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Take A Bow

Response to last month’s appeal for paper has been very good indeed.  One is tempted to wonder if the motto had anything to do with it, because club members have ‘done it to excess’ and our supplies of paper are now in a much more healthy state.


When articles are in short supply - as at present - the editor faces a number of dilemmas (if this is possible, and I reckon with the B.B., it is!)  If he fills a B.B. up with specialist information, most members will consider this to be a waste of paper.  If he sends out a very thin B.B. containing only the articles he happens to have by him this would be considered a waste of covers and postage.  If he waits until he can produce a standard B.B. containing information of general interest, he is likely to be accuse of letting down the club by not providing a regular source of information.

Under these circumstances, it becomes very difficult to win.  Apart from the reasons given above, the editor feels that the article he is including in this month's B.B. might possibly be said to earn its keep if it persuades some active caver to do some work along the lines suggested.  We hear people say from time to time that there is nothing much to do much to do on Mendip.  This could be the chance for somebody to prove such people wrong!

Published Elsewhere

While on the subject of articles, we note that from time to time club members send in their work to publications other than the B.B.  This is, of course, perfectly fair and in any case there is usually some good reason why an author decides to let a particular piece of work go to a journal which will reach the audience he has in mind.

However, most members of the B.E.C. rarely read other publications - and rely almost entirely on the B.B. for keeping abreast of what is going on.  There would thus be no harm in authors who have published elsewhere submitting their work for subsequent publication in the B.B.  The original source will be brought to the attention of B.B. readers in every case should the author so desire.



Preliminary Report on Reynold’s Rift

We have received the following from the Chelm's Coombe Caving Club - a branch of the National Tower Testing Station Sports and Social Club.

On the 6th of December, 1973, members of the Chelm's Coombe Caving Club broke through into an open cave passage in their dig 'Reynolds’s Rift' at the National Tower Testing Station, Cheddar.

We have so far discovered two hundred feet of passage with a vertical range of fifty feet.  A hundred feet of this is stream passage.

No visits are allowed at the present time, while clearance work is done, while a report is prepared for the National Tower Testing Station.  Digging will be continued by club members.

The situation as far as access is concerned will be in the full report which will follow when clearance is completed.

J. Aylott,
Secretary, C.C.C.C.

Addition to members' addresses.

828 Nicolette Abell, Ardtraskart, Greenway Lane, Bath, Som.


Members might like to know that we are still following up information about chemical lights but are not yet in a position to give members any further information.  This will be done as soon as possible.


Annual Subscriptions for 1974 should be sent to BARRY WILTON.  Members are advised not to leave this chore until the last minute, because there is always a risk that they will get removed from the B.B. circulation list in May.


Limestone & Caves of N.W. England.

A Review of this important book, which will be in the club library, by Andrew Nichols.

Edited by A.C. Waltham. (David & Charles, for the B.C.R.A. 1974. Price £6.95 )

This, the first of a series covering each of the four major British caving areas, is intended, as Trevor Ford says in his foreword, to provide a factual survey for not only the sporting and scientific caver, but teachers and students as well as landowners; quarry industries and water authorities.  That, I suspect, is a pious hope.  It is a book for cavers, and one which they will find invaluable.

It's a large book. 470 pages covering the twelve mile wide limestone strip between Morecambe Bay in the West and Nidderdale in the East, which contains most of the major systems of the Dales.

There are two sections. The first opens with a discussion of the overall geology, spelaeomorphology and hydrology; continues with three chapters on the characteristics and behaviour of karst water and ends with a review of biospelaeological and archaeological work.  These 180 pages are hard going for the non-specialist, particularly without a glossary - though the authors may fairly expect their readers to have a certain amount of knowledge.  Initially, it may disappoint those who expected the same excitement from the writing as from the caves, but a second reading should dispel that because, once absorbed, it adds enormously to the value of the rest of the book.  It also represents a great deal of dedicated work. There is, for example, a casual reference in one chapter to 'water sampling from 68 sites over a period of 7 years' - much of it new and all of it important.

Archaeological work in the Dales was predominantly 19th century and yielded little from the few inhabited caves, so this chapter continued to disappoint me, though that presumably will not be so with the corresponding reviews of the other caving areas in the series.

The second, and larger, section deals with the caves themselves.  There is a chapter on each of the 12 areas into which the karst has been sub-divided, with a final discussion of the total chronology.  This is why the book will be bought and what it will be judged on.  The B.C.R.A. has done well in assembling a team of writers so expert on their particular areas.  All the chapters are good and several are outstanding.  Tony Waltham's is unusually successful in his disentanglement of the multi-phased development of the Lost Johns-Short Drop-Gavel system.  Dave Brooks's discussion of Kingsdale is a masterpiece of clear, precise and jargon-free analysis, and his description of Black Keld brings out all the excitement of one of Britain's major hydrological systems.

No serious caver - sporting or scientific - can afford to be ignorant of the caves of North West England, and those who do know a little of the area will have their favourite cave s and theories; and may be affronted to find that they may not have been given the coverage that they think they deserve.  Lower Easegill Pot, I am convinced, merits more that a few lines on page 251!  Understandably, not everything can be put into 470 pages and Tony Waltham as editor has had to aim for width rather than for depth for this is a survey - not a thesis.

Nevertheless, I was surprised by some omissions and editorial emphasis.  Chapter 19, for instance, on Ribblesdale refers to ‘the massive hydrological system of Brants Gill Head’ (the Penyghent-Fountains Fell master cave) and proceeds to dismiss it in three pages - while the spelaeologically piffling Morecambe Bay area, however interesting to the theorist, has a lavish 26 pages.  The Black Keld system has only a short, though excellent, chapter.  Crackpot Cave in Swaledale, another huge hydrological system, is outside the scope of the book altogether.  The necessary arbitrary division into twelve areas has had the effect that chapters 14 to 16 are treated almost -without reference to each other and with no mention of the now respectable Three Counties theory.  Cavers more familiar with other areas covered by the book will be able possibly to find other examples.

However, the sheer size and importance of the area covered must be blamed for what omissions do exist. The material included is accurate and thoroughly discussed, with many gaps in present knowledge valuably pointed out. Not only, is the book recent; it is, unusually for a caving book, right up to date at the time of writing.

The presentation is not, unfortunately, up to the standard of the text.  There is an excellent bibliography, as full as you could wish and far better than the usual series of footnotes, but the many diagrams and illustrations vary wildly in effectiveness.  Some (Figure 70) are crisp and clear.  Others (figure 44) are so cluttered with detail as to be useless. The two dozen pages of photographs, apart from the occasional superb shot such as Tony Waltham's of the minarets in Lancaster Hole, are frankly poor with the underground shots generally worse than the surface photography.

These shortcomings are minor compared with the success of the book as a whole. 'British Caving' was never adequate to fill the gap caused by the explosion of caving in the last decade and a half, but the B.C.R.A. will undoubtedly do so if the remaining three books are as good as this.  It is no substitute for the more specific papers in club journals nor for the successors to Pennine Underground, but that is not it’s purpose.  It is a broad survey of a large area and, despite its price a book which every caver ought to get hold of.


Surveys – Past and Future

An article written, so the author says, for the average non-specialist caver.

We all know what a cave survey looks like.  Even if some of us have never actually owned one, we have at least seen examples in the Belfry or elsewhere.  We also know that, apart from any differences in the standard of drawing or lettering, they are all basically alike.

Next year, formal cave surveying will be twenty five years old - for it was back in 1950 that Arthur Butcher published the paper which was adopted by the C.R.G. and which has formed the basis of cave surveys ever since.

Now, a quarter of a century is a fairly long time, and it might be of interest to the average caver to see just what cave surveyors on Mendip at least, have been thinking about all this time, and whether we are likely to see any new ideas in the way of cave surveys in the future.

The quick answer to what cave surveyors have been thinking about all this time can be summed up in a single word Accuracy.  In 1950, Arthur Butcher came out with a series of grades because he assumed that cave surveyors would use a variety of instruments, some better than others, and it would be necessary to give the user some idea of what he could expect in the way of accuracy according to what the surveyor had used when he did the survey.

Nothing much happened on Mendip until 1962, when Bryan Ellis attempted to improve on Butcher's system with a simple and ingenious scheme which made sure that a surveyor's equipment was all of roughly the same standard.  This scheme of Bryan's was designed to fit in with Butcher's original scheme and was sent to the C.R.G. but was not adopted by them.

A year later, in 1963, Dennis Warburton published an article in the Wessex Journal.  This was the first serious attempt to replace guesswork by facts, based on both theory and practice.  Dennis showed how the accuracy of a survey would vary under different conditions and then compared these figures with actual figures taken from no less than 28 different surveys.

As a result of all this, Dennis found a number of very important things about the accuracy of cave surveys.  He found, for example, that the accuracy did not depend much on either the surveyor or on the difficulty of the cave being surveyed (within sensible limits, of course!) which was something that came as a surprise to quite a few cave surveyors. Another thing which Dennis found was that most surveys were much closer to each other as far as accuracy went than the grade numbers they had been given would suggest.  He reckoned that it would be better if surveyors stated the accuracy they thought they had achieved, rather than give the survey a number.

By this time, a number of cave surveyors on Mendip were all discussing what ought to be done as a next step.  I put down my own thoughts on the subject in 1964 and they were published as a B.E.C. caving report in 1966.  At about this time, Mendip surveyors were meeting frequently to swap ideas and they eventually decided to produce a handbook on the subject - which turned out to be too big for anybody to publish.  At least one copy of this book still exists and I am trying to get hold of it for the club library if anyone is interested.

One of the conclusions which the surveyors came to was that there were only two real types of survey as far as accuracy went - the properly done survey and the quick, rough sketch. They had lots of other ideas as well, but they did not succeed in getting any of these adopted by the C.R.G. However, some of the surveyors concerned were invited to give papers at C.R.G. meetings and this aroused some interest in their work.

At about this time, Mike Luckwill got interested in the subject, and, as a professional mathematician, he had some hard words to say about cave surveyors.  He argued that they never took the trouble to read any books on surveying but seemed to prefer to believe that they were pioneering an entirely new subject.  Mike pointed out that, apart from the practical examples that Dennis was able to use by 1963, the position in 1969 could and should have been reached in 1950. Had Mike not died so suddenly and tragically, he would no doubt have put his arguments on paper - indeed, he was in the process of doing just that at the time of his death - and perhaps he would have shaken up many cave surveyors.  As it was, his remarks did not go unnoticed, because Dave Irwin, Roger Stenner and Doug Stuckey had been concerned with the problems of the Cuthbert’s survey and, by using the approach suggested by Mike Luckwill and adding several ideas of their own, they have come up with a survey which is probably as accurate as any cave survey really needs to be.

So, at the present day, it is rapidly becoming possible, if it has not already done so, for a cave survey to be carried out with a degree of accuracy good enough for all practical purposes.  The arguments which have led to this state of affairs have been omitted from this review but it might be of interest to state the main conclusions which have resulted from the quarter of a century since 1950.  Firstly, increased accuracy has not happened because we now have better instruments or more skilful surveyors.  It has happened by using the same instruments and by taking the same reading with them, but with better techniques.  This is something which I doubt any surveyor of 1950 would have suggested might happen.

Secondly, it has been shown that any reasonable surveyor will produce an accurate survey providing he uses his instruments in the right way, and that this survey should be pretty well as accurate as anybody requires.

Now to answer the second question. Will we be seeing anything new in the way of cave surveys in the future?

The answer to this depends very much on what cavers decide to do.  With the problem of accuracy near enough solved, the more mathematically inclined caver may well lose interest in the subject.  The caver who is keen on drawing cave surveys might well turn his attention to the problems of just how you decide what the shape of a cave really is, and how you put this down clearly on paper.  There are a number of techniques which could be used, and Dave Irwin for one is currently experimenting in this direction.

There is, however, a field in which the average caver could contribute greatly to the art of cave surveys, and I will try to explain just how this could be done.  To illustrate what I have in mind, one has only to read the last Christmas B.B.  This B.B. had three articles about caving trips.  On the Birk's Fell trip, the party had difficulty in finding some parts of the cave.  Admittedly they had gone down for the fun of exploring it for themselves - but it still might have been useful to them if one member of the party had been able to take down a survey which actually showed how to get round the system.

In the article on G.G., the party had consulted a survey but were still in some doubt about taking the correct turning - and the penalty for missing it might well have been quite high!

I have been arguing the case for maps which are actually designed to give the average caver as much information as he could reasonably want about the actual cave for some time now. I gave a paper to the C.R.G. symposium at Leicester on this subject.  After the paper was over, the chairman asked the 200 cavers present if they had any questions.  There were none.  He then asked people to put up their hands if they thought this sort of thing was a good idea and should be tackled on actual caves.  Almost everyone present put up his hand.  I only mention this because it shows that it is no use saying "It's not worth trying because nobody wants it."  After all, nobody was ever asked whether they wanted the present sort of cave survey.

At this stage, I can almost hear people saying "If you think it's such a good idea, why don't you DO something about it?  "Alas! As one gets on a bit, the time available for doing anything worthwhile underground gets there are so many other things which take up all one's time.  That is why I hope that some young, keen active caver might care to consider doing something along these lines.

What lines?  Well, I personally had two schemes in mind although they are by no means the only possible ways of doing the job.

The first of these is called the Descriptive or Pictorial Map.  One of these can be started by taking an existing survey - preferably of a well-known cave like Swildons, so that it can get a good trying out by a large number of cavers.  The first thing to do is to decide whether the survey actually enables you to cave properly.  Does it, for instance, show clearly all the places where it is possible to miss one's way? Not all surveys are good enough for this.  As an example, I can never find my way into Browne's Passage in Stoke I from the survey. All places where this can happen should be noted.  One good trick for making a survey show places like this, is to include an enlargement of any tricky bit.  The actual enlargement can be drawn in down the cave and shown like this:


The next thing to decide from the existing survey is whether or not various parts of the cave get in each other's way too much - or whether the surveyor has gone to the other extreme and separated them so much that it is not easy to see what leads to what. For instance, I used to find it very difficult to see where the Dolphin Pot route in Eastwater came out on the plan of the lower series.  Where portions of the cave are detached to make the survey clearer, it should be shown clearly that this has been done.  The sketch below should make this point clear.


Having got the existing survey into a form so that the caver can see and understand the cave, it is now necessary to visit all parts of the cave and make notes of anything the caver might find useful.  Here is a list of some of them:-

What tackle is necessary and what, if any, provided?
What and where are the main obstacles?
How long might any given trip be expected to take?
How wet is the cave, or parts of it?
Are there any places worth photographing?
Are there any restrictions on lighting etc.?
Are any passages too small for average cavers?
Are there any special hazards (instability, ventilation, etc.)?
Is the cave, or parts of it, liable to flooding?
Are there any special techniques which have to be used?
Are some portions of the cave only accessible with diving equipment?

…and so on.  All this sort of information should now be added to the survey - using words or symbols.  If symbols are used, there must be a key to them but they should also be clear enough in meaning hardly to need that key.  There's not much point in giving a caver all this information in code! If in doubt, ask any fellow caver what he thinks a sign means - and if he gets it wrong, or at least doesn’t agree with it after you've told him - scrap it and try again.  In same cases, don't try at all.  It's just as easy to write MUD SUMP alongside a mud sump than it is to invent some symbol for one, which the caver has to learn.  Fixed and portable tackle is fairly easy.  Most people would realize what the diagram at the top of the next page meant….


If a lake, stream or canal is shown on a survey, it is of more interest to the caver to know how wet he is going to get than to be told it is 320 feet above sea level. Something of the sort shown below might well do in such a case…..


And so on.  One thing that could be of use to a caver is not so much how long a particular passage is (which he can get from the survey anyway) but how much time it will take to get along.  Time markers, representing 5 minutes of average caving time between them, could be the answer here.  The sign I have suggested is as drawn below, which is supposed to be a stylised drawing of an hour glass:-


…and is shown at appropriate intervals alongside every passage in the cave.  Thus, any proposed trip can be estimated by adding up all the time markers along the chosen route.

There are many more types of useful information which can be added in this way.  The result would be a survey which could be used by cavers fresh to the district to plan a trip in advance. They would know what tackle they needed and where it was all to be used.  They would know what sections of the cave could be visited normally, what bits needed diving equipment, what passages were too small for the larger members of the party, whether it was worth taking a camera down, and a lot of other useful information which is not available on the present type of survey. I am sure that a survey laid out on these lines would get used extensively, if it were done for a well visited cave like Swildons.  If anyone is interested in having a go, I am prepared to help as much, or as little, as required.

This article has gone on quite long enough, so I will not describe any other new sort of survey, except to say that there is also a need for a method of putting down useful information in a much smaller space than a normal survey takes up.  It is not easy to spread out a large sheet of paper in a wet, constricted underground place.  However, if there is any interest in this subject, and we get another month in which hardly anybody has sent in anything for the B.B., I might describe possible methods in a further article.

S.J. Collins.


Round and About

…A Monthly Miscellany, by ‘Wig’

  1. M.R.O. News.  New callout arrangements starting on SUNDAY, March 3rd 1974 for Mendip are the result of re-organisation within the Somerset police force.  The police have requested that all emergency calls must be routed through their regional control centre at Frome as from Sunday, 3rd March.  To comply with this, all calls for cave rescue must follow this procedure:-

DIAL 999 - Ask for POLICE - Request police for CAVE RESCUE.

As a result of the phone change, the M.R.O. notices will be changed and will also include the name of each cave and the location of the nearest telephone. The police will require the following information:-

1.         Name and address of caller.

2.         Number and situation of telephone.

3.         Nature of accident.

4.         Name of cave.

5.         Position in cave (if known)

6.         Number of people in party.

7.         Experience and condition of party.

The informant must then WAIT at the phone until contacted by an M.R.O. Warden, who will give him instructions.

The police will ring wardens in list order until one is located.  The police and the warden will then decide what action is necessary and further action will be at the discretion of the warden and police.

  1. M.R.O. Wardens.  The present list is:- Howard Kenny; Willie Stanton: Dave Irwin; Alan Thomas; Bob Craig; Roy Bennett; Oliver Lloyd; Phil Davies; Jim Hanwell; Tim Reynolds; Fred Davies; Brian Woodward; Pete Franklin; Brian Prewer; John Chapman; Frank Frost and Harry Stanbury.
  2. M.R.O. Annual Report.  There have been 15 rescues including alerts during the last year.  Four of the six have been as a result of falls, and 1973 might be described 'The Year of the Fracture'.  Two notable and ominous ‘firsts’ have occurred - the first abseiling accident in a Mendip cave and the first badly injured patient requiring rescuing through a sump.  These reflect the increase in abseiling and prussicking by relatively inexperienced cavers.  Whilst M.R.O. is strictly concerned with cave rescue matters, we feel obliged to urge more thought in using these new climbing aids and greater care regarding the composition of parties, especially on long trips.

Sunday, 15th April 1973.  Swildons Hole.

On returning from a trip beyond sump I with two friends, David Dryden fell about 15 feet on attempting to climb up the well in the Upper Series.  He broke the left tibia and fibula.  In a subsequent I thank you letter, Dryden writes…'the accident was cause mainly through exhaustion brought about by not eating a substantial meal beforehand.  I had eaten something that didn’t agree with me the day before and was feeling the after effects that day.  Perhaps I’ll know next time to abandon the trip if I'm not in A.1. condition.'

Tuesday, 24th April, 1973.  Swildons Hole.

A group of Bristol cavers were reported overdue.  They were not members of a club.  A search of the cave found the party unharmed at the bottom of Vicarage Pot.  They had abseiled down the pitch and pulled the rope down after them before realising their mistake.  This was an exact repeat of the callout of 2.11.69.  We hope that the message has now been learned.

Monday, 24th June, 1973. Stoke Lane Slocker.

A Wessex party going down the cave was passed by a Cotham party on its way out. The latter, on surfacing, found the stream was rising rapidly due to a thunderstorm.  The W.C.C. party were found making a rapid and safe exit before the stream rose to dangerous levels at the entrance.

Saturday, 30th June, 1973.  Goatchurch Cavern.

Yeaden, a member of a scout party, on his first caving trip, fell and dislocated his shoulder in the Water Chamber.  As the medic could not return the shoulder, his arm was strapped up and he was encouraged to get out under his own steam.

Saturday, 30th June, 1973.  Longwood Swallet.

Tress, one of an M.C.G. party returning from a trip to August Hole, fell off the 10' climb into the entrance passages.  He badly injured his jaw and right cheek.  He was given first aid and persuaded to move out, largely on his own. A sit harness was found to be very useful in helping him up the narrow entrance shaft.

Sunday, 15th July, 1973.  St. Swithin's Day Alert!

The meteorological office issued a general warning that up to 2 inches of rain could fall on Mendip during the after noon.  Wells police notified M.R.O.  Local cavers were notified.  In the event, the local fall was not as heavy as first feared.

Sunday, 22nd July, 1973.  Swildons Role.

A telephone call was received direct from Mike Collins, caving sec. of M.N.R.C. informing that a friend was stuck just beyond the little waterfall inside the entrance at the beginning of the Dry Ways.  Collins explains…'I was asked by a party coming from Swildons IV to show them the short way out so that they could get out before their lights faded.  This I did, but Doug Stevens, who is rather stocky, got stuck but was adequately protected and would not suffer from exposure. I left the cave to summon assistance on Priddy Green.  The chaps went back to the rear of him via the Old Grotto, and one directly to him so that he would not be alone too long.'  Stephens was quickly freed by members of the St. Albans C. C.

Saturday, 27th October.  Sidcot Swallet.

A party of five from Wolverhampton were in the cave when one of their carbide lamps came to pieces.  Fearing that they might be gassed, three of them fled to raise the alarm, supposing that their two companions might have been overcome. During the telephone conversation with M.R.O. the other two appeared.


Monday, 12th November, 1973.  Swildons Hole.

A Cerberus S.S. party went down the cave with the of abseiling down the old Forty on a double line.  The first two members descended safely.  However, when Graham Price began his abseil, the loop flicked off the belay and he fell about 30 feet with the loose rope.  Fortunately, he did not crash on those below but landed on his left hip, sustaining a multiple fractured of the pelvis and a not too serious internal rupture.

This potentially difficult rescue went well on the whole though communications were delayed because the public call box on Priddy Green was inoperative. It is believed that the fall occurred because the rope was dry and stiff and so 'stood up' off the belay when the abseiler briefly supported his own weight on the ledge below the lip of the pitch.

Saturday, 1st December, 1973.  Eastwater Cavern.

An anxious friend phoned the Wells police to report that his friends were overdue from a trip down the Twin Verts.  They were adequately equipped.  The party emerged from the cave just as rescuers were being rounded up.

Thursday, 10th January, 1974.  Sludge Pit.

