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The ‘Vibram Question’ is very much in the news this month, some very interesting correspondence has been received and is listed below.

We are very pleased to welcome M. Robert de Joly the President of Societe Speleologique de France as a contributor to our pages.

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Apropos de Semelles pour les Speleologues

On permettra peut-etre a un speleologue qui a trente and d’experience de donner son opinion sur les semelles des bottes d’ explorations.

Le semelle qui a le moins d’adherence sur le sola que nous trouvons sous terre ext certainement celle en corde que l’on’ trou ve sous les ‘espadrilles’ (d’origine espagnole). L’article enduit toute la surface et on a l’impression d’eter sur une patinoire.  Le crepe a pourtant une tenue remarquable sur la rocher sec!

Le VIBRAM tient un peu mieux que le cuir, trop lisse qui est en general garni de clous lourds et d’une adherence tres relative.  On a employe sous terre des chaussures de montagne avec be bord garni de clous TRICOUNIS. Elles tiennent un peu mieux que celles don’t on vient de parler. Mais ne conviennent pas sous terre, car la pression exercee sur chaque clou est beaucoup trop faible a cause de leur grande surface d’appui.

A notre avis, le srelle qui tient de beaucoup le mieux est cel le equipee comme nous le faisons depuis de numbreuscs anees.  En voi ci la description:  La semelle est en cuir, et sur elle visse avec des vis ‘Parker’ au nombre de 7, une bande d’actor de 2m/m, 5 d’epaisseur et de 3c/m de Largeur.  Cette bande porte 6 pointes d’acier nickel-chrome (alliage de 12/8) lengues de 3 centimetres bien acerees.  Ces pointes judicieusement reparties, sont rivees sur la bande.  Le talon de la botte est en ‘Vibram’, de maniere a amortir les chocs sur le roher.  Le talon est visse dans le cuir avec des ‘Parker’.

Lorsq’on est eqipoee de telles semelles on a une adherence remarquable sus tous les terrains, meme sur l’argile molle ou la glace et celui qui ne les pas essayees on ne peut se faire une idée de la securite qu’elles donnet.  Seoles ces semelles conviennent aux speleologues car elles sont particulierement adaptees a leur travail.  Elles ne glissent jamais sur les barreaux d’echelles.

R. de Joly.

Concerning Boot Soles for Speleologists

By – Robert de Joly.

A speleologist with thirty years experience may perhaps be permitted to give his opinion concerning boot soles for exploration.  The sole which has the least adhesion on the surfaces which one finds underground is certainly that of the crepe rubber.  This is almost dangerous as that of rope which one finds on espadrilles.  Clay affects the surface and one feels as though one is on a skating rink.  Despite this, crepe has the most remarkable adhesion to dry rock.

Vibram is a little better than smooth leather which is generally garnished with heavy nails and with a very variable adherence.  We have used underground climbing boots with the edges of the soles garnished with Tricounis nails.  These grip rather better than those of which we have previously spoken, but are not ideal underground because the pressure placed on such nails is much to small owing to their large surface areas.

In our experience the sole which gives much the best grip if that fitted as we have made it for many years. It may be described as follows: -

The sole is of leather and to it are screwed with No.7 Parker Screws a steel band some two millimetres thick and three centimetres wide.  This band carries six points of nickel chrome (12/8 alloy) three centimetres long, well sharpened.

These points judiciously spaced are riveted to the band.  The heel of the boot is Vibram so as to cushion shock, and is screwed to the leather with Parker Screws.

As long as one is fitted up with these soles, one has a remarkable adhesion on all ground, even on clay or ice, and those who have not tried, have no idea of the safety which they give.  Only these soles are suitable for speleologists, for they are particularly adapted to their work.  They never slip on ladder rungs.

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I would like to comment on Dennis Kemp’s “Reply to Question in BB. 96” in the series “Can anyone tell me why?”

Dennis concludes his reply by saying that the older generation of climbers and the Mountaineering Association consider it unwise to learn to climb in anything except nails, and that this attitude is due to ‘erroneous, short-sighted, and prejudiced thinking’.

I don’t know whether of not I belong to Dennis’s ‘older generation’ but, I learned to climb in nail boots in pre-Vibram days.  Since then I have climbed in most footwear – nails (clinkers and ‘trikes’) rubbers, Vibrams, socks and even bare feet.  I believe each type of footwear suits particular sets of conditions, but no footwear yet invented is the best possible for all conditions.

I could go on and detail the conditions for which I believe each form of footwear as most suitable, but I will simple list those conditions in which I believe nails to be superior to Vibram.

(1)                Slimy, smooth rock, such as you find all over some British cliffs in winter, and in the damper places in summer.  Nails bite through the slime; Vibrams skid off.  Two such cliffs (among very many) are Lliwedd and Ben Nevis.

(2)                Stretches of mixed rocks and vegetation at a high angle in wet conditions.  This type of going is often met with ‘off the beaten track’ and frequently contaminates footwear with mud.  After moving from vegetation to rock, in Vibrams the adhesion is uncertain and treacherous, but again, nails cut through the ‘grease’.

(3)                Ice and snow on British mountains.  I know that in the Alps crampons are invariable used with Vibrams on hard snow and ice, but not everyone who climbs in Britain in winter owns a pair of crampons; anyway, they seem rather ponderous equipment for a weekend’s ice climbing in Britain, and they are not always too well suited to British ice, which is often more brittle than the Alpine kind.  Vibrams without crampons give poor security on an ice-step, but nailed boots (especially edge nailings) give good security, as the metal bites into the ice in a way which rubbers never can.

I would not claim that nailed boots are the best possible footwear in conditions (1) and (2), only that they are better than Vibrams; felt soles or woollen socks are best on slime.

For all dry rock and for clean rock it is true that Vibrams are better then nails.  The difference between the two seems to me to be that nails, while worse than Vibrams in the best conditions, deteriorate much less in poor conditions.

There is little variation in the security afforded by nails under all conditions, much more variation with Vibrams.  This scarcely makes nails safer footwear for beginners and justifies the M.A. in teaching people to climb in them?

The Exact technique required for placing nailed boots on the holds properly is surely an added recommendation.  Footwork is the more difficult thing for a beginner to learn for the use of the hands is instinctive.  Once a beginner has learned to place nailed boots correctly, he can use any other form of footwear to the best advantage.

Finally, I should point out that I have no connection with the M.A.  I simply feel that Dennis has been over-critical of nails.

Paul Burt.

G.B. Trips.

In order to avoid further disappointment by cancellation of G.B. trips, will members who wish to go on these please let Mr. A. Collins, Caving Section, 27 Gordon Road, Bristol. 5. have their names three (3) weeks before the date of the trip.

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Owing to the call-up of John Stafford to H.M.F.  Pat Ifold has been co-opted as climbing secretary.  His address is, Sunnyside, rectory lane, Compton Martin, Som.

Tackle Notice

It has come to the notice of the Tackle Officer that 25-ft. of dural ladder is missing.  If anybody knows of its whereabouts or has heard of people using tackle, please contact the Tackle Officer – Mr. I. Dear, 1 Fairfield Villas, Henrietta, Bath, Som.

Caving in Derbyshire – Part IV

By Stan Gee

Castleton – Bradwell Area.

So far, in our journey through Derbyshire we have not encountered any of the really large cave systems, that I mentioned in my first article.

However, we are now fast approaching North Derbyshire and the Major cave area.

Here is situated the vast bleak limestone moor of Bradwell, and it is on the moor or on the fringes of it that the large cave systems are found.

Obviously, to give details of all the caves in this area would be a job of gigantic proportions. I hope therefore, to mention as many as possible and to give details of the more important ones.

We commence out trip at the village of Sparrowpit and travel north along the Castleton Road.  From here, we get a wonderful view of the Peak Fault, the point where the limestone meets the shale.

The first group of caves we encounter are situated one mile from Sparrowpit, and are the forerunners of a series of swallets approximately twelve in number, that extend along the Peak Fault almost to Castleton and are known as the Perry Foot Swallets.  The first three swallets are accessible for a considerable distance and though of a tight nature afford some good sport. These are known as Perryfoot Pot, Sheepwash Swallet and Gautries Hole, and are situated on the North-West side of the Castleton Road.  The remainder of the swallets although very active only extend for a short distance. The one exception is Giants Hole which is the Master System and this I will discuss later.

One mile further along the Castleton Road there is a large quarry, and half a mile South-East of this lies the gaping abyss of Eldon Hole.  This is Derbyshire’s most famous cave and also the most awe inspiring, its lengths history is steeped in mystery and folk lore and of course it is reputed to descend to the fires of hell itself.

The entrance is approximately 100ft. x 20ft. and is descends to a total depth of nearly 300ft.  The entrance pitch of 200ft. terminates on a scree slope, that leads through a tight squeeze into a large chamber some 90ft. high.  The hole was visited by the early lead miners, and it is reputed that a mine shaft buried underneath the scree leads to further chambers, there is however, no concrete evidence to substantiate this theory.

The Castleton Road continues from the quarry and half a mile further on a track on the left leads to Giants Hole.  This was once a cave of approximately 300ft. and for years it defied the attacks of certain parties, but late last year the nut was cracked and the result - 1½ miles of entirely new passages, with a strong possibility of further extension. More details I cannot give as I have not yet visited the new extension.

Back to the main road again, and on the East side there are two main systems, so close together that it would seem that must connect, and yet there is no obvious connection. These are the Oxlow-Marsh Hill System and Nettlepot.

The Oxlow-Marsh System is typical of the majority of main caves in this area, namely it is entered by old lead mine shafts and passages.  Oxlow Cavern consists of a series of large caverns linked together by shafts, it descends to a depth of approximately 500ft. and its chambers extend East and West.

Marsh Hill Mine is situated just above Oxlow and is again entered by a mine shaft.  It descends through a series of shafts both natural and mined and connects with Oxlow at the Waterfall Chamber; Oxlow then terminates at a siphon in what is known as Pool Chamber.

Not 200 yards South East of Oxlow is Nettlepot, Derbyshire’s deepest pothole and second only in the British Isles.  The first pitch of 60ft. is narrow and difficult, but the second pitch of 120ft. is fairly easy going.  This terminates on a wide ledge in a large cavern known as ‘The Grand Canyon’.  A further pitch of 40ft. leads to the bottom of the canyon and to the edge of ‘Elizabeth Shaft’.  From here canyon passages extend left and right, and in the right or ‘Stalactite passage’ is situated ‘Crumble Pot’

Elizabeth Shaft drops in two pitches of 100ft and 180ft. and terminates in a large cavern.  This was the end of the system until two years ago when the extreme dangers of Crumble Pot were braved, so making the total depth of 520ft.  There are numerous passages and shafts in this system and there is much room for extension.

