even abseil 30 feet!)  What was hard was getting used to British caves again - cold, tight, wet and small.

This area is well worth looking at and doesn't appear to be that well visited, it does seem to have a lot of potential.  The only thing I didn't like about it was that it was too hot and I lost the challenge to M. E. - that I could do more caves than he could catch butterflies. He won by eight (but then he did seem to spend most of his time catching butterflies.)

Emma Porter.


WHITING HOLE, Baggy Point, North Devon

by Dave Irwin

The Saturday before Christmas 1975 (yes, 18 years ago!) conditions were right to make an attempt to enter Whiting Hole at the foot of the slate cliffs at Baggy Point, near Croyde in North Devon.  In a previous paper the Graham Wilton-Jones and the writer had published details of the sea caves at Saunton Sands and Croyde Bay (BEC Caving Report No. 16 Cave Notes 74 pp.12-17) entitled " Sea Caves at Saunton and Baggy Point".  At the time of that visit the tide was high and it was impossible to reach the cave.  However on this sunny but cold day in December 1975 low tide was about mid-day. On our arrival (Graham and myself) the sea was calm, and little wind to push the sea above its low tide level. Armed with wetsuits and ladders we plodded the couple of miles from the car-park along the cliff path.  On arriving at the headland we were pleasantly surprised to find the tide was so low that we needed neither wetsuits nor ladders to aid the descent of the cliff-face.

Scrambling over large rounded and sea-weed covered boulders we made our way to the massive entrance of Whiting Hole - 80ft. high and 30ft. wide, developed in thin, near vertical beds of slate.  A local legend is attached to this cave in that smugglers used the cave to delivered the 'swag' via a subterranean passage from the cave to Putsborough Manor about a mile inland near the southern reaches of Woolacombe beach.

Well, the legend has been broken!  Whiting Hole is barely 200ft. long ending at a solid rock face in which is a tiny crack too small even for midgets.

The cave is a large, single passageway gradually reducing in height and width, the walls of which are quite smooth and polished by the endless succession of tides, swirling stones and sand.  The tide levels are well defined by banks of sand and pebbles near the far reaches. To be cut-off here by the tide would have the explorers facing an impossible task of attempting to swim against the large rolling waves as there are no ledges of any size on the south wall and the north wall slopes inwards suitable only for spiders.

About 50ft. south of the entrance to Whiting Hole is another parallel, un-named, cave hidden from view from the clifftop by a large projecting rock flake.  Smaller in cross section than Whiting Hole this cave is slightly longer at about 230-250ft. long.  The cave ends in a similar way to Whiting Hole.

Neither cave is significant and they will never cause a stir in the speleological world but this note is simply a record of two more of the many thousands of sizable sea caves that abound on our coastline.




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

1994 - 1995 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Angie Cave
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Andy Cave
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams



Hello Belfryites one and all.  So much has happened since the last BB that I can't possibly tell you about it all here, you'll just have to wait for future issues.  There has been much foreign travel by members as is evidenced by articles in this rag, not least Snablet et al in Sulawesi.  I believe he is in the Philippines at the time of this going to press but no one has heard from him recently - not even his poor mum!  So who knows.

Treebs (who is also in the Philippines) myself & Ross White spent Xmas in Glencoe, again write up to follow in another issue, although I believe Spike might have something to contribute about this.

Alex Smith has been working at Carlsbad Caverns & I have an article from him but no time to type it up at present.

I am, however, still short of material, so if anyone out there fancies putting pen to paper. .. please do.

Some Notices.

There will be a working weekend at the Belfry on March 11th & 12th.  This is to be coupled with a BEC 'Night In'.  Entertainment fun & games as well as food courtesy of Struan will be provided.

Anyone who has any kit at the Belfry please remove it beforehand - or it stands to get lost / auctioned / junked.

Anyone coming to work please bring tools/cleaning stuff etc.

There will be no cooking facilities this weekend as we intend to renovate the kitchen area. There will also be no changing facilities.

Lunch and an evening meal will be provided at cost (2 or 3 quid) with veggie options.  Should be good fun .... come & join us!

From the Hut Warden ...

Day fees at the belfry are still at the stunningly reasonable price of 50p.  Not bad for a shower, a shit and a cup of tea!!


That’s all can think of for now so on with the show .... Jingles.


This is the last Belfry Bulletin you will get if you have not paid your subs..


BEC Cave Leaders



Jeff Price
Martin Grass
Graham Wilton – Jones
Dave Irwin


Steve Redwood


Jeff Price
Chris Smart



M. Barrington
C. Batstone
I.  Caldwell
C. Castle
A. Cave
J. Dukes
P. Glanvill
M. Grass
C. Harvey
P. Hellier
J. Henley
D. Herbert
T. Humphreys
D. Irwin
K. King
T. Large
J. Large
S. McManus
M. McDonald
M. Palmer
B. Prewer
E. Sandford
C. Smart
A. Sparrow
N. Taylor
D. Turner
G. Villis
M. Wilson
G. Wilton-Jones
B. Workman


A. Butcher (SMCC)
G. Price (CSS)
J. Beauchamp (MCG)
M. Cotter (MCG)
R. Mansfield (UBSS)
A. Moody (WCC)
R. Haliwell (CPC)
M. Simms (SMCC)
A. Boycott (UBSS)

Bristol Region


Jeff Price
Chris Smart

South Wales


Martin Grass
Graham Wilton – Jones
Tim Large
Rob Harper

CRAIG  Y  FYNNON (Rock and Fountain)

Martin Grass


Martin Grass
Graham Wilton – Jones
Dave Irwin
Brian Prewer
Greg Villis
Tim Large


Do The BEC Get Everywhere ?

Dave Irwin

Many members collect all forms of caving ephemera and three items have come my way in the last few years that may be of interest to them.  The first is an advertisement from Country Life, November 24th, 1955 for Nescafe coffee.  This item was found by Bill Tolfree of the SMCC in the south Devon area and eventually a copy of it found its way into my collection. Although there are many examples of show-cave advertisements for the Mendip area one specifically displaying cavers is most unusual.  Perhaps members may remember the advert and more interestingly some may know who the cavers are.  It has been suggested that the cavers may have been BEC members - does anyone remember? The side of the cave passage displays half phreatic tubes and the most likely Mendip cave appears to be Goatchurch main entrance pas­sage. To assist identification of the left hand figure an enlargement is reproduced of the facial features  

Anyone recognise this man?


Nescafe advertisement, 1955

Cave postage stamps and 'Cinderella’s' are avidly collected by many cavers throughout the world - so numerous are they that a magazine is published regularly on the Continent. Cinderella's are labels produced to resemble post­age stamps.  There are numerous examples of this type of product usually produced by show-caves as advertising stickers on their picture postcards and general mail. They are not recognised by the post office.

Soon after the discovery of the series of extensions found in Gough's Cave between 1892 and 1898, the Gough family produced sheets of stamps depicting Richard Cox Gough, the man behind the venture.   These appear to have been printed shortly after Gough's death in 1902,   the earliest date of   'use'  of this label seen by the writer in on a picture postcard postally used in 1904. A single specimen on the back of picture postcard nom Cheddar in the writer’s collection is about 1907.  It would appear that this label was available for a number of years.


MAROC - 94 - A Youth Expedition To Morocco


Doctor Andrew Newton - (Expedition Leader)
Mr Christopher Willey - (Assistant Leader)
Mr Michael Smith - (Assistant Leader
David Lancaster
James Smith
Robert Canning
Timothy Harris
Alasdair Putt
Stephen Plumbley
Habib Fouilloux


The main aim of the expedition was to introduce a group of youngsters (members of the Third Gosport Sea Scout Group) to the challenges of expedition work and to allow them a chance to experience something of Moroccan culture and lifestyle.