Wells police phoned Jim Hanwell at 2.40 a.m. reporting that a worried wife from Bristol had phoned in regarding an overdue party that had gone down the cave the previous evening.  Whilst the police were checking the Eastwater Lane, a message was received from Bristol reporting the safe return of the cavers. They had been delayed by a puncture. Surely, it would have been better had those involved troubled to contact their homes to announce the delay and save needless worry and a rescue alert.

Saturday, 19th January, 1974.  Swildons Hole.

Sith, a Bath University student visiting Swildons II, fell at the 11 foot drop in the Old Approach Passage.  It was suspected that he had fractured an ankle, although he had broken both tibia and fibula.  This was the longest distance haul yet made on Mendip, and the first serious injury in Swildons II.  It is probably not without significance that Smith was the only member of the Bath party without a wet suit, as well as being the least experienced caver.  He had been caving five times previously, including one much shorter trip in Swildons.

Saturday, 19th January, 1974.  Swildons Hole.

Whilst engaged on the Swildons Rescue, it was reported that a party had not confirmed their return from a trip to Primrose Path.  Two cavers were detailed to reconnoitre the cave whilst the police tried to locate those involved at their homes.  The presence of a rope at the pot gave cause for alarm. A member of the party was found safe and sound in his bed at his home in Wells.  Why make needless work by leaving ropes underground or failing to remove outdated notices on blackboards?

Sunday, 20th January, 1974.  General Alert.

The worried father of P. Sprules contacted Frome police when his son failed to turn up after a days I caving at 2 a.m.  A check of the list of those helping underground in the Swildons rescue found him in a hauling team.

Sunday, 27th January, 1974. Eastwater Cavern.

A party from the Harrow Moles Club were reported about two and a half hours overdue during the evening.  No official callout was received, so it appears that they underestimated the duration of their trip.  This is proving to be a common occurrence with parties not familiar with the cave.

  1. Library Notes.  The latest publications received include:-

Gloucester S.S. News sheet Nov, Dec, Jan and Feb.
British Caver No 61.
D.B.S.S. Proceedings Vol.13,No 2.
Cerberus S.S. Newsletter No 34.
Bibliography on lava tube caves - Harter.
Supplement to above - Harter.
W.C.C. Journal No 151.
The Great Storms and Floods of July 1968 - W.C.C. Oce.
Pub. Series 1 number 2.
Belfry Bulletin. Volume 27 - two bound sets.
D.S.S. Journal No.114.
New Climbs 1968 - Ed. Rogers.  (Many thanks to 'Milch' Mills for this donation.)

  1. Those moaning letters.  Recently a letter appeared appealing for information happening 'on top of the hill' - I wonder why this writer did not offer the B. B. his article that appeared in the C.D.G. Newsletter on the interesting 'overland I route from Wookey 4 to Wookey 9.  I'm sure that this would have been far more interesting to club members than my silly notes!  Nuff said!


Monthly Crossword – Number 43.



















































































1. All west for typical Mendip cave. (7)
6. You’ll…the day (Priddy Green Song). (3)
7. French stop in Cuthbert’s. (5)
8. Think on the right lines for this. (4)
11. and 14.  Describes abortive dig? (2,2)
16. These may hurt in a tight squeeze. (4)
21. Black hole? (5)
22. Green? (3)
23. Shorten this in G.B.. (7)


1. Iron etc. causes this stal (5)
2. Form of nave underground. (4)
3. Part of Mendip cave name. (4)
4. Sump – otherwise part. (4)
5. Resting place underground? (3)
9. Forward direction in cave. (2)
10. Initially, for example. (1,1)
12. Alternative which sounds like 22 across. (2)
13. Mendip cave. (1,1)
15. Coloured rift in Cuthbert’s. (5)
17. Dear’s curtailed is a notion. (4)
18. Crystalline substance, commonly. (4)
19. Fastener on wet suit. (4)
20. Mendip Hole. (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, D. Stuckey, N. Jago, N. Taylor, A.R. Thomas, B. Wilton

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            D. STUCKEY, 34 Allington Road, Southville, Bristol 3.  Tele : BRISTOL 688621

Climbing Secretary         N. JAGO, 27 Quantock Road, Windmill Hill, Bristol 3

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

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                   B. WILTON  Address as above




In spite of any indications there may be to the contrary, the editor would like to wish all members a Happy and a Prosperous New Year.


Luckily, the threat of petrol rationing seems to have receded, but other things are becoming either expensive or in short supply, and the thing which is likely to affect the B. B. is the position of paper, which is both!

A normal 24 page B.B. takes 3 reams (1,500 sheets) of paper to produce.  Not long ago, we were paying 60p per ream, but the paper we have had to buy in order to produce this one (and it is the wrong sort of paper as well) has cost us £1.35 per ream.  A move has already been made to economise by combining pages 1 and 2 of the normal layout, and the only other compromise is between wasting paper and giving members fair value for their subscriptions.  In the past 2 years, the size of the B.B. has been kept constant every month.  What we are suggesting now is that it might be more sensible to see what has come in each month and make the size of the B.B. correspond.  Thus, this B.B. might well turn out smaller, but future B.B.'s might not.

Incidentally, if any member can lay his or her hands on a cheap supply of A4 paper suitable for litho printing, we would be extremely grateful.

Ratification Time

As usual, at this time of the year, the committee have been ratifying the last quota of members and, equally as usual, have been asking themselves questions about the whole subject. On the one hand, nobody wants to refuse permanent membership without good reason but on the other hand, the committee feel that ratification should not be a 'rubber stamp' procedure.

One aspect which they have been considering this year is that of groups of cavers who apply to join the B.E.C.  The club is against formal affiliation because it is felt that this is liable to produce 'cliques' so (in theory at any rate) every prospective member joins as an individual.

Obviously, in a case where he has joined at the same time as several of his friends, he is going to carry on caving with them - and the dividing line between a small group acting and thinking as a separate entity and one acting and thinking as part of the B.E.C. can never be sharply drawn.  The committee, however, would like to think that members who already form such groups will make a real effort to integrate themselves fully into the club.

That Motto

Having thought, in 1972, of a way to combine the letters B.B. with the figures 72; it was with some relief that it was found possible to do this with the figures 73 as well. However, 74 has proved beyond the skill of the editor to combine with the letters B.B., and so we have a new heading. For those who might possibly be interested, the Latin motto has been produced by the usual method of leaving out all the unnecessary words.  The Romans did this because they objected to having to carve more words on a piece of hard stone than they really needed to.  The motto is, of course, "Whatever is worth doing, we will do it to excess" - a motto which has been that of the B.E.C. for some years now and which might well be appropriate this year in particular.  The full sentence (with the missing words in brackets) is Quodcumque (res) faciendum (est); nimis (illud) faciemus and the translation again with the missing words in brackets is; Whatever (thing is) fit to be done; we will do (that thing) to excess - which is about as close as the Romans could have got towards the B.E.C. motto!



Gour Rift Dig

An account of this dig in Cuthbert’s by Dave Irwin.

During the summer of 1972, through to the spring of 1973, the Sunday Morning Digging Team attacked the end of the Gour Rift in an abortive attempt to excavate a continuation of the Gour Rift.

For years, the end of the rift looked a tempting site for an attack.  In the early days of the exploration of St. Cuthbert’s, the end had been investigated and the Bank Grill entered, but this tight ascending passage gradually closed down.  In 1957, the sump was passed by Balcombe and Coase only to discover the further sump that was destined to become Sump 1 - the original sump being then known as the Duck. In 1966, John Cornwell made the first attempt that seriously attracted cavers to the end of the Gour Rift, but after a short series of digging sessions, the site was abandoned.  At about the same time the Taylor brothers made an attempt at the still un-entered hole at the top of the aven above the Great Gour in an attempt to see if there was a high level passage over the top of the Gour Rift.

Then, in 1966, the Tuesday Evening Digging Team came into existence (Turner; Irwin; Craig; Woodward; Webster and several others) who bashed the Dining Room dig for nearly three years and excavated a passage over 150 feet long that has how been proved to be the upstream end of the Whitsun Series.  Then came the major breakthrough - almost by accident.  By chance, the terminal sump of St. Cuthbert’s was found to be empty of water in the autumn drought of 1969.  Secret digging sessions (up to five in a week!) were made by Bennett; Craig et. al. and were rewarded with the discovery of Cuthbert’s II.  A serious attempt to explore all the high level passages of two was made by Bennett et al. in the following few years, together with an attempt to pass Sump 2.  All prospects of continuing the cave in Two diminished.

During the same period as the Gour Rift Dig, then S.M.C.C. dug at a point just downstream of Sump 1 at a point where the water was known to soak away in dry weather.  They reached a depth of about fifteen feet before giving up.

At the same time, the S.M.D.T. attacked the end of Gour Rift.  The early digging sessions were limited to the left hand wall.  It was here that Cornwell had dug in under an overhang that gave the appearance of another passage running off the line of the rift by about fifteen degrees to the east.  The other point that was of interest was the extreme end of the rift, where the tops of two phreatic arches could be seen.  These had been modified by two chemical persuasion attempts a few years earlier (Irwin; Craig and Searle in 1968 and Turner and Bennett in 1970) in an attempt to see clearly up into the rift down which came the Bank Grill water.  However, it became clear that a serious digging attempt had to be made and so the dig became a bail-and-dig session.  The whole floor was lowered and of course, the lower the floor became, the larger the pool of water that had to be bailed the following week in order that digging could be resumed.  To prevent the water from flowing back through the Duck, a small concrete dam was constructed.  The construction of this dam eased the bailing operation considerably, as the pool now needed about an hour and a half to bail. As the fill began to be removed, large lumps of stal gouring were uncovered.  At first it was thought that these were the remains of a series of descending gours that continued on from the abrupt end of the series in the Gour Rift. However, this was not so and they were, in fact, isolated lumps which had been deposited in the infill.  At the end, the phreatic arches were dug into and it was found that they were merely the top of a four foot deep by foot wide phreatic hollow or pocket.  Undeterred, the diggers continued lower to a depth of about nine feet.  It was at this depth that the greatest blow occurred.  A rim of rock was uncovered which ran round the extreme end of the rift forming the top of a pothole.  This was probed with iron rods to a depth of between five and six feet by a series of probes that gradually increased the angle of attack so that an impression of the shape of the wall under the infill could be obtained. Hopes of any sign of undercutting of the wall soon faded when it was found that the walls were smooth and vertical. At this time, the digging sessions were becoming more of a bailing operation than a dig.  The bailing time went up to about two hours. and digging time was correspondingly reduced.

To assist the bailing, several ideas were submitted, but the most practical idea came from John Knops in the form of a water wheel.  However, in practice, difficulties arose in the form of binding bearings and other mechanical problems.  During this time, large quantities of wood were taken down the cave to shore up the right hand wall of infill to replace the galvanised sheeting that held back the wall until the diggers undercut it and the inevitable happened.  When the dig had been taken to its lowest point attention was transferred to the right hand side, under the breccia in which is formed the Bank Grill pothole.  The diggers dug in under the breccia, only to find that a floor existed that sloped downwards, but back towards the Duck.  Probing at the Duck itself revealed that the small arch which forms the Duck is, in fact, the top of a six foot wide arch, largely buried in the infill.

However, for all the problems, we have learned a little about the end of the rift that has attracted so much attention in the past before work on the Burrington Atlas and on other activities - not least the advent of winter combined to bring the dig to a grinding halt early in 1973.  Anyone wishing to continue where we left off is very welcome, but some form of pumping device is essential to probe further than the S.M.D.T. were able to do.  Perhaps after all the work that has been carried out at the end of St. Cuthbert’s, the real way on will be found at the bottom of the lake!

For the record, the regular diggers at the Gour Rift were Doug Stuckey; Dave Irwin; Dave Turner; Chris Williams; John Rees; John Knops and many others including tourist trippers.

( A sketch of the dig will be found on the next page.)


Caving Trips

The Caving Secretary asks ALL club members and guest leaders to WRITE UP their trips in the appropriate log. Apart from this being required by the club rules and making a valuable record, IT IS IN MEMBER’S OWN INTEREST to write up trips, since money spent on caving gear is related to the amount of use it is THOUGHT to get the wrong impression is given without write-ups.

Route Finding in Wild Country

Although many of the practices described in this article... by Bob Cross…will seem obvious to some cavers and fell walkers, it will act as a reminder that dangers from exposure can easily be minimised by good route finding techniques.

There are times when the craft I shall outline will be of great value to both potholers and mountaineers. From my own experience, I can remember when club members were lost or went adrift on the fells.  For example, about three years ago a party of B.E.C. cavers planned to descend the then relatively unknown Black Shiver Pot, which is on the western flanks of Ingleborough.  They did not find it on their first trip and I believe it's true to say that only after three separate attempts did they finally find the hole. On another occasion, again on Ingleborough, where Bar Pot was the venue, the crew surfaced after dusk on a cold and rather misty night.  They were wildly uncertain of the direction back to the car park at Clapham and were very relieved when they got down to Clapdale Farm.  On yet another occasion, a party of club bog-trotters took the wrong turning during mist on a ridge walk in the Brecon Beacons, leaving their intended route and upsetting their plans.  The consequences or these happenings were frustrating and inconvenient rather than disastrous but, if we stop to consider a party of cavers emerging cold and wet into freezing conditions and darkness from a remote hole like Langcliffe Pot in Wharfedale or Pant Mawr in the little Neath Valley; dropping into the wrong valley; getting split up and becoming completely lost, they would be in real danger from exposure.  It could happen on any winter weekend away from Mendip and, although it may sound a little far-fetched, it is a very real possibility.  In climbing or walking, the chances of getting lost are much greater if skill is not acquired.  Great distances and remote places are often involved through terrain completely devoid of obvious landmarks and where extremes of weather such as thunder; blizzard; mist and white-outs can be expected.  It is thus vital to make yourself a competent navigator, and this is just as vital as being a good leader.

Wherever you go in the hills, you need a good map, a watch and a compass.  The need for a watch is obvious, it helps you to keep to your schedule and, more important, you know when the light will fade and you can make adjustments to suit.  As far as maps are concerned, the most detailed are the six inch Ordnance Survey maps, but the one inch covers more ground in a sheet and the two and a half inch series probably represents the best compromise.  If you are on the hills and you get lost, then any ground feature that can be recognised on the map will be useful and enable you to get a compass bearing back to your intended route.  There are a variety of features which we can use.  Stream junctions cairns, prominent boulders, trig. pillars, fences, stone walls etc. should all enable you to pinpoint where you are.  If you periodically glance at your map and keep a note of your position then, should the mist come down, you will already know approximately where you are and be able to walk out on bearings accordingly.

If there are no prominent features, then you'll have to be a little more crafty.  It is possible, if you have a keen eye, to make use of the contour lines mid the vegetation symbols.  This is where the two and a half inch map scores over the one inch series. If you look closely, you will see information of all sorts - walls, footpaths, boundary stones, bench marks, depressions, bog, heather, scree etc. all of which are as accurately positioned as the 'harder' detail.

Sometimes, even if you cannot see things, you can obtain hints on their existence, e.g., the sound of running water, the sound of traffic, chain saws working in a forestry plantation.  I've even heard tell that if you hear a raven caw-caw you’re very likely near a crag.

Good co-ordination of eye and ear coupled with accurate compass work can get you out of nearly any fix. Compasses come in all shapes, prices and qualities.  The sort we want for moor land walking has a base protractor.  This is a Perspex rectangle fitted with an arrow etched into the plastic base that runs through the vertical axis of the compass needle. The SILVA range of compasses are this type.  They enable accurate bearings from one point to another to be taken from a map.  I will not go into their operation, as it is quite simple and will be explained in the instructions for use which come with almost any compass.  If you want to be really fastidious, then the silva RANGER is the one.  This has a sighting vane and, on the most expensive model, a clinometer.  A sighting vane can be useful on occasion, e.g. for determining an astral fix, but that is outside the realm of this article.  When you take bearings, add 80 west to allow for magnetic variation.  This matters little over short distances, but the effect of ignoring it will give an increasing error the further you go.  If for some reason, after walking for some distance on a bearing, you wish to retrace your steps, set your compass to a back or reverse bearing.  If the forward bearing is greater than 180, subtract 180 from it and if it is less than 180, add 180 to it.  When you're in mist or darkness and cannot see your target, you've got to set your compass to a bearing from the map and make sure that you walk in a straight line. To do this, send a man ahead until he just begins to disappear, stop him and get him to move right or left if necessary until he is dead in line with your bearing.  Now walk up to him and keep repeating the process.  If you are alone, then try to find some object in the line of the bearing - perhaps a boulder or a clump of grass and walk up to it.

If you are completely lost and are walking about in all directions looking for a landmark, it is important to know just how far you are walking.  Count your paces as you go.  The average pace is about one metre.  Down the side of the 2½ inch map are alternate black and white steps.  Each of these is 100 metres.

Note where the wind is striking you.  If it's in your back and it comes round into your face, you may be walking in a circle. However, if you have already taken precautions to avoid this, don't panic, as the wind often does strange things in the vicinity of crags and ridges.

In summing up, there are many ways of establishing your position and direction, and I hope that this article has been of some use, especially to those who have not had much experience of walking across the fells.  I should like to end it by recounting an experience that happened to me when I was walking in the north.  I took a pal in the Craven Pothole Club up a fell side in the Pennines known as Widdle Fell.  The purpose of the tramp was to examine a sink in the limestone that I had noted earlier in the year.  It was winter, and the snow lay think and the mist was down below 1,200 feet. The sink was easily found, being in the bed of a steep, fast-flowing stream, well marked on the map.

After inspecting the sink, we pushed on to the summit of Great Knoutberry Hill (2,203') just for the exercise.  We had no compass and no torch, only a one inch map.  Visibility was very poor and our only means of navigation was the map. We had about five hundred feet of very steep, rocky slope before we reached the summit plateau.  This proved tiring but we reached the top quite quickly. Here, our stream was shown as coming out of a tarn - indeed its name was Tarn Gill.  Crossing the stream's source was shown the North/West Riding county boundary, running in a south westerly direction straight to our goal and we hoped to find a feature that marked the boundary.  We soon found the tarn, and sure enough, crossing the stream was a broken down stone wall.  We followed this in a south westerly direction for some distance to its end, but we were not yet on our summit.  Closer inspection of the ground revealed a line of spaced hardwood posts - the boundary posts!  These were followed straight to the trig. pillar on the summit.  Here, we rested a while - reflecting on our faultless navigation - when suddenly a voice spoke.  “Na then, lads, bit chilly, ain't it?” and we turned in disbelief to see a shepherd, dressed in cloth cap, baggy cords and clogs and draped in an old stinking sack.  At his feet ran a scraggy border collie.  “Hast tha seen any sheep behind't walls?" said he.


Owing to pressure of work, Nigel Jago is no longer able to continue as Climbing Secretary and the Committee are therefore appealing for volunteers for consideration as climbing Secretary.

Another Notice

Owing to the attempt to save paper by combining the first two pages of each B.B. from now on, there is not normally any space for the usual reminder that the opinions given in the B.B. are not necessarily those of the club.  An attempt will be made to put a reminder in the B.B. to this effect from time to time where other space permits.

SUBS for 1974 are now due!

Yes, we know that nothing will happen to any member until the end of April.  We know that some members reckon that the next A.G.M. is the proper time to pay.  We know that this is a tradition not to bother too much about when you pay – BUT if you don’t pay now, how do we know that you will – or might – later on?  The committee has to budget now and if it doesn’t know how much is going to come in, how can it decided how much it can spend? Point taken?


Members are advised NOT TO LEND OUT THEIR BELFRY KEYS.  There have been instances of non-members borrowing keys; taking out club tackle and NOT RETURNING IT.  If YOU want YOUR tackle kept safety – please help.


Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany  by Wig.

  1. Wednesday evening diggers.  Digging at Hunters Hole has been switched to Manor Farm.  Anyone interested should first phone Roy Bennett for times etc.  Tel No Bristol 627813.
  2. Chelms Coombe Quarry.  Rumour has it that Nigel Taylor is involved in another cave discovery near box cave – further details next month.
  3. August/Longwood.  In November, the P.C.G. pushed the end of Reynolds Passage.  The end of this passage is fairly vague, as it depends on your size - and the more of a midget you are the better.  About 15 years or so ago Tony Knibbs of M.C.G. pushed well beyond the limits of the passage as shown on the Rennie survey, to the head of a twenty foot rift shaft.  At this time, some bang wire was seen hanging down the pitch.  At about mid 1973, Fred Davies ended at the same point.  In November 1973, Brian Lewarne of the P.C.G. pushed to this pitch and oozed himself through the squeeze at its top to reach the bottom where a stream entered.  From the bottom, he pushed on again for a short distance to reach the head of yet another shaft into which, at some point down it, the main Longwood stream was seen to be entering.  The depth of this shaft was estimated to be about 50 feet, but the head was blocked by a boulder.  Due to the very constricted nature, it would seem that bang will have to be used.
  4. Porth-yr-Ogof.  During mid 1973, a boy soldier lost his life in Porth-yr-Ogof and at the request of the coroner, the police and various interested bodies met on September 30th, 1973.  The results of this meeting were published by Frank Baguley in the C.C.C. news sheet, No 3 for 1973, as follows…..”The whole subject was dealt with in great detail, from the precipitating cause of the accidents; the cave itself, the conduct of the party and the preventative points of view.  It was agreed that the police issue a statement giving the recommendations of the meeting (to be vetted by Oliver Lloyd) which would be circulated to all L.E.A.'s; armed forces; caving organisations; Youth organisations, etc.  The caving organisations themselves were already dealing with the matter, and would be making their own detailed recommendations in due course after consultations.  The main points of the Brecon meeting are:-

1.                    It is impracticable to close the cave.

2.                    The Forestry will put up further detailed notices.

3.                    Prevention and education are the main themes.

Should another rescue (recovery) be required there, then there will be a one way traffic system involved.

It is still not possible to state why the cave resurgence pool is so dangerous, as it does not appear to be so, but with a history of five deaths, one cannot ignore the warnings.  It is up to everyone - organisations and individual cavers alike - to help in preventing further loss of life in this or any other cave.  Nobody can legislate for the actions of the foolhardy.”

