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

Cover: Action Photograph from the Philippines Expedition

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



Well here we are with another Belfry Bulletin.  You will notice that not much time has elapsed since the last issue.  This is due to the fact that I want to publish the officer’s reports before the AGM in order to save considerable time on the day.

This issue therefore is a bit of a rush job, hence the fact that it is a bit smaller than I would like. But fear not, plans are afoot for a bumper 60th anniversary souvenir issue, which will include various articles I have been holding back especially.

Since the last issue, I have been spending more and more time in Yorkshire, some of you will know the main reason for this but I'm not going into that here thank you!  I have however been doing quite a bit of caving and diving ‘OOp North', including a look at some of the N.C.C. digs. I was taken to Ullet Gill by Pete Grant the other weekend and due to dry weather conditions was able to get into the bedding plane off to the west of the main drag.  As far as I know no one has been able to have a good look at this yet as it is normally sumped.  I believe Martin Holroyd has dived in it. ... rather him than me ... it was tight enough in air!!  Sadly I had neglected to bring any kit with me on the day in question and consequently went caving in vest shorts and trusty (Sic) petzl zoom. 250 feet of crawling later (ask my knees and elbows about this) I emerged rather damp and grubby, but no longer able to be accused of being a 'soft Southerner'.

There are a number of other interesting dig sites in this area and I will write something when I've had a chance to investigate further.

On an entirely unrelated note .... Sadly we shall 'lose' Andy and Angie Cave from the Mendip scene in the not too distant future as they plan to skidaddle to Mexico for an unspecified period in order to explore subterranean delights over there.  Some of you will already be aware that they are currently in the process of selling just about everything they own in order to finance the trip.  I'm sure you'll join me in wishing them Bon Voyage etc ...

John Buxton telephoned me the other night to tell me of his exploits with Rob Palmer in the Bahamas.  It seems that a lot of new stuff was discovered and surveyed by the expedition (of whom only 3 were Britishl) including Johns discovery of a previously unknown Blue Hole, in which was found a stainless steel harpoon giving John license to name it 'Hunters Hole'.  Seems apt to me!  There is due to be a report out in the near future so I won't go into any further details here.

Anyway I hope to be publishing another issue, as previously mentioned, in time for the AGM and hopefully will have all the up to date news, gossip etc by then.

If anyone has anything they especially want published in this, then please contact me ASAP as there is quite a bit of work to do and my schedule is tight to say the least.  Cut off date would be around the second week in September.

Right enough from me for now .... on with the show .....

Good Caving! ..... Jingles.


Bristol Exploration Club Agenda For The 1995 Annual General Meeting

To be held at 10.30 am, Saturday 7th. October 1995, at "The Belfry".

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

2.                  Election of the AGM Chairman.

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

4.                  Minutes of the 1994 Annual General Meeting.

5.                  Matters arising from the 1994 AGM.

6.                  Hon. Secretary's Report.

7.                  Hon. Treasurers Report.

8.                  Hon. Auditors Report.

9.                  Caving Secretary's Report.

10.              Hut Wardens Report.

11.              Hut Engineers Report.

12.              Tacklemasters Report.

13.              Librarians Report.

14.              Ian Dear Memorial Fund Report.

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

16.              Election of Officer's for the 1995/6 Committee.

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

18.              Members' Resolutions.

19.              Details regarding the Annual Dinner Tonight.

20.              Any other Business.

Nigel Taylor,
Hon. Secretary 1994/5.


Report of the Hon. Secretary 1994/1995.

I have no desire to steal the thunder of my fellow committee members' reports, so I shall leave the respective members to inform you of the membership state of the club, or the amount of activity going on in the finest club on Mendip.  I shall also not touch on the financial state, or the regular and regrettable loss yet again of ladders and tackle.  Nor should I mention the structure of the hut, or obtaining articles for a BB, as again this is someone else's problem.

Yet that typifies perhaps many clubs principal problem, i.e.; that all the work is always someone else's.  Is this really fair?  Yet again, the BEC membership have been very fortunate this last year, to have had a very active committee, whose members have all worked long and hard to steer the club on an even keel throughout the year.  The committee and their spouses have time and again arranged functions or effected work upon the club, but unfortunately as I have already alluded to in my "From The Belfry Table" articles in the BB,- found that a few members would prefer to run things their way, often in a destructive manner.  Now the committee has chastised those responsible with one exception at the time of writing this report (21/08/95), and I believe that those persons have accepted their treatment by the Committee, so with this in mind, I hope that the slate could now perhaps be wiped clean and a fresh start made for the new club year.

I am sure however that those who feel that they want to make changes or suggest what they see as improvements to the club or the dinner or whatever, will always receive a sympathetic ear at any Committee meeting.

We have kept rigidly to the “First Friday night of the Month Rule", and I published all the dates of our meetings at the start of the year. Some turn up, but only a fraction of the membership, in that case, are we getting it right?  In absence of such support, we can only guess that we are on track, but if not, then YOU tell the Committee.

I shall not bore you with the mass of regular correspondence that passes through a Secretary’s' hands, with the exception that you should be aware, much time has been spent this year setting up the "Charterhouse Caving Company Ltd" upon the demise of the former Charterhouse Caving Committee, new permits for GB access are now available, and the BEC is a member of the company.  The lease is now with English Nature/Somerset Wildlife Trust.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet lease is due to expire in some three years time, and I have started fresh negotiations to ensure that we remain leasers of the site.  I feel however, that a lesson must be learnt from the GB episode and sale of the land by Bristol Waterworks.  I firmly believe, and shall propose at the AGM under member’s resolutions, that this club must now consider setting up a fund, in the event of the Mineries site under our lease, coming onto the market at some future date.  On this point can I encourage all members to remember our custody of the site, and to make its conservation our prime concern.

I am also pleased to advise the AGM, that Kevin FISHER, @ Steven LEE, the culprit arrested by me firstly in 1974 in Manchester, and again last year in Southampton, both times for theft from the BEC and members, has now been dealt with at Bristol Crown Court, he was sentenced to two years probation.  So tongue in cheek, perhaps I thought it a suitable time to retire from the Police in May this year!  (Let us hope that he has seen the error of his ways).

I intend to stand again next year, and if elected, honestly, will try to improve!!!!!!!!

I close with thanks to all those who have supported the committee this year in its' works, and most especially the unsung heroes, Hilary Wilson, Babs Williams and my Vivi, all of these ladies have given strong support to their spouses, and through them, to the BEC.  It would also be wrong not to mention the kindness and generosity of Roger and Jackie Dors yet again this year.  It is to them you should raise your glass this Dinner night.

Nigel Taylor, 772, Hon. Secretary 1994/5.


Hut Engineers Report

Cavers Bored of Examinations.
 'OH' Level 1994 - 1995
By Andrew Cave.
Form 5c.

Time Allowed 3 minutes (or Hours, Days, Years Etc.)

Answer all questions.

1)         The club is divisible into 2 distinct groups:

One includes those people who are motivated to make repairs and improvements to The Belfry on their own initiative, the other includes those people who are not.

a)                  Which is the larger group?  (1 mark)

b)                  Which group are you in?  (1 mark)

c)                  If you are in the second group, what reasons can you give for this, and are they truly valid? (12 marks)

2)         Discuss the following statements, are they true or false?

a)       All repairs and improvements are the sole responsibility of the Hut Engineer, and therefore require no input from anyone else. (4 marks)

b)       If there is anything that needs doing to the hut, it has not been mentioned and therefore cannot be urgent enough to need attention.  (4 marks)

c)       I have worked hard on the hut in the past, so therefore it must be someone else's turn.  (4 marks)

d)       The condition of the hut is not important to the club as a whole.  (4 marks)

e)       The club would be improved by not having the hut. (4 marks)

3)         a) The spring working weekend was attended by about 5% of the membership. How do you account for this.  (Laundry marks)

b)       Most of those who did attend are members of the first group in question.

1. Do you consider these people to be dedicated, dull, those with lots of spare time, suckers or motivated by something else, and if so why?  (Dirty marks)

c) Assuming that you did not attend a working weekend in the last five years, but have been a member for at least that long, what reasons can you give?  (Bear in mind that none, yourself included, is likely to believe all, or indeed any of them).  (Groucho Marx)

End of examination paper.


Tacklemaster's Report 1994 -1995.

Mr Wilson.

This year's report makes very unsatisfactory reading.

During the course of the year the lifeline stock has reduced to nil and all the tackle bags have gone missing.

The average ladder stock has been 4 - 5, dropping continually to nil.  All this in spite of the fact that the Belfry ladder factory produced 4 new ladders which then promptly disappeared!!

On the good side we have produced a stainless steel ladder for Ogof Draenen and have made up 2 ladders for the digging fraternity.

I feel very strongly that the club cannot go on losing ladders at this rate - at the moment 15 are missing, this represents a figure of £1,200.00 if we had to purchase new stock. I therefore would beg to ask the membership to make a change in the method of booking out club kit.

I suggest that the tackle store key be kept locked in the key cupboard, so that tackle has to be booked out by a committee member. It would also be booked back in, in the same manner.  This is the only way that the club can ensure clean, undamaged and available tackle.

As a footnote, the Belfry ladder factory is now running out of rungs, araldite, cable and 'C' links and thus there will soon be no cheap ladder building option.

This AGM is our last chance to put club tackle on a sound footing for the future.

If anyone happens to compare the expedition store inventory that I hold and issue out, there is no change in stock levels.  Just in case anyone thinks that stock is not issued the fact is that it is.  This year I have issued stock several times.

I hope to remain Tacklemaster this coming year and thank all the honest people who have booked kit in and out.

B.E.C. Tackle Inventory.

Total previous ladders 1994                     19

Total scrap                                             4

New Manufactured                                  4

Total 1995                                             19

Ladders missing                                    15

September stock count                           4

Stock lifelines 1994                                3

Stock check 1995                                  NIL

Assorted stock check 1995:                    

Spreaders                                              4

Tethers                                                  6

Expedition Store

Stock Ladders                                2 x 25' Good

Stock Ropes:                                  1 x 18m Static

1 x 20m Static

1 x 36m Static

1 x 67m Static, 1 x 35m Static

1 x 54m Static, 1 x 40m Static

1 x 33m Static

Tackle Bags                                               6

Rope Protectors                                          5

Survey Kits                                                 2

(1 Kit held at home by Tony Jarratt.)

Total Survey Kits                                         3

Mike Wilson.


Hut Warden's Report '94 -'95.

(Or a very badly scanning poem)

Angie Cave.

This is the Hut Warden's report,
I'll try to keep it swift and short,
I thought the job would be a breeze,
Taking bookings, collecting fees,
Checking the bins were out on Sunday,
Making sure the hut was clean on Monday,
But future Warden's beware the trap,
Of disappearing deep in crap,
Not only do you have to be the police,
And 'shrink' to try and keep the peace,
But accountant, char and diplomat,
In fact you'd be a total prat.
To take this awful job,
But never mind, because this slob,
Has quite enjoyed herself.  (Ish).

I'd hoped collection of day fees might increase,
(It's still only 50p, for a shit, a shave and a cup of tea),
And 'Hut Trashing' might cease,
(I realise now a foolish plea!)
But, as years go,
The takings are good, the debts are low,
(Okay I lied!),
But you can't say I haven't tried,
And now I'm off to Mexico!!

Angie Cave.


Editor's Report 1994 -1995.

John Williams.

It has been an interesting year for me as B.B. Editor, to say the least.  I have managed to publish with reasonable regularity and my thanks go out to those of you who have put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard as the case may be and provided me with the articles that are the lifeblood of this publication.  I still have one or two things held back for future issues if you're wondering what's happened to your stuff.

When I took on the post two years ago I rather naively thought that it was simply a matter of editing the club rag (which is, of course, the main part of it) and had no idea of the other responsibilities that go with a committee post.  I have found out the hard way that there is rather a lot more to it.  I have sat on many committee meetings and voiced my opinion on various matters ranging from club policies to disciplinary issues.  I have found myself in a position where I am making decisions based on principles rather than personal feelings and have at times found this extremely difficult.  I have been taken to task by a few people over the months regarding my attitude to certain issues and have always had the same answer, i.e. I have acted in what I consider to be the best interest of the club at all times.  (Even when I have wanted to act otherwise).

It would seem that there are individuals for whom any decision taken is never good enough, I would say to them that maybe they ought to remember that it’s all too easy to criticise others for doing their best especially when all the work is done on a voluntary basis.

Having said all this I still have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Editor and am more than happy to stand again in the forthcoming year if it is the wish of the membership for me to do so.  I have had a few problems in the past year, largely to do with the time taken in the distribution of the Bulletin.  I apologise to any of you who have been kept waiting.  I know that there is a lot of support for me on this level if I take the job again and I thank those of you who have offered to help.

I cannot finish without thanking two people in particular:  Dick-Fred for his efforts with the membership lists and running me about on club business when I didn't have a car & Tony Jarratt for his efforts in distributing local issues and thus saving a small fortune in postage. I hope that my efforts have been up to your expectations and that you have enjoyed reading the Bulletin more than I have enjoyed producing it.

Editorially yours ....... Jingles.


Membership Secretaries Report

When I first took on the job of membership secretary and now I know why it's called a secretaries job, I was under the misapprehension that it would be a difficult job, boy how wrong I was, it's a damn near impossible job.  Perhaps I should clarify that, I seem to have made it a damn near impossible job.  I have set myself the task of bringing the membership list and information screaming into to the computer age, or so I thought.  After having spoken to Dave Turner, I discover that he had done this but when the job was passed on the information he had so diligently entered onto his computer was lost, so I found myself in the position of starting again. From a much used distribution list, I now have a list that I hope is more complete, though I still have a long way to go.  Eventually I want to have information on all the members who have ever joined the B.E.C. in a database.  I am currently looking at different software to enable this job to be done more efficiently. I would like to suggest that future membership secretaries have a computer.

Since last years A.G.M. we have had 16 new members and I hope we all extend a warm welcome to them all. It was with regret that we all learnt of the death of Chris Tozier and our sympathy goes out to his family. Unfortunately we have had one expulsion and two suspensions from the club during the last few months.

When I took over the problem was that cheques, addresses and other changes of information were being passed to me from different directions and at different times, sometimes very late. A period of continuity is now required to allow people to have one point of contact.  If I get re-elected I would like members to pay their subs, hopefully before the end of the year, to ensure that the club has some form of capital to enable the urgent repairs required to be made to the Belfry.  Oh well can but hope!!!!!

Richard Stephens (Dick-Fred) Membership Secretary.


AI Ohr Spring (Khoh AI-Bidi).

Dear BB Editor.  You may be interested in this article written by a member of the OCDG, as it involves one BEC member and a few prospective ones!

Bob Hill.

The entrance to Khoh AI-Bidi lies some 50m up a boulder pile on the right-hand side of Wadi Ghul, at the base of the 3,000m Jebel Shams in Oman.  The entrance leads into a short cave, at the back of which lies the sump pool. Access, especially with heavy diving gear, is difficult, and requires a handline, since everything must be manhandled in stages, firstly down a 2.5m drop, then down a loose rocky slope, and finally across a shallow pool, to the sump.  The sump itself is perhaps 6m long, 3m wide and 6m deep.  Entrance to the main cave passage from the sump is via a narrow tube, about 1m long and just wide enough to allow one fully laden diver through, at a depth of 6m.  Beyond this constriction, the passage widens to some 5-6m width by 2-3m high, and a maximum depth of 9m.

The cave was first dived, as far as we can determine, by Bob Hill and Dr Alistair Fraser of the Oman Cave Diving Group (OCDG) on 17th February, 1994.  In visibility of less than a meter, they penetrated some 25-30m into the cave, missed the main passageway, and wound up in a tight, tubular airbell to the right.  This they aptly named the Smelly Airbell - perhaps unimaginative, but very true. They exited after 20 minutes, packed up their gear, and vowed never to return.  Khoh AI-Bidi was not dived again for another 7 months.

Amazingly, however, they were actually not the first people to actually pass the constriction and enter the cave passage.  James Laver, an engineer attached to the Omani Ministry of Water Resources, and a keen sea diver, first discovered the sump during one of his work-related field trips in 1993.  Khoh AI-Bidi does not appear to be used as a source of drinking water by the local villagers nearby, but it is used for washing, and for watering the flocks of goats they keep.  James was intrigued enough by the sump to return later, armed with a single, front-mounted snorkel!  Not only did he snorkel the sump, but he swam through the constriction at 6m, entered the main passage beyond, saw that it appeared to go on, turned and swam out - an incredible feat of breath-holding stupidity, but the passage would never have been found had he not done so.  In his position at the Ministry, he was one of very few expats who had access to details of such water sources.  It was this finding that encouraged Bob and Alistair to visit the cave in the first place.

In October 1994, James persuaded Alistair to have another go at the cave.  This time (20th October 1994) the visibility was much better. Alistair and James laid 30m of line across the first section of the main passage, by-passing the Smelly Airbell, over the course of two 15 minute dives.  Clearly the cave went on, and a return visit to push further was planned.

Shortly thereafter, James unfortunately lost his job at the Ministry, and was forced to leave Oman. This left Alistair with the difficult task of persuading Bob, the only other person who had dived it before, and who had sworn never to do so again, to have another go.  A great deal of beer went into this effort, successfully, and Alistair and Bob returned on the 3rd of November 1994, this time extending the existing 30m of line to 100m, heading due North, up the main passage. A second dive that day took me on my first visit to the end of the line with Bob.

A word about the conditions. Visibility in Khoh AI-Bidi is never good.  Occasionally visibility stretches to 5 meters, but is usually much less.  Couple this with inexperience, a sea-diving mentality (despite the twin, independent gear), the use of small, helmet-mounted torches, home-made line reels, etc, and you get some pretty adverse diving conditions.  Only Bob had dived this sort of passage before, in the UK, and that some years previously.  We were all learning as we went, setting limits to ourselves, then breaking them, talking endlessly about gear, how to set it up better, how to make it safer, and so on.  Not surprisingly, initial pushes were deliberately short.

This time, even Bob was encouraged enough to want to come back.  Enter Steve Dwyer, the fourth member of the team.  With Alistair and myself unavailable at the time, Bob and Steve dived on 9th December and succeeded in doubling the line laid to 200m - in our terms a great push forward!  Still the passage went on ahead of them, due North, undulating between 6 and 9 meters depth.  Growing in confidence, and faced with an amazing opportunity to explore virgin passage, a more concerted effort, this time involving the whole team, was planned. On 5th January 1995, all four pitched up to make a determined push.  If possible we would attempt to reach the half kilometre mark.  Steve and I would go first, and lay as much of 200m of line as we could, then Bob and Alistair would follow to push further.

Up to the 200m mark, the cave depth varies between 6 and 9m.  However, after that, it starts to undulate much more ­maximum depth is still around 9m, but at times large gravel banks or rock outcrops force you to within 3m of surface.  This is hell on your ears after a while.  Steve and I reached the end of the existing line, belayed off, and pushed on.  40m later we surfaced in the first of the large air chambers.  Beautiful flowstones cascaded down the walls.  The elation of being the first people ever to see this was simply gob smacking.  The chamber is around 30m long, 3m wide, and perhaps 15m high above water level. Towards the far end a steep gravel bank rises to within 6 inches of the surface, which must be climbed over to reach the sump beyond.  The air in the chamber is breathable, but high in CO2.

Pressing on, down to 6m, then 8m, then back up to 2.5m, the same pattern as before, we reached the second, slightly bigger chamber about 60m further on.  This chamber is of similar height and width, but about 40m long and has a squeeze at water level about halfway along it.  From above, the chamber outline would look like a figure '8'. The squeeze can only be passed with difficulty; however it only extends to about 2m below the surface, below which it can be passed easily - yet another battering for the ears.  Once again, at the end of this chamber, a large gravel bank rises, this time to the surface.  This one is thicker than before, and involves a 3m crawl to cross. Doing this, with twin cylinders on your back, and breathing the CO2-laden air, will leave you quite breathless.

Here, at a distance of 330m from the initial sump, we tied off and headed back, meeting Bob and Alistair in the first chamber.  Unfortunately one of Bob's ears had succumbed to the incessant depth changes, and would only clear with difficulty.  He decided not to press further.  Alistair went on to the second chamber, just for a look-see, then they turned for home, with AI blowing a sinus in the process.  The first and second chambers were therefore named Earbell and Sinus Squeeze respectively, in their honour.

The full team returned on 15th February for another attempt.  Reversing the order this time, Bob and Alistair went first, this time making it past Sinus Squeeze and laying a further 140m of line to 470m.  The passage continued, shallower now, with a maximum depth of around six meters, but in places requiring ascent almost to surface.  Steve and I followed, meeting the first two just beyond Sinus Squeeze, then reaching the end of their line.  We laid a further 95m, to 565m, and belayed off just below the surface of a longish, low air bell.  Surfacing to have a look, I was stupid enough to remove my regulator and talk.  Within 3 breaths I felt extremely dizzy, was developing tunnel vision, and had a tremendous pounding in my head.  I shoved the regulator back in and dropped below the surface, signalling to Steve that all was not well.  Within another 3-4 breaths I had recovered, but felt extremely vulnerable.  Any air beyond Sinus Squeeze was clearly hypoxic and could not be breathed.  I called the dive, and we headed for home. Meanwhile, Bob had had yet another bout of ear trouble, returning from Earbell, this time resulting in a reversed ear. Clearly we were going to have to think carefully how to counter this problem.  Not only that, but Steve and I had just about reached the comfortable limit of thirds using twin 12 litre tanks.  To progress further, we would need bigger, or staging.

It was another 3½ months before another push was mounted.  On 19th April, Bob and I ran a tourist trip for Steve Collard, a close friend who was leaving Oman, during which we were able to get some photographs of the first two chambers, and to make a reasonable survey of the first 330m.  The next push attempt was on 30th May, when Bob and I reached 400m, this time using twin 15 litre tanks, only to turn back because of continued ear niggles and constant 1m maximum visibility.  The water was high on this occasion, and the recent flow had clearly disturbed the silt badly.  For the most part, Khoh AI-Bidi is not particularly silty, there being no requirement to swim near the floor.  Flows are infrequent, but when they occur are obviously dramatic.

Another matter that had been concerning us was the fact that, with its depth undulation, Khoh AI-Bidi, over extended distances, represents a quite provocative dive profile, especially considering that its entrance is some 700m above sea level. After the last main push, all four of us had been completely shattered for a couple of days.  This last attempt was made using EAN32.  From a tiredness point of view, it worked.  However the dry, sticky mouth brought on by the Nitrox left us with another problem.  Apart from being plain uncomfortable, this could only exacerbate the ear problems.

8th June - we finally broke the 565m previous limit.  Having decided that things were getting a little serious, the four of us persuaded the Cave Divers Association of Australia to lend us an instructor for a fortnight, in exchange for a holiday in Oman - they sent us John Vanderleest.  Up till then, we'd thought we were doing OK, but could not gauge how OK.  After John spent a fortnight taking us apart and re-building us, we were in much better shape.  Suddenly trim began to fall into place, finning, emergency, and line-laying techniques improved, and the general levels of general competence and confidence went with them.  Alistair, Steve, John and myself went back to Khoh AI-Bidi, the three of us determined to break past this mark.  Steve and I went first, with 200m of line, two 15 litre tanks apiece, blown to 230 bar, filled with EAN32.  As well as the improved techniques, John had taken our kit apart, trimmed it down, showed us how to reduce drag, etc, and we were carrying some decent lights at last. In just over 10 minutes, Steve and I reached Sinus Squeeze.  We pushed on quickly, and in seemingly no time at all reached our previous mark at 565m. We hooked on the new line, and started laying out.  At 700m, we came up into chamber No. 3.  This was bigger than both the other two put together - similar width, but higher and longer, with a dog­leg to the right at it's mid point.  The gravel bank here basically filled the chamber to the surface, leaving no alternative but to remove our fins and walk to the far sump - not easy with twin 15's!  From our last experience we kept the regulators in our mouths.  About 20m beyond chamber No. 3, we ran out of line, belayed off, and set off for home.  In all, the dive took 1 hour 55 minutes, with 80 minutes underwater. John and Alistair were already back at the sump, having turned back from Sinus Squeeze. Using his big Diverite torch for the first time, the huge battery slung under his tanks had wrecked Alistair's trim, leaving him virtually walking.  More work in the pool!  Still, the target had been achieved, the passage was still going, more or less still due North, with one or two twists and turns, and was getting shallower. Maximum depth beyond 565m had been no more than 4.5m.

The only target now in everyone's minds was the magic kilometre.  At 765m, Steve and I had been comfortably within thirds on our 15's. The kilometre would mean planning on thirds - it needed a staged cylinder to improve the margins.

On 22nd June, 1995, Alistair and I returned to Khoh AI-Bidi, on a very hot and sweaty night.  After portering in 3 cylinders each, plus our other gear, we were already exhausted.  Slowly we put everything together, including the front-mounted 7 litre cylinders which would give us the margin we needed.  The water level was very low, to the extent that the cave was not flowing at all.  This we hoped would give us the best visibility.  At about 10.30pm, we set off down into the sump, through the constriction, and on our way.  To counteract the dry mouth effect, we had reduced our Nitrox to EAN27, and were carrying drinks.  We hung off the 7's in Earbell, then pressed on from there.  Visibility was good, perhaps up to 7m in places.  We passed Earbell, then the old 565m point, then came up into the third chamber.  Here we had a drink, then trudged across the gravel.  The air was particularly foul.  Alistair removed his regulator after walking through.  Within seconds he felt the hypoxia symptoms, stuffed his regulator back in and fell forwards into the water.  He recovered in an equally short time, but it's a scary thought to know that if you don't get that regulator back in, you could be dead very quickly. After a few moments to regain composure, we pushed on to the old 765m limit and tied on.