Quite close to Nettlepot are two deep and relatively unknown shafts.  One of these, Mountbatten Hole lies approximately 400 yards South East of Nettlepot and has been excavated to a depth of 180ft., at present no other passages have been discovered.  The other one is known as Rowter Mine.  This lies some 800 yards North East of Nettlepot and is relatively unknown due to the landowners adversity to caving types.  However it is reported by the few who have made the descent, that the first shaft is 225ft. deep and mined, and that further natural shafts exist below.

We are now standing directly above the Winnats Pass, Derbyshire’s ‘Cheddar Gorge’, and though not as large as cheddar is quite impressive in its own way.  To the left is the massive bulk of Mam Tor, while in front the Hope Valley unrolls into a large plain, the horizon of which is capped by the pointed cave of Win Hill.  The village of Castleton nestles at the foot of the Winnats Pass, and a high ridge surmounted by the 20th Century Peveril Castle, covers the southern approach.

The Winnats Pass itself, contains several small caves and right at the bottom on the southern flank is the entrance to the impressive Speedwell Cavern. This is a show cave, but is outstanding in that the trip through is by a boat, along a mined canal.  It is possible to explore for a great distance past the tourist section, but the necessary permission is difficult to obtain.

Between Mam Tor and the Winnats pass lies a piece of high ground known as Treak Cliff, and it is here that the famous Blue John stone is found.  The actual Blue John Mine is situated at the foot of Mam Tor and is of course, a show cave.  The peculiar nature of this coloured Flour Spa has caused much controversy in Geological Circles in the past, but it is now generally accepted that the colouring is caused by deposits of petroleum oil seeping into the Spa.  It is also claimed that Treak Cliff is the only place in the world where Blue John is found.

Quite close to the Blue John Mine is the very ancient Adins Mine, reputed to be Saxon, it is mined along a natural fault, descends to a considerable depth and is extremely unsafe. Inside it is a maze of shafts and passages and its sough or drain level emerges at Castleton, over a mile away.

Also close to the Blue John, but on the Eastern flank of Treak Cliff, is another show cave known as Treak Cliff Cavern.  Discovered by the miners it contains several Blue John veins and an extremely fine array of calcite formations.

We are now nearing the end of our journey, but before creeping back to another 8 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 13 hours of Army life I should like to take you to the two main resurgences of this area, namely – Peak Cavern and Bagshawe Cavern.

Peak Cavern is situated in an impressive gorge directly below Peveril Castle, it is of vast proportions and is not yet fully explored.  A large section of it is commercialised but the greater part is a ‘types’ only, the way in being through a series of water traps. In wet weather water from Speedwell, over a mile away appears at peak, while the real Speedwell resurgence is outside Peak, at a spring called Russet Well.  I am given to understand that the cave divers have actually made contact through the two caves, but on this I can only quote hearsay.

Bagshawe cavern is situated two miles away at Bradwell Village, once a show cave it is now only open to cavers, on payment of a small fee. Mr. Revel, the owner – a lead miner and a caver himself is ever anxious to show off the wonders of his cave to genuine types, and he has an interesting stock of tales to tell.  The cave is entered by an old mine shaft, and after a series of mined passages reaches a natural pot known as The Dungeon.  Here a passage right leads to the upper series – ‘New Bagshawe’, ‘The Glory Hole’ and the River Bradwell.  The lower series is very extensive, and in parts arduous but the whole system is well worth a visit.

Well there it is, we have travelled through Derbyshire and touched on most of the major caves, there are of course, many others and I could write more.  However, if anyone is contemplating a trip to Derbyshire or would like further information, I would be only too pleased to help, I might even venture into a show cave myself.

Private Enterprise in East Africa

It was noted with interest that Tom Fletcher, well known visitor to Mendip recently advertised in a club circular that any member who ‘happened’ to be making a tour of East Africa would be welcome to join him in caving or climbing expeditions in the area. We suspect, however, that the invitation may involve a little manual labour in his grapefruit plantation or stuffing his big game trophies.

Mudlark

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One of J.B. Wright’s favourite stories is of a well known Lakeland character whose habit was to walk of an evening over to the ‘Scafell’ for a pint.  Returning home once at sunset, he imagined he heard steps behind him – looked round and was somewhat startled to observe a large bear at some distance to the rear. Fortunately he spotted a signpost ahead, climbed up and muttered “If only ‘e don’t look oop t’road which way t’goe”. His survival, presumably testifies to bear’s illiteracy.

Mudlark

With the alliance of fashion and commercialised Skiing, it is to be wondered whether we have long to wait for this sort of thing to appear in B.B.

“Grimpe et Apres-Grimpe”

Climbing news: Fashionable outfits previously stocked only by leading French and Austrian specialists are now available to all at Lawrie’s, Millet’s – Government Surplus Stores, and most junk shops which seem to be holding a Closing down sale for the last three years.  Remember, pants – unless black, must have matching tops, and too violent tapering may lead to disastrous consequences, unless you are the sort of girl who stays at the bottom of the cliff with a camera.  (N.B. the Snowdon railway, despite climbers’ protests, still does not run in winter, but there is a welcome rumour of a lift being installed in the Devil’s Kitchen).  Always keep your accessories highly polished – karabiners, pitons, ice-axes, and nails, whether you wear homely clinkers, or the more daring French Tricounis. Complete your ensemble with a sprinkling of artificial snow in your hair, and sew silver sequins on your anorak to look like stardust.  Reputation for elegance will be yours before you take your first fall on the Milestones (Ordinary).

Ultra-newest outfits are one-piece – if you can’t afford to buy yours at Lillywhites’. B.A.C. boiler-suits are easily adaptable.  Fur trimmings at neck and cuffs add extra chic.  The Cloche hat, essential counterpart to this outfit, is as popular as ever. If you are lucky enough to have picked one up in Skye, it will add an air of battered respectability essential to the well-dresses ‘grimpeuse’.

For evenings – a leopard skin chenille skirt received many admiring glances last time I was at Tyn y Shanty, and – Climbing News – the Michelin outfit, ideal for the evening stroll to Dungeon Ghyll or Capel Curig, (this is sometimes worn during the day too, as it is more shock-absorbent than the one-piece boiler-suit).  Simple to make from old coloured down sleeping bags. There can be nothing so attractive to the eye as a group of multi-coloured ‘Michelines’ sampling the frosty night air beside the moon-glittering expanse of Ogwen. Patterns available on request.

J.R.G.

Report of A.G.M.

by Ron Newman

Under the stern eye of its perennial chairman, before whom even the most aspiring filibuster wilts, the gate went up on the 1956 A.G.M. with just over thirty starters – the bare quorum.  Dan, the bit between his teeth and time spurring him on, galloped though the minutes of the 1955 A.G.M., jibing occasionally at the Hon. Sec’s bad writing. These were duly signed and, the straight over, the field thundered towards Valentine’s in the shape of the various officers’ report.

The Hon. Sec. reported that the vicissitudes of enrolment and departure boiled down to a total of plus six for the year’s membership strength.  The Hon. Treasurer, in the same person as the Hon. Sec. (Bob avoids becoming an Unholy Trinity by only one Hon. Office) embarked on the financial report. The incongruity of a mass of individuals, each tottering on the brink of insolvency, yet, collectively, able to show a credit balance of sixty-seven pounds, must have staggered many of us. This figure should be even greater next year, for the Hon. Sec./Hon. Treas. was heard to disclose privately that the cost of dinner tickets included ‘entertainment’: the only entertainment provided was by Alfie, and , presumably – gratis.  After referring to the somewhat precarious legal position of the Belfry, which it seems has infringed nearly all the local Town and Country Planning byelaws, the H.T. concluded with an appeal for prompt payment of the new year’s subscriptions.  This dreaded pronouncement, following the normal struggle for financial survival further aggravated by the seasonal expenses, must produce the same effect as Pharaoh’s decree about the same number of bricks, but without the provision of straw, upon the Israelites.

Caving, Climbing and St. Cuthbert’s reports all recorded good progress.  The Devil’s Punchbowl has yielded a new system.  The Climbing Section has been successfully tackling some of the most severe climbs in Wales and Skye; in the near future two parties are bound for skiing in Norway; and in Glen Coe one party took part in rescue operations, though the normal role was reversed to that of rescued. St. Cuthbert’s is now permanently laddered in many places and its formations are undamaged as yet, though care is still needed.  The same restrictions to visitors apply.

The Belfry claimed 911 bed-nights, and increase of 165.  Of these a hard nucleus of some 30 regulars contributed 546.  Not so strange to relate, up to Easter, bed-nights totalled only 70, at which some surprise was expressed.  One does not need surely to be statistically minded to work out the correlation between the number of bed-nights and the advent of Spring! There are some questions as to the suitability of Belfry water for human consumption, in view of the establishment of a pig farm in the precincts, but the squeamish were rapidly re-assured. After John Ifold’s delightful anecdote about pilgrimages to the Belfry water supply, those still thumbing through the ‘Home Doctor’ for the signs and symptoms of Dysentery, Typhoid, Paratyphoid and other water borne diseases might or might not derive comfort from the knowledge of the Belfry’s water alleged sanctity.

The legal beadles (the perverts who spend hours dissecting the Clubs’ constitution for possible loop-holes and then envisage highly improbably hypothesis of the required size and shape to slip through the loop holes) had so far lain low.  There was a little haggling over the Librarian’s report, but, fortunately, it did not develop into the usual time devouring straining at gnats.  The library now boasts 30 new editions, plus several years’ quarterly issues of ‘Mountain Craft’ shortly to be acquired from the Climbing Section.  Beware all members who do not return the books they borrow; their sins of omissions will shortly be followed by amerciament.  This arbitrary fine will be imposed after 4 free weeks allowed for reading, at the rate of 2d per book, per week.

The tackle report, in the absence of Ian Dear, the officer responsible, was not available, though the chairman thundered forth on the subject of damaged tackle, no matter how stupidly, for Heavens Sake tell the T.O; the B.E.C. is not interested in censuring anyone who damages tackle – however irresponsible – as ensuring that people’s lives and limbs are not endangered by using faulty tackle.

This concluded their reports.  The only member’s Resolution was that H. Balch be elected an Honorary Life Member. The only criticism this provoked was to the effect that it should have been done years before.  It was then pointed out that the B.E.C.’s 21st birthday will fall in May this year, and should be suitably celebrated.  After some pleasant bantering about the finer distinctions between various sorts of alcoholic celebrations it was decided tentatively, to put the matter before that august body – the Committee.  The question of address lists of members cropped up again; last year’s will appear shortly and will be followed up quickly by a revised list.