  1. Coolites again.  I've not actually used one, but for 44p it seems a good buy.  Possibly a better buy ('cause it's British - the Coolite is a Yankee product) is what is called the Chemi-lite.  This method comes as a small flat pack about 3" x it" x 1/32 thick.  To use it, all one does is to tear off the top strip - and cor blimey, it's alight:  This light lasts for about an hour, but does have the advantage that it can be stuffed into the crown of the helmet or, better still, stitched into the inside of a wetsuit and ripped off when required.  This item is being marketed by Rock Products, 30 Drake Rd, Wells, Somerset at about 50p - wait for the ad. in Descent.  Early trials in Swildons have proved its usefulness.  A party came out from sump 1 on this light and stayed talking to another party at the bottom of the Forty.  The light was on its last legs when they reached the entrance.  More details later, together with the answers to questions such as; Are they completely safe? Are they toxic? Are the burnt-out remains dangerous to animals? etc.
  2. Manor Farm.  The survey of the main passage is now complete (see number 16).
  3. Limestone and Caves of North West England.  A copy of this book has been received by the writer, who has not yet had time to read it from cover to cover.  However, a scan through selected chapters enables him to present this tentative review.  This will be followed by a full review in the February 'Round and About'.

The first ten chapters deal with the area as a whole, from geology; geomorphology of the caves; hydrology; biospelaeology and archaeology.  The attempt has been made to summarise the present state of the art since the publication of 'British Caving' in the 1950's. The remaining chapters take each caving area in turn, with surface topography; local geology, development of the caves and a general summary.  The larger chapters are, as one might expect, those dealing with the caves of Leck Fell, Casterton Fell, Kingsdale and Gaping Gill.  Fascinating reading is the general summing up of this book and having only read a limited number of chapters; it has already clarified the picture of those areas for me.  The immediate disappointment soon disappeared, but I had hoped that it would have used Tratman's 'Caves of Clare' as a model - but when one considers the size of the subject, then I'm only full of admiration and congratulate the many authors and the editor.  See No 9 Nov. 1973 for details.

  1. Library Additions (Yes, 27, due entirely to an editorial clang - Ed.)

Easier Climbs in the Avon Gorge, Bristol. G.Mason, 1964.
South East England, E.C. Pyatt(Climbing Guide,1963)
B.E.C. Caving Log 1973 (9.1.73 - 14.10.73)
R.N. Mountaineering Club Bulletin Nos 148, 150, 153, 156, 159.
Mountain Craft Nos 73 and 79
The Climber       Vol.5 Nos 1, 2, 3, 6, 7.
            Vol.6 Nos 7, 8, 9.
            Vol.9 Nos 4, 5, 6.
Severn Valley Caving Club Newsletter:
            Vol 3 Nos 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
            Volume 4 complete.
            Vol.5 Nos 1 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
            Vol 6 Feb, June, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov.
            Vol.7 Jan, Feb, May, Jun, July/Aug, Sept/Oct.
            Vol 8 1, 2, 3, Jul, Aug/Sep, Oct/Nov.
            Vol.9. Dec/Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Sept.
            Vol10.Dec/Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Sep.
            Volume 11. Complete
            Vol. 12  No 1.
Plymouth Caving Group Newsletter No 53.
Mendip Caving Group News No 103.
EGONS Journal Nos 15, 16, 17.
Bristol Poly Caving Club Newsletter Vol.2 No 1.
A copy of Tony Waltham's book has been ordered for the library.  See No 9 Nov. 1973 for details.
National Speleo Soc. (U.S.A.) have agreed to exchange and have sent:-
N.S.S. News     Vol 30 Nos 6-12
            Vol 31 Nos 1 -1 0
SWETCCC Spelio Vol 12 No 1 with supplement.
Occasional Publication No 3 - Norway.

Our many thanks to Milch of the S.M.C.C. and to Keith (Sailor) Glossop for climbing publications and S.V.C.C. newsletters.

Anyone turning out their cupboards are welcome to throw any climbing or caving publications towards the club library. All will be gratefully received.


The Catacombs of Paris  

The article by Colin Sage as promised in the last B.B.  (The editor does occasional manage to find articles!)

Whilst I was in Paris in August, I decided to visit the catacombs. These are reached by taking the metro to Place Denfert Rochereau and walking around the corner from the metro station.  The catacombs are available for inspection every Saturday at 2 p.m. throughout the summer and every other Saturday during the rest of the year.

After paying two francs admission, one has the chance of purchasing a candle for 60 centimes - and if you don't have a torch, buy one, there are no lights at all in the catacombs!

The catacombs are reached by descending a spiral staircase consisting of 91 steps and going down sixty feet.  This leads to a brick corridor underneath the South side of the Denfert Rocherou square. This corridor, and also those that follow on from it all lead to the ossuary.  The good condition of the roofing of these passages is necessary for the support of the buildings, public roads and subterranean works (especially the metro!)  By way of these passages, visitors find themselves under the Avenue Rene Coty, which is then followed in a Southerly direction the walls of the passages involved hold up the ancient aqueduct of Arcueil.

Further on, one descends by a slightly sloping tunnel into an area called 'l'etage inferieur'.  One then notices an impressive reproduction sculptured in the rock, of the fortress of Port Mahon - the principal town in Minorca.  This work was carried out by an old veteran in the army of Louis XV during his periods of leave.

A little later on, we pass by the side of a well, cut into the rock, the water of which is extremely limpid.  It is called 'Bain de Pied des Carriers'.

A reasonably steep slope leads back to 'l'etage superieur' and we arrive at the door of the ossuary. At the entrance one can read these lines from DeLille engraved in the rock; ‘Stop. Here is the empire of the dead’.

Once the doorway has been passed, we go down a lot of passages bordered on either side by millions of bones carefully stacked, all coming from the ancient disused cemeteries of Paris. There are regular horizontal lines of skulls, interrupted by those displayed in the shapes of the cross and other decorative motifs of a macabre quality.  The origin of the bones is pinpointed by plaques.  After wandering through different crypts, one comes across a sarcophagus, a stone altar, a spring called simply 'the fountain, of the Samaritan' and various inscriptions pondering philosophically over death and the fragility of human existence.

The ossuary collects together the bones of 5 or 6 million people.

On leaving the ossuary, an inspection passage is passed through, and one sees two immense domes which are natural and about thirty five feet high.  They are empty, but allow one to think of the danger represented by such features to overlying buildings and roads.  The exit staircase which leads to daylight on 36 Rue Remy-Dumoncel has 83 steps and is about fifty five feet in depth.

The origin of the catacombs in Paris does not go back, as do those of Rome, to the early Christian era., but only; to the end of the eighteenth century.  For nearly ten centuries there existed in the first section of Paris, a cemetery called 'Des Innocents' at a square which bore the same name.  This cemetery, which received the remains of many generations from some 20 parishes in the area, became one of the largest centres of infection and threatened public health.  Between 1725 and 1755, the inhabitants of the neighbouring areas brought violent complaints which, for a long time, were fruitless.  Finally, in 1780, most of the inhabitants - terrified by the accidents which occurred in the cellars of the Rue de la Lingerie, set up a committee towards the end of 1779, which became over 2,000 strong and petitioned the Lieutenant General Police by demonstrating the dangers to public healthy and safety represented by this 'centre of corruption', in which the number of bodies disposed had caused the ground level to become eight feet above the level of surrounding ground and roads.

The evacuation of the cemetery was finally decided upon in 1785, and to dispose of the bones, the ancient subterranean stone passages called 'La Tombe Issoire' were chosen. After having made these underground areas fit to receive the mortal remains and carried out the preliminary works, the catacombs of the Tombe Issoire were consecrated on the 7th of April 1786 and proclaimed the general ossuary of the cemeteries of Paris.  That same day, the transfer of bones was begun from the Cemetery des Innocents to the catacombs.

After the destruction of the church of Les Innocents, all the tombs, inscriptions and crosses which were not claimed by the families involved were also transferred to the Tombe Issoire.

The success of the operations prompted the administration to extend them to other cemeteries in Paris and, from 1787 to 1814, a number of Parisian cemeteries were closed and the bones sent to the ossuary, there to be arranged systematically according to their cemetery.

Many burials of victims of the revolution (1788 to 1792) were also made in the ossuary.  Since then, all human remains found in Parisian soil have been placed in the catacombs.


The Cyalume

Some further news on chemical lighting.

The Dorset Caving Group, after reading last month's description of the Coolite, kindly sent the editor of the B.B. one of their chemical lights for test and comment.  or which I should like to express our thanks in the B. B. (and also when I write to them more fully).

This light is made by the Cyanamid Corporation of U.S.A. under the trade name of CYALUME.  In spite of the fact that the one I was sent was labelled 'use before Jan '74' it performed extremely well.  For the first four hours, it gave a good light, of the sort that no real caver could possibly complain about in an emergency.  How many  light hours after ignition? it was still enough to grope out of a cave with, and it would have been possible (in a dim enough light) to have recognised it if used as a marker some 48 hours after starting.

Like Dave Irwin, I too am chasing up the answer to the questions involving toxicity etc., and I hope that an article will appear in a later B, B. this year, from one or other of the sources we now have in hand.  One theory which I have heard is that these devices are in actual fact artificial glow-worms, since it is suggested that they use the same method of illumination, which in the case of the glow-worm is known to involve the mixing of two chemicals (originally dubbed Luciferin and luciferase)

The Cyalume is, like the Coolite, a plastic tube which, on being bent, breaks a glass ampoule which float a in liquid 'A' and contains liquid 'B'.  The answer to using them would appear to be best met by two terry clips fixed to the helmet, between which the light can be clipped when in use. This modification to a helmet is cheap and simple to do.  It might just pay to keep the tube inside a piece of copper pipe with two corks to ensure that a nasty thrutch in a cave does not set it off - but this is a refinement.

As a preliminary finding, it would seem not too expensive to keep one of these as an emergency light, but until we know more about them, please be careful about disposal.


Monthly Crossword – Number 42.



















































































4. Cuthbert’s series you might expect to find under water. (5)
5. Cuthbert’s Hall. (3)
7. Part of the name of a Burrington cave. (3)
8. Not heavy but essential. (35
9. This clue should strike a caver. (3)
10. Type of rock. (5)
11. Mendip hill. (3)
13. The lot found in mud hall. (3)
14. Was in Swildons. (3)


1. O flex shoe on Mendip (4,4)
2. Hilliers hall makes Cuthbert’s run (3)
3. B.C. Shutter on Mendip. (9)
6. Edge of a pot. (3)
8. 8 across is when in a cave. (3)
9. Swildons Ways. (3)
12. Mendip Swallet. (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword


















































































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


Club Committee

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      To be appointed

Members           M. Bishop, D.J. Irwin, D. Stuckey,                       N. Jago, N. Taylor, A.R. Thomas, B. Wilton, G. Wilton-Jones

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            D. STUCKEY, 34 Allington Road, Southville, Bristol 3.  Tele : BRISTOL 688621

Climbing Secretary         N. JAGO, 27 Quantock Road, Windmill Hill, Bristol 3

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

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                   B. WILTON  Address as above


Any views expressed by any contributor to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of officers of the club, do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor or the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club, unless stated as being the view of the committee or editor.

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tele: WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     To be appointed.
Members:          B. Wilton; D.J. Irwin; D. Stuckey; N. Jago; A.R. Thomas; N. Taylor; G. Wilton-Jones; M. Bishop

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  B. WILTON, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.
Caving Sec:       D. STUCKEY, 34 Allington Rd, Southville, Bristol
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 27 Quantock Rd, Windmill Hill, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
Hut Warden:      N. TAYLOR, Whiddons, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tel. WELLS 72338.
Hut Engineer:    M. BISHOP,  Islay, 98 Winsley Hill, Limpley Stoke, Bath, Somerset..
Tacklemaster:    G. WILTON-JONES, 17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk.
B.B. Editor:       S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol. Tele. CHEW MAGNA 2915.
Librarian:           D.J. IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tel: PRIDDY 369.
Publications:     To be appointed
B.B. Post:         B. WILTON. Address above.

MENDIP RESCUE ORGANISATION.  In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481




The annual list of B.E.C. members is usually something which I regard with mixed feelings when I come to read it.  On the one hand, it is encouraging if it shows that the club is in a healthy membership position.  On the other, the inevitable disappearance of a few more old and well known names each year is always an occasion for regret.

Of course, owing to the nature of cavers in general, the annual list is never a completely accurate reflection on the state of membership.  In spite of everything, some people who have been officially struck off may well get in touch again and pay their belated sub.  Even so, the very large number of fifty five people who have not renewed their sub for 1973 - a list which includes such well known names as Norman Petty - can hardly be a signal for much rejoicing.

Nowadays, as members know, we give those who have not yet paid up by the end of January until the end of April before we stop sending them a B. B., and in fact the 55 names were not removed from the B.B. list until June 13th this year, so the total has not been swollen by a premature clearing out of unpaid subs.

With paid up membership standing at a total of 204 (and what with a few people who have just joined, too late to get on this list, and the one or two who have paid up since, it is probably a little higher) we are in a healthy membership position, and my regret for the loss of thirty or so members above our usual annual loss is probably merely a personal one.  However, if any reader happens to bump into an ex-B.E.C. member, it would do no harm to have a go at persuading him to think again.

Votes and Lists

As decreed at the A.G.M., those whose votes were received in time and counted towards the election are distinguished in the membership list by the members concerned having their names in CAPITALS.  Somewhat inevitably, what with lady members changing their names on marriage and with others being struck off and not reinstated when they subsequently pay, the B.B. list has been found not to reflect the names of all those who voted. Thus Norma Brown (732), Maggie Large (742) and K. and V. Wilkinson all had their votes counted although not appearing as such on the B.B. list.

An attempt is being made to improve the book keeping in this respect, but with the best will in the world, names do get missed off the list for one reason or another.  If your sub is currently paid up and for any reason you no longer get a B.B., PLEASE get in touch with Barry Wilton at 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol who will find out why you have not had your B.B. lately and get you back on the list.

The 27 Club?

Going from matters serious to matters trivial, it has been pointed out that last year's list of club officers contained no less than three people living at a number 27.  Mike Palmer at 27 Roman Way, Barry at 27 Venus Lane and Nigel Jago at 27 Quantock Road.  Older readers of the B.B. will remember the days when I first edited it from 27 Gordon Rd, Clifton, and this address appeared on each B.B. at the time.

Christmas B.B.

We have a certain amount of material, but could always do with more for the larger Christmas B.B.


Been anywhere interesting lately?  Write it up for the B.B.


Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany

Compiled by, Wig

  1. Limestones and Caves of North-East England.  Edited by Tony Waltham, is to be published on 10th January 1974 by David and Charles, Newton Abbott, Devon.  This is the first of a series of handbooks on the geology and caves of the various caving regions of the country.  Format is 8½ x 5½ and approximately 448 pages, 32 plates and 86 line drawings.  The price - wait for it - £6.95 - though when one thinks about it, this is not too high a price to pay for an obviously low circulation book covering all caving regions in the area, and it should be a must for the club library.  The next in the series, I understand, is the Mendip area.  Full details of the contents in the library.
  2. St. Cuthbert’s.  Digging activity is currently being carried out in the Sump I area.  Beware of deep, water filled holes in the floor!
  3. G.B.  It is not generally known that G. B. now has a second entrance.  Earlier this year, an 80 foot shaft opened up and exposed the upper end of the Gorge.  It will be remembered by many that it was this depression that slumped immediately after the 1968 floods.  General percolation and slumping of the mud and clay infill contributed to the whole lot finally collapsing and emptying into the Gorge.  Great care should be exercised when descending, as the upper portions appear to be earth and clay.
  4. Withyhill ( Fairy Cave Quarry).  The fieldwork on the survey is now complete, and the drawing under way.  A new chamber has been found off the West limb, known as Green Lake Chamber - and a beautiful place it is too.  A word of warning about this cave.  In December 1972, a driver working at the quarry went away for his meal leaving his truck near the cave entrance.  Returning after an hour or so, he found that part of the quarry four feet wider water, due to a sudden rainstorm.  The water appeared to have entered the quarry from the Withyhill entrance area.  If this is the case, the cave should be treated with caution - especially the far reaches of the West Limb, where passage heights force the caver to crawl.  Although there are many places where it would be possible to retreat during flood conditions, it may prove difficult getting to them, as it is possible that the water does not flow through the cave, but wells up throughout the entire length of the system - so TAKE CARE!
  5. Bryan Ellis of 7 School Lane, Combwich, Bridgwater, is now handling all publications of CRG and BSA.  Pen Park Hole (CRG pub. No 12) is available at 40p.  Mendip Bibliography Part 1 (Published 1965) is available at a REDUCED PRICE of 80p (It was originally £1.25) and at 60p to BCRA members.
  6. Additions to the Library.  CDG newsletters Nos 5, 6, 12 to 20, 25 ,29, 30 and 33 (All First Series.) B.E.C. Caving Logs 3/8/58 - 20/11/60; 4/11/60 - 24/3/63; 16/3/57 - 4/8/58 and 20/11/60 - 5/11/61. B.E.C. manuscript (typed) of Caving Report No 2 (St. Cuthbert’s Swallet by Coase and Falshaw. B.E.C. Cuthbert’s News Letters Nos 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11 and 12.  M.N.R.C. Newsletter 1958, June, July, August and December. 1959, March, July and December; 1961, July and October and 1962, March and June. Numbers 27, 28, 29 to 42.
  7. Stop Press.  The latest Telephone Exchange to be open in the Mendip area serves parts of the region round Wookey and is called ST. CUTHBERT’S.  Rumours that it was to be called BELFRY are probably untrue.


THE HUT WARDEN appeals to members for any of the following articles: First Aid Box: Carpets: Cups and Mugs; Knives (most urgent) Carbide tine and old Marvel tins.

The Hut Warden would like to thank Sue Gazzard for the donation of a refrigerator and Rodney Hobbs for the cutting up of logs with his chainsaw.


Club Meet

An account of this meet in Cornwall, contributed by R.J.Marshall.

Starting on the last weekend in July, members of the club converged on Cornwall.  The intention was to climb on the sea cliffs about Land's End.  These cliffs form one of the main sea cliff climbing areas in Britain.  Access to the climbs is from the large ledges at the base of the cliffs.  These ledges, often covered at high tide, are reached by scrambling down steep gullies at several places along their length.  The tide is an important factor in deciding which route to attempt.

A lot of the Cornish routes were pioneered by commandos during the war, though there are records of several pre-war ascents.  Looking up some of these routes, with our modern gear hanging about us, we have to respect the courage of these early pioneers.

From our usual campsite at Trevadra Farm, Sennen; we did not intend to pioneer any new routes.  On the Saturday, we set off for Porthgwarra. This is near the climbing area called 'Chair Ladder'.  There is a small beach here with a handy teashop.  As the beach is covered at high tide, it is nice to have the alternative of many nice cliff top walks.  It is often possible to see grey seal from these walks and sometimes they come very close to the beach.

It was from Portgwarra beach that I was prised by Pete Sutton to climb at Chair Ladder.  Sporting our B.E.C. 'T' shirts and our hairy legs (shorts are the norm for Cornish cliffs) we set off to attempt 'Bishop's Rib'. After a nervous start, we climbed quickly up the fine steep line of the route.  The rest of the club meet had remained on the beach until forced off by the tide.

Tony Tucker and Sue decided to see what climbing was all about and, on Sunday, joined us at the base of Chair Ladder.  Nigel Jago, Derek Targett and Gerald Oaten were already climbing when we arrived. Tony and Pete led off up an easy route. I followed with Sue.  The climbing was too strenuous Sue and we had to return to the bottom.  I might add that the move which stopped Sue took Pete three attempts in Masters.  It must have been very difficult in 'curly' boots. Tony could not resist the call of caving and a hundred and fifty feet up, he avoided a delicate traverse by crawling on his belly into a horizontal crack (Tucker's Traverse Cave).

Monday was spent in Penzance buying supplies and looking around generally.

Tuesday, we climbed at Bosigran.  This is a climbing area about ten miles from Land's End on the coast road to St. Ives.  The main face at Bosigran is dominated by a steep bulging wall, topped by enormous overhangs.  This is Bow Wall.

Once again, all climbers were active.  Nigel, Derek and Gerald finished two routes.  Pete and I were unable to finish any.  Pete exhausted himself trying to push Suicide Wall the wrong way, and we were forced to abseil off.

From Bosigran, we joined what is becoming the third division of the club - the canoeing section.  Ros, Sue, Sandy and Michelle, Sue Jago and Samantha were on the beach at Sennen while Chris Harvey and Graham Phippen tried their boats in the surf.  Nigel and Derek also had their boats and joined the others surfing.  My introduction to the sport was brief.  My boat decided to sun tan its bottom, so I got out.

Wednesday found us climbing at Bosigran again.  A more successful day for Pete and I.  We found where Suicide Wall went and managed to climb it to the top.  This super climb is exposed and steep situations were marred only by the last thirty five feet.  We found it impossible to make one move free.

On Thursday, some of us went over to the Scillies.  I went around at 4.45 a.m. waking everybody up. (Unfortunately I did wake everybody.) We left in time to catch the 6 o'clock boat.  At 6.15 we arrived back at the camp site.  The 6 o'clock boat only goes on Saturdays.  We arrived at Penzance again at 8.15 to find a large sign proclaiming that to-day's trip was fully booked.  I could feel some one trying to strangle me. Fighting them off, we queued for cancellations.

As we set sail, it happened to be Tony Tucker who fell into a bar selling beer at 9.35 a.m.  At 28p a pint - yes - 28p a pint, we were not that thirsty.  It was a fairly calm crossing, but there was still the inevitable seasickness.  We were amused by a happy little lady in overalls with a mop and bucket who seemed to enjoy mopping it all up.  It was also Tony Tucker who fell into the first pub from the boat.

Friday, it was back to Chair Ladder, Tony and Graham being introduced to more climbs while various other routes were tackled by the remainder.

On Saturday, Pete and I wanted to culminate our week's climbing by doing string of Pearls.  This is a 700 foot traverse of Bosigran, crossing Bow Wall about half way up.  We were disappointed with the route, which we didn't finish.  Due to its length, it was strenuous but consisted mainly of reversing good pitches of other routes. The twisting route called for extremely careful rope management.  On some pitches it was impossible to protect yourself and avoid tremendous rope drag. Increasing wind and rain together with general disappointment about the route made we decided to finish the route after six or seven pitches.  We had about four more to do - impossible in the wet.

Most evenings were spent at the Lamorna Inn, many in the company of some folk singers - consequently pleasantly full of traditional singing and beer.  Our numbers were swollen by Barry and Brenda Wilton and the Palmer family, the total being 13 adult B.E.C. members.

I was only in Cornwall for the week.  The second week was filled mainly with canoeing.  This was marred by Chris Harvey having his leg broken by his water-filled canoe.


Grampian Dinner

This will be held on Saturday, 8th December at 7.30 for 8 p.m. at the Milton Building of the Wells Secondary Modern School.

Please use the entrance leading off Milton Lane, Wells.

The price is £1.75. Names AND MONEY to Mike Palmer by December 1st please.

Any further details, such as yow to get there in detail can be had from Mike.  If you want to 'phone him up, his number is Midsomer Norton 3690.

N.B. You can't send the £1.75 by phone!