I led off, reeling out into new territory.  Visibility remained generally good - the passage still shallow, but submerged, but much more twisty than previously.  Still overall it headed due north.  Alistair's 100m of line ran out.  We hooked up another reel of 95m.  At around 900m, we hit chamber No.4.  This was similar in dimensions to Earbell, but shallower, with no gravel bank.  The water was about 18 inches deep through the chamber, and we were able just to float through it.  Beyond there, the passage continued, shallow (3.5m max.) and narrowing, twisting this way and that.  Visibility deteriorated, making it harder to find the route.  One or two places seemed to offer possible offshoots. The 95m ran out, so we tied on our final reel of 50m.  Eventually this too expired, leaving us at 1010m - the kilometre had fallen!  The dive was duly called and we headed out. Our time underwater had been an hour and fifty minutes, total elapsed time from leaving the sump - two and a half hours.

The passage continues, who knows for how much further.  We intend to find out!  We returned from the 1010m dive still with half the gas in our 15's, and around 170 bar in the 7's.  That's comfortable - much further and we'll be talking about four cylinders!  It's been done before, for sure, but not by the four of us!

You will by now have guessed that Khoh AI-Bidi is not the real name of the cave.  Several of our later pushes have been at night.  Why the subterfuge?  There is no law in Oman against cave diving.  Unfortunately Oman is the sort of country, where the only reason there is no law against cave diving is because they don't know it's happening. It would undoubtedly be banned if the authorities knew we were doing it.  Fun, especially fun with an element of danger, is not something they permit lightly.  Even normal sea-diving is fraught with bans and coastguard hassle.  Ownership of an Aquazepp here would net you 10 to life! For these reasons, we keep it quiet. Even the local villagers, most of whose only concession to the twentieth century is the Toyota truck, need to be avoided, for they would simply not understand people diving in their water, however undrinkable it already is.

Eoin Mekie



Bristol Exploration Club The Annual Dinner 1995

60 YEARS 1935 -1995

Our Sixtieth Jubilee Year Dinner, will be held at 7.30 for 8.00pm on Saturday 7th. October 1995, at the "Westex Suite" Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Considerable effort has gone into trying to make this a special event, and to that end I have made a slight change to the normal way of running things make no apology for the price, because if you are a B.E.C member you are gaining four ways:  Firstly, you will enjoy a meal costing £18 for the price of £16!  The club has fund raised for the purpose of subsiding your meal this year.  Secondly, you are also not paying any 'Guest Levy' this year as again this will be subsidised.  Thirdly, you will enjoy a Four-Course meal, coffee & mints instead of the usual three courses.  And fourthly, you will have in addition to your 'Drink on Arrival' the extra bonus of one bottle of wine between two.  I have held the price of the dinner to the same level for nearly five years now, so the extra pound has to be especially good value.  Non­club members will have to pay the cost price however of £18 per person, some may not agree, but I feel that there has to be some merit and benefit in being a member of the club, and it has been this years committee and a few members who actually organised events and raised the funds for the subsidy.

Two coaches have been booked, and these will leave the Hunters at 7.00pm prompt, please indicate on the booking form if you require seats, but pay on the coach-and not with your dinner application please!


Parcel of Smoked Salmon filled with fresh Salmon Mouse
Fan of Avocado with Mango Quenelles


Roast Sirloin of Scotch Beef & Yorkshire Pudding
Breast of Chicken with Sauce Veronique


Chocolate Brandy Snap Basket, Crème Chantilly & fresh fruits with a Passion Fruit Coulis. OR Apple Pie and fresh Whisky Cream.

Followed by:-

Cheese board, Coffee and Mints.

SEND TO:- Nigel Taylor, Nr. Bristol, Somerset


Cheques Payable to the " BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB.  Please do NOT ask me to hang on to your tickets until the night, I want to enjoy my dinner as well!!!!!!   Bookings close Sunday 1st. October 1995.

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Ted Humphreys

Cover: Chairman of the AGM, Bob Cork, sketched by REG.


1992 - 1993 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
B.B. Editor               Ted Humphreys
Hut Engineer            Tim Large
Membership Sec.     John Watson
Floating Members     Nigel Taylor



Well here we are again, eventually!  Most of this BB consists of 1ists of one kind or another, all of which are as up-to-date as I could make them.  Please let me know if there are any errors.

I seem to be becoming accident prone!  We can't let Snablet have all the fun.  I twisted a knee falling from Long Chamber to Annexe Chamber, tore a thigh muscle free-climbing down the 20 in Swildon's and broke a wrist falling off a step ladder. Perhaps I'm getting too old for these adventurous pursuits!


The following letter was received by the Club from the parents of Suzanna Fellowes.  Suzanna was killed recently following a car accident at the end of the Belfry track.  She was a member of the Westminster Speleological Group.


Dear Bristol Exploration Club Members,

We thank you for your kindness and beautiful floral tribute on the sad occasion of Suzanna's funeral.

            In appreciation,

                        Richard & Christel Fellowes



Dear Sir

I wrote recently complaining of the state of the Belfry and explaining my actions in staying at Upper Pits in preference to the Belfry.

My '93 sub's are due. A sum of £20.00.  Can anyone on B.E.C. Committee justify to me why I should have to fork £20.00 to remain a member of a club that still goes offering thoroughly sub-standard, filthy accommodation? 

It's about time you reviewed the crummy, unsanitary state the Bunk rooms are in.  I've tried hard to reconcile myself to the Belfry crowd, and feel at home in the place but I'm afraid I'm on the point of chucking it all up and resigning.

Why cannot you fork out for some decent canvas and wooden bunk frames that will not attract damp and filth, and will be easily recoverable, and whilst on the subject it's high time a new fire door was fitted to the end bunkroom, and some curtains or shutters would not go amiss!

Why don't you spend the money on something practical instead of blooming coloured mug shots on the B.B. cover!

Some proper cooking stoves would not go amiss either!  The kitchen is so bloody useless; I have to spend money down the Café.

Come on, get your act together and spend the money, or you can kiss goodbye to my sub's!

Yours Bloody well exasperated!

Bob Cross


Reply to Bob Cross letter.

Dear Bob.

The members elected the committee last October.  It’s function is, as you are no doubt aware, to organise the running of the club on behalf of members.

Being a member, however, means much more than just paying your £20 subscription.  Whenever work becomes necessary or improvements desirable, at the Belfry - two factors have to be borne in mind - money and the voluntary help of members.

The committee is also charged with resolving the outstanding matter of the pledges for the St Cuthbert's report.  We have still to find about £2000.  At last the Cuthbert's lease with Inveresk has been completed and a sum of £700 has recently been paid.

So you can see the club has to work within very tight financial constraints.  Many projects around the Belfry and site have been identified but unfortunately several have been shelved, certainly for this current year. However, some work has been undertaken which includes: - the installation of central heating; new cooker units; the painting of the main room and currently another shower unit is in the process of being fitted.  Next on the list is the renovation of the changing room.  All this work requires money, but most importantly it requires voluntary help from members.

Considering the size of our club this voluntary group is very small.  The same dependable members attend working weekends or do odd jobs when they can, but more could be done if more members actively supported the club by helping.

The Belfry needs to be cleaned, especially after a busy weekend, and it is up to members and guests to ensure this happens along with a few reminders from the hut warden.

It is proposed to hold two or three working weekends this year and the committee would welcome your assistance at these occasions.

            Yours sincerely.

                        The Club Committee.


Dear Member,

If you have an * by your name in the following membership list then, according to my records. you have not paid your B.E.C. subs for 92-93.  If you think you have paid please inform me by ringing: - 0749 670191.  If you have not paid, subs are £24 single or £36 joint if you wish to continue membership and receive your B.B.

If you do not wish to continue please could you return your Belfry key and your deposit will be refunded.

            Yours sincerely,

                        John Watson (Membership Secretary)


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List 06/04/93

* 828 Nicolette Abell                  Faukland, Bath
* 1157 Karen Ashman                Depden, Bury St. Edmonds
987 Dave Aubrey                       Salisbury, Wiltshire.
20 (L) Bobby Bagshaw               Knowle, Bristol, Avon
392 (L) Mike Baker                    Henton, Wells, Somerset
1150 David Ball                         Billingshurst. West Sussex
1151 Ruth Baxter                      Billingshurst. West Sussex
1024 Mile Barrington                  Clutton, Avon
1145 Roz Bateman                    East Harptree, Bristol Avon.
818 Chris Batsone                     Tynings, radstock, Avon
* 1161 Jane Baugh                    Aberchirder, Huntley, Aberdeen
1079 (J) Henry Bennett              London.
1100 (J) Sarah 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
1137 Robert Bragg                    Odd Down, Bath, Avon
751 (L) T.A. Brookes                 London, SW2
1140 D Bromhead                     Worlse, Avon
1082 Robin Brown                     Woolavington, Bridgwater, Somerset
* 1108 Denis Bumford                Westcombe, Shepton Mallet
* 924 (J) Aileen Butcher             Priddy, Wells, Somerset
* 849 (J) Alan Butcher                Priddy, Wells, Somerset
 * 201 John Buxton                    Flitwick, Beds.
956 (J) Ian Caldwell                   Redland, Bristol, Avon
1036 (J) Nicola Caldwell             Redland, Bristol, Avon
* 1091 William Curruthers          Holcombe Bath
1014 Chris Castle                      Axbridge, Somerset
* 1062 Andy Cave                      Old Mills, Paulton
902 (L) Martin Cavender             Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Somerset.
* 1048 Tom Chapman                Cheddar, Somerset.
211 (L) Clare Coase                   Berkeley-Vale, New South Wales, 2259, Australia
620 Phil Coles                          Totterdown, Bristol
89 (L) Alfie Collins                     Litton, Somerset
1175 Ali Cooper                        Brighton
* 727 Bill Cooper                       Totterdown, Bristol
862 Bob Cork                            Wells, Somerset
1121 Nicholas Cornwell-Smith    Oldham Common, Bristol
* 1042 Mick Corser                    Cringleford, Norwich, Norfolk
* 827 Mike Cowlishaw                Micheldever Station, Winchester, Hants.
* 890 Jerry Crick                       Leighton Buzzard, Bucks
896 Pat Cronin                          Knowle, Bristol
* 1144 Sophie Crook                  Batheaston, Bath, Avon
680 Bob Cross                          Knowle, Bristol
* 1158 Geoff Crossley                Horsforth, Leeds
870 Gary Cullen                        Southwater, Nr Horsham, West Sussex.
1165 D Cunningham                  Old Town, Eastbourne, East Sussex.
405 (L) Frank Darbon                 British Columbia, Canada.
1166 Arron Davies                     Prietsleigh, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
1167 Malcolm Davies                 Prietsleigh, 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 (J) Angie Dooley                 Harborne, Birmingham
710 (J) Colin Dooley                  Harborne, Birmingham
1000 (L) Roger Dors                  Priddy, Somerset
1038 Alan Downton                   Headingley, Leeds
830 John Dukes                        Street, Somerset
996 Terry Earley                        Wyle, Warmister, Wiltshire
322 (L) Bryan Ellis                     Westonzoyland, Bridgwater, Somerset
* 1133 Stephen Ettienne            Hayes, Middlesex
232 Chris Falshaw                     Crosspool, Sheffield
269 (L) Tom Fletcher                 Bramcote, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
404 (L) Albert Francis                Wells, Somerset
569 (J) Joyce Franklin                Stone, Staffs
469 (J) Pete Franklin                 Stone, Staffs
1159 John Freeman                   Paulton, Bristol, Avon
* 1142 Angela Garwood             Talskiddy, St. Comb Major, Corwall
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
860 (J) Glenys Grass                 Wookey, Somerset
790 (J) Martin Grass                  Wookey, Somerset
1009 Robin Gray                       Meare, Somerset
1123 Ian Gregory                       Bedford
* 1124 Martin Gregory                Clapham, Bedfordshire
1155 Rachel Gregory                 Wells, Somerset
1089 Kevin Gurner                     Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
1088 Nick Gymer                      Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex
104 (L) Mervyn Hannam             St Annes, Lancashire
1156 Brian Hansford                  Weeke, Winchester, Hants
999 Rob Harper                         Wells, Somerset
581 Chris Harvey                       Paulton, Somerset
4 (L) Dan Hassell                      Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset
* 1160 Nick Hawkes                  Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Bristol
1078 Mike Hearn                       Draycott, Cheddar, Somerset
1117 Pete Hellier                       Nempnet thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Bristol
974 Jeremy Henley                    Shepton Mallet, Somerset
952 Bob Hill                              Sultanate of Oman
691 Dudley Herbert                    High Littleton, Bristol
1174 Kevin Hissey                     Twerton, Bath, Avon
* 905 Paul Hodgson                   Burcott, Wells, Somerset
* 898 (J) Liz Hollis                     Batcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
* 899 (J) Tony Hollis                  Batcombe, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
* 1094 Peter Hopkins                 Keynsham, Bristol.
* 971 Colin Houlden                   London
923 Trevor Hughes                     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                  Peak Forest, Buxton, Derbyshire
* 1026 Ian Jepson                      Beechen Cliff, Bath
51 (L) A Johnson                       Station Rd., 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 Joanna Hills                      Wisborough Green, West Sussex
316 (L) Kangy King                    Pucklechurch, Bristol, Aven
542 (L) Phil Kingston                 Brisbane, Queensland, 4122, Australia
413 (L) R. Kitchen                     Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon
* 946 Alex Ragnar Knutson        Bedminster, Bristol
* 1116 Stuart Lain                     Old Mills, Paulton
667 (L) Tim Large                      Shepton Mallet
1162 Joc Large                         Shepton Mallet
1171 Rich Lewis                        Weston-super-Mare, Avon
* 1129 Dave Lennard                  Wells, Somerset
1137 Bob Lewis                        Odd Down, Bath, Avon
1180 Rich Long                         Paulton, Bristol
* 1043 Andy Lovell                     Templecloud, Bristol
* 1072 Clive Lovell                     Keynsham, Bristol
* 1057 Mark Lumley                  Stoke St. Michael, Somerset
1022 Kevin Macklin                   Clevedon, Avon
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
1044 Any Middleton                   Yeovil, Somerset
* 1053 Steve Milner                   Broadview, S.A. 5083, Australia
1172 Sean Morgan                    Clevedon, Avon
1053 Steve Milner                      Broadview, S.A., Australia
1172 Brian Murlis                      Weston-super-Mare, Avon
* 936 Dave Nichols                    Camborne, Cornwall
396 (L) Mike Palmer                  Yarley, Wells, Somerset
1045 Rich Payne                       Sidcup , 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                       Green Hill, Priddy, Wells, Somerset
1085 Duncan Price                    Exhall, Coventry
886 Jeff Price                            Knowle, Bristol, Avon
1109 Jim Rands                        Stonebridge Park, London NW10
481 (L) John Ransom                 Patchway, Bristol, Avon
1126 Steve Redwood                 Banwell, Nr. Weston-super-Mare, 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                Weston-super-Mare, Avon
1178 Ivan Sandford                    Munchley, Nr. Langport, Somerset
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
237 (L) Dave Shand                   Rhiwbina, Cardiff
*1128 Vince Simmonds             Wells, Somerset
881 Alistair Simpson                 Yarley, 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
575 (L) Dermot Statham             Warkworth, Northumberland
365 (L) Roger Stenner                Weston super Mare, Avon
1084 Richard Stephens              Wells, Somerset
* 1163 Robert Taff                      Erdington, Birmingham
583 Derek Targett                      East Horrington, Wells Somerset
772 Nigel Taylor                        Langford Lane, Langford, Avon
284 (L) Alan Thomas                 Priddy, Somerset
348 (L) D Thomas                      Little Birch, 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               Nyetimber, Bognor Regis, Sussex
1177 C R Tozer                         Worle, W-S-M, Avon
* 382 Steve Tuck                       Dousland, Yelverton, Devon
* 1023 Matt Tuck                       Dousland, Yelverton, Devon
* 1136 Hugh Tucker                   Westham, Wedmore, Somerset
1066 Alan Turner                       Chippenham, Wilts
678 Dave Turner                        Leigh on Mendip, Bath, Avon
912 John Turner                        Tavistock, Devon.
1154 Karen Turvey                     Tonedale, Wellington, Somerset.
635 (L) Stuart Tuttlebury            Boundstone, Farnham, Surrey
1096 Brian van Luipen                Wick, Littlehampton, West Sussex
887 Greg Villis                          Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, Avon
175 (L) Mrs. D. Whaddon           Taunton, Somerset
949 (J) John Watson                  Somerset
1019 (J) Lavinia Watson             Somerset
973 James Wells                      Loisville, Kentucky, USA
1055 Oliver Wells                      Yorktown Heights, New York, USA
553 Bob White                          Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset.
1118 Carol White                      Glasshouses, Pately Bridge, N. Yorks.
* 878 Ross White                      Cotham
1092 Babs Williams                  Knowle, Bristol, Avon
1068 John Whiteley                   Heathfiled, Newton Abbot, S. Devon.
* 1031 Mike Wigglesworth          Greenfield, Oldham, Lancashire.
1087 John Williams                   c/o Babs
* 1146 Les Williams                  Priddy,
1075 Tony Williams                   Radstock, Bath
* 1076 Roz Williams                  Radstock, Bath
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
* 813 Ian Wilton-Jones               Llanlley Hill, Abergavenny, Gwent
721 G Wilton-Jones                   Watton, Thetford, Norfolk
877 Steven Woolven                  West Chilington, West Sussex
914 Brian Workman                   Catcott, Bridgwater, Somerset
477 Ronald Wyncoll                  Holycroft, Hinkley, Leics.
683 Dave Yeandle                     Greenbank, Eastville, Bristol.
1169 Chris York                        Thames Ditton, Surrey


Bristol Exploration Club – Exchange/Complimentary List 06/04/93

Axbridge Caving Group
BEC Library – 2 copies
Bradford Pothole Club
Cerberus SS
Chelsea SS
Craven P.C.
Croydon Caving Club
Devon SS
Dr. H. Trimmel, Obere Donaustraase, Austria
Grampian SS
Grosvenor Caving Club
Hades Caving Club
Mendip Cave Registry
Mendip Caving Group
Northern Pennine Club
Jock Orr, Lincoln
Plymouth Caving Group
Red Rose CPC
South African Spel. Assn
The Florida Speleological Society Inc
Tony Oldham, Dyfed
Wells Museum
Wessex Cave Club
West Virginia Caver
Westminster SG


St. Cuthbert’s Leaders

BEC April 1993

Chris Batstone                     Joc Large

Ian Caldwell                         Tim Large

Chris Castle                         Mike McDonald

Andy Cave                           Stuart McManus

John Dukes                         Mike Palmer

Pete Glanville                       Brian Prewer

Martin Grass                        Chris Smart

Chris Harvey                        Andy Sparrow

Pete Hellier                          Nigel Taylor

Jeremy Henley                     Dave Turner

Dudley Herbert                     Greg Villis

Ted Humphreys                    Mike Wilson

Dave Irwin                            Bassett

Kangy King                          Brian Workman

If people want leaders for trips down Cuthbert’s they can do it through me or contact one of the above leaders directly.    Jeff Price – Caving Sec.

St.  Cuthbert’s Guest Leaders

Ric Halliwell  (CPC)

Graham Price  (CSS)

John Beauchamp  (MCG)

Malcolm Cotter  (MCG)

Tony Knibbs  (MCG)

Miles Barrington  (MEG)

Alan Butcher  (SMCC)

Mark Sims  (SMCC)

Tony Boycott  (UBSS)

Ray Mansfield  (UBSS)

Alison Moody  (WCC)


Meets List - 1993

The following is a list of trips already arranged by Jeff.  If you want to go please get in touch with Jeff as soon as possible (Tel: 0272 724296)

Birks Fell Cave, Yorkshire. Saturday, 19th June

Notts Pot, Yorkshire. Saturday, 31st July

Charterhouse Cave & Reservoir Hole, November (date undecided)

If you want to go to these or to any other cave not mentioned, get in touch with Jeff and he will try to arrange access.

Cave Rescue Practice

Saturday.  15th May.  Venue to be decided (possibly Cuthbert's)

Anyone interested please contact Alan Turner or Phil Romford

Saturday, 30th October. MRO practice rescue.  St. Cuthbert’s

If interested contact an MRO Warden!

Bec Cave Leaders

DYO, S.Wales

Martin Grass, Mike McDonald (Trebor), Basset. Tim Large, Richard Stevenson, Rob Harper.

OFD1, S.Wales

Martin Grass. Richard Stevenson, Basset. Dave Irwin (Wig). Brian Prewer. Greg Villis. Tim Large.

Note  We hold a yearly permit for OFD.  If we need a mid-week key ring the SWCC the weekend before.

Craig a Fynnon (Rock & Fountain), S. Wales.      Martin Grass.

Reservoir Hole, Mendip.                                     Jeff Price. Martin Grass. Basset. Dave Irwin.

Blackmoor Flood Swallet, Mendip.                       Steve Redwood.

Charterhouse Cave, Mendip.                               Jeff Price, Chris Smart (Blitz).


Pen Park Hole

Southmead Estate. Bristol.

Over the past five years Graham Mullan and Linda Wilson of the UBSS have been pursuing an access agreement with Bristol City Council to gain entry into Pen Park Hole.  As of January 1993 the BEC, WCC and UBSS are able to offer trips into the cave.  The three clubs chosen were by way of historical exploration of the cave.  If you're interested in a trip get in touch Chris Smart or myself.

Jeff Price.

Pen Park Hole Access Notes/Rules.

When visiting this cave, certain requirements of the landowner, Bristol City Council, must be adhered to :

No more than two cars are to be parked at the site.  It probably best, therefore, to arrange to meet your leader off site, and travel together.

No changing at the site. The most that can be allowed is the pulling on and off of an oversuit, over a DECENT furry suit etc.  Remember the site is in the middle of a residential area.

Remove oversuit and boots etc. in the road, behind your car.  Don't leave mud all over the footpath, or on the park gate.

The collection of geological specimens from the cave is STRICTLY forbidden.

The limit on the trip is five people plus leader.

No carbide is to be used in the cave.

To pay for maintenance costs etc., a tackle fee of £1.50 per head is levied, payable to the leader. This is not payable by BEC, WCC or UBSS members.

Tackle requirements for the main pitch: 20 metres of ladder, long spreader (or two 1 metre tethers), 50 metres of rope for double lifeline, krabs.  This pitch is NOT suitable for SRT.

BEC Leaders : -   Jeff Price.  Chris Smart.

WCC Leaders : -  Mark Helmore.  Rob Taviner.

UBSS Leaders :-  Steve Cottle.  Paul Harvey.



Sadly we have two, which are in memory of Ted Mason who joined the BEC in 1947 and Bob Davies who joined in 1950.

Edmund J. Mason

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Ted Mason.

A chartered surveyor by profession Ted devoted himself to archaeology and speleology in the Bristol, Somerset and South Wales areas.  He was archaeological advisor to the Bristol Folk House Archaeological Society and for a long time president of the M.N.R.C.  He was always full of kindly encouragement and I am glad I served on the M.N.R.C. committee under his leadership.

His cave excavations include Ogof yr Esgyrn in Wales where he worked with W.F. Grimes of the National Museum of Wales and Minchen Hole, Gower, on behalf of the Royal Institution of South Wales and the South Wales Caving Club.  He also took a leading part in the formation of the Steep Holm Trust.

Caving well into his seventies, Ted was forced to give up after a stroke a few years ago, but he never lost his enthusiasm for caves and cavers.

He was always ready to listen to even the youngest and most inexperienced cave explorer and I owe much of my own prolonged love of caving to his understanding.

Robin Gray.

Robert Ernest Davies.

August 17. 1919 - March 7 1993.

Members of the caving, diving, mountaineering and scientific communities and their friends will be saddened to hear that the well-known caver and cave diver Bob Davies died from a heart attack while taking an after-dinner walk in Golspie in Scotland on Sunday, March 7, 1993.

This was during the spring break of the University of Pennsylvania where he was an Emeritus Professor.  He had planned to climb in the Cairngorn Mountains on the following day.  His wife Helen Davies tells us that he used his hand-held video camera an hour before he died and that there was no shake or any detectable shortcoming in the images whatsoever - which shows that he was living in his usual active and energetic manner right up until the last moment.

Bob's last visit to Mendip was to attend the 50th Anniversary Reunion at Wookey Hole Caves in October 1985.  He also gave a rousing presentation at the Annual Dinner of the Bristol Exploration Club a few days later.

Concerning his contributions to cave diving, Graham Balcombe, Dan Hasell, Luke Devenish and John Buxton can give much better accounts than I.  In Cave Diving Group Newsletter number 11 (June 1948) Graham Balcombe writes: "Welcome to R.E. Davies, member of the DS" (Derbyshire Section).

In the 1940's cave divers quite simply could not afford to buy equipment and rent cars to the extent that is sometimes the case today.  Graham Balcombe, Jack Sheppard, Penelope Powell, Wyndham Harris and their friends had set the process in motion in 1935 at Wookey Hole Caves supported by Sir Robert Davis of Siebe Gorman and Co. (who provided the equipment and an instructor free of charge) and Gerard Hodgkinson (later Wing Commander Hodgkinson) who was then the owner and manager of Wookey Hole Caves.  Starting in the mid-1940's Graham Balcombe obtained vast quantities of Government surplus oxygen re-breathers, diving dresses and similar equipment at a very low cost.  Bob Davies played a leading role (along with Don Coase and others) in applying this in caves.

I first met Bob Davies to help carry his diving equipment in Swildons Hole on June 26, 1954 when he dived with Graham Balcombe in Sump Two.  This is the cave where Jack Sheppard (in Sump One) and Graham Balcombe (in Sump Two) had set successive cave diving records 18 years before. Oliver Lloyd was the overall organiser and this was the beginning of his own very significant career in cave diving. Bob Davies had earlier trained John Buxton as a cave diver.  John now has the longest active cave diving record which proves once again the value of Bob's many contributions.

I had been interested in cave diving for some time.  In those days there were only four or five active cave divers in England and no scuba shops anywhere - you had to latch on to an active cave diver and try all sorts of diplomatic procedures to obtain the required equipment and training.

Bob persuaded Jack Thompson to train me as a cave diver.

I rode on my motorcycle for many hours from Cambridge to Sheffield several times to become acquainted with the mysteries of the art.

The only time that I dived with Bob in a cave was on the celebrated occasion when he vanished in a cloud of bubbles in the totally submerged eleventh chamber at Wookey Hole, was given up for lost and then caused universal astonishment when he reappeared looking very much alive several hours later (December 10/11, 1955). I had finished my basic training with the help of John Buxton (who had encouraged me to jump from what had seemed to be a great height into muddy water in the River Avon) and Graham Balcombe (who had taken me on the mandatory training trips to Wookey Seven).  I was the junior employee during that event (John Buxton was the other diver).  I could so easily have saved Bob from getting lost in the (by then) muddy water by holding on to his elbow while he worked away on his line reel just in front of me on the edge of Eleven, but I did not have the intelligence to do so.

After Bob left England for America in 1956 he continued to help things along - for example, he sent us information on mixed gas diving from the public domain in America at a time when the identical information was still classified in England.  I shall always remember Bob Davies as an energetic, helpful and cheerful person. His custom of ending letters with the words “All the best” says it all.

I have been greatly helped in writing these notes by a newspaper cutting sent to me by Professor Lee Peachey, one of Bob7s colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania ("The Daily Pennsylvanian, The Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, Tuesday March 16, 1993, pp. lA and 4A).  This describes his work in biochemistry, in student affairs and on the mountains.  It tells us that Bob climbed the Matterhorn in Switzerland, the Grand Teton in Wyoming, Fujiyama in Japan and the flagpole at the University of Pennsylvania.  The final paragraph:

Biochemistry Professor Bernard Shapiro proposed an appropriate epitaph for Professor Emeritus Robert Davies at a reception honouring him in 1991: “Here lies Robert E. Davies, under the only stone he ever left unturned.”

 (Oliver Wells. April 8, 1993.)


Stock Hill Mine Cave

Some observations after a year of digging.

An initial description of this site was given in B.B. 461 (Oct. 1991).  It is now a suitable time for an update, being just over a year since the dig commenced and also the temporary shutting down of operations due to flooding.  (This article was received in the autumn of '92 - the cave is still flooded!  Ed.).

During the year a total of 3203 loads of spoil have been hauled out of the entrance shaft - around 50 tons!!!  This has been tipped in adjacent depressions and landscaped.  On 2nd September all digging kit and ladders were brought to the base of the entrance shaft to escape the gradually rising water levels in the lower mineshaft and natural sections.

Since the last report a tremendous amount of work has been done clearing out the completely in-filled natural passage intercepted by the Old Man halfway down the mine­shaft. This is a steeply descending and amply proportioned phreatic tube dropping vertically to the present dig. The infill is a red/brown sticky clay in a partly mineralized joint.  Apart from the clay there are also patches of fine silt and water worn pebbles of sandstone up to 2" across.  Variously coloured clays, sands, iron ores and tiny pieces of galena were also found - as were hundreds of six-sided calcite "dogtooth" crystals up to 1" long and christened "Stock Hill Diamonds".

Tiny (c. 2" diameter) roof tubes have formed on top of the infill and eroded the limestone ceiling. These tubes are lined with fish-scale like tiny calcite crystals the like of which are unknown to the writer. Larger, in-filled roof tubes or anastomoses have also been uncovered - these pre-date the clay infill.  No bones or organic remains of any type have been found and there are no formations or calcite deposits on the cave walls (though a large lump of stalagmite was found in the debris halfway down the mineshaft). This would suggest that most of the cave was either water or sediment filled but never air filled.  All limestone surfaces have a dusty grey patina when exposed and are smoothly eroded with phreatic pocketing but no scalloping.

The size of the passage and angle of dip would, if projected back to the surface at c. 856' A.O.D., indicate the existence of a major catchment area at one time, predating the St. Cuthbert's valley (and cave system) and being at least 75' above the present bottom of the St. Cuthbert’s depression.  It is thus likely to have been an early drainage route of the original St. Cuthbert's stream - this may have been fed by water from the once higher ground to the north of Priddy.

Now emptied of infill the dimensions of this passage are impressive and indicate an extensive phreatic system, though undoubtedly choked for some distance.  A draught issues from small open fissures in the lower mineshaft giving some encouragement to the possibilities of open passage.  Unfortunately these cracks are not conducive to digging.

The cave is on the boundary of the Lower Limestone Shales and Black Rock Limestone and heading towards the nearby Stock Hill Fault.

Drainage is presumably to Wookey Hole Cave and/or Rodney Stoke Rising, though if the system is as ancient as suspected it could have fed springs now buried by alluvial deposits. It is possible that the cave formed in early Pleistocene times.

The writer would welcome any more enlightened thoughts on his theories!

The lower part of the mineshaft has also been cleared to an apparently solid floor with a small choked rift below, The blocked level has been partly excavated and may be worth more work. Mining artefacts discovered while digging are illustrated on the next page and will be presented to Wells Museum.

The list of diggers over the last year is too long to publish but suffice it to say that many members and friends have taken part.  Special mention must be made of Martin Riddell who provided the magnificent scaffolding head frame.  Trevor "Mr. Enthusiasm" Hughes and bang man Tony Boycott.  It is hoped to resume work, here when conditions are drier or a heavy duty pump is obtained.  In the meantime do not despair ­there are lots of other digs which need your help!

Tony Jarratt


With reference to mining artefacts (see next page) I have following abstract - Ed.



Country News

Among the public benefits produced by the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, is the introduction of an alloyed Tamping-bar, instead of the common iron bar formerly employed by the Miners, which promises to be as efficacious in preventing explosions in the Mines of that County, as Sir Humphrey Davy's safety lamp in those of the North.




Wigmore Update - Only Another 5.75 Miles to Cheddar!

This article attempts to carry on from Tony Jarratts mega up-dating and consolidating piece in BB 460 (Aug 91) and covers the passing of the final section of inlet passage to the streamway and diving operations both up and downstream.  By its nature this piece is a bit stodgy, so incorporated is a more human article by Ross White (if "human" is the right word for Ross), describing some of the downstream explorations.

As Tony said in his piece in BB 460, the Wigmore Swallet entrance is at 880ft above sea level and as Goughs' Sump 3 is close to 200ft (62m) deep, this gives a vertical range of just under 1,000ft (313m).  Wigmore would thus be, at present, the second deepest cave in the country.  Also, its proven resurgence at Cheddar is some 5.75 miles (9.2km) away as the Aardvark trots so Wigmore would be the longest on Mendip by far.  This is all incentive enough.

Tony's piece ended, appropriately enough, at Butch's Arse, a tight V-tube. In late summer 1991 this was dug, banged and passed to some 7m of tightish, awkward flat-out passage to the awkward head of a 7m pitch, with water audible ahead.  The pitch drops into a chamber some 305m long with a short crawl of some 5m leading off to the head of another pitch, some 5m deep. This also drops into a small chamber some 3m long, the current diving base.  At the far end of the chamber a waterfall enters in wet weather, this being the entrance water last seen sinking into the bouldery floor of Vindication Pot.  A doorway out of the opposite end of the chamber leads directly into the sump pool of downstream Sump 1 and the main streamway, some 1.5 - 2m wide, running from right to left.  This was a tremendous sight after years of painful, dedicated digging by scores of BEC members, et al. Vindication indeed. Here was the upper River Yeo.

From the meeting of the inlet passage with the main stream, downstream was blocked immediately by a sump. Upstream, could be followed for about 47m or so until it too was blocked by a sump.  On August 18th 1991, a large team descended to try and pass both up and downstream sumps.  The downstream sump was probed a short distance only by Peter Bolt and Graham Johnson, while Vince Simmonds on his first cave dive passed the upstream Sump 1 (205m long) to a 3m diameter airbell.  Peter Bolt, Graham Johnson and Tony Jarratt dived to join him.  Tony then dived Sump 2 (5m) and the other three then joined him after a classic free-dive.  Some 46m of aquatic, sewer passage followed to Sump 3, still being sporadically dived by Keith Savory.  Various little tubes and inlets before Sump 3 were investigated, but nothing significant was found.

Later in the autumn, Dany Bradshaw attacked the downstream sump and after two dives passed it after 22m at about 2.5 - 3m depth to 18m of passage with an ascending inlet on the left, not explored at this time.  Sump 2 followed immediately.  Lethargy, inertia, other digs on Mendip and activities abroad brought a cessation of activities until late 1992 when Ross White and Trebor McDonald renewed the assault.

Ross White takes up this gripping story ..............

Grunting and thrutching around I wriggled to a halt halfway through Butch's Arse and stopping for a breather I contemplated the roof from my nose.  I was pushing a laden tackle bag and a diving bottle was clenched between my feet.  "Ok, Ok", said a little voice in my head, 'What gives?  You've been down this horrible hole four times in three weeks, so what the hell gives?"  I hadn't been caving for a year and Wigmore had received a veritable assault of trips. On 27th November 1992 I arrived at downstream Sump 1 ready to dive, my trusty and stalwart companion, Trebor McDonald, in support. I approached it with some trepidation having picked Dany's brain about the sump and having dived upstream myself earlier in the year. Expecting the worst conditions imaginable I could only be pleasantly surprised.

Despite the strong flow the vis in the sump was zero and the occasional nudging of roof pendants caused a complete blackout.  However, following Dany's line was easy enough and I was through before I knew it. Crawling out of the sump I found Dany's old line reel so, placing it to one side, I approached Sump 2.  Tying on, Sump 2 was passed after 5m to an airbell, some 5m long, 1m wide and 1m high above the waterline.  Tying onto a roof pendant, Sump 3 was passed after 6m, surfacing in Wigmore 4.  A wonderful sound of cascading water ahead led to 24m of pleasant passage some 105m wide and 3m high with a cascade 2m high halfway along.  Unfortunately, Sump 4 loomed up immediately.  The sump pool was a little gloomy and covered with a fair depth of dirty froth.  Eyeing the sump warily, an inspection of my line bag revealed a limited amount of line and I felt that this sump would go deeper.  However, I decided to go as far as I could.  Constructing a small cairn to tie the line off, Sump 4 went deeper as expected, perhaps similar to the first part of Swildons Sump 9.  However, it quickly levelled out and after 15m of zero vis the line went tight with the surface visible above.  Careful not to pull on the line too hard, I rose slowly to the surface, just managed to get my head into airspace and tied on to a dubious nodule. Wigmore 5 looked rather grim; a narrow, rift inclined at 45 deg. heading off for 10m apparently closing down, although I couldn't see for sure.  Moving forward meant de-kitting and effort.  Checking my watch I'd reached my deadline agreed with Trebor.  Time to return.  A rough survey on the return to meet a cold, patient Trebor.

On 12th December, we were both back with two sets of kit; a 28 cu ft and a 15 cu ft mini bottle each, in anticipation of a restricted Sump 5.  An easy dive into Wigmore 4, a luxury after the hard carry thus far. De-kitting, I crawled forward through a constriction and further into the bottom of the rift where the water runs in a V-shaped channel.  Waggling my feet in the water suggested something may be on.  "Time for the mini-bottle, Treebs, it might go". So, shuffling back and forth I had a go, hand-holding the mini-bottle, the rift constricting my chest and back. It was very tight up high but opened up a bit by my feet.  As I slid lower my mouthpiece jammed so I turned my head sideways.  Then my torches jammed.  Surfacing with a few oaths I took one light off and tried again.  I knew if I didn't do it this time we would have to come back again, but this time it was easier.  Committed, with no line and no vis I shuffled feet first further into the Sump until it widened out slightly and more comfortably after 3m or so.  I was ok without a line as long as I could feel both walls - time to go get a line. Instead of rising where I had descended I kept very low, on towards Trebor and surfaced.  Collecting the other bottle from Trebor, he base-fed me back into the sump and after 6m I was able to turn around and passed the sump after 20m, rising thankfully into quite large passage.  Tying off I staggered and crawled down rift passage, 'The Cat Crawl", up to 4m high and about 0.5m wide for about 50m to the inevitable Sump 6. Cold and out of line I returned to a cold Trebor, taking two attempts to negotiate the upstream constriction in Sump 5.

De-briefing a patient Trebor, and extolling the virtues of the passage in Wigmore 6, he decided stoically to have a look at Sump 6.  He had a couple of goes at entering Sump 5, then disappeared apparently passing it with some ease.  He dumped his hand-held bottle and went forward to Sump 6, tied on and passed it after 4m into low, sewer passage with pendants everywhere.  Going forward, he swam into a series of very low ducks which opened out after 5m into larger passage with the stream cascading away. Hypothermia, low air and knowing I was freezing on the right side of Sump 5 prompted a return.  These ducks are now lined as they are easier to dive and can essentially be called Sump 6A.  It was a curious feeling watching his lights appear near the surface of Sump 5, almost break through and then disappear again, knowing he was trying to find his way through the right slot.  With much grunting and commotion he flopped into Wigmore 5.  "The whale has landed" he said, before de-briefing me. Wigmore 5 is now named "The Whale has Landed" and Sump 5 is "The Rubie Sump".  A successful day, 8 hours underground, most of it spent in water with only an ordinary wetsuit.

On 27th December, Peter Bolt put in an excellent solo effort to pass Trebors' last limit beyond the Ducks into 30m of walking and stooping passage, down a cascade or two and thus to Sump 7.  He penetrated the sump for 22m at a depth of some 7m until his line ran out.  He managed to pass Sump 5 wearing twin kit and he still maintains he had 2m vis - poor deluded fellow.  Had he really been down Wigmore!

On 6th January 1993, Trebor and myself returned, a total of 8 trips so far including carry-ins. (They're like carry-outs, but not so much fun).  The usual fun and games in Sump 5 with a few line tangles, getting stuck and growling at Pete Bolt who can do it with twin kit on.  On to Sump 7 where I easily followed Pete's line, tied on and set off in zero vis, again.  The route seemed quite complex in the poor vis and I was taking some time, acutely aware that I couldn't see my gauges.  I changed gags anyway for good measure and ploughed on.  After what seemed an eternity the sump started rising but still no airspace.  Conscious of the cut-off time and having no idea how much line I had laid, I was a little worried but pressed on and eventually rose into an airbell, "Labelle", some 2.5 - 3m in diameter, half full of water.  Sump 7 had been some 62m long and reached about 8m depth. Well down on my third margins, almost hypothermic and already pushing my luck, I tied off and returned to a cold, patient Trebor.  A five hour trip.

On Thursday 21st January we returned, this time with diving wet suits to keep out the cold, more light, more Mars Bars, more everything and bigger bottles; one 45 cu ft and one 28 cu ft each in anticipation of more sumps.  A cruise to Labelle, the water surface covered with a thin film of muck, with Trebor having light problems in Wigmore 5, a good thrashing around in Sump 5 and a certain amount of over-heating in the thick wetsuits.  Red, glutinous mud covered his equipment and he sucked out some mud from his gag.  "Not very tasty, is it Treebs?"  His reply was not nice; he was not a happy Hector -  one of those days when everything seemed to go wrong. In Labelle, Trebor tied on and after a few minutes festering around in zero vis in mud banks he returned to the surface with no apparent way on.  His dodgy lights must have been causing him some apprehension.  After another splash he disappeared, pushed over a mud bank, dug a bit and later a few tugs on the line indicated he had passed Sump 8 after 5m. I dived to join him, laughing as I surfaced into a low, wet, aquatic, amniotic airbell, some 5m long and 2m wide named "The Sprog" by Trebor after Karen and Mark Lumley's son born soon thereafter.  "Looks pretty grim" said Trebor, "but there's yer way on" pointing towards a dip in the rock with roof pendants.  My turn to dive so off I went and easily passed Sump 9 after 10m revealing large, canyon passage in complete and welcome contrast to the streamway thus far."

Vindication Streamway was a welcome sight after the cold, wet cave thus far and it ran for some 100m down several nice cascades, the passage on average being 2 - 2.5m wide and 5m high, reaching up to 10m in places.  An aven some 10 - 15m high was passed on the left and an ascending tube passage on the right.  After about 100m, the passage met a 2m waterfall into a bouldery breakdown chamber with the water sinking into the floor.  The way on was to the immediate left partly blocked with boulders.  A few frenzied minutes of boulder chucking by both divers opened up a 3m deep rift.  Ross shinned down it whilst Trebor placed his not inconsiderable bulk in the waterfall to deflect water away from his erstwhile companion.  The 3m rift led on to a small ledge and a 5-7m pitch, "Slime Rift", below, taking the full flow of the stream.  With slimey walls, the full flow, no tackle and mindful of doing something silly beyond 9 sumps, the pair retreated.

Unfortunately, Ross had to leave for a 6 month holiday on the west coast of Scotland (he says it's work), so on the 21st February 1993, Trebor returned with Pete Bolt, armed with two ladders.  A straightforward trip to the pitch ensued and the ladders were belayed to a large boulder by the waterfall, there being no belay points at the head of the pitch-proper.  The ladders thus snaked rather unsatisfactorily down the rift, across the ledge and down Niagara Falls ­not exactly out of the Andy Sparrow rigging manual.  Trebor gave Pete the dubious honour of descending the pitch first, easily passed by both.  More like a vertical sump but great fun.  The pitch is 8m, comprising the 3m rifty, spray-lashed top section to the ledge and the 5m bottom very aquatic section.  It is best rigged as one.  On for 10m to a 90 deg. left hand bend, 20m of nice canyon passage straight into a large boulder choke with hanging Henry's everywhere.  Boulder shifting, searching and plenty of tip-toeing found no way on but a rocking boulder in the far reaches of the chokes allows a sight through into a black void, probably a larger cavity of the same choke.  The stream can be heard bumbling away in the distance so all is not lost.  A while spent wrestling with the boulder proved fruitless.  Chemical persuasion will be required, although two belts fixed together as a strop and flung around the boulder may shift it next trip.  On the return, the tube passage up near Sump 9 was explored for 20 - 30m or so, blocking out with mud.

That is the saga so far, happy readers.  The next trip will concentrate on shifting the boulder and pushing on if possible, although at some stage the place has to be radio-located and a detailed surveyed still has to be done.  The cave seems to be heading East, in completely the wrong direction if it is to end up at Cheddar, as proven.  There is a mineral vein in the area which could be confusing matters and the un-surveyed sumps makes a survey of the dry passages a little pointless.  There is little merit in doing a detailed survey until the sump vis improves, especially as the sumps make up a large proportion of the total passage length.  There is a rumour that Trevor Hughes is going to build an extension at home to house the survey which is currently creeping remorselessly across his floor.

The divers wish to thank all the sherpas for their hard work; it is much appreciated.  It's about time they got themselves trained up so they can come down and have a look see.

Trebor and Ross

WARNING - The scale quoted on the two following surveys is inaccurate.  The scale is distorted by photocopy reduction.


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

Cover: An original drawing by Sally Humphries.

1992 - 1993 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
B.B. Editor               Ted Humphries
Hut Engineer            Tim Large
Membership Sec.     John Watson
Floating Members     Nigel Taylor




Hello fellow Belfryites. I volunteered at the August committee meeting to try and produce a Belfry Bulletin in time for the AGM in October, the point being to have the various committee Reports published.  At the time of going to print I have most of them so although this has been a bit of a rush job the intended results have been largely achieved.

I apologise for the lack of other material, I have included what I can, but sadly due to time restrictions this is not a great deal.

I would like to thank all those who have helped (too many to mention by name) and also to say that I would be quite happy to take on the editorship full time if this is the wish of the club membership .... obviously this would be decided at the AGM.

Lastly, I cannot finish without expressing my thanks to Ted Humphries not just for his help with this issue but also for his efforts as editor over the past years.


Hon. Secretary’s Report

Martin Grass.

Firstly I must apologise for not attending this years A.G.M. or Dinner but I will be attending a wedding in sunny Jamaica.  I will, of course, phone the AGM but due to time difference I could well be under the influence!  I will try and phone from the beach in true "In Excess" style.

Secondly I would like to say that this was my fourth year as secretary and although I am prepared to stand for 93/94 I would like to say that if I am voted in it will be my last year as I feel five years is long enough for one person to remain in the same post.

1992/3 has been a reasonably quiet year for the club.  I was disappointed that, having raised the subscription last year we have only produced three Belfry Bulletins.  These two factors may be the reason we have had about 40 lapsed members this year. To offer more value for money, it is hoped by the outgoing committee that we can send all members free of charge the Wigmore Caving Report.  We must, however, this year find someone with the time and enthusiasm to produce a regular B.B.  It is a slur on the club that one of the most active U.K. caving clubs cannot produce a regular quality Journal and a monthly newsletter similar to the one produced by Nigel Taylor recently.

Nigel has also been chasing unpaid members by phone and letter and has had a lot of success.  I think that this goes to prove that we need an aggressive membership secretary for '94 who will mug members for their money!!

This year saw the eventual signing of the St Cuthbert’s lease which, believe it or not will need renewing in about 3 years time!

The St Cuthbert’s Report has sold slowly this year and it is a shame that only a few members are really pushing it (I know of one new St Cuthbert’s leader who has sold a copy on every trip he has taken).  Earlier this year we realised we would not be able to repay in full the members' loans at this years AGM so I wrote to everyone asking if the loan could be extended to the 1994 AGM.   Most members said yes and many donated the loan to the club.   Approximately 3 asked for the money to be returned, mainly due to personal financial reasons.  The club has had enough to pay this back without any trouble.

Finally we have had 9 committee meetings this year up to August; attendance has been as follows:

T. Large  

C. Harvey

J. Price




C.S. Smart  

M. Grass

T. Humphries




N. Taylor

M. Wilson

J. Watson




I look forward to standing for one more year if elected.


B.E.C.  Tacklemaster's  Report.

1992 – 3    Mike Wilson.

Hello "Tackle Addicts":

This has been a steady year as far as tackle is concerned ­ the store has been tidied up - and we have scrapped some kit; one ladder and two ropes have been consigned to the bin!!

On the plus side the "Jake & Blake Ladder Factory" has produced four more ladders for general use.  We now have nineteen good ladders in stock for general Club use.  We intend to carryon at roughly four new ladders per annum, until we have a sound supply of numbered and dated stock!!

Two new tackle bags have been purchased for general use and we have acquired the correct number of test weights for the rope test rig.  Hopefully we can now build a rig with some help from club members.

We would like to thank all the members who have taken care of the tackle and returned it regularly.

I will continue to improve the equipment and do my best for the club and I intend to stand for Tacklemaster again next year.

Your Tacklemaster ..... Mike Wilson

B.E.C.   Tackle Report   &  Inventory.

Total previous ladders         16 assorted
Total scrapped                   1
New manufactured             4

Stock Ropes In Store

2 X 75’ dynamic
1 X 120’ dynamic
2 X 26M dynamic

Asst Stock

12 Spreaders
11 Tethers

N.B. 1 X 130’ dynamic & 1 X 120’ static ropes scrapped.

Exploration Store

Stock Ladders

2 X 25’  new

Stock Ropes

1 x 250m  coil
1 x 18m  static
1 x 20m  static
1 x 36m  static
1 x 67m  static
1 x 35m  static
1 x 54m  static
1 x 40m  static

Plus 6 tackle bags and 5 rope protectors


Editor's Report.

Ted Humphries.

This year I have failed miserably as BB editor, there have been only three of them!  John 'Jingles' Williams has volunteered to take over the job and I wish him success.

I have been editor now for five years and I think it about time that a new hand took over.  I have quite a few articles in hand but new ones are always welcome, please keep sending them.  Jingles is producing this BB and the address to which future articles should be sent will be on page one (I hope).

Many thanks to all those people who have contributed to the BB over the years.  I have met and/or corresponded with many BEC members and other cavers since I've been BB editor (I've had letters from all over the world!) and although sometimes the job seemed somewhat invidious, I would not have missed the experience for anything.  I would like to give a special thank you to all those people who have been so supportive over the years but they are too numerous to name so I can only thank you all from A(lfie) to Z(ot).

The BB is the club journal and should reflect all opinions within the club.  Please write on any topic to do with the club.  (Exceedingly rude ones may be left out at the discretion of the editor.)  Best of luck Jingles.

Librarian's Report.


1993 has been a relatively quiet year in the library, probably because everything has been relatively ship shape and Bristol fashion.  Virtually everything is logged and catalogued now and a printout of all the books hangs on the back of the door.  I purchased one more cabinet to house the growing collection of other clubs' Journals, another cabinet will be needed within the next year I think, if finances permit.

Due to financial constraints I have only purchased a few new books which I felt worthy enough and some people, like Blitz, have kindly donated guide books they have found lurking in shops on their various trips abroad.  Not many good, relevant, worthwhile books come onto the market these days, so I have spent the limited money on keeping the guide books up to date and buying covers, binders and other paraphernalia to tidy up the myriad loose reciprocal Journals.  We also need to properly bind our collection of BBs as well, just for posterity.

I am glad to say the theft rate seems to have dropped.  At least we now have a printout of what we actually should have, which was not the case hitherto, so if anything goes missing we should get to know about it.

I shall not be standing for the Librarian's post in 1994 as I still have to find work and I may end up in Timbuktu, Sydney or Scunthorpe.  Far better for somebody else who is guaranteed to be around to do it.  It's not exactly a taxing job, especially as it is now tidy and in reasonable shape and order.  Anyway, if I don't get a job by Christmas I may just throw my hands up in the air, Bull­Roar my frustration and retreat back to the Philippines to attack all those lovely warm, clear sumps floating with coconuts.....

Cheers, Trebor.


Caving Secretary's Report.

Jeff Price.

BCRA Bristol:

We had a stand at the conference, in September, to try and sell some Cuthbert’s Reports.  Thanks to Babs and Jingles for organising this.

St Cuthbert's Swallet:

Guest trips still come in about one per week; this may increase as the new Mendip Underground is now published.  An average of eight trips per week are going into the cave (don't forget to push the reports).

Most of our leaders have taken trips, one or two haven’t..... I shall be chasing them..... !!!

A lot of old digging rubbish has been cleared out.

STAL REPAIRS:  Thanks to Trevor Hughes for the use of the epoxy cement, it has worked very well and Tim Large and myself will tidy up some loose ends shortly.

A St Cuthbert's leaders meeting will be sorted out shortly, and don't forget the rescue practice on Saturday 30th October.... see Tim Large for details.


See the accounts for balance

Jake's Speleo Philippines report is almost ready for publishing.


Our system seems to work well (one set of keys for members and one set for guests) ... Don't forget to issue permits and book keys out please.

PEN PARK HOLE. Southmead Bristol.

Trips into the cave are going ahead, see Blitz or myself for a trip...... It's well worth it.


Not so well attended as I had hoped for but members go off and do their own thing anyway.  Next year I will book Peak Cavern, Notts Pot, Penyghent as well as the usual DYO, OFD Etc...

If you want bookings or permits please let me know ASAP.

Wednesday nights digging seem to be as active as always ... ... just turn up at the Belfry by about 7.30.


I'm thinking of introducing a welcoming letter for new members consisting of:  A brief history of the club, digging action, cave leaders lists with tel nos, publications and meets lists etc.  Do you think this is a good idea.... ???


Membership Secretary's Report

John Watson.

It doesn't seem like six years ago that I was persuaded into becoming membership sec.  A lot of things have changed over the intervening years but not, unfortunately, the attitude of certain members as regards the payment of subs!!

I think in hindsight it was a mistake to put the subs up to their present level - a rash move by an enthusiastic AGM, but I wonder how many members who agreed the amount failed to pay their subs.

Some members have pleaded poverty - times were hard - but to put things in perspective the subs work out at approximately fifteen pints of beer!!  (For some - a couple of sessions!!).  Surely being a member of the best caving club in the country is worth far more than that.

But enough of all the gloom. The club is still attracting new, keen membership and is caving, if not financially, healthy.

I have decided to stand down from the committee and hope to see some fresh faces elected this year.

One final note; I hope the next membership secretary takes a hard stand on non-payers and to all those who have not paid this year and are hoping to get a years free membership. Do the club a favour, PAY UP!!!

Car Break Ins.

Some of you, I hope, have been aware of the car break-ins occurring on Mendip for some time.  Well, the situation is getting worse.  It would appear that more and more people are coming out of Bristol and the areas surrounding Mendip to steal clothes, caving gear and Wallets etc., from cars parked at secluded spots.

Some of us from the B.E.C. have had a chance to try to prevent these thefts.  This has been a case of turning up on spec. and hiding in the bushes.  This has been limited but in every case so far ... successful.

We now feel that the time has come to organise, in conjunction with the Police and the Mendip Wardens, some form of "Hillwatch".  This would basically need to be done on all known "Hit" sites covering weekends.  To this end I have organised a meeting on Friday 1st October in the function room at The Hunter's Lodge at 8pm to discuss the situation.  Les Davies from the Mendip Wardens and Pete Knowles from the Cheddar Police will be there to advise and let us know what help they want from us and what facilities they can give.  I am hoping that somebody from the local Ramblers Association will also attend.

I have also informed other clubs on Mendip through C.S.C.C. and contacts at The Hunter's that this meeting is taking place and so hope to have an interesting meeting.

I look forward to seeing anyone who is interested in helping.



The Droves Of Priddy.



Have you seen the old scrote who hangs out at the Belfry,
Dirt in his hair and his face in Rags (The dirty pervert),
He ain’t got time for walkin’, He just keeps right on talkin',
Collecting his hut fees in two carrier bags ....

So how can you tell me you’re a caver?,
When you know down there that the sun don't shine,
Let Glenys take you by the gland
and lead you down the droves of Priddy
Till at the Hunter's it is opening time.
Have you seen the chappy in his flatcap and his transit,
His Sherry little dog and his EE-HAW laugh,
All ladies should be careful around this fertile local,
Everywhere he goes kiddies spring up in his path ....


Have you seen the batty bloke with his shop down there in Wells
It is full of caving gear and advice he often tells,
He's open on a Sunday, but never on a Monday,
This is so he can recharge all his knackered cells ....


Have you seen the Nightmare who comes up to the Belfry,
Only on a Friday night, they call him Biffo Bear,
When he comes up to the hut and gets himself right pissed up,
We know in the morning there'll be no furniture left there ...


So come and join the boozy crew who hang out at the Belfry,
Often on a Saturday night we'll down a barrel or two,
On a Sunday morning at a quarter past eleven,
When breakfasts on the cooker you can watch those cavers spew!!

So how can you tell me you’re a caver,
When you know down there that the sun don't shine?,
Let Glenys take you by the gland,
and lead you to the promised land (sic)
Till at the Hunter's it is opening time.

Jingling Dick '93.


Assynt Again in August

Due to the Success of the May trip to the Scottish Highlands another Mendip team took the ten hour drive North over the August Bank Holiday.  Jake, Estelle, Alex Gee and J Rat were accompanied by Nick 'Gadget' Williams and Tav (WCC) who, on arrival in Elphin, met a similar sized team of Grampian members.  Unfortunately, the overcast, drizzly weather, high water conditions following weeks of rain and over abundance of man eating midges played havoc with our plans but some good work was done.  See last BB for previous write up.

Uamha a' Bhrisdeadh-duile:

This was revisited with intentions of diving the upstream sump but the low crawl (The Compan Sucker) was itself sumped and therefore too dangerous to pass, even with diving gear.

Inclined Rift Cave:

Situated above Lower Traligill Cave this site had potential for a connection with the divers' extensions.  J Rat and Tav extended the cave some 60 ft or so by pushing through squeezes to an impassable and beautifully decorated area.  This seems to be located above the entrance series of Lower Traligill Cave and so a connection would be both vandalistic and pointless.

Damoclean Dig:

The Eastwater-like swallet is interestingly located between the Alltnan Uamh Stream Cave and Uamh an Claonite.  A couple of days were spent banging and digging here but we were defeated by collapse of the huge boulders walling the sides of the dig.  Gaps in the floor, easily swallowing the stream provide hopes of a breakthrough here if suitable shoring can be installed.  It was left to consolidate itself over the winter.

Waterfall Rising:

Alex Gee J Rat and Mike O'Driscoll (Australian Cave Diver) spent a total of some two hours digging underwater at this promising site.  The rock and gravel infill was dragged out to give us an easily diveable and solid cave passage some 15 - 20ft long with a view onwards for another 10 ft or so. Digging will continue in May should the Grampian divers not continue in our absence.  The coldness of the water here precludes lengthy immersion but the potential for a considerable amount of (probably flooded) cave passage is excellent.

Uamh Cul Eoghainn:

Tav did some solo pushing in this cave but only really succeeded in proving that everything got too tight.

Jake and Estelle visited their dig near Croc nan Uamh but were put off from further visits by the midges. Alex inspected the Bone Cave and a dig near the Alt Bar was written off as hopeless. Drink was taken in the 'Inch' (80/-), the 'Alt'(Belhaven), The Wheelhouse Lochinver (Murphys!!) and the Phoenix Bar, Invernen (McClays 80/-, Orkney Dark Island).  The latter was the best of the lot.

A good time was, as usual, had by all despite the climactic and insectivorous conditions.  Book now for next May - divers, diggers and surveyors all required.

Tony Jarratt.

Uncalcified  Ads.


Babysitting and child-minding Personal service .... 0898-696969


Driving tuition. Priddy 999.


Executive stress?  Call Glenys, on Essex 121212.Executive relief a speciality.


Call Gobshite Guzzling Co-op.  'I’m here to drink your beer!' tel: Butcombe 123


Specialists in industrial and domestic cleaning.  No job too small. (Or Hut!!!)


T. Hughes, expert in all forms of demolition & destruction, simply add beer for best results.


Wigmore's   Death   Throes

Following on from recent articles, this is a final piece on Wigmore Swallet drawing some of the threads together and describing the last bit of exploratory work.

On 23rd May, Dig Hastilow and myself had an eventful trip to the terminal boulder choke beyond Sump 9 in the end bit of Vindication Streamway.  I had yet another high pressure leak in Sump 4 en route - this place really is jinxed - and had to go back to dive base to pick up one of Alex Gee's large tanks.  The din fit valve on the tank had suffered a hernia on the carry in and a proper seal could not be achieved so I had to improvise a bit with lots of banging and swearing.  Hand-holding my depleted tank and wearing the other two I re-joined a (im)patient Digger at Sump 5 and we wallowed on to the terminal choke with no further mishap. Digger was impressed with the scenery in Vindication Streamway and especially with the long Sump 7 which he thought worse than Sump 5 - strange fellow is Digger.

Tim Large had kindly given me a back-of-a-fag-packet bang lesson, so Dig wisely waited way back up the passage whilst I set the stuff up with shaking hands.  Martin Grass's nuclear powered, ultra bang box cranked up the power something rotten so the stuff couldn't fail to go off.  How glad we were; I was not looking forward to sending Digger back to check out why it hadn't gone off.  An hour's wait for the fumes to disperse followed - it's amazing how the draught is directional and follows the stream, a gale at water level but as still as night 2m higher up in the choke.  I then gingerly returned to the devastation, gardened a bit and then wormed through dubious boulders to get back down into the stream again.  Along a bit, up into a fair sized chamber, back to the stream, on a bit and then whang, straight into a very large muddy boulder choke with the stream disappearing down a narrow rock letter box at its base, suitable only for an anorexic whippet with gills.  Mud, bits of twig and cowsh 3m up the wall did not bode well; the place obviously backs up horribly in wet weather.  Half an hour looking around revealed no way on.  The letter box is definitely too small and anyway has the whole flow going through it.  We reckoned there was no hope - some 25-30 banging and digging trips might force a way through, but work could only take place in the summer months because of the backing up and the end is not a place to make 30 trips to.

Digger had his mega-light so an examination of avens and shadows was made on the return but with no promising leads.  Visibility in the sumps was quite a bit better on the return for the lead diver, the best so far but that is all relative.

A disappointing end. Thanks very much to Andy Dennis and Steve Redwood for the carry in.

Later on in the summer, in late July, I returned on a spur of the moment, ill-judged, stupid impulse to have a final look at Keith Savory's upstream Sump 3.  I had been in there a few times before and Keith had said he could not find the way on.  Over the spring and early summer months the slot at the bottom of the ramp in the first section of sump had silted up - a strange place for silting to occur?  I suspected the vis would be very poor so I had two ridiculously overblown tanks so I didn't have to worry too much about trying to look at my contents gauges.  Vis was indeed completely zilch, a little strange in an upstream sump.  Water cannot flow through the slot fast enough so the water the other side doesn't clear as it should and just mills around, not helped of course by thrashing feet and groping hands.  Five minutes spent gardening out the slot allowed a wriggle through to Keith's limit (as far as I could tell) - he's done a good job in there in difficult conditions. I spent a good twenty minutes feeling around all walls of the sump beyond the slot, found Keith's little air space, but could not find any way on.  I reckon the place continues in a series of tight rifts, perhaps dividing the flow as I could detect no flow against my face or a glove-removed hand. Not good prospects.

Earlier in the summer, on 4th June, I had dumped an awful lot of Flourescein in Tor Hole, some 1,800m east of Wigmore as the Aardvark trots.  Tor is the main sink in the area and there was always the possibility that it would flow towards Wigmore at least, especially as Attborough Swallet had proved positive to upstream Wigmore.  This trace was negative.  Enough dye was inserted to make the trace pretty foolproof so I reckon it was a "true" trace.  Perhaps the Tor water really does swing around behind Eaker Hill towards the north as Willie Stanton suggests, the Wigmore and Attborough water joining it much further downstream of the present Wigmore limit.  This makes passing the upstream Sump 3 in Wigmore a little less important as it most likely only goes to Attborough.  This upstream passage is likely to get smaller and smaller, so perhaps not too many prospects.  Perhaps, as Willie suggests, the considerable Wigmore flow is indeed made up of drainage and seepage water from the large surrounding catchment together with the relatively small flow from Attborough Swallet.

I shall not be going back in a hurry; my knackered knees kneed a rest, I have to replace the diving and caving gear the place eats with relish and also enthusiasm, sherpas and money have waned.  If anyone wants a few banging trips downstream, please feel free - it's still five miles to Cheddar.

A BEC Occasional Publication or Caving Report thingy is currently being produced, charting everything there is to know about the place.  Since J-Rat was stupid enough to open up the place in June 1977, a lot of people have put in a huge amount of grinding work and dedicated digging so I thought it warranted a publication of some sort.  We haven't produced an Occasional Publication or Report for some years.  The text is mainly done and the photos are ready, I am just waiting for corrections/contributions etc. on the geology bit from Trevor Hughes et al.  One thing I do not have is an accurate survey.  Trevor did a good job of the survey of the dry bits, but vis has been so poor in the damp bits that I haven't been able to do an accurate survey of the downstream sumps.

The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: Ted Humphreys

Cover: The Treasurer, Blitz, sketched by REG.


1992 - 1993 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
B.B. Editor               Ted Humphreys
Hut Engineer            Tim Large
Membership Sec.     John Watson
Floating Members     Nigel Taylor



What I want to talk about this time is car thefts.  There have been an awful lot of them recently - several BEC members have been 'done'. At the Belfry there is a notice pinned up from the local police listing various car numbers you should beware of. These are so called 'community cars', that is, cars which have been stolen and hidden and are then used by the thieves or their associates for ram-raids or breaking into caver's cars or for perpetrating other crimes.  These people do not waste any time, it's a case of smashing the car windows and making off with whatever they can grab.  Malcolm Davis was very upset when he came out of Tyning's Barrows and found his windows smashed and some clothes missing in spite of the fact that he had left his boot unlocked!

I suspect most of the perpetrators come from Weston or Bristol although there may be some local, copycats.  The only defence there is, is to either have someone stay in the car (which could be dangerous!) or to be chauffeured to the cave site and picked up again at a pre-arranged time.  Thefts most commonly occur in the Charterhouse area and Burrington Combe although at least one has happened in Pelting Drove.

Club Business

The AGM and club dinner will, as usual, be on the first Saturday in October.  The venue for the dinner is changed this year.  Details will be forthcoming shortly from Mr. N who is producing a short news sheet.

There will be an election for the committee again this year.  Nominations should be sent to the secretary as soon as possible, please (I shall not be standing).

One of the three club survey kits has gone missing.  If anyone knows where it is please could you try to get it returned!

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Bristol Exploration Club Held at the Belfry on October 3rd, 1992

The meeting was convened by the Secretary, Martin Grass, there being a quorum at 1035.


Martin Grass, Chris Batstone, Nigel Taylor, Glenys Grass, Bob Cork, Mr Wilson (Senior), Hilary Wilson, Mr Wilson (Junior), Kev Gurner, Chris Smart, Richard Payne, Babs Williams, Jeff Price, Richard Blake, Trevor Hughes, Dave Aubrey, Terry Earley, Dave Turner, John Watson, Nick Gymer, S J McManus, Andy Middleton, Tim Large, Ian Caldwell, Rob Harper, Chris Harvey, Colin Dooley, Barrie Wilton, Dave Yeandle, Phil Romford, Dudley Herbert, Alan Turner, Dickfred, Brian Prewer, Robin Grey, David Ball, Sarah Macdonald, Henry Bennett, Pete Hellier, Dave Glover, Greg Villis, Graham Johnson, Clive Betts, Alan Downton, Ian Gregory, Ted Humphreys, Jeremy Henley and Les Williams.

Non Members:

Kirsten Turner, Florica Cowie.


Dany Bradshaw, Lavina Watson, Jim Smart, Dany Bradshaw, J'Rat, LiI Romford, Ruth Baxter, Loopy, Angela Garwood, Nick Cornwall-Smith and Andy Sanders.


Bob Cork was elected Chairman.


Hilary Wilson.    Pro. Nigel Taylor.           Sec. Blitz.

Babs Williams. Pro. Mac.                      Sec. Blitz.

Brian Prewer.     Pro. Nigel Taylor.           Sec. Batstone

Members Resolutions:


Minutes of the 1991 AGM:

Previously published in the BB.

For acceptance of the 1991 AGM minutes by the meeting.

Proposed: Mr Nigel. Seconded: Phil Romford. Carried with two abstentions.

Matters arising from the minutes:

  1. Long Term Plan: Tim asked for the Long Term Plan the Committee was instructed to produce.  Various discussions ensued.  The Committee reported that a meeting was held although the minutes had not been published in the BB.  Tim asked that the minutes with current updates be published.

For 26, Against 0, Abstentions 2

  1. Rob Harper asked for the Tackle Warden to publish a list of current tackle available.  Sec. Blitz.

For 28, Against 0, Abstentions 2

  1. Phil Romford asked how the discount on early payment of subs had worked.  John Watson replied "Quite well."
  2. BCRA Insurance:  The NCA had looked into this and the Treasurer reported that the new BCRA scheme was an improvement.  We will stick with this for the immediate future.
  3. Phil Romford asked if regular checks were made at the Belfry to see who was staying.  Martin Grass replied that this was on an informal basis but seemed to be working.

Secretary's Report:

Previously published in the BB.  Phil Romford asked about the vandalism mentioned in the report. Martin replied that this appeared to have stopped.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Nigel Taylor. Seconded: Greg Villis
Carried unam.

Caving Secretary's Report:

Previously published in the BB.  Trevor said he could obtain epoxy resin for the stal repairs.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Tim Large Seconded: Chris Batstone
Carried unam.

Hut Warden's Report:

Given verbally to the meeting.  (To be published in the BB).  Mac suggested that the Hut Warden's job is a thankless one.  A vote of thanks was then proposed by Nigel Taylor, seconded by Blitz.

For 35, Against 2, Abstentions 1

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Mike Wilson. Seconded: Rob Harper.
For 37, Against 0, Abstentions 1

Hut Engineer's Report:

Previously published in the BB.  Nigel said he wished to thank all the members who worked on the hut on the working weekends. Martin Grass asked when the new showers would be installed.  Nigel said that he had left this to next years Hut Engineer.  Nigel asked that a book be kept in the Library by the Hut Engineer detailing work carried out and locations of any pipe work/wiring run. Tim asked whether the Central Heating would actually heat the hut or be used as background heating.  It was reported that the latter will be the case.

A vote of thanks was then proposed by Blitz, seconded by Robin Grey. For 37, Against 0, Abstentions 1

A vote of thanks to Pat Cronin was then proposed by Dick Fred and seconded by Blitz.  Carried unam.

It was suggested that the Secretary write to Pat expressing the BEC's thanks.  For acceptance of the report by the meeting

Proposed: Mac. Seconded: Slug

For 37, Against 0, Abstentions 1

Membership Secretary's Report:

Previously published in the BB. Colin Dooley asked if we had looked at Direct Debit arrangements. Jeremy Henley explained that this was very expensive.  John Watson said more people had played early this year probably as a result of the discount system but several people also chose to pay at the very last minute.  Dave Turner said we must get people to realise what they get out of the club and that we should have a regular BB full of member’s articles.  Much discussion followed regarding how to get early payment of subs!

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Tim Large.
Seconded: Dave Turner.
Carried unam.

Tackle Master's Report:

Previously published in the BB. Rob Harper asked how much use the club SRT rope gets.  Mike replied "Very little."  Rob Harper proposed that the fixed tackle be removed from St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  Trevor seconded the proposal.

For 5, Against 32, Abstentions 5.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Phil Romford. Seconded: Richard Blake
Carried with two abstentions.

BB Editor's Report:

Previously published in the BB.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Henry. Seconded: Robin Grey.
Carried with three abstentions.

A vote of thanks was then proposed by Phil and Romford seconded by Dick Fred.

Carried with one abstention.

Hon Treasurer's Report:

Handed out at the meeting. Mac suggested that we look at the possibility of coin meters for electricity.  Much discussion then followed.  Mac then proposed, seconded by Rob Harper that non strategic electricity be put on a coin meter.  For 7. Against 31, Abstentions 8.

Tim Large proposed that the Committee review hut fees for mid week use and look at the possibility of differential rates. For 39, Against 1, Abstentions 3.

Les Williams asked that we look at energy efficient/saving appliances when are due for replacement.

Tim asked as to our BMC membership.  The Treasurer undertook to rejoin.  Jeremy Henley proposed that anyone using the BMC facilities during the next year inform the Treasurer so that we can decide whether or not our continuing membership is justified.  This was seconded by Rob Harper and carried. For 26, Against 9, Abstentions 8.

Mac asked the Treasurer if subs or hut fees should be increased.  Blitz said that hut fees were raised last year for guests but not for members.  Martin Grass said that we should look at putting subs up annually so as to avoid large jumps every couple of years.

Dave Turner proposed £22 subs, seconded Mike Wilson.

For 34, Against 8, Abstentions 2.

Discussion then followed regarding the early payment discount scheme.  Nigel said that he would prefer a late payment surcharge rather than the early payment discount scheme.  It was then suggested by Mike Wilson, seconded by Trevor that we have a base rate discount of £18.  An amendment was proposed by Tim Large, seconded by Jeremy Henley that the base rate discount be £20.

For the amendment 31, Against 14, Abstentions 2.

For the original proposal 31, Against 6, Abstentions 2.

Trevor asked that it be minuted that a 25% subs increase is not normal.

The Treasurer proposed that the non discounted subscription be £24.  This was seconded by Jeremy Henley.  An amendment of the non-discounted subscription at £25 was proposed by Dave Turner and seconded by Dick Fred.

For the amendment 14, Against 24, Abstentions 7

For the original proposal 38, Against 2, Abstentions 1

Rob Harper proposed that the Treasurer comes to the AGM next year prepared to state how much the subs should be raised.  He or she will need to look at future income and expenditure and make an educated guess.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Phil Romford. Seconded: Les Williams.
Carried with two abstentions. Nil against.

Auditor's Report:

The Auditor stated that the Treasurers accounts were a true representation of the finances of the club. Barry also said the club must look at raising the money to meet the St Cuthbert’s pledges.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Tim Large. Seconded: Mac.
Carried with two abstentions. Nil against.

Ian Dear Memorial Fund Report:

Previously published in the BB.  Graham Johnson thanked the IDMF for the money given to the Philippines expedition this year.

A proposal was then made by Mac that the BEC do not transfer any money to the IDMF this year. Seconded: Nigel Taylor.

Votes for the proposal Carried with 3 against and 3 abstentions.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Mac. Seconded: Mike Wilson.
Carried with two abstentions. Nil against.

Librarian's Report:

Previously published in the BB.  The Secretary read out a letter from the Librarian saying that he is happy to continue. Martin Riddle has loaned the club a word processor.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Carried unam.


The tellers reported that 81 members had voted as follows:

Martin Grass              69
Nigel Taylor                68
Chris Smart                64
Ted Humphreys          63
Mike Wi1son              61
Jeff Price                    59
Tim Large                   48
Chris Harvey               43
Graham Johnson         42
Ian Caldwell                32
Angela Garwood         31
Trevor Hughes             29
Richard Blake             16
Jim Smart                  14

1991-92 Committee:










Hon Treasurer

Caving Secretary

Tackle Master


For Mr Wilson 34

For Tim Large 4

Hut Warden


For Zot 25

For Tim Large 10

Martin Grass

Chris Smart

Jeff Price

Mr Wilson

Tim Large



Chris Harvey

Tim Large

Les Williams


Rob Harper


Rob Harper



Mr Nigel

Mr Wilson

Jeremy Henley

Nigel Taylor

Alan Downton

Nigel Taylor





Robin Gray

Rob Harper raised a point of order on the Chairman's comment that we put History behind us.  He said it was always behind us.

Hut Engineer


For Tim Large 36

For Mr Nigel 2

BB Editor


Tim Large

Mr Nigel



Ted Humphreys

Nigel Taylor

Dick Fred




Alan Turner


Mike Wilson

Chris Smart



Les Williams

Kevin Gurner

Nigel Taylor said that he could not do the job very well if elected but would do his best.

For Ted Humphreys 33
For Mr Nigel 5

Possible commercial interests/conflicts of interest were then asked to be revealed.  Chris Smart declared that he was the Treasurer of the Council of Southern Caving Clubs.  Mac said that he objected to this.

Membership Secretary


For John 24

For Mr Nigel 12

Joh Watson

Nigel Taylor

Tim Large


Jeremey Henley

Jeff Price

Non Committee Posts:




For Trebor 37

For Jim Smart 4

Barrie Wilton


Jim Smart


Rob Harper


Jeremey Henley



Members Resolutions:

1. County Membership.  Nigel Taylor proposed, seconded by Mike Wilson that this AGM forms "a Country Membership or Retirement Membership, that would have to be applied for by bone-fide members who would assure us that they would who longer cave."

Much discussion followed. Brian Prewer, as an OAP said that he would be offended to be offered a lower sub or special status.

For acceptance of the resolution by the meeting.
For 3. Against 24. Abstentions 10

Nigel undertook to publish in the next BB a note regarding this Country Membership/Retirement Membership.

Any Other Business:

St Cuthbert’s Report.

The Treasurer drew the meetings attention to his report.  The Secretary said the Report was available in most caving shops and that copies are available at the Belfry for leaders to sell to tourist parties. Nigel Taylor said that he will organize a box at the Belfry to be locked with the Cuthbert’s lock so that all leaders can get access to copies.  Colin Dooley reiterated that when we sell all the reports we will make a very respectable profit but that we need to push the sales.  Robin Grey suggested that we sell to caving clubs at one third discount. Rob Harper said that it was a dead duck from the outset and that we should get out and cut our losses now. Colin Dooley asked how many people were going down Cuthbert’s each week.  Phil Romford proposed that he look at setting up a deal with Cordee to sell the Cuthbert’s Report.  Accepted with one against.  Phil also offered his services to sell the Cuthbert’s Report.  Accepted unam.  Nigel Taylor will liaise with Joan Bennett to explain that Phil will help her as Sales Officer.

Martin Grass said why not pay back some of the pledges now and send out a letter requesting an extension to the loan.  Chris Smart said that he would request his money back on time.  He explained his action saying that he thought it a very poor show that 22 people were being asked to carry the 200 strong membership of the club.  The AGM noted last year’s resolution that the money needs to be repaid at, or before the 1993 AGM.  Les Williams proposed that the Belfry be used as security for a bank loan if necessary so that the pledges can be repaid on time.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
For 28, Against 13, Abstentions 1.

Phil asked the incoming Committee to consider calling an EGM if finances looked bad.


It was agreed to burn the voting papers.

Vote of Thanks:

A vote of thanks to Nigel Taylor for organizing the AGM food and Dinner was proposed by Alan Turner and seconded by Rob Harper.  Carried unam.

There being no other business the Chairman closed the meeting at 15.50.



Dear Ed,

I have been a member of the BEC, off and on, for the last 25 years and have always found a great deal of pleasure in caving and socialising within the club.  I returned to the club in earnest a couple of years ago and have since become a 'Cuthbert's Leader'; the cave has always meant something special to me.  Needless to say I spend a considerable time down St. Cuthbert's Swallet, digging (my dig is near Plantation Junction), exploring and leading tourist trips. Obviously I still visit other Mendip caves and so think that, with about three trips a week, I can still consider myself fairly active!

The above leads me to my next comment which is that I am really "pissed off" with Bob Cross. Bob and myself go back many years and hopefully will for many more.  As members are aware (BB 467) Bob fired a salvo, with some venom, at the running of the Belfry which was suitably replied to in the same BB.

However the crux of my moan to you Bob, is: -  Is the Belfry to be used by active cavers and non active members of the club with still a genuine interest or by people such as yourself who, in recent times, have done nothing except criticise either the Belfry or the members.

This came to a head for me last Saturday (12th June '93).  I, with other members of the club plus a guest, had an excellent trip down Cuthbert's.  Unfortunately, as we were coming out, the guest became very tired so I returned to the Belfry to collect the various bits of tackle required.  When I walked into the Belfry I met Bob, no one else was present. Bob and I had a conversation about the whereabouts of Zot and generally passed the time of day.  I then collected all my tackle from the tackle store and the changing room and was about to leave when Bob became very aggressive, shouting "Look at the mess you've left" and as I was going out of the Belfry door  "What about turning the fucking lights off", I thought, ignore it, bearing in mind I was thinking more of extricating a tired caver from Cuthbert's. Afterwards, however, I thought those brief comments were, to say the least, upsetting!

I feel sorry for the need to write this letter but I believe and always will that the BEC is a caving club. If any members do not agree with this basic philosophy and do not wish the noise or mess associated with an active caving club but wish instead to have a quiet time (unless there is a "free barrel" about) they should, perhaps, spend their nights at an alternative hostelry.  I believe the New Inn can be very quiet and clean.  I think the Wessex would, nowadays, be too noisy for them!

Oh, by the way, if Bob ever wishes to visit Cuthbert’s again I would be more than pleased to take him.

Many thanks for publishing,

Dudley Herbert.


China 93

How it actually came about I don’t know as I had never really considered going to China before and there I found myself planning a trip.  Actually, I originally chose China because I heard it was a fairly safe place to travel on your own.  As I started to research locations, I realised that this could easily be transformed into a caving trip as all the areas I wanted to visit were the limestone regions of China.  Being an avid caver this appeared an opportunity too good to miss, so holiday plans were brushed aside and a caving trip with the odd city excursion was planned instead.

The first problem that I had to overcome was that I couldn’t cave on my own, so who could I persuade to come caving in China with me?  After asking around at college and gaining several replies of “I’d love to but….”  I changed tack and asked around the Hunters instead.  This proved more profitable and by Christmas I had tentative plans to meet Nick Hawkes in China.  The only problem being that he lives in Australia and I live in England.  However, corresponding with his father, Chris, arrangements weren’t too bad to organise.

Caving partner found, flight booked, travellers cheques arranged, I set off for the wilds of China via Hong Kong. As all cheap flights go, I travelled the direct route of Bahrain-Bangkok-Hong Kong.  This wasn’t too bad and the landing at Hong Kong airport was an experience I will never forget. Have you ever been in a plane that flies between skyscrapers and banks right down the middle of a street?  I hadn’t and it proved quite entertaining.


Hong Kong itself was quite a wondrous place, but not exactly relaxing. However, it was a good place to meet up with my caving partner Nick.  Upon his arrival we sorted out visas and planned our route into China.  The cheapest option was to take the train to Wu Lu the border town between Hong Kong and China, and walk through customs.  This only takes a mere two hours with numerous queues and forms to fill in, but not as bad as we had heard it could be!

After walking across a very smelly river (the border) we arrived in Shenzhen where we received our first big culture shock, everything was written in Chinese.  I know this might not surprise some of you, and we had expected it, but it suddenly made us realise that travelling or just doing anything could pose a major problem as neither of us spoke a single word of Chinese! After this initial “What have we done?" we wandered around and stumbled across the bus station where we were grabbed and placed on a bus that we were told was going to Ghangzhou (Canton) the capital of the province where further transport could be found.  Unfortunately the bus wasn’t going there and we had to continually change bus to reach our destination.

Eventually we were dumped on a busy road and told “ Canton”.  This wasn’t very helpful but we found the railway station and got our bearings. Next stop was the ferry dock and an attempt to buy tickets to Wuzhou.  Trying to read a ferry timetable is another entertaining experience, especially when one word looks exactly like another in Chinese.  Alas we had missed the last ferry and instead had to buy a ticket for the following day.

The ferry trip had two large bunk rooms with a 6m by 2m space each, that was your seat and bed for the 20 hour journey.  At least it allowed us an opportunity to see the Chinese way of life and practice a few phrases on the locals with the use of a phrase book that I had remembered to bring!!  Sleeping was only possible because I was already tired, and it meant I slept through the onslaught of cockroaches who were the local residents on the ferry.

The Chinese way of life on the river was interesting and very busy.  We passed many barges transporting goods around the Pearl River Delta and several small fishing boats (or rafts) with the owner using lines to catch the fish.  All of these rafts had their own resident cormorant which sat on the edge of the raft waiting for fish to appear.  Apparently a cormorant can match three capable fishermen.


After docking in Wuzhou we departed with the masses and were pointed in the direction of the bus station. Here we discovered that we had missed the morning bus so instead bought a ticket for the night bus going to Yangshou. With a day to waste we went on a tour of the town.  The first stop was the animal market, where almost any animal could be bought to eat. We were offered turtles, snake, cats, porcupines, monkeys as well as many other unusual and weird animals. This gave us a good insight into the Chinese life and some of the cultural differences with which we would have to become accustomed.  However, we declined any offers of tasting these exotic delights.

The local cuisine took some getting used to.  At first the overall smell of the food was enough to make anyone lose their appetite, but eventually you become accustomed to it.  The food proved most edible.  We ordered by pointing at what we wanted and then crossing our fingers and hoping it would be alright.  In all, the Chinese cuisine was excellent even if at times you weren’t sure what you were eating (there was strong possibility of dog on the menu).

The bus journey to Yangshou took about 3 hours but at least travelling at night meant that it was fairly cool.  It would have been unbearable in the day time.  The monsoon season made the weather incredibly hot and humid with the odd thunderstorm thrown in for good measure.  This made achieving anything an extra effort in the extreme heat.

Having arrived at night we saw little of the area except eerie views of tower karsts silhouetted against the night sky.  This meant that in the morning the view was quite spectacular.  Everywhere we looked, we saw tower karst rising out of the flat land and the village of Yangzhou was tucked into the base of three limestone outcrops.  The Lijiang River was also an amazing site.  As you travelled upstream on a boat the karst became more and more spectacular.  The river life incorporated wallowing water buffalo, children playing, people fishing on rafts and numerous tourist boats all intermingled as rice was grown in the surrounding fields.

Once settled we went in search of caves.  Armed with our China 85 guide and a couple of bicycles we rode off in the direction of the cave known as LOTEN.  The book showed a massive entrance which should have been easy to see from a long way off, but after cycling across numerous paddy fields we still could not  find it.  To clarify that we were in the correct area we decided to ask a local. Naturally speaking little Chinese we asked, “DONG” (cave) and pointed a direction, whereupon the farmer would say, “DONG”, nod his head and point the way we were going.  Reassured we continued and found a gated entrance to a small cave, not exactly the massive entrance we were expecting.  So we continued to look for LOTEN,  After asking more locals we realised that the information they were giving us was useless as whichever way we pointed they would say, “DONG”, not exactly helpful for finding a specific cave.  Eventually, numerous paddy fields later and about 20km of cycling we saw the entrance to LOTEN across the valley, but by this time we had to turn round and start the 20km cycle home.

Transport proved to be our major constraint.  I suppose it was inevitable that there would be no public transport direct to the cave entrances, hence, we had to rely on bicycles and were limited to the distance we could travel.  To solve this problem we headed off to Guilin, which proved to be a fairly run of the mill city where you had to continually watch that you were not being conned.  Here we went to visit two show caves; Ludi Yan ( Reed Flute Cave) and Qi Xing Yan ( Seven Star Cave).  Both of the caves were badly lit by multi- coloured fluorescent lights which flashed on and off, not exactly natural lighting effects!  We also had to pay a foreign tourist price for entry to the cave which was 5 times what the local people had to pay.  The caves themselves were fairly large with lots of formations and well worth a visit although the hazards of tourists distracted from our enjoyment.

Whilst visiting these caves we stumbled across another cave entrance so went in for a look much to the bemusement of the locals.  The cave wasn’t very 1ong and we soon arrived at the sump pool to find a great many bats and to my horror ... spiders!  On sight of these I exited the cave very quickly without looking back, much to Nick’s amusement.

After Guilin we had the pleasure of an 18 hour train journey sitting on the floor before reaching Guiyang where the International Caving Conference was being held. However, we arrived too late and the people had (10 of them) gone caving to Anshun.  We decided this was a good idea and got on a bus going to Anshun ourselves.

Anshun proved to be a delightful place to visit, off the well beaten tourist route so it was much less affected by tourism.  In the five days that we were there we saw no other western tourists much to our relief. The town itself is a fair size and is the original home of the Batik factory and many items were available for sale. We found several interesting eating places on the streets and had a marvellous meal with beer for 35p each. In all, Anshun proved an ideal location for cavers. The transport was good as there were many local Chinese buses visiting the tourist caves in the area which were in close proximity to the caves that we were intending to visit.

The first problem we encountered was that once on a bus how could you tell where it was going?  On two occasions we had got on a bus intending to go to one place and arrived somewhere completely different.  This proved to be a lucky mistake as it introduced us to areas that, we didn’t know existed which were well worth a visit. We visited the Huangguoshu Waterfall (the largest in Asia at 68m high and 84m wide) which was very impressive especially as it was the wet season, and Star falls, a beautiful and quite tiring walk by the river in out of caves and over Waterfalls.  Then we went in search of some caves.  The first one we visited was Longgong Cave (Dragon's Palace).  This was one of the major scenic spots in the province and consisted of magnificent karst river caves and waterfalls.  The tourist trip takes you through the cave by boat and brightly coloured lights marked the way.  The cave system is 15km in length, but as it appeared to be a swim the whole way, we took the boat instead.  At the upstream entrance it was, possible to pass through the scenic cave of Hxue Dong and up a huge cascade to the end of the tourist trail.

At this point we wandered off up the hill despite much protesting noises of a local trader, but we pointed ignorantly to our cameras as we were only going to take a photograph. Walking quickly away we found the path and wandered through corn fields and banana trees to reach several huge cave entrances.  The roar of the water could be heard so we knew we were in the right place.  The most impressive entrance led to a sump pool with fast flowing water so we took the dry entrance into Yemma Dong.  On arrival here I had to become accustomed to the thousands of bats which were redsiding in the cave.  Having never caved outside of the UK before this was quite an experience.

Yemma Dong itself consists of high level walking and scrambling passages with a very active and roaring streamway in its lower levels.  We knew that it was possible to do a short 1km through trip in the cave so we set off keeping as far away from the river as we could.  We scrambled over boulders and up ancient gour formations and located the exit.   Having found this we made our way to the river clambering over the debris.  It was quite an impressive sight as the power of the water coming from a blue sump pool was, incredible and it had splendid gour slopes coming down to it.  The stench of the bats meant that a brief look was plenty and we headed off out of the cave.

The following day was to be our last in Anshun and we had planned to visit the lesser know tourist caves (well it wasn’t in China's Lonely Planet Guide) Zhijin Dong.  The only way to get there was to travel by bus for three hours through extensive karst scenery and  hundreds of massive cave entrances:.  Throughout the journey we were both itching to get out of the bus in order to investigate some of these giant holes, but unfortunately it was impossible to leave the bus.  The journey was, however, most enjoyable and did give us another insight into Chinese life.

Zhijin cave itself was said to be one of the biggest and most peculiarly shaped caves discovered in China at present.  It extends for about 10 km, the broadest part being 173m reaching a height of 150m. The tourist trip took 2 hours and involved walking up and down hundreds of steps carved into the calcite formations.  It made a nice change to have the cave illuminated by white, not the not the normal fluorescent lights.  The cave was massive, comprising a phreatic shaped passage which had only a few side tributaries leading from it.  The formations were also good in the cave.  There were huge columns, massive stal. and even some helictites.  In fact the cave is said to have over 40 types of karst precipitation forms.  The trip around Zhijin cave was well worth the visit and the area itself holds great potential for further cave exploration in the future.

Finally we visited the city of Kunming in the south west of China and the famous stone forest.  Kunmimg was like any other cities, full of money changers, bicycles for rent and tourist temples.  However, it is the only place in China where you can get cheese because the Chinese do not eat dairy products, but in Yunnan province they do produce goat’s cheese as a delicacy. The Bamboo Temple was the most impressive temple that we visited that day, despite the fact it had no connection with bamboo whatsoever!  It had a display of hundreds of clay sculptured Buddhas surfing a great wave on various animals.

The stone forest was an amazing display of karst scenery.  Huge blocks of limestone all in different shapes rising from the ground, but it has suffered from being a major tourist attraction.  We made the effort to leave the main forest area and walk into the more distant stone forest.  This allowed more interesting exploration away from the thousands of tourists who arrive in bus loads every day.  There was also an amazing thunderstorm that lit up the entire area spectacularly. Edible specialities included the steamed Yunnan duck, cooked in a clay oven over a bed of pine needles.  It was a bit bony, but for £1 for an entire duck we were not complaining.


This ended our tour of China.  We flew back to Canton ( a choice between 3 hours in a plane or 3 days on the train) and left on the ferry via Macao for some rest and relaxation, eventually arriving in Hing Kong to await the flight home.

In summary, China was a wonderful experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.  The main problem with travelling in the country is that doing absolutely anything is an effort, even buying a drink.  However, the people more than compensate for this as they are all very friendly.  As for the scenery and the caves, China will be difficult to beat, especially from a cavers viewpoint.  Karts is everywhere in the southern areas and is well worth a visit.

I would like to thank Mike Palmer and Sett for their support in providing a donation towards my expenses from the Ian Dear Memorial Trust.  I hope that this article will inspire other BEC members to go travelling and caving in China.  If anyone would like any more information please feel free to contact me at the BEC.

Rachel (Bob) Gregory


Caving in Aruba

During a recent business trip to the Caribbean I spent a few days in Aruba and managed to visit three of the major caves and get some diving in as well.

Aruba is the second largest of the three ABC islands.  (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) in the Netherlands Antilles, just off the northern coast of Venezuela.  All the caves are in low lying limestone close to the sea.


Huliba Cave: This is also known as the tunnel of Love and is a 200 metre through trip.  Lads at the entrance hire out helmets and lamps but do not give guided tours as the cave has no other lighting.  The cave is a series of medium sized chambers with a steep boulder slope out of the lower entrance which is surrounded by large cactus plants.

Guadirikiri Cave: This is an incredibly hot and humid cave being only a few metres below the hot desert above.  A series of chambers with two daylight shafts and lots of bats.

Fontein Cave: The cave has some old Arawak Indian drawings at the entrance and one had a gate to protect them.  The cave is different to the other two as it has lots of old stal. columns in the entrance chambers.  These lead to a low wide crawl between stal. columns to a final chamber where I saw lots of bats and a white hermit crab.  An interesting cave but like the others tiring, because of the heat.


Antillia - A German freighter.  This wreck off of the North West end of Aruba is not only the largest wreck in the Netherlands Antilles but in all of the Caribbean.  It was a U-boat supply ship.  When the Netherlands entered the war the Dutch seized the ship.  However before they could board the ship the Captain blew it up.  The officers were sent to the prison on Curacao for the duration of the war.  At the end of the war, using their savings sent from Germany, they bought the prison and turned it into a hotel and became millionaires!

The wreck is in good condition and the main deck and some holds can be entered.  There are loads of fish and some big Groupers.  The top mast is just out if the water and the bottom is at about 17 metres.

Martin Grass


GPS + Surveying in the future


GPS or Global Positioning Systems use a hand held receiver to talk to an interlocking network of 24 dedicated satellites.  By a lot of magic and by computing time delays to and from four satellites the receiver's position, in latitude, longitude and height on earth can be calculated.  The military have been using GPS for many years now and will admit to achieving positional accuracies in the order of about a metre.  Their satellite signals are however specially scrambled and the best that the public can have access to is about three metres.  In recent years these have become in frequent use with the sailing fraternity.  Their use there for position fixing is obvious but they are very expensive.

The receivers work in the GHz frequency range so will be of no use underground and until a few days ago I was not sure that anyone has seriously considered their caving use for accurately position fixing entrances.  (I may be very wrong on this as I have a nagging memory of recent use on an expedition that says Irian Jaya? China? Russia?)  This would be of particular use in areas lacking adequate map cover.  I was therefore very interested to read on the Cavers Computer Internet Forum that GPS had been successfully used in November 1992 in the Colorado Bend State Park (CBSP) research project.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is buying GPS equipment for one of their survey teams and Bob Burnett of TPWD, who is a long-time caver, was invited to attend a GPS seminar.  While there, A&M told him they would be willing to loan the equipment for research purposes.  Apparently the equipment is so automated that, without any need to understand how the equipment works, you can learn to use it in about ten minutes.  In one weekend coordinates were obtained for 27 cave entrances.  The electronics company, A&M, is working on new algorithms to enable the data to be corrected to within an absolute position of one foot.  Even more mind boggling is the fact that there are designs in the works that will increase this accuracy to within one centimetre or even less.

As it is possible to buy USGS digitised topographical maps on computer disc these maps can be transferred to a computer-aided design system and GPS cave locations and underground cave survey data can also be plotted on the map with a very high degree of accuracy.  This will then save hours of photocopier reduction by trial and error and evenings of retracing.

It was with this in mind that I was interested to read on the Internet Forum that a company in the States called Damark is listing the Sony Pyxis for US$599.99.  This is a handheld GPS unit that runs on AA batteries. Unfortunately accuracy is traded off against price and is only 30 meters although the unit can store 100 entrance stations.

A UK company, Trimble, market a GPS called Flightnav at £550.  This apparently has extra functions to do with flight navigation, but is cheaper then the basic model.

But before you ask ....... No, we can not afford one:


Forget your notepad and pencil because….

Automatic Cave Surveying is Here!

Another little gem from the Internet Cavers Forum concerns a "Laser Rangefinder"  This would appear to be the cavers long dreamed of complete digital cave survey instrument.  The device is a laser rangefinder which can measure distances up to 2500 feet or 750 metres (some passage length!).  It doesn't even need a special reflector but works using rocks, poles or trees as targets.  At the maximum distance it has an accuracy of plus or minus 15 inches or about 0.4 metres. Unfortunately the accuracy at shorter distances wasn't given.

The digital bearing display reads between 0 degrees and 359.9 degrees with an accuracy of plus or minus 0.5 degrees and the vertical range is also given.  It can be connected to a computer to download the data.  It runs from a 4 hour battery pack.

Sounds too good to be true? Well hang on to your note pads and pencils for a few more cave surveys as it costs US$8300!  The alternative, if you're still looking for something to do with the small change, is either a digital clinometer at only US$99.95 or a digital geological compass for US$2290.

But to repeat myself – No, we can’t afford one!

And to the future.... Will we see a motorised self levelling and self recording instrument that will rotate through 360 degrees creating a detailed slice survey of the cave.  We would still have to move the instrument through the cave station by station but at the end of the trip instantly download the data in a computer and use this to produce a near perfect 3D model of the cave.

This would then put us into the realms of Virtual Reality Caving: Just think about it.  All the pleasure with none of the pain, none of the wet, none of the mud or none of the cold with a simulated walk and crawl through the cave.  It would never catch on would it?  Will it be possible to buy Virtual Reality Survey discs from Bat Products.  Will Wigmore become a best seller?  Will the novices still be knackered on the twenty? Will I still get lost in Cuthbert’s?


The Waist of Thyme - White Pit

Since the breakthroughs at the bottom of the 1st Pot on 4th and 30th November last year no further digging had been carried out in the low, wet and muddy crawl leading on down-dip below the entrance shaft and some 10ft before the top of the 1st Pot.  During January and February this year the writer concentrated on building a cement and stone wall in the cave to hold back talus slope below the entrance pitch.  Once this job was completed the way on was clear to restart the dig in the hope that it would either connect with the top of Prophesy Pot or possibly go over it altogether on its way to the Swildon's/Wookey missing link!  Evidence of major development here was indicated by the phreatic roof tube going straight into a mud wall at the end of the dig. The way on appeared to be in a low tube to the right heading back towards 1st Pot.

On 10th February work recommenced here and on the second visit, with Chris Castle and Andy Dennis, a breakthrough was made directly ahead into some 10ft of mud and rock floored crawl with a clean washed phreatic ceiling and a slight draught.

Trev Hughes, Rich Blake, Vince Simmonds, Ivan Sandford, Estelle Sandford, Brian Murlis and Chris Tozer assisted over the course of the next four trips and a vast amount of rocks, boulders and clay was excavated and hauled to the surface.  The dig was now some 25ft long, including a small chamber with a decorated 15ft long inlet.  A way on could be seen continuing down-dip but blasting was necessary to gain access.

Four trips later, with the help of Brian Hansford and a passing car thief, we were ready for the next breakthrough.  On 21st February a large calcite boulder was blasted and Vince squeezed through into a 10ft diameter phreatic chamber with a spectacular display of white and yellow flowstone, straws and stalactites adorning the far wall equal to anything in Talus IV, the "upper series" of the cave.

To avoid despoiling the chamber work now started on trenching out all of the dig and excavating a choked bedding plane to one side.  Several hundred skip loads of spoil were sent on their way to daylight and the passage became some 3ft square and heading steadily down-dip with windows on the right hand side into the grotto.  At a point some 50ft in we decided to dig both to the left, across the debris filled bedding plane and to the right towards and under the end of the grotto. An open and draughting hole was found partly blocked by boulders of limestone and solid calcite.

A couple of sessions here revealed a dodgy looking hole through a partly calcited boulder choke directly below the flowstone cascade above.  Tim Large squeezed through into a solid and roomy section of passage with a view into more cave beyond.  This was entered after another half hours work and followed down-dip in a 6ft high, clean washed and scalloped bore tube for some 60ft.  Halfway along a 12ft pot dropped into a 15ft long pool and at the end a mud choke blocked the way on.  The total extension was some 100ft.

The pool has since been checked with diving gear by Vince but there was no outlet.  Trev Hughes created an outlet by digging UP into it from the rift leading to Prophesy Pot in the lower series!  He picked a day when the pool was 5ft deep and after poking a crowbar into the roof of the rift he got the lot on his head!  Trev was damp but his enthusiasm wasn't and he was delighted to have proved his survey correct.

Meanwhile, above, the continuation of the phreatic tube was dug through sticky clay and sand.  The passage cleared was some 2ft diameter with a couple of small holes on the right hand side giving a view into a clean washed but very small parallel bedding passage.

On 8th April, Andy Dennis, Andy Legg and Alex Gee opened up a small airspace some 20ft into the dig, but despite being able to see into a small decorated "chamber" they ran out of time and it was up to the writer and Andy Legg to push this dig on the following day.  An hour or so of awkward digging revealed the underside of a flowstone floor which was broken up to allow access into a 4ft diameter chamber with some 10ft of phreatic rift passage heading up-dip.  This choked and the way on was a tiny airspace in the down-dip direction.

Work has stopped here temporarily until Trevor opens up the pitch between the lower and upper passages. Spoil can then be dumped down into the loose ruckle below Masters' Hall and we can press on into the system which undoubtedly exists beyond the Waist of Thyme.  Trevor's pitch will also provide an easy way to the bottom of the cave.

The rest of the digging team were Andy Sparrow, Pete Hellie, Andy Sanders, Martin Ellis, Alison?, Matt Tuck, John Riley, Alison and Grant from Oz, Greg Villers and mates, "Trailer", Estelle's brother and Phil Romford.  The passage was named from the initial response of those who thought the dig would not go.