As the first ever expedition made by British Scouts to Morocco, MAROC 94 aimed to establish a link with the authorities in Morocco which would prove beneficial for future expeditions visiting the Country.

On the mountaineering side the aim was to allow all the expedition members an attempt at reaching the summit of Mount Toubkal (the highest mountain in North Africa).



Travel to Morocco was with Royal Air Maroc (the National Airline of Morocco) from London Heathrow via Casablanca to Marrakech.


On arrival a one day and two nights stay in Marrakech (the Red City) was taken, to allow for re­organisation of equipment after the flight, provisioning, fuelling and also for acclimatization to the climate.  The time spent in Marrakech also allowed the expedition leaders to make contact with local youth officials including representatives of the Scout Organisation in Marrakech.

Accommodation was arranged at the Grand Hotel Tazi, however, unfortunately due to over booking the first night had to be spent at a small Berber Hotel in the Medina (old town) which afforded those unfamiliar with African travel a crash introduction to the delights of a cheap "doss house" (cockroaches and all).

The expedition travelled from Marrakech to the mountains by bus, using SATAS the local bus company which runs a 3 times daily service from Marrakech to Asni (the regional administrative centre for the central High Atlas region).  In Asni locally run trucks are readily available (at a price) for onward transportation up to the village of Imlil.


Using the village of Imlil (altitude 1,740 metres) as a base the expedition undertook a 3 day acclimatization phase which consisted of short day walks of increasing length and altitude.

The walks undertaken included a 5 mile circuit of the middle Mizzane Valley visiting the waterfalls above the village of Around and a 10 mile trek over Tamatert Col (altitude 2,279 metres) to the remote village of Tacheddirt (altitude 2,314 metres).

Imlil makes an ideal base for an expedition as there are plenty of shops from which to purchase fresh rations (albeit at higher than average prices).  The village also has a Club Alpine Francais hut which provides basic accommodation at very affordable prices and also a number of small hotels and family run Gites (Guest Houses).

During this phase of the expedition we befriended a Franco Moroccan mountaineer called Jean-Pierre who runs a mountain guiding service and owns a Gite in the village.  Their exceedingly mountain wise 11 year old son Habib asked to join the expedition and rapidly became both a valuable asset and a good friend to the other children on the expedition.


The ascent of Toubkal (altitude 4,167 metres).

Making a late afternoon departure we climbed to the village of around (altitude 1,920 metres) which sits perched on a moraine at the entry to the upper Mizzane Valley.  We spent the night in a small Gite in the village (the Guest House was run by one of the local farmers and had a balcony affording the most magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding mountains).

The next day we made an early start and with a team of 3 mules to transport our rucksacks we made the long ascent up the Mizzane Valley passing through the village of Chamharrouch to the Neltner hut (altitude 3,207 metres).  The Neltner hut is traditionally regarded as being a suitable location for advanced camp prior to a summit ascent. Due to the popularity of the hut with trekking groups the majority of private parties climbing the mountain during the summer months opt to camp on the flats just underneath the hut.

Our expedition took an additional acclimatization/rest day at the Neltner.  For those brimming with energy a one day trek over the Ouanoums Col (altitude 3,876 metres) was arranged.  This Col is famous for the fantastic view which it affords over Lac D'infini and the Jebel Sahro.

The ascent from the Neltner hut to the summit of Toubkal is a 2-3 hour trek passing through the western Cwm (renowned for its loose scree slopes) and then by using either the north west or the south west Arrette ascending to the summit plateau.

A dawn start was made to avoid climbing during the heat of the day and also to miss the cloud which tends to shroud the summit of the mountain most afternoons in the summer months.

We were extremely lucky with the weather and reached the summit with a panoramic view in all directions.

After returning to the Neltner a restful afternoon was spent splashing underneath the waterfalls and re-packing kit for the descent back to Imlil.

Having used all of the food and fuel the descent was undertaken without the use of mules, allowing the expedition members to gain useful pack carrying experience for the final stage of the expedition.


Trek to Tizzi Oussem

The final two days of the mountain phase of the expedition were spent on a circular trek to the remote village of Tizzi Oussem (altitude 1,850 metres), crossing over the exceedingly arduous Mzic Col (altitude 2,489 metres) en route.

Tizzi Oussem is a classic northern central Atlas Berber village which thanks to its remoteness from roads has remained untouched by development.  The village is situated in a very fertile valley which is intensively farmed using an extensive system of terraced fields and an ingenious series of irrigation ditches.

A very comfortable night was spent in one of the village houses and the following morning was set aside for exploring the village (with the inevitable crowd of small Berber children in tow).

On arrival back in Imlil we went to stay at our friend's Gite where Jean-Pierre had prepared a huge taggine (a traditional local meal) for us.  Our feast was accompanied by Berber music performed by the local village band which Jean-Pierre had employed for the evening to thank us for looking after his son.


After our return to Marrakech a day was spent visiting the famous palaces and sights within the City and also for shopping in the Medina (which has a maze of little streets and alleyways where craft stalls, spice markets and workshops jostle for space and customers attention).

We were lucky to have our touristic wanderings supervised by a representative of the local Scout Association who ensured that we got value for money and also did a fabulous job of defending us against the Marrakech hustlers (whose aggressiveness is legendary).


The following communal equipment was used on the expedition.

One Ultimate Horizon 4-man tent.
Three Hornet 2 man light weight tents.
Four Peak-one multi-fuel burners.
Fourteen Sigg fuel bottles (one litre).
Five Trekker Well water purification systems.
Cooking Equipment.
Navigational Equipment.

Obtaining fuel for camping stoves can be a problem in Morocco.  Camping Gas is widely available (in C206 cylinders in cities and in larger cylinders in more rural areas).

Unleaded fuel is difficult to buy (Government permits often being required), and kerosene and methylated spirits are almost impossible to obtain.


During the acclimatization phase, military type compo rations of the boil in the bag type were used. These rations give 3,000 calories per day and come in an easy to prepare format.

For the high altitude phase of the expedition, dehydrated rations of the Raven type were used with dried fruit, crunchy bars, sweets and hot drinks as dietary supplements.  (A total calorific intake of between 2,500 and 3,000 calories a day was aimed for).


The climate in Morocco is generally warm and dry during the summer months.  In Marrakech the average mid-day temperature is in the region of 110 degrees, however in the mountains the temperature is considerably more comfortable for trekking.

In the central Atlas region it is common for cloud cover to build up during the day with precipitation and electrical storms frequently occurring during the late afternoon and evening.


MAROC - 94 achieved all of its major aims. In particular the expedition demonstrated that it is entirely possible for a correctly equipped and well supported Youth Party to successfully undertake a major trekking challenge in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

Doctor Andrew Paul Newton FRGS MRCGP
BEC Member


MRO News


Whatever happens during 1995, be it flood, earthquake, suicidal students, collapsing boulder ruckles or fat people in thin caves, this year will mark the end of an era for the Mendip Rescue organization with the retirement from Secretary of Jim Hanwell at the General Meeting in March.

Since the MRO was formed in 1936 it has placed great store in continuity and has only had 3 previous secretaries - Dr Bertie Crook, Howard Kenney and Oliver Lloyd.  Jim has always been the first to say the MRO is nothing more than Mendip cavers with a different, and more serious, hat on. True - but each secretary has, in his own way, affected how fellow cavers and outside bodies perceive us and our efforts.