From The Papers

Everywhere, no doubt, there are B.E.C. members scanning the papers for items of interest for the B.B.  This was sent to us Dave Turner.

From the London Evening News, 6th November 1973.

Cave Signs

I read of five youths who were lost in caves in Surrey and it took a rescue party five and a half hours to find them.  Why is it that County Councils with caves that go miles underground do not fix direction signs that would help explorers to find their way out ?

H.S. Walker,
Poynton Rd,
, N.7

The editor tries to restrain himself from breaking into verse too often, but this seemed too good a chance to miss.  We hope readers will put up with the comment which follows:-

Let County Councils look around
Accused of dereliction.
For, caves that go miles underground
Lie in their jurisdiction.
And let them ask themselves if they
Could well expect to find their way
Back to the welcome light of day
Without some mental friction?

The London Underground has set
A standard for the nation.
And councillors from Somerset
Descending any station
Will find big maps of all the lines
And whacking great direction signs
And coloured lighting, which defines
Each likely destination.

So let them modernise our holes
To give our lads protection.
With signs on brackets; chains or poles
At every intersection.
Then - as through streams the caver wades
Or down a passage promenades -
Gigantic artificial aids
Will tell him his direction.

…and the London Evening News is quite welcome to print THAT if it wants to!


M.N.R.C. Winter Lectures - at the Museum, Wells.

Members are invited to the following lectures, which will commence at 7.30 p.m. and finish at approximately 8.30.

November 3rd.   Caves of Czechoslovakia - Tony Oldham.

December 1st.   Cave Archaeology. - Mr. Cook. (Curator)

January 5th.      Mammals of caves and sea caves - Mr. Howard Kenney.

February 2nd.    Cave Diving Film - Cave Diving Group.

March 2nd.        Geology and Caving on Mendip – Mr. Peter Stewart.

April 6th.           Archaeology of Wookey Hole and Stoke Lane Slocker - Mr. F.Mason.

May 4th.           Finding Caves - Mr. John Letheren.


CLUB 'T' SHIRTS.  Can be obtained from Mrs. Jo Rees, 4, Broad St, Presteigne, Radnorshire.

Three sizes - small, medium and large.  State size when ordering.  Price approximately £1.

Fred Davies Forty?

But I can remember the North Ridge of Tryfan!
(Fred will remember too, because he carried the bottle of milk!)

We apologise to Kangy for the delay in printing this little glimpse into the past.  Some members may recall that Fred celebrated his fortieth birthday recently. Although not a member, he pays a regular sub to the B.E.C. for his wife Andy, so it is fitting that he should get his money's worth at last and read about himself in the B. B.

I can't remember how we got there, but I probably picked up Denise and Fred from a rendezvous on the A5 after Denise had hitched from Liverpool and Fred from Hawarden where he was teaching.  Or we simply met at Williams's Barn (Isaf, not ogof).  Anyway, we probably had the usual sort of Saturday night at the Bryn Tyrch in the backroom with the photographs all round the walls and Denise being charming and Fred and I drinking up the booze she'd been bought. We might even have sat around Lyn Ogwen singing and listening to Denise swimming in the lake in the dark.  But I do remember getting back to a jumping joint of a barn; late arrivals settling in and cooking - early arrivals shouting and bawling.  I know we didn't hesitate when Fred, or Denise or Kangy said “Let's bivouac on the North Ridge and have breakfast on the top of Tryfan.”  We just gathered up the gear and Fred took the milk bottle and off we went in the moonlight.

The climbing was good. Everything was extra good in the moonlight.  Silvery landscapes, and all the holds hidden in the shadows.  We helped each other with the bags and Fred carefully looked after the bottle of milk.  One hand for himself and one for the bottle.  We climbed until we felt sleepy.  We stopped on a broad terrace and settled into our sleeping bags comfortably and drifted off to sleep with the fresh air on our faces, the stars to look at - and the milk carefully propped against a rock.

Breakfast on the summit was the aim - and the climbing was enjoyed in the pale early morning sun as we scrambled up short walls and wriggled up mini-gullies.  Fred to the fore - bottle held aloft.

We started breakfast near Adam and Eve, the two monolithic rocks which crown Tryfan.  Out came the primus, water from the spring on the col for tea, and a fry up of bacon and eggs.

We didn't have milk in our tea.  It had turned sour.

Club Officers' Reports 1973 - Hut Engineer's Report

One of the reports which was read out at the A.G.M. and agreed that it should be published in the B. B.

As I joined the committee recently, this report is mainly concerned with work done by Jock Orr; Nigel Taylor and Rod Hobbs during their term of office.  Timber has been collected from the forestry to provide for the winter; the car park has been re-levelled; the Men’s' and women’s' dormitories redecorated; the toilets renovated and redecorated; the bunks rearranged in the men’s' dormitory; the women’s' shower fitted and general Belfry maintenance carried out throughout the year with a fair proportion of members doing their share.  The incinerator has also been constructed and this should serve to reduce the Belfry rubbish problem. Lastly, as promised, lights have been installed in the toilets before the A.G.M.

Martin Bishop.

Editor's Note:     Members who were at the A.G.M. will recall the race to make the last statement come true, with the lights being triumphantly switched on some two minutes or so before the A.G.M. started!


Bristol Exploration Club - Membership List 1973

This list of members, subscribers and exchange clubs is, as far as we can ascertain, completely up to date. If any club member knows of any change to an address, please get in touch with Barry Wilton.


J.M. Bacon

26 Glanffyddion Estate, Waterfalls Road, Dyserth, Flintshire


Bob Bagshaw

699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol, Avon


Mike Baker

22 Riverside Walk, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon


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


Joan Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Roy Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Bob Bidmead

63 Cassell Road, Fishponds, Bristol


Martin Bishop

Islay, 98 Winsley Hill, Limpley Stoke, Bath, Somerset


E. Bishop

Islay, 98 Winsley Hill, Limpley Stoke, Bath, Somerset


Sybil Bowden-Lyle

PO Box 15, Iganga, Busoga, Uganda


P. Blogg

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


Alan Bonner

Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland


T.A. Brookes

87 Wyatt Road, London, SW2


R. 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


M. Clark

41 Mawney Road, Romford, Essex


Clare Coase

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


J. Coleman

Orchard House, Bunwell, Norfolk


Alfie Collins

Lavendar Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset


J. Cooke

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


W. Cooper

259 Wick Road, Bristol


Tony Corrigan

48a Talbot Road, Knowle, Bristol 4


Bob Cross

122 Pearson lane, Bradford 9


I.M. Daniels

Handsworth, Pilgrims way, Chilham, Canterbury, Kent


Frank Darbon

PO Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada


Mrs Davies

Camp V, Neighbourne, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset


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


Ken Dobbs

85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon


M.J. Dore

4 Manilla Road, Clifton, Bristol 8


P. Dowsing

Flat 4, 49 Old Dover Road, Canterbury, Kent


S. Durston

7 Estuary Park, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset


Jim Durston

7 Estuary Park, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset


P. Eckford

80 Wilton Gardens, Shirley, Southampton


R. Ellinor

3 Chipperfield Road, Kingswood, Bristol


Bryan Ellis

7 School Lane, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset


C. Falshaw

23 Hallam Grange Crescent, Sheffield


P.G. Faulkner

65 Broomfield Crescent, Middleton, Manchester


Tom Fletcher

11 Cow Lane, Bramcote, Nottingham.


D. Foxwell

870 Kebourne Road, Brentry, Bristol


Albert Francis

22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset


Joyce Franklin

12 Avon Way, Portishead, Bristol


Pete Franklin

12 Avon Way, Portishead, Bristol


Keith Franklin

6 Kings Street, Avonmouth, Bristol


R.T. Gage

24 Belvoir Road, St.Andrews, Bristol 6


C. Gage

24 Belvoir Road, St.Andrews, Bristol 6


R.C. Gander

2 Rock Street, Croscombe, Wells, Somerset


Stan Gee

26 Parsonage Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport.


Keith Gladman

29 Shenfield Road, Brentwood, Essex


S.J. Gazzard

36 Norton Road, Knowle, Bristol


E.M. Glanville

Jocelyn House Mews, Chard, Somerset


K.R. Glossop

DO8205, No.4 Petty Officer’s Mess, HMS Lynx, BFPO Ships, London


Martin Grass

14 Westleigh Road, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts


Steve Grime

Shenavall, 62 Souter Drive, Holm Mains, Inverness


Chris Hall

65 Valley View Road, Paulton, Bristol


Nigel Hallet

73 Queensdown Gardens, Brislington, Bristol 4


P. Hamm

11 Queens Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


Mervyn Hannam

14 Inskip Place, St Annes, Lancashire


C.W. Harris

The Diocesan Registry, Wells, Somerset


Chris Harvey

Byways, Hanham Lane, Paulton, Nr. Bristol


Dan Hassell

Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset


M. Huaun

24 Elberton Road, Westbuty-on-Trym, Bristol


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


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


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


A Johnson

Warren Cottage, Station Rd., Flax Bourton, Bristol


Frank Jones

8 York Gardens, Clifton, Bristol 8


Mrs. P. Jones

50 Louisville Avenue, Aberdeen


U. Jones

Marsh Farm, Askem in Furness, Lancs.


Alan Kennett

92 West Broadway, Henleaze, Bristol


Kangy King

21 Rue Lionel Terray, 31 Blangnas, France


Phil Kingston

21 Longfield Road, Bishopston, Bristol


R. Kitchen

Overcombe, Horrabridge, Yelverton, Devon


J.M. Knops

5 Kingsfield, Kingsway, Bath


D. Knowles

35 North Road, Watleys End, Winterbourne, Bristol


Tim Large

39 Seymour Avenue, Bishopston, Bristol


Mrs Large

39 Seymour Avenue, Bishopston, Bristol


Peter Leigh

17 Northampton Road, Ecton, Northampton


P. Littlewood

22 Brockhurst Avenue, Burbage, Hankley, Leics.


Mrs Littlewood

22 Brockhurst Avenue, Burbage, Hankley, Leics


A.G. Leftley

9 Northumberland Street, Westley, Plymouth


Oliver Lloyd

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


George Lucy

Pike Croft, Long Lane, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks


Val Luckwill

8 Greenslade Road, Sedgeley hill, Dudley, Worcs.


R A MacGregor

12 Meadow Way, Theale, Reading, Berks


J. Manchip

c/o Mr Hutchinson, 1 Orwell Terrace, Edinburgh 11


Mrs K. Mansfield

Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath


I.K. Marshall

4 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol


P.B. Marshall

43 Horton Street, Frome, Somerset


I. Marshall

Flat 47, Cromwell Road, Bristol 6


T. Marsden

50 The Deans, Downlands, Portishead, Bristol


E.J. Mason

33 Broadleys Avenue, Henleaze, Bristol


Tony Meaden

Highcroft, Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset


D. Metcalf

52 Northfield Road, Peterborough. Northants.


B. Mills

The Old bakery, West Harptree, Bristol


J. Murray

Latymer House, Hill Close, Wincanton, Somerset


K. Murray

17 Harrington Gardens, London SW7


T.W. Neil

Old Haybridge Inn, Haybridge, Wells, Somerset


Mrs Neil

Old Haybridge Inn, Haybridge, Wells, Somerset


A. Nichols

121 Wyndhams Court, Commercial Road, Southampton


G.E. Oaten

32 St. Marks Road, Bristol 5


J. Orr

c/o The Belfry


P.A. Palfree

10 Maynard, Clutton, Nr. Bristol


D. Palmer

29 John Wesley Road, St. George, Bristol 3


Mike Palmer

27 Roman Way, Paulton, Nr. Bristol


A. Pardoe

Church Cottage, Church Road, North, Portishead, Nr. Bristol, Somerset


A.E. Pearce

22 Tiverton Drive, New Eltham London, SE9


J. Pearce

5 Colmer Road, Yeovil, Somerset


Les Peters

21 Melbury Rd., Knowle Park, Bristol Avon


Norman Petty

Bankside Road, Brislington, Bristol


Tony Philpott

3 Kings Drive, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon


Graham Phippen

Rock Cottage, Rock Road, Wick, Bristol


P. Preece

Lancaster House, Tondu, Bridgend, South Wales


Brian Prewer

East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset


Colin Priddle

40 Ralph Road, Horfield, Bristol 7


John Ransom

21 Bradley Rd., Patchway, Bristol, Avon


Pam Rees

c/o The Belfry


R.J. Rees

182 Newbridge Road, St. Annes, Bristol


A Rich

Box 126, Basham, Alberta Canada


J. Riley

12 Lawley Place, Deakin, Canberra, Australia


Mrs Riley

12 Lawley Place, Deakin, Canberra, Australia


G.G. Robinson

6 Brook Road, Totnes Road, Paignton, Devon


I.P. Rogers

56 Charlton Lane, Brentry, Bristol


P.G. Rodgers

56 Charlton Lane, Brentry, Bristol.



Sgts. Mess, RAF Coningsby. Lincoln


C. Sage

17 Westbourne Road, Downend, Bristol


Alan Sandall

43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon


Carol Sandall

43 Meadway Ave., Nailsea, Avon


D.R. Sanderson

23 Penzance Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex


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


R.A. Setterington

4 Galmington Lane, Taunton, Somerset


R. Setterington

4 Cavendish Road, Chiswick, London W4


N.K. Shaw

Queens Head Walk, Wormley, Broxbourne, Herts


M.B. Slade

31 Hilburn Road, Bristol 5


Dave Smith

14 Severn Way, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks.


Andy Sparrow

6 Downsway, Salisbury, Wilts


J.M. Stafford

Back Plaidy, King Edward, Nr Turriff, Aberdeen.


Harry Stanbury

31 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Bristol


Mrs I Stanbury

74 Redcatch, Knowle, Bristol


D. Statham

The Bungallow, North Barrow, Yeovil, Somerset


Roger Stenner

38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3


Daphne Stenner

38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3


D. Stuckey

34 Allington Road, Southville, Bristol 3


P. Sutton

75 Bredon, Yate, Bristol


Derek Targett

16 Phillis Hill, Midsomer Norton


M.D. Taylor

15 Kennington Avenue, Bishopston, Bristol


Nigel Taylor

Whiddon Farm, Chilcote, Nr. Wells, Somerset


Allan Thomas

Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Somerset


D Thomas

Mantons, 2 St. Pauls Road, Tupsley, Hereford


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

89 Apple Grove, Henfield, Middlesex


R.S. Toms

89 Apple Grove, Henfield, Middlesex


J.M. Postle Tompsett

11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex


M.J. Dizzie Tompsett

11 Lodge Avenue, Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex


E. Towler

5 Boxbrove Gardens, Alwick, Bognor Regis, West Sussex


Phil Townsend

20 Lime Close, Prestbury. Cheltenham, Glos.


Jill Tuck

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


Steve Tuck

3 Colles Close, Wells, Somerset


Tony Tucker

64 Calcott Road, Knowle, Bristol


Dave Turner

Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath


P. Turner

11 Harper Court, Honnington, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire


S. Tuttlebury

28 Butts Road, Alton, Hants.


J. Upsall

82 Eastland Road, Yeovil, Somerset


Mrs Upsall

82 Eastland Road, Yeovil, Somerset


Mrs D. Waddon

32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset


M. Webster

43 Stroud Road, Patchway, Bristol


Eddie Welch

18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol


C.D. Wheeler

13 Greywell Avenue, Aldermoor, Southampton


Bob White

Kiebo, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset


D. Wickens

2 Cherry Garden Road, Canterbury Kent


Barry Wilton

Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol


Brenda Wilton

Valley View, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Bristol


Graham Wilton-Jones

17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford


Ian Wilton-Jones

Officers Mess, RAF Chinevor, Barnstaple, Devon


P. Wilkins

55 Eighth Avenue, Northville, Bristol


Alan Williams

Hendrew Farm, Llanderaied, Newport, Mon.


G.C. Williams

90 Grenville Street, Southville, Bristol


L. Williams

Whitestown Farm, Cheddar Cross Roads, Compton Martin, Bristol


R.F. Wing

Penzance Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex



W.R. Hindle, 371 Heath Rd South, Northfield, Birmingham 31.
T.E. Reynolds, 40 Wells Rd, Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset.
Dr. W.I. Stanton, Kites Croft, Westbury-sub-Mendip, Wells, Som.

Exchanges Made With The Following Organisations

Biblioteca del Gruppe Speleologico Bolognese.
Axbridge Caving Group.
Bradford Pothole Club.
Bristol Museum.
British Caver.
Cave Research Group.
Chelsea Speleological Society.
Devon Speleological Society.
Dorset Caving Group.
Gloucester Speleological Society.
London University Cave Club.
Mendip Cave Registry.    Mendip Caving Group.
Northern Pennine Club.
Plymouth Caving Group.
Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club.
Shepton Mallet Caving Club.
South West Essex Technical College Cave Club.
University of Bristol Speleological Society.
Wessex Cave Club.
Westminster Speleo Group.
R. de Saussure.
Dr. H. Trimmel.
Cuadernos de Espeleologica.



Lakes Weekend.            Climbing, walking, canoeing. Staying at the Yorkshire Rambler’s Club hut in Langdale on the 25th, 26th and 27th of January, 1974.

For full details of the above trip, contact Nigel Jago.  Nanes should be given to him AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

As requested by the A.G.M., formal notice is hereby given to club members that clause 5 in the club constitution has now been amended to read:-

  1. Application for membership shall be made in writing to the secretary, preferably on a form to be supplied by the secretary on demand from a prospective member.  The prospective member shall be required to obtain a proposer and seconder, both of whom shall be ratified members of the club and both of whom shall sign the application for membership, and shall cause the completed form to be returned to the secretary.

The amendment consists of the word ratified placed where shown above.

The Hon. Secretary wishes to announce that the votes of 'Tessie' Burt (756) and 'Jonah' (285), were received by him too late to be entered in the ballot for the 1973/4 committee.

Friday Night Club Trips.

Friday, November 30th    Lamb Leer.

Saturday, December 15th           Wales.

Friday, January 11th                   Reservoir Hole. *

Saturday, January 26th   Fairy Cave Quarry

Friday, February 8th                   Cuckoo Cleeves.

Friday, February 22th     Ubley Warren.

Saturday, March 9th                   Shatter Passage. ( Swildons. )

* Party size limited for this trip.  Names as soon as possible to Richard Kenney.

All Friday meets are at 7.30 p.m.  The Saturday trip to Wales is a one day trip.  The Swildons and Fairy Cave Quarry trips are afternoon trips.

ALL ENQUIRIES about Friday Night Club trips to R.R. Kenney, ‘Yennek’, St. Mary's Road, Meare, Glastonbury, Som. BA6 9SS.

B.B. Postal Service The actual collating, covering and stapling of the B.B. is being done by Pat Palmer; assisted we understand, by Mike and the children.  The addressing and sending out of the B.B. is being done by Brenda Wilton.  Since the B.B. list is now at the Wiltons' and Barry is Treasurer; it is suggested that members who have any queries about where the B.B. is currently being sent to them contact Barry about it.

The club is still looking for somebody who will take on the editorship of the club publications. Anyone who is interested should get in touch with DAVE IRWIN who will give them an idea as to that is involved.


Monthly Crossword – Number 40.



1. Might have been a sump once – or no score. (4)
5. Gear that will this is useful in 1 ac. (5)
6. Result of wound or feature of Yorkshire landscape. (4)
8. Pull out inside? (3)
9. Find water course or tidy up survey. (5)
10. Cave feature with reversed top. (3)
11. Formation. (5)
12. Black part of Welsh cave. (3)
14. Mine this was once the local name, perhaps. (4)
15. Skins otherwise of disappearance of streams. (5)
16. This hill names a Mendip cave. (4)


1. A cave must be pretty dry to find this in it. (4)
2. Mountain feature. (4)
3. Keep this caving or climbing. (5)
4. Ace cads in Cuthbert’s? (7)
7. Ruin cat in Cuthbert’s? (7)
9. Pull along. (3)
10. Put things away in them? (5)
12. Kentish sort of hole. (4)
13.  You can get this a ladder in two senses. (4)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword



Any views expressed by any contributor to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of officers of the club, do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor or the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club, unless stated as being the view of the committee or editor.

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tele: WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     To be appointed.
Members:          B. Wilton; D.J. Irwin; D. Stuckey; N. Jago; A.R. Thomas; N. Taylor; G. Wilton-Jones; M. Bishop

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  B. WILTON, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.
Caving Sec:       D. STUCKEY, 34 Allington Rd, Southville, Bristol
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 27 Quantock Rd, Windmill Hill, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
Hut Warden:      N. TAYLOR, Whiddons, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tel. WELLS 72338.
Hut Engineer:    M. BISHOP,  Islay, 98 Winsley Hill, Limpley Stoke, Bath, Somerset..
Tacklemaster:    G. WILTON-JONES, 17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk.
B.B. Editor:       S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol. Tele. CHEW MAGNA 2915.
Librarian:           D.J. IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tel: PRIDDY 369.
Publications:     To be appointed
B.B. Post:         B. WILTON. Address above.

MENDIP RESCUE ORGANISATION.  In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481.  This will shortly become a 999 service.  We will let members know when this starts to operate.



Christmas B. B.

This Christmas B,B, is, of course, late - and for many readers it will be a case of 'Happy New Year' rather than 'Merry Christmas'.  It is 20 pages - and that again is hardly a record.

However, it is seldom that I can remember a set of articles of such general interest making up a B.B. with so little 'padding'.  We have three caving articles - twp of which describe situations which could have got so much more awkward than they did, and for which I suspect credit must go to the members involved who in each case, kept their heads.  In addition, we have a travel article, a climbing and skiing article and one which purports to be humorous.

Add this to Dave Irwin's new series of general caving interest, and a few other bits and pieces, and we have a B.B. which contains some reasonable reading matter.  A word of thanks to all the authors of these and all the other articles this year.

Sorting the Men from the Boys?

We write at a time when petrol rationing looms over the New Year’s horizon and things look a trifle gloomy. If all these things actually come to pass in 1974, it might pay us to remember that last time we went through a period of austerity - just after the war, when things were a lot worse than they were during it - B.E.C. membership rocketed upwards, and the club was never busier.  The ingenuity of club members in getting to Mendip was proverbial. We can, if need be, do it again.

Stal under the Severn

A small 'Space filler' by the Editor.

Last September I had an opportunity to visit the new tunnel for electrical transmission lines, which has been driven under the Severn and Wye just downstream of the road bridge.

The tunnel has three entrances.   One on the Gloucestershire side, one between the two rivers and one on the other side of the Wye.   It was this last entrance that I descended.

