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Members will recall that in the BB for May last (No.92) and article entitled ‘What the well dresses caver should wear’ by Pongo was printed.

Since this we have received a letter from M. Robert de Joly on the matter and we have great pleasure in now printing it, together with Pongo’ reply.

Societe Speleologique de France,
Uchaud,  (Gard),
France,

   To/   M. Pongo Wallis
   Bristol Exploration Club,
   Bristol.

Monsieur et cher Collegue,

J’ai lu dans le No. 92 (May 1955) de votre revue ‘B.B.’ un compt-rendu de mon petit ouvrage: ‘Comment on descend sous terre’ et vous remercie.

Toutefois je reate intrigue par votre remarque ‘many of his recommendations sound strange to us’.

et

‘not everything is applicable to British conditions’

Jen e vois pas en effet, comment une cavite ‘fossile’ ou a riviere dans un pays quelconque ne necessite pas les memes precautions!

Lorsque vous m’aurez rependu (avec details j’espere car le sujet m’interesse) je vous adresserai ine note pour votre revue toujours interessante.

Croyez cher Collegue, a mes sentiments les meilleurs.

                                                (signed)  R. de Joly.

President de l’Academie des Sciences de Montpellier et de l’Academie de Nimes.

 

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Briarcroft,
Marlborough Crescent,
Latchford W.O.
Warrington,
Lancs.

21st July 1965.

Dear M. de Joly,

I hope that you are able to read English sufficiently to follow this letter.  Although I read French fairly easily, I find writing it considerably more difficult.

I wish to make it plain that my little article in the Belfry Bulletin was not intended to be in any way derogatory to yourself.  I have been exploring caves for 18 years, which is very little compared with your experience.  Our Club accepts members of 16 years and older, and these --- and also some of the older ones --- think that any of their clothes are suitable to wear underground.  As a result they get cold and enjoy their sport less than they might do, so I am always urging that proper clothes should be worn.

The French caves which I have visited have all been of the tourist or painted variety.  I have never done any proper Speleology in France so I do not have any first-hand experience of your conditions.  In Somerset the caves are not as extensive as many of your better known ones, but I think that they do have smaller passages.  There are many places which I know where it is impossible to get through with a helmet on the head, and where any but the smallest explorer must remove some of their clothes in order to get by.  You will understand why I didn’t like the idea of an overall with 12 pockets.  Also, the caves being less extensive, our expeditions are correspondingly shorter, and 12 hours is considered to be a long time to be underground, while 24 hours is very exceptional.  Such elaborate equipment is thus unnecessary.  You, I can see, may find it most undesirable to pay a second visit to some remote part of a cave to record some fact because you did not have a tape measure or note book with you.  You must therefore be completely equipped always.  With us, this will seldom arise and a second visit can readily be paid.

I think that in any country speleologists tend to use the equipment that is available commercially.  Most of us use compressed fibre helmets which are produced for coal miners.  These are very light and comfortable and will withstand quite a severe blow.  If they are of the correct size they do not fall off readily even without a chin-strap, although one is fitted.  I do not know of an accident caused by one falling on a person, or of a head injury when such a helmet had been worn.  I myself have been hit by a stone falling from 70 feet directly on my head.  Although the blow was severe, both the helmet and I were unhurt.

Our footwear is generally a pair of stout leather boots, sometimes with metal toe-caps, usually nailed with hob-nails.  Although some people prefer proper climbing nails most find the plain hobnail adequate.  I cannot say I like the idea of your ‘crampon’ like nails.  To me they sound dangerous and I have never yet met conditions where they would be a real advantage.  While in theory it is easy to keep clear of the next man's feet, in confined spaces it is not always so and the type of nails you suggest could inflict a very severe injury.

Over our other clothes we generally wear a ‘boiler-suit’ – a combination overall of tough cotton.  These are fairly cheap to buy and although not very hard wearing, they do last a reasonable length of time.  They are usually made with two breast pockets and two trouser pockets, which we find is enough to carry the few personal possessions we normally take--- cigarettes, chocolate, a handkerchief, &c.  The boiler-suit is not waterproof, but serves as protection to a waterproof suit worn beneath it if the cave demands it.  Food, cameras, spare lighting etc. we usually carry in a small bag which may be worn over the shoulder, or dragged as conditions require.  Small canvas haversacks, about 25cm. x 25cm. x 8cm and fitted inside with a number of partitions were used daring the War for gas-masks.  These can still be bought and are ideal for the job.

You will see that our equipment is derived partly from what is available and partly from what I take to be the different conditions under which we are working.

I hope you have found these notes of interest.  Much of the equipment which we use as a matter of course in our caves today was first though out by French Spleologists, and has been adapted to our conditions.  Such exchange of ideas and methods can only be of the greatest help to our mutual interest in Caves.

Yours sincerely,

   (signed) R.M. ‘Pongo’ Wallis.

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Ed’s note.

M. Robert de Joly is one of the foremost French Speleologists.  I had the pleasure of caving with him in 1948 when together with a party of mixed nationalities, he led us to the ‘Plus dangeroux’ parts of l’Aven d’Orgnac.

M. de Joly certainly practices what he preaches and his dress and foot-wear were as described.  The long boot spikes certainly seemed dangerous to our untutored eyes, but I must admit that they seemed to give him better grip by far than afforded by my ‘trikes’ although my boots were newly nailed.

T.H.S.

Can anybody tell me why?

Here as promised are they answers to the first set of questions which were printed in the July BB. They were all sent in by our tame archaeologist, Keith Gardner, to whom our thanks is extended.