Jim became a Warden on 6th March 1960 so his service at the sharp end covers that Golden time on Mendip when it seemed that caves were being extended every weekend.  Equipment for both cavers in general and rescue in particular was sparse and crude by modern standards and it seemed that not a Saturday night passed without the Hunters being cleared prematurely to haul some bedraggled bods up the Forty.  Were we innocent then?  Virtually all the MRO kit would go in a couple of tackle bags and the only interest in "outside bodies" was keeping our good relationships with the Mendip farmers and trying to tell the Press as little as possible!  Jim took over as Secretary at the 1972 General Meeting and inherited a St. John's carrying sheet, a couple of pulleys, some NiFe cells and assorted "string" - the bank balance wasn't much better either and would probably not have bought a beer for every Warden - even at 1972 prices!

How times change - the MRO store is now bursting at the seams with hi -tech kit worth thousands of pounds and we need an Equipment Officer to maintain it and a Training Officer to show us how to use it!  The Secretaries time is increasingly taken up in liaising with others - South West England Rescue Association, Mountain Rescue Council, Association of Chief Police Officers, British Cave Rescue Council, the Press, and, most importantly, the local Emergency Services, the farmers, residents and cavers of Mendip. Anyone who thinks that MRO only exists and functions 10 or 12 times a year when it gets a call is living in dream land.  During Jim's tenure in the hot seat to the end of 1993 MRO was been called out 227 times to assist more than 495 people and assorted animals.

Jim has always said that the Mendip Rescue organization IS Mendip caving - well, yes, he is right.- but someone had to channel the anarchy and bring order from chaos ..............

THANKS JIM ...... some poor sod had to do it ...... glad it was you!


Thanks to the good work of John Hill and the generosity of the Castle Cary Red Cross we now have several hand-portable radios which can be used in parallel with our Emergency sets. They are not dedicated to the National Search and Rescue frequency so can be overheard by others - please be discreet.  These sets should be a great help during exercises and practices and for non-emergency traffic during incidents.  The Call Sign will be as for all our other communication devices - HUNTER.  They are now in place in the store and in use.


Saturday 28th January 1995


Practical Session by John Hill Hunters Lodge 7:30 pm

Saturday 25th February 1995


Annual event to keep us all up to date with latest thinking on Artificial Ventilation and External Chest Compression techniques.  Lots of dummies and expert advice.

Hunters Lodge 7:30 pm

Friday 17th March 1995


Hunters Lodge 8:00 pm prompt

Saturday 25th March 1995


Practical session covering the observation & recording of vital signs - Blood Pressure, Pulse, Pupil size etc. John Hill

Hunters Lodge 7:30 pm

Saturday 29th April 1995


After incidents and practices many useful suggestions are made.  This session gives those concerned the opportunity to report their findings, have them discussed and acted upon.

Hunters Lodge 7:30 pm

Saturday 20th May 1995


A day-long practical session at Westbury Quarry More details to follow - from Nigel Taylor & posters


Wardens Meetings - Hunters Lodge 8:00 pm prompt

Friday 12th May 1995

Sunday 26th November 1995


Caving and Diving in Oman

With Bob Hill

Oman, having an average annual rainfall of about half an inch, is not the place where one would expect to find caverns measureless to man.  However it has been much wetter in the past and although cave development is now very restricted the great masses of limestone that make up the country's Hajar mountains contain some extraordinary examples of "what could have been" had the climate been different.

Below is a rundown on the caves visited and some of the finds made.

Majlis AI-Djinn. (Meeting hall of the spirits).

Having avoided getting to know anybody with a 200m caving rope for two years I finally overcame my abject terror of big pitches for long enough to agree to visit Majlis with Alistair Fraser, a diving buddy of mine, when he imported a suitable rope late last year.

The cave is somewhat remote. A five hour drive from Muscat, 3 1/2 hrs of which is on rough tracks, steep in places, takes you into the mountains of the Eastern Hajar and up to about 2000m before dropping slightly to a village.  From here a 10km walk across the Jebel, (mountains) brings you to the cave. There are two large entrances, one at each end of the chamber, each with a free hanging drop of about 130m onto rubble piles in the chamber.  However the most spectacular way to descend is through Cheryl's crack, (she found it I'm told) which has a single free hanging descent of 169m (555 ft).  The crack is about 5ft wide and, after a descent of about 40ft, you emerge into the middle of this mind blowing chamber.  The problem with the place is that it is impossible to gauge the scale of the thing until you have abseiled down for about 5 minutes and realise that although the roof is now way above, you still seem to be no closer to the floor.  A 15 minute abseil finally lands you on the ground in the middle of the chamber amongst a few scattered goat bones.  (The animal must have disintegrated when it hit the floor).  At this point I discovered that, in my enthusiasm for not falling out of my harness, I had done up the leg straps so tight that I could no longer feel my legs and feet.  I lay on the floor in agony for about 5 minutes hoping no-one threw anything down before managing to drag myself away from under the entrance and recover.  A wander around the wall of the chamber, which is roughly oval and about 200m by 300m, is a good half hour walk.  This accomplished while Doc Fraser abseils into the cave.  After a few pictures the prussik out takes 45 minutes (which was respectable for a man of my age and I wasn't the slowest).

The slog back to the car in the heat of the afternoon makes this a tough day, but it is worth the effort. There are several other large caves in the vicinity of Majlis, one of which is a through trip with several pitches, the major pitch is reputed to be 180m (590 ft). Plans are afoot to visit this in the autumn.

Gubhrat Tanuf Cave.

Not far from the interior town of Nizwa is Gubhrat Tanuf.  A small perennial stream flows from this cave which is entered via a small slit often occupied by "harmless", but long, snakes and a nest of not so harmless, bad tempered, wasps.  This cave was first surveyed by Tony Waltham in the mid '80s (Karst and caves in the Jabal Akhdar, Oman. Trans. BCRA., 12.) as far as a sump, with a side inlet also pushed another 500m or so, also ending at a sump.  I first visited this cave in 1991 and noted that the sumps looked diveable.  Returning with a cylinder a year later the sump at the end of the inlet was passed after 8m (no depth) to reveal 30 m of passage with the stream issuing from a small hole in the wall! 

On a more recent trip two short sumps in the main stream were passed by myself and Alistair, and 50m of passage lead to a third, larger looking,  sump which awaits our next visit with more air and line.  Because it doesn't rain too often here the accumulation of silt in these sumps makes the vis atrocious with the first diver only getting a quick glimpse of where to go before being enveloped in a cloud of silt. The dive back is in pure drinking chocolate.

Khaf Hoti.

Another cave in the same area, Hoti, is a real cavers cave.  It is a 4.5km through trip, also surveyed by Waltham, and is a sporting and enjoyable.  The cave begins in what is essentially fossil passage which floods after heavy rain (rare), and changes to newer more active stream cave after about 1.5 km before the final lake is reached about 1.5km before the end.  A swim of 800m finally ends at a steep bank which leads to 1/2 km of occasionally well decorated dry cave to emerge at the original resurgence.  This cave is well worth a visit!

Goats End Cave.

After the last diving trip to Tanuf we decided to follow a new track up the nearby mountains and quite by chance came across an obvious pothole entrance right beside the road. Exploring further, we found a couple of other promising shafts nearby, all of these had drops estimated at about 50 to 80m based on our trundling efforts.  One shaft swallows a large rock in two bounces with a definite splash at the bottom.  We returned to the first of these with SRT gear recently, and abseiled, to our surprise, down a narrow 45m shaft, passed a liquefying and extremely smelly, goat corpse on a ledge, to end up in a water worn passage, with a reasonable amount of pretty calcite.  The way on is through a choice of two holes in the floor which drop about 30 m to water (not visible).  Plenty to be done in this area too, But 'Goats End' will have to wait until the next flood because I hate having to wash my hands in the only liquid we had left, beer, to remove the smell of putrefying flesh before we could get in the car.