The 90 foot entrance pitch is descended via a very small lift, into which people are crammed like sardines.  It operates on a rack and pinion principle and sways its way downwards.  On arrival at the bottom, the main tunnel starts. This is 8 feet in diameter, but one has to share this space with the drainage channel - on top of which one walks - and six very large transmission lines about 14" diameter, which line the walls.  The whole tunnel, which is concrete lined, leaks at quite an impressive rate.  Some parts are distinctly wet with very heavy drip, and you get quite wet.  The rate of leakage is of the order of a hundred gallons an hour.

An impressive quantity of stal, is in process of formation.  Some is, of course, the soft evaporation type which is normally found under bridges and in cellars - but some is quite hard and much more like cave stal.  I noticed the start of curtains (about a quarter of an inch long so far) some of which had 'shark's tooth' edges.  In one area there are some rudimentary small gours on a bank and also the type of 'cauliflower' stal flow like that in the main gorge of G.B.  All this, of course, is on a minute scale to date.  I even found some helicities, but these were of soft stal and perhaps really were anemolites.

I shall try to wangle another visit in a few years' time as by then, if the present trends continue, the Severn Transmission Tunnel may be the only place noted for its wealth and beauty of cave formations!


Europe ‘73

Colin Sage's report on his trip abroad, for which he obtained some assistance from the Ian Dear Memorial Fund

Well, thanks to the generosity of the administrators of the Ian Dear Memorial Fund, I managed to see part of Europe this year. With fifty quid in my pocket and clutching a one way air ticket to Amsterdam, I left Bristol on Monday the 16th of July.

On consideration now, I think it wasn't such a 'great' thing to do; after all, people are hitching their way through countries such as India, Nepal and Afghanistan, and I was only crossing the channel.  One the other hand, I hadn't visited a foreign country before (apart from South Wales) and I speak only Bristolian, so to me anyway it was a bit of an adventure.

I stayed my first night in London and on the following day flew from Gatwick to Schiphol airport; supposedly the most modern in the Western world - but my pack soon jammed up the conveyor belt which delivers passengers' luggage - thus ending that claim; I caught a bus to central Amsterdam and found some accommodation quite easily. The following days, I spent looking around; the most interesting sights being the Van Gogh Museum; the Stedeljik Museum and the red light district - the latter being the most expensive.  All the streets in this area had hundreds of women (no exaggeration!) lining each side, selling their wares.  Prices?  On enquiry I found out that they start at 30 guilders (approx. £5) for a fifteen minute conversation.

I suppose the highlight of my stay in Amsterdam must have been my visit to the Heineken Brewery.  It is such a desirable visit that one has to start queuing at around nine in the morning, but I certainly recommend it in spite of the wait. A quick look round the works (the guides don't bore you with technicalities - they know you're only there for one thing!) and then you're into the staff canteen with half an hour to sup as much as you want.  Waiters bring round the halves of lager (not too efficiently, it should be said!). They must have known that a B.E.C. member was there.  However, by asking (telling?) the plentiful American tourists for their drinks, it is possible to down about four pints in the time allowed.  The waiters have a really nice way of kicking you out - that is, they snatch your glass out of your hand, especially if it is full. Still, for one guilder (15p) it is a nice way to spend a morning.

The next day, I moved to Arnhem to see a collection of Van Gogh's works - then to Rotterdam for a couple of days which was unimpressive apart from its harbour (the second busiest in the world.)  Finally, I arrived in Maastricht, right down in Southern Holland in the enclave that juts between Germany and Belgium.  The influence of these two countries is particularly noticeable in the architecture of the buildings, especially the churches.  Another reason for visiting the town was to visit the extensive series of catacombs of St. Pietersburg.  These catacombs have been mined since Roman times, when they were first used to provide stone for fortresses but - apart from the occasional blasting by the Netherlands Cement industry - they are now no longer used. However, they are particularly interesting for the visitor.

Covering stone walls are some huge works of art, especially portraits of the royal family and such notables as Voltaire Sir Walter Scott and Napoleon have all inscribed their names in the soft rock.  The catacombs have a total length of over 200 km and stretch over part of Belgium.  A successful smuggling trade went on some years ago and the authorities, determined to stamp out this practice, sent groups of policemen underground. However, the smugglers, knowing every passage like the back of their hands, had no difficulty in making detours to avoid the gangs of shouting singing, lamp-swinging policemen.  Now, of course, in the days of the E.E.C., smuggling no longer exists.

Anyway, I next headed for Brussels, but ended up in Anhverpen, then hitched into Ghent. I arrived on the French border four hours after leaving Maastricht, so I didn't really get to know Belgium.

I met a guy from Amsterdam on the border and we stuck together for a bit. In fact, he was very useful because he could speak fluent German, French, English and Dutch.  We spent a night in Lille then next day headed for Paris.  Hitching is very difficult in the North of France, but we were very lucky and we made Paris in a day.  Our first concern was to find a place to stay, and after a few metro journeys and a lot of walking, we found a relatively cheap hotel.  That night, all the people in the hotel went out for a meal and I had my first decent meal since leaving England.  Red cabbage with mayonnaise, roast chicken with chips and a salad and ice cream with loads of bread and a bottle of red wine.  Total self-indulgence!  Luckily, this restaurant is known to be the cheapest in Paris and for 11 francs 50 (£1.15) it was certainly worth it.  Not only the food but the atmosphere of the place and the people, the whole scene impressed me immensely.

The next few days were crammed with the maximum amount of sightseeing.  The Louvre (the Mona Lisa was a disappointment) Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Jeu de Paume Museum, Notre Dame cathedral, Luxemburg Gardens and the Catacombs (there will be an article in the B.B. on these - Ed.).  I really enjoyed Paris and would have liked to have stayed longer but time and finances did not permit.  In fact, Paris is really expensive.

The three of us (Whoops! What a give away!) had decided to hitch down to Marseille for sun, sea birds, wine etc.  On the way we slept out behind service stations or under trees - but we got there in the end.  It was a b…. to get out of Paris, as it was to get anywhere.  I think France was made certainly without hitchers in mind.

Marseille.  Midden of the South.  A more horrible, filthy, violent, unfriendly city I have never seen. As we were moving south, I had this vision of a huge expanse of blue water - the Mediterranean Sea - but the first thing I saw on the coast was a petrol refinery pouring out filth with all the surrounding beaches dirty and the water full of empty bottles.  It strikes me that either there are a lot of shipwrecked people on lots of islands waiting to be saved or that the French don't give a damn about their environment.  I think the latter is the most probable.

We stayed in Marseille for a week, swimming and sunbathing and drinking dirt cheap wine that tasted like dirt.

Finally, we split up. I moved West towards the Pyrenees and the other two went to St. Tropez.

Hitching out of Marseille was difficult.  I spent the best part of a day going 20 km and was in the process of giving up when I got a lift that I was soon to regret.  I had only been standing at a particular spot for a few minutes when a van came along and stopped.  Using 90% of my French vocabulary and muttering "Je suis aller a Arles" I stumbled into the van, dragging my pack after me.  Inside the van were half a dozen kids, the oldest of which was doing the manoeuvring. The rest of the space inside was taken up by boxes of fruit.  What followed could only be compared to something out of the 'Keystone Cops' films. Most of the corners were negotiated on a maximum of two wheels and we would go along straight roads swaying from side to side.  Trying desperately to sound as casual as possible I enquired why we were travelling in such a manner (being careful not to use the word 'dangerous') “It’s because we've got a flat tyre." came the reply in French.

"Oh!“ I said

I decided to stick it out for as long as possible and we finally made it to Beziers, although we demolished some road works in Montpelier on the way.  After that, I thought that nothing could frighten me, but only the very next day.

I stayed with the kids overnight and then next day got a good lift to Toulouse.  Again, a bit of a problem getting out of the city, but I made it to Tarbes where I stayed a night in the most modern Youth Hostel I have ever seen.  I noticed that the people were much friendlier now, quite striking after Marseille.  When I arrived at Orolon St. Marie, people seemed surprised that I was hitching in the Pyrenees alone.  A grocer gave me a bag of bruised fruit and a man offered to buy me a beer - everybody was really friendly.

Now I was nearing my destination - Saint Engrace.  Waiting about twenty minutes, I got a lift all the way.  The people who gave me the left bought me a beer in a cafe and then took me right to the campsite.  I had finally arrived.

My first impression on arrival at the camp site was that a bomb had hit the place.  I later learned that it was always like that.  Most of the people were either at the EDF hut or on the plateau, but I soon learned the position from Albert (?) and others.

A group of Poles had gone down Tete Sauvage on the Monday and had not returned.  Bill Brooks had gone in the EDF early on Wednesday and hadn't found them.  The remaining Poles decided to get a rescue together, but things were very disorganised. That night, I crashed out reasonably early.

Next morning, I awoke to a torrent of abuse being directed at some unfortunate who had chanced to cross the path of the person who was screaming the abuse.  For a moment I thought I was in the Belfry and then, realising that in fact I was under canvas, I crawled from my tent to face a most horrible sight.  Camping next to me was NIGEL TAYLOR.  Further down were Ken James and Aubrey (W.C.C.)

That morning, I was elected (by Nigel) to climb the nearest mountain (we were surrounded by the things) with a walkie talkie and try to set up some form of communication with the plateau. After a hair raising climb, I found the battery in my radio was flat and so, most annoyed, I went back to the camp site, meeting Dave Yeandle on the way.  The remainder of that day and the subsequent days, I festered away because of the position with the Poles being stuck and nobody really knowing what was going on.

Finally, the Poles were located and rescued after being underground for six days, and I finally managed to go caving.  With Dave and Carol Tringham and a guy called Jonah, I made my first descent of the P.S.M. We went in EDF up to the Lepineux shaft and back, which took us eight and a quarter hours.  I am not going to describe the cave because I shouldn't be able to find enough superlatives to use.  Just say that I was very impressed!

The next day I went up to the plateau - walking into Spain - and wandered around.  The best of British to Hannibal and his ruddy elephants! (I thought it was the Alps he crossed - Ed.).

Finally, I left the camp site for home.  Got a lift to Pau then hitched towards Marseille.  My first lift was with a guy who acted very suspiciously.  He kept touching my leg - I don’t know what for!  Then I had an amazing lift to Orleans, from which I caught a train to London.

I arrived back in Bristol on Thursday 16th August, after covering nearly three thousand miles.  Not that far really, but I had a damned good time.  Again, I'd like to say "thank you" for the money, and I hope you don’t think I wasted any of it.  Perhaps when I'm a millionaire!


Belfry Sub-Committee

The purpose of this sub-committee is to look into what should be done in and around the Belfry to make the place better and more suitable for its function.  The idea of a separate sub-committee is to allow its members plenty of time to discuss the problems without being distracted by general committee business.  The Chairman of this subcommittee is GRAHAM WILTON-JONES.  Any member who has any ideas which he or she feels would be useful should get in touch with Graham, either at his home address or by sending or leaving a note for him at the Belfry.


As nobody has come forward to act as editor for the club publications, Dave Irwin has agreed to continue as Editor on the understanding that the publications department is really a team effort between himself, Doug Stuckey and Chris Howell.  They need some additional typing effort, so if any member can type or knows somebody who would do some typing for the club, please get in touch with Dave, Doug or Chris.

Fred Davies Forty?

After having read Kangy's article in last month's BB, Fred Davies commented that he may well be over forty now, but he has a better memory than has Kangy, for he can recall the exact day, month and year that the event described so graphically by Kangy took place. (He told me the exact date, but unlike Fred, I cannot now recall it as I am (a) well over forty myself, (b) was told it at the Grampian Dinner and (c) was half tight at the time - Ed.).  Fred also adds that Kangy's recollection of giving Fred and Denise a lift was possibly wrong, as Kangy had a motor bike at the time.


Birk’s Fell

An account of a visit to this cave by ‘Bucket’ Tilbury

The Friday night of the 31st of August saw a number of people in various cars setting out from different points in the country with the object of reaching Yorkshire to do Birks Fell on the following day.

I eventually arrived at the Bradford hut to find others of the B.E.C. already there. We wondered about the rest of the party as it was pouring with rain and they were planning to camp at Hubberholme.

At 7.30 on Saturday morning, my alarm went off and rang for 5 seconds.  I sank back into my sleeping bag and waited for the abuse to fly in my direction.  Amazingly, everybody was awake and getting up and not a single boot or anything else flew in my direction.

As breakfast was finished, the postman came and left two letters, one of which was the letter of consent to go down this cave.  Armed with the letter, and in the still pouring rain, we set off to find the others at Hubberholme.  A quick stop was made in Kettlewell to phone the weather station at Preston.  They told us that the rain would clear about mid-day with no more rain for approximately nine hours.

We found the rest of the party having breakfast in the pub at Hubberholme and while we all drank coffee we discussed whether the rain would really stop.  The whole of the party now assembled were as follows. Graham and Ian Wilton-Jones; Martin Webster; Milch; Pete Marshall; Crange; Ray Mansfield and myself.

Later in the morning, after clearing the access with the farmer and changing in the Buckden car park, we found ourselves at the entrance to the cave.  The stream just above the entrance flows down a miniature gorge and over some small cascades to disappear into a small hole in the right hand bank. There was a fairly large stream flowing in, due to the rain (which had recently stopped).

Someone led off, and everybody else seemed to try to get in second.  Things sorted themselves out, and everybody was on their way.  The entrance drops for about five feet and turns into a crawl in the stream which, as the stream was high, ensured that we all got wet.  The crawl is quickly followed by a rift passage which allows good progress to be made. A short flat out craw is followed by another section of the rift passage to a small chamber.  The party assembled in this chamber - or rather squeezed in - and looked for the way on.  The fact that it was not obvious was due to the many pairs of legs blocking the lower section of the chamber.  The route on was found to be a small crawl at floor level on the left side.  The crawl started on gravel with the stream, and as the roof rose, the water got deeper until a canal passage developed.  At this point, the whole party ground to a halt, and every one lay wallowing in the water.  Upon enquiry from the rear, we were told that the passage ended in solid rock and the way on could not be seen.  Some comments were hurled at those in front to the effect that if they were the sort of cavers they reckoned they were; the way on should have been found instantly.

To the sound of grunts and grumbling noises, the party moved on.  But on to where?  The front of the party seemed to be disappearing into the wall of rock and water on the right hand side.  When I reached the spot, there could be observed a small cleft in the rock containing a triangle of airspace.  Still, the others had gone on, so with a quick breath, I went in.  I found a flat out crawl on stones and gravel with the water half filling the passage which meant that the head had to be kept on one side in order to breathe.  This crawl is not too long, and the floor drops away to form another rift passage. On the way out, the water had fallen in this section, which made it much easier.  At the top of the thirty foot pitch, the party again met in force, while the alternative climb to the ladder pitch was found.  This involves traversing over the ladder pitch to the right hand side, where a parallel rift has been formed.  This is a fairly straight forward climb.  The passage was now a good size, which allowed the party to keep moving and keep together.  The stream disappeared in the floor under boulders.  A short way on, there are sections of false flooring with stal on them. This gives the name of Slipped Floor Chamber to the section.  The party again halted at the end of this passage, as no way on could be found. Everyone started looking for the way on, and this involved all of us disappearing into the boulder floor. Eventually, someone found the right hole, which led down through a squeeze back to the stream. This hole is on the left just back from the end of the chamber.  We followed the stream in a rift passage with a short climb down into a large spray and windswept chamber.  The spray was caused by the large amount of water descending Shooting Box Aven.  The exit from this chamber is awkward to find on the way out.

Following on downstream from the aven led us into a large canal passage with deep water.  The water gives way to boulders and another aven enters with a large stream flowing down.  From here, we dropped down through some boulders and regained the stream. The passage was a large rift with various boulder ruckles to negotiate.  These ruckles offered different routes through them, which led to our party swapping positions all the time, giving everyone a chance to lead or to bring up the rear.  At one point, while talking to the person behind, I moved over a boulder and trod on Graham's head as he emerged from another hole!  Graham's head is so covered in hair that he did not really notice! After some distance, the passage changed to a low, wide bedding plane which necessitated some flat out crawling in the stream.  At this point, Kay Martin and myself were in the lead.  The stream suddenly leaves the bedding plane and goes off to the right down a small passage.  The bedding plane continues on over mud banks, and we opted to follow this.  This was a mistake, for after a couple of hundred feet, the bedding plane turns right and gets too tight.  We turned round and started making our way back to the stream.  The rest of the party reached the junction and we informed them that this was not the way. Graham set off down the streamway to ascertain whether that was the way on. Ray and Martin made their way back upstream to see if there was something we had missed.  This was the last I saw of them until the top of the forty four foot pitch.

The rest of us waited until Graham came back and reported that it closed down.  Moving back upstream after Ray and Martin, we found a large passage on the right of the bedding plane.  A climb up from this over some boulders and we were off again!  The going was again fairly easy with mud covered boulders forming the floor.  These boulders ended suddenly at a large block wedged precariously across the passage. The way on was indicated to us by a knotted rope disappearing down through a hole in the boulders.  We followed the rope, and quickly regained the stream. Following the stream again, we went on until the floor dropped away at the first of the pitches.  This first one we climbed, and went on, turning the corner with the eighteen foot pitch, which was rigged with a ladder, belayed to a bolt. Pete went down the ladder, while I waited for Graham and Ian to catch up.  The water went straight down over the ladder. Graham and Ian arrived and expressed concern at the amount of water on the ladder.  I descended and waited for the others.  Ian had an attempt at the pitch, but climbed back.  Graham decided that he did not want to go on and, after passing down the tackle, they returned to the surface.

I set off to catch up the others.  Down two cascades and into a large rift passage called the Grand Gallery.  The rift really is grand and proceeds in an almost straight line.  The stream through which I was walking varied from knee to waist deep and my light disappeared into the blackness ahead.  I passed occasional groups of formations which broke up the dull colour of the walls and water with their whiteness.  I was beginning to wonder when the passage would end, when it turned, the roof dropped, and another crawl loomed up.  This crawl was quite short and I emerged in yet another rift passage of much smaller proportions.  Following this passage brought me to Elbow Bend.  Here, the main rift used to carry on to the old resurgence at Hermit's Cave, but this connection is now choked with boulders.

The stream turns right back on itself, and I followed it over a couple of small drops to a deep canal. The water rapidly deepened and I nearly had to swim.  The roof is also low and it looks as if this section sumps in high water conditions. The canal gave way to a normal stream passage – although of much size than before. 

After following the stream for a while, the passage reduced in size and the stream disappeared down a tube two feet six inches high by two feet wide.  As the others were still a way in front, I went down the tube and as it was half full of water, I half crawled and half floated through.

I emerged from this crawl into a large passage and at last caught up with the rest of the party, who were laddering the forty four foot pitch into Shale Chamber.  The belay for this pitch needs to be about twenty feet, and we used a double lifeline as the pitch is rather damp.  While the ladder was being belayed in position, we showed some concern about the amount of water going down, as it seemed to fall right on to the ladder.  Ray went down first to see what it was like.  After a few moments, the line stopped and he shouted up that it was all right.  When I descended the ladder, I found that a large ledge about ten feet down from the top breaks the stream into two sections.  I found that the ladder hung in the middle between the two streams so formed.  The lower section of the ladder receives a heavy amount of spray and, with the close proximity of the two streams; the descent is quite exciting without being at all dangerous.  When Pete, the last man, had descended, we set off after the other half of the party. At first we moved along a boulder floor with the stream running along underneath.  The noise of the stream disappears after a while as the water turns to the right and flows into a sump.  Continuing on the boulders the passage turns a couple of right angled bends and changes into a narrow rift.  The stream re-appears at the bottom of this rift, but the way on is to traverse along the top on small ledges.  In fact, the ledges do not exist in some places, and progress is made by wedging and straddling.  At a slight widening of this passage, we caught up with the others, who were frantically searching for the way on.  No way on was apparent to any of us.  After some deliberation, we decided to try to get down to the stream in the lower section of the rift.  At a small gap, Grange, Martin and Ray managed to squeeze down to the stream. They followed the passage for some distance to a sump.  When they returned, we decided to call it a day and set off out.

We had in fact, missed a small crawl leading to the last pitch and canal passages to the final sump.

The trip out was uneventful, except that the way was missed in the boulders a few times, and Martin's lamp ran out of light - which meant fun and games getting the spare carbide going. We emerged after six hours underground to a nice sunny afternoon.


Annual Report of the B B L H & S R G

If there is one subject which the members of the Belfry Bulletin Literary, Historical & Scientific Research Group have hitherto avoided like the plague - as readers of this tiresome annual series will no doubt have noticed - it is that of writing about present times.  Our aged savants, like ancient leathery pterodactyls, creak their way from the mythical past to the improbable future without ever demeaning themselves by getting too close to present day affairs.

It will therefore come as an unpleasant surprise to find that this year; using perhaps the same techniques as last year, we are to meet once more such characters as Pete Pushem and Fred Ferrett in a situation that could almost be classed as topical.

It is a fine, though wintery afternoon.  The sun hangs low and red in a cloudless sky, bathing nearly all of Mendip in its rays, as it picks out here a dry stone wall and there a leafless tree, tuning them all to a rich golden hue.

It does not, however, shine on the B.E.C.  Whilst the stonework of the Shepton hut glows softly in the afternoon sunshine and even Upper Pitts basks in the rays of its light; a brooding darkness hangs like a pall over the Belfry.

The reason for this phenomenon is readily seen to be due to the presence of a vast pile of rubbish, which looms like some enormous piece of modern sculpture behind the Belfry, casting a low and horrible shadow over that noble building while inside, in the stygian gloom, the committee are discussing it at some length while their bikes - for petrol is severely rationed - lean against the outside of that building.

"It's no use!", Pete Pushem is saying as he bangs his half empty tankard on the table by way of emphasis, "the ruddy council say they can't get ruddy petrol to shift our ruddy refuse, so we will have to ruddy deal with it our selves."  He shifts his large, untidy bulk and drains his tankard with a single, convulsive swallow.

"I've been thinking," says Tom Traverse, the Climbing Secretary, "that if we chucked a bit of cement over it now and again, it would make quite a decent climb in a few years' time.  That is, if the club could afford the cement."  He glances at the Treasurer, who makes what he considers to be an appropriate gesture.

Silence reigns, as this discussion has been going on for some time and ideas are becoming scarce. At last Ron Runnitt, the Hut Warden, makes his contribution.  "We will have to dig a gash pit." he announces.  "After all, the club always used gash pits before its rubbish was collected by the council.  If the lads of those days could dig gash pits, so can we."

Nobody having any answer to this profound remark, the meeting breaks up, as it is almost opening time.