  1. Bronze-age settlements are sites about which little is known, but in general it is often considered that burial mounds were placed on the skyline in such a position that their silhouettes were constantly in view from living and working quarters.  The settlements here might well have been in the region of Waldegrave Pond, where mining activities would since have erased all trace, or perhaps towards Swildons, or even by the Priddy Circles from which point the Ashen Hill Group stand out well.  Incidentally, can anyone tell me what these circles were?
  2. Has the demon T.V.C. been at work again? I can count nine barrows in Priddy Nine group when sober (eighteen otherwise).
  3. Long Barrows from the Neolithic period as opposed to the later Bronze Age date for round barrows, so there is no reason why there should be any connected with the Priddy group.  There is one on Pen Hill, one near Green Ore, and two at Chewton Mendip to mention only the closest.  The smaller number of these monuments about is probably due to the smaller population and to the fact that they were originally constructed to serve more as a family mausoleum than were the round barrows, whose secondary burials are usually intrusive.
  4. There are three main types of abrrow as illustrated herewith: -

    sections
    BB96-sections.jpg
    It is possible that one type evolved from the other; the Early Bronze Age ‘Beaker’ folk buried their dead in crouched positions usually in Bowl barrows, whereas the later ‘Wessex Aristocracy’ seemed to prefer the Bell or Disc type, sometimes using cremation as well, especially in disc barrows.  Priddy group would appear to be a mixture of several types possibly indicating a long, though not necessarily continuous local occupation.
  5. The first reason why so many Roman coins appear to be discovered is, I feel, the fact that the average man would tend to recognise and retain a coinage rather than, say, a roof nail or pot shard.

    The reasons why they were there in the first place are rather more complicated and hinge on the economic collapse in the 4th. Century.

    Money is, after all only the arbitrary tool of an organised civilisation and when such a civilisation breaks down then the little metal discs become useless.  Corruption, taxation and revolt produced inflation in Britain to a fantastic degree.  The villa system became only self supporting rather than a food-producing unit, town life became increasingly difficult and bands of desperate peasants roamed the country living by fire and sword and plundering the great villas.  The owners of these often hid their useless ‘wealth’ in pots and bags in secret hoards and the discovery of such a cache rarely fails to hit the headlines.  Other single finds are usually indicative of an occupation site where they were lost in the squalid conditions of the late 4th. Century, although of course the odd coin is always liable to be dropped anywhere.

K.G.

Bats

Those interested in Bat-ringing will be very interested to know that Johnny Ifold, on August 29th. refound a long-eared bat that he ringed just over four years ago.  It was still flying strongly.

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The larder is getting empty again. It is almost a year ago that there was so little material in hand that the BB was threatened with closure.  Next year we shall be celebrating our 21st birthday, I hope that the celebrations will not include a ‘wake’ for the BB.  There still seems to be no news of work or discoveries on Mendip.  It is a disturbing fact that although Stoke Lane was discovered as long ago as 1947, except for a brief article by the late Pat Browne on the discovery of Browne’s Passage and a sketchy five short paragraphs by Dan Hasell, both in BB No.5 for July 1947, we have published nothing about this important cave.  Similarly there is no information about St. Cuthbert’s or Hunter’s Hole.  This is a deplorable state of affairs; the BB is in danger of foundering for lack of material whilst there is a gold mine of material in our laps.  If the discoverers are too busy to help surely they could enlist the help of others to do this very necessary and important job?

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

 

Hostelling Holiday in Scotland

By Chris Falshaw.

My oppo, Nev Thompson and I left Bristol on 16th. July, and after spending one night in that fairest of all cities, Manchester, reached Glasgow.

Sunday 18th. July.

We were woken at 8.10 by cups of tea, rather comfortable.  After breakfast we bid adieu to our host and boarded our MT, a 1952 Morris Minor, and made for the Campsie Fells.  These are situated about ten miles north east of Glasgow, and consist entirely of Volcanic Basalt.  The gen. book says it is not good for climbing.  This view we endorsed, as ‘it comes away in yer hand when you ain’t looking’.  Eventually we reached the said hills and climbed to the nearest trig. point, Holehaid, 1805ft.  We had intended to climb to The Earl’s Seat, but the sun was hot so we lay down in the heather and told the Earl what he could do.  Reached Fintry Hostel at opening time, i.e. 4pm.

Monday 18th. July.

After breakfast we took the road to Callender, stopping on the way to take some photographs.  Stoked up with grub, then continued via Falls of Leny, Loch Lubnaig, Loch Earnhead and Glen Ogle, here we climbed Meall Burhdie, 2,000ft. and geologised and photomogenised to some extent.  Nev ruined the film in the process of trying to get 39 exposures on a 35mm. film.  After this we returned to the Hostel Balquhidder.  A very enjoyable evening was spent futhering Bristol/Edinburgh relationships.

Tuesday 20th. July.

Said our farewells to Edinburgh and took the road to Inver Loch Larig, the reputed home of Rob Roy the Highland Rogue ‘Our Hero’.  Here we parked the car, donned boots and smoked a farewell reed.  We struck up the glen following the stream (burrrrrrrn) and commenced to climb Benmore, 3,843ft.  We stopped at the watershed for dinner - orange and cake -.  There was a cold wind blowing so we did not dally but started to climb seriously.  Entered cloud at 2,800ft. and the going became easier.  Reached top after four hours, and thumped each other on the back.  This was our first Munro (for the uninitiated, a Munro is a mountain over 3,000ft. high).  The wind on top was literally knocking even skittles out of us, so we retired behind a rock and ate Penguins.  We retraced our steps getting well and truly soaked in the process.  Arrived at the car three hours later nearly dead through lack of our favourite alkaloid.  Returned to the Hostel and played Solo all evening.

Wednesday 21st. July.

A rest day.  Went to Callender to review the local talent and also some Roman remains.  Practiced bird photography on some willing seagulls with telephoto - Bakewell tart was used as bait - this was very potent; after eating it the birds became grounded for about ten minutes.  Returned to the Hostel and again played Solo.  One bod, insisted on reading Hamlet.  His oppo threw it across the room.  This invoked strange, words from the owner.