Alistair and I also visited the nearby AI-Ohr spring which proved to be a disappointment.  We were regaled with tales of large, submerged chambers and good vis, with a definite way on by our contact in the Ministry of Water Resources who had snorkelled in the resurgence pool.  What we got was 1ft vis and consequently spent the first half hour trying to squeeze through a very tight hole with our kit on before deciding that we must be nuts.  Eventually however we did find a way on, 4m deeper than we expected and Alistair laid 35m of line to a small, very smelly, air bell with myself following.  At this point we had both had enough, and although the cave obviously has potential someone will have to do some pretty smooth talking to get us back there in a hurry.

Tiwi Sinkhole.

East along the coast, about 120km from Muscat is the local "tourist" attraction of a large Sinkhole.  Inland about 1 km from the sea, a 50m by 70m hole with a partially solid floor is descended by a 15m scramble to a large pool which has a tidal range of about a foot and is obviously dubiously connected with the sea.  Before yours truly and his little bunch began exploring the place seriously in 1992, it had been dived several times by local expat divers, all on base fed line, and tales abounded.  My first dive, on a single tank, at the end of 1992 convinced me that the place was well worth putting some effort into.  We now have a team of divers who have been working at trying to survey what is turning out to be a very large submerged cavern, (see attached sketch). The classic sulphur layer of your average blue hole is found between 8 and 13m after which everything gets very big and very deep.  The cave has turned out to be very frustrating with the wall meeting the boulder floor at depths around 60m.  Alistair and myself have pushed several promising leads, all dead ends.  The most promising so far, an hole in the floor at -50m was pushed to -64m from where it could be seen continuing down, too tight, and too deep to follow.

On a technical note we are considering the use of Trimix for dives below 60m, but find ourselves very isolated from the expertise available in Europe. The gases are available locally but obtaining tables / Algorithms and specialist equipment is proving a problem. Can anyone help?

Needless to say, with summer daytime temperatures often approaching 502 C (1202 F), winter is the time to explore, unless you can park next to the entrance.

If anyone is keen to come and see for themselves please let me know.  It is possible for a limited number to obtain visa's for Oman these days and contrary to most people's idea of the middle east this is a wonderful country with spectacular scenery.






Sulawesi Expedition

By Snablet

A Brief summary of events in Phase I.     Oct 14 - Nov 20 1994.

The 'A' Team: Rob & Helen Harper, Tony Boycott, Peter McNab.

We hired a Kjang from Ramayana tours 75000 rp with driver (Anton) and fuel all in.  It was a full days drive from UIP to Masawa, at the base of the gorge/valley. We found accommodation at Pastor Willem's school & church.  Lokko Ledo was visited and surveyed.  We got lost on the way to the cave & spent a couple of hours hacking our way through virgin jungle.  A hard days work for 193m of cave, but it was in limestone.

The area seems to be mainly igneous rock, possibly basalt, with a few limestone caps on top of the hills leaving remnants of old river systems.

The rest of our foray into the Mamasa river area failed to turn up any limestone caves.  A lot of rock shelters and waterfall undercuts as well as granite boulder piles were visited, leading to much disappointment. One of these involved a 36km walk in through dense primary forest, the cave was a measly 5m long!  But the walk was cracking, Cobras crossing our path - monkeys could be heard howling in the trees.  We stayed at the remote village of Mattanguga - an excellent place.  We also tried chickens foot whisky at our guide Fido's house - he was the local English teacher ... there was no school the next day!!!  We also noticed that we could cut a third of the time off that the locals quoted for walking distances as we weren't herding livestock to market!

Note .. .! don't like granite boulder caves, they are loose and don't go anywhere.

We had an interesting stay at a village near Mambi.  We had not mastered much in the way of Indonesian and none in the village spoke 'Ingress' (no surprises there) but we managed to get by.  The whole village came to watch us, my bivvi bag seemed to cause great hilarity whenever I got into it.

After a week or so we abandoned the Mamasa river area our conclusions were that there is very little limestone in the area.  We followed up all our leads of rivers flowing from underground ... they all flowed from underneath large granite boulders.  It was a dirty job but somebody had to do it.

We journeyed to Rantapo next & great excitement overcame the team at our first glimpses of hanging limestone cliffs and massive limestone tower karst, which could be seen from just before Enrekang up to Rantapo.  This called for a celebration, a local Bintang hostelry was located & we proceeded to drink the fridge dry.  Rob & Snablet decided to check out the local disco for a late one.  With about 8 other clientele in the joint Rob & I were the only ones pissed enough to partake in dancing (Involving cossack dancing, morris dancing, somersaults etc.) & we earn ourselves the nickname of ‘Crazy Ingress Men’ ... all this to the Reggee 3, the Indonesian version of Ging Gang Goolie!

Sullukan ... a taste of things to come. (Hopefully.)

20m from the road at Makula, park next to the bar with the swimming pools.  A large impressive entrance 5 x 4m with a reasonable stream flowing into it.  A large gour could just be seen in the gloom ahead.  YES ... here we go!  Unfortunately only 200m to a sump.  The gour is worth a look if you are ever passing by and there is still a going lead in the cave, reminiscent of compost corner, only a bit tighter & with Kamikaze bats flying through it.  Whoever pushes it best keep their mouth shut!

Next stop Lokko Ponte, a bit more like what we were looking for.  Large passage cuts through the remains of the limestone.  It’s well decorated with large dead stal. a bit like a railway tunnel in dimensions, linking two depressions.  A closer examination whilst surveying revealed a lower series.  The cave has the strange phenomena of having two downstreams & we have yet to find any upstream. I suspect it is through a sump somewhere around the first duck. Rob got something of a start when one of his survey stations turned out to be an orange snake!  Passage dimensions are a bit vague at that particular station.  Tony made a sterling effort at diving the 2nd downstream duck/sump through to another surface depression.  Total length of cave 1.5km.

Another cave entrance was noticed across the depression (Tete - Batu).  A quick investigation proved that we would be back the following day.

Tete-Batu, Lokko Nippon/Kandi api system was explored (we boldly went where several hundred Indonesians had been before) and surveyed.   It’s an impressive system with two active streams.  Where they join a 150m swimming canal was followed by Rob & Tony to a sump.  5 other sumps were also found in the system.  There are two high level routes.  On the left by climbing over a large stal boss into an extremely well decorated (for Sulawesi) series to another entrance (We don't know its name).  On the right just inside Tete-Batu entrance, up a steep mud slope is a series going to Lokko Nippon entrance then onwards to Kandi api entrance, this route is used as a short cut by the locals.  (Lots of graffiti in this series).  The total cave length is about 2km.  Apparently the cave is not very distinct as Tony B returned to the cave with J-Rat & Mac and resurveyed from Kandi api entrance through to Tete-Batu approx 300m before he noticed it was the same cave that only ten days previously we had spent 6 hours surveying and photographing!  The graves in the entrance didn't give you any clues, not even the skull with the BEC sticker on its forehead!!!

A word of advice ... don't try to ascend a rope using kevlar shock cord prusik loops, it may be nice and light for the walk in therefore saving you a bit of energy.  This however is totally wasted in the struggle to get out of the shaft, the kevlar cord may as well be super glued to the SRT rope. Great for stopping you from slipping, nine tenths of fuck all use for going up!!  We visited a cave "Sarambo" currently being used to supply the local villages with water, we were allowed in.  It’s a nice cave with two ways on.  One down the main streamway where we stopped at a duck and the other, possibly the flood bypass or an inlet, where we also stopped at a duck approx 160m of passage.  Unfortunately the cave turned into Manor Farm overnight with the local farmer demanding an extortionate amount of money for his favourite charity.  He did however look a bit bemused when he was told where to go!!

The area around Kalosi was our next destination.  We visited four largish caves only to find out on our exit from each that other foreigners had already visited.  We also found evidence that they had already been surveyed, topofoil cotton, stations marked on walls and gardened pitches.  Oh well, they were worth the visit, shame none had published their findings. We moved out of that area.  We decided to wait until the Speleo Sportif guide book comes out about the area so we know what’s been done.

Pasang - definitely no tourists armed with a compass, clino & tape have been here!  We only had time for a flying visit.  We took a short stroll around the area, 22km, taking in four caving trips.  We decided to return to the area at a later date.

Back to U/P to meet the reinforcements.  Liz Price was first to arrive, closely followed by J. Rat & Mac. Chris York caught us up in Rantapo a week later.

Tony B, Liz P & Snablet visited the showcaves at Bantimurung -Maros.  They are quite impressive; if you visit them take your own lamp.

"The Night of The Big Drink."

We were back in Non - Muslim country with beer on sale & Mac & J-Rat had arrived and if we needed an excuse it was my birthday.  Pissed??? -I should say so!!!  I can't really remember much about it- best ask the others, Mac carried me home about oneish, Rob was last in about sixish.  The following day was cancelled!

Returned to Pasang and spent 2 days surveying Lokko Lambale.  The SRT equipment was brought into action, four pitches rigged and descended and a rope climb.  We discovered some nice passage.  The Kepala Desa thinks we're mad "2 days in Lambale” total cave length 880m.  My biwi bag is causing a storm 'all day in Lokko - then sleep in lokko sarong!' they all come in especially to watch me get into it...who cares, at least it keeps the mosquitoes away.

Gua Possoloa: two caves with the same name.  One's above the other by about 4m.  Big dry passages, lots of bats and spiders, we even saw a shrew in the cave.  Cave length 500m & 250m.  We had an overnight stay at Limbuang.  Rob & Helen were given the guest room (because they were married) I had to share a bed with the family & there were 6 of them (I think) the oldest abut 75 the youngest about 6. At least I managed to sleep through the morning prayers (at about 4.00 a.m.)

Tapaan: this cave is halfway between Limbuang and Gua Possollo.  The trail leads down through an eerie gorge - like something out of a sci-fi film.  The entrance is a resurgence.  The stream forks, to the left leads to an unclimbed waterfall in a large bat chamber, to the right is 80m of crawling leading to a duck then onto another entrance. total length 500m.  There are other caves in this gorge but we could not stay any longer - it would have been unfair on the local village.

Back to Rantapo to see the others, unfortunately they had exhausted the area.  Their conclusions were that there used to be massive cave systems but now the majority of the limestone has been washed away by the rivers leaving only tantalising glimpses of what might have been.  Lokko Nippon is still the largest system we visited.

Central Sulawesi.

Rob Helen Chris & Snablet - headed north to central Sulawesi.  It was a good full days drive over the mountain range into the central area.  You can almost see too much tropical rain forest around the hairpin bends and along the subsiding roads.  We stayed at Pendolo on the shore of Lake Poso, its a mellow place. Next stop Beteleme. This is the area which Colin Boothroyd & co visited briefly on their 1989 recce trip, they rated it as the best area they encountered & likely to reveal more subterranean delights. Our journey was ' Palan Palan' ­slowly slowly - first because of a bad road then because the river kept disappearing underground.  This river contained some impressive gour pools.  Beteleme is surrounded by limestone cliffs and holes can be seen in them from the road.  The only problem for locating caves is that the hills are very steep & covered with dense primary forest.  Out of the three caves we visited, two had definitely been surveyed - Gua Tamaoa by Colin & co.  A very impressive cave 1.8km long, at one point the passage is 60m wide and 25m high, it ends in a boulder choke.  It is located at the head of a valley and disappears into the mountain.  There are many more valleys in the area maybe each of them has a cave at the head, only time will tell.  I have this area earmarked for a revisit with Annette & Jim when they arrive.  The other cave visited was Gua Dembiua, approx 100m and we found topofoil cotton running through it, possibly from a Spanish recce trip in '88.  The third cave we visited was near Denbiua.  A local bloke from the Garage popped up to see us while we were exploring and said in Indonesian "If you like that you will love this one."  He then showed us a longer cave nearby, approx 500m long with three entrances. We then ran into problems with the police (nothing new for Mr Harper - ed!) wanting us to make a donation to his favourite charity ... so we left!

Back to Pendolo ... a day relaxing and enjoying the luxury of a fridge in our Penginaden. (Guesthouse.)

The following day I headed north towards Manado, the others headed for New Zealand. Phase I of my trip drew to an end. My route started with a 4 hour boat ride across Lake Paso to Tentena where the boat has to anchor about 40m from the shore as the water is too shallow.  A bloke from the harbour paddles across in a large plastic fluorescent orange swan and then ferries all the passengers and goods ashore.  Its all very surreal.  A 2 hour Bemo ride to Poso harbour ready for the next crossing of Tomini bay.  To Minihasa peninsula via the Togian island.  I travelled economy class and slept in the lifeboat - it wouldn’t have been any -use in an emergency as the bottom had rusted out!  A very pleasant journey across the sea watching the dolphins diving out of the water by the bows of the ship.  I 'm now in Manado awaiting the arrival of Annette and Jim and the start of phase II of my trip.  The planned areas of attention are the rarely visited central eastern peninsula and the south east peninsula.  Then hopefully on to the eastern limestone mountain range on Kalimantan.  Phase III is of course speleo Philippines 1995.



Spike's Corner.

Greetings one and all. It’s been some time since I've written anything for Jingles and apparently some of you have missed my ramblings!  (God knows why ... ed!)

Berties Travels!

I am reliably informed that your beloved editor spent the New Year at the Hill Inn working behind the bar.  Fair play to John & Sue for putting up with him.  During this time it was noted that the large brass Bertie that hung above the bar went missing.  It seems that some Certain Unknown Northern Trogloditic Sorts wandered off with it from under Jingles' nose.  When said crime was noted, and two and two added together to make five, certain enquiries were made at a local caving hut.  With his usual diplomacy, and the aid of J-Rat running interference, Jingles cased the joint and missed the article completely.  We have since heard that it was only feet from the BEC twosome at one point.  Sadly the duo had to leave the area without Bertie but not without suspicions as to its whereabouts I'll GRANT you!!!

Over the next few days an interesting series of events took place, involving Liz Fish, telephones and Northern cave divers who shall at this point remain nameless, save to say that we knew who cartered off Bertie!  Offence being narrowly avoided on more than one occasion, Bertie mysteriously appeared by post some days later chez J-Rat, just in time to be returned to John & Sue Riley on their flying visit to Mendip.  It should be mentioned that it was posted recorded delivery and paid for by the nameless one.  (Fair play to him say I.)  Eventually Bertie was restored to his rightful abode along with a poem attached which unfortunately at the present time I am unable to get hold of.  However J-Rat penned a reply which goes as follows ...

To he who pinched the Hill Inn Bat,
No, we don't think you are a pratt
Ten out of ten for splendid jape,
That left the BEC agape.
We worried for this trophy fine,
Lest it be hanging on a line,
A mile inside some dismal sump,
Or mounted in a caver's dump.
Now Its back we raise a cheer,
And settle down to supping beer,
The Bat is, just like Theakstons brew,
Of value great to John & Sue.

Before I leave you I have to say that J met with a very despondent Andy Sparrow in the Hunter's lodge the other week.


I enquired of him what the trouble was and he replied in plaintive tones "My wife's away on a course".  Thinking that her absence was the cause of his ill humour I asked what the course was, came the reply .... ASSERTIVENESS!!!

... personally I feel sorry for whoever tries to teach Joanna to be assertive .... !!!

See y'all ..... Spike.

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

Cover: An Original Drawing by Snablet

1994 - 1995 Committee

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



Hello fellow Belfryites. It seems a while since I've done an editorial for the old B.B., largely due to the fact that it is!  I shall not make excuses for myself save to say that another issue will follow this one very soon.

The reason being that the A.G.M. is not that far away at all, to say nothing of our 60th celebrations.

To this end I must mention one or two things.  Firstly any nominations for next year’s committee should be forwarded to the Hon Sec. A.S.A.P. and certainly no later than the September committee meeting. Secondly I would ask all current committee members to let me have their annual reports also A.S.A.P. in order that they may be published in the next B.B. and thus save an awful lot of time and hot air at the A.G.M .... God knows there's enough hot air anyway!

It seems, at this stage that there will be some current officers standing down next year, including possibly myself, so there are posts that will need filling.  The club will not operate without a committee and despite what some may say my experience is that there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

For my part I have not been around on Mendip that much recently for a number of different reasons, most of which are irrelevant to club business, but I have been spending a lot of time in Yorkshire, largely around the Old Hill Inn.  At this point I would like to wish John & Sue Riley all the best for their antipodean forays and thank them on behalf of many of us who had enjoyed their hospitality at the 'Hill' over the years.  Although I am happy for them it still feels like the end of an era with them leaving.  I can assure you that the new Landlord is every bit as welcoming of cavers and that on that level not a lot seems to have changed.

I ought to mention that Estelle's Address has changed as you will see from the preceding page.

Also that there are plans afoot to resurrect Friday night sing songs at the Hunters, hopefully on committee nights, and I know there is more than a little interest in this. (Not that I'm Biased or anything.)

Anyway enough prattle from me.

Watch this space for more news next month ..... over to you Mr 'N'.



From the Belfry Table

Yes, your club secretary has a new toy, and intends to make use of it to update you all, now in retirement at last!  On the latest news from the BELFRY TABLE!

But firstly, on a note of sadness, I regret to inform you of the death of Lord WALDEGRAVE , on the 23rd. May 1995.

Geoffrey Noel, 12th. Earl Waldegrave, KG, G.C.V.O, was apart from being a prominent and well-respected Landowner, indeed a good friend & benefactor to many Mendip cavers. Indeed, many such digs and caves have been excavated and discovered as a result of his having given permission for their excavation.  Red Quar Swallet, Wigmore Farm Cave, and also many mine shafts all lie upon his estate.

He has a genuine interest in what lay beneath his property, as well as atop it.  I can recall in the early days of the Wigmore excavation - firing a rather hefty explosive charge, having obtained permission from someone Tony Jarrat and myself thought to be the landowner, only to find that it was in fact the Dairy Herdsman!  Lord Waldegrave, arrived upon the scene just prior to the blast, and was advised to keep his head down, much to his merriment, and our chagrin, he gave us his personal authority there and then!  On Thursday 1st. June 1995, I represented the B.E.C at Chewton Mendip Parish Church, and have expressed the Clubs' regrets to his family. A true Mendip Gentleman, he will be missed.

I further regret to advise you of the death of an old Club Member, Graham George ROBINSON, number 489. Graham joined the B.E.C on the 17th. August 1961 am sure that you will all join me in wishing his family our deepest sympathy.  I have asked John RANSOM to write further upon this matter for the BB.

On now to lighter matters, DON’T FORGET THIS IS THE CLUB’S 60TH YEAR!   Saturday 1st. July saw a surprise birthday party for Bertie at Priddy Village Hall.  The Committee and their ladies worked hard, and an excellent evening of Olympics, Pig-roast, Barbecue and Blues band was enjoyed by all.  The profits were swelled by the exceptional generosity of Roger and Jackie DORS, who allowed us to keep the profits on the bar.  A very kind action for which we are all very grateful. The profits will be used to keep down the cost of the 60th. Dinner which I hope will be a grand occasion.

SEPTEMBER. ....... The "Cavelets" (Angie & Andy) are planning another Belfry Working weekend.  PLEASE support them, date to be advised.

SATURDAY, 7th.OCTOBER, is the A.G.M & DINNER. B.E.C.  Member No.1, Harry STANBURY is Guest of Honour, and the venue?  It’s the same as the 50th Venue, at the Bath & West showground; plans are already well in hand for this and other entertainments. Details from myself.  How about a "PANTO", come on you older B.E.C bods!  What about it???????????????

CHARTERHOUSE PERMITS are now being reissued.   These are of a new format, and can be obtained by any PAID-UP Members from the Belfry.  Don’t get caught without one, as the new system may well be under scrutiny by our new Landlords, English Nature /Somerset Trust.

OFFICIAL REMINDER & NOTICE, ..... NOMINATIONS FOR THE 1995/1996 Committee are now called for, please send to your Hon. Sec as soon as possible, but by the 7th August at the latest and include the name of proposer with them.  Candidates must be paid-up.

I have been asked by the Committee to advise all members that DAMAGE TO THE BELFRY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.  There has been too much wanton damage of late, and it has been agreed that any malicious damage will mean that the culprits WILL BE CALLED BEFORE THE COMMITTEE, and further that they can expect to be BANNED FROM THE CLUB WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT IF AT FAULT.  You are warned, that there will be no exceptions, enough is enough, the Belfry is not just for a few to spoil as they think fit, nor is the Committee prepared to have all their work, and the efforts of good members laid waste.  The JULY Committee meeting acted unitedly and swiftly to curb this problem.  One member has been suspended until the 1996 A.G.M from all club activities and membership privileges, one Committee member has been suspended until this years A.G.M for taking the law into his own hands and assaulting one of the alleged culprits. A third member has yet to appear before the Committee and state his case, and is now banned from the Belfry and club activities until he chooses to appear before them.

The Committee will not condone damage or violence on anyone's part.  This must, and will cease.  The Club is more important and bigger than anyone individual, and I totally support this belief, no matter how useful any such individual mayor may not be to the club.   Enough said??????????????????

Oh well!. .. .its' time for me to get down from the table, (And my "High Horse"!),

regards to you all,

“Mr.” N.
(Nigel Taylor, Hon.Sec).


Rambles in the Mammoth Cave System

Babs Williams & Jeff Price.

The most important thing to know about Mammoth National Park is that is in a DRY county!!  The Jatrrats gave us this useful tip - buy a cool box $3.50 - ice $1.50 and lots of beer before you enter the state.

All facilities are available in the park at reasonable prices e.g. camping $10.00 per night. Each camp area has its own barbeque and table & chairs and is situated in idyllic woodland.  The park visitor’s centre has an auditorium showing various films all day on caves & related subjects e.g. bats.  It also has gift shops, restaurants & cabins to stay in if desired.  Caving books are very cheap so keep some cash aside if you are that way inclined.

There are a variety of caving tourist trips to choose from which are also quite cheap ($4.00 - $5.00) taken by very knowledgeable park rangers.  We would recommend the frozen Niagara and Historic tours, although you may be going along with 100 other people.

On Sunday morning we met Jim Borden and Nancy Kovabik at the visitors centre to do a trip in an extension of the Mammoth system called Rappel Cave.  They took us to Nancy's home about 5 miles away and offered us the cave research foundation’s cabin for accommodation that night - typical caving hut but with bunks.  We then went back to the National Park to break camp while they had breakfast.  In true caving tradition we buggered about and finally set off at midday.

Rappel cave is a through trip so we took two cars, leaving ours at the lower entrance ( Downey Avenue) and took the other to the upper entrance (Khan).  After a 20 minute walk we arrived at the entrance only to discover that dipstick Williams had left the car keys safely stashed in Jim's car.  After D.H. Williams had thrashed herself thoroughly with birch twigs, Nancy and Jim very kindly walked back to get the keys.

We were finally ready to start the trip at 14.10 hrs.

Khan entrance was dug by Jim and others in the mid 70s.  It is the 24th entrance into the Mammoth system.  It is also the highest, furthest east and furthest north.

We entered the cave down a 40' steel ladder pitch into the chamber.  After a short crawl we arrived at Ghengis river and made our way through phreatic passage to the start of the crawl.  This crawl is hands and knees, not very restrictive but very long (4000') - knee pads essential!!  They don't call it the Fisher Ridge Special for nothing!  We then went past the Blob and into the Turbine Blades, which is a gnarled and sharp rift passage, which we traversed (or straddled which is the Kentuckian term).  Then on into Thickwater Canyon _ aptly named as our boots sank about a foot into mud all the way through.  This canyon emerged into Fairy Land, a very wide water passage with fabulous mud formations and mud covered stalactites and straws.  Very pretty.

We then entered Elysiann way a spectacular large passageway with Ghengis river running through it. In places it was very similar to the green canal in Dan-Yr-Ogof and in fact much of the cave was like a large Dan-Yr-Ogof.  Jim and Nancy were horrified at our love of swimming in the water, the Americans do not like water!  So bad is this aversion to H2O that when discovering the new cave from Downey Avenue they reached "impassable water" and turned back.  At this point J & N let Jeff & I lead so that we could see the cave fauna, this was one of the highpoints of the trip for us.  We must have seen about 30 white crayfish and one white fish.  They are translucent and blind but sensitive to light and heat.

We passed the Sentries, which are big stalagmite bosses perched on a shelf, they looked quite majestic and very sentry like.

Black river started off as a rift passage, gradually getting bigger and deeper sometimes to about thigh deep.  Lots more crayfish.  At this point we had been going for nearly 5 hours.  Then it was into the Easy Way which was a winding tight rift passage and a relief to be upright all the way.  This was followed by Black Canyon which was walking and traversing leading to Halloween Junction.

We then gradually started to ascend, doing a few climbs into Arley Way.  Around here was a 300' easy hands and knees crawl that was in fact agony on very tender knees.  (Just keep thinking about the beer in the car cool box at this point!).

A ‘T’ junction here goes led to Mammoth main system nearly 2 miles away and 5 miles to a main entrance called Dayle Valley.

Finally into Downey Avenue, which is basically a boulder ruckle, and out via 4 steel ladders varying from 30' - 50'.

We emerged tired but happy after just over 7 hours having done the best through trip either of us had ever been on.

Then it was just a matter of picking up the cars and going back to Nancy's where her excellent husband John had prepared a delicious SpagBol and had chilled some beers for us.

Jim has been at the forefront of the exploration of this section of Mammoth and we are very grateful to both Jim and Nancy for giving up their time to take us down.  Also to John for feeding us and to Nancy & John's son John for the Geode and computer game!

Jim is at present just finishing a book which will be the sequel to “The Longest Cave" by Brucker and Watson.  If anyone is interested in a copy, please contact us.  We may even be able to get it signed.


R.W. Brucker & R.A. Watson The Longest Cave 1976

W. Halliday Depths of The Earth 1966

A. Bullit Rambles in the Mammoth Cave (Reprint) 1973

Babs Williams.




Guinness. Music and Caving - Easter in County Clare

After hours of travelling we finally hit Doolin, meeting the SMCC and just missing last orders in O'Connors (I was not a happy person!).  Dumped our gear in the very smart cottage (too smart for cavers!) and crashed out.

14/4 Good Friday.

Decided to take it easy and visited the Aran Isle of Inisheer as I'd been told it was worth a visit. How many hours did it take to get there? The ferry couldn't get to the harbour due to low tide, so a very small boat had to make about ten trips over to the ferry which took about two hours!  In the process of transferring from the boat to the ferry I whacked my shin resulting in a very nasty bruise and cut which later became nicely infected from cave water.

Walked around the island which was sort of like an outside Ogof Draenan - hundreds and thousands of boulders and I have never seen so many drystone walls in my life!  Within two hours we'd walked around the island, no pubs were open so we sat out in the sun.  Big mistake!!  I later resembled a beetroot - no one could believe how red I was.


My first trip in Clare was the classic ST. CATHERINE'S ONE to FISHERSTREET POT, or DOOLIN CAVE.  After a poor description of how to get there and after searching through loads of smelly bogs, we eventually spied the neatly fenced off entrance, complete with stile!  (What a change this was to the Irish caves I'd been in before where the farmer fills the shakehole with dead animals and rubbish).  This is a superb trip apart from the leeches and eels - I wore my wetsuit to maximise protection against them and insect repellent is recommended as you tend to get attacked halfway through the cave.

As we came out the cave some of the others spotted us on their way to CULLAUN TWO.  Getting very lost on the way and feeling sick with hunger I was forced to eat the most disgusting looking and tasting Mars Bar ever. Legged it straight down to the sump and out.  Guess where the evening was spent?  Yes, O'Connors, complete with excellent music and even Irish dancing.


Discovered how much standing by the side of the road changing seems to amuse the Irish as every car that went past seemed to wave or peep its horn.  Ventured down POL-AN-IONAIN after managing to prise the lid open.  The hands and knees crawl wasn't half as bad as we were led to believe and all of a sudden you appear in the Main Chamber, the biggest chamber in Clare which contains the "longest free-hanging stal in the world" (according to Caves of County Clare by UBBS).  It is very impressive and amazing the way it sort of hangs on.  Explored around and attempted to exit out, the book adding a useful hint that "a mental note of the route used on entry is a useful precaution".  I found the way out leaving the lads looking puzzled.

Feeling keen, our next aim was CULLAUN FIVE but of course, we didn't go down the most obvious entrance right next to the road, no, Anthony Butcher lead us right into the middle of the forest.  We found one of the grimiest holes ever which turned out to be C5c and began a long hands and knees crawl for what seemed like miles.  One of the lads gave up and turned back cos his knees were hurting so much (soft Southerner!), big mistake as we shortly found daylight.  After more crawling in stinking water, we reached daylight again losing another member of the party.  AB and I carried on, meeting Butch who said we'd get to the sump in forty minutes.  We legged it down, forever conscious of the time as everyone was supposed to meeting in the pub for a meal.  It was literally a look at the sump and we headed out though in extremely good time. However, our return journey became somewhat delayed due to a bit of confusion at a junction.  I said it was left, AB thought right - I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  The passages were very similar but I soon suspected we'd gone wrong.  Due to the speed we'd been moving at, a lot of ground had been covered.  A quick stop to rest our necks was needed as it was all crawling or stooping and we made the decision to carry on up this passage as we knew that there were four or five entrances into this system.  In hope, we carried on but the passage was becoming flatter and tighter until it was too tight.  This was turning into an epic and all we kept thinking of was ruining the meal for everyone. Starving, thirsty, tired and miserable we retreated.  With a few rests and encouraging each other after what seemed like an eternity we reached the junction.  Turning the corner, no more than a few feet away was the ladder - I was right!  With a surge of energy, we de-rigged and rushed out the cave to meet the other two.  It turned out they were giving us five minutes as we over an hour overdue then were going to get help.  Our detour had covered 1,200m of crawling up Hunched Back Horror - very well-named!!! It had to be the only side passage one couldn't get out of - it had a visual connection, blocked by a stalactite grill ....  After almost kicking ourselves to get back in time for the meal, we arrived back to find it had been cancelled that night!  It was an excellent trip though in a funny kind of way thanks to AB, hopefully it will teach him to listen to females in future - we're always right (well, most of the time).


Did the excellent through trip of POULNAGOLLUM - POULELVA


FAUNAROOSKA - this took a while to find as the book was slightly misleading and it is the second drystone wall and not the first which should be followed, the shakehole being circled in barbed wire.  Nice trip, the usual characteristic stream passage of this area - like a big version of the Crabwalk in Giant's.  Some how, I ended up with AB at the rear of the party, fortunately it didn't turn out to be another Hunched Back Horror episode though it does have a reputation for parties taking the wrong turning on the return journey.


Went digging somewhere in the Carron area.  In the process of getting there had lots of run-ins with nasty horses - as we driving there one reared up in front of us in the middle of the road and as we were walking to the dig site, one of the lads was almost killed by two horses chasing him (I've never seen horses gallop so quick or him move so quick for that matter). He was pretty shaken up having sought the safety of a tree.  The dig area showed a lot of potential with Jots of limestone pavements and valleys. Our chosen site was really more a long-term dig and this didn't last too long due to a super severe hail storm. We took an alternative route back to avoid the killer horses.



Girlies trip down F AUNAROOSKA


Headed to a small soak-away swallet which we'd seen the previous day, Ble.  There were several holes visible amongst a rubbish dump.  We removed some of the forestry to make the area more accessible and passage could be seen continuing.  Words such as Hepatitis were muttered as I began to shift some of the rotten cabbages, dirty nappies, bones and bags of a funny jelly-type substance.  I reluctantly ventured into the cave and found I was able to stand up. Exploration fever seized me and I started to search around.  There were two ways on but one was blocked by a big boulder, so I chose a very tight rift. As soon as I said I needed a hammer to remove some of the formations everyone piled in behind me.  I kept forcing myself though the rift but after minutes of being squeezed into the most uncomfortable position ever, my hips still wouldn't let me get through.  It was so annoying being able to see the passage continuing and not being able to get there.  At the point of major cramp, I decided it was time to retreat but my hips were nicely wedged and didn't want me to go back either.  I kept having visions of being stuck there for ages but with a lot of assistance from Martin Ellis and lots of moaning by me, he managed to free me just enough so I could wiggle out backwards.  We attempted to move the big boulder next as no one else could get down the rift.  It eventually shifted and water was flowing down a very flat and narrow passage. There were no volunteers to have a look as the water was so disgusting; basically the whole cave was grim.  It was estimated to be of length of ten metres - not bad for five minutes digging and my first bit of new cave.

Still in pushing mood, we headed to POLLDERREEN to look at a squeeze above a calcite blockage.  It was impossible but so annoying as once again you could see the passage continuing ... if we had just a bit of bang ...

We had an excellent few days caving with pretty good weather, though the flood debris and foam in the caves served as a constant remainder of the flood hazards of the caves. And fortunately, the price of Guinness didn't go up until our last day!

Em Porter


Speleo Philippines 1995

From Trebor.

The expedition report is underway and is advanced as it can be at the moment until I get further contributions from Expedition members.  I have done all the intros and generalities, my section of the San Isidro (Surigao del Sur) findings and also some of Richards stuff he has given me.  However I still need write ups from Snablet, biological stuff from Annette and from anybody else who looked at other significant caves.  Also, needless to say, the surveys pertaining to such.  The report won't write itself and I can't write up what I didn't see!

Could all expedition members therefore contact the people they caved with in a particular cave, agree who is going to write it up, then write it up and send it to me.  Could anyone/someone contact Paul, Pete Mann and John C who are off Mendip to tell them.  The cave write up is to be in the style of a caving guide i.e. like the '92 report.  All minnow stuff or prospecting results (that odd shaft found here or there) could be rounded up and put into one or two paragraphs at the end of a particular section/area.  Please also make a note of the various acknowledgements you want included e.g. Barrio captains, Guides etc.  Please keep these to the most important/helpful I as there may be too many of them.  If anyone sees Paul Mann we need to see the photos he was paid for so we can choose what to include in the report.

The logbooks and other expedition paperwork will be left in the Belfry library in due course to enable you to get the relevant details out of them in order to write up the stuff.

Estelle ... could you return the other logbook to the library when you have finished with it?

Please get on with it as we don't want to wait nearly 2 years for the report like in '92.  If we don't produce a report we won't get a grant next time.

Thanks ........ Trebor.


Vale Chris Tozer

It is with great sadness that I have to write this obituary to my good friend Chris Tozer.  I first met Chris a few years ago when I was a member of the MCG.  He phoned me up to ask about caving and joining a club.  It transpired that he had done a bit of caving, mainly in Burrington, alone and without a light!  This will come as no surprise to those that knew Chris.

I soon convinced him that digging was much more rewarding than just caving and he readily took to weekly muddy wallows in Bone Hole.  We both started doing more and more caving and digging with the BEC, mainly in Stock Hill mine shaft, Wigmore (Chris only), Whitepit, and Sandpit.  For this reason we both joined the BEC in the early 90's.  Chris also became involved in digs in Dan Yr Ogof and Agen Allwed, along with some good, hard caving trips in South Wales and Yorkshire.

During his time with the MCG and BEC, Chris made many friends, and very soon picked up the nickname 'Quiet Chris', due to him being a man of very few words.  However, when he did speak, what was said was worth listening to; his words could be very wise, or deep, or a quick quip that revealed a mischievous sense of humour.

Chris also had the reputation of being very strong, courageous and able.  These attributes revealed themselves many times on caving and digging trips - many a time, when the dig was getting a bit desperate, or a large boulder needed wrestling down, it was said 'better get Chris in to sort it out'.

Tragically, Chris took his own life on 21 July 1995, near GB Cave.  His funeral was a very emotional occasion, attended by a large number of family and friends, with a good representation from the caving community. It was during the funeral that the full extent of Chris' talents were revealed.  He was a very talented wood carver, artist, musician and composer, talents that he kept hidden from the majority of us.  A few of us have since seen some of Chris' art work and it really is beautiful.

The side we did see of Chris was his great love of nature and his respect for his fellow human beings - he had no enemies and would see good in everyone.

On 5 August Chris' wife Sharyn and his two boys, Michael and Raymond, scattered Chris' ashes in the stream sink at GB cave - another very emotional moment.  Our thoughts are with his family.

Goodbye Chris, we will miss the quiet man sipping his cola in the Hunters.

Brian Murlis


Do The BEC Get Everywhere ?

Part II, by Dave Irwin

Gough 'stamps'

The stamps published about 1903-4 were based on the well known photograph of Gough taken in 1894 by Stanley Chapman of Dawlish.

They were printed in sheets of 240, twenty rows of 12, the same format as the then current Edward VII postage stamps.  They were reproduced photographically and not printed by the typographical or intaglio printing processes common at this time. The labels were then perforated (perf 14 x 14 for the stamp collectors amongst us!).  During the past fifteen years only four have been seen by the writer besides a large un-severed block of about 30 somewhere in Somerset.

Labels sold at Gough's Cave, c.1904 – 1907

One of these may be seen in the local history section of the Weston-super-Mare public library. They are exceedingly rare.

The third example shown is a proposed handbill illustration of Solomon's Temple in Gough's Cave.  The reason for it not being used is clear enough - it's too stylised. The copy shown is a sepia photograph of the original drawing.  The original was pencil work with ink outlining this can be seen around the highlights of the stalagmites and people standing at the foot of the stalagmite flow. The date is c.1950.

Rummaging around junk shops will often repay the effort.  Collectors of caving ephemera have found many a little gem in these places.

Rejected illustration for leaflet