The scene is more or less the same as before, except that now there are two vast piles which disfigure the Belfry site.  One is, of course, the rubbish pile - now higher and if possible, even uglier than before and the other is an enormous pile of spoil which looms nearby.  The B.E.C. is, as usual, doing something to excess. From the lip of the excavation, a winch cable tapers down into the darkness; for this is no ordinary gash pit of the sort you might find beside the hut of a minor Mendip club.  Those operating the winch are, in fact, peering over the edge and watching the tiny lights of those working at the bottom. There seems to be a great deal of activity below and yet no bucket has come up for some time.  At last, a pull on the cable sends the winch team back to their task.  It is a heavy load this time.  As the bucket slowly rises from the darkness of the pit, it is found to contain Pete Pushem, riding up.  He reaches the top and steps on to the platform to deliver his simple but effective message.

"The dig's over, lads," he announces. “We’ve struck oil!"

News of the B.E.C's discovery produces, as one might well expect, a variety of reactions.  The W----x, for example, hold the opinion that this is just the sort of jammy thing that is always happening to the B.E.C., while more deserving clubs are passed by.  Sid Stratum, the local geological expert, confesses himself baffled and privately wishes that it had never happened, as it completely upsets all his theories.  The fact that the sample barrel which the B.E.C. have sent away for analysis has shown the oil to possess a high carbon content renders him, if possible, even more baffled than before.  The B.E.C. point out that this is what you would ruddy expect from carboniferous ruddy limestone, but this explanation fails, somehow, to satisfy.

Meanwhile, the Conservation and Access committee of the Southern Council of Caving Clubs are in a quandary - or, as one member from Bristol aptly puts it, a dilemma.  Much as they would like to denounce this threat to the caves and countryside, they are only too well aware that they have all had to cycle to the meeting, and are finding it difficult to denounce the proposed commercial exploitation with any degree of conviction while they have vivid memories of pushing their bikes up Harptree Hill.

The receptionist at No. 10, Downing Street wrinkles his nose disdainfully as he opens the historic door to admit a collection of scruffy, oily and unkempt cavers. Against his better judgment, he ushers them in to the P.M.’s study and rushes off to see if he can find a large sized tin of airwick.  Finding one at last, he knocks respectfully on the study door and enters.  The room is full of these great hairy creatures. He broods on the sorry state to which the country has been reduced as he places the airwick conspicuously on the P.M.’S desk.  Suddenly, he is addressed by the largest and hairiest of these dreadful people. "You, lad, over there!  Don't just ruddy stand there in a ruddy daze! Go and fetch us some ruddy beer!"

The receptionist looks beseechingly at his master, hoping for some crisp order to clear out this rabble from his presence.  Nothing happens.  A broken man, he leaves the room to get beer as directed.

Once again, we find the B.E.C.  Committee in session at the Belfry.  Outside the building, both heaps are now much smaller and although the sun's rays do not yet shine again on the building, one begins to hope that this might be the case again, given any sort of luck. Inside the building, Ron Runnitt is speaking. He is reading from an impressive-looking document covered all over with massive seals.

‘Complete removal of all rubbish and spoil from the site’, he reads.  ‘Construction of a buried pipeline from the well to a point at least a mile from the site; Unlimited petrol coupons for all active B.E.C. members for the duration of petrol rationing; Abolition of tax on B.E.C. member’s vehicles.’

There is a deep silence. Even the B.E.C. are impressed.

"What did we have to give them in exchange?" asks Tom Traverse, after a suitable pause.

"The complete output of the well for as long as it can produce or be pumped." Ron replies. "They'll have the rest of the rubbish and spoil away by next weekend and the pipeline laid by the week after.  They've issued priority fuel to the contractors."

There is another long silence, broken eventually by Pete Pushem who, as usual, expresses the general feeling of the club.

“Let's have some more ruddy beer!” he suggests.

Outside a garage on Mendip top, two mechanics are busy with what has been a weekly job for more years than they can remember.  They are trundling a drum of old sump oil along to a place nearby where two planks have been laid over a small swallet.  With the ease of long practice, they roll the drum onto the planks, where one of them steadies the drum while the other unscrews the bung.  Another load of sump oil soaks its way into the swallet.

Once again, the winter sun shines on the Belfry site.  All is clean and tidy.  A row of shiny vehicles reflects the golden rays of the sun from gleaming chrome and glossy paintwork.  A small coach on whose sides the club name and emblem have been tastefully emblazoned turns into the car park.  The driver gets out, carrying a large bag and goes into the Belfry.  It is Fred Ferrett.

Once inside, he dumps the bag on the table.  It chinks. "That's it for to-day!" he says, as he makes for the barrel and pours himself a well-earned pint. "I've been the rounds and collected all those poor cavers who've got no petrol ration and taken them all to their huts."

"Ah!” says Tom Traverse,” It’s nice to be able to help those less fortunate than oneself!"

"Yes," says Ron Runnitt, pausing for a moment in his job of counting all the money from the sack, "It does one's heart good."

“Stop ruddy wittering like a lot of ruddy old hens!" growls Pete Pushem.  "Have we made enough profit for our beer tonight or not?"

Ron looks at the pile of cash with an expert's glance.  "Don’t worry, Pete.  We have."

Suddenly, the telephone rings.  Pete answers it, and remains listening for some time.  It is, as the others realise, an important call, for Pete's tankard remains motionless in his left hand throughout the long call.   At last, when the tension is threatening to become unbearable, he grins and says "Cheerio then, lad, and thanks for ruddy ringing."  He puts the 'phone down thoughtfully.

“That,” he says, "was the ruddy Ministry.  It seems that they started the ruddy pipeline working to-day.”

Something in Pete’s manner is disturbing.  Ron voices the general anxiety by asking Pete how it is going.

“Like a ruddy bomb!” comes the surprising answer, there is a collective sigh of relief.  “That should please them!” says Tom.

"Well, no.", Pete replies, “it ruddy doesn’t.  They got two ruddy hundred barrels out today.  The first six were full of ruddy oil and the other hundred and ninety four were full of ruddy cowsh!”

You can almost hear the collective brains of the B.E.C. humming as they assess the situation.  It is Fred Ferrett who puts his finger on the crux of the matter.

“We agreed they could have everything they could get out of the well.  So they can!” he says.

“Even if they ruddy refuse to give us any more ruddy coupons,” adds Pete, “We already have enough for all active ruddy members for months and for the coach as well.”

They exchange self-satisfied looks.  Pete gets up and draws a fresh tankard of ale.  He takes a meditative sip.

“What we could do with,” he announces, “is an engine that runs on cowsh.  Now I reckon that’s a job for the Hut Engineer, but if we take the carb. off an ordinary engine and……."

The B.E.C. settles down to its job of keeping well ahead of the situation.


A gentle reminder - subs are due in January. Pay Barry.


Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany of Caving News and associated topics.

by ‘Wig’

  1. MANOR FARM is still in the news. Nig Taylor is pushing gently at the lower end of the cave and I understand 'Prew' is still interested in an inlet passage further up the cave.  Willie Stanton is well ahead with the survey.  It will be interesting to get some accurate figures as to the length of cave.  The surveys published in the November B. B. are extremely interesting in that the scale bars show the plans as drawn by Jim Hanwell and 'Wig' to have a variation of about two to one.  The bend in the passage in Jim's survey is probably nearer the truth, since he used a compass!  However, a word of warning.  Nigel reports that after some fairly heavy rain the squeeze - Albert's Eye - had sumped, leaving the usual frothy mess in the opening.  At the moment, the fifty feet of electron ladder is not required, as the fixed ladder was re-installed to allow the surveyors to enter the cave without undue quantities of tackle.  Best to check at the Belfry first for the tackle requirements.
  2. NHSA is now on to another dig - though it has not been without its political consequences.  They are digging at TIMBER HOLE near the junction with the Longwood valley and Velvet Bottom.  A minor squabble has arisen as to who has the rights over the site - the M.C.G. or NHASA!
  3. POSTOJNA is the title of a coffee table book.  Four pages of general interest text followed by over 90 colour plates of the cave and its surrounds.  Marvellous value for £2.00.  Hard back; high gloss paper and jacket.  Size: 9" x 9" - available from Tony Oldham, 17, Freemantle Road, Eastville, Bristol BS5 6SY.
  4. CAMBRIAN CAVE REGISTRY have published a list of sites of speleological interest.  This is available from Alan Ashwell, 'Cuilagh', Stanyeld Rd, Church Stretton, Salop. and costs 15p.  It does not include mines at present
  5. Still in South Wales, a practice rescue in DAN-YR-OGOF has proved the impossibility of getting a seriously injured person through the Long Crawl.  The possibilities are: 1. Enlarging the Long Crawl.  2. Excavating a by-pass (this is being worked on) 3. Sinking a shaft and 4 (the most uncomfortable) hospitalisation until fit.  Frank Baguley, the Secretary of the Cambrian Council, commented that this would not be possible if the lakes flooded.
  6. CAVE PRESERVATION.  No longer can the experienced cavers blame those school kids and novices for destroying their cave formations.  What has happened to those magnificent helictites near the maypole in O.F.D. III?
  7. N.C.B. and C.D.G. get their heads together.  Following the Lofthouse mine disaster earlier this year, C.D.G. through Oliver Lloyd, contacted the N.C.B. rescue team divers to exchange ideas on diving matters.  It seems that the N.C.B. divers had only experience of open water diving and thus it was found that C.D.G. had much to offer in the way of experience and technique.  The N.C.B. divers have slightly differing requirements over the use of their air supply, due to the additional hazard of foul air, and so require a two hour duration even though the diving time is limited to 20 minutes or so because of the water temperature.  However, the C.D.G. and N.C.B. teams have since held combined practices in White Lady's (near LNRC) and at Wookey Hole.  A fine piece of public relations on the part of C.D.G.
  8. Holiday 1974.  Where is it to be?  Discussions have been taking place at the Belfry in recent weeks of an overseas trip next year.  THE LEBANON and AUSTRIA have been mentioned.  If you are interested in any away meet next year, contact Doug. Stuckey.  (See address at start of this B.B.) Anyone interested in a BELGIAN trip next Easter?
  9. Mid-week caving on WEDNESDAY evenings;  Yes, the Tuesday night diggers have confronted the NHASA diggers by going into competition on Wednesday evenings!  Sounds complicated, don't it? Anyway, if you are interested in a quick flip to the bottom of HUNTERS.  (No, sorry - not the pub!) HOLE to take part in a digging session down there; contact Roy Bennett 8, Radnor Road, Westbury-on-Trym.  Telephone (0272)627813 or meet in the Hunters Car Park at 6.45 p.m.
  10. ADITIONS TO THE LIBRARY.  Red Rose CPC Newsletter 10 (3); Derbyshire Caving Club 'Dodger's Despatch' (1) (2) (3); Climbing Guide No 5 - Llanberis South; D.B.S.S. Proceedings 6 (1) 1946-48; Chelsea S.S. Newsletter 16(1); Dorset C.G. Journal 2 (3)(4).  Many thanks to Nigel Dibben for the D.C.C. items and to Martin (Milch) Mills for the climbing guide.
  11. Lastly, but not least.  Members will have noticed the general clean-up and repainting taking place at the Belfry.  A great improvement indeed.  The Women’s Room and the general living room have received a good coat of paint.  Our thanks to Martin Bishop and helpers.  Incidentally, the re-formed Belfry Sub-Committee under the chairmanship of Graham Wilton-Jones is under way and is looking at the long term requirements of the Belfry, so that the committee may be pointed in the right direction when considering improvements.  If you have any strong feelings, get in touch with Graham, Nigel Taylor or any committee member as soon as possible.  An interim report is due at the January meeting of the committee.  N.B. The club committee now meets on the FIRST FRIDAY OF THE MONTH at 7.30 p.m. at the Belfry.

Change Of Address

Bob White is now at 2 Keward Walk, Wells, Somerset.

His phone number is St. CUTHBERT 4331  (S.T.D. Code 074 982 )


Last & First

No Christmas B.B. would be complete without a contribution from 'Our Man in Europe' - Kangy.

Written in May 1973.

At the Western extremities of the Pyrenees, high winds had blown most of the snow from the ridges, and what remained lay hard in the hollows and gullies.  The central Pyrenees however, still had a good covering of show and, optimistically, one could still enjoy downhill skiing at the end of April.  And that was how we arranged the last day's skiing and the first day's climbing of the year.

We left Toulouse for Andorra early on Saturday morning.  Two cars were taken, one to take Ken Sayers and Kangy to Pic Carlit after the skiing and the other to take Nadine Sayers and Pierre Gay back to Toulouse that evening.

The day was not encouraging. Water ran down the 'cowboy town' streets of Pas de la Cas.  The man who sold the ski tow tickets cynically observed that we'd be better off on the beach and, when we got higher, it started to sleet.  I made several descents and found that the snow, although soggy, went well.  Gay, full of enthusiasm, shot off the piste into the heavy stuff and made a fairly elegant job of it.  Following him, not being sufficiently relaxed, I managed several spectacular dives before deciding to save my legs for 'tomorrow's mountain' and stuck with the piste.  There I could be as elegant as I liked without burying myself prematurely.  We got wet on the ski tow and packed it in for an early lunch and to dry off.  Lunch, to digress, was a good selection of hors d’euvres, then grilled snails 'a la Catalan' and a good slice of steak.  There was a selection of dessert or cheese and 'un bon petit vin rouge' - all for ten francs.

After a long lunch, we went out into the sunshine and made a mad rush for the tow.  Part way up, a stream had broken through the snow, directly in the line of the tows causing a deep trench and it was necessary to slalom briskly to avoid water skiing. (Did you hear about the man who bought some water skis and then spent the rest of the season looking for a lake with an inclined surface?)

Nadine stationed herself here strategically.  As I passed she heaved a couple of large snowballs at me, and only by a series of frantic contortions did I avoid both the snow balls and my first wet caving trip on skis.  And that was the skiing - just before the station closed for the summer - pretty useless snow with rocky patches, but fun.

That evening, after a fairly complicated series of swapping manoeuvres to ensure that the skiing gear and the duty free plonk went home in one car and that Ken and I went off in the other, we arrived at Font Romau.  The good news was that the road was open right up to the Touring Club de France hotel, at about 2,000 metres - and that the weather was fair.

Ken and I stayed in the refuge behind the hotel and, bright and early next morning, we set off with M. and Mme Loubet and M. and Mme Delafon to tramp across the barrage at the Lac des Bouillouses and to kick the first steps in the hard snow on the other side. The approach to the Carlit is a good one, passing lakes and pine trees dotted in a high level plateau, and very pretty.  The lakes were now frozen, which helped progress, and we went rapidly until we hesitated at the initial slopes of the mountain.  After discussion, we chose a deep snowy valley between two arms of the mountain. Higher, we found traces of a summer path which confirmed the route.  Traversing high on one wall of the valley, we arrived at a col with beautiful views of the Spanish mountains to the South and an aerial perspective of the approaches. From the col, an arête, craggy and steep, grew out of the snow and this was the route that Ken and I took.  To the right, it was possible to traverse into an open gully and follow the snow to the top.  The rest of the party took this.  The arête was airy but straightforward and led directly to the summit. The views were good to start with but soon, clouds blew up to hide the nearer ridges.  However, from previous observation and from the map, it seemed that a long ridge curved eastwards for 4 or 5 kilometres and Ken and I started off down this.  The first part of the descent was steep and took the ladies of the party so long that, in the end, the Loubets and the Delafons glissaded down a connecting couloir to join the morning route while Ken and I continued.  The ridge we followed was mixed rock and snow exciting to look at and satisfying to be on.  Both sides fell away sharply and gave uninterrupted views to the left and right. Gradually, after a long period of tiptoeing along a knife edge, the ridge began to flatten out and, although we kept to the edge, the effect was that of walking on a high plateau.  All the way we had the benefit of wide views and a rapidly changing cloudscape.

Eventually, the flat angle of the ridge steepened and we turned South towards the Lac des Bouillouses and the cars.  Decreasing altitude caused softer snow and started to make walking difficult as we sank in up to our knees.

Before we were too low, we stopped to study the next section of country between us and the Lac des Boiullouses to find a reasonable route through the complicated terrain.  Once committed, route finding would be difficult.

Descending rapidly, we narrowly avoided a wetting in a lake hidden under heavy snow and ice and then watched, gripped by the spectacle, as the green water - laden with snow and ice - hissed and broke free of the snow barrier damming the end and, aided by a large stream which rapidly formed, moved massively down a small valley. Avoiding this by moving quickly, we wound a tortuous way through the forest until, eventually, we gained the Lac des Bouillouses.  We had thought to walk easily along the two kilometres of the lakeside.  Deep, soft snow and the shattered remains of the edges of the thick ice sheet which had covered the now dry lake prevented anything other than an exhausting slog.  As it was unavoidable and we'd had the best part of the day, we plodded philosophically on and thought of beer.


G.G. Episode

Another caving trip with a difference.  This time, in G.G. and written by Derek Sanderson.

During last summer’s C.P.C. winch meet at Gaping Gill, Keith Sanderson and myself decided to attempt an abseil trip through Disappointment Pot and out via the winch or Bar Pot after visiting Far Country if we had time.  The trip in itself is not particularly super severe, but neither of us had been into this part of the system before, so we spent some time finding out what the problems were likely to be.

Armed with a waterproof survey; a hundred feet of rope and a twenty five foot ladder, we made sure that the winch operators knew where we were going before entering Disappointment Pot. Quite a lot has been written about this pot and I got the impression that cavers tend to underestimate it.  We found the going quite tiring, as the streamway is narrow and one often has to traverse above stream level.  The cave was not as friendly as I had expected, but the grey rock had a pleasant feel to it.

The pitches too, were not very spacious, and abseiling was constricted.  All the pitches except the last were 1addered (30', 25', 25', 30' and 25').  The last pitch is a fifty foot drop into a boulder chamber, and a flake of rock served as a belay point from which the rope could be retrieved.

From below this pitch, a narrow squeeze through boulders leads to a crawl passage which enters Hensler's Main Stream Passage.  The character of the cave from this point on is very different.  Development is horizontal and the stream way is wide and not washed clean.  To the left is a crawl which links this to Bar Pot.  We turned right (downstream) and, after some pleasant walking, we came to climb over a mud pile into a higher parallel passage (the lower passage leads to a sump).  This passage is more like a mine, with dry mud walls and floor and a stale atmosphere. After an 'S' bend, the passage narrows and the roof becomes arched and ribbed with calcite to give the impression that one is walking down the throat of a whale:

Crossing a glutinous pool, we emerged into a small chamber with a slippery fixed ladder which disappeared through a square hole in the roof.  This is the start of Far Country.  We gingerly climbed the ladder and emerged into a muddy chamber with a small letter-box squeeze at the far side.  This is the 'Blowing Hole'.  This squeeze looks very awkward as it is on a slope.  After getting halfway through I decided that it would be unwise for just the two of us to push on any further on this occasion (in other words, I chickened out.)  Keith agreed, and we backed out.

We strolled gently back through Main Stream Passage past the turning for Disappointment Pot on the left and the infamous Hensler’s Long Crawl on the right.  The passage lowered to a crawl, and it was here that our troubles started.  We had been underground for four hours and felt fine.  Dead ahead was supposed to be the Muddy Crawl into Bar Pot.  The information we had been given was that it was either short and muddy, or long (about two hundred feet) and muddy.  All said we couldn’t miss it.

In fact, the area turned out to be a maze of tubes, some of which were half full of water and frightening liquid mud.  The area was so confusing, that after a full hour of wallowing, we even experienced some difficulty in retracing our steps back to the streamway.

We were now faced with a dilemma.  It was clear that we were not going to get out via Bar Pot. (Personally, I wasn't prepared to enter those tubes again under any circumstances) and we couldn't get back into Disappointment Pot as the fifty foot pitch was not laddered. So we had a choice.  Either to sit and wait to be rescued or to find an alternative route out.  As far as we could see, the only other way was via Hensler'’s Long Crawl.  All we knew about this route was that it was difficult - with over a third of a mile of bedding plane crawling - and that one could get lost if a particular left turn was missed.  It was now important that we made up our minds one way or the other, and we elected to try Hensler's Long Crawl.

Climbing out of the streamway, we entered a smaller passage which led to the entrance of the crawl proper, a bedding plane which proved to be about eighteen inches high and six to eight feet wide in scalloped grey rock and which, under different circumstances, one might well call pleasant.  We entered the crawl, working on one light and keep keeping the other in reserve and crawled flat out around a never-ending progression of bends.  It was obvious that we couldn’t pinpoint our position on the map, but we explored every possible opening on the left. After some time, we found our turning and knew that we were about half way home.

The second half of the crawl seemed to have an even lower roof and at times it was difficult even to roll over.  The effort too, was beginning to have an effect, as shown by the increase in colourful language.  At one stage, a waterlogged tube on the left was reached from which a strong draught blew. This was later identified as Gemmel's Folly, and it took a lot of effort to ignore this tube and move away to the right - especially as we felt that a left turn would have been better.

Soon after this, we stacked our tackle on one side and left it behind, as it had become too much of an effort to drag it along.  A further age of crawling, and we suddenly emerged into a bigger passage running from right to left and we knew we were out.  A quick scramble up to the left and a short stroll to the right, and we were at the winch.

It had taken us one and three-quarter hours to pass the crawl, and we had only been underground for six and a half hours, yet we were worn out.

Some people may think: that I am overemphasising the trip, but it must be remembered that for us it was covering new ground.  Neither of us enjoy caving which involves blindly following the feet of the person in front - so much more satisfaction can be had from caving with friends if one finds one's own way - but it is important to find out as much as possible about a cave first, and not to take on too much.  The above trip turned out to be far harder than was planned, but by stretching ourselves a little, we managed it without accident.


Langstroth Pot – The Rescue

Being a full and veritable account of our journeys into this dangerous an gulf and our safe return.

(To be read after reading Bucket's description of Langstroth)

by Graharn Wilton-Jones

This was essentially an Ashford Speleological Society trip, as only three of us are B.E.C. members - Bucket, me and brother Ian.  The other three were our Northern friends Bernard, Fred and Brian.

We arrived in Langstrothdale fairly early and called at Paisgill to seek permission to descend. All was well, and we parked by the Warfe to change.  There was light rain, but the river was low and the forecast was for clearer weather. After a very thorough look at the map, we set off up the hillside to find the entrance. Months previously we had searched for the entrance in the snow, but failed to realise that we'd found it when we did.  On that occasion we investigated practically every hole on that side of the valley. This time, we found it with ease, exactly as the book had said but Fred, who got there first, insisted that this was not it because he could not even negotiate the entrance.

I quickly went through, climbed the first pitch, and confirmed that this was indeed Langstroth Pot. The others had begun to follow so I set off rapidly, carrying the tackle, to check the route.  There was no need, for the way is obvious.  It seemed a long drag, especially over the bouldery section before the slot, so I took a little tackle from someone else, who had at last caught up after I'd waited ages.