Tony Jarratt  May 1993


St Cuthbert’s Plantation Dig

Just to let members know I'm still having a go at this site.  As a lot realise the dig is in large phreatic tubing which unfortunately after removing lots of spoil is now in a somewhat nasty pool.  However, after a little persuasion, this has dropped in level a bit.  It's very tight but I can hear a small stream on the other side of a stal barrier.  I don't think we're looking at anything major but if anyone wants to have a look or help (I go down on Wednesday nights) please give me a call.

Dudley Herbert

Elphin Epics

This year's gathering of the clans of Mendip (and Devon) was surprisingly sober mainly because we couldn't get off the hills in time for a decent drink. Snatched pints of 80/- preceded late meals.  However this lapse in conspicuous alcohol consumption was of course due to our discovery of new cave which is what it is all about.  The divers thought they were going to score heavily but failed to deliver the goods although had a good time and some exciting moments in the process. The diggers muddy plodding really paid off.  Though although they had their moments, inquire of Tony Boycott whether you can borrow his compass and clino - from the far side of a crowded Hunter's.

Richard Blake (Gobshite), Malcolm Stewart and myself arrived on Mayday but the others having arrived a day earlier were already hard at it caving digging and GSG hut building.  The following day the diggers headed towards Lower Traligill and two divers headed towards Ardmair Bay and the lobsters seen the previous evening by Pete Dowswell.  A long surface swim across the bay got us to a cliff face in 6 metres of water but no lobsters.  Peter Glanvill decided to go deeper and introduce Malcolm to our new staple diet - the scallop.  After a 30 second identification session we started filling the bag.  The fin back was cold!

Meanwhile back at Lower Traligill Pete Mulholland (Speleochef) was trying to gain his laying spurs in Lower Traligill Cave.  With lowering water levels and reasonable visibility he spent 25 minutes sorting out a new line in this seemingly awkward sump which has repelled Pete Dowswells repeated attempts to pass it since he got through briefly in 1988.  After this lengthy spell communing with the trout all seemed clear for the big push that afternoon and having warmed up from our sea dive Malcolm and I made our grovelly way into the cave late the same day. Pete dived first again advising us to wait ten minutes before following.  After a suitable pause I followed a beautifully and tightly laid line down to a junction and off horizontally upstream.  Suddenly the vis. dropped and I found the line slackly looping all over a variably wide bedding which surfaced at last in a tiny oozy air bell!

Peter was still fully kitted much to my surprise but it turned out he had such an epic with the line that he had only just arrived.  We looked around - didn't take long - and found we were in an air bell with a low tube exit emitting the roar of a stream.  A de-kit proved it impassable.  We then sat shivered and waited for Malcolm.  After 30 minutes of developing hypothermia we left having had to belay the line to a rather dubious boulder.  Back at base we discovered our belay prevented Malcom for getting through! A retreat and regroup was called for and the air bell was dubbed Scotch Mist Airbell mainly because we had expected to surface in somewhat larger passage.  Over a pint of 80/- Pete Dowswell's reputation as an accurate recorder of information was severely abused!  We then returned to the hut and a fine meal of scallops.

Meanwhile the diggers were hard at it between the rising and Lower Traligill digging out an insignificant hole named Disappointment Cave had been known for years to issue tantalising sounds of running water.   The Mendip nostalgics were happy ‘Death by Chocolate' was tight sh*tty and dire but it was a goer!  Julian Walford meanwhile was inspecting Uamb Ard (the sink 900 feet above the Fuaram rising) and hoped to persuade some idiots to pump the sump or worse.

After the usual trip to Lochinver by the route – airfill, listen to Jim Crooks yarning, stock up with pies from the delicatessen - Malcolm Pete and Pete went to dive in a small rocky cove at one end of Clashnessie Bay. They spent 40 minutes being whirled around kelp fronds the size of small palm trees.  Peter Glanvill went verdant with envy when he discovered that Pete Mulholland had photographed a creature that sounds like a Belfry game (the lumpsucker).  This is a very 'kit friendly' site in that one can walk out of the cove over the road and dive immediately into a fresh water lock for instant rinsing.  The loch life was non existent - acid rain?

Gluttons for punishment, we returned to the hut, picked up bottles (and kit except for the more sensible Glanvill) and walked up to the Claonite shakehole.  We then walked over to Anus where Pete Glanvill wanted to take piccies.  This photo session was a dreary flop (as were all subterraneous photo shoots this year) so we soon left for the Inch and more 80/-. The diggers were full of it Death by Chocolate had gone to 100 metres of roaring streamway with up and down stream sumps.  They were now haying a go at Tree Hole.  Unfortunately for the divers Death by Chocolate could only be negotiated by flat chested dwarves (and certain Belfryites).

The dry weather continued and after the Lochinver run, a small team of diggers and divers went and did a very dry Claonite.  This was the day sump 6 was going to go - or so we thought.  Goon had been in on Mayday and with Mike O'Driscoll a wandering Oz cave diver providing support had carried a gigantic line reel in and dumped it by a son of slot in the roof.  We all had forgotten the dreadful carry between sumps 3 and 6.  This took an hour with 6 bottles and kit before Pete could be pushed into an almost static sump 6.

He emerged a few minutes later to announce that a) goon specialised in Schwarzenegger sized line reels and b) the hole Goon thought we could pass was an eye level underwater squeeze through a letter box.  With the deathless line "You have a go" he handed me Malcolm's reel and off I went.  I decided to look at the bedding I had followed last year which happened to contain the old washed in line.  This was a mistake: after squeezing up an ascending ever tightening underwater crawl with lowering visibility I chickened out and had to reverse out onto a slackly belayed main line which wrapped itself around my bottles.  I emerged cheesed off and chastened.

Apart from the diving sump 6 fiasco the photography did not go too well either and culminated in my doing wiring changes with Swiss army knife to get some kind of working flashgun. Meanwhile Malcom had very sensibly gone off exploring and found more than either Pete or I had done.  The trouble was we did not know which bits were new or where they were in relation to any other known bits.  This area is down for an above water blitz with digging tools next time.

A look at the watch then confirmed the inescapable truth -: the sherpas would have left the cave. The carry out was as vile as we expected and then there was the carry out from the near side of Sump 3.  An hour's struggle saw 3 divers 6 bottles and kit back at the entrance.  Then it was roaming in the gloaming with a bottle by your side as we trudged down the hill at 10 30 pm.  We just made it to the Allt for closing time.

The next day dawned sunny with wisps of vapour slowly rising from the hilltops.  A migration to the hills took place.  Pete and Gobshite walked to the Coluinn waterfall and others footled off somewhere else.  Malcolm and I did CuI Mhor.  After an hour we were down to T shins in the blazing sun.  Wraiths of orographic cloud drifted across the summit ridge as we rambled to the end and a glorious view across to Stac Pollaidh and Suilven.  We munched apple cake the silence only broken by the distant call of a cuckoo and the unrelenting buzz of a chainsaw half a mile below on the shores of a loch.

At the third summit we lay down and drowsed in the afternoon heat among the tufts of dwarf spruce. Sheer heaven and nobody else in sight except a lone and eccentric walker making his own route up the hill.  A leisurely stroll down the hill and we were back at base.  Time for phase 2 of the day - hut building.  The new GSG hut is now liveable although the shower and bunk block needs completing.  We spent a happy hour or so painting on fire retardant paint while waiting for Pete Dowswell to come out and dive.  We picked the site on the Drumbeg road where the salmon cages had been moved.  This site, apart from the carry down the bank, is splendid at high water.  You can swim straight off the rocks without struggling with seaweed.  We surface finned along the shore for a while before finally submerging and landing almost immediately on a dogfish.  I was able to introduce Malcolm to the brilliantly coloured feather stars which abound here while we grabbed as many scallops as we could spot.  Meanwhile Pete who in true Grampian style was diving with no ablj or contents gauge on his bottle had managed to lay his hands on more scallops and an edible crab.

A good meal was had by several of us that evening.

The next day was a Traligill day (we had to try and erase the memory of that Claonite trip).  Pete Mulholland decided to attack down stream Lower Traligill while Malcolm wanted to dig at Waterfall rising and dive Main Rising.  Waterfall proved to be discouraging in that the silt excavated last year had mostly washed in again so the site needs a concentrated burst of effort for real results. We then walked up to main rising in which Malcolm had dived solo into new cave about 3 years earlier.  The crawl, fully kitted, up the bedding to the sump is low snagging and unpleasant.  The line was tied on and Malcolm squeezed into the low sloping gravel floored bedding which is the start of the sump.  Several 'bloops' later he emerged to say it was tighter than he remembered and would I like to try.  More underwater moling by myself and my legs and lower half were through.  Taking the reel I slid into a decidedly murky sump. After scrupulously belaying the line to a large cobble to enable me to renegotiate the squeeze I set off upstream. After I had collided with a soft murk producing mud bank I lost all enthusiasm for the sump and just as things started to improve my undone belt dumped my battery onto the sandy bottom.  Dumping the reel and clutching everything else I torpedoed back to base emerging sans battery and nearly minus a bottle.  The crawl to get to the sump had clearly been mischievously undoing belts on the way.

Time for retreat and regroup.  With a battery and line reel in the sump.  I had to go back.  More apple cake and a canter to keep warm were called for so we went off to see how the others were getting on.  Tav who we met at Lower Traligill solved the mystery of the gloomy vis - the diggers had been surveying Disappointment, that is, until the compass and clino threw themselves into the streamway when Tav was looking the other way.  That was the end of the Grade V survey.  J Rat was stufffing Pete Mulholland into lower Traligill as we turned round and headed back for Main Rising.

Slightly warmer and with a full bladder to empty at the appropriate moment I headed back to the sump.  A short dive got the battery back and then it was action stations.  The now pleasantly clear sump now fulfilled Malcolm's earlier description of being a descent to a roomy ascending tunnel and a minute after picking up the reel I was breaking through the turbulent surface of the streamway. A quick de-kit and off the to boulders which were the previous limit.  After crawling round these I could stand up: unfortunately in a boulder chamber where suspended death abounded.  Ducking out of the other side I followed the passage for a short distance to the inevitable next sump.

Feeling well pleased now I made an uneventful journey out.  I could tell Malcolm was keen to get his own back on the sump which he did the next day by passing it, transporting all his kit to the far end and diving the next sump for 15 metres.  Hopefully this will link with that in downstream Disappointment Cave with the prospect of a further dive linking that to Tree Hole creating a sort of Traligill Traverse.  The final dive exchange will be a thin man job though so be warned.

What of everybody else? Well Jake and Estelle had found a new dig up valley and Tony Boycott and Julian Walford were busy either finishing off Uamh Ard or starting the new dig at Damoclean dig which lies between Anus Cave and Claonite and which Tony describes as looking like an Eastwater entrance.  More drinking in the Inch followed by what I think was a musical evening when Nike Williams 'Mr. Gadget' linked his CD player to 2 FX5's and gave us doses of the Battlefield Band.  It was about this stage in the week when with declining food stores we would give Speloechef the chance to range free over everybody's food boxes and cook some indescribable gastronomic delights.  Pete is booked for next year!

The next day saw Pete Mulholland doing some complicated things with manifolds and bottles to avoid going to Lochinver for air.  The diggers departed for Damoclean Dig - I think some went to look at Smoo and after a scenic wander around Lochinver Harbour the Traligill diving team assembled at Glenbain cottage.  The two Petes went off to Lower Traligillieaving Malcolm to Main Rising.

Due to some major damming and excavating by Pete the day before the water level in Lower Traligill had dropped.  Pete pushed me into the sump first.  I felt happier carrying a 50 which proved to be major overkill.  In crystal clear water the first part of the sump with Pete's beautifully laid 1in was a doddle.  Beyond here it was clear what needed to be done.  The main route is on the right of sump going in and the line could be pulled down and 'hand railed' under chert ledges on the floor.  At Scotch Mist a new line was belayed to Pete Dowswells old one and shortly after I emerged into a vast thrust plane passage sloping upwards at 30 degrees into the darkness.  The stream thundered along the base of the rift.  Pete soon arrived but found his lights rapidly failing so after running the belayed line to a high level we rapidly explored beyond the Dowswell limit and decided to call the whole section we had entered 'For Pete's Sake' to record the fact that it had taken 4 years to get in here and that so far only people named Pete had been there.  Ascending the bedding for 20 metres or so led to a cobbled crawl.  At the far end the passage became a slight descending trench.  To the left at the top of the thrust plane were some low bedding plane grottoes filled with straw pillars and helictites.  The descending trench dwindled to a squeeze along the plane.  I left at this point and found Pete in the dark. When we had both got to the far side of the sump I discovered his only light had virtually packed up in the sump. Now we know why cave divers have supposedly redundant systems!

We had one more day to go. The return to Claonite was postponed for a final exploratory push on Lower Traligill especially as Mike O'Driscoll, a likely looking thin man had appeared.  While Pete Mulholland headed for Lochinver, Malcolm, Mike and Pete G. headed up towards the Bone Caves for the bottles dumped from our Claonite epic earlier in the week. Bottles retrieved we headed for Traligill.  The white horse no longer galloped up to meet us cavers were no yielding touch for food as he had learnt over the last week.  The familiar shuffle into Lower Traligill, following the red paint flakes from Pete's bottles led us back to the sump. Soon I was back doing some trout worrying and retrieving Peter Dowswells original diving line plus belaying our two new lines together.  After a long wait Mike appeared shivering violently - thin Oz cave divers get cold easily in Scottish sumps- and we set off to explore the unknown.  Mike soon passed the previous limit but the new bit -'for the love of Mike' got too tight after twenty metres or so.  As Mike had vanished from sight on the other side of an impassable squeeze with no helmet and only one light I was glad to see him return.  He had reached a point where the bedding width had diminished to something no wider than my dive torch.

Back at stream level we pushed upstream for about 30 metres and although the stream could be seen and heard pounding down the passage ahead there was no let up in the flat out crawling. At stream level the place is very claustrophobic and should only be attempted again in settled weather and low water conditions.  At present prospects look poor for further extensions and it may be better to concentrate on diving the downstream water slide sump, - armed with a lump hammer. It all seemed a poor reward for the man hours put into re-passing the sump which is however the best tourist dive in the valley found so far.

And that really is it. Lots of leads left to follow up and promising digs to continue.  A week is almost too short.  Maybe we will see you there next year.

Peter Glamill


Recent Discoveries At Uamha A' Bhrisdeadh-Duile And Tree Hole.

Uamha a' Bhrisdeadh-Duile was an 11m long, dry cave situated in a small cliff at the side of the generally dry Traligill River between the Rising and Tree Hole.  It was discovered in October 1975 by D. Storey and other members or Aberdeen University Potholing and Climbing Club who dug into a small chamber and impassable inclined bedding plane, with the sound of the underground River Traligill echoing temptingly somewhere ahead.  It may at one time have been a resurgence and probably still becomes active in flood conditions.  It was first visited by the writer in August 1978 and again in April 1991, having to be re-dug both times to gain access.  It was one of the projects for this year's invasion of Assynt by the Grampian Mendip Section (BEC, DSS. UBSS, etc.) to drill and blast along this bedding plane during the course of the week on the off chance of reaching the stream and filling in a bit more of the Traligill Basin System survey.

On May 1st Julian Walford, Tony Boycott and the writer fired the first charge of what seemed to be a hopeless task.  On clearing the debris the upward section of the passage was examined more closely than previously and it was thought to be worth an attempt at squeezing up.  Being the skinniest, the writer managed to get through the squeeze after 4m to reach a tighter, horizontal squeeze of 3m into a small chamber with a tiny inlet and pile of collapsed boulders above the impassable bedding plane below.

The following day Rich Blake and Robin Taviner also passed the squeezes but Tony B. failed at the first fence.  Pete Mulholland later got through the upward section but was defeated by the horizontal squeeze.  It was named 40" Squeeze that being the maximum chest size to get through.  Digging now commenced behind the boulder pile in a continuation of the bedding completely full of peaty mud with the colour and consistency (but luckily not the smell!) of baby shit as Tav assured us. After four hours of hard work we had gained 3m and had enough.  The sound of the stream increased as we progressed and we estimated that another half hours work would see us in.  Exhaustion, cold and cramp drove us to the Inch.

On May 3rd enthusiasm was low but three pints of Murphy's in Lochinver worked wonders and we were soon back at "Death by Chocolate" with a plastic skip. Exactly half an hour later Rich, digging upside-down in the rift and looking like the contents of King Kong's nappy, plopped through into open cave in an outburst of obscenities.  A bit more digging along the bedding was necessary before the three filthy but jubilant explorers clambered down to the open streamway below.  We had reached the underground Traligill River where it sumped after flowing along the bottom of a 10m high inclined thrust plane - the continuation of the entrance bedding.

Following a desperately needed wash we headed off upstream, generally having to squeeze through at mid level and after some 50m reached a decidedly dodgy boulder choke.  Halfway along the thrust plane the river had emerged from a sump pool but could be heard again beyond the choke.  At floor level a way through was noted and the writer gingerly crept through into a low crawl in the river for some 3m to a section of 2m high streamway ending in a duck and upstream sump after 10m.  The noisily cascading river and loose boulders rolling underfoot made this an impressive spot and certainly not the place to be in flood conditions.  Highly pleased with ourselves we squirmed back out through an avalanche of slimy mud and headed for Tree Hole to bang the end choke found in April 1991.

Water conditions being low we reached the end easily and whilst Rich went back for the bang (from an overlarge Tony Boycott!) the writer took a second look at the horrendous choke and spotted a possible way through between a couple of nasty looking "Henrys".  A very tight 0.5m squeeze led up into open, loose thrust plane typical of the rest of the cave.  Rich reappeared with the bang and also squeezed into the new stuff.  Comments to the effect that "the twat who said it needed banging wants his head read" were received icily by the writer who was the twat in question!  At Tav's suggestion the extension is now "Twat's Temple".  From the squeeze a descent over boulders led to a downstream sump pool, some 20m of streamway and a large mudbank-lined upstream sump.  A higher level oxbow passage was also explored.  Total length is about 35m.  The extension was not surveyed or visited again during the week but a foray was made to the 1991 extension where Rich hammered and chiselled his way upwards through the 2m waterfall to gain a view into 1.5m of impassably low streamway and an undiveable inlet sump.  His disappointment and fury was only equalled by the pain of the gash in his leg caused by a rock dropping on him not a unique experience for the dear lad!  It was noted on returning through the flat out squeeze in the stream that a considerable amount of water sank to one side possibly accounting for the waterfall which may not after all be a separate "main river".

On 6th May the three "thin men" returned to Uamha a' Bhrisdeadh-Duile with intentions of carrying out a grade 5 survey but on the fifth leg Tav earned the undying gratitude of Tony B. by dropping his Suunto compass and clino. into the sink below the choke.  This was an expensive error but the cause of the naming of this bit "The Compass Sucker"!  The tape measure survived so we were able to get a reasonably accurate length of 119m for the cave, 108m of which was new stuff.

These two extensions have filled in a lot of the gap in the lower part of the system.  Short dives should link Traliglll Rising through to Tree Hole.  With the diver's extensions to Lower Traligill Rising providing a way upstream the missing link in this part of the valley may be gained via Lower Traligill Flood Sink.  An accurate surface/underground survey of the valley is now needed, as are thin cave divers and dry, settled weather.

Tony Jarratt


Uamha a' Bhrisdeadh-Duile

Storey, D. (1976) G.S.G. Bull. 2nd Series 1 (4), p.15.

Lawson, T.J. (1988) Caves of Assynt. G.S.G. Occ. Pub. No. 6 p.31.

Tree Hole

Ford, T.D. (1959) C.R.G. Trans. 5(2) p.139.

Jeffreys, A.L. (1972) G.S.G. Bull 5(1) p.24.

Jarratt, T. (1991) G.S.G. Bull. 2(1) p.12



What grade of caver are you???

I thought it would be interesting to list what the various coloured bezels denote on an Oldham cap lamp.  These NCB codes are strictly adhered to, both above and below ground.

WHITE.  Trainee not allowed to go unsupervised underground.

YELLOW.  Completed training but not allowed within 20 metres of a working coal face.

RED.  Completed basic coal face training but has to work a period of time before he is considered finally coal face trained.

BLUE.  Craftsman, allowed anywhere.

GREEN.  Persons driving roadways but not allowed at a coal face

BLACK.   Allowed at coal face or driving roads.  Completed full coal face training and roadway training.

Martin Grass


Climbing For The Over Forties 

By Dave Yeandle

1971: A rainy day at Stannage.  I lead up the route with difficulty.  I get in four runners, I've no confidence in any of them.  Sixty foot up and almost there.  I lunge for the top hold, miss and fall off.  Three runners come out and I'm certain I'm going to hit the ground. To my immense relief and surprise the last runner holds and I find myself one foot off the ground being held by Mart who is shouting something about my total incompetence and why I shouldn't be allowed near a crag.  He lowers me to the ground.  I untie the bowline around my waist, and rant about how there is no way I'm going back for the one remaining runner.  At this point it falls out anyway and we both get enveloped in coils of rope.

This sort of thing has been happening a lot.  I decide on the spot to give up climbing.  And I do.

1992: Another rainy day at Stannage.  Steve and I have been invited by Rachael on a weekend of caving, climbing and partying to celebrate Sue's twenty first.  I have little intention of caving and no intention of climbing (after all I gave this up more than twenty years ago!)

I'm trying to think of something to do to get out of climbing.  A fell run maybe or perhaps a walk.  I look up at the crag and remember the last time I was here, so long ago. Perhaps it will be fun to just hang around and watch.

Sue leads up a V diff. Some way up she decides she doesn't like the look of it.  This seems pretty reasonable to me as by now it's raining heavily.  She reverses back to a ledge.  To the left I notice a chimney, I'm sure I can climb it easily. "Ahem Sue I wouldn't mind a go at that route to the left, can I tie on and lead on through?"  Sue says O.K.

I tie a bowline around my waist and climb easily up to Sue.  I don't have much trouble getting up the chimney, after all it's a bit like caving and only some moderate anyway.  As I pull myself over the top I look down.  The view is marvellous: rock below my feet, the moorland below the crag giving way to lovely Dovedale, where the sun is trying to shine a bit.

I feel ridiculously pleased with myself, getting into it now I go looking for Ian so he can take me up something harder.  We do a v diff and getting really excited I decide to go for a severe.  No problem, some of the lads have rigged a top rope on a severe, Yeandle can have a go.  Most of the group have finished climbing now and have been watching each other attempt the top roped severe.  As I tie on with a bowline people try to get me to use a harness.  Not interested in such new fangled nonsense I refuse.  Steve says something about would Sir Edmund Hillary please hurry up and do the route so we can all get out of the rain?  So I start, determined to give my all.  The climb starts as a corner which I manage with a desperate sort of shuffle using as many points of contact as possible.  The next bit’s a hand traverse which I somehow manage with much flaying of legs and uncoordinated lurches.  Still I don't fall off.

It's really raining hard now so it's decided to go back to Sues' via The Foundry  What's the Foundry?  An indoor climbing centre.  Whatever next.

Having no real climbing gear I don't climb at the Foundry, only watch from the spectator area in the balcony, amazed by the whole thing.  Climbers swarming all over the walls, doing very hard looking things. They seem to have no fear of falling off, and do so frequently and I soon realise in total safety.  It occurs to me that I could train like this and get to be a better climber than I had ever imagined I could be.  I start to dream.

We all get drunk at Sue's and Steve and I decide to become a team.  I vow to give up all pleasures of the flesh and devote myself to leading extreme rock climbs.  Well yes, one can get carried away on occasions,  Still we do manage a few routes at Froggot, the next day.  We're pathetic though.

The Bristol Indoor Climbing Centre has just opened and I decide to join.  I quickly get over my prejudices against chalk, harnesses, sticky boots and things in general invented since 1972.  I start to use cool words like "FLASH" and "DYNO".  I offer accommodation to top visiting sports climbers from Sheffield when the British National Indoor Climbing Championships are held at St. Werbergs.  A really great group of guys and girls.  I'm rewarded by being allowed to escort the competitors to the toilet during the competition.  No really, somebody has to make sure they don't sneak off and watch other climbers on the route.  Inspired I enter a friendly competition at E1 level.  I don't even come last.

But am I getting any good? No not yet!  A day with Snablet.  A typical example of an early Yeandle lead.  Gronk a V.S on the Sea Walls.  Snablet has been borrowed from the Hunters.  The first two pitches pass with only moderate fear, as I manage a modicum of protection.  On the third pitch I wander off route onto a route called Terror Firma, which is, sadly, E4 and several grades above Yeandle on a good day.  I realise I'm off route when I'm twenty foot above Snablet who is belayed to a rusty peg and I've failed utterly to get in any protection. The rock is overhanging a bit and I haven't a single hold I like.  I realise I am unable to move up or down and that I'm getting weak.  Does my whole life flash through my mind at this moment of mortal danger?  No, but I feel a bit like Arthur Dent about to be thrown out of the Vogon Space Ship through no real fault of his own.  Also I'm sure Snablets' Mum is going to be really annoyed with me as he has not been long since his last hospitalisation brought on when Quiet John fell on him at Split Rock. I announce to Snablet that I'm falling off.  He's not impressed by this and suggests I consider another approach to my problem. I desperately look around for a gear placement and manage to get in a tiny No 2 R.P. before starting to slip. It holds and I manage to climb back down to Snablet with the rope in tension.

Back on route we make good progress, move flows through to move in an effortless progression and time, exposure and fear cease to be barriers!  We reach the hand traverse over the two hundred foot drop, I'm feeling unstoppable now; and then Snablet informs me that he won't put up with any more of this and refuses point blank to go across the hand traverse and wouldn't it be a good idea to leave the crag in one piece via the last pitch of Morpheus (a V Diff) and he isn't feeling very well and I'm a nutter anyway!

Steve is more understanding and we slowly tick off Severes, VS's and the occasional well chosen  Hard VS.  The big day arrives when we will attempt our first Extreme.  The Baldest at Portishead Quarry. El 5b, 90ft.  This is delicate balance climbing up twin blind cracks offering not much protection.  I don't take much gear, knowing I won't get much in.  I climb confidently to about thirty five foot, wasting time and energy putting in a runner I don't trust.  Never mind I can see what looks like a good placement a little bit higher.  As I move towards this it starts pissing down with rain!  Very quickly I have no friction; fortunately I'm in a position to traverse hastily right to an easier route.  After much gibbering I'm off the slab, and refusing to do any more climbing that day under any circumstances.  We now have an argument as Steve doesn't want to give in so easily. In the meantime the rain stops and a fresh wind dries the rock.  Plan B emerges!  Yeandle will go straight for the good placement at about forty foot to conserve energy.  After some consultation we have to admit that we will not be able to claim an on site flash for this climb as we now have prior knowledge of the route.  Could we claim a beta flash though or would we have to be content with a mere redpoint accent!  Such moral dilemmas!  In any case "the good placement" turns out to be crap and it's not until more than half way up the climb that a bombproof runner is placed.  Happy now that he won't hit the ground Yeandle stops complaining about Redwood "distracting" him and Redwood stops calling Yeandle a Poof.  The rest of the route goes easily.  Steve follows with no drama and all that's left for us to do is to sort out the gear and to accuse each other of stealing each others equipment.

To be continued.....


Caving Without A Roof

Babs Williams

Our holiday this year was in the Ordessa National Park, which is home to the highest limestone mountain in Europe.  Mount Perdido.  We stayed at a small, picturesque mountain village called Torla, only 4km from the mouth of the Ordessa Canyon.  We camped at a site on the river ArIa which had excellent facilities, a fantastic view of the mountains and (most importantly) a bar!

I had known for some time that the area boasted having some excellent canyons.  I have always wanted to try canyoning so we drove down to Ainsa (the nearest large town) to check it out.  Sure enough, a visit to the sports shop and the trip was arranged for the following Sunday at 10.00am.

The Ordessa equivalent of Andy Sparrow duly arrived at 11.00am.  (Bastard, could have had another hour in bed!) together with four Spanish lads, up for a day's canyoning.  We were kitted out with a wetsuit. Wetsocks, sit harness, a figure of eight and a rucksack, then it was off in his "Tin Box on Wheels" (not a Landrover) to a small and ancient alpine village called Buerba which was full of Norbert Casteret look-alikes.  We were instructed to wear just shorts and boots (I wore a swimsuit to show a little decorum unlike me I know!) and to carry the gear in the rucksacks. After an hour's gruelling walk in the noonday sun, we arrived at a small bridge.  Here Fernando, our guide, produced a bag of prunes and a bag of wine. Interesting fare I thought and then dreaded the consequences that this would have on Jeff's notorious bowels! We donned our kit, set off downstream and soon reached the pitch at the canyon mouth.  The walls of the canyon were only about eight feet apart and about eighty feet high, so it was very dark beyond and promisingly "cave-like".

Fernando had previously rigged the pitch with an 8mm bolt in which he used 10mm Cousin rope and on which we abseiled down 10m to a small ledge.  This was where the fun began, as for the first of many times, we launched ourselves off into the deep, green water.  Descending the canyon took two hours and involved sliding down white water chutes, a lot of swimming and 14 kamikase leaps into pools.  It was truly fab.  The water is crystal clear and refreshingly cool but not cold at all. The canyon varied from 4 - 30 feet across and much of the time was so dark that we might have been in the green canal in Dan-yr-Ogof!  When it widened sufficiently for sunlight to penetrate, it was covered with rich green vegetation and many beautiful alpine flowers of which "Ramondia" was one and is the name Fernando has given to his business.

Eventually the canyon widened into a small river and the trip, sadly, was over.  A killer walk followed.  Back up the mountain in that bloody heat, to Buerba and a delicious spread of bread, local sausage and plenty Vino Tinto (much to the amusement of the locals).

All in all it was an excellent day which I would thoroughly recommend.  The day was expensive, but without local knowledge and a good command of Spanish, I doubt that we would have found the canyon alone.

The rest of our holiday involved walking and climbing Pyrenean peaks, looking for caves using local maps (not very helpful) and pissing it up with Dutch people!  The scenery and waterfalls in this area are stunning.  This was our fourth trip to the Pyrenees and was certainly the best so far.

Holiday Bible: The Pyrenees-The Rough Guide

Paul Jenner & Christine Smith


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

Cover: Mr. N  by REG


1993 - 1994 Committee

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


The Bristol Exploration Club Subscriptions for 1993-94 are now due

Single Membership    £24 Joint Membership      £36

Discount for early payment (before December 31st 1993

Single membership      £20 Joint membership        £30



Hello everyone. Well; now i find myself the official B.B. Editor and thus in need of the creative input of the membership!  This is basically a plea for articles of any kind from anyone who feels the urge, desire, compulsion or need to write.  This is the club journal and should therefore, in my view, reflect the activities, views opinions and imaginations of the members.

I have a small stock of articles that i inherited from ted that will be published in future issues but these will dry up fairly quickly so i will need more.   The B.B. Will only be as interesting as the articles i have so in a sense the ball is in your court ... It is after all your journal. ('nuff said).

I hope to include some regular features such as a song per issue - this issue due to many requests i've included the 'other one' sung at the dinner, by dickfred & myself, as well as an odds & sods page.   I'd be interested in opinions on this as well as ideas for other features.

Unfortunately i'm not on the 'phone at present but hope this will change shortly.   I can usually be contacted via the Belfry at weekends and my address is as published on page one.

That is enough waffle for now, i hope this issue is up to scratch ... If not let me know ... !


Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Bristol Exploration Club held at the Belfry October 2nd 1993

The meeting was convened by the Treasurer, Chris Smart at 1045.  The meeting was not quorate at its opening.


Chris Smart, Tim Large, John Buxton, Chris Castle, Andy Sparrow, Estelle Sandford, Mike Wilson, Jingles, Hilary Wilson, Babs Williams, Jeff Price, Rob Harper, Bob Cork, Ted Humphries, Kevin Gurner, Dudley Herbert, Ian Gregory, Nick Gymer, Richard Payne, Ron Wyncoll, Terry Early, Phil Romford, John Watson, Pete Hellier, Colin Dooley, Barry Wilton, Dave Ball, Dave Glover, Brian Prewer, Dave Aubrey.

Present(Later ):

Nigel Taylor, Matt Tuck, S J McManus, Alan Kennett, Andy Sanders, Fish, Dave Turner, Alan Turner, Ian Caldwell,


Martin Grass, Glenys Grass, Chris Batstone, Lavina Watson, Jim Smart, J Rat, Lil Romford, Ruth Baxter, Chris Harvey, Robin Grey, Rich Long, John Freeman, Jeremy Henley, Steve Tuck, Alan Thomas, Trevor Hughes, Martin Gregory, Clive Betts, Graham Johnson,


Bob Cork was elected as Chairman with the full support of the meeting.  There were no other nominations.

The Chairman noted that the meeting was inquorate.  It was decided to continue with the AGM with the proviso that the minutes are published at the first opportunity for discussion and comment.

Minutes of the 1992 AGM

Previously published in the BB

John Buxton noted that he had been missed from the attendance list.

For acceptance of the 1992 AGM minutes by the meeting.
Proposed: R C Harper.
Seconded: Phil Romford.
Carried with two abstentions.

Matters arising from the minutes

1. Long Term Plan: Phil Romford asked as to the progress of the Long Term Plan.  Various discussions ensued.  The AGM was told that a meeting was held and that work has progressed albeit not to the exact letter of the resolution.  It was suggested that the Committee put forward a 1-2 year plan of immediate priorities.  The AGM agreed to continue discussion of this item in AOB following the Treasurers report.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Brian Prewer.
Seconded: Dudley Herbert.
For 31, Against 0, Abstentions 1

Secretary's Report

Previously published in the BB.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Jingles.
Seconded: Rob Harper.   Carried unam.

Caving Secretary's Report

Previously published in the BB.

Mike Wilson asked about Jeff's Stand at BCRA.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Mike Wilson.
Seconded: Mac.
For 31, Against 1, Abstentions 1

Hut Warden's Report

The Hut Warden was not present, no report was given to the meeting and none had been published in the BB. It was agreed that this was an utterly disgraceful state of affairs and there was no excuse.  Nigel and Mac asked the Committee to either obtain Zot's report or publish a summary report as soon as possible in the BB.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting. Proposed: Nigel.
Seconded: Mac.
For 32, Against 0, Abstentions 1

Dr Andrew Newton was given a unam vote of thanks for obtaining new mattresses for the Belfry.

Brian Prewer was also given a unam vote of thanks for his midweek policing of Belfry usage.

Pete Hillier asked about bednight totals.  Blitz replied (later) that the numbers were as follows:





















Hut Engineer's Report

The following was read out at the meeting:

The Belfry is now over 20 years old and gets subjected to heavy use and abuse.  During the year minor repairs and routine maintenance have been carried out but there remains much to be done. 

The major work has been:

  1. Completion of repairs to Changing and Drying Room ceilings following water leaks during the previous winter.
  2. Installation of a new electric shower which is working well.
  3. Modification of the coin meters to accept the new 10p coin.
  4. A start has been made on the repairs and replacement of floor and wall tiling in the Showers and Drying Rooms
  5. Painting of the Main Room.  Thanks for this go to Terry Early and Dave Aubrey, especially for the novel paint work on the Hut Warden's locker.
  6. Rationalization of the plumbing system to simplify the pipe work and eliminate problems.
  7. Removal of the old night storage heaters and white meter now that the central heating is in place.
  8. The purchase and installation of a thermostatically controlled radiator to provide separate heating for the Library
  9. Installation of a new cooker and 2 hobs.  The cooker has been professionally fitted as our old pipe work was less than safe.

One working weekend was held during the year which was attended by about twenty people. Grateful thanks to one and all. Much was achieved including painting, repairs and some serious cleaning.  As always much time was spent on clearing rubbish away from the Belfry site.

There is always much to be done and hopefully in the coming year we can complete more essential maintenance and repairs.  Then perhaps, money permitting, we can move onto improvement projects to enhance the living conditions further and encourage more people to stay at the Belfry.

Tim Large 2nd October 1993

John Buxton asked about the hot water supply to the hand basins.  Bob Cork expressed surprise that older members were getting soft and wanted hot water.  Tim said that Mac would look at the immersion timer clock.

Phil asked about maintenance and repairs to the exterior.  It was decided that the Committee would need to look into this following more discussion under AOB.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Nigel.
Seconded: Jeff Price.
For 33, Against 0, Abstentions 1

Membership Secretary's Report

Previously published in the BB.

Quiet John expressed his disquiet as to non payers of this year who had said they would rejoin next year, that is they have had a free year.  After much discussion it was proposed that the 31st December is a warning date.  A letter will be sent out with a second class sae informing the non payers that their membership will be terminated on January 31st, and that they will therefore loose any rights to publications, their Cuthbert’s leadership, Club insurance, their use of club tackle and the right to members rates at the Belfry, the return of their Belfry key would also be requested.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Dave Turner.
Seconded: Nigel.
For 35, Against 0, Abstentions 0

The Chairman asked the Committee to look into individual membership cards and to consider hardship cases on their merits.  It was agreed by all that the Club took a dim view of people taking it for a ride.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Tim Large.
Seconded: Dave Turner.
Carried unam.

Tackle Master's Report

Previously published in the BB.

Rob Harper informed the AGM that he had recently left two ladders in caves and was unlikely to retrieve them in the near future

.............. except it was probably OK as they were Wessex ladders!

Mike Wilson said that:

1.                    The drop tester was nearing completion

2.                    Tackle bags are still going missing.  Brian Prewer suggested yellow bags and a permanent marker.  Phil Romford also suggested we could probably buy customized ones at the same price.

Blitz asked as to the current locations of our survey kits.  Mike replied that one set was with Blitz, one set had been stolen from Trevor's car and was probably not covered on any insurance.  The third set was missing.  There was some considerable discussion.  Blitz said that he had one set that had been given to him by the Philippines expedition, that this was used in India last November and taken to Pakistan and China this summer.  It would be required for India in February 1994.

Rob Harper proposed that the club buy another set as soon as possible and consider buying a third set if our third set did not appear following a plea in the BB.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Rob Harper.
Seconded: Blitz.
For 25, Against 6, Abstentions 5

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Jingles.
Seconded: Mac.
Carried with one abstention.

BB Editor's Report

Previously published in the BB.

Ted asked that the meeting appreciate that J Rat has saved the club a small fortune in postage by distributing BB s.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Mac.
Seconded: Rob Harper.
Carried with two abstentions.

A vote of thanks was then proposed to Ted for all his work over the last few years.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Blitz.
Seconded: Mac.
For 35, Against 1, Abstentions 1

Hon Treasurer's Report

This was handed out at the meeting and the Treasurer explained that due to his only having received the last batch of hut sheets from the Hut Warden that week and that the Auditor having been on holiday the accounts are not audited.  It was agreed that the meeting would vote on their acceptance subject to auditing and that Barry should publish his auditor's report as soon as possible.

Dave Turner asked as to why we had so much money in the Cuthbert’s Account.  He then proposed that we pay back 50% of the pledges now. Blitz explained that the original 22 pledgers had been written to and of those 5 required their money back, these had been paid.  The other 17 people agreed to loan their money for an additional year.  Ian Caldwell said that probably the only people who should be discussing this were the 17 people concerned.  Blitz said that only six of the 17 were present.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Dave Turner.
Seconded: Mac.
For 19, Against 4, Abstentions 9

Dave further also proposed that the new Committee consider paying back another 50% if the balance rises above £800 in the coming year.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Dave Turner.
Seconded: Mac.
For 24, Against 0, Abstentions 9

Dave Turner next asked about BMC membership.  The Treasurer replied that as no one had so much as mentioned membership, staying in BMC huts, High magazine etc he had not rejoined.  The AGM accepted that Blitz had not followed the letter of last year's proposal but appreciated the saving that had been made.  Dave also proposed that the new Committee review this decision.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Dave Turner.
Seconded: Phil Romford.
For 25, Against 1, Abstentions 8

Dave then asked about the high printing costs of the BB.  It was agreed that the next BB Editor would look into this.  Dave suggested that Alan Turner may be able to provide a cheaper service.

Bob Cork asked about the £10 we pay to Lloyds for looking after the Deeds to the Belfry.  Blitz suggested that as this was the only bank charge we incurred it was best left well alone.  Dave Turner suggested that we could take out a minimal mortgage on the Belfry and use the Deeds as security.  Blitz also suggested they could be lodged with the Club archives.

Jeff said that he would take Cuthbert’s fees in advance at the time of booking in an attempt to not lose income.  Blitz accepted that some of this might be in the accounts as donations from the box on the Changing Room.  The fees would be £1 per head.

Blitz said he would investigate income from hut keys and that this would be presented to the auditor in the final accounts.

Blitz suggested that we acknowledge the free fire extinguisher service that we had received this year, with grateful thanks to Ron Wyncoll.

The subject of Belfry electricity was next raised.  There was a long discussion as to the possibility of operating a coin meter system for the lights.  The debate went around in the usual ever decreasing circles as per previous years until Mac suggested that this was another job for the Committee, that the electricity consumption be reviewed in the light of the removal of the storage heaters.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Mac.
Seconded: Rob Harper.
For 29, Against 3, Abstentions 3

Somebody, probably Dave Turner asked about Central Heating costs.  Blitz answered that no oil had been bought this last year but that we would need to buy some soon.  Nigel explained that he buys in bulk, at discount, for the Belfry and a consortium of houses.  It was suggested that the Committee look into buying the oil prior to the imposition of VAT in April.

For provisional acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Rob Harper.
Seconded: Tim Large.
For 32, Against 0, Abstentions 3

Auditor's Report

The Auditor was unable to comment on the accounts for the reasons given in the Treasurer's report.

Ian Dear Memorial Fund Report

Jeff gave a brief verbal report.  He stated that no grants had been given in the last year.  He undertook to publish the conditions for a grant.

A proposal was then made by Mac that the BEC do not transfer any money to the IDMF this year.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Mac.
Seconded: Rob Harper.
For 34, Against 1, Abstentions 3

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.

Proposed: Phil Romford.
Seconded: Rob Harper.
Carried unam.

Librarian's Report

Previously published in the BB.

The Treasurer read out a letter from the Librarian saying that he is not happy to continue.  It was requested that the new Librarian publish a list of Library contents and any new acquisitions.

For acceptance of the report by the meeting.
Proposed: Mac.
Seconded: Mike Wilson.
Carried unam.

St Cuthbert’s Report

Blitz said most of this had been covered already in the Treasurers report.

Dave Turner said it was essential that we must accept that the St Cuthbert’s Report is going to be a long term issue.

Andy Sparrow asked what was happening about a locked box, locked with the Cuthbert’s lock, containing Cuthbert’s reports that leaders could sell.  Nigel said that this was in hand again after our experiences with the Belfry thief.

The Treasurer again drew the meetings attention to his report.  If it were not for the 17 pledgers who are carrying the club we would be £1800 in debt.  Everyone must sell them.  Rob Harper suggested repaying the 17 people's pledges in Cuthbert’s reports.

1992-93 Committee

Bob said that only six of last years Committee were prepared to stand again additional nominations were required.  Blitz informed the AGM that Jingles had been proposed and seconded by Martin Grass and himself but not in sufficient time to meet the AGM deadlines.  A nomination for Estelle Sandford was also received from the floor.  Her nomination was supported by the Committee.

For acceptance of Jingles to the Committee.

Carried unam with 2 abstentions.

For acceptance of Estelle to the Committee.

Carried unam with 3 abstentions.

It was then announced that Estelle was not yet a ratified member and in the light of this information the vote was called again.

For acceptance of an un-ratified Estelle to the Committee.

Carried unam with 1 abstentions.

Post                                                       Proposer                              Seconder

Secretary:            Martin Grass.              Phil Romford.                       Mac.
                            Carried with 1 against.

Hon Treasurer:     Chris Smart.               Mike Wilson                         Andy Sparrow
                            Carried with 1 against and 1 abstention.

Caving Secretary:                                 Jeff Price                             Mr. Nigel   Blitz      Carried unam.

Tackle Master:     Mr Wilson.                  Phil Romford.                       Mac.                     Carried unam.

Hut Warden:         Estelle Sandford.         Babs Williams                      Mike Wilson          Carried unam.

Hut Engineer:       Tim Large.                  Phil Romford.                       Mr Nigel.
                            Carried unam.

BB Editor:             Jingles.                      Rob Harper                          Jeff Price
                            Carried with 1 against and 1 abstention.

Membership Sec  Mr Nigel.                    Brain Prewer                        Mac
                            Carried with 1 against.

Possible commercial interests/conflicts of interest were then asked to be revealed.  Chris Smart declared that he was no longer the Treasurer of the Council of Southern Caving Clubs.

Non-Committee Posts


Post                                                       Proposer                              Seconder

Librarian:             Dave Turner.               Mike Wilson.                        Mr. Nigel.
                            Carried unam.

Auditor:                Barrie Wilton.              Mac                                    Mr. Nigel
Carried with 1 against and 1 abstention.

Mid Week Warden: Brian Prewer.
                            Carried unam.

Archivist:              Alan Thomas.             Mac.                                  Mr. Nigel
                            Carried unam.

At this point Rob Harper suggested that the Chairman be instructed to discuss the club archives at length with Alan Thomas.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Rob Harper.
Seconded: Chris Smart.

This was then amended that both Alan and Bob come to the next convenient Committee meeting to discuss the archives.

For acceptance of the proposal by the meeting.
Proposed: Barry Wilton.
Seconded: Mr Nigel.

The Chairman over ruled both the proposal and the amendment and no vote was taken.

MRO Team Leader: Phil Romford and Alan Turner were elected by the Committee as joint team representatives earlier in the year, to be reviewed at the AGM. Both stated that they were happy for this sharing to continue.  The AGM accepted this arrangement.

Carried with 1 abstention.

CSCC Representative: This was deferred to AOB.

Members Resolutions

  1. The BEC instructs the BEC Committee to invite only one guest per club to its annual dinner.

Proposed: Nigel Taylor. Seconded: Tim Large.

Nigel explained that inviting guests (from three other clubs and the guest of honour) incurred a penalty of over £1 per ticket buyer.  There was considerable discussion and Dave Turner suggested no guests at all.

For acceptance of the resolution by the meeting.
For 32, Against 1, Abstentions 1

  1. This AGM instructs the BEC Committee to write to each life member to ascertain their current interest in the club

Proposed: Nigel Taylor. Seconded: Brian Prewer.

This was originally part of a larger proposal that sought to request a voluntary annual donation from the life members.  In the discussion this second part was withdrawn.  The feeling of the AGM was that these members did now represent a financial liability but that we have made a moral, if not a legal, contract with them and this must be binding.

For acceptance of the resolution by the meeting.
For 20, Against 11, Abstentions 3

  1. This AGM instructs the BEC Committee to receive only cash type subscriptions.

Proposed: Nigel Taylor. Seconded: Tim Large.

Nigel explained that in the last year there had been an element of confusion as to whether or not certain members were paid up or not, their subs having been paid in kind.

Blitz and Quiet John agreed that there had been some confusion but Blitz thought that the system was workable and that we did in fact benefit overall. The AGM disagreed.

For acceptance of the resolution by the meeting.
Carried with 1 Against and 1 Abstention.

Any Other Business

Direction of the Belfry

This had been held over from Matters arising from the 1992 AGM minutes.  There was a general feeling, following a heated discussion that we should not be pursuing exclusive private hire of the Belfry at any time, but that we should not exclude commercial use midweek on a commercial basis. Mac said that this was very much against BEC feelings in the past.  He suggested that as this AGM was inquorate then this subject needed a full airing in the BB.


The Treasurer proposed no increase this year.  After some discussion it was proposed that the subs were kept fixed at £24 single membership and £36 joint membership for people paying between January 1st 1994 and January 31st 1994.  The early payment discount to be £20 single membership and £30 joint membership for payments received up until January 1st 1994.  The AGM proposed that the full membership fees would stand after the January 31st 1994 deadline but the renewal of membership was at the discretion of the Committee.

Proposed: Nigel Taylor. Seconded: Tim Large.
Carried with 1 Against and 1 Abstention.


Alan Turner asked Blitz to confirm that he and Kirsten Turner were joint members as she did not appear on the membership lists.  Blitz said that joint membership had been agreed at the Committee meeting immediately following the 1992 AGM and said he would look into the membership lists.


Andy Sparrow asked about the club's representation at CSCC and said that little if anything was published in the BB.  This was accepted by all.  Bob Cork informed him that this was not a fixed position but that the Committee usually sent either the Secretary or Caving Secretary.  Blitz added that as the ex CSCC Treasurer he had kept an unofficial eye on events over the years.  Andy proposed that the Committee nominate a representative so as to ensure continuity.

Proposed: Andy Sparrow. Seconded: Mac.
Carried with 2 Abstentions.


Brian Prewer informed the AGM that car theft was a major problem on Mendip with up to 17 in a single weekend. Action is needed by both cavers and ramblers and he requested that the BEC send representatives to any relevant meetings.  The AGM fully concurred with his sentiments.

Use of the Belfry

It was proposed that no accommodation would be offered or tolerated in the loft.

Proposed: Alan Turner. Seconded: Dave Turner.
Carried with 6 Abstentions.

Belfry Break in

Nigel informed us that a gentleman had been arrested last Monday and was helping the police with their enquires concerning two thefts at the Belfry earlier in the year.

There being no other business the Chairman closed the meeting at 1614.


Diving In Oman.

From a letter from Bob Hill written earlier this year .....

Oman has a mountain range along its North-East coast with peaks up to 3000m.  A lot of the surface geology is limestone and the potential for caves is enormous. Unfortunately due to the rather waterless environment, cave development is not what it might be.  Having said that though, I have had some very interesting trips to a few sites and am planning some more.  Distance and terrain are a problem here and the sites visited up till now are all close to roads.

Khaf Guhbrat Tanuf is a small stream cave about 1Km long with a year round stream of VERY warm water. It is much too hot in just a thin overall in this place.  A single stream passage is entered at the resurgence and followed for about 600m through one duck to a flowstone pitch of about 6m which is easily free climbable. After another 300m or so the cave used to end at a sump, obviously perched, with a good stream issuing from it. This was obviously worth a dive but I had to wait until my then caving buddy, and local BS-AC club diving officer, had left the country as he promised to expel me from the diving club if I started dragging my pony up this passage.  He went to Norway a few months ago and I revisited the sump soon after. A dive of about 8m (no depth) leads to 30m of passage followed by the stream coming out of a six inch diameter hole in the wall, which may yield to digging.

That same weekend I visited Khaf Hoti, a 5Km through trip in large cave with several abseils, classic fossil and stream passages and a 1km swim near the end.  6 hours fun caving and a lot of Batshit (Batspiss' brother????-Ed.) near the resurgence exit make this an interesting and moderately sporting trip.

Recently I have turned my attention to an altogether more challenging prospect.  Near the village of Tiwi along the coastal track to Sur is a large sinkhole about a kilometre from the sea. The hole is almost certainly the result of collapse and is completely flooded.  It is also very large and very complex with many big chambers and passages. It has been dived in the past to a depth of 60m with a major passage still going down and has had many visits from sports divers, all on base fed line, looking for something challenging - and they all come back with a different description of what it looks like.

I have managed to recruit a couple of like minded souls and we have started by laying line in one direction through a layer of absolute nil vis about 5m thick (this varies) to a depth of 16m in the direction of the sea.  The major problem is now the depth and we are building side mounted kit sets to carry twin 10 or 121 cylinders as we expect to be operating at 30m + before we have laid much more line.

More news on this if; I make any

Bob Hill.


"Them Muddy 'Oles"

By Chas.

"You won’t get me down one of them muddy 'oles."  This is more or less what I said to Robin (Gray), less some emphatic expletives, back in 1976, when I accompanied him and a group of our sixth formers to the Mendips.  They had come to cave, I to booze.  Seeing them emerge, each looking like "The creature from the black lagoon" from what looked to me impossibly small, wet and rocky holes, I could not imagine how seemingly intelligent, normal people could actually enjoy this activity.

I had like most tourists visited walk in, walk out show caves on various holidays.  Cheddar and Wookey Hole, St Clements Cave in Hastings, the Blue John Mines at Matlock Bath, Crystal Canyon Cave in Sequoia National Park California.  There were too, many evenings spent playing Skiffle, listening to Jazz, boozing and wenching in Chislehurst Caves Kent but that's another story.

In recent years, coming down to Somerset and visiting The Hunter's, meeting the amazing collection of characters who congregate there, a disturbing and nagging notion had started to grow ... maybe I might like to look into one of them "muddy' oles" after all.  I was teetering on the edge of sanity.  After a lengthy period of hints and begging (not quite on bended knee) my old mate Robin said we would go and have a look at Sandford Levvy .... "We'll see if you like being underground and take a few snaps.  "One of my raisons d'etre being photography, I readily agreed.

So we set out on a sunny Sunday afternoon in June this year.  We drove to the dry ski slope near Sandford, parked and kitted up.  I forced myself into a strange one piece garment decorated with soil and well placed holes.  It seemed two sizes smaller than me and was, it appeared, a PVC coated nylon oversuit.  A site helmet with Petzl lamp and battery pack, my walking boots and I was dressed as a caver, so far so good!

"It's somewhere along this path" says Robin.  We hiked for what seemed like hours along a densely wooded hillside, my oversuit emitting vast amounts of steam!  "I think we've missed it somehow" admitted Robin.  With a merry quip of "Oh how very vexatious!" on my part, we retraced our steps.  A good three quarters of the way back, and nearly hidden by a fallen tree and a kids 'camp' we found, at last, a lowish hole.

In we slid, me on my backside.  The well placed holes allowing a quantity of mud and water to lubricate my nether regions but it didn't seem to matter.  We were in a tunnel, both high and wide, partly paved and about three or four inches deep in water, at least my boots didn't leak.  We strolled to the far end of the passage not attempting to climb a fixed chain in a cross tunnel, as we were assessing possible points to take my snaps.  A light tripod, the camera set on B, the lens at about f8 and 35mm on the zoom range. We fired two small flash guns several times for each of about fifteen exposures, of which two or three are not too bad, great room for improvement.

After what seemed like a few minutes but was in fact two hours, we emerged into daylight. "Where are we going next" says I with the enthusiasm of an innocent.

A few days and a phone call later, Robin and I now joined by Trev, set out for a trip to a "real" cave.  Clad this time in a furry undersuit beneath the oversuit (which was now four sizes smaller than me!!) helmet and wellies.  Across a field and into a bushy dip, there was an iron box which we entered. Down the fixed ladder into a "great Big Cave". "Gor Blimey!!!"  I thought as I followed my companions down and saw, horrified, Rob ooze into and disappear through what looked to me a tiny mousehole with a floor of loose stones and water.  A silent prayer and I slid my bulk after him.  To my great surprise and relief I found that I barely touched the sides and roof.  With much bashing of elbows, knees and helmet I slid, slithered, stumbled and clambered along with my easy moving friends.  Trev and Rob called out the facts that we were in various places with some odd sounding names (well known to those bothering to read these ramblings) . I took their words for it, they had, after all, been there before and anyway I couldn't see!!  Two layers of clothing and many layers of Butcombe inspired flesh equals a very hot lad.  This, coupled with cold cave air caused my specs to achieve a total opaqueness. Sliding my glasses down over my nose and peering over them I saw, in very soft focus, some attractive formations. I voiced my enthusiasm greatly, although somewhat incoherently as my nose was being pinched by my specs.  I sounded like one of life's less fortunates.  Arriving a little breathless at the terminal choke, I was amazed at Trev and Rob's touching faith in me as they suggested that I should lead out!  I have since come to the conclusion that this was so I could be shoved from the rear if necessary.  Off I went, being told to go left, right and up at the appropriate places.  Sweating profusely and gasping like a leaky boiler, with a bit of squeezing and a lot of climbing, a dip through the 'mousehole' and we arrived, all too soon, at the iron box.

What fun!!  I was hooked, even next day when every joint and the bits between were aching.  Bruises and scrapes appeared in picturesque patches on elbows, knees and other places. Sanity had now given way to a troglodyte madness, I had enjoyed myself greatly.

About a fortnight later I was back in Somerset from my S.E. London home, to play washboard with 'The All Weather Welly Band' at Priddy Folk Fayre.  It was, of course, only natural that another trip was mooted ... to the realms of subterranean Mendip.

Robin suggested that Goatchurch Cavern would be different to my previous excursions, it was ... !!! The nearest I can get to a description is Piccadilly Underground station in the rush hour .... hordes of people, it seemed, rushing hither and yon.  Rob and I entered by the Tradesman’s entrance, he lifelined me down a fixed rope and away we went.  Dodging groups of boys and girls of assorted ages going in many and various directions. One group was being led by 'Snab' and we heard his dulcet tones reverberating from above and below, left and right from time to time.

The surfaces we passed over (with, in my case, very unusual parts of my anatomy) were, by much use, glacial in their slipperiness.  Excellent, I found, for going down.  Getting up was going to be something else though.  Rob called out various names.  Caves seem to have some oddly named sections.  One, "The Coffin", loomed large in my fevered imagination.  I was, of course, by now boiling hot and misty spectacled again.  All too soon we were on our way out/up.  It was then I found that my boots had minds of their own, wanting to go mostly .... down!!  With the help of Rob's knees, shoulders, head and whatever else of him I could stand on, we arrived at the entrance again, in spite of my ineptitude on the rope.  I emerged hot and totally shattered; a great morning’s fun.  Next morning ... the agonizing joints and muscles, bruises and scrapes appeared in glorious Technicolor and almost stereophonic sound!

Another visit to Somerset, this time to play with the band at "Folk in the Bath" at Cheddar and to celebrate Anita and Snab’s 25th anniversary.  The opportunity for more caving was demanded by me. Rob said "If there is some rain 'Swillies' should be good."  England were losing a test match to Australia so, of course, the heavens opened for several days.  The following Wednesday evening, among several vehicles parked on Priddy green, our party assembled, six in all.  Along with your chronicler were Robin, Trev, Davey and two lads from Felsburg, Jens and Amin.

Once kitted up we set off across the fields to the entrance of the famous Swildons Hole.  (I'd seen this cave, with many "faces" from The Hunter's, on 999 on the telly so I knew it was famous.)  In we went, a distant sound of rushing water accompanying my wheezing.  Not a great deal of water at first but as we got further down the others made gleeful sounds of approval as the streamway gushed over our wellies.  The way was, of course, all downhill, so slithering and crawling, down we went.  My knees, elbows and bum coming into frequent violent contact with unyielding rock, as did my helmet, without which what remains of my brain cells could have been totally disposed of.  Then came a ladder pitch, a new experience for me.  It was, of course, in a waterfall so I twisted and spun down, with a reasonable impression of Niagara entering first one ear then the other.  Not content with flooding my memory, it entered my oversuit (still several sizes smaller than me) went down my neck and filled my boots from the inside.  The next highlight was Double Pots.  I negotiated the first with "great skill" only to become a fully baptized "Son of Mendip" at the second.  Completely wet, inside and out, my glasses by now had become almost vision proof so all was exceeding well!  Real caving ... Great fun!!

After much squeezing (and bumping by me) as well as straddling apparently bottomless chasms and wading through raging torrents we arrived at our goal for this trip .... Sump One.  By this time I was puffing and blowing and feeling somewhat "Cream Crackered", unlike my companions who had barely broken sweat.  With closing time looming up at a fast rate of knots I realised with horror that it would be all uphill!!  After a short "blow" and a bite of snickers, we proceeded up.

Those familiar with cycling will have heard of a rather rude sounding condition .... "The Bonk". It is far from being a state of sexual arousal, but is a total draining of the body's energy.  I was at the start of the inclined rift when it struck!!  I tried to ease myself up only to get progressively lower, not what was intended at all.  My legs seemed to be made of jelly as did my arms and I began to feel a little apprehensive.  With a little help from my friends (a lot in fact) at length the obstacle was, at last conquered. Then with frequent rests and pounding heart I gasped squeezed and clambered onward, until there was a strange smell to the air and we surfaced. A hurried paddle through some particularly soft and aromatic cowpats back to the changing room at the farm.

Wet things off, dry things on and a quick dash to The Hunter's for a reviving pot of Butcombe and many thanks to the other chaps for helping an exhausted, bruised but very happy idiot.

I should now confess to those who haven't met me that I am not quite in the first flush of youth, but am a lumpy fifty three year old who in March of 1992 had a quintuple heart bypass operation.  (There is a rumour that when the surgeons opened me up and proceeded to reroute my plumbing, a B.E.C. sticker was found in my Aorta!!  All I want to know is how and who??!!)

It would seem to be a rather daft time to take up a "dangerous sport”, but I have never been cursed with a lot of sense, so why not?

I have now also visited Waterwheel Cave and Brownes Hole and can't wait for the opportunity to get down one of "Them Muddy  Oles" again.

Chas; a new and proud member of the B.E.C


My Mate He Is a Caver

Sung to the tune of "The Smuggler" by Ian Woods.

My mate he is a caver, he goes down underground,
He squeezes and he thrutches, new passages he's found,
Oh and he climbs down them pitches with his hands upon the line,
Is a mendip caver down where the sun don’t shine.
He goes down to Bat Products to buy his caving boots,
And then he visits Kermit to get his oversuits,
There is carbide in his Fisma there is charge in his NiFe cell,
He knows about them ladders and S.R.T. As well.

He goes down into Swildons all on a Friday night,
Where he do find a boy scout, who hasn't got a light,
Oh and if he cannot move him he do give him the heave ho
Then goes to Brian Prewer - to call the M.R.O.

On Wednesdays he goes digging, with Snablet and with Jake,
He takes his vacuum cleaner down into Barrow Rake,
And when he turns it on - it sucks out the CO2,
Then Alex tumbles down the pitch and turns the air quite blue.

The Wessex and the Shepton, he treats them with disdain,
But he do like the Hunter's, yes he'll go there again,
Whenever he is able he is caving fast and free,
And ask him which his club is, he'll say the B.E.C.

My mate he is a caver, he goes down underground,
He squeezes and he thrutches, new passages he's found,
Oh and he climbs down the pitches with his hands upon the line
Is a mendip caver, down where the sun don’t shine.

Jingles '93.



By Fish.

The Earth hath bubbles, as the water has and these are of them.  Wither are they vanished? 

Macbeth Act 1. Scene 4.

Dan gazed out from "Crook's Rest" control into the mists of Avalon's Vale, today the view brought him no pleasure.  As acting controller of the 2020 Wookey push, he was feeling old and alone in having to give account for the loss of Faith Gail Berg.  She had not died, Dan could have coped with that ,Gail's existence had simply ceased.  Time and again he had followed her inertial guidance track on the log, only for it to stop to be replaced by the computer's infernal green blip.  Gail's young life's trace had ended 0505 December 24 whilst complying with a routine decompression stop at the shallow/deep junction, shortly after her last communication recorded on the vocal log, a request for the relay of a video to help her pass the time.  Subsequent searches had failed to reveal her body or to shed any clues as to her disappearance so close to journey's end.

Dan felt her loss sharply. Gail had arrived out of an undergraduate's obscurity and it had been his help and sponsorship that had gotten her the coveted diver's status.  Physically she was both powerful and slender, her face held striking pre-Raphaelite Celtic features, excepting her hair, no not long red tresses but worn short, within millimetres of her scalp.  It gave her a boyish air which coupled with an impish playfulness had driven the boys wild. Gail was also fiercely independent, if she had a lover she was discreet, choosing to keep her Mendip peers strictly at arms length.

Another part of her crafted mystique was her beloved 916 Ducati, archaic transport today but her skill with the motorcycle could not be denied.  Gail had passed him on several occasions whilst riding around.  Dan recalled vividly the image of the curved arc of her back arched gracefully between the seat and the bars, her thighs forced astride the scarlet fuel tank.  En passant she would raise the tip of her boot and scribe a small circle in the air, as to whether the gesture was in greeting or contempt, Dan could never decide.  Then in a single fluid movement she would lift her lithe body up onto the foot pegs, her pert derriere climbing up over the saddle as she hauled the bellowing beast down into the next bend to exit in a crimson blur.

The stage within Dan's mind darkened with the fading of the Ducati's booming exhaust.  Enter the magician who could procure her release with spells weaved in the logic of coincidence and fate that cohabits so uneasily with reason in the twilight of all our minds.  Dr Sefton A. Longwood.  Imperious Sefton whose intellectual arrogance had commanded Dan's subordination.  Sefton: thin features, thinner hair and an unpredictable tight bound aggression that he shared with his father and Dan hadn't liked him either.  By training Sefton was a geophysicist and he was also Mendip's current geological guru.

"Know anything about Bouger anomalies?" Sefton had asked.  Dan had responded in the negative and received the condescending answer, “It's a geology student's trick question, not your province exactly, is it Dan!?"  Sefton continued with a layman's definition by describing them as local gravitational distortions that occur when bodies of greater or lesser density are found within strata of uniform density, a useful fact to have at hand when prospecting for metallic ores and you happen to have a gravimeter.

Sefton went on to explain that his current research was into the lighter, or to give it its proper term, the' negative Bouger anomaly’.  He was exploring the known chain of both negative and positive Bougers beneath Avalon and their relationship with Mendip's southern scarp.  He was hoping to prove that the negative anomalies were remnants of the paleozoic era's subduction event that had given birth to the batholiths of magma that had pushed up through the fresh devonian sediments to form the granite moors of Devon and Cornwall.  Further north he was proposing that plutons had become trapped like hot air balloons filled with magma floating beneath a sky of tougher carboniferous rocks and were now the sources of radioactive gas that had leaked out into the Mendip area.

As Sefton's survey progressed he could not help but notice that his work had been duplicated several thousand years before him.  He noted that the focus of each negative anomaly always coincided with one of the area's mystical sites.  Bemused by the fact that wherein he was armed with state of the art technology, his ancient predecessor's unerring accuracy was achieved with little more than a hazel twig.

Thus Sefton had been drawn into realms of mysticism, of laylines, legend and how those Celtic priests could manipulate the fabric of time at the sites of what they believed were the gateways to the other world.  Sefton began to toy with the relationship of observed time within an increased field of gravity according to the laws of relativity and contemplated what time was inside a negative Bouger, perhaps those old beliefs should not be so easily and curtly dismissed.

Sefton began a speculative search of the areas literature and was rewarded by serendipity whilst browsing through Savory's journal of early Mendip exploration and the brief mention of something that had happened on a visit to Wookey in 1911.Savory did not dwell on that occurrence although he went on at length to give reasons for similar phenomena witnessed at a later date.  The author does however refer the reader to his report on the 1911 incident that was to be published in Balch's forthcoming book on the cave.  Intrigued, Sefton turned to Balch's book to find the eerie account of a phantom party that could be heard but not seen.  In Sefton it sparked an uncanny parallel with the C.D.G.'s record of their first fatal accident at Wookey.   Could it be possible that Savory's party had been eavesdroppers on a tragedy that was not to happen until almost 40 years into their future?  Had Balch inadvertently published what Sefton was seeking, evidence of the distortion of time?  Sefton produced a photocopy of the original caving diary entries made by other members of the 1911 expedition that he discovered in the M.N.R.C. archives.  At a glance, Dan could see that the entries would not have made sense in 1911, they included diving terms that did not exist in the English language until after 1920.  The ensuing silence between them was broken by Sefton pronouncing, with a distinct chill in his voice, "Just such an event may have put Gale out of phase from our observed time frame!"

Sefton strode up to the survey of the known cave mounted on the wall and declared "Do you know what this place possesses other than legend, well I'll tell you Dan, although the cave lies within a Bouger anomaly that has an overall mean value of -1, its focus is one of the most powerful yet discovered!"  Sefton pulled out a notebook and began a series of quick-fire questions, stabbing a finger at the survey all the while.  "Is this the place called the junction where Gale was last known to be?  The time about five after five a.m.?  This feature here, is it the limestone - conglomerate boundary? “He muttered aside "God's transistor."

Sefton said "Do you know what occurred just after five 0 clock this morning?  It was high tide Dan, maximum local terra gravitational flux, that was the trigger for the 'event' and Gale was unfortunately in its field."  He continued "Savory gave us not only the date in 1911 but also the time, from the diving logs we can derive the time when that hapless party dragged a lifeless body onto the floor of the third chamber, on their respective dates both times correspond with the high tide of the full moon!"

There was concern in Dan’s voice as he asked how Gail fitted into Sefton's scheme of the universe. Sefton slowly drew his breath, considering his answer, "Gale is still here in Wookey, only the clock she now observes is that of the sun, sidereal time.  She will be aware that she has left Wookey 20, she suspects that her dive and communication systems are down, her onboard computer will dictate the need for a decompression stop and she has decided to do so at the shallow/deep junction.  Gale can approach but never quite reach that nexus as that rendezvous is now in her past. She will dimly know that something is very wrong but her awareness is that of the cave diver, no past, no future only the battle for 'now'!"  Sefton’s eyes were glazedly fixed on the survey as he said  "Oh yes, time's sea will give up its dead, come the tides of spring's equinox her body will be found, corrupted, her gas supply long exhausted; it's not the first time it has happened is it Dan?"

Dan detected an unasked request in Sefton's soliloquy, very gently he said “Sefton, what are you trying to tell me to do?"  Sefton swung his gaze back onto Dan, he became animated saying “You have three hours, the next high tide is the spring tide of the new moon and with its extra power Gale could be released or, "Sefton hesitated .....”  Be replaced, beyond that window of opportunity it doesn't matter as we both know that Gale will dead.  Sefton turned suddenly for the door, its closing slam was like a blow that left Dan in a confused desolation.

It was high tide minus two hours; Dan decided that he needed to be out in the sharp, razored air, he needed to think and decided to walk along the path toward the cave.  It was on the path that Dan encountered Gail's familiar, the pale winter light glinted on its scarlet bodywork ... wheels of fire! Involuntarily Dan reached out to touch it, to be reassured by its existence.  Out of the mist Sefton appeared beside the machine, his former arrogance had deserted him, now he seemed as mad as Lear on the heath, blinded by an incomprehensible personal grief.  Sefton held out a time worn envelope saying "I swore that I would never do this but now there is no choice.  Dan recognised the handwriting, it was addressed to him and as he read Sefton added "My mother died two years ago, Gale is my sister, and she chose to use her grandmother's maiden name."  Dan looked up from the letter and watched the slip sinking sun, there would be no visible moon tonight but her invisible force, now, was ever rising towards her unforeseen zenith in the beckoning darkness.  Dan shuddered; knowingly he had to relinquish control of his own destiny to that of the moon and sun's conspiracy.  Sefton was right, there was no choice.

"Crook's Rest, I have arrived at 13!"  Dan could hear within the confines of his C. D. G. systems helmet, the muffled clack of a distant keyboard back at the base.  The sound helped to suppress the feeling of surreality that threatened to push him over an unknown edge.  The swim to 13 had been made on automatic inertial guidance, a mistake, as it had given him time to reflect, turning the journey into a pilgrimage through his own life. Dan's mind became refocused by the ever changing time base on his face plate, ticking away at him in dumb accusation. In his vision's periphery another series of figures on the head up display reduced his existence to mere numbers within this Mendip hill.  The coordinates of his being calculated by satellites to be logged by computers; his slightest movement would allow the third decimal place to race and its spinning helped to induce a whirl of vertigo as he peered down the unearthly shaft into the mystery of the subterranean river axe.

Dan hated the virtual reality screen's representation, it was real enough to make him feel as though he could fall into that river below him and be swept away forever.  He squeezed a sensor in his glove; his eyes immediately narrowed in the fierce white light of the helmets lamps as they obliterated that hellish view.  Dan squeezed his glove again, now there was only the dark glow of the instruments bathing his features in a deathly pallor.

In the darkness Dan thought that perhaps this thirteenth chamber did not exist, it had never existed, until that fateful night when its existence meant life or death for its discoverer, perhaps it was like an Aboriginal song line and that Davies' sheer will to survive had dreamed it into being.  This barren place served no purpose other than as a refuge.  Then Dan became overwhelmed by a feeling of foolishness, had Sefton lured him here with his weird reasoning?  A young Hamlet's revenge on a man whom he perceived as wronging the memory of his father.  Dan was about to call up control but hesitated, the time base display had stopped its ceaseless run, it was now locked in a flashing insistence; it was time!

The soft whine of hydro turbines filled the shaft as Dan began his slow descent into the stygian river. A phrase from Dylan’s parable of betrayal between the sexes ran as an endless loop through his thoughts “Lilly had taken all the red dye out of her hair" ... it was the point in the narrative when Lilly and Rosemary are revealed to be one person and Dylan acknowledges the loss of his wife as a lover as she becomes transformed into the Goddess Isis; custodian of all that men most fear within the feminine mystery; desire, fertility, the future as yet unborn and ultimately redemption. Isis daughter of the moon, sister, wife and mother of Osiris; Dan too was ensnared in her web.  In 13's green twilight Dan saw a vision of Clare as he had known her all those years ago.  A small dark look of doubt flickered across her face; an eerie backlight illuminated the highlights in her long auburn hair.  She turned towards him with a radiant smile of recognition.  Dan yearned to reach out to her, to tell her why they had parted, he unknowing that she was carrying their child.  Gail was his daughter, he knew that now.  The circle was almost closed, Dan owed God a death and if this was the tryst that fate demanded, he was prepared to give his life so that Gail might live.  Clare's spectral vision began to fade from his consciousness, only then did he become aware of the sound.  Dan's throat tightened as pain stabbed across his chest and terror strangled the fibre of his being.  He could hear it plainly now as it came towards him.  He knew that sound so well.  The thin metallic hiss followed by the explosive rumble of exhausted compressed air.  A sound forgotten by cave divers for almost 20 years.  Whoever it was below him was not of this time.


B.E.C. Team Practice Rescue

Saturday 4th December 1992.  1000 hrs. at the Belfry.

The objectives of this day are to familiarise ourselves with a range of equipment held in the MRO store. Brian Prewer has kindly agreed to allow us an open day, provided that this doesn't conflict with a real rescue!

I would like to see all new members attend this day, since you may not have seen or used much of this specialist gear.  It may also be useful to older members who are out of practice.  In particular we will look at the Hot Air Kit, Entenox and the stretcher.  An emphasis will be on the proper implementation of the drag sheet and stretcher and, carrying/hauling techniques.  If it is available to us, we will learn to use the Molephone and conduct correct and effective radio procedure.

After looking at and using this kit, we will progress to a surface exercise, where we can put some of the ideas into practice.  This will be doing rigging and hauling in the nearby trees where, we can all clearly see what is going on.

After an early evening break, Andy Sparrow has offered the use of the Gym at the Wells Blue School.  Andy will have a scaffold erected, from which we will demonstrate various lifting methods. We are all free then to try these methods and form our own conclusions as to their efficacy.  This session will be from approx 1900 to 2100hrs.  Then, if you really have to, you may go to the pub!

This session costs you nothing, but will offer you valuable knowledge ready for the real thing. PLEASE MAKE THE EFFORT.

For further information or to book your place, contact Phil Romford


I am aware that some people may have a problem with Saturdays.  I would therefore like to obtain a consensus of opinion on whether we run these sessions Saturdays or Sundays.  Perhaps we should alternate?  Please give feedback.


Phil Romford.


Odds & Sods ...

This page, which will hopefully become a regular feature, is a forum for any notices, announcements or info members wish to make public.... Lost & Found, For Sale etc. Feel free to make use of it.

The AGGY key is now kept in the locked key cupboard at The Belfry. See Committee members to book it out.




ROBIN GRAY would like to invite all cavers to view an exhibition of paintings, drawings and photographs (by Robin) at the Woodspring Museum Gallery, Weston-Super-Mare.  Every day between 10.00 and 5.30 from Weds 3rd November until Sun 28th November.

Signed copies from original drawings will be available.... could make interesting Xmas pressies.


GLENYS GRASS would like it known that as a result of the 'uncalcified ads' run in the last B.B. offence has been taken.

The editor would like to apologise unconditionally for any problems that may have been caused to individuals as a result of this.  It seems that the telephone number published for Glenys' visiting massage service was incorrect and business has been lost due to this.  The Correct number (for those of you suffering from 'Executive Stress' and in need of 'relief') is WOOKEY 12  0 0 OOHH.


Warmbac Oversuit .... missing from The Belfry.  New Warmbac with yellow & blue patches on the bum, if anyone has inadvertently removed this please contact Jingles C/O The Belfry.


And Finally ..... overheard at the A.G.M. from a certain chairperson (who shall remain nameless) to a certain new librarian (who shall also remain nameless) .......

"Look, I wrote the F***ing Amendment .... so shut up!!!"

Nice to know the membership still flexes its intellectual muscle from time to time!