After a few false alarms and excursions, tea was ready at last.  Tea over, it was proposed to discuss Item 13 of the 1955 minutes. This ominous proposal, pregnant with promise of long verbal exercises, hair splitting and straining at gnats was quite sufficient to send the writer scurrying away for home, with many an ‘Om mane padme hum’ for the intrepid Dan!  If anyone cares about item 13 of the 1955 minutes perhaps the Hon. Sec./Treas. would like to add a sentence or two.

Additional Points from the A.G.M.

The total attendance was 36 members.

Hon. Sec’s report included reference to our 21st birthday, I mentioned that in May 1935 H. Stanbury and workmates went to Goatchurch and subsequently founded the B.E.C.  It is appropriate that our coming of age is celebrated by first of our ‘Reports’.  It was estimated that a 100 guests would be at the dinner (98 turned up).

The Treasurer’s report stressed necessity for minimum expenditure.  The purchase of the Belfry site will absorb surplus of £67 which of courses included £30 in Loans.  Any gifts would be welcomed.

After tea – sandwiches and cakes, the new Constitution and Rules were discussed.  The sub-committee had done their work very thoroughly and only a few minor amendments were made.  As soon as spare funds are available the new ‘Constitution’ and ‘Rules’ will be printed and circulated.

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An exhibition of cave photographs is being held by M.N.R.C. in Wells Museum at Whitsun 1956, from 19th – 22nd May inclusive.

It is open to any individual and we hope to have photographs submitted which are representative of all the caving and potholing areas of Britain.  It is not an inter-club competition in any way, and an exhibitor need not be a member of any club or society.  There is no entry fee.

Two Bronze Medals will be awarded.  Closing date for entries is 27th April, 1956.  Details and Entry Forms may be obtained upon application (enclosing a stamped addresses envelope from: - The Exhibition Committee, c/o The Museum, Wells, Somerset).

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A request for cave photographs has been received from Salvatore Dell’oca the Director of Rassegna Speleologica Italiana, and is appended below.  All replies to this request MUST be through Bob Bagshaw. –

I wish I could have some pictures of your caves, especially if concerning the most interesting carstic phenomena;  I need these pictures in order to draw a speleological publication with a large world wide documentation;  I ask the copyright for the pictures you will send me;  I will naturally mention the Author and his nationality.  I thank you in anticipation for everything you will be able to do; as for me I shall do my best to give all the Italian speleological news you require; in the meanwhile, accept my best greetings.

Salvatore Dell’oca

1956 Committee.

Hon. Sec. & Hon. Treas.,         B. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Rd, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
Caving Sec. & Hut Warden,     A. Collins, 1 Kingston Place, Clifton, Bristol. 8.
Assist. Hon. Sec. & B.B.  Publishing,      A.J. Sandall, 35 Beauchamp Road, Bishopston, Bristol. 7.
Chairman.                              T. Setterington, 87 Kingston Road, Taunton, Somerset.
Belfry Maintenance Eng.,         M. Jones, 12 Melton Crescent, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
Ladies Representative,            Miss J. Osborn, 389 Filton Avenue, Horfield, Bristol. 7.
Climbing Sec.                         P. Ifold, Sunnyside, Rectory lane, Compton Martin, Som.
Assit. Hut Warden,                 C. Rees, 2 Burghill Road, Westbury on Trim, Bristol.
Tackle Officer,                        N. Petty, 12 Bankside Road, Brislinton, Bristol. 4.

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Hon. Ed.                                H. Stanbury, 48 Novers park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

 

A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR READERS ALL OVER THE WORLD

The Cavers’ Calendar.

The following is reprinted from a calendar issued by G. Platten in 1947, and was written by P.E. Cleator.

January                  Overhaul all tackle in preparation for the coming season.  Throw out old rope, sandwiches, cigarette ends, etc.  Rather than waste any doubtful lumps of calcium carbide, thoroughly mix with your wife’s favourite bath salts.

February                Continue the overhauling process, polishing up boots, buttons, and cuss words.  Recapture your old form by assiduously practising striking of matches, the lighting of candles, the putting on of boots, taking of a bath, etc.

March                     Still in preparation for the strenuous days to come, place yourself on a strict diet of tallow and stale sandwiches containing genuine sand.  Consume no bread that has not been immersed three times in a convenient drain or gutter.

April                       Beg, borrow, steal or buy any remaining equipment which you have so far not been able to beg, borrow or steal.

May                        Ensure that dry batteries are not wet, or wet batteries dry, or alkaline batteries acid, or acid batteries alkaline.  Bear always in mind that primary batteries are of secondary importance, and that secondary batteries don’t matter a dam.

June                       Test all electric torch bulbs by dropping them on a tile floor of requisite hardness from a predetermined height of 7ft. 1in. Bulbs which fail to break should be tested again until success is achieved.

July                         Assure your suspicious spouse with glib, soothing, and convincing lies that nothing is further from your thoughts – so help you – than a dirty, filthy, low down, good-for-nothing caving trip with a lots of dirty, filthy, good-for-nothing cavers.

August                   Explain that you are gathering together and cleaning up all you tackle preparatory to selling it, that your dear, sweet, little wife may now buy that dress on which she has set her sweet little heart.

Draw £10 Stirling from the bank and replace as far as possible the equipment sold by your dear little wife to a passing peddler for the goodly sum of 6/3d.  Make a mental note to reduce the housekeeping allowance by 25% for the next ten years.

September            Increase the housekeeping allowance by 50% in the interests of world peace.  Solemnly promise across your black heart never again to deceive your poor neglected wife, who works her fingers to the bone whilst you gad about caving, boozing, swearing and generally having a helluva roaring time whilst your forgotten, neglected wife, who has devoted the best years of her life working her fingers to the bone, etc. 

October                  Stay at home washing dishes, peeling potatoes, scrubbing floors, and dusting shelves whilst your poor neglected wife works her fingers to the bone playing bridge, dancing and visiting the theatre.

November              Carefully place a .45 slug right into the centre of your dear little wife’s heart.

December             Make an early start for your long promised trip.  Approach the edge of the pot carefully, making sure that the noose is securely fastened.  Mind you don’t fall and break your neck.

Wedding Bells

The wedding took place at St. Mary’s Church, Great Sankey, on 15th October, between Francis M. Jackson and Raymond M. Wallis.  The bride wore a white dress of heavy brocade and was attended by two bridesmaids, one in pink and one in blue.

The bridegroom who, together with the principal male guests wore morning dress, was attended by his brother, Allan.

The reception took place at the Old Vicarage Hotel, Stretton, and the happy couple left later for a honeymoon touring the West Country.  Friends of the bridegroom, and there must be a few in the B.E.C., who do not know of ‘Pongo’, will be sorry to hear that a traditional B.E.C. send off, organised by your reporter and the best man was frustrated by the groom hiding his car and being driven from the reception in another car to pick it up.  He and his bride were well marked with confetti however.

Roving Reporter.

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Tony Johnson got married on the 19th November, to Miss Mary Edwards, at St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol.

Gone To The Dogs

Easter 1955 marked the tenth anniversary of my first visit to Priddy.  Sett, Pat Woodruff and I had gone down from Bristol University the previous summer and we wanted to break new ground in our caving.  We arranged to catch the 6.00pm train from Paddington for Westbury, change for Wells and push-bike up to Priddy.  When they opened the barrier at Paddington we rushed madly up the platform and bagged seats and flung our bikes in the luggage van.  In due course we found ourselves at Devizes, the end of the line, having got on the wrong half of the train.  We got as far as Frome and had to bike it from there.  Dead tired we eventually arrived at the barn about midnight. There was quite a crowd in the barn. I forget now who was there, but the Bridgwater Caving Club were more-or-less tenant in those days. Shorty, Fricca and Eame, Frank Seward, Ian Nixon are the names that come to mind – some now B.E.C. members, others now lost to caving.  Anyway, we were regaled with cups of tea and then dragged off down Swildons.  A full trip too, right down to the sump.  Of course, I fell in the double pot, but with a difference.  Those were the days of caving by candlelight.  I was totally immersed, barring one hand which held aloft a lighted candle rather like Excalibur.  It must have been 4 or 5 am, when we got out – to be reminded that the date was 1st April.

Sometime in the summer we joined the B.E.C., since when the club has of course been steadily going to the dogs!

The barn taught us the delights of hay as a mattress and blankets.  Normally it was the most comfortable couch one could want, but if Mr. Maine’s cows had been hungry lately, we shivered.  At all events, the advent of the first Belfry was not unwelcome. Relations with Mr. Maine were becoming a trifle strained and we were not too welcome with Tom Hulin at the ‘Vic’ after Campbell Mckee had words with Mrs. Weekes at closing time.  So instead we started to become civilised and after Easter 1947, we even had electricity due to the generosity of Uncle George giving us the generator and batteries via his nephews Pongo and Possle.  Really, things began to get disgusting and armchair caving set in.

For all the ‘good old days’ I cannot honestly regret the passing of the barn.  I think as much caving is still done and if we don’t now go round with hay in our hair we are none the worse off for it.  ‘Married Quarters’ are so much more respectable than rustlings in the hay.

Pongo

Notes on Cave Surveying – Part IV

By Alfie

The survey of the loop passage described in Part III is best tackled by a team of about 3.  Besides the compass, steel tape and clinometer, and a stout notebook and pencils will be required, and the party should be equipped with good lights.

Having reached the junction of the main loop passages it is found that, by standing on the floor of the main passage, it is impossible to see into the loop passage, owing to the height if this above the floor so a point is chosen in the main passage from which the corner and the bank are both visible.  A stalagmite on the floor marks the spot which is called Station 1. Station 2 is chosen on the top of the bank, where a line of sight down the loop passage may be taken, and a light set up at this point.

The compass is held at Station 1, and the reading of Station 2 is noted down -221o.  The distance is measured by means of the steel tape -8’ 5” and the clinometer reads +45o.  A light is now held at Station 1 and the bearing from 2 to 1 taken.  The compass now reads 40o.  This is known as the BACK BEARING of the reading from Station 1 to 2. Similarly a back reading on the clinometer can be taken from Station 2 to Station 1.  This reads -46o.  These back readings are taken as a check on the original readings from 1 to 2.

While still at Station 2 a third station is down in the loop passage on the corner, and is called Station 3, and the survey progresses in this manner.

A special arrangement is decided upon when the pot is reached and is shown in the sketch below.

 

From Station 5, the main passage can be seen again, and Station 6 can be seen from Stations 5 and 1. The circle is thus completed. Back bearings cannot be taken from Stations 4 and 5, owing to the impossibility of reading a compass from these positions backwards.

N.B.  It is very important, while on a magnetic survey to keep all iron and steel articles well away from the compass.  In this example, the steel tape must be kept well away.  A member of the party with a steel caving hat is a particular menace on a magnetic survey.

Alfie.

Caving in Derbyshire -  Part 3.

By Stan Gee.

The Mines and caverns of Matloch and Matloch Bath.

Matloch although quite large tourist centre, has only one commercialised cave.  This is known as the ‘Roman’ or ‘ Fern Cave’.  It is situated at the top of High Tor and is merely an open fissure with very passages.

It is interesting from a geological point of view, but otherwise it is not worth the hard climb up.

Another cavern of Matloch is Jugholes.  This is not commercialised but even so, is probably one of the most visited caves in Derbyshire.

Jugholes is situated on the Snitterton side of Masson Hill, and can be reached by taking the road from Matloch to Snitterton Village, and then taking the footpath through Leawood Farm direct to the entrance of Jugholes.

The caverns are divided into two sections, called for convenience, the upper and lower systems.

The lower system is entered by a long mine passage, after a journey through a number of mined and natural caverns, terminates in a shaft, that leads upwards for 20ft. to the entrance of the upper system.

These caverns while being devoid of formations are extensive and worth a visit.

The upper system is also entered by a series of mine passages, and an iron laddered shaft of 15ft., gives access to the cave section.

From the base of this ladder, the way on is through an amazing boulder choke.  This descends at a steep angle, to the cave proper.  This choke terminates in the main cavern which is some 100 yards long and has a small stream running along the bottom. There are several passages off the various sections, bearing such names as ‘Rocky Mountains’, ‘ Suez Canal’, and the Cellars.  The latter is the most interesting, and in the passage to the ‘Cellars’ are many fine formations.

When exploring these systems, care should be taken as they are extremely complicated.  It is also desirable to obtain permission to explore, from either the Derbyshire Stone Co., or from Operation Mole Speleological Group, the latter being something of an authority on the caves and are very co-operative.

Matloch Bath.  Is situated some 1¾ miles from Matloch and is a great tourist centre.

Here one can spend vast sums of money doing nothing at all.  Here everything to delight the tourist can be found, from medicinal waters, lovers walks, and boating on the Derwent, to ‘Exploring’ the mysterious caverns underground.  There are also, the famous petrifying wells, each one with its assortment of boots, bird’s nests, and pay boxes.

There are three commercial caves, now open, though there used to be as many as nine.

The present caves are, The Royal Cumberland Cavern, The Rutland Cavern, and the Great Masson Cavern. I do not think we need to dwell to long on these as they all possess the usual characteristics of a commercial cavern. i.e., a wishing well (guaranteed) and fabulous formations, each with a fantastic name.  There are, however of some interest and can be found in close proximity to one another on the heights of Abraham.

There are many other caves close by, which though not of large dimensions possesses some very nice formations.

One of these is the Devonshire Cavern.  This is situated on the north end of Upper Wood Rd., on a footpath to Bonsall.  It is one of the old show caves, and its passages, mostly mined, extend for a considerable distance, are extremely complicated.

This cave is in danger of collapse and great care should be exercised.

The Ball Eye Mine is another cavern that was discovered by mining operations.

It is situated on the road from Bonsall to Cromford and lies opposite the ‘Via Gellia’ Dale.  Although I have not personally visited this cave, it is reputed to be fairly extensive and to have a large amount of Calcite decoration.

Even though Matloch’s area is vastly commercialised, there is still much exploratory work to be done, and it is possible that entirely new systems will be found in the future.

Therefore may I raise my hat to those intrepid ‘Trogs’ who are prepared to brave the horrors of a tourist centre in the name of Speleology.

Stanley Gee.

Society News

The Duke of Mendip.

On 15th October last, His Grace was concerned in scenes of considerable rejoicing among the tenantry on his northern estates when he joined in matrimony to Frances, Lady Jackson. The ceremony was performed among much pomp and splendour at the cathedral of Great Sankey.  The tenants, peasantry and serfs were accommodated in the gallery, along with representatives of the press, etc., and were thereby restrained from mixing with the numerous representatives of the peerage, nobility etc., who crowded the pews reserved for their lordly persons.

His Grace was dressed with his customary elegance, the cut-away coat being of the very latest mode and was admirably set off by his exquisite carnation.  Only by the lack of his nailed boots and fisherman’s hat would his Mendip serfs have failed to recognise their Lord.

After the ceremony Their Graces left on a tour of the West Country and have now taken up residence in their new seat.

Wansdyke

by Keith Gardner.

Whenever the Bath or Bristol member goes to the Belfry he crosses, knowingly or otherwise, one of our greatest national antiquities – Wansdyke, a linear earthwork starting at Inkpen Beacon near Hungerford and ending in Gordano country over seventy miles to the west.  At some points en route it is an impressive monument rising high above its ditch (which is on its north side) while at other places the progress of agriculture has reduced it to a ‘ghost’ visible only from the air, under certain conditions.

For centuries the question of its age and purpose remained a mystery, answered only by legend and folklore, and even early Archaeologists such as Colt-Hoare and the Rev. Smith interpreted the evidence available in such a way that it was ‘proved’ to be pre-Roman.  More recent work however, initially by General Pitt-Rivers has revealed that it has actually been built in places on top of the Roman road from Bath to London.  A study of similar earthworks such as Offa’s Dyke which formed the boundary between Wales and Mercia, stretching from the Dee to Beachley, suggests that they were kingdom boundaries of the Dark Ages, i.e., that period between the collapse of the Roman economic civilisation and the final ascendancy of the Anglo-Saxon invaders.

This is the period when Artorious, the locally ordained Comes Brittaniarum was suppressing the bands of pirate invaders and generally organising military resistance in the absence of imperial legions.  He, being presumably well versed in Roman fighting technique, probably organised his ‘home-guard’ on Roman lines, using frontier walls and employing heavy cavalry units against the lightly armed footmen form the Elbe.  We are told of the many great victories which his superior methods produced and at the famous Battle of Mons Badonicus his men alone were responsible for the death of 960 invaders – a considerable number in those days. He became a legendary hero and gradually many stories of valour grew around him as the great King Arthur, gaining the tint of mediaeval chivalry though the imaginative pen of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

It is conceivable that Arthur or a person of similar office caused these boundary lines to be constructed all over the country, as he was not advisor to any one ruler but ‘fought with the Kings of Britain, being himself dux bellorum’.

For those who are interested in the itinerary of the dyke from Bath westwards it is roughly as follows.  From Odd Down it runs via English Combe along Stanton Prior Hill, to Stantonbury Camp, a fine but overgrown example of a hill fort, and then down the north-west slope to Wansdyke House, where the Keynsham road meets the Bath-Wells road.  Passing Compton Dando it goes to Maesknoll, crossing the A37 near the railway bridge south of Hursley Hill, and then to Dundry where it turns north to Long Ashton and over Failand to a point near Portbury Priory where it appears to end in flat alluvial moors.

Although for long distances it is merely a single ditch and bank there are numerous enclosures and other remains attached to it, which might possibly be vestiges of the occupation sites of the persons engaged on the construction.  Much field work needs to be carried out on these monuments and indeed the Society of Antiquaries are treating it as a prime research project and require assistance from local societies wherever these sites exist.

A Trip to Spitsbergen

by Thomas E. Fletcher.

It was through a chance remark In the ‘Tivoli’ in the Strand that I heard in May that a vacancy had suddenly arisen in the expedition to Spitsbergen, that a geologist climbing friend of mine has started to plan last Christmas.  Ever since I first heard of the idea I was keen to go, but doubted whether time would allow, as I was due to take up an appointment in Tanganyika in the middle of the year.  To add further difficulties there was the question of finance for a pure chemist can hardly make a case for financial support for vital research in the artic.  But now I made a quick decision to go and for the next 6 weeks there was one mad rush to finish off a thesis, arrange with the Colonial Office to postpone my date of appointment, pack up my flat in London, and prepare for the trip.  However, as always when one is presented with a dead-line everything gets done and falls into place and on the 30th July I sailed out of Newcastle bound for Bergen with the three other members of the expedition and some 10cwt. of equipment.

The party consisted of Jerry, a soil scientist who originated the idea; Fitz, a lecturer in Soil Chemistry at Aberdeen University on whom fell much of the organising, and Alan, a lecturer in Botany at Glasgow University.  It was up the Norwegian coast that we picked up Ola our last member – a Norwegian soil scientist.  The four days spent on the coastal steamer sailing north along the coast to Tromso were a sheer delight.  We called in for an hour or two at numerous ports at all hours of the day and almost the non-existent night.  The scenery is no doubt some of the finest in the world and the evening and night we sailed through the Lofoten Isles it was just too good to go to bed and miss. Much time was spent sunbathing and shutter clicking while some members of the party devoted a great deal of time furthering Anglo-Norwegian relations in a style that would be appreciated by any male member of the Club.  It was all rather sad when the coastal express pulled away from the quay at Tromso and left for the North Cape taking with it so many happy friendly faces.

We had three days to spend before the ‘Lyngen’ sailed on its 600 mile trip across the Artic Ocean to Spitsbergen, or Svalbard as the Norwegians call it.  Jerry and I had made plans to climb a mountain or two as near as Lyngen as possible the Lyngen peninsula itself being a mountaineers’ paradise but just too far away for us to tackle in such a short time.

We got off to a flying start in the morning and within four hours of getting up we had packed, eaten, bought food, hitched 25 miles, walked 2 or 3 miles to a base camp and were ready to start climbing.  Although on the 70th parallel it was as hot as if we were in Northern Italy, we had an excellent day climbing on a very fine 5000’ peak and traversing a most interesting ridge complete with abseils before we dropped down to the glacier again. The next day was just as good and the views of Lyngen were so splendid that I have resolved to go back to that part of Norway on my first leave.  We returned to Tromso in very fine form having had an excellent ‘aperitif’ for whatever was held in store for us further North.

However, little did we think that the ‘Hors d’Oeuvres’ was to follow so quickly.  As soon as we had left the sheltered waters of the coast and headed out towards Bear island the weather deteriorated and we had three days of hell, rather like doing Stoke Lane to the sun and back for 72 hours.  However, the fog lifted and the heavy seas subsided as we reached the sheltered waters of Isfiord on the west coast of Svalbard.  What a feast we had in store – first of all views of splendid mountains separated by gigantic glaciers coming down to the sea, and secondly breakfast the first meal we could eat for three days.  What an orgy!

The expedition was interested mainly in studying soil formations in a periglacial climate to see if any light could be thrown on certain phenomena occurring in Scottish soils. This did not necessitate travelling far from Longearbyen – the Norwegian administrative and coal mining centre – before setting up base camp.  So we crossed Advent fiord to where there were some old disused huts of a derelict coal working.  Within a day we had fitted up the old Directors office log cabin into a dining – sleeping room, kitchen, soils lab., and a botanical lab., and work started in earnest. At base I was chief cook and odd job man and turned my hand to a little soil chemistry.  However, of the four weeks we were in Svalbard I spent about three-quarters of the time away on three main trips into the interior.

The country around us was carved into mountains some 3000’ feet high with the snow line at about 1500’ and all the mountain valleys and corries holding glaciers.

It was superb country for snow and ice mountaineering.  The rock was sandstone and so severely frost shattered that climbing was out of the question, but there was so much general exploration to be done that, that did not worry me.  Within a couple of days or so I was off with Fitz on a five day 55 mile round trip. The area we were interested in from the scientific angle consisted of a mountain massif probably 25 miles by 15 miles surrounded by the sea on the North and West and separated from the rest of the mainland by two major valleys – Sassendalen and Adventdalen on the remaining two sides.  The massif itself was roughly bisected by a valley running due North and South.  Fitz and I set off with six days of food to circumnavigate the furthest half of our area.  We had perfect weather and at one time there was not a cloud in the sky for 48 hours so we had continuous sunshine.  We slept at trapper’s huts and one day while Fitz dug holes down to the perma-frost I went off on a solitary mission to an attractive peak at the head of a rather inviting glacier.  The views were splendid – ice and snow clad peaks in every direction as far as the eye could see.  To the North one could see the blue waters of Sassenfiord with its little ice floes and beyond the high ground where a Cambridge and another British party were operating.  The beauty was beyond description and the thought of those panoramic views still makes me forget all my trivial every day troubles. A highlight on the following day was when we put up on the coast a flock of some 100 -150 pink footed geese – a very fine sight indeed.  They had only just got their flight feathers again though some could not raise themselves from the water they were still able to flap along a great speed.

Within two days of our return to base, I was off again – this time with Jerry.  He wanted to camp in a certain valley in which he wanted to make a detailed study, and from a recce, he had decided that the glacier itself was the best camp site.  Luckily, I found an almost ideal site about 100 yards before we reached the ice.  It was about the only flat piece of ground in the whole valley and happened to be covered in moss, but was situated on the edge of a steep and very loose bank of moraine above the glacial torrent.  While the sun was on the tent it was heaven, but as soon as the cool air of the evening started to avalanche off the glacier it was a different matter.  However, Black’s Icelandic sleeping bags kept us warm.  While Jerry did his work, I had several days solid mountaineering – days of peak bagging in a sea of glaciers.  I justified my existence scientifically, though I financed myself and was thus responsible to no grant making authority, by collecting the highest flowering plants, mosses and lichens that I could find for the botanist – Alan.  Apparently new species and several new altitude records were established.

Within a couple of days of returning to base I was off on my last major journey, this time by myself. I wanted to look at the land to the south of us – to penetrate the Reindalen 25 miles away.  So at 9pm one evening, I set off across the fiord and reached my first trappers hut at 11.30pm.  The next day was the longest of the whole expedition; I was up at 7am and by 4pm I had reached the next hut several miles away, investigated several minor valleys on the way.  This was a high hut and after a meal I shot up to the ridge 1000’ above me with my collecting tins and bags, and a day’s emergency food.  The weather was still perfect, but it was obviously going to break as heavy clouds were forming in the mountains 40-50 miles away to the south. So I decide to make the trip to Reindalen there and then, along the 10 mile ridge before me.  It was a ridge I shall always remember – again the views of hanging glaciers, icefalls, superb peaks as well as of huge snow and ice fields were beyond description.  Being alone always enhances beauty to me, and certainly makes the memories more vivid. I reached the main valley of Reindalen at midnight and after wading a glacial river in which I almost became stuck, I made for an old trappers hut marked on the map.  When I came across a cache of food on the far bank left by a Cambridge – Sherbourne party I felt this was a bad omen.  Why did they not leave it in the hut?  Within the hour I knew the answer – an avalanche had destroyed the hut! Here I was at 1am with no shelter for the night, for I had left my sleeping bag at the previous hut, so I could not bivouac comfortably.  So I nibbled some food and pressed back towards the north after taking a few photographs, with 10 miles between me and bed.  I had intended returning via another ridge walk, but the clouds were beginning to form on the peaks nearby so I took the valley route (as if I wouldn’t at that time of night anyway!).  At 2am I came across a reindeer round a boulder at 5 yards range. I still don’t know who was the more startled.  We just stood and looked at each other, but by the time I was ready with the camera she had decided to make a retreat.  At 5am I reached the hut that I had left 12 hours previously and after a meal sank into bed after a 23 hour day.  3 days later I was back again at base.

The weather was more than kind to us in Svalbard, but it had a treat in store for us on return. The trip south to Tromso was two stages worse than that going north, but it relented as soon as we travelled further south and we had another excellent trip going down the Norwegian coast.  We disembarked at Tronheim and went to Oslo by train and then to Bergen and so back to England.

In Svalbard it was quite warm, rather like the high Alps – very warm in the day with coolish nights when the sun was low in the northern sky.  At night it never froze a sea level, but probably at 1000’ or a little lower in the shade.  However, it was getting decidedly nippy when we left at the end of August.  The miners were beginning to talk of a long winter and the joys of skiing as soon as the light came again in late February.  Flowers abound at the lower altitudes – the dominant vegetation being the white petalled flower Dryas Octapetalus, while the yellow bloom of the artic poppy occurred up to about 3000’.  We saw several specimens of musk-ox – a large shaggy sheep-like animal, artic fox and reindeer, but no polar bears.  The birds were varied, but not so plentiful and interesting as the veritable feast I had in Iceland the previous summer.  However, we had a pair of Artic Skuas, not above a mile from base. Every time we penetrated their territory we were duly dive-bombed, and a frightened experience it was at first, as these large birds dived within an inch or two of ones head and the draught of their wings beat into ones face.

The only caving I did was to look into an adit of one of the two major coal mines that the Norwegians run in the valley behind Longearbyen.  The mines, which of course, are in permanently frozen rock, produce some very fine coal – the only coal Norway has in her own territories.  The 2000 Norwegians are not the only miners up there, for there are a similar number of Russians in two other major mining areas.

Although Spitsbergen is only some 600 miles from the North Pole, it is quite easy of access.  A daily coastal steamer sails from Bergen to Tromso and on to the Russian frontier and returns every day taking twelve days for the round trip.  From Tromso ‘Lyngen’ makes four to five round trips northwards each summer, while coal boats ply between Svalbard and Norway as long as the ice will allow.  The cost of the whole trip was just under £80, of which £50 was travelling expenses.  However, the cost would have been up to the £100 mark if British industry had not played trumps and made us handsome gifts of watches and Weston meters to milk powder and salted peanuts.  However, it is not an inaccessible country.  With £80 and six or seven weeks to spare and the co-operation of the industrial world, a trip could be organised by a small group of keen types with relative ease.  If anyone wants any advice just buy an airmail letter and send it to me please at Amani, Tanga, Tanganyika and I will be only too pleased to put them in the picture. And of course, if time is no object, then the journey to and from Tromso could be arranged easily by trawler and so £30 could be saved.  What about a B.E.C. Svalbard Expedition soon…Why not?     

Thomas E. Fletcher

The Belfry Bulletin

This is the 100th issue of the B.B.  For this reason it is a bumper issue

Since its inception in 1947, the B.B. has been a link between the active and non-active, the ‘Home’ and ‘Away’ Club members – copies have been sent regularly to other societies both in this country and abroad.  Except on the odd occasions when circumstances beyond our control prevented it, the B.B. has appeared regularly each month.

We started by publishing two foolscap pages, but found that three of quarto size were more acceptable. It is my ambition to have eventually a monthly issue with more pages than the ‘normal’ issue, but this of course depends on the inflow of material, especially of a caving nature – although active, there is a strange reluctance to put this activity on paper – when this is overcome the B.B. will become larger.

Finally, I would like to thank all those contributors who over the years have helped to make the B.B. a success.

T.H. Stanbury.
Hon. Editor.

Personal

To Clare wife of Don Coase – a son – Jonathan.

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R.J. Bagshaw; Hon. Sec. & Hon. Treas.  56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol.4.

T.H. Stanbury; Hon. Editor. BB 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

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No resolutions for A.G.M. have yet been received.

The final date for the handing in of resolutions will be Friday January 20th 1956.  These should be sent to the Hon. Sec. at the address as above.  Any resolution received after thus date will have to be raised under A.O.B. at the A.G.M.

Caving Reports

A series of Caving Reports will be published from time to time.  The first will be ready shortly.  The title is the ‘Survey of Redcliffe Caves’.

The price of each report will be 2/6d.

 

The second report which is being prepared will be on St. Cuthberts Swallet.

Members wishing to receive these report regularly, can be placed on a circulation list.

Please send your names and addresses to the Hon. Sec.  Copies will be available to members and persons not on the circulation list.

Annual Dinner.

As you will see from the enclosed form the Annual Dinner, it will be held in the Star Hotel Wells on 28th. January 1956, at 7.0pm. for 7.30pm.  Please fill in the form and return as soon as possible.

A coach will run from Redcliffe, Bristol to Wells and will return to Bristol afterwards.  The fare is 3/-.  Please send to the Hon. Sec. for tickets.

An Instalments Plan is now open for the Club Dinner. Payments of 2/- and upwards will be accepted by the Hon. Sec.

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It will be of interest to Club members that our worthy Librarian has been sleeping alone in a tent with a rhinoceros of undetermined sex!  It was about 22,000 years old and he helped to dig it out, of Minchin Hole in Gower.

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Additions to Club Library.

Axbridge Caving Group Journal mVol.2 No.4.
Castles of Great Britain.
Roman Britain.
Sheffield University Mountaineering Club Cave Research Bulletin N0.2.

Newsletters of: -

B.C. & C.C. Vol.4 No.8 Sept. 1955.
S.W.C.C. No.13 Sept. 1955.
N.S.S. The News. Vol.13 No.9 Sept. 1955.

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I must apologise for the lateness of this issue, and secondly for the size of it.  I have been out of Bristol on a course for the last four weeks and rather than delay the BB more still I have cut out one page for this issue only

Next month will be the usual Xmas ‘Double’ number, in which I hope to make up for the short measure this time.

T.H.S.

Personal.

To Betty, wife of W.J. Shorthose B. Sc., the gift of a daughter.

Wallis – Jackson, on 15th. October at St. Mary’s Church, Great Sankey, Warrington, Pongo to Frances Jackson.

Note new Address.

R.M. Wallis, “Swildons” 343, Upton Lane, Widnes, Lancs.

Sundry Recollections on running a Week’s Instructional Course in North Wales.

By Ron Newman

Scene:  Halfway up a ‘severe’
Norman:  “Hello, Roger, What are you doing?”
Roger (casually, hands in pockets) “Oh, just un-roped to have a look around.”

Framed Text hanging above my bed: -
“He led them on safely”.                          Ps 78.55.

Read the Llanberis Guide’s description of Lockwood’s Chimney on Clogwyn-y-Bustach, then imagine the climb being done by five beginners in one large party, with Newman at the fore.  (May I quote the guide-book?  ‘Leader needs forty foot of rope and lots of patience’).

I am sitting in state on the top, tied to a small belay.  I have been up there for an hour already, and it is six hours since we started climbing.  So far, no signs of movement have come from below.  My party is strung out in an enormous line at forty foot intervals, some sitting on grassy ledges, some in trees, some in thorny jungles and others prowl about beginning to feel lonely.  My patience is nearly exhausted.  Action is required.  I hail my number two in best authorative voice.

Some ten minutes later, after mumbling darkly about climbing with morons who seem to be not only stupid, but also deaf.  I establish contact with Colin and inquire the cause of the delay.  He replies that he is waiting for Pete to come up.  I therefore instruct Colin to inform Pete that he should come up.  A pause of some ten minutes ensues while Colin establishes contact with another moron, also deaf.  Back along the slow, deaf and unresponsive jungle telegraph comes the news that Pete cannot move until Roger comes up.

To cut a very long story short, I finally instruct Colin to tell Pete to tell Roger to tell Bill to tell Nigel to come up.  (All this with suitable delays while inter-climber contact is established).

At this stage, I am seriously contemplating un-roping, descending, and climbing us again to see what all the delay is about.  This thought, however, I dismiss rapidly, for a little voice whispers to me that, the instant I un-rope, the next moron is sure to start up the last pitch, and I remember that the last pitch is greasy and exposed.

Suddenly I realise that I have been hearing a faint noise that sounds rather like a voice for about ten minutes.  On giving this noise my full attention, I discover that Colin has been trying to establish contact with the moron immediately above him for some time.  He tells me that Pete told him that Roger told him that Bill told him that Nigel said he was stuck.

It now dawns on me that I am hungry.  This is not surprising: it is now teatime, and I have not yet had my packed lunch.

I then remember that my sandwiches are in Nigel’s rucsac.  Somewhat annoyed, I decide to have a cigarette instead, so I put one in my mouth. I then remember that Bill, this expedition's only other smoker, has the matches.  I recall the guide book’s words:  “Leader requires forty foot of rope and lots of patience.”

N.B.  Readers will be happy to hear that benightment was avoided: only this ray of sunshine amid the gloom enabled me to preserve my sanity.

Ron Newman.

The B.B. is once again in very urgent need of articles.  The Xmas issue is assured, but the appeal for material for the ‘Centenary’ issue has only brought one article.  The Children of Israel had to have straw to make bricks.  The BB has to have material to live.  The B.E.,C. has to be active to live.  It is alive (I think) ergo it is active, but no one reading the BB would think so, at least, from the caving point of view.  If you are afraid of your efforts being ‘not the thing’, send it along anyway.  It’s the editor’s job to lick them into shape.

T.H.S.

*************************************

DON’T FORGET TO SEND OFF YOUR COMMITTEE NOMINATION FORM AT ONCE.

DON’T FORGET TO SEND OFF YOUR DINNER TICKET RESERVATION FORM AT ONCE.

*************************************

T.H. Stanbury        Hon. Ed. 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
R.J. Bagshaw,       Hon. Sec.  56, Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol.4.
A. Sandall             Hon. Assist. Sec., 35 Beauchamp Road, Bishopston, Bristol .7.

B. E. C. Nomination Form.

Tho undermentioned have already been nominated for the 1956 Committee:-

B. Bagshaw, M.Jones, J. Osborn,  A. Setterington, A. Sandall, P.Ifold, A, Collins, C. Falshaw, J. Dear.

If you wish to nominate any other members will you please couplets the Form below and return it to the Hon. Secretary, before the 30th November. Nominations cannot be accepted after that date.

To the Hon. Secretary, B.E.C, 56 Pensford Rd, Knowle, Bristol,4.

I wish to nominate the following member/s who has/have agreed to stand for election to the 1956 Committee of tho B.E.C.

Membership No. _________  Signed _____________

(Tear off here)

B. E. C. Annual Dinner.

The Annual Dinner will be held at the Star Hotel, Wells, Som., on the 28th January, 1956, at 7p.m., for 7.30pm., following the Annual General Meeting. Tickets are 10/- per head. Please fill in this form and return it with the appropriate remittance to the Hon.Secretary, 56 Pensford Rd, Knowle, Bristol,4., Not Iater than 10th January, 1956.

BB99.jpg 

The Editor and publishers join in wishing all our readers a very happy Xmas and a good year’s caving in 1956.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

B.E.C. Weekend Visit to Derbyshire

By Jack Waddon

Over the weekend 21/23rd October, a visit to Derbyshire was made by the B.E.C., a party consisting of: - Norman Petty, Ian Dear, Tony Rich, Russell Jenkins, Roy Bennett and Jack Waddon.  The various members of the party arrived independently by motor-cycle at Whitelee Farm, Sparrowspit, during Friday evening, after battling across Axe Edge in a bitterly cold headwind on the last stretch of the journey.

On Saturday morning a visit was made to Middleton Dale, which still retains some of its former grandeur, although long since despoiled by intensive quarrying.  Many of the old mine-workings in the side of the Dale run into natural rifts and caves, and a good deal of time was spent in exploring some of these, but it was not until every member of the party had acquired a quantity of mud on his clothes that it was thought advisable to change into caving gear!

In was apparent that a trial for lead was in the course of being made at one point on the North side of Middleton Dale, where a sizable cutting excavated along the line of a lode, there were quantities of Galena in large masses lying about.  It was here that a piece of Galena weighing about 20lbs. was accidentally dropped on the foot of Ian Dear, who complained hard and long in the time honoured manner of cavers.  From amongst the ‘gangue’ minerals in the lode, several samples of white Fleurite showing good crystal structure were obtained.  The most interesting find here was a piece of Iceland Spar (the transparent variety of Calcite) which fractured into perfect rhomboids, in which the characteristic phenomenon of ‘Double Refraction’ was amply displayed.

After Mrs. Vernon had reinforced us with a good lunch back at Whitelee Farm, we set out for Peak Cavern, where Les Salmon of the B.S.A. had arranged a trip for us to the inner reaches beyond the part shown to the public.  Les had brought three of his friends along with him, and about 4pm, we all entered the cave, and changed into caving gear.

Before proceeding beyond the tourist section it was necessary to drain a sump, which operation was successfully accomplished with the aid of several lengths of flexible pipe; these were first primed, after which the water in the sump was siphoned away.  It was about 20 minutes before the water in the sump dropped to a comfortable level, but even it was difficult to pass through without getting chest and stomach considerably- wetter than one would wish.

The cave now became more interesting and large, and after a while a 20ft. ladder pitch brought us into the main stream way once more, which consisted of a high rift passage with a barren water worn floor.  There was pronounced scalloping on the walls.  Splashing merely downstream we travelled some distance before meeting deep water and a long sump, though which the C.D.G. have passed from the end of the tourist cave further downstream.  Since we were not mer-men, we retraced our steps and went upstream, where, on a ledge above the stream, we came across a beautiful nest of cave pearls, about 9 inches across.  It contained a high number of white pearls, all perfectly spherical, and uniform in size.  (Each the size of a pea).

Pressing on further upstream, a duck was passed, beyond which another long sump, passable only to divers, was reached.  We returned the way we had come, noting several examples of oxbows in the walls of the rift, high above the present stream.

The sump which had been drained on the way in had now partially filled again, and almost complete immersion was involved in negotiating it.  After the howls of protest at this further ducking in icy water had died down the voice of Les Salmon (who had a thermometer) was heard announcing the temperature as being 46oF, which is of course colder than normal for British caves generally.  We were soon dry and changed, and we left the cave just on midnight.

One advantage of having done a very wet trip on Saturday was that there was a jolly good excuse for not caving on Sunday, so a long walk was taken along the ridge to Mam Tor.  Descending to the road, we passed the Temburn Odin Mine, where a couple of thunder flashes dropped down the deep shaft produced awe-inspiring echoes. Amongst the mining refuse were some examples of purple Flurite with perfect cubic crystals.

Since we were near the Blue John Mine (an extensive show-cave first discovered by miners) we decided to visit it.  We went round the normal tourist section in a large party of other visitors.  At one point Roy Bennett (who was at the rear of the party) suddenly dived up a low side passage, but soon emerged with the news that ‘it didn’t go’, and a tear in the seat of his trousers.

On the way back to Whitelee Farm for lunch, we passed through Windy Knoll Quarry, where we obtained some interesting sample of Elaterite (a rubbery bitumen smelling of engine oil) which oozes out of the rock at this and a couple of other places in Derbyshire.

After having eaten, tracks were made for the respective homes, and all agreed that the success of the weekend was due in no small measure to the co-operation afforded to us by the local cavers, not to mention Mrs. Vernon’s usual excellent cooking.

Jack Waddon.

In case this phrase should make the reader wonder, “How tight is a duck”?  This duck was not watertight, and if you, gentle reader should wonder how a duck became a caver and ventured so far underground, let me hasten to point out that in this case a ‘duck’ is a low passage almost, but not quite filled with water.  -  Ed.

Some Gale.

“At times we had to incline our bodies considerably from the perpendicular to counteract the atmospheric thrust”.  (Climbers’ Club Journal, 1903.  Prof. Tyndall’s, ‘A Stormy Day on Helvellyn’).

Mudlark.

HAVE YOU RESERVED YOUR TICKETS FOR THE ANNUAL DINNER ? ? ?

Near Massacre in Glen Coe.

By Rex Aldridge.

On the last day of a wonderful week of camping, climbing and walking in Glen Coe, three of us set out to climb the Chanceller.

We started up with myself in the lead, Austin second, and Doug third and pack horse.  As the guide book had warned us, the rock was loose, rotten and vegetated.  (Cheddar is sound by comparison.)  However we surmounted this bad stuff and lunched at the foot of a wall of ‘diff’ standard.  We were on a ridge of rock and heather which abutted against the wall. The ridge dropped away steeply on either side to vertical walls of rock which in turn went down to big scree gullies.

I climbed up the wall for about twenty feet, foresaw difficulty, and brought Austin up to give me closer support.  With Austin belayed, I reconnoitred for a way up, but with no success.  (It took so long over this that Doug, who was sitting on the ridge at the foot of the wall, became absorbed in watching traffic, 1,500ft. below us in the Glen.)

I came back to Austin, changed places with him on the rope and belayed myself.  Austin had a try, got about ten feet to my left, about five feet above me, and got stuck! 

After looking quickly to my belay, adequately (so I though) around a substantial hunk of rock, I tried to dissuade him from falling off.  But he insisted, and so I reassured him that in the event, I could hold him easily.  Never do that!  Never mind the leader’s peace of mind, tell him that he doesn’t stand an earthly if he comes off.  Doug alerted at the foregoing conversation, returned to his traffic watching on hearing these words of assurance.

Sure enough Austin came off.  He fell vertically for a short distance, then the rope coming taut, he started to pendulum towards and beneath me.  At this point I remember being jerked further from my stance than I thought the belay would allow.

Then I seemed to be waking up from a heavy sleep, I had been dreaming about climbing I thought. But this rock and heather seemed very real, and wasn’t that Doug up there calling, “Rex, are you alright?”, and I could hardly breath and my shoulder hurt.  Gosh!  I remember, I must have come off - Oh! wasn’t I miserable.  My next thoughts were, “Well, I’m alive and not too badly hurt”.

Austin and I has fortunately fallen either side of the ridge and this had prevented a fall down the vertical walls to the scree gully.

Doug soon had us on the crest of the ridge again and roped to a rock belay.  After putting his Anorak on me and tying the rucksack with spare food and torch on to us, he hurried down for help, while Austin and I were still exchanging repeated apologies for our respective contributions to the mishap.

As it got dusk, Austin and I realised that we were probably stuck for the night and moved ourselves into a recess just off the crest of the ridge, and out of the wind.

Then as darkness fell, Doug (stout fellow) returned with two volunteers, a quilt, a flask of tea, and a first aid outfit.  With the quilt we were warm, and comparatively comfortable, and Austin’s lacerations were bound up.  The R.A.F. were on their way!  (A hundred miles away as yet, but we didn’t know).

The R.A.F. arrived on the road below us as about midnight, but in spite of a searchlight (which was a morale booster) they weren’t able to reach us till dawn. Imagine our relief when they reached us, - bars of mint cake ad-lib., cups of tea, nice comfortable stretchers and blankets.

Not liking the prospect of being first down a practically vertical wall in a stretcher, I gallantly insisted that Austin have the first vehicle.  Another point I considered and which turned out to be correct, was that the first party down would receive all the missiles of loose rock.]

Without envy I watched Austin’s stretcher being guided over the edge and disappear, a jab of morphia and then it was my urn.  The descent was quite something – the most difficult that the Mountain Rescue Section had yet done – I was glad I was being carried.  The frequent proximity of falling rock and the apparent likelihood of being tipped feet first, head first, or sideways, down a gully, served to keep me awake, and maintain interest.

By 4pm, we were down on the road, and being loaded into an ambulance, and relax for the first time in 25 hours.  I dozed in the ambulance on the way to hospital at Fort William, - but my dozing and subsequent night’s sleep were frequently interrupted as we tried to duck away from imaginary falling rock.

Oh, Belford Hospital!  Hot drinks and food, piping hot pyjamas, electric blankets – not to mention the wonderful nurses, - but I must stop or somebody will be falling off on purpose.

Rex Aldridge.

Rex Aldridge is a new contributor to the B.B., I hope he becomes a frequent one.

T.H.S.

Can anyone tell me why?

Reply to Question in BB96.

Vibram is the trade name for a deeply in cut rubber sole fitted to a climbing boot.  It is of Italian origin, being introduced, I believe by the ‘tigers’ of the Turin section of the Italian Alpine Club in the years before the war.  Its use spread rapidly throughout the continent and by 1945 it was old fashioned to wear nails.  Nowadays nails are a museum piece in the Alps except on the feet of British Climbers.

The name Vibram soon became applied loosely to all boots equipped with similar rubber soles, even though of another make; the genuine Vibram sole carries the words, ‘Vibram Brevettata Montagna, which roughly translated means that Vibs make molehills out of mountains.

Vibs took on slowly in Britain; the young climbers with no inhibitions and traditions about footwear tried the ‘new’ boots as soon as they visited the Alps, found them good, and brought them back into this country.  The older generation shook their heads and said that it was unwise to learn to climb in anything except nails.  This, most unfortunately, is still the official attitude of the Mountaineering Association, but I consider it to be erroneous, a short-sighted and prejudiced thinking and not due to practical observation and experiment.

Dennis Kemp.

Overheard

in the Waggon and Horse  recently:-

"This ought to tone up B.B., now they've got two English graduates writing for them'',

Up with the University,
English a la B.B.C.,
Death to the wogs!
With BA (Hons) in B.E.C.,
We're the last word in Literacy,
No more muttering moronity,
Sublingual imbecility
Of speleologists (or Trogs).

Mudlark.

British Mountainering Council Circular G.30/207.

Reprint of:-.

WEAK KARABINERS

(A statement issued by the B/M/C/ Equipment Sub-Committee)

The B.M.C. have in the past (R.P. Mears, ‘Snap Links’, Mountaineering Vol.1 No.3 January 1948) advised climbers that some karabiners are on sale and in service which do not reach a reasonable standard of strength for use in running belays, abseils or as a link in the leader’s rope.  (The loads involved in ‘artificial’ climbing may be considerably less, and this use of karabiners is not here considered.)  Among these weak karabiners are the cheap war-surplus articles that are used extensively in this country.

Recent tests instituted by the Equipment Sub-Committee and by the trade have shown that these ex-service karabiners are very variable in quality and that many are made from low grade steel.  Under a tensile load of only 500lbs., many of them have been found to distort sufficiently to disengage the keeper and to prevent its re-engagement when the load is removed.

A load of 1,000lb., has been sufficient to pull them open.  Some have performed a little better, but only occasional specimens have sustained as much as ¾ ton.  As far as the Equipment Sub-Committee are aware, all the inexpensive, unbranded steel karabiners on sale in this country are war surplus articles of which this performance is typical.  It is probable that most climbers possess one or more of these karabiners.  One report has been received of a karabiner opening during an abseil.

The discovery that large stocks of ex-service karabiners are still in existence, as yet unsold, together with the growing use of karabiners for running belays, abseils and as a link, in the leader's rope, has led the Equipment Sub-Committee to recommend that none of the war-surplus karabiners should be used for these purposes.  The Ministry of Supply, the war Office and the Air Ministry have been informed of these facts and conclusions.

Some foreign karabiners on sale in this country are of better quality.  Tests have been made on some of them and the results are given below.  In all cases the keeper was in its normal position.  The specimens were taken at random and appeared to represent the construction and workmanship of the respective makes, although these tests are no guarantee that all karabiners of these makes, are of the same quality.

STUBAI, oval, weight 8½ ozs, screwed sleeve over end of keeper.  One tested.

Hinge broke at…………………………………………           5,400lb.

 

STUBAI, oval, weight 4½ ozs, Nine tested.

Three, keeper slipped out of engagement………………      1,700lb.

One, hinge broke ………………………………………          2,500lb.

One, withstood without failure…………………………         2,800lb.

Four, hinge broke………………………………………          3,300lb.

 

AUSTRIA, pear shaped weight 4ozx, three tested.

One, keeper slipped out of engagement………………..      1,700lb.

One, hinge broke……………………………………….          2,800lb.

One, catch sheared……………………………………..        3,300lb.

 

WM PAT AUSTRIA, forged, weight 4½ ozs, One tested.

Withstood without failure………………………………          2,800lb.

 

ASMU forged, weight 4½ ozs, One tested.

Hinge broke…………………………………………….           2,240lb.

 

P. ALLAIN, forged aluminium alloy, weight 2½ ozs, two tested.

One, opened slightly ……………………………………        1,100lb.

One, opened wide……………………………………..           1,700lb.

 

It will be noted that, with the exception of the heavy 8oz Stubai, none of the above karabiners is as strong as a full weight nylon climbing rope.

Karabiners of sound mechanical design and high grade materials are now being developed in Britain.  Pending the availability of good quality British karabiners, climbers are recommended to use the better of the karabiners listed above or others for which dealers can guarantee comparable performance,.

Acknowledgments.  The generous assistance of the trade, the R.A.F. Mountain Rescue Organisation, the Ministry of Supply and others is gratefully acknowledged.

Can Anyone Tell Me Why?

Replies to Questions in BB97.

The Climbers’ Thesaurus of Warped Words and Paraphrases has this interesting entry:  Vibrams - Climbers' Jargon for Vibrations and Jim-jams, both peculiar to persons in exposed situations.  Hence, “To have the vibrams”.

The question on the fear of falling concerns that morbid subject ever popular with climbers.  Personally, I feel far mope comfortable looking at 200 odd feet of exposure than jumping around, soaked and frozen to the marrow, avoiding the pot-holes in Swildon's.  It’s purely psychological, as someone in the Hunters' was heard to remark to a pink elephant.

A tip from James Kirkus:  When about to ‘peel’, don't clutch at the cliff with your last desperate finger-nail.  Turn round and choose a likely spot, no matter how far below, and JUMP FOR IT!  I have not heard if he ever put this into practice.

Mudlark

There is a Clogwyn in North Wales

The following Epic has been complied and submitted by Ron Newman.

Tune: “There is a Tavern in the Town”.

 

There is a Clogwyn in North Wales,
And all the routes on it went in nails,
Till some slick chap,
With hammer, peg and dap,
Put hard V.S. routes on the map

Chorus:
Fare thee well, for I must leave you,
Do not let the parting grieve you,
And remember that the best of friends must part.
Adieu, adieu old routes, adieu, old routes, adieu,
I can no longer climb on you,
I’ll hang my boots on a weeping willow tree,
And may the world go well with thee.

He bought a hammer, gleaming new,
And for each foot a rubber shoe,
And furthermore,
To complete his store,
Assorted pitons by the score.

With karabiners, slings and pegs,
Dangling round his waist and legs,
He climbed so bold,
On the pitons he’d been sold,
Up slabs where there’d never been a hold.

Until he had to make a move,
In an overhanging groove,
And he pinned his fate,
To a piton long and straight,
But forgot all about his increased weight.

The pegs he carried weighed ten stone,
And he weighed fourteen stone alone,
As he turned about,
With a panic-stricken shout,
Saw his pilot-anchor coming out.

His last, remaining only hope,
Was an ancient hempen half-weight rope,
And he saw too plain,
With anguish, woe and pain,
It would simply not take the strain.

He fell on screes above a llyn –
Momentum carried him straight in,
But though he could swim,
And thrashed with every limb,
(slowly) His ironmongery drowned him.

And so you budding mountaineers,
If you want to live for many years,
Then forget your daps,
And new routes on the maps
And leave the pegs to other chaps

Final Chorus:
Fare thee well, for I must leave you,
Do not let the parting grieve you,
And remember that the best of friends must part.
Hello old routes, hello, hello, old routes, hello,
No longer from your well worn tracks will I go,,
I’ll take  my boots off that weeping willow tree,
And know the world goes well with thee.


Mendip Topics

By ?

Mendip’s characteristic road side verges are now being removed in the Priddy area to widen roads for the passage of bigger and uglier coaches during the summer weegie invasion.  The Hillgrove – Hunters Lodge – Miners Arms – Castle of Comfort and Priddy – Miners Arms roads are all suffering in this respect.  These grass verges date back to the first extensive enclosing of Mendip land as fields in the late eighteenth century.  The roadsides were used for many years by commoners for grassing their sheep, and was also useful for travelling stockmen who could grass their animals on the way to market.

In more recent years the verges have been of great service to caving motor-cyclists who are known to ‘Run out of Road’ on occasions.

However as consolation for the gradual loss of this traditional Mendip feature we have evidence of a traditional craft being revived.  Namely the craft of dry stone walling, new examples of which are to be seen between Farrington and Chewton Mendip and around Priddy.  There are stone wallers now practising at Priddy and Chewton.  The Blagdon Fete walling competition has done a great deal to revive this art.  In eighteen hundred the cost of building a wall was approx. eight and six per twenty feet, now it is considerably more than ten times this.

In mentioning items associated with Mendip’s past should not be forgotten.  From the practical evidence produced by certain researchers in this field there is no need to worry about the decline of this essential; industry.

+ _ + _ + _ + _ + _ + _ +

R.J. Bagshaw, Hon. Sec. & Treas., 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.
T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Editor BB, 48 Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4..

 

G.B. Guest Days.

Sunday 16th.  October at 2.30pm.
Saturday 3rd. December 3.0pm.

All names must be handed to Alfie Collins at least a fortnight before the trip.

Club Library.

Since the last list published in June, the following additions have been made to the library: -

Notiziaro, Speleologico Romano No.7.  1954.
The American Caver Bulletin No. 16 Dec. 1954.

Newsletters

N.S.S. Vol.13 No.4.  April 1955.
N.S.S. Vol.13 No.5.  May  1955.
N.S.S. Vol.13 No.6.  June  1955.
N.S.S. Vol.13 No.7.  July   1955.
N.S.S. Vol.13 No.8.  Aug.  1955.
Occasional Papers.  N.S.S. No.1.  Jan 1954.
Occasional Papers.  N.S.S. No.2.  April 1954.
The Cave and Crag Club.  Vo. 4.  No.4.  April  1955.
The Cave and Crag Club.  Vo. 5.  No.4.  May   1955.
The Cave and Crag Club.  Vo. 6.  No.4.  June   1955.
The Cave and Crag Club.  Vo. 7.  No.4.  Jul/Aug 1955.
South Wales C.C. No.12  May 1955.
Westminster S.G.  Bulletin Vo.2  No.4  May 1955.
Westminster S.G.  Bulletin Vo.2  No.5  June 1955.

####################################

Bookcase

Members are asked if they can dig up, find, purloin, fabricate or otherwise obtain a suitable receptacle for books, as the need for this, with our ever-growing library, has now become very urgent.  Will anyone who knows of, or is willing to help make such a case please communicate with the Hon. Sec.

New Members

It has been, in the past, the ‘usual’ thing to print in the first available issue after election, the names and addresses of all new members, and also to publish a list, a few per month, of all members.

In view of the fact that a complete new list of members and their addresses is to be published as soon as the list is sent by the Hon. Sec., at this present time let us just say: - “Welcome to our new members. May they enjoy caving and climbing whilst they are Club Members.”

B.E.C. in SKYE.

By Miss Janet Gotts.

Being an account of a holiday in Skye from 15/24th, July, 1555 by John Stafford, Mr. & Mrs. John Attwood, Miss Janet Gotts, Tony Dun and Ron King.

Skye weather has become a by-word.  The last place any sane sun loving Climber would choose for a July holiday in the Western Isles of Scotland.  One could spend a whole fortnight and never see the Cuillins.  The same sort of impression as one had of Scotland from ‘Kidnapped’ - cold and gruesome, with people living on porridge and half-cooked trout.

To the great disappointment, then, of members of the party who had come fully equipped with waterproof clothing, we had rain on only one day, low cloud on two or three.  On top, conditions became bad enough to frustrate two attempts at the complete Cuillin Ridge, but on the whole the heat was tropical.  We tanned, peeled, reddened and re-peeled.  The second week saw some of us camping in an idyllic spot on the way up to Sron na Ciche.  Previous occupants of the site, to our disgust had always been idly breakfasting when we passed by on our ‘Alpine’ starts.  Now it was our turn.  Every morning between 10.0 and 11.0 climbers, with the light of the Cuillins in their eyes, recoiled from the sordid pile of boots, saucepans and various litter.  In the end we were having lunch before starting, to save carrying it.

One's first impression of the Cuillins is of a range of miniature mountains, perfectly proportioned, as unique but not as imposing, as the Dolomites.  But they afford plenty of strenuous exercise.  A good introduction to the Ridge is the scramble from Sgurr Alaisdair (the highest) along to the Inaccessible Pinnacle and down the An Stac stone chute.  Or, approach the Inaccessible Pinnacle from the west via Window Tower Buttress (a very pleasant Mod. Diff.)  The Cioch, etherealised by Humble's famous photograph, seems unfortunately the Eiffel Tower of the area, and should be avoided by the anti-social.  Both face climbs up to it are interesting; however, mist and rain robbed us of the very fine exposure on Cioch West route.  Our best day was spent on White Slab route on the Gkrunnda face, with its very satisfying severe variations.  When in good form, some of the climbs above the Terrace on Sron na Ciche, like the Crack of Doom, are well worth the trouble of the slog up.  The famous Waterpipe Gully on Sgurr an Fheadain, is no longer recommended, owing to the loose state of the rock.  And even after the drought it was extremely slimy, and could not be called a pleasant climb under any conditions.

Being without transport, our activities were limited to Glenbrittle, save the memorable day we undertook an expedition to Portree, and were forced to walk back nine miles over the fells through a misunderstanding with the bus service.   We would take off our hats to anyone with the smallest understanding of Skye bus services.  If you are lucky enough to catch a bus going in the required direction at the scheduled hour you are stunned by the exorbitant fare (nearly 6d. a mile).  Some of us had the experience of being charged 6d. to go on a rescue party bus half way up the valley.  Unfortunately the Revenge Plan of catching the ‘Church Bus’ (free!) on Sunday morning and sneaking off to climb from Sligachan never materialised.

How to get there: - The Road to the Isles is for most of us further than the traditional route from Tummel to Morar.  Hitch-hiking from Glasgow to the Kyle of Loch Alsh ferry is infinitely less frustrating than watching the Scottish scenery from a stuffy train: it can be done in 36 hours, including a day’s climbing and swimming in Glen Coe.  For Bristolians, we recommend taking motor-bikes by train to Glasgow and continuing by road to Malaig ferry.  Extra fare to Glasgow is adequately compensated by having one’s own transport in Skye, and the saving on Glasgow-Malaig stage.

Take no notice of (a) The present Guide Book, except for geographical indications: (b) Nails enthusiast - vibrams find Skye rock amazingly adhesive even when wet: (c) Precautions against midges.  Nothing stops them.  The thousands of deaths inflicted daily by maddened climbers and campers have no effect on the general body.  And when it’s over 10,000 to one it’s not worth putting up a fight.

A final warning.  Anyone rock-climbing on the Cuillins without liquid refreshment is in severe danger of dehydration.

POST-SCRIPT. – Especially for the less experienced female climber.

Always have a hand in laying stores.  (In Skye most of them can be obtained in Glenbrittle Youth Hostel) otherwise you will find they invariably consist of porridge, macaroni, and Horlick’s tablets.

Climbing.  Beside the more obvious tricks of absentminded clearing away loose rock, investigating local Flora and Fauna whilst belaying your partner, it is sometimes a good move to drop (accidentally) the whole rope on to your second after belaying yourself.  This will unnerve him for the next pitch.  Morale, like intelligence, is far superior to strength.  Confuse your partner by delicate and exposed variations which appear more difficult than, for example, a strenuous chimney.

Alcohol:  Remember to look on drinking as an art, not, as men do in an excuse.  If handed a flask of rum or other spirits on a climb, restrain your enthusiasm (this need practice).  Take tentative but frequent samples, as though it is not your usual (superior) brand.  This increases your prestige besides giving you more than your fair share!

Janet Gotts.

It is grand to welcome a new contributor to the BB, and I look forward to printing many more articles from Miss Gotts’ pen.

T.H.S.

Personal

The engagement was announced in June of Jack Whaddon to Miss Dorothy Cridge who is well known to quite a few of the club members and other Mendipites.

Jack has now moved to the London Area and so will be unable to appear on Mendip as frequently as in the past.  He will be linking up with various club members in that area, however,and will appear in our part of the world as often as he can.

(I must apologise for the belated entry, Jack, sorry that it’s so late.  Ed.)

Can anyone tell me why?

No answers have yet been received to the August Questions, but as this issue is being ‘set’ much earlier than usual, that is probably the reason.  This month’s questions are climbing ones.

  1. What are the ‘Vibrams’ so often referred to in climbing account?
  2. How does the novice overcome the instinctive fear of falling when a ‘long drop’ is below him?
  3. Many young persons are attracted to climbing, but very few ‘dare’ to indulge.  The average caver does lots of climbing underground, but would boggle at the visible drop below him say of 100 feet.  Is the climbing standard so much higher ‘up there’ than down below?
  4. Many rock faces are composed of different types of rock.  How does the novice decide which is ok and which will ‘come off’ in his own mind?

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For the benefit of New Members and anyone else who has forgotten them appended below is a list of club officials.

R.J. Bagshaw,          Hon. Sec. & Hon. Treas.  56 Ponsford Road, Bristol. 4.
A. Sandall,               Assist. Hon. Sec. 35 Beauchamp Road, Bristil. 7.
A.J. Collins,             Hut Warden & Caving Sec., 27 Gordon Road, Bristol. 8.
C. Falshaw,             Assist. Caving Sec. & Assist. Tackle Officer, 50 Rockside Drive, Bristol. 7.
I. Dear,                    Tackle Officer, 1 Fairfield Villas, Henrietta Park, Bath, Somt.
Mike Jones,             Belfry Maint. Engineer, 12 Melton Crescent, Bristol. 7.
John Stafford,           Climbing Sec., 5 Hampden Road, Bristol. 4.
Miss Judy Osborn,   Ladies Representative, 389 Filton Avenue, Bristol. 7.
John Ifold,                Hon. Librarian, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.
T.H. Stanbury,          Hon. Editor BB, 48 Novers Park Road, Bristol. 4.

Any member with a problem of any kind is urged to get in touch with the appropriate official.  Doing this not only eases the burden of work on the Hon. Sec’s shoulders, but also saves the member concerned a little time, as otherwise such problems etc., have to be re-routed via the Hon. Sec.

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A final note to remind you that the BB is still in need of articles of all sorts and particularly relating to the Club work on Mendip.

T.H.S.