There was much wittering at the slot after I'd gone through but since I could do little to assist, I went ahead with Bernard to rig the first ladder pitch.  While we did this, the others tried to excavate an alternative to the slot - a bedding plane to one side of the rift.  We made our way through a chamber with good straws well above the stream to the head of the next pitch and rigged that.

Whereas the first pitch has a tight take-off and one is in the wet all the way, against the wall and with a ledge halfway down; this second pitch was free-hanging and dry. The stream dropped into the rift from somewhere below us and several yards behind us.  Having waited ages at the bottom of this pitch, I was joined by Bucket and Ian who told me that Fred and Brian had failed at the slot and were going out to do Yodienthwaite Cave.  (I had an idea that this flooded to the roof, and immediately assumed that the little rain would prevent access.)

Bernard had set off down the rift, so we rapidly followed.  This passage has nasty, stumpy, wet-suit-destroying helictites, especially for people who hurry.  Suddenly the rift changed to a bedding plane, which offered quite a pleasant crawl on hands and knees.  Here, there was a small amount of water flowing gently over the gravelly floor.

As the passage floor dropped away, we reached; laddered and climbed the fourth and fifth pitches fairly rapidly.  The sixth pitch of fifteen feet is wide, and the small quantity of water flowing over left several choices of dry free climbs.  As for the next pitch, all the water of the stream went straight over the ladder for all its length.  However, it was possible to dam the stream with one's posterior, and two were able to climb dry.

We quickly passed through the next large section and the well decorated Canal Passage.  At the finish pitch we went down two at a time to look at the nearby sump leading to Langstroth Cave. Once again, it is possible to dam the stream by sitting in it, and those who wished climbed dry.

We spent some time hear the bottom, and then began to make our way upwards.  At the top of the Seventh pitch, I went up the inlet to try to find the fifteen foot long straw.  A short way up the inlet, there is an aven and I could see no way in. Then I noticed a small trickle of water against one wall of the aven - this appeared from a narrow slot.  Above this slot, a way on was visible if you stood right against one wall - otherwise it would have easily been missed. Climbing up about fifteen feet, I was able to crawl into the bottom of a narrow rift.  Crawling for some sixty to eighty feet, I came to a chamber with five foot straws, but nothing approaching fifteen feet.  There was one very narrow inlet and a possibility of a way on in the roof.  I heard Ian's and Bucket's voices behind me and took a further look into the tight inlet. As I put my hand in the stream, the noise increased and I presumed that a little waterfall round the corner made the noise.  I decided against going into this tight, low crawl and took my hand out.  The noise continued to increase very rapidly and I realised that the place was about to flood.

Turning round, I yelled to Bucket and Ian to get out.  Bucket understood at once, having heard the stream, but Ian was climbing into the roof of the inlet, quite unaware of the danger.  Seeing Bucket and I zooming past him like lightning "and yelling" Get out;" he finally made a move.  One flood pulse passed us in the crawl and the water immediately became rapid and deep.  At the short climb, a torrent of white water shot across to the other side.  I just grabbed a couple of handholds and dropped, as did Ian, seeing Bucket and me vanish beneath the jet of water with such rapidity.  Reaching the junction, we found Bernard with most of the tackle - a little was washed away and we retrieved some from the stream at once.  He said that the flood pulses of the main stream and the inlet reached the junction at the same moment.  The main passage now carried a heavily swollen, peaty brown, roaring stream. The noise was deafening, and we had to shout to each other although we were close together.  The decision was to head upwards to the chamber between the second and third pitches.

At the fifteen foot free-climbable pitch, we were confronted by a six foot high, ten foot wide wall of water - now an almost impossible climb simply due to the force of the water. Ian, however, climbed up into the rift and slung a rope over a rock bridge and we used this rope to climb up through the water.  Even so, it was not easy.

On the ladder pitches, the order was Bucket, Ian, Bernard (the youngest member of the party and also the only one without a wetsuit) the tackle and finally me.  We have got into the habit of tying an extra length of line on to the bottom of a lifeline.  This means that there is never any difficulty retrieving the line and when tackle is raised it can be held by the bottom man away from snags etc.  Thus we were very efficient and fast on the pitches.

Anyone climbing immediately disappeared behind a mass of spray and it was quite a suspense for us at the bottom, waiting first for a glimmer of light and then for a body to emerge at the top of the spray.

The bedding plane was taking an enormous amount of water at great speed.  It was up to eighteen inches deep and proved very tiring.  As we hurried through the next section - the Helictite Rift - the pace slowed.  The next pitch, a long but 'dry' one, was now a mass of water.  An inlet was coming in from the side carrying perhaps as much water as the main stream and hitting the ladder about six feet short of the top.  On the way down, there had been no water here at all.  Fortunately, we had left all the tackle on a ledge at the head of the Fourth Pitch and could safely forget this.  Bernard had difficulty near the top of this pitch where the water hit.  He was beginning to feel the cold quite severely.  He was virtually dragged up the last few rungs. I had no choice when my turn came. I was dragged up far faster than I could climb and thus tore my wetsuit trousers very badly, but not quite indecently. However, it did allow valuable body warmth to escape.

Almost immediately above this pitch, we were in the chamber we had passed through on the way down. From here, the next pitch was clearly visible - just through a squeeze and over a climb, but the ladder was utterly hidden beneath a massive flow of water and the aven was filled with cold whirling spray.  Without discussion, we decided to sit it out.

The floor was about five feet wide before it dropped into the deep, narrow rift which took the water. We set up the carbide spare as a sort of homely, warm light and, after much preparation, including wiping as much water from the floor as possible, we sat together with our backs to the wall and covered ourselves with a space blanket.  This was not really large enough and those at either end of the row were not fully covered.

Bernard, who had wrung his clothes out (NOT hung them up to dry, as the papers said; but what a concept! - a new use for the clothesline in Swildons Sump I!) was cold. Ian, with his wet socks, had frozen feet.  I, in my torn wetsuit, was cold.  Bucket, with his new wetsuit and his generous layers of natural insulation, was merely cool. Without crouching right down, with knees bent double, it was not possible to stay totally under the space blanket.  There were constant exchanges between Ian and Bucket at either end, the one arguing that we should be breathing under the sheet to conserve warmth, and the other insisting that it made little difference at his end because he was only half covered.

We dozed for most of the time, and although this undoubtedly conserved energy, we later learned that one is not advised to sleep if one is at all cold.  On two occasions we got up to stamp around to restore circulation to cramped muscles, but we rapidly felt the cold each time and soon sat again. Unfortunately, the air in the chamber was swirled between the two pitches and was never still and presumably full of a fine, chilling spray - not visible but soon felt.  The noise of the two waterfalls - one above us and one beneath - roared on unceasingly, deafeningly loud.

At midnight, the noise of water had not diminished when, from above, we heard a hulloo.  We called back in acknowledgment and were amazed at the state of the pitch.  There was practically no water at all in comparison with the noise.  We made ready to move, and Bucket went back to the top of the lower big pitch to check that the tackle was secure.  There he found that the inlet was carrying an increased stream - enormous when compared with the main stream.  Hence the reason for the lack of lessening of the noise. While one stream decreased, the other increased.  The lower big pitch was now virtually impassable.

The first member of the rescue team abseiled down to us - a sight to behold.  With him came a comfort box, whose goodies were rapidly consummed by rescuers and rescued alike.  Soon after, a goon suit arrived for Bernard.  It appeared that someone on the surface knew that he was without a wetsuit. The someone was Fred.  We had wondered about him ever since the flood began. Had he gone into Yodienthwaite? Was he stuck higher up in Langstroth? Was he outside?

In fact, it was raining hard when Fred and Brian emerged, so Brian decided to go back home and Fred sat in the van and, for something to do, watched the water level rise against a boulder in the Warfe.  He dozed off, and when he woke up there was no boulder to be seen - only a very swollen Warfe, lapping its banks.  He trudged up the hill and found a small stream entering the pot.  However, he went in with the intention of helping us out with the tackle.  This was at 6.p.m., six hours after we had entered.  He reached the slot, but since there was no sight or sound of us, he made his way out with difficulty, finding the duck virtually sumped.  On the surface, the stream had risen further and Fred attempted to dam it up, using mud, boulders and overalls.  He dug with his bare hands, but to no avail.  He decided to attempt to reach the slot again, but the streamway was by now sumped.  Soon after, at 8 p.m. he called out the C.R.O.

Within a very short space of time, over two hundred people were involved including the police, three fire brigades, local farmers, local art college girls - and even Bob Cross. Fred borrowed a spade from a local farmer and managed to break it after three digs into the shallow peat.  C. R O. knocked up a hardware store in Skipton and requisitioned all his spades.  Those who had no spades dug with their bare hands, and in two hours there was a channel nearly two hundred yards long, diverting nearly all the water into Hagg Pot.  Higher up on the moor, a further channel was dug.  Three large pumps were brought into the valley ready to pump the bottom sumps dry if possible and if necessary.  The weather was now changing rapidly, and the forecast was for further heavy rain by 10 p.m.

The rescue team was naturally anxious that we should be out as soon as possible, so up went Bernard first. He had great difficulty getting through the top of the pitch which is narrow if you climb straight up instead of squeezing sideways.  It took him several minutes to negotiate it.  At the Slot, he again had difficulty and was fully ten minutes getting though. In the chamber above the slot, we opened some very welcome flasks of hot soup.  From then on, the going was uneventful and slow, but good humoured. We chatted about other rescues and similar mundane subjects - one of the rescue team had been stuck in Langcliffe last year.

We emerged to electric lights, T.V. cameras, flashbulbs, hot stew, dozens of expectant and relieved faces and a thermometer.  Bucket was 2 degrees below normal, Ian and I were 4 degrees down and Bernard's temperature was 87.6 degrees F!

We were whisked off fairly rapidly to just bearable hot baths.  Ian was bathed by two attractive young ladies but even this did not make his temperature rise above 960.  Bernard flaked out in his bath, and the doctor had his temperature back to normal within minutes.  Ian's feet remained numb for three weeks afterwards, but this was the only noticeable after effect that any of us suffered.

The following weekend, Bucket and I returned to remove our tackle from the system.  This trip was fairly uneventful except that I became stuck in two separate places including the slot, in my haste.  Eldon were down later on and helped us pass tackle through the slot.  Passing tackle up long pitches and along straight sections of passage (which are few in Langstroth) was achieved by attaching it to the centre of a lifeline. This can save considerable time, especially when there are only two of you and mounds of tackle.

We emerged, immersed in mud, this time to beautiful sunshine and leaped very rapidly down the hillside and straight into the Warfe - a deliciously stupid experience, causing much consternation and wonder amongst the holidaymakers.


The Coolite

Roger Wing writes 'please find enclosed item from the Industrial Equipment News for November 1973. I am sure such an item would prove very useful in certain emergency situations underground.  Perhaps the Consumer Enquiries Department of the B.B. could test the item in question and publish its findings.'

The item is the COOLITE emergency snap-light.  Obtainable from FONADEK INTERNATIONAL LTD, FONADEK HOUSE, ALBAMY RD. BIRMINGHAM B17 9JS, and the directions read as follows:-

Bend the Coolite tube sufficiently to break the inner ampoule and, as soon as the two chemicals inside come into contact with each other, there is emergency lighting for at least three hours.  It acts as a cool, safe, non-toxic light that can be held in the hand or placed anywhere indoors or out.  The light has a shelf life of four years or more.  Price 44p.

I have written to the firm in question, pointing out that we are a caving club, and asking for a sample. If this approach fails, we might even have to buy one.  In any case, we WILL test one and let members know shortly what conclusions we come to. Chris Harvey had a similar device on Mendip some months ago, but whether it was the same make as this one, is something I will try to find out, as Chris's experience might also come in useful. (Editor)

Monthly Crossword – Number 39.



















































































1. Cave found in northern spot. (3)
4. Initially us. (1,1,1)
7. Pore over this caving aid. (4)
9. Swildons grotto. (3)
11. …will do it to excess. (2)
13. Present era. (1,1)
14. Mendip cave opened by 24 ac. (6)
15. Short thanks. (2)
17.  Initial example. (1,1)
19. Wash ore. (6)
20. Myself. (2)
21. Outward cave direction. (2)
22. Sum. (3)
24. Discoverers of 14 ac. (1,1,1,1)
27. Later part of Swildons. (3)


2. Green on Market. (3)
3. Not from this. (2)
4. Exist. (2)
5. Little company perhaps? (5)
6. Uneven? (3)
8. Did pry locally. (6)
10. Mendip caving trips are usually this. (4)
11. Swildons Way. (3)
12. Class ‘E’ climbs (6)
16. Are cavers sometimes this in a cave? (4)
18. Way on through a ruckle perhaps. (3)
20. Route aid (3)
21. Employ (3)
23. This a cave for a trip. (2)
24. Compass direction. (1,1)
25. First bit of Cuthbert’s? (2)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword



















































































Any views expressed by any contributor to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of officers of the club, do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor or the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club, unless stated as being the view of the committee or editor.

Club Headquarters

‘The Belfry’, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tele: WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins
Minutes Sec:     To be appointed.
Members:          B. Wilton; D.J. Irwin; D. Stuckey; N. Jago; A.R. Thomas; R. Orr; N. Taylor; G. Wilton-Jones; M. Bishop

Officers Of The Club

Hon. Secretary: A.R. THOMAS, Allen’s House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Tel: PRIDDY 269.
Hon. Treasurer:  B. WILTON, 27 Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.
Caving Sec:       D. STUCKEY, 34 Allington Rd, Southville, Bristol
Climbing Sec:    N. Jago, 27 Quantock Rd, Windmill Hill, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
Hut Warden:      N. TAYLOR, Whiddons, Chilcote, Somerset.  Tel. WELLS 72338.
Hut Engineer:    M. BISHOP,  Isl;ay, 98 Winsley Hill, Limpley Stoke, Bath, Somerset..
Tacklemaster:    G. WILTON-JONES, 17 Monkham’s Drive, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk.
B.B. Editor:       S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol. Tele. CHEW MAGNA 2915.
Librarian:           D.J. IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tel: PRIDDY 369.
Publications:     To be appointed
B.B. Post:         B. WILTON. Address above.

MENDIP RESCUE ORGANISATION.  In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481



Manor Farm

The editor’s usual complaint about the discovery of new caves on Mendip is the length of time which elapses before any active caver can be persuaded to write a description for the B.B.  This was even - regrettably - true in the case of Cuthbert’s.  It is thus more than usually pleasant to have received not one, but two accounts of this new addition to the major caves of Mendip, both of which are in this B.B.  Our sincere congratulations to the diggers - and the writers.

One point I feel should be made/now that we have a new cave which contains, I understand, some fine formations; and that is to express the hope that some method may be found to preserve them.  I have personally been lucky enough to have seen the White Way in Swildons when it was white; the helictites in G.B. when even the First Grotto was covered in them; Princess Grotto in Stoke when its crystal floor was still untouched by human boot; the Streaky Bacon in Rods when it was still there; the unique (to my knowledge) unsupported flows in Hilliers before some idiot put his boot in and many other worthwhile bits of underground scenery which once distinguished these caves from assault courses/rubbish tips.  I hope (probably in vain) that we can manage to leave at least something for cavers of the future to look at.

The A.G.M…..

A quiet A.G.M. will, I think, be the verdict on 1973.  As Mike Palmer said, however, the stirring-up which went on at the 1972 meeting has had, and is still having, a good effect on the club and the quiet atmosphere of 1973 was thus not due to apathy as to the lack of need for further innovation at this point in time.

Certainly the voting could hardly be called apathetic. A 40% poll for the committee at a time when no controversial issues were at stake argues a very sound and widespread degree of interest amongst the club membership.  This is a very encouraging sign and one which augurs well for the future of our club.

The new voting system appears to have worked very well.  A feature made possible by this system will be the inclusion of a sign against member’s names in the annual list which is published in November to show if his or her vote was received or not, thus giving all members a chance to check up on this vital point.  This can now be done because the member’s names can now be separated from the paper showing how the votes were cast.  Thus, the votes have been destroyed but the names of the voters retained.

This also kills the myth once and for all that some people on the committee are kept going almost exclusively by the votes of older and no longer active members.  In fact, the combined votes of all members whose numbers are below 500 only amounted to a quarter of the total, and those of all members whose membership number is below 600 still made up less than half the votes cast.  Of course, the actual number of votes necessary to ensure election to the committee varies widely from year to year, but it is safe to say that members on the upper half of the list of those elected are drawing their votes mainly from the younger members.

………And Dinner

Again, an average dinner with - so far - very few complaints to the committee.  In this connection, some members might not be aware that the committee has to choose the place for the 1974 dinner quite soon - so if anyone has anything to say; it would be as well to say it quickly!

The B.E.C. dinner is, by tradition, noted for two things - its presentations (which were well to the fore this year) and its entertainment (which was non-existent, although there are plans for reviving it next year.)

A small point which members might like to consider was the start of a move towards throwing things. The caving clubs of Mendip between them hold a number of annual dinners, and it would be a shame in my opinion if they all became too similar.  One of these dinners traditionally includes a missile-throwing session; so perhaps it might be as well not to pinch other people's ideas.

Resounding Clang

It was, of course, predictable that in a B.B. which boasted of its 300th appearance, a clang of monumental proportions should have appeared.

For some reason which is still difficult to explain, some members lost pages 194 and 215 and received pages of the August B.B. in their place.  After a number of people had rung me up to point this out - all of whom wanted the page 215 (194 was merely the list of club officers) we have decided to REPRINT this page in this B.B.  To add to the confusion, it will have a new number but there will be some indication that it is, in fact, the missing page.

To add even further to the confusion, now that this B.B. has been laid out, it has not been found possible to get the missing page into this issue.  Hopefully, it will now appear in the November B.B.

Publications Department

With Dave (The Wig) Irwin finding increasing demands on his time, it becomes necessary to find somebody willing to take on the editorship of the club's Caving Publications.  Any interested member should get in touch with Dave, who will give them an idea about the job and what it entails.  THIS IS IMPORTANT so now is the chance for somebody to come forwards.  More details next month.



Manor Farm.

A short report compiled by three B.E.C. members. Nigel Taylor; Graham Wilton-Jones and Dave Irwin.

The first of our two reports on this new Mendip cave.

On the 5th of September 1973, Mendip’s latest discovery was broken into after many years of hard digging by the U.B.S.S. and the group of diggers collectively known as N.H.A.S.A. The entrance is close by the huge shaft that opened up in 1968 in the July floods.  The cave dips steeply over its length, broken in the middle by a series of potholes up to 20 feet deep.  The cave displays a wide variety of passage shape and dimensions, some fine stalagmite formations and a number of interesting inlets.  At the time of writing the cave has only been visited under fairly dry conditions.  What it will be like under winter conditions is hard to say except that the sink has been known to take a considerable quantity of water from time to time.  The entrance shaft requires a 50 ft. ladder.

Mainly Historical

The site has been of interest to Mendip cavers since the end of the war, and was dug by A.C.E.S. Caving Group and M.N.R.C. in the later '40's. Pete Stewart wrote in 1950, “…..The swallet is situated at Charterhouse in the grounds of Manor Farm and in wet weather takes a lot of water……  Work commenced on June 3rd and during the weekend, the existing timbered shaft of 5ft was extended to 12ft.  The work was hard going, as the excavated material had to be hoisted to the top of the shaft.  Work continued on the following weekend, but progress was very slow - and it was decided to abandon the dig.  The total depth reached from the top of the shaft was approximately 15ft.  The rock face began to slope under at about ten feet.

During the course of the dig, some interesting looking bones were unearthed and our President, Mr. H.E. Balch, identified them as Bos (i.e. cow).  The shaft has not been filled in.”  (British Caver No 21, 1950.)

The site was little worked and, apart from occasional visits by cavers, fell out of interest for the next fifteen years.  The U.B.S.S. team, spearheaded by Mike Norton, next took up the challenge and continued working at the shaft.  After difficult digging, a sighting was made into a small chamber and a little more work was required actually to enter it.  The next day, a descent was made - only to find that the roof had collapsed, blocking the way on.  Before the U.B.S.S. had a chance to do any further digging, the Great Flood of July '68 struck, and the famous Manor Farm Shaft opened up, further blocking the way on. Some little digging was carried out at the bottom of the shaft, but the enormous quantities of infilling and the threat of the collapse of the shaft forced them to abandon any further digging attempt. With sheer determination, they resolved to drive a shaft down to the chamber by the use of explosives. Thus the site of the current entrance came into being.  The shaft was hewn out of the solid rock and at a depth of fifty feet a small passage was encountered and followed, with the help of more 'bang', to the base of the main shaft collapse.  They eventually entered the base of the shaft on the downstream side and it was here that the U.B.S.S. continued their dig.  However, the Mike Norton team began to break up and interest gradually waned.  By 1971, work at the site had just about ground to a halt.

The N.H.A.S.A. team (Messrs Hanwell; Thompson; Davies; Barton etc.) after their long dig at North Hill, turned their attention to the Velvet Bottom area of Mendip.  Firstly to Bedstead Dig and soon after to Manor Farm Swallet.  After difficult negotiations with the U.B.S.S. they were given permission to dig at the site - but at a cost.  The basic agreement with the U.B.S.S. was that, should anything be found, then the report and survey be published in the U.B.S.S. Proceedings.  This agreement was, incidentally, made with the Wessex Cave Club and not N.H.A.S.A.

Digging by N.H.A.S.A. commenced at the bottom of the known cave but not at the site chosen by the U.B.S.S. Slightly more to the East lay another diggable passage which, though choked, appeared more interesting.  One by one, the basic N.H.A.S.A. team dropped by the wayside, and the brunt of the digging continued through the winter of 1972-3 with 'Prew', Nigel Taylor, Albert Francis and Pete Palfrey.

Later in '73 the team was augmented by several other diggers such as John Ham, Martin Bishop etc.

The dig had reached the 12' Rift in September 1972 where a three inch slot was found by accident. Four banging trips followed and the descent of the rift made (This is September Rift) which led to a small passage ending in Penthouse Chamber.  This passage once contained formations which have inevitably to be destroyed by digging. Other fine formations were seen in the roof and the point reached by Nigel Taylor, who entered a small grotto. A whirlpool sink mud formation lay in the floor.  This was the subject of attack, though attention was soon turned to the sink at the end of the chamber.  A small stal cavity was noted, but preservation decreed that it should not be touched, although several of the diggers wanted to.

Here, at the end of Penthouse Chamber, the diggers were working continuously from September 1972, often at week-ends and every Wednesday night until September 5th 1973. Many tons of muck and rock were removed during this period of a year - so much so that the floor of the chamber is now some ten feet higher than when it was first entered and the walled-up spoil heaps are some sixteen feet above the same level.  Over 190 polythene sacks were 'issued' to the dig and these filled up less than a twentieth of the total spoil heap.

