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Feb 22/23          Climbing in North Wales

Feb 22/23          Giants – Oxlow, P8 etc.

SATURDAY MARCH 1st – 7.30 p.m.  AT THE BELFRY “Climbing in the Pyrenees” – an illustrated talk by ‘Kangy’

MARCH 29        Sleets Gill

MARCH 29        Pippikin

MARCH 30        Lancaster – Easegill



So you think you are safe on a Lifeline?

Some interesting experiments with a technique that perhaps we take too much for granted!

by Ian Wilton-Jones

My brother Graham and myself recently conducted some tests with various types of waist harness - tying them either tightly or loosely round different parts of the torso.  The results, while not comprehensive, were rather surprising and should affect the way many people apply lifelines to themselves - as well as prodding more people into making further tests.

We started these tests after my wealthy brother had shown off his Whillans Harness, and I had shown him how you could finish up hanging upside-down in it.  I then tied a 1" nylon waist loop around me to see how my body would hang in it.  Instead of determining the position, I found myself struggling for breath and in considerable pain, and we both concluded that - had I fallen a few feet the shock of breath being pushed out plus the severe pain might well have precluded any efforts at regaining hand and footholds.  To pretend to go caving in my dining room rather than work on the car in the pouring rain seemed a good idea.

We used three different waist loops.  1. A nylon tied loop, 2. A length of rope tied in a bowline and 3. A rather comfy (too good for caving) Karrimor waist belt of 2" padded nylon with a rope looped through it.  We are both very slightly built (skinny) and were both wearing a couple of pullovers round the areas we were tying the loops round.  The guinea pig lay between two chairs and was lifted off the ground by the other person standing astride him on the chairs.

Graham's old caving book explained that a loose loop should be tied round the upper torso (not the neck!) so we tried this first with a 1" nylon loop.  On hanging in it, it was found that it was very painful on the skin under the armpits; dug deeply into the ribs; less deeply into the shoulder blades, and caused considerable difficulty in breathing in and out. "Let's tie it tightly" we then thought.  This was even worse, with the pain getting worse all round, especially round the front of the body.  Breathing was even more difficult.

We now decided to try the more often used waist position, tying it quite tightly, the way one straps in a novice and, incidentally, the way I have always tied mine.  Hanging in agony, we concluded that this wasn't a good position - there was pain all round, especially in the kidneys, sides and diaphragm and the body's fight against that pain led to the diaphragm being almost un-useable for breathing.

We then tied it loosely around the waist (with about 7 inches of loose rope) and found the pain was now much less severe, and the much decreased strain on the diaphragm made it possible to breathe without too much discomfort.  This position was the only one which was, in our opinion, comfortable enough for us to test any shock loading.  Even so, we did not try proper shock leading, but one of us snatch pulled the other into the air, from slack, as quickly as possible.  This was found to be within the limits of pain, and we would have been able to regain a ladder in this case.  We didn't feel very enthusiastic about trying shock loading on the other three positions!

We then tried the four positions again, using a waist rope.  In both of the tight cases it was so painful that I refused to be lifted right off the ground.  The loose waist position was only just bearable for me, where as Graham found it a bit more comfortable - possibly due to his thicker pullovers.

With the Karrimor, the pain was much less in all cases, being rather comfortable in the loose waist position.  Once again, this was the only position we dared try shock loading.

Needless to say, we conclude that a loose waist harness should be fitted round the waist with about 7" of slack rope in the loop.  This figure is only approximate, but it must be borne in mind that the tighter it is, the more it hurts.  There is no worry for people of my shape, because my chest can't slip though the extra size (it may be no coincidence that my chest just happens to be 7" larger in circumference than my waist.)

The reason why the tight waist harness is so painful is because it rides up and, being tight, it digs into the diaphragm.  If the ride up could be prevented by a form of sit harness (a loop for each thigh, attached to the sides of the front of the harness) or a Whillans Harness if you want to spend good money damaging good equipment during general caving.  A twelve to thirteen foot length of tape can be knotted onto a suitable sit harness for lifelining and therefore you can increase your safety for under £1.

You may say that these tests are a waste of time because, in your experience, when you slip you only partly use the lifeline to regain your grip, so the real pain never comes.  But suppose the bolt falls out? or a water fall knocks you off the ladder?  Can you cope with the panic due to pain and the inability to breathe AS WELL AS your suspended troubles?  Don't pretend to be so hard try it, and let's see how hard you really are!  I think you'll find it quite a bit more painful than you realise.

Lastly, I must emphasise that we both have no surplus fat to cushion ourselves, and we would be interested to see what difference body size makes to the discomfort.

Editor's Note:     I haven't had the time to look up the article I have in mind, but it struck me that perhaps Tim Reynolds's prussicking harness, which was made of a single loop of rope (accurately made to measure) and fastened, if I remember rightly, with a single 'crab' might be worth trying here, and would not be too costly to make up.  I have been right off a ladder once (Hunters Hole) with the late Tan Dear lifelining with a loose loop round the upper chest and didn't find the pain all that great - but then I was ruddy fat in those days!


North Wales Weekend

A contribution from Our Climbing Secretary, Gerry Oaten.

I awoke to the shrill sound of the alarm clock at 7 a.m. "God!" I thought, "another Monday!"  Then I thought again "Hang on, though.  What happened to Saturday and Sunday? - and why am I in my sleeping bag?"

Then my sleep-numbed brain began to work.  Of course it was only Saturday, and I was sleeping in my tent in Llanberis pass. Mary stirred beside me and, as she had promised to get breakfast, I relieved my usual morning misery by helping her on her way with an elbow in the ribs a few times.  As I lay snug in my bag, I watched her make breakfast though half open eyes and it never ceases to amaze me how she manages to make it without getting out of her bag.

After eating my porridge, made the Scottish way with salt instead of sugar (which I complained about loudly and Mary ended up by calling me a Sassenach) we woke up ever - a pal of mine.

Mary, Tom and I drove to Ogwyn Valley and left the car at the Outdoor Pursuit Centre and started to walk up the Carnedds.  The ascent of the Carnedds via Pen-yr-OleuWen (3,211 ft) by way of the tea shack is straight up.  It is the steepest walk to over three thousand feet that I know. Unfortunately, a lot of the ascent is scree, which takes tree steps to achieve two.  As we reached the summit, the winds grew to fearsome force, tending to blow you over or bowl you along.  The view from the top of Pen-yr-Oleu-wen is quite breathtaking.  To the South West, Tryfan, the Glyders and Y Garn in all their glory and splendour.  Then, looking further to the West, the outline of Mynydd Perfedd.  The wind kept covering everything in mist - a spectacular view one minute and visibility down to a couple of hundred yards the next. We continued our walk via the ridge leading to Carnedd Daffydd (3,424ft).  The walk was now a gentle pace, following the cairns across a plateau.  Occasionally one of the many cairns turned out to be a rescue shelter made out of the scree.  It makes a rough but effective shelter from the powerful wind.  As we passed Carnedd Daffydd towards Craig Llugwy (3,185ft) the mist broke, revealing our objective - Carnedd Llywelyn (3,485ft).  To reach the base of Llywelyn one has to cross a ridge where the wind really was trying to push one over the lip of the ridge to the valley below, which would not have been nice.  Upon reaching the summit, visibility was down to nil.  We sought out a shelter and had our midday meal. After a short while we were joined by five men in orange cags, and a red setter dog.

"I wonder who they are?" said Tom.

"R.A.F.", I replied.  He regarded me with suitable amazement.

"How do you know?"

“One of them has it on his back in four inch letters!" I retorted.

As we prepared to move, we were joined by a chap who asked us whether we were going to Foel Fras. We replied "No," as it was out of our way.  He thought for a moment, then asked if he might join us because of the mist and the fact that he was by himself.  We agreed and set off for Penyrhelgidu (2,733ft) but, as nobody could agree on the right direction, out came the map and the compass.  Once we had our bearings we began to descend towards the ridge that leads to Penyrhelgidu.  Here, the mist broke once more and enabled us to scan the surrounding country for Roy and his party who were going to be half an hour behind us from the camp, but they were nowhere to be seen.  On reaching the summit, we had a short rest, as the walk up the last bit was quite steep. The next summit in the chain is pen Llithrig-y-wrach (2,122ft).  Still walking along a ridge, the pace was pleasant - we were out of the clouds and the sun was smiling upon us.  From the top, looking east, is the large Llyn Cowlyd reservoir, which looked very inviting from our lofty perch.  We set off towards the A5 road, which was a couple of miles in the distance.  There we said goodbye to our companion, and walked beside Llyn Ogwen back to the tea hut for a quick cup before we went back to the camp.

Saturday evening was spent quietly relaxing in the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, indulging in pints and whiskey chasers.  Here we heard what had happened to Roy and Co.  Upon reaching the summit of Pen-yr-Oleu-wen, they took the same route as we had but as they began the ascent of Carnedd Llywelyn, the mist came down and - with an inexperienced party - he decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and turned back.

After our early start (early for me, that is) on Saturday, we indulged in a bit of a lay in on Sunday. After a quick breakfast (too quick for my liking!) Mary, Tom and I walked to Nant Peris then took a path which led to Llyn y Cwrn.  Whether it was just the effect of too many chasers or whether I was just plain shattered, I just could not get into the rhythm of the walk, so by the time we reached the llyn I was not very happy with the world.  Mary kept striding ahead and I kept cursing her and promising to saw twelve inches (15½cms if you like - well, we are going metric!) off one leg. We continued our walk right up towards Y Garn (3,104ft).  Anyone who has walked this mountain will know that it is a long tedious slog.  After my first ascent of it, I promised myself never to do it again.  It is a slope of between 40 and 45 degrees and it just goes on and on - but here I was again – cursing!  Finally we reached the top where we had a snack and talked Mary (first with pleas then with threats) to go back down.  Anyway, the weather was getting worse (that's my excuse!).  On the way down, the mist cleared and once again we were confronted with a beautiful view of the train on the ridge leading to Snowdon.

Back at camp, we quickly packed our tents as the weather looked like breaking.  We were joined by Roy and Co. who had just walked around Llanberis.  As we drove out of the pass it started to rain, giving us our usual send off from North Wales.

The Climbing Section hope to hold several meets in North Wales this winter for snow climbing and walking, but as arrangements will be made at short notice, keep your ears open at the Hunters or the Seven Stars - or keep your eye open for anything on the Belfry notice board.



ANNUAL SUBS are due on the 31st of January.  This is a first reminder for 1975!


Caves in Greece

Another article which proves the old saying that the B.E.C. get every where!

By Colin Priddle.

Having spent six weeks on holiday in Greece this year it is inevitable that one comes across caves of one sort or another without really looking for them.

My wife Jan and I, being tourists, had a rucksack each and travelled by bus, train and boat living as cheaply as possible on local fruit, bread, cheese and fish.  We caught a boat from Dubrovnik in Jugoslavia to the island of Corfu, and from there a boat to Patras then we went down the west coast of the Peloponese by train staying for a night or two at a camping site or on a beach.

One afternoon, we caught a bus to a village called Otilon on the middle peninsula of the Peloponese (Akra Tenarch) arriving at 9.30 p.m.  Being late (for Greece) the conductor asked where we were staying. When we said we would go to the beach, he said it would be best to sleep on the bus, so after he and the bus driver bought us a meal we kipped down in the bus.

In the morning we found that we were in the tiniest of villages and saw the sea as a lovely bay about 600 feet below us.  Through the churchyard and down a steep donkey track we went and half an hour later we were by the sea.  After asking, we put up our tent in an olive grove about a hundred yards from the beach and went to the cluster of houses along the bay to buy some food. Unfortunately there were no good shops, so I was elected to climb back up the donkey path to the village we had left some two hours previously.  By this time, the day was hotter, so I stopped frequently to look around at the numerous cave entrances in the cliffs and slopes.  Reaching the village, I bought the usual food; but trying to buy candles where nobody spoke English proved impossible.  I’m sure they had some, but they were not on any of the shelves.

We stayed in the olive grove for two nights.  During the day it was too hot to climb to cave entrances, knowing that once there, a dozen matches would not take us in very far!  We had heard, however, of some show caves in the locality, so after our two nights we packed our tent and waited for the 7.30 bus.  It didn't arrive, so knowing that the next (and last!) bus was due at 12.30 p.m., we tried hitching and were lucky enough to get a lift directly to the show cave at Pirgos Dirou, which is some 15 miles from Oitilon.

Dirou caves are right on the coast and at sea level.  One cave was closed but the other consisted of two parts, the first by boat and the rest by walking.  We heard that the boat Journey was the best part so, as the total fees were over £1, we settled for the boat trip only, which halved the cost.  The cave was called Vylkhada and we boarded a punt-type boat in a well decorated chamber about a hundred yards from daylight.  The punt was propelled and guided by two men - one at the bow and one at the stern.  We moved through passages ten feet wide of varying height to regularly spaced chambers.  All was superbly decorated with straws and stalactites, the proliferation of which I had never seen before.  There was no part without some decoration - the beautiful orangy-pink stal seeming to dive straight into the crystal-clear water.  It really was a marvellous sight!

The lighting, both above and below water, was most effective.  The boat slid along with rocks sometimes inches below and sometimes out of sight in the green-blue depths.  The round trip took twenty minutes, so we reckoned that we went two kilometres or more, our only complaint being that we could have gone a lot slower and had more time to gaze at the fantastic sights.  I really would advise anyone who finds himself in the area to visit these lovely caves.  This part of Greece is relatively tourist-free, with only the Greeks; donkeys; goats and the barren limestone hills.

One very pleasant tip we discovered was to flavour the water with lemon juice, otherwise it is very brackish and sickly but nevertheless O.K. (at any rate, we were never ill drinking it.)  It mostly comes from shallow wells only a short distance from the beach, and this is general for most coastal areas of Greece.

Well, we carried on with our travels towards Athens travelling by bus over high, barren inland areas, through tiny villages, and towns like Sparti.  We did the usual tourist thing by visiting several ruins and amphitheatres (there is an excellent example of one at a place called Epidavros) and eventually, after a ten minute boat trip we arrived on the island of Spetre, one of the Saronic islands.  One of the problems of travelling in Greece is that you must always find a place to sleep costing as little as possible.  This is really pretty easy as the beach costs nothing and the local people don't mind if you sleep there with or without a tent.  Water is never a problem, but toilet facilities are - since they are usually completely lacking.

On Spetre we found that there was a good beach on the other side of the island and after a twenty minute bus ride we were there.  A church, restaurant and two houses were the only buildings at the back of a beautiful bay and beach.  Three or four others were sleeping at one end of this beach, and we pitched our tent alongside that of an Australian couple at one side of the bay, then we went swimming. The beach was occupied by a few holiday makers for about three or four hours each day, but for the rest of the time it was deserted.  However, there seemed to be quite a number of people using a track near us, and it was not long before I followed this track to its end - a hole in the rocks right on the sea shore.

Heaving myself down about six feet, I was amazed to find a concrete path that led away from daylight. Squatting by the entrance I could gradually make out a chamber filled with water with a beach and formations at one end and at the other a duck which led out to sea, through which light was filtering.  The next day we had to get to a town on the other side of the island for food and mosquito netting.  We bought food, netting and CANDLES and later that day went to the cave armed with our lights.

The cave was actually two chambers divided by the concrete path.  The right hand chamber was about twenty feet square and about six feet high with no formations.  The other chamber was about thirty feet square with a ten foot high roof.  It reminded me very much of Wookey 3.  It had a couple of sparkling stalagmite bosses which made it a pretty little cave.  The rock was conglomerate with some red sandstone, so how the stalagmites were formed is a mystery to me.

We left the beach after a few days and after visiting another island, we reached Athens.  This is a centre for young tourists.  There are cheap travel facilities (to England for £20, India for £45, Egypt for £17 etc.)  These facilities are supposed to be for students, but it was obvious that others could use them - like us!  Having booked our plane tickets for Nairobi, we left Athens for some further sightseeing amongst the Greek islands.

We went to Pares in the Cyclades, and visited the famous marble I caves I which produce marble (which was used to build many of the ancient Greek temples). We got on a bus and then wandered up a track to a marble quarry where a dozen or so men were shaping blocks from the beautiful white rock.  We found the 'caves' on the other side of the valley.  There were four entrances two were inclined shafts and two more like cave entrances.  Armed with candles, we explored the mines.  The main shafts went down at least 200 feet, with tunnels leading off to large chambers.  Everywhere glistened white, and walls of the white stone supported the roof.  We spent an hour or so exploring this mine.

A temple of Apollo was built on a hill near these mines and although only the foundations and a few other stones are still present, the main marble pillars can be seen built into an eighteenth century castle in the town and even the castle looks a bit odd with these and other features built into it.

The finale of our Greek holiday was a trip to the island of Delos, the ancient city of 20,000 inhabitants with temples; houses; courtyards; statues; villas and a stadium all now devoid of life except for thousands of lizards darting across the sun-drenched stones.


Annual Report Of The B.B.L.H.& S.R.G

This story is respectfully dedicated by the aged savants of the Belfry Bulletin Literary, Historical and Scientific Research Group (who endeavour to produce some seasonal nonsense every year for the Christmas edition of the B.B.) to Fred Davies.

He might, they hope, see some grotesque parallel between what follows here, and an incident concerning a meeting of the Council of Southern Caving Clubs, at which he was not present - having gone caving instead.  There might even be some sort of moral........ somewhere........

“A Tale of Two Caving Huts”

-------- I --------

It is midnight on Mendip, after an unusually hot summer weekend.  The last tints of colour have not long faded from the sky - and now the moon shines brightly down on dry stone wall and hawthorn tree alike.  All is still, apart from the soft tearing sound as here and there a cow still grazes.  From afar off, an owl hoots.

The vast army of squat little concrete huts which comprise the Mendip District Council's Caving Estate at Nordrach - which by day disfigures the face of Mendip almost as much as does the nearby University of Charterhouse, now looks slightly less revolting in the moonlight.  The horde of Hut Wardens; Tackle Officers; Caving Secretaries, members and guests who form the inhabitants of this dreadful place have all gone home.  The long lines of huts and the network of concrete paths now gleam more softly in the pale light of the moon and somehow contrive to look less like some enormous camp for displaced persons.

A solitary car, however, still stands in the car park; and the yellow gleam from the windows of Hut 213 single it out from the silvery ranks of its fellows.  Inside the hut, surrounded by a mass of paperwork, sits Sam Strangeways - the new secretary of the Haselbury Plunknett Speleological Society - taking his duties seriously, as indeed he must.  Before his predecessor cracked up from overwork, he had managed to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough by concluding an access agreement with a local farmer for Dribble Hole.  Although this cave is only fifteen feet long, Sam is weighing up how his club can use this agreement to their best advantage.  He is moderately certain that the Perronarworthel Pothole Club might be induced to back his application to the Council for holding on to the agreement, which, of course, would give them both a lever against the Kingston Bagpuize Caving Group.  The reaction of the Nunney Association for Speleological Regression would be less predictable.  It is quite a problem.

But, thinks Sam, as he sits and ponders over the delicate balance between the five hundred clubs on the estate, it is a typical problem of present-day caving.  He sighs as he realises that next weekend will be just like all the others.  It is hardly likely that his club will be able to find the time to look for another cave as big as Dribble Hole.  Instead, Saturday morning will be spent in a hectic round of visits to other caving huts on the estate, sounding out opinions and listening to any rumours, and rushing back at intervals to Hut 213 to keep the others informed on the latest shifts of policy, so that they can deal with the other secretaries, who will be rushing round with equal determination.  After this, there might be time for a quick bite to eat before going to the Great Hall of the University of Charterhouse for the weekly meeting of the Southern Council.  After this, there will be the usual session of drinks at the student’s bar; where the give-and-take will be less official but equally hard.  Finally, they will get back to Hut 213 and stagger into their bunks - worn out by the days caving activity.  Sunday morning will be spent in planning the next week’s campaign and holding a post-mortem on the last Council meeting.  No wonder, thinks Sam, that the last Secretary of his club had cracked up.

With a sigh, Sam wrenches his mind away from these morbid thoughts and begins to stack his papers into his bulging briefcase.  With a final glance round the hut, he turns off the lights and makes his way thoughtfully to his waiting car and, one presumes, to Haselbury Plunknett.

-------- II --------

It is now Saturday, on the following weekend. The weather, as if ashamed of its temporary lapse, has now reverted to its normal summer behaviour.  A heavy, damp mist hangs over Mendip, turning everything to a uniform dull grey and finding its way through the many chinks resulting from the over-hasty construction of the University of Charterhouse.  Sam is in his car, and about to set off for the meeting.  His head is full of complex policy decisions.  The matter of the Dribble Hole agreement is fraught with danger and knife-edge diplomatic moves.  He starts off and drives mechanically through the mist.

Suddenly, Sam realises that he is on the wrong road.  He stops the car and peers into the thickening mist.  None of the terrain looks familiar.  Panic-stricken, he realises that he will be late for the meeting. Without his vote and speech, the Kingston Bagpuize might even side with the Perranarworthel!

All around him, Mendip lies still and silent, much as it did all through the centuries before cavers appeared on the scene.  As Sam scans the dim outlines of old walls lining the road, a strange peace begins to settle over him and the University of Charterhouse begins to feel as insubstantial as its already corroding bits of flashy aluminium really are.  With a sudden, decisive movement, Sam winds down the window and flings his briefcase out.  A great load seems suddenly to be lifted from his mind.  With a faint smile on his lips, he lets in the clutch and drives off slowly into the unknown.  It is a big moment for Sam.

-------- III --------

It is later the same afternoon.  Sam has now left the car and is walking across a mist-covered field in which the vague shapes of cows can be dimly discerned.  Soon, he finds himself going steeply downhill.  He has arrived at a swallet.  At the bottom, there is a locked cave entrance.  Sam gazes at it with longing; recalling half-forgotten experiences.  He is startled to hear the sounds of approaching people, sounding muffled in the mist.  Looking in the direction of these sounds, he can soon distinguish several scruffily dressed individuals who are carrying caving gear.  Their leader, a large powerfully-built man, gives Sam a long, hard, appraising glance.

"Want to go down, lad?"

"Yes, please," Sam replies, suddenly realising that this is what he does want to do more than anything else.

"Get the lad some spare clothes and a helmet, Fred while I pick this ruddy lock!" the large man roars at a wiry-looking individual, who promptly disappears into the mist on this errand of mercy.

-------- IV --------

The great Hall of the University Of Charterhouse is packed, stressing some of it’s badly designed and poorly assembled girders close to breaking point.  The General Secretary is calling the roll of constituent clubs: -

‘ Glastonbury Spelaeos.’


‘Goblin Coombe Caving Club.’


‘Gordano Exploration Group.’


‘Haselbury Plunknett Spelaeos.’

There is a silence, as four hundred and ninety nine delegates look at each other, wondering what could have happened.  They think variously in terms of falling asleep at the wheel; collapse due to overwork and so on. Not a single delegate imagines anything as wildly improbable as the truth.  The secretary of the Haselbury Plunknett Spelaeological Society has gone caving!

-------- V --------

It is now very much later on that same fateful day.  Sam is now lying in a bunk within a caving hut whose very existence he has never even suspected.  It is not on the Nordrach Estate.  It is, in fact, the Belfry.

As he relaxes, in a pleasant half-sloshed condition, he is recalling the events of the day.  A day which has given him more pleasure than he had thought possible.  There was the joy of once more being underground with friendly and experienced companions - the feel of rock and rung and water.  Then there was the coming out, tired but happy followed by the stew; the beer; the jokes; the songs; the journey back to the hut and the final cup of coffee.

Sam's only regret is that to-morrow he must return to Hut 213 and face harsh reality once more.  He is sure that these friendly, carefree cavers he has just met must represent some sort of unofficial set-up which, sooner or later, would find itself caught up in the complex machinery of real caving. With their complete ignorance of the cut and thrust of caving politics, they would never survive a moment.  He must warn them before it is too late for them to learn!  They obviously have no idea of what is happening in the real world outside.  He is still thinking along these lines when he falls into a deep and refreshing sleep.

-------- VI --------

It is now Sunday morning. Sam has just woken up and been handed a steaming mug of coffee by Fred Ferrett, who has already got up to perform this humane task.  The others are all stirring.  In one corner, Ron Runnit, the Hut Warden, is sitting up drinking his coffee.  In another, the bulk of Pete Pushem stirs under a pile of assorted cast-off blankets and finally heaves into view. He stretches out a great hand for his mug of coffee and focuses his eyes on Sam.

"Morning, lad. How's the ruddy head?"

Sam, after a quick inspection, is able to assure Pete that his head is in working order, his information is well received.

"That's the ruddy stuff, lad!  You’ll never be a member of this ruddy club if you can’t hold your ruddy beer!"

At the words, 'member of this ruddy club', Sam remembers his mission to acquaint these folk with the facts of caving life.  He looks around at the cheerful disorder of the hut - mentally comparing it with the antiseptic cleanliness of Hut 213, cleaned once a week by the council - and realises the enormous gap he must somehow try to bridge.  His face falls.

"What is the rouble, lad? " booms the voice of Pete Pushem once more, "Ruddy gut?"

With much misgiving, Sam falteringly tries to explain.  A sound like an earthquake interrupts his efforts as Pete's bunk rocks with his great roars of laughter.  It is just as well that Pete's bunk is not in the great hall of the University of Charterhouse.  Pete finally becomes coherent.

"You're all right, Sam!" he says at last. "You'll do. Trying to warn us about all the trouble at ruddy Nordrach and Charterhouse?  Telling us that if we didn't ruddy watch it, we’d be organised out of existence?  Is that what you were going to ruddy say? "

Sam merely nods his head. He cannot find words to express his amazement.

"You didn't think, lad", Pete says as to a young child, "that all the ruddy trouble between ruddy caving clubs happens ruddy naturally?  It takes ruddy organisation, that does!"  There is a note of simple pride in his voice as he goes on.

"You see, lad, with so many ruddy clubs about, it was getting damn nigh impossible to get down ruddy caves, so we did a bit of thinking.  We reckoned that we'd never stop them coming to ruddy Mendip, so we decided to give 'em something else to do when they ruddy got here."

Sam's brain is rapidly getting into gear.  He will make a B.E.C. member yet.  He is still, however, a trifle confused.

"But how," he asks Pete, "do you do it all?  You'd need an army of spies to start with."


It is Ron Runnit who speaks. "My old man got the contract to build the Nordrach Estate.  We hid mikes in all the huts.  We run the tapes back every Wednesday in the pub.  Gives us a couple of days to drop a hint here; spread a rumour there; do a bit of stirring somewhere else and bingo!  They're all at each other's throats again with no time left for caving. We've got it to a fine art, although I say it as shouldn't."

Sam's brain is now shifting from third to top.  He sees both sides of this shrewd scheme and is not altogether happy with the result.

"It's a bit unfair." he says slowly, not wishing to give offence.  Those poor beggars don't stand a chance!"

"Yes they ruddy do!" roars Pete."  Look lad, proper cavers are ruddy individuals.  They'd never stand for it.  All we're doing is looking after the blokes with no minds of their own. Anybody else doesn't have to play. Look at yourself, Sam!"

Before Sam can do more than think about what Pete is saying, a more practical note is struck by Ron, who points out that if they don't soon get up; have breakfast; muck the hut out and get moving, the pubs will be open.  Ever conscious of the more serious aspects of life, the B.E.C. take this sound hint.

-------- VII --------

It is late on Sunday evening.  The Nordrach Estate is once again deserted, as it was when this tale started.  Its exhausted inhabitants have all gone home to recover.  The girders beneath the Great Hall at Charterhouse are slowly creeping back to something approaching the shape hopefully envisaged by their designer.  Meanwhile, in a cosy Mendip pub, the B.E.C. are having the last drinks of the weekend.  They are relaxed and cheerful.  Sam has just adroitly manoeuvred Fred into buying the next round, but has been astute enough not to try that particular ploy on Pete, a fact which impresses Pete not a little.  In Pete's opinion, Sam will prove a credit to the club.  Pete is listening to what Sam is saying.

"The only thing that worries me is that - what ever is worth doing, you tend to - how shall I put it? do it, perhaps, to excess.  You're driving them a bit too hard.  There have been several nervous breakdowns this year already.  What we need is a bloke on the spot who can keep his ears open and use his loaf.  We can then see how hard we're driving them, and adjust the pressure to keep them at full stretch without crippling them."

Pete thinks this is interesting, but continues to listen while Ron takes up the debate on a serious note.

"But that means that you would have to be the bloke on the spot, Sam, and we can't expect you to go back to that ghastly estate and those terrible meetings.  Besides, my uncle put up the girders under the great hall at the university, and I personally wouldn't risk sitting in it for five minutes all by myself, let alone with five hundred other blokes for several hours."

Pete Pushem is still thinking.  He can already see great possibilities in having a bloke on the spot.  Much better control.  Of course, Sam couldn't actually be a delegate any more.  He'd need every Saturday for caving.  He ought to be somewhere where he could keep an eye open without wasting too much time.  A part time job in the estate office?  Ron's brother-in-law was on the district council.  Yes, it could all be arranged.

Pete grins. He has reached an important decision.  With a single gulp, he swallows the remains of his beer.  He turns to Sam.

"Drink up, lad!" he roars, "The next ruddy round's on me!'

Several pairs of startled eyes swivel rapidly in Pete's direction.  There is a moment of stunned silence - until the members present realise that, as always, Pete never does anything without a good reason.  Then, as one man, they bang their pots down on the bar. Pete is actually still grinning as he pays up.

The B.E.C. is about to improve its technique still further.

By way of an encore this year, the B.B. Literary, Historic and Scientific Research Group have also sent in this footnote about the work of that old club member, Charley Dickens.

After listening to the introduction to the play at the last club dinner, several astute members have pointed out that the entertainment given a few years ago - that tale about Oliver Lloyd, which, was performed under the title of ‘Oliver’ - was also written by Charley Dickens.

Rapid researches into the subject show that Charley wrote a number of pieces about the club besides the two already mentioned before he went up to London and turned professional.  There was, for instance, GREAT EXPECTORATIONS a tale about the more revolting aspects of Mendip life at the time.  Then there was HARD CLIMBS which speaks for itself. Perhaps his greatest effort was THE THICKWIG PAPERS - a tale about the publications department and the Cuthbert’s report and survey - but then again, perhaps not.

Altogether, Charley wrote rather a lot of stuff - rather like the B.B.L.H.& S.R.G., who would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.


Christmas Crossword

In order to give the poor old compiler a rest, there is no 'Monthly Crossword' in the B.B. this month. Instead, we have a crossword compiled by Andy Nichols, who says "The answer is shown TWICE in each clue  - once for novices and once for hard men.  Clues marked * will be easier for members who can remember when they last went down Swildons.







































































































































































3. Abstainer about secretary - have a go! (7)
9. Children wi'out one pointless looper. (5) *
10. Series near entrance a cut above others. (5) *
11. Bun-heaters association - all of us together. (3,4)
12. Sort of slack gathered in Mayday passage? (5)
13. Queen and commie strayed like lost sheep. (5)
14. Suffered by divers in sinuous sumps. (5)
17. Not off-peak, but punctual. (2,4)
18. 22/7 sensationalised crime in Shatter. (6) *
19. Sweet, sticky and calamitous for him. (5) *
22. Dim, uh; or just wet? (5)
24. Endless 28 or confused 4. (5)
25. Synthetic rope in foul, strong drink. (7)
26. Foreigners may need them for Cuthbert’s. (5)
27. What does Archer do at church? Tango? (5)
28. Belays for her test. (7)


1. Sailor an' fellow are optimistic.  Give up? (7,4) *
2. Ted's head and rodent’s head; he worshipped here (5,6) *
3. Swine’s at home, a bit hasty. (1,1)
4. - Where?  In the other eye! (5)
5. Doctor came first when Ratty's friend dug. (5)
6. A non-U place underground. (4) *
7. Getting closer but leaving the stream. (11) *
8. Scented subterranean scene worried drip-dry gene (6, 5) *
14. We're all for 11, initially. (1,1,1)
15. Wimple-wearer gives international body a point. (3)
16. Job for my little eye when odds start year. (3)
20. City stripper's object in present position. (5)
21. Sapper upset with spadework and funeral song. (5)
23. Dry earth in Hindustani. (4)
24. Old penny in three-cornered fight runs out. (4)

 ( Solution next month )

And for those who like a "crossword" that’s a bit different, we have been sent the following: -


































General Clue

This was compiled by Alan Thomas


1. Most conveniently situated cave on Mendip?
12. North in caving H.Q.; Royal Cipher and footwear with learner in it!
13. Thor shun eel piel


1. Examples of a bone found in meat.
2. Female sheep.
3. Cockney fowls?
4. Sold by cafes.
5. Relaxation.
6. Ours, perhaps?
7. Messes with a thousand missing.
8. Often dropped by Cockneys.
9. Flexible London pipe?
10. Old measures of cloth.
11. This puzzle may be completed with this.

Cave Notes

The club’s new occasional multi-subject caving report series has now its first number on sale at 30p. Also recently published is Caving Report No. 14 – again at 30p.


Buttermere Fells

Another tale of the North by the only club member who can sign his name with a X and get away with it, Bob Cross.

In the August of this year, I spent a couple of days camping in the Lake District at a small place on the banks of Buttermere called Gatesgarth. This is a tiny hamlet on the western side of the Honister Pass.  It is centred around a hill farm famous for its breed of sheep.  There is also a very pleasant camp site and a mountain rescue post.

This place is quieter than Borrowdale and has more subtle charms.  The valley contains two lakes, Buttermere and Crummock Water.  They are separated by a moraine dam.  Overlooking the valley in the South West is the great rampart of High Crag; High Stile and Red Pike.  Further west, overlooking Crummock Water is the lone hill Mellbreak. To the East and South East are the lovely Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike and to the North the larger masses of Grassmoor and Robinson.  All the mountains mentioned, except Haystacks and Mellbreak, exceed 2,000 feet above sea level.

From Gatesgarth, High Crag and High Stile take pride of place - thrusting in a steep mass of bracken, scree and crags into the sky.  I was determined to climb these, whatever the weather during the two days. The first morning, I was lucky. The sky was slightly overcast and the heights were in the mist, but here and there, particles of blue peeped through.

I gulped down my breakfast, donned my boots and rucksack and set out alone in the direction of High Stile, full of expectations.  The initial part of the climb lay over the water meadows in Warmscale Bottom to the lakeside footpath.  This morning, the lake was like a duck pond, reflecting the surrounding hills in its cool waters.  A forest of lush bracken clad the South shore of the lake, and the track meanders through this to the mouth of Birkness Gill.  This stream cascades over a jumble of rocks and pebbles from the recess of Birkness Coombe, a cool secluded corrie formed by the spurs of high Gap, High Stile and the ridge that joins them.

I paused here to swill my sweating brow, and then set off in bottom gear up the steep path made slippery by previous storms.  My boots had long since seen their best days and badly needed resoling, though there was still a bit of rubber left!

Climbing hills is a frustrating business, especially if you keep looking up to note your progress - best keep your eyes down and switch off your brain!

I got hot! Soon I could see the western end of Crummock Water, and with the sweat pouring out of my portly carcass, I wished somehow that I was in it.  I'd had a fair drop of chernic the previous night and was suffering from an affliction one might amusingly entitle "Wheeltappers Head".

Second wind always comes as the gradient eases off.  No chance here~ Birkness Gill rises in a steep scree filled gully and maintains a fierce gradient from source to mouth.  This coombe was a quiet place - not sombre or sinister more charitable with juicy bilberries and fat daft sheep.

I was at ease and smiled and muttered at the podgy sheep in half-witted abandon, a luxury that only solo tramping affords me - unless of course my companion is also a nutcase!  I carried on pounding up the hill till I stumbled on to the foot of a scree.

The last four hundred feet to the ridge was an unbroken scree in a gully.  I nearly fell over backwards twice and was dizzy with vertigo by the time I crawled out on to the top.  I sat on a flat slab while my heart beat returned to normal, and ate some bread and butter.

I was roughly on the same level as the hill across the valley but about three hundred feet lower than another hill due North.  These were Robinson (2,417ft) and Grassmoor (2,791ft) respectively.  Behind me I could see Pillar Kirk Fell and Great Gable.

After this rest, I walked over to the top of High Stile, North of this summit, a steep-sided spur overlooks Buttermere, and from the top of this spur you can see the valley below in detail spread out like an aerial picture.  Here, in a mossy hollow, I dined and took an hours nap.  From my little pulpit I could see the Solway Firth and the hills of Dumfries.

Half asleep, and suffering from acute indigestion caused by boiled eggs, I staggered off towards Red Pike, the Western end of the ridge.  Then I turned south and walked towards Steeple.  Far below I could see a mass of Sitca Spruce - Emmerdale Forest, and above this, that classic Lakeland crag, Pillar Rock - hanging there in space - over two thousand feet above the lovely river Liza.

By now it was past midday, and the mists had long since left the peaks.  What a pity I had run out of ridge and would have to return to the valley.

I have a liking for scree running that emerged on the isle of Skye some time ago, so I was delighted when, after a short easy walk down a grassy slope, I was peeing down a slope of scree of some eight hundred feet straight into Emmerdale Forest.  I leaped energetically down this, leaning well back, and digging in with my heels, no doubt doing my poor boots a world of good.  I stopped occasionally to empty the grit from my socks, and to pick some of the biggest bilberries I had ever seen, that grew in clumps amongst the debris. I was well-nigh knackered when I got down into the wood and glad of the shade and the springy forest floor underfoot.

Eventually I got to the river Liza where I washed my hot sticky trotters.  The air here was heavy with the scent of pinewood and alive with insects - including the bloody midge.

With cool feet, and a couple more midge bites, I set off along the dirt road to Black Sail Youth Hostel. After two miles of pleasant walking I reached the hostel, a timber building obviously copied from the old Belfry.

Outside were several scantily-clad females basking in the sun - an enjoyable and provocative sight. The last leg the journey now lay over Scarth Gap and so back into Warmscale Bottom.

I attacked this steep climb with gusto, remembering the saying; ‘The more it hurts; the more good it does you’.  Well, anyway, I was feeling a bit fitter than earlier in the day and I relished the thought of the Craven G. G. meet the following weekend.

Having walked over the top of Scarth Gap, I paused briefly, and then ran down into Warmscale Bottom where I took my boots and socks off and walked barefoot back to Gatesgarth and my tent.

After a meal, myself and two mates who had spent the day climbing near the Bodestone in Borrowdale all went to a pub called the Kirkstile Inn near Loweswater which, like everything else in this corner of Lakeland, was grand!

Editor's Note:

Bob sent with the above article a very fine biro sketch of the countryside described in the article. As it is two pages wide (and the centre pages of this B.B. were printed a very long time ago) and requires a photo plate to reproduce it, it has not been possible to include it in this B.B. However, we hope to include it in a B.B. early next year.


Dinner 1974

This being the festive season, this account of the 1974 club dinner by MIKE WHEADON might not come amiss:

Returning to Mendip this year after an absence of about eight years, I was somewhat surprised at the changes which had taken place.  I am not counting the fact that it is claimed that nobody goes caving or climbing any more - they never did!  (Yet the club's record in these fields is not so bad despite this fact). No!  I mean that the Saturday singing has ceased.  Even this massive change, I was told, was but nothing compared to the way that club dinners were now a complete dead loss.  Still, despite this warning, I paid my money and joined the other venturesome members and guests at the 1974 Club Dinner.

If you are wondering when the old windbag is going to tell you just how bad this dinner was - you are going to be disappointed.  The 1974 dinner was amongst the best I've ever been to since I joined the club way back. The venue this year was the Wells Blue School assembly hall and the proceedings were due to commence at the unusually early hour of 7.p.m.  From my point of view, this was a minor catastrophe, as I arrived with about two minutes to spare and made the shortest line possible to Roger's Mobile Hunters which was conveniently situated just inside the entrance and after a short eternity I managed to get a pint, but got in the state of having a cigarette in one hand; lighter in the other, and beer in the other. At this point, that girl with the alarming collection of holes instead of a skirt walked by and as I swung round I became a victim of thrown beer - my own.  When I had completed mopping up, there was only time for a quick glance round - noting several members of my own (and earlier) vintage - Blogg, to name but a few.  It was then time to obtain a bottle of vino at a very fair price before being called upon to dine.

The hall was laid out in an informal manner, being set with octagonal tables (seating eight ) placed in a random manner throughout the hall and after a bit of shuffling round and rearrangement, we were all seated and were then treated to an excellent meal.  I'm not sure that I ought to dwell on the menu - I can't have you slavering all over your B.B. - but it was very good, being hot where it should have been hot and cold where it should have been cold. If was 'cheffed' by Patti Palmer's brother Arthur, and his 'related' staff provided an excellent and efficient service, ensuring that extra helping went where they were needed.  Indeed, one member who I shall leave nameless (hint, if you like - D.H. has a moustache) managed to get all four selections of sweet simultaneously.

Towards the end of the dinner, the normal round of toasts were called for, with Bob Whatsisname almost proposing the health of the club and new secretary 'Wig' replying almost inaudibly.  Alan Thomas told his usual convoluted story in preparation for the toast of Absent Friends (personally I was sorry that my own list was so long) giving special mention to Sybil who is still, we hope, fit and well in Uganda.

This year brought a return to the B.E.C.'s own version of post prandial pleasures - a real 'first night' performance.  To an imaginary roll of drums, the stage curtains parted to reveal a freshly bearded and immaculately dressed Palmer, armed with an enormous scroll on which was inscribed a recently discovered play by a one time aspiring Mendip playwright Charley Dickens.  The title of this play was 'A Christmas Barrel' and some of our more unassuming members had offered to try their luck in the thespian role.  (By the way, this play later written as a novel has done rather well, I believe.)

At the risk of infringing copyright, I can tell you that the story centres round a grasping club treasurer, played superbly by Barrie, being faced with a plea from schoolboy Royston for a Christmas barrel.  When this request is churlishly refused, who should enter the scene but an ex-grasping club treasurer complete with chain and ball - which he handled with great dexterity - who is prepared to demonstrate the terrible possibilities for the future should the request still be withheld.

We see the spirit of Mendip Past - although one in the audience queried the first vowel - ably played by Pete Franklin, who showed us members drinking their beer, singing songs and knowing nearly all the words.  This was followed by Mendip Present, with members sipping half pints brought on to the stage by Roger Dors - no expense being spared on this production - and remembering that there was once a song called, now what was it?  A tongue twisting song by the Spirit of Mendip Present (Alfie in a long-haired wig) reminded us of the great number of clubs now on Mendip.  This scene was followed by Mendip to come, with Wig complete with slide rule and visually displayed computer caving from the laboratory supported only by lashings of fruit juice and a lab. assistant supported by a suitable harmonic dirge and presided over by the Spirit of Mendip to come in the person of Chris (I'm the dreaded Fagin!) Harvey. Need we say that when confronted by such a spectre, the treasurer at last coughs up!

Following the close of play (to thunderous applause and shouts of ‘author’) the remainder of the evening until midnight was spent in carousing, renewing old acquaintances and general merriment.  At the witching hour, the hall was closed so that the hard working staff could go home. I think that I can say without fear that a good time was had by all, and thanks are due to all those who organised the dinner and the entertainment.

I went up to the Belfry to sober up before going home, but unfortunately there were several barrels on and when they ran out, we fetched another - and what with singing and drinking, it was very early when I got home at last.


Otter Hole

A short article by ROY BENNETT on an interesting recent discovery in the Chepstow area


The cave entrance was found by R.H.B. as a result of the surface survey work being done in the Chepstow area for the Cambrian Cave Registry.  As first seen, it had a strongly draughting bedding plane a little way inside the entrance, and deeper choked extensions.  The bedding plane had been pushed some way by removing some stal deposit, but there were no signs of any recent digging, and work was commenced by the Wednesday Night Digging Team (Phil. Kingston, Colin Clark and Roy Bennett) aided by frequent applications of bang over a period of about two months.

The previous work had, in fact, been carried out by the Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club following a much in earlier discovery by Dave Parker (R.F.D.C.C. and G.S.S.) and they returned to dig more intensively in the deeper part just after the B.E.C. team started work.  The latter were blissfully ignorant of this activity, only finding out when they went into the lower cave to look for a missing bucket and found to their surprise that a big hole had been dug out and a breakthrough made (actually four days previously).  At this point, one of the diggers and party arrived and a rather heated discussion took place, to be continued later by telephone with the result that it was more or less accepted that the three B.E.C. diggers would take part in further exploration.

The Cave

So far, about fifteen hundred feet has been found with possibilities of further extensions.  The entrance series consists of a number of low bedding planes and rifts and is known to flood dangerously in at least one place on very high tides.  A party has already been caught near the entrance by a tide of over 46 feet which caused a very rapid water rise which almost sumped on the last person through.

Beyond this section, the passageway becomes sizeable with many fallen boulders, much mud and some nice but vulnerable stalagmite formations.  This section ends with a sump which rises and falls about 15 feet with the tide.  It will fall to an easily passed duck at low water and is being enlarged by the Forest Cavers.  At present this is a serious trap as the fall in level depends on the weather as well as the tide.  Thus, although several trips of a few hours to the far side have been made, after the very heavy rain in September it failed to open at all for about three weeks, rising to over ten feet above opening level even at low tide.  A probably by-pass is being currently worked on which should remove this risk except under very wet conditions.

Beyond the sump, a boulder ruckle leads to a mainly rift-like stream passage of impressive proportions and very well decorated in parts.  It ends in a large, loose boulder choke which has at present stopped further exploration.

For details of the R.F.D.C.C. digging and exploration etc, see the Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club Newsletter 54 November 1974.


Cuthberts Leaders Meeting

A description taken from the minutes of this meeting, which was held at the Belfry on the 17th November 1974.

The meeting was attended by R.Bennett, R.Craig, J. Durston, M.Jordan, R. King, T. Large, Dr. O. C. Lloyd, R. Mansfield, A. Meaden and M. Palmer.     Apologies were received from C. Clark, D. Irwin, G. Meyrick, B. Prewer and S. Tuck.     The minutes were taken by A. Nichols.

After the adoption of the minutes of the 1973 meeting, there was a general discussion on whether to remove all fixed tackle from the cave, but no agreement was reached.  In view of the mall attendance and the substantial majority at recent meetings in favour of keeping fixed tackle, the meeting decided not to make any recommendation to the B.E.C. Committee.

The removal of the tackle from the Maypole Series, as instructed by the 1973 meeting, was agreed to be satisfactory.  It was also decided not to recommend the replacement of the chain of ladder above Tin Mine, as the roof formations had now been damaged beyond repair.

There was a discussion on the desirability of having any tapes in the cave, but the majority at the meeting felt the need for some tapes, both to protect formations and to direct routes.  The meeting recommended the removal of the tapes in Pillar Chamber, with a direction to all leaders not to use the climb up on the left as a short cut to the normal route.  The meeting also recommended the removal of some of the tape in Boulder Chamber, but leaving enough to protect the Octopus formation and the false floor at the entrance to Curtain Chamber.  Finally, the meeting recommended the taping of the mud formations below the stal bank.

On the subject of digging sites, the meeting felt that there was too much mess from abandoned diggings in the cave and recommended that those responsible for the Gour Room dig should be asked to remove their equipment and that those responsible for the Mantrap dig should also be asked to remove their equipment.  They further recommended that the barrier a hundred feet down from the choke should be removed, that the Maypoles in High Chamber should be removed if they are no longer needed for surveying, that the equipment in Lake Chamber should be removed and that the Traverse Chamber dam should be removed.  They recommended that Tim Large's dig and all the other dams should be kept.

The meeting recommended that the tape measure and collecting bottles should be removed from the Railway Tunnel, as they no longer had any historic value.

The meeting approved the application of Gay Meyrick (S.M.C.C.) and recommended that her provisional Leadership should be confirmed.

The meeting felt that the present practice should continue, whereby people who have completed their form for leadership should be accepted as provisional leaders and given a key to the cave immediately but, because it may take up to a year before a provisional leader can be ratified as a full leader, leaders who sign off trips for prospective leaders must realise that they are not just confirming that the required route has been completed.

The meeting therefore recommended that on the form after the words 'other personal attributes will be judged by the leader on the trip and also the person's general attitude to caving and to cave preservation' there should be added ' the leader should only sign if these points are satisfactory'.

The meeting recommended that the lock on the cave entrance should be replaced by the B.E.C Caving Secretary with one of the spare locks.  It felt that the number of leaders was adequate and that there was no need to recruit more, but it recommended that the Caving Secretary should draw up and publish in the B.B. a complete list of those leaders still prepared to take trips, with their names and addresses.

The Caving Secretary reported that an increasing number of club members were not going about the procedure in a proper manner. The meeting recommended that the access rules for Cuthbert’s should be publicised in the B.B. and elsewhere.

M. Palmer, as the observing M.R.O. Warden, reported on the practise rescue from Long Chamber on the 26th of October and on the possibility of a fixed wire in the Wire Rift for use on rescues.  The wire would not be permanently in position.  The meeting recommended that the B.E.C. Committee should provide this tackle if there was enough money.

The poor attendance at this meeting was deplored.

Since this meeting, the recommendations have all been ratified by the Committee of the B.E.C.


Club Committee

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           Colin Dooley, John Dukes, Chris Howell, Dave Irwin, Tim Large, Andy Nicholls, Gerry Oaten, Barry Wilton

Officers of the Club

Honorary Secretary             D.J IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells Som.  Tel : PRIDDY 369

Honorary Treasurer             B. WILTON, ‘Valley View’, Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary                A. NICHOLLS, c/o The Belfry

Assist Cav. Sec.                T. LARGE, 15 Kippax Avenue, Wells, Somerset

Climbing Secretary             G. OATEN, 32 St. Marks Road, Easton, Bristol. Tele : BRISTOL 551163

Tacklemaster                     G. WILTON-JONES, ‘Ilenea’, Stonefield Road. Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks. Tele : HIGH WYCOMBE 3534

Hut Warden                       C. DOOLEY, 51 Ommaston Road., Harbourne, Birmingham 17. Tele : BIRMINGHAM 427 6122

Belfry Engineer                   J. DUKES, 4 Springfield Crscent, Southamton.  Tele : 0703 774649

B.B. Editor                         S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol. Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Publications Editor             C. HOWELL, 131 Sandon Road, Edgebaston, Birmingham 17.  Tele : (021) 429 5549

B.B. Postal                        BRENDA WILTON  Address as for Barry

Spares                              T. LARGE,  Address already given





November is, of course, the time when the annual list of paid-up members is issued.  In spite of fears to the contrary, the current list in this B.B. shows a total of 206 members - a gain of 2 on last year. While this is nothing to get wildly excited about, it is at least not the loss in membership that was predicted earlier on this year.

There is a danger when looking at membership figures of trying to read too much into them. However, on the principle that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, your editor will - perhaps foolishly - draw a few conclusions which may give the new membership secretary (when he or she has been appointed!) some food for thought.

There is no point, in my opinion, in having a vast drive for new members for its own sake. All this is most likely to do is to produce an unwieldy club full of the wrong sort of people.  On the other hand, the legacy we have with us as part of the price of getting the Belfry built is a large number of life members (27% of our total membership) who pay no further subscriptions - and a way to improve this ratio might not come amiss.

Incidentally, judging by the voting figures, the life members do not show up very well since only 34% of them voted - against 56% of the ordinary members.  This may, in some cases, be due to the fact that some life members, although still interested in the club, feel too out of touch to be able to vote.  On the other hand, it may be that some life members are no longer particularly interested.

If you look at the way in which club membership has grown over the years, you will find that the intake of new members has remained almost constant every year, at average of 27 per year since the end of the last war.  This year, with 24 new members, is quite typical - and there have been very few years which have not been.

The variation lies in the pattern of those who leave.  About half of these in a normal year are made up of people who have recently joined and - presumably - have not found caving, or climbing, or the B.E.C., to their liking.  Again this year is no exception - and there is little we can do about it.  The other half is made up of members of some years standing who, again presumably, find that they are losing interest or contact with the present club.  This is where I believe we could - and should - make some effort.

Many people have said to me that we should try to provide more for our older members. Perhaps gentler caving trips followed by social evenings from time to time.  It has even been suggested that we hold an older members dinner.  Other suggestions I have heard are that we should try to get older members up in the Belfry so that they could again get to know the present members of the club.

Looking at the present membership list, it is pleasant to see once more names like Arthur Ball, Stan Gee, Norman Petty, Phil Townsend and Mike Wheadon who, amongst others, have all re-joined this year.  With a bit of imagination and a little work, we could turn this trickle into a flood.

I must repeat that the above represents my personal view.  Perhaps you do not agree?  Perhaps you do?  In either case, why not write in with suggestions; offers, condemnations etc - so that we can all give the new membership secretary something to think about!



Access to St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

Access to St. Cuthbert’s Swallet is controlled by the B. E. C. and all parties visiting the cave MUST have a B.E.C. leader or a guest leader from another club.  A party wanting a trip in the cave should write to the Caving Secretary c/o The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  The Caving Sec. will then find them a leader, but MUST be given:-

1.                    The name of the visiting Club.

2.                    The date and time of the proposed trip.

3.                    The number in the party.

4.                    A stamped addressed envelope.

5.                    ONE MONTH'S NOTICE.

It is always possible, of course, for parties to arrange trips independently with leaders they know, or to take a chance on a leader being available when they visit the Belfry.  The system of guest leaders allows clubs who regularly visit the area to get their own leaders for St. Cuthbert’s.  To become a guest leader, you need to have a thorough knowledge of the cave (there are five specified routes which must be known) and "a responsible attitude to caving and cave preservation."

All parties visiting the cave with B.E.C. leaders are automatically covered by the B.E.C.'s insurance up to £100,000 - so all guest leaders are required to have insurance up to the same amount which will cover their party and indemnify the B.E.C. Potential guest leaders can get application forms from the Caving Secretary, who will arrange trips to cover the specified routes.  On all trips, the leader or guest leader has the ultimate say, and will refuse to begin or continue a trip if he thinks the party is inadequately equipped or incompetent.

These access conditions for St. Cuthbert’s have been published at the request of the Caving Secretary, Andy Nichols - who would like them made as widely known as possible, to avoid any misunderstanding from visiting clubs.


Maypole Dance

Another account of the Club's doings in the Pyrenees this year.  This time by Malcolm Jarrett

As may be imagined, mush of our time was spent while in the Pyrenees - in cases with French speleologists.  Notable amongst those was the infamous Ruben Gomez, expedition’s controller of ARSIP, and founder member of Karst.  ARSIP (Association des Rescherches Spelaeologiques Internationale de la Pierre St. Martin) is responsible for all aspects of caving within the area. KARST. (Kommittee d'Action Revolutionaire de Spelaeogogie et Terrorisme) is the nearest thing to the Elsan Club in France.  Amongst their aims are the destruction of the thirteen stations of the Cross at Lourdes and the complete removal of stal from show caves.  They produce a clandestine news sheet which we hope to obtain soon.

Ruben did much to help us, and we felt that we ought to repay the debt.  He seemed quite pleased to have half a dozen tame English cavers available.  The first idea to come to his mischievous mind was the de-rigging of the Annialarra. Before we said anything, we asked Dicky from Eldon what he thought of Annialarra.  "Well, it's like a 1,400 foot pitch with a few sparse ledges. Oh, yes!  It's damp and about 5OC."  Tactfully, we forgot about Annialarra and asked Ruben what else we could do.  He mused for a while and then said we could go and see his employer, Max Cosyns, who had a few jobs to do.

Max Cosyns has a vast range of interests, from nuclear physics to latex making.  He had been maypoling in the Grotte des Statactites Deviees some years ago, and wanted his pole back.

The G. des S.D. is situated in the Kakouetta Gorge.  Kakouetta is excellent with 600 foot cliffs on either side of a fair sized river and some fine speleological features.  The first mile or so of the gorge has been equipped with - bridges and hand wires to improve access.  The remainder of the gorge becomes wider, but very heavy going and there is no safe exit at the top end - as four of us found out when our pioneering spirits overwhelmed us. Another aspect which delighted us was the lack of commercialisation.  The gorge is owned by the local people who levy a very reasonable 30p charge for the use of their bridges.

One mile up the gorge is the Kakouetta cascade, emerging from about 40 feet up on the left hand side, looking upstream.  Little is known about the cave beyond this resurgence, except that in the fifth sump the cave plunges downhill, and that somewhere beyond here is a reservoir of huge proportions.  A few feet further up the gorge is the G. des S.D.  There are two ways into the cave. The first involves a 120 metre abseil (393 feet 6 inches as it used to be) passing an entrance 60 metres (197') up the cliff.  The second involves a short climb into a large but fairly well hidden entrance. The first method would have been preferable, as it avoids the 30p charge, and makes all the caving downhill. Unfortunately, we had only a 90 metre (295’) rope and the prospect of six or seven of us swinging on the end of it to stretch a further 30 metres out of it did not appeal.  Furthermore, we did not trust Max’s ten year old memories of where in the cliff top jungle the correct abseil point was.  A third problem was the possibility of playing Aunt Sally with ten ton boulders falling in tourists mouths as they gaped in awe (this is really an excuse for chickening out, but I've just thought it up). This left the alternative lower entrance.  Max said that it should be fairly easy, as there were some old wooden ladders in place.

And so Sue Holmes; Graham Wilton-Jones; Mike Palmer; John Dukes and I scrambled up the 3 metre (10') climb into the entrance.  Despite the grandiose proportions of the entrance, the only way into the rest of the cave is through a letter box ten feet off the ground. Fortunately there was a nearby sapling and we used this to stuff the ladder through the entrance.  Mike climbed the ladder and made it safe for the rest of us.  Inside the windy entrance, the cave opens out into a frost-shattered zone, which gently rises into a 12' ‘D’ section stal-lined tunnel.  This rises steadily via a short climb to a windy constriction, after which the cave resumes its old proportions.  Here we met the first of the fixed ladders.  They must have been frail when built in 1955, but with an eighth of an inch of stal cement all over them, they were just comical.  Kicking them aside, we rigged electron ladders in their place.  After another joke ladder, we climbed a few more feet into the final chamber, where a 12 metre (39’) climb awaited us.  This was the main obstacle between us and Max's maypole.  A 12 metre nylon bootlace hung tantalising from the void, but was not available for tackle hauling.  The remains of a tree lay rotting on the floor, after a previous party's climbing attempts.  This improvised maypole later broke under its own weight.

Unfortunately, we had no bolts or nuts for artificial climbing.  We had left this gear behind; thinking that we would do only sporting trips.  Ruben helped us borrow a few Simond pegs and we had to make do with these.  Mike and I ferreted around for a safe belay point to drive a peg in.  This proved fairly difficult, as most of the cave was stal'd over, and smooth. Eventually we managed to find a safe anchor and set about the climb.  An interesting experiment was the use of a well-known clog figure of eight the belay the ladder.  John and I had practised the idea up trees and found it successful.  Underground it was reasonable, but we were using 12mm 3-strand rope, and this tends to drag excessively.

After belaying the second, Mike set out up the climb, making reasonable progress as far as a ledge, and getting several runners in.  By this time, Sue had produced cups of piping hot tea, and this enticed Mike back down.  Next, John took over, and managed to get a few metres above the point that Mike had reached, over a slight overhang.  Progress was necessarily slow, so we had to leave at this point in order to get out of the Gorge in daylight.

Next day, bright and early, John, Graham and I returned to the cafe at the head of the gorge. The weather was steaming hot, so we lingered in the cafe as long as we dared.  After we had exhausted all the excuses for staying there, we staggered off up the gorge at mid day.  This time, we were much better equipped - sandwiches; soup; chocolate and sweets augmented our diet of tea.

I climbed into the letter box and wandered off into the cave.  Whilst I was playing with my stinky, Graham and John had decided that the sapling which we had used to stuff the ladder into the letter box might be a healthy addition to our collection of gear, so I lurched off into the cave covered in food parcels and primuses, while the others dragged their trophy into the cave.  Back at the scene of the crime, we decided that the previous line of approach led to a nasty blank section of wall, and that it would be better to alter the line of attack.  John removed all the runners from the previous climb, and we turned our attention to a greasy stal slope instead.  John made good progress to a point halfway up the climb, protecting himself well with pegs.  From this point, the climb became steeper and the holds fewer.  John returned to ground level and we passed a good time chatting. I then re-climbed and started to place a peg at a point where we could use caving ladders as etriers.  I started tapping the peg into its hole.  The peg did not produce the correct noises, but none of them had so far.  I put this down to the rock being different from normal outdoor specimens.  The peg went in a good way, and I was just giving it the finishing taps when it broke in two.  This was not too funny at the time, because we had been hanging on these pegs - and hanging on to them for some considerable time.  Obviously, we had to review the situation, and after looking at the way ahead, and the lack of protection, we decided to abandon the attempt.

In order to clear up quickly, John lowered me down the climb and I knocked out the runners as I passed them.  We had to leave a runner at the top of the climb, but this was preferable to climbing down.  The peg on which I had rested while placing the ill-fated one had split and came out looking like Britannia’s trident!

So we had to give up, purely for lack of safety equipment.  This was a shame, after Mike and John had tried so hard.  Next time, we’ll take an armoury of gear.  One small compensation was being allowed into the gorge free of charge.  The local community regards its limestone and caves as an asset.  Perhaps a few people over here should take note!

Editor's Note: The above article came complete with a message from the typist - Graham Wilton-Jones.

Just in case it sounds as though I went along simply to make up the numbers; carry tackle; drink beer at the cafe and cast aspersions at the climbing abilities of my fellows, that's right!  Yes, to all four reasons!  I also have a complete photographic record of the climb which will go with photographs to be taken next year during the successful completion of the climb.  And, while on the subject of next year.

John and I are already making plans for a return visit to the Pyrenees.  We will be away from Saturday, 19th July until Sunday the 31st August.  Some of the agenda is already planned, and there will be opportunity for sporting caving; scientific work of a limited nature original exploration and surveying, walking, sightseeing, imbibing and socialising. We shall be staying behind the Hotel des Touristes at Licq (some 60km out of Pau, not far from the Franco-Spanish border and equally close to the P.S.M.)  For about three weeks this will be our base.  John and I will also spend a week or more camped on the lapiaz - the vast, bare, limestone plateau between France and Spain.  Several members of club have shown an interest in this visit, and a number of these are definitely coming for periods of two to three weeks.  THIS TRIP IS OPEN TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE CLUB, AND ANYONE INTERESTED IS CORDIALLY INVITED ALONG.  Please get in touch with us as soon as you can, even if you cannot be certain of your arrangements so far in advance.

And don't anybody DARE say they didn't know early enough!

Anyone else who might be planning a trip - either in this country or abroad and who would be prepared for others to join in, should send in details to the B.B., so that the trip can be publicised and members given plenty of notice to join in.


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List 1974


Nicolette Abell

Ardtraskart, Greenway Lane, Bath


J.M. Bacon

12 Marine Road, Pensarn, Abergele, Wales

20 L

Bob Bagshaw

699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol, Avon

392 L

Mike Baker

22 Riverside Walk, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon


Arthur Ball

4 Charlotte Street, Cheadle, Cheshire


R. Bater

4 Butterfield Close, westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Mrs Bater

4 Butterfield Close, westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Chris Batstone

8 Prospect Place, Bathford, Bath, Avon

390 L

Joan Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol

214 L

Roy Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Bob Bidmead

63 Cassell Road, Fishponds, Bristol


Martin Bishop

Bishops Cottage, Priddy


E. Bishop

Bishops Cottage, Priddy


Sybil Bowden-Lyle

PO Box 15, Iganga, Busoga, Uganda

364 L

P. Blogg

5 Tyrolean Court, Cheviot Close, Avenue Road, Banstead, Surrey

336 L

Alan Bonner

Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland

751 L

T.A. Brookes

87 Wyatt Road, London, SW2


R. Brown

26 Cranleigh Gardens, Luton, Beds.


Mrs Brown

26 Cranleigh Gardens, Luton, Beds.


Viv Brown

3 Cross Street, Kingswood, Bristol


G. Buckham

13 Grosvenor Place, London Road, Bath


Tessa Burt

66 Roundwood Lane, Harpendon, Herts.


Ian Calder

Plas Pencelli, Pencelli, Brecon


Penelope Calder

Plas Pencelli, Pencelli, Brecon


R. Chandler

6 Blackcap close, Southgate, Crawley, West Sussex


Colin Clark

186 Cranbrook Road, Redland, Bristol

211 L

Clare Coase

5 Mandalay Flats, 10 Elsiemer Street, Long Jetty, N.S.W. 2262, Australia


J. Coleman

Little Green, Bunwell, Norfolk

89 L

Alfie Collins

Lavendar Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset


J. Cooke

Lancaster house, Tondu, Nr. Bridgend, S. Wales

377 L

D. Cooke-Yarborough

Lot 11 McKay Crescent, Orange, New South Wales, Australia


Tony Corrigan

48a Talbot Road, Knowle, Bristol 4


Mike Cowlishaw

Hilston, Cleveland Walk, Bath


Bob Cross

122 Pearson Lane, Bradford 9


I.M. Daniels

Handsworth, Pilgrims way, Chilham, Canterbury, Kent

405 L

Frank Darbon

PO Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada

423 L

Len Dawes

The Lodge, Main Street, Winster, Matlock, Derbyshire


Garth Dell

8 Portway, Old Sarum, Salisbury, Wiltshire


J. Dibben

17 Nevill Road, Bramshall, Stockport, Cheshire


Colin Dooley

497A City Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham 17


Angela Dooley

497A City Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham 17

164 L

Ken Dobbs

85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon


John Dukes

4 Springford Crescent, Lordswood, Southampton


S. Durston

7 Estuary Park, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset


Jim Durston

7 Estuary Park, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset


P. Eckford

80 Wilton Gardens, Shirley, Southampton

322 L

Bryan Ellis

7 School Lane, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset


C. Falshaw

23 Hallam Grange Crescent, Sheffield


R.J. Fisher

19 Alma Road, Portswood, Southampton

269 L

Tom Fletcher

11 Cow Lane, Bramcote, Nottingham.


D. Foxwell

870 Kebourne Road, Brentry, Bristol

404 L

Albert Francis

22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset


Joyce Franklin

12 Avon Way, Portishead, Bristol


Pete Franklin

12 Avon Way, Portishead, Bristol


Keith Franklin

3 Kinsley Road, Easton, Bristol


R.T. Gage

36 Woodland Road, Nailsea, Bristol


C. Gage

36 Woodland Road, Nailsea, Bristol


Leonard Gee

15 Warren Close, Denton, Manchester


Stan Gee

26 Parsonage Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport.


Bob Givens

Newstead Lodge, 1 Fields Green, Crawley, Sussex


Keith Gladman

29 Shenfield Road, Brentwood, Essex


E.M. Glanville

Jocelyn House Mews, Chard, Somerset


Martin Grass

14 Westlea Road, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts


Chris Hall

65 Valley View Road, Paulton, Bristol

432 L

Nigel Hallet

144 Stockwood Road, Bristol 4


P. Hamm

Address unknown

104 L

Mervyn Hannam

14 Inskip Place, St Annes, Lancashire

304 L

C.W. Harris

The Diocesan Registry, Wells, Somerset


Chris Harvey

Byways, Hanham Lane, Paulton, Nr. Bristol

4 L

Dan Hassell

Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset


Rodney Hobbs

Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Bristol


Sid Hobbs

Hokerstone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Sylvia Hobbs

Hokerstone Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


J.G. Hodgson

72 Chesterfield Road, Bristol 6


Mrs Hodgson

72 Chesterfield Road, Bristol 6


Mike Hogg

32 Birchley Heath, Nuneaton, Warks


Miss S. Holmes

32 Birchley Heath, Nuneaton, Warwickshire


J.H. Hookings

32 Churchill Road, Catshill, Bromsgrove, Worcs.

387 L

George Honey

Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden


C. Howell

131 Sandond Road, Edgebaston, Birmingham


P. Hudson

22 Glantawe Park Estate, Wind Road, Ystradgynlais, Wales


J.A. Hunt

35 Conygre Road, Filton, Bristol


J. Ifold

5 Rushgrove Gardens, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol


P. Ifold

The Cedars, Blackford, Nr. Wedmore, Cheddar


Maurise Iles

Waterworks Cottage, Gurmney Slade, Bath

540 L

Dave Irwin

Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Somerset


N. Jago

27 Quantock Road, Windmill Hill, Bristol 3


Ken James

5 Bay Tree Road, Weston-super-Mare


M. Jarrett

12 Edgecombe Hill, Hall Green, Birmingham

51 L

A Johnson

Warren Cottage, Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol

560 L

Frank Jones

8 York Gardens, Clifton, Bristol 8


Mrs. P. Jones

50 Louisville Avenue, Aberdeen


U. Jones

Marsh Farm, Askem in Furness, Lancs.

567 L

Alan Kennett

92 West Broadway, Henleaze, Bristol

316 L

Kangy King

22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Bristol, Avon

542 L

Phil Kingston

Address unknown

413 L

R. Kitchen

Overcombe, Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon


J.M. Knops

5 Kingsfield, Kingsway, Bath


D. Knowles

35 North Road, Watleys End, Winterbourne, Bristol

667 L

Tim Large

4 Albion Terrace, Upper Bristol Road, Bath


Peter Leigh

17 Northampton Road, Ecton, Northampton


P. Littlewood

22 Brockhurst Avenue, Burbage, Hankley, Leics.


Mrs Littlewood

22 Brockhurst Avenue, Burbage, Hankley, Leics


I. Livermore

9 Leystone, Close, Frome, Somerset

574 L

Oliver Lloyd

Withey House, Withey Close West, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


George Lucy

Pike Croft, Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks

495 L

Val Luckwill

8 Greenslade Road, Sedgeley hill, Dudley, Worcs.


D. McFarlane

24 Greenbank Gardens, Wallington, Fareham, Hants.

550 L

R A MacGregor

12 Douro Close, Baughurst, Basingstoke, Hants


J. Manchip

c/o/ Eticon Ltd., Bankhead Avenue, Sighthill, Edinburgh


A. Marchant

Manor Farm Cottage, Chilcote, Wells


I.K. Marshall

4 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol


I. Marshall

7 Fairacre Close, Lockleaze, Bristol

106 L

E.J. Mason

33 Broadleys Avenue, Henleaze, Bristol

558 L

Tony Meaden

Highcroft, Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset


D. Metcalf

52 Northfield Road, Peterborough. Northants.


K. Murray

17 Harrington Gardens, London SW7


A. Nichols

121 Wyndhams Court, Commercial Road, Southampton


M. O’Niell

21 Wickford, Drive, Harrow Hill, Romford, Essex


J. Orr

Flat 2, Dorset House, Basingstoke District Hospital, Basingstoke, Hants


P.A. Palfree

10 Maynard, Clutton, Nr. Bristol


D. Palmer

29 John Wesley Road, St. George, Bristol 3

396 L

Mike Palmer

27 Roman Way, Paulton, Nr. Bristol


J. Pearce

22 Tiverton Drive, New Eltham London, SE9


A. Pearce

5 Colmer Road, Yeovil, Somerset

22 L

Les Peters

21 Melbury Rd., Knowle Park, Bristol Avon


Norman Petty

Bankside Road, Brislington, Bristol

499 L

Tony Philpott

3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon


Graham Phippen

Rock Cottage, Rock Road, Wick, Bristol


P. Preece

c/o Dept. of Chemical Engineering, University of Leeds, Leeds


Brian Prewer

East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset


Colin Priddle

10 Franklyn Flats, Kopje Road, Gwelo, Rhodesia

481 L

John Ransom

21 Bradley Rd., Patchway, Bristol, Avon

452 L

Pam Rees

c/o The Belfry

343 L

A Rich

Box 126, Basham, Alberta Canada

672 L

R Richards

PO Box 141, Jacobs, Natal, South Africa


J. Rigler

239 Highlands Road, Catisfield, Fareham, Hants.


J. Riley

67 Alfred Hill Drive, Melba, Canberra, Australia


Mrs Riley

67 Alfred Hill Drive, Melba, Canberra, Australia


I.P. Rogers

56 Charlton lane, Brentry, Bristol


P.G. Rodgers

56 Charlton lane, Brentry, Bristol


Roger Sabido

1 Yeaomans Close, Stoke Bishop, Bristol


C. Sage

17 Westbourne Road, Downend, Bristol

240 L

Alan Sandall

43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon

359 L

Carol Sandall

43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon


D.R. Sanderson

23 Penzance Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex

237 L

B. Scott

Merrymead, Havestock Road, Winchester Hants


Dave Searle

Dolphin Cottage, The Beeches, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Kathy Searle

Dolphin Cottage, The Beeches, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Gordon Selby

2 Dodd Avenue, Wells, Somerset

78 L

R.A. Setterington

4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset

213 L

R. Setterington

4 Cavendish Road, Chiswick, London W4


A.O. Sharp

102 Sydney Place, Bath


N.K. Shaw

Queens Head Walk, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts


M.B. Slade

230 Southampton Road, Reading, Berks.


Dave Smith

14 Severn Way, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks.


Andy Sparrow

6 Downsway, Salisbury, Wilts


J.M. Stafford

Back Plaidy, King Edward, Nr Turriff, Aberdeen.

1 L

Harry Stanbury

31 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Bristol


Mrs I Stanbury

74 Redcatch, Knowle, Bristol


G. Standring

71 Vienna Road, Edgeley, Stockport, Chester

575 L

D. Statham

The Bungallow, North Barrow, Yeovil, Somerset

365 L

Roger Stenner

38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3

381 L

Daphne Stenner

38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3


Richard Stevenson

554 Bifield Road, Stockwood, Bristol


D. Stuckey

147 Blaisdon, Yate, Bristol


P. Sutton

75 Bredon, Yate, Bristol


J.G. Talbot

52 Galley Lane, Barnet, Herts.


Derek Targett

16 Phillis Hill, Midsomer Norton


M.D. Taylor

15 Kennington Avenue, Bishopston, Bristol


Nigel Taylor

Whiddon Farm, Chilcote, Nr. Wells, Somerset

284 L

Allan Thomas

Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset

348 L

D Thomas

Mantons, 2 St. Pauls Road, Tupsley, Hereford

571 L

N Thomas

Holly Lodge, Norwich Rd., Salhouse, Norwich, Norfolk.


M. Thomas

5 Woolcot St. Redland, Bristol 6


Buckett Tilbury

256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


Anne Tilbury

256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


Roger Toms

18 Hoton Road, Wysemold, Leicester


R.S. Toms

18 Hoton Road, Wysemold, Leicester


J.M. Postle Tompsett

11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex

74 L

M.J. Dizzie Tompsett

11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex


Phil Townsend

20 Lime Close, Prestbury. Cheltenham, Glos.

157 L

Jill Tuck

48 Wiston Path, Fairwater Way, Cwmbran, Gwent, Wales


Steve Tuck

3 Colles Close, Wells, Somerset


Tony Tucker

36 Norton Road, Knowle, Bristol


Sue Tucker

36 Norton Road, Knowle, Bristol


Dave Turner

Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath


John Turner

Orchard Cottage, 92 Church lane, Backwell, Avon


P. Turner

11 Harper Court, Honnington, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire


M.F. Turley

13 Cresham Walk, Tilgate, Crawley, Sussex

635 L

S. Tuttlebury

28 Butts Road, Alton, Hants.


J. Upsall

82 Eastland Road, Yeovil, Somerset


Mrs Upsall

82 Eastland Road, Yeovil, Somerset

175 L

Mrs D. Waddon

32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset


Eddie Welch

18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol


Mike Wheadon

91 The Oval, Bath


C.D. Wheeler

13 Greywell Avenue, Aldermoor, Southampton


Bob White

Mineries Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


Barry Wilton

27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol


Brenda Wilton

27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol


Graham Wilton-Jones

17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford


Ian Wilton-Jones

17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford


P. Wilkins

55 Eighth Avenue, Northville, Bristol


Alan Williams

Hendrew Farm, Llanderaied, Newport, Mon.


C.K. Williams

Whitestown Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Bristol


R.F. Wing

Penzance Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex


The above addresses are those on the card index from which the B.B. is sent out.  If any member notices any discrepancy in the address shown with his real address, he is advised to get in touch with the Hon. Sec. (later, the Membership Sec. when appointed) so that there is no chance of his B.B. or other club papers, going astray.

Committee Notice

The Committee are looking for a member to act as a Membership Secretary.  This has previously been mentioned in the B.B. and the committee are anxious to fill this post before the 31st January, when subs for 1975 are due.  Anybody interested should write to the Hon. Sec. or get in touch with any committee member.

Situations vacant:

Bob Cross is looking for business partner (female and single) to help him run a campsite and shop in Wasdale in the lakes during the spring and summer of 1975. Accommodation will be in a caravan, and profits will be split 50/50.  Bob says there will be ample time for walking, climbing and boozing.  Any girl interested in this opportunity should contact Bob for further details.  His address is: Bob Cross, 120 Pearson Lane, Bradford, BD4 6BF.


Members are reminded to fill in the caving log after each trip, and to sign tackle in an out properly AND to put tackle away in a clean and tidy condition after use.


Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany

Compiled by 'Wig'

133.  THRUPE LANE.  A permanent entrance is being dug, and to cover the cost of bang and materials, a charge of 10p a head is being made.  Please pay this - Tim Large will have details.  Nearby the main entrance, another site is being dug, and at the moment the diggers are a little puzzled as to which point of the Thrupe system they may be about to enter.

134.  WESLEY RIFT.  At the rear of Wesley Cottage, a J.C.B. opened up the top of a narrow, though caveable, rift.  On Sunday, 10th November 1974 Martin Bishop and Dave Irwin dug away the boulders blocking the entrance.  Though unable to enter due to a large boulder still blocking access, they were able to view down a ten foot deep rift with a way on to the West.  The next day, Martin Bishop and Ray Mansfield continued to dig with Ian Cavender (Martin Cavender's brother.)  The cave (rift?) is situated in dolomitic conglomerate overlying the coal measures and according to Willie Stanton the shales are causing the conglomerate to fracture - a similar situation to Sally's Rift near Bathhampton.

135.  NEWS  FROM AFRICA.  Since my query about Sybil (see 130) a letter has been received from 'Pope' (Colin Priddle) who made a detour from Nairobi with his wife to call in and see Sybil. He writes, 'We were the first visitors for five years and she was thrilled.  She is surviving there amidst the malaria, leprosy and food shortages, but I hope for sanity's sake she comes back to the U.K. soon.  It really is a struggle to get European food at a reasonable price - if it can be bought at all.  She is living on matoki (cooked green bananas) and there is only one other white person near'. We must hope that she manages to get back to Mendip soon.

136.  AND NEWS FROM SWEDEN.  As many of you know, George Honey lives permanently in Sweden, and has been ill for some years now. However, this does not seem to have stopped this enterprising member of the B.E.C., as he writes, 'I have now almost completed a replica of the old Belfry, which stands in the forest behind our house.  This is open to any club member and/or family who wishes to visit the area.  We live about 30 miles north of Stockholm (10 miles from the airport of Arlanda).  Unfortunately the nearest cave is nearly a thousand miles away but other activities (swimming, sailing, getting lost in the forest etc.) are available.  Anybody who feels like a holiday in Sweden please write to George Honey, Droppsta, 195 00 Marsta, Sweden.'  What about that for an offer? (and staying in a genuine replica Belfry as well! Incidentally, his wife, Britta, endorses this offer of George's and says that it makes no difference whether the members are known to the Honey's or not.  She has also kindly sent the club a donation of £10 for which we record our grateful thanks and hope that George keeps as well as possible.

137.  SUB-COMMMITTEE FORMED.  At the request of the A.G.M., a sub-committee comprising Martin Cavender, Bob White, Andy Nichols, Alfie and the Wig will look into the problems of insurance with particular reference to the caving and climbing trips which are not advertised within the club.  This committee will report its finding about mid 1975.

138.  ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY.  There has been little space lately for this feature, but the following will give some idea of what has been recently received by the club:-

Various O.S. maps.

Rock Face by Ron James (BBC publication) Bristol Regional Geology (H.M.S.O.)

Gloucester S.S. newsletters, Mar ,Apr, May, Sept 1974.

W.S.G. Bulletin Vol 8 No 2.

R.R.C.P.C. Newsletter Volume 11 number 3

Speleologica Emiliana - Notiziario Series 2,No 3

Die Hohle Vol 25 nos 1 and 2.

Cotham S.S, Memoirs Vol 4 1968/9

M.C.G. Journal No 5 1974

M.C.G. Newsletter number 108

Caving Supplies - latest price list. History of G.G. and Ingleborough Cave.

University of Oviedo - Speleon - Vol 2/4, Vo13/3 and Vol 4/2

Cerberus Spelaeo. Soc. Newsletter No 37

C.R.G. transactions Vol 15 No 4 and index 1972-73.

B.R.C.A. Bulletin No 5 and Trans. Vol 1 No 3.

Daily Telegraph Magazine - Changabang.


Current Titles in Spelaeology 1973.International Pt 2

St. Cuthbert’s Lead Works-Bought Out Ledger 1907/8.

Various U.I.S. Bulletins.

Dorset C.C. Journal Vol 3 No 1.

W.C.C. Journal No 154.

Our thanks to Phil Kingston, Chris Howell and Pete Palfrey for donations of maps, publications etc.

Caving and Climbing Programme.

DECEMBER 14th            Dan-yr-Ogof.

DECEMBER 15th            Pant Mawr.

JANUARY 17/19              Climbing in North Wales.

JANUARY 18th               Juniper.

JANUARY 19th               Heron and Yordas.

JANUARY 24/26              Joint meet at Derbyshire. (Climbing)

FEBRUARY 22/23           Climbing in North Wales.

FEBRUARY 22nd            Grants-Oxlow.

FEBRUARY 23rd             P8 and Show Caves.

MARCH 28th                   Sleets Gill.

MARCH 29th                   Pippikin.

MARCH 30th                   Lancaster-Easegill.

Additional Notes - Climbing.

There will also be a climbing trip arranged for the Christmas Weekend.  Throughout the winter months, trips will be arranged at short notice in addition to those above - depending on the availability of snow. Notice of these will be given at the 'Seven Stars' and the Hunters by word of mouth.  Notices will also be displayed at the Belfry.

Additional Notes - Caving.

On trips, particularly to Yorkshire, where much tackle is taken, the tackle counts as one person when working out the cost of transport.  The Caving Secretary would like to inform members that response to ‘away’ trips so far has been very poor and unless members are prepared to support such trips, it may prove necessary to cancel some of them in the future.


Monthly Crossword – Number 52.


1. Consumed in oblate spheroid. (3)
3. Slide another way to slip in a cave. (5)
7. This lime used once in cave diving. (4)
8. Suffering from exposure? (4)
10. Found at the Belfry or at the barbecue or in tables. (3)
11. Form of soft stal. (4)
12. Healthy resurgence? (4)
13. Local form of assistance found in farm roads. (1,1,1)
14. Half found in loose mineshaft. (4)
16. Mineral sort of rose. (4)
18. Cavers kept this in goon suits. (5)
19. Cave feature useful for overnight trip? (3)


2. Am appropriate part of a cave for this clue. (3)
4. This cave will glow on. (8)
5. Insane arrangement of water contrail. (3)
6. I manacle for one of 16 across on Mendip. (8)
7. Places, perhaps. (3).
9. An appropriate number of these are found in this part of Swildons. (5)
15. Aural receiver use in cave communication? (3)
17. Another receiver the caver finds useful. (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword



Club Committee

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           Colin Dooley, John Dukes, Chris Howell, Dave Irwin, Tim Large, Andy Nicholls, Gerry Oaten, Barry Wilton

Officers of the Club

Honorary Secretary                  D.J IRWIN

Honorary Treasurer                  B. WILTON

Caving Secretary                     A. NICHOLLS

Assistant Caving Secretary       T. LARGE

Climbing Secretary                  G. OATEN

Tacklemaster                          G. WILTON-JONES.

Hut Warden                             C. DOOLEY

Belfry Engineer                        J. DUKES

B.B. Editor                              S.J. COLLINS

Publications Editor                   C. HOWELL

B.B. Postal                             BRENDA WILTON

Honorary Librarian                    D. IRWIN

Spares                                    T. LARGE

(Address are omitted in this issue, as all members addresses are shown on pages 113 to 116)




Hopefully, by the time this B.B. comes out, nominations for the 1974-5 committee election will be in, and will provide enough candidates for an election to be held. It goes without saying that all members should vote and as many as possible turn up to the A.G.M. itself. It is only by doing so that we can be sure that the B.E.C. reflects the wishes of its members.

Caving For Beginners

Some readers may by now have seen the booklet which represents the Southern Council's official policy on the subject of novice training - or at any rate have heard of its existence.  Since the B.E.C. is one of the clubs endorsing this booklet, it may be of interest to quote one or two of the items affecting the general philosophy behind the scheme.  For example, 'It is certainly very dangerous, and probably incorrect, to present caving as a sport or game; times taken, points reached, numbers of obstacles overcome and, above all, any aspects of competition either imagined or contrived are wholly irrelevant.  The level of personal satisfaction obtained by the successful exploration of part of a cave system must be the only criterion.  There are no summits to be conquered or records to beat in a cave. Thus, the sole raison d'etre of caving is the exploration of an alien and unknown environment.  It may better be described as a hobby.'  In this connection, schemes for the severity grading of caves, an example of which formed the subject of a recent article in the B.B. ,are acceptable provided that they are used for information rather then for any competitive reason.

Prize Crossword

To mark the 50th appearance of the B.B. crossword, this month's crossword carries a prize of a bottle of wine which, if bought at the dinner, will be paid for in the case of the first person to present the editor with a correct solution.  If, by any chance, this B.B. arrives too late for the dinner, the prize will be paid out retrospectively to the winner. Naturally, the clues are a trifle harder than normal.



Letter To The Editor

Warren Cottage,
Station  Road,
Flax Bourton.
1st August 1974.

I was interested to see in the June B.B. that a tackle refurbishing programme was in progress. As the person who, I think, produced the first ‘C’ links for the club (from an organisation with a not dissimilar abbreviated name) perhaps some comments might be of interest.  I know that much water has flowed down holes since the early days and probably the links have been the subject of considerable study, but if some of the originals are still in use, as I believe they may be the original criteria that some of us decided upon for the originals cannot have been too wide of the mark.

First and foremost, remember that not all chain links can provide suitable raw material for ‘C’ links, although chain links are probably the best part-finished starting point. The links that we used were from high strength steel chain hoist links.  High strength, that is, in relation to the average link and not to steels in general.  Many chains are too malleable and 'C' links from them are liable to open up progressively in use.  Also, do not go from really high strength steels.  The weight saving does not outweigh the handling problems or other nastinesses during prolonged life.

Second, subject each link to a proof load test.  I cannot remember the figure we used, but I know it was related to the range of cable strengths we envisaged.  It was also rather less than the heaviest failing load of cables, as we argued that links would not see the same stress concentrations and abrasion as the cables.  If any are still in service, their markings will give you the figure we used.

Third, mark the safe working load (which was half our proof load) by light stamping on the side of the curved end of each link.  It could be argued that this should be done before proof testing, but I recall that we found that we did not affect either the proof or failing loads of the links we made by stamping afterwards.

Fourth, protect each link by some form of surface protective treatment such as zinc or cadmium plating.  It will wear in time, but will prolong life and can be replaced as necessary.

Finally, as a check, take a sample of the links and load them, in pairs, to failure. This failing load should be at least 50% above the proof load.  It normally will be.  I am sure that the B.E.C. still has access to such normal facilities as test machines and plating baths.  If not, I may be able to help.

Yours Sincerely,
Tony Johnson.

Editor's Note:     Tony may be surprised to learn that all the links at present in use, as far as I know, are from the original batch - although I am not sure if they were all stamped.  Present day members may be surprised to learn something of the care which people like Tony put into making things for club tackle.  I am sure that this information will be of great use in tackle making.


Club Officer’s Reports 1974 - Hon. Secretary's Report

The past year has been a turbulent one in the B.E.C. not, unfortunately, characterised by the amount of caving that has been done or successful action on the part of the committee.  The doubling of the membership subscription to £2.50 resulted in a net fall in membership. A further year’s inflation indicates that £2.50 is very cheap for B.E.C. membership now, and perhaps some of the people who have let their membership lapse, may renew it at the time of the dinner.

Early in the year, I attended the Grampian Dinner held in the Blue School at Wells.  The catering was so excellent that we immediately negotiated with the caterer (Pat Palmer's brother) to do the B.E.C. dinner.  The Hunters agreed to do the bar and wine service.  I am sure that you will find the arrangements more than satisfactory this year.  The price of £2 is chicken feed nowadays.

The committee has had no difficulty in maintaining a quorum.  N. Jago and D. Stuckey resigned and were replaced by G. Oaten and A. Nichols respectively.

Early in its term of office, the committee had several difficult problems to deal with. Their task was not made easier by the stubborn refusal on the part of some members to answer letters. Disloyalty to the democratically elected committee by certain members who were not prepared to do the job themselves has unfortunately also occurred.  Essential business with Mr. Foxwell has not been aided by individual members carrying on their own feuds with him.  However, after four years I am glad to say that the deed of variation has now been signed by all parties and there is no longer fear that we might have to payout large sums in this respect.

Some of the difficulties of the committee were of their own making.  I would list irregular attendance; reluctance to continue when there is a danger of missing the Hunters; personality clashes between members; reluctance to discuss important but boring matters; not carrying out actions previously agreed; a tendency to make rash statements in ignorance and even to tell lies to the committee and, finally, refusal of small minorities to stand by the decision of large majorities as the more serious short-comings of the present committee.

I am not trying to slate the committee of which I have been a member, but hope these criticisms may serve as advice for the future.  I am sure the other officers of the club could list the shortcomings of the Secretary and it would be a good idea if they did so for the guidance of my successor.

Our positions in the Cambrian and Southern Councils and the National Caving Association have been strong and relations with M.R.O. have been excellent.  We have been forced by needs of access to affiliate to the Northern Council.  We supported the rejection of an application from B.A.C.I. for membership of the Cambrian Council.  The Council of Southern Caving Clubs has set up its company.  The trustees are 'Alfie', Oliver Lloyd, Frank Murphy (of Spelaeo Rhal) and myself.  Mention should be made here of the excellent work done by Nigel Taylor in extending the M.R.O. store.

Nigel Taylor is not offering himself for re-election.  He has worked extremely hard at the running of the Belfry, always difficult and this year particularly so.  He richly deserves the thanks of the club.  My own reasons for not standing this year are complicated.  Suffice to say that I wish my successor well and will afford him any assistance I can.

There are four new candidates this year, a healthy sign, and I will just remind the electorate that one copy of the ballot paper is sent to each member who has paid his subscription by the date on which they are sent out.  It may be returned to me by post or handed to the chairman at the A.G.M. Persons paying their subscription later are not entitled to vote, and no may be given a second paper according to the rules.

A. Thomas.
Hon. Sec.


B.E.C. at P.S.M.

Andrew Nichols sends us this account of the recent trip to the Pyrenees.  He also sent a covering letter which promises more accounts from some of the others who went on this expedition.

For the last three years, Andy Nichols has trundled his way South to the Basses Pyrenees, there to fester not ten miles from some really difficult caves, as a recovery from ever sillier exams.  This year he was joined by Malcolm Jarrett, Sue Holmes, John Dukes, Graham Wilton-Jones and a canvas mansion full of Palmers; nominally as guests of the Cambridge University Caving Club - though the last of them left a couple of days after we arrived, deciding the superb weather was far too good to spend anywhere but at the seaside.

We arrived on the 15th August and stayed until the end of the month at our usual riverside campsite at Licq-Atherey.  By the 17th, even Andy had recovered from the trauma of arrival and he showed Malcolm, Sue and John around Betzulako Harpia, a cave high above the Col d'Erroimendi - pushed over the years by C.U.C.C. to the respectable length of 4 kilometres and notable for some excellent formations; the perfectly preserved claw marks of cave bears who climb fifty foot pitches, and lots of loose rocks.

The following day Andy, John and Malcolm struggled up a nearby mountain, with C.U.C.C's Mike Perryman, to descend Betchenkako Lezia.  Further up the mountain is the Gouffre d'Aphanices, discovered in 1972 and with three big pitches followed by a monstrous one of 328 metres (1,076 ft.) – wet!  Betchenka is much milder, with 180ft entrance followed by a series of vast chambers - an enjoyable trip which gripped John's imagination so much that he will deal with it in a separate report.

On Monday 19th, we festered.  A hotel in nearby Tardets burnt down, which whiled away the afternoon until Mike and Pat arrived with their children and Graham.  Tuesday saw us at the Col d’Erroimendi again to complete the exploration of Baratchegagnako Harpia, a task left for Andy by C.U.C.C.  He, John, Graham Malcolm and Sue were joined by Steve Dickenson (Dickie, staying on after a joint E.P.C. - U.L.S.A. push in the Pierre.  Baratchegagna is a dreadful cave, only 400 feet deep but formed entirely in one strongly shaled bed of rock which may look like limestone but which has the strength of wet cardboard.  Great sheets of it peeled off wherever we went.   Fortunately, the three points to investigate all linked up again with the series discovered the year before, and only one was of any length, a few hundred feet of shattered rift found by Dickie.  It led to a substantial chamber with two pitches of 35 feet leading off, which he and Andy descended to confirm the link with the lower series.  The length of new passage amounted to some 400 feet, leaving no possibilities for extension, so we fought our way out through the rain of boulders and went back to Lucq.

The 21st provided us with genuine rain.  We went for a walk up the Ehujarre gorge from Ste Engrace, a very silly business where Andy proved to be the only person without a cagoule and kept moaning like a demented Yeti about how wet he was.  Thursday was overcast but drier, so the whole party assembled at the Relais de la P.S.M. for a walk which took in the Lepineux and Tete Sauvage entrances to the Pierre, plus the Pic d'Atlas, which at 2,064 m (6,772ft) gave us some incredible views of the miles of barren lapiaz through the holes in the cloud below us.  During the walk the party came across two crates of unopened bottles of wine left ('abandoned' was the legal opinion) in a grassy patch in the clints.  Six B.E.C. members collapsed in a faint on the spot but, with admirable self-control, limited themselves to 'borrowing' only a litre which ended up empty after a couple of hundred yards.

Sad to say, a few miles later, three of the six sneaked off into the mist again in the direction of the bottles "just to see if they're still there, you understand. We wouldn't want anything to happen to them, would we?"  Nothing had. John, Malcolm and Andy went into a huddle and decided that nobody would mind if we went back with a bottle each in our pockets, but we were the B.E.C.

Local shepherds must have been surprised to see John ambling down the track to the relais, whistling nonchalantly, then hear him galloping away every time the mist swirled back and pretending to be a Pyrenean sheep in a hurry.  Behind him, Andy and Malcolm lurched about in the fog, carrying something that rattled and bumped.

"Hey, Stop!  What's that noise?  Not another bloody shepherd?"

"What noise?"

"Shhh….There it goes again!  Shall we run?"

 "Oh, that!  My guts again! - better carry on!"

…….lurch, rattle, totter………..

“Christ, this crate's heavy!  I must have a rest!"

“Well, we've got fifteen bottles in it.  'Course it's heavy!"

“Let’s drink another one now.  Make it a bit lighter."

A grinding of gears comes out of the mist, and Andy and Malc drop the crate in a panic and leap off the roadside to hide in a hole in the clints, listening for "We are the Exploration Club" played on a sheep bell which would indicate the return of John in the getaway car.  But this is only another shepherd's car.  Andy and Malc manage to find the crate again and pick it up, cursing. Eventually they reach the relais and creep forward to see what has gone wrong.

In true B.E.C. tradition, the getaway car has broken down.  A flat battery between us and the biggest wine haul in history.  In the end, we just load the crate in and it rattles so much as we bump-start John's car down 4,000ft of hill that every gendarme between the relais and Pau must have heard us.  Cunningly, we avoid them by going straight to the nearest hostelry.

On the 23rd, the weather changed, and in the whole party walked off up the extremely impressive Kakouetta Gorge from Ste Engrace to a point where the path ran out and the heat, the dust and the flies became too much.

"Of course, you can't get up the 100 ft cliffs at the end without pegs and etriers", the little man at the cafe assured us.

"Nonsense!  We'll find a way up if it takes all day!" said Mike, Graham, Steve and Malc. They did, and it was desperate - and it took all day.

"So what? "said Pat, Andy, John and Sue. "We're going back."  And that didn't take any time at all!

The weather was equally good the next day, so we went for a short walk up the Holzarte Gorge, the neighbour to the Kakouetta.  The highpoint was the suspension bridge across it which might have been designed by Brunel after the pub, and looked as if it hadn't been maintained since.  A good four hundred feet up, it was - and vibrated to the lightest step of the smallest Palmer.  Some walked slowly across; some shuffled uneasily, wishing they hadn't eaten sardines and raw onions for lunch; Malcolm pounded across it like a rampaging elephant, bellowing, "Don't panic!" at every bounce.

On Sunday, 25th everyone went up to the E.D.F. Hut, as Andy had negotiated a trip in the P.S.M. via Ruben Gomez and Doninique Prebende.  Entry was by the E.D.F. tunnel to the Salle Verna, the second largest chamber in the world.  The non-cavers (Pat, the two children and Steve) followed us a short distance up the streamway before being conducted back to the entrance.  Is Miss K. Palmer, at 5 years old, the youngest person ever to have been in the deepest cave in the world?  The remaining six then set off back upstream towards the foot of the Lapineux shaft and the memorial to Loubens - but we'd left it too late starting and were able to get no further than the traverse above the Salle Chevalier before time turned us back.

That evening was also marked by a birthday party, or rather by its beginning, since the nearby town of Tardets was 'en fete' all week and allowed several of us to stagger round with the level of blood in our alcohol systems reduced to normal Mendip level for days on end.

Monday was occupied again by Betchenkako Lezia where John, Malcolm, Sue, Andy and Graham had an enjoyable trip which took in all the known cave, estimated as some three kilometres with a maximum depth of 130 metres (426ft).

Tuesday was a fester day for all of us, combined with a trip to Oloron Ste Marie to borrow pitons for Wednesday's epic climb.

The climb, led by Mike and John, supported by Malcolm Sue and Graham, was to recover a maypole in the Grotte de la Stalactite Deviee, a short dry and well-decorated cave next to the great cascade resurgence in the Kakouetta Gorge. The resurgence is a major one, possibly for Anialarra, and the maypole had been used in an unsuccessful attempt to by-pass the fifth sump behind the cascade itself.  To recover it, an 18m (60ft) overhanging pitch had to be pegged all the way.  Bolts, which might have eased the problem, were unobtainable and after five hours our heroes were just over a third of the way up.

The following day, the same team minus Mike and Sue climbed another five metres (16ft), but had to abandon the job through lack of time and bolts.  Two pitons shattered in use, which didn't help.  So the maypole is still there and the passage it was used to reach is still un-entered.

Thursday was the last day.  Mike, Steve and Andy crawl up a small but ludicrously steep mountain which overhung Licq and had to be climbed if only for the name - Le Chapeau du Gendarme. Later, Mike, Pat and Andy took advantage of the cloudless sky to revisit the relais and photograph the lapiaz, followed by John, Malcolm and Graham after they had removed all the tackle from La Stalactite Deviee.  Then everyone went to the hotel at Lanne for a meal and an evening on the alcohol.  Or perhaps that was the evening before?  Or did we stay in Licq that evening?  The trouble with these week-long birthdays is that they make everything damnably confusing.  Anyway, wherever we went, the white crème de Menthe fairly flowed!  And on Friday 30th August, we left for England.


Club Officer’s Reports 1974 Climbing Report

Once again, the climbing section seems to stagnate, but, like a volcano, ready to erupt into life.  SNOW - that’s what we were waiting for last winter to erupt us to life!  We had hoped to get a little snow and ice climbing done in North Wales, but the weather was against us, with little or no snow, so nothing was done.

There were no organised meets arranged mainly because of the three day week, and the increase in the cost of fuel.

The start of May saw interest taking place on Thursday evenings at the Avon Gorge. Then members started doing some of the H.V.S. routes in the gorge on Sundays.  On a couple of occasions we really excelled ourselves and went to Wintour's Leap, Monmouthshire, where we nearly frightened ourselves to death.

The climbing holiday this year was at Pembrokeshire and North Wales.  Let's hope the climbing done was worthwhile and that we will read about it in the B.B.

I think the main reason for lack of interest in the section is the areas we climb in.  We are lucky to have such a large chunk of rock as the Avon Gorge on our door step, but if you do not climb constantly at H.V.S. or above, the routes left open to you are limited.  Therefore going the same climbs week after week gets somewhat tedious.  The Cheddar Gorge, lovely beauty spot, which is exactly what it is.  In the summer you can't climb there because of tourists. In the winter it's either too wet, too cold or the days are too short.

Let’s hope that, with the coming of new blood into the section, the fire to climb will once more be rekindled and give the climbing section the new lease of life it so sadly needs.

Climbing Sec.


Don’t forget the A.G.M & DINNER. SATURDAY 5th OCTOBER 1974

A.G.M. starts at the Belfry at 10.30 a.m. Dinner is the same evening.  BOOK WITH BARRY FOR THE DINNER BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! (See last month’s B.B. for full details).


Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany

By 'Wig'

111.     Priddy Green Sink.  Fred Davies and Ray Mansfield have almost reached their goal.  Cowsh Aven is now within twenty feet of the surface. A radio transmission located the spot in mid august and found it to be at the rear of the cowsheds (shibbins, if you are of West Country farming stock!)  As part of the agreement with the Maines, Fred has agreed to block off Priddy Green Sink. He’s laid a concrete block over the entrance and covered it with soil - so it's not lost for ever.

112.    East Twin Valley - Top Sink.  Wig is commencing a dig at this site.  Anyone interested in digging it will be very welcome. During the first week of September, Jim Durston and Wig visited the site one Thursday afternoon and found the water very high.  Digging was out, but inside the hole came a fine low rumbling noise of falling water. Maybe the Burrington master cave!

113.     Belfry fire repositioned.  Our grateful thanks to Bucket Tilbury for the magnificent job of removing the Belfry fire from its old position against the rear wall and replacing it in its new position just off centre of the room.  Apart from the chimney - now free of the double bend which was necessary to get it out through the rear wall, it allows people to sit round it and will throw more heat into the room.

114.    M.R.O. goes 999.  As from September 1st 1974, the callout procedure has been changed.  In future, all that is necessary is to dial 999 and ask the operator for: -


After the police have been contacted, STAY AT THE PHONE UNTIL CONTACTED BY AN M.R.O. WARDEN.  The M.R.O. signs outside caves have all been changed.  They were changed by Prew, Wig and Fred Davies together with helpers on August 31st, and the old signs were auctioned at the C.R.O. conference in September.

115.    New Caving Reports at the A.G.M.  Two new Caving Reports will be available.  Number 14, the long awaited PYRENEAN REPORT by Roy Bennett and the first of the journal type of CAVE NOTES 1974.  Both reports will cost 30p each.  Only 100 copies are available of each report. Also, a reprint of Caving Report number 1 Redcliffe Caves, Bristol, available at 25p - only 50 copies of this printing.  The whole range of other Caving Reports will be offered for sale as well.

116.    Combwich (Cannington) Quarry Cave.  Is threatened with possible quarrying.  The quarry owners have applied for an extension to their site - and the cave lies on this extension.  Prof. E.K. Tratman has submitted a report to the Ministry of the Environment.

117.     Roy Bennett at Chepstow Roy's latest site is the best to date.  After many years of walking the area and digging at several possible sites, he has at last located a small but extremely interesting cave.  Details and a survey of the cave will appear in Caving Report number 19 (due to appear later this year).  Anyone interested in digging with Roy on Wednesday evenings should first phone Roy at his home after 6 p.m. ( BRISTOL 627813 )

118.   Terry Baker's Dig.  Near the Mells Ironworks is proving very interesting according to Nig Taylor."  It lies on the edge of the river, in a similar position to Little Neath River Cave and if it goes it should prove very wet and interesting!  Talking of Nig Taylor, I wonder if he has given up the game of cops and robbers?  Anyway, N.R.A.S.A. are back together again digging somewhere (won't say where) but it appears to be an interesting dig.

119.   Rock Drills.  Several clubs have developed various types of rock drill to aid in persuading caves to move chemically.  Tim Large has spent quite a sum of money and time producing an improved rock drill based on an U.L.S.A. design.  It should prove interesting.  What about a paper for the journal type of Caving Report, Tim?

120.   Tights for Cavers!  Those who still depend on woollies for their caving exploits will breathe a sigh of relief that there are nylon tights on the market of interest to cavers.  Long Johns used to be the main stand by for the woolly wearers, but their price - about £2 to £3 nowadays - made one think twice about buying them.  Now nylon tights have been produced for football and athletic training - complete with zip if you require one - and are obtainable at Lewis's and Jones's at Bristol.  They are comfortable and warm.  (Editor's Note: Any truth in the rumour that ex W.D. carrying bags are to be replaced with a smart line in caver’s handbags?)

121.   Material for the B. B.  and for Caving Reports should be forthcoming from the various individuals who went on continental holidays this year - and who were lucky enough to avoid the collapsing travel agents.

122.   Swildons Hole.  The Wessex Cave Club have done it again.  An 80 odd page booklet of photographic record of Swildons Hole, including 60 pages of photographs going as far as Swildons 12 (although the photograph does give the impression of being taken in any stream cave!)  The price is £12 leather bound and £9 rexine bound and the edition is limited to 300 copies.  Apparently Wessex members are 'falling over themselves' to buy a copy on the basis that the book will become rare and will be a worth while investment.  This is rather akin to the stamp collector’s first day covers, which are generally ignored by keen collectors as they are manufactured specifically for this purpose. One wonders whether W.C.C. members will adopt the same approach to this speculative issue of a publication which deserves wider circulation.  The book is dedicated to Albert Maine, who deserves the grateful thanks of all cavers.

123.   Well at Bathford.  The first of the new multi-subject Caving Reports contains a description of a well at Bathford which was examined by Alan Thomas, Dave Irwin and Tony Tucker on the 18th August at the invitation of the owner who was put in touch with Alan by Martin Cavender of Harris and Harris, the club solicitors.

124.   Caves of Derbyshire.  A copy of the new edition of this book has been donated to the club library by Tony Oldham.  As many will know, Tony deals in caving publications and is prepared to send any member his current list of available books free.  Write to A.D. Oldham, 17 Freemantle Rd, Eastville, Bristol.  Incidentally, Tony informs me that Northern Caves, Volume I is out of print though some shops may have stocks left.

125.   Social and Scandal.  Congratulations to Maggie and Tim Large on the birth of a son - it appears to live up to its father's name by being 8lb 12oz.  Doing it to excess again, Large!  Our congratulation too to Alfie and Sally who have another daughter, born a day after Tim and Maggie's son.  In the next bed to Sally at Paulton Hospital she was surprised to find Lyn, Mike Baker's wife who has also had a son. Phil and Yo Kingston will be on their way to New Zealand in October.

126.   Cuthbert’s Celebrations.  On the 4th September, a distinguished gathering met at the Belfry and, under the leadership of the venerable Bennett and with Kangy following some way behind carefully carrying two bottles of champers together with the glasses (actually plastic cream cartons).  It was gratifying to see many of the early leaders present even though two of them didn't actually make it to the cave entrance but sat it out in the solitude of the Hunters.  The main party descended via the Waterfall and Wet pitches to the Water Chute and on through the By-Pass to congregate in the Dining Room.  An argument developed as to the location of the concrete dining table.  However, this was located and the drinks set up in an orderly fashion.

Kangy, having poured the drinks out and passed round the remainder of the booze in the bottle, called on the venerable Bennett to propose the toast to St. Cuthbert.  Having duly taken our fill of the sparkling wine, the discussion moved on to talk of having a similar event to mark the 25th anniversary.

Those present included the two most important - they descended the rift first to the head of Arête Pitch - Viv Brown and Roy Bennett, followed by Kangy; Martin Mills; (straight from his three months tour of the U.S.A.); John Eatough; Colin Clarke; Mike Palmer; Mike Wheadon; another venerable - Chris Falshaw; Phil Kingston; Tony Meadon; the Golden Oldie of Cowsh fame - Fred Davies; Wig; Tim Large; Barry (Goldilocks) Lane; Steve Tuck; John Attwood; Martin Webster (again, straight from a U.S.A. trip) and last but not least, Dave (Twittering) Turner.

Following the leaders get together, all surfaced and joined Albert Francis; Norman Petty and Roger Stenner in the pub.

127.   Polypropylene rope.  Several lengths of No 4 rope have been purchased by Graham Wilton-Jones for use as lifelines.  These will be added to the club tackle in the next few weeks.  Nylon rope is also being obtained - details later.  An article by John Hunt on S.R.T. will be of interest to members and will be published in the second Cave Notes to be published later on this year.

This edition (Caving Report No 19) will also include extensions to O.F.D. with surveys by Bucket Tilbury and Graham Wilton-Jones; a surveying feature 'Leg Length as a function of station to station accuracy in Centreline Surveying' by Alfie; Rod's Pot - a new survey by Wig, and details of the Withyhill survey - also Fairy Cave Quarry complete with a simplified survey.


Some further information on Deneholes

Since the recent article on Deneholes, we have received a letter from Roy Musgrove, of the Chelsea S.S. who writes as follows: -

Yes, people actually read exchange copies of the B.B.  I was interested to see the article in the July issue on the Hangman's Wood Deneholes.  They have been threatened by a road construction scheme.

However, I was disappointed to see no reference in the bibliography to records of the Chelsea Speleological Society, Volume 4, entitled simply 'Deneholes'.  This was written by Harry Pearman, founder member of C.S.S. who is a specialist in the subterranean South East of England.  It describes 73 Denehole sites, discusses their origin, and has a bibliography of 77 items.  It agrees that most were probably dug for chalk.

I enclose some advertising 'blurb' covering all our current publications on S.E. England, which you may like to make available to B.E.C. members, especially the D authors of the article.  How about getting 'Wig' to buy copies for the library?

We'll do better than that, Roy, and publish details of the publications you sent in this B.B. for all B.E.C. members.


Volume IV.


Volume V.



Volume VI.







by Harry Pearman.  Published 1965, reprinted 1970.  72pages 26 illustrations.

by John Henderson, Brian Hillman and Harry Pearman.  Published 1968.  84 pages with 33 illustrations.

by Harry Pearman.  106 pages.


All three volumes are duplicated, quarto.  Volumes IV and V 50p each, while Volume VI is 75p.  Volumes IV and V describe sites of speleological interest South East England. Some sites are natural, being formed by sea or river action.  There are also many disused mines in the area, some many miles in length.

Deneholes are curious excavations which abound in Kent and parts of Essex and comprise a network of chalk-cut chambers entered by vertical shafts.  Some sites are follies, dug as single passages or labyrinths at the whim of a landowner.  Some places are legendary secret passages although their true functions were often less romantic.  There are also a number of cavities which are complete mysteries.

Each volume gives plans and locations of each underground place, relates what is known of its history and explains the position about obtaining access at the time of going to print.  They are unique documents of interest to the geographer, explorer, antiquarian and archaeologist.  Since many of these sites will disappear or be deliberately closed or obliterated, they will also perform a useful function by recording what exists for future researchers or land developers.

Among the places described in Volume VI are the remains of a trial bore for the channel tunnel, which lies hidden in the sea cliffs near Folkestone; the massive underground folly at Eastry, the lengthy subterranean conduit system for Greenwich Palace; the chalk mine which collapsed and destroyed part of Plumstead; the underground forts at Dover the natural caves 100 feet beneath Blackheath and the alleged smugglers' caves at Pegwell Bay.

Enquiries and orders to: Chelsea Speleological Society, c/o 385, Kings Road, London SW10 OLR.


Monthly Crossword – Number 50.  Prize Crossword



















































































1. Cave feature found in claps I’ll argue about. (6)
5. One of a triple in Swildons? (3)
6. Features of a master cave? (6)
7. Flowerpot, presumably, has no need for this feature. (3)
9. See 13 across for example. (1,1)
11. Backward cry for Mendip swallet. (3)
12. Thus we have it. (2)
13. 9 across Cerberus? (3)
15. 7,037 lbs approximately for climbing aids. (6)
16. 2 down was interested in this. (3)
17. Changes of this nature have occurred in G.B. (6)


1. Forced a passage – pr perhaps shed – up. (6)
2. A lead this was associated with Mendip once. (4)
3. Tore again this deposited material. (9)
4. Mythical underground region forming inclinations of fault planes? (5)
8. Strode otherwise for a caving club’s region. (6).
10. Mixed oversize rug found in some caves. (5)
14. Exclamation and French for caves! (4)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword



















































































Club Committee

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           M. Bishop, D.J. Irwin, B. Wilton, G. Oaten, N. Taylor, A.R. Thomas, A. Nicholls.

Officers of the Club

Honorary Secretary        A.R THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269

Honorary Treasurer         B. WILTON, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary            A. NICHOLLS, Address to follow.

Climbing Secretary         G. OATEN, Address to follow.

Hut Warden                   N. TAYLOR, Whiddons, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tele : WELLS 72338

Belfry Engineer              M. BISHOP, Bishop’s Cottage, The Batch, Priddy, Wells, Som.  Tele : PRIDDY 370

Tacklemaster                 G. WILTON-JONES, 17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk

B.B. Editor                    S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol. Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Honorary Librarian          D.J IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells Som.  Tel : PRIDDY 369

Publications Editor         D.J IRWIN  As above

B.B. Postal                   Brenda. WILTON  Address as for Barry



New Brooms

Inspection of the new list of club officers will reveal that quite a high proportion of jobs are now in new hands.  The list starts with our new Hon.  Secretary - Dave Irwin who now holds what many people regard as the most important office in the club.  Next, we have both a new Hut Warden in Colin Dooley and a new Belfry Engineer in John Dukes. Taken together, these positions affect the club to no small extent.  Finally, by a unanimous vote of the new committee, Chris Howell was co-opted as Publications Editor.  Although this job is not one of those named in the constitution as being jobs which must be done by members of the committee, it was felt that since the Publications Editor turns over almost as much money as does the Belfry, this was a position which should be in the committee.

I am sure that we all wish our new officers and perhaps the old ones as well - every success in their difficult tasks, and look forward to some really encouraging report at the end of this club year

Membership Secretary

One of the decisions already taken by the new committee is to concentrate all matters of membership in the hands of a membership secretary.  Talent scouts are already out looking for a suitable person, so if any reader feels that he or she could cope with the job of keeping complete tabs on members, please get in touch with the Hon, Sec. or any member of the committee.


It is hoped to include of the dinner elsewhere an account in this B.B.  In the meantime, is worth noting that it must surely rank amongst the most successful that the club have ever held.  Your editor has attended every one of the twenty five dinners the club has so far held, and has a job to remember a better one than the latest. Plenty of good food; good service; drinks at sensible prices and, going by the comments made to him afterwards, an entertainment which was well received.  If we can keep up this new high standard, we might well see many faces coming back who have been recently increasing the number of 'absent friends'

Forty Years On!

This year sees the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Wessex Cave Club, to whom we should like to offer our sincere congratulations on this event and our best wishes for the future.  When one considers the number of new clubs which are currently being formed every year, one wonders how many of these will survive to the respectable age now attained by the Wessex.

On a lighter note, the current issue of the Wessex Journal lists the B.E.C. amongst the natural catastrophes already surmounted by the Wessex.  We hope that this offering will be accepted in the friendly spirit in which it was written even though it is not, perhaps, quite what they might have had in mind for a celebratory song.  It goes to the tune of 'Forty Years On!' which any Wessex member who has been to Harrow should have no difficulty in remembering.

Forty years on! since that terrible blunder
Which older members still dimly recall:
When we look back, we regretfully wonder
Why did we bother to found it at all?
Were we too hasty, too rash or ill-fated
Founding the Wessex; when otherwise we
Might well have sat back and patiently waited
Till we could all join the B.E.C.

Roll up, roll up, roll up, roll up, roll up
For it's never too late to begin
To, fill an application form in
Roll up!



Climbers may use the S.W.M.C. hut by arrangement with club.  Any climber who wishes to do so should contact climbing Secretary, Gerry Oaten, for details.

There will be a meeting in Mid-December at the Belfry for any members who are interested in going abroad next year.  Further details in next month's B.B.  The idea is to see who is planning what and whether a definite club expedition will be possible.

Members are reminded not to lend Belfry keys out to strangers.  Doing so can lead to loss of club tackle.

Anyone prepared to lead caving trips anywhere should get in touch with Andy or Tim so that a full programme can be arranged.


Tatham Wife Hole

An account of this cave by Derek Sanderson and Roger Wing

Length: 2100'+ Depth: 509' N.G.R. 733 746 ( Sheet 90 )

After parking the car at God's Bridge Rising in Chapel le Dale, Derek Sanderson and myself packed our rucksacks with caving gear and set off up the footpath by Bold Haw (not shown on the one inch map).  The cave was found after about an hour and a quarter's walk over the lower slopes of Ingleborough.  It is in a shakehole with a small stream running out of the banks into the cave entrance.

The entrance to the cave slopes steeply, with a pebble and boulder scree floor which slips underfoot. After a short climb down, the development becomes quite high and roomy and leads into sharp meanders in clean, lightly coloured rock.  These meanders follow on until the stream falls over a 30' pot (30' ladder, short belay to bolt).  The stream, although small (on this occasion) falls straight on to the ladder but the pitch, in a fluted alcove, is a superb one, the water adding to the pleasure. This pitch is quickly followed by another of 40' (40' ladder, 5' belay to small column at eye level on right). The pitch is again wet and consists of a smooth descent of 28' to a wide ledge from which a further 10' drop leads to the floor of the shaft.

From here, the passage is initially roomy, but soon a sharp joint-controlled left turn leads to a crawl on a very smooth, clean rock floor with the stream flowing over black pebbles to one side.  After a short section of larger passage, one enters a further section of crawling but this time the atmosphere of the passage is different, the floor being pebbly and uncomfortable, winding through rough, close walls which catch one's clothes as one passes.  After about a hundred feet of this, progress is halted at the head of the third pitch.

The third pitch is also a wet 30' (30' ladder, short belay to bolt) and leads to a chamber with a narrow rift to the left.  This is the head of the 30' ramp - a superb piece of cave consisting of a smooth slide down a near vertical cleft about two feet wide.  The stream also flows over this ramp.

Most of the cave from this point on is fault-controlled and from the base of the ramp the passage is quieter.  After a short distance of narrow rift passage with evidence of a thick calcite vein along the fault line, one soon reaches the Duck, a low section which is tight rather than wet.  Immediately after the Duck, the rift becomes too narrow to follow at stream level, and it becomes necessary to traverse above the stream for about thirty feet until it becomes possible to climb down into a wider part of the passage where the roof rises to a height of about fifty feet.  On the right of this handsome passage is an alcove, behind which is an inviting side passage which soon closes down among boulders after some distance of deep calf wading.

Back in the main stream passage and about 300' past the side passage, is the final 25' pot (25' ladder, short belay) which is probably the wettest pitch of all - the ladder hanging in the full force of the stream.  The surface of this pot is also more broken than the others, making it more difficult to climb the ladder.

From the deep pool at the base of the pitch, the passage continues as a wide, towering rift with some shallow canal sections, until the roof lowers to form a crawl in slow-moving clear, cold water with ducks under formations.  From here, the water gradually becomes deeper and the walls become darker and close in.  Little alcoves cause the water to make those eerie glooping noises, and in this fashion the passage peters out into the sump at the remarkable depth of just over 500' below the surface.  The sump has been successfully dived, as described in the S.M.C.C. Journal (Vol. 5, No.5, 1973)

Although not as severe as sane longer Yorkshire pots, the cave is still strenuous and should not be treated lightly.  Our tackle consisted of 6 - 25' ladders, a life line, a 50' handline for the Ramp, which meant that the trip was just possible for two people.  We surfaced after almost four hours, feeling very satisfied.  Under high water conditions the Duck and the Ramp probably become impassable, and lifelines would be essential on all the pitches.


The following day, we met up with Keith Sanderson and Bob Harper (both Wessex) and abseiled through Simpson's Pot.  This trip has been reported before in the B.B., but some additional points might be worth making.

1.                  The rawlbolt on one of the pitches (31' Carol Pot, I think) has come out, so a flake of rock has to serve as a belay point.  Care has to be taken not to jam the abseil rope.

2.                  There is no bolt on the 25' Aven Pot either and one has to use a rock flake again, and the same precaution applies.

3.                  No bolt on 13' Lake Pot, and we didn't find a suitable belay point from which we could retrieve the rope, so we chimney down the top half of the pitch and then jumped!

4.                  The top of the 80' Slit Pot is as awkward as ever!

(A plan of Tatham Wife Hole will be found below. - Ed.)



Financial Statement for the Year to the thirty first of July 1974




Club Ties & Car Badges





C.C.C. Permits etc.




Less Expenditure



Less Charges


Less Expenditure




£ 535.67

£ 245.15


£   58.74

£   54.21

£     7.67

£     1.44



£ 380.15


£ 290.52

£     5.00


£    4.35


£    6.23

£  10.53

£    9.75




£ 706.31


Postages And Stationery



Stationery & Printing

B.B. Postage


Less sales


£  311.71

£    62.94

£  374.65

£  134.92

£  15.83

Annual Dinner


Less cost

£  218.75

£  232.54


£   13.79




£   14.06

Car Badges



Less Sales

£   14.48

£   11.00


£   14.06

Carbide and Spares


Less Sales

£   43.25

£     7.14


£   36.11

Public Liability Insurance.

Income Tax

Cambrian C.C.

Council Northern C.C.

Council Southern C. C.

British Cave Research Assoc

A.G.M. refreshments

Ian Dear memorial Fund grants









£   47.30

£     7.50

£     3.00

£     2.00

£     0.50

£     3.00

£    11.00

£    90.00


Surplus For The Year



£  483.82

£  222.89




£  706.71


General Accumulated

Add Surplus For The Year

FUNDS @  31.7.73



£ 485.25

£ 222.89

General Accumulated

I.D.M.F. to Building Society


Interest on April 1st 1974

FUNDS @  31.7.74




£ 708.14


£ 348.04

£     8.12




£ 356.16


Lloyds Bank Ltd Current Account

Cash in hand




£ 578.37

£ 129.77




£ 708.14

Club Officer’s Report – 1974 Notes to Financial Statement
(Hon. Treasurer’s Report.)

1.         Firstly, I must state that the accounts are made up and detailed as in previous years.  My intention was to gain experience in operating the club accounts before I carried out the Hon. Auditor's suggestion of giving a more detailed statement.

2.         Late this year, the Ian Dear Memorial Fund Committee approved three applications for grants to members travelling abroad.  As the I.D.M. Fund is held in a building society in London, and the grants were required at short notice, it was necessary to draw them on general club funds.  The grants therefore, are shown in the statement as a debit, although next years account will show this money as a repayment to the club's general monies, from the I.D.M. Fund.

3.         During the current year we were strongly advised by our insurance brokers that our public liability insurance cover of £50,000 was inadequate.  On this advice, our cover was increased to £100,000.  This is, of course, resulting in a higher premium for year.  There is a possibility that the cover may to be increased again during the coming year.

4.         This year's carbide and lamp spares etc. account is shown as making a loss.  This was due to late purchase of lamp spares totalling £23.25 the sales from which will be credited in next years' account.

5.         The Belfry Insurance cover of £5,000 has been increased to a more realistic figure of £12,000.

6.         The apparent deficit in the publication stationery & printing account of £311.71 is not as bad as it seems because a large outstanding bill of £171.14 from the previous year was paid during the current year, making this years account more realistic.

Barrie Wilton, Hon. Treasurer.


Club Officer’s Report – 1974 - Tacklemasters Report

The tackle situation is at present as follows: -


100' of lightweight ladder

150' of standard ladder

290' of rope.


225' of lightweight ladder

355' of rope.

Some 700' of rope is about to be brought into service and this includes 500' of new polypropylene; 150' of lightweight ladder and 165' of standard ladder is under repair and should be in service again in September.  A further 500' of nylon rope is to be purchased by Christmas and about 100' of ladder is to be manufactured along with several tethers.


It should be remembered that the Tacklemaster's job is not simply to maintain existing tackle, but also to make or buy new equipment in order to increase our stock to cope with the demand made by more cavers going further a field in more difficult and complex systems.  However, time and the apparently excessive wear on tackle have so far combined to preclude the manufacture of new equipment.

A great deal more care must be taken with all tackle, both above and below ground.  Ropes should not be trodden on.  Ladders should be lowered, not dropped.  If ladders snag - especially when being carried in narrow passages - they should be removed carefully and not pulled off.  Much damage is done to eyes at ladder ends; wires, and even rungs and the only possible cause is the dropping of heavy objects, such as rocks, on top of tackle.  All our tethers are badly kinked, because insufficient care has been taken in selecting belays.

Back on the surface, ladders and ropes are not always washed thoroughly.  It is important to remove mud from ladders, as it retains moisture and promotes corrosion.  Ropes should be very thoroughly washed to remove grit one quick dip in the pool is not good enough.

The amount of ladder under repair, and the number of ropes that have been written off this year, are disturbing.  Please take note of all that has been said above.

Some tackle has been lost, and this should never happen without its being accounted for. However, tackle has been borrowed by non-club members and not returned.  In one instance, members of a Yeovil club were lent a Belfry key, and they subsequently borrowed a large amount of Belfry tackle.  One of the ladders borrowed was not returned, and this was not missed until one of the Priddy villagers found it on the Upper Green.

Some tackle is borrowed without its being signed out and some is not always signed back.  Tackle is all too frequently left lying about the Belfry or in the drinking pool.  Little wonder that tackle gets lost!


Where tackle is left at the top of a pitch, or possibly used by other parties as well, the standard weight ladder should be used, as wear is less apparent.  Swildons 20 is a case in point.

So much for wear and tear on, and loss of, tackle.  In spite of what has been said, the situation is not as bad as it appears, as very little money has been spent on the tackle recently.  The attempt to save money by having tellurite pressed on by friends in the trade has failed, as four to five months waiting have shown.  Although the present 315 feet of ladder, together with some new ladder all requiring tellurite will still be finished locally, in future, pressing for ladders and tethers will either be done professionally (and we shall have to pay some £1.50 for this per ladder) or we shall use our own tellurite press, which we acquired recently and which is at present undergoing repair.

Some of the digging tackle has been seriously misused this year, with instances of digging ropes being used as lifelines.  Digging ropes are identified by black markings on their ends, in addition to the blue B.E.C. identification marks.  PLEASE NOTE THIS and do not use any rope so marked as a lifeline. Digging tackle should be signed out in the usual way where possible.  There is no abundance of digging tackle, so look after it - especially on site.  If it is to be left on a digging site over a period of time, let the Tacklemaster know. This applies also to ordinary tackle left underground, as happens frequently on exploratory trips.

Many people seem to be unaware of the existence of the reserve tackle store.  The equipment in this store is especially for trips to other areas, and includes all the ultra lightweight ladder.  It has been used only five times this year.  The Tacklemaster MUST know if any equipment is required for expeditions, in order to ensure that 100' of ladder and appropriate lifelines are left available for general use on Mendip.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the nameless few (how I wish I could say 'hordes'!) who have helped and offered to help with tackle manufacture and maintenance, or have proffered advice, or even donated tackle.

Graham Wilton-Jones.


Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany

By 'Wig'

128.   News from the North:  Since the rescue from Birks Fell early in the year, relations between the farmer and landowner and cavers seem to be deteriorating.  Cavers were prevented from entering the cave until May 1974. The position is being reviewed again at the end of October.  A rumour is circulating that access is difficult to both Strans Gill and Pasture Gill.  Confirmation is still awaited.

Difficulty is being experienced at Monge Gill as the cave is not properly gated.  Bookings for Gingling Hole should be made as soon as possible for 1975 as the cave has been closed due to a misunderstanding with the owner.  Members visiting any of the pots on Penyghent should ensure that they call on the game keeper, George Perfect at Brackenbottom before they descend.  Magnetometer Pot is unsafe due to corroded oil drums lining the shaft.

Access to Pippikin is not restricted to any part of the year (as is other parts of the dales for grouse shooting). This is conditional on cavers approaching the cave from Bullpot Farm and not from the Leek Fell road during the grouse breeding season.  From Bullpot Farm, proceed via County Pot or Scales Ram keeping to the paths to avoid damage to the grass and moor land grips.

Cherry Tree Hole is still closed. Pikedaw Mine will be re-opened as soon as the lid is completed and there will be unrestricted access.

Special Weather forecasts. C .N.C.C. have arranged to display weather forecast notices outside the Youth Hostel in Kettlewell. Finally, work on a new edition of the Northern cave handbook is well under way.

129.   News from Wales:  Like the C.N.C.C., the Cambrian C.C. is producing a new publication.  The 'Red Dragon' is a journal - the first I believe to be published by a regional body.  Price 30p, it has 64 pages of A4.  Packing and postage is 10.5p.  Available from Frank Baguley, 15 Elm Grove, Gadlys, Aberdare, Glam. CF44 8DN.  Access to Agen Allwedd is now conditionally open again following the inquest on the death of Roger Solari on July 1974.

130.   Social: Congratulations to Doug Stuckey. Word has filtered through the grapevine that Doug is now the father of a bouncing baby boy.  Has anyone heard any thing of Sybil?  The last we heard is that she was in Uganda and political events in that country may have made life difficult for her.  Perhaps someone could drop her a line to find out how she is?   Frank 'Dustbin' Darbon was at the dinner and generally around Mendip during early October.  He was on an extended holiday from CanadaKeith Murray and Frank Jones both managed to attend the dinner by the skin of their teeth due to the late sailing of their ships. Frank is off to Japan and Keith to Ghana. Nigel Taylor is being silenced and is entering the police force and I understand he is being posted to the St. Paul’s area of Bristol.  Graham Robinson tells us that Sago is in hospital again with a stomach ulcer this time. He certainly has had a run of bad luck and we hope he soon recovers.  On the same subject, Tony Corrigan's leg is still giving him trouble, and we hope that this too will soon clear up.

131.   St. Cuthbert’s Swallet - Report and Survey:  The now well-known and long overdue report on St. Cuthbert’s is so planned to be the most comprehensive report that has ever been produced for any cave in the country including Lancaster/Easegill and O.F.D.  The whole report is designed to be published in fifteen parts - to produce it in one volume would have proved prohibitive. Altogether it is at least 350 pages and some 30 surveys will be included together with a number of photographs (not necessarily of pretties, but interesting features of the cave).  The parts are as follows:-

Caving Report Number 13:

·        Part A Discovery & Exploration.  Published. Now out of print.

·        Part B Complete Survey.

·        Part C Description and detailed survey of Old and New Routes.

·        Part D Main Chambers.

·        Part E Rabbit Warren.  Published. Still in print.

·        Part F Gour Hall Area. Published.  Still in Print.

·        Part G Cerberus & Maypole Series.

·        Part H Rabbit Warren Extension.  Published. In print

·        Part I September Series.

·        Part J Long Chamber & Canyon Series.

·        Part K Rocky Boulder Series.

·        Part L Geological Notes.

·        Part M Hydrological Notes.

·        Part N Flora & Fauna.

·        Part O Miscellaneous information and Bibliography.  (Published - now out of print.)

Already, many members have booked the whole range of the report - and members who have not yet done so should contact the Publications Editor. When all the parts of the report are published, those who want the whole lot to be bound as a complete book can send them back to the club and have them bound in rexine.  Ten copies, being bound in leather and rexine, have already been sold.

132.   Corrections:  Two recent pieces of information must be corrected.  Terry Baker’s digging site near the Mells valley is NOT the site as mentioned in para 118.  This is being dug by Willie Stanton.  Baker’s dig is apparently further down the valley and much higher and is mainly archaeological.  More details later.  The second piece of information which needs t to be brought up to date refers to Cowsh Avens (111.)  The hoped-for breakthrough to the surface has NOT been agreed to by the Maine family, and there is little hope of it ever being opened in the near or longer term future.  The latest W.C.C. Journal has an entertaining article by Fred Davies on the Cowsh marathon.  Copies are in the club library.


Notes On Polypropylene

by the Tacklemaster.

Five hundred feet of staple-spun polypropylene rope of an inch and a half circumference, is to be added to the reserve tackle store.

This rope will be in three lengths.  Two ropes of a hundred and twenty five feet each and one of two hundred and fifty feet. The rope is intended for use as lifeline ONLY.  It is definitely NOT suitable for abseiling, and indeed, could be DANGEROUS if so used, as it has a rather low melting point compared with that of nylon.  It is not good as a climbing lifeline either - whether on the surface or underground - as it has only a 23% stretch at breaking point.

In addition to these disadvantages, it can easily twist itself into all manner of knots, if not handled with care - especially when being coiled.  It is coiled more easily by allowing the free end to hang over a pitch so that it can untwist.  Although I see many arguments over this choice of rope, I hope that members will soon discover for themselves certain advantages, not the least of which is the cost.

Editor's Note:     I bought thirty fathoms of a similar rope last year for use as an anchor rope.  It is proved very good in service except for this habit of tying itself into all manner of knots at the slightest provocation.  I solved the problem by winding it over two pegs, crossing the rope on every turn round the pegs.  This puts an opposite twist into every alternate turn of the rope, so twists never build up in one direction.  With very long ropes, such as those described by Graham, it might pay to have a simple and light weight frame built up, so that the rope can be coiled up on it in this fashion.  If you have a top bar which can go over the pegs after coiling, this will prevent the rope from coming off while carrying through a cave.


Personal Reflections on Climbing

Pete Sutton sends us this hard hitting contribution on the Climbing Section. Perhaps we shall get a suitable reply?

It seems that the Climbing Section - like the Liberals have taken a slight setback in recent times, although I think the picture is not as black as might have been portrayed,

Although a considerable portion of the Climbing Section has definitely stagnated, several of us have actually carried on the tradition of climbing.  This must be to the amazement of some others, who have taken to dancing on horizontal floors instead of up vertical walls.

One thing that has been sadly missed is the tradition of the Climbing Section going away together on Bank Holiday weekends.  Excepting Easter weekend, which was a combined caving, climbing and drinking weekend - not necessasarily in that order - the majority of the Climbing Section elected not to uphold old traditions of the B.E.C in having climbing weekends, but rather to following new 'old' traditions of a more uniformed nature, B.E.C. ties were left behind.  The group did manage a weeks summer holiday in Pembrokeshire and N. Wales, but the less said about that, the better.

Even so, the Climbing Section was represented in N. Wales at Whitsun and experienced excellent weather, good camping and fine climbing.  Ivy Sepulchre (190' H.V.S.) was climbed on the Cromlech in Llanberis Pass and several good V.S.'s done on Craig-y-Ulenalt, Snowdon South.  One in particular proved quite exciting with two hard pitches and exposed third pitch.

As Gerry mentioned in his climbing report, Thursday evening climbing again took place this year in the Avon Gorge. The terribly wet weather through the summer months - it always seemed to rain on Thursday evenings - had its bad effect on climbing, but even so it was disappointing previous regulars couldn't always find the time to come along.

Here, I feel that I must sound a note of warning.  The few remaining members who are active climbers cannot, and will not forever be loners.  Already, substantial moves have been made away from the club in an effort to broaden the sphere of activity.  A number of trips have been made recently with the Egons Climbing Club - a club incidentally which does not limit its climbing on Sundays to the Avon Gorge and which does not take the view that if you can't climb H.V.S. - then tough luck! Instead, it travels to places some people might have never been to, like Chudleigh Gower, Symond's Yat, Cefn Coed, Maelstrom Quarries etc, and caters for beginners; moderates or hard climbers. As individuals, they also make outsiders welcome and able to feel one of them almost immediately - a feature which has been sadly lacking amongst our own Climbing Section.

Still, we mustn't end on a note of gloom.  Three or four more active climbers are on the books, and it's up to us, both active climbers and stagnated ones (sorry about that!) to make them feel welcome and transform the B.E.C. Climbing Section once more into an active, lively and social group, within the general structure of the club as a whole.  I feel also that much greater liaison will occur between B.E.C. and other climbing groups which I am sure can only be beneficial to the participants.

Editor's Note:     Well, there you are, climbers! It seems that, to one of your number at least, all is not as well as it might be.  Ever since the B.B. was first produced in 1947, it has been enriched by tales of the exploits of club climbers - from the early episodes of the Menace (John Morris); 'Orrible Orren; Ron (Holler-in-the-night) Newman, and many other equally colourful people, not forgetting the ubiquitous 'Kangy' King. Perhaps one answer might be to encourage more 'all-rounders' like Kangy, and have more interaction between cavers and climbers.  Any further correspondence on this subject would be welcome, since one of the functions of the B.B. is to enable club members to air their views on subjects such as this.


Book Reviews

Historic Cornish Mining Scenes Underground - D.B. Barton (First Published 1967.)

'Mongst Mines and Miners - J.C. Burrow and L. Thomas (First published 1893, Reprinted 1965)

Although at first sight deep mining in Cornwall for copper and tin appears to have little in common with lead mining on Mendip, the above two publications give an interesting insight into what life must have been like underground for the eighteenth and nineteenth century miner.  Both books, or rather booklets, are full of first class photographs taken before the turn of the century both above and below ground in the Cornish mines and both contain lucid accounts of the mining techniques of the day.  Apart from the obvious variations due to the scale of mining in Cornwall when compared with that on Mendip, the techniques illustrated must compare closely with these used in the Mendip lead mines in their heyday.

Both books are published by D. Bradford Barton Ltd., of Truro at 65p and 75p respectively; and are to be thoroughly recommended to anyone with an interest in old mining.


Book reviews are always welcome, and the editor will be pleased to publish any more that come his way.

CHRISTMAS B.B.  It is the intention to publish a larger than usual edition of the B.B. once again this year.  So far, there is just about enough material in the pipeline for a normal sized B.B, and a decision on the final size of the Christmas B.B. will have to be taken soon.  Particularly wanted are one or two articles of good length (and: of course, good content) and any good humorous material suitable for the festive season.


Monthly Crossword – Number 51



















































































3. Short county forms cave feature. (4)
5. As tart – in layers underground. (6)
6. Stumble on caving? (4)
7. Large number of tall cave passages form mine passages. (6)
11. Progresses through 3 across. (6)
13. Type of cave deposit. (4)
14. If clay does this, it may well break into this beheaded. (6)
15. Survey height in disturbed pots. (4)


1. Employed. (4)
2. This sort of pipe can be found on Mendip. (4)
3. Cave dwellers. (4)
4. Cave phenomenon in earlier part of Priddy. (4)
8. Mendip cave hall. (3).
9. Caves without touching walls or floor…. (5)
10….through this? (4)
11. Found in any fossiliferous rock. (4)
12. Discoverers of a well know Mendip cave. (1,1,1,1)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword


















































































PRIZE CROSSWORD.  This was won by 'Sett'.


Club Committee

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           Colin Dooley, John Dukes, Chris Howell, Dave Irwin, Tim Large, Andy Nicholls, Gerry Oaten, Barry Wilton

Officers of the Club

Honorary Secretary          D.J IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells Som.  Tel : PRIDDY 369

Honorary Treasurer          B. WILTON, ‘Valley View’, Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary             A. NICHOLLS, c/o The Belfry

Assist Cav. Sec.              T. LARGE, 15 Kippax Avenue, Wells, Somerset

Climbing Secretary          G. OATEN, 32 St. Marks Road, Easton, Bristol. Tele : BRISTOL 551163

Tacklemaster                  G. WILTON-JONES, ‘Ilenea’, Stonefield Road. Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks.

                                      Tele : HIGH WYCOMBE 3534

Hut Warden                     C. DOOLEY, 51 Ommaston Road., Harbourne, Birmingham 17.

                                      Tele : BIRMINGHAM 427 6122

Belfry Engineer                J. DUKES, 4 Springfield Crscent, Southamton.  Tele : 0703 774649

B.B. Editor                      S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol.

                                      Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Publications Editor           C. HOWELL, 131 Sandon Road, Edgebaston, Birmingham 17.  Tele : (021) 429 5549

B.B. Postal                     BRENDA WILTON  Address as for Barry

Spares                            T. LARGE,  Address already given



Next Years Committee

To some folk - no doubt - the club committee may look like a collection of people who spend their time nattering away and getting nowhere.  Nevertheless, they represent each year the nine people who YOU elect as being the best for running the club.  Once a year, you get a chance to do something about it - and the start of this process is about to happen once more, with the annual request for nominations for the 1974/5 committee.

You have until Saturday 7th September to nominate new people for the committee.  Present committee members are automatically nominated unless they wish to retire  - and we shall not know who might wish to retire until the next meeting of the committee on September 6th.  In everybody’s interest, it is important to have an election - and to make sure that this happens, we need plenty of candidates.  This is where you come in.  If you feel that somebody you know would make a good committee member - or that you yourself would fill the bill - then make sure that a suitable nomination gets in to Alan Thomas in time.  These are difficult times for a club like ours, and it is in times like these that we want the best people.  There is nothing worse than having to carry on without an election just because no new candidates have come forward.

The procedure is simple enough.  All you have to do is to make sure that the person or people you nominate will agree to stand if elected, then write to Alan saying that you wish to nominate whoever it is and that he or she is willing to stand if elected. SIGN the piece of paper and put your membership number in if you can remember it.  You don 't need a seconder and you can nominate as many people as you can persuade to stand!

It is a trifle early to say, but it looks as if the total club membership this year may have DROPPED from last years' level.  If this is so, then it will be the first time this has happened to the club.  However, we must keep a sense of' proportion about this and there is no need to panic.  After all, membership cannot KEEP on rising for ever, and it would not necessarily be a good thing if it did.  On the other hand we might start asking ourselves whether we do enough to keep our older members still interested in the club.  Perhaps some of the older B. B. readers might care to comment on this?

You will find full details of the dinner arrangements in this B.B.  Bearing in mind the complaints over the years of poor food and lack of value for money, a real attempt is being made this year to provide a better meal. Those who went to the successful Grampian Dinner last year will be pleased to hear that we are having the same catering.  Drinks are being supplied by Roger Dors who is, or should be, well known to all. Roger, of course, understands cavers so we can rest assured that the drinks will be in capable and experienced hands.  In addition, there will be an entertainment in the club tradition - by the same team that produced 'Oliver' a few years ago.  Only two things about the dinner deserve further comment.  Firstly, the time.  The Hon. Sec. has picked 6.30 for 7 p.m. so that there will be plenty of time for a full evening's worth.  With the A.G.M. starting at 10.30, there should be plenty of time for collecting wives etc.  Secondly, the price.  At £2, this is higher than we have been used to, but inflation and V.A.T. make up most of the increase, and in any case, we feel that members would sooner have an eatable meal and reasonable drink prices than save a few pence on a poorer meal. Lastly, we have been asked by the Hon. Sec. to remind members that they are responsible for the behaviour of their guests.  The throwing dinner occurs a little later in the year than the B.E.C. dinner, and members are asked not to practice for it at ours!



Club Officer’s Reports 1974 - Hon. Librarian’s Report

The past year has seen another sizeable expansion to the club library which includes the addition of several important books.  Club exchanges have been increased and publications of the Grampian ( Scotland) and Santander University ( Spain) are amongst the more important of these. Gifts of publications and books are always gratefully received and those from Phil Kingston; Martin Mills; Chris Howell and Nigel Taylor among others have swelled the number of book, surveys and other publications.

The club has purchased several items, including Current Titles in Spelaeology 1973, British Caver Numbers 61 and 62.  Caves of the Avon Gorge No 2 and Limestone and Caves of North West England.  The purchase of Limestone and Caves of Mendip has been agreed by the committee when it is published.  Northern Caves Volume 5 has also been added to the collection.

Usage of the library has continued, and nearly 100 borrowings during the year have proved the worth of the collection.

Attempts to fill gaps in runs of various publications is proceeding slowly and these items are being bound into volumes by Kay Mansfield.  I would like to record our thanks to her for this generous help.

Space is now an acute problem, and timber is being accumulated to increase shelving and build the frame to house the various loose surveys.  It is to be hoped that club members remember that when they borrow items they do so for a period of ONE MONTH only.  Several overdue borrowings have been excessive, to say the least.

Dave Irwin,
Hon. Librarian.
1st August, 1974.


Club Officer’s Reports 1974 - 2. B.B. Editor’s Report

On the costing side, the year has been one in which inflation has really started to bite. However, thanks to the enterprise of a few club members (and one in particular who wishes to remain anonymous) adequate stocks of paper have been built up, which are sufficient to see us well into next year.  By this means, a substantial amount will be saved on purchase of paper for future issues

Not content with this, we have gone over to a much cheaper paper master and again, have stockpiled over two year’s supply which represents a further large saving.  Covers have also come under review.  Here, we have placed an order for only enough to see us through this volume, and meanwhile we are experimenting with printing our own.  If we can do this, we shall save another very large chunk of money.  In all, the 1974 B.B. has cost less than the 1973 B.B.  The only aspect of costs that remains to be investigated is the postal side. Perhaps an extension of the hand delivery system might help here.

With the position of stocks so healthy, and with the B.B. actually costing less to produce, while raw materials, printing etc. are rising rapidly, it seems a pity that the only black spot is the shortage of contributions.  So bad was this earlier in the year, that only by reprinting from old B.B. 's and republishing from other sources could the size of the B.B. be maintained.  Even so, publication dates slipped very badly.

An attempt was made to stimulate ideas by running an appeal, complete with cash prize.  This met with no real response from the club.  There are, of course, ways of filling up the B.B., but it should not be necessary to use them in a healthy club.  After all, our members cave; climb; dig; explore; take part in rescues; hold social functions; read books; attend lectures and meetings; have interesting holidays; do other outdoor pursuits and even pull each others' leg on occasion.  How much of this finds its way into the B.B.?

The work of editing; typing and printing takes an average of 20 hours per month - or six full working weeks per year.

The stalwarts who collate, fold, staple, address and post the B.B. put in another large slice of voluntary time.  Against all this, the average member, by doing perhaps an hour or two's writing per year, could fill the B.B. to overflowing.  It doesn't really seem too much to ask!

Looking at the B.B. over the last two complete years shows that the number of contributors is going down while the amount they write is going up.  At this rate, we shall finish up with fewer and fewer people writing until the B.B. is written by two or three people.  1975 marks the 40th birthday of the B.E.C. and it would be appropriate to mark this by each member trying to produce something, however small, for next year's B.B.

Meanwhile, our thanks should go to those authors who have kept the B.B. going this year, and also to the postal department, who work so hard in the background to make sure that you get your B.B.

S.J. Collins.
Editor, B.B.


We have just received this letter from JOHN KNOPS, which shows that a sense of humour still lurks here and there in the club!

Dear Alfie,

The lack of response to your appeal for articles for the B.B. was only to be expected.  Everybody knows that the B.E.C. is, with few exceptions, composed of quiet, unassuming types who are convinced that nobody is interested in reading about their unremarkable exploits.  At the same time however, they are extremely interested in the doings of others.

I suggest therefore that what is required is some form by which we can boost each others I ego and self confidence.  Then, when others say "B.E.C.: - that egotistical, self-centred lot!" I'm sure the B.B. will be brimful every month - but I wonder if I I’d enjoy it half as much!

John Knops.


Minutes of the 1973 Annual General Meeting of the BEC

The meeting opened at 10.35 a.m. with 32 members present.  The Secretary opened the proceedings by calling for nominations for a chairman.  R.A. Setterington ('Sett') was proposed by Roy Bennett and seconded by Alfie.  There were no other nominations and 'Sett' was therefore elected Chairman.

Apologies for absence were received from D. Hasell; B. Prewer and R.S. King.

The Chairman then called for the collection of ballot papers and members resolutions.  He then asked for volunteers to act as tellers for the ballot.  Geoff Standing, Frank Jones and Keith Glossop volunteered.

Alfie asked, on a point of order, whether we should keep a list of those who voted, so that members could check that their votes had been recorded.  He pointed out that the new ballot system would allow this to happen without infringing the secrecy of the ballot, provided that the name slips were retained after the voting papers were destroyed.  The Chairman put this at once to the vote, and the meeting adopted this procedure without dissent.

The Chairman turned next to the minutes of the 1972 A.G.M. and asked if the meeting wished them to be taken as read.  It was proposed by Roy Bennett that they should be read in full.  This was seconded by Mike Palmer.  The Chairman called for a vote, and the motion was defeated by a large majority – no actual count being made.

The Chairman then asked Alfie, as Chairman of the retiring committee, to read out all the actions placed on that committee by the last A.G. M.  This was done, and it was agreed that, except for the question of access to the Belfry site, all the actions had been properly discharged.  On the latter subject, Dave Irwin spoke.  He said that Alan had, in fact, seen an independent solicitor in accordance with the action placed on the committee by the last A.G.M. This solicitor had referred him back to the club's normal solicitors Dave said that he had then contacted 'Digger's' partner, Martin Cavander.  Owing to illness, Dave explained, Digger was now entirely ecclesiastical.  On the subject of payment Dave said that he had been assured that the existing arrangements whereby we obtained free legal service were still satisfactory to our solicitors, but if we insisted on payment, they would be prepared to quote us favourable terms.

On the subject of rights of way, it appears that the Dors family have the right to erect a gate at the entrance to the track, but must supply keys to the owners of the Belfry (i.e, the trustees.)  We have a right of way written into our deeds.  On the subject of the Foxwell track, it appeared to depend on the exact wording of the agreement.  If we gave an alternative right of way to the road we might well be on uncertain ground. If we only gave it over our land the situation became clear.

Alan Thomas said that the change was stated on the agreement as being 'as per attached plan' which, in fact, shows a join to the track.  Dave Irwin replied that, even so, it was not expressly stated that we were giving the alternative right up to the track, but only implied on the plan.  In any case, our ignorance of the exact ownership of the wall which separated our land from the track at the point of entry did not invalidate the agreement as far as we were concerned.  It was up to Mr. Foxwell's solicitor to have checked this point. It appeared that Mr. Foxwell could request us to change the terms of the agreement, but could not demand that we did so. In any case, Ben had shifted the track some two feet and the argument is to a large extent academic.

The Chairman asked whether the entire subject was not now academic, since there seemed now to be no action threatened.  Alan agreed that this appeared to be the case.  The Chairman advised that, in the circumstances, the subject was best left alone. Alan replied that the committee had come to the same conclusion and were, in fact, doing just that.  He said that it appeared that Ben and Walt had now settled their differences.  The Chairman said that the subject was now closed and that any further developments should be dealt with by the incoming committee.

The Hon. Secretary's Report came next, and the Chairman asked Alan if he had anything to add to his report.  Alan said that he had nothing, but would, of course, answer any questions which might arise.

Dave Irwin said that there was no mention of the political implications of C.S.C.C. and N.C.A. etc. The Chairman said that, since there was a member's resolution involving this question, it should be brought up at that stage of the meeting.  Bob Bagshaw then proposed that the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Dave Irwin and carried unanimously.

The Hon. Treasurer's report then followed.  There was a correction to the financial statement.  The item under 'telephone' should read £44.84.  The Chairman then asked for any comments.  Alfie proposed that the report be adopted and this was seconded by Chris Harvey and carried unanimously.

The Hon. Auditor's Report followed.  Again, there were no comments, and its adoption was proposed by Doug Stuckey and seconded by Nigel.  It was carried nem. con.

The Caving Secretary's Report followed.  Alan Thomas proposed a vote of thanks to the Caving Secretary.  This was seconded by Chris Harvey and carried unanimously. Nigel Taylor then proposed that the report be adopted.  This was seconded by Colin Sage and carried without dissent.

In the absence of the Climbing Secretary, his report was read by the Chairman.  There was no discussion.  Its adoption was proposed by Barry Wilton and seconded by Martin Bishop. It was carried without dissent.

The Hut Warden's Report also provided no discussion.  Its adoption was proposed by Fete Franklin and seconded by Bob Bagshaw.  It was again carried without dissent,

The Hut Engineer's Report was read by the Chairman, in the absence of that officer.  Once again, there was no discussion.  Adoption was proposed by Nigel Taylor and seconded by John Bacon and carried without dissent.

The Tacklemaster then read his report to the meeting.  The Chairman asked if the club was desperately in need of assistance in making tackle.  Mike Palmer replied that there was a need to make tackle, but that volunteers had come forward and it was now a question of organisation.  Mike said that the club had all the necessary raw materials and said that Derek Targett and Chris Harvey had volunteered to hold some sessions on tackle making.  A vote of thanks to Mike Palmer and to Dave Turner was proposed for the efforts they had both made in getting the club tackle situation sorted out.  This was carried unanimously by the meeting.  Mike replied to this, and said that the biggest problem had been sorting it out.  He said that many people had helped.  The Chairman asked if digging ropes were, in fact, old caving ropes. Mike said that they were.  The adoption of the report was then proposed by Alan Thomas and seconded by Pete Franklin.  It was carried without dissent.

The B.B. Editor's Report came next.  There was no discussion.  Its adoption was proposed by Martin Bishop seconded by Joan Bennett and carried without dissent.

The meeting then moved on to the Librarian's Report.  Dave Irwin said that some books have been out for over a year and appealed once again for members to return books and publications.  It was agreed to put an appeal in the B.B.  He said that, apart from this aspect, we have not actually lost anything this year.  The adoption of the report was then proposed by Tony Meaden and seconded by Nigel Taylor. It was again, carried without dissent.

The publications Report then followed.  Dave Irwin asked whether the meeting felt that the report on shoring of swallet cave entrances should be re-published.  It would, he said, need bringing up to date before this could be done. The meeting appeared to have no strong feelings on the matter and the chairman suggested that Dave take this into account.  Alfie said that he would be prepared if required to revise the manuscript.  Alan Thomas then proposed the adoption of the report.  This was seconded by Dave Turner and carried nem. con.  A vote of thanks to Dave, Irwin was then proposed by Alan Thomas and seconded by Dave Turner and again carried without dissent.

The chairman then announced the result of the ballot.

The votes of 82 members had been recorded.  The nine candidates who would for, the 1973/4 committee were, in order of votes cast, Alfie; Dave Irwin; Nigel Taylor; Nigel Jago; Barry Wilton; Alan Thomas; Martin Bishop; Doug Stuckey and Graham Wilton-Jones.  The chairman then asked for permission to destroy the ballot papers. Mike Palmer put this in the form of a proposal, which was seconded by Dave Turner and carried unanimously.  The papers were immediately consigned to the Belfry stove.  The chairman then handed the name slips to Alfie with the advice that voters could appear in the annual list of members with some distinguishing mark against their names.

The chairman then counted those present.  There were 45 members present at 11.50 a.m.

The chairman then took the report of the Ian Dear Memorial Committee.  Mike Palmer read this to the meeting.  There had been one applicant during the year, and this had caused some surprise, as more had been expected.  In the ensuing short discussion, it was agreed that publicity had been adequate.  The adoption of the report was proposed by Roger Stenner and seconded by Dave Irwin. It was carried without dissent.

The chairman then turned to committee resolutions.  The first of these was "that the word 'ratified' be inserted in Article 5 of the club constitution so that it will then read, "both of whom shall be ratified members of the club."  Alfie reminded the meeting that Alan Thomas had proposed at the 1972 A.G.M. "That nobody shall be able to propose or second a membership application until his own membership has been ratified."  This had been ruled, by the chairman of the 1972 A.G.M., to be a constitutional change, since it added a condition to Article 5.  The chairman then proposed from the chair that the subject be referred to the 1972/3 committee in accordance with Article 53. This was agreed by the 1972 A.G.M. with 3 votes against.  Since then, the committee have put forward the resolution now in front of the meeting, and also published it in the B.B. in accordance with Article 53.  If the meeting now adopts the resolution now before it, it will become an amendment to the constitution.  The chairman thanked Alfie for this reminder and put the resolution up for discussion.  Roger Stenner declared himself against the proposed change.  He pointed out that applicants for membership were not normally admitted unless sufficiently known in the club, and that the proposer and seconder were not consulted as a rule unless they happened to be at a committee meeting, in which case it was unlikely that they were probationary members. Nigel Taylor also expressed himself against the idea and said that it would place an unnecessary brake on new membership.  Dave Irwin said that it would provide a safeguard against the formation of cliques. Under the present arrangements, two freshly elected members who also belonged to a small club could propose and second other members of that club who might otherwise be unknown and thus build up a clique which might never integrate with the general membership. Nigel Taylor said that the club committee should act as a watchdog to prevent this or any other bad situation from developing and should not have to depend on detailed legislation to make it occur.  He wished it to be placed on record that he was very strongly again this resolution. Dave Turner then proposed the adoption of the resolution.  This was seconded by Chris Rowell and carried by 25 votes in favour to 12 against.  The chairman then announced that the constitution had been amended for the first time, and that Article 5 should be officially amended in accordance with the resolution.

The second Committee resolution "that the existing Belfry sub-committee continue in office until their findings are completed" was spoken to by Alan Thomas, who said that owing to various circumstances, the sub-committee had not been able to complete its work during the club year just ended.  He felt that continuity here was of importance, and the election of a new sub-committee might well reduce this factor.  Dave Irwin replied that, on reflection, it might be dangerous to perpetuate a sub-committee in this way.  Roy Bennett pointed out that we were allowed two types of committee in addition to the general committee.  We had chosen a sub-committee as from a special committee, and must therefore accept the fact that such a committee becomes automatically disbanded at the end of the club year.  The chairman pointed out that if there was a continuing need for this sub-committee, there was no reason why the new committee could not resurrect it en bloc. Dave Turner agreed that this was the sensible course for the committee to adopt, since they already had the power to do so.  Thus, the resolution had no real meaning. Dave Irwin disagreed with this, and pointed out that the resolution, if passed would compel the committee to do what otherwise they would be free to exercise choice over.  Chris Howell suggested that this aspect could be got round if the word 'existing' were removed from the resolution.  After some further discussion along these lines, Dave Turner pointed out that the resolution was out of order.  It was, in fact, a change to the constitution and, as such, could not take effect immediately.  In spite of this, the resolution said that the sub-committee should continue in office.  Since a finite time must elapse before the resolution could take effect by change of constitution, it was clearly impossible for the sub-committee to continue in the meantime.  Hence the resolution was proposing an impossibility and was thus out of order. The chairman asked if the meeting had under-stood this line of reasoning, and if it agreed with it.  The meeting unanimously agreed the point and the matter was accordingly dropped.

Turning now to members resolutions, a resolution, "that the B.E.C. join the Council of Northern Caving Clubs and do more caving in the North" was proposed by Andy Nicholls and seconded by Nigel Taylor.  Both Alfie and Dave Irwin said that the Southern Council would be debating this point at their meeting in November and it might be prudent to wait and see what happened there first.  At this point, the refreshments arrived, and the chairman declared the meeting adjourned.

After the refreshments, the meeting was re-convened and the discussion continued.  Mike Palmer asked what the back-ground was behind this resolution.  Alan explained that the CNCC had placed an embargo on members of clubs not belonging to CNCC visiting caves controlled by CNCC.  This meant that BEC members could not officially visit these caves unless BEC joined CNCC or its members were prepared to go as guests of a member club of CNCC like the Bradford.  Nigel Taylor said there was no point in waiting for the Southern Council meeting, since he understood that the NCA had said that it could not control decisions of CNCC.  Dave Irwin said that this was not completely true.  CSCC were still trying to bring pressure to bear, via NCA on CNCC.  Our proper course of action was to help bring this pressure to bear, rather than to give in automatically to the decision of CNCC. Roy Bennett said that, in that case, we should instruct our representatives as to what the club expected them to do at the next meeting of CSCC.  Dave Irwin said that, even if things went temporarily against us, joining CNCC would be one more move in the direction of centralised caving, which, in the long run, could mean the end of clubs like B.E.C.  Roger Stenner agreed that this was an important point which the club must consider most carefully.  On the other hand, the restriction of caving was an equally important subject to what is mainly a caving club.  The chairman then called for a vote on the proposal and declared the resolution lost with 2 votes in favour and 30 against.

Roger Stenner then proposed a resolution, "that the defeat of the proposal does not bind the committee NOT to join CNCC should further developments make it desirable to do so".  This was seconded by Roy Bennett.  The Chairman said that the previous proposal, if carried by the meeting, would have compelled to committee to join CNCC.  The fact that it had been defeated meant that the committee were not now so compelled and were now at liberty to do so if they wished.  Thus, there was no need for the new proposal.  The only new proposal which would alter the status quo would be one which forbade the committee to join CNCC.  As no such proposal was forthcoming, the chairman moved on to the next business.  This was a resolution by Roy Bennett and Dave Turner "that the 1973/4 committee should take note of the remarks and suggestions concerning payment etc. for access to Northern caves and incorporate these views into its policy as put forward to the Council of southern Caving Clubs."  There was no discussion, and the resolution was carried 24 - 0.

Under 'Any Other Business', Dave Turner raised the question of payment for legal advice, which had been mentioned earlier.  He asked if we would get better conditions if we paid.  Dave Irwin said that it would make no difference.  Chris Howell wondered whether payment would get us priority, but Dave said that we had not suffered to date.  Alan Thomas said that the independent solicitor had cost a guinea. Nigel Taylor said that he was in favour of leaving things as they were.  Joan Bennett suggested that we should be prepared to pay, but that the bills, in the event, might never be sent to us.  Bob Bagshaw was in favour of the present state of affairs and the discussion ended without any resolution being put to the meeting.

A special speech of thanks was then delivered to mark the occasion of Bob Bagshaw's retirement from office.  Barry Wilton, as the Treasurer-presumptive, reminded the meeting of Bob's long service to the club.

The chairman then asked if there was any other business.  Mike Palmer raised the question of fire risk to the Belfry.  He asked, for example, whether the gas cylinders should be sited outside.  After a short discussion, it was proposed by Frank Jones and seconded by Mike Palmer that the committee take advice from the Fire Service and act at their discretion. This was carried by the meeting without dissent.

There being no other business, the chairman declared the meeting closed at 2.45.p.m.


Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany, by Wig

91.           Hollowfield. The missing sketch plan is shown below: -


106.      Social Chit-Chat:  Garth Dell, Keith Gladman and Keith Murray have been seen around the Belfry recently.  So too, was Jock on a quick visit from Reading.  The one memory of Jock's visit was that the Belfry was considerably cleaner when he left than when he arrived.  Getting quite excited about it, he nearly managed to wash all the Belfryites as well!

Sons are the addition to the Franklin Brothers Families, and Phil and Yo Kingston are on their way to New Zealand during the autumn.  Phil tells me apart from the volcanoes, there are plenty of caving to be had, and only a few miles from their home.  Pete and Mary Ham have made the break and are now in Australia!

107.      Library: The additions to the library have included P.C.G. an A.C.G. Newsletters and a collection of books, C.D.G. miscellaneous papers, maps etc. in a donation from Phil Kingston.  Included in this gift is a timetable for the largest caving event ever organised by the club on Mendip - the Cuthbert’s Sump Digging Weekend in February 1967, when over 30 cavers and divers worked around the clock digging at the sides of the sump to clear a way in for the divers to dig in the sump itself.  The project was called off late on the Saturday night due to flooding.  Other items include surveys of Lamb Leer, stoke Lane, O.S. Maps and a second edition of the 'Caves of Mendip'.

108.      Golden Oldies: Well down in Swildons!  On Tuesday 23rd July, an historic gathering descended Swildons under the leadership - though this is doubtful - of Roy Bennett. Doubtful, because it is thought that all the tackle was carried down by John Stafford's son who, it appears, was always in the lead.  Neither did he worry about the pools - including the Double Pots - he jumped straight in without - one might add to Roy's amazement - a wet suit.  Anyway, John Stafford, John Attwood and daughters ended up at Sump I. The sump being beautifully clear, it was dived by RB in an attempt to show off the desirability of the wet suit. Back at the Hunters, the Oldies Clan gathered strength by the addition of Alan Bonner, Keith Gladman and Pat Ifold.

109.      G.B.  This cave is again locked, as is Longwood and Rhino Rift.  Keys for all three caves are kept in the library at the Belfry.  Members wishing to visit these caves arriving mid-week should make arrangements with Dave Irwin or Nigel Taylor well in advance.

110.      At the Belfry: The committee have taken several momentous decisions.  The fire is to be re-sited in the main room and when the damper has been manufactured. Bucket Tilbury will come down to install the fireplace and chimney.  The long-discussed lockers have been costed and Barry Wilton has the job of arranging the construction.  The library is due for a face-lift and extra shelving is to be installed.


Club Officer’s Reports 1974 - Publications Report

By the A.G.M., at least 3 reports will have been published for the current year. Numbers 14, 17 & 18

No 14. Pyrenean Report - has had an endless series of troubles since its MS came into the hands of the editor and though it has been published in the recent past, I would like to record our apologies to Roy Bennett for the late publication.   The trouble lay

with the commercial printers, who dragged their heels, and with a member of the club, who failed to deliver the necessary plates and printed surveys.  100 copies are available.

No 17. Burrington Atlas. This booklet has been the most successful publications produced by the club. Approximately 400 copies have been sold, and a second printing is being considered.

Number 18.  Caving Reports:  The first of a number of multi-subject reports.  Contains surveys and papers on various subjects written by members of the club.

No new parts of the Cuthbert’s Survey have appeared during the year, but the survey is now at a very advanced stage and the publication of the remaining sheets should trickle through during the next club year.

The post is now one of the most important in the club, though not a committee post as such.  Its expenditure is almost if not equal to the Belfry accounts.  As such, it has shown that sales have reached very high levels and the demand does not seem to be abating.  The outlet of papers written by members, of the various discoveries and technical notes, to a wide audience can only improve the image of the club.  To this end, Alfie Collins and myself have devised a system where papers of an original nature will be diverted to the caving reports and thus help to remove the stigma whereby others have referred to the journals of other clubs as being the original source, when the B.B. has carried the information first.  In the same way, material not really suited to the caving reports will be diverted to the B.B.  Papers published in the Caving Reports will be accompanied by a précis especially prepared for the B.B.

D. Irwin.
Editor, Publications.
July, 1974.


Monthly Crossword – Number 49.



















































































4. Stoke has a muddy one of these. (2-3)
5. Swildons has several of these at first. (3)
7. Stal may have done this to a passage and diggers may be this by it! (7)
9. In the first case of 7, the stal does this. (7)
11. And the rest. (3)
12. A boring device for surface exploration. (5)


1. Local River. (3)
2. Lure bod to this cave feature. (7)
3. A hundred affirm for this bloke. (5)
6. A hundred are visiting many places (including this Mendip cave?) (7)
8. Caving get-together? (5)
10. One of the 5 across’s. (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword



















































































Club Committee

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           M. Bishop, D.J. Irwin, B. Wilton, G. Oaten, N. Taylor, A.R. Thomas, A. Nicholls.

Officers of the Club

Honorary Secretary        A.R THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269

Honorary Treasurer         B. WILTON, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary            A. NICHOLLS, Address to follow.

Climbing Secretary         G. OATEN, Address to follow.

Hut Warden                   N. TAYLOR, Whiddons, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tele : WELLS 72338

Belfry Engineer              M. BISHOP, Bishop’s Cottage, The Batch, Priddy, Wells, Som.  Tele : PRIDDY 370

Tacklemaster                 G. WILTON-JONES, 17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk

B.B. Editor                    S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol. Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Honorary Librarian          D.J IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells Som.  Tel : PRIDDY 369

Publications Editor         D.J IRWIN  As above

B.B. Postal                   Brenda. WILTON  Address as above