Thursday 22nd. July

Left Hostel early intending to climb Cruoch Ardrian but were struck by a fact that it was fine.  A fine series of waterfalls provided and ideal excuse.  The route was up fairly easy, somewhat reminiscent of Swildons Wet Way, in flood.  Also spent some time geologising and photogenising and then retuned to the Hostel.  Spent the evening watching a bod fishing.  Nev was locked out.

Friday 23rd. July

Did some shopping in morning in Callender and Killin.  Stopped outside Killin for dinner and saw Ian Dear and Mervyn Hannam dicing in the other direction.  After dinner we pottered round a hydro-electric station that was under construction.  There was a great many of these dotted around the countryside; pylons providing endless fun when taking photographs.  Returned to the hostel at Killin and spent the evening discussing geological problems i.e. basalt on Mendip and unconformity in Highland geology, there being no general dip or related phenomena as experienced in more civilised parts of the county.

Saturday 24th. July.

Spent a very un-energetic day walking miles up Glen Lochy.  The first part of the Glen is over Loch Tay limestone, a type of crystalline marble.  After about 3 miles this gives way to crystalline schist’s, mainly mica and some very black graphite.  We also found some iron pyrites associated with mica schist’s, the crystals were moderately good.  We were once again struck by the complicated nature of the folds observed: they were all of the cascade variety, none of the gentle folds seen under Mendip.  Spent the evening furthering Anglo-Dutch relationships.  We were kept awake in Dorm by a fat type who snored; upon poking he just turned over and snored all the louder.

Sunday 25th. July.

Left at a high rate of knots in search of nicotine; none to be found in Lawres so pressed on to Aberfeldy where we managed to get supplies before dying of grievous exhaustion.  After recovering we decided to climb Schiehallion 3,547ft.  Crossed Wade’s Bridge and left Aberfeldy, reached Schiehallion and ascended to a subsidiary shoulder on to the main ridge.  The weather was superb and we took several photographs from the summit.  Schiehallion is considered by many to be the most beautiful mountain in Scotland.  Seen from Kinlock Rannoch it seems to be a perfect equilateral triangle.  On the summit Nev announced that he had brought the fags so we sat down and made hogs of ourselves.  On the way down we disturbed several ptarmigan, these are really invisible and fly up only when trodden on!!  Returned to Garth Hostel for the night.

Monday 26th. July.

We spent the day geologising in Glen Lion.  Numerous hammer marks were observed by the side of the path.  Garth is the centre of the Scottish Field Studies Association and Glen Lion is supposed to be a geologist’s paradise.  Judging from the state of some boulders, these will not remain so for very long.  We joined in the fun and proceeded to throw stones at the road in an endeavour to break them up.  We were apprehended by a lanky steak of a fellow with a 410 gun who inquired brandishing his weapon, “Hae ye found ana’ gold?”  We replied in the negative and he stumped off down the road discharging his gun in the air.  Dinner consisted of the same ritual of cake and an orange.  We retraced our steps toward the Hostel.  After about two miles we were rapidly overhauled by a hunk of a fellow.  He informed us that he had just climbed Schiehallion.  Judging by his pace, about 6mph, he had not.  After about half an hour of this breakneck pace, we spied a likely looking boulder and murmuring ‘technically impossible’ and ‘couldn’t gat a lay back in that crack’, announced our intention of climbing it.  As out friend disappeared down the road we sank on to the bank and has a smoke.  But such bursts of energy are not to be encouraged.  The evening was pent furthering Anglo-Dutch relationships.  At this point entered the local Young Farmer’s Club, a merry shower.  They entertained us well, Scottish airs, corny sketches, squeeze boxes and bagpipes.  This was at least a change form previous night when we had a non stop performance of the Ash Grove sung in Welsh by a crowd of botanists.  -  tres agreeable.

Tuesday 27th. July.

Had coffee in Aberfeldy, then on to Kinloch Rannock, where we ran out of petrol, and were directed to a posh looking hotel.  We clumped into the main entrance, were frowned on by a butler and directed to the rear, where we were served grudgingly with the necessary.  After taking some shots of Schiehallion over Loch Rannock we visited the pass of Killiekrankie – quite spectacular but very ‘tourised’.  Returned to Strathtummel Hostel for the night.  Improved Anglo-Dutch relations AGAIN!!

Wednesday28th. July.

Drove down to 'Dallmally stopping at Crianleric (?ed.) on the way.  We had tea in the Café.  This place is not too good; we contemplated pinching various articles of furniture, but were prevented by the stern eyes of the maid who did not appreciate our idle patter.  We then repaired to Dalmally.  After supper we climbed a monument to Duncan Ben Macintyre the Highland Bard.  It looked impossible, but yielded to our endeavour, and much pushing from the rear.

Thursday 29th. July.

Went into Oban in the morning and had an encounter with a French car that nearly hit us.  Had a look at climbing the Falls of Cruachin (??ed.), but a route could not be found.  In the evening we pottered down to Kilchurn Castle, built by the Duke of Argyll in 1440.  We sat in the remains of the Duke’s fireplace and smoked a contemplative weed.  Walking back across the marsh a curlew wheeled and called overhead, adding to the ghostliness of the place.

Friday 30th. July.

Left Dalmally intended doing the Cobbler, but the weather did not permit it.  This is a good stock excuse for inactivity in Scotland.  We then went in search of the Fairy Loch.  We ascended the hillside on the banks of Loch Lomond, and eventually found it a miserable puddle six feet square, but of very definite blue colour.  This colour is supposed to be due to the laundering activities of the ‘Wee Folk’; it appears they must use a certain modern detergent!!  We returned to Inverbog Hostel where we spent a very enjoyable evening improving Bristol/Preston relations.

The Saturday and Sunday were spent in returning to Bristol.

If anyone in the Club is going to this part of Scotland next year I can supply them with 1” O.S. Maps and several gen. books.

Chris Falshaw.

Personal

WALLIS – JACKSON.

The engagement is announced between Raymond M. eldest son of Elliot and Isobel Wallis of Grappenhall, Warrington, and Frances Mary, elder daughter of Percy and Helen Jackson of Great Sankey, Warrington.

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Owing to pressure of space it is regretted that the answers to the first set of ‘Can anybody tell me why?’ cannot be included in this month’s BB.  However they will appear next month without fail and I hope you will find them as interesting as I have.  Here is this month’s set of questions; this time the subject is Geology.

Can anyone tell me why?

  1. “The Hillgrove/Wookey Hole ‘Master Fault’ is proving so hard to confirm, as there seems ample indication that the major system based on this fault does really exist?”
  2. “Why is Wookey Hole in Dolomitic Conglomerate and not Cheddar?”
  3. “Why are the lower limestone beds so much richer in fossils than the upper ones?”
  4. “Why do the above fossils remain in the rock in which they are embedded has dissolved?”  “It is realised that obviously the fossils are harder, but is not the limestone composed of fossils in toto?”

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One article has arrived for the ‘centenary’ issue of the BB.  I am hoping for may more.  So pull up your socks and send your contributions to the Editor at the address below.

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BB95-hat.jpgWhilst caving deep neath Mendip land
Among the rocks and bats
A ghastly looking stal. was seen
Like one of Sybil’s FUNNY HATS.

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T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Editor, 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.

 

Steep Holme

By Keith Gardner.

On Saturday 23rd. April a small party including eight members of B.E.C. left Anchor Head jetty bound for Steep Holme.  A strong wing and a choppy sea caused large quantities of Bristol Channel to join us in the boat, forcing certain members out of sight beneath a large tarpaulin sheet, thus greatly enhancing the view for the rest of us.  After half an hour or so we reached the shingle beach, and, heavily laden with bedding and stores, we set off up the cliff path for the Victorian barrack block which was to be our home, looking like a cross between an Himalayan expedition and a band of buccaneers.

Having once settled ourselves in the Sergeants’ mess we all left to explore the north side foreshore, the cliffs of which are vertical and in some places overhanging, thus making it very difficult to gain access except at low tide.  This afternoon however, we were very fortunate, conditions were excellent, and the spring tide aided by strong wind gave us an abnormally low water-level, so low in fact that we able to traverse the north-west cliffs and round the usually impassable Rudder Rock (The Port of Bristol’s Havenmaster’s Dept. states that no predicted tide this year will be as low as that on the day in question)  From here the bulk of the party returned to collect cameras and field glasses etc., jettisoned en route, but John Lamb and Sago proceeded along the more friendly southern shore to complete the island circuit, a feat which, if achieved before, has never been recorded to my knowledge.

The rest of the day was spent in exploring the top of the island, visiting various fortifications both ancient and modern, and of course, eating.  The far seeing boozers who brought their own wallop found that they were immensely popular during the evening until of course, the flagons were empty.

On the Sunday morning we had a long lie-in until seven o’clock, had breakfast and then went off in search of light entertainment which we found at the South Landing,  A small dingy was seen to be making for the shore; its two occupants clambered into a canvas covered collapsible coracle and started paddling furiously towards us against the current.  They were clad in a garb truly befitting the staff of the Duke of Mendip, and one, resplendent in a flying jacket, horn rimed spectacles and black, bowler hat hailed us with a lusty “Are you ornithological?”, to which a certain Rice A. returned “No, Church of England.”  These two were obviously heathen (Welsh, perhaps?) for at this they turned and made rapid movement to their dinghy, in which they departed towards the distant mainland at top speed.

The rest of the morning was spent in observing the nesting crags of cormorants and in cleaning certain deposits from a George III cannon which was then photographed by a battery of cameras, and by another contraption owned by Sago which he claims does take pictures of a sort.

In the afternoon we were joined by a party led by Ted and Dorian Mason with whom we left about six thirty.

The weather was very good and the undeveloped state of the Alexander plant allowed us to see more of the island than will be possible later in the summer.  What gulls have arrived have mostly laid their eggs and the young should be hatching in late May to middle June when it is hoped to run another trip.

Keith S. Gardner.

Letter to His Grace the Duke of Mendip, Baron Priddy &c, &c.

The Castle, Priddy, Somt.

Your Grace,

It was with great pleasure that I received the letter from your private secretary subsequent upon your recent visit to our caving headquarters.

I note your remarks with reference to the cave which the club opened for your Grace's benefit some two years ago,  Your private secretary - no doubt an able man and a trusted retainer - has conveyed the impression that this cave perhaps falls short in some respects of the high standard expected by your Grace.  In view of this we have at great expense, recently opened a new cave known as Hunter’s Hole which we trust you will find entirely to your satisfaction.  It is my pleasant duty to inform your Grace that not only is this cave free from water - to which we understand your constitution is not suited - but is situated right outside the hostelry whose name it bears.

We must apologise to your Grace for the overcrowded state of our headquarters at the time of your recent visit, but beg to inform you that this was entirely due to the loyal attitude of the local peasantry to whom a visit from such a personage as yourself constitutes a major social occasion.

It has been my painful but necessary duty to inform the unkempt fellow to whom your Grace refers, of the serious nature of his offence in using your Grace’s name, and we trust that your Grace will not prefer charges.

I remain,

Your obedient servant,

(signed) S.J.Collins,
Caving Secretary and Hut Warden,
Bristol Exploration Club

Caving in Derbyshire. Part 2.

by. Stan Gee.

To continue our caving in Derbyshire, we now travel south-east across the county and almost to the border of Staffordshire.  Here we find two great valleys known for their picturesque beauty, and a playground for cavers and archaeologists alike.  Though neither valley possesses any really extensive caves, both have provided a wealth of knowledge in the field of Archaeology, and are in fact, still doing so.

Generally speaking, Dovedale has nothing outstanding to offer the caver, but anyone visiting the area will find it both interesting and enjoyable.

The Manifold valley, on the other hand, has much to offer in the way of small caves, and possesses many fine speleologica1 and archaeological possibilities.  Let us, then, walk down this valley and examine the caves as we go.

We start our journey at the little village of Hulme End and proceed down a tarmac track that extends along the length of the valley bottom, and follows the course of the River Manifold.  Many years ago this track was a light railway that served tourists with transport through the valley.  Now, as a pathway it affords a more pleasant walk that the main road and winds among the hills.

Our first stop is Acton Village, some two miles down the valley, once the centre of the copper mining industry, but now a forgotten shell.  The miners themselves were once the richest in the country and many interesting hours can be spent exploring the many shafts and adits.

Now, as we pass on, the deserted mines, the rubble tips, and crumbling buildings add an air of quiet desolation to the village, and the hills seen to echo from the past, tales of the grandeur that was theirs.

On again, for a further 1½ miles to Whetton Mill.  It is here that our caves really begin, for here the river suddenly plunges underground and is not seen again for six miles.  The river vanishes at Whetton Mill Sink, and many attempts to force a way through have failed, even though the river can be heard in several of the swallets hereabouts.  At Whetton Mill are a number of small caves and swallets, but none extend for more than a few feet.

About half a mile down the valley, however, a small cave on the west side of the dale has suddenly become important.  This is Ossom’s Crag Cave and. it is an old inlet water swallet.  On its joint excavation by the Peakland Archaeological Society and the Orpheus Caving Club it has produced much to interest both parties.

Just down the valley from ‘Ossom’s’ and on the right, a small swallet entrance can be seen in the now dry river bed.  This is Redhurst Swallet and although not an extensive cave, the narrow, twisting passages may well hold the key to further discoveries.

If, at this point we look to the left, we will see a mighty buttress of limestone soaring upwards for 500 feet.  Set right at the top is the enormous entrance of Thor’s Cave.  It is not of any great speleological interest but the huge vaulted chamber is well worth a visit, and the view is superb.

To the right of ‘Thor’s’ are a number of small caves, these being known as Fissure Cave, Seven Ways Cave and Elderbush Cave.  Elderbush Cave is the most important of the three, and has rather good possibilities, though not for a large system.  It has two nice chambers that were, until vandals got in, artistically decorated with calcite formations.  The Peakland Archaeological Society have excavated here for a number of years, and an excellent display of their finds can be seen in Buxton Museum.

Our next and last point of call is Beeston Tor, some two miles further down the valley.  Here the old railway track swings right down a side dale to the village of waterhouses.  The main valley continues on to Ilam where the river eventually breaks surface.

Past ‘Beeston’ there is very little to interest us other than a few old mines, but at Beeston Tor itself there is a cave of exceptional interest.  This is situated at the foot of the Tor and is known as St. Bertram’s Cave.  Again, though not a large cave, it has many possibilities, and is at present under excavation by the Orpheus.  It was previously excavated by the Peakland who discovered a hoard of Saxon coins and jewellery, perhaps hidden from the Danish invaders of Mercia.  The total length of this cave is 600 feet and it is easy exploration.

There are, of course, many other small caves in the Manifold, but I have not space to mention them all, however should anyone wish to visit them they can mostly be found by ‘rooting’ methods and all provide a measure of interest.

Stan Gee

On being a Cadet

By Jacka

“When I say ‘Move’, I want you to move: Move!”  These were the first words of command ever uttered to me.  On looking back we can laugh at the terror it struck in our hearts, but at the time it just wasn’t funny.  Imagine a new adherent to martial law, straight from the warm comfort of civilian life, straight from the tender caresses of one’s girl friend or wife, straight from that wonderful sanity and quiet orderliness of one's own home to the cold hard realities of a fighting service.

Cardington hadn’t shown cadets the way of the service world.  We were just people to be kitted out in accordance with the official scale and passed on.  Cranwell, that centre of tradition in which is nurtured the seed of a future leader was intent on one or two things: to make the man or break him.

But a short journey from Cranwell is Kirton in Lindsay, No. 2.I.T.S., the centre of so many hopes, so much misery, joy, heartbreak, terror, pain and occasionally a little comfort.  It lies in the district of Lindsay in Lincolnshire; it boasts its own headsman, its own block and the ever present Sword of Damocles which descends at very frequent intervals to remove heads from the cadets who have failed to make the grade.  On the course it fell 158 times, and 158 human souls were consigned to perdition for the balance of their national service.  Many a difficult letter was written home; many a pillow was wet.  Exams, exercises, tests, drill, exams, exercises, tests, so it went on, until 32 lucky ones were told that they would be accepted as Acting Pilot Officers on probation.  Postings, leave and then over to the Emerald isle perchance to fly.

Jacka
(nearly as per the song but not quite)

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The one hundredth number of the Belfry Bulletin is not far away.  It would be very nice if we could make it a double size number.  Therefore I ask that all make special effort to send in suitable articles for it.  If you mark your Mss plainly that it is for the 100th issue, and of course subject to the usual standards of acceptability, it will appear when the time comes.

T.H.S.

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T.H. Stanbury Hon. Editor, 48, Novers Park Rod, Knowle, Bristol. 4.

 

Notes on Cave Surveying Part 3.

by  S.J. ‘Alfie’ Collins.

The instruments described in Part 2, and the method of surveying which uses them, may be used on surveys raging from a simple surveyed sketch to an accurate and detailed survey.  The C.R.G. gradings for magnetic surveys are as follows:-

GRADE 3.

Bearings: Pocket compass graduated to 10 degrees.

Distances: Marked string or stick.

Elevations: Not measured.

This will produce a rough plan, a little more accurate than a guesswork drawing of Grade 2 standard.

GRADE 4.

Bearings: Prismatic compass reading to 1 degree.

Distances: Measuring tape or marked cord.

Elevations: Not measured.

This will produce a better job than Grade 3.  Again only a plan can be drawn.

GRADE 5.

Bearings: Calibrated prismatic compass.

Distances: Metallic or Steel Tape.

Elevations: Clinometer.

Complete plans and elevations may be drawn from data compiled by this method.

GRADE 6.

Bearings: Calibrated prismatic compass on tripod.

Distances: Steel tape or Chain.

Elevations: Clinometer on Tripod.

The maximum accuracy attainable from a magnetic survey may be reached by this method.

 

A Magnetic Survey.

Returning now to the use of these instruments in a magnetic survey, let us imagine that a small portion of a cave is required to be surveyed, consisting of a passage which forms a small loop in the side of a main passage.

A good plan is to draw a preliminary plane to C.R.G. Grade 2 before starting the survey proper.  Taking a note book down the cave, the rough plan shown is drawn on the next page.

A centre line is to be carried out on this passage, by methods described in Part 2 to the standard of Grade 5.  A portion of a survey such as this is called a TRAVERSE.  In this case, since the traverse forms a continuous loop, it is known as a CLOSED traverse.  The next part of these notes will describe the surveying operations.

‘Alfie’

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How are the mighty fallen!!!  A little bird whispered that Pongo now prefers Courting to Caving!  A gun is ready to shoot the little bird if the rumour is not factual.)

Congratulations to Tony Johnson on his engagement to Miss Mary Edwards of Plymton.

And also to John (Menace) Morris whose wife presented him with a son/daughter (???) about four months ago.

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It has been suggested that a ‘Can anyone tell me’ series be started in the BB.  I feel that this is an excellent idea and will do a lot to spread the specialised lore of individual members amongst the rest.  Therefore, anyone with queries under the above heading is asked to send then to the Editor.  Questions can be on anything connected with caving, climbing, archaeology etc., or to do with the club itself; names of those submitting the questions must be included, but will not be printed unless the person submitting the question so wishes.

T.H.S.

To start the series here is a question submitted by the originator of the idea: -

“Can anybody tell me why: -

Priddy Barrows are built in two groups of eight (I know there are only seven on one side now but one has obviously been flattened), and, if they were burial mounds, where was the settlement, or whatever it was called, that they served?”

“Why are the above called ‘Priddy Nine Barrows’ seeing that there are only eight?"

“Why are there no ‘Long Barrows’ in the area?”

“The Priddy Barrows are not the normal ‘hump’ type.  I believe that there are several types of Round Barrow, Disc, Bowl, and mound to name three.  What determined the selection of barrow type?”

Here is a final question for this month:-

“Why are so many Roman (& other) coins found?  Were the Romans (& Romano - Brits) so well off that they could scatter their wealth all over the country or did coinage mean so little to them that they very seldom retrieved that which they dropped?”

Over to the experts.  All answers to these questions, either theoretical or factual will be printed in subsequent issues.  I  propose to divided the questions into groups so that the subject matter is similar for all questions on any particular month, Ed.

Sonnets

By ‘Alfie’

Observe the latest electronic dodge
Resulting from the onward march of Science
As demonstrated at the Hunters’ Lodge.
The portable recorder - Brooks Appliance;
While cavers sing a thread of stainless steel
Is passing through the guts of this machine
Recording many verses of ‘Mobile’,
‘The Farmer’s Boy’ or ‘Little Angeline’.
Next morning, at the turning of a switch,
The singing and the jokes again you’ll hear
The merry clinking of the glasses which
Are gathered for another round of beer,
No use asserting ‘On my honour bright
I was sober as a judge last night!’

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Quite motionless he is in armchair deep
No honest beer could deal him such a blow.
Enfolded in a stupefying sleep
The demon ‘Triple Vintage’ laid him low,
What is this brew that incapacitates,
Sends stalwart cavers early to their beds
To slumber till its grim effect abates,
Upsets the tum and turns blue litmus red?
A bottleful you safely may imbibe
And still remain to drink a bottle more
Three bottles you probably survive
No caver yet, has got away with four,
One thing is sure - four bottles and I am
Quite liable to be as bad as Lamb.

4th. June 1955.

In which Eric (Doc) Houghton and Ron Newman lose a large Mountain for three hours, and having found it, are blasted off it again.

Cloud base was almost down to road level when we set off for Glyder Fach, and it took us three hours to find it.  The inevitable wind and rain were putting on their usual performance, but we were comforted in the knowledge that in about an hour we should be enjoying that comparative shelter of Chasm Route.

Following the stream up to Llyn Bochlwyd, we turned off to the left to ensure that we should strike the base of Glyder Fach well to the left, so that all we than had to do was to skirt its base to the right until we came across the Alphabet Slab, which I would readily recognise as soon as it loomed out of the mist.

Sure enough, in its due season, the base of a mountain appeared, so we turned to the right and followed it round.  After what appeared to be a longer walk than usual, the clouds suddenly dispersed for a very brief interval, just sufficient to reveal three amazing things: firstly, the ground ahead fell away instead of continuing to rise; secondly, there was no sign of Llyn Bochlwyd! and thirdly, there was a road ahead and below.  We were really gazing at the main Holyhead road from the upper part of Heather Terrace, having wandered around Tryfan for some considerable distance.  Without a second thought I concluded that we had followed the base of Glyder Fach right over the Col, and were now heading down towards Llanberis:  We had either struck Glyder Fach too far to the right originally, or else we had passed the Alphabet Slab unknowingly in the mist.  (Non-climbing section members should consult O/S map of Snowdonia, otherwise they miss all the funny part of this episode).

So!  The solution was easy – just turn around and retrace our steps, keeping our eyes open for the Alphabet Slab.  As we proceeded, part of a mountain face appeared occasionally through the mist on our left.  I remember remarking that it looked familiar, and concluded that is was Gribin Ridge, being just where it should be according to my calculations.  It was, of course, our lost mountain.  After some time on our new course, it became apparent that all was not correct: we were on gently sloping pastures instead of steep scree slopes. Our true position now was getting on towards Wrinkled Slabs on the west face of Tryfan.

In despair, we retired to the shores of Llyn Bochlwyd and ate a dismal snack, while I glared balefully across at the ‘Gribin’.  Suddenly the penny dropped: just above the scree slopes of my Gribin, and just below the cloud was a large triangular slab, Eureka!  The lost was found!  It was the Alphabet Slab of Glyder Fach, looking completely different from a slightly different angle and without its usual visible background of cliffs.  We set off towards it hurriedly, fearful lest our elusive goal vanish again.

We led through up a very soggy, streaming Alphabet Slab via Beta and pressed on up an equally soggy and streaming Chasm.  However, the going was strenuous, especially one diabolical variation devised by Eric, and we soon warmed up.

On the seventh pitch, which I had just led, the blasting occurred.  There was absolutely no warning; no tense feeling in the air, no bristling of hairs on back of neck.  I was in the act of belaying when there was a most appalling flash and a deafening crack simultaneously.  This was followed immediately by booming roars reverberating all around, a definite smell of burning, rather like the smell of burnt cordite on a rifle range, and the hum and clatter of falling rock.  Eric, belayed in the gully below, had disappeared behind a large boulder, and I joined him in a split second later by whipping the round a knob of rock and free-wheeling on my stomach down the pitch I had just climbed, braking on the rope.  As we huddled together there, stones continued to fall, some of them bouncing on top of our boulder.

A few seconds later a ferocious hail-storm began; fortunately its ferocity was matched only by its brevity.  Having had previous experience of electrical storms on mountains, I urged rapid retreat as soon as possible, and Eric did not appear inclined to argue.  As soon as the hail had stopped, we began to beat the record for rapid descent.  But even this consolation prize was denied us, for Eric got the rope stuck roping down a steep bit, and the time taken to climb up and recover it delayed us considerably.  We got very wet coming down.

Back on the road again, drinking tea, the sun shone, the birds gang, our sodden clothes steamed on up, and all the mountains, devoid of clouds, glistened in the still air.  Every feature of Glyder Fach was clearly visible.  We concluded that fate had not been on our side today.

Ron Newman.

 

Important Notice

The Club is purchasing the land on which the Belfry stands and the Hon. Treasurer will be pleased to receive donations towards the cost.  We have to raise about £50.

R.J.B.

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Anyone wishing to dispose of a leather bound copy of Balch’s Mendip Caves is asked to contact Bob Bagshaw.

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Mrs. Laura J. Hampton (nee Ford) of Gesling Hill, Thorner, nr. Leeds will be interested to know of any B.E.C. types thinking of caving in that district.  She may be able to supply tackle if required.  The only caving she has done this year is a descent of Gaping Ghyll.

Tom Pink of 53, Burnthwaite Road, Fulham, London, S.W.6., wants to contact other Londoners for discussions on caving and archaeology.  He has made several recent finds of flint tools etc. in Surrey.

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The Committee would like to draw attention of the Active caving members to Rule 15 so that more items of interest can be printed in the BB: -

‘Rule 15’.

‘A report of the Expedition to be written by the Leader of the Party in the Club Log Book’.

(The observance of this rule would mean that items of local interest would appear in the BB as abstracts from the Log book.  At present the almost total lack of caving news in the BB of a local nature is due to the complete lack not such news, not to any discrimination on the part of the Editorial Staff.  Ed.)

As there has been great controversy about the new Belfry Picture gallery, the Committee took it upon themselves to investigate the matter.  This being done it was decided that if better pictures, diagrams and photographs of climbing, caving and other subject could be found, the existing subjects would be replaced.

John Stafford reports that the climbing section is not so dead as most people think, and hope to publish an article in the near future.

Alfie Collins would be very grateful if those members with private caving logs from October 1953 would loan them to him in the near future.,

Tackle Notice.

From now on Club Tackle must not be left down any cave.  If special reasons obtain why tackle should remain underground for any length of time, Ian Dear, the Tackle Officer is to be consulted.

Over the Whitsun Holiday a party from the Orpheus Caving Club will be staying at the Belfry.

Club Trip.

There will be a Club Caving Trip to Lamb Leer on Whit-Saturday at 2.30.  The Blood Chit will be circulated on Club nights.  This trip has been arranged after great difficulty, so please make every effort to attend.

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Over Easter about 60 persons used the room that we use at the Hunters.  Most Mendip Clubs were represented.

A.S.

Editorial Note.

I am delighted in the large increase in the amount of news snippets being received.  The preceding two pages, although ‘bitty’ contain items of interest to all both active and otherwise.

There has been in the past long periods when month after month there has been literally nothing local to print, and for a club of our standing it seemed so strange that although all concerned know we are extremely active, though the eyes of our ‘Official’ organ we are stagnating in a morass of inactivity.

T.H.S.

Change of Address.

Members were no doubt intrigued by the address of Sett in the April BB.  I have no apologies to make.  Their address was again changed after the stencils were cut and so the simplest thing was to obliterate the address given rather than print a false one.  Here is the correct one: -

Mr. & Mrs. Setterington,
39. Kingston Road,
Taunton,
Somt.

Other changes.

Mr. K. Dobbs,
c/o Block &, Anderson Ltd,,
18. Sidwell Street,
Exeter,
Devon.

Mr. D. Radmore,
94. Maple Road,
Horfield, Bristol.

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In our recent list of Subscriptions no mention was made of the ‘Associate’ subscription.  This is of course, the same as that of ‘Junior’. i.e. 7/6.

Additions to Club Library.

Journal of Axbridge Caving Group. Vol. 1.  No.4.
Journal of Axbridge Caving Group. Vol. 2.  No.1.
Journal of Axbridge Caving Group. Vol. 2.  No.2.
Journal of Axbridge Caving Group. Vol. 2.  No.3.
Transactions of C.R.G. Vol. 3.  No.2. Dec. 1954.

Newsletters of : -

C.R.G. No. 51. Dec. 1954.
B.C.C.C. No. 2. Feb. 1955.
B.C.C.C. No. 2. Mch. 1955.
S.W.C.C. No. 11. Feb. 1955.
N.S.S. No. 11. Vol. 12.  Nov. 1954.
N.S.S. No. 2. Vol. 13.  Feb 1955.
N.S.S. No. 3. Vol. 13.  Mch. 1955.
W.S.G No. 53. April 1955.
W.C.C No. 50. April 1955.

Foreign Books.

            Italian

                    Carcolo Speologico Roman No.6 Dec. 1952.

            Spanish

Speleon Vol. 1 No.1. June 1950
Speleon Vol. 1 No.2. Sept. 1950
Speleon Vol. 1 No.3/4. Dec. 1950
Speleon Vol. 2 No.1. Mch. 1951
Speleon Vol. 2 No.2. Sept. 1951
Speleon Vol. 2 No.4. Dec. 1951
Speleon Vol. 3 No.1/2. Apr. 1952
Speleon Vol. 3 No.3. Sept. 1952
Speleon Vol. 3 No.4. Dec. 1952
Speleon Vol. 4 No.1. Mch. 1953
Speleon Vol. 4 No.2. June 1953
Speleon Vol. 4 No.4. Sept. 1953

There are now 140 books and over 200 newsletters in the club library & Mike Jones has claimed to have read them all.  Who is going to be the next to do so?

As you all know our librarian is John Ifold; His address is Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol and his phone number is Blagdon 432.

What the Well-dressed caver should wear.

By Pongo Wallis.

This article was written several years ago, but I only found it recently on looking though my cave library.  It is taken from ‘Comment on descend sous Teric’ – a manual of Speleology – by Robert de Joly.  Although many of his recommendations sound strange to us – and many would be quite unsuited to our conditions – it must be remembered that he has a very wide experience of caving and it may be assumed that under French conditions they would be suitable.

Clothes.

Over all should be worn a boiler-suit made of sail cloth as it is tough and ‘retains a certain suppleness even when wet.

The more protuberant parts of the body such as knees and elbows should be protected by a second layer of even tougher material as well as ½” of soft rubber.  Twelve (!) pockets should be provided as follow:

Outside.  Two on the chest for note-book and cigarette tin (if one is a smoker); a small one on the stomach for a watch.  Two on the thighs for a small pair of pliers and a scout s knife and one or two pitons,.  One placed high on each buttock for 100ft.of cord, some thin paper and a lighter; one along each thigh for a marking crayon (in a wooden tube) a whistle, a fat candle, a lighter running on butane and so on.  He doesn’t say where the kitchen sink goes.

If anyone tries to go caving on Mendip taking all this stuff with them, I’m going home so that I won’t be called out when they get stuck.  It seems to me that if the cave is big enough to get through wearing this lot one could take a small rucsac down with it all in.

Next to the skin wool should be worn as even if it gets wet there is not the very unpleasant wet sensation that cotton gives.  This I entirely agree with.

Shoes.

Only a good calf length boot is of any use.  The sole should be thick leather, with a rubber heal in the shape of a square-base pyramid.  This grips well on dry rock (but what about wet rock?) and absorbs a lot of jar in walking.  The nailing is most important, but mountaineering types are useless, merely serving to weight the boot (of the old adage “When you can scarcely lift the feet, the nailing mat be deemed complete”).  The ‘approved’ system is as follows:

On a piece of stainless steel an inch wide by 1/8” thick (drilled for lightness) are fixed 6 points of nickel chrome steel 1¼” long, well sharpened at the end.  These will grip in any small cracks in the rock and also grip well in mud etc.  On ladders the rungs go between the spikes, so it is impossible to slip.  (I am keeping well clear of anyone wearing these).  A metal toe-cap is also advisable and leather laces are the only reliable ones.

Hat.

A steel helmet is dangerous and tiring because of its weight.  If it should fall off down a pitch it could easily hurt anyone beneath very badly.  A beret is likewise useless as it is not suitable for carrying a lamp.  Only a rubber helmet should be used.  It should be 1½” thick of soft rubber on the top and about 12 thick on the sides.  It is light (½lb.) and it can also act as a buoy in case of immersion (?).  Although it stays on the head well, two straps should be used, one under the chin and the other round the back of the head.

Gloves.

For visiting some caves it is very important to have the hands covered with gloves of thick soft leather.  This is to keep the hands from contact with ropes which have touched decomposing bodies or even from touching the bodies themselves.  One must avoid cutting oneself and the calcite crystals are very sharp and rocks in stream beds can become like razors.

Pocket Accessories.

We won't speak of matches underground.  Lighters are much better.  One should always have two or three.  Two are petrol ones and the third a butane one.  They should have good big reservoirs to last a long time and should be in good working condition.  One should be waterproof and one should be permanently attached to the person.

A very useful tool is a small pair of pliers.  Also a knife with several blades is essential.

A watch should also be taken; not a ‘turnip’ not a wristwatch as this is too venerable.  A small pocket watch is best, but it should be shock and water proof.

De Joly’s book is very much of a manual and give instructions on all types of caving from sea caves to cave diving.  As I observed at the beginning not every thing is applicable to British conditions but even reading about the wrong things to wear makes one realise that caving clothes are things that require thought and that last year’s cast-offs -- or all too often one’s sister’s fashions of umpteen years back really just aren’t good enough.  I have remarked before in the BB that a cold caver is a bad caver, apart from which he won’t enjoy caving.  Of course, I know no caver is opposed to caving but it is merely an obtuse way of mortifying the flesh, but at least there is no need to make it even worse than it might be.

R.M.W.