When the dig sumped with diluted 'cowsh' in October-November 1972 and only three or four diggers actually constituted the team, holes were breached in the floor of the dig and 80% blasting gelignite charges were used in pipes - with instantaneous effect - and the stream was lost again.  After March 1973, more dig-shaking pipe charges were employed to make the material more removable and less tenacious.  This technique came to be used very frequently.  Towards the end of March and early April, it was decided to enlarge the September Rift so as to get the railway line into Penthouse Chamber if required and also to facilitate the passage of other, more well-developed diggers. About this time, the team was often down to three diggers - Prew, Pete P and Nig. or Albert, Pete P and Nig or other permutations on those four.

From, July, boulders were met again and heavy plastering began using a technique that pulled the spoil towards the digging face.  In September, a large 3½ lb. plaster in five shots with delays was applied to the working face, with the end result of changing Manor Farm Dig into Manor Farm.

In the B.E.C. Caving Log, Nig Taylor wrote short notes on the dig’s progress and what follows is a selection;

17th Jan 1973.

Administered 1½ lbs chemical in pipe to drain sump - hopefully.

11th Feb 1973.

3 lbs fired in stream sink choke.  Satisfyingly quiet - but hope effective - rumble.

9th Feb 1973.

Small charge and shifting debris from previous week.  Prew, Pete and myself. 3 hours.

14th Feb 1973.

Pete Palfrey, Prew, Albert Francis and myself.  Slow progress for hard effort.

28th Feb 1973.

Prew, Albert and yes, yet again Pete Le Palfrey - noble squire and overseer of Manure Farm and self.  Much rubbish removed.  Also joined by John (Bacon) Bam of W.C.C.

23rd March 1973.

Albert Francis and self.  To administer 1lb plaster charge in rift to enable railway line to be taken down into Penthouse Chamber to facilitate spoil removal from main dig.

(From this time on, the routine was removal of spoil and yet more spoil.)

22nd August 1973

4½ lb. quadruple charge plaster as boulder baiter.

(Thus, on September 5th, whilst clearing the debris from the previous bang, the team made the initial breakthrough into the First Chamber.)

This breakthrough on September 5th led the explorers to Albert’s Eye and the week following saw the cave extended to the Gravel Choke.  Through boulders in the roof of this rift came the discovery of N.H.A.S.A. Gallery - a 300 ft long large passage.  Fred Davies pioneered climbs to the inlets that led to the discovery of two interesting inlet passages.

The Cave           at N.G.R. 4982 5566

Alt. 750 O.D., Length 2,000ft approx.  Depth 350-400’

The entrance to the system is a fifty foot deep vertical shaft, capped with a low blockhouse. (50' ladder, 2’ belay and 100’ lifeline.)  This had, until 10.10.73, a fixed iron ladder installed.  There is now a suitably placed scaffold pole which acts as a belay for electron ladder.  Underneath the bottom of the ladder, a hands and knees crawl leads through a square section passage blasted open by the U.B.S.S.  After about thirty feet, one drops through an eyehole to the right.  A few feet further leads one to the abandoned U.B.S.S. dig on the right, but the way on to the main cave is to the left, the side of which has been stone walled.  The debris above the wall is the base of the now filled 1968 flood shaft. The floor at this point changes from clean gravel to cowsh-covered gravel.  Below the wall, to the right, the passage drops away down the bedding at the bottom of which is a twelve foot deep, narrow rift.  This is September Rift (15' ladder and 2' belay to wooden beam). This lands in a vadose entrenched bedding plane going steeply (about 30O) down dip.  Upwards, there is a low wide area full of organic deposits.  This is the source of a stream which soon sinks in boulders and also the source of the famous Manor Farm earthworms.  The worms are seen at various points deeper down, even crawling over stal.  Downwards, the bedding plane development is obliterated by excavated material and dry stone walling.  Soon, there is a low crawl below some large old broken stalactites.  This is the site of the September '73 breakthrough.

The crawl breaks out into a large chamber dominated by a magnificent curtain formation dropping on the left above a mass of heavily-stalled boulders.  The curtain formation is a pale orange-tinted white and is over eight feet high.  A passage leads away, up to the left above the stal flowed boulder pile.  THIS NEED NOT, AND SHOULD NOT BE ENTERED. It is merely an awkward alternative to the main stream route.  THE TAPE MUST NOT BE CROSSED FOR ANY REASON.

Just below these formations is a pitch of about twenty feet.  At present there is a steel stake driven into the rock for a belay.  The ladder needs only to be about ten feet long, the remainder of the drop being a straightforward free climb.  The top is awkward without a ladder.  Much of the right hand wall of the free-climb is pyrolusite and has a nasty tendency to break away when weight is applied to it. This pitch could well be awkward under high water conditions as there is every indication in the left hand wall (all left and right directions in this article are looking down cave) that the stream shoots across the drop and hits the left hand wall about ten feet from the top.

From this twenty foot pitch, the cave drops rapidly in a series of small potholes including one of twelve feet that requires a handline.  One noticeable feature of these potholes is that they have been heavily stalagmited over in the past and are now being etched with fine vertical flutes - no little contribution to this erosion being the large quantities of cowsh in the stream.  On the left of the streamway are two large stal bosses.  One of these has erosion fluting more typical of Yorkshire pothole fluting on its upstream side and thus it can be inferred that the cave has seen a number of periods of heavy water presumably winter water levels.


The rift below the breakthrough into the main cave goes practically to the bottom of the known system, changing joints only occasionally and following the same group of beds all the way.  There are two basic beds that may be seen throughout the length of the system:-

1.                    A group of thin beds, each about 4" thick with a total depth of about three feet.

2.                    A fossiliferous bed containing all the usual Mendip razor-rock specimens - Spirifer; Productus; Lithostrotion Crinoid stems, etc

Below the potholes, the rift closes down to the only squeeze on the main route. It is neither particularly tight nor awkward and apart from this there are very few places where it is not possible to walk.


Nearer the bottom of the rift is an area of between six and twelve inches of false flooring.  THIS SHOULD NOT BE WALKED ON but stepped over or crawled under.  The false floor area is shortly followed by a drop to the right and an excessively muddy area and a long pool in the narrowing rift.  Continuing down the rift leads to a gravel choke under a boulder pile jammed in the upper parts of the rift.

Moving back upstream, one will see that the rift widens and a prominent ledge allows one to traverse back up cave and through a hole amongst boulders in the roof, one can gain access to N.H.A.S.A. Gallery.  From there onwards, the character of the cave changes completely.  The chamber is a very old collapsed zone, so complete that there are no signs of water action on the walls, except where stal is to be seen flowing from the roof beds.  There are, in this chamber, clear white curtains and stalagmites and a few stalactites. The floor, apart from boulders, is of dry sand.  The chamber extends down dip to meet a small stream which emerges from a gravelly area on the right of the bedding.  A short crawl on the left at the lowest point of the chamber leads to a passage with loose boulders below which the stream sinks.  Over the boulders, a sandy-floored chamber, reminiscent of Cwm Dwr Smithy area, is a tight 15 foot drop to another sink (?) - some have suggested that the water wells up at this point.  This requires a ladder and a twelve foot tether.  Straight on from the chamber, through a muddy crawl, is a phreatic sumpy area of mud and the end of the cave so far.  A too narrow rift continues beyond this area.

There are also several inlets that are of particular interest and, going back out of the cave, they are:-

1.                  The bottom of the N.H.A.S.A. Gallery.  This may not the same stream as that sinking at the gravel choke at end of the main rift.

2.                  On the left of the N.H.A.S.A. Gallery, a stream can be heard in a crevice.

3.                  Falling into the narrow rift, just before to N.H.A.SA Gallery, is a quite heavy drip.

4.                  There are two forty foot avens in a major right halfway down the cave.  There is a heavy good stream.  At the top of the furthest aven there is least two hundred feet of inlet passage with very formations in a grotto at the head of the aven.

5.                  There is a climb down below the curtain in the chamber above the twenty foot pitch.

6.                  Water from Penthouse Chamber probably enters the cave again. At the bottom of the twenty foot pitch?

It should be remembered that all this has been observed during drought conditions.  At the time of writing there are very few streams on or under Mendip.  Manor Farm will very interesting under winter conditions - and should be spectacular in flood.

Under Autumn 173 conditions, the system would be graded as V.D.P. and with more water underground could easily become S.P.  Although still a small cave by general standards, it is certainly a rewarding find for the diggers and a major addition to Mendip caves.

Mendip’s Longest Caves:

Swildons Hole                              23,500ft

St. Cuthbert's Swallet                  21,500ft

G.B. Cavern                                      6,400ft

Stoke Lane Slocker                        6,000ft

August/Longwood                           4,500ft

Eastwater Cavern                           4,400ft

Gough’s Cave                                  3,750ft

Withy Hill                                           2,300ft

Goatchurch Cave                            2,250ft

Sandford Levvy                                2,000ft

MANOR FARM SWALLET              2,000ft Approx to date

Sludge Pit                                         2,000ft

Read's Cavern                                 1,900ft

Reservoir Hole                                 1,600ft


Manor Farm Swallet

Our second article on Manor Farm follows on the next page.  This is appearing in the Wessex Journal, and other copies have been sent to U.B.S.S., Cerberus and the S.M.C.C. so that the information becomes widely available on Mendip.

As we said earlier, this B.B. is very much a Manor Farm issue, but we make no apology, as it is very pleasant to be able to report so fully on a new Mendip discovery so soon after the actual event.

‘And the last shall be first’   by J .D. Hanwell.

September 1973, the promised potential of this last classic swallet on central Mendip was finally realised. Those eventually rewarded were last in the long queue of contenders for the honours which stretches back to 1947. The history of this saga is best told by those who made it (Harvey 1950, Stewart 1952 and Norton 1969).  Your narrator has no such pedigree by comparison, only claiming to be among the many lending a hand during the most recent onslaught jointly mounted by the U.B.S.S. and Wessex C.C. inspired by N.H.A.S.A. diggers. The latter, hardened to lost causes and gentle ridicule, took on the job on the 17th May 1972.  Final success came unexpectedly and rapidly on the 12th of September the following year after some 600 man-hours and 75 trips.

We now know that earlier Manor Farm devotees who bottomed the ill-fated concrete shaft in 1966 were so close to entering the system; only being cheated by blockages created by the July 1968 flood (Hanwell & Newson, 1970) whilst hard at blasting a by-pass - the present entrance shaft.  Some of the last handfuls of spoil removed before the final break through contained fragments of concrete and glazed pipes originating from the dramatic 1968 collapse at the stream sink.  Chance, after all, does favour those who leave no stone unturned.

The following record draws mainly from N.H.A.S.A. logbook entries by no less than 17 signatories belonging to every Mendip-based club.  More than twice this number have been involved overall.  It seems fitting, and hopefully prophetic that the last major swallet cave left in the area should have been won through the combined efforts of so many cavers and clubs.  There can be little doubt that similar tactics are needed to find what remains undiscovered elsewhere on Mendip.  Maybe Manor Farm is the first of a new generation of local discoveries using such methods.  St. Bruno's tradition lives on after almost a thousand years, though St. Swithin and St. Cuthbert have little to fear – yet!

Most of the digging sessions during the first summer were devoted to installing a rigid ladder on the entrance shaft and building a concrete retaining wall down slope of the 1968 collapsed shaft.  Whilst each convinced the other that both were necessary for rapid retreats and safety, it must also be recorded that N.H.A.S.A. had never previously dug a site so far from the Hunters.  Time spent is time lost, after all!  A wooden rail track was constructed to the working face and former U.B.S.S. rolling stock pressed into service.  By mid-August, the dry sandy fill blocking the steeply descending passage was appearing less formidable and the going easy.  Early the next month a narrow rift was uncovered in the floor and a flurry of activity ensued between the 13th and the 20th.  For Thursday the 21st September, the log simply states 'A look at extension below rift - see sketch'.  In fact, after descending the tight rift for some 15 feet, a short crawl gave access to a high chamber apparently developed along the same N -S fault that controls the line of the upper Railway Passage.  Whilst a tortuous up slope route led to a miserably tight streamway, the chamber also terminated disappointingly beneath a vast slide of evil smelling mud.  Here was the main mass of the 1968 collapse similar to that which invaded nearby G.B. during the same event, and lubricated with subsequent farmyard drainage for good measure!  A daunting prospect but for an obvious sink near the end.

After a short period of disorganised burrowing, a major effort was mounted at the most Southerly point where the 'omens' were considered more 'favourable'.  Retaining walls were built, a trench started, and real forward progress was apparent by Christmas.  Labour was not so easy to come by in the months that followed, but a committed few maintained steady progress downhill, meeting a greater proportion of boulders lodged in a definite passage.  Several of the boulders required banging before being removed to the ever increasing walls flanking the chamber.  Fears over the rapidly diminishing space for further dumping were heightening as the summer brought out more slaves and so more spoil. Then, just as the situation was appearing its bleakest, some rocks were removed on August 15th and a stream heard beyond.  One more bang did the trick and, on the last trip that month, the music of a boulder falling stream was heard!

On Wednesday 5th September, the promised streamway was reached.  The log records 'The usual Wednesday night team Nigel Taylor, Martin Bishop, Albert, Pete Palfrey, John Ham Prew and several others spent an hour removing mud etc from the dig.  A small hole appeared and was soon cleared to reveal a stal barrier under which we were able to crawl.  The party explored approximately 560 feet of passage which included a large well-decorated chamber containing a fine curtain.  A 20' climbable pitch leads from the chamber to two 10' waterfalls. Passage ends in a sump pool with possible route over the top.  An inlet passage leading from Curtain Chamber was also explored for about 200-300'.

The party were back again in force on the 12th and 13th, taking hammer and chisel to the stalagmite floor above the sump.  The story of the final breakthrough and exploration continues thus in the log book: - "Martin Bishop squeezed through, followed by Albert Francis and the rest of the party Brian Prewer, John Ham, Pete Rose, Nigel Taylor, Nick Chipchase, Pete Palfrey, Chris Backstone and three of Mr. Jeffries’s family from Manor Farm.  Large rift entered over 30' high.  Stream passage followed for many feet to climbable 15' pitch.  Large passage with 40' aven and stream enters from right. Left turn into large stream passage descending at 30O.  Chamber entered with large boulders.  Rift continues with stream.  Many sections of false floor.  Rift narrows and ends in boulder choke.  High level route leads to bedding plane passage 30' wide, 15' high and dropping at 30O. Much on boulders on floor.  Stream re-entered.  More high level passages.  20' pitch descended.  No way on. Stream could be followed in boulders. Much more work to be done.  Total length - Inestimable.  Depth: Deep."

The first tentative sketch survey was undertaken on a short trip the following Monday and the U.B.S.S. sampled the bug population shortly afterwards.  It is reckoned that the main passage is about 2,500 feet long and some 400 feet deep.  Since the alignment of the system is closely associated with the local fault between Manor and Warren Farms, the streamway would appear to cross beneath and beyond Velvet Bottom.  The mud halls at the lowest point reached must be 300' or so above sea level leaving a measly 2O gradient to the proved rising at Cheddar.  Maybe the cave has gone deep too quickly; though some comfort can be gained from the fact that nearby Longwood Swallet and Rhino Rift are already a little deeper.  These are early days, however, and present knowledge is too scant for further application.

On 19th September, Fred Davies and his high wire troupe (Brian Woodward & Ray Mansfield) succeeded in climbing the main aven inlet after two and a half hours of acrobatics. After viewing the beautiful grottoes at the top, they left a rope hanging for the evening shift. Subsequently about another 100 feet of passage was discovered towards the North above the aven.  Nothing of great consequence has been found since then, and it looks as if more graft will be required for any further gains.

The definitive survey has been sub-contracted to William Stanton and his men, and work was started on 5th October Whilst we may ponder upon the outcome now that William knows that his compass contains alcohol, your reporter especially looks forward to the publication of the ultimate seal of approval: also, of course, to the promise of profound utterances on a neglected part of Mendip which even William has notable stakes in.  Manor Farm Swallet may yet play gooseberry to Reservoir Hole and Blackmoor Swallet!

Currently, all the digging equipment is being removed and the fixed ladder on the entrance shaft taken away.  Thus visitors will need tackle to taste for negotiating the 50’ entrance pitch and the short scrambles indicated on the provisional sketch plan accompanying this B.B. All but the entrance are climbable , though those in Cascade section could well prove to be sporting enough in high flow conditions.  The cave is now open to parties wishing to see it.  However those involved in the hard work of digging out the system respectfully ask all visitors to confine themselves to the main passages shown on the survey until the beginning of 1974.  After this time, they have no objections to others seeking extensions in the normal way.  Find what you can AND PRESERVE WHAT HAS BEEN FOUND.

The owner of the cave is Mr. Jefferies at Manor Farm.  He has treated us more than fairly and always enthusiastically.  Please reciprocate his generosity and respect his wishes regarding access to the system.  He requires all visitors yo adhere to the following arrangements:-







Very few caves, even on Mendip, can be so close to a private residence.  The caving community are particularly fortunate in being allowed such free access and must remember that the cave is NOT THEIRS.  Those who have spent so much time opening up the system over the past quarter of a century appeal to their successors to maintain the happy and fruitful relationship they have always enjoyed with the Jefferies family. They are proud of the cave - especially since three of the family were on the original exploration trip.  This must be a unique example of co-operation between landowners and cavers.


Harvey, P.I.W


Manor Farm Swallet. WCC Circ. (23) ½

Hanwell, J.D  & Newson, M.D


The Great Storms and Floods of July 1968. WCC Occ. Pubs.1.(20) 36-7

Norton, M.


History of the dig at Manor Farm Swallet. U.B.S.S. Proc.12, (1)83-5

Stewart, P.A.E.


Some hitherto unrecorded expeditions and discoveries on Mendip 1947/50. M.N.R.C. Rep_ (44/5) 12/6


Round and About

...... compiled by ‘Wig’

For older members, this is really the same as the 'Monthly Notes! which appeared in the B.B. from about 1967 to 1970 - a column containing notes on new discoveries; items of interest in other club’s publications; book reviews; library additions etc. etc. Anyone having information of any kind (including scandal!) let me have it to include in this column.

Number 1 October 1973

WITHYHILL CAVE.  Late in 1972, the Cerberus, still sitting and waiting for the quarry to dig for them, explored a new cave situated a few yards to the West of Shatter Cave. Though not as finely decorated as Shatter, it contains areas of great beauty.  The length has been estimated as between 3 and 4,000 ft.  As will be seen from the sketch below, the terminal boulder choke appears to lie under Withybrook Slocker and at the time of writing, the Sunday Morning Digging Team are surveying the cave to Grade 6 and hope that it will be available within the next ten years!


BURRINGTON ATLAS - Caving Report No 17, by Chris Howell, Dave Irwin and Doug Stuckey.

The latest in the Caving Report series is now available.  This at 40p per copy (SPECIAL PRICE TO MEMBERS 3OP).  This booklet lists all the known sites in the Burrington area and many of the surveys of the caves are included - such as Goatchurch; Sidcot; Foxes; Elephant; Avelines; East Twin; Reads; Rods; Drunkards; Milliar's Quarry Cave etc. 35pp, 5 photographs - including two historic pictures of Sidcot Swallet taken in 1925 (before digging and the First Chamber). A useful bibliography compiled by Ray Mansfield is to be found at the end of the book.

Members wanting a copy should contact Chris Howell as soon as possible - this is proving to be one of the fastest selling publications ever to have been published by a club Mendip.

MENDIP'S VANISHING GROTTOS Caving Report No 16.  Of the 500 copies printed, only 60 odd are now left.  Members still wanting a copy should contact Chris Howell straight way.  Price 50p (Members 40p) plus 10p P & P.

VELVET BOTTOM  Activity here seems to be on the increase.  The M.C.G. are digging at Upper Flood Swallet and have opened up several hundred feet of new passage.  Bob Whittaker and Co. are working down at Timber Hole which is a site originally dug by B.E.C. in 1944 and the M.C.G. in the early 1960's.  The M.C.G. are looking hungrily again at Blackmoor Swallet and the Wednesday diggers have had success at Manor Farm.

WOOKEY Mendip's professional caver, Willie Stanton, has been employed by Madame Taussauds to survey Wookey Nine to enable them to drive a tunnel from Three and open the passage to the public. Apparently a JCB was hired to scrape off the topsoil on the hillside to open up Nine by digging at the point located by radio transmission.  The rift that extends upwards from Nine actually goes right to he surface - lucky for the diggers, but not so for the JCB which, it is reported, almost fell in! Anyway, the rift is split into two - on the one side, a sheer 200ft pitch and on the other a sloping rift making access quite easy.  The passage has been surveyed and the entrance now locked up again.

WOOKEY HOLE AGAIN! 'Trattie' and Chris Hawkes are digging in Four. It is thought that Four may have been used as a burial chamber.  To enable the dig to be carried out here, the manager released the water in the cave at the weir located at the resurgence.  So far, only modern animal bones have been found.

CUTHBERT’S Fairly high levels of lead have been found on the mud in the cave.  Would people ensure that they WASH their caving clothes and not shake out the dust when dry.  Further information will be available from Roger Stenner in the near future.

ATLAS DES GRANDES GOUFFRES DU MONDE  The French have published (July '73) a very fine book of surveys etc. of the Wold's most important cave systems.  Printed by the offset process, it contains 52 pages of text which includes: Methods of exploration; table of caves whose depth is greater than 500m; the depth record in chronological order and historical notes of cave exploration throughout the world.  Then follow various tables.  The longest; the deepest; the deeps for each country; a chapter on the caves over 500m deep with historical notes for each site.  56 surveys are included and each is allotted a page, except the Holloch, which is printed on a fold-out sheet.  The book size is 9½” x 12¾”.  Though this appears expensive at 26F (about £3.20) it's a book that's definitely for the book shelf.  Copies of this book are available through the publication department contact Nigel Taylor or Dave Irwin. Price £3. plus 20p P. & P.


Monthly Crossword – Number 39.



















































































3. Included formations like 3 down and 10 down. (4)
5. Mendip cave contained in front half of discotheque. (6)
6. Describes well known Mendip grotto. (3)
7. Stark version of limestone territory. (5)
10. Describes a particular 10 down Cuthbert’s. (5)
11. G.B. Gallery. (3)
13. Slight, but otherwise necessary caving equipment. (6)
14. Cave feature which could be caused by 9 down. (4)


1. Supporting evidence of stal formation. (6)
2. Initially top caving body. (1,1,1)
3. Thin form of 3 across (5)
4. Describes both a Burrington and a Cheddar cave (4)
8. Start a form of rock diversion. (6)
9. Not a result of a geological error! (5)
10. Floor deposit found in formations adorning our caves. (4)
11.  Long time at end of passage. (3)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword